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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.


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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The Hidden Kingdom (scanned anew)

I have finally found a way to create clean, bright copies of my pages of the graphic novel Hidden Kingdom.  I managed to scan it in portions and then piece it together with a photoshopping program.

Now I will post my re-scanned and puzzled-together masterwork.  It will become my regular Saturday feature.

Here now is my first installment;

flute cover 4a



And so I will continue to work on and add pages of artwork each week.

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Stardusters… Canto 47


Canto Forty-Seven – In the Flower Garden

“Don’t get too near that old plant again, Brekka,” warned George Jetson.  He shuddered with the memory of it scooping her up in the mouth-like blossom and nearly munching her to pieces as it had done to the scabby.

“Silly boy, the man-eating plant is now my friend.  He… or she… or it… is calling to me, telling me it will never harm me again.  In fact, it wants to help me and protect me.”

As the emerald-green girl tadpole walked closer to the huge blossom, the plant seemed to be smiling with flower-petal lips.  George looked at Menolly.  Menolly looked back and shrugged her bare shoulders.  She appeared to be creeped out by the carnivorous flower as much as George was.

Brekka stopped, naked and defenseless, directly under the giant blossom that was grinning at her.  She reached up with her left hand.

The blossom lowered to her.

“Oh, no!” gasped George and Menolly together.

But the blossom stopped an inch above her hand and let her stroke it… her… or him… under what could’ve been a chin, but definitely had the look of sepals.

“That’s a good boy, Lester… er, good girl… er, well… that’s good anyway.  You aren’t going to hurt anyone ever again, are you?”

The plant pursed its “lips”.

“Well, yes, I suppose you can eat all of those scabby thingies that you want.  That wouldn’t bother me a bit.”

The plant rubbed leaves together to get an actual chirping sort of sound.

“Oh, really?”

“What did he say?” Menolly asked Brekka.

“He says he… or… she can provide cuttings and runners to make baby plants that we can eat.  She says she… or… it can process carbon out of the air with photosynthesis and make plenty of food for us…  It says it… or he… um, can feed the whole Bio-dome if we want it to.”

“That’s good…” said George, “but if the plant is our friend now, wouldn’t that be eating our friend?”

“Lester says the plants on his… er… her world do it all the time… eat each other, I mean.”

“That will help with some of the food shortage problem, won’t it?” asked Menolly.

“Sure,” said Brekka.

“Maybe we should go talk it over with Sizzahl?” suggested George.  He really wanted to get himself and the girls away from the creepy plant-monster.

“You and Menolly go,” Brekka said.  “I want to stay here and play with Lester.”

“Are you sure that’s safe?”

“Lester can’t eat Tellerons without getting really, really sick.  So he will never again try to eat one of us… er, she won’t.  As long as we keep Sizzahl and the Morrells away from it… er, him.  Geez, the boy-girl thing is really confusing.”

So, George seized the opportunity to get away.  He dragged Menolly with him.  Brekka seemed happier with Lester anyway, and George was thinking… well, maybe he and Menolly could try some more… kissing.


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Pen and Ink in Progress


This drawing is not done.  I have plans.  But this pen and ink Paffooney is a good example of a doodle-point I probably need to make.  The plan does not occur before the ink hits the drawing pad.  No, this one started with a circle.  And for no good reason, I had to draw the girl’s face in the circle.  But what was the face doing inside a circle like that?  I next drew the bird.  But if she’s so surprised to see a bird inside a birdhouse…  Well, you get the idea.  The story comes after the scribbling.

And here comes the controversial conclusion.  This is exactly how life happens.  Stuff becomes… and the reason why only becomes clear later.  Curse me for a doodling philosopher!

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Stardusters… Canto 23


Canto Twenty-Three – On the Terrible Surface Amidst the Ruined Palaces

The tadpoles had been totally on edge for half an Earther hour by the time they reached the bio-dome that Sizzahl had guided them towards.  Only Tanith and Davalon had been trusted enough to carry skortch rays, and Tanith had nearly disintegrated the grav-cart by which they were moving the precious plants merely because she heard a loud, un-explained sound from the near distance.

