Tag Archives: Mickey

The Secret Identity of Super-Mickey

Cartoon villains take note; Super-Mickey’s secret identity is Filbert Hazelnut. I make that revelation without worry. After all, Mickey is not really me. So, if the Messmaster, Badnose the Clown, or Daniel Quilp are going to try to apply the Mickian version of Kryptonite, not laughing at the jokes, in order to slay Super-Mickey, Filbert is immune to that. I am too for that matter. If you are a school teacher who uses humor in the classroom, you soon learn that only the smartest kids actually understand the jokes, and half of them are just too cool to laugh when the teacher wants them to. (Although they will tell you years later that they still use concrete details in their writing because you said that if you routinely whack the reader in the head with verifiable concrete examples, they will be totally stunned enough to believe you know what you are writing about. That was, you must understand, a concrete detail I just whacked you with to help you remember what it is, not to make you laugh… even though it was a joke… but you are permitted to laugh if you want to.)

The basic point of this essay is Mickey is not really me. I never went by that name as a kid.

I was always called Michael, sometimes Mike (though they were usually talking about the Other Mike when anybody said Mike in school back then… circa 1963 to 1969). In high school I was given the nickname Superchicken after the Saturday Morning cartoon on the George of the Jungle Show. In college I was given the rhyming nickname Spike by my college freshman roommate because he ludicrously thought I was the opposite of a Spike, like calling a huge football player Tiny Tim, or a midget Big Bad John.

When I started teaching school, they called me Gilligan because I was thin and they wanted to pretend I was a hopeless stumbling fool (Which I was at times my first two years, just as all beginner teachers are.) My classroom became known as Gilligan’s Island on the day in third period when I made the comment, “Gilligan is lucky enough to be the only really eligible bachelor on the same island with Ginger the movie star and cute little Mary Ann. I would find out later that same day that three eighth grade girls in that very class had huge crushes on me and were fighting over which one was Mary Ann and which one was Ginger and, unsurprisingly, which one was the other girl.

And, of course, Rudolfo Hernandez tried to get everybody to call me Batman because I bought a used Ford Torino with fins on the back. But to promote the nickname, Rudy came to class wearing a Halloween Batman mask and afterwords had to learn to live with being called Battyman himself. (I wish i could take credit for calling him that first, but I am sure I did not. I distinctly remember it coming from a girl in his class that made fun of him for every stupid thing he did because she apparently adored him. I just reinforced it about a thousand times.)

Mickey is a name that I have only ever been called by me myself. It was a name I signed some of my cartoons with (using The Little Fool, Le Petit Fou, Leah Cim Reyeb, and Dr. Seebreez on the rest.) It also became the name I use to refer to myself on this blog when I talk about myself in the third person like a crazy person.

I have given myself other pseudo-pen-names in my writing. Googol Marou, as the only first-person narrator of the AeroQuest series, speaks with my voice as the primary storyteller in the tale. In Norwall, the fictionalized version of Rowan, Iowa in most of my other books, Branch McMillan, the writer-character, is actually me. (Like Charles Dickens switched his initials to write the semi-autobiographical David Copperfield, I created that one by switching the M and the B.

Of course, the many me-characters in my fiction books are also basically me. Superchicken is me. Milt Morgan is a combination of me and the Other Mike. Brent Clarke is the football-player me combined with two other football teammates. Certain parts of Todd Niland’s story are really about things that happened to me, and things I was afraid of at his age.

In some ways Tim Kellogg and Dorin Dobbs are me too, though both of those characters are actually based on my eldest son. It is possible, I suppose, that you could consider my actual son to be a me-character too, as people do live on through their own children.

But, while Mickey might be me more than I care to admit, Super-Mickey’s secret identity is definitely Filbert Hazelnut.

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Filed under autobiography, cartoons, humor, novel writing, Paffooney

Upon Further Reflection…


My 60th Birthday Self Portrait

Time dictates lots of things.  I am not now even the ghost of what I was back then.  I look more like Santa Claus than my father or my grandfathers ever did.  You may notice that, even with glasses on, I have to squint in order to see who I really am.

