Monday, July 31, 2006

It's Fate, Man

The more and more I experience life, the more and more I believe in fate.

Karma. Destiny. What have you. Somebody is helping me. Something is putting me in the right places I need to be in at the right time.

All I know is that in the last few days, my family and I have come to a decision and the pieces just start falling into place. If things work out like they may appear to, the perfect destiny awaits.

See, first you just have to believe in yourself and what you're doing. You need to have that faith that right choices are being made with your heart.

Every time in my life that things have worked out perfectly I can place within the area of perfect timing. These were times when I made the decisions I needed to make and went with them. Like my wife and family. What made me move two thousand miles away to find them? Fate, man.

If things work out, fate is striking out again. I will go with these decisions and end up in the best possible place.

It's fate, man.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

I’m absolutely enthralled by the new Battlestar Galactica. I am enthralled with each episode. So far I have watched the miniseries and the first six episodes off of the Season One discs I rented from Netflix, but I am absolutely in love with this show.

It seems so blessed intelligent to me. Not once have I felt like I was getting cheated with some sci-fi loophole or some hoky emotions or what not. As it stands, I have felt like they have been nothing but true to the story and the characterization of the last vestiges of these humans.

And the Cylons are bloody scary, man. They are heartless and logical. The new twist with some of them looking like humans is fascinating.

What was probably the cheesiest aspect of the 1970s show is now one of the best, too. Dr. Baltar of today, who used to be Baltar or whomever in the 1970s, is cunning and devious. That Cylon head probe thing that he talks to is downright ingenious. He has real motives for doing what he does, real human motives.

Plus, having the Cylon look like this chick is far more interesting than looking like this disco-ball from the 70s:

I am excited mainly because I have found my new show. I’ve been looking for a long time for a new show that I can call a favorite. I have watched The Prisoner now so many times that I can recite whole episodes. No more Star Trek: The Next Generation to dig into as I never could get into the more recent incarnations. I tried watching the Stargate and that Babylon 5 but found them horrendous. I truthfully haven’t watched Lost in quite some time and I frankly don’t miss it because it started moving so slowly. Even the new BBC Doctor Who, while decent, is not a home run for me.

I have the same emotions watching this show as I had reading some of the best novels I have ever read. I still remember sitting bolt upright while reading Michael Chrichton’s Rising Sun when the main character got into trouble. When I caught myself, I couldn’t believe a book made me literally sit on the edge of my seat. Robert Cormier’s I Am the Cheese is still the only novel to this day that I can say I read in one sitting because I simply could not put it down. I feel that with these Battlestar episodes.

As a fan of science fiction and drama in general, I have found it rare to find such new and exciting concepts while being dazzled with taut scripts and plots. I plainly haven’t had this much fun watching TV in a long time.

It's some kind of Christmas in July. Morgan pulls Madison the Princess on some kind of homemade sled today.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Brian Defferding emailed me back after my Independent Propaganda review of School: A Ghost Story.

Hey Matt!

Thank you so much for your review, Wesley told me about it on Wednesday so yesterday I put the link up to your review on my homepage and MySpace blog :-) And, by Monday you should receive an advance copy of issue 3 in the mail (street date release is September 13th) for review.

Thanks again man! You rock!

Brian Defferding
Creator/Publisher, Deftoons! Cartooning and Comics
Phone: 920-475-5241
P.O. Box 7471
Appleton, WI 54912

Terrible Lizard Comics

John Warren from Terrible Lizard comics emailed me recently to tell me about the new color pages of STEEL ANGEL webcomic after my Independent Propaganda review. The strip looks awesome now. The black and white was good but this was even better.

Hi, my name is John Warren. I founded the website Terrible Lizard
. I'd just like to personally thank you for the nice review you
did of Steel Angel. Fredd Gorham is a friend of mine, but I'm also a
fan of his, and it's great to see someone in your profession take an
interest in his work and write something so positive and encouraging.
People like you honor the work we do, and do a great deal to help the
comic book medium as a whole.
You'll be happy to know that after your review, and a few fans
pressuring, Fredd has begun coloring Steel Angel, and plans on making
it an ongoing series. If you go to our website, pages 1 through 11 are
now fully colored.
Thank you again. And do great things!


