Tag Archives: humor

Tricks With Lazy Goals in Mind

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As a writer, my goal is to create wisdom and new ideas and stuff that makes a reader feel happy, or sad, or angry, or even slightly insane.  But thinking is hard when your head hurts and your body aches and your sixty-sixth birthday is just around the corner.  (Yes, this Mickey is nearly 66, but can you believe that that other Mickey is going to be 94 on the day after I turn 66?)  Sometimes you just want to say, “Never mind that I wanted to post every single day for the past two years.  Just curl up in a ball and go to sleep.”  But there are ways to get something done even if your mind is full of the Sandman’s leavings and old, rotted dreams.

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You can always get by with posting somebody else’s wisdom… somebody else’s thinking.  You don’t have to work too hard to paste things together.  After all, why else did you have to look at so many cut-and-paste essays over the years in middle school and high school?

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And you can rely on the work you have already done collecting computer files full of colorful crap and stuff you like enough to steal to complete your cut-and-paste scrapbook post.  You don’t have to feel like you erred and are about to have your head cut off by an angry Groo.

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And you know you can get a lot of cheap likes on Facebook with some of the stuff you have available to put in this post.  You have been working at the “Be funny!” thing for a long time and have gotten almost good enough at it to be funny on the fly.  And when you’ve gotten more than halfway to the goal, you can rest a bit.  Take a nap.  Regenerate the crazy things in your head so you can do this all again another day.

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And if you can have a laugh before you are finished, even if no one else in the world gets the joke… well, at least you will feel a little bit better yourself.

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Filed under battling depression, blog posting, empathy, feeling sorry for myself, healing, humor, illness, self pity, strange and wonderful ideas about life, surrealism

Tom Sawyer Abroad (Book Review)

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Yep, I read about being an “erronort” traveling in a balloon while sitting in a parking lot in my car.

Believe it or not, I read this entire 100+year-old book in my car while waiting for my daughter and my son in school parking lots.  What a perfectly ironic way to read a soaring imaginary adventure written by Mark Twain and mostly forgotten about by the American reading public.

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My copy of this old book is a 1965 edition published for school libraries of a book written in 1894.  It tells the story of how Tom and Huck and Jim steal a ride on a balloon at a town fair from a somewhat mentally unhinged professor of aeronautical science.  The balloon, which has space-age travel capabilities due to the professor’s insane genius, takes them on an accidental voyage to Africa.

Of course, the insane professor intends to kill them all, because that’s what insane geniuses do after they prove how genius-y they really are.  But as he tries to throw Tom into the Atlantic, he only manages to plunge himself through the sky and down to an unseen fate.  The result being a great adventure for the three friends in the sands of the Sahara.  They face man-eating lions, mummy-making sandstorms, and a chance to land on the head of the Sphinx.

The entire purpose of this book is to demonstrate Twain’s ability to be a satirical stretcher of the truth, telling jokes and lies through the unreliable narrator’s voice of Huck Finn.

Here is a quoted passage from the book to fill up this review with words and maybe explain just a bit what Twain is really doing with this book;

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Notice how I doubled my word count there without typing any of the words myself?  Isn’t the modern age wonderful?

But there you have it.  This book is about escaping every-day newspaper worries.  In a time of Presidential Candidate Donald Trump, global warming, and renewed threats of thermonuclear boo-boos with Russia, this proved to be the perfect book to float away with on an imaginary balloon to Africa.  And the book ends in a flash when Aunt Polly back in Hannibal wants Tom back in time for breakfast.  I really needed to read this book when I picked it up to read it.

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Filed under book reports, book review, foolishness, good books, humor, imagination, Mark Twain, old books, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Transportation by Imagination

How does one use the mind to move from one place to another?  Is teleportation by mental ability possible?  Can we find new ways to travel using only the mind?  New worlds to travel to?  Of course!  Anything is possible once you realize there are no barriers to human imagination.  It is possible to traverse even the beginning and the end of the universe itself.

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Case in point, I have as a cartoonist tried to come up with novel ways to travel.  In Catch a Falling Star I imagined that an engineering prodigy and a scientific genius used recovered alien technology to turn an 1889 steam locomotive with a pair of Pullman passenger cars into a space vehicle using an old hot air balloon and Yankee ingenuity.  They used it to fly to Mars.

