Tag Archives: paffooney

Rabbit People

castle carrot

On days when I am still recovering from life-altering blows, I often try to find new realms, alternate realities to live in.  (Retreating into a fantasy world is one of the reasons she gave for leaving.)  And since, as a youth in Iowa, I raised rabbits for a 4-H project, I know rabbits better than I do human people.  Rabbits are people too.  So, I have been walking among the rabbit people.  Seriously, bunnies are better people than most human people.  They are not trying to profit off you.  They are not trying to get everything they can off you.  They are merely there to wiggle their whiskers, sniff for food, poop, gnaw on stuff, and make more bunnies.

Mr. R Rabbit

I often see myself as a rabbit person.  In cartoon form, I am the bunny-man teacher known to the Animal Town School System as Mr. Reluctant Rabbit.

As a teacher, I am always pulling out carrots of irony and gnawing on the ends of them in front of students.  If they complain that eating food in class is supposed to be against the rules, I ask them, “Do you want a carrot of irony?”

“Oh, no, thank you sir.”

“They are good for your eyesight as well as your insight.  You really ought to chew on healthier things like that.”

“Oh, no sir,” they say.  “We prefer Hot Cheetos.”

And so, I taught on like that… like a rabbit, fast and frumious (a Jabberwocky sort of word), and never really bit anybody.  Teaching is like that.  You offer the good healthy stuff to nourish their little animal minds, and they always choose the junk food instead.

Millis

And so life goes on like that.  Looking to rabbit people to ease my pain and need for good, wholesome carrots of irony.

I have  recently run a free-book promotion on The Bicycle-Wheel Genius.One of the main characters in the book is Tommy Bircher’s pet rabbit Millis.   During the course of the story about invading aliens, Secret Agent Robots from the CIA, and making friends when you need friends, Millis is turned into a rabbit-man by a lab accident.  He teaches Tommy that you don’t have to be human to be a good, caring, self-sacrificing person.  He also teaches him to eat his carrots and greens like a good boy should.

So, I will spend more time with the rabbit people and heal a little bit.  That is what you do with the tragedy that life brings you.  You spin it into whole cloth, making humor and poetry out of everything bad that happens… wrapping yourself up in a comforting blanket of lies (you can also call those fiction stories), and eating a little chicken soup on a cold day to heal your soul.  (Oh, I forget, rabbits often gag on chicken soup.  Let’s make that bean soup with carrot chunks.)

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My School-Teacher Soapbox

It has been more than a semester now that I have not been a teacher.  I am missing it mightily.  I even miss the yelling and screaming, the name-calling and the crazy-eyed threats against life and limb.  And that’s just me.  I miss what the kids always did too.  This was driven home to me as I tried to move my middle child from one school to another.  We were hoping to get a bit of a break on his placement.  He is a gifted child with a penchant for bizarre and long-lasting obsessions.  He has a talent for building huge, monumental structures in Minecraft.  He is very computer-nerd and history-wonk.  (Yes, I know those are not pure predicate adjectives, but I am a retired English teacher and just don’t care any more.)  I was hoping they could overlook his burnout/blowout eighth-grade brain meltdown from the previous year and give him the chance to be a ninth grader for at least half a year.  No.  Arbitrary rules must be obeyed.  (That isn’t even how she said it.  More like, arbitrary rules MUST be obeyed).  That meant of course that he has to continue to repeat the mindless indoctrination of year number 9, (eight numbered grades plus K), (And Pre-K, come to think of it.)  Make that year number 10.  No high school yet, though he is more than mature enough, intelligent enough, motivated enough, and sweet-natured enough.  We are not loving and forgiving people.  We are strict and by-the-book people!  Forgive me, Lord.  I am writing my own book.  (In more ways than one.)

This is what we are doing wrong in Education;

1.   We are putting people in boxes.  (Little people.  Kids mostly.  We are calling those boxes things like ADHD, Special Education, trouble-maker, learning disabled, emotionally disturbed, disobedient, truant, and “in need of alternative education”… here meaning kid-prison.)

2.  We are sealing those boxes with heavy-duty red tape.  (Read special or remedial classes as waste-baskets for keeping the rabble and the riff-raff out of the good teachers’ hair.)

