Saturday, August 30, 2008

Thoughts Without Words: 1st week done

Well one down...30 some to go. It's nice to have a 3 day weekend after starting school again. But at the same time it's a tease. Anyway, back to the subject at classes. It's funny to see how everyone is trying so hard the first week of school. Everyone, for the most part, is about 5 minutes early to class and everyone is doing homework. It's hard to tell how my classes are going to turn out. I realized that this is the first time since my first year teaching that I don't have a bunch of "returning" students...not from failing but just moving on from Algebra B to Geometry to Algebra 2. I have a few from summer school, but that's about 6 or so. It feels weird not to know my students. I know it will take time, I really enjoyed my first year, so I know I will enjoy these kids too. Other than complaints.

I don't think I will be doing spotlights this week unless it's for an album of the week. Which might be coming up pretty soon.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Insignificant: Beyond the Embrace - The Riddle of Steel

Ok new tag, Insignificant. These posts will talk about those songs/albums/shows that really don't get a lot of respect, but seriously deserve it.

The first post has to go to Beyond the Embrace's instrumental song The Riddle of Steel from their album Against the Elements. This song has all the making of a classic instrumental. A nice slow intro then bursting into some killer soloing. This song has some strong Iron Maiden type guitar harmonies going on. My favorite part of the song is the build up about half way through. It starts off with an acoustic guitar, then some well placed drumming, and then more of the Iron Maiden type harmonies with some more perfect drumming that just builds and builds until...perfection! Like every great instrumental, you come full circle and play the intro again, but after that just when you think the song is all over all of sudden there is a piano that starts to play and it fades out with a pure piano song with some strings & acoustic guitar to accompany it.

Metallica probably have the most famous instrumentals with Orion and Call of Ktulu, but this one for me ranks up there...probably better than Call of Ktulu.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

School: 1st thoughts...

Freshmen...soo many freshmen. Seriously, I might as well be their class adviser that's how many I have. Basically about 75 - 80% of my classes are freshmen. There's pros and cons to this.
Pros: * they listen better (for the most part). It's all brand new to them and you can get their attention pretty easy.

Cons: * they aren't used to the high school style of taking responsibility.
* they still act like they are in junior high
* they're FRESHMEN!

This is totally new for me, so I will see how it goes. It's weird not having any seniors though. This is the first time in 4 years I don't have seniors. I have one, who doesn't need my class and might leave. yikes!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

More...More: new singles released

Ok with the school year coming to a start and the actual calendar year wrapping up (only 4 months left), the fall releases are starting to give some samples or even singles for what's to come. So here is a quick look at what's on it's way.

Of course, if you read any sort of metal news you know Metallica is releasing their new album in September. Here is the first single off of it, The Day That Never Comes. I have heard people call this a modern day One or Sanitarium...uh no. It's a solid song especially the last 2 minutes or so, feels like Iron Maiden. Oh yeah and there is a part of an older song from Load or Reload in there...gotta find it though.

Next up is a surprise for me, Deadlock. Why? They just released an album last year and it was fantastic! So what will this one sound like? Who knows, but one of the songs from it was "leaked" and it sounds like it came off of Wolves. BTW, Deadlock play a style like At the Gates, with a male and female vocalists...don't worry the girl doesn't go all Arch Enemy on us. First song: Kill, Kill, Kill (nice huh?)

Also have some All That Remains that they have put out. Now ATR have never had tow albums sound I said before. So what do I expect? Nothing. But here is my favorite song I have heard so far. If you want more just type All That Remains Overcome into YouTube and you will see the others. I give you Before the Damned.

Now I have talked about Trivium's new songs and gave a sample here. I actually think this will be better than The Crusade, but I don't know about Ascendancy yet.

Oh and then out of nowhere Unearth releases this song...My Will Be Done. Unearth is the Iron Maiden of metalcore...ya heard one song you have heard them all. Well not this one. A little guitar lead in the intro and a hint of a solo has my interest peaked a bit for this release.

All in all this is going to be a solid 4 months of releases. I expect my top 10 to change dramatically, but that's life. Can't wait.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Last weekend before...well you know

My room is all set up. It looks pretty good. I have a few posters to hang up, but that won't take long (I forgot them on Wednesday and Thursday). Still waiting for my individual scores to come in and see how I did. I don't know what to think anymore. I looked at the state's website on test results and they break it down by grade level. And for Algebra 2 juniors, the proficient rate wasn't too high and I had a lot of juniors...not a good sign. I tried my best and worked hard. I will wait and see the results and go from there.

It really doesn't matter because I'm not teaching Algebra 2 this year, I am back on Geometry. Last time I had Geometry, I thought I prepared them for the test, but out of 32 students I had 19 at basic...which is not good enough. I incorporated a lot of multiple choice questions into the test to get them ready, but apparently that didn't work. We will try again this year.

