‘Star Wars: Coruscant Nights I – Jedi Twilight’ – Overview

1 Sep

Well, I said I would follow up tonight and I decided that it’s a good time to continue with my explanation of what happened over the summer with me and my family.  Ruth got back from Europe and things resumed at my house with an abundance of work going on.  Heather has been working an average of about 52 hours per week for Broome County Transit over the summer.  The good news that we have for her is that she is now officially a full-time employee and gets to bid on routes now and gets a route each season.  That helps the family out a lot.  It doesn’t mean she gets fewer hours, but she gets steady hours which we can now plan around.  Not too long after Ruth got back home from Europe, we left for our big family vacation for the summer.  We left to go to a family reunion for my wife’s side of the family in North Conway, New Hampshire.  We had a plan on going there to relax with the family for a few days and then heading to Boston for two days so I could give the kids the whirlwind history tour before having to go home so that Heather could continue to work and so the kids could start putting in more hours at their jobs.  So, we left two days after Ruth got home and headed on our way.  It was interesting country to drive through and I have to say we visited three states I’ve never actually been to – Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.  We travelled most of the day and had some grand Crissman adventures like trying to find gas in the middle of nowhere in Vermont.  We decided to get some Maple Syrup while we stopped and even had the kids try some maple candy while we were there.  We then made our way to a very nice house in North Conway.  We had some great adventures while were there as well.  The kids got to hang out with some cousins, Heather and I got to tour Portland, Maine and even went on a boat tour out in the harbor and Heather got to have an authentic lobster roll right there on the pier.  We had some family photos taken and had a great time visiting with everyone.

We left North Conway by visiting some of the shops in a local outlet mall and then found an army/navy shop that Austin and I found some things at.  We then made our way toward Boston.  That same day, we visited the Bunker Hill monument and went up the 257 stairs in the monument.  Don’t tell my wife, but they suggested that if you have a heart condition or are taking blood pressure meds, they suggest you not go up in the monument.  I did anyway.  We visited the Bunker Hill Museum and then headed over to the USS Constitution and the Museum that was there.  I could NOT get over the security we had to go through in order to get onto the Constitution!  It was just as bad as airport security.  We had another issue there, but I will bring that up in a minute.  We then finished up our day by trying to go to Paul Revere’s house, but it was closed just as we got there.  We then went back to the Old North Church and then decided to call it a night.  We first went to our hotel, where there was a mess-up and they gave away our reservation.  So, we found another local motel and paid for the night and then went out for dinner and that’s when the next issue came up.  We tried to pay for our food at McDonald’s and our cards were turned off.  We would later find out that when we went through the scanners at the USS Constitution, it sent our money into “limbo” and instead of calling to inform us, our bank simply shut our cards off without warning.  We tried to find out what was going on, but it was a late night on a Friday Night.  I was concerned because the kids were hungry.  Many people suggested many things, but we sought out help from my parents who went WAY out of their way to help us (thank you Mom and Dad!).  We continued with our vacation the next day.  We headed into Boston and visited the Governor’s House and the site of the Boston Massacre.  We then went into Quincy Market and shopped around at all sorts of shops.  The kids got to eat some of the best Clam Chowder that has ever existed!  After Quincy Market we went out to Lexington and Concord and visited the museum and watched a wonderful presentation on the battle and then went out to the North Bridge before getting on the road and getting home late.

The next weeks brought on work, work, and more work for the rest of my family.  Heather put in tons of hours taking overtime anywhere and everywhere she could.  Ruth and Austin took all the work they could get at Wendy’s on Front Street and even took every call that they got for hours.  I had the privelege of watching “Guardians of the Galaxy” on IMAX 3D in it’s opening weekend thanks to a scheme between my wife and the GalaxyCast Team.  Thanks guys!  Later in the summer, I took Austin and Tara to see it at the local Regal Cinemas and they thought the movie was awesome too!  On top of working, the kids and I got to watch some epic movies and TV over the summer.  We watched the 1990′s version of “The Flash” which I didn’t realize was as bad as it really was (no offense Mark Hamill, probably the best actor in the whole series).  We also watched most of the G.I. Joe series (Austin and I will continue it later), I watched all three of the first seasons of “American Horror Story”, and we watched several movies as well.  But our summer is ending off (even as I’m writing this) by watching the Simpsons Marathon on FXX.  WE have DVR’d every episode and I don’t think we will finish watching them anytime soon, but it gives us something to watch when there is nothing on TV over the next two weeks or so.  Of course, I’m not sure we’ll even finish it before the end of 2014.  Only time will tell!

Tomorrow, my job starts back up again as a teacher.  I am looking forward to getting back to work again.  I didn’t feel this way at the end of last summer, but I can honestly say that this summer I actually am looking forward to teaching over the next year.  I have my batteries recharged and I’m ready to go.

So, let’s review one of the books I read this summer – “Star Wars:  Coruscant Nights I – Jedi Twilight” by Michael Reaves.  As always, I will talk about the negatives, followed by the positives and then rate the book.  10 being a must read, and 1 being a “don’t bother”….

