Thursday, December 31, 2009

Who Decides: Top Albums of the Decade

Ok, I wasn't planning on doing a list of albums of the decade, but I saw it somewhere and figured why not? I tried to keep it to 50, and the only real stipulation I had was that I could only have at most 2 albums per band. The hardest album I had to eliminate was In Flames' Come Clarity.
**UPDATED 1-5-10**
I decided to take off The Crown's Deathrace King because I needed some space to add, Borknagar's Epic, Bruce Dickinson's Greatest Hits, and Brides of Destruction's Here Comes the Brides.

The list in alphabetical order;
All That Remains: The Fall of Ideals (06); Overcome (08)
Animals As Leaders: Animals As Leaders (09)
Anthrax: Stomp 442 (01); We've Come For You All (03)
Arch Enemy: Manifesto of Arch Enemy (09); The Root of All Evil (09)
As I Lay Dying: An Ocean Between Us (07)
Beyond The Embrace: Against the Elements (02)
Biomechanical: Empires of the World (05)
Blaze: Silicon Messiah (00)
Bullet For My Valentine: Scream, Aim, Fire (08)
The Crown: Deathrace King (00); Crowned in Terror (02)
Deadlock: Wolves (07)
DevilDriver: The Fury of Our Maker's Hand (05), The Last Kind Words (07)
Halford: Crucible (02)
The Haunted: rEVOLVEr (04), The Dead Eye (06)
Helloween: The Dark Ride (00)
The Human Abstract: Nocturne (06)
Hypocrisy: Virus (05)
In Flames: Clayman (00), Reroute to Remain (02)
Into Eternity: Buried in Oblivion (04), The Scattering of Ashes (06)
Killswitch Engage: Alive or Just Breathing (02), End of Heartache (04)
Lacuna Coil: Comalies (02), Karmacode (06)
Limp Bizkit: The Unquestionable Truth part 1 (05)
Machine Head: The Blackening (07)
Megadeth: The World Needs a Hero (01), Endgame (09)
Mercenary: 11 Dreams (04), Architect of Lies (08)
Metallica: Death Magnetic (08)
Nevermore: Dead Heart in a Dead World (00), This Godless Endeavor (05)
Nightrage: Descent into Chaos (05), A New Disease is Born (07)
Nightwish: Once (04)
Protest the Hero: Kezia (05)
Shadows Fall: The Art of Balance (02), The War Within (04)
Soilwork: A Predator's Portrait (01), Natural Born Chaos (02)
Sum 41: Chuck (04)
Susperia: Unlimited (04), Cut From Stone (07)
Testament: First Strike Still Deadly (01), The Formation of Damnation (08)
Trivium: Ascendancy (05), Shogun (08)

That's my list. Some cheating going on by listing greatest hits, but oh well.

Side note, this is post #199, so the new year will bring #200 nice.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Crazy: Imagination Movers...227 times?!?!?!?

Now I haven't been on here in awhile...duh. I still update my ipod and LastFm still tracks my tracks played. I knew that I have been listening to the Movers a lot lately with my kids in the car, but 227 times in a week?!?!?!?! Wow that's all I can say.

BTW, Imagination Movers are currently my guilty pleasure. They write great catchy songs lasting about 2 minutes each. I will try and do a write up on them soon. I am not ashamed to have them over there, but 227 times is a lot. Plus I don't think they fit in with the type of music on my banner.

Who Decides: Top 10 Albums of the Year

Ok, so another year is coming to an end, so here is my top 10 metal albums of the year. I will try to keep it to ten, unlike last year. This year started off very slow for me. Nothing really caught my eye, until around June or so. I talked about it back then, and I said I doubt if any of those albums would make my final top 10...and well let's see.

Before we get to the list, I took out Arch Enemy's Root of All Evil (even though it is a great album) because it was just re-recording old songs with a new singer. If I could have 11 albums, I would have probably thrown in The Sorrow's Origin of the Storm. That was a classic metalcore album in the same vein as Killswitch Engage. Onto the list;

#10 - Threat Signal: Vigilance; much better than the Arkaea project which was Fear Factory light. This album has lost a lot of the FF influence and has gone for more of a straight thrash approach. The solos on this album as killer, check out The Beginning of the End for a sample.

# 9 - DevilDriver: Pray for Villains; a big let down overall from The Last Kind Words. I talke about this earlier in the year as well. A lot of solid songs, but overall just doesn't pack that punch that The Last Kind Words had. Check out Waiting for November, Bitter Pill, Teach Me to Whisper, and the title track.

# 8 - Evita: Minutes & Miles; the surprise of the year for me. Evita plays some crazy progressive metalcore music not unlike Protest the Hero. It's very good and deserved to be on this list. All of their songs are good, but if you check out one listen to Willing to Wake it's a good sample of the album.

# 7 - Dirge Within: Force Fed Lies; when I first hear this album I thought it was DevilDriver. Seriously, at times the lead singer sounds so similar it's eerie. Anyway, if DD would have put out this album DD would be higher up on the list. Musically, you know what you are getting. They pull out some nice solos especially on Complacency (2+ minutes of trading off solos).

# 6 - Nightrage: Wearing a Martyr's Crown; I listened to this album I didn't think it would make my top 10. It was lacking something for me, but over the last few months it has caught on big time. Descent into Chaos was a classic for me and evern though this doesn't beat that album it is solid. The guitar work is unmistakably Nightrage and the new singer does a fine job. He doesn't stand out like Tompa or Jimmie, but he works. Check out A Grim Struggle or the title track for a good feel of the album.

