Friday, December 31, 2010

Inside Four Walls: AP failures

I got this from Darren's blog, which is a daily stop for me. I can't add anything to it. It is perfect. I will post an excerpt and you can go to his blog for the rest.

Begin with a quote from the article;
Educators say the hardest-working students at schools like Carver and John McDonogh benefit immensely from exposure to higher-level courses, both in self-esteem and in tangible skills such as test preparation, even if few end up passing the AP exam.
Again, what does self-esteem have to do with this? They have failed. And to be honest, they've failed at something that they should have been prepared for. It's not like they failed rowing alone across the Atlantic, they failed at a course in high school. How does one get self-esteem from that? How does one look in the mirror and feel good about himself because of that? And how do so-called educators convince themselves that allowing students to take courses for which they are not prepared is actually a good thing?

It's a great read, check the rest out HERE. He has a great education blog. Add him if you haven't already.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Yesterdays: Not a bad year...

So as 2010 comes to a close, it really hit me how much this blog has grown over the past year. The first thing I noticed is the number of posts increased dramatically. Up until this year I had a total of 198 posts. This year alone I am probably going to be 225-227. 2008 was the big year with 108, but that was also the year our school blocked Blogger with Webwasher.

I also really cleaned up the blog. Not anything dirty or anything, but organized it better. I have tags for every subject, so readers can just search the tags that they want to instead of reading the whole page.

Of course, I can't forget having one of my posts get put on another blog. That was a huge highlight. It was my post on special ed (HERE). Joanne Jacobs picked it up and posted it on her blog (HERE) which helped get some publicity for my blog. I think that helped open my blog up to more readers and hopefully I kept a few.

I would like to find a way to have more comments on here. I know I am getting viewers, I check that with Analytics, but I guess more interaction would be nice. When Joanne posted my story, I had over 100 visitors and yet not one comment.

Other than that, nothing much else to talk about. I thought it was a fun year, except for October when I had only one post.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tirades of Truth: Tron - Legacy

Holy crap! I actually went out and saw a movie. I think the last movie I saw before this was Star Trek. Anyway...

Tron Legacy is a sequel to the original Tron from the 80's. It was somewhat a cult hit and still has legions of followers. I really didn't see the big deal of the original, but I figured I could take my dad to see the new one, since he liked the original so much.
The first thing I saw was this logo...How cool is that? Disney always puts the castle in the beginning and they went ahead and imagined it as part of the Grid. Then within the next five minutes you see a bunch of references to Disney's other sci-fi movie The Black Hole (which I hear is up for a remake if Tron does well).

Before Sam (Flynn's son) goes into the Grid, there is a nice little 15-20 minute action/stealth sequence. But the real magic happens when they go into the Grid. By the way, the Grid is a place where programs live. They have little clubs and Gladiator type games between programs.

The action sequences are awesome. There was a great storyline going on, but the action was just fantastic. The light cycle battles were breath-taking. So much of an upgrade from the original battle from the 80's. Speaking of upgrades, in addition to the new light cycles, they also through in a new light plane/jet.

The whole movie was beautifully done. I didn't see it in 3D because I'm not into the hype of 3D, but I think this would have been one heck of a movie to see in 3D. The colors are crisp and the three colors (white, red, orange) really stand out and look great. Not to mention how they were able to digitally alter Jeff Bridges to look like he did in the 80's...great! And to me it looked pretty good, not like CGI.

The cast was awesome. But that goes along with the script. The whole time I am watching this movie I am trying to figure out who is good and who is bad.
The two main girls both had me thinking for awhile they were bad, but only one turned out to be. After seeing some of the previews I thought they would try to sex up the movie, but it really didn't happen. The girl in white had the tightest suit, but it wasn't any different than a guy's suit, it's just that it fit differently on her. With the girl in black...couldn't tell a thing.

The guy that stole some scenes for me was this guy. He played an over the top club owner. When I first saw him I he reminded me of two characters, David Bowie from Labyrinth and The Riddler from Batman Forever (I guess it was the cane and the way he used it). He was great...turned out to be an ass, but still solid performance. I also liked Clu's assistant, he also had a solid performance.

The best thing was that you really didn't need to see the original Tron to understand this one. I'm not sure if I ever saw the original Tron from start to finish, but it didn't matter. This was a great self-contained movie...kind of like the first Star Wars movie. There are rumors that if this movie is a hit then there will be 2 more movies and a cartoon as well. I say bring it on.

This movie isn't going to win any Oscars (except for visuals), but it is a great science fiction/action movie with a great storyline that pretty much anyone can follow.

Actually, I really couldn't think of any. It was an enjoyable movie. Don't go in expecting a masterpiece of film, go in expecting a fun action packed sci-fi movie with a solid storyline.

Inside Four Walls: A lesson in socialism

Here is a nice little hidden lesson I do every year to show my kids that no one likes to have their hard work toyed with. What they earn is theirs, not anyone else's. It is my little lesson in socialism.

I tell the students that for grades everyone will get the class average, which is usually around a C (70 - 75%). At that point, all the A students complain saying they worked to hard to have their grade changed. I tell them that they are simply helping out their fellow students and I am just redistributing the points so everyone is equal. The lower students are happy because they don't have to do any work and they will get a passing grade.

Eventually, the higher students tell the lower kids to work harder to bring up the average. The lower kids laugh and tell them why? They are passing already. So then I have to chime in and tell them that the lower kids don't get it, so if you want the average to go up, the B & A students will have to work harder to raise the average because we don't expect the lower students to improve.

After that the high students say that they aren't going to work hard anymore. As they put it, what's the point? The average will never get to an A, so why try.

I do this once a year or so to let the kids understand that school is a capitalistic society just like life is. That whatever you earn is yours and shouldn't be taken away from you. By the way, in all my years of doing this only once did a student catch on to the hidden message. He was the president of the campus' young democrats. He had a B and didn't like the idea of lowering his grade to help others, but when I said "redistribute the points" he caught on and smiled.

It goes to show that even though most kids are liberal by nature, even they understand that taking away something they earned is wrong.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Who Decides: Strawberry Shortcake

Now I have a daughter and she adores Strawberry Shortcake. I don't know how it happen and neither does my wife, but it happened. Well, if you didn't know this her (Strawberry's) look has changed over the years and I will take a quick look at the different designs. This actually would have fit in well with my post on comic book costume redesigns, but whatever.

I remembered Strawberry Shortcake from the 80's. She kind of looked like an old grandma, yet she was young. It wasn't a flattering look at all. I'm sure that the kids loved it at the time, but the big puffy hat, short yarn like hair. Man, I don't know how my wife liked this. She had a definite country style going on, but it was the 80's I guess. But it became iconic. The striped green tights, the apron diamond pattern, the puffy hat. It became the look.

