Saturday, July 30, 2005

Busy day today

We rented a Budget 17-footer today to move crap. Amy and I are really downgrading all these...possessions, these accumulations. It's a good thing. We have gotten rid of so much. We gave a lot to one of Amy's coworkers with no husband and two kids (she works as a receptionist at Supercuts), so it goes to a good cause. Amy's mom took our bedroom dressers.

I even got rid of four boxes of comic books.

It's great to start fresh. I did save two boxes of comics. I couldn't part with my Superman or Justice League ones, ones I read over and over. I realized I wasn't reading those X-Men. They were just sitting there. So I gave four boxes of comics to kids. (I did manage to sell some through eBay--a Captain America lot went for $41 and Astonishing X-Men #1-10 went for just over $50. Wolverine #1 and a couple old X-Men went for about $40. Not bad. I could have probably taken the time to sell them all through eBay, but you would have no idea how much work that really is. All that stuff, the website also owned by eBay, sold well for me, but putting them in mailers, and making it to the post office with a dozen or more things to mail takes a lot of time, especially with two kids to take care of.)

So we are really paring down to nothing. We are even going to be getting rid of all our bedding and just have new stuff shipped straight there.

We're ready to go.

Some 503 fires are burning about 1.2 million acres in Alaska right now. This satellite image courtesy of (Credit: MODIS team; NASA) shows them circled in red. I have also put a box around where Nome is on the map. No fires endanger Nome right now. (No forests near Nome! No trees! It's a tundra!)

Friday, July 29, 2005

Nome Volleyball

The Nome Girls' Volleyball season doesn't start unitl
the middle of September, thank goodness. I thought I
would have to start as soon as I got there, like how
football starts before the school year. Whew! Gives me
time to settle down.

I found out that we really do travel all over the
place. I get to make trips to Barrow, the top of
Alaska, which is the northernmost point in the United
States, up above the arctic circle, so that will be
interesting. I also get to make trips to the interior
and southwest, Bethel and Dillingham, and even
Anchorage. I will really get a good view of Alaska
because these flights are by small plane.

Tomorrow is move out day from this apartment. We are
staying with Amy's mother for the two weeks before we
leave, due to it being in the middle of a month.

Nome Volleyball. Betcha didn't think of that one, true believers.

Matt Butcher

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Seminar in Fiction Unit 4

Unit 4 Matt Butcher

The Ring

John zipped up his pants with a hop towards the
dresser. He grabbed his sport coat off the mirror,
reached into the inner breast pocket for his billfold,
withdrew four tens, and chucked the money onto the
dresser in a wadded clump.
"See ya next week," he chimed in a sing-song voice as
he adjusted his collar and left the drab hotel room.
After bounding down the worn-carpet staircase, John
stopped at the little chicken-wire caged booth that
acted as the reception desk. The seedy establishment
was named The Pacific Hotel and the penguin-looking
man reading a newspaper behind the coop was Joe, the
night clerk. John whistled a call at Joe and dangled
the key.
Joe scooted forward on his stool in order to grab the
key. He reached out with one hand and pushed his
glasses back up on his gigantic Woody Allen nose with
the other. John took it back, just out of reach.
"She was good tonigh Joe," he bragged. "Oh, the
things that woman can do! I ain't never had so much
fun." He offered the key again.
"Monica wouldn't like you talkin' 'bout her like
dat," Joe mumbled. The lump of his Adam's apple
vibrated with a swallow. He missed the key again as
John pulled it away.
"But, Joe, this woman defies gravity, man. The laws
of physics don't apply."
With a burst, Joe snatched the key. "She's light on
her feet, that's all. Monica wants to be a dancer at
the Paramount."
John adjusted his sport coat, as if to shrug off the
little attack. With a smile, he said, "Monica dances,
all right. I think I love her, man."
"Don't talk 'bout her like dat!" Joe screamed, for
him. The words seemed to come out from a cave, not
with a lot of force. " don't know what love is,
payin' for it by da hour."
John leaned against the cage and made kisses through
a hole in the wire. "But I wove her, Joe." He stepped
back. "I love her the only way I know how, with a face
like this." He turned to showcase his left side, how
it hung slightly lower than the right side.
There was a long awkward pause. Joe looked at John
and then looked away. "Well, then don't talk 'bout her
like dat, dat's all I'm sayin'," Joe muttered,
slouching down further on his stool. He flipped the
page in the newspaper he was reading on the desk.
John mumbled a curse word and turned to leave,
patting himself down for his car keys. His hand
stopped over his jacket pocket. He reached in and
pulled something out.
He twisted back to Joe and tossed it high over the
chicken wire. "Give that to Monica, will ya?"
With a nervous jolt, Joe leapt to catch the object.
It bounced off his hand and bounced several times on
and under the desk. He scrambled after it.
John watched Joe as he scurried about under the desk.
He held the ring between two fingers like a coin
collector holding something precious. It was Monica's
ring. John had just flicked it back, not caring what
happened to the cheap piece of shit. Monica had told
him she couldn't even hock the thing at the Pawn
X-Change. "It ain't a fuckin' baby or nothin'."
Joe ripped out several pages of the paper and began
to wrap the ring. "It's her mother's," he said.
John thought, furrowing his brow. "That crack whore
died when she was four."
Joe peeled a piece of tape and finished his little
package. "It's the only thing she has o' hers. Says it
reminds her o' what coulda been."
John stood, just staring, in the doorway as several
people tried to scoot by. Joe called out, "Don't
worry, I'll give it her all right."
John left out the door with a shove, bumping into a
behemoth of a man he otherwise would have avoided. He
mumbled a quick sorry and took off down the street.
John couldn't help but think that Joe would get a hug
from Monica for returning the ring. Maybe even a kiss.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

V for Vendetta Trailer

The trailer is up for V for Vendetta, a comic book-inspired movie. It looks pretty awesome. (The fan boy in me is coming out again.)

Nome ain't that far...

I just realized that I did the math wrong in calculating the distance from Seattle to Nome. It's not 3,500 miles. It's only about 2,200. I twice added the distance from Anchorage to Nome, about 700 miles.

Superman Returns has unveiled its logo that will be used in the teaser posters. I absolutely love the coloring and shading.

