Tuesday, January 30, 2007

You know you're in Nome when...

people talk about the weather and think 33 degrees is a warm day.

A dozen people over the past two days have said it's warm out over these days of non-freezing temperatures in January.

And it feels warm out too.

Thirty-three degrees. I remember when that would give a chill. Now it is "take off the coat" weather.

Two new items at IP

Two new items up at Independent Propaganda today. First up is an interview with Sean O'Reilly of Arcana Studios.

Then is a short review of a small press 'zine called MANTRA.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Men don't like Valentine's Day

I realized while Madison and I were at the store today that Valentine's Day is coming up. I am married so I better think about it. Even though Amy is cool and says not to worry about it, I know inwardly she appreciates a nice gesture on Valentine's Day.

However, doing something new is troublesome. Everybody knows all the cliches and things to do. Sometimes we men need a pus, if not a violent shove, in the right direction. I have told Amy that men don't take hints. Just tell us. Hinting doesn't accomplish anything. It's hard enough for us to remember this Hallmark-created holiday.

So when I jumped online tonight to check my email on Yahoo!, I spied a quick article on what to buy for Valentine's Day. Worth a look, right? Maybe I will actually get a good idea.

Article "How to Pick the Right Gift for Valentine's Day"

It's by what Yahoo! calls a "Health Expert" on her blog. Her name is Dr. Laura Berman. And now I know that that "Dr." title must stand for "Damn retarded."

First of all, the only real gift to buy is a bouquet of red roses. Okay, so what is so new and exciting about this one? This is what men get when they don't know what the hell else to get. My wife actually tells me not to waste money on things that are going to die (although I'm sure she likes the idea, but not on Valentine's Day itself).

There are several examples of writing poems and creating coupons for your romance. Yes, romantic and all, but if that is all your girl gets for Valentine's, I bet she thinks you bloody forgot and scribbled a poem to makeup for it. These are the types of things you give to your girl on non-romance holidays. Give it to her on January 29, and you will get a much better reation.

One is actually degrading. "A home-cooked meal." I cook just as much. That's a 1950 steretype if I ever heard one. And this is a woman psychologist.

I was pissed after reading this. I thought to myself, "That's it? Those are your 'expert' suggestions?" I hope she doesn't get paid to write these pieces of uninformative crap. What do I actually buy her or do for her that looks like it takes some thought, or looks like it costs some money? If I give Amy a poem and a coupon, or told her that her present was my cooking dinner, she'll think she was gipped.

After reading this, I may have inadvertently discovered something. Maybe women don't know what they want for Valentine's Day either.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Martian review

A new review is up at Independent Propaganda, this one of Mark Starks' Martian.

Playin' out in the snow part II

More from the snow. The one picture of that blue dot in the middle is me taking a picture from the top of a snow mound, about 10 feet up. The blue dot is Madison's hat she is wearing.

Playin' out in the snow

Madison and I went out to play in the snow yesterday. We brought our bright red sled and I dragged her around. We brought some shovels and we dug into the mounds of snow that have piled up. Some of these mounds, snow pushed out of the way of the road for the kids to play on, are much taller than I am. It was somewhat sunny and warm yesterday, 27 or so, and that's a good day to go out.

My super-villain

Your results:
You are Dr. Doom

Dr. Doom
Lex Luthor
Mr. Freeze
The Joker
Dark Phoenix
Poison Ivy
Green Goblin
Blessed with smarts and power but burdened by vanity.

Click here to take the Super Villain Personality Test

Saturday, January 27, 2007


The Northwestern Alaska Career and Technical Education Center (NACTEC) has put out some new flyers to get students interested in attending. This is a great service for rural Alaska and more students should take advantage of it.

Friday, January 26, 2007


Daily rambling...

My second and last observation of the year went well. "You're a good teacher," he told me. All high marks. No matter how normal the observation is to the teaching profession, one still feels under the microscope and a bit nervous. Twice a year with several "pop-ins" throughout the year seems like such a microcosm of my 180 days of teaching. All's well.

I saw a great movie the other day loaned to me by another teacher: SMOKE SIGNALS. It's about a lower 48 native American leaving the reservation to retrieve the ashes of his dead father, who left because of a horrible secret. It's funny and downright entertaining, yet it's also hearfelt and sincere. It confronts issues and tells the truth. I was awed by it. The other teacher told me it was funny, and he made it sound like a Cheech and Chong movie, but no, it was real. Highly recommended.

I have completely astonished the students at school and astonished myself as well. I have been able to wear a different Superman shirt every school day in January, without wearing the same one twice. We all, myself included, couldn't believe I actually had that many.

Oh, and for my birthday, my wife bought me an awesome Chicago Bears winter coat, just in time for the upcoming Superbowl!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

JGM Comics interview

I had the pleasure of writing an interview this time for Independent Propaganda, this one of JGM Comics' Joe Martino, for the upcoming SHADOWFLAME comic.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Twin Peaks

I received this email yesterday from the real TWIN PEAKS FESTIVAL in North Bend, Washington, from a search I did on Twin Peaks years ago. I was just amazed that they still have one. Hasn't Twin Peaks been off the air for over 15 years? Does it actually have that much of a fan following? (I say this as I bit my lip because in a heartbeat I would go to The Prisoner convention in Portmeiron and that show has been off the air for over 35 years.)


From Ronette's bridge, to the Fat Trout Trailer Park, the Mill, the Sheriff 's station, the RR Diner, the Waterfall, the Great Northern Hotel, and more. A must-see guided tour of the town. Don't forget your camera! Hosted by our very own committee member, Jared Lyon.

Apparently they don't have any guests this year but I know that they had some big names in past years, Sherilynn Fenn being there a year or two ago. It would be fun to go with a fellow groupie and go see the sites.

I never saw Twin Peaks while it was actually on the air. My buddy Brian had luckily videotaped them all, way back before we had DVD box sets of favorite shows. Way back in the early 90s because I think I was still commuting to college. We had fest-nights, had some coffee "black as midnight on a moonless night" and some pie and sat around watching four or five episodes at a time. We weren't alone, thank God, there were two girls with us so we had a feeling of being cool (or I felt cool anyway by being around those girls, I can't speak for Brian). Those were some good times.

I even read a couple of Brian's Twin Peaks books, like the journal of Agent Cooper and the Diary of Laura Palmer.

