Monday, April 30, 2007

30 days left

30 full days left in Nome. Only 19 school days.

I'm counting because it is fantastic. We are all so excited. My folks are excited to have us back in Illinois, after only eight years! I haven't lived in Illinois since 1999, when I drove cross country for Washington state.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


It is April 29 and it is snowing again here in Nome. It is warm now, 32 degrees, and turning to sleet, but it is just strange to see snow this late in April. I will never get over it. I have to post these so that I remember next year, when I am basking in a warm spring day in Illinois, I remember.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The New Anakin Skywalker Ghost

I thought I was going crazy.

I just watched Return of the Jedi on HBO. It was listed as the reissue movie, you know, the ones from the late 90s with all of the new effects. It's a movie I've seen countless times. While my back was turned to the screen, I recited Jabba's words from the subtitles, all from memory. Amy was amazed, and poked fun at me when I said, "I like Captain Solo right where he is" when the line omits the word "right."

So at the end of the movie, I was surprised to find the actor who played Anakin Skywalker's ghost, the same actor who played Darth Vader with his helmet off before the second Death Star explodes, replaced with Hayden Christiansen from the new trilogy. I could swear that they did not do this for the reissue, plus Christiansen's age doesn't fit.

I thought I was going crazy. From the IMDB trivia section:

"A digital rendering of Hayden appears in the 2004 DVD version of Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983), as the spirit of Anakin Skywalker. This replaced Sebastian Shaw as the ghostly image that appears beside Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda at the end of the film. Hayden said in an interview that he had been unaware of this change!"

Now I don't like this on simply the level that if Anakin's ghost reverted to an earlier age, why didn't Obi-Wan's ghost? No one can say that Anakin reverted to the time before he fell to the Dark Side because, if the entire six movies are supposed to be about Anakin Skywalker's fall and redemption as Lucas claims, then he was good at the last moments before he dies.

And I just don't know if they should be tinkering with movies like this.


Cool! I accidentally came across Voltron on Cartoon Network the other night. I haven't seen these shows since the 80s.

I woke up in the middle of the night and the TV in the living room was still on. For some reason, as I was half awake, I stumbled through the on-screen guide and saw the listing on the Cartoon Network. Unfortunately, it comes on at 4:30 am Alaska time, but that's what VCRs are for!

This sure brings back a flood of memories. I loved this show and remember clammoring to the TV when it was on after school. I used to have one of the figures and I would love this Voltron figure from Entertainment Earth, but it costs way too much for me.

Comic Books as Literature

It's about time comic books got some actual recognition.

This article talks about a class where comic books are studied for what they are: a literate way to tell a story. Comic books don't have to waste time with description, and therefore can actually go further into storytelling than conventional means. It is a way of controlling the visual and the words that you cannot do with either books or cinema.

I'm not saying that all comic books are high art, but neither are all books or all cinema. This article references Art Spiegelman's Maus and it is one of the best reads I have ever had, in any kind of medium. I would put Maus up against Milton any day of the week.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Ben Folds vacation

Hey, matt -- i need a vacation. but i hate vacations because i don't know what to do with my time. so i stayed up all last night dialing up friends who play music who also want a vacation and most of them told me to call back when i was sober and not crying. i'll ring them up again today, but my point is that i'd like to get a lot of talented musical artists together in one holiday moment of glory with possibly a few comedians and have some kind of magical experience MAN. the idea of painting a large bus psychedelic purple, not taking baths for a week and driving around the country jamming out on one chord about the war got shot down quickly. everyone wanted to bring their blackberry's and sing about their record companies, then there was an issue because some of the musical acts wanted corporate sponsorship on the side of the bus etc. we'll get everyone on board.... soon. my people will come up with something and contact their people who will contact your people and we'll make my vacation fantasies come true.
-- Ben Folds
a message from the suits:
we’re working hard to make ben’s - - and your - - rock and roll dreams come true. while we do, grab a pen and mark your calendar for february 21-25, 2008 to join Ben and friends for a kickass vacation. you can also click here to be among the first to get all of the juicy details.
-------------------------------------------Ben Folds Live At My Space DVD available now! Click here for list of retailers who will carry this DVD. You can also order the DVD online via Ben's site'">Ben Folds Live At My Space DVD available now! Click here for list of retailers who will carry this DVD. You can also order the DVD online via Ben's site!


I've never been a Bible-bangin' preacher. I have often felt uncomfortable in situations where others stand up and "Praise Jesus!"

I have liked Catholic church though, even though I don't go all the time. Something about the structure of the ceremony calms me down.

I love the rosary. To me, it's a form of meditation and it has made me feel good. I've always liked Mary. I now simply must have a rosary when I get on a plane. It comforts me.

