Monday, August 31, 2009

Top Ten Results of Disney Buying Marvel

Top Ten Results of Disney Buying Marvel

10. Wolverine now has feathers for claws.
9. Howard the Duck and Donald Duck revealed as longlost cousins.
8. Ant-Man and the Wasp now hosts of “It’s a Small World” ride.
7. Every blogger in the universe coins phrase, “Mouse of Ideas” simultaneously.
6. The Starjammers are the new Pirates of the Caribbean.
5. Super-Goof now known as Spider-Goof.
4. Mickey’s Clubhouse now has a Danger Room.
3. Lilandra of the Shi’ar Empire is the newest Disney princess.
2. “Beauty and the Beast” has to be recolored to make the Beast blue.

1. “Steamboat Willie Lumpkin.” ‘Nuff said.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


On the left, the cover art for the upcoming DVD release of the 1988 Ruby-Spears Superman cartoons. On the right, original art from John Byrne's 1986 Man of Steel miniseries. I'm sure Byrne is being paid for that...right?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


500 posts. That's a lot of writing. I've spent a lot of time writing on this weblog and I'm glad I've done it. I've spent time writing about my family, about baseball, comic books, roleplaying games, movies, TV, books, education, technology, travel, food, photography, radio shows, toys, and pretty much everything else I could think of. I even wrote about the weather once, when I was running out of ideas. When I look at the various topics I've written about, they create a pretty reasonable mosaic of me. I'm sure my friends have learned things about me that they never knew, for better or worse.

I have different sets of friends, as Facebook recently reminded me. I have Tigers fan friends, I have high school friends, I have gamer friends, and I have coworker friends. There's very little crossover. The only thing these people have in common is knowing me, but none of them really sees the whole picture unless they read my blog! It's not often that I would discuss comics with one of my colleagues, and I sure don't mention roleplaying games to my Tigers fan friends. I'd be kicked out of the club! But this blog is the one place I can go and feel free to write about whatever I want--well, subject to review by my employer, so there are certain topics I avoid. I don't have an editor to tell me what to do. I don't have a publisher who can reject my ideas. I don't have advertisers that I have to worry about offending. I don't care how many readers I have or where they come from. I answer to no one here but myself, and I have to tell you that it's a great feeling of freedom.

While sitting here stewing over what to write about for the next 500 posts, I realized just how much there remains to write. I just realized that I have never written much about old-time radio shows (OTR), which I dearly love. There are a thousand movies to review. I started thinking about Fast Times at Ridgemont High the other day and watched it again. The opening credits scene is like one big flashback of high school for me. I've never written about Gargoyles, a cartoon from the 90s that I think stands out as an animated show that has adult appeal. I mean, there's a convention attended by thousands in its honor every year. I could write 50 blog posts about my junior year in high school, from 1981-1982. It was a year that defined who I would grow up to be. I wrote recently about music, and it made me realize how much it meant to me. Wait until you see my freshman band picture with me and my tuba. I haven't written about the Tigers this year at all on my blog. They're really having a good season, but you couldn't tell it by reading their website's message board or the comments in the Free Press site. And I have thousands of family photos to go through now, and the memories they bring, some good and some bad.

The next time I start writing about the weather, I guess I'll have to revisit this post!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Back to School

Well, we've just completed our first week back at work after the long summer break. Oh, wait, I didn't take a summer break. I worked 7 out of the 10 weekdays I had off so I could hit the ground running.

My classes seem pretty good, although large. We lost a half-time math teacher to a transfer, and they just decided to split his classes between the remaining two 8th grade math teachers. We have constantly heard throughout my 12 years at this school that we do everything according to best practices. It's the reason we lost our block scheduling and team teaching, which coincided with us getting our prep time cut in half along with a reduction in staff. It's the reason we went to trimesters instead of semesters, which coincided with another reduction in staff. And now we face increased class sizes, which everyone knows is the best practice when teaching children. Now I don't have a problem with any of these cost-cutting moves. Our economy is in bad shape, the worst in the state. What offends me is how we are told such obvious falsehoods. These are not best practices for teaching middle school children, but unfortunately they are necessary at this point. Please just don't candy coat why we have to do this. We're adults, and unlike Tom Cruise's character in "A Few Good Men," we can handle the truth.

I was so tired last night after a week of getting no more than six hours of sleep each night, I crashed as soon as I put Sera to bed and was asleep before 8:30. I awoke at 5:30 AM and thought, "Weird. I'm awake, but not exhausted!"