I am still mad and upset at the way the series ended. One day, they simply must revisit it. I bet they would have if the first big-screen movie hadn't bombed. The movie was only good if you were a fan of the show, and as Serenity proved this last year, a cancelled show doesn't make a blockbuster movie.

I am still in limbo over the final fate of Agent Cooper.

Three new reviews

Not one, not two, but three new comic reviews up at Independent Propaganda.

Please check them out...please. Let me know if my writing is good or bad. You don't even have to like comics, just read them to see if I write good reviews or not. Then tell me...come on, I can take it!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

You say it's your birthday...

Thirty-four years old today...

So I show the cover of Action Comics from January 1973.

Monday, January 22, 2007

They've found me...

Uh-oh. They know I am out here in cyberspace.

It's my fault actually. I gave the kids a worksheet today to do after they typed up their final drafts on their descriptive essay (reminds me so much of the essay Stradlater tries to get Holden to write in The Catcher in the Rye). The worksheet asked them to find some meaning behind their names and their surroundings. They had to look up the origins of both of their names and also look up how their town got its name. "Nome" brought up The Butcher Shop in Google. It was all downhill from there.

First of all, I will probably bore the heck out of them here. They may want to see a few pictures of their dork teacher but that gets old fast. Secondly, I don't know if I ever wanted them to see it in the first place.

I knew that eventually kids would see it. It isn't hard with everything that is online. Sooner or later, someone was going to come to me and say they saw pictures and read something by me.

So, if any one of you kids is out there right now...all I say is: "Start your own blog!" Write. Keep writing. Keep thinking and putting your ideas onto the page. Write about anything you want, anything in the world. Just write and think, think and write.

I was never able to keep a paper-and-pencil journal or diary. Never. I would try for a week and then forget about it. It must have had something to do with the publication factor of things. With a journal, no one would ever read it; I had no audience whatsoever. The audience is me? No, that didn't work for me. But a blog has kept me writing. Yes, the audience is still me for a very large part, I'll admit. However, there is the factor of publishing and making it look nice before hitting that "publish" button that makes it seem like I am doing something more.

If the kids read it, they'll just find out more of my idiosyncracies and geekness. That's okay. Hopefully, it makes me a bit more human. And that's what the blog is for, to share that human experience.

Banya review

My latest comic book review is up at Independent Propaganda. Check it out, man! This is a good little Korean Manhwa (the Korean verison of Japanese manga) from Dark Horse called Banya: The Explosive Deliveryman.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Go Bears!

Da Bears won it! I was jumping up and down!

Bears are going to the Superbowl after 21 seasons.

How wonderful it is to have the team you've been rooting for years go to the Big Game. And I actually got to watch a few Bears games this year, what with me living in Alaska and all.

Onward to Miami!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Found comic files

I found these old comic stories (or beginnings to stories) in amongst all my old files. I had this whole idea for a new universe, or Butcher's Universe if you will. Sure, it was going to be highly derivative of DC Comics and some others, especially when I was into Batman and Justice League big time at that moment of my life, but it was fun.

I reproduce here, two of those ideas, The Union of Heroes featuring The Saviour, and an idea for a Batman story I had.

A comic book series by Matthew Butcher
Issue #1
Splash Page 1: Blimp shot of futuristic city (as in Batman movie).
Captions interspersed across picture, going down.

(New Chicago.)
(A city of crime, corruption, and the dirtiest
politics in the world.)
(I have adopted this city as my home. Only I can
save this city. Only I want to.)
Splash page 2: Full body shot of Saviour, in all his glory.
(Only. . . THE SAVIOUR.)

page 3 (1): Shot of dilapidated warehouse, light emanating from one window. (Armani Warehouse 19, Rush Street, 1:23 A.M.) (2): Shot of the inside of the warehouse through a window. Can
see six men talking around a table. White pouches on table.

