Tag Archives: humor

Novel Nudists

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I have known nudists for a long time, since the 1980’s in fact.  I have recently dabbled my toes in the cold waters of being a nudist myself.  I did work on pool cracks this past summer while naked.  I made one visit to a nudist park and actually got naked in front of strangers who were also naked.  It is a certain kind of crazy connection to nature, my self, and the bare selves of others to be a nudist, even if it is for only a few hours.  I used to think nudists were crazy people.  But I have begun to understand in ways that are hard to understand.  And being a novelist, that was bound to creep into the piles of supposedly wise understanding that goes into the creation of novels.  I say “supposedly wise” because wisdom is simply the lipstick on the pig of ridiculous human experiences.

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The Cobble family appeared first in my novel, Superchicken.  It is a semi-autobiographical novel that uses some of my real life experiences and the real life experiences of boys I either grew up with or taught, mixed in with bizarre fantasy adventures that came from my perceptions of life as an adult.  So the Cobble family really represent my encounters with nudism and the semi-sane people known as nudists.  Particularly important to the story are the Cobble Sisters, twins Sherry and Shelly, who fully embrace the idea of being nudists and try to get other characters to not only approve of the behavior, but share in it.  Sherry is the more forward of the two, more willing to be seen naked by the boys in her school and in her little Iowa farm town.  Shelly is the quieter of the two, a bit more shy and a lot more focused on the love of one particular boy.

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In fact, the Cobble Sisters are based on real life twin blond girls from my recollections of the past.  The Cobble farm is out along the Iowa River and just north of Highway Three in Iowa.  It is a real place where real twin girls lived when I was a boy.  They were blond and pretty and outgoing.  But they were not actually nudists.  There was another pair of twin blond girls from my first two years of teaching who actually provided the somewhat aggressively sensual personalities of the Cobble Sisters.  The real nudists I knew were mostly in Texas.

The sisters appear in more than one of the novels I have written or am in the process of writing.  They appear for the second time in the novel Recipes for Gingerbread Children which I finished writing in 2016.  They are also a part of the novel I am working on now, The Baby Werewolf.   That last is probably the main reason they are on my mind this morning.  Writing a humorous horror story about werewolves, nudists, pornographers, and real wolves is a lot more complex and difficult than it sounds.  But it is hopefully doable.  And my nudist characters are all basically representative of the idea that all honest and straight-forward people are metaphorically naked all the time.  That’s the thing about those nudist twins.  They don’t hide anything.  Not their most private bits, and certainly not what they are thinking at any given time.

So as I continue to struggle with revealing myself as a writer… and possibly as a nudist as well, I will count on the Cobble Sisters to make certain important points about life and love and laughter… and how you can have all three while walking around naked.

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David Mitchell is Genius!

Yes, David Mitchell is a very smart man… a very smart English man.  (That isn’t to say that his genius is any less genius than an American Genius.  Just that he is a genius who also happens to be English)

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And I, of course, don’t mean this David Mitchell either, though this David Mitchell is also a genius and also from England.  I have to tell you, though I have always loved British humor, this particular tongue of silver fascinates me enough to make me binge on hoards of old episodes of “Would I Lie to You?” from the BBC on YouTube.  He’s a quick-wit, Brit-wit, smooth-talking  bit-wit who can make you laugh even when he’s playing a thick-wit… which he is certainly not.

Anyway, that is the wrong English genius David Mitchell.

I mean the other English genius David Mitchell.  The one who wrote Cloud Atlas.  Also the one who wrote The Bone Clocks.  And, of course, the one whose book Black Swan Green which I just finished reading early this morning.

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Yes, I mean this David Mitchell.  The absolute genius writer who creates exactly the kind of books that I long to read.

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Now, this post should probably be more of a traditional book report than it is.  This book I just read is swimmingly, swannishly excellent in a David-Mitchell-is-GENIUS! sort of way.  It is about an English boy from Malvern, England undergoing the trials and tribulations of his thirteenth year of life.  The boy is a stutterer and secretly a poet.  The girl he pines for is the girlfriend of his greatest enemy, the boy who relentlessly bullies and taunts him.  One even suspects that this portrait of a Margaret Thatcher-era boyhood written in exquisitely horrible detail might be based on the author’s own boyhood somehow, so vivid is its detailing.

But this is already too cacked-up to be a proper book report just because of the two David-Mitchell-English-genius thing.  If you really want that sort of book review, read it elsewhere, or read the danged book yourself.  This report is more of a vow of fealty.  I must now turn my hoarding disorder sufferer’s exacting zeal on the matter of reading everything this living author writes.  I did the same thing to both Michael Crichton and Terry Pratchett because they are geniuses too.  But they are both now no longer living and writing new books, at least, not unless there is new meaning to the term ghost writing that I don’t know anything about.  So now it is David Mitchell’s turn to be the object of my intense fan-boy love of good writing.

