Thursday, April 29, 2010

Music Non Stop: new albums & misc.

So what does 3 weeks of listening to Metallica during passing periods look like? How about 83 songs...with one week to go. It's funny to watch their reactions to certain songs. Enter Sandman, One, and Master of Puppets always get them going. It's also funny to watch their reaction during the days we listen to Load & Re-Load or Tuesday's Gone from Garage Inc. They always have this look of "This is Metallica?" We are listening to Megadeth's Mechanix and Metallica's The Four Horsemen the next 2 days...I have had a couple of people notice the similarities.

As far as the new year of albums is coming along...well it's not. Bullet for My Valentine released their new one, Fever, and it's not as heavy as Scream, Aim, Fire. It has more mid-paced songs and there are little screams. Is it as bad as The Crusade? No, but it's not as good as their last one. The good news is that it is going to be in the top 10, and that's always a good sign for metal bands.

Soulfly also released Omen and it isn't as good as their last one either (and Conquer wasn't as good as Dark Ages). Omen is more of a punk metal type album. The thing that is missing is the tribal influences. All but gone on this album...shame.

War of Ages came out with their latest, Eternal. War of Ages is an above average metalcore band. Arise and Conquer barely missed my top 10 and this album (which was produced by Tim Lambesis of As I Lay Dying) picks up from the last one. There are definite influences from AILD and that's ok. Will it make my top 10 this year? Who knows?

Speaking of As I Lay Dying, their latest, The Powerless Rise, is due out soon. I have heard bits and pieces, but I can't tell if it will top An Ocean Between Us, that album was a classic.

Inside Four Walls: CSTs over & another Catch-22

So the CSTs for this year are done. This is my favorite part because the students complain about how I didn't teach them this or that. This always leads to another Catch-22 in teaching. We are supposed to cover the entire book by testing. If I go faster to finish the book, then the students will have only skimmed through the material, not really grasping all of it. If I go slower, then they won't be able to do some of the test because the won't be exposed to all of it.

I remember my first year of teaching Geometry at another school. We didn't even get to circles and those kids were blown away when they saw the test. They, of course, didn't do well because of it. So there is a fine balance somewhere...but where?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Thoughts Without Words: Mexico's Illegal Immigration policies

So I am sure by now everyone has heard about Arizona's illegal immigration law by now, even the President has chimed in on it. In fact, I blogged about some quotes the other day. I have no problem with the bill, does that surprise anyone? I have always wondered what would happen to people if they tried to do what they do here in America in another country.

Well thank you Michelle Malkin. She did some research on Mexico's illegal immigration policies. The whole article is nicely done and here are some of the highlights for me;

– Illegal entry into the country is equivalent to a felony punishable by two years’ imprisonment. Document fraud is subject to fine and imprisonment; so is alien marriage fraud. Evading deportation is a serious crime; illegal re-entry after deportation is punishable by ten years’ imprisonment.

– Law enforcement officials at all levels — by national mandate — must cooperate to enforce immigration laws, including illegal alien arrests and deportations. The Mexican military is also required to assist in immigration enforcement operations. Native-born Mexicans are empowered to make citizens’ arrests of illegal aliens and turn them in to authorities.

– Ready to show your papers? Mexico’s National Catalog of Foreigners tracks all outside tourists and foreign nationals. A National Population Registry tracks and verifies the identity of every member of the population, who must carry a citizens’ identity card. Visitors who do not possess proper documents and identification are subject to arrest as illegal aliens.

What I can't roam a country without an sort of documentation? That's racist!

Want to become a citizen? How about this one;

– If outsiders do not enhance the country’s “economic or national interests” or are “not found to be physically or mentally healthy,” they are not welcome. Neither are those who show “contempt against national sovereignty or security.” They must not be economic burdens on society and must have clean criminal histories. Those seeking to obtain Mexican citizenship must show a birth certificate, provide a bank statement proving economic independence, pass an exam and prove they can provide their own health care.

Could you imagine if the U.S. said that new citizen's had to enhance the country's economic or national interests? Or show they can provide their own health care?

You can read the rest of the article here.

Where are the politicians blasting Mexico's policies?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Free Speech for the Dumb: Rep. Raul Grijalva & Thomas Saenz

Wow a two for one on the "Free Speech for the Dumb" tag tonight. Both are dealing with the new law in Arizona, which in a nutshell enforces the federal law when it comes to illegal aliens (yes, I still use illegal aliens...I guess that makes me evil too).

First up Rep. Raul Grijalva who is an elected official from Arizona. His way to protest the law, boycott Arizona. Yes, that's right, boycott the state you represent.

"The consequences we can only bring up right now is economic sanctions," Grijalva said. "We're asking organizations -- civic, religious, labor, Latino, organizations of color -- to refrain from using Arizona as a convention site, to refrain from spending their dollars in the state of Arizona until Arizona turns the clock forward instead of backwards and joins the rest of the union."

So let's get this straight, Rep. Grijalva wants everyone to boycott his own state which would result in lost revenue and in turn jobs. And why? Oh yeah to protect illegal aliens. That makes sense, let's not worry about your own citizens but someone who is here illegally.


#2 Thomas Saenz is the president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund...whatever that is. Well he has an interesting take on state & federal laws;

"If every state had its own laws, we wouldn't be one country; we'd be 50 different countries,"

I'm sorry last time I checked states were able to create law for their own states. Which is why gambling is legal in Nevada and California is about to see even more job losses with AB 32—“The Global Warming Final Solutions Act". When I read something like that it makes me think, this guy is stupid and doesn't know what he is talking about. All he is running off of is emotion, not facts and logic.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Last Laugh: Michael Mann sues over Youtube video

The man at the center of Climategate, Michael Mann, is threatening to sue over some video of him on Youtube. The video, Hide the Decline, uses the now infamous phrase and talks about how he ignored all of the data. Here's the video

The funny thing for me is that here is a man who lied to the entire world about global warming and yet he wants to sue over a video of him on Youtube. Gotta love the lefties. You can put any video you want of Palin or Bush, but make fun of global warming...that's the last straw.

Free Speech for the Dumb: Principal Dr. Terry Oatts

So you want to know why teachers don't trust or think highly of most administrators? Look no further than Woodland Middle School principal Dr. Terry Oatts. Oatts decided to have a convicted felon, rapper T.I., speak to the student body, without telling the parents. T.I. was arrested for having machine guns and silencers and some other fun things. So you can see why parents were upset that they weren't told in advance.

