Monday, December 31, 2007

The final playoff picture

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 28, 2007


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

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

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

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

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

(Picture taken from;_ylt=AkhB2qHW_pU3z8g3TX0H729vzwcF)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Lincoln, IL

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

Madison and Lincoln

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

Pictures from Mount Pulaski

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

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas morning 2007

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

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

Christmas Break

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

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

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

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

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

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

School Pictures 2007

Morgan, seventh grade, and Madison, pre-school

Monday, December 24, 2007

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Big Winner!

I won two contests this week!

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

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

I feel pretty lucky.

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

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I miss the sunrise in the afternoon

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bye Bye Birdie

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

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

Lots of fun.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Hellblazer: Subterranean novel

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 13, 2007


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


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

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

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

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

(Originally published March 21, 2007, on

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's a Sunni Day

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

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

One of them:


The student answered:


I kid you not:



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 08, 2007


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

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

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

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

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

Then you also send fake eBay messages to

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

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

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

POST-NUKE webcomic review

Reviewed by Matt Butcher / Writer for Independent Propaganda

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 03, 2007

Another Bears Loss

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

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

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

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

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

Still...Go Bears!