Sunday, June 16, 2013

Day 101 - 101 Days of Awesome

Vacation. Summer vacation, winter break, spring break, or just a day off here and there. Vacation is awesome.

Don't get me wrong. I like my job well enough. But I also love sleeping in. I love watching TV. I love reading. I love watching movies. I love going outside. I love doing the stuff I've talked about for the last 100 days.

Tomorrow I leave for six and a half weeks to head to Greece, Turkey, Italy, and France. It's going to be awesome. See you on the other side.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Day 100 - 101 Days of Awesome

Superman. I really love the character. I love the fact that his character is flawed due to his perceived perfection. Several writers have gotten this right. The movies have had to rely on Kryptonite to be his flaw, but comic book writers are often much better than others.

I think he has the best costume design. Sure, he doesn't need the cape or the underwear on the outside of his pants, but it works on him. I think the S shield is a great work of art. That's probably mostly because my name begins with an S and I prefer to think that it's for me, though. If I were to ever get a tattoo, it would be of the S. It wouldn't stand for Superman, though.

I saved this entry for today because I knew I would go see The Man of Steel. Unfortunately, it was not awesome. Still, just because Zack Snyder's Superman was not awesome does not mean that everything else wasn't.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Day 99 - 101 Days of Awesome

They Might Be Giants.The Might Be Giants. They might be rain. They might be heat. They might be frying up a stalk of wheat.

Not only are they my favorite band, but I'm going to see them tonight. That is probably the best way to end the school year. I've seen them several times before, and I've loved it each time. They have a live album. Give it a listen.

I know I've written this before, but just about every album does the same thing. I listed to it the first time and think "meh." Then I listen again and find a song I enjoy. Then I find another on the next listen. And another. And another until I think it's their best album ever.

Much like with The Beatles, I could not name my favorite song because it's probably the last one I heard. So I'll leave this entry with my most recent favorite song from their recent album, Join Us.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Day 98 - 101 Days of Awesome

I've mentioned a couple comedians in this list. But George Carlin has to be the best. Not only is he hilarious, but he's politically correct in his political incorrectness. He's right about everything. With Lenny Bruce too much before my time, George Carlin has to be the man.

I've embedded a few Youtube videos for your benefit. But here I'm going to do something better. First, here's a link to a list of some of his best quotes. Read. Enjoy.  Next, here's a link to all of his videos. Watch everything. Laugh. Learn.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Day 97 - 101 Days of Awesome

Every year, I show Glory. This was the first year that I haven't shown it. I have a feeling that it will be back next year, as it's not only the best Civil War movie, it's one of my favorite movies.

Some day I want to write something lengthy about Glory, but today is not that day. I want to write about the things I've noticed in the well over 50 times I've shown it and/or watched it in class. For example, and this is an easy one, why does Col. Shaw yell at Major Forbes to train them properly with the rifles? Because of the guy's head blowing up at the beginning of the movie. If that part is cuy out, as it is in the edited version, it makes no sense.

Here's another. In one of the absolute best scenes,  Morgan Freeman yells at Denzel Washington to "You watch who you call a nigger! If there's any niggers around here, it's YOU. Just a smart-mouthed, stupid-ass, swamp-runnin' nigger." After that, the word isn't used by anyone in the movie at all.

And I can't go this far without mentioning the soundtrack. Here's the full soundtrack. Just listen. And if you've seen the movie, try to listen without shedding a tear. It won't work.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Day 96 - 101 Days of Awesome

I need to take a moment to discuss one of the most awesome things on the internet that most of us, myself included, take for granted. Wikipedia. I use it regularly. Probably daily. Where did I find the image to use in this entry? Wikipedia.

At first, it was a gamble to use it with any seriousness. But depending what you're checking out, you will now find good and accurate information just about all of the time.

As a teacher, I was all over the "never use Wikipedia academically" kick until just a few years ago. Now I tell kids to go there to do research. Should they site it? No. Still no. But read the page. Learn the basics. That's what we used to do with a regular encyclopedia, and we probably shouldn't have sited that, either. When you're done reading and understand the topic (and if you aren't writing a paper, that's probably enough), go to the bottom of the page. See the sources cited for the Wikipedia page? Go follow those.

So... one of these, days, I should probably actually donate a few bucks to them just like they ask for every once in a while...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Day 95 - 101 Days of Awesome

I've mentioned a few comic books in the previous days, but nearing the end, I have to discuss the best comic. Ever.

Calvin and Hobbes is what all comic strips should be. It's one guy drawing new stuff every day. It's funny. It's heartwarming. It makes you think.

It's a tragedy that the anti-Calvin and Hobbes, the Family Circus, is still in newspapers while Watterson's isn't. But I'll happily spend money for reprints and collections of Calvin and Hobbes. It was sad when Bill Watterson stopped the strip. But his reasons are totally justified. I wonder how many kids today know Calvin from anything more than a bumper sticker of him peeing that a total douche would put on his car?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Day 94 - 101 Days of Awesome

If you've been doing your 101 Days of Awesome homework, you should have checked out Preacher back on day 14. It's time for your second comic book assignment. You need to find Strangers in Paradise.

If HBO or another network really wants an adaptable comic book for its next great series, Strangers in Paradise might just work. Francine and Katchoo are great characters. Get the right actresses and you have a gold mine of material.And seriously. Go straight to the source.  Tell Terry Moore's story. Don't make up your own adventures. He did it right the first time. I remember some stuff being confusing when he switched publishers and went to color and back, but that can be fixed.

