Monday, May 26, 2008

The Force Was With Us On Memorial Day

I woke up at 6:30 am this morning to the smell of hot breath in my face, and the feel of cold fingers on my chest.

“Want to play Star Wars, Dad?”
“You betcha.”

I got right up and put that bad boy in the Wii. Sunday night I had the bright idea of rushing to Blockbuster and renting a Wii game and a movie for Memorial Day. I like PJ days, those rare times when we pretty much stay in our skivvies and hang out at home. Except for the lunch date with grandma and my dad, we did just that. Sophie and I rented:

We gamed in the morning before Mom got up, took a break for lunch, cleaned the house up good (hands and knees scrubbing good) and then gamed until 7 pm. When it was just the two of us, we played the Lego Star Wars game. It was good, great in fact. We had a blast fighting the evil Empire. Had I been thinking, I would have looked up the cheat codes early on so she could fight as Padme. We have them now. The Force was strong, our skills honed, and we had fun.

Mom joined us in the evening and we shifted gears to the Mario & Sonic game, where we competed in swimming, skeet, ping pong, track & field and other Olympic games. This game was for up to 4 players and those types of games are great for families. We finally quit when we noticed the daughter getting pretty crabby. She stamped that foot one too many times when she did not do as well as she expected. Our motto: Always quit while you’re having fun. It makes life run more smoothly. Never got to The Water Horse. I wasn't that thrilled with it anyway.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Local Blogger Talks of Comic Books & Faith

Local blogger, Chris Wilson, was featured in yesterday's Springfield News-Leader. It was all about comic books and faith. Check out the story here, but do it by next week or it goes to the archives and then you'll have to pay for the pleasure.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Grade: 80%
(Relax! No spoilers here)

The newest Indy Jones flick had some great scenes and clever references. Some of the more notable scenes:

  • The motorcycle chase scene
  • The car chase and skull exchange in the jungle
  • The “rope” in the jungle
  • The reference to the first film in the government warehouse
  • Oh the ants, the ants. I loved the ants
  • The Star Wars reference

All of this was great and fitting for the likes of Indiana Jones. My wife and daughter were ecstatic that Marion made another appearance. The premise, in my opinion, was on par, but the climactic ending overplayed its hand. Just a bit too much if you ask me. It was still fun.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Review of 'The Green Book: The Everyday Guide to Saving the Planet One Simple Step at a Time'

A Guest Column
By Skinny Kitty

For Earth Day, I wanted to learn how I could be more green. I don’t even recycle, so it felt a bit overwhelming. But, my 7-year-old daughter has pointed out my responsibilities regarding our planet. So, I read “The Green Book”. The book has commentary from 14 different stars and it focuses on “simple steps” that allow you to make the biggest positive planetary impact with the least of amount of effort. Basically, it helps me to determine how I can be as green as possible and still be selfish. ☺ The book was a very easy read, it dumbed the issues down for me and I now have an action plan of how I am going to be a little more green.

Here is a list of items the book suggested that I already do! I learned that by my doing the things listed below that I am already doing green things. I will continue to do the following:

  • Wash and reuse plastic bags.
  • Buy compact fluorescent bulbs.
  • Only run the dishwasher if it is a full load.
  • Use left over plastic bags for trash bags.
  • Turn off the tap water while brushing your teeth.
  • Recycle dry cleaning hangers.
  • Clean the dryer lint screen every time you use it (this also saves 5% on your electric bill).
  • Use a commercial car wash instead of washing your own car.
  • Garage sale unused items instead of throwing them away (make money).
  • Reuse gift wrapping paper and bags.
  • Read the newspaper online.
  • Use a digital camera (only printing the photos you want saves paper and chemicals).
  • Use GPS vs. a map.
  • When making copies, always make them double-sided.
  • Use a refillable pen.
  • Purchase energy star appliances.
  • Buy fresh fruit vs. canned (healthy too)
  • File your tax refund electronically.

I felt so much better learning that I was doing some things that were saving the environment. I created the list below of things that I am going to begin to do to be more green. There were so many more other things I could do (a whole book full of ideas), but this is what I feel comfortable with doing to start out with little sacrifice whatsoever. It’s not easy being green, but I am going to try the following things. This is my selfish attempt at being more green.

