Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I love finding these old O.J. Simpson ads in my old comic books.

Happiness is a Warm Gun

I had a weird conversation today.

One of the main district personnel in charge of building maintenance and supervision was chit-chatting with me. He asked if I was able to get any caribou or moose this season.

I had to respond in the negative. Then I admitted to him that I had never shot a gun before. Ever.

(I remember one time I was supposed to go to the shooting range with Sammy Kim and his dad when I was young but we couldn't get there because the road was blocked or something, but I digress.)

I could see in his eyes that he was flabbergasted, the same as I am when I see students that cannot capitalize names in an essay. He was nice and all, and even volunteered to rectify the situation and help me do some shooting.

I honestly didn't know what to say. The bell rang and I went to teach class.

Is it weird for someone to say that they've never shot a gun? It is, for sure, here in rural Alaska. Subsistence still occurs here for the most part and one moose, a $35 permit, can feed a family for quite a while.

Down in the lower 48, I never really had the need to shoot a gun. Lower 48, for the most part generally, considers hunting a sport. Especially when supermarket meat is cheaper than you could possibly do on your own, hunting is only for those who want to. I'm not opposed to hunting, not in the slightest.

So am I weird for admitting that I have never shot a gun before?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Mixed 6 part 3

Wow, what a tourney!

I should have written this all down on Sunday, but it was so nice to just decompress and watch football and grade the final essays for the first quarter...

Nome took third place in the tournament! Third place in a Mixed 6 tournament! The net is 6 inches higher! We play a team with three boys and three girls! We still managed to take third place. Last year, we only won one game against Shishmaref.

First on Saturday, I already wrote about how we beat Golovin 3-0. Then we had to play White Mountain once again in the loser bracket because they beat the Nome II (JV) team. (Otherwise we would have had to play our own JV!) Then we got matched up again against Unalakleet for the semi-final. We lost the first two games, still to tight scores. Then the girls dug deep down and managed to win game 3 and 4, sending the match into game 5! I may have to admit a slight coaching discrepancy as I messed with the lineup, thinking to keep in some girls who were still hot off the last one in move a couple more in, but they still played very well, however, losing that last game. So that put us in third place for the tournament! Unalakleet then lost to Point Hope, last year's Mixed 6 State Champions (and I believe that Unalakleet was up there in the state tourney too).

But what a great weekend. I was astonished by how well we played.

Next weekend is the Alumni games.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Mixed 6 part 2

My girls were unstoppable this morning, defeating Golovin 3-0!

It's funny, I knew originally the match was supposed to be a best out of five; however, the referees told us during the coin toss that the game was best out of three. We all agreed, both referees and both coaches. So we set off to play as if it was best of three. After winning the first two games, we all shook hands, told each other, "Good game," and most of my girls were back in their sweats and out the door.

They start calling us back. I don't know who originally told them that they needed to keep playing, but I tried to talk them out of it to no avail. My girls were a bit frustrated by it. But they came back and took the third game 25-12 (I think). They played really well.

While we are still in the "loser" bracket, we still have a great chance. We play White Mountain again at 1:45 pm, and we beat them yesterday. We still have a great opportunity. And if they play this well against Mixed 6 teams, I hope they bring it on the court against their regular teams.

Down in Homer, Alaska, I snapped this cool picture of the lighthouse restaurant with the sun behind it.

The Church sits on a cliffside, overlooking the village of Ninilchik. Look at that view of the mountain on the other side of the water...

The Russian Orthodox Church in Ninilchik.

This is the Russian Orthodox Church down in Ninilchik, Alaska. I thought it was very interesting to look at, especially with that cemetery.

Mixed 6

Day one of the Mixed 6 Tournament here in Nome is done. It is a much different game, what with the net being six inches higher and the boys on the other side hitting the snot out of the ball sometimes.

The Junior Varsity, or Nome II as they are known, are also in the bracket. They beat Shishmaref in round one (although the Shishmaref coach said that some of his best players were down in Anchorage for AFN this weekend). Nome II then lost to Point Hope, last year's Mixed 6 Champions at State. They play again tomorrow as this is a double elimination tourney.

