Tag Archives: metaphor

Bubble People

I was recently gifted with the eye-opening event of having my own personal soap bubble of beliefs, dreams, and hopes popped by an angry, dyspeptic orangutan.  Yes, he got elected to the most powerful position of leadership on the planet Earth.  And, as I was hurt in the fall from my rudely popped bubble, I began to think about the nature of the bubbles we live in and plot my evil revenge.

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You see, people all live in bubbles of perception.  There are limits to what you can see, hear, learn, accept, believe, and understand.  Those limits are the walls of the soap bubble we create for ourselves in the empty warehouse of our own mind.  I know I have just revealed that what I am talking about is completely metaphorical, but all you people out there who live in literal-minded, practically impenetrable bubbles need to be reminded that metaphorical truth is still truth.

In politics, there now seem to be two main classes of bubble that exist separately and prevent many people from seeing and understanding the perceptions of many other people.  There are conservative bubble people.  There are also liberal bubble people.

Conservative is supposed to mean that they like what they currently have and want to preserve it.  I include here not just possessions, but values, goals, religions, hopes, and dreams.  Liberal traditionally means that they are dissatisfied with what they currently have and want change.  Looking at this construct carefully reveals that anyone who is liberal should be seeking change, but once they have it, should then become satisfied and change into a conservative.  Similarly, if they are conservative, but things change into a new set of things that they don’t like, they should become liberals.  But in our political system, these labels have become set in stone.  And I should warn you, putting stone letters on a soap bubble will invariably pop it.  Conservative bubble people have added concrete mix to the walls of their bubbles to harden it, so that it won’t pop.  Liberals have done the same.  Though, I believe Republican conservative bubble people have somehow found a concrete mix that, when it hardens, makes it impenetrable by facts, science, and logic.  Not to be outdone, though, liberals have added bizarre chemicals to their mix that makes their bubbles impenetrable by feelings, emotion, and religion.  The collective effect of all this bubble-fixing is that all bubble people’s bubbles have become dark and no longer transparent.  You cannot see through them.

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It is no wonder that when liberals look at conservative bubbles they think, “These people are just selfish, money-hungry, and evil, and will do anything for a profit.  They don’t care what’s best for everybody.”

Conversely, conservatives look at liberal bubbles and think, “They are unfeeling control freaks who want to take away our freedom to do what we believe in.  They want to tell us what we can do.  They are trying to take away our rights.”

So, humorist and crack-brained nitwit that I am, I have come up with an evil plan to undo this opaque-bubble nightmare.  I intend to look inside lots of bubbles and find ways to make them more transparent again.  I also intend to invite everyone I know, and everyone who reads this, to do the same.  That should help.

But I should warn you, I am not the only one looking to manipulate bubble people.  There are a bunch of rich and cynical folks out there too who are busy playing billiard games with a majority of the fossilized opaque bubbles .  Once bubbles start popping, more people will be hurt.

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Filed under dreaming, dreams, humor, imagination, insight, inspiration, Liberal ideas, metaphor, strange and wonderful ideas about life

The Silent Sonata

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Being a writer is a life of music that happens only in your head.  You hear voices constantly.  They pulse rhythmically with insights and ideas that have to be written down and remembered.  Otherwise  the music turns clashing-cymbals dark and depressing.  Monday I wrote a deeply personal thank you to the Methodist minister who saved my life when I was a boy.  I posted a YouTube music video by the acapella group Pentatonix with that essay in a vain attempt to give you an idea of the music in my head when I composed that very difficult piece to give myself a measure of peace.

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I realize that I am not writing poetry here.  Poetry can so easily slip into melody and music because of rhythm and meter and rhyme.  And yet, words to me are always about singing, about performing, about doing tricks with metaphor and meaning, rhythm, convoluted sentence structure, and other sneaky things that snake-oil salesman do to get you to think what you are hearing is precisely what you needed to hear.  The Sonata of Silence…  did you notice the alliteration of the silvery letter “S” in that title?  The beat of the syllables?  Da-daah-da a da-da?  The way a mere suggestion of music can bring symphonic sounds to your ear of imagination as you read?  The way a simple metaphor, writing is music, can be wrapped into an essay like a single refrain in a symphonic piece?

