Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Winter Is Coming



In the book series “A Song of Fire and Ice” and the tv show Game of Thrones, House Stark’s motto is “Winter Is Coming.” The saying is both literal and figurative and reminds the Stark family, their friends, and those under their protection to be prepared for the difficult things to come. House Stark protects the North and they are the guardians against the evil that lies beyond the great wall at the northern boundary of the kingdom. House Stark stands in the gap against what lies beyond the wall and the horrors it can bring.

Overall, this year has been a good year for me. Sure, I’ve had my share of daily struggles, but, so far, 2014 has been relatively free of any major trials, tribulations, and problems. I’m so thankful and grateful for that because for such a long, long period of time it seemed like the difficult times would never end. It’s been almost five years since my Dad suddenly died and although that wound has healed, that emotional scar runs deep within my soul and sometimes I miss him so much that I can’t help but cry. I lost my job less than six months after my Dad died and spent the next fourteen months after that being virtually unemployed. I’ve been working at my current job for almost three years now, but the memories and feelings from those fourteen months when I couldn’t find consistent work still reside in the back corners of my mind. After such a long time of turmoil, things seem to finally be going okay. Not great or fantastic, but okay. Yet, I hear the motto of House Stark, “Winter Is Coming” and it keeps me from any sort of complacency.

I used to enjoy the season of Winter. I actually do enjoy playing in the snow. I like snowball fights and building forts in the snow and ice skating. I love a white Christmas and the stars are never as bright during the year as they are in Winter. I also love coming into a warm home after being outside in the cold and sitting down with a cup of hot cider. And although it’s been far too long and only happened a few times, I enjoyed sitting on the couch, watching tv, and snuggling with a female friend (it was never more than good friends, but those are all stories for another time). I’m not sure when it was, but over time I’ve grown to enjoy Winter less and less. In fact, during the months of Winter, I can oft be quoted as saying, “Winter is the discontent of my soul.” Driving has a lot to do with it. I hate driving in Winter and because of where I live I have to do a lot of it. I don’t really get to play in the snow anymore and haven’t been sledding since I was in college. My dad died in the Fall, but Winter augments the hole he left (particularly that first Winter). I might be wrong, but I really think if I had someone to spend time with in the Winter, I would enjoy it more. But, I don’t and as it stands currently, Winter is the discontent of my soul. I used to enjoy Fall and once upon a time it used to be my favorite season. However, now I find it difficult to even enjoy Fall because it’s the precursor to Winter. Fall reminds me Winter Is Coming and I don’t like to think about that.

But right now, at this moment, things in life seem to be going okay, but I can’t but help think that Winter Is Coming. I don’t like thinking that. I really don’t. I hate that the thought even tickles the recesses of my thoughts. I want to soak up every last once of summer sunshine there is. I attempt to delay the inevitable as long as possible and try to wear shorts until at least October. When Fall finally arrives, I want to enjoy it. I want to go on hayrides and enjoy bonfires. I want to enjoy things for what they are. I want to enjoy the moments as they arrive and are given. But, I can’t quite seem to shake the tendencies of my namesake (I was named after the apostle Thomas, famous for initially doubting the resurrection of Jesus without physical proof) and the internal drumbeat keeps repeating, “Winter is coming,” over and over like a melancholic mantra.

Yet, despite this, that mantra isn’t as strong as it once was. I see and feel signs of real change around me. These are not the physical signs of the change of seasons. Instead, they are signs that my spirit is changing, or perhaps has already changed, into something better than it was. Hope resides eternal and that, mixed in with the slow march of time, has made all the difference.

Winter is coming, but Hope is eternal.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Some Funny Comics About Teaching






 All comics are by Jonny Hawkins from the "2013 Teacher Cartoon-a-Day"

Monday, September 01, 2014

Graphic Novel Review: LEGO NINJAGO #10: WHO IS THE PHANTOM NINJA?



The small and once quiet village of Nom has been overtaken by an army of Ninroids. The Masters of Spinjitsu arrive and believe the Overlord is up to no good. However, when they attempt to discover what exactly is going on they run into the Phantom Ninja. The Phantom Ninja seems to be a friend, but could possibly be a foe in disguise. So, the Masters of Spinjitsu must concoct a plan that will not only allow them to discover the motives of the Phantom Ninja, but also destroy the Ninroids in Nom. Overall, LEGO NINJAGO #10: WHO IS THE PHANTOM NINJA? is a great addition to the Lego Ninjago graphic novel stories.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Graphic Novel Review: ANNOYING ORANGE #5: TRANSFARMERS: FOOD PROCESSORS IN DISGUISE!