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A friend who read that book, Stuart R. West, who writes teenage horror story mysteries  (Here’s a link to Stuart’s stuff!) suggested an idea for an illustrated children’s book about three kids that feed bubble gum to a goldfish.  The goldfish urps up a bubble that ends up carrying them off on an adventure through the sky.  I drew a possible illustration for that book and killed the idea completely dead.  I have a secret super power for taking cute and funny ideas and turning them into things that are totally unmarketable.  I wonder if that makes me a super villain instead of a hero.  So, the cartoonist in me had to develop other ways to travel that are even more ridiculous.

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In Clowntown, a part of my Atlas of Fantastica cartoon, you travel the downtown Clowntown skyway by being flipped and flung along the Clowntown Trapeze-way.  It makes for a harrowing ride and it’s really heck to use for trips to the grocery store or coming home again with packages to carry.

Travelling in the part of Fantastica dominated by pirates is even worse.  Traveling by the science of Boomology means getting shot out of a cannon naked to get wherever you need to go.  It is not something I would want to try in real life, but the cartoon me seems to not enjoy it with only minor bumps and bruises.

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So, travelling by means of the mind alone, through imagination, is quite possible… and probably infinitely unwise.

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Filed under cartoons, humor, Paffooney

I Go Pogo!

I gave you fair warning.  Pogo has been coming to Mickey’s Catch a Falling Star Blog for a while now.  So, if you intended to avoid it, TOO BAD!  You are here now in Okefenokee Swamp with Pogo and the gang, and subject to Mickey’s blog post about Walt Kelly and his creations.

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Walt Kelly began his cartoon hall-of-fame career in 1936 at Walt Disney Studios.  If you watch the credits in Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Dumbo, you will see Walt listed as an animator and Disney artist.  In fact, he had almost as much influence on the Disney graphic style as Disney had on him.  He resigned in 1941 to work at Dell Comics where he did projects like the Our Gang comics that you see Mickey smirking at here, the Uncle Wiggly comics, Raggedy Ann and Andy comics, and his very own creations like Pogo, which would go on to a life of its own in syndicated comics.  He did not return to work at Disney, but always credited Disney with giving him the cartoon education he would need to reach the stratosphere.

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Walt Kelly's Earth Day comic

Walt Kelly’s Earth Day comic

Pogo is an alternate universe that is uniquely Walt Kelly’s own.  It expresses a wry philosophy and satirical overview of our society that is desperately needed in this time of destructive conservative politics and deniers of science and good sense.

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maxriffner.com

Pogo himself is an every-man character that we are supposed to identify with the most.  He is not the driver of plots and doings in the swamp, rather the victim and unfortunate experiencer of those unexpectable things. Life in Okefenokee is a long series of random events to make life mostly miserable but always interesting if approached with the right amount of Pogo-ism.

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And Pogo was always filled with cute and cuddly as well as ridiculous.

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As a boy, I depended on the comic section of the Sunday paper to make sense of the world for me.  If I turned out slightly skewed and warped in certain ways, it is owing to the education I myself was given by Pogo, Lil Abner, Dagwood Bumstead, and all the other wizards from the Sunday funnies.  There was, of course, probably no bigger influence on my art than the influence of Walt Kelly.

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So what more can I say about Walt Kelly?  I haven’t yet reached the daily goal of 500 words.  And yet, the best way to conclude is to let Walt speak for himself through the beautiful art of Pogo.

Pogo and Mamzelle

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Filed under cartoon review, cartoons, humor, Paffooney

Sarcasm, a Super Power of the Future

It has come to my attention that the need for super heroes has reached a critical point in our history.  I have been watching television documentaries about Green Arrow and the Flash, and now there is a new one, Supergirl.  And I didn’t miss all the media attention when Robert Downey Jr. formed a super team of powerful people and destroyed a European country so thoroughly that I can’t find it on a map anywhere.  So, wanting to get in on the action, I decided I needed a super power of my own.  And I know what it is.  I am not strong.  I am not fast.  I am not as smart as Robert Downey Jr. who is both Sherlock Holmes and Iron Man.  So I have to settle for one of those second tier super powers.  Like sarcasm.

Sarcasto Fu

Unbeknownst to most who know me, I went away to the far oriental country of Kathman-dooki to study under an ancient master.  His name was Aiknowyooare Butwhattami, ancient master of the Shaolin art of Sarcasto Fu.  He was the one who taught me to meditate on the foibles of people I don’t like and the pet peeves that drive me to despise them.  He taught me that a well-placed sarcastic comment, like a well-thrown dagger, can cut right to the heart.