It is normal to do a bit of self-examination after a milestone birthday.  But I never claimed to be normal.  In fact, I doubt after the results of the recent election that you could say I was anything like the common man at all.

I was raised a Christian in a Midwest Methodist Church from a small Iowa farm town.  But I have since become something of an agnostic or atheist… not because I don’t believe in God, but because I don’t believe anyone can tell me who God is or how he wants me to be other than me.  But I am also not at the center of the universe the way most religious people believe.  I believe that all people are born good and have to work at being bad by making self-centered choices and making excuses to themselves for behaving in ways that they know are wrong.  God doesn’t forgive my sins because he doesn’t have to.  I am tolerant of all people and most things about them.  To sum up this paragraph, I am nothing like the dedicated Christians I know and grew up among.  The actions of the new, in-coming government and dominant political party convince me that intolerance, self-interest, and rationalizations are the norm.


Sometimes my nose gets really red and my hair bozos out for no particular reason.

I deal with the problems of life by making jokes and forging ahead with carefully considered plans in spite of the doubts others express about my abilities, my choices, and my sanity.  I prefer to do something rather than to sit idly by and do nothing.  Yet, I never do anything without agonizing over the plan before I take that step.  And like the recent election, things usually go wrong.  I have failed at far more things in my life than I have succeeded at.

I am told I think too much.  I hear constantly that I make things too complicated.  People say I should do practically everything in a different way… usually their way.  But I inherited a bit of stubbornness from my square-headed German ancestors.  In fact, I inherited Beyer-stubborn from my Grandma Beyer.  In all the time I knew her, I never saw her change her mind about anything… ever.  She was a Republican who thought all Republicans were like President Eisenhower, even Ronald Reagan…  but not Barry Goldwater.  Someone convinced her that Goldwater was a radical.  That was almost as bad as being a Democrat.  I, however, have strayed from the Beyer-stubborn tradition enough to change my mind once in a while, though only after carefully considering the facts on both sides of the question.  Nixon changed me from a Republican like Grandma into a Democrat.  Fortunately, Grandma Beyer loved me too much to disown me.


In my retirement, I have gotten even more artistical than I was before.  This is a picture of me with my fictional child Valerie.

So how do I summarize this mirror-staring exercise now that I have passed the 500-word goal?  Probably by stating that I do have a vague idea of who I am.  But I promise to keep looking in the mirror anyway.  One never knows what he will see in the map of his soul that he wears on his face.

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Filed under autobiography, birthdays, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, humor, Paffooney, self portrait, strange and wonderful ideas about life

The Many People That Are Me


Yes, I am a wizard.  That is a complicated thing to say.  It is complicated because a wizard has to be a wise man, and wisdom has to begin with the idea that you know practically nothing about anything… but you can find out.  So one version of me has to be my wizard D&D character, the wizard Eli Tragedy.  This is because I know practically nothing about anything… but I am willing to not be stupid and look stuff up before I tell you anything and pretend it is a wise thing to say.

lil mickey

I have been thinking about who I am because I want to re-do my About the Author page.   And that leads to the difficulty of explaining who Mickey actually is.  You see, I am actually lots of different people in my head.  Mickey is the cartoonist, the humorist, the clown.  He is not the every-day me.  He is the goofy and foofy and lovey-to-drawie part of me.  And yes, I know some of those are not real words.  Mickey is like that.  He speaks Mickian Goof Speak.  I have no control over that part of him.  I am not certain where this Mickey-part of my soul originated, but it may be the result of too much TV when I was a kid.

And of course there is the Teacher-Me, Reluctant Rabbit, the person who stood in front of groups of twelve-thirteen-and-fourteen-year-olds for three decades and tap-danced, told stories, stood on my head, and begged them to internalize at least a lesson or two of what I tried to teach them.



And the wizard part of me was just barely wise enough to realize that a teacher can open doors, but you can’t shove a kid through.  They have to take the critical learning step themselves.  They have to want to learn something.  But even though they actually do the learning themselves, they will come back to me in later years saying, “Oh, thank you, you taught me so much!” when really all I did was be a guide on the side and stayed out of their way.