# 5 - Animals As Leaders: Animals As Leaders; did I say Evita was my surprise of the year? This is. First off, it's instrumental (something I really don't like). The guitarist, Tosin Abasi, is great. The music goes from thrash to metalcore to eletronic to acoustic. It is a wild ride to be sure. Check out CAFO.

# 4 - Megadeth: Endgame; it's Megadeth, it's better than their last album, and dare I say better than Death Magnetic? Mustaine brought his A game this time and wrote some killer riffs for this album. So why isn't it higher? Probably because his vocals are wearing on me. I can't explain it, but Dave's singing has gone downhill a bit. This Day We Fight and Headcrusher could have easily been on R.I.P. check them out.

# 3 - Susperia - Attitude; once again Susperia releases an album that is heavy, catchy, and has great musicianship. I can't add anything else, if you liked Carved in Stone or Unlimited you will like this one. All the songs are great. Check out The Urge, Sick Bastard (with Dimmu Borgir vocalist Shagrath), or Live My Dreams (with Testament vocalist Chuck Billy).

# 2 - Killswitch Engage: Killswitch Engage; I have already talked about this one and Shadows Fall's latest albums awhile ago. So I won't add anything else to this. Check out the entire album, definitely worth it.

# 1 - Shadows Fall: Retribution; like KsE I already talked about it, so I won't repeat anything. This album renewed my faith in SF. The guitar work is top notch and memorable. I can't find anything to complain about on this album.

So why is SF #1 and KsE #2? The difference is minimal. I would probably say the solos put Shadows Fall #1, even though KsE has better choruses. I was very happy to see two of my favorite bands rebound from sub-par albums and step up.

That's it. I want to try and do weekly postings next year. So let's see how that goes. I want to talk about the new Scrubs, The Middle, and some movie talk. Cross your fingers for a fun 2010.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Return of the King: New England Thrash Metal

So it's been over 2 months since my last post...thanks Webwasher. A lot of great albums have come out during that time; Megadeth, Nightrage, DevilDriver, Shadows Fall, and Killswitch Engage. For this post, I am going to focus in on the last two.

Now I put KsE & Shadows Fall in the same category of New England Thrash Metal, simply cause they (All That Remains, too) all sort of came out during the same time & are from the same area. On top of that, the members have done projects together (Overcast) or have been in other bands (Phil in Shadows Fall before Brian).

Both of their last albums were very unispired. It was like they were going through the motions. KsE's Daylight Dies was ok, nothing special. It was like you we thinking "Well it's sounds just like AoJB & EoH, but not as memorable." With Shadows Fall's last one Threads of Life, you kind of felt they took the safe way out. Meaning, they took their ideas from The War Within and softened them up a bit. Tried very hard to be catchy and well it was just alright. Once again, nothing memorable.

Fast forward to 2009 and both albums are great "return to form" type albums. In fact, even though the year isn't out I can pretty much guarentee that one of these albums will be #1, that's how good they are.

Let's start with Shadows Fall first. They went back and sped up the music a bit and didn't try to make a catchy song. So what happened? Some of the best songs since Art of Balance. Add of to that the guitar work on this album is fantastic. You can YouTube most of the album to hear it, I would recommend...well everything. War has a great chorus, Embrace Annihilation has an awesome solo, A Public Execution is a geat work out song with a chorus that needs to be heard. I can go on about every song, that's how solid this thing. Throw in some guest vocals by Randy Blythe and you have a winner.

Killswitch Engage's latest was a sort of make or break album for me. Alive or Just Breathing and End of Heartache are classics in the metalcore genre. In fact, I put AoJB in my top 5 metal albums of all time...yeah it's that good. So with this album, they brought on board a co-producer for the first time and it really pays off. With Daylight Dies it seemed so formulated; verse, clean slow chorus, breakdown, repeat. With Killswitch Engage, the songs are thrashier and while some of the slow clean choruses are there, they don't seem to distract. Add in the fact, the first song has a solo (they don't do solos normally). That's when it hits you that this isn't going to sound like Daylight Dies. The intro solo in Take Me Away is so good it makes you wonder why these guys don't do more of it. Anyway, like Shadows Fall, there isn't a lot of filler on this album. This album is a great continuation of what was established on AoJB & EoH.

I was worried about these albums since their last ones were so mediocre. Both albums met and exceeded my expectations. When I was doing my top 10 list in June and I saw both of these albums coming out, I was hoping they would make the top 10, now they will be topping the list. Why couldn't DevilDriver's latest have been this good?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Thoughts Without Words: New school year, CSTs, & upcoming albums

ok so today was the first day of school and what do I think about it? Who knows...really can you tell much from the first day and only 32 minutes with each class? Here's what I do know;
  • have a lot of freshmen again, but with only one Alg. B class it shouldn't be too bad
  • 1 Alg. B, 2 Geometry, 2 Alg. 2
  • my room gets stuffy because a.c. won't go past 70, but with 38 bodies the room barely cools to 73.
  • 4th period will probably be my nosiest class simply because there are about 10 - 15 who are good friends in that class
  • it's gotta be better than last year...right?
  • only 179 days to go :-)
CSTs are coming in slowly. We have a new system, but we have been told that some of our students are missing and aren't in the right class. I looked at my Geometry and calculated it by hand and had about 56% proficient or advanced. I'm not too happy with that. 5th period was the smartest class I had and I expected a few more proficient or advances in there. 6th period nothing surprised me there. They skated through the whole year and it showed in their results. With my Alg. B classes I wasn't too surprised either. I worked it out to be 50% proficient or advanced. This was one of my lowest groups of students and I told my dean that before 1st semester ended that my scores would be down alot because of the students' inability to be responsible and proactive. Oh well life goes on.