3.  We are routinely handing those boxes to the box-bangers and package manglers.  (The semi-incompetent teachers who have discipline problems because in teacher college nobody tells you what to do with the kid who sits in the corner and sings to himself instead of paying attention, or the girl who gets out of her seat every time the teacher turns his back to go flitting around the room like a bumble bee going flower to flower (except that it is a more hormonal attraction and goes boy to boy); or the competent teacher like me who incurs the principal’s disfavor for having classes that always make noise and are given such classes in boxes as a punishment because that kind of principal is too limited in intelligence to understand that those kinds of boxes are not really a punishment if you merely take a moment to examine the treasures they contain.)

4.  We keep the boxes air-tight so that no oxygen or light gets in.  (To suffocate learners under piles of worksheets and endless drill and practice is murder.  We are killing the precious learners with boring stuff and teaching them to be zombies who all act alike and hate learning because their brains are rotted masses of goo.)

This is what we must do instead;

1.  Open the boxes up again and thoroughly mix the contents.  (The rich suburban parents will resent the heck out of having their precious honors student sitting in class next to the poor black kid from the projects, but studies show that both kinds of learners do better when they are mixed together.)

2.  Notice, we don’t need two any more, because learners are already distributed to different and diverse boxes based on what they individually need and want to learn about and have talent for.  Groups should be more like the Shakespeare-loving group or the talkative-socializing group or the Tinker-toy builders group or the vampire-literature-writing group and less like groups of kids all the same color or all the same culture or all the same age.

3.  All the teachers need to be trained to handle all the possible… no, make that probable problems that may come up in the classroom.  Every classroom needs a proven veteran teacher and an enthusiastic young apprentice teacher.  Neither one should have to face the evil hordes alone.  And most important of all, any teacher who doesn’t love working with kids (and doesn’t love the kids in a way that will not lead to a prison term) needs be utilized in some way other than as a classroom teacher.

4.  Every classroom is a laboratory and every teacher is a creative and daring mad-scientist-type intent on trying new things and only re-doing things that really work well.  Forget this nonsense about standard curriculum goals and common core curriculum.  Those are only buzz words for suffocating learners and being too lazy to think on your feet in the middle of the every-day classroom battle in the on-going War on Ignorance.

Now you see… I have all the answers and I know everything.  The only mystery is… why don’t more people listen to me?

Tabron

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Top This!

“Dad?” asked the Princess, “I heard a funny word in school today.  What does Fuddy-Duddy mean?”

“Oh, that’s a good word,” I said.  “It means an old fogey… a stick-in-the-mud.”

“A what?”

“A fussy old guy who likes to have everything his way.  Like, if you accuse your father of being one… which you often do… he’s a fuddy-duddy daddy.”

“Ooh!  I get it!” said Henry, chiming in.  “And if your father is evil, then he’s a fuddy-duddy baddie daddy!

“Yes,” I said, “and if it makes him sad to be evil, he’s a fuddy-duddy saddie baddie daddy!

“If you are not sure he’s really your father,” said the Princess adding a one-up, “he’s a fuddy-duddy saddie baddie maybe daddy!

“Yeah!” said Henry.  “And if you suspect he may have fallen into a time machine and been turned back into an infant, he’s a fuddy-duddy saddie baddie maybe baby daddy!

“Now that he’s a baby again he will surely want to watch his favorite TV show again,” I said with a tear of nostalgia in my eye, “he’ll be a fuddy-duddy saddie baddie maybe baby Howdy Doody daddy!

“What’s Howdy Doody, Daddy?” asked the Princess.

“No,” said Henry, “now you’ve spoiled it.  It just ain’t funny any more.”

“Yes it is!  He’s become a funny bunny fuddy-duddy hoo-dad doo-dad saddie baddie maybe rabies hoo-dah doo-dah…”

“Just stop,” said Henry.  “You always carry things too far.”

“Right you are!” I said.  “See this grin?  It means I win!”

“AW, Daaad!” they both said at the same time.