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GalaxyCasts #116 – 124

31 Aug

I know some people are confused by the fact that I have gone incognito for the last several months and I know some were even worried about me and the simple fact that I have not blogged in almost three months.  To all those that were worried all I can say is thank you for the kind words and the support you have provided me over the last few months.  At this point, I’m not even sure where to begin to explain to you what has gone on over the last few months.  I can tell you this, depression can be an ugly and nasty thing and when you couple that with someone who wears their emotions on their sleeve as I do, it’s hard for depression not to simply take over your life.  I can honestly say (looking back), that I may have been depressed for a little over a year now and kept repressing my feelings towards many things.  I’m still working through a lot of it, but I believe I am getting better with my emotions and my viewpoint and I’m trying to keep it all in check.  But I also had the issue of what to do about this blog.  I am at an interesting crossroads with the point behind this blog and where LFL is currently going under the guise of the Disney logo.  If you have not heard, as of late, LFL has said that the EU (better known as the Extended Universe) is no longer deemed a part of the main portion of the Star Wars universe.  That means that all of these books have info in them that really don’t matter to the Star Wars Universe anymore.  So the question came to my mind, am I wasting my time?  I pondered that quite a bit and decided that I am NOT shutting down this blog and I am not going to stop reading these books.  Instead, I’m going to move along reading these books and reviewing them.  I know many people are asking why I would do that.  Well, it’s actually for a larger cause.  These authors all worked hard to put out these books, and just like I put a lot of work into all my podcasts, so they do the same with their books.  And if I’m the only person who has taken the time to read and then review all those books, then so be it.  I’m realistic and know I’m not the only one doing that, but that is the way I’m going to look at this blog.  I will not give up and I have not given up on reading all of these books.

So, I’m sure some of you want some updates from me.  I will take some time tonight and tomorrow night putting that all together for you.  I will try to get you all up to date as much as I can while also letting you know about the latest Podcast Updates and will review the latest book I’ve read, “Star Wars:  Coruscant Nights I – Jedi Twilight”.  Tonight I will let you know of all the podcasts that have gone up and then will review the book tomorrow night.  I will then podcast one night a week for the rest of the year.  I will try to do that on Friday nights, but there may be times when that no longer happens, just have faith that I will continue after this hiatus I have taken.  So I’m sure you’re all wondering what I’ve been up to.  Well, there’s a lot to talk about.  The end of my job from last year was chaotic and rough and I kind of felt under the gun as far as time and getting everything together.  I’m happy to say that it all worked out and things ended on an okay note for the end of my school year last year.  After school got out, we took Ruth immediately down to East Stroudsburgh University for her to get ready to go overseas on her American Musicians Abroad tour.  She had a few days at home before she went, but not long.  We dropped her off and when I came home, we hired a company to do the back roof of our house because we had some leaks that needed to be dealt with.  Well, in the process, we found out we had a major leak in the roof and apparently the roof over the main part of the house looked like an ocean wave.  That roof ended up being $3000 more than we initially thought it was going to cost.  I have a much better roof now, but it was a lot more expensive than I even planned on.

Meanwhile, Heather took me to the doctors for the first time in several years (well, over a decade) and we got a chance to talk about my health with the doc.  The thing that concerned the doctor was my blood pressure.  It was higher than he would like, so he put me on a low dose for blood pressure medication and suggested I loose some weight to get off the medication.  It freaked Heather out quite a bit.  The doctor also suggested a diet lower in sodium, so I’m suddenly looking at my sodium intake a lot more than I should.  We also set things up for a minor surgery I needed to have over the summer.  I tried to tell Heather that it wasn’t just my weight that was contributing to my high blood pressure, but stress from all sorts of my life as well.  I’m not sure she believes me when it comes to that.  Not too long after Ruth was down at the University, we went back down there and met up with my parents for Ruth’s going away AMA Concert.  It was an incredible concert and I felt good knowing that I knew quite a few of the teachers going with Ruth overseas to Europe.  Just before we left, the roofer finished with the roof, and it was just in time too because we had quite a bit of rain right after the roof was finished.  While Ruth was overseas, things seemed to slow down in time.  I was nervous for her and I’m not sure why.  While she was gone, I had the pleasure of going to Allentown Comic Con and got to meet with Ricki from Heroes of Cosplay.  However, on the way home, the hitch for the trailer broke away from my car (thanks to the rough roads just outside Allentown) and we busted not only the hitch, but the jack to the trailer.  Luckily, Gary’s brother came down and helped us get the trailer home, but it left me with all sorts of issues with the car.  Not too long after that, Austin started his first day at Wendy’s on Front Street and is now one of their grill guys.  That means I now have two teens working at that store.  We got the roof finished on the house and put up our new pool while Ruth was gone as well.  We Skyped with her a few times while she was overseas, but the Internet was kind of come and go as she was over there.  We then went and picked her up not too many days into July and I was so happy to see her.  I had just gotten done with a workshop the day before, and that was when we found out about the passenger jet that got shot down over Ukraine.  It made me more nervous about Ruth flying home, but she made it home okay and we picked her up from her bus down at the Pilot Wendy’s by the PA border.  It was good having her home!  I’ll talk about the rest of my summer vacation tomorrow.

Well, it’s time to do some listening .  Things are moving right along with the podcast and we did a lot of work this past spring and into this summer, so time to catch up on some of the episodes.  It’s time to listen to Episodes #116 through #124 of the GalaxyCast Podcast.  Head on over to the GalaxyCast Website and check it out.  Again, I have to thank Gary BoughtonEric Maruscak, and Ian Palmer for being my co-hosts and to Mike Wilkerson and the Two Guys Talking Podcast Network for all their effort  and support over the years.  MAY THE FORCE BE WITH THOSE WHO LISTEN!

