Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Comcast: High Speed Internet, Low Speed Connection

So I may have mentioned that Miss Tori and I are blowing this popsicle stand for greener pastures. Everything has been great. So I call Comcast to arrange the big switchover.

You know, you call the phone company, they flick a switch or two, and you're on. Call the electric, they flick a switch or two, and you're good to go. Water? It's all good. Garbage? No problem.

Comcast? You're fucked. Sure, they'll come out and get my TV all hooked up. In. 24. Days.

I know, I know. You're thinking that Comcast is a major, nationwide company. You'd be right. You're thinking that Comcast has thousands of employees. You'd be right. You're thinking, Comcast must have said 2-4 days, not 24 days, and old LF heard them wrong. You'd be wrong.

In fact, I called again. Not only could I not believe what I'd heard, but I didn't have full faith in the dipshit who just told me this. The second guy I talked to was not a dipshit, and he told me the same thing. Twenty-four days. It will take Comcast twenty-four days to connect my cable. High speed my ass. High suck is more like it.

Naturally, you're wondering what could take a major, nationwide company like Comcast (ask about our high-speed internet!) twenty-four days. I'll tell you: they're busy. I know that if I was running a major, nationwide company like Comcast, and I brag about how fast (how fast? it's high-speed!) my company is, I would feel guilty as hell leaving people in the lurch for twenty-four days. Seems to me the first thiong I would do is get on the phone and get more guys hired so it takes less than five-sixths of a month to serve a customer.

Oh yeah, and that twenty-four days? It also applies to the internet. So you won't be bored here for quite a while now.

I called a third time, just to make sure I wouldn't be billed for all of these services. You see, they're transferring my services. I just wanted to be on the safe side. If they're so half-assed that they can't even figure out how to hook up a customer in less than twenty-four days, then who knows what sort of rip-off crap Comcast might try to pull? The lady this time said I wouldn't be charged. Miss Tori is good enough to remind me that I can't always blame the drones for following the instructions their retard bosses give them, so I didn't tear into her with a bunch of sarcastic mentioning of that half-assed stuff.

I also called the third time because I wanted one of those DVR boxes, which were not part of my last plan. Guess what? I don't have to wait twenty-four days for the DVR box. Guess why? They're sold out. Major, nationwide company Comcast is sold out. How does a major nationwide company like Comcast handle a situation like that? Do they, like I would if I were the boss, hold back, and not offer the DVR service until I was capable of meeting demand? Well, that might be the way that reasonable, responsible people who are even just a smidgen concerned about maintaining the good name, professionalism, and image of the company, people like you and me, would handle it. But we're not talking about people like you and me. We're talking about major, nationwide company Comcast. How do they handle it? They take your name and put you on a waiting list.

One thing I don't have to wait for? Learning how badly Comcast sucks ass. And not in the good way. If you're not one of the three lowest levels of Comcast employees, you're high enough in the system that I hope you rot in hell.

For the rest of you, thanks for visiting. I'll be back again in twenty-four days.

Monday, September 25, 2006


The Doctor Pressed This One Spot, This Gas Came Out, And The Pain Went Away. And It Cost $75 To Fart In The Emergency Room.

If you know who told that joke, without cheating, I salute you. If you can give me the next line then I double salute you!

In the meantime, I keep hearing about how gas prices are going to sink Republicans at the polls come election time. On the other hand, even AOL has the story of dropping gas prices, and if AOL has it, then everybody must know by now:
Is it hard to believe the low price when you fill up these days? In just two weeks, the average price of a gallon of gas has tumbled more than 20 cents to $2.38.

I mean, come on. Can commercials blaming Bush for high gas prices ever get traction in the face of stories like this?

Sunday, September 24, 2006


We Finally Got A Piece Of The Pie

The hermitage finally sold. Good old Floppington Manor is no more. While that's sad, it also means we're out of Miss Tori's apartment and off to our new home. Moving will be going on all this week and weekend. Most things are going ok.

Unfortunately, Queenie does not take well to moving. She does not take well to being picked up. We pretty much have no choice but to get one of those humane traps, lock her in a room with it, and wait til she takes the bait. Of course it would suck for Queenie to get stuck in the trap five minutes after we leave for work and be there for eight or nine hours yowling like crazy, so we'll probably disable it before we leave in the morning. On the way home tomorrow, we'll stop by the vet's and see if we can get something to drug her food. Pretty lame.

On a lighter note, can anyone explain why we drive on the right here in the US, or why they don't in England. It seems like there must be some reason why the UK developed the drive on the left system. They didn't just flip a coin, did they? However they decided, what made us think it was better to change it?

Thursday, September 21, 2006


In The Ghetto

That's a little lingo from the kids. We're supposed to be connecting to their world, you see. You can't make the parents care about their kids' education. Or perhaps I should say you can't make the parents behave in ways that show they care about their kids' educations. You can't make the kids care about their educations.

All that's left is tricking them by making every math problem deal with how many hubcaps you can steal. No, that can't be right. You do it by writing on the board and preparing all documents in a "tagging" font. No, they couldn't have meant that. Maybe you're supposed to rap all your lessons. Not that either?