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Chicken Soup Time (a twelve-line poem of recovery)

There comes a time when life really stinks,

A day when the life force grows green-brown and sinks,

Yes, I am ill and my every breath kinks,

And I cough and I burp and the end of the nose pinks,

So, I gather together under the covers,

The rotten parts of me over which the fly hovers,

And cook them in heat of the dreams of old lovers,

And fantasy dreams, whose richness discovers…

The stories that make the sum of my life,

And memories of people who’ve hurt me with strife,

And good things and great things and details all mixed,

And stew while I’m sleeping til things are all fixed.

Blue birdsxxx

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Time For Wasting

wonderful teaching

When I was still alive and still teaching, maximizing and managing time was an incredibly important part of the day.    You had to activate learners with an attention step, a lesson focus that grabbed them.  Usually that had to follow a warm-up, something you got them to do as soon as you had smiled at them at the doorway, offered to shake their hand, and then pulled them into the classroom to do some work for you.  fifteen minutes at the start of the class to rev up mental engines and get the gears turning… shake out the rust and the cobwebs that accumulate the instant the final bell rang in the previous class. I timed that part of class down to the second with my pocket watch… or phone in later years.  Then, once the engines started, the focus is in place, you introduce the learning objective.  Never more than ten minutes… timed to the second… you give the explanation, the road map of the day ahead, the instruction.  Then for the next ten to fifteen minutes you let them discover stuff.  In groups, with a partner, teacher to class, student to class, or (rarely) individually, they must apply what you pointed out and figure something out.  It could be complicated, but probably it was simple.  All answers are welcome and accepted… because all answers will be evaluated and you learn more from wrong answers than you do from correct guesses.  Evaluation comes in the five to ten minutes at the end when you evaluate.  “What have I learned today?”  You try your hardest to pin something new to the mental note-board hanging on the brain walls of each and every student.  Depending on how much or how few minutes you are given before the final bell kills the lesson for the day, you have to put the big pink ribbon on it.  That tightly-wound lesson cycle goes on all day, repeated as many times as you have classes.  In that time you have to be teacher, policeman, friend, devil’s advocate, entertainer, counselor, psychotherapist, chief explainer, and sometimes God.  And you time it to the second by your pocket watch.

Teacher

I miss being the rabbit holding the BIG PENCIL.  Now that I am retired, I am no longer on the clock… no longer subject to careful time management.  My pocket watch is broken and lying in a box somewhere in my library.  I live now in non-consecutive time periods of sleep and illness and writing and playing with dolls.  I have entered a second childhood now.  Not really a simple one because of diabetes and arthritis and COPD and psoriasis and all the other wonderful things that old age makes possible.  But a childhood free of school politics and mandates from the school board and from the State.  A childhood where I can once again dream and imagine and create and play.  That’s what this post is if you haven’t already figured it out.  I am playing with words and ideas.  They are my toys.  Toys like this one;

turtleboy

This, of course, is Tim, the turtleboy of irony, holding his magic flatiron that he uses for ironing out irony.  He is flattening it out now with a cartoony Paffooney and wickedly waggled words.  Ironically, I have often taught students to write just like this, making connections between words and pictures and ideas through free association and fast-writing.  Have you learned anything from today’s retired-teacher post?  If you did, it is ironic, because you were never meant to from the start.

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Native Americans Invade My Artwork

I don’t know if you’ve seen enough of my colored-pencil Paffooneys to tell this, but for an old white guy, I draw a lot of Native Americans and am rather deeply in love with American Indian images.  You may have seen this dream painting I posted before.

Magicman

The girl in the painting is a combination of this warrior’s daughter and myself.  I was naked in the dream and a female, facing this huge ghost-stag.  The dream came while I was reading Hanta Yo by Ruth Beebe Hill.  Maybe that book was the beginning of my Native American obsession.  Who knows?  I am a crazy dreamer.  But that wonderful book turned me on to the rich spiritual life that the Dakota people lived.  I identified with it so completely that I dreamed myself into their culture.  I was also struck by the manner in which a Native American culture handles education.  The grandfather is in charge of the boy’s learning.  He teaches by story-telling.  Here you see the grandfather in Sky Lodge teaching his grandson.  The girls would learn very different things from their mothers and grandmothers.

