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Summer Fun Cartoon

toon1

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July 3, 2022 · 3:00 pm

Imaginary People

Millis 2

It pretty much goes without saying that, since I am an author of fiction, determined to be a storyteller, I spend most of my time talking to people who exist only inside my goofy old head.  Sure, most of the imaginary people I create to keep me company are at least loosely based on real people that I either once knew, or still know.  You can tell that about Millis, the rabbit-man, pictured here on the right, can’t you?  Sure.  I had a New Zealand White pet rabbit that I raised as a 4-H project.  His name was Ember-eyes… because, well, yeah… red eyes.  It just happens that my goofy old memory transformed him into an evolution-enhanced science experiment in my unpublished novel, The Bicycle-Wheel Genius.  But he was a real person once… ’cause rabbits are people too, right?

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Anita Jones, a character from my unpublished novel, Superchicken, is based on a real person too.  I admit, there was a girl in my class from grades K through 6 that I secretly adored and would’ve done anything to be near, though every significant event I remember from my life that involved an encounter with her, involved red-faced embarrassment for me.  That’s why I remember her as having auburn-colored hair.  Charley Brown’s Little Red-Haired Girl… duh!  I would’ve died sooner than tell her how I really felt, even now, but by making her into one of a multitude of imaginary people who inhabit my life, I can be so close to her that sometimes I am actually inside her mind.  There’s a sort of creepy voyeurism-squared sort of thing.

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Dorin Dobbs, the main human character of my published novel, Catch a Falling Star, is an imaginary character based mostly on my eldest son, though, in fact, I started writing that novel five years before he was born.  Like most of the imaginary people in my life, I talk to Dorin repeatedly even when the real Dorin is half a world away in the Marine Corps.  And even though the Dorin I am talking to is not the real Dorin, he is still constantly using language that is extra-salty far beyond his years, and is often defiant of my fatherly wisdom, and always argues for the exact opposite of any opinion I express.  That’s just how it is to be the father of an imaginary son.

Realistically, I have to admit that even the flesh-and-blood people in my life are imaginary.  No one ever actually inhabits another person’s head except through the magic of imagination.  Even though I am talking to you at this moment, you are only an imaginary person to me.  I don’t even know your name as I write this.  And I am the same to you.  You may have read my writing enough to think you know something about me… but you really only know the Mickey in your mind that I have worked at putting there with my words.  And I really have no idea what that imaginary Mickey you have in your head is like.  He is probably really the opposite of who I think I am.

mANDY

I am, after all, married to this girl panda, Mandy Panda from the Pandalore Islands, and my three children are all Halfasian part-panda-people.  Yes, this is the imaginary person who is my real-life wife.  The secret is, we only ever know the imaginary people we have in our goofy little heads.  We don’t know the real person behind anyone in our lives, because it is simply not possible to really know how anybody else thinks or feels, even if they write out their lengthy treatise about how all people are imaginary people.  That stuff is just too goofy-dippy to be real.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, characters, goofiness, humor, imagination, Paffooney, rabbit people, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Islands of Identity

Island Girl2z

Who am I?

Why do I do the things that I do?

No man is an island.  John Donne the English poet stated that.  And Ernest Hemingway quoted it… and wove it into his stories as a major theme… and proceeded to try to disprove it.  We need other people.  I married an island girl from the island of Luzon in the Philippines.  She may have actually needed me too, though she will never admit it.

Gilligans Island

When I was a young junior high school teacher in the early eighties, they called me Mr. Gilligan.  My classroom was known as Gilligan’s Island.  This came about because a goofball student in the very first class on the very first day said, “You look like Gilligan’s Island!”  By which he meant I reminded him of Bob Denver, the actor that played Gilligan.  But as he said it, he was actually accusing me of being an island.  And no man is an island.  Thank you, Fabian, you were sorta dumb, but I loved you for it.

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You see, being Gilligan on Gilligan’s Island was not a bad thing to be.  It was who I was as a teacher.  Nerdy, awkward, telling stories about when I was young, and my doofy friends like Skinny Mulligan.  Being a teacher gave me an identity.  And Gilligan was stranded on the Island with two beautiful single women, Mary Ann and Ginger.  Not a bad thing to be.  And I loved teaching and telling stories to kids who would later be the doofy students in new stories.