With a very loud sound of breaking glass, the Saviour crashes
through the skylight, garbed in his red and black uniform with
poleclub. To the astonished looks of the six men, Saviour begins
beating them up. He knocks one in the stomach with the club while
also throwing a fist into another. With a flip, he drives his feet
into another man's chest, bouncing off him into another with both
fists, holding the club vertical to his body. He now stands
between the two last men. The one in front fires his gun, but it
is deflected by a swing of the poleclub. Saviour then back kicks
the man behind him. A dumb look from the guy in front. An angry
look from the Saviour. A scared look from the guy in front, same
angry face from the Saviour. The guy simply falls to the ground,
pleading, "No, man, don't hurt me, man."
"Your kind is all alike." says the Saviour, as he begins to
take out a gun from his belt holster. "You plead for mercy, yet
show none. Just think of it this way: This hurt is only a small
fraction of all the hurt you've inflicted on people."
"They want the drugs, man! I'm only giving them what they
want!" yells the guy.
"You're only giving them what they want. I'm only giving you
what you deserve," says the Saviour as he pulls the trigger.
A fat man in a black suit stands behind his desk with a cigar
in his mouth. There are three other men around him. This is Mr.
Jake Armani himself, head of the organized crime of New Chicago.
Armani yells, "This is the third set-up this guy has busted in
as many weeks! What's it gonna take to stop this guy!"
Wilson, Armani's right hand man speaks, "We need to establish
this guy's identity. From the one survivor of the second attack,
we know what he basically looks like, except for that damned mask!
I say we send out a contract to all the major families."
"I wanna know why!" yells Armani, slamming a fist down on the
desk. "Why just us? Three other major families in New Chicago and
he only picks on me! Why?"
"Maybe it's because I hate you the most." Voice from the
window. Armani and his men turn to look in shock to see Saviour
kneeling in the window sill in a Batman-type pose. Two men pull
out guns, but Saviour's net-rope gun knocks the guns out of their
hands with a small bola-net.
"Just want to talk. I don't want to kill you yet." says
Saviour, climbing down from the window sill.
"Who the hell do you think you are?" yells Armani pointing his
index finger. "You a cop?"
"I'm just someone you've ticked off. I have only this to say:
Get out of New Chicago by the end of the week or I come back and
kill you."
"You? Kill me? No one threatens me, NO ONE!" Very angry
face on Mr. Armani.
"Not a threat. A promise." says Saviour as he climbs back
out the window.
"You're dead!" says Armani, chasing after him out the window.
Doesn't see him out on window sill. "Hey, wait a minute, we're
twenty stories up!" he whispers.
First, we see the outside of Armani Warehouse 2. It's late at
night again, and Armani is inside, checking some packages of a
white powdery substance. Wilson is right behind him with a
clipboard and sunglasses. After a minute of inspection, Wilson
says, "Sir, I hate to remind you, but it has been a week since our
visit from that guy the media has called the Saviour. Don't you
think we should get some more protection?"
"Listen, you pencil-neck!" yells Armani as he grabs Wilson by
the tie and holds him over the table. "I am afraid of no one! No
tough guy comes and threatens me. If he ever shows his face again,
I'll show him what tough is! Should I maybe start on you?" His
face really gets close to Wilson's with a really angry tug at the
lips. His cigar dangles from his mouth.
"You can try your luck on me if you'd like," the voice comes
from a dark corner. When he steps into the light, it is the
Three of the thugs around Armani rip their pistols out of
their shoulder holsters. Bullets ricochet around the Saviour as he
lunges to the right, behind stacks of crates. "Get him! Get him!"
screams Armani from off panel.
Saviour takes out a quarter staff rom behind his back, draws
it to its full length and slams it into the stomach of the first
assailant. The gun goes flying out of his hand. Saviour catches
it and shoots another attacker in the leg. He aims at the third
thug. With a "don't shoot!" look, the thug drops the gun and puts
his hands above his head. The Saviour rushes the gun around to aim
at Armani.
A panel here across the page that shows them aiming at each
other from a distance. No words. Two close up shots, one of
Armani's face, one of Saviour's mask. Another panel of Saviour,
looking down the barrel of the gun, with him saying, "Boo!"
Armani freaks and fires his gun. Saviour drops to the floor
and fires two shots to Armani's chest. Armani goes down like a
Saviour all of a sudden gets hit by two bullets in the small
of the back. He whips his leg around and spin kicks the gun away
from the third thug. Close-up panel of him growling and flexing,
like he wasn't even hurt. With a quick motion, Saviour grabs the
thug by the throat and hoists him up in the air. Then in a
whisper, "I'm gonna let uou live for only one reason: You are
going to tell the entire underworld to get out of business, or I
will come looking for them."
Saviour lets him go to fall in a heap on the floor, grasping
for breath. As the Saviour walks away, he says, "Tell them The
Saviour sent you." END.
Issue #2
Charlie was simply minding his own business...unfinished

Plan for "Innocence"
Batman foils a bank robbery late at night by three "kids."
Disarms and stops 2 but 1 runs (he's got some of the money). The
getaway car follows the kid Batman is following. Kid ends up in a
dead end alley. Cornered. Game's up. Until kid sees a little
orphaned ragamuffin girl in tattered clothes (about 12 years old)
amidst the garbage and takes her hostage at gunpoint. An innocent
is at risk. Kid's clumsy (can't be more than 16) and Batman easily
ends the threat by swinging the batarang connected to rope on the
ground, tripping them over. Gun flies. Batman moves in. Getaway
car lights flash on and big hulky man gets out. Garbed in spiked
belts with no shirt (army pants). Batman and hulk fight tight
battle and hulk ends up getting the best of Batman with crowbar and
at end he points his own gun in Batman's face. It's over.
Thoughts cross Batman's mind. Then orphaned girl shoots hulk with
16 yo bank robber's gun. If she didn't he'd be dead. He embraces
& thanks her, sorry for living how she is and her innocence lost
and how he can't do a thing for her but give her over to cops.
They can handle it. Maybe humble her and make her regain
innocence. But Bats knows she will always remain "innocence lost."
He had saved the innocent, but he lost it anyway.

Madison drew this the other day at preschool. It is a picture of her and me riding a horse. Maybe there is a comic artist in her?

I recently made a contact at TOP COW comics to get on a review list. TOP COW is a major player in comics and produce titles like WITCHBLADE (TV show coming?) and The Darkness, among others. Michael Turner draws for them. This is an amazing contact for me.

I also recently found somebody at DARK HORSE comics who puts preview pdfs in an FTP folder for me to download and review. They also have sent me books and print-out pdf copies of upcoming books. Fan-freakin'-tastic.

Along with Viper Comics and Boom! Studios plugging my reviews of their stuff on their websites, these are major independent publishers that want my opinions. This will also solidify my reviews of smaller press.


Clinton vs. Obama

Hilary Clinton has officially thrown her hat into the ring:

Hilary story

Throughout the article are little things like this:

"I am one of the millions of women who have waited all their lives to see the first woman sworn in as president of the United States — and now we have our best opportunity to see that dream fulfilled," said Ellen Malcolm, president of EMILY's list, which raises money for Democratic women who run for office.

Is it just me, or is this the difference between Obama's and Hilary's campaign? Hilary we are calling a possible woman contender and Obama is being called a real contender, without a ton of racial connotations, a breath of fresh air.

Hilary can't get past this "woman" label and Obama seems way past the "racial" label.

I feel that difference. It is subtle. It is a difference that may make voters consider Obama on the issues rather than thinking of him as a racial candidate. Hilary as a choice seems permeated with thinking about a woman as president.

Not that I am against a female president. However, I did think before I heard about Obama's bid that race would be a tough issue to overcome in a presidential election. But I feel that Obama has overcome that already. It just doesn't feel like an issue with him.

This will be a very interesting election that may depose a lot of myths and biased thinking. We may actually start getting to some real meat on issues. I love it.

Go Bears!

Tomorrow is the NFC Championship game.

Bears vs Saints

Soldier Field

I am so excited and apprehensive at the same time. I have been following the Bears, maybe for a tie back to my hometown, this year like never before, or at least since the magical '85 season. That year had the Superbowl Shuffle, a boast so powerful that no team could beat them. (Except Dan Marino's Dolphins on one lone Monday night game.)

This year though, they are not the super-colossal giants, like the Madden team on my Gamecube where I win every game by 40 points. These Bears are real people, thus fallible. That is what makes it so damn exciting.

I was on pins and needles last week against the Sea-Chickens. I was worried, but the Bears pulled through. That made it all the more adrenaline-pumpingly exciting.