I am not atheist. I am not agnostic. I actually understand what it is all about.

The biggest revelation to me is the concept of faith. From all my readings, this is the crux of the matter. To me, the nexus of the universe revolves around this point.

Faith is believing without proof. Most times, those with questions say they want a sign, something to make them believe.

This is the plan. As it works, you must believe based on just about nothing. Whatever your beliefs, it is all hearsay. Someone else is telling the story.

That's where He gets you. He won't give proof, but He wants you to believe without any. If you can believe in him on faith alone, He's got you. That's my proof.

It's circular logic. At best, it skirts the issue. But that's the beauty of it.

If there was a sign, who wouldn't accept Him? If He mystically blared a trumpet, declaring His presence, for just the sign that we should all listen, then it is way too easy. And if we had a sign the opposite way, that there was nothing behind this, then why would we bother at all?

That's how I know that He really is there. He is so smart that He realizes those that believe in Him without proof, already have the proof.

Faith is finicky that way, and it is hard to accept. I have accepted it after long years of wondering. I have screamed at the stars and asked for a sign. I have cursed sometimes while wondering, "Why?" I have thanked Him at the best of times. Free will allows this. And when free will allows for that acceptance of this concept of faith, well, then you're in.

You still won't catch me jumping up at a sermon and howling, "Praise Jesus!" You will still see me fidget when people want to bring religion into secular situations. You will see me cringe when the Bible is quoted blindly and applied incorrectly.

My faith allows that. I understand why He wants faith, and it is blind. It is reaching out, blindly, for nothing there, and somehow, you hold something.

Tennyson wrote in In Memoriam, which I used for my Masters degree: "There is more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds."

Therefore, I have faith because of my doubt. My doubt, my longing for a sign, helps me understand the concept of faith; therefore, I believe.

Well, I understand it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

NACTEC Summer Session

Are your students wondering what they are going to do this summer?

Do not let your students miss this wonderful opportunity to practice running their own business and maybe even make some money and/or increase their employability skills by gaining nationally recognized NCCER certifications!

NACTEC Session 13 is a summer program
NCCER Core: This is the first level where students learn construction safety and skills.
Carpentry I: Must be NCCER Core certified first and then move up to the second level to becoming even more employable by learning to do the finishing touches to buildings!
Entrepreneurship: Wonderful way for students to pass all the standards in Career Skills Level 6! For any students that dream of opening a business, NACTEC will help you learn the basics and maybe even make some money on your own!

The Couch

Amy really really wants this couch. She's never had a NEW couch. I hope I can get her one when we move.

Monday, April 23, 2007

48 degrees!

48 degrees in Nome right now! It is supposed to get up to 53 today.

Wow. It is amazing. The warmth feels so good!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ignorance proliferated

From New Adventure Comics #16 from the mid 1930s, comes these seemingly innocuous and benign comic strips. For the most part, comics at the time were glad to publish new material. However, this slice of life from the 1930s shows just how ignorant and unknowingly prejudicial people could be.

"Ah thinks Ah's got insomnia!! Ah keeps wakin up every two or three days!"

First of all, the caricatures are not very flattering. If you look at the other figures on the main page, these guys are dressed poorly and unshaven. The color, of course, is too much as well. Secondly, their accent is rather unflattering.

The worst part is the gross stereotype laid upon them. I am completely shocked that this was deemed funny or even appropriate. It is really calling a segment of society lazy, in one single comic panel. Nobody can say this wasn't the intent because the rest of the page features Caucasians and this square panel would not have the same impact any other way.

Wow. There's nothing left to say. This, however, is one of those instances where jokes hurt. We must learn from these situations and understand what impact it is having.

I wish I could show this to my Multicultural Education professor from Western Illinois University. I can hear him saying, "Powerful, powerful stuff." His message came through loud and clear from that class. And while I didn't learn any facts or trivia in that class, really, I sure did learn the overlying message. That was one of the best classes I ever took.

Junk and Lovecraft links

Just culminating some stuff I found...all over.

I can't get enough old time horror lately, and Lovecraft is just damn awesome.

Lovecraft links: The definitive site

and I know you can get the stories from the Gutenberg site in Australia. Algernon Blackwood is good too.

I have been reading all of the old Hellblazer comics from DC too. I'm up to issue 43, right in the middle of the "Dangerous Habits" storyline and Garth Ennis' run on the title. How did I ever miss these gems of fiction, comic or otherwise.

