Thursday, July 29, 2010

OZ Reminder

Just a reminder, tomorrow is opening night for The Wizard of Oz. If you're anywhere near the area (Highland, IL), you'll want to stop by. The show's worth watching just alone for the performance of the actor portraying the Cowardly Lion. I hear he is amazing.

The Wizard of Oz
Produced by Hard Road Theatre in association with the Highland Arts Council and sponsored by Scott Credit Union

Performances: Fri., July 30, 2010 @7:30 P.M.
Sat., July 31, 2010 @7:30 P.M.
Sun., Aug. 1, 2010 @ 2:00 P.M.
Fri., Aug. 6, 2010 @7:30 P.M.
Sat., Aug. 7, 2010 @7:30 P.M
Sun., Aug. 8, 2010 @2:00 P.M.

All performances are held at the Upper Elementary Auditorium, 1800 Lindenthal Ave., Highland, IL 62249.

Ticket Prices: $9 adults, $8 seniors, $7 children

For more information go to

President Obama on THE VIEW?

This morning as I looked at the news blurbs from Yahoo! News one in particular caught my eye: "Obama opens up on 'The View'". I did a literal double-take. I thought to myself that there's no way that could be correct. But, it was. The President of the United States appeared on morning television at a women's coffee klatch.

Seriously?...Come on, really?... Seriously???

Barack Obama is the President of the United States. I opposed him when he was a candidate, but he won. Even though I disagree with many of the policies and laws he's campaigned Congress to enact, I've tried to give the man the respect that a person in the Office of the President deserves. I pray for the man. But when you are the President of the United States and you are a guest on "The View" you not only set yourself up for ridicule, but it shows nothing but disrespect and disgrace for the Office of the President. You make yourself not only to be a laughingstock, but also the Office of the President in general and by extension the entire United States. It leaves me flabbergasted.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I Write Like...

According to the website, "I write like" (, I write like David Foster Wallace. Here's the link to the badge.

I think that's a decent comparison. I was hoping for Flannery O'Connor myself, but David Foster Wallace is good, too.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Yoda Voice Recording Session

Here's a hilarious video from Tomtom with Yoda recording for their GPS system.


The following comics come out of the book 50% WOOL 50% ASININE by Scott Hilburn. They are strips from "The Argyle Sweater". I found them funny and since they are all THE WIZARD OF OZ connected and I'm currently in that show, I thought it appropriate.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Remember when vampires were evil creatures of undead? Remember when vampire hunters were heroes? Remember when vampirism was a metaphor for all the evil (though very appealing stuff) that you should stay away from?

Yesterday I discovered this hilarious video. It pretty much sums up how incredibly ridiculous this whole new vampire fad is.

Hard Road's Production of THE WIZARD OF OZ

FYI, I've been spending most of the summer rehearsing for a musical. Hard Road Theatre is putting on The Wizard of Oz and I'm acting in it. I'm portraying the Lion, you know the King of the Forest who's really just a big old coward.

If you are anyone else you know of is interested in seeing the show (or just seeing me for that matter), below is the information you'll need. I hope some of you will be able to come out and see it.

The Wizard of Oz
Produced by Hard Road Theatre in association with the Highland Arts Council and sponsored by Scott Credit Union

Performances: Fri., July 30, 2010 @7:30 P.M.
Sat., July 31, 2010 @7:30 P.M.
Sun., Aug. 1, 2010 @ 2:00 P.M.
Fri., Aug. 6, 2010 @7:30 P.M.
Sat., Aug. 7, 2010 @7:30 P.M
Sun., Aug. 8, 2010 @2:00 P.M.

All performances are held at the Upper Elementary Auditorium, 1800 Lindenthal Ave., Highland, IL 62249.

Ticket Prices: $9 adults, $8 seniors, $7 children

For more information go to

What I'm Reading Right Now

Here are the books I'm reading right now.

