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.

GalaxyCast #110

28 Feb

Well, February is coming to a close and what a month it has been and what a week I had this last week!  I’m still reeling at all the things that have happened in one week and my issues still seem to keep coming this week!  So let me explain my last week step by step and I will try to give you all the information of all the things that my family have done.  So last week I talked about the fact that we DJ’d a dance at my school and I can honestly say that the DJ job went well.  The kids had a great time and STAR Producitons did an excellent job providing entertainment for the event.  I was glad that we were able to help out in any way we could.  Saturday was our crazy day.  Heather got up early and headed off to work which meant I was pretty much on my own for the rest of the day.  I took Ruth over to the school to get the bus to go over for All County rehearsal at Binghamton University.  I came home and ate some breakfast and then took Austin over to school for a musical rehearsal for “Beauty and the Beast” at CV.  I then went home and took a shower and did some work in the shop and then Austin came home, we all got changed and headed out the door.  Of course, when I went to get changed and get things out for my tux for tonight, I couldn’t find my studs and cufflinks.  We tore apart our bedroom looking for them (the kids and I) and finally found them in a really weird place.  We then left to go to Ruth’s concert.

Ruth and the band did a spectacular job and she had fun playing in All County band.  I had to laugh because Ruth started to complain that the music, which would have been hard for her in year’s past, suddenly seemed much easier.  We talked about the fact that as you challenge yourself more, the more that the music that you thought was difficult, suddenly seems a lot easier.  We then raced home to get dinner and tried to beat the pizza delivery guy home.  We got there just there just in time.  We quickly at dinner and I changed into my tux and then the kids and I went straight over to East Middle School for my Binghamton Community Orchestra concert.  We did the concert that night and my tech crew did well and the concert went very well.  I was very happy with how everyone performed.  Heather met us at the concert and after the concert, we all came home and crashed.  What a day!  That was just Saturday!  Sunday was a day for us to crash.  Well, to an extent.  We decided not to go to church just because we were all tired and that day was the only day we had as a family.  I worked in the shop a little bit in the morning and then we went  about our days.  The kids had BYSO rehearsal and I had to grade papers to catch up from this past crazy week.  Ruth had her lesson that night and we decided it was incredibly insane to keep picking up Ruth from Binghamton High School, race her home for dinner, and then race back over to Vestal for dinner.

So, Sunday night we went over to Jimmy John’s to get some dinner.  We thought it was a burger joint, but it turns out it’s a Subway on steroids.  We ate dinner and took Ruth to her clarinet lesson and then went over to Wal Mart to do some shopping.  We got done and on our way back, my car started making weird rubbing noises.  Almost like metal on metal.  Great!  Now I have an issue with the car.  I told Heather we would need to take the car to the mechanic on Monday.  We came home that night and went to bed.  The next day, Heather went to work and then came to my workplace and traded out the cars.  She then called me while I was at work and told me that the mechanic looked at our car and determined that it was just a rock that knocked down some rust out of my car and that’s what made the scrapping sound.  Then Monday night I came home to finish work from the weekend.  The plan was to get my grading done and then edit out the video and audio from the concert from last weekend.  Well, when I turned on the laptop, I got the blue screen of death!  I HATE seeing that screen.  It always means bad juju!  So, I knew the laptop was a loss, but my wife tried to get it fixed at Rent A Center, but to no avail.  She came home and we talked about getting me a new laptop.

On Tuesday, Heather went out to look at laptops because she knew it was so important to me to have a laptop to get things going both with STAR Productions and with school work.  I researched (on Monday night) some laptops I may like.  Meanwhile, she also dropped off the old laptop to Computer Emergency Room in hopes that they could recover the data that may have been lost.  Well, I don’t know yet, but I will keep you all posted on that information as the data arrives.  I will say at this point, before I talk of the rest of my week that my wife is a saint and should be heralded from mountain top to mountain top.  I found a laptop at Best Buy that I liked because it was a Two-In-One.  It’s a laptop and a Tablet and I thought this was a great idea because it would have me carrying just my laptop everywhere I went, instead of both.  Besides, now I could have my books at my fingertips all the time along with all of my files.  So, she got the laptop on Tuesday and brought it home.  I was a “good boy” and did my work first when I got home.  I focused on grading my students’ papers before I started to work on unpacking the laptop and worked on it to bring it up to speed.  Everything was going swimmingly until I tried to use it as a tablet.  The directions told me to bring up the Charm Bar (something new in Windows 8, and yes I had to upgrade to Windows 8.1) and look for a screen icon.  Well, it wasn’t there.  I tried all sorts of things to find it, but to no avail.  I even called up technical support, and anyone who knows me knows I avoid tech support like the plague!  Anyway, after I talked to them, let them work with the laptop remotely, they were never able to find the icon either.  They suggested I take it back to the place of purchase.