I have been saving all of the FEDERAL MEN episodes from the 1930s and 1940s New Adventure and Adventure Comics that I can get my hands on. This series called the FEDERAL MEN was written and drawn by Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster, the same two who created Superman. It is really interesting to view what else they did, especially in comparison. I want to start posting them.

And to top it all off, I web-searched for all of the states that my family and I will be driving through this summer, from Seattle to Chicago. I requested all of the free maps. I now have state maps for Washington, Idaho, Montana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois. For some reason, South Dakota and Wyoming are not here yet. This is one of the great freebies. Maybe I can institute some kind of "state research" paper next year and have the students send away for information.

Madison's fourth birthday

Madison turned four this week on April 19th. There seemed to be a tangible change, too, this week, as if she actually became older. Her sentences seem to be fuller and richer. She just seems to much older.

I can't believe it has been four years. Four years ago on Thursday, we were in the hospital in Bremerton, Washington. She's still my reason, and I love her and Morgan and Amy more than anything in the whole world.

Next year, she will be singing happy birthday with her Grandma Cathy and the rest of my family in Illinois, where there is actually a spring season by April 19th.

More from Somonauk

Hannah and I both have a very fond love of Cheetos!

Chuck Chuck bo-buck, banana-fana...uh, let's not play the Name Game with Chuck.

Mom. The best mom ever and it's not even Mother's Day. She is so glad that two of her grandkids are moving back to Illinois.

Then little Alex and his binky.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Live from Somonauk

My VERY FRUITFUL trip back to Illinois this past week also had me visiting my family. It's been a long time. I hadn't been back to Illinois since Sarah's wedding.

Here is a picture of my one-year-old nephew, Alex. He was a lot of fun.

Hannah, my goddaughter, is a barrel of laughs. She is so sweet. She looks just like Heather did as a kid. It is like looking into a time machine. I can't believe she's in kindergarten already and first grade this coming fall.

Then there is their crazy mother, Heather!

Dad and I sharing a moment. Hannah took this picture before Dad and I headed off to get pizza. Hannah didn't want me to leave and was getting upset. I let her take pictures with my camera until I got back. She took over 100 pictures on my digital! The funny part is that I had to go help Dad get the pizza from town because Mom had a $3 coupon, limit one per customer. So I had to pick up the pizza under Sarah's name! All for three bucks! Classic Butcher family.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Been busy

Boy, the world moves fast.

I have been so busy the past couple of weeks. Flew to Illinois and back, things to do, places to go, the move is approaching in about 40 days.

I wrote some stuff while I was in airports, actually wrote in pen and paper.

Gotta go. But, boy, are we happy that Illinois is soon. Time to go home.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Trip

I am up for a quick trip. I have an appointment that I need to attend to. It will be great seeing my mom and dad and my sisters.

What a long flight though. I leave tonight at 9:15 pm. I stop once in Anchorage and then again in Salt Lake City (first time I've ever been to Utah). Less than half and hour later, I am on my way to Chicago.

Then back again. I leave Chicago at 8 am on Tuesday and don't land in Nome, after stops in Seattle and Anchorage, until 11 am on Wednesday.

What a long trip.

And then the next time is the last time, on a one-way ticket.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Walt Whitman—The Voice of America

Matt Butcher

Franz Potter
Eng 690A: Seminar in a Major Author: Walt Whitman
September 24, 2005

Walt Whitman—The Voice of America

Walt Whitman was the first American author. Americans had written before, but of all the authors that graced the continent from the first dreams of a new world as the pilgrims landed in 1620, there was no uniquely American voice. Authors up until Whitman were deeply influenced and structured by the European standards. Whitman created the new American standards that are still felt today. It is through the influential editions of his Leaves of Grass that American ideals of equality and freedom came to be.

Whitman spoke of equality between master and slave, between heterosexual and homosexual, between man and woman. One must remember the timeline here. The first edition of Leaves of Grass was published in 1855. The Emancipation Proclamation was not signed until January 1, 1863. Women were not allowed to vote until 1920. Gay and lesbian rights are still not expressly guaranteed anywhere in the country, but through most editorials these rights are seen as inevitable. What came before Whitman was limited and highly influenced by the Europeans. “His literary style was experimental, a free-verse avalanche in celebration of nature and self that has since been described as the first expression of a distinctly American voice” (

Whitman was profoundly influenced by the Transcendentalists. Ralph Waldo Emerson published as essay entitled “The Poet” in 1844 calling for a new voice, a poet who would purge the shackles upon American poets in convention and burst forth into a uniquely American style. “…for the poet is representative. He stands among partial men for the complete man, and apprises us not of his wealth, but of the commonwealth” (Emerson, “The Poet”). Emerson could not do it himself, by his own admission. “I look in vain for the poet whom I describe… But I am not wise enough for a national criticism.” Emerson seems to have found this great American poet after reading the 1855 edition of a new book of poems called Leaves of Grass. Emerson wrote to Whitman, “I greet you at the beginning of a great career” (Emerson letter).