I still think the Bears will win. Regardless of whether I am a fan or not, I would still pick them if I had to choose for a pool. It seems like America is rooting for the underdog Saints for all of New Orleans (which would make for a great story to tell come Superbowl time so the TV and media guys must be absolutely drooling for them to win). I would still pick the Bears.

Go Bears!

Friday, January 19, 2007


Voyage to Pluto

Pit Stop to Pluto

NASA launched its New Horizons mission one year ago Friday on what the space agency has billed as its fastest flight to the outer rim of the solar system [video].

With its seven instruments, New Horizons is designed to study Pluto, its three moons - Charon, Hydra and Nix - and distant icy objects in the Kuiper Belt that lie beyond the orbit of Neptune. Those objects, researchers hope, contain 4.5 billion-year-old traces of the solar system's building blocks.

Wake me up in 2015, will ya? This is immensely interesting to me. It hearkens back to my mother bringing me that copy of the Chicago Tribune with the color inserts in the late 70s with images from Saturn. Wow.

Whitman's states

From Whitman's Leaves of Grass:

} To the States

To the States or any one of them, or any city of the States, Resist
much, obey little,
Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved,
Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city of this earth, ever
afterward resumes its liberty.

} On Journeys Through the States

On journeys through the States we start,
(Ay through the world, urged by these songs,
Sailing henceforth to every land, to every sea,)
We willing learners of all, teachers of all, and lovers of all.

We have watch'd the seasons dispensing themselves and passing on,
And have said, Why should not a man or woman do as much as the
seasons, and effuse as much?

We dwell a while in every city and town,
We pass through Kanada, the North-east, the vast valley of the
Mississippi, and the Southern States,
We confer on equal terms with each of the States,
We make trial of ourselves and invite men and women to hear,
We say to ourselves, Remember, fear not, be candid, promulge the
body and the soul,
Dwell a while and pass on, be copious, temperate, chaste, magnetic,
And what you effuse may then return as the seasons return,
And may be just as much as the seasons.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Gothic Became Romantic

This paper that I wrote last year is especially appropriate as we are doing the romantic poets right now in senior English.

Matt Butcher
Seminar in a Literary Period 1
Dr. Potter
February 23, 2006

Gothic Became Romantic

With the publication of The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole in 1764, a new genre was born. For the next sixty years, Gothic literature dominated the literary scene. After the publication of Charles Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer in 1820, Gothic literature had seemed to run its course (Potter, The Gothic Lecture Notes). Romantic literature had dawned. However, the basic precepts of what we consider Romantic literature are actually just the evolution of the Gothic literature tenets.

Gothic literature is a genre that made readers think. Above all, it is a genre that made readers start to behold the great emotions that writers could evoke. As readers consumed texts with the supernatural and the horrific, they also tended to love that sensation that the suspense brought out. Gothic literature was melancholy. It contained elements of darkness and mystery and was often overly dramatic. “The Gothic creates feelings of gloom, mystery, and suspense and tends to the dramatic and the sensational, like incest, diabolism, and nameless terrors” (Potter).

Robert D. Hume wrote an immensely valuable essay on Gothic literature called “Gothic Versus Romantic: A Revaluation of the Gothic Novel” (Hume). In this article, Hume says “that the Gothic novel is more than a collection of ghost-story devices.” While the genre incorporated these devices, it was the transfer of ideas that created them. At the time, authors were bending away from the neoclassical idea, shying away from the great Elizabethan authors like Shakespeare. They wanted to examine emotion and imagination. Indeed, Hume goes on to say, “That Gothicism is closely related to romanticism is perfectly clear, but it is easier to state the fact than to prove it tidily and convincingly.”

This romantic belief had just started. Hume says, “The early Gothic novels can be considered the precursors of romanticism in their concern with sensibility, the sublime, and the involvement of the reader in a more that rational way.” By saying this, one starts to see how the general principles of Gothic literature did not just vanish overnight. These thoughts and patterns were just fine tuned and developed and became what is considered a new genre.

As Gothic literature intended to awaken the reader’s imagination, terror was one of the main devices employed for this effect (Hume). Romantic literature simply took this to the next level. Romantic literature can be defined with the words imagination and emotion. These are the same terms that can be used to define Gothic literature. It is in simply understanding how the terms are used between the two genres that we discover what trends separate them.

By the time that the Gothic novel had run its course, these trends toward imagination and emotion had only grown. Instead of imagination being for horrific and terrifying imaginings, now the authors applied the use of imagination. The authors wrote “partly in the struggle of thinking persons to ground speculation and belief in what seemed the most certain facts of experience” (Perkins 9). These ideas that many were exploring in the literature of the Gothic tended to express themselves now in higher ideals. They coalesced more into grander and deeper meanings of life and emotion. “The essential meaning of the Romantic emphasis on feeling is not cultivation of one quality or power at the expense of others but the pursuit of an ideal of unity or completeness of being” (Perkins). Before, Gothic literature tended to strive for the “genteel aim of provoking no more than a pleasurable shudder” (Norton). Now, Romantic literature wanted to interpret what those feelings were, where they came from, and what on should experience from these feelings.

With these definitions, Romantic literature is simply a twist to the principles of the Gothic genre. Instead of reason derived from terror, now imagination, as Wordsworth put it, is the supreme faculty of the mind. While readers liked putting themselves into that suspenseful and terror-laden frame of mind that Gothic literature provided, Romantic literature now broadened their minds to thinking about deep subject matters.

Many Romantic writers were fed on the Gothic literature of the period as that was vogue and in style to their culture and age. This can be likened to modern authors such as John Grisham, whose bestsellers always seem to be summer reading fare. School districts across the nation, though, are putting some of his novels like The Painted House onto their high school reading lists. I know this because I taught at South Kitsap School District in Port Orchard, Washington, where this novel was part of a curriculum adoption that went through. Stephen King can be seen as just part of the horror genre but there are a few literary criticism books and articles out there that applaud his creativity and style. Since authors like these two are read by just about everyone, as the bestseller lists contend, everyone is influenced by them.