The next day Heather and I were just too busy to deal with the laptop situation.  We had too many things going on, especially with the kids’ Musical still to come two weeks from now.  We had to try and get things together for that.  Plus I had a faculty meeting today and Heather had a meeting for her workplace too.  She did call Best Buy and they suggested bringing in the laptop, so Heather said she would stop in tomorrow to have them check it out.  So, on Thursday, she went to Best Buy and simply exchanged my Toshiba Click for another Toshiba Click.  She even brought it to me at lunch thinking that I would need time to “play” with the device in order to bring it up to speed.  However, when I did turn it on, the screen icon did not appear on this one either.  So, after work, Heather and I met up at Best Buy and I showed the gentlemen there at the Geek Squad counter what I was going through and they agreed that it didn’t make sense to them either.  So, they said we could just take a return or look at another laptop.  Until it occurred to me that the Toshiba Click on their floor had the icon on it.  I pointed that out to them and then pointed out that their laptop was in Windows 8, not 8.1.  We talked for a little bit, and they agreed to sell use the floor model for a cheaper price.  It was in pretty decent shape and made me happy to take it for less of a price.  So, that was the solution.  We stopped at Wendy’s and got something to eat and came home and I spent all night Thursday night getting my laptop back up and running.

Which brings me to today.  I spent most of my day and night tonight also working on this laptop, personalizing it and making it mine and getting everything back onto it.  The good news is that we got a call from Computer Emergency Room today and found out that we will be able to save the information from the other laptop.   So, by the end of the week, things are starting to look up and all may be right with the world yet again at some point.

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!

‘Star Wars – Republic Commandos: Order 66′ – REVIEW

21 Feb

Well, things are just flying by now and even though I had a four day weekend, it didn’t feel like a four day weekend and I am now on the road to having a really busy two to three months now.

I know some of you have had concerns about me and the costuming world and the comments I’ve made lately about the costuming world.  Let’s just say that I’ve been disenfranchised with the organized costuming world.  It has become too “popularized” and there seems to be a constant need to have “fights” within the organized costuming realm.  People want power and they are trying to make themselves feel like they are superior to others.  I NEVER got into costuming to assert my superiority over others.  I got into costuming because I liked to dress up like my favorite characters and portray an individual that I couldn’t do in my otherwise daily life.  I will be the first cosplayer to tell you that we say that we costume for ourselves.  We LIKE to do it.  Are there perks?  Sure!  We costume for kids to see their favorite fictional character come to life.  We also costume to raise money for charities.  But those that try to say they do it for anyone but themselves is only trying to give an illusion that they are there for anyone but themselves.  And it’s just that, an illusion.  Don’t let the illusion fool you folks!  I just wish cosplayers would face the truth.  They are there for themselves.  I believe that all of the political fighting that has been going on lately and even the TV show “Heroes of Cosplay” is starting to put a spotlight on that simple fact.  When Cosplayers come to that reality and finally start to admit that they are actually a little self-indulgent, then maybe we can be accepted by the wider world.  But many cosplayers refuse to accept that in ANY way.  Instead, they want to act like they are above self-indulgence.  It’s just NOT the truth.

Okay, so let’s move on.  My family is doing very well right now.  Even though we just got out of a four day weekend, we have not had a chance to breath because of all the things we have coming up and all the things we have to do this weekend and beyond.  Ruth has been extremely busy between working at Wendy’s and saving money for her trips to Europe and getting ready for Chenango Valley’s performance of “Beauty and the Beast” which they will be putting on in the second weekend in March.  Austin has been busy with the musical as well.  He’s also really excited because he took a tour of the BOCES facility and discovered  they had a whole room just to green screen in and to do video production with and he can’t wait to start in their program sometime next year.  I’m glad he has a vision now of what he wants to do.  Tara seems to be busy with school and I think things are going well for her.  She’s still watching the Food Network quite a bit and has been trying to help around the house by helping to cook dinners, etc.  Over the four-day weekend, I did put forth before  my children a challenge.  They had been saying they had never seen the old classic 1966 Batman TV series and I have a copy of every episode.  So, they kids have been watching each and every episode of the series.  I have vowed to do the same over the next few months.

Heather and I have each been busy in our own rights as well.  Heather has been extremely busy at work.  She has been taking quite a bit of overtime and has been working between 45 and 50 hours a week driving for the Broome County Transit Authority.  I have been busy at my job and with the Binghamton Community Orchestra.  We have a concert tomorrow night and I have been working hard to make sure that everything works smooth.  We even had two practices for the group this week because we lost several rehearsals to snow days and the wacky winter weather that we’ve had around here lately.  I am even DJ-ing a dance tonight at our school as if I didn’t have enough things to do over the next month!  But all in a good days work.  As my dad would say, it keeps me out of trouble.

