Saturday, September 30, 2006

Another funny Fred Hembeck cartoon about Superman's Kryptonian parents.

This week in life...

This was a long but good week.

Varsity volleyball is in full swing. I like how things are going. Interesting to note that some of the JV players came up to me this week, saying they missed me, and wishing that the JV coach made them do as many push ups as I made them do! They actually said that to me! One week from today, the Varsity and I will fly to Kotzebue to play, just above the Arctic Circle. I've flown to Kotzebue two or three times now, but never gotten off the plane as we waited on the tarmac to proceed to Nome. I'll finally set foot in Kotzebue.

Also, classes have been proceeding wonderfully. Amazingly, I haven't had any real discipline problems. I have only a handful of students that won't turn in their essays (that we worked on in class for a week, but I digress). With the sophomores, we just finished The Giver, a novel by Lois Lowry that I absolutely love. Love it so much now that I added up how many times I've read it, alone and in class to students now, a total of nine times. And it still gets me. With the seniors, we started our Shakespeare unit, focusing on Hamlet first. I am having a great time with the performance-based teaching of the play. I am only having a bad time getting the frickin TV to play the video with audio at the same time in my room. I like to show them a scene after we do the scene in class. We don't watch the movie straight through. I show them the Kenneth Branagh version, mostly.

Morgan and Madison and Amy are great. Busy but great. Morgan seems now. We went to the pool today, and Morgan helped out with Madison in the women's locker room, getting her ready. Madison is a daredevil and had a ton of fun in the pool.

Other than that, things are going great. We have a bake sale tomorrow at the AC for the Varsity team. We have to raise at least $300 more. I hope I'm not there all day. This is really my last weekend until volleyball is over. Games every weekend.

Pointing out transcendentalism is tough

After a little research, find a working definition of “transcendentalism” that you are comfortable with using in this discussion. Do the same for “naturalism,” but be careful not to confuse Whitman’s sense of naturalism with the sense of “naturalism that developed towards the end of his life in the American novel (Dreiser, Norris). They are quite different.
In what ways does Whitman identify with nature? Section 24 of the Deathbed Edition of Leaves of Grass details many of Whitman’s views on natural and the natural man and woman. What are they? This section, as you have learned, caused some problems with prudish censors at the time, especially his comment that “copulation is no more rank to me than death.” Were Whitman’s praises of death and sexuality unusual in his time? How do these views fit in with natural and transcendental views? In what sense does Whitman say that he is “divine”? How does Section 32 (“I think I could turn and live with animals”) fit into this world view.
Throughout Leaves of Grass there are innumerable passages that reflect Whitman’s philosophy of nature and the self. In what passages do you find these views most prominent and well-expressed? In many ways, Whitman is trying to “express the ineffable,” that is, give words to what cannot be put in words. What does this mean? Where in Leaves of Grass do you find him attempting to express the “mystery” of life and perhaps failing—although the failure is magnificent? Is this ineffability what he is referring to in the last three lines of Section 52? Here they are:
• Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
• Missing me one place search another,
• I stop somewhere waiting for you.

Pointing out transcendentalism is tough to newcomers because it is a new way of thinking. Try to tell someone to think of a higher spiritual power without giving it the name of a god. I like to think Emerson’s one vision of the transparent eyeball holds much in this respect:
I become a transparent eyeball;
I am nothing;
I see all;
the currents of the Universal being circulate through me;
I am part or parcel of God.

And Emerson also said, “To create—to create—is proof of a divine presence.”

I like the following definition of transcendentalism to give meat to the fact that they believed in something, not the dogma that organized religion provided: William Henry Channing(1810-1844)
"Transcendentalism, as viewed by its disciples, was a pilgrimage from the idolatrous world of creeds and rituals to the temple of the Living God in the soul. It was a putting to silence of tradition and formulas, that the Sacred Oracle might be heard through intuitions of the single-eyed and pure-hearted. Amidst materialists, zealots, and skeptics, the Transcendentalist believed in perpetual inspiration, the miraculous power of will, and a birthright to universal good. He sought to hold communion face to face with the unnameable Spirit of his spirit, and gave himself up to the embrace of nature's perfect joy, as a babe seeks the breast of a mother."