But we go through life searching for who we are and why we are here.  Now that I am retired, and no longer a teacher… who am I now?  We never really find the answer.  Answers change over time.  And so do I.

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Writing with Power

Troubled hearts can be soothed with words.  In 1Samuel 16:23 David plays the harp and his singing was a relief for Saul and the bad spirit departed from upon him.  In the same way, the written word can touch the soul of the reader and, like Saul, free the reader from the demons besetting him.  That is power.  That is responsibility.

solomon

Of course, I am the last person to claim that I can teach you to write with power… I can’t even claim that I can write with power myself.  But I know how to write well enough to make myself laugh, cry, and feel through my writing.  And occasionally someone else reads my writing and agrees.  Through years worth of being a writing teacher, I do have some thoughts about how it may be done.

First of all, I am not wrong to choose David’s harp playing, inspired by Jehovah as it was, as a metaphor for writing power.  It is in the very sounds of the words that a great deal of emotion and meaning is embedded.  One can evoke a very bitter and angry feeling by describing a cruel woman not as a “mean girl” but as one whose laughter is “like the crass cackling of devious old witch”.   Mean girl has too soft a labial sound, even with the hard g, to be as ugly and staccato as the repeated sounds added to the tch and the fact that “devious” comes so close to “devil”… a related word.  A happy feeling can be created by describing a smile as “a sudden sunburst of white teeth and happiness”.  That almost makes me laugh…unless you add “shark’s” between “white” and “teeth”… and then I am convinced I am about to be eaten.  The sounds in the description are like a sizzling burn that leads into the firework display at the end of the word “sunburst”.  To write with the music inherent in words, at some point you have to hear it out loud.  I always hear the words in my head when I write, spoken in a wide variety of voices.  But to truly get it right, I have to read aloud to hear with my ears… which I have already done three times to this paragraph alone.

In order to have power, writing must manipulate feelings.   I don’t mean by using the word “manipulate” that it is some sort of Machiavellian bad thing.  Simply put, a writer must control the feelings of the reader, not by sound alone, but by the depth of meaning of the words.  You must be able to weave a paragraph together not only with the simple meanings of the words themselves, but all the connotations and denotations in those words.  You must use metaphor and simile, comparison, allusion, and sensory details.  Ernest Hemingway had a working style almost completely devoid of metaphor and the writer’s own personal commentary… but that only worked because all his themes were about dispirited people suffering tragedy and loss and a pervasive sense of disconnectedness.  Hemingway is a powerful writer… but his books never make me laugh.  Purple prosey over-describers like Charles Dickens can make me laugh with a simple list of things.  “The boy’s desk had a nearly dry ink bottle, several pens that needed new nibs and were chewed about the grip, and a small stack of papers crammed full of ink drawings of skulls and skeletons.”   It is that last startling detail in the list that makes the mundane suddenly funny.

I suppose to do today’s topic true justice, I should write about it in book length.  There is so much more to say.  But I have bored you long enough for one post with writing nuts and bolts.  It is enough to say that I believe in the magic of words, and I think that if, like any good Dungeons and Dragons wizard, you study your books of magic long enough, you can soon be casting fireballs around the room made up of nothing but words.

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Filed under humor, Paffooney, writing, writing teacher

Them Bones

Harker Dawes asleep was certainly no prettier or better looking asleep than he was when he was awake.  You know how people will say about a demonically possessed child that causes chaos and havoc and dread in the lives of the people who gave life to him, “He looks like such an angel when he’s sleeping”?  Well, no one ever said that about Harker.  Even when he was a child, he looked more like a deformed potato with its eyes shut when he was sleeping.  His balding head had an odd dent in the crown that had been there since birth.  His kinky-curly red-brown hair was only a fringe around his ears and the back of his head that could accurately be described (and usually was by local Iowans) as Bozo-the-Clown-hair.  His eyes were somewhat bugged out of their sockets, giving him a look of being permanently surprised by life… or more accurately… permanently stupefied.  Mercifully those goofy-looking eyes were closed in slumber.Dem Bones

It was a benefit to Harker himself that his eyes were closed and he was sleeping.  And this was because he had accidentally fallen asleep on Poppy’s grave in the Norwall cemetery.  And also because he was currently surrounded by skeletons, members of the local un-quiet dead, standing in a semi-circle and ogling Harker with their eye-less eye sockets.