Every kid who's ever been told by a doctor that it will only sting a little only fell for it once, and we're supposed to expect that kids are going to fall for us tricking them into learning? With all the complaining I do, even I don't think our kids are stupid. Most of them are pretty darn smart. And even the kids who aren't smart can still pass easily. One of the big slabs of bedrock foundation in my thoughts about education is that any willing student can pass any high school class easily. It's just unfortunate that "willing" is the reef that sinks the ship of education for many kids.

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." "A penny saved is a penny earned." "A sh-t sandwich still tastes like sh-t, no matter how fancy the restaurant." The reason sayings like these permeate a culture, in some cases for hundreds of years, is that they have been found true in the court of human experience. That's why you don't hear people running around saying, "Jabbing needles in your eyes feels good!" If it doesn't have some fairly large helping of truth in it, people ain't saying it. I'll give you one more, just to complete the point. "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." 'Nuff said.

I happened to pass through a town recently, near our lovely state capital. A town that I looked at as a sort of dream town. Not too big. Not too small. Had some cool stores and all. And five or ten years ago, I guess it really was that way. Now? Not so much.

Driving around through several neighborhoods, I couldn't help but notice that things were looking really shabby. Houses and yards were run down. Lawns untended. Through some trick involving multiple dimensions and the folding of space-time, every house seemed to have fifteen cars parked out front. I couldn't believe that at one point, I had actually thought about moving there. The place has become ghetto, as the kids would say. The only thing I would consider about this town is moving away from it.

Funny thing is, I actually heard a realtor going on and on about how good the schools are in this area. "Oh, you should definitely think about moving here, for the schools alone, if for no other reason."

So I wondered to myself, if this was a dream town ten years ago, and maybe even five years ago, and is a run-down shabbyville now, is there any chance that these dream schools may be clinging to dream scores from five or ten years ago? "Self," I wondered, "could it be that in another five or ten years, when all these shabby people have shabby kids that are moving through the dream school system, the dream school system might end up becoming a nightmare?"

I was reminded of this rumination after following the first link in this post here, and commented to that effect. That's Darren's blog, Right on the Left Coast: Views from a Conservative Teacher. He writes about education the other way: with all the brains and none of the whining.

Then I saw this post here by Joanne Jacobs. She links to a study that, well, I don't want to subconsciously slant the paraphrase, so I'll give you the quote she used from the Public Policy Institute of California:

With some exceptions—elevated math achievement for students in magnet high schools — those who won lotteries that allowed them to attend choice programs did about the same on standardized tests as non-winners one to three years later.

Of course, one study is only one study. In addition, this study seems (I didn't read the entire report) to have looked at how the kids did who had access to choice of schools, but not necessarily at how the schools did overall. Here's the headline of their press release:
School Choice Increases Integration – But Not Student Achievement.

Racial and socioeconomic integration were greatly improved, but student achievement, with the exception noted above, did not improve. Let me put on my Sherlock Holmes hat and see if I can puzzle this one out.

Some kids attend School Z, which has terrible scores. Let's say that at School Z, the 900 kids there average a 200 on their statewide testing scores. One hundred of them win the lottery and can choose another school. They choose School A, the best school in the district. School A has 900 students, and they average 800 on their statewide testing scores. Please understand that I'm just making up these numbers to make the point; they do not actually reflect scores at any specific school.

School A, with its one hundred new students, takes its next statewide test. As we saw from the study, the new kids did "about the same." So they're still averaging 200, while the original kids got their 800 average again. If I do all the adding and dividing, and use all my fingers and toes, I come up with a new school average of 740, and suddenly, the best school in the district has dropped sixty points. Again, I didn't read the study, so I don't know if they did or did not mention this, or if they even looked at this at all; however, it seems reasonable to conclude that if the scores of these kids aren't going up, then the overall scores of the schools they went to must be going down.

Remember this was a study of kids one to three years after they transferred to schools of their choice. Their scores aren't going up. Therefore, the scores of the schools must be going down. I now redirect your attention to this bit from up above there:

"Self," I wondered, "could it be that in another five or ten years, when all these shabby people have shabby kids that are moving through the dream school system, the dream school system might end up becoming a nightmare?"

They didn't even have the courtesy to wait five years, they had to do it in one to three. They're practically overachievers!

So. Kids with bad scores go to new, better school. A new, better school with good scores. The scores of the kids don't improve. But, b-but . . . I, I thought it was the bad school that was failing the kids. The children are pure and perfect. That's what you said. It could never be the fault of the children. Even Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings says it:

In No Child Left Behind now, already parents and families have the opportunity to transfer to better performing public schools or get some extra help through tutoring or summer schools, but there will come a time in year five or six when we have these chronically underperforming schools, of which today we have about 2000 in our country, and that number will go up some next year, where we have to be real with ourselves and say we're not going to trap kids in failing schools which have been so for six years and what ought to happen.

You see? It's all the fault of the schools! They are chronically underperforming! We have to be real! We can't trap kids in these failing schools! Send them to the better performing public schools! Like those schools in San Deigo where they . . . oh.

Well, Secretary of Education Spellings, in order to help you be real with yourself, I will redirect you to this bit of wisdom from up above:
"A sh-t sandwich still tastes like sh-t, no matter how fancy the restaurant."