Leaves of Grass was Whitman’s attempt to create a democratic poetry. He wanted to write verse to contain all the diversity of rapidly increasing nineteenth-century America. He knew this was a monumental task. In a poem he would write in a later edition of Leaves of Grass, he says,

Haughty this song, its words and scope,
To span vast realms of space and time,
Evolution--the cumulative--growths and generations (“L. of G.’s Purport”).

Whitman begins this grand endeavor by creating a democratic “I.” This is in juxtaposition to the royal “we.” defines the royal “we” as “Used by a royal person, and by writers and editors in formal use: to refer to themselves or the authority they represent” ( Whitman defies this and tries to speak for America, as the independent people that America comprises and the sense that Americans were all together. That is the underlying symbol of the title of the book. As a page is also known as a leaf, this ties together every American. Every American has blades of grass growing beneath their feet. America is full of this grass, grass of every type, yet still distinctly similar. Our American lawns are carpeted with it. Upon reading this book, the reader must understand that one’s passions and ideals are the same as the neighbor’s that lives next door or in the next county or in the next state. Every American shares these things, indeed, every human. The leaves of grass underneath our feet are the same as the leaves of grass underneath another’s feet. This is the underlying principle. Therefore, the “I” in the poems is not necessarily Walt Whitman. The “I” is the reader, all of us. Whitman understood that these thoughts he had may have been condemned by Victorian society but was in the minds and hearts of all Americans. Whitman tried to make the reader realize that these passions and thoughts were necessary to the human.

Do you see, O my brothers and sisters?
It is not chaos or death—it is form, union, plan—it is eternal life—it is HAPPINESS

(“Song of Myself”).

Whitman’s subjects were often risqué for the time. He sees some truths that did not realize themselves until scores of years later. One of Whitman’s grand undertakings was dematerializing the bond between master and slave. When he sees a slave, he talks of the man as a perfect human specimen. “I behold the picturesque giant and love him.” When he harbors a runaway slave, he is not afraid as he feeds him and his “fire-lock lean'd in the corner.” He goes further than sympathy and walks a mile in the man’s shoes:

I am the hounded slave, I wince at the bite of the dogs,
Hell and despair are upon me, crack and again crack the marksmen,
I clutch the rails of the fence, my gore dribs, thinn'd with the
ooze of my skin.”

By placing the democratic “I” into the lines of the poem, the reader is sympathizing and almost ready to place himself between the opposing parties, saying these lines as sort of a mantra:

I am the poet of the body
And I am the poet of the soul
I go with the slaves of the earth equally with he masters
And I will stand between the masers and the slaves,
Entering into both so that both will understand me alike.
There are no sides. There are just two people who need to be heard.

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

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

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

However, Whitman braves even stronger boundaries when he talks about the sexual relations of two men together. This is not the same in Whitman’s mind. While sexual relations between a man and woman can culminate with a child and progeny, sexual relations between two men (or two women) serve no biological function. This to Whitman may be esteemed because sexual relations are the closest way to truly become one with another individual. Whitman talked of “amative” and “adhesive” love, the difference between heterosexual and homosexual love. Whitman believed in the divine experience of the human’s ability to procreate, but he also realized that humans don’t merely have sexual relations to procreate. Therefore, sexual relations between two men was, to Whitman, an even higher form of democracy. I cite a lengthy passage from Democratic Vistas:

I look for the counterbalance and offset of our materialistic and vulgar American democracy, and for the spiritualization thereof. Many will say it is a dream, and will not follow my inferences: but I confidently expect a time when there will be seen, running like a half-hid warp through all the myriad audible and visible worldly interests of America, threads of manly friendship, fond and loving, pure and sweet, strong and life-long, carried to degree hitherto unknown—not only giving tone to individual character, and making it unprecedently emotional, muscular, heroic, and refined, but having the deepest relations to general politics. I say democracy infers such loving comradeship, as its most inevitable twin or counterpart, without which it will be incomplete, in vain, and incapable of perpetuating itself.

