Monthly Archives: April 2012

Why Would Anyone Buy a Book?


I read this on Nathan Bransford’s blog as part of his regular feature, This Week in Books

Meanwhile, publishing industry sage Mike Shatzkin has some very helpful context on why publishers are so reluctant to let libraries lend e-books. This is definitely a tricky issue for publishers, and I don’t envy them being on the wrong side of public sentiment on this one. Publishers are looking at a landscape where library patrons don’t even have to go to the library to borrow an e-book – they can do it from home. Why would anyone buy an e-book once they figured out how to legally get tons of books for free just as easily?

I had to respond to that.

Why would anyone buy ebooks when you can get them for free?

Good question, but a few more come to mind . . .

  • Why does anyone buy books now when you can get them for free at the library?
  • How are ebooks any different?

Here’s my take on this whole debate.

I love books . . . but I rarely buy them.

Pretty much all of my reading comes thanks to the public library.

I fear a day when printed books won’t be as accessible and ebooks will be the norm. If you still can’t access those books for free from the library, it would be a great shame.

People who can’t afford to buy books will be out of the reading loop. Avid readers who simply can’t buy everything they read would also lose out.

How are ebooks different from printed books?

Printed books fall apart over time. They take abuse as they are lugged around by the library patrons. Every time they are thrown into the library chute, they suffer extra abuse. It’s only natural that after repeated borrowing, a book will be so damaged that it will need to be replaced.

Ebooks, on the other hand are permanent by their very nature. You could buy one ebook and copy it to every single patron in the library at the same time. You would also never have to replace the ebook EVER.

That is a big difference!

Making ebooks equivalent to paper books is the best option. 

This isn’t as hard as it sounds. If a library buys one copy of a book, only one patron can borrow it at a time. Libraries are already doing this and many have multiple copies of the same ebook just like they do with popular printed books.

Here’s how to make it more fair. 

Libraries can buy the same copy of an ebook every few years like how they’d have to replace bound books that start to fall apart over time. I’m sure we could come up with a formula to make it work and everyone would be happy.

Public Libraries are very important!

I hope publishers don’t underestimate the value of the Public Library. I have bought books that I’ve enjoyed for free simply because I needed to have them for my collection. I don’t buy books very often but when I do, I often buy more than one copy. I give them as gifts, I give them away to students.

What’s you take on this debate?

Please leave a comment below.

The Word is Bond Weekly Podcast (The First 5)

Recently, The Word is Bond redesigned their entire website to help bring you the best in underground hip-hop. There are daily news articles, album reviews, music videos, interviews, editorials, and much, much more. It really is an excellent online hip-hop magazine.

I am proud to head up The Word is Bond Podcast and just in case you haven’t been following the weekly shows I’ve been posting, I’ve embedded the first five episodes below. Please head on over to the podcast page and check it weekly for some great hip-hop. You can also subscribe to the feed so you won’t miss a single episode.

Every week we bring you the best in hip-hop mixsets, artist interviews, hip-hop history spotlights, guest deejay sets, roundtable discussions, and great music. Let us know what you think of our programming. I hope you enjoy the show!

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The Rise of the West Coast (Know Your History Podcast)

For the first few years of its existence, hip-hop was something that you had to experience live. There were no commercial recordings, no rap albums, no 12-inch singles, no rap music on the radio. You had to go out to a block party or a club to see a DJ throwing down a set.
Hip-hop started with the DJ. It was born in the Bronx but not content to stay tethered to only one area. The culture and the music spread throughout the entire world in less than a decade. One of its first landing spots was some two-thousand miles away in the city of Los Angeles.
The interesting thing about hip-hop culture is how it can have very distinct regional sounds and styles. Wherever it travels, hip-hop is able to make itself at home and flourish there. This was definitely the case on the West Coast. It took a few years before the rest of the world would sit up and take notice of the unique sound and style of West Coast rap music, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.
Welcome to Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge. I’m your host Chase March and for the next half hour, we will be exploring the Rise of the West Coast. If you’re tuning us in on the new Word is Bond podcast, it’s great to have you here. This is the third season of this show and we’re proud to have partnered up with The Word is Bond to expand our coverage here on DOPEfm. You can hear us every Saturday night on 93.3 CFMU on your radio dial or worldwide on cfmu.mcmaster.ca. For more info on us and what we do, visit DOPEfm.ca

You can download the podcast for free, stream it with the player below, or continue reading.

