Sunday, October 28, 2007

Crappy weekend

So this past weekend might possbily be the worst weekend I have ever lived through. First off there was a huge accident at my wife's work. You can read about it there. My wife was first on the scene and saw the victim before anyone else. She is having a difficult time trying to get this out of her head and work through it.

So then we wake up Saturday morning to go on our walk. I am locking up the house and I hear my wife scream "Kevin!!! It's Charlie!!!" I run over to our neighbors yard to see our cat of 6 years lying in their yard dead. His whole chest was gone...empty. I saw his tiny little heart. What makes it worse for me is that when I was locking up the house he was sitting at the front door meowing to come in. I looked at him and told him to go to sleep outside. That was the last thing I said to my cat.
So that was my crappy weekend. There is tons more information, but I am so drained thinking of all the loss this weekend I am done talking about it. I feel bad for the family of the victim at my wife's work and the loss of our cat Charlie.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Venting the Anger: CST's

ok, so let me just get something off my chest. When I started teaching 5 years ago, CST results weren't that big of deal. In fact, when I came to my current school all I heard from administrators was reasons not to take the test to seriously. We heard it doesn't reflect what they learn in a year because "they could be having a bad day and they aren't concentrating", they could "be sick", they could "blow it off because there isn't accountability", or that we couldn't measure a what a student has learned by one test on one day.

Well fast forward 4 years later and apparently all of that has been blown out the window. Now we are being held completely responsible for their scores. But what has changed? Are they held accountable for their results? Nope. Are there kids that still just "blow it off"? Yep. Does it matter if they are sick or having some sort of personal drama? Nope.

So all of the reasons that we heard just 4 years ago don't matter even though nothing has been done to address them. Yet we are held accountable. When do we start expecting the students to start taking ownership?

I know I have some control over what happens with the scores, but when it's time for the test days it's all about the students. It's like my old football coach said "Cheerleaders have to cheer, coaches have to coach, and players have to play." And that's my feeling...the students have to get it done.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Spotlight: Pre-Metal Days

ok now I wasn't born listening to heavy metal, in fact I didn't start until I was in junior high. So what did I listen to pre-metal? Well, this week we take a look and listen to what I was into a very long time ago. The first song that I really fell in love with was Man in Motion by John Parr...classic. Anyway, that was my kind of music; 80's new wave mostly with British singers. This week I focus in on a few of those artists.

Pet Shop Boys were pretty popular back in the day. They were heavy on the keyboards and had some great choruses. Their first hit was West End Girls. Now funny story is that up until about 4 months ago I always thought it was Western Girls...kinda like California Girls for the 80's? maybe? Their other hit was Opportunity whic is now used for the show Beauty and the Geek. Great chorus, so catchy.

Tears for Fears were probably one of my favorite bands, and Songs from the Big Chair is just a great album. Shout, Head Over Heels, and Everybody Wants to Rule the World were huge...huge people. They had the great vocals and keys, and some top notch choruses. They released The Seeds of Love which had another song I liked, Sowing the Seeds of Love. By the early 90's grunge was all the rage and new wave and pretty much any 80's band was done. Well in 1993 they release dan album with Break It Down Again. Now by 93, I was in full metal mode, but I still enjoyed a nice laid back pop sound.

Duran Duran was another band that I listened to, but not because of Rio or Hungry like a Wolf. It was for A View to a Kill, from the James Bond movie of the same name. Side note, that was the first movie I saw with Christopher Walken in it. For me though it was their 1993 album, The Wedding Album, that had some of my favorite songs on it. Come Undone and Ordinary World are just great songs. And once again, it was during my early metal days, but I still recongized great music when I heard it.

Now let me say this, I didn't talk about alot of my other "ghosts in the closet", like A-Ha, Simple Minds, and tons more...that's another week.

Playlist for the week
Monday: West End Girls, Opportunity by Pet Shop Boys from Fear is the Mindkiller
Tuesday: Shout, Everybody Wants to Rule the World, and Head Over Heals by Tears for Fears from Songs from the Big Chair
Thursday: Break It Down Again and Sowing the Seeds of Love by Tears for Fears from
Friday: A View to a Kill, Ordinary World, and Come Undone by Duran Duran from

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Venting the Anger: New Captain America

Now even though this is for the most part a music blog, deep down inside I am a huge comic book fan/nerd. There are certain things which I consider sacred in the comic book world. For example, a non-electric blue Superman, Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, Batman with a Robin, a wise crackin' Spider-Man, and a Captain America wearing red, white, and blue only!
For those who might not have heard Captain America (Steve Rogers) was killed off in a storyline this past summer. Well Marvel Comics is going to bring the character back with more attitude...I guess. They unveiled the new look this past week and I gotta say I hate it! How do you give Captain America, the symbol of America, a black costume?!?!?! Anyone? And on top of that a gun? Cap only needs his shield. The designer said he took a page from some old movie serials in which Captain America had a gun. Nice right? Everyone likes the retro feel, but did he also remember that that version of Captain America was a lawyer?!?!? huh? Or that it wasn't a canon Captain America?!?! no of course not.