Enter the 90's.
Strawberry Shortcake was no longer the dress wearing grandma from the 80's she was a cool hip girl who wore jeans because we all know that wearing dresses in the 90's was
uncool. And what better way to make Strawberry cool again by taking away one of the most identifiable things about her...her dress. So no dress, no green tights, no puffy hat...this is just some generic cartoon character. And it's nice that they even managed to give her worse hair
than her 80's style. Besides the strawberry on her hat how are to supposed to know who this is?

Now there was sort of an updated version of this Strawberry in the mid 2000's, I guess. I'm no expert. This was a little better. First off, the jeans are gone and the dress is back. Another plus is the hair actually looks good. But that's where it ends. No green tights, no apron. Once again, without that strawberry on her hat, how do you know who it is? This is nothing like the original iconic figure.

Enter 2009. This is how you do a redesign. You take all the iconic elements from the original and update them.
Much like the Ben Reilly Spider-Man suit. I still say if that suit was introduced with Peter Parker and not during that horrible Clone Saga, we would have a new Spider-Man suit...but I just got off topic.

Look at how much it mirrors the original. Dress...check. Green tights...check. Puffy hat...check. Diamond pattern...check. It has it all. And right away you are connected with who it is. Not only is the look iconic, but the hat looks like a strawberry!
I am glad that my daughter actually likes this version of Strawberry Shortcake. It is by far the best version and really stays true to the original look. We picked her up a dvd of the 90's Strawberry Shortcake and she told us quickly that this wasn't Strawberry Shortcake...too funny.

I know this post seems a little out of place, but it has been weighing on me for about 4 months now. While getting the pictures for the post I found this one which shows the looks through the years. Pretty interesting.
The 2007 one bothers me a bit because I can't really find anything else but that picture. The design looks close to the one up above from the mid 2000's, but she has pants on again. It's also interesting to see the one thing that connected the first 3 designs was the strawberries on the hat, whereas the new design brought the puffy hat back, but turned the little strawberries into little seeds.

That's it. Enough of this, my wife will probably make fun of me for posting something like this here.

Inside Four Walls: Paying for CSTs

I have talked about schools paying for grades and heck I recently talked about a teacher who gives out gift cards for her advanced students. So when I read something like this today, it doesn't surprise me at all. In fact, it makes it all the more sweeter knowing that it came from a 9th grader. Now how a 9th grader gets published on the Huffington Post, I don't know. You would think it takes away from their credibility, but whatever.

Seems like this 9th grader feels that schools should give out cash rewards for students who score Advanced on their CSTs. Now I am totally against this. I have made that clear in the past, but this kid just doesn't get it. What his idea?
In 9th grade, if a student scores 550-600 on ALL their subjects, they will receive 50 dollars in cash. Only if a student receives the reward for 9th grade will they be able to get the $100 reward for 550-600 in 10th grade. Once a student receives both of those awards, only then will they be eligible for the $150 reward for 550-600 in 11th grade. Then, if a student manages to get 550-600 again in 12th grade, they shall receive 150 dollars in addition to a certificate stating their hard work and dedication throughout the years, greatly improving their chances of being accepted into a famous college.
What an idiot. Sorry if that hurts anyone's feelings, but this is wrong on so many levels. First, to get over a 550 on a CST is pretty tough. Maybe it's because I teach math, but I rarely see it. Don't get me wrong, I get advanced, but even my smartest students never sniff a 550. And to get 550+ for 3 straight years in ALL subjects? Impossible for most of the students in CA. I would actually want to see this done just to see how much money is given out. If they did this, I would update this post with a The Last Laugh one on no one made any money because it's impossible!!!

Secondly, this just shows he is a freshman because he mentions scoring 550-600 as 12th graders, well sorry to burst your bubble, but seniors don't take the CSTs. Great job on checking the facts buddy.

All joking aside, this is what's wrong with our country. Kids are putting their hands out first saying "gimmie first, then I'll do it." Where does that come from? How realistic is that way of thinking? This country is looking worse and worse.

Now back to our little writer. Something else caught my eye as I was reading the post
The money being used as reward may seem a lot initially, because the population of California is relatively huge. However, we must think about the positive effects. When a student becomes educated, they will become an asset to our state, to our country. They will want to get a job with a high salary. Later, they will be taxed, meaning profit for our state. Of course, the more educated one is, the more likely it is that one will get a better job. In addition, if we consider the dreams of every person, one of those dreams is to buy a house. In order to buy a house, one would need money.
Talk about a liberal in training. Person wants to make more money, which is ok because we can tax the person more and make more PROFIT for our state. WHAT THE?!?!?!?! States aren't businesses that should be showing profit. They should run a balanced budget, which means what comes in, is the same that goes out and vice versa.

The Sun Always Shines on T.V.: Outsourced

A new show? What is this madness?

Yes, I have found a new sitcom, Outsourced. Not a typical one, but one that I absolutely love. Outsourced is a show about a call center in India. An American supervisor is shipped off to India where he works in a call center for adult novelty products.

The cast is very different because it isn't made up of your typical white run of the mill actors. In fact, there are a total of 3 white characters (one who is Australian) and the rest are Indians (not Native American Indians...the ones from India). By the way, that joke in itself is played out during an episode on Thanksgiving.

There is great character development between the lead Todd and one of the operators, Asha. There is a some chemistry there, but nothing can happen because her parents have her in an arranged marriage. Add on that, the Australian female is attracted to Todd and will do anything to get his attention...yes anything. The cast just works. They are your stereotypical office characters, but since they aren't American it seems fresh and original.

Some people have knocked the show for being racist or insensitive, but those people need to lighten up and realize it's a sitcom (situational comedy). These are the same people that forced Vince Vaughn's movie to change the trailer because he said electric cars were gay.

I don't know how long this show will be around. Probably not long. Check it out. It's pretty funny. Check out the preview below.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Last Laugh: CA overstates "Stimulus Jobs"

If CA were a student in my class, the other students would call CA a kiss ass. Because that's what CA is. The state is always trying to find a way to look good to the Obama administration and liberals. Whether it is global warming, illegal aliens, or the positives of stimulus money, CA is always first in line to say "look at us"

So imagine the nice laugh I got when I read this yesterday;
In a sampling of five state agencies, the California State Auditor found that two overstated the number of jobs by 617 positions.

For example, the Water Resources Control Board did not follow guidelines and triple-counted the number of jobs created with the money. It ended up overstating the number of jobs by 71.
Triple counted??? Are you serious? I might see a double count mistake, but triple come on, you are just trying to look good now. I don't think I have any students that would make a mistake like that.

Stimulus jobs are temporary labor. That's it. CA is trying to stick its chest out and look good because we are putting the speed line from the great cities of Borden and Corcoran.

Inside Four Walls: 3D Glasses

As the fist week of Christmas break winds down, I thought I would share an amusing story from last week.

