Saturday, June 26, 2010

Free Speech for the Dumb: Peggy West

I love how the Arizona law has fired up the nation and exposed all the liberals who want open borders. And then there are those like Peggy West, Milwaukee County Board Supervisor, who wants to boycott Arizona because they aren't a border state like Texas;
“If this was Texas, which is a state that is directly on the border with Mexico, and they were calling for a measure like this, saying that they have a major issue with, you know, undocumented people flooding their borders, I would say, I would have to look twice at this, but this is a state that’s a ways removed from the border…”

How do people like this get elected into office? Seriously...what an idiot.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Last Laugh: Welfare recipients using cards at casinos...

This is too much. Back when welfare started, families were given their groceries, bagged for them. Then, do to complaints, they were moved to food stamps to use at grocery cash. Well, then that changed, due to embarrassment of having to use food stamps, to debit cards. That way they could use them and not let anyone know they were on welfare. So how are these cards being used?

Reporting from Sacramento — California welfare recipients are able to use state-issued debit cards to withdraw cash on gaming floors in more than half of the casinos in the state, a Los Angeles Times review of records found.

The cards, provided by the Department of Social Services to help recipients feed and clothe their families, work in automated teller machines at 32 of 58 tribal casinos and 47 of 90 state-licensed poker rooms, the review found.


State officials said Wednesday they were working to determine how much money had been withdrawn from casino ATMs by people using the welfare debit cards.

that's hilarious. This just goes to show how jacked up CA is. Because we don't want to hurt feelings, millions and millions of taxpayer money was wasted away.

Thoughts Without Words: Failing Students = not an option

From Stories from School (via Joanne Jacobs); it seems as though word is getting out more and more that elementary teachers can't hold back their students because of self-esteem issues and other political reasons. But does this help the students? How kind of effect does it have their later years in education? Does passing on a student in the 4th grade help them out if they can't multiply or divide properly? We read;
The funny thing about this is that elementary students think I have the power to hold them back. For some, this is a motivator. I’ve even been known to sometimes play on this fear. It helps some to rise to the level and work harder. But what message am I sending when, no matter what, everyone gets promoted? Kids know when a student is failing. When September roles around, and Jordan is sitting with them in their new sixth grade class, they’ll realize they didn’t have to work as hard as they did to get where they are. This message starts to set in just as they enter middle school.
I have students that still don't know their basic multiplication. I can't tell you the number of students who tell me that 8 X 4 is 36. It's shocking. And yet, politicians still want to push through merit pay based on test scores. I can tell you this, a student can't solve a quadratic equation by completing the square if they can't multiply 8 X 4. And multiplication is not a standard for me, yet I will paid on it? Fair?

Who Decides: mid albums of the year

Well it's that time again to look at some of the better albums of the past 6 months. Some will make it on the final list I am sure, but others...not so lucky.

1. As I Lay Dying - This Powerless Rise: not as good as An Ocean Between Us, but still the best album I have heard this year from start to finish. More death vocals than before, but that's ok. I don't know if it will end up number one though. I have been listening to some newer albums that might take that spot.

2. Nevermore - The Obsidian Conspiracy: Definitely not on par with This Godless Endeavor, but still it's Nevermore, they really don't release anything that is bad. It is average. I don't know where I would put this album if I ranked their discography. It has everything you would want in a Nevermore album though, solid riffs, great solos from Jeff Loomis, and killer drumming. Warrel Dane does another great job on vocals. It isn't as thrashy as TGE, more of the mid tempo stuff like on Dead Heart in a Dead World.

3. Bullet for My Valentine - Fever: I talked about this album a few weeks ago and it isn't going anywhere. First off most of the screams are gone. They show up, but very sporadically. The music though is as catchy as ever. Betrayal is probably my favorite song of the year.

4. Blaze Bayley - Promise and Terror: For those who don't know Blaze, he was in Iron Maiden for a couple albums when Bruce Dickinson left the band. People bash those albums constantly, but after he left Iron Maiden he started making solo albums and they kick ass. Starting with Silicon Messiah til now, they have been classic heavy metal albums. Promise and Terror is no different. The musicians have all changed since the first album, but this is probably their best since Silicon Messiah. If you liked X-Factor, check out Comfortable in Darkness it could have easily been on that album...dark, slower, and the vocals fit in perfectly.