Skye lodge

I am also entranced by the life of the people expressed in dance and ritual.  Dance has deeper meaning than we white guys normally assign to it.  Dances could be magical.  Of course, the notion of a “rain dance” is the result of too much simplification in movie scripts and ignorant popular white culture.  Dance could connect you to the Earth, the Sky, and the Spirit World.  That’s what this most recent Paffooney shows.

Pueblo Bonito

So, you can see, I don’t really understand the concept of moderation when it comes to my obsessions in the world of colored pencil art.  Hanta Yo!  Clear the Way!  In a sacred manner I come!

child of fire

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Picture Tricks

dorin 001 dorin 002 dorin 003

I have discovered things about being an artist by blogging.  I have discovered things by learning from other artists.  I have also discovered things by trial and error.  I have also discovered things by random acts of God.  So let me share some of the ill-gotten picture secrets that I have added to my vast bag of useless incunabula-juice squeezed out with my arcane-secret juicer and internet blogger good luck.

#1.  Save everything arty… as you see above, I have three different pictures of my Catch a Falling Star character Dorin Dobbs, all made from the same pen and ink line drawing.  All the color is digital paint from my computer’s own paint program.  Simple and cheap to do.  Save functions multiply the pretty.

#2.  Splice stuff together and make new stuff…  I have the cheapest possible photo-shop program, but using its entire $7 value every time I paste with it, I am able to create new art out of old.

DSCN4422

New art out of old;

Val at the barn Val B2 tree time banner

#3.  Weave things together to create unity…  My art is not for its own sake.  I am not Picasso or Van Gogh.  My art is very much tied to the stories I tell as a writer of Young Adult novels.  (Snow Babies is awaiting its turn with the editors of PDMI LLC Publishers.)

#4.  Promote the art and writing of others…  I have spent a ridiculous amount of internet time stalking artists like Loish and sharing their work on my blog.  Writers too.  I do my little book reports in order to connect the reading and the literary influences I have completed (or stolen from) and show where much of my own style and je nais se quois comes from.  If the artist or writer is still living and notices what I have done, they will often return the favor (hopefully, if they don’t find my work to be an offense against the gods of art).  If they can’t return the favor (because they are quite dead or thoroughly disgusted by me), I have at least associated my work with theirs in the minds of my readers,

c18296b715d6f4bb5326967c0aee012c-d7a6fao

#5.  It’s all about digital photography…  In order to share my colored-pencil menagerie of live Paffoonies on the internet, I have to get better at photography.  I have taken far more photos of drawings in the last two years than I have drawn drawings.  That has not been a life-long way of things.  I love color, and poor photography skills turn out various shades of gray.  Sunlight?  Incandescent?  Fluorescent?   I haven’t discovered that secret yet, but it will never be uncovered if I don;t keep trying.

#5. Find connections that help pull your work together in one big, messy bundle…  Facebook, WordPress, and Deviant-Art are all better forums if you can connect them.  I did this by labeling everything Mickey with a meaningless made-up word that no one else in their right mind would use.   The word is Paffooney.

goopafoo

A picture search on Google using the words “Beyer Paffooney” gives you an almost complete gallery of my artwork and nonsense.  Googling the word itself yields a link to a plethora of my old blogs.  Do you not know what plethora means?  Try it and you will learn that very good word.

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Monkey Mathematics

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(colored pencil, pen, & ink – entitled “Math Monkey” – by Leah Cim Reyeb (my name backwards))

It has been said that if you have an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters, and unlimited time, they will reproduce all the works of William Shakespeare.  Not only that, they will produce every other work of literature in every language on Earth that has ever been written… and that ever will be written, for all time.  Not only that, but every version of Hamlet that has one misspelled word, two misspelled words, three misspelled words… and so on to infinity.

I was having an argument recently with a boy from Brazil who insisted there was no God and Creator.  He claims to be an agnostic, but argues like an atheist.  He was trying to “save” me from my erroneous belief that there is an underlying intelligence and purpose to all of creation.  His intentions were good, but he failed to convince me before sailing off back to Sao Paulo.  Alas, I am unrelentingly still convinced that I am not wrong, as he apparently believed all school teachers are by definition.  Yes, it is written that way in the teenager’s guide to life, the universe, and everything.  “Teachers are clueless and only teach you the wrong stuff” – page two hundred and three, in Chapter Twelve, Adults are Always Wrong.  And, of course, I’m blaming it on the monkeys.  It’s always those danged monkeys and their typewriters.

