Monday, December 31, 2007

The final playoff picture

Inside the RCA Dome, you could almost hear the groans coming from the shores of Lake Erie when Peyton Manning traded his helmet for a headset early in the second quarter. To the Browns' chagrin, that was how the Colts chose to play. (Excerpted from

Is it fair that the Indianapolis Colts took out their starters, basically conceding the game? This allows Tennessee to enter the playoffs, which they probably wouldn't have done if, let's say, the Colts still needed the win. Yes, the Cleveland Browns should have won one more game and then they wouldn't have to worry about this. However, this is the pros and I guess the Colts are worried about last minute injuries, already being on an injury-ridden team.

But then the New England Patriots had nothing to play for on Saturday night. They were already locked into the #1 seed. They were playing for a record, like when we non-footballers play the Madden video game and get so good that we try to break record after record, in effect playing for statistics. I remember one time in particular, on yet another perfect season, that my top wide receiver got a broken leg in that last, worthless game. It does happen, and has happened in the NFL.

I know the Colts need to look after themselves right now, but I don't find it easy to swallow. If the tables were reversed and they had won that Colts-Patriots matchup, then it may have gone the other way with Indy going for perfection.

Either way, I guess the Brown can't rely on other teams winning and losing to make it into the playoffs.

Friday, December 28, 2007


While I don't normally get too political, I know that the world supposedly doesn't like Bush, but do we really need to perpetuate it with pictures like this of him in the news?

While Bush approved the overall budget, he criticized the thousands of "earmarks" -- specific spending allocations for projects and programs favored by specific members of Congress, often for their home states and districts -- included in it.

"I am disappointed in the way the Congress compiled this legislation, including abandoning the goal I set early this year to reduce the number and cost of earmarks by half," he said

So while he asked for these funds months ago, Congress finally approves it anyway. I hope all that grandstanding got their point across.

I listen to the Sean Hannity radio show on my way home from work and concur with his assessment that progress is being made in Iraq. I don't think you can simply abandon it to its fate now, whatever the original point of going in there was. If the U.S. just up and leaves, there will be a quicksand that will have everything worse ten years from now, or hasn't anybody learned that from Desert Storm?

(Picture taken from;_ylt=AkhB2qHW_pU3z8g3TX0H729vzwcF)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Lincoln, IL

These are pictures of my daughters in front of the Logan County Courthouse in Lincoln, Illinois. We went through there on our way back from Mount Pulaski. They have an awesome thrift store where paperbacks are only 10 cents and hardbacks are only 20 cents. We are going back soon.

Madison and Lincoln

Madison stands in front of the mural of Lincoln in downtown Mount Pulaski, Illinois, 2007.

Pictures from Mount Pulaski

Ahhh, I finally figured out how to get the pictures off my digital camera. These were pics I wanted to put up of our recent visit to the courthouse at Mount Pulaski, the courthouse where Lincoln practiced law.
It was kind of amazing to stand in that room. The tour guide talked of how Lincoln practiced here, on these very same floors.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas morning 2007

I finally figured out how to get my pictures out of my digital camera. I think my cord went bad or something. I figured out that I could pop out the memory card from the camera and insert it into a slot on this laptop that I didn't even know we had.

Look at that wonderful mess. I tell you, Christmas morning is never better than when you watch your children open up presents.
Morgan got her digital camera. Madison got her Bratz RC car, the one thing that she has consistently remembered that she wanted for the entire month, even mentioning it on Santa's lap.

Christmas Break

Christmas Break. Those are two words that every teacher loves to hear. It is simply one of the main perks of the job. Two weeks off at Christmas. I don't go back until January 7th. Aahhhh!