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A sonata is a musical exercise in three or four movements that is basically instrumental in nature.  You may have noticed that the movements are loosely defined here by the accompanying pictures, of which there are three.  And it is silent only in the way that the instruments I am using themselves make no noise in the physical world.  The only sounds as I type these words are the hum of an old air conditioner and the whirr of my electric fan.  Yet my mind is filled with crescendos of violins and cellos, bold brass, and soft woodwinds.  The voice saying these words aloud only in my head is me.  Not the me you hear when I talk or the me I can hear on recordings of my own voice, but rather the me that I always hear from the inside.  And the voice is not so much “saying” as “singing”.

Writing makes music.  The writer can hear it.  The reader can too.  And whether I croon it to make you cry, or trill it to make you laugh, I am playing the instrument.  And so, the final notes of the sonata are these.  Be happy.  Be well.  And listen for the music.

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Filed under imagination, insight, inspiration, music, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

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

Gooseberry Pie

I would like to contend that a blog is a form of self-portrait.  Do you want to argue with me?  Have a piece of Gooseberry Pie….

You see, gooseberries aren’t made from geese.  They don’t look like gooses… er, goosei… um, geese.  They aren’t the favorite food of a goose, unless, maybe…  Mother Goose.  The name is a corrupted form of the Dutch word kruisbes , or possibly the German Krausbeere.   You know, because people who speak English don’t know how to talk right.  They don’t have anything to do with geese.  In the same way, a person’s name doesn’t really help you understand the person that wears it.  You have to dig deeper.  Do you know, I have never actually tasted gooseberry pie?  I have seen and even picked the gooseberries.  They are danged ugly, spikey-furred snot-green berries.  I am not tempted in any way to put one in my mouth.  And yet, I should not judge gooseberry pie before I taste a piece.  I know people who adore gooseberry pie.  Maybe you are one of them.

The point is, blogs are exactly the same thing.  An artist, a writer, a producer of something, or a day-dreamy noodling goober has put together a blog to display their wares, show off their creations, and share their words and wisdom.  You have to look at them, warts and all, and actually take a bite.  You have to try them out and test them.  Follow them over time.  Read, absorb, and appreciate… not merely zoom through and look at the pictures… and maybe click “like” at the bottom of the post.

Of course, I admit, I do the very thing I am advising you not to do.  The first few times I visit a blog, I scan through and only focus on a few things that catch my falling stars.  (oop!  Shame on me… I should say “catch my fancy”.  Forgive me for lapsing into Mickian brain farts for a moment there).  But if I am lured into coming back, I dip deeper and read more… tasting it thoroughly, as it were…  And much of what I taste there will end up in my own recipe somewhere down the line.  I begin to learn who that blogger is, and their writing style… sometimes even their thinking style (though I don’t read minds… only smell brain farts and odoriferous mental cooking smells) and I picture them as people in my minds eye.  Sometimes I wonder if they match in real life the person I am picturing.  Of course, the answer is no.  People don’t look like what you think they should look like.  They don’t even look like what they think they look like either… even in photos.  So let me end this goofy pie-based argument about why blogs are self portraits with a few self portraits I have created that aren’t really what I look like , even if it is a photo.

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Me in the mirror, 1980

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Scary pictures of the artist as a creepy old man…

 

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The novelist me…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A wizard selfie taken at Mad Ludwig’s Castle in Bavaria.

