Thursday, August 31, 2006

Another independent comic review of mine is up at the newly redesigned Independent Propaganda. Check it out! This is a review of the upcoming KONI WAVES comic book series by Arcana Studio.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The BOOM! Studios blog quoted me from my review over on Independent Propaganda. Quoted me a bunch of times. That's great! See, pretty soon it'll be my name under that comic or movie title next to Roger Ebert's. Eh?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Good classes

Had an awesome class day. All the classes were excellent. What a great day.

With sophomores, we did a vocabulary activity to replace the made-up words in JABBERWOCKY. They were really cool about it. I think they had fun.

Just wonderful to have this high school level maturity!


Lewis Carroll

(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Here's just a picture of downtown, the Arctic Trading Post and the Nome City Hall with the finish line for the Iditarod in its off season home sandwiched right there in the middle. Today was the first day of school in Nome. I am always apprehensive about first days. I don't know the kids and I don't know how the classes will go yet--remember, I haven't really taught the same thing twice in a row yet. The kids come in and I then have to use the first day to really just go through rules and stuff. Today we as a staff went through certain pages of the handbook during certain periods. Boy, there just isn't really a fun way to teach that stuff. The kids were awesome though this year. Leaps and bounds from what I had and what I expected. It's amazing the maturity level from middle school to tenth grade. And my seniors are really adults now, aren't they? That senior English class is going to be a blast this year! I am so excited to be teaching a British literature class. We start Beowulf later this week, in fact. That class is my reason for being a teacher this year. And kudos to the sophomores. They wrote! I mean, I asked for a writing sample, to choose one of the rules out of the handbook and tell why it was either a good rule or a bad rule. They wrote! I get to read those tonight. That's a good 100 paragraphs to read tonight. Small sacrifice after seeing them do their absolute best. If they give me that at least part of the year, I will be happy. Can't wait to get into Shakespeare coming up! All in all, it looks like it is going to be an awesome year!

Morgan's first day of sixth grade today. We have to snap a picture as she walks out the door. Can you believe she turns twelve next month? I can't.

I don't think HE gets it. I found this today in my Superman alert email from Yahoo. Seems some people are upset at the one famous Superman line being changed from "Truth, justice and the American Way" to "Truth, justice, all that stuff." It was said by Daily Planet editor Perry White in the film.This guy says that this is an anti-American sentiment. I think that the authors of the movie crafted it to be a more WORLD-oriented statement. The 50s got it wrong. Superman is not just American--he is of the world. And anything less is not true to Superman. I think the authors did a great job there to use the sentiment, a phrase imbedded in our heads, and turned it into a quick worldview.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Won $60 at poker last night! Amy and I went to play with two of her coworkers last night. Texas Hold 'Em. $20 buy in. I won out of the four of us. So I guess that means I actuallyonly won $40 because I had to put in $20 and Amy had to put in $20. (Then again, since I regularly don't get money anyway, I could say I won my twenty too!--that's a joke, by the way.) Then I had to buy the guys a beer so I came home with $10 less. But it all works out. And bragging rights are worth far more. Tonight is Trivial Pursuit Challenge night here in our place.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pluto is no longer an official planet. Forget all those mnemonic devices you used to remember the planets. Pluto no longer technically qualifies.

Kids come on Monday!

Been busy setting up my classroom all day today. Tomorrow is more of the same. Thank goodness they give us these two work days, and before a weekend!, to get ready for the kids coming on Monday. Perfect set up.

I am excited because I have a new classroom this year. There's a window and everything! Put up some posters I got from the Teaching Tolerance site with good quotations and inspirations. Spent time putting together my first week's lessons too.

This is the best part--the lessons! I get to do literature again this year! I get to do some Shakespeare! And my Senior English IV class is pretty much a British literature class. This will be the first time teaching Beowulf and Chaucer, among others, so I just can't wait. This is the stuff that got me into being an English teacher anyway! The Sophomores will be nice too. Especially now that I have that canned writing unit to supplement with some reading material, I can really focus on the students. I will get to teach them Julius Caesar and Romeo and Juliet too. Also looking into ordering a set of Lowry's The Giver.