Okay, let’s review our book of the month “Star Wars – Republic Commandos: Order 66″ by Karen Traviss…….

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GalaxyCast #109

14 Feb

Well, another week has gone by and I want to say that things in my life aren’t as busy as all get-out, but that would just not be true.  I am actually looking forward to this four day weekend so that I can attempt to get myself to feel better so I’m not feeling sick all the time.  Right now, I don’t have the ability to feel sick because I can’t afford to get sick.  I am working hard at not getting sick.  That’s right, I truly believe that I can “will” my body to not get sick.  I have to say that this weekend will be interesting because the Sochi Olympics will be starting.  I have mixed emotions about this Winter Olympics.  I am a fan of certain things in the Olympics.  I like hockey, not a fan of Ski jumping.  I’m just not as into the Winter Olympics as I am the summer Olympics.  That, and I’m not a fan of the fact that the IOC decided to hold it in Russia.  People really are NOT aware of the politics of Russia and more importantly their current president who really is a dictator, Vladimir Putin.

Anyway, we are busy at our house for several reasons.  Ruth is still working like mad and is trying really hard to sock as much money away for her French trip and her overseas AMA trip that she is working every free hour she can get.  The other two kids are going about their lives and are starting to prepare themselves for the real world.  I am proud of Austin and Tara because they are really starting to forward think as they move through their lives.  Austin has decided he wants to be a movie director and wants to make his way to Hollywood.  Good for him!  Maybe he can finally convince a studio to make an original movie with original plot and all.  Not something based on a previous movie or a book!  Tara has decided she wants to be a cook.  She has taken to watching the Food Network all the time and is now taking out cook books from school and asking if she can cook at home and try out some of the recipes on us.  I told her I will try anything once.  I’m just proud to see even my younger two children starting to get their lives in order.

Tonight is Valentine’s night.  Heather and I don’t often get to go out on Valentine’s night, so I’m excited at the prospect of us going out to dinner together and reconnecting as a couple because we don’t get very many date nights.  I’m also excited because I got an opportunity to go shopping for her on Valentine’s day and I did today.  I went to “Things Remembered” today and I made a two-part necklace that says “I Love You” while the other necklace says “I Know”.  I know it’s a little bit geeky, but I think Heather will like it.  I also got her a nice looking jewelry box with something else written on it.  It’s been a busy week and even though we have a four-day weekend, it will be another busy week next week because I have our Binghamton Community Orchestra coming up.  It’s going to be a crazy February and an even crazier March as we move forward with the Crissman family.

Okay, so enough about my family.  Okay, no reading tonight.  Instead, it’s time to listen to Episode #109 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!

Super Bowl – Super Embarassment?!

7 Feb

Well, it’s the first week in February and the BIG GAME has already happened for 2014 – the Superbowl.  And I would love to say that the bowl game this year was a HUGE deal and it was awesome and it was exciting.  But it wasn’t.  And it’s not like it was kind of exciting, it wasn’t exciting from the minute the first ball was snapped.  Right over Payton Manning’s head!  I could not believe how poorly the Denver Broncos played at the Super Bowl this year!  They should be ashamed of themselves.  I’m a huge football fan and I have to say that the commercials were more interesting than the actual game itself.  It’s really sad when that happens.

I know some people are mad at me about my “snap” judgement about the Coca-Cola commercial, but I will say that it was to the credit of some of my friends that lead me to look at the commercial again and the point made about how it is celebrating different cultures and not trying to put down American culture is a valid one.  On the other hand, we all need to stop acting like Americans are displaced Europeans.  Yes, we were many many years ago.  But, at some point in time, Americans have to actually become Americans.  If we are going to make the argument that only “native” Americans (or Indians) are true Americans, then we should all be making the argument that we’re either from Africa or the Middle East.  Because that’s the truth, ain’t it?

Anyway, let’s talk about the life in the Crissman family for a little bit.  Ruth had an amazing Area All State Concert at Ithica last weekend and I have to say that this particular conductor was one of the most impressive conductors she’s had yet.  He got them to sing with spectacular dynamics and he got them to do all sorts of different songs from different genres and even in multiple languages.  He even added to the repertoire on Friday night when he saw how talented the group was.  It was an amazing group and an amazing performance.  Go Ruth!  The rest of the week was a pretty typical week.  Lots of work, Drama rehearsals, school, Heather working, Ruth working and it being just DOWNRIGHT COLD!  You know it’s cold when you go outside and your nose hairs want to go back inside.  But we have been surviving and we are taking things one day at a time.