William Beckford’s Vathek was one of those early nineteenth century Gothic novels that everyone read. No less than Shelley, Keats, and Byron were known to have read Vathek (Thomson). “Vathek was a character who put his chosen pleasures above the humanity of those around him, and feeds directly into the Romantic movement's glorification of sensation and experience” (“Vathek”). Other Gothic novels such as Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto have been abandoned by literary historians, yet Byron sung the praises of the author, saying, “It is the fashion to underrate Horace Walpole.” But Byron applauds Walpole in the Preface to Marino Faliero, saying he is “surely worthy of a higher place than any living writer, be he who he may” (“Gothic Labyrinth”). For Byron to defend the author says a lot about how much he truly liked his style.

Romantic writers like Percy Bysshe Shelley read many easily digestible Gothic novels. Shelley liked the works of Charles Brockden Brown who wrote Gothic novels such as Weiland, Ormond, Edgar Huntly, and Arthur Merwyn. Douglass Thomson, Professor of English at Georgia Southern University, said, “Nothing so blended itself with the structure of his [Shelley’s] interior mind as the creations of Brown.” In fact, Shelley published two Gothic novels of his own.

While a work like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus may tend towards many parts of the Gothic definition, there are numerous examples of its Romantic sensibilities. While Romanticism worked on the movement of ideas and intellect, Gothic was a link to extreme ideas and the understanding of the emotions that they developed, like thrill, fear, and terror. First of all, Frankenstein uses a monster. Most Gothic novels had some kind of supernatural or something in which to be terrified. It was this tension of fear, probably a precursor to the use of suspense in film that held the novel. The reader wanted to hold that intensity of fear and know more about it. That was Gothic thinking. Secondly, the novel likes to allude to dangerous information. Since Romanticism was a genre that wanted to learn more about the deep parts of human existence, this novel went a step further. The reason it is Gothic is that the knowledge is macabre and forbidden: the reanimation of human bodies. Even from today’s standpoint when we see the electric paddles resuscitate a victim, it seems plausible at least. Could this knowledge just be outside our reach, if we wanted to read those texts that others laughed at him for reading? Also, the novel has multiple facets on which to discuss for hours upon end. The role of women and their passivity should be examined in greater detail. The idea of the death penalty on an innocent and the idea of abortion, when Victor destroys the female creation, could be considered. These are all dark subjects that need to be brought to light and this text mentions them.

These authors simply took the next evolutionary step from Gothicism into what became Romanticism.

Works cited

“Gothic Labyrinth.” 20 February 2006. http://pluto.scs.ryerson.ca/~monica/walpole.htm.

Hume, Robert D. “Gothic Versus Romantic: A Revaluation of the Gothic Novel.” March 1969. 20 February 2006. http://www.english.upenn.edu/Projects/knarf/Articles/hume.html.

Norton Anthology of English Literature, The. “The Romantic Period: Topics Introduction.” 20 February 2006. http://www.wwnorton.com/nael/romantic/welcome.htm.

Perkins, David, Ed. English Romantic Writers. 2nd Edition. Harcourt Brace, 1995.

Potter, Franz. “The Gothic Lecture Notes.” 20 February 2006. http://spectrum1.blackboard.com/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab=courses&url=/bin/common/course.pl?course_id=_74305_1.

Thomson, Douglass. “Gothic Literature: What the Romantic Writers Read.” 20 February 2006. http://www.georgiasouthern.edu/~dougt/gothic.htm.

“Vathek.” 14 April 2000. 20 February 2006. http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/2060.

New Superman movie

Talk has already surfaced about another Superman movie and which villains will be included. I am just hoping they don't turn this into a Batman and Robin type of movie franchise. If Mr. Mxyzptlk is seriously going to be the villain, that little imp from the fifth dimension, I hope they make him as menacing as some of his newer incarnations. I am going to have to go through my back issues to find some, but he can be downright scary with his powers if he wanted to be. He is like Q in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Maybe they could play up that angle because Q was a fan favorite.

I love how this article uses "Wrath of Khan" as a verb! I might have to use this in class.

Singer has said the next installment will be along the
lines of the second Star Trek film, and Dougherty said
the comparison is apt. "I think it's going to be a
more action-oriented film," he said. "Again, the easy
comparison to make was [X-Men] to X2, or Star Trek
[The Motion Picture] to Star Trek II. I mean, I know
that Bryan has said he's going to Wrath of Khan it,
and by that he means, 'Let's take what we've already
established—we've gotten that out of the way—and let's
just make it shorter, tighter and more action-packed."

—Patrick Lee, News Editor

17 January 2007

(Excerpted from http://www.scifi.com/scifiwire/index.php?category=0&id=39552 on 17 January 2007.)

Mr. Mxyzptlk?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Daily rambling...

Morgan's team won Battle of the Books! They go on to compete in the State competition via teleconference later. Way to go, Morgan!

Morgan also started Anvil City Science Academy this week, the start of second semester. It is definitely going to be better for her and make her work at her aptitude. They do much more science there, hence the name and the students work at their real ability level much more than in regular classrooms. Plus, she gets to walk to school, just like I do. So Morgan's moving on up. I am just very proud of her winning Battle of the Books--that is great reading ability right there! And I taught her to read! Sniff! I must have done something right.

This week starts second semester at high school too. I am always SOOOO much better for second semester. Maybe it is because I know the kids better and feel I can better work toward their needs. Maybe it is because of that. I definitely have a much clearer roadmap of the curriculum and pacing for the semester because of this. I think a lot of first semester is testing the waters, finding out where students are at. School is going fabulously well right now. I almost never have any disciplinary referrals anymore, especially this year. I am getting so much better at managing a classroom, something a lot of first time teachers really struggle with. I know I really struggled with it my first year at South Kitsap. Now it is second nature (somewhat) and I can concentrate on getting the lessons through. And I have a very clear month-by-month plan for second semester, especially in preparation for the HSGQE, the High School Graduation Qualifying Examination, the test that is now required statewide for graduation in three subjects: math, reading, and writing. English is TWO of those. My clear plan will have them experts by the test time in April.

I am having a bit of fun this month too at school. I am wearing a different Superman shirt everyday to school until I run out. I think I can go for three weeks without wearing the same one twice. I'm on six now and my pile of Superman shirts at home is still huge. I keep track on the front board everyday. The kids love it; they wonder what shirt I will be wearing today.