Media Consumed: June 2010

Books Read
Wicked Gregory Maguire
Blockade Billy Stephen King
High Soft Lisp Gilbert Hernandez
Shrek Graphic Novel Various
A Barnstormer in Oz Philip Jose Farmer
101 Things I Learned in Film School Neil Landau
The Complete Peanuts 1975-1976, Vol. 13 Charles Schulz
Word Pictures Brian Godawa

Wicked is a book that I had been looking forward to reading for sometime. Since I'm in a production of The Wizard of Oz and knew I was going to see the stage version of Wicked in July, I figured now would be a good time to read it. Well, the 1st half of the book is pretty interesting, but after that the story and actual writing just goes downhill. It really isn't a great book and this is an instance where the stage show is actually a major improvement upon the original material.

Blockade Billy is the latest work from Stephen King, a writer whom I really enjoy. It's a bit different from some of his more typical writing. The book contains two novellas, "Blockade Billy" and "Morality" which are similar in style, but very different in theme. It's not typical King, but I've found that I usually like those stories better than his usual, spooky stuff.

A Barnstormer in Oz was a book I read as part of my research for OZ. It didn't help in any way and the story ends rather abruptly. I wish Farmer would have gotten around to writing a sequel. Overall, I liked the story as it presents a world in which much of the events in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz actually happened and that Dorothy had been a real person who gave an exclusive interview to L. Frank Baum.

I'm a major "Peanuts" fan and was very excited to read the latest installment of the Complete Peanuts books being published by Fantagraphics. The !975-1976 Collection is an interesting read as it is the first collection where the Peanuts have jumped completely into the realm of the absurd.

Lastly, Word Pictures was a book that I really enjoyed. Basically, it's about how the Bible and God can't really just be understood on a completely literal level and that there has to be some literary elements to it as well; the visual is just as important as the written word. Jesus was the Word of God, but he also was a man who really did live and breathe.

Movies Watched For the First Time
Trick 'R Treat
They Saved Hitler's Brain
Used Cars
Horton Hears a Who
Wicked Wicked
The A-Team
Midgets Vs. Mascots
Toy Story 3

They Saved Hitler's Brain is a terrible B movie that is almost worth watching for the payoff of seeing Hitler's "brain" towards the end (notice I said almost).

Used Cars is an earlier Robert Zemeckis directed feature from 1980 that stars Kurt Russell. The movie has an amazing finale that is worth watching for that.

Wicked Wicked is a movie not available on DVD or VHS, but airs occasionally on cable. It's a low-key thriller that's notable because it's viewed almost completely on a split screen.

The A-Team movie is a pretty decent adaptation of the 1980s television series and I enjoyed it.

Midgets Vs. Mascots is the last movie starring Gary Coleman. Besides the excessive foul language, the movie is actually very funny and has appearances by some people who are now more famous thanks to Glee.

Lastly, the best movie of the year is Toy Story 3. It probably won't win Best Picture because Hollywood doesn't really acknowledge that an animated film can be better than a "regular" film, but Toy Story 3 is by far the best movie of the year and can be enjoyed by anyone from very young children to the elderly. It speaks volumes about loyalty, friendship, family, growing up, and the end and return to innocence. If you haven't seen it yet, you must. Go to the theatre today and watch it. It really is that good.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Proposed Postage Stamp Increase

The U.S. Postal Service proposed today a stamp increase of 2 cents that would begin Jan. 2. That would increase the rate of a stamp from 44 cents to 46 cents. In addition, a whole slew of other rate increases are included in the proposal. The Postal Service cites "ever-declining mail volume as people and businesses shift to the Internet and the declining economy reduces advertising mail," as the principle reasons for the proposed increase.

Even though the Postal Service doesn't receive any tax income, it is still a federal agency and, boy, does it show. When a business is losing revenue, you don't increase the price of your product in order to increase that revenue. Instead, a business lowers the price of the product and then when things have started to pick-up you gradually increase the price. That's just a basic principle of business and economics. But, as many of us know, the federal government doesn't follow basic business and economic principles.

I like the Post Office. I'm one of a few who actually enjoy going to the Post Office and getting stamps for letters and sending out packages. I've collected stamps since I was about 8. I still write hand-written letters and I try to support my local Post Office as much as I can (Post Offices in small towns are part of the town's livelihood). Yet, it really irritates me when the people at the Post Office propose such bone-headed decisions. Come on people, get with the program.