If that wasn't the best how about the response Oatts gave one parent who emailed to complain;

“I thought about asking a guy who snorted cocaine and got arrested for DUI when he was 30 to come and speak to our kids, but President George W. Bush was not available.”

I am really speechless that a principal who is supposed to be highly regarded would actually say that in an email...this might be the epitome of this tag.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Remembering my Grandpa...

It's been 4 years since my grandpa passed away. We all knew he was dying and it wouldn't be long. I'll never forget seeing him and then less than two weeks later he was gone. There isn't a day that goes by that he doesn't cross my mind. I still truly miss him. Getting that call...I knew what it was about, but yet I couldn't believe it. The funeral, visiting his grave it seems all surreal. It's hard to except. I wanted my son to be born today so that April 23rd wouldn't be such a depressing day, but at the same time I am happy. So here is my post I made a few weeks after the funeral.

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.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thoughts Without Words: Ending Tenure in CA

Finally a teacher tenure story that Joanne Jacobs hasn't posted yet.

It seems the "end tenure" bug has hit CA and right in my backyard. Seems Rep. Bob Huff is pushing through a bill to end tenure as we know it in CA. I'm not going to go through all of my reasons against it. You have seen them before, but if you want to go check out the comments there seems to be some really good stuff coming from a conservative teacher...wonder who that could be?

Sometimes I think the world is crazy and logic just doesn't exist.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Inside Four Walls: Elementary Bulletin Boards hurting education?

Via The Quick and the Ed (via Joanne Jacobs);
It seems as though competition to create the best room or "environment" hasn't helped test scores or anything else for that matter.

That's not what I wanted to talk about though. It's the "bulletin board" mentality. My wife is an elementary teacher (has done them all K through 5) and I have witnessed this first hand. Elementary teachers try to one up each others rooms all the time. My wife was staying late one night getting her room ready when she saw another teacher going room to room (open concept no walls/doors) taking pictures of other teachers' bulletin boards and learning areas.

This comes from the top down. And when I mean top, I mean parents. I asked my wife why she spends so much time and she said it's the parents. If a parent sees that your room isn't as "pretty" as another teachers they won't want you and complain until they are moved out. If you have a parent who never goes in your room, chances are they aren't "in touch" with their child's education and it might be harder to get that parental involvement.

After the parents, it's the principal. Human nature strives for recognition. And most principal/administrators will pit teachers against each other. A principal will praise one teacher just to piss off motivate the others to make them work harder.

Lastly, it's the other teachers. The ones that need the attention because they aren't getting enough praise from elsewhere. When you have a teacher that can spend literally 12 hours a days at work, you can't win.

Elementary teachers hurt themselves though. In our district, the elementary schools are being slaughtered due to class size reduction. Instead of banding together and saying "we aren't coming in 3 weeks early to get our rooms ready" or "we aren't spending any extra money in our rooms this year"; they go ahead and do it anyways.

I hope that the elementary teachers can have that proverbial light click on so they can have a voice because right now they look like a bunch of lost sheep.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Inside Four Walls: CSTs are here!

Ok well I have talked about my CSTs a few times before, so nothing new here. But what I think I will do is try to predict my scores. I was told a few years ago to try to make my class grade match what they will get on the CST. I have done this by eliminating almost all partial credit and making my homework score worth less than before.

By doing these two things, their grades have been almost dead on to what they get on the CST. But in doing so, administrators want their class grades higher, without inflating them. Ahhh the ole Catch-22. I guess they want us to tutor them on the side. One teacher suggested we not work as hard because if we are still successful with 36+ students, then they will expect it every year. No comment...yet.

As for my prediction, with a little rationing behind it. I took the percentages of students that have a C or higher to come up with my numbers. These are the top percentages I can see of my students being proficient or advanced, because we all know basic or lower doesn't count.
  • Algebra B - 53%
  • Algebra 2 - 60%
  • Geometry - 53%
I would be happy with those, but my gut tells me they will be lower, not higher. Oh well, let's have them take the test and then wait til summer for the results to come in.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Remember the Time: Power Rangers

It's funny that I was getting ready to do a post on the Power Rangers when I came across this series of videos, HERE. He is on season 2 and he has a long way to go. I don't think I would ever analyze it that much, but it is a good video to watch if you are a fan.

I remember turning on the t.v. one afternoon watching what I considered to be a live version of Voltron. Now, Voltron was one of the greatest cartoons on t.v. growing up, so to see a live version was intriguing. I just remember the horrible acting, the bad costumes, and the fight scenes were blah. To me it was a slap in the face of the greatness that was Voltron. I later learned it was Voltron that pretty much copied everything from this show. Voltron was more violent, which probably still makes it better.

Yet, I still watched it. It wasn't until they introduced Tommy, who would become my favorite ranger of all time, that I really paid attention. He added a solid character and storyline that was missing. By creating Tommy, the show now had a continuous story. Whereas before it was just a bunch of episodes where the order wasn't important.

Tommy was bad ass. He went from evil Green Ranger, to good Green Ranger, White Ranger, to Red Ranger, and then back again as the Black Ranger (all of them above minus his Black Ranger suit). He made the show for me. Of all the characters to ever be on the show, it was his that actually had some depth to it. But even though I thought he was a bad ass on the show, he is a real bad ass now because he is an MMA fighter. Yeah that's Tommy now.

Just when I was ready to change the show, they do something like bring back the original Red Ranger, Jason, as the Gold Ranger during Power Rangers: Zeo. It was a totally unexpected move, since they still had Billy on the show, yet he wasn't a ranger. It was things like that that kept me coming back for more. The unknown.

The show lost a ton of steam with PR: Turbo. They brought on some kid to be a ranger. It was like watching Cousin Oliver on The Brady Bunch. And then Tommy left the show, there was no reason for me to keep watching.

Then something amazing happened. The next season, PR: In Space, Zordon was showing up again, he was kidnapped during Turbo (I think). Long story short, they had strung together like 6-7 seasons of Power Rangers into this grand finale. It was great. It even had some drama with Zordon sacrificing himself to save the universe. All of the previous seasons all added up to that one finale. After that episode, Power Rangers changed.