Remember too that a student isn't given a grade. He earns it. Even if that grade is an "F."

Thank you very much, and goodnight. Elvis has left the building.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Tri-Tip Tips?

If someone who knows about foods has any suggestions about how to cook a tri-tip if you don't have access to a BBQ, feel free to leave a comment. I may have heard a rumor about a long, slow-cooking method. Anyone heard of that? I'm hungry, so hurry!

This Is What Makes It All Worthwhile

Little Sally has a problem getting to class on time. Herr Professor has talked with Sally's mom a couple of times about this problem. Sally gets sent to her counselor. Counselor asks Sally for a number so her teacher can talk to her mom about Sally's tardiness. Sally gets sent back to class with a paper containing a phone number and a message to call Sally's mom. This is not the number that Herr Professor has used to call Sally's mom previously. Another number is a good thing, another path to try if the other number isn't answered.

Lady: Hello?
Herr Professor: Hello. This is Herr Professor, a
teacher at Inner City High
School, and I'm calling about Sally.
HP: Yes. Could I speak to her mom?
Lady: Oh, she's not here. This is
her aunt.
HP: Hi there. I'm calling about Sally's tardy problem. I talked
Sally's mom before about how Sally has been tardy, and how she had
and how Sally had not attended detention. Sally's mom had told me
she would
attend detention, but once again, Sally did not show
Sally's Aunt: Oh ok then. I will make sure her mom hears about
HP: Very good. Thank you for your time.

Herr Professor recalls that mom had called the day before, and he hadn't had time to get back to her. Herr Professor gives mom a call on the other number.

Sally's Mom: Hello?
Herr Professor: Hello. This is Herr Professor from Inner City High School.
We've spoken before about Sally's tardiness, and that she had detention. I had
understood that she would be serving detention on Thursday, and then she didn't
SM: Well she said she didn't think she had detention since you hadn't
reminded her of it.
HP: But her name was clearly listed on the detention list, clearly visible
from her desk, and she knew she was on it. I also wanted to call because I sent
Sally to her counselor to discuss this issue. I just talked to Sally's Aunt, but
I never had a chance to get back to you yesterday, so I went ahead and gave you
a call as well.
SM: You talked to who?
HP: Sally's Aunt. You see, when Sally went to her counselor, the counselor
had Sally give her a number where I could reach you. Then the counselor sent
this note back, with a message to please call mom. I called the number, but got
Sally's Aunt instead.
SM: Sally's Aunt is at work. What number did you call?
HP: Let me find the note here. Oh here it is. The number was 123-4567.
SM: That's Sally's cell phone number.
HP: It is? Well, Sally's Aunt did sound kind of young. I guess Sally
thought she could put one over on us. So can I expect to see her at
detention next Thursday?
SM: Yes she will definitely be there.

It's so easy on the bad days to be utterly insulted by something like this, and to hate the little punk who would try it. The message from the kid is that you are so stupid, even something as lame as this will completely fool you.

Fortunately, on the philosophical days, it's easier to let it go. Then you think of kids as criminals. It's their job to pull stunts like this. And you're the cop; it's your job to catch them at it. The child is not insulting you. The child thinks the plan is brilliant. The child is simply unable to conceive her own stupidity. She has no concept that her teacher, and adults in general, see right through her clever plan. I'm a Holmes, but, unfortunately for her, little Sally is no Moriarty. So why do I take such pleasure in catching her? This is a story I'll be telling for years.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Lukas Wins

Lukas wins. If it wasn't Toby, I'm glad it was him. Maybe, at this point, listening to the fans is the smart way to go. Good luck guys!

Check with Alan, Bill, and Philip (linked in the next post down) to see their final thoughts on Rockstar, and for all the other cool stuff they write for you. Thanks especially to Philip for getting me on this Rockstar review thing in the first place. Thanks to Alan for all the great TV reviews. Thanks to Bill for all the whereins, and all the book excerpts. Bill, have there been any updates on the top secret new product thingy you wrote about a while back?

For Rockstar, I could take a few notes and go by memory to write these reports, and it's been a pretty fun experience. Thanks on the home front go to Miss Tori, who put up with all the time I put into this. Love you sweetie! I thought about doing Survivor, but a few scribbles of notes won't cut it for a show like that, and I don't have Tivo. If I do start following someone else's recap, I'll be sure to let you know.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Rockstar: This Is The End

Well, we're down to the big night, and we've got some exciting things happening. People will be singing in some sort of order, and then people call in to vote. This is the part where I set up the post ahead of time, because I have to get to bed early for once. According to Philip (see webisode info link below), each of the remaininf four will sing their same original again, plus any one of the cover songs that have been performed this season, or were cleared, but not performed. I especially liked Philip's critique of Dilana and her musical knowledge. Apparently Dilana didn't recognize the Pink Floyd song Comfortably Numb. Philip's reaction:
Does Dilana know any songs? Seriously! She doesn’t know Pink Floyd or The Who. What is up with her?

My reaction to that:
We have a name for people like that, and that name is Nell.

Oops. Sorry about that. Miss Tori says I'm too mean to these people, especially dear, departed Storm. Let me take a moment to say that these people are all way more talented than I am, and they should all be proud of all they have accomplished. I'm sure I'll never make national TV, unless I die in some freakishly weird accident. It would have to be pretty dang freaky, though. I mean, if people getting killed by chunks of ice falling from skyscrapers doesn't make the news, what chance have I got?