But the door to the bio-dome was in sight.  It appeared that they were going to make it without seeing, hearing, smelling, or even suspecting the presence of those nasty, horrible scabbies that Sizzahl had warned them about.

“What is that sound that sounds like claws clicking on concrete?” said Brekka through her helmet.  “It sounds real close!”

Tanith whirled around and skortched a stone gargoyle drain-spout.

“Not there!” cried George Jetson, “It is behind us and coming fast!”

The dinosaur-like creature the scabby was riding disappeared in a fog of disintegrating atoms as Tanith whirled and fired.  The scabby landed on Tanith and drove her down into the rubble at their feet.  Davalon immediately launched himself onto the crazed lizard-man’s back, grabbed him around the throat and rolled him headfirst to the ground.  As it was momentarily stunned, Davalon lifted Tanith and carried her towards the rest of the group.

“Look out!” cried Brekka.  “There’s another one!”

The second was not a lizard-man, scabby or otherwise.  It was some kind of mechanical man made of corroded and discolored metal.  It had blades instead of hands, and it leaped on the prostrate lizard man, cutting, filleting, and murdering the scabby.

“It’s rescuing us!” cried Menolly in surprise.

“It’s going to kill you as soon as it is done with that scabby!” said Sizzahl from the shadowy doorway.  “Come inside as quickly as you can and strip off every stitch of your clothes!”

Davalon was surprised, but never-the-less took action.  He pushed Tanith to lead the way to the voice in the shadows.  Then he forced Brekka, Menolly, and George into the shadows after her.

“Please, Dav, come with us,” said Gracie Morrell pulling on Davalon’s sleeve.  Alden took hold of the other sleeve.

“Mother, I need to make sure that thing doesn’t catch up to you.”

“You may not sacrifice yourself to save us,” said Grace.  “You may not!”

“You do not have permission,” said Alden.

“If you don’t come with us now,” said Gracie, “then we all stay and die together.”

“Um, Gracie…” said Alden nervously.

Davalon looked at the monster as its metal claws finished ripping the heart out of the lizard man’s lifeless corpse.  Its metal visual sensors focused on the three of them.  “Okay… let’s go fast!”



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What Mickey is Really Up to Now


I have not been well.   Six incurable diseases combined with colder, wetter weather will do that.

But Mickey has been busy.  Yes, my goofy writer alter ego has been pecking away at a novel that pushes the boundaries of “strange” into a purple dimension where having a president that looks like a racist sour-lemon-flavored cookie dipped repeatedly in Orange Fanta with fingers covering the eye holes almost makes sense.

The novel is called Rezepte für Lebkuchen-Kinder which translates to Recipes for Gingerbread Children.  The more I let Mickey work on it, the stranger it gets.  It currently is about an old German lady who lives in a little Iowa town where she likes to bake gingerbread for children.  But it is also a fairy tale where the fairies of Tellosia are still fighting their never-ending war against darkness.  And in this story with a magical fairy war in it, there are gingerbread men who magically come to life.  There are also teenage nudists, evil Nazis from the past, fairy tales that can solve life’s problems, and a lurking possibility of werewolves.  (This is a companion novel to The Baby Werewolf and happens simultaneously to that story.)  It has hit the 20,000 word mark.  And you know how novel writing works.  Too many words all put together into the same thing will magically merge and metastasize into book form.  I know this is true, because I’ve seen Mickey do it before.


Grandma Gretel Stein talking with fairy General Tuffaney Swift.

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I finally finished this illustration for the novel Stardusters and Space Lizards.   So I know that many of you are now thinking, “What the @#$%&! is that?”  But I must confess that one of the characters in that science-fictiony humor thingy about planetary environmental Armageddon is actually a man-eating plant with three heads.  But it needs to be pointed out, that though he/she/it seems to be menacing Brekka, Telleron girl space explorer, and at one point in the novel actually eats her, he/she/it does not like the taste of Tellerons, and befriends them later in the story.  So, he/she/it eats earth humans and lizard people, but not frog-like Tellerons.  This is probably only an important distinction to nutty sci-fi nerds like me, and you should feel completely free to ignore it.