 

 

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Who I am and who I was…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Seriously grumpy me…

Gag!  Enough of the gooseberries already!  Or are they gross-berries?  I think that I really don’t look anything like me anymore.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, blog posting, goofiness, goofy thoughts, humor, metaphor, Uncategorized

Monster Movies

I am fascinated by the darker alleyways in the city of human thought.  I love monster movies, those love-story tragedies where the monster is us with one or more of our basic flaws pumped up to the absolute maximum.  We are all capable of becoming a monster.  There are consequences to every hurtful thing we have ever thought or ever said to other people, especially the people we love.

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The monster movies I love most are the old black and whites from Universal Studios.  But I can also seriously enjoy the monsters of Hammer Films, and even the more recent remakes of Frankenstein, The Mummy, and their silly sequels.  I am fascinated by the Creature from the Black Lagoon because it is the story of a total outsider who is so different he can’t really communicate with the others he meets.  All he can do is grab the one that attracts him and strike out at those who cause him pain.  It occurs to me that I am him when having an argument with my wife.  Sometimes I am too intelligent and culturally different to talk to her and be understood.  She gets mad at me and lashes out at me because when I am trying to make peace she thinks I am somehow making fun of her.  How do you convince someone of anything if they always think your heartfelt apology is actually sarcasm?  How do you share what’s in your heart if they are always looking for double meaning in everything you say?

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But other people can change into monsters too.  I am not the only one.  People who are bitter about how their life seems to have turned out can strike out at others like the Mummy.  Wrapped in restrictive wrappings of what they think should have been, and denied the eternal rest of satisfaction  over the way the past treated them, they attack with intent to injure, even just with hurtful words, because their past sins have animated them with a need to change the past, though the time is long past when they should’ve let their bitterness simply die away.

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And we might all of us fall into the trap of Victor Frankenstein’s monster, who never asked to be made.  He finds life to be an unmanageable nightmare with others constantly assaulting him with the pitchforks and torches of their fear and rejection.

13076_998843660144998_6984648371609353495_n But the thing about monster movies… at least the good ones, is that you can watch it to the end and see the monster defeated.  We realize in the end that the monster never really wins.  He can defeat the monstrous qualities within himself and stop himself.  Or the antidote to what ails him is discovered (as Luke did with Darth Vader).  Or we can see him put to his justifiable end and remember that if we should see those qualities within ourselves, we should do something about it so that we do not suffer the same fate.  Or, better yet, we can learn to laugh at the monstrosity that is every-day life.  Humor is a panacea for most of life’s ills.

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A bust of Herman Munster

 

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Filed under autobiography, humor, monsters, satire, surrealism, Uncategorized

Thinking Differently

Buckminster Fuller is an intellectual hero of mine.  As he said in the video, if you bothered to watch it, “I was told I had to get a job and make money, but would you rather be making money, or making sense?”  Bucky was always a little bit to the left of center, and basically in the farthest corner of the outfield.  That’s why we depend so much on him in times like these when the ball is being hit to the warning track.  (I know the world doesn’t really work on baseball metaphors any more, but my life has always been about metaphors from 1964 with the St. Louis Cardinals playing and beating the New York Yankees.  Mantle was on their side, but Maris was playing for us.)  You have to live in the world that fits into your own mental map of reality.  And if you’ve been whacked on the side of the head one too many times… it changes the way you think.  You begin to think differently.  

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If you don’t know who Bucky is, as you probably don’t because he revolutionized the world in the 60’s and died in the 1980’s,  Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller was an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, and inventor.  He is credited with the invention of the Geodesic Dome.  But he was so much more than that.  He wanted to build things that made better sense, in a practical sort of way, than the way we actually do them.  He built geodesic homes because he felt a home should maximize space and use of materials and minimize costs and amounts of materials as well as environmental impacts.  He is the one who popularized the notion of “Spaceship Earth”.  He wrote and published more than thirty books, and gave us a variety of truly wise insights.  He promoted the concept of synergy.  He said, “Don’t fight forces, use them.”  He also pointed out, “Ninety per cent of who you are is invisible and untouchable.”  He was a man full of quotes useful for internet memes.

