Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Letter 2010

In lieu of an actual letter to go with our Christmas cards, this year we're going GREEN.

That's right, below is a brand spankin' new digital format. Think of it as Christmas Letter 2.0.

Actually, think of it as 2010--The Year in Pictures . . .

Laura and Danny with our neighbor Makayla at Pizza Hut to celebrate Makayla's baptism! (Danny did the dunking, God did the saving.)

Makayla with Laura and Laura's friend Roxanne on a visit to Florida. Danny presented at a conference in Orlando, part of his teacher education work at Wichita State University. Laura and Makayla came along to visit Laura's friends and Mickey Mouse.

*Makayla's flower headgear were handcrafted creations by Laura. (Danny's creative work can be found HERE and HERE.)

Danny's parents on the "front steps" of their house outside O'Neill, NE. The family home for 35+ years burned down after a water heater malfunction. Thankfully, everyone is safe and most of the photo albums were rescued, as well as the tulips.

"Babysitting" nephews Josh and Nic with the help of Nintendo.

Laura and the newest addition to our home--puppy Harper! She joined Scout and Boo and enjoyed (?) her first bath in the kitchen sink on her arrival from the Humane Society. (She's taller and louder now--Harper, not Laura.)

Danny and Josh with an Imperial Scout Trooper before the Star Wars In Concert show. (Who said Rebel scum can't be classy?)

May (busy month)
Laura and niece Kylie catching up during a visit to Laura's parents in Missouri.

Laura and niece Addy on another visit to Missouri, this time for July 4th and a concert with fireworks.

With Laura's family before the show. (We're the ones wearing red, white, and blue.)

Laura posing with her "wheels" after her third surgery resulting from last summer's car accident. (The scooter was much better than crutches or a wheel chair, and she even let Danny take it for a joyride from time to time.)

Danny resting with his parents after helping them move into their NEW house in Newton. (Furniture is sparse but still growing!)

Danny and his Little Brother Jacob doing a science demonstration for the BBBS Halloween Party. (Jacob's next lesson is the mad scientist "bwah-ha-ha" laugh.)

October (another busy month)
With Danny's family in Nebraska to celebrate his Grandma Frida's 90th birthday! (Where's Waldo?)

Laura with niece Addy and the quilt Laura made to celebrate Addy's adoption.

At home during the holidays--Merry Christmas! (And a Happy Antique Sepia.)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Self-Photography Work #11a-e

Here's a special five-parter in my Self-Photography collection . . .

Self-Photograph #11a-e: "Grading Astronomy Homework"

- Spring, 1999

A Saturday tradition of mine this semester was checking Astronomy 101 homework papers. I was an undergraduate teaching aid for a couple of the professors. One of the professors actually assigned weekly homework to his students and needed someone to check it, since the class didn’t have a recitation hour.

Well, this particular Saturday I felt like I was going insane. The homework was a two paper assignment. Plus there were 200+ (!!!) students in this class. When I finished checking, I also had to alphabetize the papers. So as I checked them, I’d throw the papers in the general area for the students’ last names. This weekend, my checking took 8 hours!!! Around three-fourths the way through, it got to me.

11a & b: Here I am, thoughtfully correcting papers.

11c: Uh-oh. Homeworks are starting to get restless . . .

11d: Yikes! Looks like they're getting the upper hand!

11e: Da-Dum! But Danny is triumphant!

I think some students were surprised to get their homework back with footprints on it.

If you hadn’t noticed, I cheated on this self-photography sequence. I used the auto-timer on my camera. Hey! I created this art form. Besides, like all true artists, once you establish the rules, you break them!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Joke of the Week (year?)

Here's a good one I got from my 7-year-old nephew:

What do you call a platypus at the North Pole?


Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Curse of Ka-Zar

The Curse of Ka-Zar the Savage

G.I. Joe comics is how I got started with funny books, and X-Men comics got me from high school to married life (including college, graduate school, and a Ph.D.). But my #1 favorite comic book of all time has to be the short run of Ka-Zar from Marvel Comics (1997-1998) by writer Mark Waid and peniciller Andy Kubert. Ka-Zar (pronounced “kay-czar”) was a little known Tarzan-ish character in the Marvel Universe, living in the prehistoric Savage Land lost somewhere in Antarctica.