Free Online Comic books @

Where to begin? What have I been up to lately?

Summer still has a few weeks left for me, even though it doesn't fully seem like summer. For the past two weeks it has been 50 degrees and rainy. I think the highest so far has been about 75 degrees. In town, the big snowhill is still there--even though it is muddy and dirty, you can still see the snow. So that means it has not gotten super hot to melt it all. Weird that I always hated the heat but I miss it still. Must be a changing of the seasons thing.

I am still working on my thesis. It is taking me forever because I am procrastinating and I am conscious of my procrastination. Amy pushes me to get a few pages a day. I try. It is just hard-I have to have two books open as I work through it, Tennyson's In Memoriam and Kubler-Ross' On Grief and Grieving. Have to cite where Tennyson felt the stages of grief and what that psychologist Kubler-Ross says about it. Cumbersome. And with Madison right with me all day, it is hard to get far when she needs attention, wants to play, wants juice, needs to go potty, needs a piece of her favorite cotto salami, etc. I have until the end of October and I need to concentrate on it. And I honestly think that all this mental exercise over death and grieving has brought me down a little bit. Hard to switch gears from talking about depression over the loss of a loved one and then be playful to the wife and kids. If anything, I have internally appreciated them even more. Something hovers over it in my brain though.

Can you see why I read a lot of comic books and watch sci-fi? Kind of an escape.

Amy has just received her Associates Degree! She did it all online through an affiliate of University of Phoenix online. Now she will move into her last half of her Bachelors Degree. I am so proud of her. Business finance.

Then we have been thinking about other states. Nome is nice. But not being on the road system has been tough. I signed my year contract already so I will be here at least one more year. Maybe two. Who knows? Point is that we are open for pretty much anything. We are definitely adventurous and we have talked about this. I need to do some thinking. Where to go? All I ask for is a high school English teaching job. I can start filling out all those troublesome applications nationwide and then get an appropriate state license once we find a district. Amy has many marketable skills now in finance and banking. We are open to explore and discover.

I mean, I have already done it--twice now. Up and moved to Seattle and lived there for six years. 1999-2005. Moved to Nome to try it out. We may stay; we may not. But we are not going to pigeonhole ourselves into a corner. I think this is also the main reason we have never bought a house. A house means permanence. I think deep down that Amy and I are against that. She moved around even more as a kid, with stints in Virginia and elsewhere. She even lived a year or so in Germany.

I have a new school year approaching. New volleyball season. New everything. School will be new because they are implementing the new curriculum, from which there WAS NO bloody curriculum. I get to do a lot of new stuff for the sophomores. Get to do some Shakespeare. Hope the kids are ready. It excites the hell out of me! Volleyball will be cool this year because of the new gym and practicing in it. I get to walk to the gym, for one thing! And we will have two nets up for practice, so we can separate and stay together at the same time, what I have always wanted in the program.

Madison will start a pre-school type of environment at the Kawerak daycare. This will be good for her.

Hopefully, Morgan will get in quick to the charter school. She is ninth on the waiting list-they take a lot of family that have already been a part of the school and native population first. She needs the challenge.

I have been enjoying lying low this summer. I'm a hermit anyway. My folks will tell you that I spent a lot of time in my room reading and listening to music. Lot of reading. I like alone time (and alone time can also be defined as family time). I like being holed in to the apartment. Sure there are times I want to get out but I like being cooped up with these three girls of mine. And when I go out, I take them with me-that's how much I love them.

Life in all its wonder is beautiful. There is a great big world out there. While I like being hermited up with my family, I don't care where it is, so long as I am with my family.