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So, lets consider an example from the mixed up mind of Mickey;

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Here are three dolls from the Planet of the Apes part of my doll collection. (Two different movies are represented here, the 1968 original, and the Tim Burton 2001 remake.)

The world we now live in is increasingly like the movie, The Planet of the Apes.  In that film the world the astronauts set down upon is ruled by talking apes.  The human beings in that film are relegated to the fields and forests where they are no more than speechless animals.  Much like the Republican Party and the wealthy ruling elite of this day and age, the apes control everything and, led by Dr. Zaius (seen on the far right) reject science and evidence as a way to explain things.  They rely on the rules set down by the Lawgiver in much the same way that modern day Republicans swear by the U.S. Constitution to determine the truth of all things.

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Here we see the apes capturing and enslaving Marky Mark… er… Mark Wahlberg rather than Chuck Heston from the original movie.

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In the original set of movies, Charleton Heston, playing the astronaut Taylor, discovers that through hatred and warring, the human beings of Earth have bombed themselves back into the stone age and enabled the evolved apes to take over.  How does Mr. Heston deal with that problem?  He discovers an old doomsday device and blows up the world.  Chuck Heston has always approved Second Amendment solutions to modern problems, so it is no wonder that he lays waste to everything, the good and the bad.  I think we can see that old orangutan-man, Donald Trump doing exactly the same things now as he runs for President, or Great Ape, or whatever…

In both the previous series, and the current remake, salvation from the rule of the monkey people comes in the form of a leader among the apes.  Caesar, whether he be played by Roddy MacDowell or by Andy Serkis, is able to solve the problems of apes and men by reaching out to those of the other species, assigning them value, and ultimately doing what helps everyone to survive and live together.  Diversity is power and provides a workable solution through cooperation.  The forces of hatred and fear are the things that must be overcome and threaten the existence of everyone.  Donald Trump needs to learn from the lesson of The Planet of the Apes, and be less like General Ursus.   We need Bernie Sanders to embrace the role of Caesar and show us how we can get along with our Muslim brothers… after all, they are more like us than the apes are, and Caesar builds bridges between apes and men.

So, there you have it, my attempt to build a new model based on an old movie… or on the remake… whichever you prefer.  And if that doesn’t work, well, there’s always…

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Filed under doll collecting, humor, insight, inspiration, metaphor, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, Uncategorized

On the Highway (a quick poem about going faster)

The Road Home

I painted this oil painting looking West on Highway 3. My home town in Iowa is just beyond the next hill.

 

On The Highway

Leave dirt roads behind…

On the highway you go faster.

Pavement gives you ease to speed.

In fact, why use that two-lane road?

The Interstate is faster.

Limited access off and on…

The legal limit goes up to 70…

Or even 75…

85 with no cops around.

Straight over the horizon…

Into the mist-blue distance…

You are not really going anywhere…

But you will get there faster!

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Filed under humor, poetry, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Old Poetry By a Silly Old Poet

Okay, people, I am not a poet and I’m sure you know it… But sometimes cartoonists rhyme for no good raisin… and make bad puns too.  Today I will share with you a bit of versicular (verse+ick+ular) goofiness that I tend to call poetry.  I am putting some in my vault, here; Poetry in the Vault (Mickey’s House of Fiction)

Beauty

Sleeping Beauty (a Silly Poem of Love and Illusion)

In the dark and in the light

In candle flame and purple night

The beauty sleeps and fails to heed

The young man’s life of lust and need

What happens next is often sad

The want, the hope, the love so bad

And fluttering faery wings of light

Carry life and love and fuel the sight

With never a thought to what could be

If only love would call to thee

And wake the sleeper from her dream

To make the two but one to seem.

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Hear the Music (a love poem)

The singer sings his song,

And wants the world to sing along,

Though the world has gone all wrong,

And the darkness stays too long.

The singer warms and croons,

Under bright romantic moons,

And carries hopeful tunes,

To the listening dolts and loons.

