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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Cardinal Points

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The cardinal is a personal symbol of mine.  Cardinals, for those who only see them in the south where they live in relatively comfortable surroundings year around, are tough little birds of bright color.  When the winter comes, and the snow piles deep, the cardinal digs in and stays put.  I hope I am like that.  Six incurable diseases, financial problems, being forced to retire from a job I loved by poor health, are all winter things that have not driven me out yet.

And, of course, my favorite teams are Cardinals.  (Sure, you can argue that it’s a St. Louis thing, the Arizona Cardinals were once from St. Louis.)  The St. Louis baseball Cardinals just ended their season with a loss, but the loss was in the National League Championship Series.  They were in that series for the fourth straight year.  They have been doing well, a good sign for me.

The football Arizona Cardinals are at the head of their football division with a record of five wins and one loss.  They had a winning record last year, but were left out of the playoffs because they were in the same division as the Superbowl champion Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco Forty-Niners.  Things are getting better for cardinals everywhere.

So things are looking up.  I am happy, in spite of anything that stands in my way.

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Consequences of Art

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This little picture Paffooney is a work that makes me sick.  Now, I don’t want to mislead you, but it I literally mean it makes me sick.  So let me explain quickly before I have to do something about the nausea.  I drew this from a black-and-white photo of a zebra on a day when I was seriously ill with the flu.  It took a good deal of concentration while having a headache and fever to draw the detailed, stripey form.  The stripes, the zig-zags, the cross-hatches, all conspired with the dizziness and the fever to permanently impress the feelings on my brain.  I can’t look at it now without feeling queasy.  So why am I posting it now?  Well, it shouldn’t have the same effect on you.  And I can post it and look at it now without feeling any worse because I am now sick with fever and possibly flu.  I hope you like this more than I do.

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Wise Guys

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There are certain people that I spend a lot of time listening to on YouTube.  These are people who are nothing alike.  They are very brainy people and good at making cogent arguments that really make sense.  They have a gift as explainers.  Some of their ideas I agree with, and some I do not, but I am always willing to listen.

The first one I have pictured here is Russell Brand.  He describes himself as a comedian.  But I find much of what he has to say is the kind of comedy that Mark Twain and Will Rogers once did, and John Stewart and Bill Maher now do.  He explains things about how our basic rights as Americans, and human beings, are being compromised and even taken away from us.  He often hits themes of economic inequality, racism, and love for your fellow man.  I was fascinated by his interview of members of the Westboro Baptist Church.  He absorbed their hate-filled insults and deflected them back with grace and wit.  He routinely examines the fear-mongering tactics of Rupert Murdoch and Fox News.  He ridicules them and undoes their propaganda with such reasoned defusing of hate-bombs.  He talks fast and uses big words, and even though I know many people who absolutely hate him, I listen to him constantly.

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This second man is Russell’s opposite.  Stefan Molyneux is a Libertarian philosopher that my more liberal friends are absolutely horrified by.  He goes into the problematic behavior of liberal heroes like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Junior, debunking, defaming, and generally de-mythologizing them.  He believes things about not helping the poor and taking apart the government that I soundly disagree with, an for basically Republican Libertarian reasons which seem very self-centered and self-serving to me.  But he is able to put forward cogent arguments that are so clear and inter-connected that you have to admire his Occam’s Razor thinking and over-all consistent philosophy.  He even seems to have a decent Christian concept of love that is ironic in the face of his seeming atheism.

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My first encounter with John Green came about by buying a copy of Mental Floss in book form from Half-Price Books.  His wonderful wit and sharp intellect is demonstrated in detail in all the ironic twists and shocking tidbits of information that fill his books and video series like Mental Floss, Crash Course, and his best-selling novel (now a movie) The Fault in Our Stars.  Like the other two, he talks fast, uses words you often need to look up, slips fast one-liners by you, and connects ideas so smoothly that very complex things become simple and elegant.  I find that, of the three of these men, I would most like to meet and talk with this wise and gentle man.  I definitely intend to acquire and read his book as soon as I can… I mean his novel.  I have already seized and devour as many of the Mental Floss books as I could find.  I guess I really think that he is more like me than either of the other two, although, I know that that is somewhat conceited to say out loud… or even in writing.

So what is the point of this post?  These are three wise men who I listen to and allow to shape the edges of my intellect and basic beliefs.  I really believe you should investigate them for yourself.  But what do I know?  I am still on the Quest to be a Wizard.

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Fantasia

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I learned a lot of what I know about cartooning by copying Disney characters.  Now, I know that this post could potentially get me into trouble, because  I am posting on a blog I use for marketing, an imitation Disney character, a very famous and very copyrighted character.  Disney has been known to sue school districts for showing Disney movies in class without expressed written permission.  They have become cruelly litigious since transforming from Uncle Walt’s Wonderful World of Color into an evil multi-national corporate media empire whose spokesperson is a mouse.  So I beg you to pardon my transgressions due to love and debt I have to the work in the title of this piece.  Consider this fan art, like the pictures I posted of the Phantom and Captain America (who is also now owned by Disney).