So I wasted some time today...and loved every minute of it. "I didn't do anything and it was everything I thought it could be," said the dude from Office Space. I watched some episodes of the old 80s cartoon Voltron on the Netflix Watch Now. Then I popped in a $1 double-feature DVD I borrowed from my dad, Tales of the Undead with Atom Age Vampire and Revolt of the Zombies. Both crap. Some good ideas, some good comic book ideas, that is, and little else. The plots read like a five page story from one of the old EC horror comics. That's really all they are. Atom Age Vampire really isn't even a vampire at all, but a genetics experiment that requires more and more cells. Revolt of the Zombies, from 1936, barely has anything that a modern audience would even deem a "zombie," as one researcher, yearning to impress a dame, finds a hypnosis-like power in ancient Angkor. So they're not zombies, they are just hyp-no-tized. Sometimes, I am amazed at the movies that have ever gotten green-lighted. Once they were done, didn't they watch the movie and wonder if anybody would even like it? Didn't they ever, even for a moment, think to themselves, "My goodness, that's crap." I have written things and done things I know are crap--I guess I can at least admit it. But what am I bitching about...they at least made a movie, something I have never done. But would I feel good about it if I did crap?

Other than that, I will be reading a couple books over break. I have been told to read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott by my wife. It is one of her favorites and one of the Freshmen literature circle choices but I have never read it before. Amy told me, "Don't be sexist," and she's right.

I borrowed a dozen or so movies from Dad's Video (that's the nickname I give to his massive collection down in the basement). I borrow some and give them back whenever.

Also, I will be writing more for Independent Propaganda. I need to try to make the site more viable, more alive. I need to put up more reviews. I just got a shipment from Arcana Studios comic book company.

So I have plenty to do to keep me busy. Plus, the kids will be home, for the most part. Madison will go back to pre-school for a few days, just to stay used to it, plus we're paying for the month anyway. Morgan will be here to keep me company. Amy, unfortunately, has to work, so I try not to rub it in. But...aahhhh!...two weeks off at Christmas. Gotta love it.

School Pictures 2007

Morgan, seventh grade, and Madison, pre-school

Monday, December 24, 2007

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Big Winner!

I won two contests this week!

First, I won a contest from a local Normal, Illinois, radio station, Cities 92.9 FM. I regularly listen to the Sean Hannity Show on my way home from work. All you do is register at their website. I won a four-CD set of Mannheim Steamroller Christmas CDs. Not too shabby!

Second, I won something off of the TBS website: THE OFFICE Season Three on DVD! Complete set! And a pen! It was some kind of Uni-Ball and The Office promotion.

I feel pretty lucky.

Amy keeps telling me now to enter bigger contests, like $100,000 ones or the Dream Home on Well, ok. If I win, I'll split it with her! Ha ha!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I miss the sunrise in the afternoon

Today in Nome, Alaska, the sun rises at 12:02 pm (that's two minutes after noon) and sets at 3:56 pm. This time last year, I usually walked home to lunch and walked back to school even before the sun ever rose.

That was definitely something to experience. I tell people about that here in Illinois and they say they couldn't handle it. I didn't think so either before I lived there for two winters. And I tell people here in Illinois that it is actually worse in the summertime when the sun doesn't even set until after 2 am and goes back up before you wake. More sun was actually worse to me.

I always felt like it was an adventure. Now I am back in normal Illinois (a true pun on Normal, Illinois).

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bye Bye Birdie

I was asked to help choose the cast for the Midland High School musical for 2008. The production this year will be Bye Bye Birdie, of which I know very little about the original. I was honored to be asked to help, as this is important to me that others recognize my valuable input. I was absolutely honored that the musical director asked me. Last night was the first of two audition nights.

And it was my privilege to listen to the auditions. I was floored and amazed at the quality of stuff the students were presenting, all of them. I really admired a lot of their readings for the parts. There are also some amazing singers. It will be hard final decisions for the director. With such a great turnout for auditions, it should be hard to decide, but that means also that it will be a stellar performance come March.

Lots of fun.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Hellblazer: Subterranean novel

Last month while wandering the science fiction shelves of Barnes & Noble, I noticed a bunch of new original novels featuring DC Comic characters. There are a slew of Justice League and the various superheroes. There are also several for John Constantine, the Hellblazer.