West coast hip-hop seemed to come out of nowhere with the advent of Gangsta Rap in the 1980s, but the scene had been developing quietly under the radar for many years prior to that. Just like in its birthplace of New York, hip-hop had to be experienced in those early days and the scene in Los Angeles was flourishing.
Uncle Jamm’s Army was one of the premier party promoters in L.A. They started gaining a lot of attention, fans, and respect in 1978, one year before the first rap recordings came out of New York. They were a collective of DJs and musicians and pretty much ruled the hip-hop scene in Los Angeles.
In 1981, the first West Coast rap label was started. It was called Rappers Rap Records and the first group on the roster was Disco Daddy and Captain Rapp. They released a single that year but it was there song “Bad Times” two years later that made the most noise.

That was “Bad Times” by Disco Daddy and Captain Rapp. It came out in 1983, and by that time, the Los Angeles hip-hop scene was becoming quite large. We still aren’t in the G-funk age but you can almost hear the roots of that sound in this song. The synthesized baseline and the singable chorus really got people moving on the dance floor.
By this time, the parties that Uncle Jamm’s Army were throwing were becoming legendary. They needed to find bigger and bigger venues to accommodate the crowds. They even did a few gigs at the LA Sports Arena filling the stadium to capacity every time. Founding member Roger Clayton was able to bring in famous East Coast groups to these shows such as Run DMC, Whodini, Kurtis Blow, and L.L. Cool J.
But unlike those East Coast groups, Uncle Jamm’s Army had a more electro sound. They were influenced by a German group by the name of Kraftwerk that had been around since 1970. They released an album called “Autobahn” in 1974 and toured it extensively bringing this unique sound to North America.

Kraftwerk’s influence is sometimes overlooked but it really shouldn’t be. They have had a huge influence in early hip-hop music and you can hear it in the work of Uncle Jamm’s Army. This is “Dial-a-Freak” which was released in 1984. This is your host Chase March. Make sure you stay tuned as we will continue to explore the rise of hip-hop culture on the west coast in this month’s edition of Know Your History