New music in September should be a good one. New Shadows Fall & Megadeth. The 3 songs form Megadeth I have heard sound like it could be the best stuff since TWNAH. I like the guitar tone, thanks to Andy Sneap I suppose. And as for Shadows Fall, I have heard 3 songs from their new album as well and it sounds a lot better than Threads of Life. Hoping for two great releases this month. Right now, Susperia is probably my album of the year...who would have thought? Don't get me wrong, Susperia is one of my favorite bands, but this album didn't hit me like Unlimited or Cut From Stone. I will say they are writing some of the best thrash/heavy metal right now.

that's it for now. I gotta talk about 2 of my new favorite tv shows next time.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tirades of Truth: Megadeth - The World Needs a Hero

So another "Tirades of Truth" review today. And the question might be, why review an album that is almost 10 years old? Well Megadeth does have a new album coming out on the 15th of September and I like to go back and look at where a band has been to see where they are going.

So I have talked about Megadeth's career in depth on this blog before, but I never spent any time looking at the albums specifically. Today I will look at one of the most underrated Megadeth albums of all time, The World Needs a Hero (TWNAH for short).

Now this album came out after Risk, which was a huge flop for metal fans. The album was nothing more than a pop rock album. It's so bad, I don't even want to talk about it. I mean for what it was, it isn't bad, but it's not Megadeth.

Dave Mustaine said it was a return to form, and there was even a track called Return to Hangar (sequel to Hangar 18). Now Metallica did the whole The Unforgiven II and it back fired, so right away fans were thinking this was bad.

Another problem was the 2 new songs on the greatest hits album. Kill the King was released and was awesome. The opening riff made you realize Megadeth was back. The solo was nothing great or special, but it didn't matter. This one song destroyed Risk and most of Cryptic Writings. The other song, Dread and the Fugitive Mind, was better than Kill the King. So what was the problem? Well people compalined that it sounded too similar to Sweating Bullets. Does it? Just the verses, but that's it everything else is different.

Then there was the voice overs. On two songs you have someone talking during the songs, to add something to the song I guess. I won't lie, it bugs me. I can't defend it.

Other problems that plagued the album were; it leaked on the internet over a year before it was released...huh? Yeah, they delivered the album to Capitol Records for it to be their last album ever. Then they changed their minds and decided we want it back. So CR released a greatest hits album instead, with 2 new songs (Kill the King & Dread and the Fugitive Mind). So the completed album sat there and was leaked. Now to Dave's credit, he went back and reworked some other songs to make them different, notably Coming Home and Moto Pyscho having their back to back connections (this was a lot better than what we got by the way). But since it was leaked the "fans" and naysayers picked the album apart before it even hit the stores. Complaints like "oh they copied Am I Evil? & Call of Ktula" or Dread and the Fugitive Mind is just like Sweating Bullets or Return to Hangar is a sell out song because it's a sequel like Metallica. Or, my favorite, Recipe for Hate...Warhorse sucks because it uses "..." like Holy Wars ... The Punishment Due. Seriously, these were all common complaints on the boards at

So what is good about it? Everything. The production is top notch. The guitar tone is perfect. It reminds me so much of Countdown to Extinction. Dave's voice sounds great and the treading off of solos is very reminicent of early Megadeth. Do you like playing air guitar? Then this is the album for you. How about solos that last 2 -3 minutes? Yes...2 - 3 minutes. It's simply insane. And it's not the solos that show off how well the guitarist can play the scales, but actual solos that carry the overall harmony of the song. A solo like on Disconnect isn't fast, but it is one of the most powerful solos on the album. Then you have insane solos like Recipe for Hate...Warhorse, Return to Hangar, Dread and the Fugitive Mind, and When. I should also mention Promises. It's the one ballad and it is a classic. It fits perfectly into this album and most fans really love this song. The strings in the background add so much to the song. Great song.

There is only one filler on here as well, Losing My Senses. That song sticks out like a sore thumb and shouldn't be on the album...Kill the King fits better.

Now how does it compare to The Sytem has Failed or United Abominations? Well I like it better than both because of the production and songs. TSHF was good, but after the first 4 songs or so it didn't feel like a Megadeth album. In fact, it wasn't supposed to be. It was supposed to be a solo album...I can get into that another day I guess. UA also starts off strong and finishes pretty strong, but the middle is eh. Overall, TWNAH is more of a complete Megadeth album then the others. Do yourself a favor and pick it up.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Who Decides: albums of the year

So with 2009 quickly approaching its final quarter the question of album of the year starts to loom even more. I have made it quiet clear that this year has been a little disappointing for me. Maybe it's a natural let down from the awesome year that was 2008...who knows.

Here's what I do know. September will give us new Shadows Fall and Megadeth records. October was supposed to give us the new Anthrax, but they fired their new singer so that album is up in the air. And I really don't know of any other albums that are supposed to be released this year.

So what does that mean for my top 10? Well as of right now, I would probably give the album of the year to either Susperia, DevilDriver, or Nightrage. Now, some might be thinking ... ok those are good albums so what's the problem? Well the problem isn't in the albums, they are solid, but they aren't as good as their last albums. Attitude is a catchy and heavy affair from Susperia ... but is it better than Cut From Stone? No. Same goes for Devildriver, Pray For Villains is good, but it's not better than The Last Kind Words. The Last Kind Words built upon The Fury of Our Maker's Hand. It took was a nice step from really good to great. But Nightrage is probably the biggest offender. I love every Nightrage album. Tompa's vocals on the first two albums plus the guitar work of Gus G. & Marios made those At The Gates-like. With A New Disease is Born, everything was raised to a new level. Tompa was gone, but Jimmie Strimell did an excellent job of singing (not just screaming) on the album. I was totally ready for another Nightrage release. But something happened on the way to their latest, Wearing a Martyr's Crown, they got a new vocalist. I don't think he is bad, just not as dynamic as Jimmie or original as Tompa. The guitar work is still memorable and top notch, but the vocals Now I know that those were released in 2007 and it shouldn't affect 2009, but it does. After a great album, I guess I just expect more from a band.