And, of course, there is the Cowboy Me.  I live in Texas.  I was a Belmond Bronco in high school, but I became a Cotulla Cowboy for 24 years of my teaching career.  I ended up as a Naaman Forest Ranger.  I have worn the hat a lot in my life, being as much of a straight shooter as the Shakiest Gun In The West can be, always trying to shoot the six-guns out of the bad guy’s hands rather than shoot people.

So how do I explain a thing like that?  Probably the way I just did it (ironically).  I should use Paffoonies I have created over time and waffle about stupid stuff that might make people laugh when they realize how self-contradictory it is.  And I should say it like I mean it… because I probably do.



Filed under artwork, autobiography, humor, Mickey, Paffooney, self portrait, strange and wonderful ideas about life, Uncategorized

The Surrealist

Yes, I admit it.  I am a Surrealist.  I also hope that it is not too terrible a thing to be.  Because I truly think that everyone who was raised by television, and lived through the revolution where computers took over human life, is one too.

definition from Merriam-Webster;

Simple Definition of surrealism;

a 20th-century art form in which an artist or writer combines unrelated images or events in a very strange and dreamlike way

Full Definition of surrealism;

the principles, ideals, or practice of producing fantastic or incongruous imagery or effects in art, literature, film, or theater by means of unnatural or irrational juxtapositions and combinations

  • rooster riding
  • There is a certain satisfaction to be had in knowing for certain how to define oneself.  I learned about Surrealism in high school art class back in the early 70’s.  I saw and admired the works of Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, and Max Ernst.  And I realized that everything I wanted to do in the Realm of Art, whether it was weird paintings, cartoons, comic book art, or bizarre puppet shows… fantasy, science fiction, or humor… it was ALL Surrealism.  Surrealism saturates out culture and our very thinking.    We are drawn to watch baseball by the antics of a giant pantomime chicken.  Our food choices are influenced by a happy red, yellow, and white clown who battles a blobby purple monster and a hamburglar over shakes and French fries.  It is only natural then, that I would want to draw bug-sized fairies who would saddle and ride a red rooster.  I have embraced surrealism as a way of life.
  • 20150910_122142
  • I have no trouble writing a poem about the difficulties of life by writing about a game of bowling where you have to roll a moose down the alley into the pins.
  • Surrealism is all about creating things by lumping all kinds of disparate goodies into the same pot and cooking it up as a stew.  It is important that the stew tastes good in the end, so the mixture has to have large doses of reality and realism in it.  Dali painted melting watches and boneless soft-sculpture people with almost photographic realism.  I am compelled to do that too.
  • And what is humor, after all, if not lumping strange things together into a reality sandwich that makes you laugh because it takes you by surprise?  I don’t shy away from weirdness.  I embrace it.  It makes life all the funnier.
  • And why did I put bullet points on everything in this post?  Because it allows me to mash bits of wit and wisdom together in a weird way that only seems to have no connection, one to the other, and only seems to make no sense.
  • princess on rooster
  • Sometimes we just have to look at things sideways.
  • I was recently accused of being eclectic in my posting topics by one regular commentator.  I could wear that word like a badge of honor.
  • Definition from the Urban Dictionary;
    This describes a combination of many different individual elements of styles, themes, mediums or inspirations pooled from many sources. It can refer to musical tastes, dress sense, interior design…many things.
    She has an ecletic sense of style, today she wears biker boots, pink fishnet stockings, a pencil skirt, a military jacket, a baseball hat, a my little pony t-shirt and a dunlop bag covered in badges from all her favourite bands from ABBA to Kooks
    by Ezmerelda August 28, 2005
  • So, if I am going to make sense of this whole mess of words and ideas and bizarre images, let me do it with a picture that I think is surreal.
  • Ima mickey


Filed under art criticism, artwork, humor, insight, Paffooney, philosophy, surrealism, Uncategorized

Wizarding Ain’t Easy


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

My quest to become a wizard began when I was but a kid reading comic books.  It got a boost when I became a middle school English teacher and realized the fundamental truth of the universe, human beings know practically nothing at all… about anything.  The only path to wisdom is the way of the fool.

So, I embraced it.  It made it so much easier to teach and manage a classroom full of teenybumpers to realize the only thing that works when they laugh at you and make fun of you, is to be able to laugh at yourself and make fun of them right back.