‘Star Wars – An Imperial Commando Novel: 501st’ – Review

2 May

Well, it’s been in the works for quite some time, but we finally have gotten to the musical at my school and I have to say that it’s nice to finally have had the chance to put on our musical.  The past week has been crazy, but the craziness has been greatly rewarded with some amazing performances of “The Music Man Jr” and I can honestly say that I’m extremely proud of our students right here at East Middle School.  Anyway, let me talk about my week and then we can talk about those wonderful performances.  Last week Saturday was the first Saturday in quite some time where I didn’t have anything planned going on.  But my parents came down for us to celebrate Easter.  Yeah, it’s a week late, but we weren’t able to celebrate Easter properly before because my daughter was away in France and I’m proud to say that as of this past Friday, my daughter came home.  It’s nice to have her home again and I have to say that I actually missed my daughter and her quick wit.  It’s nice to have her home!  She got to visit with us a little this morning before my parents came.  In the meantime, I worked on trying to fix two mugs that she had break in her luggage on her way home.  I then went over to Advanced Auto and got some parts to fix her car and possibly my car later on.  I got Heather’s rear tail light fixed real quick and I had plans to fix a hole in her front quarter panel.  While fixing it, my parents arrived and it started to rain.  I had to pull the van part way into the garage to finish my work and I was able to fill the hole pretty well with some Bond O and even got it primed.  My goal is to paint it later, but I also plan on working on the hood as well.  I also learned that her front headlight is rather loose as well.  Gotta get that fixed.  In the meantime, we decided to go to “Texas Roadhouse” for dinner to save my wife some time with the preparations.  She had a bad day at work and I had to convince her to calm down and stay.  We then went home and celebrated our Easter with the family.

On Sunday, we went to church and had a decent sermon and came home and my parents decided to head out right away since my wife had work and the older two children had Orchestra rehearsal to go to later on.  So my parents went home and I continued to work on the van and finish some things up around the house and then took the kids to orchestra.  Heather picked them up on the way home and we all got ready for our school week, which was going to be crazy with the musical this past week.  On Monday I went to school and finished setting up the stage at the beginning of the day and had my normal school day and then had musical rehearsal until 6 o’clock.  It was a late ending to the night, but the family was into the project 100%.  We did the same thing on Tuesday, but this time we were at school until 6:30 PM.  Wednesday, I had SMASH rehearsal and we had our first rehearsal since the Spring Break and I was nervous for the group, but after this rehearsal, I’m not as nervous as I had been before this point.  Thursday was the first night of our show and we had a minor communication glitch, but generally the performance went off without a hitch and was a very well produced show.  Tonight was perfect from beginning to end and everything looked great!  The kids performed well, we had a minor issue before the performance, but it worked itself out.  After the performance, we went to Applebee’s and I picked up my children from Denny’s and we went home and crashed.  This upcoming weekend is going to be crazy too, so I can’t relax, even this weekend.

Okay, so no discussion about the podcast this week, instead, let’s review the book “Star Wars – An Imperial Commando Novel: 501st” by Karen Traviss…….

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GalaxyCast #115

25 Apr

Well, my Spring break ended this past week and it’s time to get back to “the grind”.  So, let’s start our talk about this past week.  On Saturday, I was able to continue my work on costumes and everything that needed to be done for the school musical.  I got most of my work done for the SHIELD costume done.  I prepped a pistol and an M4 airsoft rifle for the costume and was able to at least get some primer on them.  I also decided to prime the Gaffi stick that Ian made for Malikili AND an ammo box that Heather got me from Harbor Freight, which I’m thinking of personalizing for our tables at Cons for Resident Evil costuming.  That took up most of my free time on Saturday and I even got a chance to play some Playstation 3 and Austin and I got a chance to play some Legos: Marvel for a while as well and it’s actually kind of fun to play that game with my son.  On Sunday, the kids and I went to church because Austin and I were playing in church for Easter Sunday.  We decided not to actually celebrate Easter because my daughter is still in France and we didn’t want to celebrate Easter at home without her.  So, we got up and went directly to church after some showers and getting ready.  We did a spectacular job playing trumpet at church and then (to take some stress off of Heather), we went out to “Brothers 2″ for a nice Sunday brunch.  After brunch we went home and watched a whole bunch of different TV shows while I worked on my SHIELD costume.  I had the airsoft guns almost done by this point.

On Monday, it was the day to clean up the shop and get ready for the busy, busy week.  I cleaned up the shop, cleaned up the podcast room and got a bunch of school work I needed to finish out before my work week started.  It took me most of the day to get the house back in order from the busy vacation week.  We also had to rip part of my basement apart so a plumber could fix the drainage issue in the basement for my wife’s washing machine.  Apparently he couldn’t come today, so it’s something that will have to be done tomorrow when Heather’s home.  On Tuesday, I went back to work and Heather stayed at home with the plumber and he fixed the drainage for her washing machine AND he was able to run a new outside line for hoses for the house.  Hopefully this will resolve the pressure issues we’ve had in the past.  Work was interesting and there was a lot of stress there.  Not only did I have work, but I stayed after school every day this week in order to get prepared for our musical, “Music Man, Jr.” next week.  I have faith that the students will do well with their performance.  Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday seemed to fly by!  While those days were going, Heather discovered that we should have been taking B12 all this time to keep our energy going and since she got some, I have felt much better with energy.  I feel like I have enough energy to get everything done.  It was a busy week and things flew by (including my last Binghamton Community Orchestra practice – that I can make – before our concert next week Saturday).

