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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Goal Accomplished

Well I did. At the beginning of this year I set a goal for myself that I would write three blogs a month. And with this last entry for December, I have accomplished this goal. I am quite pleased with myself. Additionally I have found that I enjoy the writing process. Although there were times where I simply was not in the mood to write, but you can make that argument for any activity. I just need to give myself more time to brainstorm ideas.

I have also found that it is becoming easier for me to write and type. It used to be that I would have to hand write my ideas out first and then go back and type them out. I don't need to do that as much as I used to, which has saved me some time. Now I need to come up with a goal for 2013. Maybe it will be to write a blog a week. With grad school being over with, I can no longer use the excuse that I don't have the time.

But I still have time to figure this out.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Man of Steel Trailer

Sometimes the universe just works. Last week I wrote a blog defending Superman, and this week the trailer for the new Superman movie, Man of Steel was released. To say my excitement is at a fever pitch is an understatement. This film looks incredible.

Three straight observations from the trailer:

1. The cinematography is BEAUTIFUL. I love how all of the colors are muted. (The shot of the cape blowing in the window is so simple, yet so perfect.) I almost feel like I am awake in a Norman Rockwell painting, or conscious in a dream.  It just gives this feeling of another reality. It's realism, but it is a hyper realism. All of these features give this film a very unique feel. It's not like Batman, Ironman, The Avengers, or Spiderman. Man of Steel feels like it's own universe. It feels different.

2. The score. When I heard that this new film would not be using the classic John Williams Superman theme, I have to admit I was a little disappointed. That theme song is so iconic, I just associate it with Superman. But upon hearing the score of the trailer, I have fallen in love with the music. (I really hope that it is in the finished film.) This score makes this new Superman movie feel almost mythical. Which I think is very appropriate for Superman. He is the icon, the greatest of all superheroes, he deserves this type of treatment. If you take this music away, it really effects the emotional status trailer.

3. The story. Grant it, the trailer is only 2mins long, but it feels like it is a story about the character Superman. I've read a few articles where they call it "exploring the man behind Superman". Again by focusing on the characters, you can create a story and characters which people can relate to. It can be more than just an action pack super fight. You feel for the characters. This lends to the stories being timeless. A good story is a good story no matter what decade.

If this film lives up to the trailer, I think Chris Nolan and Zak Synder have made Superman relevant to a new generation.

Monday, December 3, 2012

In Defense of Superman

My last blog post focused on how DC comics are making Batman out to be a little bit of a creepier. See here. After I posted this, my cousin Matt and I began discussing superheroes. He had recently finished a blog about who the most “urban” superheroes were. While he did include Superman on his list, he had a phrase that struck a cord with me. Matt said: “Superman works in the city for the Daily Planet (or he used to), but he's sooo... Superman. When I think of Superman, I don't think of city. He always flies high above the city, removed from the buildings below.”

I think this is a common concept of Superman; he’s always floating above us, and unrelatable to the reader. He is so “goodie two-shoe” and so powerful, that there is no drama to his stories. I disagree with this. I think Superman can be one of the most entertaining comic characters ever created. So I have taken it upon myself to defend Superman.

1. The moral compass to the DC Universe and the opposite of other superheroes. Without a doubt Superman is the number one superhero of DC. He is the one that all other heroes look to for guidance. For me it is refreshing having a superhero that knows what has to be done. He doesn’t necessarily have to second-guess every decision he makes. He didn’t become a superhero because there was a great wrong done to him. He is a superhero because he can do great things. Ultimately he is a story of just accepting oneself. Is this not a goal that all humans need to accept eventually? Is this not something that all of us need to be able to do? One of my favorite storylines in comics is the Death of Superman storyline. I especially enjoyed the funeral aspect of this story. It did an excellent job of showing why Superman is so important in DC. Yes he is corny and old fashion, but in the big fight, he is the one that you want on your side.

2. Powers. First off, who doesn’t want Superman’s powers? Since I was little, I have always wanted to be able to fly. It truly is the greatest super power ever!!!! Now I will admit, his powers are a very tricky story device. If you make his powers and abilities so insanely strong, then you do effectively take all of the drama away from the story. It comes down to the writing. Two writers that I feel did an excellent job writing Superman is John Byrne and Bruce Timm. When DC rebooted its universe in the mid-1980s, John Byrne drastically revision the Superman character. He kept many of the classic powers, but just turned them down. Yes Superman could catch an airplane, but he struggled to do so. He could fly, but he couldn’t fly into outer space without a space suit. Bruce Timm, in his Superman the Animated Series, took the Byrne version of Superman and added a few things. Superman could withstand bullets, but he felt every bullet shot at him. When Superman battled Metallo or the Parasite you saw him in pain. In my opinion this made Superman even braver. Yes he could withstand what was thrown at him, but he did so feeling the pain.

3. Lois Lane. From the very start, Lois Lane was not the typically damsel in distress. She was a female reporter that would jump before looking to get a story. She is always willingly to help others. She would not take no for an answer, and she is one honest person. Not only that, she can give Superman a run for his money. Once they married off Superman and Lois, whenever Superman had doubts, whom would he turn to? Lois. Lois was his moral compass. Women are not weak. Women are shown to be strong independent women. Again this can always change from writer to writer, but if you see Lois in the John Byrne, Bruce Timm, or even Smallville representations of her, she is one kick ass person. 

4. Appreciates the Little Things. When you read the comics or watch a movie, when is Superman the happiest? It is not when he is Superman. It is when he is Clark Kent. When he can participate in the little things in life, like doing the dishes, going to work, or spending an evening with his wife. Again these are all things that everyday people should aim for. Simple living. Again Byrne and Timm knocked this out of the park when they made Clark the real person and Superman is the disguise. Yes he has all of these powers and do incredible things, but that does not define him as a character.

5. Hope. Ultimately Superman’s story is a story of hope. It encourages the DC characters to be the best they can be. Which is ultimately being themselves. (I say this purely has a fictionally character, I hate it when they try to make Superman be a religious figure. It is so stupid.) It shows that you do need a character that knows right from wrong and is not willingly to break his principles. The ends do not justify the means.

As with anything, the character will only be as strong as its writers. And over the past few years Superman has been hit or miss with his writers. I cannot recommend the John Byrne and Bruce Timm’s versions of the character enough. I think they absolutely get the character and nail it out of the park in regards to character development, the roles of the villains, and the just pure good story telling. I do hope that I have changed your mind on the Superman character and will give him a try. In conclusion, I couldn’t let a story about Superman not include Christopher Reeve. His performance as Superman is without a doubt the greatest onscreen performance of the character ever!!! One of my favorite scenes from the first movie. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Batman is a Creeper

There have been a lot of changes to the DC Universe since it was rebooted last year with the new 52. One of the characters that has experienced the more drastic changes to its history is Superman. Superman is no longer married to Lois Lane, has quit the Daily Planet, and has become a social crusader. Very interesting so far.

But he wouldn't be a superhero without a love interest. Enter Wonder Woman. In their Justice League series, DC showcased the budding love of these two individuals. All the while Batman is watching. Click here.

