Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Last Laugh: Problems with new Teacher Evaluations

When all the talk shifted to evaluating teachers based on state test scores, I immediately thought about all the teachers that don't have a state test attached to their course. By the way, that number is usually 60% or higher. So now everyone is scrambling on how to do it.
Because there are no student test scores with which to evaluate over half of Tennessee’s teachers — kindergarten to third-grade teachers; art, music and vocational teachers — the state has created a bewildering set of assessment rules. Math specialists can be evaluated by their school’s English scores, music teachers by the school’s writing scores.
This is just the beginning. I would love to see a Math teacher be fired for having low English state test scores. Someone explain this to me...and once again, if anyone would have asked a teacher, they would have told you that this wouldn't work. Not because they don't want it, but because it just won't work.

Monday, November 07, 2011

This Calling: Matthew 6:34

Matthew 6:34 () 34 Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

#Bible http://j.mp/fX6Ctl&name=Matthew+6:34+

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Right Now: No-Shave November

So I forgot to shave this past week, really busy, and my TA asked me if I was doing the "No-Shave November". I had never heard of it before and did a little research and apparently it was founded to help raise awareness of prostate cancer. Now this disease is pretty close to home because my grandfather had it and so has my dad. Will I get it? Probably. So if I can do anything to help raise awareness I will. The worst part for me is that I shave my head every other day, so this is going to be tough for me.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Tirades of Truth: Lulu

Wow...just wow. That is probably the best way I can describe the new Metallica/Lou Reed collaboration. I can see why so many people turn it off after the first song. Seriously. Lou Reed doesn't sing, he talks with a little bit of tone. I guess the best way to describe his vocals would be to say it is reminiscent of Johnny Cash's vocals for Hurt.


Now clearly, James Hetfield's vocals would have made this project a lot better. It would have been similar to Load/Re-Load, but a little bit more metal and less rock. He makes a couple of appearances as a background vocalist. It is a welcomed changed and you can almost hear how great this album could have been if he would have just done them all. I am sure that is what people thought when Dave Mustaine did his MD.45 project and then put Lee Ving on vocals. I guess the one positive thing for those people is that Dave eventually released the album with him doing all the vocals. But I don't see Metallica ever doing that. Heck, while every band has re-released albums with "bonus tracks", Metallica never has, ever. So while it would probably sell more and get a better reaction, I don't see it happening. By the way, someone re-edited The View and took out anything relating to Lou Reed. This is what I mean...it's not horrible. It is probably better than the Loads now that I listen to it.


I am a huge Metallica fan. Everything they touch is great. As I listen to this now (it is streaming HERE), there are times that I find myself laughing out loud because of the vocals or lack there of or I am laughing at the horrible lyrics (If I waggle my ass like a dark prostitute, would you think less of me) and there is more where that came from. I understand this is a concept album, but wow this story is difficult to follow for me. I just keep getting distracted by those lyrics.


Now for the positives, yes they are there. The music is great. Solid all the way around. I would love to hear this as an instrumental album. Like I said earlier, it isn't Master of Puppets or Kill Em All, but more in line with the Loads. There are times where it is pretty thrashy, Mistress Dread, but overall it stays within what we know Metallica to sound like.

Overall, it was better than I thought it would be. I kept hearing snippets of the songs and vocals and thought it would be horrible. Well it isn't. Is it great? No, and during this year of great albums, it probably make my top 10 list. But it definitely deserves a spin. Skip around sample here and there. I was able to almost tune out Lou Reed's vocals and just enjoyed the music. Someone get around and make this an instrumental.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Sun Always Shines on T.V.: Dan LeBatard is Highly Questionable

I don't get a lot of time to watch TV nowadays, kids, work, exercising...you get the point. But one show that has been apart of my daily viewing for about 10 years now has been Pardon the Interruption (PTI). It was basically the same format as The Sports Reporters, but with only two hosts and there was more humor involved.

Now the show is daily, but Mike & Tony take vacations and they need fill-in hosts. At first my favorite was Norm Chad, who gave more humor into the show than analysis. He started doing other things and hasn't been on for years. The next guy to really peak my interest was Dan LeBatard. He was funny like Norm, but you could also tell he knew what he was talking about. For the past few years he has been my favorite fill in host. This past summer I noticed he wasn't filling in very much and I was worried Dan was going the same way as Norm Chad. Well, his days on PTI might be over, but that's cause he got his own show Dan LeBatard is Highly Questionable (DLHQ).

I saw a commercial for it and set my DVR to record it right away. I saw the 60's kitchen set and was wondering what this would be like, but all of those questions were replaced when I saw his dad, thick accent and all, asking Dan sports questions. The interaction between father & son is always good for some laughs, heck Petros has his dad on every week for a segment on his radio show Petros & Money. It works.

Dan and his father are no different. The interaction is genuine and at times hilarious. Dan was never the serious guy on PTI and it is interesting to watch him try to be both the funny guy and serious guy at once. And so far he is doing a good job of pulling it off. Sure some of the topics are repeated on PTI, but the way Dan handles them is totally different than Mike & Tony.

I must admit I skip the interview segment, but unless it is someone that I really want to hear talk, I usually skip it on PTI as well. The edits were distracting at first, but now I just go with it. Dan seems like a person that could say a lot of stuff and it might not be too funny, but when he nails a joke it's good. And maybe that's what they are doing here. Maybe they are editing it because of his dad? Who knows, all I know is that I am loving it. In fact, the other night as I was watching it my wife sat down and watched a bit and started laughing at the interaction between Dan & his dad.

This show is something new, maybe not as revolutionary as PTI was 10 years ago, but it is definitely a show that you can't find anywhere else. Hopefully in 10 years DLHQ will still be around like PTI is.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This Calling: Psalm 121:7-8

Psalm 121:7-8 () 7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;he will keep your life. 8 The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. #Bible http://j.mp/gszQsu&name=Psalm+121:7-8+



Monday, October 24, 2011

Tirades of Truth: Iced Earth - Dystopia

So let me be up front of my fondness of Iced Earth. Before Shadows Fall, Trivium, Killswitch Engage, and all the other bands, there was Iced Earth. They were the first metal band I got into after the classic metal bands like Metallica and Megadeth. In fact, it was because of their tour opening for Megadeth that I heard of Iced Earth.

My first Iced Earth album was Something Wicked This Way Comes, which I picked up mainly because of the album artwork. I was blown away by both the music and vocals. The guitar riffs were totally amazing. I couldn't believe how heavy they were. It was like Iron Maiden on steroids, instead of Harris' galloping bass, we had a guitar doing the same thing...awesome. Then of course were the vocals. Matt Barlow's vocals were incredible. They could go heavy, but not anything as raw as John Bush or James Hetfield, but more of a powerful heavy. Of course, the crowning moment of the album was the Something Wicked Trilogy. I knew I found a great band.