Well, it’s time to do some listening this week.  Things are moving right along with the podcast and I’m happy to see that coming together as well.  It’s time to listen to Episode #115 of the GalaxyCast Podcast.  Head on over to the GalaxyCast Website and check it out.  Again, I have to thank Gary BoughtonEric Maruscak, and Ian Palmer for being my co-hosts and to Mike Wilkerson and the Two Guys Talking Podcast Network for all their effort  and support over the years.  MAY THE FORCE BE WITH THOSE WHO LISTEN!

GalaxyCast #114

18 Apr

What a week!  I know it was vacation and all and I should be relaxed and say what a relaxing time I had over my break, but honestly I feel as though at this point I almost need a vacation from my vacation.  I know I often say that about my spring break, but if you read what I went through, I think you’ll understand why I feel that way.

Last week I left you all off with the fact that I was going to New Jersey for a wedding on Saturday.  Well, we left at around nine in the morning to head out to New Jersey.  The original plan was to head to “Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash” in the morning and get a chance to visit the shop, buy some things and maybe meet some of the staff.  For those that don’t know, the store is the home of the hit AMC TV Show “Comic Book Men” and the shop is owned by the infamous Kevin Smith from “Jay and Silent Bob”.  On our way into Jersey, we decided to stop at “White Castle” and get some lunch and that was actually an experience for my children as much as anything else we did today.  They had never been to White Castle and thought that was a cool experience.  We then tried to head to the “Stash” but managed to get lost along the way.  On the way to getting lost, we found out that we had driven an HOUR out of our way to get to the wrong place.  So, we were supposed to have an hour and a half to check out the store, instead, we had thirty minutes and I have to say I felt rushed!  Well, that is one of those things we’ll have to get back to sometime.  We then rushed over to the “Starbucks” across the street from the store and changed into some nice clothes.  We then left the “Stash” and headed to the wedding we were going to and got there just in time (no thanks to Jersey traffic!).  It was a beautiful wedding and it was outside and I have to say it was very nice.  We then went into a very nice barn next to where the wedding was and had hors d’ours and then left and drove home.

On Sunday, I got up REALLY early.  Butt crack of dawn early!  I was actually on the road by five in the morning which meant I was up by 4:30 in the morning.  I got to Gary’s house and left my car there and we got on the road to Pittsburgh for Steel City Comic Con.  We left the costumes at home and I gotta say, that was nice for a change of pace.  Our drive out there was relatively uneventful.  We did have a small situation with some idiot drivers on our way there, but nothing we couldn’t handle.  We got to the Con just as it was about to open, parked and went inside.  It was a nice Con and we were mainly there for Gary to get Lee Majors’ autograph, so we made sure that we hit up Lee Majors first and he got a nice autograph and we even took a few pictures with him.  We then took our time walking around the Con checking everything out.  There were all sorts of cool things at this Con.  I then had the brilliant idea of starting an Agent of SHIELD costume.  Basically, get some SHIELD patches and change out the Resident Evil patches, and voila, we are SHIELD operatives.  We got done with the Con, and I will just say “we had a bad experience”.  Those that know us really well know what we went through, but it was a rough late afternoon and early evening.  But, we got home safe and sound and I was happy to be home, even though it was just before midnight.

Monday was a day of rest and I was exhausted from Sunday, so I slept in till ten o’clock and then got up and slowly started to get things together for the day.  I started off my day by prepping some set work that I needed to do for my school on Tuesday.  I precut and pre-fabbed a set and got things ready.  We then Skyped with Ruth for a while that afternoon and then I got the kids hooked on “Firefly” and we started to watch the TV series.  Monday night we watched our usual TV shows and tried to relax.  I also got a text Monday night that has me worried about the director for our musical at school.  Tuesday, I headed over to the school in the morning and finished building some sets for the musical and worked on finishing out the work that we previously done.  It took me most of the morning to work on the things I worked on and then look for some materials for the director that she needed.  Tuesday afternoon I spent organizing my basement to a point and even had an opportunity to Skype with Ruth while she was in France.

Wednesday was the last day I had with nothing going on.  At least not anything outside the home was planned.  But I had to do things inside and outside my house.  As if it wasn’t a kick in the pants enough, the weather has dipped quite a bit on Wednesday and we even saw a little bit of snow.  But, I worked on my Mando helmet that I’m designing and putting together.  I also worked on the Gaffi Stick that Ian Palmer made for me for my Malikili, which I’ve decided is my big project to finish this summer.  Plus I started to work on putting together my Agent of SHIELD costume and started working on that as well.  It was a busy day for me personally even though there was nothing else going on.  On Thursday, I took time to work on my wife’s car and get some things fixed on it (mainly some electrical issues) and I also worked on my costuming props.  The helmet is really coming along at this point.  Thursday night I still had Binghamton Community Orchestra rehearsal, so I went to that and I’m glad that I did because they needed me there.  On Friday, we had out big movie day.  We took the younger two children to “Captain America: Winter Soldier” and suddenly my son understood why I kept saying “On your left” and “Sitwell” and “Hail Hydra”.  It was a big joke with the family.  We also went around town shopping afterwards to get some things.  I managed to get a cheap airsoft rifle that I then decided I was going to paint and have as my SHIELD costume.  That costume will come along quickly and I got to prepping that tonight before I wrote this blog.