“You must focus your ire on the words you say, Grassstomper, to give the desired meaning to words that actually mean the opposite of what you mean to mean… in order to be mean,” said the ancient master.

“That makes perfect sense to me,” I said with a leftward eye-roll.

“Excellent, oh bug-headed one, you inflected that just right to hurt me fatally without revealing your witlessly shallow stupidity.”

I smiled at the praise as he wrote a big letter “F” on my report card.

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But if I choose to use sarcasm as my super power, I have the unfortunate problem of competing with the super hero known as Sarcasto Man.  He has previously seized on this notion that you can defeat super villains by sarcastically shaming them into committing oriental ritual suicide… called Hairy Kurie, or something like that.  Or was that ornamental suicide?  You know, the kind that decorates the sides of your house with dark reds and crimsons.  I think you do it with a sword… or cut your own head off with a butter knife or something weird like that.  Anyway, Sarcasto Man has told me that he achieves his super-power effects by holding a very high opinion of himself and talking down to everyone else around him.  He was supposed to become part of a super hero team, but failed at the task because his sarcasm caused as many suicides among his teammates as it did amongst his super-villain enemies and their minions.  In fact, he could not use the power on minions very well because they are usually too stupid to understand that you actually mean the opposite of what you are saying.

“It was very discouraging after I defeated the Mangling Mingler,” Sarcasto Man told me, “because after he cut his own head off with a butter knife, his minions, the Mingle Men, blamed me for his death and started pelting me with rocks.  I got such a bunch of red welts on my buttocks.  Fortunately my head is rock-proof.” (Did I forget to mention that using sarcasm as a super power is greatly aided by having a very thick skull?)

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I began to despair of ever achieving levels of sarcasm-ness to be in his league.  So I started looking for alternatives that were close in content, but different in application.  I briefly thought about using irony instead of sarcasm.  Tim the Turtle Boy (whom I interviewed as a potential boy sidekick… um, not trying to be gay or anything) demonstrates my irony skill by holding up his magical cast-iron flat iron with which he either creates irony or flattens out the super villain’s clothing wrinkles.  Well, maybe I am not all that clear on how one becomes a superhero, and I don’t want to make Robert Downey Jr. mad by trying to become Irony Man and crowding his personal shtick.  He might use sarcasm on me and suggest I would make a really great Pun-Man.  You know, killing villains with really bad puns and jokes that turn your head inside out.  That would be a truly shameful thing.

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Filed under humor, Paffooney, pen and ink

Things You Probably Ought to Know about Mickey

As Mickey’s go, the one who is writing this is a moderately interesting example of the breed.  Still, there are things you probably ought to be made aware of.  A sort of precautionary thing…

First of all, this particular Mickey is an Iowegian.  That means he comes from Iowa, the State where the tall corn grows.  It is a prime reason why his jokes are corny and his ears have been popped (oh, and he does actually have two, unlike the picture Paffooney where only one is showing).  His fur is not actually purple.  If anything now, it is mostly silver-gray.  But the Paffooney is a magical portrait, and purple is the color of magic.  He has a goofy, and sometimes fatal grin.  You may not be able to prove that he has ever actually grinned someone to death, but it is likely he could always dig somebody up.

Another irrefutable fact about this Mickey, unlike many many Mickeys, is that he used to actually be a public school teacher.  He taught the little buggers for thirty-one years, plus two years as a substitute teacher.  He did twenty-four of those years in middle school… twenty-three of those in one school in South Texas.  His mostly Hispanic students managed to teach him every bad word in Spanglish… err, Texican… err, Tex-Mex… or is it Taco Bell?  Anyway, they taught him every bad word except for the word for cooties… you know, piojos.  He learned that word from an old girl friend.

A despicable thing about him… (you know despicable, right?  It’s that word that Sylvester the cat always uses) is that he actually likes kids.  That’s just not normal for someone who teaches them.  Teachers are supposed to hate kids, aren’t they?  But he never did.  It is true that he yelled at them sometimes, but he never did that because he hated them.  He did that only for fun.  And he actually apologized to kids sometimes when they got into behavioral trouble, because he said it was the teacher’s fault if kids are bad, and, besides, the kids are so surprised by that, that they forget all about the behavior and can be flammoozled into acting good.