Even after all of these internal democratic passages and the ideals of what makes up the free society that is America, how would the literary critics think of Whitman in the pantheon of American literature? In an 1882 issue of The Atlantic, a critic finds certain gems of wisdom in Leaves of Grass, but finds it lacking. “He degrades body and soul by a brutish wallowing in animal matter as animal matter, deprived of its spiritual attributes…for imperfect though the race is, it still remains so much purer than the stained and distorted reflection of its animalism in Leaves of Grass, that the book cannot attain to any very wide influence” (The Atlantic). This is harsh compared to Whitman’s stature now, one hundred twenty-five years later. After an 1872 anthology of poems called American Poems published in Britain by Michael Rossetti, critics tended to start seeing American poetry not in how it compared to the form and function of the polished British, but in how it tried to dissociate itself from the British tradition (“An Introduction to American Poetry”).

This must be because it was not yet understood. Whitman did amazing things with his poetry that mimicked the life of America. One of the things he did continually in Leaves of Grass is create lists. These lists would mimic the structure of passages of the Bible, both Old and New Testament, that Americans would be reading in the old King James.

A song of the good green grass!
A song no more of the city streets;
A song of farms—a song of the soil of fields (“A Carol of Harvest”)

This closely resembles lists found in, for example, Ecclesiastes, where it lists “To everything there is a season” (King James Bible). Whitman also used words and language from all walks of life.

By the end of the poem “Song of Myself,” Whitman realizes that some of the things he was expressing may not be possible within every single American. “Very well, then, I contradict myself; / (I am large—I contain multitudes.)” At a time of incredible diversity and division with the beginnings and endings of the Civil War, Whitman paused to remind us that we could all work together, striving for the same ideals that make us all American.“The messages of great poets to each man and woman are, Come to us on equal terms, Only then can you understand us, We are no better than you, What we enclose you enclose, What we enjoy you may enjoy” (from the introduction to the 1855 edition). These are his images and his meanderings. Somehow, somehow he understands that the future will think highly of him. He truly feels that he is a man ahead of his time. “The proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it” (1855 edition).

Works Cited “We.” September 23, 2005.

Atlantic Monthly, The. “New Poetry of the Rosettis and Others.” January 1882.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. “Letter 21 July 1855.” September 23, 2005.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. “The Poet.” September 23, 2005.

“Introduction to American Poetry, An.” September 23, 2005.

“Walt Whitman.” September 23, 2005.

Whitman, Walt. “A Carol of Harvest.”

Whitman, Walt. Democratic Vistas.

Whitman, Walt. “L. of G.’s Purport.” September 23, 2005.

Whitman, Walt. “Song of Myself.”

Recovery in Germany after World War II was probably most apparent in a once again free cinema

German film class Unit 5

Matt Butcher

Recovery in Germany after World War II was probably most apparent in a once again free cinema. Many filmmakers, now without a fascist regime to dictate what came out in the movies, had to face a public whose viewing had been conditioned by the Nazi Party and what they wanted the public to see. All of a sudden, the populace had to think again and not handed the ideals. Many filmmakers wanted to return to early Weimar cinema where they could tell a story, and maybe even have a moral.

Wolfgang Staudte’s 1949 film Rotation was one of the films known as “DEFA’s antifascist classicism” (Silberman 101). Staudte and many other filmmakers of the time “took up the question of personal culpability and complicity” (102). This complicity is seen astutely in the fact that Rotation deals with a German man before the war who must comply with ideas he may not agree with in order to stay alive and live well. This political coercion even allows him to turn a blind eye to “a friendly Jewish couple downstairs” (107). Staudte makes the audience understand how these atrocities were allowed and that we [Germans] should be ashamed of ourselves at this point of history. Staudte also made this film “as a protest against the first signs of political restoration he perceived already” (103).

I can’t help but add as a side note that I have seen stuff like pre-World War II propaganda take effect in the minds of students that I teach. Many times I have actually heard students ask if they could just watch the movie instead of read the book. While trying to justify reading and that a movie must be examined for director bias and bias toward the novel, they sometimes don’t see the point. When asked point blank, “Do you want your thinking done for you?” I have many times heard the response, “Yeah.” I understand how propaganda could work with an unthinking or unresponsive population. When given the chance to think with free reign, many would like it spoon fed to them.

Whitman being a Quaker, this elemental belief becomes imbedded in the poetry

Whitman Unit 6

Matt Butcher

Discuss the Quaker views on war and violence and how this fits into the American worldview, specifically how pacifism has been a part of the American character from the early 19th century. What was Whitman’s role in the Civil War? Why is he a pacifist? Where in Leaves of Grass is this pacifism best shown—and how is it shown?

In Whitman’s eulogy to Abraham Lincoln, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,” we have an emotional understanding of President Lincoln that can never be conveyed through factual history—a view from the inside of the American people at the time. From this poem, what is that view of Lincoln? How does Lincoln represent more than the historical figure in this poem? Does the Lincoln in the poem represent as an icon, to a great and deeper extent, Whitman’s views on what American is or should be? Is the universality of this poem something that allows us insight in the mid-19th-century American mind? Comment on this mentality and that of the contemporary American mind.