I must never have noticed Hellblazer when it started in the 80s. Now that I have been re-reading all the older comics, the benefits of the wonderful trade paperback compilations out now, I really wish I had followed the book as it came out. I don't know if I would have been ready at that time though. That's when I was still knee-deep in X-Men, Batman, and Superman, and I wasn't very good at expanding my horizons at that point. I really dig it now.

There were several of these Hellblazer original novels. I chose one. All I really have to say is, "Enhh." It was all right.

It was an interesting scenario with a whole town being devoured into an underground kingdom. Lots of magic, which is more than I thought Constantine could actually do so easily. There was nothing special about the prose or the descriptions, especially of several of the creature characters. Several of the creatures and situations were fantastic enough to peak my curiosity.

All in all, I hope the other books are better. The price is probably the greatest negative against it. New paperbacks are $7.99. That seems really extravagant to me. This is one of the reasons I love finding the Star Wars, Star Trek, and other books at the Goodwill. They're worth 50 cents to me, but they sure as heck aren't worth $7.99 to me. That's another good thing with Amazon's resale books. As above, it would be worth picking up for 98 cents used. I just can't justify $7.99. And I honestly think that book publishers need to think about this. I am the primary audience for these titles. If I don't think the book is worth that exorbitant cover price, who else would try these books? That's sad for the future of the books because if no one buys them they will stop making them. I won't find them at Goodwill anymore then.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


REVIEW: HARD-BOILED COMICS #1 published by Goodbum Studios
Posted in Reviews by Wesley Green on the September 6th, 2006

Reviewed by Matt Butcher / Writer for Independent Propaganda
Written and created by Steve EarnhartArt by Marcelo Carmona, Carlos Devizia, Harsho Chattoraj, and Bob Lizarraga
Published by Goodbum Studios

With the feel of a Phillip Marlowe movie, Hard-Boiled Comics makes its debut with an explosion of a first issue. It is printed in glorious black and white, like the awesome film noir movies it recreates.

Hard-Boiled Comics is the vision of a private investigator named Billy Blackburn in Los Angeles in the year 2024 created by Steve Earnhart. The character and the whole comic feel just like a Marlowe movie. It profoundly reeks of classics like The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon. There’s even that sexy banter between Blackburn and the lady, just like the classic banter between Bogart and Bacall. This is a great effect and actually a hard thing to pull off. Having a crumbum private detective like Marlowe actually come across as likeable and virtuous while being seedy and despicable at the same time is a hard feat, but Earnhart accomplishes that with his detective Billy Blackburn. Like the Raymond Chandler novels, this is marvelous pulp, fiction for people who love fiction. There is an amazing amount to read here and that is wonderful for someone like me who does not want their comic dollars being read within two minutes. This comic makes you sit back and enjoy and good long read.

It even wonderfully plays upon the genre, with the setting in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles. The sordid areas that Blackburn has to visit are littered with the depredations of man, and for good measure, a few aliens are thrown in.

There’s great art here as well. There is a real feel for wanting to get the art as good as possible before it hit the stands. The backup “making of” feature at the end of this comic purport to that effect. The art sinks in and is as gritty as the subject matter, making for a remarkably well done connection. When the reader feels the art goes along with the story, that at times can be a rare combination indeed. Here, it does just that.

Personally, I am quite impressed with the quality of this independent book. It makes me pine for the good times of the 80s when First Comics hit the scene with Badger, Nexus, and Chaykin’s American Flagg!. Those comics are still viciously sought after and enjoyed and Hard-Boiled Comics makes me reminisce for those great independent days. That is no pale comparison. This comic is flat out GOOD.