The last and most wicked thing you need to know about Mickey is that he cartoons up a storm sometimes.  He loves to draw everything that is wacky and weird.  He has more goofball colored pencil tricks than a Charles Shultz and a Dr. Seuss rolled together in a sticky lump with a George Herriman stuck on top in place of a cherry.  He steals ideas and techniques from other artists and steals jokes from comedians, undertakers, and random juvenile delinquents.  He also puts together lists of wacky oddball details that don’t quite fit together and weaves it into purple paisley prose (somewhere in this whole messy blog thing he has also defined purple paisley prose and how to make it… in case you were curious.)

So there you have it.  The Truth about Mickey.  The sordid, simpering, solitary facts about Mickey.  The straight poop.  (wait a minnit!  How did poop get there?  Not again!  I thought I had cured that!)

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The Wolf in My Dreams

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Rosemary Hood was a bright, blond seventh grader who entered my seventh-grade Gifted English class in September of 1998.  She introduced herself to me before the first bell of her first day.

“I am definitely on your class list because my Mom says I belong in gifted classes.”

“Your name is Rosemary, right?”

“Definitely.  Rosemary Bell Hood, related to the Civil War general John Bell Hood.”

“Um, I don’t see your name on my list.”

“Well, I’m supposed to be there, so check with the attendance secretary.  And I will be making A’s all year because I’m a werewolf and I could eat you during the full moon if you make me mad at you.”

I laughed, thinking that she had a bizarre sense of humor.  I let her enter my class and issued her copies of the books we were reading.  Later I called the office to ask about her enrollment.

“Well, Mr. Beyer,” said the secretary nervously, “the principal is out right now with an animal bite that got infected.  But I can assure you that we must change her schedule and put her in your gifted class.  The principal would really like you to give her A’s too.”

So, I had a good chuckle about that.  I never gave students A’s.  Grades had to be earned.  And one of the first rules of being a good teacher is, “Ignore what the principal says you should do in every situation.”

But I did give her A’s because she was a very bright and creative student (also very blond, but that has nothing to do with being a good student).  She had a good work ethic and a marvelous sense of humor.

She developed a crush on Jose Tannenbaum who sat in the seat across from her in the next row.  He was a football player, as well as an A student.  And by October she was telling him daily, “You need to take to me to the Harvest Festival Dance because I am a werewolf, and if you don’t, I will eat you at the next full moon.”

All the members of the class got a good chuckle out of it.  And it was assumed that he would. of course, take her to the dance because she was the prettiest blond girl in class and he obviously kinda liked her.  But the week of the dance we did find out, to our surprise, that he asked Natasha Garcia to the dance instead.

I didn’t think anything more about it until, the day after the next full moon, Jose didn’t show up for class.  I called the attendance secretary and asked about it.

“Jose is missing, Mr. Beyer,” the attendance secretary said.  “The Sherrif’s office has search parties out looking for him.”  That concerned me because he had a writing project due that day, and I thought he might’ve skipped school because he somehow failed to finish it.  When I saw Rosemary in class, though, I asked her if, by any chance, she knew why Jose wasn’t in class.

“Of course I do,” she said simply.  “I ate him last night.”

“Oh.  Bones and all?”

“Bone marrow is the best-tasting part.”

So, that turned out to be one rough school year.  Silver bullets are extremely expensive for a teacher’s salary.  And I did lose a part of my left ear before the year ended.  But it also taught me valuable lessons about being a teacher.  Truthfully, you can’t be a good teacher if you can’t accept and teach anyone who comes through your door, no matter what kind of unique qualities they bring with them into your classroom.

 

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Filed under education, horror writing, humor, Paffooney

Advertising on E-Bay Ignorantly

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You are probably not going to believe this, but there are certain things you simply cannot safely sell on E-Bay.  My first good novel, Catch a Falling Star, took years to write.  The research, interviews with survivors, fighting off remaining alien invaders left behind when the Telleron invasion failed, and clean-up of sites and inconvenient witnesses took at least from 1990 to 2012.  And then, as part of my marketing-by-blogging strategy for the book, I took a box of leftover skortch pistols and listed them for sale on E-Bay.  They turned out to be a very popular item.  It took the first skortch ray almost a year to sell for a measly five dollars.  It was bought by a woman with a very annoying husband.  She apparently bought the item as a joke, thinking it would not actually work as a molecular disintegration weapon.  But after she surprised her husband with it and then posted the surprising results on Facebook, I quickly sold out the rest of the 26 pistols in the box and made almost $800. I am told by concerned investigative reporters that crotchety old men, ugly wives, and particularly Dennis-the-Menace-like kids were disappearing all across the Midwest.  I also learned that one skortch ray pistol came into the hands of a Republican political operative before the election in 2016.  That fact may have accounted for the disappearances of large numbers of registered Democrats in both Michigan and Pennsylvania in the weeks before the election.