5. Periphery - Periphery: Now I never heard of this band, but then I kept seeing it pop up on metal boards, so I checked it out. Basically it is Meshuggah mixed with Animals as Leaders...with more Meshuggah. It is interesting because they also released an instrumental version of the album like Protest the Hero did with Fortress. I don't know which I like better, but this is definitely one of the albums I just got wind of a couple of weeks ago and it is groing on me.

6. Levi/Werstler - Avalanche of Worms: another instrumental album. This one is from the guys from Daath. It is a great album for metal fans. This probably has more in common with Animal as Leaders in terms of the guitar tone and soloing than Periphery. If Daath could put out an album like

7. Silent Civilian - Ghost Stories: second album from these guys. It's better than their first and if I were to describe it I would say it is a cross of Chimaira and Trivium-type bands. It's solid, but will it be here in 6 months? Probably not.

8. Solution .45 - For Aeons Past: Former lead vocalist of Scar Symmetry's new band. Sounds pretty much just like them as well. I would love this album a lot more if the keyboards weren't pushed to the front so much. I mean keyboards are ok, but not when they take away from the guitars.

9. War of Ages - Eternal: this was the album that I was listening to heavily before AILD released their album...why? Produced by the vocalist from AILD and some guest spots from the guys as well. How does it sound? Like As I Lay Dying. More of the metalcore sound though with the breakdowns. This album might make another return in 6 months because everytime I put it on, I end up listening to most of it.

10. ReVamp - ReVamp: "chick/gothic/symphonic" metal. Former lead singer of After Forever's debut. It's pretty solid. Nothing special to be honest. Catchy at times, but forgetable at other times.

Honorable Mention
God of War III Soundtrack: This thing is really good, but only 6 songs. Trivium, Killswitch Engage, Dream Theater, Opeth, Taking Dawn, and Mutiny Within all have great songs on this album. Obviously, my favorite is Trivium's, but Opeth's song is probably the most shocking as they go back to their days of Damnation with their track. It works nicely in this album where the other songs are pretty fast and brutal.

It will be interesting to revisit this list in December.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Music Non Stop: The Big Four...I've seen it all now.

I really thought that when I saw the pictures of Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax together in the same room I had seen it all, but it wasn't. Not only did they do a handful of shows the last week, but they covered a song together, Am I Evil? by Diamond Head, well at least Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax. Someone said someone from Slayer is out there, but I can't tell. Diamond Head was a huge influence on both Metallica and Megadeth so it is a great song choice to cover.

I can't believe I saw Dave Mustaine and James Hetfield share a stage together. Amazing. This was also recorded for a dvd, which I know what I want for Christmas. One last thing, I'm not a huge fan of Slayer (they aren't on my banner btw), but I think Kerry King and Tom Araya should have got out there as well.

More pictures and some other videos HERE.

Inside Four Walls: 2009 - 2010 school year reflections part 2: students

If you missed part 1, it is here and it deals with the parents I had this year.

So what can I say about my students this year? I had a lot of freshman...a lot. Sometimes it's good, like in Geometry or Algebra 2 because those students work hard to get where they are. Other times you get them in Algebra B. Now even then it's a toss up. Some are there because they screwed around and didn't try and won't ever try. Others are there because they just struggled, but genuinely want to pass.

My Geometry students were a mixed bag. I had students that wouldn't miss a thing on a test and others that couldn't tell you what the sum of the interior angles of a triangle was. After state testing, the Geometry students were more upset than my other classes. They felt I didn't cover everything... we skipped reflections, translations, and dilations to finish some other chapters. They wanted to know why, so when I told them that if we finished the book completely some people would fail because of the faster pacing and they might not remember as much because we would be skimming and not going down a few levels. I think of all my classes, my geometry students thought I wasn't competent. But then again they did give me fainting girl, cheaters, and male chivalry at its best.

I can't say much about my Algebra B class. As I said, mostly freshmen. They were immature at the beginning of the year and for the most part, they didn't change. I will never forget the book check of my all time favorites.

My Algebra 2 classes were fun. There were a total of 4 freshman between 2 classes, can you beat that? And a freshman in Algebra 2 doesn't act like a freshman. I had some problems with one period because our counselor decided to put 13 friends together in my class. Now, having 4 friends in a class is bad, but 13 ... come on now. I am sure they didn't do well on the state testing because they were mostly juniors and by then they realize that the CSTs have zero effect on them.