So there are a bunch of new artists that have released really solid debut or second albums. Bands like Dirge Within (defintely for fans of Sanctity), Animals as Leaders (instrumental), The Sorrow, Arkaea (Fear Factory meets Threat Signal), and Evita (great metalcore) could make a run for that top stop.

Then there are some bands that have totally bounced back from disappointing albums. It Dies Today ditched the whole emo sound and went back to more of an original sound with Lividity. The new stuff they have released so far sound really promising. The other is The Autumn Offering. Fear Will Cast No Shadow was boring and unoriginal...and that's being nice. Throw in a new vocalist and you quickly forgot that The Autumn Offering was once a great band mixing modern thrash with some metalcore breakdowns in for good measure. Well, Requiem took me by surprise. It's a ton better than FWCNS, but it's not Embrace the Gutter. It still has it's emo moments, but they are defintely back on track.

The top spot is really wide open. There are a bunch of good to really good albums out there this year, but nothing great. Hopefully, Shadows Fall and Megadeth can change that.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Right Now: Summer Vacation

  • Summer School is OVER!!!! :-)
  • going to Disneyland once a week at least
  • it's hot!
  • went to the beach for the first time with our kids
  • Enjoying Spectacular Spider-Man so much right now...great writing on that show
  • 4-5 weeks left...gotta enjoy it.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

What can Brown do for you?: Trevor's Wedding

ok it has been quite some time since I did a "What can Brown do for you?" post, and this one really has nothing to do with my 5 years there.

Last weekend, my good friend from UPS, Trevor, got married. I first met Trevor when he was 18. He didn't act like it. In fact, he was so mature and down to earth I thought he was always 3-4 years older than he actually was. Believe it or not I never found out his age until I left UPS.

I have a ton of stories with Trevor because of the time we spent together at UPS on the various belts and areas. He left UPS to join the Air Force, which he is in and doing incredibly well.

I am proud of what Trevor has become. I never had a younger brother, but I guess Trevor sort of took that role.

I wish nothing but the best for Trevor and his wife. Good luck.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thoughts Without Words: Summer School 2/3 done

two weeks to go and all is going smoothly as possible. I try to make summer school as painless as possible, mainly by giving the students a ton of time to do the homework in class. We do like 3 sections a day and that's adds up to a lot of homework. It's funny still to see students not take advantage of the free time to do it. Oh well.

I really don't have much to add to this. I will be doing an update on a new favorite show of mine pretty soon and probably another Spider-Man update (love that show!).

I can't believe we are already 5 weeks into our summer vacation? Where did it go?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Sun Always Shines on T.V.: Spectacular Spider-Man Season 2

So it's been awhile since I talked about The Spectacular Spider-Man, and it's also been a very long time since the show has had any new over a year. Can anyone say Battlestar Galactica?

Anyway, the 1st season wrapped up with a Venom storyline. Now when the symbiote first appeared the suit was like Spider-Man 3's suit...ugly and just changed the colors or the red & blue look. I was pissed, but over the course of 3 episodes it changed gradually into the classic black suit. Talk about geeking out over something so small!

So season 2 starts off with Kraven, another classic Spidey villain. Now they did screw him up a bit by making him into some sort of lion/human hybrid, but whatever. The writing was just as good and the actor who plays Spider-Man does an excellent job of bring his sarcastic one liners that we all love from the comics alive to the TV screen. As much as I liked Chris Barnes from the Spider-Man animated series of the 90's, this guy does it better.

Next week, we get more of the Sinister 6. I love the classic villain feel. All the kids talk about is Venom and Carnage. It's irrating to say the least because they have no respect for the classic villain in Spidey's rogue gallery. It's fun to have a show back on that I love.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thoughts Without Words: Michael Jackson

when I heard Jackson was dead my 1st reaction was no way. I was at Disneyland, of all places, enjoying the afternoon. I couldn't get to a T.V. and called a couple people who confirmed he had died.

Jackson was the 80's (as my wife said). He could do no wrong. He might have had his troubles since the mid to late 90's, but for many people if you play a Michael Jackson song it will take them back to the first time they heard it. Or it will bring back some sort of memory from that time. His music is timeless.

I know most of my visitors might be shocked about my love for M.J., but Thriller, Bad, and Dangerous are 3 of the greatest pop albums of all time. And to make them in a row makes it that much more impressive. For metal fans, it's like Metallica's RtL, MoP, and AJFA.

I can't say I was much of a fan after those times when he had his legal issues, but you can't deny his musical talent.

One of my favorite Jackson songs that no one knows about Give in to Me.

Michael Jackson - Give In To Me (Official Music Video) - The best video clips are right here

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Right Now: Summer School week 1

one week done 5 to go.

Not a bad class lots of incoming freshmen.

Got my schedule for next year:
2 Geometry classes
2 Algebra 2 classes
1 Algebra B class

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Venting the Anger: 08 - 09 school year

ok now that the year is over I can finally let off some steam. I have only been teaching 6 years, but this was by far the worst year I have ever had. Parent/student complaints seemed to never end. Let me put it this way, in this one school year I had more complaints/conferences then I had the other 5 years combined. yeah...