Potato Head Attack! You can't tell from this picture, but I finally received the Spudtrooper Mr. Potato Head yesterday for Maddie's (and, of course, my) collection of them. We now have Darth Tater, Spudtrooper, and Artoo-Potatoo. We also have another regular Mr. Potato Head with extra parts. Maddie loves to put them together. And I love it too!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Justin Becker from Boston's Dig compares the budget of Superman Returns to some interesting other monetary indulgences.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it was good; and sure, it filled me with childlike wonder and all that shit. But Jesus Christ, do you know how much this thing cost? $260 million! To give you some perspective, for the same amount of money, Warner Brothers could have bought 11,981 brand new Kia Sedonas for every single person in New Providence, NJ. For the same amount of money, they could have bought two and a half cups of semen from Storm Cat, a thoroughbred stallion whose seed is the most valuable natural substance in the world at $500,000 per milliliter. For the same amount of money, they could have paid for two days of the Iraq War. Wait, Kias, horse semen and war? That’s it? You know what—fuck it. Make a Superman movie. Even if it’s not the best movie in the world, it’s better than the alternative.

My review of cool webcomic WHISP from Eye Trauma Comix is up at Independent Propaganda. Good stuff!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Preview the new DC Superhero stamps at a post office near you. I have to get me a sheet of these. I still have the 32-cent Superman stamp from the Turn of the Century campaign.

Check out this weird Batman ad from a 1970s comic book. Apparently, Batman creator Bob Kane also wrote songs. Here is an order form for a 45 RPM by some group known as HANK LEIDS and COURAGE. They would do anything to sell stuff, wouldn't they? I have no idea about this song or even what it sounds like. The ad doesn't even mention what type of music it is. Isn't it also funny that the 45 including shipping was less than half a gallon of gas today?

They DO make a 40-Year-Old Virgin action figure! Entertainment Earth, where I order most of my toys, has this talking Andy figure for $17. However appropriate this image is for the movie with the "hair-raising" scene, I don't know if I want a half-naked Steve Carell staring at me.

School: A Ghost Story review

My new independent comic review is up at Independent Propaganda. This review highlights the new Deftoons series by Brian Defferding, School: A Ghost Story. Check it out!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Box Office Results

According to this article, SUPERMAN RETURNS has only grossed about $170 million domestically and this is supposed to be a disappointment. Unfortunately, the budget includes the salaries of previous writers/directors/collaborators on the project before it ever got off the ground. Some people were paid millions and are not even listed in the credits because they were dropped. I wonder if this isn't enough for a movie of this magnitude. I wonder about worldwide figures, even though Superman appeals more to a US audience. I wonder about DVD sales/rentals that has to add to that figure. I wonder about movie rights on TV and cable. I wonder about something that I think the studio execs forget about--licensing. They can put a Superman symbol on everything and it will sell. I guess I'm mad that they have started to shrug off more Superman movies less than a month after the debut of SUPERMAN RETURNS. Why do they think that movies only make it in the first weekend?

So I looked it up at Boxofficemojo and saw some figures. As of today, SUPERMAN RETURNS has grossed $288 million worldwide. To showcase how sequels are actually doing better than their predecessors right now, the first PIRATES movie in 2003 has grossed $653 million worldwide and the 2006 PIRATES has grossed $536 million worldwide already. I remember reading somewhere that the formula for doing a sequel was to divide its predecessor's box office results in half and that's what they expected. So if a movie made $100 million, they would expect the sequel to make $50 million. I believe that you can reverse that now. Hits actually make more on sequels nowadays.

So I just wonder why they are deciding to scratch a sequel so fast. There are an unlimited number of things they can do with Superman, as 70 years of comic books has proven. I still believe that a lot of people, me included, wait for DVD and video nowadays. I see less than five movies a year at the theater, if that. I think word of mouth does wonders.

Take the movie I just saw on cable this week: THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN withe Steve Carell. How the truck did I miss this one? Absolutely hilarious. I have almost never laughed so hard at a movie. Amy and I had a grand time watching it together and laughing. I just never would have seen it at the box office and I feel that its figures are now understated as many people probably did the same. But its worldwide gross of $177 million, well over its $26 million production budget, is good, and it doesn't even have an action figure line. (Although, if they made an action figure for 40-Year-Old Virgin, it would be perfectly appropriate since he sells his toys in the movie.)