A girl in the front of the class had these thick framed glasses with the words "Real 3D" on the side of them. There was nothing in the glasses either, just frames.

So I put them on and looked at the class. While I was looking around another student asked if they worked. I held up my hand right in front of my face and said "It's so weird. It's like my hand is coming at me. It's like it's right in front of me." Some of the class started to laugh realizing what I was doing. But the student...not so much.

The student asked if they could try them on next. I said sure, but it was weird and pretty trippy to see things in 3D. At that point the whole class was laughing and then the student caught on to what was happening.

Good times.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Sun Always Shines on T.V.: Star Wars - The Clone Wars

I will do a longer write up on how great this show is becoming, but the trailer that just came out yesterday for the second half of the season looks awesome.

Basically the show tells all the stories of the Clone Wars in between Episode 2 & 3. It's nice because you can see how close Obi-Wan and Anakin really were. They threw in a little girl Jedi Ahsoka for kids to watch, but they have taken her character in a whole new direction it looks like.

Are you kidding me? Making her turn to the dark side? This series is becoming better than Episode 1 (minus the last lightsaber battle) and most of Episode 2. I can't wait for January.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Music Non Stop: 2011 already?

Is it too early to look ahead at some albums for 2011? After all, 2010 hasn't been stellar as I am still trying to round out my Top 10.

Well here are some albums I am already looking forward to.
Deadlock - Bizarro World. With a title like that, I know I can expect some good things. Deadlock is all over the place at times. Sometimes they are At the Gates with females vocals on the top and other times they throw in techno, jazz, and rap. Whatever they might be this time, this should be good.

Dead by April They have a EP coming out in January and then an LP later the same year. The EP will have a couple of new songs and some "heavier" versions of some songs off the debut album. If you recall my review of the band, I said they needed to be a little heavier for me, so this has definitely peaked my interest.

Lazarus A.D. - Black River Flows. About time. This band released their debut in 2007, then re-released it 2008 or 2009 after some remixing by James Murphy (I really hope Arcania does something similar). The song they released for the teaser isn't a total thrasher like pretty much anything off of their debut, but it is still good. Lazarus A.D. has potential and for me a lot is riding on this album.

Times of Grace Jesse Leach and Mike D. from Killswitch Engage are back together. Now I love Alive or Just it. When these guys got back together they said not to expect AoJB2, that it would be more rock. Well listening to the samples it sounds amazing. It isn't AoJB2, it is something that has evolved from that. This is the one I can't wait for.

So there you go, four albums that probably would have made my top 10 this year. I really can't wait for these albums. Oh well, let's wrap up 2010 already.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Video Killed the Radio Star: Star Wars Han shot first...

I am a huge Star Wars fan and was so pissed when they changed the scene where Han shot first to making Greedo shoot first. It was embarrassing. I won't go into that discussion because it has been argued plenty of times, down to videos of Clint Eastwood westerns being used as proof that a "good guy" can shoot first to get out of trouble.

Anyway, this video is probably the funniest spoof I have seen on the subject.

I think it's the fact that their bodies never move. Kind of like how they managed to just move Han's head in the first remastered version.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tirades of Truth: Bullet for My Valentine - Fever

I've already done reviews of Arcania, Blaze Bayley, and Charred Walls of the Damned, so here is the next in line.

Back in May I talked a little about the new Bullet for My Valentine album, Fever. It was mainly because their lead track, Your Betrayal. But as the year comes to a close it's obvious to me that this is a great metal album.

Their last album Scream, Aim, Fire was great as well. In fact, when they started talking about the follow up they said it wouldn't be as "thrashy" as Scream, Aim, Fire. I believe they said it would be more rock oriented. Well, Fever is far from rock.

The one place you see a difference is the vocals. There aren't as many screams or growls, but BfMV was never known for the screams. There are still plenty of thrash moments in Your Betrayal and The Last Fight. I would say the material is a lot catchier than anything they have ever done. Every song is memorable from the get go. Every song has that hook that you look for, that sing along chorus (Your Betrayal), that memorable riff (Alone), or memorable drum pattern (Begging for Mercy). The music goes from thrash to groove/mid paced metal to ballads.

The title track is pretty good as well. The song has that sort of dirty 80's glam rock feel to it. Seriously, I could have easily have seen Poison doing this song because of the lyrics. The difference between Poison and BfMV is that BfMV has a heavier guitar sound.

The one thing that left a somewhat bad taste in my mouth was the song, Bittersweet Memories. Not that it's a ballad, I have no problem that. It's just that it reminds me so much of Forever and Always off of Scream, Aim, Fire.

There is absolutely no filler on this album. There was always a couple of songs I would skip off their last one, but this one is a play straight through album. Add onto it that every song is memorable, you have a winner.

From start to finish this is one of the most complete albums of the year and will place very high on my Top 10 list this year.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Video Killed the Radio Star: Bar Stool Economics

A nice video explaining taxes to everyone. And it gives you a great insight into the mind of a liberal and how they think.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Music Non Stop: Top 10 ...8 down 2 to go.

A few weeks ago, I thought I had a solid Top 10 list done. But as I listened to some of the albums, I realized they were good, but nothing great. So I took a hard look and narrowed it down. Unfortunately, doing so left me with only 8 albums. The top 8 are great albums. In fact, right now I have 3 albums that could easily be number 1. After that...who knows.

What has the year been like for me? Well, half of the 8 albums have never been on the top 10 list and were basically debuts or sophomore albums. It was fun to discover new bands this year. I am going to try and do a review for those top 8 bands before I give my list, so I can link the review to the list instead of doing a mini review on the Top 10 list.

I don't know if I will get a solid Top 10, but I won't put on albums unless they belong there. Remember I did have a Top 11 one year because there were so many good albums.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Time for Change: Bye DirecTv

I have been using DirecTv for almost 10 years now and can't complain about the service at all. Sure they pushed me out of my Tivo box, but the channel selection was always great and picture quality was always up there as well. So why did I switch to cable? Money. Bottom line is I am looking to save some money. With cable taking over as my TV and internet, I will be saving about $40 a month.

I thought I wouldn't be losing any channels, but the main one I lost was Cartoon Network HD. How can I watch Star Wars The Clone Wars in SD after 2 seasons of HD? CN HD is in Los Angeles so hopefully it will make it's way towards me soon.

As far as the internet is concerned, I was at 3MBPS and now I am at 30MBPS. Yeah that's not too bad.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thoughts Without Words: Differentiated Instruction

Joanne Jacobs has a post on Differentiated Instruction right now on her blog and it made me reflect upon my own classes.

I have already mentioned with my special ed student how they get their own grade scale. And when I mentioned what if everyone had their own grade scale, the dean responded you would have to do it if it was in the IEP.

That's where education is going. Everyone will get their own grade scale and lesson plan. This will never work. Why? Right now I have an average of 36 students. How can I successfully hit all of the student's needs and at the same time cover all of the material necessary for the CSTs?