WTF, why has Batman become a little creeper? Would it kill DC to make Batman a fun character again. He doesn't necessarily need to be the Adam West Batman, but does he have to be so serious all of the time. I love Batman as the dark brooding character, but it just seems over done now.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Alternative Hero

So I'm reading this book called The Alternative Hero. The story centers around Clive, a struggling music journalist who is trying to interview Lance Webster. Webster is the reclusive lead singer of the Thieving Magpies, Clive's favorite band, and whom just so happened has moved onto Clive's block. This sends Clive on a quest to find out find out why the Magpies broke up so suddenly.  I'm just about half way through the book, so I don't know where it will take me, but I am really enjoying the ride.

One aspect of the novel that really has hooked me is the music references. The story takes place in the early to mid 2000s, however the height of popularity for the Thieving Magpies was the late 80s to mid 90s. This was during the height of the alternative music scene. I absolutely love this genre of music. At the beginning of each chapter, on the top of the opening page we are provided with a "suggested" song or album to listen to. What's cool is the songs or albums are relevant to the particular events of the chapter and to the over arching story.

For me, this small feature adds so much to the story telling process. If you are not familiar with this genre of music, the author is allowing you to hear exactly what music inspires the hero of the story, and how that particular piece of music is reflective of the character's emotional state. Clive lives and breaths music, so knowing the music that inspires him gives us the reader a greater connection to the character.

If you are a big fan of music, I would suggest you check out this book. The chapter I am about to begin suggests we listen to the album Voices of Animals and Men by The Young Knives. Below is a track off that album. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Star Wars...Which One Will Show Up


About two weeks ago, a bomb was dropped in the entertainment world. Disney announced that it was purchasing Lucasfilm, which includes Star Wars and Indiana Jones, for $4 Billion dollars. That is billion with a B. But that wasn't all. Disney proceeded to announce that production would begin on a new Star Wars trilogy, amply titling the new film Episode 7. Since then, the Internet has been a buzz on who would write the script, would any of the original actors return to their iconic roles, and in what capacity would George Lucas serve?

Slowly or quickly depending on whom you speak with, new information has begun to leak out. I won't get into all of the details here, but if you are interested in a good read, Paste Magazine and have great articles on this subject matter, which you can read here and here. It's been awhile since I have watched any of the Star Wars films, so I decided to pop one into the old DVD play and get reacquainted with an old friend. 

Unfortunately I watched Episode III, Revenge of the Sith. It's not that Revenge of the Sith is a bad movie, it isn't. In fact it is the best out of the prequel trilogy. Watching it just reminded me of how much of a missed opportunity the prequels were. 

Now this isn't going to be a blog post bad mouthing the prequels. There are plenty of those out there. What I mean with missed opportunity is the over use of CGI graphics. One of the absolute best things about the original trilogy was the sets and the models. For many months skill craftsman and carpenters built Jabba the Hut's fortress, Yoda's home on Dagobah, or the Death Star. This created a realism that had never before been seen in SciFi. And ultimately it added, in my opinion, to the overall success of the series. The viewer was truly transported to a galaxy far, far away. 

(Looks so awesome and realistic.)

In the prequels, the filmmakers completely abandoned this in favor of creating everything through CGI. While they were able to create some never before seen worlds, the SFX did not age well. As I watched Episode III, a major distraction for me was all of the actors seemed to pop out from the background. That is because everything was shot against a green screen. As CGI graphics advance, the flaws of its predecessors become much more noticeable. The perfect examples are the prequels. 

(Is this even real?)

Now if you are able to watch the original trilogy, without the CGI alterations, you will see SFX that have aged gracefully. Are they perfect? Absolutely not. Yet when you see the Millennium Falcon, not once do you doubt whether it is real or not. That is because it is real. Someone actually built it. It physically exists. When I watch the prequels everything looks cartoony, and I don't believe that the ships, creatures, or worlds are real. In fact it becomes very distracting to the story telling process. 

What my great hope is, with this new trilogy is that the film makers return to classic style of movie making, and use some of the special effects techniques that made the original trilogy so special. Real sets, the use of models, and for God sakes a puppet Yoda!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Favorite Moments from Community: Season 3

Well, here we go. My final installment of my favorite moments from Community. I had it planned perfectly, I was going to post this blog the week of Oct. 19th to consign with the season 4 premiere, but NBC had to go all NBCy and screw up my plan. Thanks NBC!!! Yet at the same time, it fits perfectly with the legend of Community. Throughout the show's entire run, it has had limited to no promotion, pulled mid-season, then put back on, and a fan base that holds out hope that the new shows will actually make it to air.

Now without further a due, my favorite moments from season 3.

Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps
One thing I have always loved about Community is that it rewards its fans who have stuck with them for their entire run. This episode is the perfect example. In season 1, Professor Slater said Beetlejuice, season 2 Britta said Beetlejuice, and finally in this episode, Annie says Beetlejuice. And sure enough Beetlejuice shows up. Much love. Not only that, Community keeps its tradition alive of awesome holiday episodes.

Remedial Chaos Theory
This episode is unbelievable. It brings into account string theory and shows seven separate timelines and what could of happened to our characters. Plus at the end of the episode we get an appearance of the evil Star Trek goatees. Always classic. This episode is a perfect example of how brilliant Community is.

Digital Estate Planning
Any child of the 80s who had an NES will get a warm fuzzy feeling watching this episode. In order to get his inheritance Pierce must beat a video game his father created. Pierce's father created this obstacle in order to shame Pierce. Yet again, this episode showcases the writers ability to show how the best in their characters.

The First Chang Dynasty
Chang. What more can you say. He is crazy and he adds some much to the show. Whether it is forcing Troy and Pierce to accompany him to the Valentine's Day dance in elegant ladies pant's suits, playing the keyitar, or creating the Changlorious bastards. This episode might be his best, he becomes the emperor of Greendale. It jumps the shark a little bit, but we the viewer are very glad they have done so.

Digital Exploration of Interior Design Part 1 & Pillows and Blankets Part 2
These two episodes are the perfect example of why Community is one of the GREATEST SHOWS EVER!!! The first time I watched these episodes, I laughed so hard, I cried for about 10mins straight, and as a result I wrote a blog about it here. Please do yourself a favor and watch these episodes. I need more people to talk to about it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bill Murray is AWESOME!!!

Today, I read this article on a buddy's Facebook page, and I am still giggling like a little school girl. Apparently whenever the movie Roadhouse is on television, Bill Murray and his brothers call Mitch Glazer husband to Kelly Lynch, star of Roadhouse. They call to inform him that: "Kelly’s having sex with Patrick Swayze right now. They’re doing it. He’s throwing her against the rocks". (In Roadhouse there is an intense sex scene with Lynch and co-star Patrick Swayze.)

Apparently the Murray brothers do this every single time Roadhouse is on television. And apparently Roadhouse is on TV ALOT.  And yet they never miss an occasion, much to Lynch's dismay. Later in the article Lynch mention's that "Bill even called from Russia once to let them know". I do not know what I find funnier, the shear commitment they have made to calling every single time, or the fact at some point the Murray brothers sat down, talked about this and then decided to do this.