  • Recycle (after our garage sale, we will have space for the bins. We will be changing our trash company to do it. And we will be giving our money to a green-friendly business).
  • Turn off the lights when I am not using them (save money).
  • Recycle at work, too.
  • Set our thermostat one degree higher for AC and one degree lower for heating (we should save $100 per year).
  • Don’t flush every time you use the toilet…especially if someone is right there waiting to use it right after you.
  • Recycle junk mail paper.
  • Make one less trip to the dry cleaners (saves gas, plastic wrap, and hangers)
  • Don’t buy CDs; download tunes.
  • Don’t buy DVDs; rent them
  • Buy Blue-Ray DVDs (more eco-friendly made)
  • Take batteries and e-waste to a hazardous waste disposal site; don’t just throw them in the trash.
  • Unplug my chargers after using (they waste a great deal of “stand-by” energy).
  • Use both sides of paper.
  • Avoid plastics with PVC.
  • Use my ceramic mug at work and not disposable cups.
  • Take one less paper napkin.
  • Purchase recycled paper products.
  • Avoid using rubber bands (I didn’t know they were made from petroleum).
  • Use an eco-stapler (no metal staples).
  • Teleconference/video conference vs. travel.
  • Buy fair trade/rainforest alliance certified products (they practice sustainable agriculture).
  • Buy organic as much as possible (no use of pesticides and it supports green business).
  • Use beeswax or soy candles.
  • Use recycled wrapping paper and reusable gift bags.
  • Don’t ask for an ATM receipt.
  • Request automatic deposits and withdrawals from the bank.

I encourage you to read the book to learn how you can become a little more green.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: I must confess that liberal though we may be, we have never bothered to recycle, as Skinny Kinny pointed out. Even conservative blogger, Larry Litle, recycles. He's done so for a long time. For some reason this liberal-slanted family hasn't bothered. Frankly, it's rather hypocritical of us not to do it. In my opinion, recycling is the moral, ethical and Christian thing to do, but we have not done it for the same reason most people don't do it: We are too lazy. We have talked about it, but never gotten around to changing our trash service so that we can be better global citizens. I am not willing to store gobs of junk in my house then make the monthly trip to the recycling center. The times, well, they are a changin'. I felt that needed to be told. Consider this our public apology to the Earth.)

Come Gamers, One & All

Dungeons & Dragons fans from around the world will all battle on the same during Worldwide D&D Game Day on June 7.

Dice-slingers of all ranks, novice and veteran, can play. Supplies will be on hand for newbies, and everyone who rolls the dice will take home: a d20, a character sheet, and an exclusive miniature.

Games, Comics, Etc (on South Campbell behind Andy’s) and Dragon's Lair (on West Battlefield by Hollywood Video) will be participating in the event. Other comic shops may be as well. Contact your local store for details.

TEETH: Lots of Bark But Little Bite

High school student, Dawn, is a virtuous girl, keeping her promise to remain abstinent until after marriage. She preaches her philosophy to young students, spreading her message of purity and chastity from sex, masturbation and unclean thoughts, going so far as to refrain from group outings lest she might yearn for one of the boys between her legs.

She breaks her own code when she goes swimming in a pond with a … boy. The unthinkable happens, of course, as he cannot contain himself. Despite her pleas for him to stop he does not. They both get a surprise when his digit of death, his penis of uncleanliness, meets up with the sharp teeth between her legs.

Oh yes, movie lovers, she has vagina dentate and she learns how to use her girly chompers to punish the filthy men of the world, ripping and tearing heads and shafts from here to next week.

Strangely enough, there was not enough camp to the movie. Imagine that. It took itself a bit too serious, played it a bit too straight, for my taste. It was funny in parts, but it didn’t camp it up enough for my expectations.

Still, I enjoyed seeing it and got a great laugh out of the whole thing. Like the boys in the movie, by the end I felt a bit … short.

Official movie site
IMDB site

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Skinny Kitty took off this week to work on the house with me. Or is it me who is working with her? Probably the latter. We are cleaning the garage, preparing for a garage sale, organizing the house, bombing the office (it's a mess my friends) and spending quality time together.