So, a busy week.  We are still behind on reading, so we are going to ask you to check out the podcast because we are releasing a LOT of podcasts this month.  All in anticipation of “Star Wars Episode VII” and the release of “Star Wars: Rebels” in the fall.  Can’t wait!  So, instead we’ll be focusing on a whole bunch of different releases of the podcast which are going to happen in April and May.  Instead, it’s time to listen to Episode #114 of the GalaxyCast Podcast.  Head on over to the GalaxyCast Website and check it out.  Again, I have to thank Gary BoughtonEric Maruscak, and Ian Palmer for being my co-hosts and to Mike Wilkerson and the Two Guys Talking Podcast Network for all their effort  and support over the years.  MAY THE FORCE BE WITH THOSE WHO LISTEN!

GalaxyCast #113

11 Apr

Well, time is flying by in 2014 and I have to say that time is flying by in my classes as well.  The third quarter of my classes at school ended today and as of tonight, I start my Spring vacation.  I have had some time this week to reflect on this past quarter and most of 2014 and so far, although things are going okay, I seem to be depressed about where I am in my life.  I want things to be much more helpful at my workplace and by far, things are getting worse and not easier.  When it comes to my hobby (other than podcasting), I’m pretty much out!  I’m done and I planned on walking away and have pretty much done just that.  I wish my house was in a better state than it is.  But I guess everyone could say that about their own home.  I think some of that is because of how anal retentive I really am when it comes to cleanliness and making sure I have a clean home for me and my family.

But this past work week went flying by.  I have been after school every night this week preparing for our musical which is in the first weekend of May.  It always seems like everyone and everything I know is happening that weekend.  Including Free Comic Book Day and even the final concert of the year for the Binghamton Community Orchestra.  But, we are chugging away on getting things ready for that particular performance.  I have come to the conclussion that I’m not going to stress about it because the “show must go on” whether I’m stressed or not.  So don’t get stressed!  On top of loosing time for all of that, I have had the added stress of the departure of my oldest daughter.  Sadly, as I write this particular post on my blog, by daughter is now on her way to France.  I am sad because I will miss my daughter for two weeks.  It’s hard to believe that in a little over a year from now, we will have to think about the idea (and deal with) the fact that my daughter will be moving away for college.  It’s hard to believe for me as a dad that she is really that old at this point.  She may keep getting older and she may mature more than most kids I’ve seen her age and she may be the smartest kid I’ve ever known, but she will be my little girl and always will be.  She’s precious to me, but I see her as a gift to the world as well.  I need to let her get out there and spread her wings and fly.  Although, it hurts my heart to have to let go of her so much and so quickly.  Anyway, enough about me getting mushy on my daughter growing up.

We had our last SMASH rehearsal this past week for a while and I’m nervous for them too.  We are running out of time on what they need to do in order to get ready for the Spring concert and now everything is in their hands to practice and get ready for that concert.  That’s the part that always has me nervous, when a group has to go off and do something and practice on their own.  I have faith in my students, but I’m a realist and understand they are teenagers and if given the time to practice an instrument or play a video game, 98% of them would choose a video game.  But looking ahead, my Spring Break is already looking mighty busy.  I have  wedding to go to in New Jersey tomorrow, my buddy Gary wants to go to a Comic Con in Pittsburgh on Sunday (and I thought I would go along for the ride), on Tuesday I need to head over to the school for some set building and to make sure that final touches are finished for the musical.  And on Thursday night, the BCO is still rehearsing in hopes to get ready for the last concert of the year.  I also have already planned on taking my kids to see “Captain America: Winter Soldier” on Monday afternoon as well.  What a week, and it’s a vacation!

Anyway, no reading right now, and I’m going to cut-out the reading for the month of April just because of all the things I have to do in that month already.  So, instead we’ll be focusing on a whole bunch of different releases of the podcast which are going to happen in April and May.  Instead, it’s time to listen to Episode #113 of the GalaxyCast Podcast.  Head on over to the GalaxyCast Website and check it out.  Again, I have to thank Gary Boughton, Eric Maruscak, and Ian Palmer for being my co-hosts and to Mike Wilkerson and the Two Guys Talking Podcast Network for all their effort  and support over the years.  MAY THE FORCE BE WITH THOSE WHO LISTEN!

Has Hollywood lost it’s edge?

4 Apr

Well, another week has gone by and I have to say that time is flying by, but at times I feel like I’m standing still.  This past week we had our New York State ELA test.  You know, that test that students and teachers have been sworn to secrecy upon.  So, I can’t talk about the test specifically, but I will say this.  EVERYONE (that means, parents, community members, administrators, teachers, law abiding, and tax-paying citizens) should question anything the government does when they do so shrouded in secrecy.  It is never a good thing when any government anywhere does anything in secret.  When this happens, it usually means that whatever the government agency is doing has some nefarious plot to it and all I can say is that tax-payers should believe the same thing here.  Question the Common Core.  Question the need for testing.  Question the test themselves!  Better yet, question why all of a sudden the National Education Association is suddenly putting out commercials about websites that supposedly explain how the Common Core is good for you, your son/daughter, and our kids.  I won’t tell you my opinion (although I’m sure you can elude how I feel), but I will say that you need to question why these commercials need to be created in the first place.  We all need to start questioning the government.  Fight “the man”!

