Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Music Non Stop: New The Haunted song - Disappear

So here is a new song from The Haunted. Gotta say, not too bad. I know some fans are still waiting for another One Kill Wonder, but that clearly isn't happening any time soon. They haven't done that since Peter came back to the band. This is a little heavier and faster than The Dead Eye, which is ok with me because The Dead Eye was very original to me, unlike Versus which was just meh to me. I wasn't expecting The Haunted to end up in my top 5, and this plays into that theory.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Video Killed the Radio Star: E.T. The Sequel EXT

Unfortunately, this movie will never see the light of day, but man is this great. It is the perfect combination of seriousness and camp. Great job putting it together as well, only 1 or 2 spots kind of stuck out as not smooth.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Inside Four Walls: Some fun with Honors

Every year around this time my Geometry students take a test to see if they can get into Algebra 2 Honors. The ones that are looking to get into Math Analysis Honors and Calculus AP know they need to get into the class so they can continue on that "honors" track.

So this past Tuesday they took the test. I told them that I would let them know their results as soon as the department had them graded. Of course, that doesn't stop them from asking on a daily basis when they will find out. Because of this, sometimes I like to have a little fun with them.

For example, this past Friday, after being asked everyday since Wednesday if the results were in, I decided to have some fun. After the lesson, I went to my computer and pretended to get an email with their scores. I read off some fake percentages, mostly 50% or less. It was funny when I read out one student's score I said 45%, then the next student was 42%. The first student excitedly said "I did better than you." I thought to myself "really? you want to brag about a 45%?" Of course after about 10 minutes of them sitting there thinking they weren't getting into Honors, I told them I was joking and that not to ask again and I would tell them when the scores came in.

My favorite prank was last year. There was a lot of uncertainty because of the budget and all of that mess. So after a couple weeks of them asking, I finally said that the reason that the scores hadn't been released was because there might not be an Algebra 2 Honors the next year. I told them that we might just have regular Algebra 2 only because of the budget we would have to cut sections of classes. The best reaction came from a student that said "Wait? So my transcripts are going to say I just took REGULAR Algebra 2? Not Honors?" I said yes, but to look on the bright side that they would probably all get A's because they were going to be in a regular Algebra 2 class. I told them this on a block day and let it sit with them for about 30-40 minutes before I told them I was joking.

I know some might think it is mean that I do this, but the students all laugh from relief and they know not to ask about the results and I will tell them when they are in.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tirades of Truth: Mercenary - Metamorphosis

Holy crap! I thought when Times of Grace released their debut, that it would easily be my favorite album of the year. If not Times of Grace, then maybe Trivium or DevilDriver, but Mercenary? Never. They dumped their "clean vocalist" and keyboardist (not that big to me) and their first single didn't really do much for me. I was worried about the production. Well they are streaming the entire album HERE and let me tell's amazing. By the way, while you are listening to the stream, check out THIS. A nice explanation of the songs and their origin. Funny see the explanation of The Black Brigade.

I have listened to this stream a couple of times and I can't believe how good this is. The loss of the clean vocalist isn't even noticed. There are a couple of times I thought he came back to record a couple of songs, Velvet Lies anyone? And well...keyboards? Who needs them? They even put in a cool orchestral piece in In a River of Madness. Rene has such a range and would probably make my top 10 list of vocalists if I redid it. He goes from singing, to growls, to death, to almost a rock voice. It's amazing.

One thing that makes Mercenary one of my favorites is the pure "heaviness" they are able to create. I mentioned The Endless Fall before, and Metamorphosis is no different. There are parts of songs that make my speakers almost explode. I used to think Fear Factory or even DevilDriver were the heaviest band I had, but I am wrong. Mercenary takes it easily.

So is there anything wrong with this album? Not sure. I would probably have to listen to it more, but the one thing that caught my attention was that the solos weren't too impressive. But honestly when you can create riffs that would probably scare a little kid I can let the super Eddie Van Halen solos slide.

I can't wait to get this on CD so I can hear a better quality than a web stream.

One last thing...their new logo. I have their old logo on the top of my page, under Metallica. But the new one is pretty cool a lot better than their old one. Seriously, how cool is this thing?

A lot more "in your face" than before. Another nice touch. Do I dare call the album of the year now? It's kind of hard not to.

Thoughts Without Words: Suspended Teacher over Blogging talks

I know I gave up blogging about my class because of this woman, but I felt I should give my opinion on it, especially since she was on GMA this morning.

If she never identified any students, why are people so upset? I don't get it. Are parents upset because their kids are perfect? Look did she use a good choice of words? No, but what she said does describe a certain percentage of students at any school. I have seen girls show up with one thing, go to the bathroom change and come out looking...well more mature. Students complain all the time. They don't want to be held accountable. And you know what it does come off as whining. Sometimes when my students are asking me to re-take a test or not do work, I swear it's like I am talking to my 4 year old. They just won't take no for an answer.

The one thing that caught my attention from the above interview is when Robin Roberts said "we all know teaching teens can be a challenge, but..." I don't think most of America knows...truly knows what goes on in classrooms and in school period. I mean if a school can take a teen to get an abortion without telling a parent, what else can they hide?

I am not accusing anyone of anything here. I am simply saying, how she said certain things should have been thought of twice. But she never identified any students. This might be going out on a limb, but I am sure at one time or another a teacher has thought some of those things she said. If it makes parents become more involved in their child's education, then we all win.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Music Non Stop: The Human Abstract & Sylosis

New promo's for The Human Abstract and Sylosis came out this past week.

I have listened to this and Faust and some other samples and I am noticing that there aren't too many clean vocals present. Nocturne had a ton, almost like Protest the Hero - balance. But this is a new vocalist, so maybe they won't be used as much or at all.