I don't know that I'll have much to say about the originals that I didn't already say last week, so let's hope we get some good performances on the covers. I'll fill in the rest, including a few more links, after the show.

Toby - Karma Police. I didn't really know this song, so it was new to me. I didn't especially love it or hate it. Some songs you hear for the first time and you love them. Some songs, you need to hear a lot on the radio, or you need to like the band enough to give it several listens and maybe you'll like it. This song would be the latter type.

Overall performance - I enjoyed the original more than the cover, but still felt fun and energy coming from Toby.

Lukas - Fix You. I didn't know this one either. Eh. Not as good as Toby's cover that I didn't recognize, but then again, I couldn't tell if either guy blew it.

Overall performance - With the reworking of Headspin, I felt more versatility from Lukas. I was dreading hearing the originals again (and a third time for Toby and Lukas!). I would have much preferred another original from each of the remaining four. However, like he showed with the Bon Jovi reworking last week, Lukas showed real talent as a musician. For musicianship, I believe he has it over Toby, while Toby is just more fun for me. Lukas is Philip Roth to Toby's Stephen King; while there's something to be said for both, I have a feeling most people would much rather attend a Steven King concert. Miss Tori? She says she has a new botfriend now.

Dilana - Roxanne. Finally, a song I recognize. Unfortunately, it's also a song I don't really like. She's certainly no Lukas when it comes to rearranging things, but I think I still liked it more than the original version by the Police.

Overall performance - I still like Supersoul, but as a performer, I still don't feel as much of a connection to her as I do with Lukas or Toby. Enjoyed it? Yes. As good a time as Toby? No. She's not the most musically talented (Lukas), nor the most entertaining (Toby). Call Dilana third for now.

Magni - Hush. I certainly recognize this song, but while it's very recognizable, it's not among the best music rock has to offer. It's a serviceable song, sung by a serviceable singer. In other words, it has Magni written all over it.

Overall performance - I don't say that as a knock on Magni. I like the hell out of the guy, he just doesn't deliver. There is some spark of charisma, or star quality, or chemistry that is missing from Magni. He's like the movie you wait for on cable, rather than renting it or seeing it in the theater. I'd never buy his album, but if someone gave it to me, I would probably listen to it. He doesn't bump any of the other three.

Well. The order of performance on the show is also the order I would rank them in: Toby, then Lukas, then Dilana, then Magni. The early voting calls it Dilana, then Toby, then Lukas, then Magni. Is Magni going home? If so, then you callers made the right call. Literally.

Here are some cool guys to read:
Alan at What's Alan Watching,
Bill at So Quoted, who may have given up on Rockstar, but has lots of other good stuff,
and Philip at Life in Memphis, who gets the cool webisode info and gives it to you so you're ready when the show actually begins. Check back with him tomorrow for his recap.

A Typical Situation

When kids registered for school this year, in that week before school started, they checked out English and Math books. Of course, with the sort of transitional populations you find at an inner city school, you can imagine that there are plenty of kids coming late (entering school during the first week or two). These kids did not get books.

If you didn't teach one of these two subjects, you arranged a trip to the library with your kids to check out social studies books, or art books, or whatever. If you did teach English or Math, you were directed to advise your "late add" kids to check out a book from the library before school, during lunch, or after school. By "directed," I mean ordered to do it this way, and not take your class over as a group to the library, or send individual "late add" students to the library during class time. Hold that thought.

There is a law in California that governs access to materials. Someone sued over not having a textbook. It was ordered that every student must have a textbook. If every student does not have a textbook, then no homework can be assigned from the textbook. If there is only a class set of books, kids can only be given work from the book during class time.

The state keeps track of this by sending review teams out to schools. These teams visit classrooms, and their expectation is that they will see a textbook on the desk of every student. If they do not see that, they will ask why not. It does not matter if you are even using the textbook; the kids must have textbooks on their desks.

Today, the relevant AP asked for headcounts of how many kids have books, and how many don't. I will grant that he was not angry; however, he was surprised that not all of our kids have books. We reminded him of our orders not to send any kid to the library during class time.

We have been given a new directive. Tomorrow, the day before the visit, we will be sending our kids to the library to check out books. All day long. From every English and Math class. It'll be a mess. This is the sort of thinking ahead that goes on, and it's the sort of thing that our administration would not like us to share with the review team.

That's a dilemma in and of itself. Last year, the review team didn't happen to come into any of my classes. I understand that they do ask students about their books. I do not know if they ask teachers anything. If they do, I do not know what I will say. I'm sure I could tell them plenty of truthful things that they would not like, and that the school would like me not to say. I could also, by being selective, remain "truthful" while hiding our flaws. I suppose I know what I should do, but it's always the tall grass that gets cut first, and I'm not interested in looking for a new job. But how will our district ever change or improve if we simply cover up our flaws and hold our breath until this or that review board or commission has moved on to someplace else? Sigh.

