Tag Archives: satire

Things You Probably Ought to Know about Mickey

As Mickey’s go, the one who is writing this is a moderately interesting example of the breed.  Still, there are things you probably ought to be made aware of.  A sort of precautionary thing…

First of all, this particular Mickey is an Iowegian.  That means he comes from Iowa, the State where the tall corn grows.  It is a prime reason why his jokes are corny and his ears have been popped (oh, and he does actually have two, unlike the picture Paffooney where only one is showing).  His fur is not actually purple.  If anything now, it is mostly silver-gray.  But the Paffooney is a magical portrait, and purple is the color of magic.  He has a goofy, and sometimes fatal grin.  You may not be able to prove that he has ever actually grinned someone to death, but it is likely he could always dig somebody up.

Another irrefutable fact about this Mickey, unlike many many Mickeys, is that he used to actually be a public school teacher.  He taught the little buggers for thirty-one years, plus two years as a substitute teacher.  He did twenty-four of those years in middle school… twenty-three of those in one school in South Texas.  His mostly Hispanic students managed to teach him every bad word in Spanglish… err, Texican… err, Tex-Mex… or is it Taco Bell?  Anyway, they taught him every bad word except for the word for cooties… you know, piojos.  He learned that word from an old girl friend.

A despicable thing about him… (you know despicable, right?  It’s that word that Sylvester the cat always uses) is that he actually likes kids.  That’s just not normal for someone who teaches them.  Teachers are supposed to hate kids, aren’t they?  But he never did.  It is true that he yelled at them sometimes, but he never did that because he hated them.  He did that only for fun.  And he actually apologized to kids sometimes when they got into behavioral trouble, because he said it was the teacher’s fault if kids are bad, and, besides, the kids are so surprised by that, that they forget all about the behavior and can be flammoozled into acting good.

The last and most wicked thing you need to know about Mickey is that he cartoons up a storm sometimes.  He loves to draw everything that is wacky and weird.  He has more goofball colored pencil tricks than a Charles Shultz and a Dr. Seuss rolled together in a sticky lump with a George Herriman stuck on top in place of a cherry.  He steals ideas and techniques from other artists and steals jokes from comedians, undertakers, and random juvenile delinquents.  He also puts together lists of wacky oddball details that don’t quite fit together and weaves it into purple paisley prose (somewhere in this whole messy blog thing he has also defined purple paisley prose and how to make it… in case you were curious.)

So there you have it.  The Truth about Mickey.  The sordid, simpering, solitary facts about Mickey.  The straight poop.  (wait a minnit!  How did poop get there?  Not again!  I thought I had cured that!)

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Terry Pratchett, the Grand Wizard of Discworld

image borrowed from TVtropes.com

image borrowed from TVtropes.com

I firmly believe that I would never have succeeded as a teacher and never gotten my resolve wrapped around the whole nonsense package of being a published author if I hadn’t picked up a copy of Mort, the first Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett that I ever encountered.  I started reading the book as a veteran dungeon-master at D&D role-playing games and also as a novice teacher having a world of difficulty trying to swim up the waterfalls of Texas education fast enough to avoid the jagged rocks of failure at the bottom.  I was drinking ice tea when I started reading it.  More of that iced tea shot out my nose while reading and laughing than went down my gullet.  I almost put myself in the hospital with goofy guffaws over Death’s apprentice and his comic adventures on a flat world riding through space and time on the backs of four gigantic elephants standing on the back of a gigantic-er turtle swimming through the stars.  Now, I know you have no earthly idea what this paragraph even means, unless you read Terry Pratchett.  And believe me, if you don’t, you have to start.  If you don’t die laughing, you will have discovered what may well be the best humorist to ever put quill pen to scroll and write.  And if you do die laughing, well, there are worse ways to go, believe me.

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Discworld novels are fantasy-satire that make fun of Tolkien and Conan the Barbarian (written by Robert E. Howard, not the barbarian himself) and the whole world of elves and dwarves and heroes and dragons and such.  You don’t even have to love fantasy to like this stuff.  It skewers fantasy with spears of ridiculousness (a fourth level spell from the Dungeons of Comedic Magic for those fellow dungeon masters out there who obsessively keep track of such things).  The humor bleeds over into the realms of high finance, education, theater, English and American politics, and the world as we know it (but failed to see from this angle before… a stand-on-your-head-and-balance-over-a-pit-of-man-eating-goldfish sort of angle).