The last one is the best part of the week. We have two granny's down, one dangerously ill and the other who just keeps falling. At the ninth decade, infections and falls are not good on the body. So we are checking in often. We've been sitting with the granny in the hospital. Blogging is brief.

I've also been having it out with my best buddy, Larry, over on his blog. It's been loads of fun talking about gay marriage and all the issues there. And neither he nor I have our itty bitty feelings hurt either.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mission Accomplished Again!

I thought establishing timetables and then pulling out of Iraq in less than 100 years was nothing more than defeat in the eyes of Presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain? I thought all of this meant the Democrats were weak on terror, pansies, for wanting to leave? Here’s what he said in February according to CNN:

"And both Sen. Obama and Clinton want to set a date for withdrawal -- that means chaos, that means genocide, that means undoing all the success we've achieved and al Qaeda tells the world they defeated the United States of America.
"I won't let that happen."

Apparently, he’s changed his mind about setting that date for withdrawal. I guess the Democrats were not for genocide, chaos, and defeat all along. Go figure. Late last week McCain’s speech was a bit different:

“By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom,” Mr. McCain said at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. “The Iraq war has been won. Iraq is a functioning democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension. Violence still occurs, but it is spasmodic and much reduced.”

He goes on to predict that with him in the White House that Bin Laden will be captured and the US will not see any major terrorist attacks.

I must say, though, I am glad that he is considering a date of victory less than 100 years. That gives some comfort that he may not be as much like Bush as he has appeared as of late.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Drinkable Enema!

No Shit.

A loved one is in the hospital. She has a terrible bacterial infection in the lungs and is not well. Bowels are not working well and after 4 days … well you can imagine. Nothing has worked. I spent the day in the hospital with her to give the caretaker a break. The nurse finally came in with a steaming drink.

"It's a drinkable enema," he said wryly.

It was a 6 ounce hot Milk of Magnesia, prune juice and magnesium sulfate (or something) concoction. Gag a maggot. This stuff looked like … like … Judas Priest it looked nasty. She gagged it down and I left before the fun got rolling.

Drinkable enema. Who the hell thought that up?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Response to Friend's Poem

I don't know what has possessed me to put a poem on my blog. The world is full of bad poems written by hacks and wanna-be poets. Rhymed and metered bullshit that makes me want to hurl my cookies. I should write a poem about all the bad poems I've encountered over my years. What's the point? Mark Twain's already written about it, hasn't he?

A friend from overseas sent me a poem he's working on, to give my thoughts, to give advice. I reacted to it. Wrote a response. Emailed him this morning and thought I might as well post it here too.


When Asked to Edit a Poem Dedicated to Billy Collins

To Brian the Poet
By Fat Jack
May 12, 2008

Why would you send your poem to me?
I don’t understand poems full of intertwining ideas
Of poetic magnitude and academic interludes.

Truth is …
I don’t get your poem.
What with all the soapy suds, hard china and whatnot.
I’m too cowardly to look you in your electric eyes and tell you so.
I don’t even use words like “vestal” and “cloister”
Let alone make sense of them.
For the love of God,
I don’t ever think about unicorns and rainbows.
I sure as shootin’ don’t write about them.

You are ten times the poet I will ever be,
Spending years whittling your pen to write beautiful lines
Long lines
Metaphorical lines that run deep – hit hard –
Make men weep and shudder.

I’ve spent my time writing, yes,
Newspaper and magazine articles
Research papers
Short stories
And the occasional bad poem …
Oh, who cares?

I don’t write poetry like you do.
And you care what I think about your poem –
The one that I don’t understand?
You are a nice friend,
But I can’t help you.
I don’t feel big enough, old enough,
To give advice on poems that are smarter than I.
I like Charles Bukowski
Sandra Cisneros
Jack Prelutsky
Comic books
Dirty limericks.

I love my man Huckleberry,
The first novel I ever read cover-to-cover.
Does that redeem me?
And I’ve read Shakespeare …
But that doesn’t count because I have a hard time
With that too.

Publish your poem.
And maybe someday, if you find the time,
You can explain it to me
In simple terms
Break it down
Tie it to that chair and beat it with a dead horse.
Cause, brother, I can’t water ski.

© 2008, Fat Jack

Michigan Bans Domestic Partner Benefits.