I picked up most of their back catalog and was impressed by everything I heard. Jon Schaffer's guitar playing dominated every song and when you put Barlow's vocals on top of it, it was magical. Well as we all know, Barlow left the band after 9-11 to become a police officer. He was replaced by Tim Owens of Judas Priest fame. They released a couple of albums with Ripper and they just didn't feel like Iced Earth. The Glorious Burden was solid, but mainly because it was a concept album and it was totally different than anything they had done before. However, when they started to do the double album based on Something Wicked, I was worried. And with good reason. Ripper just wasn't Barlow. He was good, in fact Ten Thousand Strong is the best song off of Framing Armageddon and it's so good that I don't even think that Barlow could do it justice.

Long story somewhat shorter, exit Ripper enter Barlow (again). The second album of the Something Wicked story didn't suffer from the vocals, but from the music. Which in hindsight was present on the last 3 albums going back to The Glorious Burden. Schaffer went for this mid paced grandiose sound. And while it worked for The Glorious Burden, it didn't work for the other albums. Sure there were faster songs, but they were far and few.


So exit Barlow (again) and enter Stu Block. Now both vocalists were in my top 10 list years ago and after this album, Stu probably moved up a couple of notches. The first thing I noticed about Dystopia was how much Stu sounds like Barlow in his mid-range. Schaffer was quoted about finding Stu's mid-range vocals and I put it off as hype, but he definitely found something he didn't have with Into Eternity. Stu could do the death screams, clean, and Halford-esque screams, but this new mid-range is impressive...most impressive.


He doesn't sound like a Barlow clone, you can tell subtle differences between the two, yet he fits the music better than Ripper did. Speaking of Ripper, Stu also goes into his Halford/Ripper vocals during the album (Equilibrium, Boiling Point). When Ripper did it on his two albums it bothered me, here it works. The only thing I can tell is that he doesn't stay high forever, just for a moment, then it's back to the mid-range.

So what about the music? Well the album starts off with the title-track and the first thing I noticed was the return of the classic galloping guitar. Now there are some mid-paced songs on here, End of Innocence, Anguish of the Youth, Anthem for example, but they work. Kind of like the way Melancholy worked on Something Wicked, musically it's a great song.

The thrash songs are here as well. Boiling Point, Days of Rage bring back memories of early Iced Earth. Sure the songs are kind of recycled, but they still work. When I listen to Days of Rage, I get Disciples of the Lie in my head which then turns into Violate. Maybe it's the guitar work and pacing of the song, but they sort of all blend together, which is fine for me.


This album definitely threw me for a loop, almost the way Blaze Bayley's & Charred Walls of the Damned's last albums did. Out of no where a classic metal album comes out and it shows me that down inside I am still a classic metal guy. This thing is a definite "return to form" album for the band, easily the best thing since they put out Horror Show. Where would I rank this? It's not their best, but top 5? Probably.

What does this do to my Top 10 list? Throws a huge wrench into it. I still don't think it can top Trivium's album, but heck who would have said Blaze Bayley would have made number one on my Top 10 last year?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Right Now: seriously

Wow...sure has been awhile since I posted. So a quick update;

  • School is whatever. I will say that I have had more parent conferences in the first 8 weeks than I did all of last year combined...seriously.
  • Alot of freshmen...seriously.
  • I thought I had the top 5 albums figured out and then Iced Earth came out with an album that is blowing my mind right now...seriously.
  • That's it...I haven't posted in a long time because everytime I started too, I got depressed at the story I was going to post...seriously.


I will leave you with this video I saw weeks ago, for all of the Star Wars fans out there.

classic

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Music Non Stop: new (sort of) Iced Earth

I am a pretty big fan of Iced Earth. They were one of the first bands I started listening too outside of Metallica & Megadeth. Matt Barlow's vocals were a huge part of that. He sounded like Paul Stanley (KISS) at times. He was the voice of Iced Earth, heck he's #3 on my top 10 vocalist list. After 9-11 he decided he should do something and quit the band to be a police officer. He was replaced by Tim Owens, who is a great vocalist, but it didn't fit Iced Earth. So Barlow came back to record another album, but realized he couldn't do it anymore. So enter Stu Block of Into Eternity fame. Now Stu has a pretty killer range. I listed him on my top 10 vocalists awhile back too.

I was interested on how he would fit into Iced Earth...well wonder no more. They re-recorded Dante's Inferno with Stu on vocals and I have to admit it's pretty good. He sounds like a better fit than Tim Owens ever did. His vocals fit the music naturally, sometimes he sounds just like Barlow. I will say that he adds a little bit of the "death grunts" in there, and it fits perfectly. He doesn't go cookie monster, but lower than Barlow did. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come. Now if we can just get some of those classic riffs from Night of the Stormrider and Burnt Offerings...


by the way this is a 17+ minute song...enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thoughts Without Words: Are you kidding me??? Again

I can't believe I am doing this again, but why do movie executives always want to change something that is fine the way it is? Seriously, we have seen it with Wonder Woman, Spider- Man, X-Men and many others and now it has come to the iconic Superman. Now I already discussed his new costumes in the relaunch of DC Comics, and I even pointed out the new suit. But there was one thing I didn't discuss that post. And that is the lack of the red undies. In the promo picture it was hard to tell if they were on or missing because of the lighting. Now it is official...they changed one of the most iconic and most recognizable costumes of all time to this



*sigh* when will they learn to leave things alone? The cape is gone too, but since there have been pictures of him with a cape I am assuming it's missing for a reason. And what's up with the stripes down the side? What was wrong with the original design? Now since I don't want to be too negative I will add two things; first the hair is better than it was in the promo pic and second Henry Cavill looks like Superman...his arms are huge! Is it enough to make me look away from the stripes and missing red trunks? We'll see, but I'm gonna say...no.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Video Killed the Radio Star: Thank God it wasn't a terrorist attack...

This is just too perfect. Wolf Blitzer is interviewing a man right after the earthquake from last week and ... just watch.


classic

Monday, August 29, 2011

Video Killed the Radio Star: Artificial...yes, Intelligent...no.

From io9.com, seems like someone decided to put two AI chatbots together to see what would happen. Seems cool right? Maybe plot about Judgement Day? Or complain about humans? Nope;

Funny how computers even get pissed at stupid people.