Here are some David Mitchell books that I now must stalk and make my own;

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And hopefully, there are many more yet to come.

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Stardusters… Canto 64

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Canto Sixty-Four – The Ruins of Tanith and Davalon’s Nesting Quarters

Farbick led his small band of rebels into the gaping hole the forward stabilizer arm of the Bonehead had cut into the side of the bio dome.  The wreckage inside the building was pretty extensive.

“You really think we can stop the Senator?” Stabharh asked Farbick from directly behind the Telleron leader of the rebels.

“We can if we can convince more of his crew to join us in resisting his mad planetary death wish.”

“That’s going to be pretty hard.  Senator Tedhkruhz is extremely evil and his men are mostly very weak minded.”  Slahshrack was a real ray of sunshine in the gloom of the situation.

“We have to try,” said Starbright, “otherwise your species and your planet will be extinct.”

“Wait a minute, what’s this?” Farbick said, hearing a moan in a rubble pile and noticing a slight movement amidst the shattered concrete shards.

With Stabharh’s help he and Starbright began un-piling the stones, and soon two small Telleron bodies were revealed.

“Davalon!  And is that Tanith with you?”

Davalon was holding Tanith tightly in his arms.  The tadpoles were both bruised and bloodied, but technically still breathing.

“Can either of you still talk?” Starbright asked.

“A… a little…”  Davalon was obviously wearied by the effort.

“What are you doing here?” Farbick asked. “You tadpoles should all be safe on board the mother ship.  Why would Xiar send you here?”

“He… ah, didn’t.  We took a wing without permission and came to help this world survive.”

“We… ah, didn’t know we were doing that last part when we… ak, set off on the adventure,” Tanith said with a painful wince.

“You both have extensive injuries.  We have to get you both to someplace safe where you can hibernate and recuperate,” Starbright said.

“Do you know what this place is?” Farbick asked, since the tadpoles had apparently been in the place for a while.

“Yes… ouch… it’s a science facility where they are trying to restore the atmosphere of the planet and create new viable… ahg!…food sources.”  Davalon was in quite a lot of pain.

“So scientists survived?” asked Stabharh, quite surprised.

“One,” answered Tanith.  “A little Galtorrian girl named Sizzahl.  But she’s… oof!… a very intelligent little girl.”

“She’ll be the reason Tedhkruhz came here,” said Stabharh.  “He means to slay anyone and everyone who might be smart enough to bring this planet back to life.”

“We have to stop him,” Farbick said.  “Where do you suppose he is now?”

“I don’t know,” said Stabharh, “and I have no idea how to find him.”

“When I was a little lizard,” said Slahshrack, “I would turn to the last chapter of the book and read ahead to find the answer.”

“We can’t do that here, stupid,” said Stabharh.  “This is real life, not some idiot fiction book!”

“Yeah, too bad about that, huh.”

*****

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The Man in the Mirror

Every now and again we have to stop what we are doing for a moment and examine ourselves.  If we are writers, we tend to do it every fifteen minutes or so.  You have to expose the soul to the light of day for a moment and take a look with eyes wide open, prepared to see the worst… but also open to seeing beauty where you may not have seen it before.

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So what do I see when I look in the mirror?  More darkening age spots, more patches of psoriasis with increasingly red and irritated potential infections.  Drooping eyes that have lost their sparkle and now darken with blue melancholy.  I see a man falling down.  Falling slowly, but falling never-the-less.  It happens to everybody with age.  I can no longer do the job I loved for 31 years.  I am no longer the goofy Reluctant Rabbit with the big pencil in the front of the classroom, telling stories and making learning happen.

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Once I was a big deal to little people.  Once I created magical experiences involving books and great authors, poems and great poets… and I taught little people how to write and master big words.  I mattered like a big frog in a small pond, able to make the biggest splash in that particular pond.  I was the froggiest.  But I haven’t drawn myself as a frog yet.

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Of course, I was never as big as that other Michael.  He made a really big splash in a really big pond.  He was a really big frog.

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He and I have a lot in common.  Not far off in age.  We got married about the same time.  Both had three kids, two boys and a girl.  Both were associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses at one point.  Both of us never really grew up.  He had Peter Pan Syndrome, and I stayed in school my whole working life.

And everybody has a dark side, in counterpoint to their better angels.  I’m not entirely sure what my dark side entails.  Being a grouch?  A diabetic?  A closet nudist?  But I have one.  I trot it out to make fun of it constantly.