I had a ton of favorite moments from these classes, but my favorite came the day of finals. I was grading them on the Scantron machine and before I slid one in I noticed this one student (had a 35-40% going into the final) bubbled like 4 answers for one question. A bunch of times. I wasn't upset, I thought he wanted to be funny. After I scanned it, I looked a little closer. Here is the scantron.
See it? Well, if not, let me outline it for you...Stay classy Walnut. Pretty good in terms of originality, I will give him that much. I just never thought I would have a student bubble in a penis on a scantron, silly me.

Maybe I will submit this one to Zero Out of Five.

As far as summer school is is better. That student hasn't done anything since the first day. I have a ton of stories I can't share because I want to wait til summer school is over. I will just say that this year's summer school highlights the failure of education and something better than this scantron.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Future Uncertain: next year's schedule

So I got my schedule for next year and it is a mixed bag. I like the fact I have a chance to teach the Algebra 2 Senior class because I think I can give them a more realistic vision of what college life will be for them next year. It's a win/win for me because they are going to try (at least first semester) because they need the class to get into a 4 year college. The other big one is that I don't have to worry about the whole CST scores, I can actually teach and, yes, re-teach if necessary.

I actually purposed this class to our team leader about 4 years ago (this will be the 2nd year of the class). As I mentioned back then, seniors in a class will derail any learning that is happening, and our counselors aren't going to move them out cause they have no where else to go. So I am glad to be able to teach something that I actually wanted in the first place.

That's the good (well that and I have an Algebra B again), the troublesome comes in the form of Geometry and my conference period. I don't have a problem with Geometry, but it's not my favorite subject. Students come in thinking it will suck and be hard because of proofs and everything else. So it's an uphill battle from the get go. It can be abstract at time which frustrates the more linear (algebraic) students as well. So I have 3 periods of that...great. And on top of that, these might not be the best Geometry students since I am seeing 40 potential students in Algebra B in the summer...more on that later...about 4 weeks.

The bigger concern is my prep. I have asked for 1st off and have gotten it for the past 2 years. We live about 30 minutes from work and if I want to get there before traffic hits I need to leave around 6:30, by myself. Now my wife and I carpool pretty much everyday, so we would leave by 7 and I would get there a few minutes after school started missing the "drop off" rush.

Well, as you probably guessed, I don't have first off fact not one math teacher has it off, due to budget cuts and retirements. So on top of our 5 furlough days (10 when you count my wife [we teach in the same district]), now I have to put out about another $1500 for gas next year. So the question is, why not just leave together at 6:30? Well, we used to. In fact, we used to leave by 6 - 6:15 about 5 years ago. The fact of the matter is that it is difficult to get the kids up and fed and out the door by that time...especially since my wife doesn't need to be at work until 8:15. So you can see her point of "let them sleep". I think that will have to do until we see that money becomes tight and then that may change.

Music Non Stop: "Should Own" metal albums part 1

So I will now start taking a look at some albums which are really good albums, some of them are what I like to call "genre definers"... meaning they define that genre of metal, duh. Now I don't think they deserve to be in the Must Own category I did awhile back, but they are great albums and if you are a fan of metal you should own them.
In Flames - Clayman; This, to me, is an album that defines what Swedish Death Metal is. I can't remember what got me to pick up this album or get me into listening to In Flames, but I am glad I did. Every song on this album is perfect or near perfection. The strong guitar harmonies almost gives you the impression you are listening to British Heavy Metal, listen to As the Future Repeats Today's solo. But in case there was any doubt the vocals come in and it definitely isn't Bruce Dickinson singing. And Anders Fridén does a great job of going from death to some what clean on this album. On the subsequent albums he adds more clean vocals into the harmonies. He is a great vocalist, in fact I put him on my list of top metal vocalists. The keyboards are present on this album, but for atmosphere purposes only. Don't expect a keyboard solo on this album. Some say this is their best album. I would put it in the top 3 for sure. Reroute to Remain is great as well as is Come Clarity. I will probably hit those later.

Lacuna Coil - Comalies; Once again not sure how I picked this one up or what got me to listen to a band with a female lead singer, but I am glad I did. When I hear someone say they are "Gothic Metal" I immediately compare it to this album. You know when you pick up an album and start listening to it waiting for that first song to skip? Well you won't hit that here. The music is beautiful. It is the perfect combination. The guitars are heavy enough to let you know it is metal, but the keyboards and some symphonic elements are used to enhance the overall feel of the album. The combination of a female vocalist, Cristina Scabbia, and a male vocalist, Andrea Ferro, really strengthens the dynamic of the album. You have guitars, keyboards with a slight symphonic feel, angelic vocals, and masculine vocals. The first time I heard the album it was almost too much to take in.