But there’s this problem with Ka-Zar, you see. Sort of like a curse. I realize that now as I sit on the sofa with my foot propped up and my pinky toe on ice.

Ka-Zar (volume 3) by Waid and Kubert was a brief 14-issue series, followed by a forgettable half year or so of the title written by another writer and a few other artists.

[=Comic fan boy rant alert=]

What Marvel should have done was treat Waid and Kubert’s run as a stand-alone 14-issue mini-series. This title was SUPER classic with some of the most fantastic art I’ve ever seen—dinosaurs, saber-toothed cat, jungle tribes, cityscapes, and more. And the story’s great—a young married guy struggling to find his place in a technologically advancing world, and fight bad guys, too—Rhino the villain, Thanos, High Evolutionary, and some guy named Gregor who was Kraven the Hunter’s teacher, so you know he was a bad dude.

Even in its short run, Waid and Kubert’s Ka-Zar left a legacy that still lingers in my comic fan boy’s heart. Unfortunately, the comic has also created a string of curse-like encounters that make me suspicious of something strange, and I’m not talking about the Savage Land.

The first unfortunate circumstance from this comic book is that it took my favorite artist—Andy Kubert—off of my favorite comic book title—X-Men. This comic was the adjectiveless X-Men (as opposed to the sister title Uncanny X-Men), and it featured more of my favorite characters in the mutant group—Cyclops (the serious, hardworking leader—my kind of guy), Beast, Gambit, babes Rogue and Psylocke, and Wolverine (the best at what he does). But I can’t complain too much. A few years earlier, Artist Andy Kubert had replaced my other favorite artist (superstar Jim Lee) and Kubert himself was replaced (after a few stand-ins) by up and coming Carlos Pacheco. That trio makes up a majority of my top 5 artists of all time.

Comic book geekiness done for now. So here’s where the really creepy things come up.

I was in college at University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Back then, I was a super comic book geek. I delighted at the weekends, not because of a few days without class, but because on Saturdays I could drive out to the comic book shop by the mall and check out the latest comic books coming out that week. (Later on, I learned that comics are released on Wednesdays, so I started stopping by the comic book shops on hump day; one store even gave out free bags and boards for your comics on Wednesdays—bonus!)

Anywho, I was geeked up on this particular Saturday to pick up issue #2 of this new Ka-Zar series. The first issue had exceeded my already Jurassic-sized expectations and I was super-stoked for the sophomore effort. It was even the special “second issue/second cover” version of the comic, part of Marvel Comics’ schemes back then.

So after I picked up the comic at the store, I threw it in my car passenger seat with all my other goodies of that week, then headed back to campus for some fun lovin’ comic readin’. Unfortunately, I couldn’t control my curiosity, pulled out the comic book, and—I hate to admit this, looked it over WHILE I was driving. (Forget texting while driving.) I’ll admit, I wasn’t actually reading the comic. I was just enjoying the fine alternative cover and, okay, maybe I was glancing at the first page.

Well, even though it was a glance, it was enough to through off my judgment of time and space while driving. I looked up to see the car in front of me braking to a stop at one of those unpredictable pedestrian-controlled mid-street stoplights. Even with just a second or so of relapse in my looking at the road, I misjudged my speed and ever so softly bumped into the car in front of me. Very softly.

It was totally my fault. All I could do was grimace as the passenger in the car glared back at me. It all happened so fast I didn’t know what to do. There was no screech of tires, squealing breaks, crunching metal or anything. The car in front looked perfectly fine, and so did mine. That’s what bumpers are for, right? For us distracted comic book readers, right? No? Okay.

Being inexperienced in what you do after such an event, I continued on once the light turned green and turned left on my journey back to campus. The car in front turned right into a parking lot. And I will always wonder if they did so to stop, get out, check damage, and swap insurance info if need be. Problem was, I was already going the other way, fuming at myself, feeling sheepish, and wondering if I was supposed to stop and see if the folks were okay. They were okay, right? No big deal. Just a little tap. From an irresponsible college student. (Should’ve probably included this in my apologies chapter I’m writing up.)