It is important, though, for me to finish this humorous but didactic tale in a more timely fashion.  If I don’t finish it soon, we are going to have a man-eating carrot-man-thing that likes to eat girls as our next president who will deregulate all polluting industries and cause the heat-death of the planet Earth.  And then my novel will not only be unfinished, but also completely irrelevant.  These are the worries that keep me up late at night.

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Sick and Sad…


Ant bites can cause an allergic reaction.  So can the ragweed pollen that floats in massive quantities through the Texas air right now.  So can reports that Donald Trump won the recent debate, despite the evidence presented before my very eyes that he was destroyed like a movie monster in the 1960’s at the end of the late night horror flick.  Whatever the cause, I am feeling poorly.  Another day of inaction and illness and sore throats and headaches.  My daughter, the Princess, is also home from school today ill.  She’s in slightly better shape than I am.  But we will recover.  The country, if it is truly as filled with ignorant racist people as the Trump presidential campaign has made it seem, will not.  Soon we will be forced to shout, “Seig heil!” at the cinnamon Hitler we have apparently chosen to put in charge.  How is he not polling negative percentages after that debate?  He should have to give back three quarters of those votes he got in the Republican primaries.

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Stardusters… Canto 14


Canto Fourteen – Aboard the Orbital Station

In Gracie’s opinion, Tanith was a natural leader.  Gracie was the older, wiser head, even though she inhabited a little girl’s body now.  But she had no trouble with letting Tanith give the orders, and being herself the resource they could call upon when needed.

“Tanith, dear, how do these weapons work?” Gracie asked.  She held the ray gun in her two hands and studied the Buck-Rodgers-looking thing.  The end of the pistol-looking part had a silver ball thingy on it surrounded by a concave reflecting mirror.

“You point the end you are looking at towards your target and pull the trigger,” Tanith answered.  “It’s simple, really.  But I want all three of you to let me have the first shot if we have to defend ourselves.  Like Dav said, the consequences of missing the target could be fatal.”

“What do you mean?” asked Brekka while pointing the silver ball end at her own face.  Tanith grabbed the gun before Brekka could accidentally pull a trigger.

“Just think what would happen if a stray shot hits a station wall and disintegrates it.  First the space station goes pop with catastrophic depressurization, and then each one of us does.  It would be a horrible way to die.  And we would be killing the boys too.”

Menolly began holding her skortch pistol by the tail end using only two fingers.  She wouldn’t be much help in a shootout.  Neither would Brekka, it seemed.  But Gracie had gone squirrel hunting and pheasant hunting in the winter with her dad back in Iowa.  She knew how to hit a moving target with a regular gun, even a pistol.  She would definitely be the back-up Tanith would need in case the poop hit the fan blades.

“Follow me,” said Tanith, heading deeper into the mysteriously dark and quiet space station.

“Oh!  Tanith!” cried Menolly.  “There are bodies over here!  Dead bodies!”

Menolly was right.  There were lizard-people piled in one corner like they had been trying to claw their way out through a space station bulkhead.  They were scale-covered, possessing a tail, and they were definitely in a state of being deceased.  Deader than a door nail as Gracie’s father would’ve said thirty years ago.

“What killed them?” asked Brekka.

“I don’t know,” said Tanith, a little bit shakily.

“They haven’t been bitten or chewed on by an animal,” said Gracie, “though they appear to have been trying to get away from something.  There are no bullet holes in them, either.”

“What do you think it was, Gracie?” asked Tanith.

“Well, look at the way their eyes are filmy and cloudy-looking.  And the crust under their nostrils.  They may have been sick with some disease.  People with fever can sometimes imagine things, even things they are afraid of.”

“How do you know so much without ever being programmed in the egg?” asked Brekka.

“I’ve seen a lot of farm animals in my day,” said Gracie, nodding, “and cows, pigs, and especially sheep often get sick.  Don’t they program you with knowledge like that in your eggs?”