Can a song bring truth to light?

Can it help us win the fight?

Does it ease the world’s plight?

And set the wrongs aright?

Yes a song can save the world,

Though the truth must be unfurled,

And the listeners’ ears are twirled.

So the hurts will all be pearled.

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Mickey at the Wishing Well of Souls

I found a country well, and I thought I had a quarter,

But I fished in pockets hard, and found nothing for the warter,

And since I had to warp a line to make the poem rhyme,

I figured I would just look in, because I had the time.

I looked into the warty water which sat there still and deep,

And could not see the bottom, and I began to weep.

The water was clear and dark and black,

And the only thing I saw… was Mickey looking back.

And nothing of the wishing well, its magic could I see,

For only there just staring back, the secret thing was me.

Blue in the back yard

Mental Pie

I’d like to offer you a piece of my mind,

Though not a lecture, rant, or complaint,

But rather a piece of mental pie.

Its taste will be very sweet, you will find,

As I’m constantly thinking in ink and paint,

That gives you wings and allows you to fly.

The Cookie

Once I had a cookie… But every time I took a bite, It became smaller and smaller…

With each bite I had less and less cookie left.

But when it was gone, the sweet taste of it…

Lingered on… as memory.

Icarus

Icarus (A Song Lyric with No Tune)

“You never believe in me,

You only hear the lie,

You never believe in me,

You never even try,

You never see the good in me,

You only fear I’ll die,

You never hear the words I say,

You never tell me why,

You never care how I plan,

Or why I touch the sky,

You’ll never lift me up,

You never let me fly,”

That’s how it always was,

Between my father and I,

Until the day I reached the sun,

And burned my hands on high,

And so it is he’ll never know,

How much his son was worth,

Because he couldn’t understand,

The day

I fell

To Earth.

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Filed under humor, Paffooney, poetry

Clowns (An Edited Re-Post from 2013)

ClownheadWhen you are small, there is something intimidating about a man in strange clothes and a garish pattern of white and red and blue all over his face.  What is he hiding?  What does he want?  Why does he squeeze off a blast from that ridiculous little horn with the big red squeeze bulb right in your little-boy face?   His big floppy shoes suggest monstrous feet.  Why does he have such a big mouth with red paint all around it?  “The better to eat you with, my dear!”

But clowns have a purpose for those of us who are no longer frightened little boys.  They parody our actions and exaggerate everything.  They look like us, sound like us, and behave like us if only we are able to look at ourselves times twelve or thirteen.  They are essential to our lives and our happiness.  Why, you ask?  Because, my friend, we should never take ourselves too seriously.  If we look at life only through serious eyes, we will never get enough of weeping.  When we fill up too many balloons full of air with our face painted on them, balloons of self-importance, as serious adults are wont to do, then we need to find the maniac with the pin.  He’s not always a professional with face paint and floppy shoes.  Sometimes he is the mailman, the local grocer, or even your deadbeat brother-in-law.  But the point is, no matter how scary he sometimes seems, we all depend on the clown.  We all need the foolishness of the most foolish among us.  It keeps us sane.

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3508-03052011141710-Dumbo With Clown Faceclown_faceWhy then did I have to take it upon myself to give the world clowns?  After all, that is precisely what I am doing as a writer.  I am physically miserable with my six incurable diseases.  I have diabetes, arthritis, hyper tension, psoriasis, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder, and I have a prostate the size of a cantaloupe.    I can’t walk without a cane.  I can’t breathe while I’m walking.  I can’t pee without pain.  I can’t draw as much as I’d like. And I have already been forced to retire from teaching… the single greatest thing I ever did with my foolish little life.  Oh, and every night while I’m trying to sleep, I itch the top layer of skin off all my most sensitive anatomical parts thanks to the gift of psoriasis.  I have every reason to just curl up in a ball and cry.  But that’s not what a clown does.  A clown picks himself up and dusts off that rusty tin can that he keeps his sense of humor in.  He takes a pinch of clown snuff out of the can along with the rusty pin and induces an eye-opening sneeze of monstrous proportions.  A clown looks at the world around him with newly enlarged eyes and sees all the really absurd things that are there.  He looks at the way high school students act.  He sees politicians like Ted Cruz strutting around like a peacock in the U.S. Senate.  The clown sees injustice, moronic balloons with Ted Cruz’s face on them getting bigger and bigger and probably presidential, people on Texas roadways turning road rage into performance art, and even the contradictory things the clown’s wife says to him in little cartoon speech balloons that never seem to agree with each other and fight back and forth until they fill up the entire Cartoon Panel of Real Life.  The clown sharpens that sense of humor, that crooked little pin, until it is balloon-popping razor sharp.  It suddenly becomes time to pop a few balloons.