The kicker? We never got a list of kids who had checked out books during registration. The teachers don't really know who does or doesn't have them. For the headcount, I just had to take the kids' word for it.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


No Matter What You Do, Some Children WILL Fail

I remembered the other thing I wanted to complain about. Word has come down from the district that we will (aka must, aka are ordered to) produce 100% passage of the high school exit exam. Surely I can't be the only one to recognize the problem here. It can't just be me. Or can it? You be the judge.

I was not a math major. I am not an expert in the field of statistics. Still, I can't help but feel that a 100% passing rate on the exit exam is pretty much impossible. Every single student will pass? Again, I am not an expert on statistics, but I do have a number of years of experience teaching in an inner city high school. If I have learned nothing else, I have learned this: no matter what you do, some children will fail.

No matter how much money you spend, some children will fail. No matter how many hours you put in, some children will fail. No matter who your teachers are, some children will fail. No matter if your school is in a Richie Rich suburb, some children will fail. No matter if Chris Rock teaches social studies and every lesson is a highly entertaining laff riot, some children will fail. No matter if Jerry Rice and Michael Jordan team teach PE, some children will fail. No matter if God himself comes down from heaven above and teaches every single student one on one in every single subject, some children will fail.

I do not say that to be blasphemous (though it may be; I'm no expert on religion either). I'm not saying it with any sense of joy or happiness. I'm not saying it out of schadenfreude. I'm not saying it because that's the way I want it to be.

I say it with sadness. I say it with the same sort of sadness I felt when the possum came and ate the eggs out of that duck's nest up at the Hall of Elders. I say it with the sadness of things I wish wouldn't happen, but do happen, because, sometimes, they have to happen.

Bambi won't die of old age folks, sorry. One day he'll be a little too slow, and a pack of wolves will rip his throat out. Is that sad? Yes. Is there anything wrong with it? Not a single thing. Maybe this is the worst effect, perhaps an unexpected and unheralded effect, of the loss of family farms and agriculture as a major component of our society and culture. When I imagine what it must be like to grow up on a farm, the notion that some things must die, so that others may live, is a lesson I expect is taught often.

I sincerely hope you aren't now thinking that I want all kids who fail the exit exam to be put to death. This is not so. The point of the story is that growing up on a farm can teach you how to understand and deal with some harsh realities of life. If I live in a city my whole life, I am likely not to have any appreciation for where the finished products I consume come from. Nor am I likely to have any appreciation for those who create, deliver, and furnish those products to me. If I may be so bold, for purposes of this discussion, I would like to refer to these people as "citified."

A "citified" person has lived a clean life, in the sense that he doesn't have to get messy in order to live. All labor is done for him. All food is created for him and delivered to him (in the market or restaurant). He has not been exposed to the harsh realities of life. A person of this sort is like the person who wonders how so-and-so could possibly have won an election, since nobody he knows voted for him. The "citified" person lives in a sort of bubble, and does not appreciate what life outside of that bubble is like.

I believe that this is the sort of person who comes up with a mandate such as 100% passage on the exit exam. I believe this person is hopelessly naive about reality. If this person truly believes that it is possible to reach 100% passage on the exit exam, then this person is critically unqualified to hold the position he is in. If he doesn't truly believe it, but is demanding it of us to scare us into producing at least some improvement, then he is merely critically ass-ified, and still unqualified to hold the position he is in. Seriously.

Think about it. If you work construction, and your boss tells you to build a fireproof fence out of no other material but raw, untreated wood, would you have any respect for your boss? Would you think he is the right person for his job, or would you think him better suited for another job? These are just the kinds of ignorant people, who know nothing about the harsh realities of life in schools and classrooms, that are making major decisions about the future of education.

Or is it just me?

Australia? Philippines? What Are You Guys Anyway?

The other day, the kids were talking, as kids often do at a melting pot school, about the complex subject of "what are you?" You will commonly hear that and other questions and answers:
"What are you?"
"Are you mixed?"
"Are you Cambodian?"
"Are you Filipino?"
"I'm part Mexican and part black."
"I'm black and Filipino."
"I'm Filipino and Mexican."
I can give you no good reason why, but I would feel uncomfortable asking that of someone, like I was prying into their personal business. Not so with the kids. They'll talk and joke about race all day long. One kid will tell another, "No, I'm not Cambodian, I'm Laotian. You think all Asians look alike?" And both will get a laugh about it.

There's talk about how, given another twenty or thirty years, gay marriage will be a non-issue thanks to the gradual change of societal attitudes. When I see pleasant and positive interactions between kids of all races, it gives me a hopeful feeling that in another twenty or thirty years, racism will also be a thing of the past, and for the same reasons.

Back to the title. Some kids were debating whether or not, if you're from the Philippines, you are Asian, or if you're a Pacific Islander. Help me out here. And Australia? Are you mates Asian, or Pacific Islanders (you do live on a big island after all), or what? And is "Asian" a racial characteristic, a regional characteristic, or sometimes both, or always both?

Week Three: Same as the first, a little bit louder and a little bit worse!

Just kidding about that, but I thought it sounded cute. Emailed three AP's once each regarding three separate students. No reply from any of them. Not a positive development.

Actual Update: I got an actual reply from one of them, and you know what they say: one out of three ain't bad!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Rockstar Elimination: From Five Down To Four

So I had a whole long post devoted to this that got dumped by my retarded browser. This is why I'm going to hell, because if I had my kill button, and there was some person responsible, he would be dead now. I am so ticked.