The Varsity also won their first match, versus White Mountain. We lost a super close first game then came back to win the second by a wide margin, and as a coach I noticed that both lines of my players did great jobs. Everybody received equal playing time, a minor miracle in itself. We lost the third game but then won the fourth and fifth to take the match 3-2.

However, then we lost to a killer team, Unalakleet. We won the first game but then lost the next three. I don't know if the girls were tired or not, as it was getting way past 10 pm, but they still played very hard.

Varsity plays again toimorrow at 10 am and now we can still do a great job but just have to go through the bottom of the bracket.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Gathering Blue

I just finished another spectacular little book. Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry. It is listed as a "companion novel" to the author's absolutely perfect novel The Giver. I have taught The Giver twice now and I have not had a single kid who has not liked it. Not one.

The Giver is about a utopian (really a dystopian) community where everything is perfect. In order to make that perfection, it is amazing what liberties have to be taken away. This companion novel seeks an answer to instead of progressing into utopia, what would happen if humanity regressed.

It is possible. If there were a cataclysm, would we not protect what we had with strict rules, frightening everyone into submission and only keeping the strong alive? What would the leaders keep from us, and what would we all forget?

I have always loved dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction. This book fits in among the best in that regard. It may not be as good as The Giver, but that would be just about impossible to achieve. It still is interesting on many levels and is quite a story.

I simply don't know how Lowry does it. She is a master at inventing worlds. There is barely an exposition and yet the world is vibrant and full of life. The world she writes about seems to be just outside the door, as real to us as our own reality, yet she does it with hardly any real set-up. She truly creates these worlds with ease, bringing the reader inside fully, without even taking us on a long trip.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Saturday games

Well, we lost to Bethel again. Three straight games. Some of it was our error, but a great majority of it was simply getting beaten. This week we need to practice that "swinging gate" where whatever side of the net the hit comes from has the opposite defender come off the net.

But we did beat Kotzebue. Quite handily, another 3-0 win.

Next week is our Mixed 6 tournament, where boy-girl teams from around the area come here. The net gets raised 6 inches to offset all those boys jumping around. Nome will put out four teams. The week after that is our alumni weekend where we will take on previous Nome players. Then I think we will be off for two weeks as Bristol Bay and Hooper Bay, both originally on our schedule, had issues. The first doesn't have enough money to split the cost of sending a team, and the second had its school burn down this summer.

We will face off against Bethel again at their home tournament that they hold every year. Then we will travel to Kotzebue once again for regionals against Kotz and Barrow.

Hard-Boiled Comics is quoting my review in their banner ads on the web!

Fred Hembeck has some seriously bad puns.

Fred Hembeck's take on Plastic Man.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Derveni papyrus has been published in total. I have to get a copy of this. It is supposed to be the most significant find on religion and ancient Greek philosophy since the Renaissance.

Matt Butcher quoted in the Nugget!

Matt Butcher quoted in the Nome Nugget newspaper!

The Nome Varsity Volleyball team brought home the third place trophy from last weekend's Spikefest tournament in Ninilchik where players faced serious competition both Friday and Saturday from teams from Nenana, Skyview, Seldovia, Su-Valley and Ninilchik.
After a brief stop in Seward on Thursday for a non-conference match-up that Nome lost, the varsity team arrived in Ninilchik to play Nenana, which Nome beat in two games straight. Nome, however, was not able to keep up their winning momentum and lost to Skyview later that day.
On Saturday, Nome started the day with a win against Seldovia, but lost to Su-Valley and Ninilchik. "I am really proud of the girls. They stuck through some tough games even though we didn't pull out the wins. The scores were close," said Head Coach Matt Butcher. Individual Nome players Brianne Wassmann and Clarissa Samuels turned heads during the games and were named all-tournament players
Last year Nome got fifth place in the State Championship Tournament, and this year Coach Butcher and the team have their sights set on qualifying for the competition again. This year, Nome will have to beat out both Kotzebue and Barrow in the Far North Conference Regional Tournament in December to qualify. According to Coach Butcher, "It may be a tall order to some, but I know we can do it."
The team is busy preparing this week for Friday's tournament against rival and fellow Far North Conference Division team, Kotzebue. Nome already has two wins against Kotzebue from earlier this year and is looking forward to hosting a local tournament this weekend.

