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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Beyond The Black Letter

So last week, I was the only one home and was doing some work around the house. I turned the TV off, and put on the good olde SiriusXM. My go to channel on SiriusXM is PRX, Public Radio Remix, which is affiliated with the Public Radio Exchange. It's a great organization where audio producers can submit their creations, and radio stations nationwide can purchase their work and broadcast it.

On this particular evening, PRX aired a story entitled "Clear and Present Danger". This production was created by Beyond the Black Letter. Here is some background information on Beyond the Black Letter as it is found on their website:

"My name is Zach and I’m a law student at UCLA. Tired of memorizing boiled-down rules and case holdings (aka “the black letter law”), I’m trying something a little different. Let me know what you think."

I cannot say how much I love this concept. When we think of learning and the learning process, we usually think of writing papers, taking tests, creating dioramas, etc. While these are an important parts of assessing the learning process, they aren't the only way of assessing learning. With the advancements in digital technology, it is almost limitless how we can assess students learning processes. Student created documentaries are a new and exciting way of assessing students' knowledge, and listening to Zach's production showed me how much he understands the concepts of law. (This documentary/commentary makes the topic come alive for me.)

"Clear and Present Danger" explores the topic of free speech during times of national conflict. The show description follows:

"On this episode we explore the outer bounds of the right to free speech. How does the law tolerate speech that calls for lawlessness? It’s a journey that begins during the fervor of World War One and ends, for now, with a televised Ku Klux Klan rally in the 1960s. We meet a courageous federal judge, and a Supreme Court justice slow to understand the importance of free speech, and wonder why both would eventually defend the right of radicals and dissidents to venture out to its very edge."

With the current state of our democracy and our world, this is an especially relevant topic. Is there such a thing as crossing a line when expressing your opinion? Is there a time and a place for free speech? What exactly is free speech? These are just some of the topics this program explores. Please take thirty minutes out of your day and listen to this fascinating topic. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

So....I Watched Superman 3 The Other Day

This is a pretty cool looking movie poster
So, it's been pretty well established on this blog that I am a MASSIVE Superman fan. With the new Superman movie coming out in less than 4 weeks, I decided to watch a Superman movie a week until the release of the new movie. This week my movie was Superman 3.

Now I haven't seen this movie in probably 10 years, but when I was little, I really enjoyed it. So I thought re-watching this movie would be fun and a walk down memory lane. How wrong I was. My God is it a terrible movie. I mean it is really terrible. Like there is no redeemable qualities to the movie. Here they have this somewhat interesting premise, and they just blow it away. The lone redeeming part of the entire movie is Christopher Reeve as the evil Superman and the junkyard fight between evil Superman and good Clark Kent.

Now everyone says Superman 4 is terrible, which it is. But it's like Batman & Robin bad. You know it's bad, but it is an entertaining bad. You get a few laughs along the way. Superman 3 on the other hand is just bad. I do feel guilty bad mouthing a movie like this, especially since I have never made or written a movie, so I should really talk. I just did not enjoy it.

In conclusion, stay away from Superman 3. It is camp, boring, and dull.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Undertaker Out of Character

Since I was 7 years old, I have been a pro-wrestling fan. Growing up in the early 90s there were two camps of wresting fans. Hulk Hogan fans, or Ultimate Warrior fans. (You did have a few Macho Man fans, but he was a heel at that time, so it really doesn't count.) You were either one or the other. I must say, because I'm cool like that, that I was neither. I was an Undertaker fan. The first time I ever saw the Undertaker, he beat the crap out of the Ultimate Warrior and put him in a casket.

And IT WAS THE COOLEST THING EVER!!!! Over the years, I watched as the character evolved from gray gloves to purple gloves. Going it alone to forming the Ministry of Darkness. Until finally there was the biker Undertaker and the return of the deadman. During that time I never really thought of Mark Callaway being anything else other than The Undertaker. I came to see Callaway and The Undertaker as being one and the same.

Until my dad showed me these YouTube videos of The Undertaker raising money for a charity. In one of the videos, I think it's the first time I've ever heard The Undertaker call himself by his real name. I find it really neat to be able to see one of my childhood heroes be themselves. You don't get to see that very often, yet it is a nice reminder that they are human just like you. At the same time, he will always be The Undertaker.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Ringo Starr...The Under-Appreciated Beatle

My Ringo Starr albums on vinyl
I've recently found myself to be on a massive Ringo Starr kick. This all started when I visited Oak Park Records back in March. While I was there I was able to pick up, on vinyl no less, almost every single Ringo Starr solo album. Ringo the 4th, Sentimental Journey, Bad Boy, Beaucoups of Blues, Ringo's Rotogravure, and Stop and Smell the Roses all came home with me on that eventful day.

Finding Ringo's work on vinyl, other than Ringo or Good Night Vienna, is incredible difficult. So to say I was rather excited is a little bit of an understatement. As I began listening to these records, I began to realize something. The more I dive into Ringo's solo catalog, the more I enjoy it. After listening to the vinyl, I had to pull out my Ringo CDs and give those a listen to as well. Again the more I listened, the more I was blown away by the hidden gems in his catalog. RingoRama, Time Takes Time, and Ringo's Rotogravure are just a few examples of excellent pop rock albums.

A misnomer that has plagued Ringo's solo musical career is that it is simple and safe music. This could NOT be further from the truth. In fact Ringo's first two solo releases were huge artistic and commercial risks. Sentimental Journey released in 1970 features Ringo covering his favorite standard/pop songs from the 1940s. I seem to recall a major release by Sir Paul McCartney in 2012 called Kisses on the Bottom, which featured Sir Paul covering his favorite standard/pop songs from the 1940s. Hmmmm. (Additionally hasn't Rod Stewart made a career doing the exact same thing for the last ten years...oh I think so.)

That's not all. Later in 1970, Ringo released an album entitled Beaucoups of Blues. This album features Ringo performing country and western cover songs and a few originals, along side some rock n' roll tracks. Now it's not a complete copy, but in 1975 John Lennon did a cover's album called Rock N' Roll, which featured him covering his favorite rhythm and blues, rock n' roll songs. Follow that up in 1999 with Run Devil Run, Sir Paul McCartney covering his favorite old school rock n' roll songs too.

Now let's be honest, a lot of Ringo's music may not meet the mythical status of say: Imagine, My Sweet Lord, or Maybe I'm Amazed. But just because it may not meet this mythical status, does not mean we should write off or dismiss the quality of the music. Ringo's solo catalog is catchy, showcases some fantastic drumming, and features some AMAZING guest stars on the albums. Other than the three other Beatles, (if that wasn't enough) Ringo's music features the likes of Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Dr. John, Peter Frampton, and Harry Nilsson.

So if you are looking for some incredibly catchy, poppy, and enjoyable music, I cannot recommend Ringo Starr's discography enough. I've include some videos of some of my favorite Ringo solo albums below. Let me know what you think.

Oh My Love off of his 2005 album: "Choose Love"

Weight of the World off of his 1992 album: "Time Takes Time"

Cooking (In the Kitchen of Love) off of his 1976 album: "Ringo's Rotogravure"