Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I voted today

I voted today.

Our polling place was the local police station right across the street from our apartment complex. I walked there. Watching the news this morning while sipping my cup of coffee, it said that Illinois polls opened at 6 am. I ran to take care of that before work.

I wasn’t the first in line. Probably 20th or so. I still waited about 20 minutes to get my name accounted for and my ballot. They had only so many privacy slots available. Altogether it took me about half an hour.

While I was in line, I stood amazed for a moment as I realized the implications of what we were doing. We were voting.

I’m standing shoulder to shoulder with all sorts of different races, both genders, probably different religious backgrounds, landowners and non-landowners. We were citizens. In a country where too often we take this right to vote for granted, we were all proud to be there.
Sometimes I think we forget the hard-fought battle some have had, that women have only been voting for roughly 90 years, African-Americans since the 15th Amendment in 1870 (although I bet you could argue that even then this right wasn’t committed to for years), poll taxes finally abolished in 1964 with the 24th Amendment, 18-year-olds in 1971.

People have died for this right. It’s what made us become the United States of America—representation. Even this past year, in Zimbabwe for instance, there has been documented that opposing political parties have been taken at gunpoint and told to drop out of elections.

Whatever the outcome, we all voted. There will beno real coercion. There will be an easy exchange of power.

Zimbabwe and the Inauguration

Today we usher in a new era in America--the forty-fourth President of the United States.

First of all, I have to admit that he is not my guy. I think he is too leftist and I am worried that taxes, yes, even my meager, mediocre teacher-salary taxes, will go up. I do not believe in a lot of Democratic-party ideals.

But all in all, it is a great country. It could be like the political manhandling going on in Zimbabwe:


Because, through it all, this was a free election. This will be a peaceful transfer of power. Any way you look at it, that must be a good thing. Because there are places like Zimbabwe that unwittingly become examples for when I teach the novel 1984 that places with totalitarian governments still exist in our world.

Friday, January 16, 2009


My story, "The Logic of the Time Travel," was officially accepted for publishing at the E-Zine A Long Story Short.

"Dear Matt, Your story, The Logic of the Time Travel, was accepted for our January issue. I sent you an email from writingfriend@yahoo.com It probably went to your junk folder. The magazine will come out around the 7th."

Did I originally have that second "the" in the title?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Be seeing you, Mr. McGoohan

Patrick McGoohan has passed away.

This man changed my way of thinking--of thinking being good for the soul. Of asking questions and probably not getting answers, but the questions are what are important.

McGoohan played Number Six in my all-time favorite TV show The Prisoner from the BBC of the late 60s. He is the mastermind creator behind that television masterpiece. I just got the 10-disc DVD box set for Christmas just this past month. Rumor has it, he was also set to be the first James Bond, before Sean Connery, but he didn't like the womanizing aspect of the character. He also played the king in Braveheart.
The Prisoner impacted my life at just the right time. I was still in high school. I had been watching and recording Doctor Who (the old one, way back when) on the PBS channel out of Chicago, WTTW. It was on at like 11 pm on Sunday nights and they were putting it on hiatus--something about money, you know PBS stations. They decided to try the then-twenty-year old show The Prisoner at Doctor Who's time slot. The previews, with that big white weather balloon, intrigued me enough to keep my VCR going. I was hopeful for a new show. I still have those exact VHS tapes.
I fell in love with the show. You have to remember the time period of the late 80s and the fall of communism and that I knew what an "Iron Curtain" was. I was reading/would read/had read (can't remember) Orwell's prophetic 1984. This is still one of the reasons that I choose to do that book with my seniors as the last thing they read in high school--sort of prepare them for the real world and its questions out there.
I will still watch The Prisoner for the rest of my life. I have seen the episodes dozens of times and each time they appear fresh, especially the really mind-blowing ones.
If I had ever met Mr. McGoohan, I would not have asked stupid questions. I would not have asked about the "order of episodes" or "what does it all mean?" This is the show that got me--the comic-book me, the sci-fi me, the continuity-of-fictional-universes me--to realize how deep an allegory could go. As Number Six said in the episode "The Chimes of Big Ben": "It means what it is." That still takes a deep understanding, especially in the final episode and the unmasking of Number One.
I I had ever met Mr. McGoohan, I would simply have said, "Thank you." I would have told him that he had broadened my mind, like Shakespeare and Tennyson. I think he would have appreciated that.
Be seeing you, Mr. McGoohan.

TWO Snow Days!

Yes! A lot of snow and a deep freeze hit Illinois. School was cancelled yesterday and I woke up to the pleasant thought of a second day off because of the temperatures not getting above zero today.

Woo hoo! TWO days!

I say, take 'em off now because it is easier to make these days up in May. I don't mind working till May 25th or so. Remember that one year I worked in Bremerton until June 22nd? And moved to Nome that summer and started school up again around August 15th? So late May is nothing!