The Move

The MOVE TO NOME is getting closer. We officially fly out the night of August 14th and arrive at a decent 9 o'clock in the morning in Nome, with a six-hour layover in Anchorage. We can have a nice breakfast there before takeoff. Nome is about 3,500 miles from Seattle so it seems to be a long flight.

We are finishing up stuff here at the apartment. We are boxing up stuff to send by mail, actually. Media mail is cheap and parcel post for the clothes is cheaper than putting it on as cargo.

Amy's a little mad at me for bringing two comic boxes--down from SIX, I might add, so that's not bad for me. She just doesn't understand this stupid little obsession of mine. I have collected and read comics pretty much my whole life. I remember buying each and every one of them, for Pete's sake. So I am boiling it down to two boxes. (Hey, by media mail, it only costs about $15 to ship a big box of comics, so I don't feel too bad.)

We are actually getting new furniture. Amy has been searching online sites to ship new bedding and chairs and stuff. They may not be top of the line, but they will be great. It will feel like a frontier adventure for a while.

Nome. Here I come.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Seminar in Fiction Unit 3

For instance, here's my Unit 3 story. I am hoping that when people read it they don't want to choke the author. I wanted to choke three other students for making me read their drivel.

Matt Butcher Unit 3.1

I hated calling every week. Every Sunday. I didn’t know why. Only out of some sense of familial duty did I bother. I was two thousand miles away and I was all by myself in Seattle. Calling home was making stuff up, trying to make my week sound more interesting than it actually was. It felt like lying. I was trying to stay in Seattle when every lonely aspect of my body was screaming to move back to Chicago.
“No, Dad, it’s going well out here,” I said into the phone. “I’m going to get some kinda stock option through the mortgage company.” See, didn’t that sound impressive? It was, in actuality, a source of derision I would make fun of with a co-worker. There wasn’t going to be any stock options. The company was going under and it was their last ditch effort at acquiring some capital.
“I remember when I started working for the phone company out here in Chicago,” Dad said. He was born and raised in Blackpool, England, living there until he was sixteen. He tried American high school and dropped out, met my mother, who was a greaser back then if you can believe it (I can’t), and he got a job at the phone company that my Grandpa worked at. He’s been there ever since, 32 years.
I moved out here to Seattle in July 1999. I…needed a change. The divorce wiped me out. That was something my dad and I did not have in common.
“So really, Matt, how’s it going?” Dad said. He never got personal. This tone shocked me. It sounded genuine, with no mocking. I remember running the riding lawnmower into the car and him screaming, “Well done, Matt.” This was a friend’s tone.
“Good, Dad,” I said, trying to come up with something to squirm out of the call. Nothing.
“Matt, I moved thousands of miles away too.” The way he said it sounded like he had rehearsed it, yet it sounded sincere. “I moved to Chicago with me mum and dad. They moved back and I stayed here with your mum. I was alone too.”
Alone. Man, he nailed it right on the head. Bills were piling up. I think I had been on one internet blind date since moving out here and that went horribly. Everyone at the mortgage company was old compared to 26. The only one I talked to was Joanna, a married and pregnant 32-year-old. I came home at night to my loft apartment and stared at the Arby’s flashing sign while piling my books into a readable order or arranging my CDs by genre, or alphabetical order, or color. That would make for great Sunday family conversation: My CDs look cool colored like a rainbow.
Dad continued, “My mum and dad moved back without me after I met your mum. Did I ever tell you that me mum left before my wedding?”
“No, I didn’t know that,” I said and suddenly Dad was 18 years old.
“I was mad about that. They never got along, you know, your mum and my mum. She moved back to Blackpool about a month before the wedding. I started wondering to myself if I was doing the right thing. Why shouldn’t I move back to England? What was I doing? Your mum wouldn’t move to England, even though we talked about it. Wasn’t fair to her either. So we stayed here.”
I kept thinking of how my mother hated my wife. How everyone hated her. How I hated her now. If only I had listened. Only my dad, he was the only one that told me to do what I had to do. I was starting to guess now why he was the only supporter.
“That was September of ’71,” Dad said. “You came along 16 months later. Then Heather, then Sarah.”
“Yeah,” I responded. “So it was right for you. Married almost thirty years and with…me,” I joked.
“Yeah, but I almost went back to England.”
That statement floored me. It was simple to do the math. Going back to England = no me. Sobering.
“So you’ll be all right,” Dad said. “You gotta do what you need to. I only talk to me mum once a month or so now. It’ll be all right.” I heard the upper Lancashire accent in that final word.
Off the phone, I was resolved again. Dad did it. Another country, for Pete’s sake. I went to the computer and started looking on the internet for a new job.

That was 1999. I married Amy in October of 2000 and gained a stepdaughter, Morgan. Amy helped me focus on teaching and I got my first full time teaching gig in 2001. Madison was born in 2003.
The phone calls home are more and more infrequent. That’s because Dad was right. Amazingly, we don’t call all that often when we actually have stuff to talk about.

Downright mean

In my Creative Writing class (disguised cleverly with the name Seminar in Fiction), I had to respond to four short stories by other students. For lack of a better word, three of the four were just play shit.

I mean, they were BAD. And this is supposed to be a graduate level course. They were boring, full of cliches, and just tough to read. So I ripped them to shreds in my responses. I wasn't very nice.

Here's one of my responses. You don't need to read the story to which I'm responding to understand what I felt:
As I read through this, I actually got a little perturbed that the mental hospital thing was glossed over with one paragraph. THAT is the story. All that previous stuff should have been told as a kind of exposition. It could have been little bits of exposition. I don't think you needed to explain how the character fell apart on the phone and that stuff. I think we as readers know that stuff. You explained much of the beginning fall with cliches such as "the next days were a blur" and "I would just fall apart." It also sounded like you were just kind of retelling a diary entry. The story should have focused on the mental hospital. That would have been something.
I really liked the ending and the phone message. But I didn't see it coming. I saw bits of the boyfriend but did not first hear of him until the funeral on page three. And I thought she had blown him off already. I didn't see how he connected, especially to somehow "saving her" like the prince in Sleeping Beauty. Somehow he made everything right. I actually think it might have been more interesting to have the boyfriend married to someone else--she calls and the wife answers. Then she would be surviving under her own power and steam.
I just never seemed to connect with the character until the very end. And I just didn't understand the nickname or the title. If it was supposed to mean something deeper, I just didn't grasp it. I wish more time had been spent on the mental hospital.
Grammatically, I felt your paragrahs seemed too long. I kept feeling I was being told something instead of experiencing a story. There were a few phrases that seemed redundant, like the orphan phrase after saying your entire family was killed. Even the first sentence, I wondered why it was important that it was age 24 that this happened.

