Okay, I am taking over this danged silly old blog today to talk about something important! Baseball!!! Yeah, and even more important, I wanna talk about how girls can be good at baseball.
My name is Maisey Moira Morgan. I am a left-handed pitcher for the Carrollton Cardinals. That’s a boys’ Little League team, in case ya didn’t know. I ain’t the only girl in boys’ Little League, but I am the only girl on the Cardinals’ team. The only girl pitcher. The only WINNING girl pitcher. I woulda been an undefeated winning girl pitcher if Tyree Suggs hadn’t dropped that fly ball in the bottom of the ninth inning out in right field two weeks ago. I ended my season at 3 wins and 1 loss.
You see, the thing is, I know the secret to striking out boys at the plate. First of all, I am a left-handed pitcher. Those danged boys are all used to seeing the ball flung at ’em from the right side. Ninety-nine and two-tenths per cent of all pitchers in our league are right-handed. So are most of the batters. So that futzes them up right there. And on top of that, Uncle Milt taught me to throw a knuckle-ball two years ago. That is one amazingly hard pitch to hit square if you do it right. You curl your fingers on the ball and give a little sorta push-out with your fingertips as you let it go. And you try really hard to make the ball not spin as you push it towards the batter. It can do amazing things after it leaves my hand. Uncle Milt swears that he saw one of my pitches double-dip and then corkscrew as it went across the plate low in the strike zone. A mere boy can’t really get a good swing at a pitch if it flutters around like a crazy bug with butterfly wings.
But that ain’t even the real secret to my baseball success. You see, them danged boys all think they can step up to the plate and put their bat on any ball thrown at ’em by a mere girl. They are not afraid of me, even the third time they get up to bat after striking out twice before. My uniform is not exactly sexy, but all I really have to do is wiggle my behind a little and smile at them, and they don’t even seem to be thinking about hitting the ball any more. I get an even bigger smile on my sweet little face when strike three flutters past ’em. I always take ’em by surprise.
I expect to be the first woman pitcher in the major leagues one day. Remember my name. Maisey Moira Morgan. Future Hall of Famer.
(Disclaimer; Maisey might actually have a hard time claiming her place in the Baseball Hall of Fame, not because the major leagues don’t have any women in them, but because she is an entirely fictional human being, only existing in Mickey’s stupid little head.)
I have developed a need to create a portrait of a grandmotherly woman whom everybody loves and who exudes “Have-a-cookie”-ness. You see, my newest novel project, Recipes for Gingerbread Children, has as a main character a lovely old Holocaust survivor named Gretel Stein. And she is a talented baker of gingerbread cookies. She has, in fact, a magical ability to create symphonies of joyous triumph over evil in her little oven in her very small house. So I need to do a portrait of that very same old woman. I have to have a picture in my head of the person the story is about, and I have to translate that picture down onto the page by drawing it first.
So I began that process by trying to find the right combination of wrinkle patterns and granny smiles on the internet. I tried a Google image search for “cute German grandmother” which inexplicably yielded numerous photos of internment camp war criminals, who were also old ladies, and cartoons of Adolf Hitler. Talk about the proper context for “What the French-fried Fricka-see-see!” So, I took the word “cute” off the search. I found a wealth of German grandma pictures that ought to fit the bill if I can just tweak the portrait in the right ways to bring to life Grandma Gretel.
Grandma’s School pic from 70’s
I then selected a picture of a German grandma taken in the 70’s because my story is set in the 70’s and the glasses appealed to me as German-grandma appropriate. So, I started drawing.
And, of course, it turned out completely wrong. This granny picture will probably remain forever slightly unfinished, because as I drew it, I found I was transforming the portrait into a picture that was not Gretel Stein. Instead, it was my own Grandma Beyer that it was beginning to look like. Don’t get me wrong. I loved my Grandma B deeply, vastly, eternally… but she is not the same as the grandma in my story. Well, not completely. Therefore I must try and try again until I find the old woman I really want to portray.
Simple, clean lines and basic, well-defined shapes go together in black and white. They are in the basic nature of being a cartoonist. You translate what you see into line drawings where a few simple lines become a complex and meaningful image.
My one-legged Batman is an exercise in foreshortening and trying to burst through the two-dimensional confines of the page to grab the viewer. I learned this trick from comic book artist Jim Lee.
His sidekick is rendered as a static portrait where the computer monitor in front of him lights up Robin’s intense and thoughtful face.
She was an excellent teacher and former nun… she was a mentor to me, taught me a lot about life and love and great beauty. How do you adequately portray the wisdom and the patience in those highly magnified eyes? I drew from memory only. She never considered herself beautiful. But she was. And it hurts not to be able to capture it correctly.