Best comment from io9, "Scientists force two chatbots to have a conversation, prove that Skynet will be a moron"

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Free Speech for the Dumb: Al Gore

Oh Al Gore haven't you learned yet that all the global warming myths you have been talking about for years now are starting to be debunked? Maybe you have that's why to get some attention back to you, you compare global warming to racism;
“I remember, again going back to my early years in the South, when the Civil Rights revolution was unfolding, there were two things that really made an impression on me,” Gore said. “My generation watched Bull Connor turning the hose on civil rights demonstrators and we went, ‘Whoa! How gross and evil is that?’ My generation asked old people, ‘Explain to me again why it is okay to discriminate against people because their skin color is different?’ And when they couldn’t really answer that question with integrity, the change really started.” 
The former vice president recalled how society succeeded in marginalizing racists and said climate change skeptics must be defeated in the same manner. 
“Secondly, back to this phrase ‘win the conversation,’” he continued. “There came a time when friends or people you work with or people you were in clubs with — you’re much younger than me so you didn’t have to go through this personally — but there came a time when racist comments would come up in the course of the conversation and in years past they were just natural. Then there came a time when people would say, ‘Hey, man why do you talk that way, I mean that is wrong. I don’t go for that so don’t talk that way around me. I just don’t believe that.’ That happened in millions of conversations and slowly the conversation was won.” 
“We have to win the conversation on climate,” Gore added.
Wow...just wow. This man could have been president. How you can compare racism to global warming is beyond me. One is morally wrong. God said to love one another, pretty cut and dry. The other, not so much. It seems like every day now we hear another report that debunks his crazy "end of the world" scenarios.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Music Non Stop: Anterior - Echoes of the Fallen

This is a surprise for me. Now don't get me wrong, but I liked their debut and was mildly interested in this follow up...but holy crap! This is a lot better than I thought it would be. In terms of newer metal bands (Sylosis, Lazarus A.D., and Anterior), Anterior was probably the one album I didn't really care about. With that said, they might have made the best album out of the three, in all honestly all 3 should make the top 10 this year.

The guitar work on this album is awesome. I have seen this band listed as a metalcore band and while they do have a few breakdowns, there is more melodic death metal/thrash here. The guitar intro for Blood in the Throne Room is a dream for air guitarists everywhere. In fact most of the songs have that similar style, which is great for me. I will also add that most of the breakdowns come towards the end of the album. I am not sure if it was planned that way or not, but it is kind of interesting.


Vocally it is your standard harsh screams, at times it is understandable others...it's not. There really isn't much variety going on, but like Sylosis' latest, the music definitely makes up for it. Take a song like Tyranny, it is your standard song, then all of a sudden it goes into this classic sounding solo that makes you think you might have switched on Iron Maiden. It has that technical feel to it without showing off.  I can't praise this album enough when it comes to the guitar work.


Last song recommendation, Of Gods and Men. This really reminds me of The Autumn Offering's song Ghost. A mind boggling solo that bleeds into a sweet breakdown. I go nuts for stuff like that. I have to admit I am shocked at how much more guitar leads were put in this album compared to their debut.


This album is streaming HERE and it is one of those albums that makes me want to keep listening to it over and over again.

One thing that these 3 bands have in common on their sophomore albums is the great guitar work. While some bands are afraid to play solos, these bands aren't. All 3 are very similar in that they put the guitar work in the front...very guitar driven bands.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Video Killed the Radio Star: Times of Grace - Live in Love



Great video. I love videos that have a purpose instead of just showing guys playing guitars. The message at the end made me feel like I was watching our school's Peer Counseling video they put out every year. Even though I would love this song, I doubt anyone else would. But the message is a good one.

Heck if you aren't into metal, turn it down to watch the stats they show. And as for the message being good...here's the lyrics;
Just live in love, believe in love

In my life I have seen all the ways hatred destroys mankind
Break societies system, change the mind state, there's no compromise
Don't mistake kindness and compassion for weakness
It takes so much more strength to be selfless and live in love

I trust you live in selflessness and live in love

Through all the days, just live in love
Through all the pain, believe in love

(I change to think you not, it tries to function if this world...)
Take the time to think about your life, live righteous

I trust you live in selflessness and live in love

Through all the days, just live in love
Through all the pain, believe in love

The words we speak, the ones we don't say
Power you don't know you could say
Through all the days, believe in love

Don't you see, we are off
Don't you see, we are off
Brothers and sisters, we are one
Brothers and sisters, we are one
WE ARE ONE

And I pray this is not in vain, all that you know about, all you can hide
How would you feel inside (Live in love)
All that you know about, all you can hide
How would you feel inside (Live in love)
All that you know about, all you can hide (Through all the days)
How would you feel inside (Live in love)
All that you know about, all you can hide (Through all the pain)
How would you feel inside (Live in love)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Inside Four Walls: First Day Back

So I headed in to my new classroom today and it got off to a rocky start.  The first "bump" was when I tried to get into one of the classes and noticed the lock was change.  Not just the one room, the entire building.  Now I really can't complain because our campus is being broken into weekly and something needed to be done.  I just wish there would have been some notice about getting a new key before trying to get in.

So I get the key and tell the secretary I need one for my old room too.  She tells me all keys are the same now, cool right?  Nope because my old room had the old lock on it and I didn't have the key anymore cause I gave it to the new teacher.

So I go to my new room to check it out and see what has been moved and ... nothing not a damn thing.  So I have to track down our operations manager to find out when it will be moved.  He calls a custodian to start moving it.

Now I had it all organized, but when we got on there it was a mess.  When they cleaned the carpets, they moved it all around and broke my desk! 

So the custodians are moving pretty fast and have about one or two more cart load to go when they tell me they were taking a lunch break...at 11:10.  Really?  Kind of early, but what can I do?

Well it finally got done, but I am far from ready.  I was on campus a full hour before I started moving.  Kind of crazy.  I hope the rest of year goes better.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tirades of Truth: Trivium - In Waves

So here is Trivium's follow up to Shogun, which as I said before is one of those "instant classics", if nothing else the title track is epic.

There seems be a lot of people saying that this album combines the best of Ascendancy and Shogun, basically forgetting all about The Crusade. The Crusade gets a bad rap because they threw out all screams and went for a more commercialized sound. But there are times as I listened to this album that I couldn't help, but think "this is what The Crusade could have been." Some of the songs have that simple song structure that was present on The Crusade, but this time the vocals aren't one dimensional. Listen to A Gray So Dark, that song could have easily been on The Crusade...even down to the vocals.


I don't really hear a lot of the Ascendancy references that I keep reading. Maybe it's in the vocal delivery? I'm not sure. I think Ascendancy is where the band found their sound. They simplified & commercialized it too much for The Crusade, but for the most part it has stayed the same.

A quick note about the title track, In Waves. Holy crap! This song is killer. One thing I have noticed with Trivium is that their title tracks have gotten better and better with each album. The Crusade had that insane instrumental, Shogun was epic...that build up amazing. Now with In Waves, they wrote a song that was definitely catchier and easier to sit through (those other title tracks were 8 minutes and 12 minutes respectively), but that doesn't take away from how great it is. In fact, if not for that stupid intro, this song would easily make my Top 10 lead off tracks.


While not as good as Ascendancy or Shogun, it's definitely a solid album. This would be a good album to introduce people to Trivium. It has their catchy writing, diverse vocals, and does a good job of displaying their playing abilities.

I don't think this will be my number 1 album of the year, Mercenary's latest is just that good.  But it just came out so maybe it will grow on me.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Music Non Stop: New Trivium album streaming

What's up with all of these posts today?

Anyway, the new Trivium album, In Waves, is streaming over here. I don't know how long it will be up, but go enjoy it while you can.

I will be doing a longer review on it later, but first impressions is that it isn't as strong as Shogun. And that's ok because Shogun is one of their best or best (depending on the day of the week) album they have released. I will say that the title track is one of their best songs ever. It is just that perfect metal song.