Point is, Bill Murray was and is a total badass. In Stripes he volunteers to be the Big Toe, in Groundhog's Day he showed us that getting lost in time could be fun. But the ultimate, he is the one, the only, PETER VENKMAN in Ghostbusters. (In all honesty though, Egon is and always will be my favorite.) So in short, I want to hang out with Bill Murray.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Random Thought for Oct 11th

The past few nights, I have found myself remembering my dreams. This is pretty unusual for me, because I am a very heavy sleeper. Once my head hits the pillow, I am out like a light. So the remembering of my dreams have been a pretty interesting experience for me thus far. The best way for me to describe it, is I know that I am asleep and dreaming, yet I still enter the dream. I then remember what occurs.

My dreams unfortunately are nothing psychedelic or surrealist in nature. I'm not flying, encountering monsters, or seeing artists shapes and colours. In fact most of my dreams are pretty ordinary in nature. I speaking to someone I know, or I am participating in daily routines. But if there is one thing that maybe unusual in them is heightened the emotional state of the person or persons I am interacting with.

For example, one dream I had the other night was with my next door neighbor. He is in his mid-90s and is in ill health. I have known this individual my entire life, and I cannot remember a time I have seen him very angry. But in my dream, he is beyond furious. He is shouting and screaming about his health and how he is very upset he cannot do the things you used to be able to do. He ends up breaking a window in a door at his home. Which is really interesting because when I was about five, I broke a window in a door at his house.

I wonder if humans are able to sense the emotional state of others around them, and if when we are asleep we enter into a hyper-awareness. There's a few more dreams that I have had, that are similar to this situation, but I do not remember them. It is like as soon as I awake in the morning, the dreams are as clear as day. But as my day progresses, I completely forget them.

Maybe down the road I should invest in a "dream" journal and record them? There might be some type of story located in these dreams that I should write down.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cool New Music from 2012 Thus Far

I did my radio show this morning on WXAV 88.3FM Chicago and (The name of the show is The Rockology.) The theme was great new music from 2012. So far this year has been pretty awesome with new releases. New Murder By Death, Mumford & Sons, and Local H have not disappointed. Here is a listing of some of the tunes I have been digging thus far.

1. Local H: Cold Manor, off of the new album: Hallelujah! I'm a Bum.
Just a hard rocking romper stomper of an album. Here is my favorite track of the album. Performed live in NY earlier in the year. The album does a really cool "Abbey Road" style of songs blending into one another.

2. The XX: Reunion, off of the new album: Coexit
This is a very dark, malonic album. It gradually builds upon itself as the album progresses. I especially love the Jamaican drums on the song. It really adds a nice little flare to the song. Here is a great performance of the song at the equally great KEXP in Seattle

3. Green Day: Stay the Night, off of the new album: !Uno!
This is just a fun song. It reminds of mid-90s Green Day. The days of Dookie or Nimrod. In fact I really don't know why I like this album so much, but I really do. It's just a fund album and sometimes it is important to listen to just fun music.

4. Murder By Death: I Came Around, off of the album: Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon
My mind was literally blown after I finished hearing this song for the first time. It is so good. Then I heard the album, and I was equally impressed. If this album does not blow up Murder By Death, I do not know what will. It seems like they have been a band that is always on the verge of becoming very well known.

5. Bruce Springsteen: Easy Money, off of the new album: Wrecking Ball
I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't the biggest fan of the Boss until only a few years ago. (The album that hooked me was called Magic) But the more I dive into his catalog, the more I find myself enjoying it. This year he released a fantastic solo album. Especially love the use of the fiddle in this song.

6. Mumford & Sons: I Will Wait, off of the new album: Babel
Epic. That is the only way I can describe this song. If this album is half as good as this song, Mumford & Sons just became a very important band.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Favorite Moments from Community: Season 2

About a month ago, I wrote a blog about my favorite moments from Community. (The best show on television that no one watches.)  In my first post I focused exclusively on episodes from season 1. Now it is time to move on and focus on season 2. Let us begin

Anthropology 101
This episode is episode one of season 2 and it picks up right where season 1 left off. The group is back from summer vacation and is in a new class together, Anthropology. (Which is taught by the eternally funny Betty White.) The fallout of the Jeff/Annie kiss is explored, and Troy begins posting Pierce sayings as tweets. Truly wonderful. Here's a fun clip of Annie finding out about Jeff and Britta hooking up.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
Not only is Community laugh out loud funny, but it has heart and a moral message. This episode is a perfect example. Jeff is worried that "Fat" Neil is depressed, so he and the group invite him to a very special game of Dungeons & Dragons. Pierce, furious to be left out of the game, crashes it and becomes the villian we all know he can be. This is television at its finest. There's humor, sorrow, and the experience of seeing things from another person's perspective. Plus there's this:

Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas
This episode is almost entirely in claymation. CLAYMATION PEOPLE!!!! That alone is worth watching. But the fact that they bring back the old school Holiday episode just warms my nostalgic heart. This will be an episode I watch around Christmas time.

Critical Film Studies
It's an episode about a Pulp Fiction party that is encased in another movie, which I do not wish to spoil. Just keeping everything straight is a miracle. So many great character moments between Jeff and Abed. Like this one:

A Fistfull of Paintballs/ For a Few More Paintballs
Much like Modern Warfare from season 1, I cannot write a description that will do these two episodes justice. Just sit back and watch this.

P.S. They make an Ice Cream cone EVIL!!! How crazy is that?!?!?!?!?!?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ghostbusters II: Soundtrack Found on Cassette

I recently unearthed an old cassette tape I made when I was in eighth grade. It is the soundtrack to one of my favorite movies, Ghostbusters II. It is a great representation of late 80's goodness. Majority of the soundtrack is done by Bobbie Brown, and it has some very catchy songs. I am right now in the process of converting it to audio files so that I can listen to it on my iPod.

But just listening to it reminds me of how much I enjoy the Ghostbusters' universe. It is grounded in a scientific reality, but has imagination to it. When I was little, I would run around the house busting ghosts. So much fun, and the toys were pretty amazing. Additionally, Ghostbusters really lends itself well to comics. IDW is doing a monthly series that I am a big fan of.

I think it is time to take a trip down memory lane and have a screening of Ghostbusters II.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Great New Television Show and A Great New Book Store

Recently I was introduced to a new show on the SyFy network called Alphas. It is about a team of investigators that have special genetic mutations. The team consists of Dr. Lee Rosen who is the leader and has no special abilities. Bill who can activate his fight or flight response and increase his strength and endurance levels. Gary, an autistic person who can see the electromagnetic signals of digital devices such as cellphones, the Internet, and television. Rachel who can increase her five senses to extremely high levels. Nina who has the ability to influence (mind control) others. And finally Cameron who has perfect aim and balance. 

The premise is very similar to the X-Men. The big question of the show is how will humanity react when it learns that there are super-powered beings in the world. Even though it is not a completely original premise, the show is original. The character Gary has one of the most original and interesting super-powers in the genre. In a world that is so dependent on digital technology, having a human that can trace these devices presents many interesting plot lines.

The second season premiered back in late July and will continue through the end of September. The first season is also on Netflix streaming, I just finished it, and I am ready to start season 2.