So I don’t know what happened to the other car. I assume all was okay. No cops showed up at my door in the week to come. And no one put a ticket on my car, although after one weekend that year, someone DID take a baseball bat to my side-view mirror. I’m chalking that one up to a drunk frat boy.

As for me? I went back to campus that day, checked my car’s front bumper (no damage), and went upstairs to read my comic book. If comics are the truest form of escapism, I was escaping mighty fine that day, enjoying my favorite comic book and ignoring the nagging thoughts in my head about being a terrible driver.

A few months later in the summer, my sister asked me to house- and cat-sit for her, as she was out of town on a trip. She lived an hour east of O’Neill, where I stayed with my parents in the summer between college school years. (Free rent!)

I told my sister, “Sure I’ll do it.”

It was the summer. I had nothing better to do except work and make some money. And I liked my sister’s cats. They were from my parents’ crew of outside cats and now lived a posh lifestyle indoors. Very refined.

As an added bonus to my task, my sister’s house was in Tilden, a town only 30 minutes away from Norfolk, northeast Nebraska’s very own metro center. Norfolk had no comic book shop, but it did have a Hastings movie/book store that sold comics. Cha-ching!

Ka-Zar #4 was coming out that month and there was no way I could find it in O’Neill. So as I philanthropically drove to my sister’s house to check on the cats, house, and mail, I envisioned issue #4 of my favorite comic book in my hungry hands.

I went to my sister’s house first—did the duty, cleaned cat doody, fed the cats, etc. Then I put them back and went to Mecca—the comic book rack at Hastings. There was issue #4 with the cool Spider-Man-esque cover of hero Ka-Zar swinging on a vine between new York city skyscrapers, complete with the tagline, “It’s your friendly neighborhood . . .Savage Man?!” Utter awesomeness.

The inside of the comic was good too, as Ka-Zar leaves his jungle home in the Savage Land to travel to NYC and track down his villainous half-brother, the Plunderer.

My strength of will was sturdier then, just two months after the bumper bump in Lincoln. I didn’t read the comic (or even open it) on the 90-minute drive back to my parents’ house. But I’m sure I know the first thing I did when I got home. After using the bathroom of course.

So was the comic good enough to be worth a three-hour round trip to the nearest book store? You bet. Babysitting the cats just gave me a logical excuse to do it.

Is something wrong with me? No, maybe it’s just the lure of an excellent comic book.

Fast-forward ten-plus years. I’m married, living in Kansas, only regularly reading two comic titles a month (Captain America and X-Factor, if you’re keeping track).

My parents’ house burns down. (More on that elsewhere and in the future.)

Mom had always been telling us kids that once we got our own place, she’d dump all our toys and junk back on us. Well, years pass, apartment buildings have no storage, and our new house doesn’t have much more, either. My wife asked me if I’m upset at the tragic fire. No lives lost, and most photo albums saved, so it could have been a lot worse. Plus, now that I’ve been away from home for over a decade, home has sort of a different feeling to it.

But I did leave some of my comics at my parents’ house. And wouldn’t you know it, Mom and Dad actually dug through the rubble and found over 200 comic books. Most were water damaged and wrinkly, but good enough to read, despite their stench of charbroiled dirt. Mom and Dad pulled them all out of their bags and boards, spread them out in a garage and let them air dry. Cleaning and sorting a son’s comics—that’s the deepest kind of parental love you can find on this planet, aside from what you see in March of the Penguins.

Here’s the weird thing. I’ve searched through these recovered comics and can’t find any Ka-Zar, not even the crappy ones after Mark Waid and Andy Kubert left the title. But I do find comic books that I bought and stored the same months as Ka-Zar, including the Pacheco-drawn X-Men issues (excellent!) and Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley’s Thunderbolts series. (The latter is also highly recommended for its twist-and-turn plots and Marvel lore goodness.) But Ka-Zar is nowhere to be seen (or smelled, at this point).

My first thought is maybe since I loved and fondly remembered this series so much, I had pulled it out of the comic storage boxes a few years back and put them in a different box somewhere else. I checked with my boxes here in Kansas, but no cigar.

Or maybe my parents did find those Ka-Zar comics and figured those issues were too far gone and damaged. Was the Savage Land not salvageable? No, Mom and Dad didn’t recall seeing any Ka-Zar issues.