That pesky & wisecracking citrus fruit and his friends are back for more adventures in ANNOYING ORANGE #5: TRANSFARMERS: FOOD PROCESSORS IN DISGUISE! In the title story, Annoying Orange and his food stuff friends are warned by the powerful Cosmic Cucumber that Earth is about to be invaded by some machines from a different world that will strip the planet of anything that is edible. Annoying Orange and his friends are chosen and agree to stop the machines and save the planet.

Other stories in ANNOYING ORANGE #5: TRANSFARMERS: FOOD PROCESSORS IN DISGUISE! are:

"The Annoying Apple?" – Apple makes a riddle and attempts to be as annoying as Orange.

"Orange Tries a New Hobby" – Orange tries out several different hobbies.

"Nightmare Pear" – Pear can't get a good night's sleep because he keeps having nightmares. He goes to
Nerville for help.

"A Sticky Situation" – Nerville fixes the air duct problems in the store with help from his friend Duct
Tape.

"The Passion Fruit Diaries" – Passion Fruit writes in her diary about her date with Orange.

"Ask Orange" – Orange hosts a call-in segment on a radio program.

"The Adventures of Coconut Custard Pie!" – A Coconut Custard Pie has dreams of making the big time.

"I Was a 1 ½ Gram Softie" – Marshmallow is abused at the beach by a Watermelon.

"Gratitude" – Nerville rescues a mouse from a mousetrap and later has the favor repaid.

"Hamlet" – Annoying Orange recites Hamlet's famous "To be or not to be" soliloquy.

"An Offer You Can't Refuse" – A demon tries to get Orange to sell his soul.

I'm not a huge fan of Annoying Orange, but I enjoyed reading this graphic novel.

Friday, August 08, 2014

The Reason Ranger Smith Is So Jolly

http://www.theargylesweater.com/
"The Argyle Sweater" Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

9 TO 5

I should have mentioned this earlier, but if you are anywhere close near the Highland, IL area this weekend or next, you should come out and see 9 TO 5. It's a musical stage version of the famous 1980 movie that starred Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin. Dolly wrote all the music and lyrics for the show. I play five different characters in the show. The shows are always great shows and often the quality is just as good as some of the professional theatres in St. Louis. Plus, the theatre is air conditioned, so it's a great way to beat the heat. If you purchase your tickets online you can save a couple bucks than if you buy them at the door.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Jesus Vs. McDonald's Advertising

Thursday, July 10, 2014

It's Not Manna from Heaven

From "Inherit the Mirth" by Cuyler Black

Offering and Sin Tax

-from Thom Tapp

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Graphic Novel Review: DRAGON GIRL: THE SECRET VALLEY



The title character of DRAGON GIRL: THE SECRET VALLEY is an eleven-year-old girl named Alanna. She and her brother are orphans from a lower class background and are doing the best they can to survive in the medieval-type world in which they live. Alanna's brother Hamel works as a blacksmith and in his "free time" the two hunt and scourge the woods for game and edibles. One day while Alanna is out in the woods while Hamel is working, she discovers a baby dragon and a cave full of dragon eggs and discovers that dragons aren't the horrible creatures she has been led to believe. She's excited to share her discovery with her brother, but doesn't reveal her secret when she realizes that he's as frightened of and seems as hateful of dragons as most of the other people in the world. Alanna designs a dragon costume to wear in an attempt to get close to the creature and not get burned up in the process. Soon Alanna finds herself swept up in a journey that takes her to the secret valley of the dragons where she learns more and more about dragons. However, not everyone in the world is as fascinated by dragons and the famed knight Sir Cedric follows Alanna and becomes determined not only to rid the world of dragons, but steal the liquid treasure they seem to protect.


I enjoyed reading DRAGON GIRL: THE SECRET VALLEY. It's an exciting story with some great black and white illustrations. Many similar stories to DRAGON GIRL have a male protagonist and I found it interesting to have a female protagonist instead. There are some dangerous elements in the story, so the book might not be appropriate for children younger than five, but it should be fine for anyone older than that. Overall, a good story for anyone who enjoys graphic novels or dragons or graphic novels with dragons.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Church Attendance

by: Jonny Hawkins