First Home Stand

We had our first home stand last night here in Nome. Both Bethel and Kotzebue volleyball teams flew in to play.

Probably due to nerves more than anything, Nome ended up losing to the Bethel Warriors, 3-1. Nome won the first, close game, but then lost the next two by a margin, and then lost the fourth, close game.

Nome again played Kotzebue and still remain undefeated against them this year (and last year too), winning quickly 3-0.

More games today. Be done early. Nice thing is that there's no flight this weekend for me!

Indiana Jones 4 is almost in full swing. They are finalizing a script and everybody wants to do it. Could be fun! The Indiana Jones movies have always been among my favorites. I remember specifically that the very first video tape we rented from Video 10 in Bolingbrook, on Beta no less, was Raiders of the Lost Ark. And I remember Dad taking us kids to see Temple of Doom in 1984 on a wonderful summer day. I went and saw Last Crusade with Matt Adrian.

Friday, October 20, 2006

I have reviewed a very very terrible comic called TOXIC SHOCK at Independent Propaganda. It was so bad, my review is good to read to show how bad it is.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

On the drive back to Anchorage, we even saw some mountain goats scampering up the land.

We even saw two bald eagles together.

We saw bald eagles on our trip to the Kenai Peninsula way down in Homer, Alaska.

Tonight's Nome sunset.

Nomeon CBS Evening News

Just last night, Nome was spotlighted on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. They focused on Airport Pizza, our little hometown pizza place that actually makes pizza runs by planes to villages that are serviced by small plane runs.

The interesting thing is that one of my students works for the place. She said they actually had people call them from all over the nation, seeing if they could order a pizza. Colorado and Ohio called and asked if they could deliver.

"Do you deliver to Colorado Springs?"

"Ummm, no, just to rural Alaska."

"I saw you guys on the evening news! Did you see it?"

"Ummm, no, it's only 3:00 here."


Isn't that hilarious?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Ninilchik Spikefest

After three more matches, the Nome Nanooks managed to place third in
the Ninilchik Spikefest tournament.

We had to wake up awfully early this morning to get ready for the
first game of the day, against the Seldovia Sea Otters at 9 am. We
managed to beat them in two pretty close games, 2 games to 0.

Then we were off for a bit. Our next game wasn't until 3 pm against
the eventual winners of the tournament, Su-Valley. So we took a nice
little thirty mile drive south to Land's End in Homer, Alaska. That
was marvelous scenery. We caught a view of St. Augustine, that
volcano that was spewing forth some dust in recent months. We saw
three bald eagles and I got some great shots of them. I say, this
scenery here makes me long for trees once again!

When we came back, the girls played hard, but they came up short to
Su-Valley. Su-Valley really whomped on us the first game but the
second game was a lot closer. I almost thought we would pull it out.
We lost 0-2.

Then for the marquee matchup for the night, we played the hometeam
Ninilchik Wolverines and lost two really tight games. We played well
and, in fact, played the best of the whole tournament here. The girls
were really setting each other up well. It gave me lots of ideas to
utilize practice drills in getting better prepared. But that's what
these little tournaments really are, practice games. They don't have
any bearing on our conference whatsoever so I get to see how the
girls work with each other to make them better for conference
matches. We have Kotzebue coming to Nome on Friday and then don't
play anyone in our conference (which only consists of us, Kotz, and
Barrow), until Regionals. I still don't understand how or why we
don't play Barrow until Regionals, but that is the case here.

We still took home hardware from this tournament. A shiny little
trophy that says Third Place.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Ninilchik came up to Nome to see us last year so they got to return the favor and invited us to their yearly tournament of 1A/2A/3A teams, the Ninilchik Spikefest.

First of all, it was an absolute gorgeous drive to get here. Seward had to kick us out before classes started today, 7:15 am! The drive was foggy but once the sun came up, it was beautiful. Trees and mountains! The mountains here in southern Alaska are exquisite right now, with slightly snow-capped peaks. Ahh.