I tried to explain that the whole infinite-monkeys thing is based on flawed math.  After all, math was invented by enraged Greeks who danced around naked in caves worshiping circles, squares, and right triangles.  Pythagoras must’ve really hated school kids.  He gave them all this froo-frah to learn about whole numbers, integers, algebra, and geometry and stuff, and then threw in theorems and equations to give them something to mind-numbingly practice at their desks in Math classes until they were no different from infinite-monkey typists. 

If you take a pile of bricks up to the top of a mountain and then throw them off, even if you throw them an infinite number of times, how often will they actually land in the configuration of the Parthenon?  …And the Parthenon with one brick out of place, and then two bricks, and …wasn’t the gol-danged Parthenon carved out of marble, not bricks?  If you believe all of reality is based on random chance, then you obviously are figuring that out with infinite-monkey math.  I’m not saying the Theory of Evolution is wrong.  That is ordered and principled in ways that fit Occam’s Razor and is probably just as correct as the Theory of Gravity (which we don’t fully understand, either, yet we don’t go flying off into space with each rotation of the Earth).

“Wait a minute!” screams the head monkey.  “Are you saying you believe in Evolution, or in Creation?”   (I am constantly hearing nearly-infinite monkeys screaming that nowadays.)

Shoot, I think both things are true.  You can’t deny what science offers proof for, fact or theory.  Yet, God speaks to me and comforts me, even though he doesn’t actually answer prayers.  The evidence of God is in all that he created, including the process of evolution, the monkeys, the typewriters (well… man-made is made by God too if he created man with inventive capabilities, right?), and even the voices in my silly head that I interpret as God talking.  Am I guilty of Infinite-monkey math?  I try not to be.  But I also try not to argue with Brazilian teenage agnostics about the existence of God.  Oh, well… can’t win ‘em all.

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Autorumination (the reprise)

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(This is a black-and-white cartoon in pen and ink that I have shamelessly colorized with colored pencil.)

    I have to tell you, driving in Texas, especially the “Big D” is taking your life in your hands, gripping that old steering wheel in a grip of death, and trying like heck not to hit any of the myriad things flying in front of you.  I have had in my lifetime three accidents and too many near misses to count.  Drivers that don’t have their number of kills painted on the driver-side door are rare indeed.
    One of the scariest encounters on the road has to be the legendary Texas Killer Grandma.  They have a private club where they get together over knitting and compare the goriest kills they have managed with their oversized automobiles.  These old lady drivers are invariably white-skinned and have hair either of strange shades of blue and periwinkle, or silver, almost chrome.  They have Killer Grandma nicknames like Suicide Sadie and End-It-All Emma.  They drive big black Cadillacs, Buicks, and Mercedes.  They have mostly no-fault insurance that will guarantee they can mash your children in the back end of your family car without jail time, and usually without paying for a penny of your damages.  They cruise around Dallas watching for unwary drivers so they can leap in front without signaling, getting bashed from behind by the victim, and sending the victim swirling off the overpass to a fiery death and dismemberment.  Then they cackle all the way to the next club meeting.
    Killer Grandmas drive a class of vehicle I call the American Wasp Rocket.  These are large, unwieldy vehicles from Ford and GM that wreak havoc with smaller, slower cars, especially foreign-made cars like Toyotas, Subarus, and Volkswagens.  In the northern precincts of Dallas, Austin, and Houston, where these vehicles truly dominate, you will often see BMW, Volvo, or Italian Wasp Rockets, which are almost an oxymoron by their very nature.  (“I only buy them gol’ dang furrin cars iffen they’re status symbols, cause I only buy American, but I figgur high-dollar wagons like them thar Lambourginis count as American too!”)  These cars are all large enough to crush an SUV under their wheels, and, of course, they are only driven at hyper-speeds while winding their way through heavy traffic so the occupants can arrive anywhere they are going FIRST.  Besides Texas Killer Grandmas, there are few other drivers of these vehicles who aren’t over-weight, middle-aged white males who have high-paying white-collar jobs.
    The most common vehicles on Texas highways are, of course, the typical Bubba.  Bubba cars are always pick-up trucks, and almost always Chevys.  In fact, they almost have to be white, red, or brown, or they don’t count as a proper Bubba.  Bubbas drive like Foster Brooks on speed, always weaving, wobbling, wagging, and wrecking.  The highway is their own personal demolition derby, and if they don’t get you with a straight-on hood-smash, they’ll ding you with whatever falls out of the back of their pick-up (beer bottles, kids, used tires, tools, parts of the vehicle that have already fallen off once before, and sometimes ugly wives).
    A more-or-less brain-damaged sub-species of Bubba is the Billy Bob.  They drive Ford pickups, white, red, brown, and sometimes gold.  They will kill you no less quickly than a Bubba, but they do tend to have better insurance.
    Of course, I can’t even talk about Beaner cars.  It is not politically correct, as a young Hispanic student was pointing out to me just two weeks ago.  “I can say I’m a Beaner,” he said, “But you can’t say it because you’re a Gringo Loco.  Only Beaners are allowed to call a Beaner a Beaner.  You could be killed for saying that in the Barrio!  Even for thinking that!”  So, I won’t talk about those cars on the road in the fast lane doing a mere twenty-five miles per hour.  I won’t mention how they have eighteen kids and a Tia Carmen in the back seat and can’t see out with the rear view mirror.  I won’t even talk about the rosary beads, fuzzy dice, and numerous brightly colored stuffed animals that hang from the rear view mirror blocking the windshield also.  It just wouldn’t be nice to talk about that.
    So, I guess I have to sum up with a concluding statement that makes sense out of all of this Texas road-rage and bumper-car nonsense.  It would have to be something like this:  If you ever plan to drive in Texas, be prepared.  Have your burial plot purchased, your insurance paid up, and “Drive Friendly!”