In this regard, naturalism comes out as a way to identify humanity’s place in a post-Darwinian world. I, myself, have this contradiction and have always liked the transcendentalists. I want to believe in the power of the spirit but see the Kansas song lyric, “All we are is dust in the wind,” just as true. How do you combine the two philosophies? Whitman tried to exemplify this with thinking that copulation was just another natural act, as death was. Years later, Freud would expand these theories. I remember getting in trouble in high school talking about Freud’s view of sex, basically anything pleasurable not necessarily copulation, in vulgar terms. It is not vulgar, but a simple drive. But in those days, the era of Victorian England, people would cover up the table legs to prevent uncouth thoughts. I think along these lines for simple bathroom functions—no one talks about them but we all do them, and shouldn’t we as a human race have been past this nastiness? The answer is no because we are natural creatures. So when Whitman praises these basest of the human frailties, he was seemed as a bit deviant. We want to think we have surpassed these things, but we simply cannot escape these basest of natural functions.

In the poem “As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life,” Whitman tries to talk about the fact that he may not be as divine as he would have liked to think. He wanted his poetry to be this great manifestation of the ideal, of everything that he idealized. He realizes that it isn’t, at times, the work of a man looking back on it and creating true poetry out of the junk. He thinks that some of it is junk, yet still creates poetry out of it, because the junk is part of the everything that he is idealizing. “But that before all my arrogant poems the real Me stands yet untouch'd, untold, altogether unreached... / ...I have not really understood any thing, not a single object, man ever can." He thinks he “can turn and live with animals” because we ARE animals. In a way, he realizes that what he is creating is ineffable and can’t put words to it. He has great ideas, but expressing such a concept is hard. Look at the fact that there are numerous definitions of exactly what a transcendentalist is. He tries to create it, does his best, but in the end, all it is is himself standing there, planting the seeds of thoughts that maybe someone greater can help him with.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

This implement or device or whatever it once was now rusts by the side of the gravelly path. I just keep thinking who didn't put their tools away! Think about what some scientist is going to say about this after he digs it up a thousand years from now.

This is another stream I had to cross on the way home.

Here's a random bone or antler (I have no idea) in amongst a blueberry patch.

I find the Alaskan sky to be so much bigger somehow. Maybe it is the lack of trees or the horizon that touches the sky.

A little Alaskan stream nearby.

I love this picture for some reason.

Metal tools and things just left in the middle of what appears to be nowhere. Fascinating.

See, I find it amazing and bewildering that they didn't even take the metal implements. I could understand if the wooden structure was left, but the metal had to be valuable.

Like this old pump house. Somebody built it. Somebody used it. Now it stands in disrepair and decay.

I wonder how things such as these pipes, once apparently needed by somebody for some type of job, now rot out here on the tundra.

On my walk the other day, I found myself fascinated, absolutely fascinated, with some of the refuse and machine implements that have been left to rust away here on the Seward Peninusula. Here's a jeep just left out in the middle of nowhere. Who's was it? What happened to it? How did it get here? This is just one of the little instances where I understand how anthropologists and archaeologists study the remains of people and what they leave behind.

We saw a rainbow against the sky the other day.

My new review is up for AdHouse Books' new anthology PROJECT: ROMANCE. It also traces the genre through comic books and shows its influence on modern day fare. Very interesting stuff.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

An old Fred Hembeck strip from an old DC Comic.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I don't know what to make of the new NBC show called HEROES yet. The pilot was lackluster and slowly paced. I like the concept alone and believe that this would be the way that superheroes, or humans simply with extraordinary abilities, would come upon us. There would be no flashy red capes and glittering spandex. They would be the everyman, and some would not believe in their own newfound powers and indeed get freaked out by them. The problem with HEROES, as this reviewer from The Washington Post points out, is that "NBC's derring-doers come in with a whimper." This is the kind of show that I want to succeed, that I want to see, yet it bored even me at times. One of the curses of superhero comic book readers is that we've seen it all before. I hope this show picks up fast, a lot faster than last season's ABC sci-fi epic called INVASION that had such promise but bored me to tears because it never moved forward. If HEROES is slow, as this reviewer says for the first three episodes, no one is going to stick around.

Eskimo Heritage Reader part 13

A Flood at Sand-Spit

This happened in the Fall of 1913. I was just a kid then. My family was in Nome, camping at sand-spit. There were Wales people and King Island people camped there, too. They came to Nome to buy their winter groceries. Everyone lived in tents down on sand-spit.

A storm began to blow in October. It kept on blowing for days. On the third day, the water began to rise. Waves were washing over the sand-spit, right into the Snake River. Finally the water rose over the top.
Some white people from Nome came to help the natives. There were houses up on high ground. The owners had gone Outside for the winter. Those white people broke the locks on the doors so the natives could take shelter in the houses. My family and my uncle moved into one of those houses.