Magni sang with the band. It was an ok song. Didn't mind it.

Toby got the encore, and some Honda car as well. Didn't mind that either, since I picked his as my favorite original song from last night.

The we had the bopttom three facing elimination:

Storm - Wish You Were Here. Where was this performance all these weeks? I liked it a lot. She didn't look like she was humping anything. And was Jason crying over there? I wasn't sure, but Miss Tori thinks so. We wondered if they had decided to dump her already, he was the one that convinced them to dump her, and he was feeling some remorse when she gave that great performance. Either that, or he really likes Pink Floyd.

Dilana - I Want You To Want Me. Ok, remember when that cheesy FM deejay would come on and say something like "Now at station WXYXZ we're going to ROCK (insert your town here) with Air Supply!" Remember how it was always some half pop lame band that they were always telling you was going to rock you? That was sort of how I felt when Dilana said she wanted to do a punk song, and that song was "I Want You To Want Me."

Really? I'm no master of musical genres, but really? "I Want You To Want Me" is punk rock? I could be wrong, and I'm sure someone will call me on it if I am, but she lost all credibility with me when she said that. What's next? Is she going to sing that beautiful ballad by KISS? You know the one. I think it's called "Heaven's On Fire."

Seriously, when I heard punk rock, I was looking for a song like The Handshake, or I Wanna Be Sedated, or, for pity's sake, could we get an Anarchy In The UK maybe?

And if you can find a video of the Rezillos doing Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight, you're a better man than I am Charlie Brown. In fact, that's what I was looking for when I got disconnected. Turns out I got my head kicked in tonight. On my second wind I did find lyrics here, and a short audio clip here. Turns out, it seems originally to have been a Fleetwood Mac song. Who knew?

Back to Dilana, maybe she peaked too early. Every time I see her I think how much better she used to be. She took a fall and never recovered.

Lukas - Headspin. At first, I couldn't believe he would sing the same song from the night before, when he has so much to choose from, but maybe he made the right call. The song grew on me, I liked it more than last night, and I'd probably like it even more if I heard it again. And Miss Tori? Forget about it. She's zonked on the guy. He's her favorite, and as I've said before, when she speaks, I listen.

I judge the bottom three as Storm, then Lukas, then Dilana. Based only on tonight's show, I would send Dilana home. Based on the whole series, the band made the right call, and Storm did need to be sent home.

Now read some people with actual ideas to share, like
Alan at What's Alan Watching, and
Bill at So Quoted, who updates last night's review, and
Philip at Life in Memphis, who recaps the performance show, with the elimination recap still to come.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Rockstar: Supernova. It's Almost Over

Well I enjoyed this night quite a bit I think. Plus, I put more effort than ever into scoring each person, so you can enjoy geeky averages and such. I gave a rating for covers, and a second rating for originals. Tonight's experience generally mirrored the other occasions in which the performers had chances to do original songs: most of the time, I enjoy the performance of an original song more than the same person's performance of a cover. Let's try the reviews first, then the scores at the end.

Dilana Cover - Behind Blue Eyes. I think I mentioned before how Respect by Aretha Franklin is one of those originals that, well, no one should bother covering. For me, Behind Blue Eyes is one of those songs. It is what we might call an "Untouchable Original." She couldn't help but disappoint me. It wasn't awful, but neither did it match the high standard set by the Who. I feel like her peak performances are behind her, and she's just trying to hang on now.

Dilana Original - Supersoul. I didn't like the intro. It felt like "Tonight, on a very special Rockstar . . ." Am I the only one who gets sick of hearing over and over about someone's personal tragedy? You don't get along with your mom and you put down your peers in the press, your life is so sad. Enough already; we get it! Just sing the damn song. Which she did, and did well. I liked it quite a bit, and I tagged it as my early favorite of the originals tonight. Behind Blue Eyes was so-so, but Supersoul was fun and I got into it. But maybe I was just in a good mood cause Miss Tori was all telling me how sexy I am.

Magni Cover - Back In The USSR. He was Magni. He was good. However, unlike Behind Blue Eyes, I think most people with even a little talent could do well with this song.

Magni Original - When The Time Comes. I liked this one, but it felt a little too hard for me, like I would have to be in the right mood to enjoy it and fully get into it. Dilana's song went down much easier and I think I could enjoy it in almost any mood or frame of mind. Is there anything wrong with a hard song that you have to be in just the right mood for? No. Is a song like that accessible to a lot of the audience a lot of the time? Unfortunately, also no. Still, I liked his performance of the original better than his performance of the cover.

Magni beats Dilana on the cover, she beats him on the original. Magni was called on his "always sounds the same" problem. It's a valid criticism. If I went to a Magni concert, I would likely leave thinking I had heard the same song over and over for two hours.

Storm Cover - Suffragette City. When I heard she was singing this, I told Miss Tori that I thought Storm might make a comeback with this song. I'm not saying I have a perfect ear for singing, but was I the only one who couldn't make out much more than "suffragette city" during this performance? I felt like she was overpowered by the band.