So even though Mapquest.com said the drive from Seward would take five and a half hours, we got to the school by 10 am. We weren't even going fast either, so I don't know what the deal was. Then it was a crystal clear day down here, and I took plenty of pictures of the mountains across the bay and Ninilchik village.

Next came volleyball. There are five other teams here: Ninilchik, Nome, Seldovia, Su Valley, Nenana, and Skyview. (Lumen Christi backed out of Spikefest at the last minute by an email to the principal! They didn't even call! So Skyview JV was asked to come in their place.) Skyview is actually a 4A school, so they have a big talent pool.

We won our first match against Nenana 2 games to 0. This is a best out of three tournament. The girls played tough most of the match.

We got to watch other teams play, including Su Valley who utilize a very intricate rotation system. We saw a lot of action.

Then we played the Skyview JV team. The girls frustrated themselves with their own mistakes and were down in the first game by a few points, but they managed to come back to win that first game. The second game was where it all started falling apart. I thought they would be all right for the most part, but they battled back and forth and lost the second game. So we went to a third game. It was close, but the girls were frustrating themselves and each other. Though the final score was 28-26, Skyview pulled out a tight match. It was due to a lot of our own errors and not scoring offensive points when we should have. Even I cost us a point because I started the third game with a different girl and messed up the number on the lineup sheet. It was a whole team loss. It will make us stronger in the long run though.

More games tomorrow, against Seldovia early at 9 am, Su Valley, and Ninilchik.

(By the way, the picture is of the Ninilchik mascot, the wolverine. I love this one because the animal has a bird that it has killed right at its feet.)

Friday, October 13, 2006


Taking a small band of volleyball warriors down south to Anchorage,
we had an amazing scenic drive down to Seward on the Kenai Peninsula
today. There are nine of us all together, me, one chaperone (a mom of
one of the players), and seven v-ballers.

First of all, let me just say that this is the most spectacular time
to come to South Alaska right now. The foliage, yellow and red, on
the snow-capped mountains was just absolutely amazing. It is all
particularly amazing when you see it fresh from a place with hardly
any trees, like Nome. Absolutely beautiful. I drove one of our two
vans and the scenery was amazing during our two-and-a-half hour trip
south on Alaska Route 1.

Seward is a nice school. They showed us a lot about volleyball
tonight, that's for sure.

Seward won the match 3 games to 1. They devastated us in the first
game by almost twenty points. We didn't play badly at all; in fact, I
think we had a pretty good night setting up offensive attacks. They
just beat us, flat out. We managed to win the second game decisively.
Of course, Seward put in most of its second-string, younger talent.
At least we could take care of them. They started rotating their top
players back in for games three and four. Although each game was
tight, Seward pulled it out in the end.

It's okay. In fact, I think it will make us play better. Good to lose
these non-conference matchups. We saw the libero defensive position
in action tonight for the first time. They made some incredible
double runs too, with two hitters going for the ball after a set. We
never knew which one would hit it. And they served the snot out of
the ball too. They had some wicked spins that would glance off our
girls' arms into the bleachers, even when they were completely
stationed well to receive the ball.

I have to work on making those double runs. Next practices will
entail a lot of that. Plus, I am going to get up on my little box and
smash the balls at them over and over, practicing digging. And I have
to find me some more jumping drills!

The girls played well though, I must say. They didn't lose the game,
they just didn't win--meaning they didn't cause too many mistakes
that cost them the game. They played well.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Seward and Ninilchik

We are all set for a big trip this weekend!

Today is my Friday! Tomorrow morning seven of my top Varsity players, my chaperone (one of the mothers), and I fly out to Anchorage. Still hard to believe we all think of Anchorage as the "Big City" around here.

Then we head for Seward High School, about 180 miles south and on the coast. We play there one night, on Thursday.

Then we wake up on Friday and drive another four hours (200 miles) to Ninilchik, Alaska. They are having a SPIKEFEST tournament where we are guaranteed at least five games. We get to play Ninilchik, Seldovia, Lumen Christi, Nenana, and Su Valley.

So tons of volleyball coming up. Coaching here is a great way to see the State of Alaska.