Hopefully, I will have a review up this weekend before I head back to school, but my daughter's birthday is this weekend, so if it isn't up by Friday, don't look for it before Monday.

Inside Four Walls: CSTs are in - 2011 edition

Got a little bored today and decided to hop on the computer and see if my CST scores were in. Now remember this wasn't the best year for students. In fact when I used the same formula I had used the last few years I came up with the following estimates;

Geometry – 43/93 46%
Algebra B – 10/26 38%

That's how bleak it was at the time. While my scores aren't anything to "write home about", here is what they ended up being;

Geometry – 54/93 58%
Algebra B – 15/26 58%

While not stellar, they are definitely higher than what I thought I would end up with. The school average for Algebra B is 60% proficient or advanced and 52% for Geometry. So I am really happy with both. It is the first time in quite some time I have been above the school average in Geometry.

By the way, I'm not saying that I alone got these scores. This was for the most part a good group of Geometry students. I am sure they would have been pretty much the same no matter who they had.

Thoughts Without Words: NCLB Waivers

No Child Left Behind was a good idea. It held schools accountable to teaching students material instead of fluff. Well, we all knew this day was coming when the bill was signed into law. By 2014, every student must be proficient or advanced. Now anyone in education knew that was impossible. Our school has high CST scores and we aren't close to 100% proficient or advanced.

So when Obama came into office in 2008, everyone expected NCLB to be dumped...I guess it just gets added to the list of things that people thought would happen. Anyway, the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan announced he would issue waivers to districts that applied. Hey that's good right? Wrong...much like most of what this administration has done, if you want something you have to change.

If you want the waiver, you need to;
States must agree to education reforms favored by the White House, such as tougher evaluation systems for teachers and principals and programs that tackle the achievement gap for minority students.
Sounds similar to the Race to the Top reforms. In fact, they probably figured since so many states opted not to do Race to the Top, they could force them to make these ridiculous reforms by waving a waiver in front of their faces.

If Duncan cared about helping states, he would have simply found a way to void some of the requirements of NCLB. Just another example of bullying by this administration.

Music Non Stop: New Nightrage - Insidious

This year of great music just continues to get better. Nightrage plays that classic melodic death metal that was made famous by At the Gates. When I did my The Clone on At the Gates, they ended up being the first choice...it didn't hurt that At the Gates' singer was on the first two Nightrage albums.

Anyway, they have changed vocalists a couple of times since then, but for the most part the music has stayed the same. If you like that classic sound, they play it. So here is the first song, Insidious, from the new album. I should note that the original singer, Tomas Lindberg, sings on this track as well.

My first reaction is that this sounds similar to The Tremor from their debut album. Doesn't bother me...just noticing. There are also a ton of guest musicians on this album, including 4 who were apart of the first two albums. It seems like they are really trying to recapture the past. I'm not sure it's necessary, but I'm not going to complain because their 1st two albums are classics in the genre.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Music Non Stop: new Anthrax - The Devil You Know

Another new Anthrax song is out there. Definitely not as thrashy as their other one. It has a little bridge in there that reminds me of something that could have come out of Stomp 442. As long as Joey doesn't do any "ball-grabbing" screams, I think it will be ok.

I would really love to hear this album with Dan Nelson's vocals, not because Dan is a great vocalist, but he is a dead ringer for John Bush. It would be really interesting to see how this would have turned out with Bush.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

The Sun Always Shines on T.V.: Thundercats

Rebooting 80's shows and movies seems to be in vogue right now. Whether it's Battlestar Galactica, The A-Team, He-Man, or Voltron 80's shows are coming back. The best of these, so far, was BSG. They took the basic foundation of the show and turned it into something so much better and interesting. But that might change with the latest reboot Thundercats.

The change up things a bit on the reboot. First off, their planet of Thundera doesn't explode. They are on 3rd Earth to begin with. And here on Thundera they (the cats) are rulers of the planet. They do a good job of walking that line of ruler versus dictator. Lion-O is in line to be king, but doesn't seem mature enough. He is interested in technology, which in this version is supposed to be a myth. Which is another opposite of the original series, considering they needed a rocket to leave the planet. Watching the first few minutes I felt like I was watching a version of The Little Mermaid...stay with me. Lion-O is supposed to be with his dad going over the process of becoming King, but he is out in the "slums" trying to buy technology for his collection. Sounds pretty familiar, even down to when he realizes he is late...classic.

The show is written really well and there appears to be some pacing going on. Panthro is assumed dead right now, but of course will appear in the show. The second episode felt like a filler almost because you were expecting this huge battle with Mumm-Ra and it doesn't happen. Instead we get an episode that feels like a re-telling of Moby Dick. At first I was disappointed, but then I realized that the writes are adding depth to these characters and giving some sort of back story for later on.

In terms of the characters designs, I really can't complain. Here is a photo of the old versions;

Nothing bad there...classic 80's animation. Here are the new versions;

I have read some people complain about the anime style, but that doesn't really bother me. Panthro having mutton chops is a little weird, but oh well. The other thing that is tons better is that Snarf doesn't talk. Now as a kid, Snarf didn't bother me that much, but when I watch those episodes now...Snarf is annoying. Finally, I really like how they kept the same design of Mumm-Ra. He has a little bit more reptile in his design, but that goes with the new story. By the way, there was a definite shout out to the original series with the original voice of Lion-O voicing the King in the new series...everyone knew about that. However, Lynx-O (the blind Thundercat) makes an appearance and has a line in the new series. He is presumed dead, but maybe he will come back.

There is so much to like about this new series. I could talk about how different it is that Tygra is now Lion-O's step brother or Cheetarah is a cleric. This show has a lot of potential so I will sit back and enjoy the ride.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Venting the Anger: Catwoman needs ears

Maybe I should change this blog to a comic book costume blog...

So the new Batman movie is going to have Catwoman in it and they released the first picture today;

Really? That's it? She looks like she could be any generic spy from any generic spy movie...heck even Spy Kids. Now if you look closely, she does appear to be wearing some sort of mask under those blue blockers. But really what makes Catwoman's costume a Catwoman costume? Let's look;

Every one of those suits (minus the golden age green one) has ears. And why not...she's supposed to be a cat! Even that train wreck of a movie Catwoman with Halle Berry had ears. Here's a comparison of the ladies, including Michelle Pfeiffer's iconic suit;

When you look at it this way, you can clearly see why fans are a little worried about this. Catwoman needs ears!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Thoughts Without Words: New Superman costumeS

Yes I said costumes.

Back in June DC announced it was rebooting the entire DC Universe and giving everyone a makeover. Now I have talked a lot about comic book costumes on here, so of course I will talk about these. Now I was always going to talk about the new Superman comic costumes, but it just so happened that they released an image of the new Superman costume for the new movie, so I will throw that one in here too.