Quakers hold by the belief that violence is always wrong. In America, this would hold to the belief of the pursuit of freedom. Whitman being a Quaker, this elemental belief becomes imbedded in the poetry.

Whitman’s own brother, George, enlisted in the war. George was wounded at Fredericksburg, and although he survived, this must have had an impact on Walt. Walt worked in the payroll office and something inside must have been telling him that he was paying people to fight and kill. Walt had kind of followed a Quaker way of thinking ever since the death of his Quaker grandmother and a lecture he heard by Hicks at the age of 10. He was already in his 40s when the Civil War began so he helped out by nursing the injured. This must also have had an effect.

Whitman thought highly of Lincoln. In fact, he probably thought of Whitman as the shepherd of the nation, leading us to coherence. When Lincoln was assassinated, the nation was left without its leader, without its shepherd. However, Whitman realizes during the poem that Lincoln cannot be above all other men, especially the dead in the war. How do you think all men are the same and then mourn more for one man? He can’t, in all good faith. That is what the lilac is for. He leaves the lilac on Lincoln’s coffin to show that he shouldn’t be mourned more than others. It is just that Lincoln’s death is a tragedy that seems to symbolize the greater tragedies of all the deaths around them from this great war.

Folsom, Ed and Kenneth M. Price. “Walt Whitman.” 18 September 2005.

Pannapacker, William A. “Biography.” 18 September 2005.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Indy 4
Indy Rides Again in May 2008February 06, 2007

Star Wars fans have long thought of May as the birth-month of their beloved saga, and in 2008, they'll be welcoming a globetrotting archeologist to the party. While May 2007 marks the 30th anniversary of Star Wars, May 2008 marks the return of Indiana Jones in the fourth feature film reuniting Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford and George Lucas. Paramount has just announced the worldwide release date of Indy 4, so mark your calendars now: Thursday, May 22, 2008. Stay on top of the latest Indy announcements by checking out .

Wow, oh wow! I have been waiting for this through speculation and rumor for years! This one is just as big to me as anything Star Wars had on me for the new trilogy.

Indiana Jones has always been a hero of mine. The very first videotape, and yes I specifically remember, I ever watched at home was RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK rented at VIDEO 10 in Bolingbrook, Illinois. It was Beta! That summer of '84 when Dad took us kids to see Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was amazing. I was 11 and that Short Round character played by that Ke Huy Quan from GOONIES was perfect. Remember the tagline: "If adventure has a name, it must be Indiana Jones!" It was a great movie. I had and actually subscribed to the Indiana Jones comic book from Marvel. Of all the comics I chose to subscribe to, it was Indiana Jones. X-Men came later. I remember getting Indiana Jones #7 from that fat guy from a Chicago comics shop, the name escapes me, who also ran a booth at the flea market the family would go to every Sunday near Bolingbrook. That really helped me get into comics.

Digression: Speaking of that comics booth at the flea market, I will hate myself for saying this. The guy would recognize me from week to week because I always bought one of something. When the new Indiana Jones wasn't out, I bought something else. One week, he tried to peddle on me THE MAN OF STEEL #1 by John Byrne that took place after CRISIS where DC completely revamped the Superman mythos. I remember saying no. I kick myself now. I actually asked in its place for SON OF AMBUSH BUG #2 from DC, a Keith Giffen comic. I liked Giffen more than Superman back then!

Matt Adrian and I, way back in 1989, took a special Wednesday afternoon trip to see Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when it opened. I remember buying the videotape (and I still have it!) of the movie when it came out at Omni Superstore in Aurora, Illinois with a check, one of the first that I had ever written. Man, the stuff we remember about incidental trivial nonsense!

So INDY 4 is a big deal to me. I always wondered why they wouldn't continue the series. It was guaranteed to bring in big bucks. I believe they could continue the series even, possibly with new actors a la James Bond. But who could take the place of Harrison Ford in that role?

The great new candy passion

A few years ago, I sat bolt upright when I tasted Starburst jelly beans at Easter time. Yum. Just perfect. I now have a new favorite, which unfortunately for me is an old favorite.

I now love the Cadbury Mini-Eggs.
There is a soft meltiness to them that I find delicious...and familiar.
Years ago. when I was old enough to remember one of my childhood trips to England, I fell in love with Cadbury's Flake bar. I especially love and remember them from the Blackpool Pleasure Beach in an ice cream cone and called a 99er.
And that's what I remember. These eggs have to be the same chocolate filling. I distinctly recall that flavoring. No wonder I like them.
Great stuff, no matter what package it's in. It's actually really cool because you can't get Flake in America, without trouble or specialty shops. Now I can get them at Easter time, just called Mini-Eggs.
I think I ate both my daughters' stashes of them all.