“We are specialized by our programming,” said Tanith.  “The computers try to match our training to the genetic markers we exhibit that indicate what natural skills we probably possess.”

“My, my…” clucked Gracie, “Earth children would never be able to say a sentence like that at your age, much less perform some of the skills you are gifted with by your egg programming.”

Tanith smiled in answer to that.  Gracie was truly impressed by these wonderful alien children, and she was coming to love them more and more as she got to know them.

“Do you think we will find anybody alive here?” asked Menolly.  Menolly was the child more easily moved to happiness and glee than either Tanith or Brekka, but she was also the one more quickly terrified of things, especially unknown things.

“There’s a special room over here,” said Brekka.  “It looks like it has a lot of plants in it.”

The other three girls followed Brekka into the room.

“It’s a hydroponic greenhouse,” said Gracie.

“How do you know that?” asked Brekka.

“Look at all the plants growing in hanging baskets.  And there is no dirt under any of them.  They are growing out of some wet, spongy material.  I was a farm girl, born and bred.  And a farm wife after that.  It is only natural that I would know about plants and growing them.”

Suddenly a voice came on over the intercom.  “What are you doing in my space station?” said an angry female voice.  “Especially Tellerons?  Don’t you know we Galtorrians eat Tellerons for breakfast?”

All three Telleron girls suddenly wet their pants.


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Of Nightmares and Publishing


Okay, I don’t mean to mislead you with the title.  My nightmares last night were not caused by publishing a book.  But there is a connection.  So be patient with me and let me explain.


Last night I kept waking up to the smell of something burning… the smell of pine wood smouldering, the acrid smell of plastic on fire, the nose-offending smell of human hair on fire…  So I get up multiple times in the night, searching the house in my underwear, sniffing about to try to detect where in the walls or under the furniture the smell is coming from.  I scared my wife at least once in the kitchen… sometime around 2:00 a.m.  And the more awake I became the less I could smell the something that was burning.  It turns out that was because it was only in a nightmare that I smelled it.  The house was burning down around me in a dream, and the dream lingered after I awoke, even though I had forgotten about the dream entirely as I woke.   It was a classic anxiety dream.

Cool School Blue

What, though, do I actually have going on that causes me this kind of nightmare?  I mean, besides Donald Trump being elected President of the United States, the impending end of life on Earth, and Bank of America suing me with hopes of wiping out my personal finances completely?

I am, foolishly, trying to publish another novel.

I promise to tell you a bit more about this novel in the near future.  But let me tell you first why publishing it is causing anxiety dreams.

Magical Miss Morgan is a novel about being a school teacher.  It is based on real experiences in my teaching life.  I used the time my teaching methods were opposed by a school board candidate.  I also used the time a principal told me that school shouldn’t teach kids to think because that didn’t turn them into good citizens.  I used real kids I once taught as characters.  I even used the time that fairies invaded my classroom.  Oh, but that last one might be slightly fictionalized.

So, even though the main character, Miss Francis Morgan, is not actually me, this novel is a distillation of my entire struggle to be a worthy teacher and accomplish something good as an educator.  My goal during my teaching career was to teach kids to think for themselves, to guide their own lifelong learning, and feel like they were valuable enough as individuals that somebody could actually care about them individually… even the hardest ones to like.  One would think there was nothing controversial at all in this goal.  But this novel tells how I fought that battle.  It is a story that I owe it to everyone I ever taught to tell.

class Miss Mcover

I have turned to Page Publishing to put this novel into print.  Not just digital, online copies, but into real print-on-pages books.  I have no talent or luck when it comes to marketing, but I am determined to make this book real even though this is a vanity press sort of publisher that makes their money by taking advantage of dewy-eyed writing fools like me.  Yes, I am buying the services of their editorial staff and design staff and there will be no money flowing my way any time soon.  This is the way publishing has been changing.  Publishers are still the farmers and writers have become the milk cows.  I just have to hope the milk won’t be sour.

So, I am having nightmares of burning the house down because I am following my dream of making a book.  But it is an important book… at least it is to me.



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Filed under dreaming, dreams, education, fairies, foolishness, humor, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, publishing