Every season would see a new cast, new costumes/Zords, new enemies, and pretty much zero continuity to the previous season. It was because of this change that I really didn't care about the show anymore. Although there was one episode that caught my eye. When the show celebrated it's 10th season or some episode milestone, they had a special episode Forever Red. This episode have EVERY Red Ranger since Jason in season 1. It was a fun episode, but the rest of the season sucked. It was fun to see the inside jokes about the show and to see Jason and Tommy back on the screen again was simply awesome.

Then, I read online that Tommy was coming back. Now he was a lot older, in fact he was a teacher on the show. It was great to see Tommy back. The best was when he sort of broke the fourth wall. Every ranger wears clothes that match the color of their ranger, ie. red ranger wore a lot of red. So after he gets the power to be the black ranger, he makes the comment that he needed to go shopping since he had a serious shortage of black. Classic.
Dino Thunder was the last version of Power Rangers I watched. I can't tell you how many more were after that or anything else. I loved the show and realized it forever has a special place in my childhood/young adult memories.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Thoughts Without Words: Schools paying students for good grades

I came across this article in Time magazine about research being done to see the effects of paying students (cash money) for improvement in grades, state test scores, behavior, and attendance.

I can't believe that this is even being brought up right now. We are cutting education budgets across this country, yet we are finding money to pay students for doing what they are supposed to be doing? If parents want pay from their own pockets, that's fine, but the schools themselves?

All we are doing is creating another generation of students that will expect something "special" for doing their job. These kids are going to go through their lives expecting a reward for doing their job. I can see it now, they show up for work on time and they want to know why they didn't get a bonus.

Whatever happened to "motivation comes from within"?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Inside Four Walls: Copying answers from a test

Funny Friday story for everyone.

So I was giving my Geometry classes a test on Wednesday covering the first 5 chapters of the book for review for the Standards test next week. The first 41 questions were multiple choice and the last 18 were problems that you had to work out, but I only checked the answers.

I gave the test to my 5th period the day before (thanks block scheduling) and then gave it to my 6th period on Wednesday. So they are working and this one student I had from the year before turns in his test and then asks to go to the bathroom. I say sure. He is gone for about 10 minutes and comes back in, looking a little somber.

He comes up and says "I have a confession, the test I had had the short answer (last 18) questions worked out with the answers." I said let me see the test. He brings it over and you could see the markings and that someone tried to erase them. He told me that even though they tried to erase it he could still make out the answers.

Now I couldn't see the answers, but I didn't look hard. I just put the test down and said, "Ok, thanks for telling me. Do you want to go back and redo them?" Of course he said no. I said "Well they might be wrong you know." He says he is fine with the answers. I could tell he was shocked I didn't really do anything about it.

So as I am grading his test, I don't look at the names until the end, and I realize that I marked a bunch wrong on the last column (14 questions). I then count it up and he missed 12 of the 18 short answer. In fact, he missed the last 8 in a row.

The next day when I am giving back the scores I tell him, "You should have re-done the short answers because you missed almost all of them." His facial expression was classic. At first he didn't believe me, but then he saw it and was pissed.

I don't think I will have to worry about him copying anything off a test again. Great teachable moment.

Music Non Stop: 3rd album = peak of career?

What is it about 3rd albums? I have posed this question to other metal fans before and got some obvious answers;
  • worked out all of the kinks
  • matured as writers and musicians
  • grew as artists
And I guess those make sense, but it's simply amazing at the classic albums that came out as their 3rd release. I am sure there are more, but these are some of my favorite 3rd albums.

Metallica - Master of Puppets
Slayer - Reign in Blood
Anthrax - Among the Living
Iced Earth - Burnt Offerings
Susperia - Unlimited

Into Eternity - Buried in Oblivion
Devildriver - The Last Kind Words
Shadows Fall - The Art of Balance

Killswitch Engage - End of Heartache
All That Remains - The Fall of Ideals

Just look at the first three on the list. Those are the "Big Four" minus Megadeth. Their 3rd album, So Far, So Good, So What, was a solid album but suffered big time due to all of the production money going to fuel Dave Mustaine's drug use.

Burnt Offerings is my favorite Iced Earth album. They don't like it now, saying it is too angry. Whatever that means.

Shadows Fall? Are you kidding me? Without that album, the whole metalcore genre might not have taken off. Sure, there was KsE's Alive or Just Breathing, but Art of Balance was the first "metalcore" band I saw on Mtv. KsE's End of Heartache is pretty much a re-hash of AoJB, but with a new vocalist. If AoJB is their Ride the Lightning, then this was their Master of Puppets.

Susperia & Devildriver are great modern thrash bands that put out excellent 3rd albums as well. I might argue that Superia's Cast in Stone is a little better due to it's diversity, but Unlimited is a solid modern thrash album.

And what can I say about Into Eternity? Or Buried in Oblivion? Heck I put it as a "must own" album. Up there with Rust in Peace, Slaughter of the Soul, Master of Puppets, and Alive or Just Breathing.

It may be a coincidence or not. But if you are looking at how good a band is or will be check out their 3rd album. Well, maybe not, Trivium's 3rd album, The Crusade, was a piece of sh!t.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thoughts Without Words: Tutoring?

So I was on Math Teacher Mambo and read a post that caught my eye. Seems that she had a student who was late a lot and came in late and gave the overall impression that she didn't care much about the class. Then before a test the girl comes in and asks for help after school. You can read more about it here, but it got me thinking.

At what point do we as teachers just basically tel these kids you're on your own now? You have burned your bridges, made you bed now lay in it, or whatever saying you want to use. I feel that there is a sense of entitlement in this generation that they can do whatever they want and they will still get "bailed out". Responsibility seems to be optional now.

Anyway, back to tutoring. In our contract, there is nothing about tutoring or for that matter an end to our day. We have a start time, but no end time. Yet, last year I was asked to submit my hours to help kids after school. I had a hard time dealing with this. I give ample time in class for my students to start their work and ask questions one on one. However the parents and administrators want more. Should we have to give up our lunch or after school time to help kids out who don't try during class? I personally think we shouldn't. How are we teaching responsibility? Don't get me wrong, if a student asks for help in class and still doesn't get it, I have no problem meeting with them later.