I learned along the way that things that hurt you and make you suffer cause wisdom to happen.  You walk under a ladder and the painter accidentally drops a paint bucket on your head, and you realize that walking under a ladder is a bad thing to do in the future… not simply because of superstition either.


Drawing and painting wizards is something I began to do too.  I find it fascinating to try to draw a wrinkly old face and attempt to put some kind of intelligence in the eyes.  I can get vapid and stupid really really well.  I think I know what that looks like in the eyes of another far better than I know what wisdom looks like.  And how do you know it is wisdom, anyway, and not merely constipation?  Can you see understanding and intelligence in the eyes of another?  I think you can.  But looking into the eyes of young learners for so many years and searching for those things, I realized that the best you can do is guess.  You could easily be wrong.

That is what wisdom is.  Make your best guess, but remember that you are probably wrong.  It is possible to do great and powerful magic in the world if you are a wizard and you have wisdom.  But it will not be easy.  And you must work hard.  And when you have to decide whether to speak or stay silent, the wise man is always silent first, giving himself time to think before he speaks.

“Are you a wise man, Mickey?” you ask.

“…” Mickey says.


Filed under humor, Paffooney, photo paffoonies, wisdom, wizards

Not Everything Improves With Age


I have to admit, I have changed a lot from my high school graduation portrait.  The extra facial fur hides some of the wrinkles and all the little pink itches and bleeds gifted to me by the miracle of diabetic psoriasis.  My hair has totally changed color without dye or bleach.  And you can’t see it, but the brain is full of a lot more wrinkles.


This picture of my wife and I is from more than five years ago… what I looked like then reflected more who and what I was when I was still teaching and able to live life without so much arthritis pain and inability to breathe.  Not so many parts of me had fallen off or stopped working back then.  I sometimes think being younger than I am now is something to be wished for.  But I really don’t suppose that if I were to find a magic lamp that had a genii in it, I would want to be younger again if it cost me everything I have learned since I was that age.  I am an older man now… a sicker man… a less happy man.

But there is wisdom to be found in growing older.  And there is a certain magic in that which is really quite priceless.


Filed under autobiography, humor, illness, Uncategorized

The Jesus Logic

Danse 4Here is a syllogism to explain Jesus logic;

  1. Jesus walked on water.
  2. Cucumbers are 80 per cent water.
  3. I can walk on cucumbers.
  4. Therefore I must be 80 per cent Jesus.

Here is another.

  1. Jesus turned water into wine.
  2. I can drink wine and turn it into urine.
  3. Urine is an icky kind of water.
  4. Since I can do the opposite of Jesus, I must be the anti-Christ.

You can draw your own conclusions about the mathematics of believing in religion.  I have no qualms about letting others believe whatever they want to believe about the universe, its purpose, and who made it.  I think it is very pompous and self-serving to think you are qualified, either from science or faith, to say you know the absolute truth about those things and others must accept your logical conclusions.  Here is my own pompous and self-serving opinion.  There is a God. I know this because I talk to Him daily.  He speaks to me through signs and resonances and Bible-reading and feelings.  But, here’s the rub; I have hoarding disorder and diabetic depression and other mental illnesses.  Since I am crazy, you probably shouldn’t believe the voices in my head that I listen to.  But I get comfort from my belief in God.  Christianity teaches that we should love one another.  This, I think, is the most important truth we can possibly accept.  Part of loving others is not condemning them for what they believe and trying to impose my beliefs upon them.  God, to me, is everything that there is.  The universe around me is vast and complicated.  I will never know even a half a grain of sand worth of all the knowledge wrapped up in grains of sand on all the beaches on all the planets in the universe.  But the universe is alive and self-aware because I am alive and self-aware, and I am part of the universe.  And here’s the kicker, my conclusions about life, the universe, and everything make no more sense than the Jesus logic I presented at the outset.  After all, I am provably crazy.