Plus, news of all news today:

My advisor at National University accepted my thesis! I now have a Masters degree in English! I just have to go through the official graduation requirements and I will be able to sign my name like this:
Matthew J. Butcher, M.A. I won't, but it is cool to look at.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Last day of teacher inservice today. Then we have two solid workdays and a weekend before the students come. That's ideal. My first year teaching at South, we went from an inservice one day to kids the next. Harsh. Amy and I saw the final disc of VERONICA MARS season one last night and were giddy over the great ending. Man, now THAT was a season finale! So cool. How can people not be watching this show. If this were on USA network, it would be a huge hit. Other than that, now we just have the beginning of school right now. That's enough to keep anyone buys. Still waiting to hear from my thesis advisor on my rough draft. I'll give it a couple days. I think I will have to rewrite bits at least one more time. Okay, time to go!

A new webcomic review of mine is up at Independent Propaganda, this one of America Jr., about a small town that wakes up and finds its charter says it is no longer part of the United States. Like a Peanuts comic.Check it out!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

But look at that haul of blueberries tonight! That's a gallon ice cream container there. And those are Madison's hands reaching for the goodness. Of all the containers tonight, Madison's was conspicuosly empty.

I fell on my big fat ass tonight. I thought I was being funny and was running to tackle Morgan. I never got there. I thought I twisted my ankle, it hurt. The muskeg, bog, marsh, whatever, doesn't give good footing. There can be holes and you never see them coming. Plus, the ground gives under my weight a few inches with each step.

Almost like a Norman Rockwell painting. We enlisted the Wehde kids from downstairs, some of Morgan's best friends, in our attempt to grab twelve cups for jam. I like how Madison is falling down on the tundra here.

Today was one of those days in teacher inservices that I remember what the penguins say in the movie MADAGASCAR. "Smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave." Just sit through it. One of those days where I probably could have gleamed all the info off a quick little manual. We learned about the new writing and reading curriculum stuff we bought. I am excited for that stuff. If I had had this writing stuff last year my job would have been a cake walk, so I am glad to implement that this year, on top of the cool lit stuff I will get to do. Then the second half of the day I was in a dark and stuffy computer lab learning the new PowerSchools attendance and grading system. I wish they would stagger these classes per computer ability. Some people in the room, and these are high school teachers mind you, don't know a lot about a computer. I mean, to the point where we had to tell them what a folder for the application was and what a web address was and where to type it. I really like the new program. So I am extremely happy about the actual MATERIAL we received today, but the delivery could have been better.

The new cafeteria and gym center of the high school is just about done and ready for kids. I will have to take some photos of the new artwork on the gym walls when there are lights on in there. On another topic, I took this picture with a new camera. Pall Mall cigarettes, for some reason, sent me a cheapo digital camera. They have some promotion to send them pictures of relaxing with cigarettes, I guess. I must have filled out that I smoked cigars on a survey somewhere. It only holds about 18 pictures at really low res, about 100K pixels, so it ain't great, but it will do in a pinch. It's amazing how absolutely cheap the technology is now if Pall Mall can afford to send these out for free.

The coveted blueberry.

Berry picking across the field.

Some more berry picking tonight. Morgan needs a ton to make a new batch of jam. Got attacked by swarms of humongous mosquitos! It's like a bog, or muskeg, where the blueberries flourish the best.

Monday, August 21, 2006

I finally took a look at my volleyball schedule for the upcoming season. Practice should start mid-September. The weekend listed as 'OPEN' on November 3rd actually should have been Hooper Bay on the coast of the Yukon Delta. But they had a bit of a problem several weeks ago. Some kids were playing with matches below the school somehow and 35 buildings went up in flames, including the school. We only have one set of real home games this year, not including the Mixed 6 tournament. The Mixed 6 isn't really our stuff anyway since they raise the net to accomodate the boys playing, so I don't put a whole lot of emphasis on it. We don't field boys during the tournament. This is just another thing I have on my plate, creating a volleyball practice regiment, etc. But it's fun. No Barrow this year, I'm surprised at that. I won't see them until the Far North Conference. They are the defending state champs and this year, we would have to beat them outright to go to state.

We then went for a nice drive down Nome-Teller Highway for about twenty miles and stopped every once in a while. These neat rock formations are prime candidates for pictures!

Look at that haul! After less than an hour, we had a good four cups of blueberries. We are going out more this week for Morgan to make some jam that she learned how to make at camp.

More berry picking yesterday. Fun for the whole family! We had a wonderful blueberry pie last night!