“Do we have to eat him?” asked the tall male skeleton with the seed-corn company baseball cap on his head.  “I mean, if it’s all the same, I’d really rather not.”

“I think you only have to eat his brain,” said the little boy skeleton.  “I don’t know for sure because that Night of the Living Dead movie didn’t become popular around here until years after I died and video tapes became popular.”

“How do you know about that then?” asked the church lady skeleton.  It was obvious that she was the remains of a church lady because she still had quite a bit of long white hair on her skull, along with a pillbox hat, and she was dressed in a tattered church-lady-type dress of green rayon with a printed pattern of red roses turned brownish gray by years under the mud.

“When I wandered into town one Halloween night in the 80’s, I looked in the living room window of the Martin family, and the two boys were watching that movie on what they call a VCR.”

“Was the movie any good?” asked the skeleton in the cap.  “I heard of it in life, but never watched it.  It would’ve been too scary for my daughter, the Princess.”

“The zombies were all fake.  And when they ate human flesh, you could tell it was all special effects.  They should’ve asked me.  I could have shown them how it really looks.”

“Heavens!” said the church lady, “They don’t actually kill people when they make a movie, do they?”

“I don’t think so,” said the boy.  “That may have changed since I passed away in the 60’s.”

“I still don’t think I really want to eat him,” said the skeleton in the cap, “even if it’s just the brain.”

“We can’t start the Zombie Apocalypse without eating brains and making new walking dead,” said the boy.

The other two skeletons turned and looked at the little boy skeleton.  Both of them let their bottom jaws drop open, but without flesh, it was impossible to tell if that was an expression of surprise, disgust, or… hunger.

“Do we really need to end the world with a Zombie Apocalypse?” asked the church lady.  “I’m not sure eating living people’s brains is a very Christian thing to do.”

“Aren’t there supposed to be bad consequences for falling asleep in a graveyard?” asked the skeleton in the cap.

It was then that they noticed a fourth skeleton had joined the group.

“Why, Bill Styvessant,” greeted the church lady, “I haven’t seen you in half a century!”

“True.  You were but a girl in the late 40’s when I passed on from a broken heart.”

“You remember me in life?” asked the church lady.

“Of course I do.  You are Ona White.  I sat with you the night you died, under the street light on Pesch Street.  You were mauled by those two dogs that shouldn’t have been loose.  I tried to comfort you as you passed away from shock and blood loss.”

“I thought you were an angel, Bill.”

“I was.  Angels take many forms.  An angel is merely a message from God.”

“Wait a minute!  How can a skeleton know who another skeleton was in life?” asked the skeleton in the cap.  “Especially if you died many years before she did?”

“It’s in the nature of angels, Kyle.  I know you too.  I watched over your family several times when evil lurked near… for a couple years after your suicide.  You are ready to take over that job now.”

“Kyle Clarke?” asked the church lady.  “You’re Kyle Clarke?  What’s this about a suicide?”

“You died before me,” said Kyle, “so you wouldn’t have heard.  I lost a third of the family farm to the bank in the early 80’s.  The shame and despair was so overwhelming that I shot myself to death in the barn.  It was the stupidest act of my entire life.”

“Well, I should think so,” said Ona White.

“Is that why we walk the Earth?” the child skeleton asked Bill.  “We all had a tragic death and were doomed to walk for all eternity?  How did you die, Bill?”

“Of a broken heart,” the old skeleton said.  “My wife died while mourning our son Christian who died in Germany during World War Two.  I lived alone for a short while and then simply expired from the weight of my sadness.”

“You didn’t join your loved ones?” asked Ona.

“Of course I did.  The same way you joined your father and mother, Ona.  Also the way little Bobby Zeffer here was joined by his father a couple of years ago.”

“You are Bobby Zeffer?” asked Ona, surprised.  “The little boy who died of Hemophilia?”

“Of course.  Who’d ya think I was?”

“But I don’t understand,” moaned Ona, “how did we get to be walking dead when we already have one foot in Heaven?”

“People die, Ona, but the memory of them lives on, and they continue to impact people’s lives in many ways.  We walk not as ghosts, but as metaphorical spirits of the past.  No man could live in the present if there had not been those who walked the Earth before him.  A life doesn’t end with death.  And the word angel has many meanings.”

