Monthly Archives: July 2015

Short Book Reviews 3

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I don’t think it will make the curriculum next year. [I actually kind of like this book. But it’s hard to like Henry.]

whip hand

Can’t believe I didn’t review this one on Goodreads.  I gave it 5 stars. It’s an amazing dark hard boiled crime story with an equally amazing cover. And I believe is legally available for free out there somewhere.


Another good one with no review from me. Sad but hopeful story about a couple kids. I’d recommend it. You could knock it out in a day.

bull hunter

A fun western adventure story. Also available legally free out there.


I think Goodreads may be losing my reviews. Or i could be losing my mind. Or both could be true. Anyway, another fun crime story that takes place just down the road.  I’d read more by this guy.

I’m sure I studied a little

I don’t remember most of what I write about in this letter. But it makes me feel like I took advantage of my time at K-State. And I have not idea what the article was that I sent home.


I went to the Rainmakers concert last night.  They were pretty good.  (Worth four bucks anyway.) I saw Vando and Fink there; along with Dickson, Arnberger, Lumpy, Angie H and Schmuts. Tuesday I am going to go to Second City–the comedy group.

There is a job available at Lee School (the one right next door). It’s only one hour a day, during lunch setting up tables, working with the kids, I don’t know what else.  I’m going to see about that–the principal called over here to see if anyone was interested.  I can hear dad now “Wooooo five hours a week!  Woooooo!” But hey. I’m pretty busy and $17 a week is $17 a week.  Besides, I like working with kids.  So anyway, I’m going to see about that.

Mom, mark your calendar now! November 12 and 13 at the Kansas State Union–the Tin Drum. Another fine cultural experience brought to you by Kaleidoscope. Thank you, thank you.

Speaking of Germans, could you get me Kiki’s address sometime.  I guess I’ll be home this weekend.

This weekend was Little Sister Olympics. this consists of a bunch of dumb events following a week of dumb events, followed by a party at the Pike house (which I didn’t go to because of the Rainmakers). I participated in the Egg Race. This was like a wheelbarrow–me walking on my hands, one little sister pushing me along with my legs. Only I had to crawl down with a raw egg in my mouth, drop it in a can, and come back. (It’s a relay race, 3 legs.) I was the first leg and of course I lead the whole way and my team-mates lost it for us.  My egg broke also so I just held it in til I made it to the bucket.  I also participated in the bucket brigade, but by that time–last event–we were so far out of it that we shout about every other bucket into the crowd or opposition or fellow team-mate. it was pretty fun.

You know that white wrinkle shirt I have.  The other day it got the whole pocket ripped off, but mom sewed it up good as new.

I went to Mike Warnke Thursday (Boy I’m busy). I took a kid in the house. He was pretty close minded about the whole thing, but not upset that he went.

Do good, or I hope you do good, Mike at Lyons. By the way, the guys in the house want you to know that if you want to come up on your birthday, they would be glad to give you a pole-job.

Guess that’s about it.  I’ll be “coming home” this week-end.  This article was in the Collegian last Friday.  See you latter.

Love, Matt


Jill Trent – Science Sleuth #1


Jill Trent, Science Detective, was a Kickstarter project that included this new Jill Trent comic with five different stories by five different teams of writers and artists. Backers also received a PDF of the original Jill Trent comics from the 40’s which have recently fallen into, or perhaps been elevated into, public domain. I haven’t read those yet.


I supported this Kickstarter because I teach high school engineering and I like comics. The big push in STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math) is to get girls excited about such things. Of my 25 level-one engineering students last year, one of them was a girl. School-wide, in grades 9-12, we have two. So I’m aware of the situation. And I thought maybe the Jill Trent comics, both old and new, could somehow be used as marketing for our engineering program. And, as I said, I like comics.