Coming home though will be a long day on Sunday. The driving time is listed as over six hours back to the Anchorage airport.

Check the latest results at http://www.nomeschools.com/athletics.

Fred Hembeck

Morgan's Music Award

Morgan is doing very well with her flute with all the practice she puts in and recently received an award!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The team lining up during warmups in Kotzebue.

The Kotzebue gym is pretty nice, even though they had this annoying curtain hanging from the ceiling that got in the way of the volleyball games!

In the Kotzebue High School gym, they have several places of honor for elders of the community.

This is the restaurant we ate at on Saturday in Kotzebue. Notice the antlers on the outside of the building!

From the lobby of Kotzebue High School, newly remodeled. They may be in the hole financially but the place looks awfully nice!

Kotzebue Round Two

Oh, the girls just about gave me a heart attack from such back and
forth action tonight.

First of all, the JV shook off all their jitters tonight and won in
three straight games. They were great.

Then the Varsity had me worried as they lost the first game. It was
not our night to serve the ball. Lots of missed serves. And the refs
were being very tight on double hits on a set or serve receive and on
carries. It's actually a good thing because the girls have to have it
called on them during a game situation to really understand what it
is that I tell them during practice. I could say, "Watch the carry"
until I'm blue in the face but they will only adjust after a referee
calls it on them.

The next two games we won, not anywhere near as decisively as I would
have liked. Kotzebue kept creeping back in points, made due to some
of our simple mistakes, like serves. I never yell at the girls for
flubs or anything. I understand those and tell them to "Shake it off"
and "Move on to the next play." The only one I tend to get a little
preachy about is the serving error. It is the one time when you are
in control of the ball, and missing gives the other team a point and
the serve.

Kotzebue won the fourth game. The crowd really got into it and led
their team to win in extra points. I think the final score was 29-27,
or close to that. I later talked to a guy named Bill Smith from
Quyana who comes to games all over and won Mixed 6 tournaments back
in 1981 and 1982 that he helped rally the crowd. He told me stories
about back then and some catch phrase he always used: "Nothing but
the bottom of the net!" He was quite a cool character to run into.

Nome came on strong in the fifth game and won 15-12. There were a few
spiking errors that made the score closer than it should have been.
However, I would much rather them smack that ball a few times into
the net because the other team thinks twice about returning balls
that go over the net when they see the power hits. Even though the
crowd was still into it, the girls pulled it out. What a great,
exhilarating game! That makes us 2 and 0 early in our season.
Kotzebue is one of three teams in our conference (the other being
Barrow), so this places us well into the Regionals in late November
already. Kotzebue will come to Nome and play us two games in late

What a great team! We are deeper and I honestly could put any of the
girls out there and field a great team. I am so proud of them all for
hustling the way they did.

Kotzebue Round One

Round one of the most dreaded rivalry between the Kotzebue Huskies
and the Nome Nanooks goes decisively to NOME!

First of all, the JV we took with us, six in all, played their hearts
out. They ended up losing the first two games by pretty close
margins. Then they chalked it up to nervousness, I guess, because
they came out in the third game and won by almost 15 points. The
fourth game was a blowout too. The deciding fifth game, only to 15
points, was a bit nerveracking at times, especially when it was 10-10
at one point, but the girls pulled it off. I was so proud of them to
force it to a fifth game, coming back from two games down, but they
finished well. Awesome job.

The Varsity was phenomenal. We won in three straight games with
decisive margins. The girls showed up to play, that's for sure. I was
impressed by their ferocity hitting the ball tonight and by their awe-
inspiring serves. Things of beauty. Three straight games. The best
part of all, especially from a coaching perspective, is that
everybody got to play. I managed to rotate in all 11 girls into all
three games. So everybody is happy!!

Monday, October 09, 2006

I took plenty of pictures while we were in Kotzebue this weekend and will be sharing them throughout the week. Here is a picture of a regular street out the back door of the high school. I find it fascinating.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The new Iron Man has been cast for next year. Robert Downey Jr. ... I don't know about that one...