Boom! Studios reviews by yours truly posted up at Independent Propaganda. This new comic book company is putting out some great stuff. Read the review.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

News of a NEW mini-series based on The Prisoner is surfacing. Sky One has unveiled plans for a new six-episode mini-series, possibly starring the revamped Doctor Who, Christopher Eccleston.

Why I Like The Prisoner

Why I like The Prisoner

It was an accident really. I was never supposed to actually watch it, let alone have it become this mini-obsession of mine.

I always tried to watch Doctor Who on late Sunday nights on WTTW, the PBS station in Chicago. It came on right after Monty Python's Flying Circus. They played three episodes of Doctor Who all meshed together so it was like a little movie and not a silly half hour. I taped a bunch of them, usually just to tape and watch. (Actually, Doctor Who was an accident too. My family borrowed a Fawlty Towers tape from the Baltas that had a Doctor Who episode on it, "The Robots of Death" with the fourth Doctor. I thought I would try watching it one day when I was told that it was sci-fi. Although they compared it to silly stuff and I think I remember it being compared to the 1985 Dune movie. That sparked a little Doctor Who obsession.)

WTTW changed up their lineup a little bit. Whether it was because they didn't make their donation quotas by hawking their little Doctor Who mugs, I don't know, but they decided to play something else in its place. It was at least comparable to the genre. I remember putting a tape in, thinking to catch a show at the beginning. I did it at the last minute-I know it was the last minute because the tape (I still have it) was recorded at SP and not SLP. That ain't like me. I have filled up tapes that only had 15 minutes left on SLP just to get stuff on them. I still have a couple of tapes that are halfway blank queued and ready to be popped in at a moment's notice. I could get six+ hours on a tape rather than just two. So taping something at SP tells me it was a last minute decision. Remember, I am a penny-pinching bastard on the weirdest of things.

I was blown away at the first episode. It was strange. It was intelligent. It was bewildering. It was a concept I had never seen before. I was born in 1973, way too late to really be a part of the sixties counterculture that The Prisoner was filmed in. Luckily, when I first watched it in the very late 80s, I still knew of spies and basic Cold War stuff.

It seemed to stand for something. It wasn't just about some guy trying to escape from a prison. It had themes that were greater than the individual characters. When I watched it, I saw that he was fighting for me. He resisted the machinations of the Village because the greater good needed him to. This show taught me concepts of freedom of elections, questioning your surroundings, staying true to your convictions, the honor of standing tall, and the idea of individuality versus group dynamics. It came at a time when I was first hitting these concepts in high school. In a way, The Prisoner was an education. I simply would not be the same without the seventeen episodes in this series. They have become a part of my psyche, part of what makes up Matt Butcher. Cut me open, and copies of The Prisoner would fall out.

I taped all seventeen episodes off WTTW. I'm going to go through the episodes again. I have watched them so many times now that I can almost quote them. I used to put a tape of six episodes on in the background as I would sit at the computer and do my homework from college at my parents' house. I want to think about all seventeen episodes as individual entities and gleam the concepts and the benefits from them.

We also went to a little barbecue today with Amy's coworkers. Madison got to hold little Gabby, the new sister for Miss ANB.

Morgan blueberry picking with the mountains in the background. This picture really intimates how huge Alaska is, and how devoid of trees it is.

Went blueberry picking today. You pretty much just pull over to the side of the road and get out. Blueberries as far as the eye can see. Madison ate twice as many as we saved in the container. Fresh blueberry muffins and pancakes, coming up!

My wife bought the Keane debut album a couple years ago and we liked it. We heard the new single on the music service the other day. Amy remarked how much it sounded like early 80s U2. Oh my God, is she right. I listened to a ton of BOY, OCTOBER, and especially WAR and UNFORGETTABLE FIRE. This fights right in there.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

First day of teacher inservices. Nice to see my name above a high school designation. Today is a bunch of data to compare and go over in preparation for the new school year. They are allowing much more of a teacher-to-teacher discourse this year instead of just listening to some presenter. This is wonderful. There are too many times when teaching is a solitary experience so having the discussions with my fellow teachers is amazing. Very encouraging too. My goal is to have nothing but positive thoughts. I want to turn off any negativity I might feel and just meet the challenges head on. When it comes down to it, especially comparing it to last week when I was stripping the wax off a grocery store floor at 3:30 am, this is a wonderful job. Plus, I get to visit my passion in Shakespeare more this year than last year. Sophomore English alone will probably see Julius Caesar and Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet if they didn't have it in ninth grade. Gotta find out. I just think that if a kid can decipher Shakespeare, he or she can decipher any written text. Lots of hands on and acting invloved in it too. 06-07 school year coming up!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

We have new neighbors. Planets, that is. There is a new definition for PLANET that will cause us to all of a sudden go from nine planets to an even dozen. This includes Ceres, previously one of the asteroids in the belt after Mars; Charon, also known as Pluto's moon, and 2003 UB313, the one without the name.