Okay, so it was a rough week to say the least.  Lots of things going on and I had to keep track of them all.  We have a plumber now set up to come into our house during the Spring Break and fix the plumbing so my wife can do more than one load of laundry at a time.  Ruth finally got some of her money exchanged into Euros for her trip and that trip is becoming more and more of a reality.  Austin and Tara have now started Track practice and are now working on getting their times down for short distance and long distance running.  Heather’s workplace finally has her on somewhat of a schedule.  We now know what to expect of her job at least from week to week instead of from day to day which means it’s a little easier to plan our weeks now.  And my job is just as stressful as ever.  I’m beginning to think that many in the educational field believe that we became educators to push paperwork.  To those who think so, that’s not the case.  I went into teaching to teach kids and help them succeed.  To see the spark in their eye when they understand something and to see their brain working on overdrive when they begin to question something they don’t believe in.  Educators no longer see this.  Instead, we see them filling in bubbles and becoming a part of the data that we all now use for our Data Driven Instruction.  Anyway, Ruth is now preparing for her NYSSMA solo which is this Saturday.  She has one doozy of a piece and I think that if she pulls it off, she has a SERIOUS shot at All State.  Probably a better shot than I ever had at All State.  I have faith that she can do it and her new lesson instructor (Dr Tim Perry) has been a HUGE help!

Okay, so no GalaxyCast talk, no books to read.  Instead it’s time for some more of my opinion.  This past week Thursday, Heather and I went out to see “Captain America: Winter Soldier”.  Now, I will give my opinion on that movie in a minute, but before I do, I want to talk about all the other movies I’ve watched on video lately.  I say I watched them, but for most of them, they were just background noise to the things I was really doing.  Yep, I tried to watch all the award winning movies from the last year or so and I have to say that they were all a gigantic waste of my time.  How do some of these movies actually win awards?  I watched several movies including “American Hustle”, “Gravity”, and have even started watching “12 Years a Slave” and I have to say that what I’ve seen so far has me less than impressed.  Most of the storylines are weak, make no sense to the average American, and honestly are meant for the “artsy fartsy” types in society.  Then you look at who runs the academies for motion pictures and you start to understand how these movies win awards.  These movies have nothing to do with entertainment, they have nothing to do with providing a quality movie.  Instead, these movies play to the political aspirations of those running the academies of movie awards.  Since when were politics and Hollywood so closely intertwined and why have we as a public let it happen?  If I had the choice, I would throw all of these guys out of these academies and let the PEOPLE decide who the best movies are.  After all, in the past two decades that I have been alive and watching movies, the top grossing films for each year have very rarely if ever won any sort of award.  Why can’t Hollywood figure out that Americans speak with their wallet because they have silenced our voices?   When will Hollywood listen?  So I ask of those who have watched movies over the past twenty years or so, has Hollywood lost it’s edge?

To answer that question we have to ask a few questions of you and your movie watching and their movie making first.  What was the last movie you watched?  Were you impressed with the movie?  Have you ever watched a movie in the last year and wondered why you spent that much money on a movie?  Better yet, when thinking back to the movies you have watched in the last five years, how many of them were not based on a book or comic book that had already been popular or won awards?  Of those that do not fit in this category, how many of those movies were actually good and worth going to the theater to see?  I bet your answer was none!  Many people ask me why I like Star Wars so much (in particular my students at school) and my answer is always the same.  To me, Star Wars was the last movie that I watched that was inspired!  It didn’t require a book before it was launched.  It created it’s own book series after the fact!  It became it’s own thing.  George Lucas came up with the concepts and broke new ground just to make it happen!  When did that ever happen after George Lucas.  Not too often.  With my own son hoping to go to Hollywood and be a director and a profound influence on that town, I have told him to take note of the things that George Lucas did and how other directors refuse to come up with original ideas.  I have tried to inspire in him the idea that he can be a person of change in a town that fights change like it’s mold on your bread.  Which brings me to my next point.

Last night I had the opportunity to see “Captain America: Winter Soldier” and I have to say that of all the superhero movies I’ve seen in my lifetime, I can herald it as the BEST superhero movie to come out in my lifetime or before.  There are many good superhero movies out there, but not many that inspire a great many thought provoking ideas.  I like the fact that in Captain America’s hope to find out what was going on with SHIELD, he soon discovered that Americans were giving up their liberties in order for SHIELD to feel better about itself instead of American people gaining security from their infringements.  Wow, that sounds  a lot like an NSA that is watching everything, reading all our texts, and listening to all our phone calls.  Then when Cap and Black Widow are in the truck, they have the discussion about their personal lives and Black Widow talks about the importance of individuals feeling like an individual.  That’s an interesting thought in a time and place where Common Core demands that all of our children learn the same information from the exact same point of view and demand that all children be treated like a “widget” instead of a human being or a child.  And then there is the overarching theme throughout the entire movie and even into the post-movie credit scenes.  The idea that organizations like HYDRA (which by the way, for many comic book readers represent communism or socialism) will never die and that they think they can continually infiltrate the government and the people and will simply wait till people become “she-ople” to strike and take control of everything and everyone.  We are starting to see that same thing play out in our country even today.  But, putting all the politics aside, the movie was an awesome balance of everything.  It had a great amount of action, it had a wonderful plot line.  It had some dramatic moments with some good acting occurring.  It even had a bit of a love story going on within the movie that I have to say surprised me to an extent.  It even had some great plot twists that even took me by surprise to a great extent.  And then there were the connections to the other Marvel universe things.  There were connections to “Agents of SHIELD”, “Thor: The Dark World” and even hints of things yet to come for “Avengers 2: The Age of Ultron”.  It was a wonderful movie and if you haven’t seen it, I plead with you – GO SEE IT!