But as I was feeling sorry for myself, being forced by the city to remove the pool, becoming a bankrupt poor guy thanks to Bank of America, and generally in such ill health that I feel like I am wearing a lead suit all the time, I stumbled across one of those life-affirming moments.  A former student asked me on Facebook to post a picture of myself so he could see how I was doing.  I posted this picture.

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Yep, the man in the mirror is definitely me.  I got loads of complements and howdys from former students, former colleagues, a former grade school classmate, and my Aunt Wilma.  I heard from people I care about and they reaffirmed that they still care about me, even though some of them I haven’t seen in more years than I am willing to admit.  Sometimes you have to look in the mirror to see what needs to be changed.  Sometimes you just need to see the precious few things that were always good and haven’t changed.  It is a process worth the effort.

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Stardusters… Canto 63

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Canto Sixty-Three – Harmony’s Response Team Assembly Area

Almost as soon as the crash woke Harmony Castille’s team of warriors, the old girl was immediately busy with setting up a response team in the area of the crash hole opened up by the collision between space cruiser and dome.

“Studpopper, you take point like I taught you.  You are a good boy and you know how to do the job effectively if you just remember what I taught you.”

“Yes, ma’am, Miss Harmony, ma’am.  I won’t forget what you taught me not to forget in the heat of battle against an enemy that wants to eat me.  I shall certainly remember what you taught me because you are such a good teacher, Miss Harmony, ma’am.”

“Studpopper?”

“Yes, ma’am, Miss Harmony, ma’am?”

“You are remembering the rule about addressing your leaders respectfully.  You are doing that really well, like a good boy.  But you’ve forgotten how to take the point, haven’t you?”

“Yes, ma’am, Miss Harmony, ma’am.”

“You sneak quietly into that hole in the wall and look for the enemy.  When you spot them, you signal us, and we set an ambush for them.”

“Oh, yes.  Thank you, ma’am, Miss Harmony…”

“And, Studpopper?”

“Yes, ma’am…?

“If you forget again the enemy will kill you.  And if they don’t… I will.”

“Yes, ma’am, Miss Harmony ma’am!”  Studpopper saluted smartly just the way the old church lady had taught him.  “You are such a good teacher, ma’am!”

The beautiful Harmony Castile chuckled to herself as the soldier tiptoed quietly into the breach in the wall of the bio dome.  Mere moments later, Studpopper’s hand was signaling that someone was coming.

Silently Harmony signaled Shalar and her other men into position for an ambush.

Senator Tedhkruhz and his remaining elite Galtorrian Guard came marching through the hole, confident in their invincibility.  He pulled his men up short and the gloating smirk evaporated from his face.  The artificial lights of the bio dome glinted off the barrels of six Telleron skortch pistols.

“What have we here?” the evil lizard-man Senator croaked.

“You would be this evil lizard Senator Toadface we have heard so much about, wouldn’t you?”  Harmony’s smile was the cold, calculating smile of the experienced Sunday school teacher who knew for certain she had the young sinner right where she wanted him.

“Senator Tedhkruhz, if you please, Miss Monkeylady.”

“I’m sure I said Senator Toadface.  Did I not pronounce it correctly?”

“I am here to make certain that life on this planet ends with its preordained conclusion.”

“Over my dead body, Toadface.”

“I am certain that is precisely what I had planned,” he said as he stepped back and his lizard-men raised their slug-throwers to fire.  “Shoot now, men!” he roared.

There was an electric blaze of skortch-pistol fire, a few random gun-thing noises, and then a whole lot of sparking and fizzing as skortched lizard-men turned into powder and foul smelling gasses released by their disintegration.

“Did we get them all?” Shalar asked as the gas and smoke began to clear.

“I don’t see any remaining lizard-guys.” Harmony nodded at her men, satisfied.

“I hate to be the bearer of bad news, ma’am, Miss Harmony, ma’am,” Studpopper offered from his position on point, “But I saw the Senator slip out again through the hole in the wall.

“So he escaped after all?” Shalar asked.

“Dang it all to heck!” Harmony swore with language that pushed the limit of how brutally an Iowa church lady could ethically swear.

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Dvorák’s Scherzo in the Nude

Another opportunity to visit the nudist park has passed without me being able to seize the day and do what I really wanted to do this weekend.  It was, however, a different set of reasons than last time.  Last time I was determined to go on a Saturday when more nudists would actually be present.  I got sick and it rained that Saturday.  So I set my sights on Labor Day weekend.