It's going to be awhile. So for now, get thee to a comic store and pick up I Dream of You, the first collection.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Day 93 - 101 Days of Awesome

My thanks to Lance E. Kisses for first showing me Office Space. It zoomed in and out of the theaters, so I had no idea it existed. I have a feeling that I would have been exposed to it since then, but I'm glad to have seen it as relatively early as I did.

This movie has spread pretty well since it came out on video. Lots of students know it. The image to the left was my desktop wallpaper for awhile, and several kids knew what it was. At least once a year, someone suggests that I should replace my classroom stapler with a red Swingline. They know what's up.

This is the movie that first introduced me to Dr. Cox from Scrubs. It has Stephen Root, who is usually quite funny (probably the best part of the later seasons of Newsradio). It gives the best, four-word answer to what one should do with a million dollars. I've never worked in an office, and I really dig this awesome movie. I wonder if it's better or more sad for those who do?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Day 92 - 101 Days of Awesome

Really short entry today. Is there anything more awesome than air conditioning? All those conservatives who want to world to go back to a previous time need to remember than AC is recent in our history. Just go to the humid south in the summer. Try to escape the heat by standing in the shade. It doesn't work. AC is awesome.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Day 91 - 101 Days of Awesome

As I've traveled around the United States and Europe, I've visited some of the best museums in the world. While Marc Chagall is my favorite artist, it's tough to make a list of awesome without a mention of Vincent Van Gogh. I've seen quite a bit of his art, and it never fails to awe.

The best thing about going to an art museum is getting up close and actually seeing the brush strokes. You see the artist's smudges and fingerprints. When looking at something by Leonardo da Vinci, that's even more awesome that you have that connection 500 years later.

With Van Gogh, you learn SO MUCH from getting up close and looking at the brush strokes. You see colors you never knew could have been there. But from far away, they work so perfectly. The strokes are often quite large and deliberate.

Something not so awesome? I've been to New York a bunch of times, but I've never been to The Museum of Modern Art to see The Starry Night. Someday I'll see it and I'll be more awesome for having done so.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Day 90 - 101 Days of Awesome

With Kurt Vonnegut, every book you read will be excellent. There was just one that I felt like I had to work my way through, and that was his first, Player Piano. I admit that there are a few I haven't read yet, and I haven't read them because they aren't as highly recommended. But still, even when the plot was tough, his writing style is awesome.

I have two favorites. The first is Cat's Cradle. It's a story about the atomic bomb. It's a story of Ice-nine. It's a story of the end of the world. It's the story of a religion called Bokononism, which makes a hell of a lot more sense than Christianity.

My other favorite is The Sirens of Titan. There are ghosts. There are space explorers. There is time travel. There were points in which I wasn't sure what was going on at all. But in the end, it didn't really matter. Here's why.

Kurt Vonnegut is a science fiction writer. And yet, nothing he writes ever feels like a science fiction story. While most sci fi writers write about sci fi stuff and tie them into larger human themes, Vonnegut is all about the themes with a bit of sci fi to get the plot moving along.

Every time I sit down to write, I want to have as unique of a voice as Vonnegut's. And perhaps that's my problem and why I don't get far.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Day 89 - 101 Days of Awesome

Elvis Presley. The King. He's awesome.

It's not just his music. It's the man, and in all shapes and sizes. He became Rock n Roll. He was the gateway to counter culture. He was bigger than Jesus before the Beatles. He was skinny then he was fat. He died on the toilet. His daughter married Michael Jackson and Nicholas Cage.

My favorite tune is As Long As I Have You. Take a listen. It's short and less than two minutes. But I've never seen Kind Creole, the movie it's from. In fact, I don't know if I've ever seen any of his movies in their entirety (or even more than clips). All I know is that in one movie he wants lemonade, that cool refreshing drink, and in another he has to win this race.

While I lack in the movie watching department, I have paid my respects. In my 1999 road trip, I visited Graceland. And on my 2011 road trip I visited his home in Tupelo. Warning. Visiting his home takes less than an hour and there's nothing else to do in Tupelo.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Day 88 - 101 Days of Awesome

I've already used one day for a track from The Empire Strikes Back. And yet, here I am with another. It's Yoda's theme. Just listen to it and you can imagine Yoda lifting the X-Wing out of the bog.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Day 87 - 101 Days of Awesome

Karaoke. For many of you. that word doesn't go with the word awesome. But that's because you haven't gone to karaoke when I have.

The problem many people have with karaoke is that people try to sing well. Unless you actually sing well, that's not going to work out for you. No, everyone else should be finding the most ridiculous, worst songs possible.

I haven't really been to a good karaoke night in quite awhile. I think Rock Band has become a substitute for it, but not an acceptable one to me. I enjoy playing Rock Band, but it's different.

So what are my tunes that I sing? I tend to enjoy belting out You Sexy Thing by Hot Chocolate. Rod Stewart's DaYa  Think I'm Sexy is always a hit. I like Touch Me by The Doors. And of course, my favorite is probably The Wings tune Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey with backing vocals from Lance E. Kisses.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Day 86 - 101 Days of Awesome

I have no idea how I stumbled upon this a few years ago, but it became a favorite clip of mine. There are several other versions of the song on youtube - a quick search will find them. But this is the first version I heard.