From Inside Higher Ed:

"Michigan’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the state’s ban on gay marriage makes it illegal for public universities and other entities of state government to provide domestic partner benefits to the partners of gay employees."

Divorce is sinful (except for adultery): No divorced persons get health insurance.

Would we agree with that? Of course not. God, on the other hand, demands we take a big, hot poop all over the homosexuals. Cause that sin is really bad and divorce is not so bad. Talk about activist judges.

And the conservatives argue that the Defense of Marriage is not about homosexuality. Oh, no, it's not discrimination. Nope. Can't be, we are Christians. It's crap.

Thanks to the Marmot for posting it first.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Comic Book Movies Can Be Great; Take IRON MAN for Instance

I may not be Iron Man, but the movie sure makes me want to pretend that I am. Oh to be a kid again. The flick sure makes me want to read the comics. I do have some Iron Man for the kiddos – Marvel Adventures line – and they seem to like it. It’s tame, but interesting. He’s not quite the jerk, nor the drinker, but the story is still pretty good.

I will not spoil the movie for you. I will tell you to stay and wait until the very end of all the stinking credits. There is a more … much more. Other than that, you will have to see for yourself. It's great. Yes, I said great.

Iron Man goes on my DVD Christmas/Birthday list. Robert Downey Jr. was perfect.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Time for Kids: Comics in Class

Time for Kids: Elementary school teachers use it to teach social studies. Created by Time Magazine, TFK is a glossy, color 8-page magazine covering current events that impact the lives of our children. I love using it when I teach and the kids seems to enjoy it. This week’s edition was of particular interest to me as it dealt with using comic books in the classroom. From TFK:

"In some places, they are part of the lesson. Schools around the country are using comic books to teach reading and other subjects. The Maryland State Department of Education has developed a comic book curriculum using classic Disney comics. After a successful test, it is being used in about 200 classrooms, and continues to expand. The state has introduced a new series of original comic books, Toon Books, in first and second grade. The series was created by Francoise Mouly, art editor of The New Yorker magazine, and her husband, Art Spiegelman, a prizewinning comics artist."

Not everyone thinks it’s a good idea. That’s okay. Those of us who are using them can see the impact on student engagement and learning. As for reading, it takes no time to figure out that the interest in reading skyrockets once comics are added to the curriculum.

Read the Time for Kids article here.

Don't forget that Saturday is Free Comic Book Day! It would be a great time to pick up some comics and see what this new trend in schools is all about.

To learn more about using comics and graphic novels in your classroom, click over to The Graphic Classroom.

Real Mathematics in the Classroom

Who would have thought that 2/3 x 2 would have caused such a raucous with fifth graders? When I taught a math lesson on Tuesday, we came across this problem. The children had several different strategies for solving the problem as well as different answers. The students were so engaged in the math, that they were debating why their answers were better or right over other students’ strategies and answers. So excited were my fifth graders that I had five who could not stay at their desks. I turned around and had them standing around the board begging, and I mean begging, to demonstrate their approach and solution on the interactive white board. Others were standing at their desks, hands raised and mouths running about math.


They were talking, almost shouting, about mathematics. In all my years of schooling I do not ever remember a single day when we students got so excited over a math problem. It just never happened. We sat quietly and listened to the instructor teach us one correct strategy and solution. We copied it, memorized the procedure, and practiced it over and over again. Not much excitement there.

I hated those days and so I take a different approach, which seems to be working. Not only do I have a higher percentage of students participating in the process at any single given time (as compared to when I was in school), but I had a classroom of kids busting to talk about math.

It was not all sugar and spice. They are fifth graders and thusly have a hard time handling such excitement and energy. It did, indeed, get out of hand. They just could not contain themselves. So I have some modeling to do and discussions to hold, so that the students can deal with the excitement of mathematics in the classroom. They need to learn how to be excited yet controlled simultaneously. I would have it no other way. Children who are too excited about sharing their math strategies and solutions: That is a great problem to have.

(NOTE: Some of the student misconceptions revolved around turning the whole number “2” into a fraction. Some thought it should be 2/2 and others thought it should be 2/1. Makes a big difference in the solution. Others were drawing pictures (area models) to represent the math problem. They too, a few of them, had trouble dealing with both a fraction and a whole number.)