I did get 1st period off, which is what I wanted because it's pretty tough to get two kids out the door by 6:30. So we can take an extra 30 minutes to get ready. So my schedule for this year looks like this:
2 - 4 Algebra B
5 & 6 Geometry

Sunday, August 17, 2008

More...More: The Haunted

So a couple days ago I posted the new Metallica song, Cyanide. Now I will tell you this now, nothing is going to top a new Metallica album...nothing. Into Eternity and Trivium will come close, but it won't beat it. Another band which will be up there in terms of favorite album will be The Haunted.

The Haunted have gone from a total death thrash band, first 3 albums, to a more of a melodic thrash, last 2 albums. This new song, Moronic Colossus, seems to do a good job of combining the 2 styles. Their new album Versus is coming out in September. Let me say this September is a busy month for music, Metallica, Trivium, Into Eternity, and now The Haunted.

Side note: the cover for their new album reminds me of their debut simple.
Debut -
Versus -'s the new song, Moronic Colossus.

BTW, just for is my favorite The Haunted Song, D.O.A. It was off their 3rd album One Kill Wonder. Different singer and more death metal style...awesome.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Wait: STAR results...2 days away

So believe it or not, I actually care a lot about my test scores. And for most of the summer I have been going to Edusoft to see if the scores have come in. Well tonight I went to the CA Department of Education sight and saw that this Thursday at 10:30 AM the STAR results will be posted. So that means I should be able to look up my scores sometime that day or close to it.
I put a lot of effort into my Algebra 2 classes this year to get them ready. I am curious to see if it paid off or not. I will admit now, that I didn't push my Algebra B classes as hard as I did last year and went sort of cruise control doing the same things, but I am not sure if I pushed the students themselves. Perhaps I was too focused on my Algebra 2 classes. Who knows. Does it really matter what I do? When it all comes down to it - Coaches got to coach, players got to play, cheerleaders got to cheer, teachers got to teach, and students got to take the test.

Now playing: Five Finger Death Punch - Ashes
via FoxyTunes

More...More: New Metallica song

it's a day I have been waiting for awhile now... a new Metallica song, Cyanide. It's a live recording from a few days ago. Awhile ago some reporters got a 6 song sample and most agreed this was one of the weaker songs. What does that mean? This thing is gonna rock! I love the chorus on this song and the different song structures. Some people have said it's like they threw together 3 or 4 left over songs and made them one. I don't believe that and let me just add the solo is awesome. Go to their Myspace page for a soundboard recording of it or watch the video below.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Who Decides: Top 5 "Must Own" Metal Albums

So just what are the best of the best metal albums? Well obviously, it's purely subjective. But I am going to give you, what I consider, the best metal albums ever. These are the must own metal albums. If you consider yourself a fan of metal, these albums should be in your collection.

1. Metallica: Master of Puppets - Is there really any explanation needed here? This is their masterpiece. It all came together on this album. The heavy riffs, melodies, solos, and the progression in the song writing. It's as if the stars aligned perfectly for this one.

2. Megadeth: Rust in Peace - This is Megadeth's shining moment for me. It was the debut album of the "classic" line-up and they brought their A game. From the start it's apparent that this isn't going to be another So Far, So Good, So What. Production is better, lyrics are more politically charged, and the guitar work between Dave and Marty is so great they still haven't been album to reproduce it. I know everyone knows Hangar 18 from Guitar Hero, but this entire album could be made into a Guitar Hero game...simply insane.

Now, people will argue about these two albums. In all honesty, the first 4 albums from both Metallica and Megadeth are metal classics and should be owned by any metalhead. These are my favorites and show the best of what 80's/90's thrash was all about.

3. At the Gates: Slaughter of the Soul - This is melodic death metal at it's finest. Bands are still trying to duplicate the sound and style on this album. Whether it be Tomas' vocals or the Iron Maiden-esque guitar work, they are still trying to get it right. This was my first "death metal" album and I was blown away by the overall thrash feeling I got from it. What also makes this album a "must own" is the fact that the band broke up after they released this album. Imagine Metallica breaking up after MoP...yeah just like that.

4. Into Eternity: Buried in Oblivion - If you were to combine the first 3 albums on this list, you would come close to creating the sound of Into Eternity. A band that really created it's own genre, combining thrash, death metal, progressive metal, and some soft rock thrown in for fun. Now when this album was made, Into Eternity had 3 vocalists...yes I said 3, screamer, death growls, and a clean singer. The vocal harmonies alone are a reason to own this album, but there is a ton more. Do you want the guitar harmonies or solos which are insane or do you want the quick hitting tempo changes? Most songs you know whats coming next, but the first time I played this album everything hit me from out of nowhere. Perfect example, after an entire album of controlled chaotic metal, in come a ballad that sounds like it was left off of Peter Cetera's solo album...seriously, but it works - perfectly.