So first up are the new comic costumes. Here is the one from Action Comics, which supposedly tell stories from his earlier days on Earth...in fact he can't fly yet, just jump.
What the?!?!?!? Is Superman wearing jeans and a t-shirt? Wow. Seriously, it looks like a commercial for Wrangler jeans...Brett Favre is in trouble. And how can he be wearing a t-shirt of his logo if he is just getting in the public eye. Did he go to like Cafepress or something and said "hey, I got a cool idea for a shirt..." It just looks bad.

Next up is the costume for the Superman title;



If you have read any comments online about this costume, they are all true. This costume looks like it was ripped from the 90's with the armor. I also don't like the fact that the red "underwear" is gone. The high collar isn't the worst thing about this, so it gets a pass. But seriously, if you are Superman...why do you have armor? Clearly, he was ok running around in jeans and a t-shirt, so why the upgrade?

Finally, the new movie suit;
Things I like about it;

  • The big 'S' is back
  • Those arms are huge!


Things I don't like about it;

  • Cape is super long...I like it better than the original but I thought they got the length right on Superman Returns.
  • The texture on the suit.  What's the purpose of it?  The new Spider-Man has it too...why?
  • Colors are dark again.
  • The hair...he needs a haircut...hippie.


Compare it to the other suits;
I felt the worst thing about the Returns suit was the small 'S'. The dark colors weren't too bad, especially on the film.  I am sure more pictures will come out in the next few days and I will post them and of course give my thoughts on them.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thoughts Without Words: L.A. Red Light Camera Fines are "Voluntary"

This one would upset me simply because I have been "caught" by a red camera. I didn't fight it but watching the video it would have been interesting to see what would have happened. I did pay the fine and about a year later our city has gotten rid of all of the red light cameras.

So in L.A., it has come out that all of the fines people have paid are "voluntary".
The tickets are part of a "voluntary payment program," without sanctions for those who fail to submit fines, said Richard M. Tefank, executive director of the city's Board of Police Commissioners. 
"The consequence is somebody calling you from one of these collection agencies and saying 'pay up.' And that's it," said committee member and Councilman Bill Rosendahl. "There's no real penalty in terms of your driver's license or any other consequences if you don't pay."
Wow...just wow.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Right Now: Summer School done

I haven't postes in awhile cause I have been enjoying my summer school class. This might have been my favorite summer school class ever.  Well it's done and now we have 3 weeks off.

Our school has had an exciting summer as well, but I will get into that later. That's it for now.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Music Non Stop: new Into Eternity - Sandstorm

Well this is a totally unexpected surprise. Out of nowhere, Into Eternity is releasing a new song, Sandstorm. To make it better their former "death" vocalist is back on the track. Who knows what this means because Into Eternity changes members almost as much as Megadeth. But like I said, a nice little surprise. Who knows if an album is far behind.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Music Non Stop: New Anthrax - Fight Em Til You Can't

We have heard this song for awhile now, but it is nice to hear a studio version.

This song sounds like it was made for John Bush, but whatever, that ship has sailed. It's not bad, but it's almost a rehash of the problem with Persistence of Time, the vocals don't match the music.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Music Non Stop: Limp Bizkit - Gold Cobra preview

title says it all. If you have 22 minutes to spare, check out samples from Limp Bizkit's new album Gold Cobra
Gold-Cobra-Preview by thearmpit
sounds pretty good. I don't think it is as good as The Unquestionable Truth Part 1, but that was only 7 songs, this has 13. So while TUT Part 1 had no filler, this will probably have some.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Last Laugh: Global Warming...what's that?

From Forbes, by way of Darren;
Global greenhouse gas emissions have risen even faster during the past decade than predicted by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other international agencies. According to alarmist groups, this proves global warming is much worse than previously feared. The increase in emissions “should shock even the most jaded negotiators” at international climate talks currently taking place in Bonn, Germany, the UK Guardian reports. But there’s only one problem with this storyline; global temperatures have not increased at all during the past decade. 
The evidence is powerful, straightforward, and damning. NASA satellite instruments precisely measuring global temperatures show absolutely no warming during the past the past 10 years. This is the case for the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes, including the United States. This is the case for the Arctic, where the signs of human-caused global warming are supposed to be first and most powerfully felt. This is the case for global sea surface temperatures, which alarmists claim should be sucking up much of the predicted human-induced warming. This is the case for the planet as a whole.
hahahaha I have been saying for years that global warming doesn't exist and it's just some hippie way of thinking. In fact, a senior who just graduated, remembered my speech on global warming was the first "political" thing he remembers in high school. Good times.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Music Non Stop: new Machine Head

Don't know how long this will be up, but Machine Head has released a new song, Locust, for their upcoming album. Machine Head's last album, The Blackening, was awesome...album of the year for me. I doubt they can recreate what happened there.

This new song is pretty solid. Some are blasting it already, but I really can't complain. It isn't good as most of the material off of The Blackening, but it's not bad by any means. There is some really nice guitar work going on in the song, better than most this year.  I'm looking forward to it, but with this year being packed full of great albums, who knows where this will end up.

Thoughts Without Words: Block Scheduling

Block scheduling. You either get one of two reactions; "it's great" or "what am I supposed to do with these kids for 100 minutes?". Glendora High School is putting in block scheduling for next year, but that really isn't the reason for this post. It is the comment made by this school board member;
"Because you're only going to classes three times a day, it gives you so much more opportunity to go through material and go through all aspects of that material," said school board member Denice Delgado. "It would be akin to saying I'm going to college."
uh...no. First of all, if you take a college course 3 times a week the classes are about an hour to maybe an hour and 15 minutes long, not an hour 40 minutes. Secondly, some of those students need to see the material daily. Let's say someone has a class on Monday and then again on Wednesday, those students most likely won't do the homework until Tuesday night. That means they have already gone more than 24 hours without reinforcing the lecture.

I know this first hand because our school has been doing a 2 day a week block. And when my Algebra B students have me Monday and then not again til Wednesday, they tell me they don't even look at math and they forget the material.

But the real gem from the school board was this one;
"We really saw the value of the block schedule and the instruction taking place and the connecting that was happening between students and teachers," Lopez said of the schools they visited. "I can say pretty confidently that 100 percent of our staff is now on board."
That's right she thinks that all the staff is behind this. Now I am pretty sure this is political spin because there is no way EVERY teacher is behind this. At our school we have about 100 teachers and I know of about 10-15 that hate block. There has to be at least 5 teachers aren't questioning this and think it's a bad idea at Glendora High.

Unfortunately, I doubt they will change the schedule. 15 years ago our school introduced block. The principal at the time had to have the staff vote 3 times before he got the votes needed to do it. He said at the end of the initial year there would be another vote to see if the staff wanted to keep it. I will just say that 15 years later, the staff is still waiting to vote.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Thoughts Without Words: DC at it again...

DC Comics that is...I can get political at times, but this is more about DC's new costume makeovers.

I will put up the new Superman design tomorrow, but tonight I'll focus on Supergirl. Now there have been a ton of Supergirls and costumes for each one. If you don't believe me, take a look at this photo, this is most of the Supergirls;

See...a lot. But the one that seemed to stick was this one;


It was so well liked that they even changed Supergirl's look on JLU (she was in the white shirt suit above), except they kept the classic red skirt, but the midriff look was because of the comics.