Easter in Nome 2007

Easter was warm this year, not like the freezing day last year. Morgan, Madison, and I went to Old St. Joe's where they have the Easter egg hunt right in Anvil City Square. Unfortunately, Madison didn't get a single egg! She was so sad. When one of the prizes is a bike, the kids, "egged" on by their folks, pick up every egg in sight. I wish she had just found one. You should have seen her face! Luckily, she had given me a plastic egg earlier and it was in my coat pocket. I let it drop and she "found" one. She remembered that I had the egg previously and thought she now had two, so I had to do some quick manuvering to make her forget the previous egg. Oh, well. We had fun though. Morgan couldn't chase for eggs this year. They changed the rules a tad and made three age groups, all seven and younger, so the big kids wouldn't take advantage.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Mail the Force Be With You

"There's more! Take the Jedi Shipping & Mailing Master Challenge. Put your Star Wars knowledge to the test, and be entered to win the Grand Prize VIP trip for four to the ultimate fan experience, Star Wars Celebration IV in Los Angeles! Plus, check out the limited edition Express Mail® Pre-Paid 3-packs! ® 2007 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM © 1999, 2007 USPS. All Rights Reserved. "
There is a really cool little Jedi trivia game on this USPS website. Some cool graphics highlight questions that seem actually meant for some real trivia. Most are giveaways if you even remotely know the series, but it is fun. I wish I could save that little R2-D2 animated picture with the beeps and whistles. Then I voted for my favorite stamp.

Iditarod Insider website

"I could never find anything on the IDITAROD's official take on the Ramy Brooks situation. By not publishing anything about you, you let rumors fester that will completely tarnish the sport."

This is what I wrote to the people at the Iditarod Insider website when they asked for an evaluation of the site.

I could not help it. I was flabbergasted that they had nothing to say, when denizens of the lower 48 were swarming on the sport as it was. Even I got a hit on The Butcher Shop for people looking for more answers.

Something like that should be reported on immediately, not left to fester into rumor. This is where they can take an immediate, official stance.

NACTEC Session 12

NACTEC Session 12 applications are due April 13 and we have lots to offer:

Food Service: Students will become Food Safety certified and skills necessary in any kitchen home or restaurant

Introduction to Health Care: Obtain CPR and First Aid certifications and learn the basic knowledge and skills necessary for all health care professionals

Outdoor Leadership and Guiding: Obtain hunter safety certification, arctic survival and so much more

Driver's Education: Only four slots available, so sign up fast!

Financial Leadership: Help students learn the importance of effective money management skills

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Intellivision. Burgertime. I played the hell out of this game. I knew the patterns for the first eighteen + levels (and there were only nine levels--after nine, they recycled the same boards, only tougher). This game was better than Donkey Kong.

You play this chef that is being chased by pickles, sausages, and eggs. The really cool part was the "pepper spray" that you could save up in order to get out of really tight jams. That was something that Pac-Man never had, a reprieve in case you got into a tough spot. But the pepper sprays were limited and you only got extra ones by getting the bonuses that popped up from time to time.

My whole family growing up played this game regularly. This was just fun, fun, fun, and deserves a place as one of the greatest video games.

Walk Across the World update

I'm amazed. Over a year ago, I wrote about this guy Karl Bushby walking around the world and crossing the Bering Sea. I thought he was crazy.

He did it.

Last year, he managed to trek across the ice from Wales, Alaska, to the coast of Russia. He was the first man to cross the Bering Straits.

I watched the BBC Inside Out on his Bering Straits adventure from his own website.

What strikes me as odd is that he was arrested soon after his arrival. It seems he never obtained the necessary permits for entering at an unauthorized checkpoint and carrying a GPS and a handgun. He was deported back to Alaska.

He obtained some permits and went back. Just last month, he had his GPS tracking equipment taken again. Now he is stuck somewhere in Russia, waiting for approval of that equipment.

I'm still a bit floored that he made it across the Straits, especially after watching those videos. It was no easy feat. But after all that, you think he would have had somebody worry about his permits? I mean, it has been over a year now of pretty much wasted time because he never got those permits and now sits in limbo. I guess, since he started back in '98 from the bottom tip of South America, another year is no big deal. This apparently is what this guy "does" now.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Heat Wave!