Filed under humor, Paffooney, religion

Cowboy Mickey

lil mickey cowboyI have written more than one “Understanding Mickey” post, and I feel I still haven’t given readers the tools to fully understand how to translate Mickeyism into English.  Part of the problem is that Mickey has changed over the years.  And Mickey never was the same thing as Michael Beyer.  That other self, the self-reflective Michael self, is the teacher, the thinker, the poet, the author.  Mickey is the cartoonist and story-teller.  And, most importantly, Mickey is a cowboy.

So, how did Mickey become a cowboy?  That isn’t such a hard thing to understand.  From childhood Mickey always had that sense of cowboy certitude.  You know, that feeling that no matter what problem rears its ugly head and threatens to stamp, and snort, and cause a stampede, there is a way to rope it, hog-tie it, and slap a brand on its rump.  The cowboy way is to never let anything stand in your way.  I always felt that there were extra reserves held deep down inside that I could call on to pull me out of the fire when troubles were at their worst.  No matter what, I would never be defeated unless I had my boots on and sixguns were a-blazing.


I include this goofy cowboy-in-his-doll-collection-lined-studio selfie because the cowboy part of me is about to change again.  I am seriously thinking about shaving off my author’s beard and cutting short my Gandalf-hair.  Why?  Not because I am seriously considering stopping being a writer.  I could never do that till the day I die.  But, the cowboy part of me is gradually becoming less and less of an essential part of the plan going forward.  Besides, my wife doesn’t like the rough-old-cobb look that I have been cultivating since my retirement in the spring of 2014.

Mickey will always be a cowboy, but there is more to me than just Mickey.  In my selfie I am wearing my best cowboy hat, the one I bought at Goodwill that they apparently got from an estate sale.  It is from Hatter’s Inc. in Fort Worth, the place where LBJ bought a lot of his cowboy hats.  I feel like the spirit of some old dead Texan still lives in that hat.  I am also wearing my Naaman Forest Rangers teacher-shirt.  I spent twenty three years as a Cotulla Cowboy.  I spent one year as a Creek Valley Wildcat, and one year as a Garland Owl.  And then I ended my career with six years as a Naaman Forest Ranger.  So a lot of the cowboy in me is school-related.  And I am not going to throw away any of my cowboy hats any time soon.  I am never going to forget what it feels like to ride a horse.  I am never going to forget what it feels like to face an angry, out-of-control teenager and have to catch that bull by the horns.  I broke up more than thirty fights in my thirty-one year teaching career (and yes, I am counting the ones where no punches were thrown, and there was no kicking of teacher shins).  Those count too.  And in the long run, I will never be anything but a cattle-herding pedagogue who wields a mean wit and often shoots from the hip.


Filed under cowboys, humor, Paffooney


This post is about Mickey and his crayons.  Little Mickey always loved to color.  He always had a cigar box full of Crayola crayons that he treasured and kept where he could always reach them whenever the art urge struck.  (Well, except for that one time on the drive home from Mason City, Iowa when he left them in the back window of the 1960 Ford Fairlane and the sunshine melted the entire box… tears there for about a week.)

coloring page

But Mickey has grown up and graduated to colored pencils.  Radical change, huh?  The need to color stuff is still there.  So, what do I do about it now that Mickey is a rational, responsible adult?  Well, you know there is a surge in the publishing industry of adult coloring books.  I think that means that Mickey is not alone in the fevered fetish to put crayons… er… colored pencils… er, some kind of color to black and white pictures with plenty of white space to fill in.  This is something I do while watching television.  Other adults do it during meetings, at school functions… during sex…  It is something that occupies your hands and a tiny portion of your brain and fills in all the blank spaces with color.  And Mickey has the added advantage of not having to buy adult coloring books because he can make his own black and white pictures to color.

So, the crayons are out… er, the colored pencils, anyway.  Mickey has this new picture he drew that honors his childhood cartoon hero, Astroboy.  He is going to fill it in with colors and patterns and two-or-three color blends and have a whee of a time while watching Supernatural or The West Wing or Dr. Who on Netflix.  It is a hoot.

And you may be wondering why the narrator of this silly Paffooney post always refers to himself in the third person as Mickey when talking about his art?  Well, no one actually calls me Mickey in real life.  Mickey is the cartoon character who lives within me and controls the part of my brain and personality that paffoonies out all kinds of art.  It is not complicated.  Mickey is definitely me.  But not everything I am is Mickey.  Mickey will always be that little boy with the cigar box of crayons coloring an original picture of lions eating that bully in third grade who called him a sissy for liking coloring books.