The school doesn't want "low" classes or "high" classes anymore either. They mix them so none of the students get their feelings hurt being in the "low" class. What does this mean for me? Well in all of my classes, I have at least 2 students with a 100% or higher and at least 2-4 students in the 40%'s or lower. Now how can I raise the low ones without dumbing down the class for the high ones? Answer: I can't.

If classes were created based upon CST scores, then you could see some results and have a better chance to do something like this because, for the most part, the students would all be grouped similarly. Will they? No. Besides if they go to base our pay off of CST scores, who wants to be the teacher with the Far Below/Below Basic students?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Music Non Stop: Arcania - Sweet Angel Dust

2010 is quickly coming to a close and I thought that my Top 10 was pretty much set, then Arcania had to come in a through the proverbial wrench into it.

First off I gotta say one of my new favorite sites for metal reviews is The NewReview. Without this site I wouldn't have found Arcania and Eye of the Enemy. Great site and is probably my first go to site now for metal reviews.

So onto Arcania. What is their style? I would say modern thrash with a touch of progressive metal thrown in for good measure. The album starts off with the title track and you are treated to a classic Metallica intro ala Fight Fire with Fire before the magic starts. The music is completely break neck speed, but it has that perfect groove.

I won't go song by song because I might do that for the Top 10...just kidding. For a debut they did a nice job of making the music and songs so memorable. The title track, No End, Against My Fear are all great examples of the music being instantaneously being remembered. Something that is hard to say about a lot of other albums these days. There are plenty of thrash out aggressive moments through out the album and tons of progressive elements added to enhance the material. I really liked how they didn't just try to copy the thrash style of the 80's, but rather took a lot of that influence and added their own style to it. Top it off with a 10+ minute song to finish the album and you have yourself one heck of debut album.

Vocally the guy is good. A lot of people compare him to James Hetfield and I can hear the similarities, but he does his own distinguished style. Obviously, if there are similarities to Hetfield, I'm not going to complain. If anything I hear a little more Sully from Godsmack, which is fine too because I actually like Sully's style.
This is a great debut and I hope to hear more from them. I hope to see Arcania be more a DevilDriver, Trivium, or All That Remains instead of a Beyond the Embrace and Blistered Earth. If you don't know the last two bands, check them out they were awesome!>
I expect to see Arcania grace the Top 10 list this year and hopefully years to come. By the way, go to iTunes to buy the album, it's only $4. If you can't spend $4 to support a new band, then there is something wrong.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Inside Four Walls: Gift Cards for Advanced?

Last school year I read some articles about schools paying students for getting good grades. I felt that the use of funds could be used better than by paying students for doing something they should be doing anyway. To me it was another sign of educators giving in and lowering their standards again.

So imagine my surprise when this week a teacher who is our department told us that she buys her students that score advanced on the CSTs a $20 gift card to anywhere they want. Now she kind of justified it by saying that the students need to come back to her in August to get them, but cards for Advanced?

The other teachers there seemed to think that she could be spending her money in different ways. I kept quiet, didn't say a word. This teacher gives her life to teaching, gets there at 7 for tutoring, stays in at lunch most days, and stays late in the day for tutoring. Will also come in on the weekends to help out students. I know she is single and I hear she still lives at home with her parents. So she clearly has a lot more money and time than say someone like me who has 2 kids and a wife of 10 years.

I'm not bitter, don't get me wrong. But I feel that it sets a precedent, a bad one. Once again the students are going to be expecting something when they move onto the next level. I have had some of her students in my Geometry class and I am always hearing about how Ms. So & So let us do this and gave us this. Don't get me started on the parents either. They see that and expect it from all teachers.

By the way, before some of you think "wow, the teacher is just rewarding the students", she told us the reason for it. Quote "I want high test scores, so this is extra motivation." She is obsessed with test scores. One year I beat her by 10+% and she came and went on about how if she took out the special ed and some of her troubled students then she would only be 5% off from me. There was a time that I cared about my scores, but now I realize it's up to the kids to perform. And I'm not going to spend my money to do that. And if that makes me a bad teacher, so be it.

And they want to tie my pay to these tests?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thoughts Without Words: What is wrong with San Francisco?

Almost a rhetorical question, I know. But in all honesty it's horrible up there right now. It's funny liberals always talk about how government shouldn't take away your rights, but in S.F. it seems to be the norm right now.

First off the Happy Meal Ban. Basically it requires any meal with a toy to be less than 600 calories. Some might say, that's not too bad. But my question is why does the government think they have the right to tell me what to eat. Besides, if the parents want McDonalds, they are just going to buy the kid a regular meal now with no toy. Nice one S.F. So why? Well this guy explains why;
We're part of a movement that is moving forward an agenda of food justice," said Supervisor Eric Mar, who sponsored the measure. "From San Francisco to New York City, the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country is making our kids sick, particularly kids from low income neighborhoods, at an alarming rate. It's a survival issue and a day-to-day issue."
Food Justice? Really? Add that one to social justice I guess.

As if that wasn't bad enough, enter the male circumcision ban. You know that procedure to keep a penis cleaner and cut down on chances of infections and bacteria? The one that most every doctor will say, it's better than not doing it? Well they want to ban that as well. Best part? You can't say you are doing it for religious reasons. So not only is S.F. taking away your right to decide what you want to eat, they are now taking away your freedom of religion. We read;
“Tattooing a child is banned as a felony and circumcision is more harmful than a tattoo,” said Schofield, who believes religious traditions should change.
“People can practice whatever religion they want, but your religious practice ends with someone else’s body,” said Schofield. “It’s a man’s body and…his body doesn’t belong to his culture, his government, his religion or even his parents. It’s his decision.”
I got nothing. This is where the country is heading. The taking away of choice and freedom...unless you are non-Christian, then you are fine.

By the way, if you don't live in CA, just watch how messed up this state gets as we are in complete democratic control.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Thoughts Without Words: Time to Watch CA Fall

Well for the first time since the 30's all 9 state offices are controlled by one party, the Democrats. They also have control of the Legislature and passed the simple majority budget proposition. So in effect, the Democrats don't have to involve the Republicans at all, not that they did much to begin with, but they did have to compromise at times. Now it is free reign.

It will be interesting to see how much worse this state gets in the next few years. I read an article on the Huffington Post that talked about how CA could show the way for progressives on how to run a state. And all I could think was, really? Dems have had control of the Legislature for years and our spending is out of control, we have higher taxes than most states, and we have too many social entitlement programs. We passed a prop that will increase all energy bills across the board and probably effect our gas prices too.

CA is going down the drain fast. Hopefully the rest of the country will take note and learn what not to do.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Music Non Stop: 2010 surprises

As the year comes to a close I will go ahead and share with you two bands that almost came out of nowhere with great albums that will most likely be in the Top 10 and one of these looks like it will end up #1.