That was typical of what you’d hear at an Uncle Jamm’s Army show back in the early 1980s. The electro sound was pretty popular in Los Angeles and their shows were hugely successful. It didn’t take long for the music of the parties, the clubs, and the arena shows to make it to the radio.
In 1983, local radio station KDAY 1530 am began spinning rap music 24 hours a day. They were the first radio station to dedicate their entire programming schedule to hip-hop music. They even beat New York to the punch there.
That same year, Egyptian Lover, who was part of Uncle Jamm’s Army, came out with his album entitled “On the Nile.” which featured a reworking of his popular single “Egypt Egypt.” The b-side of that single had the track “What is a DJ if he can’t Scratch?” and that’s the record I’d like to play for you now.
This is Chase March and we’re exploring the rise of West Coast hip-hop on this month’s edition of Know Your History. Stay tuned.
That was “What is a DJ if he can’t Scratch?” by Egyptian Lover and it was the b-side to his hit single “Egypt Egypt.”
We’ve been exploring the rise of hip-hop music on the West Coast and in particular in Los Angeles. So far we’ve only explored the late 1970s up to about 1983, and that was the year we first heard from a young MC by the name of Ice T. He released a record called “Cold Wind Madness” also known as “The Coldest Rap.” It had the electro type sound that Uncle Jamm’s Army was famous for. In fact, Ice T was pretty much the only rapper they had in the crew at the time.
In the following year, we were also introduced to Dr. Dre and DJ Yella. Before NWA, they were part of The World Class Wreckin’ Cru. They released a single “Slice” with the b-side “Kru Groove.” One year later, they released their full length album “Surgery.” It went on to sell 50,000 copies but this was only the beginning for Los Angeles based hip-hop moving large numbers.
Gangsta rap was on the forefront and it was about to change everything. Most people tend to associate the West Coast with this genre of rap music, but the truth is, it was starting to take shape across the United States by 1986. I covered Gangsta Rap in detail in Episode 12 of Know Your History. You can go to chasemarch.com right now, click on the Hip Hop History tab to read the article and download that podcast.
The West Coast had been building a hip-hop scene for years but the rest of the country didn’t sit up and take notice until Ice T released “6 in the Morning” in 1986.
Two years later, NWA burst on to the scene with “Straight Outta Compton. This group consisted of Dr. Dre, DJ Yella, Arabian Prince, Easy E. MC Ren, and Ice Cube. The group went on to sell ten million records and pretty much ignite the popularity of Gangsta rap.
JJ Fad, an all girl group, released their self-titled album in 1988 as well. Their single “Supersonic” went platinum and stayed on the Billboard music charts for about four months. They were also the first female rap group to be nominated for a Grammy.
West Coast artists had proved that they could sell records and that hip-hop was equally at home on either coast. Of course this is only the start of the story. The next chapter is all about Gangsta Rap, which I’ve already covered, but the third chapter is about the rise of G-funk. Stay tuned to Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge as we will be explroing that topic in the future.
If you like what you’ve heard today make sure you visit DOPEfm.ca. We bring you the best in underground hip-hop each and every Saturday night on 93.3 CFMU. We have a podcast and live webstreaming available as well. You can also visit my site, the official blog of the show, at chasemarch.com
And thanks to our new partners at The Word is Bond. Look forward to hearing a Know Your History segment every month there, as well as some exclusive interviews and bonus podcasts. Until next time, this is Chase March saying, You Better Know Your History. 

Free download

A to Z: Free Smartboard Game for Your Classroom

I’d like to share with you a game that I designed for the Smartboard. I’ve played it with several classes over the past two years and it has always been a hit.

I got the idea of it from this electronic game that I saw in the toy store one day.

I have seen many different variations of this game over the years so I thought I’d take a stab at designing my own version of the game.

This is the play screen of the game. There is a timer at the top of the game and I usually set it to two minutes. When the time has counted down an alarm will sound.

This is what the topic screen looks like. There are 24 different topics to choose from.

By clicking on one of the question marks, a category appears. The top left corner show the category of “TV Shows”

You then go back to the play screen. I usually have the students play this game in pairs. That way, students aren’t as nervous and if they happen to draw a blank, they have somewhere there to help them out.

All they need to do to play is say the name of a TV show such as “M*A*S*H” and then touch the letter M. That letter tile will then disappear. The goal is to come up with an example that fits the category for every single letter of the alphabet.
For example,
S could be “Spongebob Squarepants” or “Star Trek”
F could be for “Flintstones” or “Fairly Odd Parents”
You do not need to call out the examples in alphabetical order. The goal is to clear the board in the 2 minutes of time allotted. Just make sure that the students call out the example clearly so you can judge their answers as you go along.

I couldn’t fit the letter “X” or “Z” on the gameboard but if a student has an example for those letters, they can always just write the letter down on the board for bonus points.

The great thing about this file is that you can change the categories to suit your school or needs, or you can just download it and play it as it is.

This game is a lot of fun. I hope you will enjoy playing it with your class.

Download A to Z: Smartboard game

Download The Game from Smart Exchange

More Teaching Tips

Chasing Content – April 2007

Cover to Secret Origins #50, the last issue of...Image via Wikipedia

I’m still working on making a “Best Of” post for every single month I’ve blogged. To that end, I thought I would serve you up a second edition of Chasing Content this month. This way we can look back at what I was doing five years ago at this time.

Read all of the posts from April 2007

or just these favourites

Secret Origins – Well before I ever started this blog online, I started something very similar to it in an old coil notebook. I mused about those times five years ago when I wrote this article. That book was the first time I ever used the title “Silent Cacophony.”