“So we don’t have to eat this man who is sleeping on the grave of his father?” asked Kyle.

“Of course not.  I think that might have a very negative effect on the poor man’s dreams.”

“I don’t think he would taste good anyway,” said Bobby.  “He looks like a deformed potato, and I hate potatoes.”

“You can all go back to your rest,” said Bill.  “I’ll watch over this one and protect him.”

The skeletons all faded gratefully from view.

Harker Dawes woke up, stretched his arms and yawned.  He looked around at the graveyard and the dark of the night.  He smiled to himself.  He only ever seemed to remember the good dreams.

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Baseball Season

Every Spring is a new beginning, a new hope, a new chance to win the pennant.

When the baseball season starts fresh each year, it renews me, makes feel like I have another chance to make things happen and conquer the world again.  It makes me feel alive again… even now when I am old and retired and in constant pain.

People say to me, “Baseball is boring and slow and not as great a game as…” and then they try to tell me stuff about football and soccer and NBA basketball.  I’m not buying it, even when it is my eldest son selling it.

Baseball became my sport when I was a child in the 1960’s.  Great Grandpa Raymond was a frail and ancient man then, too elderly to share much of anything with me as I was young and full of energy.  But on Sunday afternoons in Spring and Summer, we listened to the Minnesota Twins play baseball on the radio.  I heard Harmon Killebrew hit homers and Tony Oliva make game-winning hits.  I learned that the game was about numbers and strategy… a team game, yet filled with moments of man versus man, star of one team facing off against the star of another, skill versus skill, willpower versus willpower.  I learned that baseball was a fundamental metaphor for how we live our lives.

I remember when Bob Gibson was the greatest pitcher in baseball, and he played an entire career with my favorite team, the St. Louis Cardinals.  I remember Lou Brock setting the record for stealing bases in a single season, a monumental accomplishment.  I actually saw Lou Brock steal a base in a game against the Houston Astros, though not in the record-setting year.  I was there in person.  I listened to Bob Gibson’s no hitter of the Pittsburgh Pirates on the radio, listening in a campground in St. Louis while the Cardinals actually played in Pittsburgh.  I didn’t get to see Stan Musial play ball.  He retired before I first became aware of the game.  But he was on TV quite a lot on game day, and I hung on every word.

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Baseball has gotten me through some very rough times in my life.  I used to play ball, baseball and softball.  I was a center fielder for our 4-H team and made some game-saving catches in the field, hit a home run once, and once saved a game for our side when I threw out a runner at home plate from center field.  And I have religiously followed the Cardinals year after year.  In 2011, when health problems and family problems and depression threatened to destroy me… the Cardinals won the World Series in seven hard-fought games.  When you reach a moment of crisis, with the game on the line, you can reach deep inside for that old baseball player magic… tell yourself, “I will not lose this day!” and find the power within you to make that throw, get that hit, catch that long fly ball…

Baseball is a connection to family and friends… teammates… everyone who has ever shared the love of the game.  If you don’t win it all this time… there’s always next Spring.  God, I love baseball.

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Why I Wear a Tinfoil Hat

Davalon ad

You know by now if you have read what I’ve written, or been around me when people make the mistake of letting me talk about what I want to talk about, that I am a kook.  Yes, I believe things that you have been told that only crazy people believe.  Why would you want to read any more of that nonsense now?  Because it is true and it will impact our future.

I came into a wealth of secret knowledge when I wrote and published my first good novel, Catch a Falling Star.  Of course, like most of the things you research on the internet, ninety-nine per cent of everything is big, black rubber hoo-haw lies.  I researched a lot of things that I have always been fascinated by, but specifically I investigated UFO phenomenon.  I already followed author Stanton Friedman and knew who Bob Lazar was before starting my research, but I wanted to dig deeper and find the truth.  My novel, after all, is about close encounters of the third, fourth, and fifth kinds… including an invisible invasion of Earth from outer space.  I wanted to portray such events as alien contact and alien abduction as realistically as possible.  But then I found stuff like the Disclosure Project headed by Doctor Steven Greer.  Did you know he has been collecting eye-witness and whistle-blower information in written and video form since the 1990’s and presenting it to members of congress?  There is an immense database of information about contact with UFO’s and the government’s response to it that can be cross-referenced and even corroborates itself.  There comes a point at which eye-witness testimony, even loony-sounding testimony, has to be accepted when there is a preponderance of evidence.