I have missed my bike this week. Last week I was riding across the construction zone by our house to get to my normal riding neighborhood, when I heard two pings. Turned out I had broken two spokes on my back wheel. I took my bike in, and they said they could replace the fragile aluminum spokes in just two days with steel ones, which would last forever. Well, two days apparently meant seven, because I just got my bike back tonight. Is it weird that I had an emotional reaction when they rolled my bike out of the garage section of the bike shop? It was like a friend I hadn't seen in a year. Of course, I gained five pounds this week. I ate right, but with no exercise that's not very effective for me. So I'm back up to 291, but determined to let it go no further. Tomorrow I'll probably ride 10 miles just to get back in the saddle.

We've cut back on our monthly bills with the new school year. Using TurboTax cost us a ton of money when it automatically kept a deduction from a previous year to which we were no longer entitled. By the time we paid the tax bill (along with penalties and interest) and made an unexpected trip to Utah when my dad died, we found ourselves in a big hole. We cut out XM radio earlier in the summer, and tomorrow we're consolidating our communication bills. We're abandoning DirecTV in favor of Comcast digital cable, from whom we already receive Internet services. We're also cutting our landline for telephone service, since the only thing we use it for is connecting to DirecTV. Losing DirecTV means I won't get to watch the Tigers anymore, but it's a difference of over $120 a month with all the cuts, and for that much money I can make do listening to the radio broadcast on my phone and watching video highlights. Our daycare expenses are lower now because Sera is potty-trained, and we paid off our second mortgage in June, so that payment's gone as well. I'll probably be taking on a second teaching job in the evenings again just to get caught up. There always seem to be students who need homebound instruction because they can't manage a classroom environment. One-on-one they're not that bad, generally.
It could be a lot worse. I know a lot of my friends are out of work, and the community in which I teach is still desperate for jobs.

Okay, I have "Twister" on in the background while I'm writing this and I have strong memories of liking this movie. But now it's really puzzling how the bad boy team of storm chasers get surprised by a tornado at a drive-in movie. It's almost like they didn't have five trucks filled with weather-sensing equipment that could have let them know that a frakking tornado was right on top of them. And why is it that scientists would use an aerodynamic shape, a sphere, to get sucked into a tornado so that they were forced to add aluminum wings (made exclusively out of Pepsi products. Holy product placement!) to create enough drag to be pulled into the vortex? Seems like the guys in the black trucks who used cubes were a little smarter. And seriously, is that Academy Award-winning Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the stoner guy in a baseball cap? "Heh heh heh. We're gone." He's a chameleon, that guy is.

Well, I guess that catches everything up for a whole week! It's been busy, and I've been too exhausted to write. It was so good to see my colleagues back at work. We had fun Monday catching up and exchanging reading and movie lists. I borrowed the first season of True Blood on DVD from Traci the Twilight Lover, and I look forward to watching it.
If you can't enlarge the image, go here!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Green Lantern: First Blood--er, Flight

Yeah, this was the way I grew up on Green Lantern...or not. DC is shrinking their already dwindling market AGAIN with a level of violence that will not fly with good parents or teachers who like their jobs. I can't show this crap in my classroom as a way of introducing even 14-year olds to one of my favorite characters. And there's no way I'll show this to my daughter. They blew it again as far as I'm concerned.

The End of Summer

Summer is over again. It's back to work full-time tomorrow, and I never really stopped. Over the past two weeks I had off, I went to my classroom to work on seven out of the 10 weekdays, and really didn't take any time off. Vacation is for sissies anyway.

I'm going to go at this school year head-on. I've not been satisfied with my results lately, and it's time to try something different. I'm going to throw my textbook out the window. It's a useful tool to provide problems for the students to practice, but the textbook we have been using is written far higer than our students' literacy level. Its content also assumes knowledge that is most definitely not in evidence. So I am going to shake things up. As I understand it, we are to begin a cookie-cutter checklist this year that supposedly keeps all teachers of the same grade level on the same page at the same time. I'm not going to participate unless I am told to directly by my supervisors. I won't be insubordinate, but if I have my way my students won't start messing with variables and equations until I am absolutely confident that they can manipulate whole numbers, fractions, decimals, and percents with grade-level competence or better.