Words Spoken are Not Premeditated – “Have you ever been surprised by what you said? Of course—but that would be impossible if you knew in advance what you were going to say.” What a great quote from Robert J Swayer’s novel Mindscan. It inspired this post.

Radio Theatre – I took my class to the radio station and we performed a radio play live on the air. It was an amazing evening that I just had to document.

Gender, Race, and Colour – I don’t think we need to use language that calls attention to one’s race, gender, or colour. Everyone is different and unique. It doesn’t matter if you are a male or a female, what race or ethnicity you are, or what colour your skin is. We are all people and shoudl be treated fairly and with the proper respect.

Cultural Influence – In this post, I discuss how my fiction writing seems to parallel my songwriting. It’s an interesting conection and I wonder if other writers find the same thing happens when they write.

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A Novel a Month

I am continuing to document everything I read over the course of this year. So far, I have grouped my posts by theme; Hip-Hop Memoirs, Graphic Novels, and now here are the novels I have read in addition to The Hunger Games . . .

School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

Lillian’s restaurant isn’t open on Monday nights. Once a month she uses that time to run a cooking class for beginners. This novel focuses on one of her classes. We see eight students from very different walks of life brought together for this unconventional cooking school. Lillian shares her love of cooking and is a patient and kind teacher who helps her students learn not just about food but about life.

I must admit that I picked up this book for two reasons. As a writer, I am interested in arena stories, stories where a group of characters come together due to the setting of the book. I want to write a story that takes place in one specific spot and thought this might inspire me to do that.

The second reason, I chose to read this book is because I really don’t understand the fascination with cooking. I know how to prepare a few meals and pretty much stick to those same ones over and over again. I don’t seek out new recipes or new foods. I tend to enjoy plain and easy meals. I thought by reading this I might get an appreciation of the art of cooking and see the joy some people find in it.

I wasn’t overly impressed with the book. There are some beautifully written passages and poetic metaphors but I didn’t feel that these characters were brought together for any larger purpose. The novel is more like a set of short stories. We take turns diving into the characters lives as each chapter focuses on one particular student.

Winter Town by Stephen Edmond

I knew I had to read this book when I read the inside jacket cover . . .

Told from two perspectives, this funny and honest novel . . . is a uniquer combination of text, comic strips, and art. It’s an indie movie in a book, perfect for the inner outcast and lovelorn nerd in all of us.

I love how the first half of the book is told from the boy’s perspective and how part of his thinking process is shown through his use of comic strips and sketches. We learn a lot more about his friend / girlfriend when the perspective changes for the second half of the story.

It’s a compelling story and a beautiful book.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

I have been a fan of the work that Neil Gaiman has done in comics and graphic novels for a long time now. I had heard of this book and the animated film that it spawned but hadn’t paid either of them much attention. That was a mistake. This book is captivating and I found it really hard to put down.

It tells the story of a young girl who travels through a mysterious door to discover a brand new world on the other side. Things seems remarkably similar but different and interesting all at the same time. She then discovers that she has “another mother” and “another father” and that they want her to stay with them forever. Coraline has to fight “with all her wits and courage to save herself and return to her ordinary life.”

It really is a great read and although it seems similar to Alice in Wonderland or the Narnia series, it is original and wonderful executed.

I’m a DJ Hero

Look what I found for $10 at the Giant Tiger!

It’s DJ Hero for the Nintendo Wii. I really like how much it looks and feels like a turntable a scratch deejay would use. And I love that it was on sale for a fraction of the original cost.

Here is a screen cap of the game. You can see that a record is spinning and that there are circles approaching the bottom of the screen. You need to press the correct button on the turntable controller when the record note passes over the button.

The music on the record is split into three different tracks or streams. The blue stream is the music backdrop, the red stream is for sound effects, and the green stream is all about the vocals. Of course, real records don’t work this way at all, but it really does work for the game play.

As you work your way through the challenges, you get to battle some celebrity deejays including DJ Q-Bert and RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan.