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This weekend the hurricane that ravaged Houston changed my plans.  You see, the storm also ravaged Port Arthur and the distribution points that local gas stations rely on for new shipments on a weekly basis.  I did not see the gas shortage coming in time.  The lines at gas stations and two hour waits for gas mostly all happened before I was ready to cope with it.  So I was not prepared to make the trip when the time came.  Gas stations are limited to selling chewing gum and promising that more gas would be available by the middle of next week.

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Yes, the boy in the picture is me naked as I might’ve been in a more sylvan youth than the one I actually had.

So I am left to sit here in my bedroom studio in the nude writing this and listening to Dvorák’s Scherzo Capriccioso on YouTube.

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A scherzo is, perhaps, the perfect metaphor for an essay like this one.  Most of what I write are really scherziplay (or scherzi if I hadn’t goofed on that typo in the definition) if you analyze them closely.  Sprightly and humorous idea flows (at least, they make me laugh) that wax thoughtful and slightly serious at certain points.  This one, the capriccioso, the capricious and mercurial idea that I have somehow turned into a nudist, is my attempt to make sense of the nonsensical, the whims and flimsy that led me to be a naked old man.

You may have noticed in my artwork a tendency to associate nudity with childlike innocence.  (At least, you should have noticed if I have any ability at all as a writer and artist to guide your perceptions.)   There is no sense at the nudist park that it is about sexuality and impending orgies.  Those things are completely against the rules and have no place among actual nudists.  You go to a nudist park and it is just you and your towel for sitting on talking to a bunch of naked people who just as fat and old and saggy and baggy as you are, each with their own towels for sitting on.  Nobody uses more than their first names, and more than that is not necessary.  Nudists are more open and honest than most people you meet in social situations.  They literally are not hiding anything.  And I have discovered that I fit right in there.  It seems like the most natural thing in the world.

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Once I got past the initial embarrassment that anyone would feel in that new-nudist situation, I came to the conclusion that I have always been a nudist.  Having been born a nudist, my parents and grandparents trained me not to be one, and being sexually assaulted at ten gave added horror to being naked around others that it took a lifetime to overcome.  But naked is how we were created.  There is a reason that Adam and Eve didn’t wear clothes in Eden.

I didn’t get to go back to the nudist park this holiday weekend.  I will never convince my wife and kids to go with me either.  In fact, I myself may never have another opportunity to go back there.  But listening to Dvorak’s Scherzo has confirmed in me that I am a nudist and always have been.  Sorry if I have frightened you with my naked ideas, but maybe you should listen to a scherzo naked and test whether you are one too.

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Being Bankrupt

I am swiftly turning into a detestable human being.  I have admitted already on this blog that I have not only known nudists in my lifetime, but I have recently visited a nudist park and become one… for a few hours.   Today I am admitting to being a bankrupt individual.  I am taking steps to declare a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

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As with nudism, bankruptcy is really probably not what you think it is.  It is embarrassing and stressful to be bankrupt, at least if you are not Donald Trump and able to gleefully rob workers and creditors and investors by manipulating bankruptcy laws.  But it is not immoral.  In fact, with my Chapter 13 bankruptcy, I will end up paying back everything I owe to credit card companies and especially Bank of America whose lawsuit caused this bankruptcy.  It will just be a managed pay-off with no further interest charges, managed by a court-appointed executor over the next five years.  It will drop the bottom out of my credit rating initially, but may actually bounce it back up better than it was because my debt-to-income ratio will be dramatically improved.  I will not lose my house or my car.  I simply will have no more credit cards.  That can’t be all bad, can it?

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So, filing for a bankruptcy of this type has done a good job of teaching me where I fit in modern society and how the idea that you need to pay back what you owe to those you owe it to applies more to me than it does to rich folks.  I will let you in on a big secret.  I am not now, nor have I ever been, even remotely defined as rich.  I haven’t really been poor before now, either.  But I am sinking into that swamp quickly, and the crocodiles smell blood in the water.  It is expensive to become poor.  You have to pay a lawyer to help you get rid of all your money.  You have to plead with them to allow you to continue to buy food and, with luck, necessary medication.  But as long as you continue to hemorrhage money into their money-sucking vampire fangs of profit-making, the rich ones who own everything and control everything and make all the laws will allow you to continue to live… unless it becomes more profitable for them in the short term to let you die.

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Now that I have driven over the bankruptcy cliff, I will probably try to enjoy the view and the exhilarating rush of air on the way down.  Maybe I will do it naked.  I could go back to the nudist park for the Labor Day weekend.  I would save on clothing budgets.  And when I get to the bottom of the cliff, there is a possibility that I will bounce back up.  After all, if I don’t the bankers and the lawyers won’t be able to get any more of my money.

 

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