Take into account SUPERMAN RETURNS selling coffe mugs, pajamas, party favors, plastic balls, towels, etc., and this movie makes a hell of a lot more than the figures will ever tell you.

Penelope Pitstop

Sometimes in the old comics, you get to see ads that make you remember whole parts to your childhood. Saturday morning cartoons! They would actually preview the new fall lineup in the comics. This one is particularly interesting to me because it features WACKY RACES. Wacky Races had one of my all time crushes as a kid: Penelope Pitstop. "Well, Ah do declare!" I liked her so much as a kid that I even named my fictional character Harry Revenge's wife after her.

Monday, July 24, 2006

I bet Hatch wishes he had that Immunity Idol right about now. However, I started thinking to myself--if you don't pay the taxes on the prize of one million dollars and go to prison instead, do you STILL have to pay the taxes? Because something is telling me here that 51 months in jail, however horrible that may seem to people, is worth the money he doesn't pay in taxes...What are the a tax rate of 22% that's like $220,000, and that is if he got the million in a lump sum. After four years at my current salary, I won't make that much...Maybe he's got it right and then retires in style...

This Playboy model looks overjoyed to be at the San Diego Comicon this past weekend, doesn't she? I can see in her mind: "Whatever career I might have had just got flushed down the toilet." Unless maybe, you know, she's into that kind of stuff. Unfortunately, this is the kind of stuff that makes Comicon famous and infamous at the same time. I still wanna go. Maybe next year. I'll plan it. (Pic from Chuck Rozakis of Mile High Comics.)

I finally got to see SUPERMAN RETURNS this past weekend. I will write it up later. For now, I am salivating over a Bryan Singer sequel in 2009.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


How can you not like a convention that has an eight-foot VOLTRON! (taken from a fellow Flickr:

San Diego, oh, San Diego

I've been to San Diego once as a boy, way back in 1984. I was visiting my grandparents who were living out there at the time. That was my first solo flight. I was Morgan's age, eleven. However, I was never there during the Mecca of Comicdom--the San Diego Comicon.

This is the industry trade show. Supposedly over one hundred thousand people will walk through those doors. Companies unveil new projects. New movies get announced. This year they are announcing the new superhero postage stamps. I was once at the Chicago Comicon way back in the early 90s, when Image just started and Jim Lee and Marvel put out their X-Men #1 with the five different covers. I remember Hal getting all tongue tied when he spoke to Jim Lee, droolingly saying, "I love your stuff." I don't think I spoke at all. (We also bought a bootleg copy of the 1977 Star Wars Holiday Special, with Bea Arthur singing and everything!) That was a huge event but still pales in comparison to just how big the San Diego Con is.

I wish I was there, walking around and just taking it all in. I would love to shake hands with some of the people whose stuff I've read for years. When it all comes down to it, of all the hobbies and all the things that I have ever done in my life, comics are the one thing that I have never really gotten away from.

I still remember exact instances of buying certain issues. I remember writing a silly little fanzine with Jim Watson back in eighth grade called B&W Comics Corner. (Lasted five issues, if memory serves.) I still love the feelings that these little picture books give me.

I am an English major, still hard at work on my Masters thesis for English. (Ugh, gotta get going on that...) I have analyzed and read a lot of the great works of literature. I still find comics to be one of the most enjoyable reads anywhere. If anything, my degree and pursuit of English and world literature has made me appreciate these little tomes of joy even more.

I honestly see comics as a high form of literature. Sure, some aren't, but there are a lot out there that make those uppity Victorian novels seem juvenile. I actually see comics as more intense, and I think the art has a lot to do with it.

With comics, like in movies as I found out through my masters film classes, there is no real need for description. Novels can go for two pages describing what someone looks like or what is present in a room. Novels have to specifically state things. You have to go through stuff like "He said with a surreptitious glance." Comics have those lovely little word balloons and a tilted character's head to portray this. Description is immediate, see the picture and boom! The story moves along faster. The meat, the plot, gets in depth even more.