So where do I start? I already mentioned the parent that told me that their child doesn't do well and can't succeed in an environment that requires responsibility and accountability on the student's part. Well there's more. The parent told me that apparently I didn't care about the students and that I was a horrible teacher. And that they needed to find teachers that cared about students' success. The student was enrolled in my summer school class, and the parent openly told me that they didn't think their child should have to take me again because I didn't work one on one with their child. I asked them with 35 - 40 students I couldn't pull the student aside, the parent was like why not? So they pulled the student out of my summer school class.

How about the day I had 3 back to back to back parent conferences. The funny thing is that in one conference I had a parent tell me their child thinks I am too strict and need to become friendlier with the students to make them feel more comfortable. Oh and if I could pull their child aside and tell them (this is the actual quote by the way) "I know you can do this, I have faith in you." Now she wanted me to tell her that one on one on the side not in front of the class. So after that conference I had a parent tell me that their child felt I was too friendly with the class and needed to become more strict. How's that for conflicting stories?

I had a student who openly told me at the end of the year that he complained to his parents after I called his parents about him not working in class. So to deflect from his problems he complained to the point where I had a meeting with my bosses. So because I held him accountable he complained...nice huh?

How about the one that told their parents that they were afraid to talk to me about anything, that I was intimidating to them. I had never spoke to the student before because they never talked in class. After that meeting, I moved the student to a more comfortable location and was friendlier to them and asked questions...but nothing. About a month later, the student was still scared to death of me.

There's the class student that didn't do any homework in my class and then proceeded to deflect his problems onto me by saying I was rude and mean in class. During that meeting, the parent clearly saw that the student wasn't doing the homework. So when I tried to use some logic by saying "look he is saying he is doing the homework, but he is lying about it and he is saying that I am doing/saying rude things in class, you don't think he could be lying about that?" The parent said no. I then asked the parent to come in and observe anytime. The parent said I don't need to come in, my child tells me what goes on in there. Yeah that makes sense.

That's another thing...I invited 4 or 5 parents to come in and observe my class. What happened? None of them took me up on it. They all said they didn't need to becuase their child told them what was going on.

Oh another favorite, early in the year I had a student who couldn't do anything...literally nothing. So he went to my T.A. and asked if she could change his grade. She said no and of course told me. I confronted the student and told him I would be contacting his GLC and parents. By the time I emailed his parents, he told them because the response I got back was "he told me about it, but he said he was joking." I told the parent that I don't find changing a grade something to joke about. The parent also mentioned that he was struggling because I was a bad teacher. I told the parent that their son is no longer in middle school or elementary school, that it is his responsiblity to do the homework, take notes, and pay attention in class. That was obviously too much to ask because the parent had him removed in a day.

Let's see how about the student that sat there and did nothing in class, maybe some other classes homework. She was failing pretty bad. Asked for her grade to be a D so she would be eligible to play a sport. When I said no, she went south...quick. Around the same time, I told the classes that I was no longer going to let them sit and fail. That I would make sure they were taking notes and doing the homework, if not I would be contacting their parents. She didn't like that one bit and then proceeded to make a list of complaints about me to her parents and GLC. All she wanted was to go to an easier class to be eligible. She got her wish.

I could literally go on forever, but that was a snap shot of how bad it was. The worst part, they were all freshmen except for one. Is this how bad it's getting with parents/students? I won't even go into the whole "tutoring" situation that hit me this year. That's best left for another post.

Now playing: Nightrage - Reality Vs truth
via FoxyTunes

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thoughts Without Words: summer school

ok, I am going to try and beef up my post count during the summer and post regularly, being that I am not be hampered by Webwasher. So what better place to start off with then summer school. Summer school is pretty enjoyable. 6 weeks to cover about 7 chapters (when I am teaching Algebra B), that one summer where I did 13 chapters in 6 weeks...unreal, just unreal. The nice thing is that the pace isn't bad and there is plenty of time in class to go over and clarify the material.

I will also be teaching in my new room this summer. That should be pretty interesting as well. I haven't been in a class in 3 years...gonna miss that portable. I have my room arranged to hold 40 desks (class sizes are going up people) and I think it looks good...maybe one row will have some trouble seeing with a glare, but I will have to wait and see on that one.

I haven't had problems with parents in the summer, but who knows what this summer will bring. After the year of parents wanting more and more...I really don't know. I try to stress responsibility and accountability for the students. Those that can do it, thrive. Those that can't usually fail or get a D. I had one freshman parent tell me that their child doesn't do well in that kind of environment. I won't go into to it anymore...that's more of a Venting the Anger post, but I am hoping to avoid all of that.

next post will be about either the new Scrubs or maybe a spotlight on a band.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Who Decides: mid-year albums of the year 2009

Well, obviously my work never unblocked blogger, but hopefully next year will be different. Not going to say much about 09, they were a great class and I knew a bunch of them through classes and it was my last year coaching. So I will simply move on as I do every year.

Onto the topic at hand, this has been a slow music for me this year. I have only heard a couple of albums that have blown me away. As I stated earlier, I am really looking forward to the second half of the year. So what has caught my eye...or should I say ear? (lamest joke I ever wrote on here)

1. The Sorrow - Origin of the Storm: this is classic metalcore at it's best. I'm talking Killswitch Engage good. Best surprise of the year and if KsE doesn't release a great album, this could easily top it.

2. Lazarus A.D. - The Onslaught: ok, so this is a remastered album with A.D. thrown on the end of their name. But the album sounds better than before and clearer, so why not mention it twice?