First up is Charred Walls of the Damned, what a mouthful right? Anyway, this has been labeled a "super-group" by some. Richard Christy left Iced Earth to be a side kick for Howard Stern, cool and weird at the same time I guess. So he decided to go ahead and make an album after about 6 - 7 years. So you put Richard on drums (known for work in Death and Iced Earth), Steve DiGiorio on bass (from such bands as Death, Iced Earth, Sadus, and Testament among others), Tim "Ripper" Owens on vocals (from Iced Earth, Judas Priest, and his solo band), and you round it off with Jason Suecof on guitar. Who? you might ask. Jason is more known for his producing skills Trivium, DevilDriver, God Forbid, The Autumn Offering) than his guitar playing, but he is a fine musician. In fact it's his solo on The Autumn Offering's Embrace the Gutter that made me pick up the album.

Ok so onto the album. What can I say... this is the album that Iced Earth should have released after The Glorious Burden. I don't mind the continuing of the Something Wicked Trilogy, but in terms of music, this is what Iced Earth could/should have sounded like. I mean it shouldn't surprise anyone, look at that line-up, 3/4 of them played in Iced Earth. The music is crisp and beautifully played. Ripper does a great job here. Let me say this, I am by no means a fan of Ripper. He's good. His best album for me was TGB because he showed some variety and wasn't trying to copy Halford (not his fault either). His solo stuff was average. But here he shines again. It's enough of the mid-range and enough of the high stuff for me. I love this album. And it came as a welcomed surprise when most bands are starting to sound alike, these guys stand out. Check out their Myspace, HERE.

Next up is Blaze Bayley. He of course came from Wolfsbane and more known Iron Maiden. He got screwed in Maiden and was forced out after two albums. So when I heard stuff from his solo debut I was shocked. I was so much better than Maiden, it was up there with Bruce Dickinson's solo material. Here is the lead track from the debut;

awesome. Anyway, the follow-up was good as well, but their 3rd album was pretty bad. I gave up on the band when everyone left. So when they released The Man Who Would Not Die, I didn't look at it (big mistake). This year came Promise and Terror. I caught the lead track and video and was instantly hooked. I sounded like it was right off the earlier albums.

The album is full of great tracks. God of Speed has one of the best riffs I have ever heard in a song and Comfortable in Darkness sounds like it was off of Iron Maiden's X-Factor, dark and brooding. This is a great album and it's great to see Blaze get some credit for it. Check out his Myspace, HERE.

Just a couple of surprise albums this year and there is one more, but not as good as these. Top 10 is just around the corner.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Thoughts Without Words: CA is full of idiots

I don't know how else to say it. I am watching the election results and the country is pretty much saying no to Democrats and Obama, but in California? Democrats are still winning left and right. Certain propositions which should be win (Prop. 23) are losing and some that should be defeated (simple majority for budget) are winning. What is wrong with this state?

We are re-electing a Senator who has done nothing for this state. In her 3 terms what has Boxer done for us? We are the democrats biggest supporters, yet this state gets nothing. Obama laughed at us when we asked for federal dollars to balance the budget. Or Race to the Top...what a joke. And yet the people keep re-electing the democrats into office.

This has always been a backwards state and tonight it showed it again.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Right Now: M.I.A.

so some of you might have noticed I took an entire month off from blogging, why you ask? No reason. I just got busy and stopped and before I knew it, November was here. Here's a quick run-down on some things
  • Top 10 list is coming together nicely, I might actually have to bump some out...I didn't think that would happen.
  • School - moral is down, including mine. I will talk about the new cell phone policy and special ed.
  • Politics - well we will have to wait another day to see how this is going to pan out, but I think we all know what's going to happen.
  • T.V. - some good shows, nothing fantastic. Caprica was cancelled, but a new show about the first Cylon War is in the wings.
That's it for now, hopefully the next post will be sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Thoughts Without Words: Teaching through Rap

This can easily turn into a Venting the Anger post, but I will try my best to not let my anger get the better of me.

Education today is all about reaching everyone and well for lack of better words "No Child Left Behind". This is the reason behind Oklahoma City's brilliant idea of Teaching through Rap program. Of course, this wouldn't be for everyone, it would only be for the "at-risk" children. Talk about a stereotype. Apparently, "at-risk" students can only learn through rap and not like everyone else does.

So here are some of the lyrics for the U.S. History portion;
When talking about Andrew Jackson
"Andrew Jackson thinks he's a tough guy. Killing more Indians than there are stars in the sky. Evil wars of Florida killing the Seminoles. Saying hello, putting Creek in the hell holes. Like Adolf Hitler he had the final solution. 'No, Indians, I don't want you to live here anymore."
I love how we have managed to describe one of the early presidents and general like Adolf Hitler. Isn't education great?

How about the description of James Madisons' presidency?
"White men getting richer than Enron. They stepping on Indians, women and blacks. Era of Good Feeling doesn't come with the facts."
Nice...I forgot to mention the name of the song that talks about the Founding Fathers is called Old Dead White Men. How respectful. Oklahoma City has suspended this until they look at it further, or until Fox News stops reporting on it. Sad part is that the creators say that it is being used in 10,000 schools. That's a scary thought.

My question would be, how are these "at-risk" children going to succeed after this? If they go to college, are we going to expect the colleges to teach through rap as well? What if they get a job and their boss asks them to do something, will he have to rap the instructions to them? Or if they have a presentation, will they know how to give the information accordingly or will they not have a clue because they are learning that this is education.

I always thought part of education was to prepare students for the "real world". It seems like more and more that we are creating a bubble to protect students from failing. How will they handle failure when they become adults?

This is where education is heading though. Make sure everyone passes, everyone feels good about themselves, and individualize everyone's lesson so they are successful. That sounds familiar.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Video Killed the Radio Star: The Daily Show w/ Jon Stewart

Now if you have read this blog, you know I am a huge fan of Craig Kilborn, especially his time at The Daily Show. When Jon Stewart took over, he soon changed the show into a liberal propaganda type show.

Well it's good to see that Jon Stewart isn't afraid to pull punches, even on those he voted for. These are some great clips where Jon does a good job of getting some jabs in at Obama. Really good.

First up is his take on Obama's pledge to create a solid infrastructure...great Oprah reference. Now just to show fairness, he takes on Jan Brewer on this one too.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2010 - Are You Ready for Some Midterms?
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

Next up is his take on Obama's town hall meeting from a couple of weeks ago.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Meet the Depressed
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

I don't have a problem with political humor and as long as Stewart takes on both sides I'm ok with it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Music Non Stop: New All That Remains samples

Disclaimer: this is a pretty bad year for music. Nothing has gotten my attention and I'm not sure anything will. I can only name at most 5 above average albums. I have been doing my top 10 lists for a few years and this is going to be a tough year to fill up 10 spots. With that said...