Here's another:
I felt the pain in this one at the end. Setting it up seemed forced a bit though. I didn't find the clear connection to her hardly ever talking to the dad and then feeling like that at the end. I felt she just started feeling emotion about it without there ever being that change that made the character feel differently. What makes her feel like that towards this man that at first she genuinely disliked.
The title and the theme surrounding it seemed to be overdoing it a bit. It seemed a bit forced. I think the images needed to be toned down a bit more. And how exactly does it tie into the song "If I were a Rich Man"? The water images really seem forced on page five and the ones in the first paragraph just don't seem to coincide with the ones in the last paragraph. I thought that maybe the mother needed to maybe feel something from her kids in respect to how she felt towards her father. Then I could see the sudden change. The kid images were all cute but I don't see how they advanced the story.
Grammatically, I was thrown off a bit in the beginning by some run ons and comma splices and the awkward metaphors "Like an awkward pause in a long conversation, a feeling from the past begins to disturb her." What does this mean?

Here's the third, on a story called "Pirate's Journey"--it was really bad:
First of all, I don't see how that first paragraph ties into the end. Was he unwilling? Was it really hope when the two kids still kept the slaves as indentured servants for four years? It seems contradictory to the them that became present at the end.
I felt the dialogue and language was a lot like trying to read old stories of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle or stories of King Arthur. You hit that right, if that's what you were going for. I think the ideas behind this piece would make for a better screenplay. I think the scope and grandeur you tried to impress upon the reader was too much for a short story.
The ending raised my eyebrow and I had to look back through the story. I don't see it as the revelation that I think it is supposed to be. It seemed a casual reference that was brought forth at the end as the theme to the piece. I think the end is much different from the beginning.
I think you need to pick one part of this and detail it further. It was too much.

I was trying to be nice but I could hear how frustrated I was in these posts. I wrote to the teacher to basically tell her:
Hi there,
After doing my responses to Workshop #1, I feel like I was downright mean to three of them. On those three, I tried very hard to come up with something positive when I wanted to say "rewrite." I felt my response to Reed's was the only one with real constructive criticism because I thought the story was good and workable. What I am trying to say is that if these criticisms seemed mean, I did not intend them to be. How do you deal with stories that you don't like and then have to respond to them?

Here's what the teacher wrote back:
Hi, Matt.
Some of these writers are inexperienced. They haven't had much feedback on assignments or models for their work yet. I remind myself that they're making an effort and probably taking some emotional risks, too.That usually gets me through my frustration when the writing is sloppy or sentimental. I thought your comments were all, in substance, things that these writers needed to hear. However, you did sound fed up most of the time. If you were to pick one or two of the highest priority criticisms and explain them patiently and thoroughly, the writers would be more likely to be able to absorb it. Also, I thought that you did well in your critique of Gigi when you praised the final images and said you wanted more of that kind of writing. Usually you'll beable to find one part that is better than the rest for some reason, so keep doing that. You don't have to gooverboard with praise (as I feel some people do); just use their best writing as a standard to elevate the rest. Thanks for writing to me about your concern. I appreciate it. I also appreciate your honesty.

I found this very constructive to me. I am also hoping that my short story, as I write it this week, doesn't get torn to shreds either. At least I am not going to do some of the things that I vented against.

$50,000 answer

Amy brought home, of all things, lottery tickets with the KFC for dinner.

So we're scratching them. She had one of those crossword puzzle ones. I had the $50,000 Hold'em Poker one. I was scracthing, saw I had three of a kind on the first hand. Scratched the dealer's and saw he had only Jack high. I won! I revealed the prize--$15. I was happy. It was a little bonus.

I won nothing else on the rest of the card--there were four hands. So I give the card to Amy, and she looks at it. "Honey, that first hand prize is still covered. The $15 was for another one." So she scratches the appropriate prize. $50,000.

I had never seen my wife bounce like Tigger before with such gaiety.

I was trying to get my shoes to go verify at the quickee-mart. I couldn't believe it. Something was up. This happened to my mom and me several years ago with a Kraft promotion. Turns out the newspapers mis-printed the Kraft tickets. EVERYONE won a car. There was litigation and my mom ended up with $250 in free food coupons. (So we still won.)

"Honey," Amy says after examining the card. "That's not Jack high--that's a straight."

"I knew I missed something," I said, taking the card back from her. In fact, the dealer got a straight flush Jack High, all clubs.

At least, while eating the KFC, we all got to talk about how nice $50,000 would have been, if only for a moment.

And I never saw my wife bounce like Tigger before (kinda nice!).

Friday, July 22, 2005

Flight Booked

My finally booked our flight. Been waiting on a good price and for a paycheck to balance everything out.

Alaska Airlines 807
Seattle (SEA)10:03 pm Sun, Aug 14
Anchorage (ANC)+ 12:35 am Mon, Aug 15
Coach · Boeing 737-800
Meal: None
1,444 mi · 3 hr 32 min

Alaska Airlines 151
Anchorage (ANC)6:00 am Mon, Aug 15
Nome (OME)8:50 am Mon, Aug 15
Coach · Boeing 737-200
Meal: None
729 mi · 2 hr 50 min
Total: 2,173 mi · 11 hr 47 min

It feels weird having a one-way ticket. But this is our adventure. We are kind of stressed just by moving, whether it be a block or 2100 miles, but we are excited. We land early on a Monday morning, ready to face the world.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Seminar in Fiction class Unit 2