Christianity, Social Justice, and Politics

I've read C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters at least three times. There is so much in the book that continues to be relevant in this post-post-modern era we now live. Below is a passage from the book about social justice and politics. Read it and see if you can recognize how it's being used in certain political circles today.

From a letter from Senior Tempter Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood, who is in training to tempt Christians:

About the general connection between Christianity and politics, our position is more delicate.

Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over into their political life, for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster.

On the other hand, we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything—even to social justice.

The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy (God) demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. For the Enemy will not be used as a convenience. Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist’s shop. Fortunately it is quite easy to coax humans round this little corner.

The Screwtape Letters, pp. 126-127. [A special thank you to Justin Taylor for posting this]

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence, America! To help celebrate here's a couple of good videos. The first is a sequence from ABC News about Frank Buckles, the last living American WWI veteran. The video is from a year ago when Frank was 108. He is now 109.

The second video is of some of the Muppets performing the "Stars and Strips Forever". There's very little more American than Muppets and John Philip Sousa.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Book Review: THE COMPLETE PEANUTS 1975-1976

The 13th Volume in Fantagraphics republishing of the complete Peanuts, THE COMPLETE PEANUTS 1975-1976 could also be subtitled “The Peanuts of the Absurd”. In the past Schulz had toyed with some absurdist plotlines, e.g. the talking school building. However, between 1975-1976, Schulz took those ideas to a whole new level. The talking school returns but ends up falling apart because of depression, Charlie Brown’s pitcher mound floats away during a major rainstorm, and Snoopy’s stomach (and later feet) has conversations that Snoopy sometimes hears and sometimes doesn’t.

The longest sequence in this volume is where Snoopy breaks his leg. There’s about six to eight weeks worth of consecutive strips (including some Sunday strips) dealing with the saga of Snoopy breaking his leg and trying to recuperate. I’m not sure, but I have a feeling that either Schulz or someone in his family must have broken a leg sometime not too distant from this storyline.

Besides Snoopy breaking his leg, this volume introduces us to one of Snoopy’s brothers, Spike, and a sister, Belle. I never knew about Belle until I saw the SNOOPY’S REUNION special. However, Spike was one of my favorite Peanuts characters. I’m not sure what it was, but there was something about Spike’s lonely existence in the Arizona desert that particularly appealed to me. Snoopy goes to visit Spike and Spike comes to visit him for Thanksgiving which leads to a memorable holiday for both dogs.

Peppermint Patty is featured in a majority of strips in this volume. There’s a storyline where Peppermint Patty spends Halloween in a pumpkin patch with Linus. There’s the storyline where Charlie Brown’s school building collapses and he ends up having to share a desk with Patty at her school for several weeks. There’s a story where Peppermint Patty and Marcie try to fly Snoopy’s doghouse to a Powder Puff competition in Michigan and there’s an incredibly long storyline where Peppermint Patty leaves regular school to attend a private school recommended to her by Snoopy, the Ace Obedience School. She graduates near the top of her class and thinks she’s done with school for life until she is shown the truth.

It seems that Schulz thought about introducing a new character to the strip, a girl named Truffles back in 1975. Linus and Snoopy get lost in the woods and are rescued by Truffles. They both fall head over heels for her, but Snoopy is more quick in the ways of love that poor Linus. After a few weeks of strips about Truffles, she leaves to return home and other than a Christmas card at the end of the year she’s never heard from again in this volume. Truffles has an appearance completely different than any previous Peanuts character.

Towards the end of this volume I came across a strip that is featured in the revival edition of the musical YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN. It features Charlie Brown and Linus talking about Linus’s grandfather and how old he is. It should also be noted that it is in this volume of strips that the Cat Next Door’s name is revealed. The vicious cat that Snoopy is frightened of, yet still teases is named World War II.

The introduction to THE COMPLETE PEANUTS 1975-1976 is written by Robert Smigel.Like some of the other introduction writers, it’s fitting that a person of Smigel’s humor write the introduction for this absurdist collection of “Peanuts” comics. His introduction is one of the best in the series so far and touches not only how “Peanuts” influenced his own life, but how the strip interacted with and reflected parts of history. This isn't the best collection of "Peanuts", but it does capture the evolution of the strip into a new era. It's a must for any "Peanuts" fan or anyone who is a serious fan of comic strips.