Monthly Archives: May 2012

Some Old Ruins in Ingersoll

I went for a trail run in Ingersoll the other day and I came across this. I wasn’t sure what it was at first glance so I decided to take a closer look.

I’ve come across some old cement foundations in quite a few of my trail runs, but I usually don’t stop to explore them, for some reason I felt compelled to this time.

I knew that this structure was at the edge of a river right where it met this pond and that gave me my first hint of what these ruins were.

I could see a couple remnants of what must have been walls at some point in history

I’m not exactly sure what this contraption is but it made me think that this structure must have been an old mill of some sort. My class had been studying earlier settlers and I thought it would be a great idea to snap a few pictures to see if they could identify this.

It’s interesting to come across a historical ruin such as this one, right here in South Western, Ontario. And thanks to the magic of the Internet, I was quickly able to identify it and share with you this image of the entire building back in its heyday.

This is a picture of the Waterhouse Woolen Mill as it used to look in the late 1800s. The Oxford County Library has a historical photo page that gives some further information about it, “Formerly located on the north side of Charles Street, 1 east of Mutual Street at the narrows of Carroll’s Mill Pond. Courtesy of Mr. George Wood.”

Music For Skaters (Free Skateboard Mixtape Download)

I love skateboarding and I love mixtapes, so I decided to bring both things together and craft “Music for Skaters”

I hope you enjoy the mix!

You can stream it with the player below or you can download the album version with skippable tracks.

Most of the songs are actually about skateboarding as you can see from the tracklist. They span the gamut from hip-hop to rock to ska to skate-punk. I guarantee that you will have a great skating session with these tunes blaring. Plus they are all professional mixed and blended together.

I hope you enjoy these skateboard songs and how they flow together.

01. Lupe Fiasco – Kick Push
02. MCBC & React – Thrasher
03. Black Eyed Peas – Fallin’ Up
04. Mission 5 – They Gave Chase
05. Pharrel – When Skateboard Came
06. OPM – Heaven is a Halfpipe
07. Goldfinger – King for a Day
08. The Faction – Skate & Destroy
09. Against All Authority – Grinding My Life Away
10. Aggression – Intense Energy
11. Beatnik Termites – Skateboard
12. Reshot – Father & Son
13. superGARAGE – Post Teen Crisis
14. Eddie Rap Life – Push My Wood
15. Murs – Transitions Az a Ridah
16. ANTHM & Blu – Polaris
17. Kayne West – Touch the Sky
18. MCBC & React – Skatelife
19. Beatnuts – Hit Me With That
20. Super Deluxe – All I Wanted was a Skateboard
21. Bones Bridgade – Thrashin’ USA
22. Suicidal Tendencies – Go Skate
23. The Aquabats – My Skateboard
24. Sublime – What I Got
25. Fugees – Vocab
26. Brodie – Skate, Rap, Sleep, Repeat
27. Ganga Lee – Not 4 Free
28. bAD Productions – Making a Beat with a Skateboard

If you want to burn this mix to a CD, it is best to do it on iTunes and set it to “no gap” between the songs. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to do it.

Download Music for Skaters tracked album

Enjoy the mix!

If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here

Teaching Tip – Character Education

Welcome to Teaching Tip Tuesday!

Every week I share with you a tip that I hope you will find useful in your teaching.

You can visit the Teaching Tips Archive to see all of the tips in the order I have posted them over the years. Please check that page as I will continue to update it every week with the latest Teaching Tip.

This page is all about Character Education. It will include tips and lessons that you can use to help students understand the importance of working together as a group and community. These social skills are just as imperative as the literacy and numeracy we teach every single day.

Please bookmark this page and come back often. I will update it with any new tip I publish that has to do with Character Education.

You might also want to check my Pinterest page and, specifically, my Character Education Board for more great ideas.

I hope you enjoy these Teaching Tips.

5 Tips To Motivate Reluctant Students (guest post)
Character Education
Classroom Rules (Expectations)
How to Listen
Leadership Activity
Rules to Live By
Teachable Moments
Three Choices You Always Have
Three Choices (reworked)
The Way You Speak Depends on the Situation
The What-If Activity
Work To Learn

Women in Hip-Hop (Complete Broadcast Download)

DOPEfm celebrates International Women’s Day every year by dedicating our entire overnight’s programming to the Women in Hip-Hop.

Here is the easiest way to download DOPEfm’s Second Annual Women in Hip-Hop Special.

This zipped file will give you all 7 parts of the show as they aired on 93.3 CFMU. You can click on each part below to read the transcript and download the individual files as well.

1) Introduction and Mini-mix
2) Women in Hip-Hop Roundtable Discussion
3) Mix Set 1
4) Know Your History: Episode 27 – Michie Mee
5) An interview with DJ Betti Forde
6) Mix Set 2
7) An interview with Money Stax

Download the complete on-air broadcast

and just in case you missed it

Download the inaugural Women in Hip-Hop Spectacular from last year.

Michie Mee, Canada’s First Lady of Hip-Hop (Know Your History Podcast)

In 1984, a legendary music club reopened up in Times Square. Under its original name of Latin Quarter, the nightclub became the place to go for live hip-hop music. Afrika Bambaataa, Big Daddy Kane, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Eric B & Rakim, The Jungle Brothers, and Queen Latifah are just a few of the notable acts you could catch there back in the mid to late 1980s.

Toronto was just starting to develop a hip-hop scene at this time as well. Up and coming rapper, Michie Mee knew she needed to go to the birth place of hip-hop culture to learn more about the music and establish some connections. She was only thirteen at the time.

“I got some fake ID, went to Latin Quarters to learn about hip-hop. That was the big place for everybody who wanted to know about hip-hop. There was KRS-One there. There was Scott La Rock, that’s who I really met and I was trying to prove to him that we were from Canada and there was some hip-hop in Canada. It’s like, ‘Shut up, there’s no hip-hop in Canada. You don’t rap in Canada. And you’re a female, you really gonna?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah!’ and I started spitting in front of Latin Quarters. He was like, ‘Ayo Kris!’ and he called people over and that’s how I met BDP at Latin Quarters. That was when my career really took off.”

And take-off it did. Michie Mee was the first Canadian hip-hop artist to be signed to a major label in the United States. She was a huge influence to the young rappers in Toronto at the time and helped establish the Canadian hip-hop scene that continues to flourish today.

Maestro Fresh Wes, one of Canada’s earliest and biggest hip-hop stars has nothing but praise and admiration for her. He put it this way, “Without Michie, there’d be no me. Understand what I’m saying? That’s Michie Mee.”

Welcome to Know Your History, I’m your host Chase March and, for the next half hour, we are going to celebrate the career and influence of Canada’s first rapper, Michie Mee. Stay tuned to DOPEfm all night long as we bring you exclusive interviews and mixsets from the Women in Hip-Hop as we celebrate International Women’s Day, DOPEfm style.