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Terry Pratchett’s many wonderful books helped me to love what is ugly, because ugly is funny, and if you love something funny for long enough, you understand that there is a place in the world even for goblins and trolls and ogres.  Believe me, that was a critical lesson for a teacher of seventh graders to learn.  I became quite fond of a number of twelve and thirteen year old goblins and trolls because I was able see through the funny parts of their inherent ugliness to the hidden beauty that lies within (yes, I know that sounds like I am still talking about yesterday’s post, but that’s because I am… I never stop blithering about that sort of blather when it comes to the value hidden inside kids).

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I have made it a personal goal to read every book ever written by Terry Pratchett.  And that goal is now within reach because even though he is an incredibly prolific writer, he has passed on within the last year.  He now only has one novel left that hasn’t reached bookstores.  Soon I will only need to read a dozen more of his books to finish his entire catalog of published works.  And I am confident I will learn more lessons about life and love and laughter by reading what is left, and re-reading some of the books in my treasured Terry Pratchett paperback collection.  Talk about your dog-eared tomes of magical mirth-making lore!  I know I will never be the writer he was.  But I can imitate and praise him and maybe extend the wonderful work that he did in life.  This word-wizard is definitely worth any amount of work to acquire and internalize.  Don’t take my convoluted word for it.  Try it yourself.

borrowed from artistsUK.com

borrowed from artistsUK.com

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Filed under book review, humor, NOVEL WRITING

Dog Thoughts

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Now that she regularly steals people food from the pantry, Jade the dog is becoming more and more like the human race she wants to be a member of.  Recently she was reading my blog and got the idea that she could write poetry.  So, I was searching for an idea for today’s post and decided I would let her give it a try.  So all of this poetry today will be written by the family dog.

 Introducing Dog Thoughts 

Woof!  Grumph-hak-borph-borph… Rrrr.

Did you get that?  Or do I have to translate everything into your language?

Boofa-Rrrrr.  Bork bork grumph…. okay, we’ll do it your way.

But every time I need to add a tail wag,

Ima gonna go “*************” where each “*” is one wag.

Got it now?  People are so dumb!

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The family dog after eating enough potato chips to become all people-y…

It Is a Stinky World!

Ooowow!  I go outside and I can smell dog poop in the park!

The rabbit that lives in the hedge leaves those little round brown things!

I want to put my nose in a pile of those *********!

I like to eat cat droppings, but you have to dig them up *******

And I am deathly afraid of the white cat… it kills and eats rats!

And it’s almost as big as I am

With breath that smells like dead rats

It is a stinky world! *******

Isn’t that great! ********

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Queen of the Couch

Why do you not understand

That the couch is mine all morning and all afternoon?

I will get off when it’s time to eat

And I will get off when it’s time to go outside

But the rest of the time the couch is mine

So don’t disturb me

Or I’ll pee in your shoes!

Dingledum dog.

Rats Are NOT Our Friends

I smell them more than see them

With rank and nasty sewer smells

And I never, ever catch them

They don’t come ringing bells

And my master puts out poison

Which they eat with garbage sauce

But it only makes them poison-proof

And I am at a loss…

All I do is bark at them

When I smell them in the walls

And my family’s mad at ME

When all the blame and curses fall.

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The Beg-Eye

Do you really not see me here? *****

Here right by your knee? ******

I know you’re eating bacon!  *******

I can smell every bite disappearing! ********

Look into my eyes!  *********

My big, sad dog eyes! **********

Don’t you want to give me some? **********

I  mean, it’s BACON!  ************

**************************************!!!

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I Do Love My Family

I take my beloved family members for walks

Four or five times a day

It keeps them healthy

With cold, wet noses

And shiny coats of fur

And I always make sure they are on the other end of the leash

How else can I guide them, and keep them safe?

From passing cars?

And other dogs?

But I wish they would be patient

when I stop to sniff all the tree trunks and posts

Where I check the messages  from boy dogs

Written in pee

Some of them sure do have healthy bladders!  **************!