Thanks for the kind words!!
Just wait until we really get rolling…
Comment by Bald Steve — September 8, 2006 @ 5:14 am

[…] To learn more about HARD-BOILED COMICS #1, you can read an advance review here on Independent Propaganda or visit the HARD-BOILED COMICS site. […]
Pingback by — October 19, 2006 @ 1:53 pm

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


REVIEW: THE UNUSUAL SUSPECTS Published By Top Cow Productions
Posted in Reviews by Wesley Green on the March 21st, 2007
Reviewed by Matt Butcher / Writer for Independent Propaganda
Written by Dan Wickline
Proceeds go to HERO Initiative
Contributors: Mike Mayhew, Dean White, David Hedgecock, Daniel Cooney, Ben Templesmith, Nat Jones, Billy Martinez, Taki Soma, Josh Medors, Marat Mychaels, Rafael Navarro, Homeros Gilani, Dietrich Smith, Butch Adams, Rich Stahnke, Mark Dos Santos, Tone Rodriguez, Chris Moreno

The simple premise behind this collection is much better than anything I have read in a long, long time. Two buddies meet for dinner and discuss one’s current comic book prospects. While a fun romp through the industry, it is also a jeering prod to the comics industry.

The writing by Dan Wickline is terrific. He has a superb handle on dialogue that reminded me of the best scenes of CLERKS. Even though our intrepid diners only sit in a booth eating dinner for many panels spread throughout the book, the reader is totally wrapped up in their conversation. This is powerful stuff as the pictures don’t distract us from the words that occur between these two. I felt like I was sitting in the booth having dinner with them, just talking away with my best friends. The camaraderie you feel while reading this book feels like best friendship.
Then the highlighted artists get to showcase their talents in spectacular fashion. Great work is presented by these both new and developed talents. There was not a bad panel in the whole book.
The themes hit upon in this compilation are for those who have read comics their whole lives. Many of the jokes and discussions on the industry, and on being a fanboy in general, will be doubly fun to those who know the industry inside and out. From Lovecraft to Buffy to Gaiman to Vertigo to Queer Eye for the Superhero Guy, there is something sarcastically wonderful throughout.

This is a fantastic book. Do not pass by The Unusual Suspects.

(Originally published March 21, 2007, on

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's a Sunni Day

Today during study hall, I had to give a kid his makeup test for World History from another teacher.

It included a list of terms and he had to give the definitions. It was about Muslim and Middle East culture.

One of them:


The student answered:


I kid you not:



REVIEW: WIREHEADS Web Comic By Jim Hillin
Posted in Reviews by Wesley Green on the January 31st, 2007
Reviewed by Matt Butcher / Writer for Independent Propaganda

Wirehead: a person with a predilection for complex media, either hardware or software. Likely, the person you would go to in order to get your wireless setup working, or fix your Plasma screen.
Amazingly, there is never an end to the everyday humor that happens in office situations.

WIREHEADS tells those everyday tales of the idiosyncratic side of everyday life. Set in an office that remarkably looks like some kind of barn, the characters work on some kind of computer imaging or video software. I can’t really tell exactly what the business is. However, the problems that they run into must be funny to those that do this for a living. They are at least understandable and real.
WIREHEADS is a quirky comic strip. These are slices of real life, comparable to any of the comic strips available in your Sunday funnies. While I wouldn’t say that these are “laugh-out-loud” funny, I will say that I would read this strip on a day-to-day basis next to the other comic strips. However, some of the comics are a bit more PG or PG-13 material with some of the mature sequences but it is nothing offensive. I could easily see some of the plotlines merged into an episode of THE OFFICE or some other sitcom. In fact, with some of the plotlines, you get drawn in, trying to find out more. These could definitely be fleshed out into bigger scripts, especially the woman ogling the buff watercooler man, a perfect example of the ironic side of gender bias.
The art is decent. The lush backgrounds appear to be the main focus and really highlight the atmosphere of the office space. Whatever it is, it is real and almost palpable, each panel not just a bunch of floating heads but a real cinematic feel.

The website is nice too. While it does take a while to load some pages, it is a good design and fun, easily navigable.

WIREHEADS needs to be spread around. We will hear more about Jim Hillin, from this strip, and from his CGI work, and from his dozen or so screenplays he is developing.