Download this episode of Know Your History for free, stream it with the player below, or continue reading.

Let’s start off today’s show with Jamaican Funk, Canadian Style. This is the title track of Michie Mee and LA Luv’s debut album from 1991.

That was Jamaican Funk, Canadian Style by Michie Mee and La Luv. It was the first major label release from a Canadian hip-hop artist. It’s interesting to see how she celebrates her heritage with not only her musical style, but also with the title of her album. There aren’t a lot of MCs that are comfortable doing that in this day and age. Some rappers hide their Canadian identity in seeking out international audiences.

Kardinal Offishall is currently signed to an American label and he has a lot in common with Michie Mee.
“I remember her coming to Flemington Park on time and we were all little kids . . . We didn’t even look at her like she was a female MC, she was just dope period. Michie Mee is probably one of the biggest influences in terms of my style of music.”
Canadian urban-music mogul, Ivan Berry had this to say about Kardinal, “He had this thing, like Michie, the perfect blend of what a Caribbean immigrant was living in Canada.”

Toronto celebrates the Carribbean make up of its city every year with a festival known as Caribana. People from all over the world come to this event but most importantly for us, it established a strong connection between the birthplace of hip-hop, New York, and its new home in the north, Toronto.

Michie Mee described it this way on OTA live. . .

“A lot of people in The Bronx, a lot of people in Brooklyn, gravitated to Toronto, mainly because we had Caribana. Caribana was on University Street so a lot of people from Eastern parkway would come here and celebrate the Caribana because ours was just a little bit more interesting than theirs.”

“Following that Caribbean trail came hip-hop. Kool Herc is a West-Indian man and when he formed it in The Bronx, he brought in that dancehall element and of all the sound systems setting up, which became block parties. When he was setting up the block parties, the only thing that would come out and make the difference was, people would come out and rap instead of deejaying. And everything just changed. And those same people gravitated toward Caribana when it was on University Street back in 1984-85.”

Michie Mee was born in St. Andrew, Kingston, Jamaica and her family moved to Toronto, Ontario, Canada when she was young. By the age of 13, Michie was crafting her unique style by combining rap with Jamaican Creole or Patois. She quickly gained attention from both American and Canadian audiences. During rap battles, she would switch from rapping to reggae. It was completely fresh and original at the time and it would leave her competitors stunned and the audience in an uproar.

Since Toronto was relatively close to the birthplace of hip-hop culture, Michie Mee would travel to New York frequently. It was there that she would meet legendary Scott La Rock and KRS-One of Boogie Down Productions. They came up to Toronto for a concert and introduced her to the crowd, which was huge for a Canadian artist to have these hip-hop heavyweights in her corner.

“I was actually part of getting them into Canada and introducing them to Ron Nelson. I said, ‘There’s these two guys out there that really do hip-hop. They had a deal with Bill Blast and were Boogie Down Productions. They wanted to come to Canada. So I made the call and Ron was like, ‘Boogie Down Productions! Okay, we’re gonna have Canada versus . . . and they had no idea who they were going to put me against. I just wanted to be a part of it.

At that age, you didn’t know you were promoting or connecting the dots so to speak. You didn’t know that history was going to be written. You didn’t know Boogie Down Productions was gonna be huge and Scott La Rock was gonna pass. All I knew was that I had a dream and they were helping that dream come alive from The Bronx, from Manhattan, right here in Canada. Before hip-hop went down south, to them, they knew they had to come to Canada to really place that foundation. They really came North before they went south.”
That’s pretty amazing right there. The legendary, BDP came to Canada early in their career. They were, in fact, influenced by the first lady of Canadian Hip-hop. Lead rapper, KRS-One regularly blends reggae with his rap style and it’s really interesting to know that he picked up this style from Michie Mee. You can hear the influence in the hit song, “The Bridge is Over.”

A Canadian connection to the classic battle Bridge Wars. How about that?
Boogie Down Productions were an early supporter of the Canadian hip-hop scene. They even produced and released a Canadian compilation album entitled “Break’n Out.” The lead single of this project was Michie Mee and LA Luv’s track “Elements of Style” in which KRS-One introduces the track.
That was “Elements of Style” by Michie Mee and LA Luv. It was their first single ever and was released in 1987 as part of compilation album “Break’n Out.” The entire project was produced by BDP and that song garnered a lot of attention both in the United States and Canada. The Canadian duo then appeared on a few other compilation albums before landing their major label debut album in 1991.
Michie Mee was riding high and it looked like she would rule the Canadian Hip-hop scene for some time. But fate had other plans for her and it would be nine years before we’d see a second album from her. Instead, she took some time away from the microphone to have a family. It must’ve been a tough decision for her.
“Becoming a mother is for real. If you have this baby, is this baby going to ruin your chances from what you started out and left university for? Is this the way to go? You leave university to do music, and then you have a baby, and that interferes with your music, so I just had to get my priorities straight.”
“My first love, and my true love, is the music. And then I had my son. He’s the greatest love of my life, and I’m glad I didn’t take his.”
When she did come back to the music, what she was doing on the microphone didn’t change but the music behind it did.
“My bass player / engineer who did all my hip-hop records, Walter, called me down to Wellesley Studio. They said they had a track for me to go on. When I heard it, that had guitars like crazy. When they heard me on that track, I was in. When we took it on its feet, the audience and the crowd we drew was crazy.”
“It was a whole new ball game across Canada and there was a lot of love. I was still spitting. I was still doing reggae. To me, the music was different, but the fact that they understood me, and when I said certain things, they jumped with me. I was like, ‘It doesn’t matter about the music, it is the writing and it is what I’m saying. And you do relate because you jump the same times I want you to jump. They’d never seen it. They never heard it before. Imagine seeing it for the first time. I did more rock records in terms of albums and toured more with rock than I did with hip-hop.”

Michie Mee also went into show business. She’s starred in movies such as “In Too Deep” alongside LL Cool J and Omar Epps. He was also in “My Baby’s Daddy” with Eddy Griffin, and in “Chicks With Sticks” with Jason Priestly. She’s appeared in several TV shows and had the starring role in the CBC series “Drop the Beat.”

Her first love is the music and she returns to it again and again. In 2004 she joined forces with a group of local artists including Maestro Fresh Wes, Thrust, and several R&B singers to form the Peace Prophets. The group released this single for charity entitled “Drop the Chrome.”

Michie Mee was the first Canadian rapper to get signed. You just heard her on that posse cut for charity. I hope you’ve been with us for this entire episode as we have celebrated the career of the first lady of Canadian hip-hop, Michie Mee.