The thing that makes the case most strongly for me is the provable amount of cover-up and misdirection that the government has applied to this body of knowledge.  They are still doing it.  NASA footage and photographic records are open to the public and available online.  Lots of people have examined the wealth of evidence very closely and have found things that the government apparently overlooked.  There are also an even more impressive number of identified re-touched and faked photos of the Moon and Mars and especially the Earth from space.  Things have been removed so that we the people will not see.  Some nut-cases even believe we never actually went to the moon.  Some of the moon footage and photos are provably fake.  (But you can also spot the landing sites of the Apollo missions on the surface of the moon with some of the very good telescopes available now… The proof of our moon landings is there.  The stuff was redacted and faked for different reasons… a different cover-up.)

So, why does this matter?  Maybe we are better off being protected from this secret knowledge.  We are too fragile to take it.  There will be riots in the street and the economy will crash.  We are safer being ignorant of all of this.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…no!

It’s time we were given the straight poop (because everybody hates crooked poop… at least they should.)  Our world is dying from pollution and global warming, yet the alien technology can provide clean, free energy.  Rich people are exploiting the poor and the middle class and so much suffering occurs that doesn’t have to happen if we embrace the potential for taking our place in a galactic community that apparently already exists and that we are excluded from solely on the basis of how dangerous our own ignorance makes us.

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Little Red-Haired Girl (A Poem and Paffooney)

 

Little Red-Haired Girl

 

You never told her that you loved her, Charlie Brown

That little red-haired girl, so cute, so nice

You only looked and looked from afar

You never told her that you loved her, Charlie Brown

You could’ve held her hand

You could’ve walked her home from school

You never told her that you loved her, Charlie Brown

She never got your Valentine

At least, you forgot to sign your name

You never told her that you loved her, Charlie Brown

No hope of marriage now, nor children for old age

Happily ever after has now long gone

You never told her that you loved her, Charlie Brown

Now every love poem is a sad poem

And the world is blue and down

You never told her that you loved her…

You never told her that you loved her…

You never told her that you loved her, Charlie Brown

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Talk Like Popeye

squinteye

I have long identified with Popeye.  Let me review that notion by re-posting a bit of an old post in which I explain while talking like Popeye;

I am Popeye, I sez, because I just am…  Yeah, that’s right, I yam what I yam.

First of all, I looks like Popeye.  I has that cleft in me chin, very little hair left on me ol’ head, and I gots the same squinky eye (what squinky eye?).  I has had that same squinky eye since I wuz a teenager and got kicked in the eye doin’ sandlot football (bettern’ sandlot high divin’, fer sure!).  I also has them same bulgy arms, the ones that bulge in the forearm and is incredibobble thin on the upper arms.

Second of all, I has Popeye Spinach-strength.  I look weak and scrawny, but I is a lot tuffer than I looks.  I go into classrooms full of wild, crazed middle schoolers, and grabs their attention, tells ’em what’s what, and makes ’em woik.  (Woik is a voib, and that means I is woikin’ when I makes ’em do it.)  I kin stands ridicule and kids what will remarks on the hair in me ears and me squinky eye.  I tells ’em that the scar on me face was did by a bloke with a knife (which it were, cause I had skin cancer and the doctor used a knife to get it off).  I has taken all kinds of nasty punches from life (diabetes, blood-pressure problems, prostatitis, arthritis) and I still keeps comin’ back fer more.  In fact, I can winds up me arm and give that ol’ Devil a good Twisker Sock right in the kisser.

Third of all, I has a typical Popeye Sweet Patootie.  My Island Girl Wife is like Olive Oyl in very many ways.  She is always tellin’ me what to do.  She compares me to ol’ Bluto.  She panics and flails her arms when there’s a crisis.  And she expects me to always save the day and never says “thank you” after.

So, I mean it when I sez “I am Popeye”.  I yam what I yam and that’s all what I yam!