In the above picture you can see the green stream on the right has a scratch symbol. To perform a scratch you need to hold down the button on the controller while moving the platter back and forth. The red line shows an open box approaching. You can tap out any pattern that you choose at this point to add some interesting sound effects to the mix.

I like how the game gives you chances to freestyle. There are portions where you can use an effects knob to filter the sound of the record, where you can use the crossfader to cut between two different vocal streams, and places where you can put a backspin on the record to repeat a certain section.

This game doesn’t exactly give you the DJ experience. Real records and real mixes just don’t work this way. Deejaying is a difficult skill and requires things that simply wouldn’t work in a video game setting. That being said, I appreciate how the game designers have made this a difficult game. You need to press buttons rapidly, control the effects knob, crossfader, and turntable platter, and watch out for times when you can get special bonuses.

This game is worth picking up if you find it on sale. I want to pick up a second unit so I can battle against a live opponent.

One word of caution though, the game allows you to add a player to sing vocals but due to the nature of cutting, scratching, and adding sound effects, the vocal mix is quite disjointed. I wouldn’t recommend buying a microphone solely for this game. Stick to the tables and if you like the art of deejaying, trying moving on to the real thing.

More DJ tips and advice

Or you can try

Let the Smartboard be Your Artist

A Smartboard is a great tool to have in the classroom. It lets us do much more than a regular blackboard or whiteboard.

Today, I am going to show you how to use the built-in picture library.

Say you wanted to get an image of a soccer player for a lesson. Without a Smatboard, you probably would have drawn a stick-figure on the board and a circle beside the player to represent the ball.

Now, you can let your Smartboard be the artist for you. Simply, click on the picture frame icon on the left side of the screen. You will see a search bar appear above several folders.

Type in whatever image you would like to find. I typed in “soccer”

As you can see, there are seven folders that contain soccer images and altogether there are 22 soccer pictures in the gallery. All you need to do now is select the image you want and drag it into the white space of the page.

You can then click and drag the small grey circle in the bottom right corner to expand the image or to make it smaller.

There are a lot more things you can do with the images such as grouping them together, sending an image to the back so it can hide behind other images, and simple animations. The best way to learn what you can do with the Smartboard is to just give yourself some time to experiment with all of the functions. You can also find some Smartboard lessons and tips online that you can use as a starting point to creating your own Smartboard files and projects.

I hope you have found today’s tutorial useful. You may also want to check the Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive, it is updated every week with a brand new tip, lesson, or idea that you can use in the classroom.

Teachers helping teachers is what this series is all about. 

What an Angry Father Taught His Daughter (Jim Richards Breaks it Down)

Did you hear the story about the father who was upset with a Facebook update that his daughter posted?

It was basically just a complaint about the amount of chores she has to do.

Her dad responded to her Facebook message by filming himself shooting her laptop computer with a pistol.

I really like what Jim Richards had to say about it on his radio show. You can hear it with the player below.

“So let me get this straight. Everyone thinks this dad is a hero. I don’t get it at all. This jerk might have his panties in a knot, so decides to take the laptop out to the backyard and shoot his teenage daughter’s computer, videotaping the event, in the video verbally berates his adolescent daughter, posts it on the Internet for the entire world to see.

I point out his profound lack of parenting . . . Some people think I’m an idiot for thinking that this was stupid.

I think this girl is probably guilty of being 15 years of age. I’m not saying that being a good father means that you’re never a jerk, but where did she learn to be petty, ungrateful, self-martyring, and an attention-seeking little twit?

Probably if you have a kid that acts like a little spaz, you’re probably are a parent that might be a massive spaz.

So what did she actually learn?

She learnt that . . .

  • you act mature and destroy personal property to get even with somebody
  • belittle a beloved one for the entire world to see
  • misuse firearms in an angry moment
  • disrespect always should be met with more disrespect
  • retaliate is the only way to deal with something
  • that adults don’t take the high road
  • and you betray the trust of your young child
That’s the only thing that this daughter learnt. 
I’m Jim Richards.”
– from the Jim Richards’ Showgram on Newstalk 1010 CFRB
If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here