Finding the Moment

Hours slid by excrutiatingly slowly. The minutiae that I dealt with during that time I barely remember. I kept making small talk with my wife and stared out the suite’s window. However, I can tell nothing specific about those hours of time.
I remember nothing about the evergreens outside the suite. The only reason I know there are evergreens outside the hospital is because I have driven past it in the two years since. I couldn’t relate anything we talked about. I do recall singing a playful song to my wife as she lay there in the bed. There was a hit by Avril Lavigne that I mockingly dramatized. She needed the laugh.
I didn’t laugh. I had never been through anything like this before. I’ve never even had a broken bone, let alone a serious procedure. I think the only thing I’d ever been to an emergency room for was five stitiches in my thumb once. My wife lay in the bed, groaning every few minutes, and I was forgetting each moment as it passed.
However slowly the previous hours crept by, the next fifteen minutes were light speed. I hazily recall half a dozen people in white and blue uniforms surrounding my wife. My heart rate shot to a million beats a minute. This was it.
The machines chirped furiously. Two nurses held my wife’s hands. She breathed horribly with purpose and I wished I could take upon myself that pain I saw in her eyes. I watched sweat drip off her brow as I stood there, wringing my hands with nothing to do. I saw dust motes floating in the new light of morning. The cacophony around me was like listening to a tape on fast forward.
My wife’s time had come. I was told to get in closer. Moving closer was like walking through cobwebs. I was so scared. No, that wasn’t the word. I was apprehensive. I said I’d never been in this position before.
My wife’s feet were in the stirrups. I heard the vulnerability in her gasps for breath. She wanted it over. The nurses kept repeating in those soft voices that it was almost over.
And then those final spasms. A gut-wrenching cry. Someone said, “There it is.” The duest motes paused and I heard a symphony that came iwht the next push. My wife expelled the baby.
I knew before it was told that I had a daughter. I didn’t need the camera because I’ll never forget that moment, but I took pictures anyway, as if I would forget. In that moment, as my wife was being taken care of (she was fine—she would go for a walk in the next half hour), I felt my whole life condense. Thirty years shrank to a window of time written on a birth certificate. Eight thirty-five a.m.
As she was being cleaned, I was the first to call her by her name. In that moment, I made a promise for the future and to the past. All this time, all this time, I was here for this moment, and all the moments to follow. My time is for Madison. That moment changed everything.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Mail and Internet

I don't know what we'd do without the internet anymore.

Amy is shopping catalogs like and others to get us bedding and some chairs. And it is surprisingly cheap. They mail super cheap actually.

We are mailing a lot of our stuff up to Nome. The things we are taking that fit into Media Mail goes super-cheap. 70 pounds is only like $40. We are also shipping clothes and stuff like fourth class rate. As long as they get there! I am actually shipping some things now to the school so that they will be there when we get there.

I am selling a ton on The past two weeks I have accumulated over $750 in sales. It's amazing. Prior to the internet, I would have probably made $20 at a garage sale. (and my computer has ripped all the CDs into MP3 format, so I haven't really lost anything...snicker!)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Moving soon

One month to go. The move to Nome.

We are going to buy our plane tickets when Amy gets paid on the 20th. That will take a serious chunk out of the $1500 that Nome Public Schools is allotting for moving expenses. It is worth every penny.

I am apprehensive. Sure, I am. This is a big move. But you know what? I can't imagine anything better.

A new place. I mean new--most people have never been there, and most probably have never heard of it. Small town atmosphere. Cut off from the rest of the world except by plane and dogsled. Dogsled! Every year, the Iditarod dogsled race ends in Nome. The school takes its spring break then just to celebrate.

I am bringing a whole family up there, which makes me a little nervous too. It's not just me. If it were just me, like my move to Seattle in 1999, I would have no worries whatsoever. Sometimes I feel like I am forcing them to go to the ends of the earth.

But they are not being forced. We have talked about it to no end. Morgan is excited to see snow (this part of Washington is lucky to get a day of snow a year--now she will have more than she can handle!). Amy is a mover. She does not like being in the same place. She is worried though because she doesn't have a "job" yet. There are jobs there, plenty from all my conversations with the school district. She'll get one easy. And my "raise" from Bremerton School District to Nome Public Schools helps. She is nervous all the same, but really only about the money aspect.

This isn't about money. It's about doing something different. Taking an adventure that most people are too timid to take. People do this all the time. Morgan's friend Tori just moved away to Virginia because her dad is in the military, so they move a lot.

In the end, I am excited. I want this. I love learning new things. I will be in the minority there--the population is 58% Native American and 42% Caucasian.

This blog will be turning in a major way to a journal of Nome. I am going to do my best to chronicle the day to day life and activities.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Packing up

As we start to throw stuff into boxes, it's amazing how some things don't make the box. We keep them in our houses, but when you have to pare down to as little as possible because every pound is going to cost us, some things don't seem worth it.

I'm ripping all my CDs onto the computer and selling those like crazy. I have sold over $1,100 worth (including VHS tapes and books) since June through Most are going super-cheap. It is jaw-dropping what some have gone for. The first volume of The Traveling Wilburys CD went for $10. Volume III went for $8.

All these bloody toys are mostly going out too. I gave Morgan one big box and said, "Anything you want--no debate." She is bringing everything she needs and wants. And I say nothing. I don't want to be the one to say no.

More later...

Madison was very noisy during my sister's wedding ceremony, but she loves to be the center of attention.

Morgan and my sister by the Christmas tree.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Morgan walking down the aisle at my sister Sarah's wedding in December. She is really growing up.

Frazz always has great literary references. This one from today refers to a favorite poem of mine by T.S. Eliot.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

It all seems like a waste. Here I keep thinking of mankind's next great adventure to the stars, about destiny, and about humanity's infancy in the cosmos, and today we wake up to almost 40 dead and hundreds injured in London, for what? For what?

So how do we fix it? We would rather fight each other, no matter how much of my science fiction says we will eventually work together. I want to fall into one of these wormholes, these Einstein-Rosen Bridges that could enable interstellar travel. And then I saw a program last night on the National Geographic Channel that pretty much tells of the impossibility of ever even communicating with extraterrestrials, even if we heard them.



Serenity: The Official Movie Website

Check out the trailer!

Join the Browncoats

Hi there,

Matt has sent you an invitation to join
Browncoats. Click on (or cut-and-paste) the link
below for more information:

Matt added:
You should check this out! Even though the TV
series was cancelled, it was only because it was
given the late Friday night death-slot. This and
John Doe got cancelled for the same reason--no
commitment by the network. Fans can move stories.


The New Doctor Who

The new Doctor Who. I have watched several episodes on the Canadian TV channel that I get. They truly remind me of the original series. There is that tongue-in-cheek sheepishness about it, almost as if it knows it is "just-fun" sci-fi. It doesn't try to be serious, and that's its charm.