At the end of the sand-spit, where the jetty is now, was a large NC store. A great big building! It had groceries and a cold storage--winter supplies for the people of Nome. That night, after we all moved, the flood rose over the sand-spit. It broke up that big store and washed everything into the Snake River.

That same night, after we moved into the house, my sister had a daughter. Lilly's older sister Maude was born. It was October 13th in the evening.

The flood washed away all the houses from the sand-spit. The only ones left were half-buried under sand. The blacksmith's house was broken up, all except the machinery. In the morning, houses were floating in the river. At daybreak, they saw a man floating on top of his house.

All the supplies from Lomen Cold Storage had washed into the river. All the winter meat supplies. Everyone was hooking up quarters of beef, sheep, and hams, crates of chicken, and barrel after barrel of butter. Whatever we found, we could keep!

My dad and my uncle and my brother-in-law took a boat. They got out in the river and hooked up the beef and lamb, all that cold storage meat. It was good! The river was clean and cold. Everyone had a lot of free meat and butter after the flood.

My uncle went upriver. At the high-water mark, he found a little tin box. He opened it. It was full of money! Instead he asked who it belonged to. Some white man claimed it was his. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. My uncle just gave it to him.

--Jerry Kaloke of Nome

Monday, September 25, 2006

I'll tell you why no one went to see the "Sean Penn remake" of All the King's Men...It's a remake! I think most moviegoers are sick of remakes. We want something new. Jackass sounds like all the kids in America went to go see it. Why would adults go see these remakes and stuff when they can watch them on DVD in three months?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Mr. Welch and Ms. Schaffer go for a ball as I watch on. We got our tails kicked.

Yesterday was our little Queen of the Court volleyball tournament. We had seven teams all together, three girl teams, two faculty teams, and two community teams, which was very nice. We didn't make all that I had hoped but it was fun. We might have another one then later next month, maybe during alumni weekend.

These musk ox were just napping away, most of them. It's amazing to see them wild and up close, but not too close!

Right over the mountain was a herd of about 15 musk ox taking a nap.

See...I touched the rock.

I went out for a hike today. Nome power was shut off for a couple hours, scheduled, as they worked on it. And right in the middle of the only Chicago Bears game I'd probably get to see this year! There's this inuksuk, rock formation, that we see out our window all the time and I realized that I have never touched it. So I decided to do it today.

Eskimo Heritage Reader part 16

Nuuk Fish Camp

In the years before the white men came, before any Christianity, many people lived at Safety Lagoon. They had no metal tools. Their hunting spears and arrowheads were made of jade and flintstone. Their pots were made from wood stumps. Their main purpose was survival. To govern all these people, there were leaders and shamans and tribal laws. The laws were often harsh, and there was no appeal.

Now in those times it was forbidden to cook a fowl or mammal from the sea along with a fowl or mammal from the land. This meant a woman could not cook a seal with a rabbit. She could not cook walrus with bear, or murre with ptarmigan, or land bear with polar bear.

In those days, women cooked their meat in wooden pots. They put hot stones into the pot along with meat and water. They took a hot stone from the fire and dropped it into the pot. The water would boil. The meat would cook as the stone cooled. Then they took that stone out and dropped in another hot one. They continued until the meat was cooked. It was a lot of work cooking for many people!

Once two women cooked a ptarmigan along with an eider duck. Perhaps neither one knew what kind of bird the other brought. A ptarmigan is from the land and an eider is from the sea. It was forbidden to cook them together. They put both birds into a cooking pot. When the stones were very hot, they took one and dropped it into the pot. What happened next was a terrible disaster.

Between Cape Nome and Safety Lagoon was a flat area occupied by the tribes. That whole flat tipped over. The people and everything that had been on top were buried. The bedrock became the land mass. The west wind blew and made a new beach. Even now when a strong west wind blows, the breakers east of Cape Nome carry a fine white powder from that bedrock. It blows like foam over the beach and dries on the road in white streaks.

That's not the only place where this happened. There is another spot near Shishmaref and another near Point Hope. Here, too, the law of the Eskimo was broken. Here the land tipped over on the people. When the first white men came to Point Hope, they were told of an upside down place there. They did not believe it until some anthropologists came. Those "diggers of old things" were amazed. They found pots and pans, people and everything, all upside down. Just like someone turned over a sheet of paper.