We’re celebrating International Women’s Day all night here on DOPEfm and we’ll be featuring exclusive interviews, mixsets, and a roundtable discussion focusing on the Women in Hip-Hop.

This is Chase March signing off on another edition of Know Your History. Thanks for tuning in!

Download Know Your History: Episode 27 – A Spotlight on Michie Mee

Music Playlist at

Visual Tour of The Scenic Trails of Ingersoll

Let’s head over to the Thomas Ingersoll Scenic Trail for a photographic tour of the area.

Thomas Ingersoll was an early settler to Upper Canada. He was originally from Massachusetts but moved to what is now Ingersoll, Ontario in 1793. He named the area Oxford-on-the-Thames but it was his son, Charles, who renamed the town to what we know it as today.

Another interesting historical fact is that he was the father of Laura Secord. She was a hero of the War of 1812 as she took it upon herself to deliver a warning to the British of an impending American attack. Without her heroic actions, this area we are exploring today might not have remained Canadian territory. It’s hard to believe that we are currently observing the 200th anniversary of this event.

I started my trail run today at the Harris Street entrance of Smith’s Pond Park.

The trail is relatively flat and completely paved so it is very accessible to anyone wanting to have a nice leisurely walk or a quick run through a few different parks and one tourist attraction.

Of course, being the trail runner that I am, I ran across the grass and found myself on the opposite side of the river. Fortunately, there was this bridge to get me back to the main trail.

The Ingersoll Cheese and Agricultural Museum is “dedicated to the collection, preservation, documentation, exhibition and interpretation of objects that reflect the unique history, growth and development of the Town of Ingersoll and surrounding area from pre-pioneer settlement to the present. The Museum brings the past to life through demonstrations, interaction between staff/volunteers and the general public, tours, educational programs, workshops, special events and hands-on activities.”

The site consists of a series of five unique buildings, which include a replica 20th century Cheese Factory, the Sherbrooke Barn, Sports Hall of Fame that features locally inducted athletes.

The Cheese Factory building was the first structure to be erected in 1977 to commemorate the importance of the dairy and cheese industry. It was the dairy and cheese industry that went on to establish the town of Ingersoll as a thriving commercial and industrial base during the later half of the 19th century.

There is also “a working blacksmith shop and the Ingersoll Community Museum.”

The scenic trail comes to an end at this point. I continued to run across the street and through a new subdivision that is currently being built before turning around and heading back down the trail.

There are several baseball diamonds, a community arts centre, a playground, and a splash pad at Victoria Park. I love how accessible these things are and how all of these community buildings and attractions are connected through a trail system.

I ran passed the Harris Street entrance to this trail and it actually connected to another park.

Yvonne Holmes Mott Memorial Park has a beautiful gazebo and a nice playground structure.

Well, that’s my tour for today. I hope you enjoyed accompanying me on my run. If you’d like to take some more photographic tours click on the tab at the top of this page. There are several dozen other tours there waiting for you.

If I Won the Lottery, I Wouldn’t Quit My Job

After winning the lottery to the tune of $50 million dollars, a 34 year-old electrician told the media that he had no plans to quit his job. That seems unusual. Most people dream of winning the lottery so they can have a permanent vacation. 

If I won, I wouldn’t quit my job either. Here’s why.

I love teaching and I have regularly poured my own money into my classroom. Imagine what I could do with just a fraction of that jackpot.

I would turn my classroom into a completely paperless zone. I would buy every student in my class a laptop or a tablet computer. I would also get them a stylus pad so they could still do some handwriting right on their computers.

I would give them tools such as video cameras, digital cameras, electronic drums, musical instruments, samplers and drum machines, and, of course, a full DJ set.

I would have them creating short movies, podcasts, songs, stories, photo essays, and much more.

I would give them private and secure websites so they could create an online portfolio of all of their work over the course of the year.

It would be an amazing school year and one that my students surely would never forget.

I wish I had the budget to do all those things right now, but I don’t. I wish I could win the lottery so I could put some of these plans into action,. The only problem is that I never play. To me, the odds of winning seem to be so slim that it never seemed worth it to actually play regularly.
I bet last week’s winner felt the same way. He only reluctantly bought a quick-pick ticket (one where the computer randomly picks the numbers for you) after the cashier suggested he should. What a stroke of luck!
I often dream about my perfect classroom but I really don’t have any way to make it a reality, not without a bit of luck and a sudden windfall. So, perhaps I should run out and buy a ticket. After all, I can’t win if I don’t play.

How to Care for Students

I found this on The Canadian Cave of Cool and immediately thought about how it could be applied to the classroom.

So let’s just rewrite these 12 rules for teaching students.

1) Respect their need for privacy. 

I don’t think we need to see everything that our students write. We could encourage them to write whatever they want and to even keep a personal journal in the classroom. Not all of their writing can be private though. As teachers we need to evaluate their writing, just not all their writing. We can allow students to chose what they will share with us.

2) Never Embarrass Them in Public

Instead of berating students in public, we can take them aside and speak to them personally. I tell my students during the first week of school that if I am talking to a student, they are to respect that and not try to overhear what is being said, or talk about it with the student afterwards.

3) Let Them Observe First in New Situations

It’s important that we model and even allow other students to model certain tasks and ways of doing things. Everyone can use an example before jumping headlong into space.

4) Give Them Time to Think, Don’t Demand Instant Answers

We can do this by asking a question of the class, letting the students talk with their neighbours about it, calling attention back, and then asking for someone to share. It’s a simple strategy but one that definitely has merit.

5) Don’t Interrupt Them

Our students deserve to be heard. We might not always have time for it during a lesson but we should make time to ensure that each student has a voice within our classrooms.

6) Give Them Advance Notice – 7) Give Notices of Time Left

I do this all the time. I post up the weekly timetable by the classroom door. I also write the schedule for the day on the board every morning. When the students are working, I give them a two-minute warning before we pack up and move on to the next task.

8) Reprimand Them Privately

Singling out students is never a good idea. Do it privately whenever possible.

9) Teach Them New Skills Privately

This is a tough one for the classroom teacher. We don’t have time to instruct students individually. We just don’t. But we can do it occasionally for students who really need it. We can also use small group instruction whenever possible.

10) Enable Them to Find One Best Friend

You can do this for students who really need it by working with another teacher from a different class to set up a mentor / study buddy. It takes some coordination but can really pay off in the long run.

11) Don’t Push Them to Make Lots of Friends

I think it is important to have our students work with a variety of partners and to experience working with different members of their classroom and student body. However, some students will want to work independently and keep to themselves more often than not. And for the most part, we don’t need to see that as a problem we need to fix as teachers.

12) Respect Their Introversion

We need to respect the quirks and character traits of all our students. We can enocuarge them to learn and try new experiences but we don’t need to “fix” who they are.