As with any collection of stories like this, you’re going to find some things you like, and some you don’t. I’ve said before that I’m hard to please when it comes to short comic stories. Four pages is not enough for me; I generally want more. But if these stories are sometimes too quick for me, they are all smart and clever and earnest in the way they give us two intelligent and powerful butt-kicking women who show girls especially, the power and fun of science. It’s great that each story is so different. This book includes a dark futuristic tale, a giant monster story, an Indiana Jones homage, a robot love story, and an old fashion mystery. The artwork is as varied as the stories, and each artist perfectly (not hyperbole–I really mean it) matches his artwork to the tone of the story being illustrated. And maybe coolest of all, Jill Trent and her sidekick Daisy Smyth are as varied as the rest of this book is. In each story Jill and Daisy are re-imagined in a variety of races, hair styles, and body types.


What makes this book tricky for me as a high school teacher is that in most of these stories Jill and Daisy are a couple. And in a small town Missouri school, it’s been my experience that reading to a class a short story in which the protagonist has two dads (and two moms) (I’m looking at you Mr. Crutcher), or even just discussing the national day of silence, can lead to parent phone calls and teacher visits with administrators. This is a shame.  So I have to ask myself as a teacher, is making this comic available in my classroom worth the possible trouble? Maybe a bit. I have no problem that Jill and Daisy are gay. So it’s too bad I will be less likely to share this book as a result. And I know that’s on me; it’s one of those tricky decisions a teacher has to make. That’s all worth a longer discussion somewhere, but not here today.


My point today is to say that Jill Trent, Science Sleuth is great fun. Maybe you’re not a person who is trying to get girls interested in science, and really, don’t you think you should be. Maybe you just like comics.  Either way, I’d recommend that you head over to Superdames and pick up a copy of Jill Trent.



Short Book Reviews 2


Koontz is a long time favorite with my students, so I finally read one. Creepy like King, but not so dark (or boring). I enjoyed it and will probably read another.


A fun 19th century story about a man with many secrets. Would especially appeal to history or magic enthusiasts.

lil bro

This was a fun story. It’s a page turner. And it made me more and more paranoid about big brother. It was a bit preachy sometimes. I had hopped to teach it this year, but I think it may be a bit too sexy for my district. I’ll check out more of Doctorow though.


The idea was fun, but the first story was so clunky that I was worried I’d misspent my 2 bucks. But they got better, and the last one, Blood & Tacos was great obnoxious fun.


Just too long with little going on. Took me forever to finish this.

Treadmill Films 55-63


A lot of China in this batch, and more foreign movies than American. Certainly a mixed batch in both quality and content.

Night of the Living Dead. The OZ! Love this movie. A lot going on here: race, community, fear, politics, family. And black dude is a badass.

Fantasia. 1940. Surprised a bit by the frontal nudity. I wanted to like it more than I did. Enjoyed best in 7 min. chunks. Oh, Looney Tunes.

Supercop. Don’t know if they can really Kung-fu, but Chan and Yeoh pull off some amazing stunts. End credits show the really scary stuff.

13 Assassins. Bit fuzzy on the opening politics. Then a good Japanese western. And when they drop their bows and draw their swords–Oh snap!

Four Weddings and a Funeral. Our old priest loved it. Holds up. Funny. Sweet. The funeral eulogy crushed me. Her list of lovers, a bit long?

Hunt for Red October. Holds up pretty well. I don’t remember it being so actiony. And I just want to pinch little Alec Baldwin’s cheeks.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. This cat has some cojones. Sad to see what 80 days of torture will do to a man. I wish him well. Fight the power.

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. Lives are ruined when the most important thing to people is their lust for power and money. No shit.

We Are the Best! 1982 punk rock kids. Wanted to like this, but didn’t quite. A nice story of friendship. Is every Swedish teenager a jerk?

An Object of Beauty

an object

I agree with Edmole. (“Throughout this book I felt guilty, as I did not enjoy this book on any level, but I love Steve Martin on many levels.”) I read this book because Steve, you know my pal Steve, wrote it. I’m not that interested in the subject mater, but I learned some things and it was a nice little story I guess. Come summer I’ll listen to Born Standing Up again.