In addition to this, there is no guitar solos. They aren't needed here as the music takes care of it. When you get used to Cristina's vocals as the lead then you get a song like Daylight Dancer which splits them almost equally, if not more for Andrea. Lacuna Coil would go away from this sound for their next album, Karmacode. That album brought the nickname La'Korn'a Coil. Despite the change, it too, is a great album, but not as important and good as this one. By the way, I talked about this album years ago...HERE. Funny to see how I still view it as a huge part of music.

Soulfly - Dark Ages; This to me captures the feel of what "Tribal metal" should be. I am sure there are those who think Sepultura's Roots is the birth of tribal metal and it probably is. I talked about both Sepultura's Roots and Soulfly's Dark Ages before and after I went back and read them, they still hold up well. For those who don't want to click the link...I will say that Soulfly's Dark Ages is a continuation of where Sepultura was with Chaos A.D. After Chaos A.D., Sepultura released Roots, which was so different. I'm not talking just the tribal chants and musical direction (some of that was present on Chaos A.D.), but the guitars downtuned and it was really had a nu-metal feel to it. Whereas with Dark Ages, the tribal influences are still there. Take a look at I and I, it goes from blistering thrash to this serene calm interlude then back to the thrash. Or Staystrong with its perfect bleed into Soulfly V. This seems to be the last of the "tribal metal" from Soulfly with their next two albums going back to more of a punk/thrash metal. I would hope that they would return to this style sooner rather than later.

So that's my first part of "Should Own" metal albums. I still want to finish my reflections of teaching this past year...focusing on the students. But I have to do something first before I can move forward with it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Music Non Stop: Should own metal albums & 2010 mid year albums

title says it all. Hopefully, during the next week I will release my top mid-year albums of the year. I have been listening to the new Nevermore and a couple other bands that caught me off guard, so it should be a pretty full list.

Then I will start releasing my "should own" metal albums. I already gave you my top 5 "Must own" metal albums a few years ago and they still stand the test of time. These are more recent albums, but at least a few years old. And they too are standing the test of time.

Free Speech for the Dumb: BP executives

I let the first one sort of slip by, but after the second "foot in mouth" incident, I couldn't resist.

Obviously, everyone knows about the oil spill in the gulf. Well a couple weeks back British Petroleum CEO Tony Hayward really knew how to let everyone know how sorry he was and how he could sympathize with the people of the gulf coast when he said;

"We’re sorry for the massive disruption it’s caused their lives. There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I would like my life back."

Nice huh? His rig is putting hundreds if not thousands of people out of work due to the effects of the spill, yet he would like his life back.

So when it was time for the next big "I'm sorry speech" BP put forth BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg to reassure everyone that BP is behind them. I mean he cares about everyone...right?

"I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies or don't care, but that is not the case with BP. We care about the small people."

Really? You couldn't have someone check those comments first? The people of the gulf already think there is a conspiracy going on and you just added some fuel to the fire. Good one BP.

Music Non Stop: The Big Four shows...holy crap

Ok so this is like the greatest show ever...ever. Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax (crappy without Bush, but ok)...they are known as the Big Four the founders of thrash metal. And they are doing some shows together for the first Europe. Thanks guys, you founded thrash in America and put America on the map for heavy metal, but let's go there first. see them together is awesome. I saw this picture this morning and was blown's so surreal to see these guys together.
All the drama with Mustaine and Metallica or Mustaine and Kerry King Or King with see them in a room wow. There were even more pictures taken later. The one with the four "leaders" of the bands is awkward to see James off to the side almost...but I think it was the timing of the photo. James seems to be above most of the drama nowadays.I don't go to concerts, but I am strongly considering going if this thing comes to the U.S. It's amazing. I guess it would be like getting The Beatles, Elvis, and The Beach Boys (I'm reaching here people) together for one show. It's huge take my word for it.

This thing will come to dvd one day and I will buy it, but being there would be so much better.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Inside Four Walls: Summer School day 1... problems? really??