Secondly  I was on a field trip downtown for my job yesterday and I so happened to discover a new independent bookstore. It is called After-Words Bookstore. It is off of State and Illinois. It is an absolutely wonderful bookstore. They have an incredible selection. In fact I found John Lennon's In His Own Write, which I thought was long out of print, and Raise High the Roof Beam and Franny and Zooey by my favorite author J.D. Salinger in hardcover editions.

The atmosphere of After-Words is that of the perfect bookstore. Quiet, peaceful. I personally cannot wait to go back there. If you are in the neighborhood, go check it out.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Community...My Favorite Episodes

Over the past few months, I have become a massive fan of the show Community. I have not enjoyed a comedy this much since the first two seasons of 30 Rock. Community is absolutely ridiculous with some of its storylines, yet at the same time is grounded in reality. But what makes Community so good, what is at its heart, is the characters. Jeff, Britta, Annie, Troy, Shirley, Chang, Pierce, and of course Abed are a misfit group that you can't help but love. The show is a great character study of today's society and the views of young people.

Here are a few of my favorite episodes from season 1. (I wasn't able to get clips for every episode.)

Introduction to Film
This is one of the earliest episodes of the show. (The third episode I believe.) And it explores the back story of Abed. It does a great job of highlighting the bond between the group and how they view their respective roles in the group.

Introduction to Statistics
Community's first Halloween episode. Like the first 10 Simpsons Halloween specials, these are can't miss. Non-stop laughs throughout in which Annie hosts a Dia de los Muertos party, Jeff tries to hook up with a professor, and Pierce takes some pills he got from Star Burns.

Romantic Expressionism
This is one of the earliest episodes to explore the Jeff and Annie romance. Annie is dating Britta's ex-boyfriend, hence Jeff and Britta need to act as Annie's parents and break them up. This happens while the rest of the gang watch terrible movies, a la Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Investigative Journalism
As someone who runs a college newspaper, I found so much truth with this episode. The dean puts Jeff in charge of the school newspaper.

Modern Warfare
WATCH THIS EPISODE!! I don't want to write too much, but I will say this. It is one of the greatest television episodes I have ever seen. If this episode does not win you over, nothing will.

P.S. This was a very hard list to pick. Watch the entire first season, there is not a bad episode. Especially Contemporary American Poultry, Abed starts a mafia racket over chicken strips.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A New Podcast Idea

So I'm thinking of starting a new podcast with a music buddy of mine. The theme of the podcast would be vinyl and independent record shops. My friend and I are big fans of listening to music on vinyl. We find it to be a superior listening experience. Additionally we would review, interview, and promote independent record shops. These record shops are so vital to the music industry. Currently however they are dying. So anything we can do to help promote them, would be terrific.

My question is, what are today's music generations preferred music listening experience? I'm sure it is digital, but why? Is it the convenience factor? This can be something the podcast explores. Does this sound like a good idea?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Good Belly Laugh

So it has been well documented here that I love the NBC show Community. It is one of the most creative comedies I have ever seen, and has provided me with some great laugh out loud moments. Then came last night. I watched the episode "Pillows and Blankets" from season 3. The episode parodies a Ken Burns' Civil War documentary and traces the pillow war between Abed's Pillowtown and Troy's Blanketsburg.

There is a scene in this episode where Abed releases his secret weapon. I cannot explain to you how hard I laughed. I completely lost it for about 10mins. Below is the scene that made me laugh so hard, but I recommend you do not watch it. To truly get that great belly laugh, you need context and thus you need to watch the entire episode. Luckily below is the link to the entire episode. But watch it quick, it is only up until 8.6.12.

Full Episode

A Great Scene

P.S. I link because I do not want to spoil anything.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Batman & Robin: Ice to See You

In honor of The Dark Knight Rises release this week, I am continuing my series of reviews of bad superhero movies. The question I am asking is, "Are they truly as bad as I remember?" Today's entry is the Creme de la Creme. The movie that almost destroyed the Batman movie franchise, Batman & Robin. Much has been said about this film, but does it deserve the reputation it has?

First a little back story. I cannot wait for The Dark Knight Rises, so in order to prepare myself for the awesomeness that is to come, I thought it would be fun to watch one Batman movie a week until July 20th. I began with the original 1966 movie Batman, starring Adam West. I then worked my way down the list until I arrived at this 1997 film, in which the dynamic duo take on the dastardly Mr. Freeze, the seductive Poison Ivy, and the meat head known as Bane. (Side note, Bane will not be a meat head in Dark Knight Rises.)

So what were the conclusions I came too? Drum roll please....

Short answer yes, it is absolutely one of the worst movies I have ever seen in my entire life. Long answer, no, it is kind of a fun cartoony ride. Let me explain. The main problem that Batman & Robin faces is that it takes itself seriously. Very seriously. At the same time, the schemes of the villains are like the schemes of villains you would see on Saturday morning cartoons. I mean come on, Mr. Freeze turns a telescope into a freeze gun, and then our heroes, after a quick costume change, unfreeze the entire city of Gotham by using sun light. This is all accomplished in about 8 seconds.

Additionally, George Clooney is quite possibly the worst Batman ever!!!!! He talks in his normal Bruce Wayne voice when he is Batman. So much for a secret identity I guess.

Now I could go on and on about the utter crap of this movie (the dialogue anyone), but there are some redeeming factors in this movie too. The Alfred dying story arch I found to be very heart felt, and brought out a side of the Batman character we have never seen before. As a fan of the Batman universe, I for one never think of Alfred actually dying. I see Alfred as always being there, providing wisdom and guidance to Batman. But what would Batman's reaction be to his closest confidant's death? I find this to be a really interesting question. If this story arch was done seriously, it could be the driving force for an entire movie that would be different from every other Batman movie we have ever seen.

Secondly, Uma Thurman's performance as Poison Ivy. Given the material to work with, and the universe that her character resides in, Thurman's Poison Ivy is pretty menacing. And brings out a long brewing feud between Batman and Robin. In the comics, Ivy is known using sexual charms to manipulate individuals, and to enact her plans against our heroes. Poison Ivy does actually that in this film. Not only that, I do not believe any red blooded American male will complain about seeing her in tight green leather.

So ultimately my conclusion for Batman & Robin is, if you are looking for a film to watch with your friends and crack jokes about, Batman & Robin is your movie, and you will have a lot of fun doing it. When you watch this movie, think of it as a continuation of the Adam West Batman or as a Saturday morning cartoon. If you view it like this, you will not be disappointed. If you are looking for a serious Batman movie, DO NOT WATCH THIS!!!! Watch The Dark Knight or Batman Begins or Batman Returns. These would make a far better choice. Until then, three day until the epic conclusion!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Grad School is Over!!!

Well, I did it. Grad School is now officially over and I have a Master's Degree in Education. This is a pretty remarkable thing when I think about it. Ten years ago, I would of never dreamed of obtaining a Masters and now I have one.

It was a very rewarding experience, and thankfully you never have to hear me discuss the Graduate Experience again. So in honor of this fact, I would like to share my final Grad Assignment for my last posting on Grad School. The assignment asked me to write a reflection on Grad School Experience and how it changed me. Enjoy!!