And what about the whole concept of tutoring hours? When I went to school, I never went to tutoring or needed to...and some of my teachers still teach at the high school (I'm not that old). When did tutoring become expected and mandatory?

My wife summed it up great when she told me to tell the administrators that "I didn't go to school for 4 years to get a degree and another 3 to get my credential and masters to tutor. If I wanted to tutor, I could have got a job at Silvan."

I know this is kind of a bunch of random thoughts, but am I over-reacting? I am being insensitive? Or am I being practical?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Last Laugh: Water Rationing = Broken Water-Mains

Since last summer or so in Los Angeles, there have been an increase of water-mains bursting around town. They caused unknown thousands if not millions of dollars in damage. Not only was their flood damage, but also sink holes like this one to the right.

Well it turns out the cause for all of the bursting pipes was...water rationing. Yes, all the water people were saving caused the old pipes to just burst under the pressure. An independent investigation concluded;

An independent report by a team of civil engineers says water rationing is to blame for the water main breaks across Los Angeles last summer because changing water pressure stressed old and corroded cast-iron pipes.

Ironic I would say.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Sun Always Shines on T.V.: Spectacular Spider-Man over?

This is not a fun post. I am a big fan of The Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon. I thought it was going to be a horrible show, but then it turned out to easily be Marvel's best cartoon to date. I praised it for it's great writing and sticking to classic story lines. All I was waiting for the green light on season 3. Well it looks like that isn't going to happen.

Today Marvel announced a new Spider-Man cartoon, Ultimate Spider-Man. This one will be based off of the comic set in the "Ultimate" universe. It follows Spidey in high school, which is exactly where Spectacular Spider-Man is set. So I was hoping if the voices and writers would come back it would be good. Like a continuation ala Justice League Unlimited. But then I read this;

"Ultimate Spider-Man will be a unique journey exploring our favorite web-slinger as he teams up with other fan favorite Marvel Super Heroes in never before seen stories with a new life filled with great challenges, new friends, intense action and character growth," said Eric S. Rollman, President of Marvel Animation.

Sounds like it could end up like Batman: Brave and the Bold. Ugh! This sucks. While no official word has ever come out, this seems like it for Marvel's best animated show ever.

Music Non Stop: Nevermore & As I Lay Dying new audio samples

I think by now everyone knows how excited I am for the new Nevermore. They released another teaser trailer featuring every song on the album.

Sounds pretty solid. I am loving the title track right now and really can't wait for this one.

If that wasn't good enough news, I read that 30 sec clips of the new As I Lay Dying album, The Powerless Rise, was online. I actually had a chance to listen to them before they were taken down. They have one song up on their site for the new album HERE.

They were both just 30 second clips of the songs, but they sound good. The As I Lay Dying tracks sounded just like their last album. I wasn't too worried they would change their sound, but now my expectation are high for this one again.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Inside Four Walls:

So maybe you have heard of this site or not, but it is a teacher's worst nightmare. Students having the ability to "rate" you, anonymously of course. I am sure there are some students that go on and try to be fair about it, but I am sure there are more that are "pissed off" at the teacher for some reason causing them to go on the site.

This is a little troubling because a teacher at our school was called into a counselor's office and he mentioned his low "rating" on He said that it seemed like students weren't comfortable with his style.

I would have gone off on the counselor, but it wasn't for me. Problems with this;
  1. It's anonymous. Put your name up there and then we can talk and respond.
  2. You can rate a teacher as many times as you want. So one student can go in and rate a teacher 50 times and make it seem like they are all from different students. I actually tried this on my own.
  3. Let's say each person is a unique individual, they still only represent a small fraction of the students we teach. I have been teaching 7 years. Let's say I averaged 35 students a period (5 periods) over those 7 years that equals 1225 students roughly. I have a total of 36 ratings right now which is 2.9% of my total students taught. Small sample I would say.
The sad thing is that parents and now administrators are looking at sites like these to "evaluate" teachers. One more thing we have to put up with.

By the way, I thought I would share a rating about me;

"If you're someone who wants to actually learn, then don't get this guy. i mean he was cool, but he's a republican who very openly shared his throughts during the obama/mccain elections, and he also favors some people which i found annoying. but he's pretty chill, quite an easy class, but i'd rather have someone else. plus if you don't like metal music, this isn't your dude cause this man likes to blast that s**t in the early mornings.

I like how it opens with the "if you are someone who actually wants to learn, then don't get this guy." Cause you know I don't teach at all apparently. Oh well. Like I said if you want to get an eye opening experience and read what parents have read about you go look yourself up.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tirades of Truth: Superman Returns

So Superman Returns was on the other night and I decided to review it. I will try to keep this review more focused than other ones.

Well the main story is that Lex Luthor wants to create an island to live on out of a crystal found in the Fortress of Solitude. I know it's pretty weak, but is it any weaker than the first Superman where Lex bought desert land and then wanted to trigger a massive earthquake so the desert land would be beach front property? Allowing him to sell it off and make millions?

This movie came out after Batman Begins, so I think people were expecting a more "mature/dark" storyline. But for me it works. Lex Luthor is about greed and power. And this was another way he tried to do it.

The subplot involves Superman, Lois, and Lois' fiance. It doesn't work at all. I think the entire idea of a super-kid killed this movie. This movie was in effect a sequel to Superman II. So the idea was that Lois got pregnant by Superman during the second movie when they got a little crazy in the Fortress of Solitude. I don't know why they went this route. It was pretty easy to see that he was Superman's kid from the first second it was mentioned.

It's like Anakin and Jar-Jar in The Phantom Menace. If you take them out, it's a pretty good movie. Try watching it without the super-kid and you will be impressed at the improvement.

Brandon Routh was made to play Superman. First off Christopher Reeve is Superman and the first still I saw of Routh, I thought it was a still from the first Superman movie. He does a good job of going from "mild mannered" Clark Kent to Superman. The first lines he has as Superman are funny too. After he saves the plane from crashing he tells everyone inside that flying is still the safest way to travel...classic.

They are rebooting the series again and I hear that Routh isn't going to be attached anymore. And that is a real shame. He did a great job with what he was given. He shouldn't be punished for a script like this one.

Kevin Spacey does a great job as Lex Luthor. Once again, I think people were expecting more. There are times that I feel like it is Gene Hackman up there. When he backs away when the crystal starts to destroy the basement...that's classic Lex. He is only looking out for himself.