Fantasia is for me the Book of Life.

The movie starts with Bach’s masterpiece, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor This amazing piece reminds me of earliest childhood memories.  It begins with sound and the instruments that make it, becoming shapes and lines and movements and, eventually cloud forms.  It is the beginning of perception, like modern art itself, the raw energy and emerging forms that I began to perceive as an infant, but could not define or distinguish clearly.

Next comes  Nutcracker Suite by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.  This is the explorations of nature and the magic of existence as a mere child.  It uses Tchaikovsky’s sugar-plum ballet music to depict hours of play and learning and investigation and wonder.  In it I see myself as a young child, viewing all the color and beauty through wide eyes.

Then comes The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas.  In this piece, the child in me, like Mickey the apprentice, for the first time bites off more than I could chew.  I overstep my protective boundaries and get myself into a serious fix that has to be undone by the parent stepping in at the end, and not only fixing it, but delivering the consequences to my ignorant behind with a broom.  Of course, we all know I will do it again.  Every child does.  But next time I will get it right.

This is followed by Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky.  Here the child is child no longer.  I watch the amoeba become dinosaurs to harsh and dissonant music.  I learn about the world, growing and evolving, finding out that life is full of hard lessons.  Life and Death play out there struggle, and the learning concludes when you reached the parched and hopeless climax, the realization that everything, no matter how big or powerful, ends in death and failure.  Dust returns to dust.

The film then blossoms into The Pastoral Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven.  This mythical landscape of cute cherubs and satyrs, bare-breasted centaurettes, and Greek Gods rendered in pastel hues represents the blooming of romance, lust, and love.  There is celebration, complete with Dionysus and his invention, wine.  There is courtship, attraction, and bonding.  When the cherubs pull the curtain closed on the centaur couple, we also know what is happening behind the curtain even if it weren’t for the cherub whose butt becomes a red heart.  And, of course, there is a great storm that comes along, both in the pastoral music and the action of the cartoon, representing the volatility and strife that occurs when we dare to love another.  It does, however, subside for life to continue refreshed.

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The next piece is  Dance of the Hours by Amilcare Ponchielli.  This comedy of ballerina ostriches and hippos, bubble-dancing elephants, and aggressively dancing gators, is the domestic, married life.  It is a comedy of graceful awkwardness, beauty and humor rolled into the same cake and cooked with irony and wit.  And, of course, just like real life, everything is eventually carried away by the wind… until the next dance.

And finally, Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky and Ave Maria by Franz Schubert is the end of life.  First comes the pain and suffering of death, ruled over by Chernabog the Devil.  He commands the torture and heartless ritual that I am subject to even now, in the twilight of life.  The flesh and the bones yield to his trans-formative whims.  We must all dance to his music until the striking of dawn.  Then he is defeated and the spirit soars, free of body and definable form to the rousing strains of Ave Maria.  We journey through the cathedral forest towards the everlasting light, and the movie, like my life, will be done.  But I do not despair, because life, like the movie itself, can be endlessly replayed and is eternal.

I was not able to see this movie for the first time until college, attending a screening at Iowa State.  When it came out on VHS in the 80’s, I bought two, one to keep and store safely, unopened, and one to watch until it fell apart.  I also bought the DVD when it came out with Fantasia 2000.  I cannot count how many times I have seen this movie.  I even showed it to my classes as I was about to retire, and didn’t secure written permission.  But it was only this week, feeling ill and terribly mortal again that I realized… Fantasia tells the story of my life.

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Bug People

DSCN5326 Sometimes I like to bug people.  Wait, is that a pun?  Was it punny?  Maybe puny?  Bugs are puny.  I like bugs.  I am constantly making up names for them.  Bugs are people too… Aren’t they?  These are bug people.  One is a beetle who is not John Lennon.  Another is a moth who would rather be a butterfly.  There is a little ladybug.  And the bug giving out the Koolaid is Billy Bugbright.  Have you ever seen Hoppity Goes to Town?  It’s a Max Fleischer feature-length cartoon from 1941.  Here’s a link; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZQhZkee5LA Okay, enough about bugs… I am going a little bit buggy.

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500 Followers on WordPress

I am celebrating because I have done a lot of blogging and I believe it has reached a few people who really read and like what I post.  I know for a fact that many like my artwork.  I am not foolish enough to believe that I deserve to make loads of money as a writer.  So far I have made 28 dollars worth of royalties on two published books.  That makes a lot of hard work for very little return.  I have spent more than that on my writing, so I am realistically making negative dollars.  But the important thing is that my writing and art is now out there in the world, inhabiting closet and desk drawers no more.  Some of it now resides in you who are reading this.  I thank you.  My life was complete before I started this endeavor, beginning and ending with being a teacher, so every word I can possibly write on the heart of a reader is pure whipped cream on top of the lemon-meringue pie.Mickey's 500

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