The new All That Remains album, For We Are Many, will definitely be in the top 10. Heck, I should just give it the number one spot now. Overcome messed with the vocals a little bit and this one sounds like it is more in line with The Fall of Ideals, their best album. I know you can't tell much from samples, but compared to everything else I have heard this year, this is promising.

Like I said, it's just samples, Nevermore's samples were great and the album was so-so. Oh well. Wait and see.

The Sun Always Shines on T.V.: Bill O'Reilly vs. Jon Stewart

These two are on total opposites of the political spectrum, but putting them together is gold. This is their second time together and I found myself laughing the whole time. On The Factor, there wasn't much political talk, but on The Daily Show there was some. And you can see that both O'Reilly and Stewart want whats best for the's how they want to get there that differs. Anyway, enjoy the videos, they are great. First, The Factor (because Stewart was on first) then The Daily Show.

The Daily Show, from Monday night.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Bill O'Reilly
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Inside Four Walls: Talking behind my back...

So while some parts of my job are a little hectic, I still find ways to enjoy myself at work.

The other day I was walking through campus after school. I noticed a freshman student and her friends. As I got closer, they all huddled up and I saw one of her friends stick her head up and look right at me then go back to the huddle. I had my sunglasses on, so I pretended not to notice. I knew she was talking about me and honestly it doesn't bother me. Students say bad things about me all the time...remember Rate My Teachers?

The next day in class, I called her on it. She said "I wasn't talking about you...I promise." I told her it was ok, people do it all the time, just don't look so obvious next time. Then she said, "well I didn't say anything bad about you." The class laughs a little and I repeat myself. She then starts telling us what was "said". I stop her and tell her to relax.

So when I finish my lesson, I do the whole Checking for Understanding thing and ask for any questions. The student raises her hand and says she has a question. I couldn't resist. I looked at her and said hang on.

So I turn around and stare at the board. About 15 seconds later, she says "Mr. W can you turn around?" I look over my shoulder and said, "Oh I'm sorry, I thought you were more comfortable talking behind my back." Of course that got a good laugh. By the way, I did answer her question...facing her.

The Last Laugh: $111 Million = 55 Jobs

It bothers me when I hear people say how they don't understand why Americans or upset. Or worse yet, we are upset because we are racist against black people. It's things like this story that upset us.

Seems that when Los Angeles got some stimulus money, they didn't use it too well.
"I'm disappointed that we've only created or retained 55 jobs after receiving $111 million," said Wendy Greuel, the city's controller. "With our local unemployment rate over 12 percent we need to do a better job cutting red tape and putting Angelenos back to work."

According to the audit, the Los Angeles Department of Public Works spent $70 million in stimulus funds -- in return, it created seven private sector jobs and saved seven workers from layoffs. Taxpayer cost per job: $1.5 million.

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation created even fewer jobs per dollar, spending $40 million but netting just nine jobs. Taxpayer cost per job: $4.4 million.

Now this is from the city's own audit, so it could be worse. I guess it's not that funny that we have wasted billions of dollars and not much has changed. Unemployment is going up, foreclosures are still rising, and well that Change everyone voted for sure doesn't look that good right about now.

My favorite quote of the article though;
"I would say maybe in a grade, a B- in creating the jobs," Greuel told Fox News.
Really a B-?!?!? for 55 jobs and you got $111 million?!?!? It's things like this that Americans are upset about.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Free Speech for the Dumb: Michael Moore

I can't believe there was a time when I actually liked Michael Moore. I saw a film of his in high school and it was like he was looking out for the good of America. Then he went nuts. He went off the deep end and really start becoming radical in his views.

So what did he do on 9-11 this year? Well he chimed in on the mosque in New York, just 2 blocks away from Ground Zero. So what did he say?

I am opposed to the building of the "mosque" two blocks from Ground Zero.

I want it built on Ground Zero.

Why? Because I believe in an America that protects those who are the victims of hate and prejudice.
On 9-11 he basically spit on the graves of those victims. You believe in an America that protects victims of hate and prejudice? How about the innocent victims that were killed for no reason, but they were Americans or just at work? This just goes to show the disrespect he has for America and the real victims of the mosque, the survivors and families of the victims of 9-11.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Insider Four Walls: more fallout from superintendent firing

So a few weeks ago I talked about how our superintendent was fired a week before school started. Then I talked about how we were not only paying our new guy, but also paying her for the next 18 months.

Well today the local newspaper ran an article about the firing and it led off with the great title of "Superintendent change to cost Walnut Valley Unified hundreds of thousands". Talk about an eye catcher. So I read it and now if the teachers weren't upset before, we are now.

Our district will pay Dr. Simms $295,500 over 18 months, while the interim receives $14,842 a month plus an extra $1000 for travel and housing. Are you kidding me? That's over $30,000 a month for these two. So in less than two months the district is paying for one teacher's full yearly salary!!

And yet, we don't have enough money in our district to fund detention? What is wrong with this place? We can't pay our class advisers or any extra duty, but we can pay out this much a month? Oh yeah, we are facing a 3 million dollar budget shortfall too. Nice.

Here's the kicker that isn't in the article though, we have heard that she is getting or has already got a lawyer to go after the district for all of the money on the contract. So now on top of paying this amount for 18 months, it might be more, PLUS our district now has to pay lawyers to go to court on this.

I love education.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Right Now: Happy 9/02/10 Day

This slipped passed right by me until a teacher told me about it. Today is 90210 Day because of the date 9/02/10, September 2nd 2010. Really cool.

I have been meaning to do a Remember the Time about the original 90210 because there are a ton of great memories from that show. Yeah it jumped the shark a million times and really went downhill after Brandon left the show, but I can still remember going to school and talking about Kelly's classic "I choose me" moment when Brandon and Dylan both proposed to her. Ahhh memories. Anyways it's one of those once in a lifetime days, so why not recognize it.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Inside Four Walls: Who needs a discipline plan?

So I have known about this for a few weeks now, but in case some of my students knew of this blog I kept it under wraps. But as they say, the cat is out of the bag now.

Our schools budget was cut, like everyone else's, and our principal decided to maintain the status quo with keeping sports and IB funded. Well, seems that discipline isn't that big of a deal because the extra duty pay that went along with one hour detention and Saturday work detention were cut. So what was the plan? Apparently, they were hoping people would volunteer to do detention. Really.

So fast forward to today, I was putting notes on the board for my Algebra 2 Senior class when one of the students asks me "Is it true there's no more detention?" I say I have no idea. Then it opens the flood gates. It was a flow of "I heard the GLC's are doing it.", "I heard there is no detention til next semester", "I heard there's no more Saturday school." I do a pretty good job of ignoring the statements until one kid says, "I cut class last week and I was warned to not do it again. I did it last year and I was told it's an automatic detention. What's up with that?"