GalaxyCast #112

28 Mar

Well, another week has gone by and things just seem to be flying by so fast that I can’t keep up with it all.  I will admit that I have fallen behind on my book reading, so I will eventually be posting up my review of the latest book in the series that I’m reading, but I may be making that “March” post in the middle of April, when I have Spring Break and can catch up on the reading that I’ve fallen behind on.  Things are really getting back into the full swing of things.  Ruth is back at work as much as she can be, my school work is picking up because the end of the third quarter is quickly approaching as well as the fact that we have State testing for ELA and Math coming up very quickly.  On a personal note, I am getting more and more nervous for my daughter who will be taking her first trip overseas in just over a few weeks and I have to say, she is doing more travelling in the next year than I have done for a majority of my life.  I’m proud of her and I worry for her all at the same time.  I told her, it’s not her that I don’t trust.  It’s all the other idiots in the world that I don’t trust!

On the flip side of everything, I want Spring to be here so bad and it’s killing me that Spring is taking so long to rear it’s head!  We had a snowstorm early on this week and it just isn’t feeling like spring yet.  I want the warm weather, I want the birds, I want to see things growing and so far none of that is happening.  It’s actually hard not to get depressed about that, and I LIKE winter, but I’m sick and tired of this past winter.  My house is giving me one last kick in the pants this past week to remind us that winter has had it’s impact.  Last weekend, Heather went to run the washer in the basement and as the washer ran, water started to pour out of the drain in the floor and I noticed the water had soap in it, so I started to assume that the water came from our washing machine.  I spent the entire day on Saturday doing research with it and found out that the washing machine actually drained into a dry well just below our foundation and the dry well is no longer draining well enough to handle that kind of water.  It’s possible that there’s that much ice underneath or it’s possible that it’s just that blocked.  We had a plumber over to look at it and it’s just that blocked!  So, now instead of getting our roof done over the Spring Break (as originally planned), we are now running a new drain line from our washing machine to the septic system.  Probably should have been done years ago, but it’s getting done now!  So, that pretty much chewed up last weekend.  Between that, BYSO and Ruth’s lesson my weekend was shot.

The good news is that the GalaxyCast Team got back together tonight in the STAR Productions studio.  I finally got everyone together in one place and we had Gary Boughton, Eric Maruscak, Ian Palmer and myself all in one place.  We were even blessed to have Ian’s parents along for the ride and Ian’s son was there to hang out with everyone too.  It was a good recording tonight and I cannot wait to get that one edited out and there for all of you to hear later on.  Instead, let’s cover an older episode of the GalaxyCast Podcast.

Okay, so enough about my family.  Okay, no reading tonight.  Instead, it’s time to listen to Episode #112 of the GalaxyCast Podcast.  Head on over to the GalaxyCast Website and check it out.  Again, I have to thank Gary Boughton and Ian Palmer for being my co-hosts and to Mike Wilkerson and the Two Guys Talking Podcast Network for all their effort  and support over the years.  MAY THE FORCE BE WITH THOSE WHO LISTEN!

 

GalaxyCast #111

14 Mar

Another week has gone by and time is flying yet again.  I had a week where I was very proud of my children.  I was particularly proud of my two oldest, Ruth and Austin because they put on such a great production at Chenango Valley this past weekend putting on the musical Beauty and the Beast.  It was a wonderful production and I have to say it was the best production I’ve seen yet that this school has put on.  I was impressed with everything from the scenery to the costumes.  The only things that could have been improved upon were the lights and sound.  I had a hard time hearing all of the performers, especially those with microphones on.  And some of the scenes were actually so lowly lit, I had a hard time seeing what was going on in the scene.  I would love to help them out, but individuals would have to trust me.  That may be an issue.

This week wasn’t as chaotic on the two fronts as it was last week.  We had a three and a half day instructional week at work because we had a Superintendent’s Conference Day and an early release day.  We had a lot work to do with other things for my job though.  But let’s take it day by day.  Heather and I watched the musical on Friday night and had a great time.  We waited for the kids when they were done and I took them to their cast party on Friday night.  When the party was over, I picked them up and brought them home.  On Saturday, I dropped Ruth off to work and came home and started working on cleaning up the shop and the house.  It hasn’t had a good cleaning in quite some time, so that was our ultimate goal today.  It took us all day long to get it done, but we did.  On Sunday, we stayed home from church because my parents were coming.  They showed up just as I was about to take the kids over for the musical.  They stayed for a little while, and even went over to the Park and Ride with us to meet with Heather for a little bit before they had to take off and go to the musical and go home.  I picked up the kids on Sunday night from the pizza party and tearing down the set.  They were exhausted from the weekend.  On Monday, I had work and then met SMASH after work.  That’s when I found out that Jim Lewis is moving south VERY soon and that I would be running SMASH on my own.  I’m excited and scared to death about this opportunity all at the same time.  On Tuesday, I had a typical day and even came home at a normal time from work and had some time to catch up on some grading on that night.  Ruth had taken the day off from school on Tuesday to take the BC Transit bus over to the Anderson Center at Binghamton University to have a concert for young elementary aged children and show them what the BYSO was all about.  Wednesday was another typical day and so was Thursday, with me having a half day with students on Thursday and having BCO tonight.  Today I had a Conference Day and the GalaxyCast team and I will be heading into the STAR Productions studio later tonight to record.