But why would SciFi Channel balk at this show? This is the channel that today is boasting playing Stargate SG-1 from 8 am to 2 am, following it up by playing the 1989 movie Earth Girls are Easy. They also still make those creature-killer movies, over and over again. The latest is Attack of the Sabretooth. Does anybody really go out of their way for these movies? Doctor Who has a track record since 1968, with a fan base that has been disappointed since it went off the air in 1989. Wouldn't that bring a ton of viewers, instead of friggin' Attack of the Sabretooth?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I like peanut butter

Madison woke up before we did this morning. She proceeded to the pantry, found the jar of peanut butter, and smeared it all over herself, the carpeting, and every dresser in the bedroom.

Now there is a slight peanut smell everywhere.


Can somebody please tell me why CDs and DVDs do not have a scratch-protector type of case like a 3.5" floppy disk?

Why did they think we could take such perfect care of these CDs, as if we handled them like working in a CDC Level 5 sterile lab?

No matter how super-careful I am with them, the ones I take out a lot can get nicked up. My Bedbugs by The Odds has a skip! Madison unknowingly scratched the hell out of her DVD Lilo and Stitch so that it won't even play anymore.

Papas Fritas
Buildings and Grounds

You’ve heard one of these songs, but you have no idea who sings it. It is in that one Dentyne Ice gum commercial where the babe writes her phone number on the subway window with her “cool” breath.

You can see the a-ha inspired video of “Way You Walk” at this website and you’ll know exactly which song I mean.

The album was a stretch for me. I had never heard of it, not even the song “Way You Walk,” when I first bought it. I was reading Seattle Weekly and looking through the music section when I came across this short article:

CITIZEN JOHN (March 29 - April 4, 2000)

by John Richards

Something very strange happened today. Not only did I discover one of the hippest feel-good bands of the new millennium, but I learned something new in the process. Papas Fritas is Spanish for french fries. I'm sure you already knew that. I'm sure you know thousands of Spanish words, but like an idiot I took German in high school. The only thing I can remember are dozens of swear words and the phrase "Ich Liebe die Kuh," which I believe means, "I love the cow," though I could be wrong. It's also the name of your new favorite band. No, not the band "I Love the Cow"; I think they're a death metal band out of Spokane. The band I'm talking about is known as "French Fries" in English, and they are your new favorite band. For us non-Spanish speaking music fans, think of Papas Fritas as standing for "Pop has freed us" and save yourself from the confusing world of translation. (I first announced on the air that Papas Fritas was French for giant sausage.) The amazing new record from this Boston trio, Buildings and Grounds (Minty Fresh), surely has freed us. I haven't figured out from what. I assume it saves us from the tiresome pop acts that pollute our airwaves. The third track, "Way You Walk," is one of the catchiest songs I have heard in years. I don't know if it's a dance hit or a pop hit, but it sits right on the edge of being either the friendliest song that never made it on commercial radio or the greatest song that most people have never heard.

Listen to John play track 3 every weekday morning from 6-10am on KCMU, 90.3 FM, and live on the Web at

So what did I do? I ran out and bought the CD. I needed that exact kind of recommendation at that moment, somebody into pseudo-underground music to tell me exactly what to listen to. I was sure that tons of stuff was out there, but how was I ever going to hear it. I try listening to KCMU but you have to sit through five or six just-ok songs to get to something good. It was on KCMU I also first heard The Old 97s singing “Singular Girl” with the lyric “Talking to you, girl, is like long division,” a simile that seemed so deftly perfect for some relationships that I couldn’t believe this wasn’t more popular. Looking further, they also did the ultra-cool “King of All the World.” So good music was out there but I did not want to root through the crap. So I took a chance on such a wonderful recommendation by the columninst/DJ John Richards.

I couldn’t have been more pleased. Some of the songs are satisfyingly weird and slow, but they all tend to come together as a greater whole. There is almost a little mini-album of three of the middle songs starting with “Way You Walk” then “Vertical Lives” which keeps beating drumsticks until and as “What Am I Supposed To Do?” starts. These songs are pleasant and poetic. There is a hint of early-80s Yaz/Book of Love feel to the songs but there is more. These are well-crafted songs. I am happy when I put this in the CD player, happy for finding a small band that still cared about the music. They must have broken up because their website lists nothing new, one entry poking fun at themselves, saying “We sold out! Our song 'Way you Walk' is featured in a Dentyne Ice Commercial.”

However they may be perceived, their music holds true on this one album. “Way You Walk” simply has to be one of the catchiest songs I’ve ever heard, something simple yet contains a longing that is heartbreaking. This is one of my favorite CDs.

FW: BEA Bargaining Update

From: Denise Zaske
Sent: Wed 7/6/2005 8:10 AM
To: Matt Butcher
Subject: RE: BEA Bargaining Update

You’re right, Matt. I wish we had done a better job of stepping everyone through the process. In my perfect world, we’ll never need to use the RIF language again! You’ll truly be missed. –dz

-----Original Message-----
From: Matt Butcher
Tuesday, July 05, 2005 6:58 PM
To: Denise Zaske; BSD Certificated; BSD Administrators
Subject: RE: BEA Bargaining Update

I wish that the RIF process had been clearly articulated during my time there. Thank you for keeping us all so well informed.

Matt Butcher

Freshman Academy


fax 360-478-0787

From: Denise Zaske
Sent: Tue 7/5/2005 10:46 AM
To: BSD Certificated; BSD Administrators
Subject: BEA Bargaining Update

Hope y’all had a wonderful 4th of July!

Bargaining continues as we enter the summer months. Our last sessions, on June 27 and 28, began with a continuation of the discussion on creating an efficient student calendar that provides simplicity for parents, individual employee time in support of student achievement and professional development time. We’re excited about our results and believe it supports the best use of time. This topic was followed by a discussion on the District’s RIF process this year. As a result of that conversation, there is a strong commitment by the District to have the Association be more actively involved in any future reductions. We then began discussing special education caseload (with the addition of Bob Hamilton and Alicia Skelley who provided added expertise) and class size.

While we had hoped to complete bargaining during this period (wishful thinking J), we still have components of the total compensation package to discuss. We have shared our interests and it is now critical to create the data and, in essence, cost out various options. We’ll be coming back together on July 23 and August 17. Continue sending us your positive thoughts!