Storm Original - Ladylike. Catchy. I kinda liked it. I might very well like it more and more the more I hear it. Three things: the guitar solo was my favorite part of this song, Storm looked like she was wearing clown shoes, and Miss Tori swears she heard a song that sounds a lot like this song before. Any ideas? Liked it better than Suffragette City.

Storm's original beats Magni's; she did the worst cover so far.

Lukas Cover - Living On A Prayer. I like Bon Jovi. Many will say he's a cheesy hair metal guy, but he had a lot of good songs, even if you won't admit it now. Living On A Prayer is not one of my favorites, and in this situation my gut reaction was "Uh-oh." I thought this could go very badly for Lukas. Luckily, since I was old enough to know the original by heart, the first few mumbled lines didn't bother me, and for me, Lukas really pulled it off with this arrangement. The only cover of the night that I felt could comfortably stand next to the original version.

Lukas Original - Headspin. Obviously, I didn't know the words to this one, which left me scratching my head as to what he was singing, except I think I could make out the word "headspin" a few times. The guy's like freaking Dylan: if you don't know the words from somewhere, you sure aren't going to be able to make them out by listening to the song. Could have been good. Maybe if I had lyrics in front of me, I would have enjoyed it more. The only original performance I didn't like as much as the cover performance. On the other hand, Miss Tori says she would buy an album from him before any of the others. Seeing as she correctly diagnosed my sexiness earlier, she may have a point here.

Lukas has the best cover so far; he barely edged Magni on the original.

Before I get into Toby, I think last week I picked him to win it all, so my opinion may not be entirely objective.

Toby Cover - Mr. Brightside. Mr. Brightside is currently at the top of my most overplayed song list. It has become one of those songs I hear so much that I feel sick every time I hear it come on. And I have the stupid CD! Luckily, my prejudice in his favor canceled out my sickness at his song choice.

Toby Original - Throw It Away. The shows been over forty minutes as I type this sentence, and the only thing I remember from any of the originals is "Oh-oh-oh, oh-OH-oh." Dave nailed it when he said by the second verse, everyone wanted to sing along. That sort of connection between song and audience cannot be denied, and none of the other originals had that. Toby may not be the best singer on the show by any definition, but he is a competent singer who brings fun and excitement and energy to the stage. He does this better than anyone who's left, and to be honest, as far as Supernova is concerned, he's the only one I'd want to see fronting them in concert.

Toby's original was middle of the pack for me; his original knocked it out of the park.

On to the ratings:
Lukas 1
Magni 2
Toby 3
Dilana 4
Storm 5

Toby 1
Dilana 2
Storm 3
Lukas 4
Magni 5

If I average those numbers:
Toby 2.0
Lukas 2.5
Dilana 3.0
Magni 3.5
Storm 4.0

Not exactly scientific, I know, but it correctly predicted the top two in early voting, as well as the bottom three, though not in the right order.

Read actual skilled reviewers like these to hear genuine criticism:
Alan at What's Alan Watching?
Philip at Life in Memphis has an early spoiler/webisode review up. Those spoiler reviews are great for getting info on what happens between the shows. Could very well become a new trend in television, at least for reality shows. Check back for the episode review later.
Bill's extremely brief and to the point review can be found at So Quoted.

See you after the recap!

PS- Is it sick of me to feel more inclined to get tickets for the concert now that I know the house band and the assorted losers will open for Supernova and play the one or two songs each of them did best?

Monday, September 04, 2006


Stupid Songs, Def Leppard, A Challenge (Danger! Includes Some Frank Pseudo-Biological-Sexual-Technical Language)

No, I'm not going to get into what song I think is the stupidest rock song ever, at least not yet. You can get some of that in this Ron Coleman post at Dean's World, and also at Dean's World, a post by the man himself. Over at Faster Than The World, Michele and Turtle get in on it.

Ron Coleman's choice is "The Boys Are Back In Town," Dean has chosen "Smoke On The Water," an Turtle picked "Godzilla." All are admirable choices. However, Michele's choice of "Pour Some Sugar On Me," by Def Leppard, may have been a little unfair:
Yea dude. That’s what I’m talking about. Television lover? Razzle n Dazzle? Sugar me sweet? What the hell is going on here? Are you making dessert?
. . .

And I thought to myself, what the fuck am I singing? Sacharine? I’m sorry, but no self respecting rock song should have the word “saccharine” in it.

Do you take sugar? One lump or two?

Dude. That has to be the worst line in the history of all of rock and roll. Ever. Any time. I win.

Maybe a little harsh there. Perhaps a gander at the lyrics would be in order. I'll see if I can make some clarifying comments as I go:

Step inside (walk this way)
You and me babe (hey, hey!)
Hey! hey! hey!
[Calls out a girl, wants to do her, adds some rock'n'roll grunts. Ok so far]

Love is like a bomb, baby, cmon get it on
Livin like a lover with a red hot thong
Lookin like a tramp, like a video vamp
Demolition woman, can I be your man?
(be your man)
[So the girl is hot, wears a red thong, and reminds him of the hot chicks he sees in videos on TV. Also, when you make love, there's an explosion. Please keep in mind that the word "explosion" is a metaphor for the feelings of climax. He isn't literally being blown to bits. What do demolition people do? Set off explosions. She's a demolition woman cause she can make guys explode. He wants to be with her because she is a very sexually satisfying lover. Is that so hard to understand?]