            Well, it has finally come to an end. After 25 months, and about 198 assignments I have reached the conclusion of my Graduate School experience at Saint Xavier University. When I first began the program, I really did not know what to expect. Now that I am at the end of the program, I can safely say that my outlook and philosophy of education have been completely changed by my time in the program, the professors who taught me, and the students/peers I met. It was the very definition of peer-to-peer learning. This radical changed I experienced has been for the greater good; it has made me a more informed educator, a better listener, and an advocate for social justice. In this reflection paper, I will review some of the courses that changed my perspective, my overall experience, and where to go from here.
            I began my graduate school journey in May of 2010. At that time it was safe to say that my views and philosophy of education were pretty mainstream. It had been about two years since my student teaching experience, and I had focused my attention away from the formal world of the classroom to the Student Media experience of running a college radio station and newspaper. At that time, I viewed the classroom in the same light in which I was taught for most of my educational life. The teacher was at the front of the classroom, lecturing, writing notes on the board, assigning reading assignments in the textbook, passing out worksheets, and occasionally showing a video in class. This was the way I was taught, that is how the students of today should be taught. I could not have been more wrong.
            Two years does not seem to be a long time, but it really is. And in that time I forgot the most important rule my corporating teacher, Mr. Mike Doyle had taught me. Mr. Doyle always told me that: “A good teacher always relates the classroom learning experience to life outside of the classroom. This will then cause you to adapt to changes in society.” It was not through any purposeful action on my part; I was just focusing on something else, and had inadvertently fallen into the black hole of apathy that most Americans are in, regarding education. Thankfully, by participating in this program I awoke from my slumber and reignited my passion for teaching and helping young people.
            The course that really started me on my path of self-discovery and change was the EDUG 509 course. It focused on Educational movements of the 20th Century and was taught by Dr. Wolf. If you approach any individual and ask them about their school experience, more than likely they will remember those few teachers that change their life forever. We all have them. They are those individuals who challenged us, guided us, and were always there to give life advice. For me, Dr. Wolf was one of those teachers. It was Dr. Wolf who introduced me to the writings of Mortimer Adler, the Paideia program, and the Great Books Foundation. It did not take me long after reading these texts to become an advocate for this style of education.
            At its most fundamental level, Adler’s educational philosophy tried to return education to the style of the ancient Greeks. Where reading, writing, rhetoric, and physical activity were the centerpieces of education. In this methodology, the ultimate goal of education was not to help the students get a “good job”, but to become virtuous and engaged citizens with a desire for life-long learning. This meant that no matter what professional an individual chose, whether it was working for McDonalds or law professor at Harvard University, the individual would be a virtuous person and work towards the common good and social justice. These are actions that we desperately need in our society today.
            For the first time in my educational life, I felt like I had found a philosophy that I could stand behind completely, something had finally made sense. Before I was introduced to Adler and the Paideia program, all of the formal education philosophies (Dewey), felt a little off to me. In Paideia I found an ideology that I was completely in line with. Paideia helps the students experience the world through literature, art, music, religion, and discussion. Science and math are no longer tied to worksheets, and boring textbooks, but the actually writings of the brilliant men and women of their respective fields. I truly believe that the Paideia program lays the foundation for life long learning. It shows the students how we are all interconnected, and makes the subject matter jump off the written page. At its very heart it is student centered which leads us into the second class that had a profound impact on my journey.
            The class was EDUG 526, Literacy Issues in Curriculum, and Dr. Hilton taught the course. It was in this course that I learned the definition of a student centered learning environment and why it is so important. We had a long-standing question in the class, we never “formally” answered it, but it always guided our discussion, and assignments we worked on. The question was: “Why are we here”.  What is the role of the teacher? Too often in today’s modern classroom, the teacher is the center of the class. The teacher decrees the activities for the day, and all of the students are forced to adapt to the desires of the teacher. This is not a successful learning environment, and this will not create the desire in students for life long learning. In fact it will probably put a terrible taste in their mouth, and the individual will come away hating school forever.
            In this course we learned that to truly be a student centered learning environment, all activities need to revolve around the needs of the students. That meant that even if the teacher worked on a lesson plan for three weeks, if the students did not respond well to it, the lesson plan was thrown out. By making our classes’ student centered, we are tailoring everything to the current need of the students at that present time. By doing this, we would be in a greater position to better serve and engage their needs, and guide them through the wonderful process of learning. It also shows the students that they are apart of the process and that they are important. Too often students do not feel like they are important in the classroom. They will not feel that way in a student-centered classroom, because we teachers are always adapting to meet their needs.
            This segue ways into my final class that had a profound impact on my learning, EDUG 529, Leadership, Collaboration, and Change. Dr. Knight taught the course. It was in this course where I learned the importance of teacher adaptability. We heard it all the time in our undergraduate classes that every student learns differently. When we student taught we saw a very small sample of this. But for me, I really did not appreciate this aspect of education until Graduate School. I think it was because I did not fully understand the concept.
            Ever student learns differently, based on his or her own abilities. Some students can learn from listening to a lecture, others can learn from creating a diorama, while others need to be able to act out an idea. And this is the beautiful part; they are all equal, and all equally important to the educationally process. Too often we think that if a student cannot sit still and listen to a lecture and then automatically understand the material they are stupid. That is furthest from the case. Successful educators embrace all dynamics of education and incorporate it so that every student’s educational needs are met. This means that no two lesson plans should be that same, and diversity is embraced. Lessons need to be tailored to meet the needs of the students in each individual classroom. Now this does not necessarily mean tons of work for the teacher, it just means that the teacher needs to be observant and flexible with their units while instructing.
            The Paideia program, student centered learning environments, and teacher adaptability. These three concepts have completely changed my educational philosophy for the better. It puts the needs of the students as the number one priority and gives them the tools they need in order to be engaged citizens in our democracy, life long learners, and most importantly virtuous individuals. But to implement these concepts, our current educational structure needs to be completely overhauled. The over importance of standardized tests as the sole form of student assessment needs to be dropped. If our politicians and members of the department of education truly understood adaptability, they would see that standardized tests are the least adaptable form of assessment because it does not embrace student-learning diversity. If you ask the average young person why they attend college, it is met with the response of: “I want to get a good job, so I make a lot of money”. If we properly incorporated the Paideia program and making virtuous individuals, the goal of education would be to make a better and more just society. If we truly wanted to have student centered learning, the economic gaps between poor and rich schools would begin to close.
            So where does this leave us? There certainly is a lot of work to be done, and at times it can feel a little hopeless. But there are educators out there, who give teaching 110% everyday, who try and incorporate the above concepts into their everyday classroom. Hope should not be lost; in fact this should be a time of great hope. But in order to accomplish this great change, teachers need to stand up for what we believe to be right. I have met some incredible teachers in this program, that are terrified to speak up for fear of losing their jobs. This cannot be allowed to stand. As a doctor is an expert in medicine and the health of the human body, so are teachers are experts in education. If we stand together and say there is a better way to do this, and demand the respect that is owed to us, then we can change education for the better.
            This program has shown me the excellent teachers we have in the world, and it has given me the tools to be a student-centered teacher. It has challenged me in every imaginable way, and has made me a stronger and better-informed educator. The man that began this program 25 months ago is not the same man who is leaving it. I am better informed and ready to jump into the front lines.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Grad School Completed

Well I have just turned in my last Grad School assignment. It is done!! All I have to do now is wait for my grade. If all goes according to plan, it will be an A and I will have straight A's for Grad School. I hope it happens, that would be super cool. It is a little weird being done now. It took so much of my life for the last two years, that I am unsure what I will now do with all of my free time. I'll say one thing, I am very much looking forward to have a consistent social life again.