So to stop rumors, I told them detention was up in the air, but that the GLC's would most likely run it. It's funny how bad at math they can be, but then surprise you at other times. It took a few seconds before someone said, "there's 8 GLC's and there are 3 one hour detentions and one Saturday. They can't do that the whole year." It's funny because he is right.

Talking to our ASB director he is concerned because the Saturday kids would clean out and sort the recylcable trash cans. And I don't think he wants to do it.

So what is the discipline plan? No one knows. I have a couple students with two tardies, 3 is an automatic one hour detention, so it will be interesting to see what happens the next couple of days. Nothing like starting off the year with no discipline plan.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Inside Four Walls: interesting story part 2

So a couple of days ago I talked about an AP teacher who had to have a parent conference after her son's acceptance was revoked after he earned a D in the course. So how did it go?

Well, to make matters worse it was a minimum day and who wants to stick around after school on a minimum day? Much less to a parent conference...for a student who graduated already! He told me the mom was giving dirty looks to anyone who would look at her. And she never really specifically came out and said 'change the grade', but that's what she wanted.

The highlight came about 20 minutes or so into it. The son said he pushed himself by taking 2 AP courses his senior year and it caught up to him. So the principal starts talking about how they relaxed the requirements so more students could have the opportunity to take an AP course. He was talking about how it helps out the students when the mom got up and interrupted him. She starts raising her voice saying, "you're not helping him, you're holding him back!" She kept saying that, then she opened the door to the main office and said it again loud enough for everyone to hear her. Then she stormed out of the building...oh yeah she left her son in the room.

He said it was awkward for a few seconds, then the principal started asking the student what his plans were etc. The teacher told him it wasn't anything personal. The student knew he just didn't cut it.

So what did we learn? Nothing. The mom had nothing to stand on. His grades were bad and he scored a 1 on the AP test. Yet, the teacher still had to go in and sit through this on his own time. Why did I become a teacher again?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Inside Four Walls: How old am I going to be?

So in my Geometry class it's all freshmen, except for about 4 sophomores and 2 juniors. One of the juniors, I have had all 3 years. He got an A in Algebra B, but then he crashed hard in Geometry and failed...bad. So of course he blames me for failing. And yet, he took me again. I talked to his counselor and he told me he tried to get the student to take another teacher, but he said no.

So the first couple of days he makes these comments like "are you going to teach this year?" and things of that nature. I let it slide and explain to the freshmen that we work hard, but after the state test we go from a sprint to a walk. I can tell there are some that look worried.

So a couple days later he tells me his birthday is coming up on the 10th. I say hey mine is on the 14th. We start talking about what we are going to do and then I ask him how old he will be. He tells me and I ask him how old will I be. So he uses some logic and says "ok you graduated in 95 and I am assuming you were 18." I tell him yes. So he starts thinking ... you know that looking up to subtract look. And finally he says, "you're going to be 30". At that point all the freshman start laughing at him. And I start chuckling. Then he gets defensive and says "wait wait wait...ummm oh wait you're going to be 28!" If there were any freshmen not laughing before that, they were all laughing now.

So I ask the class "How old am I going to be?" And in unison they all say "34". They are all still laughing when I say "Now I would just like to say this might have been the reason that he failed my class last year...maybe." The freshmen got a real kick out of that one. The junior laughed at it too.

Talk about timing.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Inside Four Walls: interesting story

First week is winding down, but this story doesn't involve me or deal with this year.

An AP teacher has a conference on Friday with the principal, his dean, and a parent from last year. Seems like the student ended up with a D on his report card and the school revoked his admission. So obviously the parents are coming in to demand to know why he got a D and if he can change the grade to a C.

Seems like a big challenge considering he failed the final & got a 1 on the AP test. So why is the parent wasting this teacher's time by coming in to discuss this? Why is our administration even bothering to take this as well? Clearly, the student is at fault. He didn't study for the final or the AP test or he would have done better. Seriously, a 1?

Once again, instead of the parents being parents and coming down on their child for not preparing, they are redirecting it at the teacher.

Should be interesting. I will update this one when the meeting is over.

The Last Laugh: CA loses again...

Yesterday the feds announced the second round winners of Race to the Top and CA lost again. This is hilarious to me because we sold ourselves out when we adopted the new national standards back in August. And when the discussion came up educators were saying the new national standards weren't as rigorous as CA's. Heck even CA said, we don't need to adapt them, ours are just fine by themselves."

So now we lose again and what about those great standards we have to adopt now? Does anyone realize how much money it is going to cost to buy books that are aligned to the new standards? We just bought new books 3 years ago to have them aligned to CA standards. It is going to cost millions of dollars per district, that they don't have!

California looks pathetic. Here we are this huge state that if we were a nation, would be the 8th richest in the world. But you wouldn't know it because we are billions in debt and can't come up with a budget. We do so much to impress Washington to get their approval, the climate bill, the new standards, green jobs...and for what? Obama is laughing at us. Heck, CA put him in the Whitehouse and he won't even look at us. Great job CA!

Venting the Anger: Muslim suing Disneyland

So if you live in southern CA or if you have been watching the news you have probably heard of Imane Boudlal. She is the Muslim Disney cast member who is suing them for discrimination because she can't wear her hijab at work.

Here is what is pissing me off about this. The lawyers and Imane make it seem like Disney said you can't wear it at all. But that's not the case, they said she can work in the back and wear it there. That is an accommodation. She wants to wear it, Disney is telling her how she can.

Of course, that isn't good enough. We see her courageous words;

“I’m not going to accept to work in the back,” said Boudlal, 26, of Anaheim.

“I’m not here to scare anyone,” she said. “I’m here to do my job.”

No one said you were there to scare anyone. But if you know about Disney, they have a ton of dress code requirements that you sign off on when you decide to work there. So now this lady wants Disney to make an exception for her? Why is she special? If you can't work in the back, because "I’m not going to accept to work in the back", then quit your job!

I was watching an interview last night and it was a great example. What if she decided to get a job at Hooters, then decided to wear the full black robe. Would she expect Hooters to change their dress code?

This is a huge case. Private businesses should be able to have a dress code that they can enforce. If she wins it opens up the floodgates and all the other crap that comes with it.

Why is she so special? They offered her another place to work and wear her head scarf, it's reasonable, take it or leave it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Inside Four Walls: 1st day in the books

So 1 day down and whole bunch more to go. It's difficult to tell what kind of class you have for a few days, but I did make some notes;
  • Geometry classes are packed (37 or so in all 3)
  • tons of freshmen
  • Senior Algebra 2 will be interesting...
  • I think I only have like 2 Juniors...maybe?
  • Like Darren, I am going to start working out more. I have 6th period prep, so I will try to use our schools ellipticals or come home and get an early start before my wife & kids come home
I have also been blogging a ton lately, let's see if that keeps up.