He actually is a lot darker than Hackman's Luthor. He actually stabs Superman with a piece of Kryptonite to kill him. Hackman's Luthor put a Kryptonite necklace on him to kill it...which is more violent?

I guess I would compare it Nickolson's Joker and Ledger's Joker. They are both good, but one is just a little darker than the other.

Kate Bosworth is horrible as Lois Lane. I mean horrible. She looks like she should be on 90210 or some teen show. She is too young to be a believable reporter like Lane. Add on the fact, she is supposed to have a 5 year old son? When did she have the baby? When she was 15? She was a horrible choice. It was like DC didn't learn anything from the backlash of Katie Holmes being a DA in Batman Begins. In addition to that, she looks nothing like Kidder. This is supposed to take 5 years after Superman II and while Routh might pass off as being the same age, Bosworth looks just too young. If they wanted to go young, then start it as a new movie not a continuation.

She also comes off as annoying. When she starts asking questions on the plane, it was like shut up. Who cares only 1 network is covering the launch, what are you doing there then? She tries to be tough, but it comes off as annoying. Watching her get thrown around the plane was funny though.

The rest of the cast did a fairly nice job. The new Perry White was good, but not memorable. Actually, he gets screwed over by fans because he says the line "see if he (Superman) still stands for truth, justice, and all that other stuff." Now we all know he is supposed to say "the American way", but the studio didn't want Superman to be Americanized since we were seen as "the bad guys" in 2006.

Luthor's girlfriend, Kitty Kowalski, is great as a comical relief and does a great job. She is very reminiscent of Eve Teschmacher from the first film. She could have gotten some more screen time and it would have been ok with me.

Jimmy Olsen was ok. He was modeled after the old Jimmy and seemed a little out of place at times in this newer version.

Marlon Brando comes back from the dead as Jor-El. This just sort of cemented the fact that this was a sequel to Superman II. I can't really comment on his role because it was left overs from the original. Now it is a digital Marlon Brando and that is kind of cool to see.

There is only one costume that matters and that is Superman's. Let's look at a side by side of the new and the old.There are a few things I like on the new suit. The cape is longer and I actually like the Superman 's' on the belt. But that's where it stops. Why is the suit darker? Is this the gritty Superman? The colors in the original suit were perfect. Why was there a need to change it? The red definitely reminds me of the "evil drunk" Superman in Superman III. Need to explain the "evil drunk" Superman? Maybe later.

The 'S' is so much smaller now, why? That's the best part of the costume. And what's up with the 3-D 'S'? I know they did it for effects, but it isn't needed at all.

I still like it though. The longer cape does it for me. If they had a bigger 'S' I might say it is better than the original.

Good movie. It's a lot better than Superman III or Superman IV. If you go in expecting something like Batman Begins you aren't going to get it. If you go in with an open mind you are going to enjoy yourself. Skip the super-kid scenes and it's a lot better.

It could have used more action scenes, but the ones that were there were pretty good. The plane crashing was nicely done with some actual physics being used this time. And when that guy tries to shoot Superman in the eye...uncomfortable, but visually it was superb.

Free Speech for the Dumb: Rep. Hank Johnson

It appears that our elected officials aren't as bright as they used to be. Apparently, Rep. Hank Johnson (D - GA) thought that the island of Guam could "tip over" if too many U.S. troops landed on one side of it. From;

"My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize."

I got nothing on this one. His teachers have to be a little ashamed right now. You can read the whole transcript on Snopes and they have the video too.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

What can Brown do for you?: You might be a good supervisor, when you...

UPS liked to move people around a lot, that's why we got a new building manager like twice a year. Chuck replaced Lou and had some different philosophies about the sort. Lou tried to fix the missorts, where as Chuck didn't care how the packages got out of the trailers as long as they were unloaded it was fine by him. Chuck didn't care about missorts, he felt it would be easier to move them on load side than moving them back to the sort aisle.

Due to this, Chuck actually liked my missort carts. So one day when our new division manager, Mike G., was in the building he decided to take him by my belt. Now Mike G. was of the philosophy that no package should ever just be sitting; a package should either be in a feeder, on a sort belt, or in a package car. So when Mike saw the packages on the different carts he did a double take.

I explained to him what each cart was for and when we moved them to the different centers. I told him that by doing this we could keep the belt on and not worry about missorts from the sort aisle. He just took it all in and then told me "You know might become a good supervisor when you stop blaming the sort aisle for your problems. Missorts aren't a problem in this building and you just use them as an excuse. I don't ever want to see these carts again."

I looked at him and just said ok. We finished the day and went down clean. The next day I went in to work already pissed by what he said. SO I decided to just let the day die by not moving one missort. I told my employees that we weren't going to touch one missort and let them pile up at the back of the belt. The employees in the back were worried because they knew they would be buried by break. I told them that I was told missorts weren't a problem, so we shouldn't have to worry about them. They knew where I was going with this and were 100% behind me. I told them the only way this would work is that if we made sure 0 of the packages at the end of the belt were ours.

Within an hour the back of the belt was a mess. Chuck and John (Shon's replacement) came up and were like "What is all of that?!?" I gave a sort of curious look and said "You know I'm not sure, they aren't ours but they can't be missorts because missorts aren't a problem in this building." They both knew what I was doing and sent a bunch of people over to start moving them.

Mike showed up saw the mess and looked at me. I just kind of gave this look and he walked away. Most of the building was pissed because their missorts came late, like they used to. Chuck really hated it because he didn't think missorts were a problem either and that the load side should just "put it away". Mike G. then started asking him how he was going to fix the missorts. This was probably the beginning of the bad relationship with me and Chuck.

Looking back I know it wasn't the most mature thing to do, but that was the problem there. You had to do something extreme like this to get your point across.

The next day, I was told to put the missort carts back up on my belt.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Music Non Stop: Nevermore

Ok, I have already talked about Nevermore's new album, The Obsidian Conspiracy, coming out. Yesterday, they released a teaser trailer for it. All I can say is that this is definitely looking like it will be my first big album of the year. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Venting the Anger: Teacher Tenure

Education Week had an article (via Joanne Jacobs) on teacher tenure and how it is changing around the nation. Some states are extending it to 7 years, while others are tying tenure to test scores. One of those states being Delaware who just won the first round of the Race to the Top funds. Here is a map from Education Week looking at the time to receive tenure at every state.