The senior class is fun for me too this semester because we are getting into the romantic poets. We started Wordsworth today and the explanation for romantic poetry, getting them out of that mindset that it is not "lovey-dovey" poetry as everyone thinks it means for those that haven't studied up on it. We'll get to William Blake at the computer lab later this week through an awesome online archive of his poetry books and etchings at williamblake.org. Coleridge and "Rime of the Ancient
Mariner" later in the week to next week--that one brings back special memories for me of my senior high school British literature class with Ms Lehman, and my mother saying that Sarah was the "albatross around her neck!"


Two new reviews up at Independent Propaganda today.

The first is Illusive Arts' TONY LOCO #1. Review.

Then read A DUMMY'S GUIDE TO DANGER #3. Review.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

$21 a day

"$21 a Day (Once a Month)"

Release Date: 12/1/41
Direction: Walter Lantz
Artists: Alex Lovy and Frank Tipper
Story: Ben Hardaway and L.E. Elliot
Music Arrangement: Darrell Calker
Music: Felix Bernard Lyrics: Ray Klages
· Production Number: 1007
· The first "Swing Symphony" cartoon
· Be sure to look for cameos by Woody Woodpecker, Andy Panda, and Snuffy Skunk
· Incorrectly listed as "$21,000 a Day Once a Month" in Jeff Lenburg's Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons
· Click here to see "$21 a Day (Once a Month)" sheet music.

(This infromation was taken from http://lantz.goldenagecartoons.com/1941.html)

I have been looking for this cartoon for a long long long time. I keep thinking about it because I cannot get the tune out of my head. For over 20 years, I every once in a while blurt out the song, at least the chorus:

"They'll wake you up at five o'clock in the morning

For $21 a day, once a month."

I especially sing it when I have to wake up during the five o'clock hour. I hum it. When I have to think up a song fast, this is the song that comes to mind.

I can't find it though. I know it was a Walter Lantz cartoon, and if you know that name, you know he did Woody Woodpecker. So it was on during the Woody Woodpecker show when I was a kid. Back in Chicago when I was a kid, these shows always cut off the credits, especially the opening credits. They played it at the beginning of the half hour and that was it.

I want this cartoon. Of all the cartoons that I remember, this is the one that has stuck with me. I don't know what it is about that song, but it stuck in my head.

Do you know where I can score a copy of this cartoon?

Madison and makeup. She's addicted. She just keeps putting it on and on, even when there is plenty on already. These pictures are hilarious. Where do kids learn how to pose? Madison thinks she looks beautiful with the lipstick done like this.

Fun in Nome

Fun in Nome on a wintry day, snowboarding roped to a snowmachine.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Nome Rite of Passage

Nome Rite of Passage

Received this email yesterday at school from the assistant principal, an email to everyone about two of the new teachers:

Beth and Erika are now official members of and from the Bering Strait Region!

Today, they ate black meat (dried seal meat), seal oil, blubber (seal), muktuk (whale) and too-guy-yuks (sp?) which are greens!

Yeah!!! Cam Piscoya shared. :-)

Partaking in the food makes you one of us Nomeites and is celebrated.


Some comments on the current state of DVDs.

We recently joined the Columbia House DVD club to get some classics. One of those obtained was THE GOONIES, one of our favorite movies ever.

I watched the DVD commentary the other night. It had the entire cast from the original movie and director Richard Donner watching and commenting on the show. No matter how cool this sounds to a fan of the movie, unfortunately, that is just way too many people to comment on the movie. That was, what, eight people all trying to talk at once, especially over Corey Feldman trying to talk all the bloody time. Commentary is going to have to be limited to probably two people at most. While I laughed a bit and heard some good snippets and new stories, so many times I wanted to tell them all to be quiet in order to let one person speak at a time.

One little itty bitty pet peeve--the menu systems. First of all, I wish they would make the cursor buttons on my remote control bigger. These controls, I swear, must be made for Lilliputian fingers. My thumb presses two buttons a ton of the time. Also, no matter how detailed the menu screen is, I wish that the cursor would shine brighter and be more specifically legible on what exactly was highlighted. How many times have I pressed a button thinking I had one highlighted when it was on another selection? Tons. Also, I don't know about other DVD players out there, but the three we have in our household do not have any other buttons besides the rudimentary play options. There are no cursor buttons on the DVD player itself. When we misplace a remote control, and we do in this household of four with two kids, there is no way to access special features or any other selection. We had bought the DVD for X-Men 3, primarily for the alternate endings, and for over a month we couldn't watch them due to missing remotes. No way to access them from the player itself. And why don't these players have built-in remote finders? What's that technology cost them, 12 cents? No, they would rather us lose the remotes to make us buy new players, tell the truth.

I am just sick of the FBI warning menus. Absolutely ill from them. This especially chaps my hide when I am putting in one of Madison's DVDs. I have to wait through these in order to just press play. I wish, I really wish, that I could sign some kind of disclaimer that I understand this warning in order to never see that damn red screen again. I know this is not long and I should stop bitching but it just irks me to no end.

I have been watching the DVDs lately with the subtitles too. I am renting the first season of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and the second season of Battlestar Galactica through Netflix. Most of the time when I sit to watch these, I am the only one in the house who does. Either there is noise in the other rooms, the girls playing, or it is late enough and most are trying to go to bed for the evening. This way, either way, I'm not missing anything. I tried to watch one of the Alfred Hitchcock interview extras that came with my Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection which was my Christmas gift and since there were no subtitles, I couldn't hear a darn thing in the house. It wasn't the girls' fault; they were just playing Barbies. But I had to stop and watch it later. So I have been liking the subtitles but then it makes me watch differently, a lot of reading instead of watching, and then when I watch TV it feels sort of naked without the subtitles.

I love a lot of the extras, especially on those discs that are the favorite movies. My 1978 Superman DVD has casting calls, featuring other actresses that read for the part of Lois Lane, and I really think after watching it that Donner was wrong in picking Margot Kidder over Stockard Channing. Stockard Channing would have made a PERFECT Lois Lane by watching the casting call, if you ask me. I always disliked Margot Kidder. So that is one heck of a spectacular bonus for a fan like me. Also, I love the outtakes when they have them. The Goonies DVD has scenes they removed, and you can see why. Some are cumbersome and don't enhance the plot and actually feel to detract from the movie (or maybe it is because I have seen the movie 50+ times, no kidding, and am really unused to the idea of new stuff). Others are just ridiculous. I am so glad they took away the octopus scene near the end. It was stupid and silly, with a horrible looking and cheesy monster, especially when Data removes the threat of the octopus by placing a tape recorder playing a song into the beak of the monster, and the monster goes moonwalking and dancing off. Stuff like this helps see the process of moviemaking even more and am grateful for these bits of trivia.