More Teaching Tips

My List of 2012 Reads

I read a lot, but I have never really kept track of it in any sort of reading log. Also, since I don’t buy books very often, I don’t have a bookcase to display what I have read. As such, I’ve decided to keep track of everything I read over the course of this year right here on this blog.

I’ve written several posts about what I’ve read  but thought it would be nice to have my 2012 Reads list all in one place. I will continue to update this post with my new additions as well.
Here goes,

What Happened to Goodbye
Winter Town


Daredevil – 1 title (Born Again)
Doctor Who – 2 titles (Fugitive, The Ripper)
Ender’s Game – 1 title (Formic Wars)
Fables – 1 title (Rose Red)
Fantastic Four – 1 title (Fantastic Four)
Foiled – 1 title (Foiled)
Jack of Fables – 2 titles (Vol. 1 The Great EscapeVol. 2 Jack of Hearts)
Kill Shakespeare – 1 title (Vol. 2: The Blast of War)
Marvel 1985 – 1 title (1985)
Midnight Nationcomplete series
Star Trek – 3 titles (Assignment Earth, Year 4, The Ashes of Eden)
Superman – 1 title (Red Son)
Transformers – 2 title (For All Mankind, Classic UK Vol. 2)
The Hip-Hop Wars


I Suck at Girls
The Band Plays On
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running


The Tipping Point
Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us


Enhancing the Professional Practice of Music Teachers: 101 Tips
The Book Whisperer
The Complete Idiots Guide to Conducting Music
The Write Start: Nurturing Writing at Every Stage


A Year of Writing Dangerously: 365 Days of Inspiration and Encouragement

Total Books Read in 2012: 65

Chasing Content – May 2008

I’m still working on making “Best of” posts for every month that I’ve blogged. That’s why I am hitting you up with a second edition of Chasing Content this month.

Let’s look at what we were doing four years ago about this time.

Read all of the posts from May 2008. . .

or just these extra-special shiny ones.

A New Cereal on the Bookshelf – Here’s a creative project you can do with your students that will have them designing cereal boxes based upon something they have read. It’s a great idea for book reports and my students really enjoyed it.

A Visual Tour of My Run – I had the crazy idea of taking a camera along with me on a trail run one day. Who knew that it would spark an entire series of posts? There are now several dozen Photographic Tours you can accompany me on, including this very first one. Enjoy!

Nothing – There is really nothing I can say about this post. You just need to see it for yourself, and then you’ll know why it’s a crowd favourite.

The Best Comic Books – Here’s a list of some amazing graphic novels. It’s part of my Recommended Reads series. If you’ve never read a comic book before, you could start with one of these titles. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what they have to offer.

Why We Should Look at Story – We all organize events and situations into stories. We all tell stories. We all consume stories by our choice of entertainment mediums. That’s why story should be studied in detail. and why I started this small series of posts.

Thanks for Chasing Content with me!

Millennium Trail System – Woodstock Running Tour

I love finding new trails to run and bringing along my camera to give you a visual tour of the route.

For today’s photographic tour, we are going to explore the Youth Start Trail in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada.

I had never run this trail before so I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. The map looked promising though as it showed a nice loop of a trail. It would have been nice to have an exact distance of it written down though.

I started off running across this yellow bridge

This would be a great place to camp out with a novel. It is absolutely beautiful and there are several sitting areas just like this one along the route.

This boardwalk is quite unique. I haven’t seen one like this before. It’s not made out of boards at all.

It is made out of concrete and there are metal plates to help change the angle so the trail can wind along the river.

I found myself back at the trailhead after running for only four minutes. I know my pace and could now estimate that this trail is about one kilometer long. But when I first found this trail, I noticed that there was another one almost directly across the street.

I don’t understand the name of this park at all. I really didn’t know what to expect, maybe a short trail leading up to a toboggan hill or a tube slide. I was just hoping the trail would be at least three kilometers long so I could get my five kilometers in for the day.

There are several trails that loop up and connect to each other. I should have started my run here. I didn’t get to explore this park in as much detail as I would have liked. I will definitely have to go back soon and don’t worry, I’ll bring my camera along to document that one as well.

More Running Tours

Teaching Tips – Language Arts

Welcome to Teaching Tip Tuesday!

Every week I share with you a tip that I hope you will find useful in your teaching.

You can visit the Teaching Tips Archive to see all of the tips in the order I have posted them over the years. Please check that page as I will continue to update it every week with the latest Teaching Tip.

This page is dedicated to Language Arts instruction. It will include tips and lessons that you can use in your classroom to teach reading, writing, oral communication, and media literacy.

Please bookmark this page and come back often. I will update it with any new tip I publish that has to do with Language Arts, otherwise known as English instruction. It will have tips about spelling, grammar, reading, writing, poetry, and anything else having to do with Language Arts.

You might also want to check my Pinterest page and, specifically, my Language Arts Board for more great ideas.

I hope you enjoy these Teaching Tips.

5 Minute Daily Language Activities
A New Cereal on the Bookshelf
Define Yourself: Word Collage
Fairy Tales
Get Them Writing
Guided Reading
Halloween Vowel Sounds
How a Glue Stick Works
Improvisational Stories
Jigsaw Listening
Letter Writing
Lighter or Darker Words
Literacy Strategy A.P.E. (guest post) 
Making Comics Online
Mutli-Syllabic Rhymes (Poetry)
Picture Prompts
Read Everything
Scaredy Squirrel Drama Lesson
Share a Story
The Book Whisperer – Get Your Students Reading
The Only Audio / Video Response Worksheet You’ll Ever Need
The Way You Speak Depends on the Situation
Using Pop Music
Unscramble, Write, and Draw
Visual (Drawing) Telephone
We Love Books Day
Word Hammers
Word Study Games

Ender’s Game Prequel Rocks!*

Orson Scott Card created one of the best science fiction series of all-time with the novel Ender’s Game. The first book was absolutely amazing and it was hard to believe that he could top the success of it, but he did. The second book in the series, Speaker for the Dead, is just as brilliant and my favourite tale in the series so far.

The latest edition to the Enderverse, as it is affectionately known, is a prequel to the original novel that started everything off. Surprisingly though, Card has not delivered this story to us in novel form. Instead, he has chosen to share this tale in comic book form.

Graphic novels are nothing new to Orson Scott Card. He has written Ultimate Iron Man: Volume One and Two. Several of his stories have been adapted to the comics medium as well, including Red Prophet and most of the Ender’s Game series of novels.

Now, for the first time ever, he is releasing an Ender’s Game story in comic book form. I really like comic books and think this was a good way to present his story to a new generation of fans. It’s hard to believe but this timeless science fiction series is almost thirty years old now.