5. Killswitch Engage: Alive or Just Breathing - huh? a metalcore band? Yeah, a metalcore band. Just like At the Gates, KsE created a genre which bands are trying to copy to this day. Stop me if you heard this before, brutal drumming, screaming vocals, heavy riffs with clean choruses and some breakdowns...sounds like every metalcore band in the last 5 years. Well, it all started with KsE and no one has been album to beat them at it. I will never forget the first time I heard the verses being sung with such anger and forcefullness and then...such beauty in the choruses. This band, along with Shadows Fall, helped bring metal back to the mainstream after the disaster that was nu-metal.

There they are...5 must own metal albums.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Sun Always Shines on T.V.: More Spin City

I forgot to mention one of the cooler things about Spin City. Not only was it a great show, but it was created by the same guy that created Scrubs (we all know how I feel about that show). Anyway, a majority of the cast of Spin City has appeared at least once on different characters, but still cool none the less.

Let's look at the cast of Spin City;
Michael J. Fox
Alan Ruck
Michael Boatman
Heather Locklear
Barry Bostwick
Richard Kind
Alex Chaplin
Connie Britton
Victoria Dillard
Jennifer Eposito
Charlie Sheen

Out of that cast all but the last 5 have been on Scrubs. That's a pretty big feat to get those stars to be on the show. It goes to show you how much they liked working for the creator of the series. BTW, Charlie Sheen probably hasn't been on the show because he has been busy with his own show, Two and a Half Men, which airs on a different network.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Tirades of Truth: Trivium - The Crusade

Continuing to preview new albums by looking back at old ones, today we look at Trivium's The Crusade. A little history on Trivium, this is a young band. Their debut was recorded while they were still in their teens. I wasn't too impressed with the debut, mainly because of the production. Their next album Ascendancy is a classic. No filler, every song works. Perfect blend of screams and clean singing. Something else you need to know about the band is their worship of Metallica. I love Metallica as much as the next guy, but I think their "love" made The Crusade a little weaker.

The album starts off with a pretty good song, Ignition, but one thing that pops out right away is the total absence of screams. It's all clean vocals. Some say Matt sounds like a young James Hetfield, but I didn't think so. After awhile you get used to the vocals and realize it's not a bad thing.

Musically, this album is pure thrash...80's - 90's thrash. Tight drumming, great riffs, and some insane guitar solos. The last song, The Crusade, is an instrumental (another Metallica worship?). It is probably the best or close to the best song on the album. It does bring back memories of classic Metallica instrumentals from Ride the Lightning or Master of Puppets the way the song comes "full circle". Other songs as just as good, Entrance of Conflagration is killer. In fact all the songs are great. It's the vocals you have to get used to to enjoy the album.

So why didn't this album work for me? Mainly because it didn't sound like Trivium. It reminded me of Motley Crue's self titled album in 1994. This was the one album without lead singer Vince Neil. It was their best album since Shout at the Devil, but it didn't sell...why? People couldn't get past the fact Motley Crue didn't sound like Motley Crue. The band admitted that maybe they should have released it as a different band. Trivium might have wanted to do the same thing. The Crusade is a good album, but it doesn't feel like a Trivium album.

Shogun is due out in September and the band has released one song so far. The screams are back...which is a good thing. They have another song on the Madden 09 soundtrack is below. I think this album will be much better than The Crusade and only time will tell.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Sun Always Shines on T.V.: Spin City

Ok I know this isn't BSG or The Soup, but I have been catching re-runs of Spin City all summer long and have gotta say what a great show it was. It starred Michael J. Fox and a cast of others as city workers (mayor, deputy mayor, etc.). The first few episodes were kind of rough to watch, but they hit there stride mid-season and never looked back. The writers did a good job of creating and expanding on the characters. Carter (gay black man) and Stuart (male chauvinist) moving in together after their bar went under. Or Mike's relationship with Nikki. The first four seasons are great and worthy of any "greatest sitcom" talk ever.

So what happened? Well Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and had to leave the show. Here's where it gets bumpy. First off, his last show he talks about meeting a Senator from Ohio, Alex Keaton (who he played in Family Ties) cool nod there. So he leaves enter, Charlie Sheen. Well it wasn't just Fox, but half the cast also left. All the side characters that helped make the show great were gone. So did the show suffer? Actually no. It worked just as well. It reminds me of when Don Knotts left Andy Griffith, Andy went on with a 6th season and also switched to color. This is similar, not only do we have a new character, Sheen, but they dumped half the cast. It gave the show a brand new feel to it.

The show lasted 6 seasons, 4 with Fox in the lead. It is a classic show. Read about it HERE.