(Or maybe my Mom didn’t approve of Ka-Zar’s wife Shanna the She-Devil in her leather bikini that rivaled Slave Princess Leia. Mom didn’t mention anything, and she knows I’m a happily married man and will always stay that way. Wife knows that too.)

Alas, it seemed my precious Ka-Zar issues were lost to the burning flames forever.

And even worse, despite the greatness of this series, Waid and Kubert’s Ka-Zar came out before Marvel comics started their aggressive paperback trade business. That was when bigwigs at Marvel pretty much mandated that all comic book stories consist of longer 5-6 issue story arcs that can easily be repackaged and reprinted as a book-ish graphic novel they can sell at book stores. (Hence the newly coined phrase, “wait for the trade,” from fan boys everywhere regarding comic books that are good, but not that good to burst into a comic book store once a month and pay the monthly cover price.) Come on Marvel, get this Ka-Zar series into a book!

[=Belated comic fan boy rant alert part two=]

So about three months after the fire and after I conceded that these awesome comic books were long gone, I realized that in this day and age of eBay, nothing is ever truly gone (at least, not until the end of times).

So I hopped on the Internet, and in no time flat found that Ka-Zar is alive and well in the annals of Buy It Now! listings. About five bucks an issue, counting shipping and handling. Not too bad, since most new comics these days go for the same price.

Then I found an even better deal at another website— Sahweet!

I quickly added them all to my cart and ran upstairs to get my wallet and credit card. Then on my trip downstairs, I tripped. I slipped on the slick carpeted steps and surfed down the rest of the step stairwell, yanking down two picture frames along the way.

Not fun. The picture frames survived—no broken glass. But it sure felt like my left pinky toe was broken. Or fractured at lest. I slept through the night with some ice, and then this morning my wife convinced me to go to the hospital for X-rays. (This little piggy went “Wee wee wee!” all the way to the nearest urgent care facility.)

The wife has had three surgeries in the last year (car accident, gall bladder), so she’s tight with these people.

The X-rays come back with nothing conclusive about any broken pinky toe bones. But even if there were, the physician’s assistant tells us that the treatment is the same. (My wife told me the same thing that morning—she’s a former nurse.) But even so, the X-ray results were helpful to know how much I should expect the healing process to take. (With a fracture, it would have been a couple of months; with no fracture—yay!—the P.A. said expect soreness for a couple of weeks.)

They taped me up and sent me on my way. So it looks like I’ll be wearing sandals to church on Sunday, a perfect way to display a puffy maroon, purple, and black appendage.

On our way out the door (hobbling), the P.A. asks me what I did for a living.

With a cautious breath, I say, “Professor, I teach science teachers.”

“Oh, so you must be really smart,” she says.

“No,” I answer, “just a nerd.”

And so as I wait for my new (used) Ka-Zar issues to arrive in the mail in the next week, I openly admit to my nerdiness/geekitude. At least I won’t be driving or having to go up/down stairs to get these comics. I can just wait for the mailman to make a friendly delivery to my front porch.

This time, I’ll be prepared for any Ka-Zar curse that lingers with this second batch. I’ll have plenty of Band-Aids at my side while I use scissors to cut open the package.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Joke of the Week

Back from its summer break:

Joke of the Week!

Q: Why do gorillas have such big nostrils?

A: Because they have such big fingers!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Top 5 X-Factor Covers

The latest issue of X-Factor has one of the BEST comic book covers I've seen this year. Check it out: (art by David Yardin)

Like all great comic book covers, this image is eye-catching (danger and humor, in this case), tells part of a story, and is pretty enough to make into a poster.

For those of you uninformed, X-Factor is a comic branching out of the X-Men series. But unlike the main X-Men titles, X-Factor features some of the B-List heroes. This actually makes the title BETTER, because creators have more freedom to mess with these lesser-known characters. The stakes are higher and story lines unexpected, because you never know what may happen.

Anyway, for this edition of Top 5 Fridays, here are my
Top 5 X-Factor Covers

#5 - X-Factor (vol. 1) #71
(Larry Stroman, penciller)

This issue kicks off the second major group of X-Factor, bringing in the era of B-Listers. The ragtag bunch receives appropriate treatment through Larry Stroman's dizzying art, as first revealed in this cover.