So I haven't finished with my thoughts on last year, but I have to share this story from the first day of summer school. Now at our school we have these students for 5 hours (2.5 hours with a 30 minute break, then another 2.5.). Due to budget cuts, we have been told if we drop below 35 we can lose our class... I have 39, but I think that might drop by one.

So I am done with introductions and we are going over some of the material and this kid starts talking I will call him Student R. So I tell him to stop talking and work. Before the break, I have warned Student R about 3 times to work and stop talking because it is disrupting to the class.

After break he continues to talk. I tell him "Look it's the first day of summer school, I don't want to call your parents, but I will if I have to." That usually works. In fact, I have about 2-3 students who I have had in the past that have seen me do it. They give this look, he's serious.

So what does Student R do? Continue to talk. So I get his mom's cell phone and get ready to call. Now Student R gets worried. He tells me that his mom's at work and is too busy to talk to me. And I could "call if I want to, but I would be wasting my time". So I call, I was going to anyway. So I get mom on the phone and;

Me: Hi this is Mr. W from WHS and I am calling to talk to you about your son's behavior in class. I am constantly telling him to get to work and to stop talking. I have warned him about 5 times already.

Mom: Already? It's the first day of summer school.

Me: I know...kind of funny huh? Anyway, I have about 40 kids in the class and I can't have him constantly disrupting everyone around him. I have people wanting to get into the class and I would rather have someone that wants to be here and try than someone that is constantly talking and being disruptive.

(this is the part where I was shocked)

Mom: hmmm do you think you could transfer him to another class?

Me: uhh no, I am the only Algebra B class during summer.

Mom: ohhh well...

Me: Do you want to talk to him, he's right here?

Mom: yeah

So as you can tell, not much parental support. Think about it, instead of backing me up and talking about fixing her son's behavior...her response? Move him to another class. It's not over though. I hand the phone to her son;

Student R: yeah mom, he caught me talking like 2 times. I am doing my work I will show you. I don't know why...maybe he's out to get me. But this phone call has straightened me out and I won't talk again. Love you bye

With that he handed me the phone back. That whole conversation was about 20 seconds.

Me: Yeah I don't think your son is going to be too successful in here with that attitude he just showed you and me.

Mom: yeah well...

Me: I suggest you have a strong talk with him tonight and hopefully he can do a 180 tomorrow or he isn't going to last too much longer.

Mom: Ok thanks

Me: Bye.

Yeah that's what I am dealing with. Hopefully, it won't be a repeat of the school year from 2 years ago. It can't right?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Sweetest Thing: Simon Cowell

Not sure if Simon has ever been connected with the words "Sweetest Thing" before, but this time he deserves it. Simon Cowell is known for being rude, mean, and pretty much an ass on TV. But I really think that he is honest and hams it up a bit for the camera. Well this story strengthens everything I have ever believed about him.

Seems that a 5 year old girl was dying of cancer and wanted one thing before she died, sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to Simon. Her parents were able to their daughter, Bethany Fenton, to meet with Simon backstage of Britain's Got Talent. She was able to sing for him and tell him a knock knock joke. Her take on it;

"Simon let me sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to him. He's so nice and I love him."

And her dad;

"The highlight of the day was meeting Simon Cowell, who was a true gentleman, joking with Bethany and listening intently as she sang to him."

Sadly just 3 days after she met Simon, Bethany lost her battle with cancer. Hats off to Simon for being classy. And our prayers for her family as they grieve the loss of their daughter.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Who Decides: Comic Book Movies

So I have a nice short list of favorite comic book movies. I know there are a lot, but these four really do it for me. Now to be honest, I haven't seen the Iron Man movies yet, I know what is wrong with me. I have seen the 2 different Hulks, the X-Men trilogy, Daredevil, the Punisher (all 3 of them), and all of the Batman movies. So I have seen my fair share of them.

Now first off, as I say on my profile, the movies need to stick to the comics. I didn't see the X-Men in the theaters because the team was all wrong and the suits? What was up with them? Speaking of costumes, to this day, I still haven't seen Spider-Man 3 because how hard is it to get the black suit right? They dropped the ball there, I won't talk about the emo Parker I keep hearing about. So onto the list.

4. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer - now I didn't see this in the theaters because I heard they made Galactus into a cloud instead of a giant robot. I guess since he was never seen it is ok. But the movie itself is pretty solid. The Fantastic Four have always been a more light hearted more family oriented comic book and I think they did it here. The cast is perfect. Jessice Alba is the weakest link on the cast. Reed, Ben, and Johnny Storm come to life on the screen just the way you always imagined they would as you read the comics growing up. It's a shame to see Chris Evans moving onto Captain America because he nails Johnny Storm and it will be hard for me to forget him in this role.


3. Superman 2: The Richard Donner Cut - I just reviewed this film a few weeks ago, so if you want a really detailed review of it go HERE. I can't add much to that review. It is a great movie and the RD Cut makes it so much better.


2. Spider-Man 2 - This should be number one. I'm actually not taking off any points for the black costume either. It is perfection. The movie does a great job of establishing Peter and all of his troubles and trying to balance a love life, school, family and friends, and Spider-Man. It's better than the first because it doesn't have that ridiculous Green Goblin mask either...what was up with that thing? Doctor Octopus is perfect. I can't really explain his performance unless you have read the comics. And the whole movie is full of memorable scenes. How about the train scene where Peter is unmasked and all of the people on the train help him out and not worry about who he is?

Or the ending when Peter is unmasked in front of Mary Jane...classic. The music the drama is perfect.


1. Batman (1989) - while the movie itself might not be as strong as Spider-Man 2, it is better than the first Spider-Man. This movie is number one for the lasting effect it had on movies and tv. First off the movie itself, it was good. Keaton was great as Batman. Remember this was Beetle Juice. I was worried even as a 6th grader that this would be like the 60's Batman. Nicholson does a great job as the Joker. I won't get into the whole Nicholson vs. Ledger for the best Joker. Let's just say he took Cesar Romero's Joker and intensified him. It wasn't an origin movie, I'm looking at you Batman Begins, but it did have just the right amount of flashbacks to refresh an already known story. The ending was also shocking. You saw the death of a major villain. Huh? No Arkham? It was shocking.

As far as the lasting effects, remember this was the first comic book movie since the horror that was Superman IV. Fans were unsure as to the seriousness of the movie. Would it be another CF or would it be like Superman I and II? Would it be like the 60's tv show or Year One? It brought back comic book movies. The hype surrounding this movie was nothing like I had ever seen or have seen since. 20/20 was running segments on Batman. The hype machine was in full effect back then. Turn on the tv and you would hear about Danny Elfman's soundtrack, Prince's Bat Dance song, the merchandise available, or the actors themselves talking about their roles.

What else? How about the entire DC Animated Universe got its start because of this movie. That's right. While Batman was getting ready for release, Bruce Timm started work on Batman: The Animated Series. The basis of the show was the Tim Burton Gotham City. A darker city and darker Batman. It was great.

The show itself was a hit and even after the flop of Batman & Robin, the DCAU kept going. It gave us Superman, Batman Beyond, Justice League, and finally Justice League Unlimited. The writing was always top notch. Stories for JLU came from previous stories in Batman. Harley Quinn? She was born in the Batman series before the comics. The biggest shocker would be the length this universe lasted. From 1992 until 2006...that's 14 years! All because of the success of Batman.


Free Speech for the Dumb: Stephen Ross

Finally a Free Speech for the Dumb, that isn't related to illegal immigration.

This one has a sports flare to it. Seems that the Miami Dolphins owner, Stephen Ross, thinks that he has one special quarterback in Chad Henne. In fact, he might think he has the best QB in the history of the franchise;

"Chad has been the greatest quarterback the University of Michigan has had," Ross told a crowd of several hundred kids and football coaches, "and I'm sure that I’m hoping, as is everyone else, that he goes down as the greatest quarterback in Miami Dolphins history –- and you know what that will mean."

Nothing too bad with that right? Uh no, because you have this one quarterback named Dan Marino who is regarded as one of the top 5 QB's of all time. He might not have won a Superbowl, but he did get there. And if that's not enough there is always Bob Griese, who led the Dolphins to the only perfect season in NFL history. Yeah this guy has a great chance to be the greatest QB in the history of the Miami Dolphins.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

A Future Uncertain: Grown Ups

I wasn't sure what tag to put this under, but it isn't out yet, so why not this one?

Anyway while driving home one day I saw a billboard with basically the cast of Saturday Night Live from the late 80's early 90's, David Spade, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, and Kevin James (of course not on SNL). Now to me this was the glory years of SNL. I know others will say the original or even the late 90's, but for me when you look at that cast which also had Phil Hartman, Chris Farley, Kevin Nealon, Dana Carvey, and Mike Myers it's unbeatable. There before you are some of the greatest comedians of our time. Anyway, I don't want to get sidetracked...