Tina Mahaney

Denise Zaske

FW: BEA Bargaining Update

From: Roger Thomas
Sent: Tue 7/5/2005 10:47 PM
To: Matt Butcher
Subject: RE: BEA Bargaining Update

The district is just telling us what we want to hear in an attempt to appease us. My guess is that it will work. For the next RIF they will do exactly what they want. You are aware that the district has admitted to finishing this fiscal/calendar year with a three million dollar reserve fund. That is 1.1 million above, that's right ABOVE their own projection. The WEA is predicting that the district will finish with a four million reserve. The RIF was not only mishandled but completely unecessary. While they are cutting programs, ie drama, and another one that I can't remember they are banking money, I guess, for a rainy day. We should be asking for resignations. 540 days to go. No roads lead to Nome. Open gyms on Tuesday 6:30 to not terribly late at the Kitsap Pavillion. See ya.

From: Matt Butcher
Sent: Tue 7/5/2005 7:58 PM
To: Denise Zaske; BSD Certificated; BSD Administrators
Subject: RE: BEA Bargaining Update

I wish that the RIF process had been clearly articulated during my time there. Thank you for keeping us all so well informed.
Matt Butcher
Freshman Academy
fax 360-478-0787

From: Denise Zaske
Sent: Tue 7/5/2005 10:46 AM
To: BSD Certificated; BSD Administrators
Subject: BEA Bargaining Update

Hope y’all had a wonderful 4th of July!

Bargaining continues as we enter the summer months. Our last sessions, on June 27 and 28, began with a continuation of the discussion on creating an efficient student calendar that provides simplicity for parents, individual employee time in support of student achievement and professional development time. We’re excited about our results and believe it supports the best use of time. This topic was followed by a discussion on the District’s RIF process this year. As a result of that conversation, there is a strong commitment by the District to have the Association be more actively involved in any future reductions. We then began discussing special education caseload (with the addition of Bob Hamilton and Alicia Skelley who provided added expertise) and class size.

While we had hoped to complete bargaining during this period (wishful thinking J), we still have components of the total compensation package to discuss. We have shared our interests and it is now critical to create the data and, in essence, cost out various options. We’ll be coming back together on July 23 and August 17. Continue sending us your positive thoughts!


Tina Mahaney

Denise Zaske

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Wouldn't even pirated DVDs raise awareness? Tell me they aren't in for the buck on this too.

The Odds Bedbugs

The Odds

I first heard the lead-in song "Jack Hammer" on Chicago's finest rock station, WXRT, probably on my way to school at Waubonsee Community College in 1993. I was a sophomore in college and life was ok for me then. I was branching into all sorts of new music, trying to be an expert in weird and different. Then I heard this great Canadian band on the radio and saw them on MTV. I was hooked. I saw the single "Heterosexual Man" on MTV soon thereafter and liked two songs now, so I knew I should get the CD.

All I know is that this CD holds up as a complete story. The life and times of a young man. It is a big metaphor and it seemed to fit my life at the time.

There are grooves here, something intangible that makes me move and makes me sing along. The lyrics are fun and a breath of fresh air. I have fun listening to it. There are obscure references to "F. Scott screams at Zelda" and neat phrases that make me smile, like "Friends will agree,/ with a pregnant pause/ and silently/ draw out their claws" with a play on the word "claws" for "clause." That's really cool to me, whether I am a geek or just an educated man. And there are some real rock 'n roll screams here, so it makes for a good listen from the lyrics to the static to the great bass.

Some songs are present on this album that I cannot live without, yet again, they are a part of this album that is inseparable. I absolutely love "It Falls Apart" and "Heterosexual Man." These songs are bold statements, with nothing left behind. I have heard too many songs and albums that never seem to go all the way. They leave nothing behind, as if they thought that it was the last song to ever perform. They're that good to me. There are sentimental songs as well, and they seem to fall inside you, ingrained from the psyche of these performers. This album seems to be a dream, our darkest and our fondest dreams at the same time, such is life, and such are the bedbugs that this album professes to be, somehow trapped between the sheets.

The Odds did a couple more albums that I have. I don't know much more about these Canadians. The next two albums, Good Weird Feeling (1995) and Nest (1996), are all right, but they lack the intensity of the songcrafting and emotion. Bedbugs is their best and one of my favorite albums of all time.

Snippets can be heard from (of all places).

Nome, yep, in Alaska

Hi there,

Well, I had to look because of the RIF stuff, so I
thought about a real change. Amy is looking forward to
it. It is a great challenge and a new outlook on life.
I will be the junior high writing teacher. The junior
senior high school 7-12 has only 300 kids in it, so I
get the small town atmosphere I have missed since
growing up in that small town in Illinois.

Remember--I probably wouldn't even have looked if
Bremerton hadn't RIFed.

I will always have this email address though, so keep
in touch! Amy is working right now at the Silverdale
Supercuts, so if you need a trim and further word from

Talk to you later!

Marty Neyman wrote (7-5-05):

Nome?????? in Alaska?????!!!!!

You have got to be kidding me! I need
some more details and time to process this new


Yahoo! Sports
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Poetry Contest II

Well, it worked. I submitted that really bad poem last month to Guess what? I got a note saying "excellent poem." This proves they will publish anything. So don't fall for those ads. It makes me think that the rest of the books they make you buy really suck.

Previous Post on this.

Morgan--she is getting funnier as she grows up! I miss her this week.

Monkey baby Madison.

Madison--these boots are made for walking.

Monday, July 04, 2005


Finally got a haircut today. It's amazing--I'm married to a hairstylist and can never get my hair cut. I don't blame her though because it's not like she wants to do a 43rd haircut when she comes home at night.

Madison is watching Barney on demand, which pretty much means I am stuck listening to Barney. Ugh.

Morgan is in Illinois with my mother. She went to Six Flags Great America this weekend. I'm a little jealous.

I turn my back on Madison and she dumps out a whole container of chess and game pieces. Ugh.

I am still mad about not actually knowing my grade on my final paper for my Literary Theory class. I guess I should let it go but it pisses me off, especially as a teacher.

I'm not doing anything on the 4th of July today, and that's ok by me.

New class starts tomorrow, a creative writing class. So I will probably subject this blog to those writings.