3. Icon in Me - Human Museum: this is what Mnemic's last album should have been, not that craptacular Passenger. Great sound very reminiscent of Mnemic's earlier stuff.

4. The Beneath - City of Lights: who? That's what I said when I looked at it, but The Beneath is basically a Protest the Hero type band, and I love PtH.

5. God Forbid - Earthsblood: solid, but nothing special

6. The Agonist - Lullabies for the Dormant Mind: sounds very very similar to Amaran in certain parts...that's a good thing.

7. Suidakra - Crogacht: more folk metal...pretty solid.

8. Crimfall - As the Path Unfolds...: imagine if Nightwish had a death metal vocalist you have Crimfall.

9. Darkness by Oath - Fear Yourself: solid melodic death metal album...generic, but good.

That's all that has caught my eye so far. Nightrage has released their album on their Myspace page and it sounds good. I really liked the dynamics of A New Disease is Born, but this one seems to be more straight forward like Descent into Chaos... and that's not necessarily a bad thing either. I expect the album to make my top 10 like their previous 3 albums did.

I don't expect more than one or two of these to make the end of the year list. That's it.

Friday, May 08, 2009

The Sun Always Shines on T.V.: Scrubs

2 posts in one week? what the frak?

As you can tell I am still adjusting to life without BSG, which ended about a month ago. Friday nights are a little less enjoyable without it, but I have managed with The Soup, PTI, and Scrubs. Well scratch another one of the list, Scrubs is supposedly done.

They aired their season (series?) finale this past week. It focused on J.D.'s last day at Scared Heart. I have seen lots of finales (obviously) and this one ranks up their as one of the best. The writers have always done a great job of balancing humor with emotions. I remember the first episode I saw was the one where Brendon Fraiser (yes him) *spoilers* died. I remember laughing so hard at times during the episode, but then wiping tears away at the end.

Scrubs has done it all. The finale was no different. Watching J.D. all episode trying to get Dr. Cox to tell him how he felt, only to keep getting rejected was very sad. Then when it looked like it wasn't going to happen...bam it did. Awesome writing and acting. And then the last scene where J.D. "sees" his future was a great way to end the show.

There is talk of a spin off with some of the interns that were introduced this season. A few weeks ago I was all for it, but after this ending...I doubt they could top it. Rename the show, but don't call it Scrubs. We saw what happened when Spin City tried to go on without Michael J. Fox. The show was still funny, but it lost a lot of the original magic. Side note, the creators are the same.

Monday, May 04, 2009

The Sun Always Shines on T.V.: The Community

holy crap 2 posts in one week?!?!?!

Anyway, as you all know I am a huge fan of The Soup with Joel McHale. He ranks only second (maybe 1st someday) behind Greg Kinnear as my favorite host. It was announced today that Joel's show The Community has been picked up for the fall on NBC. They have a short 4 minute clip of the show...looks pretty funny. I hope it goes well for Joel and he doesn't leave The Soup like Greg did.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Thoughts Without Words: CSTs and whatever else

So the CSTs are over now and I really have no clue as to how my students did. Some are confident that they passed, while others said they guessed on the whole thing...nice huh? I won't stress about it until August or so, then it goes away for a year. All I can do is prepare them for the test and let the chips fall where they may.

So what else is going on? Well let's see my son is turning one this week. Has it already been one year?

I took a look at the number of postings I have been doing...pretty lame. I really hat webwasher. I can't blog at work anymore. Whatever happened to being able to get our own "teacher" login? Who knows. Work needs to end pretty quick. Having 70% of my students be freshmen has worn on me. I will say that they have matured a bit and are finally learning some responsibility and accountability.

What else? I haven't talked about BSG's finale in detail that much and I won't go into it today, but I will say that the first hour was awesome and ranks up there as a movie in terms of acting and visuals.

Music? Wow what a disappointing year so far. Last year at this time I already had 10 solid albums. Right now? Pretty much zero. God Forbid has a solid album out right now and The Sorrow's Origin of the Storm is also solid. The Sorrow's album reminds me a ton of Killswitch Engage, which is a good thing. Other than that...nothing. I am waiting patiently for the second half to hit. Let's see these are the ones I know of;
Killswitch Engage
Shadows Fall
Fear Factory (hopefully)
Arkaea (members of FF & Threat Signal)
Threat Signal (maybe)

Now that is a solid list of metal. What am I listening to right now? Mainly, Shadows Fall, Nightrage, All That Remains, Killswitch Engage, Trivium, and Devildriver.

TV? I am waiting for the second season of Spectacular Spiderman to start up again.

Out for now, who knows when I will post again.

Now playing: Killswitch Engage - Hope Is
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Remembering my Grandpa...

I can't believe it's been 3 years already since my grandpa passed away. I have been up to the farm 2 times since then and it's so surreal to be there and not see him. I just expect him to walk in and hear his rough/old voice say "well hey there Jason." Anyway, like I do every year I post this in memory of him.

It's been one week since my Grandpa passed away, so I think I will share some of my memories about him. To me he was a great man. He dropped out of school early on in his life, before the 8th grade, joined the navy and ended up fighting in World War II. He met my Grandmother while she was studying to become a nurse, to which my grandpa responded, "why would you want to be a nurse because if you were my wife you wouldn't work." Classic grandpa.

My grandpa was a farmer . He ended up farming for years. In fact, he was still farming 60 acres of land up until he was in his late 70's. He would wake up in the middle of the night to change his water, to make sure he didn't over water his crops. He did most of the work, minus the actual picking of the crops.