#4 - X-Factor (vol. 1) #17
(Walter Simonson, penciller)

Of course, this title began its original run featuring the original five X-Men characters. (Sad to say, I missed this five-year stretch of stories.) But this cover is a favorite as it reminds me of some of the old G.I. Joe issues of the 1980s - high adventure, with Beast and Cyclops under attack and hanging from a helicopter. Riveting!

#3 - X-Factor (vol. 2) #1
(Ryan Sook, penciller)

This is the modern interpretation of the team. Rather than being a government sponsored mutant team, X-Factor becomes a noir-ish detective agency for mutants and super-heroes. Great set up, thanks to the Madrox mini-series (highly recommended!) and Ryan Sook's art. Too bad Mr. Sook didn't last a year on the title.

#2 - X-Factor (vol. 1) #130
(Jeff Matsuda, penciller)

Here's an example of a cover that got me to buy the comic. I hadn't been reading X-Factor for a while, mostly due to the change in cast. But I got drawn in by this dramatic image (excellent coloring) of Mystique holding smoldering rifle and the burnt image of villain Graydon Creed (her son!).

This was a big build-up--mutant hater Creed was running for president or something, mutant villain Mystique felt driven to knock him off, and the X-Factor team had to play damage control to avoid major repercussions. Or something like that. It sounded good, but the actual execution didn't pan out as well. (And the interior art was okay, by up and coming Jeff Matsuda, who later went on to work on the WB! The Batman Saturday morning cartoon.)

#1 - X-Factor (vol. 2) #18
(Pablo Raimondi, penciller)

The modern rendition of X-Factor here again, by AMAZING artist Pablo Raimondi. Raimondi, like Ryan Sook, didn't last long on the series; but what he did produce is some of the BEST comic book art in the last 10 years. Raimondi's detailed art first wowed me in his Madrox mini-series, and it continues with his X-Factor run--highlighting multiple characters and expressions, with both moving and hilarious results.

This cover encapsulates the nature of the X-Factor Investigations team, with the odd bunch of mutants overwhelmed by leader Jamie Madrox's multiple duplicates. Look closely at each "dupe" and notice how their individual personalities shine through--one of the quirks of Madrox (the Multiple Man)'s powers.

Quirky heroes. Quirky stories (thanks, Peter David!).

Great comic. And some great covers.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Self-Photography - Works #9 & 10

Okay, it's been a while. (Sorry for the wait.) But here's a few more entries in my Self-Photography Collection. Enjoy!

Self-Photograph #9: “Cross-bedding in New Mexico”

– December, 1998

Our science methods class took a road trip that December to the National Science Teachers’ Convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico. On our free day, three of us went to Sandia Heights right outside of town. We rode the gondola tram up to the mountains (from Albuquerque about 5,000 feet above sea level to about 11,000 feet in only 15 minutes!). Up there, we could hike on trails and look through the visitor center. There were even ski slopes there too.

This is a self-photo of me (duh!) and the cross-bedding visible in the bluff behind me (thanks, geology class!).

Self-Photograph #10 – December, 1998

This is called “Average College Student.” It typifies what the ordinary student at UNL looks like.

I took this self-photo right by my car (’82 Buick Century – a smooth ride!) when I was loading to go home for Christmas break. My mom loves this photo and has it framed at home with all of our family photos.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Test - SFSH

StickFigure SuperHeroes . . . this is a TEST . . . eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

(Please click on comic to enlarge.)

Stay tuned, gentle readers!

StickFigure SuperHeroes NOW published on-line at

Check it out!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

YouTubesday - Trigun Movie!

Sure, you got Iron Man 2, The A-Team, Tron and such coming out soon.

But here's the one movie I can't wait to see . . .

Love and Peace!!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Drug Deal Gone Bad—My Brush with the Law

Last night could have been the last time I ever visited Grandma’s house. She moved to assisted living over the winter and we planned to go help clean out the house so it could sell. But the weather forecast showed snow and traveling to Nebraska didn’t seem like a safe idea.