The Formic Wars: Burning Earth starts with a group of space miners. They are harvesting minerals from asteroids quite some distance from Earth. When they notice a strange space craft moving at near impossible speeds, they discover that aliens are heading directly towards Earth. They are the first line of defence and the only ones who can give Earth a fair warning of what is coming.

The tale is incredible well done and has me wanting more. It’s nice to see that there is one character from the original novel in the series as well.

If you are interested in the series, I highly recommend you check out the audio books of the original series. They are done with full-cast narration, sound effects and music, and they really bring the story to life.

It’s nice to see Card working with different formats and mediums. I know that a feature film is also in the works. All I know is that he tells great stories and I am a huge fan on his work.
* Did you notice the pun I included in the title of this post?

I’ve done a lot of reading this year and I’m keeping track of every title on this blog. Next week I will post a complete list (which I will continue to update)

Money Stax on Why It’s Never Enough (Interview Part 3)

Chase: “Let’s play one more song and then come back and wrap this up. We’re talking to Money Stax from Viscous Cycle, and Monopoly, and the Co-op, among other things.

This is part 3 of the transcript for the blog. In case you missed any of it, you can go back and read it from the beginning, download the entire show for free, stream it with the player below, or just pick up reading here. Enjoy!

I want to pay ‘Never Enough’ because it really touches on the themes of what we are doing today on DOPEfm for International Women’s Day. So we gotta drop that one and come back and talk about the lyrics in it. Stay tuned.”

Chase: “That was ‘Never Enough’ from Viscous Cycle and we’re speaking to one member of the group, Money Stax, right now. That song talks about many of the issues we’ve been exploring tonight about females in rap and how they are not quite getting the respect they should be getting. The chorus says, ‘But we keep being clever as f*ck’ showing that, ‘Look, we’re doing our thing. We’re doing our thing. Pay Attention to us!’ and I really hope people are.

The second verse is really compelling too because that’s a story about a young girl who wants to be a rapper. Some of the lyrics there are, ‘It’s funny how the hate is always coming from behind, when you can say it to my face. But it ain’t nothing, I’mma shine. I’mma keep doing my thing and let the foolishness subside.’ I like that.”

Money Stax: “And the next line is, ‘And the upside to the hate is gonna make ‘em push rewind.’ That’s one of my favourite lines in the song because we get a lot of hate. It’s hard to gain people’s love and admiration when you are doing something slightly outside of the box. But at the same time, you’d like to say, ‘Hey, I don’t like that,’ it’s also keeping you pressing the rewind button and going back to listen to our material.

That song means a lot to me because it represents where I’m at with my music right now. It represents how I feel about this whole music game and my career. It’s an emotional topic for someone who is really involved in it. You put your heart and your soul into it. I’ve literally taken time away from my family to do this music stuff. So, when you can give everything and be really dope and do it all yourself.

We record ourselves, and we have in-house production, and some of the beats on the Monopoly project, I made. The title track you were talking about, I co-produced that track. I’m a graphic designer and I’ve done all of the artwork as well. Everything from top to bottom, we kind of have to generate it ourselves. We have to be like 12 people in 1 and it’s just never enough.

You’d listen to my music and assume that we’re doing big things. The truth of the matter is, the music is great and we’re getting a lot of love, but we’re not getting a lot of people buying our albums or paid gigs. It literally is never enough. I put in years and years and years of work, decades of work. I have these projects in my backpack that I’ve printed up because my husband and I also have a CD / DVD printing and duplication company so we print up all of our own merch. I’ll have a backpack full of merch and I can’t really get rid of any of it. People don’t want to pay $10 for a CD any more, they don’t want to pay $10 to get into the club anymore. You can download everything for free and get major label stuff for relatively cheap and it leaves us independent people who aren’t willing to hustle for it, with nothing. It literally is never enough.

I’d have to have an entire team to make it enough. My rhymes, my dopeness, my input, my creativity, my twenty years of experience means absolutely nothing when I can do 50 shows in a year and not make more than a $100.”

Chase: “Yeah, and it shouldn’t be like that. You’ve got mad talent and when I first heard the album, I liked you right away. But I was on your YouTube channel last night for like an hour and I texted my girlfriend about it and said, ‘I love this chick!’ The more I was watching, the more I was impressed with everything you are doing. If talent spoke for itself, you’d be throwing up Lil Wayne numbers.”

Money Stax: “That’s the goal. From the song ‘Never Enough’ stems my new solo album which I might call ‘I Quit’ or ‘F*ck Hip-Hop.’ It’s messed up that I have to be on it like that but it’s a very unrewarding profession, so to speak. I’d be happy with some monetary success. I don’t even expect much from it, but give me something.

It pulls, pulls, pulls. I think it’s like that for every genre of music. It sucks and it sucks whatever it can from you. And if you happen to be one of those few people that happens to be in the right place at the right time and the right person with the right amount of money hears you, then you have a career with it.

Or, most likely, you can do this for a long time and the right person never hears you and all the energy and time you put into this is wasted. As much as I say, ‘I Quit’ I never quit because I love hip-hop so much. I have a studio, literally in my bedroom. That’s not a joke. I record right here at the house. I’m always gonna record music.

But there has to be a stop. There has to be a point as an adult where you say, ‘It doesn’t matter how good I am, I have to be successful in my life.’ I don’t want to be that thirty-year-old rapper who has no money to show for it. That’s just lame.”

Chase: “Well, we will definitely support you and your music on DOPEfm and The Word is Bond because you deserve it and the talent speaks for itself. We’ve been talking to Money Stax and she’ll give you all the info you need right now to find out more about her and her music.”<

Money Stax: “You can go to the bandcamp pages for Viscous Cycle, The Co-op, Monopoly, and the Crack Money doesn’t have a site just yet but it’s coming soon. Also on Twitter @MoneyStax.

I love underground radio and I will definitely follow your show. Also host an underground hip-hop show out here on every Saturday night from 8:00 – 9:00 Central (9-10 EST.) The show is called ‘Knowledge Dropped, Lessons Taught’ with EZ Eddie D. It’s the second longest running hip-hop show in the nation.

You can also get at me directly itsaviscouscycle (at) gmail (dot) com. We take any and all types of request, any types of exposure, any show opportunities. Please feel free to get directly at me. We’re open to whatever.

Chase: “That’s awesome, so people can listen to your show Saturday nights, get a little bit of a break and then listen to our show.

Money Stax: “It’s perfect! You can’t lose.”

Chase: “It’s been an honour and a privilege talking to you. I hope you have success in happiness in all you do. This has been amazing.”

Money Stax: “Thank you so much for having me.”