Matt! Well, you’re the first! Thanks, man, for the positive review. Looks like I hit the mark because you said all the right things. That is EXACTLY what I’m trying to do.
Hey, and the “laugh-out loud funny?” Well, that will come. There’s much more happening than meets the eye. Of course, I know what’s going to happen in everyone’s future. So, consider this the “set-up” year.
Cheers! And thanks for noticing.
Comment by Jim Hillin — February 3, 2007 @ 3:37 am

I’m glad! Wireheads is fun. (And I am going to quote YOU when people ask if I am any good at reviewing–”That is EXACTLY what I’m trying to do.” Excellent!

Saturday, December 08, 2007


I can't stand those fake emails grom PayPal and eBay. So I found out where to forward them to. and

Thanks for taking an active role by reporting suspicious-looking emails.The email you forwarded to us is a phishing email, and our security teamis working to disable it.

-------------------------What is a phishing email?-------------------------
Phishing emails attempt to steal your identity and will often ask you toreveal your password or other personal or financial information. PayPal will never ask for your password over the phone or in an email and will always address you by your first and last name.Take our Fight Phishing Challenge at to learn 5 things you should know about phishing. You'll also see what we're doing to help fight fraud every day.

-------------------------You've made a difference.-------------------------

Every email counts. By forwarding a suspicious-looking email to, you've helped keep yourself and others safe from identity theft.

Then you also send fake eBay messages to

Thank you for writing to eBay regarding the email you received.

The email you reported didn't come from eBay. Emails like this one are fakes, commonly referred to as "spoof" messages. They're sent in an attempt to collect your personal or financial information.
Never reply to a spoof email or click on any links in the message. If you ever receive an email that looks like it's from eBay about a problem with your account or requesting personal information, check My Messages first. If the email is genuine, a copy will also be found in MyMessages. You can also forward the email to and we'll investigate. Don't respond to the spoof email, or click any of the links in the message. Please don't remove the original subject line or change the email in any way.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

POST-NUKE webcomic review

Reviewed by Matt Butcher / Writer for Independent Propaganda

Andreas Duller is not a name I have ever heard of before but it is definitely a name I am going to follow now.

Duller has posted online six issues so far of a self-written and drawn comic creation called Post-Nuke. It is a black and white series of a man and his dog wandering around in the nuclear winter eight years after the annihilation of billions from a nuclear war. Now, this man has to fight pirates on old ski-doo snowmachines while talking to his dog.

First of all, I love post-apocalyptic fiction. The idea of surviving this hell and the actual coming back to the roots of mankind and their high ideals always hits the right spot for me. Duller creates a believable world in a rather remarkably short period with these comics. Each issue is less than 17 pages of pictures and some even shorter. In fact, one of my only negative comments would be how abrupt some of the endings of each issue are, as if you don't know that they have ended.

The art is actually quite nice. There is a lot of dark shading and some of the technical effects of blurring and the action panels are very well done. I wouldnt say Duller was the greatest at drawing faces or dogs, but these are small things to consider with all of the other great penciling jobs in these pages. In fact, issue #5, with the explanation of the nuclear holocaust and the destruction of the cities with the tidal waves and nuclear weapons was extremely well done. I don't know if I have ever seen such a clear visual of this horrific event outside of the movie Terminator 2.

This series has qualities of top notch fiction, reminiscent of such titles as Alas, Babylon and Stephen King's The Stand. I highly suggest checking it out at here. It is available online, one page at a time, for free at the website.

About The Reviewer: Matt Butcher is a spoke in the wheel. He is a writing teacher all the way out in Nome, Alaska, and likes hunting for good web comics because he has no comic shop out there. You can visit his personal site called The Butcher Shop about anything random that comes to his head.
(Originally posted on April 14th, 2006.)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Another Bears Loss

The Bears blew a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter.

This is why you cannot ride a lead in the NFL. This is why you must pile on points.

This is why when they give flak to the New England Patriots over running up the score, they are dead wrong. Run it up. Do not give another team even the slightest chance of coming back.

When Detroit scored 38 points in the fourth quarter against the Bears this year, no lead is safe.

The Bears had too many three-and-outs in the second half. They tried resting on a nine-point lead and it erupted in their faces.