Enough caterwauling.

LA Geekly

Get this: Hard-Boiled Comics is adding this 14-page insert, a spoof of LA's arts and entertainment mag called the LA Weekly, about their comics inside every copy of the February edition of Diamond Previews. That's the magazine/order book that every comic shop in the nation buys comics from. These inserts will also be available as one of those weekly freebies at comic shops nationwide.
The great part? My review of issue #1 is featured in the magazine! That is my review blurb on the left hand side of the cover.
"Hard-Boiled Comics...makes me pine for the good times of the 80s when First Comics hit the scene with Badger, Nexus, and Chaykin's American Flagg!...Hard-Boiled Comics me reminisce for those great independent days. That is no pale comparison. This comic is flat out GOOD." -Matt Butcher, The Butcher Shop, Independent Propaganda
Isn't that cool? See, it's happening. Slowly but surely, it's happening.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Bit Haywire

Another review, this one of Viper Comics' A BIT HAYWIRE. Only at Independent Propaganda.

Two new reviews

Independent Propaganda put up two of my new comic book reviews today.

Dead @ 17 #2 by Josh Howard published by Viper Comics

And then Dark Horse Comics' Outer Orbit #1 at http://independentpropaganda.com/ip_wp/review-outer-orbit-published-by-dark-horse/

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Blizzard update

6:50 pm



(courtesy of weather.yahoo.com)

No school!


BLIZZARD makes conditions too hazardous! Whiteout in most areas!

Happy for the day off!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Warmer but blizzard

While the temperature may have risen above freezing, the first time in weeks, to a whole 8 degrees, it's because a blizzard has moved in. Whiteout conditions and six inches of snow tonight with more tomorrow. We drove into town to pick Madison up from daycare and I could barely see the road. (I hope school is cancelled tomorrow! Like a play day with the kids!)

We received the new switchbox in order to get the Intellivision to work but no dice. I t should be working now but isn't for some reason. I need my dad to help me, that's what I need. He could always hook these things up. Sure, there might be eight extra miles of cord but it worked!

Morgan created this little cartoon in The Far Side tradition. I honestly think it's hilarious. The bath mat says, "I'm always getting stepped on." The toilet paper replies, "You should try being me!"

Sunday, January 07, 2007


The TI-99/4A home computer from Texas Instruments. I had one of these. I think the main reason I had one was that my mother had an amazing rebate. I think it cost $50 and she had a $50 rebate. I think it was just about free. It was my first home computer and I used it on my little 13" black and white TV screen in my bedroom so I always saw that bootup screen in b&w. I actually learned a lot of programming on it especially with the assistance of this one Sunday comic strip in the papers with all the funnies that did computer flowcharts and computer lingo. They would also publish some basic programs to type in and run. I remember once typing in a 400-line program that took me hours with my lack of typing knowledge at that time and all the program did was a little tune with a miniscule stick figure dancing. However, I learned a lot about flowcharts and garbage in-garbage out mentality and what a program was supposed to do and what they could do. At one point, I actually programmed in my own trivia game that calculated points based on correct or incorrect answers. I was pretty proud of that one.
But then the TI-99/4A also had some games! These are the four games that I specifically remember having. If I had any others, I do not remember them at all.
The first one I remember was ALPINER. I never did get to the top of Mt. Everest. It was tough, if I remember correctly.
Climb six of the world's tallest mountains and evade dangerous obstacles. But be careful - the Abominable Snowman is waiting for you atop Mt. Everest!

I used to play this game called CAR WARS a lot too. You raced around and had to avoid the other car or collide. It was a good game and I wonder why no other system did anything like this one.
Car Wars
It's your car against the computer's in this exciting race! Score points by out-maneuvering the computer's car as it tries to run you off the track!

Then there was a game that I loved just for saying the name of it: HUNT THE WUMPUS. It was actually a pretty good puzzle game. I played the hell out of it. Those red spots were blood, if I remember right, that led you to the Wumpus.
Hunt the Wumpus
Deep within a maze of caverns and twisting tunnels lives a creature known as the Wumpus. Protected by giant bats and pits of slime, the Wumpus feeds on unwary visitors that enter his dwelling. Will you be victorious in slaying the Wumpus, or just its next victim?