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Money Stax on Truth in Hip-Hip (interview and download)

Let’s jump right back into the transcript of the interview I did with rapper, Money Stax. You can listen to the interview with the player below or download the podcast for free. This is Part 2 of the transcript, of you missed Part 1, you can go back and read the entire interview from the beginning. Enjoy!

Chase: “I’m hip-hop to the bone and a hip-hop historian but sometimes I feel that I have to apologize for this music. Not all rap music has horrible messages, not all of it is violent or sexist. I don’t think many artists try to censor themselves and think like, ‘Maybe there is a young girl listening and maybe I should try to say something different.’ The fact is that some hip-hop tells girls that they are basically worthless.”

Money Stax: “It’s sad but unfortunately, that is the message that goes out. I would say that back in the day, we heard it more flat out with people calling women ‘bitches’ and ‘hoes.’ I guess I do hear the term ‘bitch’ being thrown about nowadays a lot too. Truth be told, I don’ listen to a lot of that crap. It doesn’t matter who the mainstream person is that’s saying it. I don’t listen to mainstream radio. My life doesn’t include that type of degrading. You don’t have to be a part of it, you know what I’m saying? You don’t have to listen to it. You don’t have to like it. You don’t need to turn on the radio. I think people are gonna be subject to whatever they let themselves be subject to.

I was hoping my spot would take over more of like a Lauryn Hill spot, someone who is respected with their clothes on and can bring about female empowerment, make you feel good about yourself and respect yourself as opposed to buying into the façade that you’re not really worth shit because you are a chick. Stuff that hip-hop talks about now is really not good for females over all.”

Chase: “Yeah, I’m hoping we can start to spread that positive vibe. And I like how The Co-Op doesn’t just mean you and your husband coming together, it means conscious operations. And I think having conscious lyrics and themes in your songs and even yourself, you’re an inspiration and a role model to everybody. That is one of the reasons I wanted to get you on the show. We need to hear more women on the mic.

I think it’s time we heard some more of your music. Let’s spin “You People” by Viscous People. You can check it out and download the album from

Chase: “All right, that was “You People” by Viscous Cycle and we are lucky enough to have Money Stax on the phone right now on DOPEfm for part of our International Women’s Day Special. I hope you’ve been listening all night long because every track and everything we’re doing tonight, everything has been blessed by a woman, and we have one of the dopest females doing it on the mic right now. Money Stax.

I really want to touch on what you were doing with that last track. Earlier in the song you said you were spreading food for thought that’s edible. I love that line. At the end, you say, ‘You people hear what we’re not saying. You still rewind, recite our rhymes, but why?’ and it closes off with the ‘but why?’ What are you asking there? I’m confused.”

Money Stax: “You have been the most perceptive person who has ever interviewed me before on my music, I swear. This is the greatest thing ever because I can talk to you in depth and you’ll know what I’m talking about. I am so glad you brought that up, You are hitting the nail on the head with it.

‘You People’ is a song where Neeky Devaro and I said, ‘Let’s write a song about nothing.’ It means absolutely nothing. We literally picked words out of the clear blue sky that rhymed with each other and made it and said, ‘We’re gonna spit it with so much feeling that people are gonna actually think that it means something.’

You picked up on a particular line but really couldn’t reference anything about what the song was about because it really isn’t about anything except what the hook says, which is, ‘You people must be crazy or lost your minds. And I just can’t decide. You people hear what we’re not saying. You still rewind, recite our rhymes, but why?’

It’s kind of playing with the audience because people listen to whatever is playing on the radio and if it’s catchy, they’ll bob their head and pick up on the hook and repeat it and recite it. And half the time you don’t even know what you are saying, which goes back to the whole female degrading thing, a lot of the times people just like the music and they know all the words because they like the music and they aren’t even thinking about how rude or degrading it is. So with this, we just wanted to play with that.

We purposely made it the lead single for the album, made it super-catchy so people would listen and want to rewind it, but we’re basically telling you in the hook that we are not saying anything.”

Chase: “Wow, that is brilliant! Ya know, sometimes I watch a movie and then I watch the bonus DVD feature and sometimes that gives you an ‘Oh, wow!’ moment. I feels like I just went behind the scenes right now and had one of those ‘Oh, wow!’ moments.”

Money Stax: “You absolutely did. We don’t usually tell that to people. It’s a couple years old now and we might as well tell they people what they’ve got. The one interesting thing about that song and video that really make me like it is that that’s my son and he’s actually on the hook. So the little kid voice you hear on the hook, that’s him. So he’s a part of our music and that keeps us grounded. We’re not gonna go so far this way or that way or talk about certain stuff because we have children and we’re adults and she’s married and I’m married. We want to live a regular lifestyle. We’re just regular people who can rap really good. And not only is my son in that song and in that video, which is a really cool video, but he’s also in the song ‘Recess’ which is on the new Viscous Cycle album and hopefully he’ll get to be in that video as well.”

Chase: “It’s amazing that your family is so involved in your music. You have a group with your husband and you also get your son involved. Does he spit or was he just doing the chorus?”

Money Stax: “He does write his own rhymes. I don’t push him in that arena because being an MC is a very unappreciated art, monetarily and respect wise. We do a lot to make sure our children have everything they need, more than what they need, especially education wise. I just wouldn’t want them to follow a career in music. But, we have a recording studio in the house. Me and my husband rhyme. My best friend rhymes. I’m on a radio show, I was a veejay host for MTV 3. You can’t get away from it, so I’m not gonna tell him he can’t do it, but at the same time, I’m not going to push him into it. But what good is having children who are greatly inclined to music if you can’t utilize them every once in a while for your own projects. He’s really good. He’s a good writer and he’ll probably get into the business for himself one day, unfortunately.”

Chase: “Unfortunately. It’s a shame we have to talk like that because hip-hop is such a great art form and there are so many positives to it and so many things we can do. I’m a project of the golden age of hip-hop.”

Money Stax: “Yeah, back then, lyrics were appreciated and pretty much all you had, which is very important. Words are power. I used to make songs that years afterwards will still have people coming up to me to tell me how much the song meant to them. I made a song twenty years ago about having an abortion, but I’ve never had an abortion and I’m not pro or against it. I just know that I’m pro-choice. Whatever, whichever woman wants to do whatever they want to do. But, personally I wouldn’t choose it because that’s my personal choice. That’s how I have three kids. But at the same time, for years and years after that I had people coming up to me to tell me they could relate to the song, how much the song meant to them and how it helped them get through a difficult time.

I don’t think these newer artists really understand the impact of words because you say things and they are just words to you when you write them but them mean something to someone else. I hadn’t been through that, it kind of didn’t mean anything to me when I wrote it. I listened to the beat and thought, ‘Hey, this is kind of a downer beat and it sounds like I should be talking about something that went bad or an issue that went wrong for me.’ So I just made up a scenario. Little did I know that those words severely impacted so many people.