So now, like Harley Quinn, DC is giving their comics a reboot and a new look;

I'm not sure what to say. The skirt is gone, which a lot of people thought was too sexy. The midriff is gone, which was her go to the last few years. The cape is a lot longer and has that weird collar thing going on. I guess the weirdest thing is the boots. They did a pretty good job of toning down the sexuality, but then they put on those dreaded thigh highs. I can't say I am totally offended since Supergirl has had so many different looks over the years. Now I can't say they same for Superman.

Thoughts Without Words: Harley Quinn's new costume...what the?

I guess I will go ahead and critique the new Harley Quinn costume since I spent so much time with Wonder Woman and other characters.

Harley Quinn was created for the Batman animated series of the 90's. The character was so popular that she was put in the actual DC comic universe. Her original costume was a great design. It had the perfect look to be a side kick for the Joker.
Well when they decided to make a Batman video game they decided to put Harley in the game.  When they released a video of her, everyone was shocked at her new look.  I would go ahead and put myself in that category.
  
Seriously...what is that?  There is nothing that connects her to the Joker.  The original suit had the diamonds, like cards.  This is something you would see at a rave.

But I don't think that's as bad as the latest design.  DC is relaunching their universe (again) and giving some of the characters a new look, like Harley.


Wow...that's just bad.  Seriously, as if the video game version wasn't slutty enough, they go for the corset top and bikini bottoms with thigh high boots.  If I wasn't told this was Harley Quinn, I'm not sure I could have told you who it was.  The diamonds on the gloves and maybe the mallet.  But other than that, how can you tell who it is?  This is bad...so bad.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Video Killed the Radio Star: Tom Selleck as Indiana Jones

Anyone that knows anything about Indiana Jones or Magnum P.I. knows that Tom Selleck was up for the lead role in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Due to Magnum though, he couldn't do it. What I never knew until I saw this on Topless Robot, was that there was a test shoot of him as Indy, with Marion.

That was...interesting. Harrison Ford will always be Indy. This just sort of sealed it for me. I felt like I was watching an episode of Magnum.

Anyway, totally unrelated, someone created a Han Solo P.I. opening;


pretty good, but check out just how close the movements are to the original;

someone spent a lot of time on that one.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Music Non Stop: Unearth...where did this come from?

I have been posting some of Unearth's new music from their upcoming album, Darkness in the Light, and I have been impressed with the variety of music they have had. This latest track, Watch It Burn, is similar to their older stuff with the breakdowns, but once again it's different because of the "bridge" towards the end that gives you some clean vocals and some different tempo. Overall it's pretty good, the guitar work in the intro is killer. I have no idea where all of this great music came from, it's not Adam D. because he has produced a lot of their stuff before. This is looking to be a pretty solid album.

Music Non Stop: New Limp Bizkit song - Gold Cobra

It's the title track off their upcoming album, Gold Cobra.
Limp Bizkit - Gold Cobra by thearmpit
I like it. It has some old school style, but it also sounds like their last album. Musically, I loved their last album. Vocals are what dragged that one down, Fred tried to emulate Rage Against the Machine too much. He sounds more natural here.

The sad part is that this album is coming out in a year that is full of great album.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Thoughts Without Words: And yet people will actually think this happens...

Let's face it teachers and education in general are under constant scrutiny and attack right now. So it doesn't help that a movie called Bad Teacher is coming out. I saw a huge cut out of this poster in a theater.

Yeah that's classy..."eat me". The trailer isn't any better. Cursing, drug references, and sexual innuendos are just the tip of the iceberg. I know it's a movie and it's totally fake, but unfortunately people are going to see this and think it's real and teachers are really like this. Hey just one more reason to get into education right now.  How about a new slogan for the department of education,  "Education: we used to be a respectable profession."

Monday, June 06, 2011

Inside Four Walls: But I averaged a B in high school...

I have mentioned Catch-22's in the past and this one is particularly close to my heart. Apparently getting a B in high school isn't that special. You know what a B gets you in high school, remedial classes in college.
Ninety-four percent of Chicago Public Schools graduates who go to city community colleges need remediation in math. Most also need to work on basic reading and writing skills. Many thought they were doing well in high school. 
Eighty-five percent of California’s incoming community college students aren’t prepared for college math and 70 percent aren’t ready for college English. Four out of five remedial students had a B average or higher in high school. Instructors are experimenting with accelerated remediation to get students into college-level classes quickly.
This doesn't surprise me at all. We are told to pass these kids and make them feel good about themselves. We don't want to fight any kind of battle about failing a student, why? Most of the time it's because teachers don't get that support from the administration to fight back. Most of the time they take the path of least resistance. How is that working for us?

When I failed a senior, the parent wanted a grade change because I didn't send home written notification. I did however have a face to face meeting. The parent heard that she needed a written notice or the grade would change to a D. I had to fight and print out Edcode before I finally got them on my side. How many teachers are willing to fight that hard?

This all goes back to one of my first Catch-22s. I was told to make my class grades reflect their state test score and when I did that, what was I told? I had too many F's and that I needed to have higher grades. So what do you want? Feel good grades or grades that match what they know?

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Video Killed the Radio Star: Darth Vader visits Disneyland

A quick funny video of Darth Vader at Disneyland to promote the new Star Tours ride.



best comment on Youtube;
Anakin finally experiences the childhood he never had......awwww

Inside Four Walls: who wants to be a teacher??

Clearly the student is in the wrong. The teacher tells him to sit down and he uses his body to push her in the corner and then screams at her. Teacher's response? Punch him.


I think the worst part is the girl who actually yells at the teacher saying she had no right to hit him. Boggles my mind...it really does.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Who Decides: Mid-Albums of the Year 2011

This will probably be the hardest year for me putting together a Top 10 list.  If this list isn't already packed, I have Trivium, In Flames, Sepultura, Dead by April, Blood Stain Child, Unearth, Anthrax and who knows what else.  It's an awesome year for metal music, so let's get started;

1(tie).  Mercenary - Metamorphosis: I talked about this album HERE already.  And there isn't much I can add.  It's near perfection. Each song is heavy & catchy with killer vocals.  I'm not sure what else you could ask for in a metal album.

1(tie).  Times of Grace - Times of Grace: Reviewed HERE.  This isn't a more "metal" album than Mercenary, but it is a more complete album.  You have some acoustic tracks, some doom-like tracks, and some classic metal tracks.  It's a great album.  The worst part for both of these albums is that they might not end up number 1 at the end of the year.

3.  Cavalera Conspiracy - Blunt Force Trauma:  I was not a fan of Infliked or the last two Soulfly albums, but this one hits the spot for me.  It is very light on the whole "tribal metal", but Marc Rizzo definitely makes up for it with his guitar work.  For some reason I feel like I am listening to some NWOBHM with harsh vocals thrown on top of it.  Right now, this is my surprise album of the year.

