Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/dixcom/ on line 512

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/dixcom/ on line 527

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/dixcom/ on line 534

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/dixcom/ on line 570

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/dixcom/ on line 103

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/dixcom/ on line 61

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home/dixcom/ on line 1109

Warning: session_start() [function.session-start]: Cannot send session cookie - headers already sent by (output started at /home/dixcom/ in /home/dixcom/ on line 119

Warning: session_start() [function.session-start]: Cannot send session cache limiter - headers already sent (output started at /home/dixcom/ in /home/dixcom/ on line 119
» 2008 » November

Monthly ArchiveNovember 2008

Commentary 30 Nov 2008 12:29 pm

Sermonizing signs


Given the prevalence of digital trickery in photographs, I’m not quite sure I believe that all the church signs on are legitimate (especially the Catholic church message that reads, “Staying in bed, shouting Oh God! does not constitute going to church”), but they are fun to contemplate, nevertheless.

An Internet search reveals several sites that let you generate your own church signs. Access it by clicking here. (It’s where the photo at the top of this entry came from.)

Commentary 29 Nov 2008 01:13 pm

Lighting blues


I just came down off the roof.

No, I wasn’t contemplating suicide. I was hanging Christmas lights. Which might be the same thing, come to think of it.

I started Friday afternoon. After running three sets around the top of our porch (which I access by climbing out a second-story window), I realized I had started with the wrong end, meaning that I ended with a female plug where I desperately needed a male. (That’s the first time I can say that.) After restringing the strands, I found two of them wouldn’t light, even though they had worked flawlessly in a test on the ground.

By this point, the sun was down and I was feeling the cold. I adjourned to Wal-Mart (the second time that day) and bought new lights. Today, I hung them and — so far, at least — they all work. A little wrapping with electrical tape to keep everything secure and the task is done.

Best of all, while I labored on the roof, Holly and Malori (with help from my niece) assembled the Christmas tree in the living room. This is the most odious of all holiday tasks and one that I am always pleased to wriggle out from whenever possible. I still have to string lights around it and help hang bulbs, but as far as actual assembly goes, my role was limited to dragging the tree box down from the attic. And that’s just how I like it.

Not for nothing am I called the “Christmas Brat.” All this fuss and bother for one day, and by the time it arrives, everybody’s too tired and stressed to enjoy it. Bah, humbug.

Commentary 28 Nov 2008 02:28 pm

Black Friday

My wife and I participated in the Black Friday ruckus today, getting up at 4:30 a.m. and heading to the local Wal-Mart, then to Kohl’s, Borders and the mall. Wal-Mart was absolute madness, with people milling about everywhere trying to save a buck or two. We were there for my parents, who wanted a plasma TV but had to work today. By 5:10 a.m., the TVs that went on sale 10 minutes earlier were gone.

Apparently, the day turned deadly for a Wal-Mart worker in New York, who was trampled by customers this morning. I often wondered what would happen when crowds got out of hand at one of these “Black Friday” sale-ebrations, and now we know.

Fortunately, there were no fatalities (at least to my knowledge) anywhere in our area, just lots of grouchy shoppers waiting in line. Another holiday tradition accomplished. Later today, my wife wants to put up outside lights. I think I prefer the long lines.

Movies 25 Nov 2008 08:49 pm

Killing dragons


My daughter wrote a paper about medieval dragons recently, which got me thinking about Dragonslayer, a 1981 offering from Paramount and Disney. I had the DVD tucked away for about a year, but had never opened it. Imagine my surprise upon watching it to discover that I had never seen it before, despite having vivid memories of certain scenes.

The false memories are easy to explain.
Continue Reading »

Commentary 24 Nov 2008 07:18 am


The unbridled cry of joy you may have heard at around 5 p.m. Sunday in the vicinity of South Arch Avenue in Alliance was me, crowing over the completion of a term paper.

The assignment itself wasn’t any big deal — a ten-page examination of some aspect of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales — but I’d built it up in my mind into something much bigger, until it loomed like Mt. Everest
Continue Reading »

Commentary 20 Nov 2008 07:08 am

Talking turkey about a discredited bird

Here is my print column from Nov. 20, 2008:

If Ben Franklin had succeeded in enshrining the turkey as our national bird, would we be eating eagle on Thanksgiving?

It’s one of life’s little imponderables. Either way, the turkey is a bird that needs some positive PR. Unlike beef and chicken, it has no fast-food representation. There is no McTom, no BK Gobbler, no Turkey McNuggets value meal.

Instead, the language is rife with negative turkey connotations. Everybody’s dated at least one turkey, and
Continue Reading »

Commentary 17 Nov 2008 06:38 am

Those masticating dogs

Here is my print column from Nov. 13, 2008:

Remember the good old days when there was a chicken in every pot, a car in every garage, and real dogs ate kids’ homework?

For now, I’ll ignore claims of Hoover prosperity and stick with dogs, which must have lost the hunger for math and spelling words, so seldom are they blamed for lost assignments. Maybe the taste has been bred out of them.

This doesn’t mean school children across America are turning in homework. Far from it. Those rapacious
Continue Reading »

Media 12 Nov 2008 10:37 pm

Drac at AHS


On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Alliance High School presents Dracula on the auditorium stage. Showtime each night is 7:30 p.m. My colleague James Ballor and I are co-advisers of the production. The eight actors and student director have knocked themselves out to create a fun rendition of the world-famous vampire play, as it’s known. We’ve mixed some high-tech effects (a computer-generated bat silhouette, some screen grabs) with old-fashioned scares.

Anyway, technical and dress rehearsals are going to keep me from posting here over the weekend, and some work-related duties plus a paper I need to write for a class I’m taking will keep me from blogging for a few weeks after that. I’ll still post my weekly print columns here, but that will be all through the end of the month, unless some time I’m not expecting suddenly becomes available.

Meanwhile, if you’re around Alliance this weekend, pay your $5 ($4 if you’re a student) and come see Dracula sink his fangs into unsuspecting victims.

Comic books 10 Nov 2008 05:56 pm

Fat Flash


The October 26 Funky Winkerbean strip was a clever parody of an old Flash comic-book cover. Flash was always beset upon by super-villains who transformed him in strange ways: Fattening him up (as is the case with this cover), making him slow, old, different shades of violet.

Anyway, the original cover that inspired cartoonist Tom Batiuk is reprinted above: Flash #115. Note the purple-clad bad guy in the background whose diabolical weapon has made the Flash look like a refugee from a Richard Simmons episode.

Movies 09 Nov 2008 10:07 pm

Grail search


I’ve never seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail all the way through until this weekend. It’s a lot of fun. “Inspired lunacy,” as one quote puts it. The Black Knight, the killer bunny, the hilarious question-and-answer game on the bridge — it’s all timeless humor, as fresh today as it was in the early ’70s. I showed my senior English class some snippets on Friday. They laughed. Highly recommended.

Next Page »