Still...Go Bears!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Nome is a metaphor for the ends of the earth, according to ESPN

I went to to check out stuff on tonight's Packers-Cowboys game. I have no idea who will win and I need to choose for the pool I'm in. I'm 12 behind the leader so I can't afford to miss any, if I can avoid it.

I love it when Nome is used as the end of the world:

The Cowboys already had their crack at the Patriots. Couldn't ask for anything more: Had them at home, had them on national television (another thing about Super Bowl XLI¾ -- only a fraction of fans will see it because it's on the NFL Network, which apparently is available only in certain parts of Nome) and even led New England in the second half.

No, we didn't have the NFL Network in Nome, unless it has been added in the last six months, which I doubt. Just funny to read about Nome being at the ends of the earth.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Children of the Grave

Reviewed by Matt Butcher / Writer for Independent Propaganda

As I sat down to read a new graphic novel, I was a bit pessimistic. I have only liked the genre called horror in cinema, where the director controls every frame. Every moment is plannedfor maximum efficiency. I have never thought that comic panels sufficiently portrayed the suspense necessary for shock and terror. Children of the Grave silences that notion and recounts a horror tale worthy of the genre.

Children of the Grave is a tradepaperback written by Tom Waltz and drawn in black and white by Casey Maloney. The team up is wonderful. It seems that Waltz writes knowing how Maloney is going to develop the panel. Maloney’s shadows accurately set the mood and draw the reader into the lives of three soldiers on a mission in a fictional Middle Eastern country. Black and white is used wonderfully here, as nothing could better fit the story or Maloney’s art.

The three soldiers come across a site of a mass grave. The only trouble is that thegraves have opened and the contents removed. The contents were the product of a terrorist madman out for genocide: the children of his enemies have been slaughtered. The soldiers radio for new orders and receive the suicide mission of assassinating the madman fanatic.

The situation gets creepier when the lieutenant in charge sees visions of children. Help us find the way, Michael, the little girl says. These ghost images seem to cry out for justice. The madman himself has dreams of children murdering him horribly.

The best part of this story is that the horror does not take over the characters. The characters seem to be a lot more real than most horror stories I have ever read or seen. The three soldiers are wonderfully developed, with motives and background, with desires and inner demons. Even our bad guy has a back story that seems to make us understand a bit more about his motives. The horror is simply the catalyst that moves these characters along towards their inevitable collision with their own destinies.

The horror comes in when these images present themselves at new unforeseen turns. The clues they leave are sufficient enough to leave the reader pulling along with every page. Some of the horror is man made, as we graphically watch the dreadfulness of war and some of the atrocities that man can place upon man.

I must say that once I reached the final chapter, I was a bit wary as to where the ending was going. An element was introduced that I was worried would negatively impact the overall structure. However, its use in all situations available actually worked and tied itself in to all of the characters. This book wraps itself together well, never forgetting the little elements that have brought the reader to the end. The reader should be satisfied and not left hanging.

Amazingly, this is, according to the end notes in the TPB, a first project for this team of Waltz and Maloney who work so well together. Children of the Gravewas apparently a series first for Shooting Star Comics and then this trade paperback from IDW Publishing became available. Waltz says on the thank you page that all he really wants is this book to make it part of your collection. In the end, that satisfaction and gratitude that he portrays is simply his best reward. Our reward is a well-crafted book that we can show off to friends and feel good about having, especially when this becomes a movie!

(Originally posted at on June 14, 2006.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Ultimate Day

Today is...


It is a four day weekend. It is only Wednesday. Today is the Wednesday that acts like a Friday. It is Friwednesday.

I think this could be a new holiday. It only happens this once a year. It only happens because of our great American holiday of Thanksgiving.

I was saying to the students today, "Happy Thanksgiving...and I can say that because it is a non-religious, American holiday!"

Monday, November 19, 2007

I got put on YouTube

I didn't even know the kids were taking this...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Land of Lincoln

It's possible that I've gotten more boring since moving back to Illinois. Somehow, there's no sense of the exotic that has been my life since movingout to Seattle and then to Nome, Alaska. However, that isn't the case. Maybe I am just normal living here in Normal, Illinois.