Richard Donner, director of the original 1978 Superman movie and director, until his firing, of Superman II, is back doing Superman for us. First is this comic book coming out called ACTION COMICS: LAST SON. Coming out soon is a DVD featuring the Donner cut of Superman II, supposedly how he would have finished the film had he been given time. Excited by this!

Hi Matt,
This picture recently surfaced. It is of Dewey Christine and his first wife, Alta Irene Thurman. They were married on 9-14-1920 and divorced in July of 1923. The little girl in the picture appears to be Grandpa's older half sister.


I am so excited to finally get off the plane in Kotzebue. I have landed there twice now, in that Anchorage-Kotzebue-Nome leg that Alaska Airlines does every day, but I have never physically set foot in Kotzebue. I didn't want this to end up being like my family's trip through Europe while I was in high school--we drove through Luxembourg, but we never got out of the car. I keep thinking about it and I don't think we even rolled down the windows on that chilly day.

So I will be north of the Arctic Circle once again by tomorrow afternoon. We are all so excited and I am, especially, just to start playing some real games. We have been practicing serve receive a ton, working on that transition from receive to attack, but it will be nice to do that in a real game. Plus, I still haven't really figured out my lineup and getting all the girls in. There will be a lot more switching this year but I think I need to see them in a game to really get a feel for how they work together under true game circumstances. Sure, we scrimmage all the time and the losers have to help me clean up, so they do try for the most part, but a real game will give me so much more.

I will take lots of pictures, especially now that I have my digital camera this year.

Volleyball team

Check out this year's team picture:


Check out the roster:


Check out our schedule for the year:


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Tell-Tale Heart

I just read this story again because we are starting our short story unit in sophomore English. I still think this is the most perfect short story ever written.

The Tell-Tale Heart
By Edgar Allen Poe

TRUE! nervous, very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why WILL you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses, not destroyed, not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How then am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily, how calmly, I can tell you the whole story.
It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain, but, once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this! One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture -- a pale blue eye with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me my blood ran cold, and so by degrees, very gradually, I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye for ever.
Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded -- with what caution -- with what foresight, with what dissimulation, I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night about midnight I turned the latch of his door and opened it oh, so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern all closed, closed so that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly, very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man's sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! would a madman have been so wise as this? And then when my head was well in the room I undid the lantern cautiously -- oh, so cautiously -- cautiously (for the hinges creaked), I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights, every night just at midnight, but I found the eye always closed, and so it was impossible to do the work, for it was not the old man who vexed me but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he had passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed , to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.
Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch's minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers, of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that there I was opening the door little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea, and perhaps he heard me, for he moved on the bed suddenly as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back -- but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness (for the shutters were close fastened through fear of robbers), and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.
I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening , and the old man sprang up in the bed, crying out, "Who's there?"
I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed, listening; just as I have done night after night hearkening to the death watches in the wall.
Presently, I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief -- oh, no! It was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself, "It is nothing but the wind in the chimney, it is only a mouse crossing the floor," or, "It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp." Yes he has been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions ; but he had found all in vain. ALL IN VAIN, because Death in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel, although he neither saw nor heard, to feel the presence of my head within the room.
When I had waited a long time very patiently without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little -- a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it -- you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily -- until at length a single dim ray like the thread of the spider shot out from the crevice and fell upon the vulture eye.
It was open, wide, wide open, and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness -- all a dull blue with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones, but I could see nothing else of the old man's face or person, for I had directed the ray as if by instinct precisely upon the damned spot.
And now have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the senses? now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well too. It was the beating of the old man's heart. It increased my fury as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.
But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eye. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder, every instant. The old man's terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment! -- do you mark me well? I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me -- the sound would be heard by a neighbour! The old man's hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once -- once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But for many minutes the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.
If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence.
I took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly so cunningly, that no human eye -- not even his -- could have detected anything wrong. There was nothing to wash out -- no stain of any kind -- no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that.
When I had made an end of these labours, it was four o'clock -- still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart, -- for what had I now to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by a neighbour during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.
I smiled, -- for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade them search -- search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.
The officers were satisfied. My MANNER had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears; but still they sat, and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct : I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definitiveness -- until, at length, I found that the noise was NOT within my ears.
No doubt I now grew VERY pale; but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased -- and what could I do? It was A LOW, DULL, QUICK SOUND -- MUCH SUCH A SOUND AS A WATCH MAKES WHEN ENVELOPED IN COTTON. I gasped for breath, and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly, more vehemently but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why WOULD they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men, but the noise steadily increased. O God! what COULD I do? I foamed -- I raved -- I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder -- louder -- louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly , and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God! -- no, no? They heard! -- they suspected! -- they KNEW! -- they were making a mockery of my horror! -- this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! -- and now -- again -- hark! louder! louder! louder! LOUDER! --
"Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed! -- tear up the planks! -- here, here! -- it is the beating of his hideous heart!"