So what does this mean? Well like all comic gimmicks it means that for about a year or so we have to live with this atrocity. Like having Jean-Paul as Batman for a year, or the blue Superman, or the entire Spider-man clone disaster; it's just something we will have to live with for awhile until Steve Rogers makes his return.

Spotlight Fear Factory REMIX

Now we will have a regular week of industrial music which includes Fear Factory, but this week we change it up a bit and go with their 2 remix albums, Fear is the Mindkiller and Remanufacture. After thier debut, Fear Factory decided to remix 4 of the better songs off of the album. Now FF plays industrial metal, so the industrial elements added border on techno music. If you took out the guitar riffs that drive the song it would be techno. Fans were a little shocked, but it had enough guitar to keep fans least it did for me. Well that's not entirely true. When I bought Demanufacture, it came with Remanufacture. I had no idea what it was. I was happy because Demanufacture was so good I figured it should be as wasn't. It took me about a year before I could listen to that album.

After Demanufacture, they put out another remix album. Except this one was a little different, they remixed every song with a new title that was similar to the original. They even threw in some instrumental songs (sounds) that weren't on the original. For me, Remanufacture is better than Fear is the Mindkiller. It could be that Fear is the Mindkiller is just 5 songs and 2 of them are the same or that Demanufacture takes more chances in terms of pushing the techno/metal line.

I am not sure how to describe the music. It really does border on techno, but at the same time it has the definte metal undertones. I have to say I have grown to love these albums. Last I heard they were planning another, but nothing has been mentioned in who knows.

Now I usually post videos from the albums, but to be honest...there are none. Just this video for Final Fantasy someone made which uses a song.


Playlist for the week
Monday: Self Immolation (Vein Tap Mix), Martyr (Suffer Mix) from Fear is the Mindkiller
Tuesday: Machines of Hate, Self Immolation (Liquid Mix) from Remanufacture & Fear is the Mindkiller
Wednesday: Genetic Blueprint, Cloning Technology from Remanufacture
Thursday: T-1000, Cyberdyne from Remanufacture
Friday: New Breed, New Breed (Spoetnik Mix), New Breed (Revolutionary Designed Mix) from Remanufacture

Friday, October 05, 2007

Spotlight: Susperia

Ok so we have another spotlight and this week it is a newer band from Europe, Susperia. Susperia was formed by some black metal bands like Dimmur Borgi, but after their debut the black metal influences pretty much disappeared. Susperia plays a modern thrash style of music. They are almost always compared to later day Testament...and with good reason. The vocals for one are almost identical to Chuck Billy at times. And musically, you're looking at heavy riffs, solid drumming, and solos that would make any old school metal fan bang their head.


On Vindication, their 2nd album, there was a noticeable shift in the style of music. There was a more modern thrash sound than a black metal sound. If anyone tries to call modern day Susperia black metal...they are flat out wrong. Unlimited, for me, is their best album. I remember hearing it for the first time thinking that this is classic bay area thrash with a modern twist. At times it was Testament, but it wasn't a flat out copy cat job. Chemistry's opening guitar playing was awesome. The drums in Home Sweet Hell are still my favorite. Then are Years of Infinity there is some Halford-esq singing. A classic. They released an EP, Devil May Care with one new song and some covers. Venting the Anger was both brutal and melodic at the same time. It was probably the most melodic song they had done, but it worked...didn't seem forced at all. One of the covers, The Sun Always Shines on TV (by A-HA), was perfect as well.


Their latest, Carved from Stone, is alot like Unlimited and the EP combined. Classic songs with more melody and some great choruses. I don't think it is better than Unlimited, but that's like saying Ride the Lighting isn't better than Master of Puppets. Both are great albums, but I prefer one over the other. The first time I heard More and Brother...I was blown away by the aggression. It wasn't til later that I realized other classics like The Clone or Release.


Once again if you are a fan of thrash metal...this is your band.

Playlist for the week
Monday: Home Sweet Hell, Years of Infinity from Unlimited
Tuesday: Chemistry, Untouched from Unlimited
Wednesday: Mind Apart, Beast by Design from Unlimited
Thursday: The Clone, Release, Life Deprived from Carved from Stone
Friday: More, Brother from Carved from Stone and Venting the Anger from Devil May Care EP