I also think I will learn how to play the piano. I always wanted to. We will see. But for now I leave you with a video of Community that always makes me laugh.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Getting Ready for The Dark Knight Rises

We are just a month away from the release of The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan's last installment in his epic Batman series. To get ready for this movie event, I have been watching one previous Batman movie per week. (This week's film is the horrifically bad Batman & Robin.)

It's been a fun project. In fact I had forgotten how good some of them are, especially Batman Returns. Yes it is a very dark movie, however it is a pretty original story, and it has influenced many characters of the Batman universe for years to come. (Look at Penguin and Catwoman.) You can also see its impact on the classic animated series, Batman the Animated Series.

While exploring the interwebs, I found this very interesting article on Batman Returns. Many of the information in the article comes from the Batman Returns special edition DVD, yet it is still a good read.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Countdown is at 3

3 Weeks, That is all I have left until I am finished with Grad School. The homestretch is here!!! Here is a song that has been motivating me while I've been doing homework.

Click Here

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Gypsie Jazz, Where Have You Been Hiding

I just heard this great new artist from France today named Zaz. She is a jazz singer with a little touch of gypsie swag to her music. It sounds so fresh and yet familiar at the same time. I love the beat and the rhythm of this song. It has become my jam of the day in fact. I must find more music of hers!!!
The first video is the official music video of the song Je Veux with no subtitles, below that one is a live version of Je Veux with English subtitles.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Spiderman 3...Is it as bad as we remember?

The summer movie season is upon us!! This is great news for me because that means the latest batch of superhero movies will be invading movie theaters. I love superhero movies. They are so much fun to watch. This summer movie season got off to a great start with The Avengers, which was feakin’ awesome. Unfortunately I still have to wait for the new Spiderman and The Dark Knight Rises, but from looking at their trailers, both have the potential to be great.

Over the years, there have been some great superhero movies, Spiderman 2, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Iron Man, and Captain America just to name a few. But for every great superhero movie, there is a super bad one. Hulk, Daredevil, Green Lantern, Spiderman 3, and Batman Forever are great examples of bad superhero movies. So I thought it would be fun to go back and rewatch some of the bad superhero movies and see if they are just as bad as I remembered them to be.

For this first installment I went back and rewatched Spiderman 3. Starring Tobey Maguire as Spiderman and directed by Sam Ramni, it is the final installment of Ramni’s incarnation of the Friendly Neighborhood WebCrawler. In the film, Spiderman faces The Sandman, Venom, and New Green Goblin. (For a complete plot synopsis click here)

When this movie was released I was super excited for it. The first two films were great, and the entire crews from those movies were returning. Not only that, the trailers for Spiderman 3 made it look epic. Sadly after I left the theater, I was very disappointed, along with the majority of the film going public.

When I rewatched Spiderman 3 I tried to go in with an open mind and forget my previous disappoint with the film. I think I was semi-successful. I found the film to be slightly more enjoyable than I remembered it. I enjoyed the final battle between Spiderman and New Green Goblin against Venom and Sandman, and J. Jonah Jameson was hysterical. But there were there a number of areas that I found to be really bad. They were: 1) Too many storylines, 2) The CGI SFX, and 3) Ending on a bummer.

Spiderman 3 has so much going on. It is almost like the filmmakers tried to combine Spiderman 3 and 4 into a single movie. You have the Peter Parker/Mary Jane storyline, Peter Parker/Eddie Brock, Eddie Brock/Gwen Stacy, Mary Jane/Harry/and Spiderman storyline, Peter/Sandman, and the list goes on. It is so much that I found myself not caring so much about the character development because I was getting lost. If they would of cut one or two of the sub-plots out, I think it would of greatly improved the overall film. (Incidentally, at the time of its production there were a lot of rumors that Ramni and the cast wanted to end the Spiderman series, and the studio was trying to get them to come back for more movies. So this may account for so many plots being cramped into the film.)

Secondly the CGI. Man does it not hold up. In fact now it is really distracting to watch. I feel that it takes away from the story telling process, because it looks so unreal. This argument can be used for any movie that relies heavily on CGI, but what made the first two Spiderman films different were the stories. The stories were so good that you still got pulled even, and you could overlook the bad CGI. This should be a lesson to all film -makers, do not rely on CGI effects. Return to classic SFX of camera tricks, stunts, mat paintings, actors on wires, and models. Of course some of these special effects age, but they age graceful. They still look organic to the film. To this day, I can watch the first Superman movie, and buy into the fact that a man can fly.

Finally it ends on a bummer. Spiderman 3 breaks the cardinal rule of the trilogy. You send your crowd home happy. Look at Return of the Jedi, the good guys win, bad guys lose, and all of your storylines are wrapped up in a nice bow. Same with Lord of the Rings. Spiderman 3 leaves me with too many questions. Do Peter and Mary Jane get back together? At times Spiderman 3 feels more like the middle installment of a trilogy, which typically ends on a low note for the hero, see The Empire Strikes Back. I really feel that the hero needs to triumph in the finale of the trilogy.

Overall, if I were to grade Spiderman 3, I would get it a D+/C-. It isn’t horrible, but if it will not blow your socks off like the first two did. It is just ok. I think for my next installment, I will do Batman & Robin.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Great Read

Hey now!!! It is an exciting time in my life. I am currently in my last Grad class and will have my Master's in Education by June 30th. Just 7 weeks left!!!! Once my Master's is done I'll be able to have fun again. But one aspect of my Master's that I have enjoy very much is that I have been able to read on a consist basis. In fact, I just finished this great book on J.D. Salinger, the author of The Catcher in the Rye. The name of the book is J.D. Salinger: A Life, and its author is Kenneth Slawenski. Slawenski does a great job chronicling the life of more of the most private authors in American history. One of the major themes of the book is how Salinger wrestled with the artist side of writing versus the commercial aspect. For Salinger, writing was his way of experiencing the divine, and thus became very sacred to him. It was his way of praying. So when a publisher would try and "commercialize" his works to sell them to the public, he would become indigent. Thus became the great retreat from the public of one of America's greatest authors. If you are a fan of J.D. Salinger, I cannot recommend this book enough. If you have never read any of his works, but are still interested, check it out. It is one of the best biographies I have ever read.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Some of my favorite movie scenes

As many of you know, I am a nerd. I love superhero, SciFi, and action movies. So I was farting around YouTube and I thought it would be fun to do a post from some of my favorite scenes of some of my favorite movies. Here are my top 3. 1. Superman's debut Need I say more. The greatest introduction to the greatest superhero of all time. 2. The end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade The perfect end to the perfect trilogy. To this day, I still get pumped up watching Indy riding off into the sunset, with his theme blaring. It's the hero shot. 3. Darth Vader turns good. The original Star Wars trilogy was so very good, and this was the apex of it. When Darth Vader turns to save Luke from the Emperor. As a child I remember jumping up and down with excitement over this. P.S. If you are ever looking for great workout music, the Indiana Jones and Superman themes are awesome. You get that extra shot of adrenaline. P.P.S. For some reason the format is not working for me. I'll try and adjust. My apologies

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Too Much Consumerism?