So instead, my wife Laura and I hung out at home with our eight-year-old neighbor girl and played a few rounds of UNO. (I won once.) About nine o’clock, it was time to walk Makayla home to her grandma’s house behind ours. The night was dark but mild, so Laura went with me. We figured we could take our dog Scout, too, for one last jaunt before bed.

Should we bring the leash? Nah, we’re just going down the sidewalk along our backyard fence. We’ll be fine. Scout’s a shy dog and listens well. The only thing that sets him off is a stranger invading his territory, and we didn’t figure there’d be much activity this time of night.

As we stepped outside, we heard a loud rumbling engine. I grabbed Scout’s collar and Laura put her hand on Makayla’s shoulder. Seconds later, a junky S-10 pickup screeched around our corner street and zoomed out of the neighborhood. The driver was a strange looking fellow—hairy and harried, from what we could tell by his glowing cab lights. But we didn’t give it much thought. Just another punk who should learn to respect his elders and traffic laws.

On our way down the sidewalk, we noticed a couple of tall lanky fellows strolling along the street towards us. Scout gave them no grief (good boy!), probably because they were on the opposite side of the street and we were further away from our house.

We made it to Makayla’s grandma’s house and Laura went inside to talk about weekend plans—something to do with a Princess and the Frog movie night at our house. Meanwhile, Scout and I hung around outside in the increasingly chilly night air, sniffing about the yard and admiring the constellation Orion (guess who did which).

I noticed the two dudes passing by had walked into the house across from ours. A few minutes later, another junky pickup—a different one than the first—rumbled up to this house and honked. The two guys came out and crammed into the truck, which then chugged away.

No big deal. Since last fall, that rental home has been the site of much foot traffic and many weird folks. We’re not quite sure who actually lives there, with all the coming and going. And a lot of hanging out—loitering, really. Their idea of a good time is tossing rope over the tree branches and stringing up makeshift swings. Right now, there’s a office chair seat dangling four feet off the ground. Laura and I are pretty sure there’s some drug use involved.

Laura said “good night” to Makayla and her grandma and we started back toward home. Halfway down the sidewalk, I noticed a police SUV make a sudden stop in front of our house. That’s when the excitement began.

The policeman steps out and from across the yard I hear him say into his collar radio, “I got two suspects.” Next thing I know, he points a gun at us and yells, “Show me your hands!”

Laura almost laughs but we both quickly abide and raise our arms. I think I said something to the effect of, “Whoa! Okay, okay.”

“Call off your dog!”

Unfortunately, Scout hasn’t seen a single episode of Cops. Instead of raising his innocent paws, our dog runs straight toward the policeman and barks off his territory. What can I say? Scout is a softy, but he’s also a skittish Australian Shepherd who protects his home from strangers, gun or no gun.

I have to commend the policeman for being calm under pressure. If he had been trigger-happy or cynophobic (a fear of dogs—look it up), I’m sure the cop could have blown my dog away. (Scout has a record, by the way, but that’s another story.)

Thankfully, I yell at Scout and he scurries back to me, still barking. Still with one hand raised, I manage to corral my dog and snatch his collar. Laura approaches with me and, with a cool head, explains we live right here and why we’re outside.

I now get a better look at the cop’s gun and see it’s no ordinary pistol. It’s a ginormous semi-automatic rifle—the kind of machine gun I coveted during my childhood days playing G.I. Joe. Over my growling dog, I yammer something that basically repeats what my wife just said, except with more gibberish.

The policeman lowers his rifle and tells us there’s a report of someone in our neighborhood carrying a gun. With more half-eloquence, I relay details about the two pickups in under half a minute. The cop grunts and tells us to go inside our house.

We followed those orders faster than his first ones.

Back safe inside our locked home, Laura and I watched through our dining room windows for any activity. Not much, except for a policeman talking with our tree swing neighbors for a half hour. Another cop was walking around their house and yard, no doubt having to sidestep the outdoor collection of pop bottle crates. Not sure what was going on, but it was comforting to know the police are wary of those weirdoes, too.

Instead of going to bed like we had planned post-UNO, I told Laura, “I need a lot of chocolate.”