He was the central figure in our family. At Christmas time it was grandpa who would hand out the presents to all of the kids and adults. When grandpa was happy we were all happy, when he was sad or upset we all shared in his pain.

How did he effect my life? Well let's see, he introduced me to golf. I would remember going to visit him in the summer to play golf at the same golf course he played at. It was amazing and an honor. Now I am not shallow enough to realize other things my grandpa taught me; how to tie vines, how to flood gophers out of their holes (that had to be one of the more enjoyable summers ever.) We could spend hours on end talking about football too. Whether it was the 49ers and how crappy they had become, or how the Sooners fell apart. He also taught me how to be a man, how to treat a woman. How to act in certain situations. Now he never came out and said "Kevin, this is what you do", but he always acted in a certain way that would always be the right way. Now there were times that he didn't act the right way, but he would always say later on, how he should have acted.

My grandpa was a huge part of my life. I spent every vacation hour (minus 3 summers because of football) at my grandparents home. Every vacation we had a different job. He would always tell us, that he has to do it because he didn't finish school and this was his life. I guess that hit all of us grandkids because 6 of the 7 graduated from college. That idea that unless you get an education, you would be doing manual labor stuck with us.

My grandpa was diagnosed with lung cancer a few years ago. I guess we weren't surprised because he had been smoking since he was around 12 years old. He had surgery to remove the cancer from the lung. Doctors say that if you can go one year without the cancer coming back, then your odds are pretty good it will stay in remission. Well, with my grandpa it was around 10 or 11 months when the doctors told him the cancer was back. He had no choice but to try chemo-therapy. At his age it was risky, but he couldn't have another operation. He was able to go through all of the treatments, except the last one. Most of the cancer was gone or drastically reduced. I saw him in the middle of his treatments during Thanksgiving. He looked well, he was joking around and we made some bets on the Rose Bowl and Super Bowl, even though we didn't know the teams. We also gave my grandparents a Webtv. Now this might seem like nothing, but my grandparents never owned a VCR. He was excited and happy knowing he could write to any grandkid whenever or check the weather whenever he wanted to. I will never foget his face when he said "So you mean I'm online now?"

We didn't go up to see him at Christmas time because my wife was pregnant at the time and couldn't travel at all. At the time I didn't think it mattered because I figured I would see him next Christmas. During the spring time he battled some serious colds and that also took it's toll on his body. It was in early April during a phone conversation that he commented that his shoulder was hurting him. I told him to lift some weights because he needed to be strong enough to lift our little girl. He laughed and said that his is trying. During spring break my parents came down and said I needed to go see him because he was very ill. I thought it was just my mom being over reactive, but she wasn't. When I saw my grandpa he didn't recognize me because of the medication he was on and because cancer was spreading into his brain. That first day was very rough for me and my wife. After lunch my grandpa walked outside and my wife suggested I go on a walk with him. I was very hesitant to, but agreed to go. My grandpa and I walked about 30-50 yards and back. We talked about the weather (as all farmers do) and about the neighbor building a house. And then he went out and started talking about the war. As soon as he started it was over. I found out later that that was his last walk. The cancer spread to his spine and legs and he couldn't walk. That is something I hope to never forget. The next day he was better, alot better. He knew me and remembered things about conversations from earlier in the day and years ago. My wife and I always played Uno for him, he loved to see me lose. He was sitting in the chair, in pain, but smiling at us and said "I remember that game you guys play, Uni" We said good-bye that day, never in a million years did I think I wouldn't see him alive again. In less than a week, they stopped all treatment and the next Friday he was in hospice care... a total of 8 days. My heart ached for him, my grandma, and my family. We prayed for a quick death so he wouldn't suffer. He was able to leave the hospital and come home to his farm to die. His farm where he made his life and legacy. He died at 2:14 AM on April 23rd. I miss him so much. I am so sad when I think that he won't hold my daughter, hold me, or hold his wife again. I know he is in a better place without pain, but my heart misses him so much. I was honored to be a pallbearer at his funeral this past week. I cried and smiled thinking about the memories of him. My brothers and I shared stories of grandpa over his grave talking to him.

My grandpa saw alot in his life time and lived alot too. My grandpa was and will always be a hero to me. I love you're online so you can read this now.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Right Now

just post because I missed all of February due to Webwasher.

Battlestar Galactica has 3 hours left then it's over...what the frak?
Don't want to touch work right now...I will leave it at that.
Family and I got Disneyland passes...super happy.
CA Budget and politics in general are upsetting me a lot...too much spending and giving out of free money, but what about the people who play it straight? screwed.

Hopefully I will post more this month.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Sun Always Shines on T.V.: BSG Final Season & Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Well another 2 weeks and another post. I talked to our tech guys and he told me that our district is still working on a separate log in for teachers that isn't as strict as student log ins. Only time will tell.

Anyway, on to the subject at hand. It's been almost one year since the rag tag fleet found Earth only to find it destroyed by a nuclear war. The episode was great. Let's face it though, it had been so long (9 months) that anything was going to make me happy. But it didn't disappoint, highlights for me:
- The 13th Colony was all Cylons, and they had a civil war and destroyed each other on earth.
- Starbuck finds her own dead body...WTF?!?!?
- Dee kills herself (didn't see that coming[in fact it ranked up there with Boomer shooting Adama during the first season as shocking moments go])
- President gives up hope (what would Obama say?)
- 5th Cylon is "revealed" to be Ellen who died last season
Basically a ton more questions and a great episode can't wait for Fridays again.