My cousin Matt recently wrote a very interesting blog. The title of the blog is Consuming versus Creating. As the title suggests he discusses consumerism, and the nature of creating. After reading the post, I remembered a documentary I saw a few years ago called The Corporation. The documentary focuses on the history on the corporation in America. If you have not seen it, you can watch the entire documentary for free on YouTube. It’s well worth the watch. There’s a part in the documentary that talks about this very issue. Below is the video; you can find the exact part at around 20:30. It is a great reminder for me that we need to give back to the earth. We are always taking, taking, and taking from its natural resources. We need to stop consuming so much and begin to give back more to our fragile Eco-system. One of the conclusions the documentary comes to, is one that I think most would agree too. Money cannot be our ultimate goal for success. If we continue to make money the sole goal, then we are dooming ourselves. Let’s aim higher than money. Let’s set goals of education, art, music, and etc. things to strive for. Here's the trailer to the Corporation too, if you are interested.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Behind the 8 Ball, I know

The show Community is amazing!!!! Yes I know, I am behind the 8-ball, but better late than never right? It's just like 30 Rock. It rewards its viewers who started at the beginning with references built up as the story progresses. Like little hidden jokes for the cool kids, and I am now a part of the cool kids group. (Thank you Kevin Shannon) I'm only in season 1, but I am hooked. God Bless Hulu+ for having the entire series on its service. I would be lost without you. If you have not seen, I highly recommend. Until then, enjoy this little video.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

You Too Can Read My Homework

I have previously posted some of my homework here on my blog. Just to give you a little flavor of what I am working on. I will now continue with this series. Below is my Education Vision Statement. Essential I was asked what my vision of education is for the next 5 years, and how I would change education. One slight disclaimer, I only had a day to write this. So it is not my best writing.

Education is at a critical crossroads. We are at a point where fundamental change can happen. Very slowly the federal government is doing away with the controversial “No Child Left Behind” law. The new educational “buzz words” which according to some will save education is charter schools. New digital technology, such as iPads, tablet computers, and smart boards, are sweeping into the classroom, changing the way teachers teach their students, making learning more interactive. On top of all of this, the American public is demanding the school structure be changed to better enable American students to compete in the global job market. All while funding for schools are being cut. It is truly a time of change and innovation.

Some find this to be a scary time for education. I do not necessarily believe it needs to be scary. This could be a time where we fundamental change our educational system for the better. This is a time where one good idea can change the world. In this educational vision statement, I will outline four ideas, which I would like to see incorporate into our educational system within the next three to five years.

What is the goal of our education system?

I think before we can ever implement real change in our education system, we need to ask these very important questions. “What is the goal of our education system?” “Why do we educate our young people?” I have posed this question to my students before. The responses I have received from them vary, but majority of them respond with “To get a good job”, “To get into college”, or “To make money”. I believe that this should not be the reason why we educate our students. Early on we need to instill in our students a love of learning, so that they become life longer learners. But how can we accomplish this goal of life long learners? While there are many theories out there that advocate how to make students life longer learners, I will only discuss a small aspect of what I think can help individuals become life long learners.

We need students to view education as a way of making them a better person. That the knowledge that we are passing along can be used for more than just taking a test. As Mortimer Adler, the educational philosophy said, “a virtuous person”. This should be the goal of our educational system. Because no matter what field of employment a student enters, they will always be a virtuous person. They will understand how knowledge of different subject matters make them a more complete individual, and will hopefully encourage them to always want to learn new things. When we have more virtuous individuals, we will then have a more virtuous society. This should be our goal of our education system, why we educate our young people. To create virtuous life longer learners.

Treatment of Teachers

If I could wave a magic wand, and change one aspect of our educational system right now, it would be this. How we treat our teachers. Teachers are dumped on constantly. Any problem that occurs in the classroom is automatically the teachers’ fault. Teachers are human beings, and thus are not perfect. And yes there are some very bad teachers out there. But find me any profession that does not have bad employees. No body is perfect, and yes when a teacher makes a mistake, they need to be mature enough to own up to it, and accept all the consequences that occur from their mistake.

However I do not believe you will find a more caring, hard-working, and dedicated group of individuals anywhere in the world than teachers. Everyone has a teacher that inspired him or her to do better. They make us believe that we can accomplish almost anything. They push us to do better. These great teachers can instill this sense of inspiration while facing insurmountable odds. Some teachers face large class sizes, little to no funding, and massive amounts of bureaucratic paperwork. Yet they still go in everyday and face these challenges head on. Why? Because they believe in their students.

When we go to the doctor, and receive a diagnosis, we do not immediately stand up, and tell them they are wrong. Some of us may do this, but majority of us do not. Why? Because we know that the doctor is the expert in the field of human health, and they know more than we do. The same goes for teachers. Teachers are experts in the field of education and learning, yet everyday people march into their classrooms and tell them the way they are teaching is wrong. Everyone is human; including teachers, and they want to feel appreciated too. Imagine what teachers would be able to accomplish if they felt appreciated.

Reading, Writing, and Discussion

My next idea in my vision statement on where the educational system could be in the next three to five years focuses on improving students love of reading, and improving their writing and discussion skills. It seems that whenever I turn the news on and they have a story about education, it is followed with “Improving math and science scores”. While I agree that math and science are incredibly important, very rarely do I hear anything about improving reading, writing, or discussion skills. If a student does not understand what the question they are reading says, how can they improve their math or science scores? Reading needs to become the focus of education improvement. Young people’s love of reading is dying. Whenever I ask my students what book they are reading, more than likely the response I will get is: “I don’t read”, “I hate reading”, or if they are reading, it is fiction such as Harry Potter. Which is fine, but very rarely do you hear students reading non-fiction, historical accounts, philosophy, or religious texts.

In one of my previous graduate courses, I studied the educational philosopher Mortimer Adler. Adler advocated reading, founded The Great Books Foundation, and returning education to the classic style of instruction. The classical style focused on making a virtuous individual, which I discussed earlier. Reading can be the silver bullet for improving education quickly. If students better understand what they are reading, they may do better on standardized tests.

To go on a tangent for a moment, our society has allowed standardized testing to become the ultimate form of assessment, and in my opinion-standardized tests does not do a proper job of assessing our students’ knowledge. It only measures how well the student does on that one test. What happens if the student is not a good test taker? We need to find a better way of assessment.

Writing and discussion could be the better forms of assessment we are looking for. It allows students to articulate their opinions, and describe things in their own words. Writing and discussion allows students to be creative, and allows teachers to better measure the students’ mastery of the material.