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Chuck Dickens and the Origins of Writing

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Don’t make the mistake of thinking I have any earthly idea where writing comes from or how it began.  I am only talking personal history here, nothing grander or more meaningful.  This post is only self-referential hoo-haw, which is a fancy way of interpreting “conceited crap”.

So, the truth is, I am writing about Charles Dickens because he is the author I most want to become.  True, I rant on and on about Twain and his humor.  And a good deal of my artwork owes everything to Disney, but everything I am good at in writing is based on Dickens.

The first actual Dickens novel that I read was accomplished during my extended illness as a high school sophomore.  I read in bed, both at home and in the hospital, from my library copy of The Old Curiosity Shop.  I was enthralled by the journey and subsequent tragedy of Little Nell.  I thoroughly loathed the villain Daniel Quilp and was roundly thrilled by his well-deserved fatal comeuppance.  It was my first encounter with the master of characters.  I followed that reading with a biography of Dickens that revealed to me for the first time that his characters were based on real people.  Mr. Micawber in David Copperfield was actually Dickens’ own father.  Little Nell was the cousin he dearly loved who died in his arms.    The crafty Fagin was a caricature of a well-known fence named Soloman, a Jew of infamous reputation, but not without his redeeming quality of caring for the orphaned poor.  So it is that I have chosen to make my silly stories about real people in much the same way Dickens did.  If you are now worried that since you know me, you may end up in my books, never fear.  I change names and splice characters together.  You will have to make an effort to recognize yourself.  And, besides, nobody reads my books anyway.

I also like the way Dickens uses young characters and follows them over time as they grow and change.  Oliver Twist was the first child protagonist in English literature.  David Copperfield, Nicholas Nickleby, and Pip in Great Expectations are also like that.  David Copperfield, in fact, is Chuck’s own fictionalized self.  I fully intend to do the same.  It is the reason my books fall into the Young Adult category.  I also intend to employ the same kind of gentle, innocent humor that Dickens used.  I mean to portray things that are funny in a disarming, absurdist way rather than resorting to attack humor and bad words.

There it is, then, my tribute to Charles Dickens, a writer who makes me be who I am and write what I write.  I am not supposed to do Christmas posts because of my avowed religion, but you can consider this to be as close as I can come.  The author of A Christmas Carol… it doesn’t get much more Christmassy than that.

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