Free Speech for the Dumb: Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt. Most woman think he's hot and most men want to be like him. Well maybe he should just keep his mouth shut and look pretty. Because when discussing the BP oil spill he said this;

"I was never for the death penalty before - I am willing to look at it again," the 46-year-old said when asked about the situation.

So you can kill people and it's ok? But if you spill some oil into the ocean it's worthy of death? Seems a little unbalanced. Why do people value nature over human life?

Brad Pitt has always done a nice job of giving back and helping those in need, but this seems a little off.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Thoughts Without Words: Teacher fired for Facebook post

I have been debating whether or not to post this, but I figured why not? By now, most of you have probably heard about the high school teacher who was fired for a Facebook post in which she said;
the residents of Cohasset "arrogant and snobby," and said that she is "so not looking forward to another year at Cohasset schools."

So I gotta say I am shocked she was fired/resigned. What happened to freedom of speech? She was at home on her own page, expressing her opinions and she is fired.

I have stories about my classes and school on my blog, but I keep them anonymous. But does that matter? This teacher wasn't talking about a single student, it was a general comment. So am I in danger?

Are teachers now "on" 24/7? Are we not allowed to have a personal life? Are we not allowed to express our thoughts and opinions? Sure seems like it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Who Decides: Comeback albums you should own

So what is a 'Comeback album'? For this post, it simply means an album that was released after a crappy/almost career ending album. There are a lot of them out there, but I will keep this list somewhat short. So how can a band release a career ending album? Easy, they try to reach a bigger audience or experiment with some new technique or just put out a half assed effort. For this list I will list the "comeback album" then the "crappy/almost career ending album" in parenthesis.

Fear Factory - Mechanize (Transgression) Yeah Transgression was a transgression. Oh the horror. Fear Factory are known for blast beats, double bass, heavy riffs and some killer vocals. With Transgression we got little to none of that. Actually, it was more reminiscent of Fear Factory during the dark days of metal. Yes there are a few hidden gems in there (the title track for one), but this was made for a tour with Megadeth and they didn't really put much time into it. Seriously who allowed Echo of My Scream to be on this album...and let it go for 7 minutes?

So enter Mechanize. This is more of a classic FF sounding album. From the intro of the title track you hear the industrial sounds that take you back to Demanufacture. The riffs and drums are back to where we love them. Most fans have embraced this album, but it is such a return to form that it had to lead this list.

Trivium - Shogun (The Crusade) Matt Heafy has some pretty big goals in life. When Ascendancy kept getting praise he said he wanted to be as big as Metallica. That's pretty big. Enter The Crusade press tour, where he decided to now say he wanted to be bigger than Metallica. So how could they do that? Simple, lose all of the screams and go with clean vocals throughout. How did it sound? Like a Metallica rip-off. It was so bad. In fact, during the tours they changed all of their old songs to be clean vocals about selling out. Musically, it is straight metal, no metalcore or anything like that. It didn't really sound like Trivium, not that they are built as a metalcore band, but it didn't have that feel. It felt too simplistic. Some songs were good Entrance of Conflagration and the stellar instrumental title track. But what really killed this album, besides the lack of screams, was the intro to Unrepentant it is such a rip off of Through the Never by Metallica. So bad. It's a good album and will probably make The Clone list of Metallica, but it almost killed Trivium.

Enter Shogun. This is a masterpiece of an album. Combination of screams and clean vocals and return to their earlier sound. Lots of double bass action and guitar solos that were just great. And how could they top the title track of The Crusade? Simple, Shogun...a 12 minute song that has all the feel of a Master of Puppets type track without the feeling of copying it. Shogun would probably rank higher on the list of favorite Trivium albums, but won't pass Ascendancy because it seems too convenient to see them return to form. People wrote Trivium off after The Crusade, but this album is a must own.

Shadows Fall - Retribution (Threads of Life) After the great album that was The War Within, Shadows Fall was signed to a record deal with a major label, Atlantic Records. Threads of Life was their first album and they assured everyone it wouldn't be a sell out album. It would maintain the brutality of The War Within. Well it didn't. Like Trivium, this album included more clean vocals and really went for the more simplistic straight metal approach. Most songs were the same; fast verse, slow chorus, fast verse, slow chorus, solo, slow chorus. After the album sold so poorly, they were pretty much dropped.

So what did they do? Over-compensated? Maybe, but Retribution could be their best album in terms of guitar solos...scratch that. It is their best album in terms of guitar solos. This album really does a great job of making every song memorable. There is little filler on this album, if any and each song contains a freakin' awesome solo. I will say this, it topped the list of best albums last year for me. If you want some more praise of this album, go HERE, for some earlier comments.

Megadeth - The World Needs a Hero (Risk) This is the example for comeback album. Risk wasn't a risk, it was a huge mistake. But was it a bad album? Yes & no. It was a horrible Megadeth album. It sounded nothing like Megadeth. Sure the first two songs might have come off of Cryptic Writings, but that was it. Everything else was pop rock. And that's where it's not a bad album, it's just not a Megadeth album. Kind of like Motley Crue's self-titled album without Vince Neil. Great rock album, but wasn't Motley Crue without Vince Neil singing. What made it worse was the hype for the album. It was supposed to be a return to form for Megadeth. Cryptic Writings had some sellout type songs with Trust and Almost Honest and they were going back to metal. Well...somewhere from the press to the recording something changed. Because gone was the metal and back was the sellout pop rock. Dave blamed Marty for the change in direction and producer and I believe Dave on this one. Marty has turned into a Japanese pop star, while Dave has tried to redirect Megadeth back to metal dominance. Plus it was easy to convince Dave because he really wanted to beat Metallica in terms of numbers.

So what happened? The World Needs a Hero. I love this album and it is probably in my top 5 Megadeth albums. I talked about it in depth and reviewed it before HERE. It starts off with a song that could have been on Cryptic Writings, but the solo is nothing special in terms of technicality, but it feels perfect. There are a few "radio" friendly songs here, but Recipe for Hate...Warhorse, Dread and the Fugitive Mind, Return to Hangar, When, and even Kill the King (which was supposed to be on the album, but was put on a greatest hits album before this was released) are striaght up thrash metal that could have easily made it onto Rest in Peace or Countdown to Extinction. What makes this album for me is the solos. There are songs where they solo for over a minute. And it is the classic trade off solos that Megadeth was known for. Bottom line, the whole album is great, but the second half is classic Megadeth. This was the beginning of Megadeth returning to thrash. Some fans bash it, I love it.

Before I end this, some of you might be asking yourselves "where's Metallica?" I don't think that St. Anger was a "crappy/almost career ending album". It debuted at #1. And honestly at that point Metallica had lost most of the "true fans" from the Load albums. So Death Magnetic isn't a comeback album for me because Metallica never left.