The thing about the 90s, the golden era, was that your words were all you had. It wasn’t all you had because beats were important too but your words were so important. If your words weren’t correct, then people just didn’t pay attention to you. Not only did what you were saying had to be what they wanted to hear, but your flow and delivery had to be how they wanted to intake it. And that is definitely an art that’s lost at this point. It’s really all about gimmick and flash right about now.”

Chase: “Like you, I get all my hip-hop from underground campus radio, from university stations, and blogs and not from commercial radio or video. I wear underground as if it were a title, ‘Oh, I’m underground!’ It’s a shame that we have it as a title.

I’m getting a little of track of what I wanted to ask. What rappers say, many people in the general audience take as truth. We had the whole keep it real thing so people think what you are saying is 100% truth. You talked about the abortion song you made without actually having that experience. That’s where I wanted to get into the poetics of hip-hop and how this really is a poetic from where the speaker in our poems doesn’t have to be role of the MC or the persona. I think a lot of people don’t see that, and if you do something that’s a little bit outside of your own experience, some people might get thrown by that. You know, you can keep it real by just presenting topics that are important to you and doing it in a different way.

I think the storytelling element of hip-hop isn’t emphasized as much these days. Some people are still telling stories but a lot of people are just throwing stuff together to make it sound good.

Money Stax: “Right, I learned a very valuable lesson about whether rappers are 100% true in lyrics or not when I first started in hip-hop 25 years ago or something, I though the same thing. I don’t know what makes you as a child think that whatever someone is saying is 100% true. I had gotten on to Redman really, really hard when I was a junior in highschool. I thought the sun rose and set on him because of ‘Muddy Waters,’ that was my favourite album. I met him.

I lived in New Jersey, right before I was leaving to go to college, I met him. I met him with a friend of mine and I told him I was going to college soon and she told him that I was his biggest fan. He said, ‘I’ll come back and kick it with you.’ He was the coolest dude EVER! It was the coolest thing EVER.

He came back to meet up with us. We just kicked it and talked but it basically meant the entire world to me. During our conversation, I had asked him, ‘So is everything you say in your music 100% true?’ because at that time I was writing poetry and music but I was only writing things that were true. My mind didn’t conceive being able to write a story from someone else’s point of view or say something that I would never contemplate doing.

Redman said, ‘It’s not all true. Nobody’s music is 100% true.’ and I had to take it in because although being around him for a couple for hours felt literally like ‘Muddy Waters.’ His personality came through that album so hard that when I was with him, I felt that I knew him already. The things that he said were very reminiscent of that last album he had dropped at the point I’d met up with him.

It definitely opened my eyes to what being a musician is all about. It also helped me realize that everything people say isn’t always 100% true. And then as I grew as an MC I understood that you could write something from someone else’s perspective. Sometime you are gonna write a story that isn’t something you have done but maybe something you would do if you were put in that situation, or something you think you would do. It doesn’t necessarily need to be 100% true as in I did it and now I’m saying it and it just makes it solid or the truth. It’s not like that. There’s definitely an art form to it.

It’ s a poetry thing as well, which a lot of people don’t associate with hip-hop anymore but when I was growing up hip-hop and poetry were hand-in-hand with each other. When you listen to a poet, you don’t expect every poem to be about them.”

Chase: “I know certain MCs wear what’s like a mask. Their MC persona is almost larger than life, like comic book hero kind of stuff as opposed to a regular everyday MC.”

Money Stax: “Yeah, when you look at somebody like 50 Cent, I don’t listen to him but my husband does, and he’ll drop music currently that says he will kill somebody. But we all know 50 Cent isn’t gonna kill anybody now. Maybe he would have ten or fifteen years ago he would have killed somebody, but he’s making too much money, why would he do that now?

Anybody making real money off of this and doing the real business and saying stuff like, ‘I’ll kill you,’ or ‘I’m swinging all this weight.’ Just think about it. It doesn’t make any sense that they’d put themselves out there like that when they are already making way more than they need to make off of their craft. It’s just a way to attract people who want to hear that crap. There’s always gonna be a large quotient of people enlightened by fancy cars, and jewelry, and drug dealers, and whatever other lifestyle that comes along with it. To the rappers that are willing to jump into that arena and either act like they do that or draw on previous experiences to make it seem like it’s cool to do that now, you’re gonna gain the respect of people like that.

The storytelling thing is a gift and a curse because you can tell a story about an abortion that can help people through hard times or you can tell a story about being a drug dealer and possibly get kids to want to be just like you. So it’s a messed up gift and a curse.”

Chase: “For sure, and I think part of the problem is that it’s not really called attention to. I like to bring that up with my students to let them know that this is just as fake as wrestling and you just have to take it for what it is. So hopefully people are listening to the conscious lyrics out there and artists like you. Sometimes you do want the fluff though. I’m just a lyric head. I just want to hear lyrics over good beats with a nice flow.”

Money Stax: “That’s me all day. If someone can do that for me, I’m good.”

Download this show for free or stream it with the player below. And don’t forget to come back tomorrow to read Part 3.

Read Part 3

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Money Stax Interview

Chase: “All right everybody, this is Chase March and we have a special guest for you tonight. Money Stax is on our phone lines.

You can download this podcast for free right now, stream it with the player below, or just continue reading. Thanks for tuning in!

Money Stax is an excellent rapper and I’m surprised that I hadn’t heard of her prior to now. I had been putting together a women’s day tribute for International Women’s Day and I tweeted about it and El Williams suggested I check out a group called Viscous Cycle. So I found your album on bandcamp and was really impressed with what I heard and immediately contacted you to be part of our special. Welcome to the program!”

Money Stax: “Thank you very much. I appreciate it.”

Chase: “And then last night, I was looking around and I see that you are really busy in the hip-hop scene. Not only are you part of Viscous Cycle but you are part of a couple other crews as well. Can you tell us a little bit about what you’ve been doing and where your coming from for anyone who might not have heard of you yet?”

Money Stax: “I was born in New York and raised in New Jersey, that is basically what I consider to be my home, but as an adult I moved out to the Dallas Fort Worth area with my husband and my children. Together, out here, my husband and I formed the group called The Co-Op (Conscious Operations.)

I have another group called Viscous Cycle, which is with my best friend Neeky Devero and together we are like the 2012 Salt N Pepa, or something of that nature. We play off each other very well. We’re really hardcore emcees on some Rah Digga / Jean Grae type of steez.

Then I have another group with my homeboy, Word Life. He’s from Brooklyn but lives in the Dallas Fort Worth area now too. That project is called Monopoly and it’s about how we monopolize on stuff. That’s an EP.