This idea of extending tenure or tying it to test scores is going to push more people away from education, not bring it in like Obama wants. My job shouldn't rely on some high school kids ability on a test. I don't see these students more than 55 minutes a day. What are they doing the rest of the 23 hours? I don't know.

I have had students tell me they blow off the test because they want the extra hours to sleep. They know that it has zero affect on their college applications or high school grades. So where is the buy in for them?

Yet we want to have their scores determine if I have a job? Does that make sense to anyone? I hate it when people try to run schools like a can't! When I was at UPS, I could fire the employee. Hell, I could fire someone in the first 60 days for being late. Can we "fire" a student? Can we have them removed from our class because they aren't doing the work? Nope. What about special ed students? We have no ability to pick our students, whoever we get is who we get. What about PE teachers or art teachers that don't have state tests? How will they be evaluated?

It would be like telling a rookie police officer, look if they crime rates jump during the first 7 years of you being on duty, we will have to let you go. Or how about a fire fighter having to make sure no major fires break out. Are doctors fired when their patients blow off the information the doctors are trying to tell them? If they aren't maybe they should be, we still have people smoking and eating unhealthy foods. Maybe doctors should have to make sure all of their patients are living healthy lives 24/7 if not fire them.

Those sound ridiculous to a logical thinking person. So where is the logic, when they want to tie student test scores to teacher tenure or pay?

By the way, I doubt that we will see any change at all from these states. Anyone in education knows that student success starts at the homes. And once the government starts to see that, maybe it will put pressure where it belongs the home.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Free Speech for the Dumb: Paul Volcker

So now that Obamacare has passed, we get to see just what the ramifications are going to be. We already knew we would be paying for something that won't even start for 4 more years, but a national sales tax, or the better sounding value added tax? According to one of Obama's advisors, Paul Volcker, we should have one (from Reuters);

Volcker, answering a question from the audience at a New York Historical Society event, said the value-added tax "was not as toxic an idea" as it has been in the past and also said a carbon or other energy-related tax may become necessary.

Though he acknowledged that both were still unpopular ideas, he said getting entitlement costs and the U.S. budget deficit under control may require such moves. "If at the end of the day we need to raise taxes, we should raise taxes," he said.

That last line just pisses me off. Here we are struggling and instead of cutting back, we just want to spend more. I know that when I am running out of cash, I cut back, I don't spend more to get out of debt.

Remember the Time: Century Media Identity sampler cds

New tag...this one will look back at some influential things in my childhood that I remember fondly.

Ironic though that the first one doesn't look at my childhood, but rather college. I am doing a Nevermore album list and remember the first time I heard them was on Century Media's sampler cd, Identity vol. 8.

Now keep in mind, the internet wasn't as big as it is now. There was no myspace or websites that streamed songs. Sure there was Napster, but even that didn't have some of the more unknown bands. I was in Virgin Records trying to find something that didn't cost $18...which is why they eventually went out of business. I saw this cool looking album.
I flipped it over and saw that it had 18 songs for $3. Now that's pretty impressive. I showed it to my wife (girlfriend at the time) and she told me that it probably was just samples of each song. I did say sampler on it, so maybe she was right. She also told me that it was just $3, so why not buy it and find out.

I was shocked that it was 18 complete songs. Not only that I was also surprised at how good the music was on it. I went back and picked up Volume 7 the next weekend and enjoyed a ton more of good music.

These are the bands I was introduced to and some of the songs on there that I discovered through this $3 cd;

Nevermore - one from Enemies of Reality and one from Dead Heart in a Dead World. Without these two Identity albums I would never have gotten into Nevermore.
Into Eternity - First time I heard Splintered Visions, and we all know how I feel about that intro.
Iced Earth - I had stayed away from Horror Show because I heard it was crap. Identity Vol. 7 had Jack, which is one of the best songs Iced Earth has ever written.
Shadows Fall - I had The Art of Balance by them, but they had an unreleased song on Vol. 8, Deadworld, which is still one of my favorite Shadows Fall songs.
Children of Bodom
Lacuna Coil
Watch Them Die
Arch Enemy
and a bunch more.

I can't believe they don't make these anymore, but I guess with the advent of Myspace and other media they aren't needed anymore.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Last Laugh: Glaciers Growing

So we all love the hype surrounding global warming and how we are going to be flooded when the glaciers melt. Well, that might not happen because apparently they are growing. Not only are they growing, but how about the first time in 250 years?

Now are you going to hear about this on the major news networks? Nope.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Who Decides: Worst Intro Songs

A nice quick list for everyone today. Intro songs are "songs" that really bug the heck out of me. They are usually a minute or less and lead striaght into the next song. So you have to wonder, why not just make it apart of the regular song? It is a waste of a track on the album and when you listen to your cds or ipod on random it really ruins the flow of the music. How about this; you still have to pay $1 for these, you must be a hell of a fan to want these.

6. Signs of Chaos - Testament (The Ritual): just some guitar noise that leads into probably their "poppiest" metal song ever, Electric Crown. The same notes are played during Electric Crown as in Signs of Chaos. Now don't get me wrong, Testament can play a great intro. For the Glory Of... is a solid track, yeah most of the notes are brought up in More Than Meets the Eye, but it is over a minute long and there is something going on there that isn't background noise. Signs of Chaos isn't worth a track all by itself.

5. Prologue - The Autumn Offering (Embrace the Gutter): just as bad as Signs of Chaos, same notes played in Decay, the next song. What makes this one worse? The fact they called it Prologue, like it is some important part of the album. It is 20 seconds of noise with about 10 seconds of music that could have easily been added onto Decay.

4. Intro 1 through Intro 11 - Ayreon (The Human Equation): that's right 11 intro songs that are a combined total of 53 seconds. That's not a typo either. At least there is some reason behind it. The Human Equation is a 2 disc album that is spread out over the span of 20 days, each song is a day. So Day 1 is track one and so forth, kind of cool. So when you put in the second disc, it is on day 12, but the track on the cd is #1. So what does he do? Well put in 11 intro tracks that are just mainly keyboard noise, until Intro 6 and then you get a beat. Now of course all of these intros play right into Day 12. In fact if you listened to it without looking you would be hard pressed to realize you just listened to 11 songs.