And yes, I like a lot of superhero comics. Something about the ideals and the hope in humanity sings to me. I think that there are even more popular superheroes out there in literature that don't where spandex that have been considered bestsellers for...ever. Recent heroes like Tarzan, Lone Ranger, the Shadow, Zorro, started outside of comics. For hundreds of years, people have been thrilling to the adventures of Robin Hood and King Arthur. Beowulf has inspired a thousand years of duplications. So I'm not alone. If comics had been around a thousand years ago, I'm sure Beowulf would be the Action Comics #1. Superman just came at the right time and place.

With the recent proliferation of comic book movies, it also helps me to justify it a little better. Finally, movies have the technology to accurately portray what comics have been trying to do since 1938. These are the big blockbuster movies now. It's like this new oil well opened up for the movie industry, all these new stories and characters and spectacles to bring to the big screen. They make millions from people who have never even heard of these characters before. I feel like these are old friends finally coming to the screen.

Every once in a while, I need to justify to myself my love of the "funny books." I learned to read on these things, to appreciate good storytelling. I also learned a lot of morals and ethics from these things. Adult perceptions and conduct was put upon seemingly juvenile characters. I remember looking up and figuring out what "pyrrhic victory" was from a comic book, something I was never taught in school. My vocabulary increased greatly from comic books, you sycophants. I found that even keeping a comic collection orderly, mainly so my mom would not throw them away, helped me become neat and tidy.

Look it up: besides jazz, comic books are the only uniquely American art form. Everyone else out there, yes manga-fans, copied off of us.

So comics are dogged by being juvenile although there is great stuff out there. Give them a try. Find a graphic novel at a book store that appeals to you--doesn't have to have superheroes. Look at some of your favorite movies in the past ten years and you may find a comic book beginning.

A Second Email Address??...

We've been getting some coffee from the Boca Java website. We wanted some good gourmet coffee and as long as we were going to pay Nome prices for Folgers, we thought we'd see what we could get. The coffee was good, but after a few months of ordering under their Connosieur Club, we realized that the additional shipping and handling charge for delivering to Alaska was just too much. (Why there was an additional charge, I still don't know. It all came by regular mail. But we have found that other websites also have Alaska restrictions.)

I called up to cancel a few weeks ago. Said I loved the coffee but can't take the hit on the shipping charge. I honestly thought they would just waive the fee for me to keep my business but no.

Then we got a new $30 charge yesterday. I called again to ask them what the heck was going on. They said that there was a second email address under my account. Something like I have never heard of anything like that before. I emailed that address and it bounced back immediately as undeliverable. I made sure that there were no other physical addresses but ours here in Nome.

I'm kind of peeved about this. The woman on the other end of the line had no idea what was going on either. I actually think she thought that I had the two email addresses and was making this all up. Cancelling apparently is not cancelling to them. I'm mad that they charged my account--and I never got an email confirmation. Must have went to that other bad address.

So watch out.

Madison the Addict

Madison has a problem. She's addicted and she can't quit.

We're talkin' about controlled substance here.

We're talkin' about...lip gloss.

She loves the make-up. She's a freak for it. She will track this stuff down in the house, whether it be Mom's or Morgan's, and call it her own. She will proceed to rub it all over her lips, mouth, face, until it is gone. She keeps applying coats until she looks like Ronald McDonald.

This morning, she took her mom's new lip gloss thing. As she was being told, repeatedly, to put it back, she likes to just put it to the side. "I put it here for you," she says. Then she'll go to grab it again.

This morning, she got smart about it. She put the lip gloss down on the table ON TOP of one of her little toys, a toy dustpan she has. Then, get this, she tells us she is going to put her toy AWAY. She grabs the dustpan, carefully balancing the lip gloss on it, and slinks away. We just stared in amazed shock, trying to keep back the laughter.