Sylosis' new album is also coming out this year and here is their more detailed promo.

you can hear some of the music in there (especially towards the end) and it's not too bad. They were compared heavily to Trivium when they released their debut, although I didn't hear it that much. They are definitely a solid modern thrash band. I am curious as to what they can give us this time.

Thoughts Without Words: Teachers blogging

I am at a cross roads here when it comes to blogging about work. I never mention a student's name or sex for that matter, so it is nearly impossible to determine who I am talking about. I don't bad mouth students or anything like that or curse at them online.

However, every time I turn around it seems like another teacher is being suspended or fired for blogging about what goes on in the classroom.

I'll be honest with all of you, blogging about my job isn't worth losing my house or not being able to provide for my family.

I thought about blogging in the summer about the previous year, but I don't think that would work either. Generalities? Maybe, but still doubtful.

I will still blog about music, TV, comics, politics, and even educational topics, but what goes on in my class, my school...gotta say I'm not so sure anymore. There is just too much grey area.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Video Killed the Radio Star: Parent - Teacher conference

Saw this on Darren's blog, but it was so good I had to re-post it here.

I have had most of these things said to me in a parent conference. I don't know if it's worse because I teach high school or not, but the parents still say the same thing up here.

Here's another one...once again; so eerily weird.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Video Killed the Radio Star: Young Darth Vader car commercial

I am pretty sure you have seen this commercial by now, if not you can see it tomorrow during the Super Bowl. It is a great commercial and when you really look at it, Volkswagen doesn't say anything about the car except the remote access.

I love it. I find myself pretending to be a villain while my son is Spider-Man or Buzz Lightyear, or even Captain Hook while he is Peter Pan and my daughter is Tinker Bell. And you know what...I love it.

Music Non Stop: Deadlock - Renegade

It feels like this blog has turned into a pure music blog. It hasn't, but I guess since the last 3, now 4, posts have been about upcoming music you can see why...oh well.

Deadlock's newest album, Bizarro World, isn't out until March, but some reviews have already popped up. One coming from one of my favorite review sites, The NewReview. In it they talked about one song, Renegade, that;
"is a complete mess as it succumbs fully to the e-invasion, rupturing into part-ballad, part-drum n’ bass fireworks display."
Ouch. So while looking around Youtube I found the song.

Wow. Now this isn't a mess to me. This is what I have come to expect from Deadlock. A ballad that goes into death metal then drum & bass and repeat, it's just another great song from Deadlock. Whether it is a techno break in End Begins, a saxophone solo in Fire at Will, The Moribund Choir vs. The Trumpets of Armageddon techno intro into the much more death metal flavored Martyr to Science, or a rap in Deathrace, this is just par for the course for Deadlock. It works on so many levels. It was good to hear a little drum & bass mixed in with metal after hearing the In Flames/Pendulum collaboration from last year.

I know some people can hear this as a cluster-f@ck, but to me it shows that Deadlock really doesn't have any boundaries and it's great to see them still pushing the envelope.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Music Non Stop: new Mercenary track

This song has been out for awhile and I just haven't gotten around to putting it up and giving my thoughts on it. The Follower comes off their new album Metamorphosis. A quick word on the album title because there is an obvious meaning there.

This isn't the same Mercenary line-up that gave up Architect of Lies. For whatever reason, after that tour ended they decided to dump the clean vocalist,drummer, and keyboardist. I don't mind the keyboards, but the clean vocalist worried me. He sounded great and I couldn't see the "growler" taking over all vocal duties and still having that same power. Well...

He's not bad, but he is lacking somewhat. His clean screams are awesome. At times he sounds like Andi Deris of Helloween on The Dark Ride. I still hear some keys being played in the background, but definitely not like before...which is good.

Here is a teaser for the album,

I guess I would say overall not bad. I am a little concerned on the production (I know this is a Youtube clip), but the production of Architect of Lies was near perfection for me. Listen to The Endless Fall and how heavy those guitars sound from the 2:47 mark until the 4:30 mark. Those are the riffs that make you bang your head, grab something and shake it...whatever they are amazing. I don't get that same feel here, which is surprising because they dumped the keyboards.

Anyway, this is just another album that I will probably pick up and enjoy. The loss of the pure clean vocals doesn't seem to be as big of deal as does the production right now.

Music Non Stop: new Protest the Hero song

Like I said earlier, this year is going to be pretty spectacular for new music. A lot of my favorite bands are putting out albums this year and on top of that their have already been 3 new bands that have caught my attention. This might be a Top 20 list this year.

Anyway onto the topic at hand. Protest the Hero released a new song today, C’est La Vie, from their upcoming album Scurrilous.

It sounds like some of their other stuff, with the exception of more clean vocals. And I am fine with it. Just tack this on to the list of albums I am getting more and more excited about.

Protest the Hero and The Human Abstract releasing albums in the same year is heaven for any progressive metal fan.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Music Non Stop: Dead by April new song

This year is quickly becoming one of the best years for music in quite some time. I have about 4 - 5 really good albums already and still more to come including Dead by April's new one.

They released a demo of a new song that should be on their new album later this year, More Than Yesterday.

Sounds pretty solid. A little more screaming than some of their songs off their debut which is a plus for me. I thought their debut had some potential, but they went a little softer than they should have with the keyboards moving to the front of the mixes.

The vocalist, Jimmie Strimmel, is amazing. He only did one album with Nightrage, but that album is fantastic. I wish they would move a bit more towards that style with some of the techno/trance elements, like the intro here. This intro is pretty damn impressive. I hope that this isn't the only "heavy" song on the album and is more of the norm, rather than the exception.

Almost forgot, they released a minute sample before Christmas, which sounds pretty good as well. The two songs I have heard seem to feature more screams. This should be a great album...fingers crossed.