From here on out, these albums can change from day to day.  It's not like they aren't good, they are so good it's difficult to put them in order.

4.  Before the Fall - Antibody: brutal modern industrial style metal.  I have always had a soft spot for bands like Fear Factory, Strapping Young Lad, and Divine Hersey, and Before the Fall are in that same vein.  Don't hold your breath waiting for that clean chorus...cause it ain't coming.

5.  Lazarus A.D. - Black Rivers Flow: a more mature Lazarus A.D. shows up this time around.  Still thrash-oriented, but they aren't afraid to slow it down and push the envelope.  Some real solid metal here for classic metal fans.

6.  Sylosis - Edge of the Earth: this one reminds me a little of Machine Head's The Blackening.  It is a long album and takes some time to digest.  Musically it sounds a lot like Metallica's classic albums of MoP, RtL, and AJFA.  Vocally, mainly harsh screams.  It works, but I think the lack of variety hurts this just a bit.

7.  Deadlock - Bizzaro World:  I talked about it HERE.  It's solid, nothing new, but nothing bad if you liked their last 3 albums.  I said they were going into that KsE path of writing the same music over and over again.  I'm not sure another album like this will work.

8.  Soul Cycle - Soul Cycle: Soul Cycle play instrumental classic thrash metal.  It's good.  I talked about the high amount of solid instrumental albums HERE earlier.  If you like thrash and don't need vocals to enjoy the music...this is a must.

9.  Amaranthe - Amaranthe: I talked about them last year and finally the album is here.  This is pop metal at its best.  Female, clean male, and harsh male vocals really works well here.  If you don't mind keyboards playing a big part of the music, then try this.

10. Tyrant of Death - Dark Space: another instrumental album.  Think SYL meets Fear Factory without the vocals.  It's great heavy metal...the guitars and drumming are insane.

This can change any day because bands like DevilDriver, The Haunted, Protest the Hero, The Human Abstract, Inside It Grows, Titans Eve, Degradead, Arch Enemy, Izegrim, Artas, Circles, and Mygrain have all released solid albums.  Each one of the bands mentioned could easily end up in the top 10.

But just do some quick math, there are 10 above, plus the 12 that barely missed out, and the 7 known albums that haven't been released.  That's 29 albums I am looking at trying to narrow to 10.  good luck to me.

Music Non Stop: one more In Flames song

Enter Tragedy.

This album isn't too bad. I know I wasn't expecting too much after A Sense of Purpose, but from the 3 songs I have heard so far, the album is shaping up to be better than A Sense of Purpose and Soundtrack to Your Escape.

I really like that guitar tone they have on these songs. It sounds more like Come Clarity than anything else.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Music Non Stop: Another New Unearth song - Ruination Of The Lost

Well this starting to look like my surprise album of the year. I posted a new song from Unearth a couple of weeks ago and was impressed by how much different and better they sound now. Well now there is a second new song, Ruination of the Lost, and it's just as good. I have never been a fan of an Unearth album from start to finish, but this is now two songs in a row.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Music Non Stop: New Blood Stain Child - Sirius VI

I listen to a wide variety of music. I know it doesn't seem like it, but I have "soft spots" for pop music and techno. So when I heard Blood Stain Child for the first time I was blown away. They mix techno with death metal and what comes out is nothing short of magical. Some other bands have tried to mix the two genres, but BSC seems to just have it down.

Their last album, Mozaiq, came out in 2007 and I have been waiting ever since for some sort of follow up. Well that time has finally come. They released a single, Sirius VI, from their upcoming album, which will hopefully come out later this year. Anyway here is that song;


Not too bad. Heavy on the female vocals, which isn't bad, so I will just wait for more.  On a side note, here is my favorite BSC song Freedom;

Thoughts Without Words: More Emma Frost from X-Men First Class

Well a couple of months ago I posted the first picture of January Jones in her full on Emma Frost costume. Emma Frost definitely has a lot of ... well sex appeal and it's going to be hard to pull it off. So today a couple more photos of her popped up and well...


I might be in the minority here, but it's still not working for me. There is something that is still a little off.  Maybe it is that lack of a choker or maybe it is the fact that January Jones has the same facial expression in every single photo.  I gotta say that photo of her on the couch...not flattering.  She looks very old in that photo, I think it's the hair style to be honest with you.

Much like the rest of the movie...it's just not working for me.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Inside Four Walls: This is our future...

A teacher was telling us a story about some senior in her class. Apparently, he ran a Stop sign and missed a day of school to fight the ticket. He took in a picture of the Stop sign and told the judge he couldn't see it because it was blocked by overgrown trees. The judge looked at the picture and agreed with him and dismissed the ticket. Here's the kicker, he told his teacher and friends at school that he just ran the Stop sign, but didn't want to pay the ticket. So he took a picture of the sign and photoshopped in a bunch of trees to make it look like he couldn't see the sign.

So here is a senior going into the real world who obviously sees nothing wrong with lying in court and then bragging about it.

I don't know what is wrong with this generation, but this behavior to me doesn't make sense. Maybe it is our school, because we are hearing rumors that someone broke into the room with the AP exams to steal a test. That's pretty extreme, except we have heard now that this person went through the ceiling to get into that room...true story.

The Last Laugh: Patriot Act gets Extended

Now The Huffington Post isn't a site that most conservatives would go to on a daily basis, but I do. Why? Because I love to see the hypocrisy in the liberal way of thinking and freak out when the President actually does something "Republican-like".

Which brings us to the Patriot Act. Obama signed an extension of it last night. Now two things are funny here; first Obama blasted Bush on Gitmo and things like the Patriot Act and yet now since he has become President, he understands the importance of it. Second, the reaction of the liberals on The Huffington Post site.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Inside Four Walls: Seniors 2011...gone

Today was the last day of school for the seniors this year, of course they will still be at school for graduation practice, but classes are done for them.

I have a class of all seniors this year and we took our final on Monday, so that gave us 3 days of "extra time". So instead of throwing parties or letting them screw around for 3 days straight I had them watch some of the best episodes of Scrubs. These are the ones we watched, funny thing is that these are considered some of the best episodes, and for good reason. You can click the link to watch the full episodes on youtube or just watch the clips.

My Old Lady


My Five Stages


My Screw Up


My Lunch


My Fallen Idol


My Finale (not on Youtube...sorry)


All great episodes. By the time we hit today and watched My Finale, the students were tearing up and crying because of course My Finale is about JD leaving Sacred Heart and the students are leaving school. Believe it or not, a couple were able to see the reason for me choosing that as the last episode to show them.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Music Non Stop: New In Flames - A New Dawn

Well maybe this song will stay on youtube longer than Deliver Us did. Anyway, another solid song. I can't find anything to complain about here. After A Sense of Purpose, I had lost hopes for another solid album, but this one is shaping up to be something special.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thoughts Without Words: And yet another reason why...

...people hate education.

When most people went to school, they went to get an education. They showed up on time because they knew every minute counted. They showed up everyday because they didn't want to miss a day and fall behind. So why and when did those expectancies change? And more importantly, when did educators/parents/politicians give up on holding kids accountable to learn?