The fish camp at Nuuk was established after that earlier tribe was turned upside down. There was a large qazig. The door was made from the shoulder bone of a whale. Every fall, the surrounding tribes would gather there for a celebration.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Madison even wrapped herself up as a present yesterday!

Madison was having just as much fun opening birthday presents as Morgan was yesterday!

Another shot of a great sunrise. Sunrise happened today about 8:45 or so!

The sunrise over Nome on this chilly September morning. We have the little three-on-three volleyball Queen of the Court tournament today at the gym to raise some money for our trip to Ninilchik next month.

Morgan turns 12 today. Unbelievable. She's so grown up already.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Volleyball Varsity Posted

The hardest part to being the coach is making cuts.

After working for three solid nights of practice, I was able to determine who the twelve girls to keep on Varsity were. It is such a hard decision. Usually, the first ten are pretty easy to pick out. When you reach that eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth area, they can almost blur together. However, there is always something that separates them somehow.

So I posted the list on my classroom door at 3:00 pm sharp, the second school got out. Boy, was there a throng of girls gathered down that corridor at that time! Since 38 girls showed up for tryouts on those three nights, I think they were all just about down the corridor at that time.

I am confident with my selections though. And I am so excited to be working so much closer to Varsity this year with our practice being in the morning and JV being in the afternoon. I will really make a good coaching connection with them.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Another comic review! This one is of THE MIDDLEMAN VOLUME 2 by Viper Comics. Only at Independent Propaganda.

Abandoned Tolkien novel to be finished by son Christopher. He compiled most of the unfinished works before into little paperbacks that gather together much of Tolkien's work, but it will be nice to read a new NOVEL set in Middle Earth. As long as it is not written like THE SILMARILLION and is written more like a true narrative like THE LORD OF THE RINGS, everything will be great.

Eskimo Heritage Reader part 15

Eskimo Heritage Reader 15

Legends and Stories from Shishmaref

The Dancing Skeleton

Once when my father was a child, some Wales people came to Shishmaref. They came to dance, but also to fight. My father was told to stay home that evening. He should not follow the men or watch the dancing. But the children went outside to play anyway.
It was a calm and windless night. Across the lagoon from Shishmaref, the dancing music could be heard. There were graves near the tents, near where the children were playing. As they wrestled on the ground, they looked up at the graves. On top of one grave sat a skeleton. Then the dancing beat started up. The skeleton began to move to the beat, following the drum by moving its neck. Back and forth it moved its head to the beat.
My father saw this and said it was so.

A Battle Story

My father told me that our people did not always get along with Igloo people. They fought each other for as long as anyone could remember. One time a man from Shishmaref was hunting inland. He noticed some strangers coming towards the village. They looked like warriors, coming to fight. He ran to warn his people. The Shishmaref men gathered up their arrows and spears and went out to meet the Igloo men.
They met on the hill east of Ear Mountain. Without saying a word, they began to fight. The men from Shishmaref shot the Igloo men with arrows and lances, shot them even in their hearts. But the Igloo men did not die. Then, by accident, one of them was pinned on the toe. Right away, this Igloo man died. In this way, it was discovered that the Igloo warriors, with the help of their shamans, had relocated their hearts into their toes!

Mermaid Stories

The elders speak of mermaids, seen long ago. Sometimes a hunter, out in the ocean, would see a mermaid with long, long hair, sitting on an ice flow. There were mermen, too, with short hair and headbands of bleached sealskin.
Maybe in the fall, a hunter might catch a mermaid in his seal-net. Then he could ask for something, something delicious like beluga. Whatever he asked for, he could have. Other hunters would check their nets and butcher the seal they had. If a seal had only one kidney, they believed that was really a mermaid.
Once a young man was hunting seal on the spring ice. He saw a seal and began to stalk it. Slowly, he crept across the ice. But, when he took aim with his rifle, he saw that this one was part human. It was a mermaid! Quickly, the hunter backed away. He turned and began to run. The hunter was fast, but the mermaid soon caught up with him. Just as the mermaid reached the hunter, he turned his rifle backwards and shot it.
When he returned to the village, he told the people how he had shot a mermaid out on the ice. A group of men decided to go out and retrieve the body. There had been no wind that day. But suddenly a strong wind blew from the south and broke the ice away from shore. Maybe, they said, those mermaids have some kind of magical power.
So our ancestors did not bother the mermaids and today no one ever speaks about them.

by Morris Kiyutelluk of Shishmaref

My review for Silent Devil's LIL' HELLIONS: A DAY AT THE ZOO is up at Independent Propaganda. A fun little book.