Then there was the bestselling TI-99/4A game called PARSEC. It was a great space shoot-'em-up. It is one of those games that made you create a story in your head to put you behind the cockpit and really get into the game.
Fly into combat with the starship Parsec. Destroy rebel alien fighters and cruisers by outmaneuvering them and laying down withering fire from your laser. Then try to survive the deadly asteroid belt!
(All pics and game descriptions from Video Game House at : http://www.videogamehouse.net/cartsfh.html)
This computer wasn't good for much else. It required a cassette tape RAM drive that I never had, so saving stuff was never an option for me. That trivia game I wrote was erased once the power went off.
I found this article online that explains a lot to me about what happened to the computer system and also explains why we had one, with the rebate thing. My mother was absolute queen of the rebates when we were growing up.
by Stan Veit
Originally published in the September 1996 issue
Now that super chips are being produced by companies other than Intel and Motorola, I am reminded that the success of new processors can rely on more than technological innovation. The silicon graveyards are filled with technically superior CPUs that lost out because of poor marketing or because the manufacturer misread the buying habits of the public. In the early days of the PC industry, the Intel 8080 family received a huge boost because of the public's early adoption of the Altair/S-100 series; Zilog's Z-80, which was compatible with the 8080 CPU, continued that success. Similarly, Motorola's 6800 chips were used in the widely popular South West Technical Products PC and many others.
A Different View
Texas Instruments (TI), the world's largest semiconductor manufacturer, developed the TMS9900, a true 16-bit CPU that was quite advanced for its time, having capabilities that the Intel and Motorola 8-bit CPUs lacked. Unlike TI, chip makers Intel, Zilog, and Motorola were not eager to become computer manufacturers. They made development systems, but these were not designed or priced for public use. Most chip manufacturers did all they could to help computer makers improve the systems that utilized their chips, but TI gave little help to outsiders. TI did develop the TI 990/4 and 990/5 minicomputers, which used the TMS9900 processor, but they were too expensive to attract developers who would write software for the processor. Although TI did little to encourage second sources for the TMS9900, TI itself was a second source for Intel, producing the TMS8080A, a version of the Intel 8080. In fact, much of TI's PC competition was powered by chips it had manufactured. As a corporation, TI had a different view of the PC market. It envisioned a product that would be used in the home, at school, and on the job, just as its calculators were. This machine would be filled with TI chips, run TI software, and earn millions for the company. Since such a machine did not yet exist, TI had to design one--the Texas Instruments 99/4. In the spring of 1979, I went to Boston to see the 99/4--I was hoping to sell it at my Computer Mart store in New York. I also had thoughts of becoming a software developer for graphics-based games. Priced at $1,200, the 99/4 had highly polished metal parts, 16K of RAM, TI BASIC in ROM, a 13-inch color monitor, and a thin keyboard. The 40 keys on this prototype were of a style that came to be called "Chiclets," and the monitor displayed 24 lines of 32 characters. The system also had a built-in slot for plug-in, solid-state software modules, which did not yet exist. The plug-in program modules were to hold extra RAM to run the software. Interestingly, the TI engineers had crippled its 16-bit CPU by running it in a 8-bit bus. This permitted them to use fewer memory chips and reduce costs. Later, IBM followed the same path with the IBM PC, using the 8088 microprocessor rather than Intel's 16-bit 8086.
Back to the Drawing Board
I liked the TI 99/4, but thought the price was a little steep. So did the rest of the world. Shortly after it was released, TI recalled the 99/4 and went back to the drawing board to bring down the costs. The new TI 99/4A required fewer chips, due to large-scale integration, and it came with a real keyboard. TI priced it without the monitor and provided plug-ins for expansion. By the time of the 99/4A's release, some software for it had appeared, and TI encouraged third-party software developers to write for the new system. However, the royalties TI demanded were discouraging; ultimately software developers lost interest in the 99/4A. In late 1982, TI re-engineered the motherboard to put most of the "glue" chips into a single package. The new machine was called the QI, for "Quality Improved." With a new and improved system, TI had a system that could compete with the Apple, Atari, and Commodore systems of the day. It also had a better product for a small but growing group of devoted users. The 99/4 series users were among the most devoted fans you could imagine. But the company did little to support users, and except for Computer Shopper and a small magazine called 99er, the computer press ignored the systems. When all other manufacturers turned to floppy disks to expand their machines' usefulness, TI came out with the expensive Expansion Box as a way to add a floppy drive to the 99/4. It was designed like a piece of equipment meant to meet military specifications; the box was made of a thick aluminum plate, a heavy-duty design that was obviously unnecessary for home computers. Compare this with the Apple II, which needed only a small plug-in interface board to connect a floppy disk. Once again, TI had to provide a fix to the system because it did not understand the market and had to learn the hard way. In January 1982, TI was poised to throw all its marketing efforts behind the TI 994/A. At the time, the success of TI's home computer meant more to the company than just another item in its huge line of electronic equipment. It was counting on the TI 99/4A, and its successors to be the major consumer of the company's own chips. This was TI's core business, and the strategy would have succeeded if TI hadn't run into a stone wall--Jack Tramiel, the president of Commodore. The troubles started with the introduction of the $300 Commodore VIC-20. Although the VIC's capabilities were below those of the TI 99/4A, its introduction cut into the TI system's market share. Commodore followed up the VIC-20 with the introduction of the excellent Commodore C-64 and started selling them through discount stores like Kmart. The cost of the C-64 quickly dropped from the $595 introductory price to about $400.
Rebate Wars
In August 1982, TI issued a $100 rebate on the 99/4A and a price war was on. Atari joined the battle with rebates on its 800-series systems, but those systems' list prices were way above the free-falling cost of the Commodore and TI systems. By February 1983, TI again cut the price to dealers, and the cost of a TI 99/4A dropped to about $150. At this point, the Commodore 64 cost about $350, and the VIC20 cost less than $100, including peripherals. TI suffered a massive blow when the power supplies in the 99/4A proved to be defective. Retailers had to stop selling the systems, and TI had to replace thousands of power supplies. Sales were dead, and Commodore announced a $50 trade-in rebate for any computer, even nonworking ones. This dropped the street price of a Commodore 64 to less than $300. Commodore later announced additional cuts in C-64 dealer prices, bringing costs down to $200 and causing the retail price to fall to about $250. Commodore also cut software prices by 50 percent and lowered peripheral prices, too. Tramiel slashed Commodore's production costs so drastically that in the end, the C-64 cost about $100 to manufacture. Meanwhile, TI was bleeding dollars with every price cut. In June 1983, after counting second-quarter losses of $100 million, Bill Turner, president of TI's consumer division, announced that Texas Instruments was bowing out of the home-computer market. The day of the announcement was called Black Friday by the loyal TI 99ers, but the announcement lowered prices on the TI 99/4A to less than $100 in stores all over the United States. Thousands of people who had considered buying a home computer suddenly rushed out to buy a TI 99/4A at its closeout price. Although many of these systems ended up as doorstops, they provided the first look at personal computing for many users. The death of the TI 99/4A did not quite kill the TMS9900 family of CPUs, however. Some minicomputer manufacturers continued to use it, but the handwriting was on the wall. Soon other companies were making faster 16- and 32-bit chips. But TI 99/4A fans carried on, and some small companies continued to provide software and peripheral support for years afterward. In hindsight, it's easy to see that Texas Instruments learned little from the disastrous TI 99/4A-Commodore 64 conflict. Soon after, the company released the TI Professional Computer, a rival to the IBM PC.This non-IBM-compatible 8088 machine, which used special versions of MS-DOS, CP/M-86, and application software, had a good keyboard and fantastic color graphics. But its proprietary architecture killed it. Since then, TI has focused on its calculator, chip, and printer businesses. Interestingly, it was the people who left Texas Instruments to found Compaq Computer who took on IBM and won. (Reprinted from http://chung.yikes.com/~leonard/mirrors/ti99/9900story.html accessed January 7, 2007.)