The other show I am really loving these days is Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Now before Episode III came out they had a regular cartoon version which hits some of the highlights taking place before the last movie. This show is CGI and tells more of the story of the war itself. I have no idea how many seasons/episodes it will have, but I am hoping for a lot. The animation is the best I have ever seen on a tv show. I mean the prequels were full of CGI and there are times (space battles) when it seems like you are watching a movie. You can't really see Anikin's turn yet, but you know it's coming because he has a padawan, Ahsoka Tano. Now she is destined to bite the big one somewhere during this show because she doesn't turn up during Episode III. The other nice thing about the show is that it doesn't focus on Anakin all the time (like the cartoon version). We have episodes where Anakin and Obi Wan don't even appear. How about an episode without Jedis? Does it work...yep. The Star Wars universe is so big there is a ton to explore.

My only complaint is Jar Jar...yes he makes appearances (2 so far). I just hate Jar Jar, the fans hate Jar Jar why must we be forced to watch him? By the way, this isn't a kids show either...lots of death and destruction. This series was made for the fans. I really want a show that takes place between Episodes III & IV, but this will do for now. I hear the live action show will cover those 20 years.

Next post...who knows.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Who Decides: Top 10 Albums of the Year (Spinal Tap Edition)

So it's only been over a month since I last posted something (thanks Webwasher), and I missed out on some of my genre albums of the year. So really quick;
Metalcore Album of the Year: My Minds Weapon - The Carrion Sky
Industrial Album of the Year: Black Comedy - Instigator
Biggest Disappointment: Fear My Thoughts - Isolation
Best Debut Album: Exmortus - In Hatred's Flame
Best Sophomore Album: Mygrain - Signs of Existence

Ok enough of that onto my top 10 of the year. BTW, if you don't get the Spinal Tap reference watch this first.

11. Protest the Hero - Fortress: A solid follow-up to Kezia and is pretty much more of the same, which is a good thing. Something that bothered me a bit was how it seemed like the song was over and then there would be seconds of silence then another song would start up...really sucks when I am listening on random (Palms Read).

10. Into Eternity - The Incurable Tragedy: a better return to form than The Scattering of Ashes. Crazier time changes and great guitar work. Vocals were solid again, but I still miss all the harmonies of Buried Into Oblivion. What kept this album from going's short, not even 40 minutes long.

9. Eluveitie - Slania: like I said earlier when I heard this album, it's just so out there it works. Violins, bagpipes, and a hurdy gurdy sound great when thrown in with some classic death metal elements. Great Surprise.

8. Exmortus - In Hatred's Flame: a great album. If you like Dragonforce's insane guitar work but can't stand the high vocals...then these guys are for you. From the first listen I was hooked. I can't put into words how great the guitar work is it's one that you have to hear for yourself.

7. Mercenary - Architect of Lies: where The Hours That Remain lacked (death vocals), Architect of Lies makes up for it. This is a great album and might be better than 11 Dreams. The first time I heard The Endless Fall I was blown away by that riff midway through. While that is easily the best song on the album, the rest of it is just as good.

6. Becoming the Archetype - Dichotomy: one name Devin Townsend. He produced this album and made the band sound better than ever. End of the Age, How Great Thou Art, and Self-Existent really shine. Awesome album, if you are looking for a great progressive metal album this has to be it.

5. Bullet For My Valentine - Scream, Aim, Fire: How bad did I want to not like this album, but man can these guys write catchy heavy metal. I was drawn in by and Hearts Burst Into Fire, Forever and Always, but was hooked by their cover of No Easy Way Out (find it on a special import edition). Last To Know, Take it out on Me, the list goes on and on. These are metal songs that you can hum and sing along to. Solid album, my guilty pleasure of the year.

4. All That Remains - Overcome: Is it better than Fall of Ideals? No, but it's not the same album. ATR has always done something different for each album. This album focuses more on the vocals of Phil than anything else. It took a few listens to listen to, but now it's a pleasure to listen to. BTW, I'm not talking emo vocals either, just great melodic singing.

3. Testament - The Formation of Damnation: What can I say about this album? It's just a solid thrash album. It's great to hear Chuck BIlly and the boys playing again. People wanted The Ritual 2, but I wanted another Low, which is what this album is more similar to. Great guitar work between Peterson and Skolnick make this a huge winner. Also to note, Chuck kept some of his death growls in the vocals.

2. Trivium - Shogun: I'll admit it, after The Crusade I thought this band was done. That album was such a blatent sell out album I couldn't see them coming back. Enter Shogun. This album takes everything great from Ascendancy and makes it better. The more I listen to this album I think it could be their best. Songs like Torn Between, Throes of Perdition, Of Promethus, and of course their best song ever Shogun make this a classic thrash album. Then throw in Down From the Sky for those power ballad types and you have an instant classic.

1. Metallica - Death Magnetic: Was there any surprise here? I mean I actually liked St. Anger. The band said St. Anger wasn't supposed to be a popular album. In fact, they said they wanted to make an album so raw that radio wouldn't want to play it. Now we all know this album is a "return to form" for the boys, but I am going to take a different direction. I am going to say that if St. Anger had guitar solos and the corrrect drum snare you would have Death Magnetic. Think about it long intros, check, long choruses, check, wanting to make a "raw" album, check. This is what St. Anger was supposed to be. Don't believe me? All Nightmare Long is based upon a chorus that wasn't used on St. Anger. A great album. I would really like to see someone put the correct snare on St. Anger to see what a difference that would make.

That's my Top 10 for the year. I'm not sure what 2009 holds, except for Megadeth's new one. As for my posting on a more consistant basis, hopefully my school will unblock Blogger and I can start posting more feequently. Seriously, two kids makes it tough.