Madison as Braveheart. Don't ask...

Look at those fish! Our downstairs neighbor was putting his catch for the day away and I just had to snap this picture. They say that during the season, you catch your limit in well under an hour. There are times when all you have to do is throw your hook in. We've had a few as people round here try to give some away because you just can't eat it all. I mean, look at the size of those!

SUPERMAN may be too broke to return. Speculation is abundant as the people-that-be look at the financial possibilities of a sequel to SUPERMAN RETURNS. My question is: How much SHOULD it have made? It made over $200 million, before DVD sales.Yes, its budget was astronomical, but is that the fault of viewers that wanted to see it? Was there a way to make it more cheaply and get it done? For instance, I think they didn't need to rebuild a Kent farm from scratch as it was barely in the movie! This is another case of a movie production company having eyes way too big and greenlighting everything. I'm betting that it could have been done cheaper if director Bryan Singer was told to make it cheaper. So we fans are going to be the ones that get hurt here.

Marvel here is listing out all their recent properties that are being developed for cinema. '07 will see Spider-Man 3, Ghost Rider, and Iron Man movies. There is also a Fantastic Four tv show in the works. Other properties are being developed for movies.

I say we should have to board planes in our underwear and airline-provided flip-flops. Enough dicking around with this. Don't board the plane with anything mother nature didn't provide but our skivvies. That would stop all this crap. If that's what it takes to stop this heartache and commotion, then just do it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Today marks the one-year anniversary of The Butcher family's move to Nome, Alaska. We have learned some amazing things and met some amazing people. We have experienced a whole other slice to life that has been different from what we lived before. This experience makes us cherish so much more, quite more in-depth than any other life we have ever led. Simple things. Some things are more precious just because they cost a bit more. Food tends to get used more and not just thrown away as leftovers. People are quieter here, and that's a good thing, as if they do not have to fill the void with noise or even unnecessary speech. It has been a grand experience actually living here, more than just a tourist on one of those cruise ships. We have mingled with the people, taught them, coached them, played with them.

It is, according to the weather at Yahoo, four degrees warmer in Nome, Alaska, right now than in Somonauk, Illinois.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Webcomic review up at Independent Propaganda. This one is of ROOK CITY.

She told me to make sure I call her sometime today on her first day. I'm all choked up. She's growing up. In 15 years, I will be celebrating her high school graduation. Sniff.

Leaving for her first day of pre-school.

Daddy's little girl on her first day of pre-school!

Madison's first day of school at Kawerak today!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

If this doesn't make you chuckle, then you must never have seen one of the greatest movies of all time: A Christmas Story. Here is an actual ad for the Red Ryder carbine BB gun! And it was only $2.99!

A staple in all old comic books--The Charles Atlas ads. This one even has the classic little comic strip showing how the 98-pound weakling has sand kicked in his face. He takes the Atlas program and then wallops the bully!

Underoos! How many pairs did YOU have? I especially remember my Yoda underoos.

I'm sharing some old ads from some old comics. Part nostalgia, part coolness. Imagine seeing this ad for the first Star Trek way back when.

Didn't wake up until 2:30 pm today. I guess that's okay when you factor in that I worked until 5:30 am. Thank God that last night was the last of these night shifts. No more scraping floors for me. Even for $18 an hour. Good thing I didn't quit my day job! :)

I drove Amy to the airport this morning. She is in Anchorage until Tuesday morning for some banking training. You can never learn too much. They pay for just about everything and Amy gets to do some real shopping, like Wal-Mart and JC Penney in the mall. It's just two nights.

Madison starts her preschool tomorrow! She is so excited. She's going to feel like a big kid. I promised Amy to take lots of pictures.

Underdog. My new toy. A vinyl figure about 8 inches tall that I got from Entertainment Earth. I remember rushing home to watch Underdog after school.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Morgan's newspaper picture is available in color from the Nome Nugget's webpage.