Filed under coloring, humor, Paffooney

Have No Fear, Mickey is Here

Beauty and Beast

I have recently had more run-ins with my old nemesis… Fear.  He is a vicious animal that makes my heart race and muddles my thinking (which is ironically very hard to do considering the muddlesome nature of my brain to begin with.)

I posted a political post a couple of days ago suggesting you should shoot yourself in the foot.  Fear tells me he likes shooting.  He is a card-carrying member of the NRA.  Second Amendment rights are more important to him than the First Amendment, the Fourth, the Sixth, and definitely the 15th.  He agrees with Donald Trump about Mexicans.  We have to seal the border, and if they come across to commit crimes, steal our stuff, and mess up our lovely whitebread world, we oughtta be able to shoot them.  Fear likes conservatives in politics.  He knows they don’t really mean it when they ask us to give up stuff and give them more money in return for protecting us from all those scary “other people”, but he likes the notion of guns and military to “protect us”.  Those “other people”, they are scary. and icky, and awful.  We hate them.  Let’s kill them.  Fear really does say this to me, and I am fairly sure that he says it to other people too.  But I have decided I don’t really want to listen.

superchick2Superman 2In fact, I want to stand up to him.  I am tired of listening to people whom I care about repeat fear-fueled talking points from Fox News about why white cops who killed black youths without giving them their right to a trial… especially un-armed black youths… were probably justified and were rightfully afraid for their own gun-fortified life.  I was mortified when the white cop in McKinney, Texas threw the black girl in the bikini to the ground and put a knee on her back.  That was a girl like so many of the ones I have taught in Texas.  Sure, she may have said bad words to him… because she was afraid.  But she had more reason to be afraid than he did.  So, I need to use Mickian magical powers to punch Fear in the nose.  This monster will not beat me, even though I am naked and unarmed.  I am not afraid.


And here’s the reason why…  I love people.  I don’t hate them.  I don’t fear them.  I particularly love some of the people that friends and relatives routinely tell me that they fear.  I have had black, Hispanic, and Muslim students that I would die to protect without hesitation.  When I stood between a Hispanic boy with a sharp metal throwing star with which he intended to commit a murder, and the boy inside my classroom he was threatening, I was ready to die.  He was not entering my classroom while I lived to block the doorway.  Fortunately for my stupid, brave self, an even braver History teacher prevented him from getting to me and got him to drop the weapon and run away.  Later that day I cried several gallons of tears and thanked God I did not wet my pants on the spot, but that is not the only time in my teaching career that I stepped between two combatants in order to protect them both and end the fight.  The secret to those victories was never having a gun or weapon to fight back with.  All I had to do to win the battle was overcome Fear… to beat him down and not let him be a factor.  You can always talk your way out of any terrible situation.  If the person you are talking to knows you are not showing fear, and you bother to tell him or her that you care about not letting them get hurt, even by their own actions… even the most wicked-hearted people are still people and still have a heart.  If they don’t, a gun isn’t going to save you anyway.  It would’ve helped Ninja-star-boy to have someone supply him with a gun.  So I say this without fear.  “Fear, you do not have a say in my life!  I do not give you any power over my faith, my politics, my daily life, or my loves.”

Now, I am not made of bricks or steel, and I am definitely not bullet-proof.  But I am not afraid to say, I am a liberal in my politics.  I believe in helping people, not hurting them in the name of Fear.  And so, if you Klansmen and white supremacists are offended by that fact and believe you need to punish me for my commie-liberal-sinner crimes, I am ready to tell you that I respect you as a human being, and disrespect every hurtful thing you stand for.  I will gladly give you your Fourth and Sixth Amendment rights, and do everything in my power to prevent you from exercising your Second Amendment rights on my poor little (Biblical-word-for-Donkey used as a euphemism).

Oh, and I am not about to tell you where I live.  I may be stupid and brave, but nobody is that stupid.

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Filed under humor, Paffooney, politics