My review of the Viper Comic called VILLAINS is up at Independent Propaganda. Check it out! It's a pretty cool tale that chases the villain as the protagonist of our story. What really makes a villain?

Monday, September 18, 2006


I just finished the most fantastically written and thought-provoking book I have read in a long while.

Feed by M.T. Anderson

First of all, I love dystopian/utopian fiction. The “feed” is the internet, world wide web, in your head. All the time. Banner ads flashing when something happens to you. Specific market targeting. The kids don’t even read any more because they have the feed give them everything straight into their brains. Everything is digested for them, and all that people really strive for is the pleasure. Even trips to the moon or Mars is only just okay, as if everything is boring, as we adults see the kids think stuff is boring nowadays.

The author did a tremendous job of making this book sound like a teenager from the near future. New slang terms and whole paragraph-long run-on sentences make the narrator seem like the average kid that we teach in high school, where instant message spellings and instant thoughts seem the norm. Even my writing this has just been supremely influenced by this book. The English grammarian in me was fascinated by how the book was written, sentence by sentence, new term by term. I kept thinking how Hemingway might perceive this writing.

This book will go right up there with some of my favorites now, like 1984, Brave New World, The Giver. This book updates all those concepts into the 21st century. Incorporating the internet in your head in this way is a phenomenal piece of science fiction that just feels too near to us.

"Keep thinking. You can hear our brains rattling inside us, like the littler Russian dolls."

That line above speaks volumes, not just about the theme of the book, but about the theme of life in the 21st century.

I learned a lot reading this novel. It sparked me.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Nanook Volleyball

Nanook volleyball

Volleyball starts up Monday night. I am excited and nervous and apprehensive again, all rolled into one. However, I will tell you that I am more ready this year than last year, by far.

Varsity/JV tryouts will be Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday evening from 6-8pm. I am already writing up my plans and scoresheets for those three days. Varsity will be posted Thursday, no practice. Then Friday, JV and Varsity pretty much split up for good this year. Varsity will practice in the mornings from 6-8. JV will practice on the other side of the gym from wrestling practice from 4-6pm. Maybe some get-togethers and scrimmages, but practices will be differentiated by far this year. That’s cool by me because then I will only have to concentrate on the twelve members of Varsity.

Doing something a bit different this year too. Tryouts are definitely going to be scored a little more. I am making up these little spreadsheets to score the players every night. The new JV coach will score with me and we’ll go over the scores together, just to make sure that we both analyze and work with each other’s input. Male JV coach this year and that means I will have to find female chaperones on all the trips, ugh.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Phenomonology is the science of the description of appearances, so does film accomplish this?

Matt Butcher

Film class

Phenomonology is the science of the description of appearances, so does film accomplish this? Does film describe appearances or does it appear to describe reality? Bazin’s notion of the “ontology of film images” is the REALITY of film images. I think we need to keep in mind that Bazin wrote in the 1940s and 1950s, keeping in mind that this was long before the current computer-generated era of movies. Film images are either aesthetic or psychological, “the duplication of the world outside.” Total cinema is then a myth to Bazin because what we consider today as film requires technical innovations that were not present 80 years ago or less. The same will be true in the future, as technical innovation arises to meet the needs of directors and the demands of the audiences, movie making will change. I am a fan of the superhero genre and I keep saying how we finally have the technology to do the films properly, especially if you’ve ever compared 2002’s Spider-Man to its 1970s predecessor. Early filmmakers just wanted to recreate the world by combining photograph and phonograph, the new technologies of their day, like computer geeks nowadays do something just to see if it can be done. (In computer infancy, one college hooked up to the Coke vending machine down the hall to see if it was empty before they bothered walking. Little did these computer geeks think past this to the applications this could do now for inventory systems.)

Metteur-en-scene is French for director or filmmaker but it has largely been replaced by relisateur (according to The Film Encyclopedia). Looking at the word relisateur shows the root of realize so it looks like realizer. The actor must “be before expressing himself.”

Kino-pravda tries simply to duplicate real-life as it happens, saying it is giving the ultimate truth. Unfortunately, with Kino-pravda, you are always aware of a film camera in the scene. Metteur-en-scene does better by duplicating life and then filming, forgetting the presence of the camera.