Whitman’s ideals on the equality of people

Whitman Unit 9

Matt Butcher

Discuss in general Whitman’s views on political, social, ethnic and sexual equality. How would you describe Whitman’s values and where would you place him today in terms of American politics? Defend your views by frequent reference to the poems.

Discuss in detail the section of Leaves of Grass that begins “Twenty-eight Young Men Bathe by the Shore.” What emotions are here being brought into play? What is Whitman’s sense of empathy in this poem and is he able to genuinely put himself into a woman’s mind and sensibility? How do you see that?

What sort of woman is Whitman talking about in “A Woman Waits for Me”?

Whitman’s ideals on the equality of people place him, to me, as a multicultural teacher at the college level. My multicultural professor in college used to say, “That’s powerful, powerful stuff.” He would try to change our paradigms, our models that we saw the world with. He would introduce a topic and actually make us feel and see both sides, no matter what the topic was. He made us understand where it came from and where it was going to. That in my mind is Whitman. I think the populace at heart always understands that all people are to be treated equally. However, we slip up at times, and don’t even realize it. That’s the key is realizing it. There’s a new mouthwash commercial where two people meet coming out of an igloo and share an embrace due to a powerful mouthwash. They were trying to get across that it was cool tasting. What I and others here in Nome, Alaska, said was that we have never seen people living in igloos.

Whitman is that way. Whitman would most definitely be a democrat today, making sure that all people were getting the same treatment as everybody else, yet still be themselves.
I am the poet of the body
And I am the poet of the soul
And I am
I go with the slaves of the earth equally with he masters
And I will stand between the masters and the slaves,
Entering into both so that both will understand me alike.

There are no sides. There are just two people who need to be heard. I believe Whitman was using a new type of royal pronoun. He was not using the royal “we” but rather the “I” that lets an American be himself yet part of a larger whole.

The section that begins with “Twenty-eight Young Men Bathe by the Shore” tells the story of a young girl of 28 looking upon the swimming men on the beach, a peeping-tom from her own house. She pretends she is there with them, touching them (“An unseen hand also pass'd over their bodies “) and splashing them. She is looking upon them as objects. This is at a time before women were even allowed mention of such behavior. He is empathizing his feelings upon her, I imagine, as we all think about people from a distance. This is even such a distance as looking out the house at the bathers. I want to equate this to men’s magazines and the dirty jokes that people make about men and these magazines together. I think this is a fantastic image of this concept, but from a 1860s perspective.

It is I, you women, I make my way,
I am stern, acrid, large, undissuadable, but I love you,
I do not hurt you any more than is necessary for you,
I pour the stuff to start sons and daughters fit for these States, I
press with slow rude muscle,
I brace myself effectually, I listen to no entreaties,
I dare not withdraw till I deposit what has so long accumulated within me.

Whitman is talking about a woman that he can have wonderful sexual relations with, and start the next generation with. He knows that this product of their union will also be doing this same act. “I shall expect them to interpenetrate with others, as I and you inter-penetrate now.” This woman will share this with him. This is not a solitary act or an act between two people. They make love now so that their progeny can make love in the future, ad infinitum.