So this weekend, Amy looked at the Pantagraph online site for stuff to do this weekend. She found a small town craft fair about an hour away down south of us. We stuffed the kids in the car and drove down to Mt. Pulaski and Lincoln.

We had the privilege of touring the Mt. Pulaski courthouse. This is where Abraham Lincoln himself started practing law. Up here, we walked on the same floorboards that our sixteenth President walked on. The nice lady that talked to us about the site, as well as let me go up behind the bench, talked about how Lincoln worked in this room.

Now if that isn't a sense of being special, of being exotic, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Books found at Goodwill

Talk about a find. The other week we went into Goodwill in Normal off Veteran's Parkway and I found all these cool old paperbacks for 50 cents apiece. You have to love good, cheap paperbacks. Plus, some of these are the cool old sci-fi ones that you can't find anymore. Also, this is the best way to get Star Trek and Star Wars novels. I hate paying $7.99 for 'em, but 50 cents is the perfect price.

Monday, November 12, 2007

NIGHT by Elie Wiesel and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee

This year, I am doing a much better job teaching the concepts and themes in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird than I had the one time before. I feel I am actually connecting with the equality emphasis, especially the theme about it being a "sin to kill a mockingbird." Today we re-enacted the trial to the best of our ability. I know I am doing well when I have students coming up to me saying that they are getting mad at the book. "Good, you're supposed to get mad," I say. It's going really well.

With the seniors, I read for the first time Night by Elie Wiesel, a memoir about the author's experience through Auschwitz and the camps. This one is even tougher because of the real horror expressed, not just implied. One discussion, there was a bit of laughter and one of the students admitted, "You have to laugh a little otherwise it'll make you sick if you keep thinking about it."

That's true. It's a world where we still have to learn these lessons, but hopefully, these kids will never have to experience any of this.

This is one of the "found poems" created today by one of the seniors from the book Night:

You shut your trap,
You filthy little swine,
Or I'll squash you right now.
You'd have done better
To hang yourself where you were,
Than come here.
Didn't you know what was
In store for you at Auschwitz,
Haven't you heard about it,
In 1944.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Heroes strike

Now that Hollywood writers are officially on strike, "Heroes" is shooting an
alternate ending to its December 3rd episode. The episode was suppose to wrap up
the current "Generations" story arc, but the new ending could serve instead as a
season finale in case the strike cancels the remainder of the season.

(above courtesy of Atomic Comics newsletter)

Doesn't this just piss you off? I keep thinking to myself: then what good is it to even bother if this isn't what was originally intended? To fans, it will always be known as the episode that was supposed to do something else.

From my English studies background, I wonder what this does to criticism about a piece. How do you rate something that was intended to be one way but went another way because of a writer's strike?

For instance, if The Prisoner went through this, those particular episodes would be almost discarded by fans as they were not what was originally intended by Patrick McGoohan. There area already some fans who only perceive the original core seven episodes as the ones true to McGoohan's vision. They think the compromise with the network, who originally wanted 26 episodes and they compromised on 17, stretced some of The Prisoner too thin, sort of like people thinking Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager may have been too many trips to the well.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


We had much fun in the Butcher household this year carving some real pumpkins. We used one of those pattern kits. I carved a skull that turned out nicely. Morgan carved a really cool batty bat. Madison and I did a nice and easy traditional one.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


I also won a large T-shirt with this but it appears I am too much of an extra-large man. I gave it to Morgan for a nightshirt.

Virgin Comics Blog
Gamekeeper Contest Winners
Posted: 23 Oct 2007 02:13 PM CDT
A big thanks to everyone for participating. Here’s the list of 5 lucky winners who get a Gamekeeper TPB—expect an email with follow-up details (or send your mailing address to





Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Shirley Sez

My grandmother passed away in the early morning today. I got the call from Amy as I was already at school.