I believe that Kino-pravda can never be true because of the known presence of the camera. It’s like taking home videos and telling your mother to “say something.” There was an experiment once where researchers were studying the effects of light on the productivity of workers. The workers were told that they were being tested, once with extra light, once with no light. The workers worked extremely hard in both circumstances and the researchers realized that telling the workers made them work harder, no matter what circumstances were involved, simply that they were being watched. Kino-pravda is like that.

The Wizard of Oz could never be filmed with a camera this way. It would take away the adventure and the fantasy. I think Kino-pravda still does exist though—as reality TV.

Eskimo Heritage Reader part 14

Eskimo Heritage Reader 14

Asila, the Trouble-Maker

Long ago on Little Diomede Island, there was a young man named Asila. He was a bad child. He was not respectful. He was not obedient. His parents tried to change him. They scolded him. They warned the other people. But he never changed. When he became a young man, he was still a trouble-maker.
In those days, the shamen gathered together in the spring. They met in the qagri to urge the whales to come to their hunters. They put out all the lights. In the dark, they worked their magic.
All the skinboat owners brought dishes to the qagri. Dishes filled with good food--berries! fish! hmmmm! There was no tea or coffee. There was no white man's food. They put the dishes on the floor near the opening to the qagri. When they put out the lights, that bad one, Asila, would come in and eat!
There was a time in the spring when the shamen met in the qagri. Asila and his friends were playing outside. He said, "Let's go into the qagri. We can go and eat the food. You should see all that good food!" He talked them into going with him.
They came up to the qagri. The tunnel was barred. No one could get through. Asila pulled on the bars, pulled hard. He got one off, then another. The boys slipped into the tunnel. Asila was leading. The others followed. Inside they heard the shamen singing. They waited in the tunnel for the lights to go out.
Inside the qagri, the men took their turns. Each urged the whale to come to the island. Finally, an old blind shaman rose for his turn. He said to the others, "A devil is coming in here." The others cried, "Do something! Try to do something!"
He began to do his magic. He said, "I will work against this devil."
Down in the tunnel the walls started to close in on the boys. The tunnel grew narrower. Now they could only fit sideways. They could not turn around. The walls pushed them into the qagri. They did not want to go, but they were pushed.
Asila was first. He was pushed up, up through the opening into the qagri. He reached the edge, pushed from below. There they slipped something forbidden into his rear end to humiliate him. Suddenly, he dropped. The tunnel grew larger. The boys fell out.
Later, Asila said that it was his idea. He claimed that he had no father to guide him, which was true. In this way, he saved the others from punishment.
After this, Asila was changed. He grew to be a kind and generous man. He became a rich hunter. He had his own skinboat and caught many whales.
One spring day, he was whaling with the other hunters. He came forward in his skinboat and harpooned a whale. The rawhide thong went tight. It snapped around his neck and took his head off. The others watched as his head sank into the water.
They brought him home without a head. It is very sad to have a body without its head.

by Alice Kayouktuk of Little Diomede

I was reading a copy of a trade that included Justice League of America #1 last night, and I realize why some people don't like Superman comics. This panel is from that 1960s comic. The League has all been banished to another dimension by Despero and Superman uses his telescopic vision to peer across space and sees Martian Manhunter and Batman on another planet. That is just way too powerful, even for me. That even defies my suspension of belief. In the same issue, Green Lantern talks about moving a sun, only he can't do it because it is a 'yellow' sun. Sometimes, I don't understand how these comics lasted past the sixties with these kinds of super feats. If these are really their powers, how can anybody stand up to them?

Masterpiece Comics linked to my review of their FIREBLAST comic and dropped my name...

They also have awesome wildlife shots. I actually had a moose meat steak a week ago! It is moose season right now. Some kids even skip school, with their folks, because of it.

Friday, September 15, 2006

There are even informative articles on hunting bears.

This is the cover of the BUSHMAILER.

We get ad pages in the mail too. Little newspapers and flyers. However, our ad pages up here tend to be a little on the wildlife and warmth side. I just wanted to share some of these images that are in these regular old ad pages that come by mail. This is one of a man and his child wearing warm parkas!

Madison the champ

You are not going to believe this.

My immediate family and I are doing this office football pool thing through CBS where all you have to do is pick the winners each week. No spread, just heads up.

Madison is winning.

She and I both have ten points on the week, but she was closer in her Monday Night Football total score. Amy and Morgan are not far behind at all at nine points each.

Madison, the three-year-old, who I just read who was playing who, and most of the time, she just shouted out the last team I said, is winning the Butcher Family Office Football Pool.