But with the advent of iTunes, you don't get the 11 intros anymore. At least they didn't try to make you pay $11 dollars for 53 seconds.
3. Demonic (Tonus Diabolus) - Deadlock (Earth.Revolt): an ochestral piece of work that is the same notes played over and over again until it leads into 10,000 Generations in Blood. Deadlock is notorious for intros, but this one is bland and unoriginal. Plus less than 15 seconds into the next song, you hear the exact same notes and instruments. At least the other two waited until about a minute into the song before you heard the intro again.

2 (TIE). Intro - Halford (Live Insurrection) & Jet - Megadeth (That One Night): a tie for these two. They are both live albums and they both have the fans cheering for the entire track. Let's look at them a bit closer. Halford's track is just the fans chanting "ole ole ole" over and over again for 15 seconds. Couldn't you edit that out or just throw it at the beginning of the next song?

As bad as that was, Megadeth's might be worse. You listen to crowd noise for about 25 seconds, that's it no chanting or anything. Then you hear a jet sound for 5 seconds. Worst part is that the jet noise is on the song Blackmail the Universe on the album. So why now did they decide to give it it's own track?

1. Unleash - My Own Grave (Unleash): possibly the worst intro song ever. Why? It's the title track of the album. Think of great title track songs, Master of Puppets, Ride the Lightning, Among the Living, Slaughter of the Soul, Number of the Beast, Painkiller, even Buried in Oblivion was great despite being totally different from the rest of the album. But this is an embarrassment.

It's just background noise and then a lion roaring and some lady screaming. Huh? That's the title track? Really?

Honorable Mention
Untitled - The Absence (Riders of the Plague): Ok this isn't an intro song, but it is the worst track ever...ever. To find my list, I put my iTunes in order of track length. This was the shortest song on there at 4 seconds. Believe it or not it is in the middle of the album. It is just silence for 4 seconds. Worse than that? It is for sale on iTunes. A 4 second song of silence...shouldn't they give it away?

Now Soulfly had a silent track, but that was in memory of 9-11. So what is the point of this? I got nothing. Riders of the Plague is a great melodic death metal album, but this is just stupid.

Now there are a ton more that just bug the crap out of me and I can't really say why I chose these 7. Just remember if it doesn't add something to the album or go over a minute it's probably a waste of a track number.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

What can Brown do for you?: "A dead rabbit just came down my belt"

So this story was coming up, but since it involves a rabbit and it's Easter...why not? This really doesn't take place out of order either. I was on Pen 6 still running along and we had a new building manager in Chuck.

The day was almost over and the flow from the sort aisle was slowing down when all of a sudden one of my employees calls me over to the front of the belt. Well, I am sure you all know what was there...a dead rabbit, not in a box or bag, just a dead rabbit. Turns out that the little guy was a laboratory rabbit that got out of his box somehow and ended up on my belt.

Anyway, I pick up the rabbit and put him in a tote box and call Chuck and tell him that a dead rabbit just came down my belt and that someone in the sort aisle should be written up for this. T take the rabbit in the tote to Chuck by Pen 4. I show him the rabbit and am visibly upset. I see the sort guys walking in the back and call them over. Adrian and P.J. are like "we don't know where it came from, we will ask." Anyone could plainly see they were lying. Chuck didn't do anything except laugh at it. I told him it's not funny and that he needs to do something. Chuck tells me he will look into it... of course we know what that means.

Nothing ever came of it and it just became a funny side note to the building. Years later I found out what happened. The sort aisle was upset with me for telling the rest of the building what they do and of course the Wednesday meetings. So a box carrying the lab rabbits opened up and Adrian pushed it to a sorter to re-box and made the comment "we should send it to Kevin's belt". When Adrian walked away, the sorter thought it was a good idea and did it. Nice huh?

Happy Easter everyone.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The Last Laugh: Offshore Drilling

Offshore drilling is a no-no for liberals and environmentalists. So I guess they were a little mad about it when their hero President Obama announced plans to start offshore drilling this past week.

"Given our energy needs, in order to sustain economic growth and produce jobs and keep our businesses competitive, we're going to need to harness traditional sources of fuel even as we ramp up production of new sources of renewable, homegrown energy," Obama said. "So today we're announcing the expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration--but in ways that balance the need to harness domestic energy resources and the need to protect America's natural resources."

Now I personally don't think it will happen. But I do find it funny how the same people that just cheered him for health care reform are now blasting him.

Friday, April 02, 2010

What can Brown do for you?: Downtime

Now a few words to set up this story. Every day at break the unload would tell us the percentage of trailers left to unload. So normally we would be around 500-700% and that would take an hour or so (about 7 AM is when we were supposed to finish). Now as a math guy it took me awhile to grasp that something could be more than a 100%, but whatever.

The other thing was that we were still without a building manager. So it wasn't out of the ordinary for the division manager to show up. He would be consider a building manager's boss. He was in charge of more than one building.

Well one day our division manager, Rich, was in the building. Rich was a great guy. I can't say one negative thing about him. He was always kind, positive, and always remembered my name. On top of that, when things got bad he wouldn't yell or scream he would just mentor you. He was definitely an anomaly at UPS.

So at break time that day, Shon (who was running the back cause Tom was gone) decided to have a building meeting to discuss downtime and percentages left. Everyone is there, part time supervisors, full time supervisors, and Rich. Shon asks Rob for the amount left and Rob tells him something like 600%, which is higher than Shon had said. Then when he asks Rob for a downtime Rob says 7:30. Shon without missing a beat says "you're on crack." Rob chuckles and says "you can say whatever you want, but we will be done at 7:30." It was funny to see Rich's and Shon's face when Rob said it. I was standing next to Jordan and we just laughed because we knew Rob pretty well and he didn't sugar coat stuff.

Want to know what time they got down? 7:30

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Who Decides: Metallica lead off tracks

Ok by now you should know I am into metal. Then it should really be no surprise that I am a fan of Metallica. In fact, in my class this month I play nothing but Metallica as the students come in. I don't know why I chose April, but I have for the past couple of years now.

Being the fan that I am, I can't really pick a favorite album. To me, they are each unique in their own special way. I remember when the two Load albums came out how much they were blasted by the "fans" as being sell-out albums and now they are highly regarded by those same fans.