Not every portrait is literal. Sometimes you exaggerate facial characteristics and behavioral quirks are emphasized to create humor in the portrait.
When I was first married I did a double portrait of us as a knight and his lady fair. I know, I know… it is so sickeningly sweet that it punches me right in the diabetes. But, hey, it doesn’t really look like me anyway. It is more of a portrait of Porky Pig in glasses and hair.
There is an art to pen and ink that cuts right to the heart of who you are and who you want to be. Simple lines in black and white… there is no more incisive tool for putting my goofy old mind down on paper.
Grandma’s Grin (A poem about beauty and ugliness)
Oh, the grimacing grin of old Grandma Green
Is the scariest smile that you’ve ever seen!
She bunches up wrinkles and shows yellow teeth
And makes a boy worry ’bout what lies underneath.
But when she is smiling, she gives cookies and milk
And speaks in a voice full of honey and silk.
So maybe it’s not the worst smile ever seen,
That grimacing grin of old Grandma Green.
****This poem was added to the silly poems in my vault to be found here;****
Old Poetry By a Silly Old Poet
My first novel-length piece of writing was attempted in college. I finished it in four years. It was a pirate tale about a young man, a pirate named Graff the Changeling. You see him in this illustration I created in 1980 with his two young sons, Rene and Emery. Because their mother was a fairy, the boys have pointed ears and horns. It was an attempt at serious fantasy adventure fiction that was so awful, it became a comedy before it was through. I called it The Graff Tales, and I still have it. But I promise you, I will never, ever try to publish the horrible thing. My sisters served as my beta readers for this story. They both liked the oral stories I told, and they eagerly awaited something like they remembered from our shared childhood. They both were a bit disappointed by my first prose attempt. There was a knight called Sir Rosewall in the story. He was a hapless knighted fool who lived in poverty and swore to reclaim his honor with great deeds, but as he goes to sea as a kidnapped sailor, all he manages to do is fall down a lot and bump his large head frequently. In the first scene when he enters the story, long about chapter four, he exits a cottage and has to punt a piglet to get out without falling down. This pig-punting thing was repeated more than once with this character. My sisters joked that the “pig-in-the-doorway” motif would be my lasting contribution to literature. Fortunately for me, it was not. I am probably the only one who even remembers there was such a novel.
But my biggest failing with writing and storytelling was always that I could be too creative. The story featured a flying pirate ship that was raised from the bottom of the ocean by fairy magic. The crew were re-animated skeletons. The gorilla who lived on the island where the ship’s survivors had been marooned would also join the crew. His name was Hairy Arnold. One villain was the pirate captain Horner, a man with a silver nose-piece because he had lost his real nose to a cannon shot. Another was a red-bearded dandy named Captain Dangerous. But the biggest villain of all was the Heretic, who turned out to be a demon in human guise. It was all about escaping from pirates who wanted to kill you and hitting soldiers with fish in the fish market. There were crocodile-headed men and little child-like fairies called Peris that lived in the city where Graff was trapped and transformed into a monster by the Heretic.
My plot was too convoluted and my characters too wildly diverse and unlikely. The result was something far too bizarre to be serious fiction. The only way it could actually be interpreted was as a piece of comedy. There-in lay the solution to my identity problem as a writer. I had to stop trying to be serious. My imagination too often bent the rules of physics and reality. So I had to stop trying for realism and believability.
In the end all the main characters die. All except for young Rene who becomes a pirate hunter. Of course, I follow Graff and Emery through to heaven because, well, it was a first person narrative and the narrator died. So, I vowed to myself that I would never let this horrible piece of nonsense see the light of day. I would never try to publish it, rewrite it, or even tell anyone about it. And so to this very day I… oopsie.
There is a certain amount of frustration that comes with age and arthritis and limited ability to move. A good share of the time I am stuck within my bedroom/studio. Bad weather and weather changes, as well as the strains of housework, stiffen my back into immobility. So, I am stuck exploring not the outside world, but the inner world of stories, pictures, and my own imagination.
Of course, one has to beware of a life lived in imagination and isolation. Some of it can be kinda wicked and dangerous. Okay, maybe not, but definitely in danger of overwhelming goofiness. As you can see, I take a bit of my artwork and use photo-shop to make even goofier arty things. I experiment and stick stuff together just for the heck of it.
I suppose this is probably evidence a good psychiatrist could use to keep me locked up for a while. But I’m kinda stuck anyway in my little room.