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Filed under autobiography, family dog, humor, Paffooney cartoony, poetry

Crazy Old People Driving

You can probably tell that the photo Paffooney is totally staged.  I am not a good enough actor to manage the lookcrazy old driver2 of absolute blood-curdling horror that would be on my face if I were actually driving in the Dallas Metroplex.  My gray Gandalf-hair would be standing on end more, and my eyes would be more popped with horror… especially if I had really seen Suicide Sadie in her death-dealing super-WASP-rocket.  Honestly, I’m risking my life to reveal it, but one of the greatest perils of life in the suburbs in Texas is running afoul of the Texas Killer Grannies.  Yes, there is a secret, Illuminati-like organization of blue-haired old menaces driving big, expensive black battle-boats that try to kill as many other Texas drivers as they can… as well as pedestrians, cop cars, squirrels, poor-people’s children, and ceramic lawn gnomes as they can focus their myopic old granny glasses on.

To Texas Killer Grandmas, slaughtering the innocent on the roadways while your back seat is full of knitting baskets and tins of cat food is a Satanic ritual that gives them special and unnatural powers over life and death.

They all drive at least five-miles-an-hour faster than the speed at which they can actually control the vehicle.  For some of the most deadly grannies like Suicide Sadie and End-It-All Emma that is between 95 and 205 miles-per-hour, though the nearly-as-deadly Grandma McGillicuddy can be almost as guaranteed fatal at only about 35 miles an hour.  They cut in front of you without signalling, and traffic lights are interpreted far differently than normal in the presence of a Texas Killer Grandma.  Green means go.  Yellow means go faster.  And red means floor it and brace for impact.  Now, of course that is the granny interpretation of the light.  For me, green means proceed ultra-cautiously while scanning for hurtling BMW’s, Cadillacs, or Lincoln Town Cars with old ladies at the wheel and skulls painted in white on the driver’s door.  Yellow means pull over to the side of the road at a dead stop and make myself the smallest target possible.  And red means park on somebody’s lawn and wait for the intersection to become clear of all vehicles for several blocks all around.  Sidewalks are not safe either with a Texas Killer Grandma around.  You’re safer walking if you walk down the center of the road.  Of course, the more normal drivers will squish you like road-kill then, and the Texas Killer Grandma knows she was ultimately the cause of this suicidal death, so if they are close enough to see it in any sort of blurred clarity, they automatically count it as a kill.

You never see a Texas Killer Grandma charged with anything in the local media or even in court records.  They are not old ladies unconnected to persons of power.  Rich husbands, rich children, and sometimes even rich boyfriends see to it that they are never prosecuted.  They are immune to the wheels of justice.  Crazy Cat-Lady Clarice is immune to prosecution even though she doesn’t own even a nickel.  We think it is because she is so supremely skilled at vehicular homicide that even the police are afraid of her.  And how does she pay for gas in that 1965 Chevy Impala SS she drives with a blood-smeared hood and the driver’s side of the car painted completely white with skulls?

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New Pirate Picture

Pirates nesaaat

I continue to believe bankers, health insurance companies, and corporate leaders are all pirates.  The gentleman of the sea dressed all in red in this picture is Black Timothy, bombastic and barely comprehensible leader of the pirates of Fantastica.

The truth is I am a bit of a cartoonist.  Don’t worry.  It is not a completely horrible and detestable thing to be.  Not like being a pirate… or a banker… or worse, a pirate banker.  It leads me to do cartoons like you will find in my vault, here…

The Atlas of Fantastica, Chapter 1

It is a basically incurable disease, and yet… I can live with it.  It will not kill me like some of my other incurable diseases eventually will.

So today’s post, keeping alive an unbroken string of daily posts that now goes back 16 months, is a picture post.  I hope you like it, but if you don’t, another one will come along soon enough.

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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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Cartooney Paffooney

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A particularly pulse-pounding part of a post-able Paffooney is the Looney-Tooney side of cartoonies.