So while I can't choose a favorite album, I can choose a favorite lead off track. It's a simple list and it's only one song from each album. I would also like to add, that just because one song is number one, doesn't mean it's my favorite album. So onto the list;

9. Ain't My Bitch (Load) - ok, well something had to be at the bottom of this list. Seriously though, Ain't My Bitch is an average song. It's nothing special. It doesn't really set the tempo for the rest of the album either, like the rest of the songs on this list. Plus, this was the first impression made from Load. Now, there are a couple of other songs that could have taken the lead position, but they went with this one. I guess it is one of the "heavier" songs on Load and maybe that's why it was put there. It is probably the only song on here that doesn't leave an impression.

8. Fuel (Re-Load) - honestly, the Loads aren't bad albums. This one leaves a bad taste in my mouth with the opening lines "gimmie fuel, gimmie fire, gimmie that which I desire." When I am listening to Metallica, I'm not expecting Shakespeare, although there are plenty of deep reflecting lyrics in their music, this isn't one of them. Once again, it's a solid song, but nothing great. I might have gone with Devil's Dance or The Memory Remains, but whatever. I think it is a better song than Ain't My Bitch, but it still doesn't "set the tone".

7. That Was Just Your Life (Death Magnetic) - I am sensing a pattern here. Anyway, this is more like it in terms of "setting the tone". A nice long intro (more to come later) and some pretty fast playing. This album came out after the Loads and St. Anger and people were saying Metallica couldn't play thrash anymore. This song came out and said "oh yeah?". It clocks in at a little over 7 minutes long, like most of the songs on the album. And like most of the songs, it gives you a peek at the long choruses and great soloing. I can't say one bad thing about this song. It's not any higher because the other songs are more memorable.

6. Hit the Lights (Kill 'Em All) - This was the song that introduced the world to Metallica (minus the demos). It had the intro that would be built upon over the next 3 albums and again with Death Magnetic. It really gives you a sense of how great the music is. A nice little solo in between the first verses grabs the listener's attention that this isn't a regular album. One of the faster songs on the album, but for me it is actually one of my least favorite Metallica songs. So why is it so high up? Because it defined the band. You never get a second chance to make a first impression and Metallica didn't let down. The speed, solos, it was truly genre defining. How many songs ended on a guitar solo back then? Not many, but that was Metallica's first impression to the world.

5. Enter Sandman (Metallica) - how I hated this song after about 1997. Some of you might remember how big this song was in the 90's when it came out, other maybe not. When this hit the airwaves & MTV it was huge. I don't even think huge can describe it. Let's face it, this is probably Metallica's most popular song. I can listen to it now and realize it is near perfection for a metal song. Great tempo, sing a long chorus and verses, nice chord progressions, and a radio friendly solo. When you talk about a lead track setting the tempo for things to come, this pretty much nailed it. When I play this song, every year, it gets the biggest reaction of "I know this song". With Guitar Hero it only made this song bigger. I know some claimed this was the beginning of the end for Metallica, but I think of it as the second coming of Metallica.

4. Frantic (St. Anger) - Well the Loads left a bad taste in people's mouths and by now people also said The Black Album (Metallica) was a sell out album. So enter St. Anger. The band was in utter turmoil at the time. Jason Newsted had quit the band and James Hetfield was in rehab. When he came out, they said Metallica was reborn. Things were going to change and they were "going back to their roots." People actually said this album would sound like And Justice for All, because there was no official bass player and on AJFA the bass was turned down so much it was like there was no bass at all. It's only after I typed that do I realize how strange some Metallica fans are.

Anyway, St. Anger was released and this was the first impression of the new Metallica. And what an impression it was; tin drums, no solo, James' off key singing. Through all that though it was a return to form so to speak. It wasn't AJFA or anything close to it, but it did give hope that there was still some thrash in there somewhere. On a side note, if St. Anger had a "normal" snare sound and solos it would be Death Magnetic. Listen to both of them and then think about those two things. Songs are both long and the choruses are also long, not to mention some of the intros.

3. Blackened (And Justice for All) - it shouldn't surprise metal fans to see the top 3 lead off tracks come from these albums. These albums (Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, and And Justice for All) are seen as the holy grail of thrash metal.

was the last of the three and like the others they start off with a calm intro, sort of like the calm before the storm. This one was played with electric guitars unlike the others and it doesn't go on as long, but like the others it is simply the only rest for the first song. Blackened is a little more complex than the others with multiple tempo changes, once again setting the tone for the more complex AJFA album. In fact the middle seems like it could be a totally different song. The solo is classic though. You go from this NWOBHM type solo into the classic thrash solo that Metallica was known for and then into something that really just makes you go "WOW! what was that?!?!" And then when you hear the solo going into the chorus, it goes back for more. Amazing. It might be my favorite solo on the list.

2. Battery (Master of Puppets) - nothing much to say, but a classic. The acoustic guitar intro into the drums and electric guitar was pretty awesome back then, and still is to this day. Then into this thrash metal song that only Metallica could write. Battery is one of my favorite songs to listen to and sing along with. The choruses and verses are so great to sing along to. The chord progressions are basic, like Enter Sandman but's that's the only similarities.

Like the other songs in the top three there is a middle part that sort of takes you away. This one isn't as long as Blackened and leads straight into one of Kirk Hammett's best solos. I think my favorite part is the riffs in this song. If you aren't head banging during this song, something might be wrong with you.

1. Fight Fire With Fire (Ride the Lightning) - Kill 'Em All was the birth of thrash, this album saw thrash grow up into something more than we thought it could become; complex, moving, and more than one dimensional.

This is the song that started off the whole "slow intro"-thing that would be present the next 2 albums. The difference is that it was never heard of before. It really sounds like a classical song being played. The riffs are constantly being pounded into your head. The middle section is pretty much nonexistent compared to the other 2 songs. But the solo here might be the best of the three. There are two different "solos" and then onto this part where all you get is about 10 seconds of drumming then the riffs are back. It is the shortest song of the three, probably due to the lack of a drawn out middle section. Of all the songs this is the only one that has the instant transition to the title track. All 3 of the albums were set up similar in terms of types of songs for each spot in the track numbering. I might discuss those later.

So that's the list. Here's to a great month of Metallica.