GalaxyCast #108

31 Jan

Another week gone by and I have to say that I had an interesting week with work.  Between the Post-Assessment, the workshop about Guided Discipline that I had and all of the other things going on, I am a busy guy.  My kids are busy too.  Even Ruth has been so busy, it’s kind of hard to keep up with her at times.  She hasn’t been able to go on a social date with her boyfriend in months and it’s not because he’s an awful guy.  It’s because she really doesn’t have time to.  Between work, school, the musical, and her private lessons, she doesn’t have time for much of anything else.  I feel bad because she doesn’t get a chance to be a kid!  I also keep reminding myself that we basically have a year and a half to do things together as a complete family.  Because after that Ruth is off to college and Austin’s gone the year after that.  It’s hard to believe that I need to start looking at life that way.

This past week has been busy, but fun all at once.  The weekend was busy with Heather and Ruth both working at their jobs at Broome County Transit and Wendy’s.  We also had BYSO rehearsal as well as Ruth’s private lesson, but Heather and I also had a wonderful treat (thanks to my Secret Pal!) and we got a chance to see the Binghamton Philharmonic Orchestra in Concert at the Anderson Center, which was a really nice concert.  We had a busy typical work week with the kids having drama rehearsals, me having rehearsals and try-outs for SMASH, and Ruth had a meeting for her French trip to go over final discussions and to make the final payment for the trip.  It’s hard to believe that my oldest daughter is going over to France during her Spring break.  I know Heather is nervous about her travelling over seas, but I keep reminding her that we have raised a smart and worldly daughter.  I know she will be okay.  I will be praying for her, but I have confidence that we have done everything right as parents.  And then there’s tonight.  Ruth is away at Ithaca College yet again and is doing Area All State Chorus.  She always makes me proud when she does these amazing performances like she does.

Okay, so enough about my family.  Okay, no reading tonight.  Instead, it’s time to listen to Episode #108 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!

‘Star Wars: Darth Plagueis’ – Overview

24 Jan

Well, another week has gone by and I have to say that 2014 is going good so far!  I am happy with how my life is moving in the right direction and the kids seem happy and the family is doing well.  The kids had their BYSO performance last weekend and they both did exceptionally well.  Ruth’s group played some rather difficult pieces.  I thought it was very entertaining going to the BYSO concert with my father in law, who had a connection with one of the songs which he had learned when he was living in Australia.  It was kind of cool for him to make that kind of connection to a song.  Of course, we as music teachers want people to make those kinds of connections all the time.  It’s WHY we teach music.  The rest of the week went well too.  We had a day off for Martin Luther King, Jr. day and I continued to work on cleaning up my shop and getting more and more projects off of my bench.  I still have one big project that I’m working on that I think will come out looking real well.

This week is the last week full week I have with this quarter’s students and I cannot believe how fast the time has flown by this quarter.  However, I did some math this week and found out that I only had equivalent to seven weeks of time to try and teach a ten week course.  All because of Holiday breaks, snow days, two hour delays, etc.  But, this is the life I choose as a teacher and I can never say that my life is boring.  My second quarter students take their Post Assessments next week Tuesday and I’m at another workshop on Wednesday and Thursday.  I’m actually getting a little bit “workshopped out”.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy workshops, but sometimes it’s more fun being right in the trenches with my students.  Heather’s job is really moving along and she is now at the top of what is referred to as the “hold downs” list.  It basically means that the next person that retires or leaves, a route will open up for her and she would have a route for good until she moves up in routes and re-bids each quarter.  That’s pretty exciting.

Ruth is really starting to flourish with her life right now.  Her lesson last week with Dr. Tim Perry went really well.  She enjoyed her time with him and Dr. Perry was honest with her.  He let her know that she is good, but has a long way to go to become great.  I really think she needed to hear that.  Austin is having a hard time in Spanish and has talked to me about his grade that is coming up in Spanish.  I think some of his problem is the tracking problems he has when it comes to reading.  I’m sure that certainly doesn’t help when you are trying to read a foreign language.  Tara is making me laugh.  She is excited to help Heather with the cooking for the Super Bowl this weekend and has already started taking out books from the library on people like Guy Fiori and Rachel Ray.  God bless her heart, when she jumps into something, she really jumps into it!

Then there’s the Star Wars rumor mill.  I’ve heard everything!  For example, Justin Bieber may play Luke Skywalker’s son.  Most of them are rumors, but the one that currently has me bothered is what Disney is NOT talking about.  There are rumors that Season 6 of “The Clone Wars” are going to appear on Germany’s version of the Cartoon Network in about a month.  There has been NO sign from Disney that they will do the same here in the United States.  How the heck does Disney let a country like Germany get first shot at the show?  I’m not knocking anyone from Germany (so please no hate mail), all I’m saying is that I can’t believe we would let the series get outsourced BEFORE we would show it right here in the good old US of A!  Somethings not right there and if it comes down to Disney not wanting their product on Cartoon Network because Disney XD competes with it, then just come out and say so and stop hiding!  Communication seems to be Disney’s BIG problem!

Okay, so let’s talk about “Star Wars:  Darth Palgueis” by James Luceno.  Our first book for 2014!:

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