It is 38 degrees outside here in Nome right now. The snow is melting like somebody turned on a water faucet. We want the temp to warm up so the ice on the Bering Sea melts so the barge can take our car back to Seattle at the end of May. This is good.

This is my absolutely favorite time of week. Friday at 4 pm. The whole weekend lies ahead. Whatever you want seems possible and time feels infinite. I'm having my weekly cigar, enjoying some music, and kicking back with a couple of my new Lovecraft stories. The kids are outside enjoying the sun and temperature. Perfection.

And Ben Folds just came on the music station, "Learn to Live With What You Are" from Supersunnyspeedgraphic. Who could ask for anything more.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3

Today we are into our second of three days for state required tests. Standards Based Assessment and the HSGQE. The HSGQE is mandated by law as part of the graduation requirements of Alaska schools. I just hope they are all doing their best. I have worked with the sophomores all year now to get them ready for this test. I have given all of my little test-taking tips and core knowledge of the test. For the READING test, I have continually told them to "put your finger on the answer" for the multiple choice and to quote from the text for the short answer. It's all about text-based support. For the WRITING part, we have deconstructed lots of samples. I have even worked them through how to take multiple choice tests, eliminating two or three answers without even really knowing the "right" answer because they know the "wrong" ones already. We have gone through paragraph writing and transitions. They are ready. Now if they take the test the best they can, they'll do fine.

In comparison, the Alaska state test and the Washington state test are nothing alike in the WRITING test. The READING test is somewhat the same. The WRITING test for Washington focused on writing an expository and a persuasive essay. The Alaska one actually has grammar questions, like spelling and punctuation. The Washington test contains those elements into their scoring rubrics.

I get to sub out for other teachers' classrooms this year so that they may take an hour prep period. I am watching a lot of freshman classes. Freshmen are only (ha, only) taking the SBA test. While it is not a graduation requirement, this is the one test that shapes a lot of instruction and ability groupings. I don't work with freshmen, although I had a majority of them last year while I taught eighth grade writing. I hope they are taking it seriously too. If they only realized the amount of time, hours and days of pre-school inservices, pouring over the data, they would take it very seriously. If they take it seriously, we can really use that data.

I think it is a good tool. I really do. I know there are other factors to doing well in school but one test, one single number, provides a wealth of data that can be used to properly instruct students.

June 1938

Imagine reading comics in early 1938. You have titles that had cowboys and detectives and funnies. There were no superheroes yet. Imagine reading your copy of New Adventure Comics #27,which in itself says how long comics had been going if it was published monthly or semi-monthly, in 1938 and coming on this ad for a new comic book series. It featured a guy who lifted a car above his head. It was phenomenal at the time. Trying to put myself in that position, I just get shivers. Superman was first appearing, and he was not a smash yet. He had been denied publication in other magazines. National Comics took a chance on him. Just imagine being a kid. Would I have thought, "Ah, no way!" Would I have wondered how he could do that? Would I have said, "Neato." Regardless, another comic book would have been great. It featured other stories besides Superman. Action Comics #1 was on its way.

The next issue of New Adventure Comics, #28, came and again there was an ad for the next Action Comics. Superman was already pushed off the cover. The publisher didn't trust in Superman as a sales generator yet and went with one of their tried and true adventure strips as a cover. Imagine a world where Superman wasn't on the cover of his only magazine.

This is history.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Radium isn't dangerous!

This page from a 1962 DC comic book highlights the wonders of science. The fascinating part is on RADIUM.

I remember my high school science teacher, Mr. Alexander. His bailiwick was about radium. As I teach English, I know I really push my love for Shakespeare and Tennyson. The number one thing he tried to get across were the dangers of radium. We had whole units on it and watched videos on how people got cancer after just having their little radium dial alarm clocks on their bed tables, and the workers who had to paint them on the clocks. Burned into my memory is the thought of the workers licking their brush for a finer point to get on the dial, so they were basically sucking on radium.
I also love it when the old comics, for instance to defeat a character like the Human Torch, use asbestos.

That's what I'm talkin' 'bout, kids, shoot 'em all up!

Gotta love these old ads promoting realistic machine guns!

From a 1968 issue of The Spectre.

Not for sissies

This ad from America's Greatest Comics #2 from May 1942 showcases Captain Marvel. I don't know whether it is ignorant or just a sign of the times from the 40s.

How I wish I could draw

Superman by Tucci. Man, I wish I could draw. I even tried to do comics when I was a kid. I could never draw more than sad-looking teddy bears. This Superman is just...perfect.

Even More Fred Hembeck cartoons

I especially remember the one here with the Red Tornado. In middle school, a buddy and I created a comics fanzine called B&W Comics Corner. I think I pretty much plagiarized it back then.