So the name of the movie is called Grown Ups. I took a look at the trailer and found myself laughing pretty hard. Now Kevin James does seem a bit out of place and some say if Chris Farley were still alive he would be in the movie instead of James. I would probably agree with that statement especially because in the trailer Kevin James does a classic Farley physical joke.

See? Anyways, this looks great. I hope it does well because their post-SNL projects have been hit or miss. Hopefully, this one is a hit.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Music Non Stop: Exodus Exhibit B - The Human Condition

So next week I hope to put out my mid-year albums. One album that won't be on it is Exodus' newest album Exhibit B: The Human Condition. This album is probably the best musically. Drums are solid, but the guitar work is probably the best I have heard in awhile. So what's the big deal? The lyrics. Now I am not some sort of stuck up guy when it comes to lyrics, but this album goes out of its way to be shocking. I will go ahead and list some of the lyrics and let you be the judge.

Beyond the Pale
Take the gun, take the knife
Take the pain, then take the life
My taste for homicide
Is rising up and amplified
Bloody deeds, my only friend
With me til the bitter end
Together we are one
And our work has just begun

Monsters, proudly displaying their deeds for the world to proscribe
Demons, walking the earth hell bent on their genocide
Show no mercy, slow executions
Laugh while mutilating
God be damned, war is hell

Good Riddance
Get down to business, cut to the chase
It's time for mankind's fall from grace
The end's coming sooner than you'll ever know
So sit back, relax and enjoy the show
No time to cry, I won't shed a tear
This is, after all the event of the year
You testify, but my replies

Notice how it is all about killing. I know metal is supposed to be dark, but for some reason this just hit me right away. Maybe it is the first person lyrics, I don't know. Those are just a few, but it is this last one that really hit home.

Class Dismissed
Everything around me ignites my rage
I'm burning with animosity
Everywhere I look another war to wage
Filled with purpose of singularity
Got my hollow points, got my magazines
Wrote my manifesto of decay
Commencement of the killing at the university
Antipathy, the lesson of the day
They never should have pushed me away

Student bodies lying dead in the halls
A blood splattered treatise of hate
Class dismissed is my hypothesis
Gun fire ends the debate
All I ever wanted was a little affection
But no one ever gave it to me
My hate primer's the result of my rejection
You'll die for it, and I'll die for thee

The halls of learning now a shooting range
My final exam with a gun
Killing everyone who ever thought me strange
My bloody dissertation has begun
Pomp and circumstance replaced by bullet wounds
The smell of gunpowder on the air
Murder is the nightmare of this afternoon
My malevolence, your cross to bear
All because of my despair


Hate lives in me
Hate lives in me
Hate-I need it and it needs me
Hate-I feed it and it fed me
Hate-I breed it and it bred me
Hate-I read it and it read me
Hate-I lead it and it led me
Hate-I bleed it and it bled me
I breathe it in, and it breathes through me

[Solo Lee]
[Solo Gary]

While SWAT teams swarm all around the quad
The symposium of slaughter carries on
Smith and Wesson is my only God
And the line in the sand has been drawn
Valedictorian of violence
Graduation day, one bullet remains
Charles Whitman set the precedent
I pull the trigger and blow out my brains
They never knew I was insane


I instruct you
And I destruct you
I deconstruct you
Until my hate has f*cked you

I put the whole song up there just to show you how bad it is. A first person view of a school shooting. Some say Pearl Jam's Jeremy was similar, but that wasn't first person and there weren't any lyrics pointing out explicitly what was happening. Metallica's Ronnie was a little more direct, but still it was told from a third person point of view like they were telling a story.

Here Exodus goes first person. In this day and age kids will do anything to be famous. Thanks to Youtube, Myspace, Facebook, or whatever they want that constant attention. I can see some kids listening to this song thinking "how cool would it be to do this? I would be remembered forever." I really hope no one ever tries to live out this song, but the mere fact they would include it and promote it is disturbing.

Well that's why Exodus won't be popping up on my list this year. And like I said it's a shame because musically this album is great. I hope they will show a little bit more restraint next time around.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Free Speech for the Dumb: Rep. Linda Sanchez

Seriously how do people like this get elected. Seems that Rep. Linda Sanchez thinks that (shocker...) the Arizona law will lead to racial profiling. Because she knows it will because it hasn't started yet, but it will.