A good Paffooney, a wise Paffooney, a particularly Buffooney Paffooney…

Requires a certain something… an attention to detail

Scraggles here demonstrably demonsters, er demonstrates, the detail in the devil, er, devil in the details…

With inexplicable and despicable gloves on hands we never see…

And Looney eyes that at once appear wise and simultaneously devise the kind of satirical reprise that can surprise and infinitely infantilize…

He’s sorta creepy with eyes that aren’t sleepy and expressions not so deepy…

And his smile will spread a mile and is also infantile…

And the rat that he has caught has a shape that’s overwrought and full of little thought,

But never will he kill it and fill it full of millet, 

Cause a mouse can be a friend to the bitter better end.

And so this poem don’t rhyme… or does it?  And it has no theme or prime… or was it?

Just silly nonsense words on a canvas all unfurled in Paffooney Looney Language with each sentence stitched and curled.

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Jungle Boy

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When I was 12, my favorite novel was Rudyard Kipling’s First Jungle Book.  I loved it.  From page one to the last sentence of the story about the White Seal.  I owned a paperback copy that I still have 45 years later.  I bought it from the school book order form, Scholastic, I think.  I used my allowance money, earned at a nickel a week.  Along with the chapter books I had read previously, The Swiss Family Robinson, the White Stag, and Treasure Island, it guided my view of life.  Every grove and forest in Iowa became the jungle in the summer of 1968.  The windswept fields of corn and soy beans easily transformed into tropical seas.  I imagined pirates, natives, and buried treasures everywhere.  When I found a piece of a brass candlestick with the necessary curved part, which became the cursed Ahnk from The Jungle Book.  Midnight, Grandma Aldrich’s blue-eyed black cat, became my Bagheera.  I traveled with an invisible Baloo.  You know, it was only a year or so before that when I saw the Disney movie.  So, of course, dancing and singing was a part of being a jungle boy.

In the book, unlike the movie, Mowgli was naked in the jungle.  He didn’t wear clothes until the first time he submitted himself to the man village.  He took them off again when he escaped.  I had to try that too.  I went to the BinghamPark woods down by the Iowa River.  I found a tree where I could put my clothes, and I took everything off.  I figured roaming the woods like Mowgli would be great.  Boy, I was a stupid child.  Problem number one struck with my first naked step in the forest.  Dang!  There must not be any twigs or nettles in Mowgli’s jungle.  I tried hopping from place to place, but in minutes I was wearing at least my socks and shoes.  Hanging branches and brambles were a problem, too.  They clutched at me, striping me with welts and scrapes.  Certain parts you just don’t want pricked by a bramble bush.  It was like God suddenly planted those pointed things everywhere.  Okay, shoes and socks and shorts.  Well, then I began to get cold.  Iowa is never very warm even in the height of summer.  I had already defeated the whole naked in the forest thing when I put my shorts back on, so, what the heck!  It just didn’t work like I thought.

I still believed that the ways of the jungle were an essential part of my young life.  I read and reread what the Jungle Book says about the “Law of the Jungle”.  I tried to make sense of it as a credo to live by.  Of course, at twelve we are always among the wisest and all-knowing of God’s creatures.  We can make sense of the world in our own weird little way, and no one will ever be able to sway us from the philosophy we live by, no matter how silly it is.  I still think about my “Jungle Book Period” as an important part of my young life.  There are things about young Mowgli and Jim Hawkins and the Robinsons that formed a significant part of my character.  I would one day make use of those determined and resourceful qualities to stay alive in the classroom jungles of South Texas.  I tried to make others see it.  I shared Kipling and Stevenson with kids and hoped that I could make them learn, as I did, how to be that little boy facing and succeeding against the dangerous jungle around him.

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Why Babysitters Hate My House (A Surrealist Comic that’s only slightly True)

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Okay, I know it’s creepy.  I know it is only a little bit funny.  But I like to think it’s good colored pencil work, and it does seem to stand up well over time even though it was created back in 1980.  I wrote this hoping to break into the cartoonist world in the 1980’s.   I only managed to get rejection letters and form letters back then.  Big dreams and no real breaks.  But if you are goofy long enough and cartoon up a storm with enough lightning and hailstones in it, somebody will invent the internet (Thanks, AL Gore) and digital photography and WordPress Blogging so I can share it all with you.

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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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Filed under humor, irony, Paffooney, teaching, Uncategorized