The creator of Koni Waves, a comic I reviewed from Arcana Studio, was happy with the review I wrote up on that groovy little comic. Posted in the Arcana Studio forum.

Deftoons also has my little byline under a quote about their SCHOOL: A GHOST STORY #3. I am loving independent comics.

HARDBOILEDCOMICS.COM reprinted my review of their own HARD-BOILED COMICS #1 in their forum! They love the fact that I "get" their noir comic!

My review of SCHOOL: A GHOST STORY # 3 by Brian Defferding is up at Independent Propaganda. Check it out!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A review of HOUSE OF SUGAR by Tulip Tree Press is up at Independent Propaganda. I received an advanced copy .pdf to gander at. While this book isn't my cup of tea, it does have a dedicated audience. Read the review.

Eris, the greek goddess of chaos and strife, is the new official name of that dwarf planet found last year that caused Pluto to lose its full-fledged planetary status. Previously catalogued as 2003 UB 313 and nicknamed Xena, the official name is appropriate given that the planet we know and love as Pluto was then downgraded to dwarf planet as a result of the find and the debate about it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I made a book. is a pretty easy tool. I put together all sorts of locale and wildlife pictures of Nome and our first year here. Not many people shots at all, in fact, I tried to keep people out. It turned out real nice. I even got to write my own text on each page so it seems like a real book. I am quite proud of it. Amy says I am happiest when I am creating something, or doing something creative. She's right.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I joined The Planetary Society this week. I received what would normally be just plain old junk mail, especially when the return address said ARTHUR C. CLARKE, author of 2001, among other things. I didn't just chuck it though. I always got these envelopes as a kid, with their little surveys and explanations as to why space exploration is so important. Even with their recent failure of the solar sail craft, I believe it is necessary to explore. Maybe it is the Star Trek buff in me with the whole "explore new worlds" thing. Maybe it is the fact that I remember getting caught up when my mom made sure to bring me home the newspapers showcasing Voyager sailing past Saturn and Jupiter. E.T. was probably an influence, as well as the countless comics and science fiction stories I read. I always want to think that it is possible, no matter how unlikely. I always returned The Planetary Society's little surveys, expressing my interest but, sadly, not my money. I could barely afford the comic books I was reading and my mom couldn't really fork out the dough. So this time I did, finally. Luckily the introductory rate was $15 and I get a magazine, but the whole point is that I feel better for doing this. I believe that we are at that stage of technological infancy where we are ready to explode into all the scientific realms. I really do. I feel, albeit on a grander scale, what they felt like with computers back in, let's say, the 1940s. They knew what computers would eventually be capable of and look at us now. I feel like it is back in December of 1903 when the Wright brothers took off for those 12 seconds. Imagine the possibilities formulating in their minds and now we have hundreds of planes that cross the continents every day in what seems an infintesimal amount of time compared to sea-travel. I want this to succeed, and if I can only dream with them, well, dreaming with two fantastic minds like Arthur C. Clarke and the late founder Carl Sagan can't be bad company. PLANETARY.ORG

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Day

I remember waking up, thinking it funny that the news was on the television. Amy and I often fell asleep to tv, usually a channel like TNT or USA because they played those cop shows we would watch until we fell asleep. We must have been watching Jay Leno that night as NBC was now on. That was odd and portentous, to start with, almost as if we were destined to see this first thing in the morning. Without that tv being tuned as it was, living in Washington state, we probably would have gone to work and first heard it on the radio.

I woke up first, as usual, and thought it queer--somebody flew into this Tower in New York. To be honest, I didn't know the Twin Towers from any other building as I have never been to New York. I actually thought that some idiot had flown into it by accident. I remember whispering to Amy this same phrase as she dozed.

As I was getting dressed, watching with that casual disinterest as most news days start, I remember watching the second plane coming in, toward the other tower. With bewilderment, I wondered what was going on, and watched it, live on tv, smash into the second tower. That woke me up.

I didn't know what to think. I couldn't comprehend what was actually happening. I left for work...I had to. I was still in mortgages at the time, still at Puget Sound Mortgage and Escrow in Port Orchard, but I went into the Poulsbo office that day for a processor's meeting. The tv was on at work and I walked in as the building collapsed, so I saw that live on tv as well.

It seemed so far away at the time. Everything shut down so mortgages were pretty much done for the day. I still had some work to do, and I drove to Port Orchard.

I remember the oddest thing about the whole situation that I felt while driving home is that there were no planes in the air. I couldn't overcome that. For the first time in almost 98 years, there were no planes flying overhead, all the time. Couldn't fathom that.