Not only does she go the typical route, she also one-ups everyone before her by saying this as well;

"They're not accidental or one person's crazy idea.". "There's a concerted effort behind promoting these kinds of laws on a state-by-state basis by people who have ties to white supremacy groups," Sanchez said.

"It's been documented. It's not mainstream politics. (Legislators) are being approached by folks, who are front organizations who are white supremacist hate groups. They propose the language of these bills and get people to carry these bills in the state legislatures," she said.

That's right, according to this ELECTED official, laws like this are hammered out behind closed doors by white supremacist hate groups. I say behind closed doors because even though it is "documented" no one has ever heard of it before. Hey Sanchez, why don't you realize people don't want illegals here...bottom line.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Last Laugh: Merit pay in Chicago school = no change

After that last marathon post, I will keep this one short.

Seems that merit pay in Chicago didn't do anything to increase test scores. You can read about it HERE. Then there was this gem;

But in a somewhat counterintuitive finding, they discovered that schools with only one year of exposure to TAP actually had slightly higher reading and math test scores, on average, than did the schools in their second year of implementation.

Let's hear it for merit pay.

Inside Four Walls: 2009 - 2010 school year reflections part 1: parent interactions

Ok I have said it before on here last year was a pain when it came to parent interactions. Parents complained about everything I did. I couldn't do anything right last year. You can read about the joys of last year, HERE.

This year? Much better. I had only one formal complaint (I know that sounds bad, but gimmie a second). My TA's phone was taken from my desk while I was teaching (she was returning an assignment to another teacher). I called the counselors to check the students, but some had left to the bathroom or locker so it could have gone anywhere. The next day, I told the class that I would have to treat them differently and that I couldn't trust them because that could have been my phone or anything else of mine. I also let my TA talk to them and she basically said the same thing. She threw in that she wouldn't help them if they needed help (she would help them when they asked) because she was a teacher's assistant not a student assistant. I didn't have any problem with what she said. I felt the same way. Now remember this is like the first 2 months of school.

So I get a call the next day from the secretary saying a parent complained about me to the principal. Now I wanted to stay under the radar and this was not a good start. I called the mom, who wouldn't tell me her name, tell me who her child was (male or female), or the grade out of fear that I would retaliate against them...cause all teachers want to do is retaliate right? The phone call started spinning out of control quickly. She was upset that I allowed my TA to talk to my class like that. I said, "she wanted to talk to the class to to ask for her phone and she had a right to do so". The mom then said that my TA couldn't do her job without prejudice against the class because she said she couldn't trust them. I asked her what she wanted me to do and she said remove her from the class.

So I said, "well I feel the same way. Are you saying that I can't do my job effectively?" The mom says "Can you? Maybe you can't. Maybe you should be removed from the class." To which I said, "Why don't you move your son/daughter out". And the next sentence maybe me think it was going to be a bad year...she said "No I won't do that because I am standing up for all of the students in your class. The ones that are too scared to stand up to you, well I won't be intimidated!"

It got worse, with her accusing me of twisting her words around. Because at UPS, we were trained to repeat what was said and start it off with "So what you are saying is..." I think that pissed her off some more. Whatever.

She called the principal and I went in and talked to him and he said try to avoid "blanket" statements. That was it.

All the other parent interactions were pretty smooth. I have over 120 emails back and forth to parents some serious, but most just updates. I sent home grade checks after every test, so the parents would always know where their child's grade was. I had them signed and returned. And I simply told them if they forged their parent's signature that they would be in more trouble when they were caught.

I guess the funniest interaction came with a parent who was worried about their son's grade and his connection with math. I told her that he never asked questions and kind of looked complacent at times. Now this kid is a junior, going to be a senior. We are trying to prepare them for college and all of that good stuff. In fact, the mom said his junior year was to sharpen his study skills for college. So I am thinking we are on the same page when she said, "You know he was really successful in math in the 5th grade. His teacher related everything to basketball for him. Maybe all of your lessons could revolve around basketball so he could pass and be interested." I obviously said no because if I did it for one, I would be doing it for 179 others. I was just shocked that a high school junior's mom would bring up the 5th grade...I mean that was 6 years ago. Oh could have been worse.