Technology Integration

The final idea of my education vision statement is the integration of digital technology into the classroom. We take for granted the time we are currently living in. Technology is changing at an ever-increasing pace. We need to be able to keep up. We need our students to be able to keep up. If we are going to do this, we need to have technology in the classroom. Students need to be familiar with how to use it. Because technology is revolutionizing every aspect of our lives. Even now, I am in a graduate class with classmates across the United States. 15 years ago the only way this would of happened is if I traveled to the destination. Now it is in my living room.
Technology can make a subject or discussion come alive. Literally at students’ fingertips is a wealth of information that one hundred years ago would of seemed like a pipe dream. Additional technology, if used properly, could accommodate almost every learning style. Visual learners, auditory learners, can all benefit from using technology. The key with technology is we do not allow it to replace teachers. Technology is a tool for teachers to use, not the other way around.

There you have it. My four points of my education vision statement. Looking back I think I can summarize my education vision statement with just two words. Social justice. We need to implement social justice into our educational system. We as a society need to ask the fundamental question, “What is the purpose of our educational system?” We need to treat our teachers with respect; we need to encourage our students to read, write, and discuss ideas with one another. They need to know that it is ok to disagree with one another, and that books are our friends. Life is not a series of multiple choice, true/false questions. Life is a joyous time of questioning, experimenting, and creative thinking. I know that most of what I wrote about probably will not be implemented, or is too much of a flowery dream. But if we cannot dream big in education, where can we dream big at then?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Rainy Days

I love waking up to rainy, cloudy days like today. It is the perfect weather to stay in bed and either sleep, listen to the radio, or watch an old movie. In fact today would be perfect to watch an old Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes. Unfortunately I have to work today to make the moneys. BUT a quick search on YouTube turned this up, and it is one of my favorites.

Enjoy...if you can.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Holy Crap!!!

So I am currently enrolled in a new online course for Grad School. Holy Sh*t is it kicking me in the ass in regards to homework work load. That's one of my issues with online courses. Because you do not have a formal meeting time, it seems like everyday there is some due date for an assignment or what have you. I keep telling myself, only two more classes left to go. But holy crap, so be prepared for me to be complaining, a lot.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How We Watch TV

We are in a constant state of evolution. This is especially noticeable in our technology. Every few months, the news always reports on the new latest and greatest gadget that we need to have in order to function. But I wonder if we ever sit back and think about how this new technology alters our everyday lives. For example, Television, the way we watch TV is totally different than the way we watched it ten to fifteen years ago.

I remember as a little kid, gathering together with my family every Thursday night to watch the new episode of Seinfeld. We made the time in our schedules to gather together and watch a program together. We could not fast forward through commercials, and if we missed the new episode, we would have to wait till the summer to see the rerun. Now, we have Netflix, the Internet, and DVDs.

Currently I find myself waiting for a show’s season to be completed before I begin to watch it. I like being able to see the entire story without any interrupts and no waiting. It is on my time. At the same time my TV viewing has become more of a solitary activity. My family is not like me, and they do not wish to spend an entire day watching 30 Rock or Downton Abbey. (I don’t know why) I’m not the only one who watches TV like this either. Most of my friends do the same exact thing.

I think what my conclusion is; there is good and bad. I love the fact that I can sit and in a weekend watch an entire season of a show. Its weird to say, but it somehow focuses me. At the same time, there is something to be said about the traditional way of viewing. Gathering together with loved ones, and the entire group making time in the schedules for a group viewing activity. Ultimately I think that is what I miss the most. The gathering together of loved ones.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Really Cool New Band

A co-worker of mine introduced me to this band called "Moon Hooch". Needless to say I have listened to nothing else today. Here is a really cool live performance.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

To Make German Potato Salad or Not To Make German Potato Salad

I took to my twitter account earlier today to ask the question of whether or not I should cook German potato salad tonight for dinner. I phrased the question in the theme of Hamlet’s ubiquitously famous To Be or Not to be soliloquy. (View Here) My cousin Matt responded to me with a second part of Halmet’s soliloquy, (View Here) so I thought it would be a little fun to rethink this soliloquy in the vain of whether or not I should cook German potato salad. Here is what I have come up with:

“To make German Potato Salad-
Or not to make German Potato Salad-
That is the question?
Whether ‘tis nobler in the stomach to eat German potato salad-
Than to suffer the mis-fortunate grease burns-
Caused by the bacon fried in a short amount of time.
Or the yearning caused by waiting till the weekend-
To allow the proper time of preparation to occur-
To wait, to be patient no more.

The stomach won out and I cooked it tonight.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Rubber Soul

Have you ever awoken in the mood to listen to a particular album? It happens to me frequently actually. Yesterday morning I woke up in the mood to listen to Rubber Soul by The Beatles. Rubber Soul is the sixth studio album released by The Beatles and was released in December of 1965.

I love Rubber Soul! It has been my favorite Beatles’ album for about ten years. It is actually quiet a landmark album in my opinion. It is on Rubber Soul where much of the musical experimentation that the Beatles would be known for later in their career is foreshadowed.

*Listen to Norwegian Wood and Nowhere Man

Yet Rubber Soul has an infectious pop sound to it that any general musical fan can greatly appreciate, and would not be scared away.

*Listen to Drive My Car and You Won’t See Me

Finally it has one of the greatest songs ever written in the history of music on it, In My Life. This song perfectly captures the universal human emotions of remembrance and love. If you are not a massive Beatles fan, and are looking to find a good “starter” Beatles album, I cannot recommend this album enough. Rubber Soul is the perfect combination of pop, rock, and experimental.

*Note: Yes I did write this blog while listening to Rubber Soul.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Religion Today

I am currently reading the book: Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life. The author of the book is the Reverend Father James Martin, SJ. Father Martin is a Jesuit Priest, editor at America Magazine, and Chaplin of The Colbert Report. In the book, Father Martin tries to discourage people from only viewing religion and spirituality as deadly serious and stoic institutions. He believes that we should view them as places that can provide us great joy and happiness. This book has been a wonderful breath of fresh air for me and has assisted in my own reflection of my spiritual life. I am beginning to view religion and spirituality with a much more joyous eye.

But as I am reading this book, a number of questions continue to pop into my head. The main question being: “Why does today’s society view religion and spirituality in a negative light?” 2011 was a turbulently year for me personally. A close friend of mine died early in the year, and there were some other things that happened that I will not get into here. But one of the main things that helped me get through the rough patches was my spiritual belief. When I tell this to other people, I sometimes get the look of “oh you’re one of those crazy religious people that hate everything that isn’t your religion.” I wish I would of responded back to these looks, but most of the time I did not.

I’m a religious person. So what. For me, it has been a great source of comfort, joy, and now laughter. Why view this as a negative. With the current state of the world, war, disease, hopelessness, major socioeconomic differences, etc. religion and spirituality can be a great social tool to help us improve the world. We religious people need to be brave enough to stand up for our beliefs and help put a stop to this stigma of, if you are religious you do not believe in science, or you think everyone is going to hell unless they are apart of your religion. At the heart of most major religions is love and peace. Now that is something that we should strive for.