All my other reactions came later, when the news had had time to process and digest information. I was saddened and proud at the same time for the members of the NY Fire Department who bounded up those steps, only to never come back down. I honestly thought that was one of the worst and proudest moments you could ever combine. So it was hard to feel anything specific about the day.

I do remember thinking that the shit had really hit the fan on a worldwide scale.

My review of School: A Ghost Story #3 by Brian Defferding is up at Independent Propaganda.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Panel is REAL

From May of 1966, the panel I posted earlier is REAL, albeit clipped a bit, most probably from the site You can also download the comic, Justice League of America #44, in .cbr format for viewing from

How to Review

I developed a keen insight here on reviewing the independent comics and web comics that I do. I think it is important to look deeply into someone's creativity and explore why a piece was made. I found some diamonds in the rough that I otherwise would skip after first impression. This allows me to give a benefit of the doubt that some people tend to forget.

This information is from the Mark R. Kelly blog at and he took a lot of it from Vonnegut.

This post is first to recommend the blog Critical Mass, "the blog of the national book critics circle board of directors", i.e. those behind the annual National Book Critics Circle awards, one of those literary awards on par with the National Book Awards and the Pulitzer Prizes for fiction. It's interesting to read a blog from literary enthusiasts outside any particular genre, in this case from a professional/critical perspective (contrasting the reader/fan perspective of Bookslut), and yet who do notice genre publications once in a while.

A while back Critical Mass quoted Reviewing 101: John Updike's rules, taken from the introduction to his 1975 nonfiction collection Picked Up Pieces, which I can't help but re-quote, omitting an aside or two:

1. Try to understand what the author wished to do, and do not blame him for not achieving what he did not attempt.

2. Give him enough direct quotation--at least one extended passage -- of the book's prose so the review's reader can form his own impression, can get his own taste.

3. Confirm your description of the book with quotation from the book, if only phrase-long, rather than proceeding by fuzzy precis.

4. Go easy on plot summary, and do not give away the ending.

5. If the book is judged deficient, cite a successful example along the same lines, from the author's ouevre or elsewhere. Try to understand the failure. Sure it's his and not yours?

To these concrete five might be added a vaguer sixth, having to do with maintaining a chemical purity in the reaction between product and appraiser. Do not accept for review a book you are predisposed to dislike, or committed by friendship to like. Do not imagine yourself a caretaker of any tradition, an enforcer of any party standards, a warrior in an idealogical battle, a corrections officer of any kind. Never, never (John Aldridge, Norman Podhoretz) try to put the author "in his place," making him a pawn in a contest with other reviewers. Review the book, not the reputation. Submit to whatever spell, weak or strong, is being cast. Better to praise and share than blame and ban. The communion between reviewer and his public is based upon the presumption of certain possible joys in reading, and all our discriminations should curve toward that end.

Amateur reviews, legion on the web, tend to indulge in plot summary and simple thumbs up/down pronouncements without justification, or when they attempt justification, tend to reveal more about the reviewer than about the work being reviewed (Updike rule #5's question).
Way back when, the reviewing rules I learned (possibly from Algis Budrys, I'm not sure) and tried to adhere to, were: 1) what was the author trying to do?; 2) how well did the author do it? 3) was it worth doing?

All separate questions. In SF, the second of these questions is especially difficult because fairly evaluating the idea content of a story or book requires a knowledge of the many many other stories and books on similar themes; SF is more like science in that way, with each new work potentially built on all past works. The third of these questions -- related to Updike's first -- can allow a reader to dismiss an entire genre, if his conception of what fiction is supposed to be about eliminates entire categories of what fiction writers actually write and what readers actually care about and respond to. And Updike's vaguer sixth is problematic in the SF field, where so many critics/reviewers are personally acquainted with, through our social networks of conventions, the writers they may be reviewing.

But the bottom line is what this entry's title suggests; a review shouldn't be about sniping or fawning; it should be to allow the reader to judge, given the context of who the reviewer is, if reading this book or story is worth the reader's time. And to show the reader why the work is significant, if it is, providing background and context the reader may not have been aware of.

That's why I glance at reviews of books I haven't read, and read thoroughly reviews of books I have read.

London Horror Comics

Found some creepy little horror comics at this site. It's called London Horror Comics and some little black and white 4-6-page vignette stories that are downright sinister. I always like it when the horror is human and right in front of you. These are spine-chilling little stories available in .pdf format.