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There are clowns in my writing not just because I like to write humor, but because it is the only way I can truly fight back.  I must crack a few jokes.  I must take a few metaphors and push them and pull them until they are so out of shape they form a picture of Ted Cruz’s face.  I must puncture things and blow things up.  I must toss sarcasm-berry  pies at Ted Cruz’s face.  (Actually, I love Ted Cruz.   What wannabe humorist wouldn’t?  He’s such an easy target.)  I must mock things and ape people.  I must sock things and grape people… waitaminnit!  Grape people?  Is that what a one-eyed, one-horned, giant purple people eater eats?  I must do all the funny foolish things that a foolish funny clown can do to make the tears turn to laughter and pain to be ignored.  Ted Cruz to be ignored too, if possible.

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I have a riff or two to do on the clown heroes who inspire me.  Red Skelton, Milton Berle, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, and even Charlie Chaplin.  But maybe that has to wait for another day… another post.  As teachers and other clowns must always be aware, the attention span of the audience wears out quickly.  If you have read this far, you are getting sleepy… sleepy (Michael Beyer is the funniest writer you ever read and you will not remember that I am the one who told you so).

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Playing Snakes and Ladders with M.C. Escher

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The problem, as you can basically see, is the complexity of life on Earth and the convoluted way you have to understand the game to win it.  I do not trust the ladders.  They are not sturdy.  They are not strong.   And I fear the snakes.  Will they not bite with poison?  Will they not encircle me and constrict the very marrow out of my old bones?  And when you play the game with M. C.,  he cheats.  He plays in the fourth and fifth dimensions.

It is obvious that I don’t play the game well.  You can tell, for instance, that I am struggling to get a camera to take a picture of a pencil drawing and get all of it in focus enough to bring out the nuances.  It is the tricks of shading and juxtaposition of bizarre elements that got me the “A+” for this assignment in Drawing 303 at Iowa State University.  I couldn’t capture some of the most subtle usage because the paper of the drawing has aged since 1978 and the shading is harder to make stand out against the graying and yellowing paper in the background.  And it is increasingly hard to pick the thematic core of my message out of the hoogah-boog and chizzly-goober mishmash of my prose.

But it boils down to this, with school starting again, and money for bills running out, and arguments with the wife, and kids who sleep all day and play computer games all night, the whole two-steps-forward and one-step-back dance that I must do is making the game too hard to play.  It is too hard to win.  And I must simplify.  No more hopping from double planes of existence into a room where you will fall up to the floor from the ceiling.  And I must take success where I find it.

Heat of up to 105 and drought returning after months of deluge, makes me take pride in simple steps I have taken in the game.  My flower wagon is blossoming only one blossom at a time, but there is bloom… there is success… and flowers seek the sun.

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So what does my post for today mean?  Don’t worry about it.  M.C. Escher cheats when he plays the game.  His physics break the laws of physics, and his genius turns around corners that are not really there.  And maybe I only scored a “1” on my roll today.  But it is a good one.  And I have a piece in the game.  I am a player on the board.  And the next turn will come.

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M.C. Escher's faulty physics.

M.C. Escher’s faulty physics.

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