Okay, so enough about my family.  Okay, no reading tonight.  Instead, it’s time to listen to Episode #110 of the GalaxyCast Podcast.  Head on over to the GalaxyCast Website and check it out.  Again, I have to thank Gary Boughton and Ian Palmer for being my co-hosts and to Mike Wilkerson and the Two Guys Talking Podcast Network for all their effort  and support over the years.  MAY THE FORCE BE WITH THOSE WHO LISTEN!

Is Vladimir Putin the next Adolf Hitler?

7 Mar

Well, this week seemed to go much better for me on a personal note.  I truly can’t believe that we are now into the next month of the year and 2014 seems to have started out much better than 2013 ever went for me.  I just hope that things can continue to go as well as they have in the past.  We’ve had issues, but it’s nothing that God hasn’t given us the ability to handle.  My wife keeps saying that and I’m really trying hard to agree with her as much as I can.   We will make it through this year and I believe that my family will be stronger and better for it.

This week has been crazy on both the personal and professional front.  I am still reeling from not having my laptop for almost a week and a half.  It has affected me in huge ways.  I spent most of my week trying to catch up on the work I had to do on that laptop.  Like trying to get the video and audio edited out from the BCO concert we had the weekend before.  As if that wasn’t enough this week was plagued by other performances.  Last weekend Ruth had work along with Heather on both Saturday and Sunday and on Sunday we had our usual chaos of BYSO practices along with Ruth’s clarinet lesson.  On Monday, Heather took my external hard drive over to Computer Emergency Room and by lunch time, she was able to get me the files off the old laptop along with another laptop they had from my company STAR Productions.  I kind of felt like it was all a “two for one” deal.  I also had my SMASH Rehearsal after school. Then there was the situation with my two older children all week.  It was Tech Week for their Beauty and the Beast production at CV High School and their Drama Club this weekend.  So, they were at school until about 9 o’clock each night this week running through the show all week long.  On Wednesday night, I had the Eastside Band Concert.  It went well, but it was another concert that I had to edit out for video and audio for the concert.  On Thursday night I had BCO Rehearsal and tonight (after I write this), Heather and I have the kids’ musical to go to.  I can’t believe how busy Music In Our Schools Month has already been for us and we aren’t even halfway through yet!

Okay, so I know my title will have caught a LOT of people’s attention, but it actually is an honest question to answer.  When I saw the situation break out in the Ukraine shortly after the Sochi Olympics began, I looked at my wife and said this could not have come at a worse time for the Ukraine or for the world at that rate.  I told her that within a week of the end of the Olympic games, Putin would invade the Ukarine claiming he needed to bring back law and order and that he needed to get things under “control”.  Well, it has played out exactly as I said it would.  Why should it concern us?  Well, unless we learn from the mistakes in our past, we are doomed to repeat it!  The one thing I think we did wrong when Adolf Hitler came to power was the first philosophy we had with Hitler.  We let him have certain land to appease his thirst for control and power.  We appeased him by letting have Czechoslovokia and then we let him have Poland and then things got out of control.  Well, what are we doing with Putin?  Well, there are threats of sanctions and the threat that we will do something economically to them, but it’s not enough.  We have drawn down our military so far that even if we wanted to do something about the Russian army, we do not have enough military resources to do anything about it.  And trust me when I say that Putin is well aware of that.  The part that actually scares me, to a vast extent, is the fact that we as Americans are not connecting the dots.  The Egyptians rise up against their government and half the world thinks this is an awesome idea, including our own President.  They then elect a Democratically elected leader, and good or bad, that leader doesn’t work out.  So, who runs their government?  The military.  Anyone notice that the news hasn’t covered that story lately?  That’s because the military STILL runs that government.  Then we have the situation in Tunisia where the same thing happens and the same scenario took place in Libya, which has been overlooked by many because of the Benghazi scenario with our own Embassy.  And the White House likes the idea that we are focusing on Benghazi and NOT the fact that the Libyan military is now running that government.  Then the situation with Syria has been heating up as well.  There are other governments in turmoil, but the interesting fact that is a common theme is that the opposition to ALL of these governments are using Russian weaponry.  AK-47s, Russian Rocket Launchers, among other equipment.  How did they get this equipment?  Well, the Russians had to supply them in some way.  The Russians are gaining friends with our enemies.  In the long term, Putin would like to reunite the Old Russian Empire.  He would love to see all the old countries like Georgia, Ukraine, Boznia, Herzogovina all become part of something he would like to call the Russian Federation.  I like to call it the Russian Empire part 2.  My fear is that he will not stop there.  I’m not convinced that the Cold War ever ended.  Instead, I like to think it was put on ice, only to rear it’s ugly head again.  Only time will tell if I’m right.  But if I am.  Then Putin’s ambitions will not end with the Ukraine.  Instead, the Ukraine will be the testing ground to see how the US and the UN will deal with Russia and just how far Putin feels he can go before the world will not put up with his totalitarianism anymore.

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