If that Chicken Dance Elmo sings one more time, I think I will beat my head on the desk.

A Short Reply

I came across this poem in college and always held on to it. I think it is a great metaphor, especially when you think about how almost everything has been said.

A Short Reply

thank you
for adding
so much
to my life

you have made

beyond love
longer than

i need you
more than poets
can comprehend.

--Scott Sonders

I wasn't the only one

I am presenting an email as I was communicating with other classmates to see if they got their grade in that Literary Theory class. I wasn't the only one bitching about the lack of feedback.

scrouse1 wrote: I thought it was a terrible class. I never got feedback and the concepts were a bit difficult and she never posted on the messages. I 've had better. And that was a lot of work! And, and....:) the syllabus was totally unclear and I asked a question and she responded to me like I was a moron! Anyway, what did you think?

mjb0123 wrote: I felt exactly the same way. I was appalled at the lack of feedback on my writing. I had the same kind of email talk down to me when I asked her a question too. I wrote to Janet Baker the faculty advisor for the English program. I suggest you write to her by email too to get our voices heard because you know they don't ever read those course evaluations! Thanks! Matt

I will. I can't believe the lack of feedback I received from the last 2 classes. Take care.Shannon

The final image of the comet before the impactor smashed into itat 23,000 miles per hour.

Thirteen seconds after impact, Deep Impact records the ejecta from the comet. I have just been amazed by this whole endeavor. This is pure science and exploration. My wife disagrees and says, "Space--the final frontier--let's leave it that way." I, on the other hand, believe in deeper and deeper exploration. I think we should be shooting off Voyager-type probes every month or so into different directions. I want to go to the moon. I want to go on an interstellar voyage. I think this is mankind's ultimate fate. I have unfortunately been born too early in mankind's infancy. We are babies taking our first steps. I'll never get to see it. My kids will never get to see it. But it will be done. NASA smashed into this comet precisely on time at 10:52 pm PDT on July 3rd at 23,000 miles an hour. They can do these things, and we need to awe at them.

The before and after images of hitting the comet, as viewed from Hubble Space Telescope.

Sixty seconds until impact with Comet Tempel 1.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Napoleonic Wisdom

"You must not fight too often with your enemy or you will teach him all your tricks of war."
--Napoleon Bonaparte

God, I love time off. I waste it just as I want to, looking up stupid crap like the quote above. I can go off on these "tangents of knowledge" as I call them and keep searching on a topic or read goofy stuff that I normally wouldn't have the time to read. For instance, I spent some time today reading Wierd Facts [sic]. I am watching my latest DVD from Netflix, Robotech Volume 13, as I just sit here at the computer, watching Madison for the day while Amy is at work. Laundry is all done so I don't have to do that. Today, really, all I have to do is watch and clean up after Madison.

What a nice day.

Movie Review: Cowboy Bebop: The Movie

Anime can be hit or miss for me.

I think I really like Robotech because as a kid I remember watching it and discussing it with my friends in seventh and eighth grade. We read the Comico comic books (they were expensive ones back then so I had to read friends' copies). We watched The Transformers too, though technically not anime, because the concept was what was cool. Robotech and Transformers change into stuff, man.

But sometimes, I have watched some crap anime. And I just can't stay up to all hours of the night to watch late night anime on Cartoon Network. So I tape the movies when they come on Starz to watch later, or I rent them occasionally through Netflix. I had taped a while ago Cowboy Bebop: The Movie.

At first, one of my prime dislikes of anime held true: slow and little movement. I find it amazing that when the talking is going on, the characters just sit there most of the time and have their mouths move. They seem to only move when there is extreme action. And when there was action, it was pretty to behold. But I miss the little movements in facial expressions and body language from watching a real movie. (For instance, Amy and I watched Mystery, Alaska starring Russel Crowe last night and I just noticed that there was movement...that's all.)

So Cowboy Bebop impressed me. First of all, the story was quite strong. I was really impressed by the villain. I love a ferocious villain that never wavers. The final fight scene on the tower with the fireworks going off was kung fu-pretty. I am going to have to rent the rest of the series through Netflix.

Live 8 Sponsor

I found it ironic while watching a bit of that Live 8 Concert last night that Trimspa, the dietary supplement, was a sponsor of the show. Hmmm, in our capitalist excess we can still waste our flippin money on dietary supplments while we are watching pictures of dying people in impoverished countries.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

You know what's cool? One YEAR before it is supposed to be in the theaters, Brandon Routh and Kate Bosworth of Superman Returns grace the cover of Entertainment Weekly. One YEAR. Tell me people aren't looking forward to this!

Movies that I Love but Can't Watch Again

Some movies are fantastic and can be seen again and again. I think I've watched Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan about 100 times, or The Goonies twice that when I was a kid. (Everyone out there that just said, "Man, what a geek," shut the hell up.) There are some movies out there that no matter how much you loved them, you simply cannot watch again.

When I watch a movie or read a book, I do not try to figure out the ending. I let the media take me where it will. I don't want to solve the crime or mystery ahead of time. I want to experience that final revelation when the writer or director wants you to. And usually it ends up being the perfect moment where you get chills or that lightbulb comes on in your head, that feeling that you can't get at any other time.

The following is a list of movies that I love but will probably never watch again. I know what happens now and that simply ruins the magic of watching the movie for me. Yes, I go back and see how it was all set up to make that great revelation, but that would ruin that "first-viewing" in my head. There's still a feeling inside that I don't want to erase.

The Sixth Sense
A Beautiful Mind
The Butterfly Effect
Primal Fear
Fight Club

There might be a couple more. The fact is that I know what happens. I did not see the ending coming to Fight Club when I finally saw it last year. Somehow I got around any conversation on it. But it was fricking incredible. The revelation in The Sixth Sense makes you do the Keanu "Whoa!"

This does not diminish the impact of these great movies. In fact, this may make them even better. They are movies that I don't want to watch again so as not to mess up that perfect cinematic experience in my mind. That may make them even more perfect.

Die Hard

Die Hard (1988) Starring Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman Directed by John McTiernan

Of all the shoot-'em-up movies out there, there is a distinct pattern. Usually the hero gets thrust into a situation and just shoots his way out. I just summarized probably 90% of the action-thriller genre. Then a movie comes along that we still look to 17 years later as a standard setter. That's Die Hard.