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See?  I kin talk like Popeye because in many ways I AM him… He of the mangled-mouth vocabubobulary created by Elzie Crisler Segar on January 17th, 1929 for his comic strip Thimble Theater for King Features Syndicate.  He doesn’t talk right because his brain is so full of goodness and spinach that he has no room left for spelling and pronunskiation.  Ak-ak-ak-ak-ak-ak….  Popeye is just a simple sailor, and has been for 94 years.  He expresses himself horribly, but only in the very best of ways.  So when I mangle a word on purpose… or by happy accident… it is just me honoring that old one-eyed sailor.  It is not me just being a stupid addle-pated blarney goon who don’t knows how to talk right.

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Comic strip from comicskingdom.com

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Banned Breakfast-Table Talking

Prinz Flute22

At Mother’s breakfast table we were always encouraged to talk about stuff.  That was a given.  It was how families operated in the 60’s and 70’s.  Mom and Dad not only listened to the mindless drivel coming out of the childish mouths of me, my two sisters, and my stinky little brother, but they also tended to hold forth about things they wished to teach us. We learned Methodist-Church-flavored Christianity and Eisenhower-Republican values.  Ike had been president when I was born and got most of the credit for the post-war boom in the economy.  We were middle-class people with solid middle-class values.

And then I had the bad sense to grow up and start thinking for myself.  Nixon had let me down big-time when I was in high school.  I had defended him against my McGovern-leaning loony liberal friends.  My best friend was a preacher’s kid, a Methodist preacher’s kid.  His father actually believed in progressive nonsense about sex-education for children and helping to feed the poor.  And then Nixon turned out to be a liar, a coverer-upper, a cheat, and a bad-word-user.  I suspect, though my Dad never admitted it, that he may have voted for Carter over Ford.  It was my first time voting, and it actually felt good to use my vote to strike back at the party that betrayed my trust.

Religion, too.  In the late seventies a man named Carl Sagan put on a TV show called Cosmos.  The man bedazzled my father and I with Science.  He taught us that every molecule of us was composed of atoms that could only have been forged in the cosmic furnaces in the centers of stars.  He showed us how spectroscopy of the stars could show us what they were made of.  He showed us the meaning of Einstein’s special Theory of Relativity.  He pulled the universe together for us in a way that could not be undone.  And he did it without calling upon the name and blessings of God.  But he pointed out that we are connected to everything in the universe and everything is connected to us.  To me, that seemed to define God.  My religion was changing from Christianity to Saganism.  Of course, Mom heard that as “paganism”.  Breakfast table talking changed into early morning arguments.  We didn’t exactly throw chairs at each other, but some pretty heated and pretty large ideas went flying through the air.   Religion and politics became the banned topics at the breakfast table.

tedcruz  So that brings me to the Paffooney points for today.  This blog has turned into a place where a disobedient son, a horrible sort of “free-thinker” type of radical hippie pinko goofball, can talk about the loony-liberal progressive ideas that have taken over his good-little Eisenhower-Republican little-boy mind.    I spent the last post talking existentially about my religious beliefs.  My conservative, old-fashioned friends and family call me an atheist now, but I truly believe in God.  It’s just, I recognize the factors behind Christian myths.  I bow to the wisdom of Scientists like Sagan, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Stephen Hawking… as well as hippie psychologists like Alan Watts… and literary heroes like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S, Lewis.

Will_Rogers_1922I am proud to be an Iowegian (a Mickian word for being from Iowa), yet my birth-State produces gawd-awful Tea Party politicians like Steve King and Joni Ernst.  The stuff that comes out of their mouths doesn’t even make good fertilizer.  But they are comedy gold.  Will Rogers would have pointed out that the jokes will write themselves.  All the humorist would have to do is consult the front page of the newspaper.  I also live in Texas where the debate over secession from the United States still goes on with new Governor Greg Abbott, a man who is a Rick Perry clone, except that he hasn’t bothered to put on glasses as much to make him smarter.  And Texans are looking forward to the next Republican president in 2016.  Both Rick Perry and Ted Cruz are running.  That doubles Texas’ chances, right?  With Global Warming not being accepted as a real thing, the need for giving all our money to the Koch brothers and the Walton family being recognized by both parties in Congress, and looming war with foreign nations that have the bad sense to be “Muslim in nature”, the future looks kinda bleak.   But it is a great time to be a humorist, and I am guessing I won’t be doing very much talking at the breakfast table for a while.

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