Hey! hey!
Razzle n a dazzle n a flash a little light
Television lover, baby, go all night
Sometime, anytime, sugar me sweet
Little miss ah innocent sugar me, yeah
[Razzle etc, all referencing the "explosion." Television lover refers us back to earlier comments about how she is hot like the women in videos. He'd like to have sex with her all night sometime. He wants it so bad, he'll do it anytime. Give me some sugar sometimes refers to giving someone a kiss, but in this case may also refer to natural feminine lubrications and climaxial secretions. He'd like her feminine explosions to coat him with her stickiness. No, they aren't making dessert.]


Take a bottle
Shake it up
Break the bubble
Break it up
[Ok, have you ever seen someone, perhaps at some championship sporting event, shaking a bottle of champagne, and squirting the white foaminess everywhere? And when a bubble breaks, another word for that might be pop. You might even say the bubble explodes, and now we're back to climax, which fits right in with the bottle shaking imagery.]

(pour some sugar on me)
Ooh, in the name of love
(pour some sugar on me)
Cmon fire me up
(pour your sugar on me)
Oh, I cant get enough

Im hot, sticky sweet from my head to my feet yeah
Hey! hey! hey!
[Again, the coating with the wetness, the stickiness, he's all excited and fired up by her. More rock grunting.]

Red light, yellow light, green-a-light go!
Crazy little woman in a one man show
Mirror queen, mannequin, rhythm of love
Sweet dream, saccharine, loosen up
(loosen up) I loosen up
[Wait, wait, hold it back, anticipation, then GO! When she makes love, it's like a performance, it is hot and sexual like she's the queen of the strippers (you know the stage backdrop is all mirrors, right?). She's a mannequin, a simulacrum, an android, a robotic lovemaking machine with a powerful sexual rhythm, but mannequin seems to fit the line best. She's like a dream girl, a naughty, naughty wet dream girl, and again "saccharine" fits the line better than "sugar." Hey they used a "sugar" substitute. These guys are lyrical geniuses! He tells himself to loosen up and get over some of his inhibitions and hangups to fully enjoy this experience, and he does loosen up.]

You gotta squeeze a little, squeeze a little, tease a little more
Easy operator come a knockin on my door
Sometime, anytime, sugar me sweet
Little miss ah innocent sugar me, yeah
Give a little more
[Recall the champagne bottle if you can't think of what he'd like her to squeeze. She's an "operator" in the sense of someone who knows how to work or do something, she's easy and he wants her to come knock on his door sometime, anytime. She may try to play the good girl, but he knows just how bad she is. The good kind of bad. You know.]

Im hot, sticky sweet from my head to my feet yeah
(you got the peaches, I got the cream)
[Hello? Steve Miller? "I really love your peaches want to shake your tree?" Peaches refer to breasts, and I don't really have to tell you what his cream is, do I?]

Sweet to taste (saccharine)
cos Im hot (hot!)
So hot
Sticky sweet from my head
(head!) my head
(head to my feet)
To my feet
[This was all pretty much covered already, wasn't it?]

Do you take sugar?
One lump or two?
[We saw above what her sugar is. He wants to know if she will take his "sugar" and will it only be once or more than once.]

Take a bottle (take a bottle)
Shake it up (shake it up)
Break the bubble
Break it up (break it up)
[See above.]

(pour some sugar on me)
Oh, in the name of love
(pour some sugar on me)
Get all, come get it
(pour your sugar on me)
(pour some sugar on me)
Sugar me!
[See above.]

And there you have it. A song about a guy who wants to be with a hot girl who really knows how to please a man sexually. If you complain about this song being meaningless, isn't that kind of like when you don't really "get" art, and you complain that Picasso just made some squiggles that don't even really look like stuff? Thus concludes the defense case for the non-stupidity of Pour Some Sugar On Me, by Def Leppard.

And if you don't buy that, I suppose next you'll try to tell me that She Bop by Cyndi Lauper isn't about masturbation.


So I came into possession of Civilization IV (just hook it to my vein!) recently, thanks to Miss Tori and a conveniently placed birthday. Even more conveniently, I just came into possession of a computer that could actually play it, so I'll see you guys after Rockstar.

That is all.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Week Two: Holding Steady

Not much changed this week. I emailed the principal to let him know a few things that needed attention. He thanked me the next day in the office. He said he didn't email me back since he knew my classroom is not on the internet like all but six other classes at school. That's ok though, since my class isn't hooked up to the intercom either. Well, they can still make their announcements at me through the box on the wall, I just can't call anyone if some kid starts having a seizure.

They're still going to require ID's on lanyards for the kids. How will they require it? I guess they realized asking teachers to offer extra credit wasn't going to cut it, so they've started working on a plan. It's progress.

They also have a tardy plan that they claimed they would implement by Friday. None of the teachers know what it is. I'm stuck giving out detentions on Thursday afternoons.

Tuesday is the Teacher Input Committee. Looks like we'll actually be having it this year. We get in a circle and complain to the principal about all the things he's doing wrong, and tell him how perfect things would be if he would just listen to us.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?