Monday, October 02, 2006

I find it amazing some of the stuff I look up online. A year or more ago, I looked up the old video game console known as Intellivision. It has quite a fan following still. The Blue Sky Rangers, the programmers of the games in the 1980s, still have a website that puts out content. I had all the Intellivision games as a kid. With the influx of those plug n' play systems and the release of some on XBOX and Gamecube discs, I knew it would only be a matter of time for the release of my favorite game of all time: Tron Deadly Discs!

Although, they reprogrammed it a little to get rid of the "Tron" name as Disney wouldn't let them keep the rights to it. Same goes for their cartridge known as Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. They reworked them to get rid of those messy copyright infringements.

So I was excited when I got one of the email newsletters from Intellivision stating that they had this plug n' play system that goes right into the TV. Most of all, it has Tron Deadly Discs, now known only as Deadly Discs. I am so psyched! I haven't played since I was a kid, although I remember playing it once at college with a friend who still had the old console.

It is the simplest game, yet the one with the most complex intricacies. You play as a gladiator trapped in the game with nothing but a disc like a frisbee that you can throw at the bad guys who come after you. The disc then returns to you. Watch out because you only can be hit by the bad guy discs a couple times or you are erased. It is fun to pretend that you are a prisoner of some kind of futuristic gladiatorial ring, where you have to fight for your freedom. At least, that's what I used to play.

The game system should be here any day now. TRON!

Intentional Safety

I couldn't make

picks worth a crap yesterday, but at least I actually got to see the Chargers do the first intentional safety I had ever seen. That was interesting! If only they could have come out on top after that.

I also got to see the Bears beat a really tough opponent. If the Seahawks are supposedly a Superbowl contender once again, then the Bears made them cry. Even John Madden said, "They just got whupped." What a good game for a Bears fan!

Whitman’s views on the role of poetry in a democracy

Discuss Whitman’s views on the role of poetry in a democracy, his vision of America’s future (listing in what ways we have followed his advice and heeded his warnings), and his place as an American thinker. Supply your own estimate on the applicability of his views to today’s world.

Democracy was not just a dream to Whitman but a necessary course of action. When we express thoughts and revelations to each other, opening up, we share each other. Democracy to Whitman was the normal way the human race would evolve. “…the great question of democracy, as to every great question—I feel the parts harmoniously blended in my own realization and convictions, and present them to be read only in such oneness, each page and each claim and assertion modified and temper’d by the others. Bear in mind, too, that they are not the result of studying up in political economy, but of the ordinary sense, observing, wandering among men” (Democratic Vistas).

Early in his career, this vision was what humans in a democracy would do naturally. Love and admire one another, respecting the golden rule. It seemed to change as he got older, realizing that democracy would have to be worked at. Some people would have to be forced into it, especially as he watched Reconstruction fail and the body of President Lincoln travel by him. He says in the later part of Democratic Vistas, “America needs, and the world needs, a class of bards who will, now and ever, so link and tally the rational physical being of man, with the ensembles of time and space, and with this vast and multiform show, Nature, surrounding him, ever tantalizing him, equally a part, and yet not a part of him, as to essentially harmonize, satisfy, and put at rest. Faith, very old, now scared away by science, must be restored, brought back by the same power that caused her departure—restored with new sway, deeper, wider, higher than ever.”

Whitman held himself to this higher ideal. It is no wonder that he would stand between the master and the slave. It is no wonder that he would think the woman the equal of man (and maybe even a little greater for bearing child). It is no wonder that he felt a sexual revolution was in order.

This I think is the most trying aspect of Whitman that has not yet come to pass. Whitman wrote to combat these prejudices in our heads. The one danger and warning that has not yet come to pass is the understanding of homosexual relations. With his understanding of the immense closeness that sexual relations brings, he finds that this sharing of the self with someone of the same sex, which can bring no possible biological function like child bearing, is extreme closeness. The gay rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s touted almost unknown Whitman passages for these suggestions between adhesive and amative love. Could the greatest American poet have said these things?

Whitman believed in one simple thing, I have found. In order to truly be democratic, the country must allow all sorts of individual freedoms. Abolition happened. Women’s suffrage happened. To what degree can be argued. Gay rights will happen. Whitman’s pen talks us through understanding that “the work of the New World is not ended, but only fairly begun” (Democratic Vistas).