In 1988, Bruce Willis was not an action hero. He was still in the middle of that quirky television series Moonlighting. Many thought he would not make the adjustment from goofball comedian to action hero. He surprised us all.

The first time I saw this movie was on video with my dad late one night. We truly did not expect much and I think my dad thought he would be asleep in less than an hour. When my dad stayed up for a movie, that tells you it's got to be good. (To digress, three of Dad's favorite movies of all time are The Guns of Navarone, Where Eagles Dare, and Zulu.)

Starting with an extremely plausible explanation as to why the bad guys take over the building, our good guy Bruce Willis finds himself in a situation I had played for years with my action figures. He is alone in a building with gun-toting maniacs with only his wits to survive. This movie has two things about it that makes it stand up above the rest: 1. You believe every single thing that happens, down to the dialogue and 2. Every single little thing is set up perfectly.

Yes, some of the dialogue seems macho and stilted. But it comes off. The bad guys are all believable, especially Alan Rickman as the best bad guy I think I have ever seen. They don't pull punches, they shoot when they need to, and their motives never change. This was the start of really good bad guys, where the bad guy almost becomes a protagonist in a way, moving forward his side's agenda. When bad guy meets good guy, the tension is thick, almost suspenseful. If Hitchcock had directed a giant action thriller, this would have been it, and that says a lot for McTiernan.

However, most of the fun of this movie with repeated viewings is the way that every little thing gets set up. The very beginning has a passenger tell Willis about relaxing after a flight by taking off his shoes and making "fists with your toes on the carpet." He then has his shoes off when the bad guys take over. Eventually, the bad guys shoot the glass because they know this and Willis has to get his feet all cut up. Then Willis talks on the radio to the cop to end yet more human relevance to the actions of the movie. It's all set up, and it flows. There are many such instances and under repeated viewings, these things seem to shine, as sort of a maze to pick your way through. One viewing has you following different directions. And it all comes down to one great conclusion, Roy Rogers style. Even when Bruce Willis blows the "smoke" from his gun after the final shootout with the bad guys, it's not stupid. It flows after two hours worth of dialogue to set it up.

Die Hard is the standard in this genre and it's because of the subtleties that surround the action. Yes, there are big explosions and plenty of shooting. When Willis jumps off the roof tied only to a fire hose, it is one of the most awesome stunts, I think, conceptualized in a movie. Too many action flicks just have fighting and shooting without the heart that Die Hard has. Even Die Hard 2: Die Harder and Die Hard with a Vengeance are just pale little comparisons. Die Hard 4.0 is scheduled for next year according to IMDB, but it just can't be the same. This movie had everything working for it, catapulting the career of Bruce Willis, giving the great talent of Alan Rickman a real vehicle to showcase his incredible acting, and fantastic old-fashioned stunts.

I can watch this movie over and over again and it always gets an A+.

Madison looking over the balcony.

Friday, July 01, 2005


I got a B+ in that Literary Theory class.

No F'in way. No way. That would mean that I got just about perfect on the final paper. I told ya this woman was grading subjectively.

(Unless this proves again that if I save a paper to the last minute I get a better grade than if I plan and write it for a week or more. )

Answer to "A Recent Class"

The faculty advisor responded to me today. I knew I should have said something halfway through the class.


Thanks for your e-mail. I am glad you were pleased with your first twoclasses in the online ENG MA program. I certainly want you to have agood educational experience. I will discuss the problems you raised about your ENG 600 class with the instructor--I will protect your identity. I will ask her to be sure to give her students plenty of feedback.



It has been an incredibly fun year-Thank you for being my neighbor. I truly have lived the joy of being in a sit-com!

I've appreciated your continuous support and encouragement and your hospitality-even though you wouldn't've been able to get rid of the "Executive Lunch Crew" even if you wanted to!

Even though I'm sad for us-we will miss you very much-I'm excited and proud of you for taking such an adventure. Most people only dream about making such moves. You are brave and we all look forward to hearing many stories. Nome is gaining a great teacher and an excellent family into their community!

Many Blessings,


Sorry for the pink ink pal...

Well, Mr. Butcher, I just feel extremely compelled to thank you for putting up with our class. I know we've been nothing short of stressful at times. But you stuck with us, and I appreciate it more than you know. Honestly, you've inspired me to be a better student and helped me to be an overall better person. I know you're my English teacher, but you've been much more than that to me. You were like a Dad I never had. The love you have for your girls showed me more of the good in the world. And you've always listened when you needed to. You've had an unbelievable impact on my life. Instead of dreading waking up I embrace my days with open arms and a smile. I wish you more than the best. That goes for your family also. I love you like a dad. Keep in touch.


A Recent Class


I am a rather new student at National University in
the Masters of English program. I need to talk to
somebody about my recent class taught by Dr. Bonner.

In my other two classes, there seemed to be a set
rubric of points for each and every assignment. When I
missed something, the instructors were very specific
as to what I missed. I felt I learned something from
those assignments and was able to use the knowledge on
the final paper. I received feedback on everything I
wrote. Grades were also up to date and the My Grades
page accurately reflected everything that was going

My last class on Literary Theory was subjective and
arbitrary. On each of my tests, I received a grade but
then no indication on exactly what I missed. I'm not
talking one point, but several points out of 20, which
as you know starts to really affect the grade. I
received no criticism as to why some of my answers
were insufficient. I asked once in an email but the
response was that I only didn't answer it fully
enough, and something about a conclusion not being
strong enough. No specifics, just generalities. How
could I take this information and apply it towards my
final paper? I had a really hard time on that final
paper. As of yet, I have not received my grade on the
paper or the final grade. But I am afraid that a grade
will just be given on it with no feedback whatsoever,
positive or negative. The My Grades page is still not
correct today. I felt that all the grading was
completely subjective.

I received two A's in my other courses. This class was
tough, and I agree that I didn't get an A. The real
problem was that I couldn't get an A because I got no
feedback along the way of any of my applications of
the material learned in class. I had such a wonderful
experience in my other two courses that I had to
express my concern on this class. I felt that I simply
read a book and wrote into a journal on it.

Thank you for your time and for listening. I can send
you any electronic writin or correspondence that was
sent to me if you would like to look at it.


Matt Butcher

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