I wanted to inform you that I may have done something stupid on E-Bay.  Therefore I am re-posting the drawing I did of Studpopper the Telleron demonstrating the firing of an example skortch pistol created by Zillokahsitter Industries on Telleri Prime with Sylvani technology.  If you should see one of these in the hands of a spouse that thinks you are grumpy too much of the time, I would suggest an almost instantaneous program of self-improvement.  And if you see one in the hands of someone in a red MAGA baseball cap, immediately put on your own red hat and say something inordinately stupid so they will assume you are one of them, and hope they skortch themselves by accident before they get around to skortching you.

Sorry about that.  I should’ve thought this whole thing through more carefully beforehand.

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Filed under aliens, humor, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

Skyscapes of the Cloudy Mind

I admit it.  Even though I collect pictures of sunrises to glory in the fact that I still have another day of life in this world, I rarely snap a picture of the cloudless sunrise.  It is very possible that this has something to do with what ultimately gives life value and makes it worthwhile to live one more day.

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If there is no pattern, no color-changes, no contrast, no variation… then why bother?  And this doesn’t only apply to living your life.  It applies to taking pictures of the sky too.  Solid blue or solid yellow are about as interesting as a minimalist painting.  (Have you ever seen the big beige squares and red squares that fill entire walls of the Dallas Art Museum?  Like a picture of a polar bear in a fierce blizzard or an extreme close-up of the side of a tomato.)

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Yes, sunshine and happiness are all well and good… but you don’t get a satisfactory skyscape without some clouds in it.  In fact, rain clouds provide the most fascinating patterns and colors.  What would the picture be without a little drama splashed here and there to make a center of interest or a counterpoint to the happy ending?  They say that variety is the spice of life.  And when they say that they probably mean cayenne pepper rather parsley or oregano.  If that’s not what they mean, then why the hell did we bring food into the discussion?

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So, I am thinking, there have to be clouds.  (Notice, I said “clouds”, not “clowns”, because… according to the song, there “ought to be clowns”, not “have to be clowns”.)

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It is true that clouds can mean sadness… that the rain is coming, that your vision is obscured, that something has come between you and God’s eye.  But without clouds, the sky would be plain and boring.  Better to burn bright and explode in a short amount of time than to linger over a plain pale blue.

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Filed under clowns, commentary, foolishness, humor, photo paffoonies

Kerpopple That Dinglebunny!

I have always loved using weird, wild, and goofy words to describe things when I am trying to be funny.  But recently I was saddened to learn that a word I have liked using in the past, “dingleberry”, is actually a poo-poo word.  I am very much on the Red Skelton side of the question of using bad words.   I mean, I don’t find direct use of obscene language and harsh Anglo-Saxon swear words to be very funny.  Shock humor and gross-out humor do not appeal to me the way more whimsical word-play does.

Betelgeuse is a funny word because it is the name of an actual red-giant Star in the Milky Way Galaxy, while at the same time sounding like juice made from beetles.  And, of course, there is the little matter of a hilarious Tim Burton movie about a gross-out ghost with an evil agenda.  The parts of a word can make or break the comic gravity of the word.  As much as I previously liked “dingleberry” as a goofy insult word, the “dingle” part is giving me pause.  I have discovered that a “dingle” is not only the v-cleft in a valley between two mountains, it is also derived from “dung”.   A “dingleberry” describes a dangling “berry” of poop like the ones sometimes found on the fur of my dog’s behind.  Yetch!  I can’t even use a label like that on a detestable buffoon like Donald Trump.  It bothers me that it suggests the color brown rather than the proper orange.  Trump requires a word that translates to something more like “flaming orange Kool-aid man”.

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So, I guess I need to focus on other weird, wild, and goofy words as I continue to try to be funny.  The dinglebunnies of my comic fantasies need to be “kerpoppled”… the act of “poppling”, to move in a tumbling, irregular manner, as in boiling water.  Do away with poo-poo humor, Mickey, old lad!  You need some new goofy words.

 

 

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Filed under clowns, foolishness, goofiness, humor, strange and wonderful ideas about life, wordplay