I had just arrived at school. In fact, I wasn't even in the building yet. A pickup driver fell asleep at the wheel right in front of the high school and smashed into a telephone pole. The airbag deployed. The driver was okay but the guy that was sleeping in the backseat hurt his face and upper lip, saying he thought his teeth went through his lip. So I was out if front helping out a bit.

I feel terrible. I know we weren't the closest but I still feel horrible about the whole thing. She always sent the kids birthday cards, Christmas cards, Easter cards, Halloween cards, that she made with a computer program. The kids loved seeing them. When I was much younger, she always sent me books. I had one of the best summers of my life back in 1984 at their house in California when the Olympics were in Los Angeles. I feel really bad for my grandpa. He is moving back to Illinois and she is being interred here. Something was said about services being around Thanksgiving so everyone can be here.

It was sudden but not sudden. She was just up here, what, last month or so? It was almost as if she knew and wanted to see everyone one last time.

She wrote a column for local newspapers called Shirley Sez, a column about household tips and recipes.

She is survived by her husband of over fifty years. She leaves behind a daughter and three sons. She leaves behind nine grandchildren. She leaves behind four great-grandchildren, so far.

Goodbye, Grandma.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Peoria Comicon

From a Comics Buyer's Guide newsletter, I learned that there was a little comic convention in Peoria yesterday. And I mean little. One room and two or three dealers. However, I got some amazing deals. I bought 70 comic books for only $30. They had these boxes where they were $1 apiece or 20 for $10 or 50 for $20. So of course I got 50. And there was a quarter bin that I had to peruse. You can try any kind of comic book for a quarter. I got an ecletic set as well as some ones that I really wanted.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I won!

I won in a Comics Buyer's Guide little drawing for a free comic:

The winners from entries received Oct. 14 are: A copy of Superman/Batman #20 goes to Ian Ritchie of Douglas, Wyo., while a copy of Robin #126 goes to Matt Butcher of Normal, Ill.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Midland Welcomes New Teachers for 2007-08

(I forgot to share this when it first appeared in August...)

By Rolf A. Sivertsen, Principal, Midland H.S.

This year four new teachers will start the year at Midland High School. This is probably the most geographically diverse staff that Midland High School has experienced in six years.

Mr. Matt Butcher: Mr. Butcher was raised in Illinois and has taught in Washington State and Alaska. Mr. Butcher's most recent assignment was in Nome, Alaska. In fact, while working in Nome, Mr. Butcher was living only 100 miles from the former Soviet Union! While living in Alaska Mr. Butcher was interested in the Iditarod dog sled race and had many Inuit students. This year Mr. Butcher will be teaching English I, English 4CP, and English 4. Mr. Butcher is married with two daughters.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Saturday at Dave and Buster's

To top off the weekend, we had dinner at Dave and Buster's in St. Louis on Saturday night. The place was packed. However, we had plenty of fun waiting for our table by playing the dozens of video games, especially the cool racing games where you sit in the race car, and stuff. Madison even got on one of those motorcycle games and I drove it behind her. Morgan and I raced the NASCAR game and she was even beating me for a while, but I pulled it out.

Madison got awfully tired as we sat down to eat about 8:30. By the end of dinner, she was exhausted. It only shows how much fun we had. I snapped this picture of her at the dinner table, where she actually fell asleep as I paid the check.
What a great weekend.

Mississippi River

And then I realized as we were walking down by the Arch, I had never touched the Mississippi River. I had driven over it a few times (3 total, before this trip, so now it is a total of 5 times driving over it). But I had never put my hands in it. Now we did, all of us.

The Arch

The highlight of our little adventure, outside of the great shopping deals we got at the St. Louis Mills Mall in Hazelwood, had to be the St. Louis Arch, the Gateway to the West.

Not one of us had ever seen it before. We had to touch it. I have a necessity for tactile memories, like touching monuments such as the Space Needle, and dipping my hands into water, such as the Rhine River in Germany and the Arctic Ocean near Barrow. We didn't go up the elevator, but just seeing it was impressive.