Laura had called 911 to report what we had witnessed, as the clarity of her words would probably help a lot more than mine. After snack, the police called us back, explaining why they preferred a phone conversation over a house visit: they didn’t want any of our neighbors to think we were snitching on them.

Over the phone, I tried to do a “just the facts” routine, but I think the cops already knew everything I told them. The officer described how there had been an apparent “drug deal gone bad” down the block, as someone had brought along a shotgun. It wasn’t the weirdoes across the street, so it must have been the crazy punk in the first pickup. Then the policeman explained they had visited our tree swing neighbors due to an “ancillary report”—whatever that meant.

I mentioned how the tree swingers often act strange, and it gets worse when the weather warms up. The cop said, “Yeah, that’s when our business picks up, too.”

He thanked us both, wishing there were more neighbors like us who watched out for our neighborhood. I finished with an attempted cool but rather lame, “Just let us know what we can do.”

Tomorrow is the first day of spring. Thankfully, Kansas is supposed to have a snowstorm over the weekend. Maybe that’ll chill things down.

When I taught high school, some students jokingly gave me the hero name “IceBerg.” If I were a super-hero, I’d like to have ice powers—control the weather and make it eternally cold, freezing freaks from dubious deeds. Instead, last night my hero moniker was more like Professor Nearly-Pees-His-Pants, Doctor Don’t-Make-Any-Sudden-Moves, or Sleeps-with-the-Lights-On Lad.

Laura has already looked up on-line info about starting a Neighborhood Watch group. Most of our neighbors are nice. It’s only been a year since we moved here, and we’re already friends with several households. But all it takes is a few drifters and druggies to drag down the whole block.

Last night as the adrenaline waned, I told Laura I’m ready to move out as soon as we can. But that’s not very plausible or honorable. We’ve shared a lot of good experiences with our neighbors. I even baptized Makalya earlier this year. I don’t think God is done with us in our current community.

So maybe the hero thing to do is stick it out. Take a stand. Or at least put up a sign. That’s a good start.

We’ll do more than watch. We’ll act, too. And next time we’ll bring our leash.

And to think, I would have missed out on all this excitement had I gone to Grandma’s.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

YouTubesday - George Lucas Singin' in the Rain

There's a new documentary coming out called "The People vs. George Lucas." Check it out here:

Until then, check out this disturbing "What if . . .?" scenario:

Force be with you!

Sunday, February 28, 2010


Joke of the Week time--double-sized special:

What happens when you play a country music song backwards?

You get your girl back, your house back, your job back, your dog back . . .

How many country western singers does it take to change a light bulb?

One to change it, and four to sing about how much they missed the old one.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Top 5 Friday - Pop/Rock Music

This week's Top 5 list is
Top 5 Pop/Rock Music Bands.

By "Pop" and "Rock," I mean music that is fairly recent and radio-bound (rock and roll, pop, alternative, etc.). And by "Bands," I mean people that actually PLAY their own instruments.

#5 - The Cranberries

Best known for: Early 90s hits--"Dreams," "Linger," "Zombies"

Rock out to "Promises" (but ignore the weird video)

Mellow low to "Ode to My Family"

#4 - The Hives

Best known for: Mid-2000s hit--"Hate to Say I Told You So" (also on Spider-Man Movie Soundtrack) as well as songs used in recent Nike ads and movie trailers

Rock out to "Die Alright"

Not too much mellow about The Hives, so rock again to "Hey Little World"

#3 - Franz Ferdinand

Best known for: Mid-2000s hit--"Take Me Out"

Punk out to "Do You Want To"

Break your heart to "Fade Together"

#2 - U2

Best known for: Being the most successful band on the planet.

Rock out to "All Because of You"

Express your codependency to "All I Want is You"

#1 - The Presidents of the United States of America

Best known for: Early 90s hits "Peaches" and "Lump" -- and Weird Al Yankovic's parody "Gump", seen here:

The Presidents of the U.S.A. also sang the opening song "Cleveland Rocks" for the Drew Carey Show.

As for The PUSA alone, rock out to the fun lovin' "Mach 5"

And learn about geothermal systems without poopin' your Pampers to "Volcano"

Okay, here's the sad part: I don't have the latest album from four of these bands--all but The Hives, and they're probably about to release a new CD soon. Time to catch up!