I'm tired of hearing the old argument that they'll get practice with computation as we move along. They surely don't. You can't practice what you don't know how to do. I am going to administer direct supervised learning of those basic skills for the first three or four weeks of school. How can I justify that? For the past five years we have been directed to spend the first month of school reviewing for our high-stakes standardized test. Well, this year the test is only given in the spring so I figure I have that month to take care of it. Computation is Indiana math standard 8.2 and I am going to beat the holy crap out of it until my kids' first move when confronted with a problem is no longer to reach for a calculator. It's not going to be all drill, athough I'm tired of hearing that drill doesn't work. It does. We've got some new technology in the classroom, including a buzzer system that lets kids ring in like they're playing Jeopardy. I'm going to use competition, games, and teacher-created activities to bring these kids up to speed.

They're going to calculate 15% and 20% tips mentally. They're going to make change from a cash drawer. They're going to figure out discounts and sales tax. They're going to develop a list of prime numbers up to 250 and be able to break down any composite number into its prime factors. When they're done with that, they're going to be able to tell whether a fraction is fully simplified by whether the top and bottom of the fraction are mutually prime. They're going to figure out, given a speed and remaining distance in a trip, how much longer they have to travel at that speed. And they're going to do it mentally! They're going to use the Pythagorean theorem to find hypotenuses to the nearest whole number in their heads. My kids will be able to read a frakking ruler, unlike my kids in years past.

I'm tired of trying to teach kids who can't reliably multiply 8 X 7 in their heads how to solve multi-step equations because someone who hasn't evaluated my students tells me it's the day that it has to be done. These kids are not stupid, but we are if we keep doing things the way we have been.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Insert your own "flaming" joke here. I cannot believe DC is actually publishing a book named Inferno with a character who looks like a gay porn star...or Kevin Youkilis, take your pick. Same difference.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What Scott Said!

(click to enlarge)

PVP is a great online comic by Scott Kurtz. It's about people who work at a gaming magazine and their hilarious interactions. At the Chicago Comic-Con I picked up the first four trade paperbacks of the printed version of the strip and it made me laugh like nothing has since Knights of the Dinner Table. If you are a gamer, a comic book lover, or just a person who enjoys movies, you'll find something to enjoy about PVP.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Are We in the 1980s??

If the double feature I wrote about last year was the coolest thing for a Marvel Comics fan last year, this one is the coolest thing ever for an 80s cartoon kind of person! Our drive-in really knows how to match them up.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Chicago Comic-Con

I took my camera and didn't take a single picture. Oh, well.

If you're headed to the Chicago Comic-Con this weekend, look out for the $5 trade paperbacks. Lots and lots of dealers had softcovers and hardcovers alike for just five bucks! The ones who didn't have them out for that price marked them to half price or buy one-get one free. There was a little air of desperation as the convention started out very slow. By noon, however, the hall was teeming with activity and dealers seemed to calm down.

My five dollar choices:

Showcase Presents Metal Men
Showcase Presents Legion of Super-Heroes #3
Thor Visionaries-Walt Simonson
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (Wieringo art, had to do it)
Nightwing: Renegade (Hester/Parks art, once again had to do it)
Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man #1 hardcover
Dynamo 5 Post Nuclear Family
Amazing Spider-Girl #1
PVP Books 1-4 (love Scott Kurtz)
Ultimate Spider-Man Collecion en Espanol (my Hispanic kids are going to love me for that one)
X-Men First Class--Tomorrow's Brightest
Number of the Beast (Sprouse art, had to do it)

If you're a fan of J. Scott Campbell, I got two sketchbooks from him and walked right up to him to have him sign them. No line!

My niece, Theresa, had her sketchbook and some colored pieces of art with her, and received very positive reviews from artists in Artist Alley, and even one job offer! Special thanks to Paul Sizer, for taking a lot of time to describe the ins and outs of the self-publishing business.

Sera loved watching people in their costumes, especially the Star Wars stormtroopers. She wanted to say hi to them and give them high fives, which is high praise for her. I guess we can't let her watch Star Wars now because all of her new friends die, whether by blaster or one big explosion.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

PEDs in the Marvel Universe

From the "A picture is worth a thousand words" department: Sad news from the world of Marvel these days, as it appears the male members of the Fantastic Four are guilty of juicing. Seen here, courtesy of artist Dale Eaglesham is what appears to be Ben Grimm applying what Gary Sheffield once described as "The Clear" to Johnny Storm's shoulders. Evidence suggests that Reed Richards has made it so that unstable molecules pass THG through the material and onto the skin. It is possible that Dr. Richards is holding a portable steroid-producing laboratory in his hand in this picture and has himself used performance-enhancing drugs to improve his physique to the point where he is bigger than an NFL linebacker. Susan Richards does not look like she approves of this practice, but one must remember that Reed's stretching powers could theoretically compensate for some of the side-effects of steroid use.