In Texas, a district is going to raffle a car off every year for students who show up to class and earn good grades. Why does everything come with a bribe? Why can't students just do it because it's important for their future, not because they can get a new car out of it?

And we wonder why this nation is falling apart?

Inside Four Walls: L.A. Unified catches up to the rest of the state...

Maybe that's a little harsh, but we have been changing final grades based on their CST scores for about 5 years now.

The concept is pretty simple, if the students improve from their previous year they get some extra "enhancements" to their grade. Now at our school that's pretty hard to do, since most of the students are proficient or advanced. In fact, all we want is proficient or advanced, so if they want that enhancement then they need to score advanced or proficient.

And I think we should remember this quote when politicians and others want to tie test scores to teacher salary;
"We're always looking for a way to motivate kids to do better in school," said Jefferson High Principal Michael Taft. "I'd see them bubbling in carelessly and say, 'Are you reading that question?' They would say, 'No I'm tired.' They had multiple excuses." 
He estimated that 50% weren't trying hard.
That's right...50% don't try. So tell me again how fair and logical it is to tie my pay to someone that isn't even trying?

The other thing in the article that peaked my interest was this little line;
The L.A. Unified plan also applies to Advanced Placement tests, which are nationally administered. L.A. Unified students who take AP classes already benefit from "weighted grades," meaning that they receive more points per class, which can significantly raise grade-point averages. Under the new plan, a "passing" score on the college-level AP exams will allow students to achieve an automatic A in that course.
Anyone else hear that? That's the sound of the ACLU knocking on your door telling you this is illegal.

Thoughts Without Words: Final Wonder Woman costume...

I think.

You would think I would have run out of Wonder Woman costume posts by now (HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE), but apparently not. Now for those somewhat out of the loop, NBC piloted a new Wonder Woman TV show. They released one design, with the blue boots, that pissed off the entire comic nerd world. So they touched them up and made them red. The other travesty was that she was wearing pants instead of shorts. Now I actually didn't think the blue pants with red boots was all that bad, it was a good update. Now at the time the producers claimed she would wear shorts, but no one really thought they would do it...until now.

That is hands down the best version of the suit. I looks like Wonder Woman came off the pages of a comic and into real life. The plot was kind of stupid, but at least they got the costume right...and then they cancelled the show before it aired.  Nicely done.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Music Non Stop: New Sepultura - Kairos

I have always had a soft spot for Sepultura. When this blog was created, they were basically the first band I talked about, HEREHERE & HERE and one more HERE. Honestly, since Max left they have had one good album, Roorback. When I needed some tribal metal I went to Soulfly.  Well that may change.

When I heard that Roy Z. was going to produce their new album, Kairos, I was excited and cautiously optimistic. You see Roy Z. is one of my favorite producers of all time. His work with Halford, Bruce Dickinson, and Helloween has given us some great modern power metal. Whatever the man touches sounds like gold. It's always crisp and heavy.

So that brings up to Kairos
Kairos by sepulturacombr
pretty impressive. The second half of 2011 is sounding pretty good right now. In Flames, Trivium, Nightrage, and now Sepultura. This is probably the best year for music since I started this blog in 06.

Music Non Stop: New Trivium - In Waves

Wow...this is good, not as good as Shattering the Skies Above, but still better than most of The Crusade. As of right now, I still have Mercenary or Times of Grace as my favorite album, but this might make the top spot.  Trivium is easily my favorite "new band" out there right now and this new song is hopefully the tip of the iceberg.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Thoughts Without Words: Preach on...

I found this on Joanne Jacobs site. I won't add anything else except AMEN.
They (state tests) are even less reliable as indicators of teachers’ performance. For reasons that have been brought up again and again, reasons given by scholars, teachers, policymakers, and others, test scores should not decide a teacher’s fate or override human judgment. There are simply too many unstable factors–the tests themselves, the students’ lives, conditions on the day of the test–that make the scores inaccurate indicators of what a teacher is accomplishing. 
In an op-ed in the New York Daily News, Arthur Goldstein points out that students’ efforts are not uniform: “For example, how much television does a student watch? … If my students don’t know how to read, haven’t been in school for the past six years or refuse to put a mark on a piece of paper, is it my fault? If a kid was dragged to the U.S. against his will and simply won’t learn English, should I be penalized?” (Having taught ESL, I have seen these situations.)
It's a good read and the comments are thoughtful as well.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Inside Four Walls: Cheating

Cheating happens. It always has and unfortunately, it always will. But what should a school do about it? At our school if a student is caught cheating on a test, sorry "violating test conditions" (we aren't allowed to call it cheating anymore), or copying homework for the first time, nothing really happens to them. In fact, all they have to do is get a piece of paper signed by their parents. Not even a detention. No one really understands why that policy is in place, but it is.

Anyway, I mentioned this story from a couple of months ago about the whole Facebook group/cheating scandal. And now there is some fallout, if you will. There were a total of 70 students in the group, out of about 100-110, at least 29 are on Facebook as cheating. When the teachers took the information to the administration, they didn't get the response they were looking for. At first they were told that the students that created the group, but the others wouldn't be called in for cheating. One counselor said that the teachers would need the assignments to compare answers. That is hilarious that they would take that stance, considering online the student literally said "hey I need the answers to the homework, who wants to help me out?". And then you saw a bunch of responses with the answers. I guess that isn't enough proof.

The group has been shut down and now all of the cheaters are being called in. The sad part is that no one knows what their punishment is yet. It's one of those "you cheated, we know you did, but we don't know what we are going to do yet." and send them back to class. We have only like 9 days of school left, you would think there would be a policy in place as to how to handle this.

One last thought, the teachers drafted a letter to the parents explaining what happened and how they should monitor their kids a bit more. They sent it to the administrators for approval and...they were told to hold off on sending it out. I'm not sure why, but talking to the teachers they feel frustrated at how long it is taking to figure this out.

Worst part, the students don't think they did anything wrong.

Music Non Stop: In Flames - Deliver Us video

I played the song already, but they released a video for it now. I actually think this one song is better than a majority of A Sense of Purpose, enjoy.

Inside Four Walls: Girl Suspended for wishing her teacher dead

...and surprisingly she is suspended by the school. Not surprisingly though, the mom thinks the punishment is too harsh.
Dell'isola said she agreed that the post was offensive but thought the punishment was extreme and her daughter was entitled to free speech. 
"In hindsight, she's mortified that she said that, but she's a 13-year-old kid," Dell'isola said.  Dell'isola said she usually monitors her daughter's use of the social networking website but found out about the post when she received a phone call from the school's principal. She said a parent of one of the girl's friends reported the comment. 
The concerned mother was urging the school to remove her daughter from class and give her a private math tutor instead of the suspension. 
"You are denying her an education based on something she did at home. That's my business, not your business," Dell'isola said.
So if someone wished her daughter dead, do you think she would say that was "freedom of speech"? Once again a parent is making excuses for their children, instead of teaching them right & wrong.