Can we fault that kind of ingenuity? We let her have her fix.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Another grand review. This one of the mini-comic called EVERY GIRL IS THE END OF THE WORLD FOR ME by Jeffrey Brown. Read by clicking the picture above. Good stuff!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

My latest comic review is up at Independent Propaganda. This one is of WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? from Boom! Studios.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Superman in "The Rescue" Those old Hostess ads in the comics incorporated actual characters in silly little one-page strips. I guess it really should be "Truth, justice, and the Twinkie way!"

Sunday, July 16, 2006

2007 should be another banner year for comic book movies. Hopefully good ones. GHOST RIDER will star Nicholas Cage, the goofball that named his son Kal-El after Superman's.Kryptonian name. IRON MAN is also due to hit theaters next year. Wonder what else?

Friday, July 14, 2006

In the background is the junior/senior high school. The new construction is for the new cafeteria they are building. Eventually, they even want to remodel the junior high to keep it separate. I don't mind anymore because NEXT YEAR I AM TEACHING HIGH SCHOOL AGAIN! HOO-RAH!

Madison amidst the wildflowers known as fireweed.

Today, Madison and Morgan went walking nearby to pick some wildflowers. What a beautiful photo.

This boat is in dry dock down at the Nome pier. Same name as my wife!

I remember having one or two of these Corgi superhero cars as a kid. Oh, what I wouldn't do to have them now! That Batmobile and that one Superman rocket with the battering fists would be wonderful to keep prominently on the shelf. Kitsch!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

My latest web comic review is up at Independent Propaganda. Read all about THE RETRIEVER by clicking the picture above.

Monday, July 10, 2006

O.J. Simpson used to sell shoes in the pages of a 1970s comic book. The Juice.

The trenches are even still visible down the sides of the mountain. Even metal fittings and lumber still litter them and the area a little.

Morgan's first touch of the Anvil after the long trek.

Evidence is all over Anvil Mountain from the old gold mining days. While mining at the top they would have to be able to pump water up and down the hillside. They dug trenches and built structures to facilitate this and the old structures still litter the landscape.

Morgan ponders the larger world around her at the top of the mountain.

Life wins out. On the left are the state flower Forget-Me-Nots.

Even found some lack of life near the top of the mountain.

All sorts of colors proliferate the landscape on the mountain.

Even the wildflowers struggle for life amidst the rocks on the mountain.

I also took some pictures of the fauna that grew on the mountain yesterday, as it is different than some parts of the world.

It was a long walk we went on and Morgan performed admirably. There is the Anvil in the distance. We walked up that trail there on the left.

Morgan and I at the top of Anvil Mountain.

Morgan and I climbed Anvil mountain yesterday!

Friday, July 07, 2006

The other night the first disc for BATTLESTAR GALACTICA came from Netflix. I had not seen it yet on Sci-Fi Channel. I just never got around to it, maybe because I was worried that it would be too cheesy like the original 1970s show. I LOVED IT. It was absolutely spectacular. This is the original mini-series, as it was called, before it became a regular series. I was riveted to the screen. For the first time in quite a while, a movie kept me up past 2 am because I liked it so much. I caught myself saying, "Oh, shit," when the Cylons were attacking. I caught myself awestruck at the sheer intelligent brutality with which the Cylons were attacking the humans. I never thought it was silly or cheesy. If anything, every moment of it was true to life, as if this is what would actually happen. This was an absolutely phenomenal show. And writer Peter David, who recently completed a novel set in the Battlestar Galactica universe, said that this show is probably the best show on television, just unfortunately named after its 1970s predecessor. What I am really psyched for now is that I have two season of the series to watch, as Season Three starts soon. Wow. I have never been so enthralled by a show in a long time.

A Public Service Announcement from Superman in an old 1976 comic book. (Ironically, the comic book is called BLITZKRIEG, World War II stories told through the eyes of the enemy. Those comics were a powerful attempt to show bigotry and hatred more completely than just having Allies beat the Axis.)

Another picture of the blanket toss in Nome on the fourth of July.

Mike Zeck is the only credited penciler on Secret Wars #12, but I have to think Arthur Adams did this page.

Did Arthur Adams help with the pencils on Secret Wars #12?