I am also dropping an album soon with another my good friend of mine, Headcrack from the Rickey Smiley morning show. The group is untitled as on now, but we’ve been calling it Crack Money. It’s a catchy phrase but we’re not into stuff like that so we are going to change the name. For now, we just refer to it as Crack Money though.

So, I’ve got a few different projects popping off. I’m also a solo artist and have solo songs here and there and perform some solo gigs under the name Money Stax.”

Chase: “We’re an overnight hip-hop show and we are dedicating our entire show to the Women in Hip-Hop. We did it last year for the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day and it’s become an annual tradition now. I am a fan of female hip-hop but I’ve noticed some people just aren’t as open to hearing females on the mic. I’m just wondering if you’ve come across that in your grind?”

Money Stax: “I will say this, about the groups that I am, I definitely have a non-female type of style. So although I am a female and it does come across in my music, at the same time my skill level, my flow, my delivery are not that of the typical female. I can also say, which not a lot of femcees might agree with, I really don’t’ like femcees myself much either.

The problem with femcees is that you don’t have to be that good to be considered that good, which is a problem for me because when I get out there and I tell people I’m a female MC, before they even hear me, I have the problem of trying to get people’s respect. The standards are really low for femcees. People sort of brush it to the side, but once they hear me spit, or once I get off stage, or if you purchased an album, then the next time I see you, I get the respect I deserve. It’s very hard to get respect when I’m in an arena where not much is expected from me.”

Chase: “I know, and that’s a shame. Last year I didn’t even understand it, but we had Kadyelle on the show, an amazing emcee from Australia and she basically said what you just did, that we hold females to a lower standard, and that she wished the bar were raised. I definitely agree.

When I first heard you, I was like, ‘Woah, these girls are spitting.’ It’s straight lyricism and it’s not fluff or sexual content. You push yourself away from that and describe your style as being more masculine. I don’t think we need to do that. It’s just that you are embracing what I think is the best qualities of hip-hop.”

Money Stax: “I can definitely agree with you on that. I put it in the dude category because after people listen to me they say, ‘Wow, you don’t remind me of a female rapper. I expected to hear one thing and when I listen to you I don’t get that.’

You are also right about the over-sexualization. I’m not gonna call any particular femcees out but right now everything is a gimmick. If you don’ have a gimmick with your package, then people don’t want to listen. So, if you’re not willing to just go completely overboard in one way or another, you can’t even get people’s attention. A lot of women have to use over-sexualization to get that attention, which I don’t approve of. I guess it’s good for some people if that’s how you want to be looked at.

I’m gonna demand a certain level of respect from my music and how I look, even though I am fly, has nothing to do with how I sound. So, I don’t want to take my clothes off and put that out there.

A lot of the stuff I do sort of picks at that. Like the album the Vagina Chronolog that Neeky Devaro and my first album as Viscous Cycle, it’s poking fun at the whole thing. Yeah, we’re chicks but we’re not gonna give you that whole sexualized thing. We throw the word vagina around a lot because it raises the temperature in the room a couple degrees. When we get on stage we play a lot with each other, back and forth, like, ‘Titties all in your face’ but it’s all in the fun because as soon as you say it, everybody’s paying attention. We can have a room full of people and before we start spitting, people are walking around, talking to their friends, or over at the bar, and all I have to do is get on the mic and say, ‘If you have titties or you like titties, let me hear you say, Titties!’ and then the whole room turns around and pays attention.

But, we’re not actually gonna give you titties as much as we just want to utilize what other people gravitate towards to make you pay attention to what we are doing. And once you hear us, then you’ll know why your’e listening and you’ll want to listen more.”

Chase: “And on that note, we need to play your track ‘Tits and Ass’ and specifically the remix which is entitled ‘Devaro Meets Stax.’ We’ll play that one and be back to talk some more with Money Stax. Stay tuned!”

Chase: “That was ‘Devaro Meets Stax’ from Viscous Cycle and we have one member of that group on the phone with us right now, Money Stax. That’s a nice track right there Money. I like the lyrics you touch on there too, ‘Assuming we ain’t write this. Bet you thought I’d shoot excuses, count on me being fly because I’m supposed to show some thigh.” I like how you go against expectations and even with the original title of the song, some people are probably expecting that over-sexualized stuff and you’re just hitting them with lyrics saying, ‘This is what we do!’ I’m sure the title of the album Vagina Chronologue probably scares off a few people though.”

Money Stax: “I’m sure it does too, and in reverse I’m sure I’ve pissed some people off. I’ll go into my bandcamp hits and find out where the buzz is getting generated from and a lot of that comes from people Googling ‘tits’ and ‘ass’ and ‘vagina.’ If you Google, ‘tits, ass, and vagina’ those are all words that are in the song and some people get directed to our song because of that. We get plays off of it, but at the same time, that’s definitely not what they were looking for when they tried to Google the term.”

Chase: “That’s hilarious. Your latest album, Volume Control, I like how you are sticking with the V.C. theme. Viscous Cycle, Vagina Chronologue, and now Volume Control. That must be intentional, I suppose?”

Money Stax: “Absolutely, and thank you for noticing that. I don’t know how but a lot of people just don’t pick up on the small details we nitpick at. We just love the VC thing. The name Viscous Cycle means a lot to us. Neeky Devaro and I have been friends for a long, long time. We used to work together, back like 15 years ago, and this one particular job we were doing in-bound customer service for a credit card company and she literally told this customer who was really irate and upset who couldn’t get help, she told him, ‘I’m sorry sir but it’s a viscous cycle.’ We fell out laughing so hard, I had to ask the boss if I could leave that day.”

Chase: “And that was the genesis of the name for your group. That happened to me to when I was trying to get a rap career started. It’s funny how you just overhear something and say, ‘That’s it!’ and you grab onto it.”

Money Stax: “Absolutely, and you know it. As soon as we heard it, we knew it and we ran with it. We’ve been Viscous Cycle ever since and we definitely wanted to stick with the VC thing. We had to. Any other albums that come out by us are all gonna start with a V.C.”

Chase: “You already have a brainstormed list of titles?”

Money Stax: “You know we came up with a zillion of them. We have some really funny ones in the holster. A lot of them got vetoed but we have an ongoing list.”

Chase: “There is a clip from Murs and he talked about how there were no females at Rock the Bells and then I was looking at your site and saw that you were at Rock the Bells in Dallas.”

Money Stax: “Actually, we were the only group to open up for Rock the Bells in Dallas, 2010, at the House of Blues. It was a spectacular event and a monumental move in our career. Up until that point, we really hadn’t been getting gigs of that magnitude, which is important. Sometimes when you are a musician, you are not always going to be monetarily compensated how you feel you should, or by how much energy and effort you put into your craft, but when you start getting opportunities that reflect your hustle as working, it makes you feel really good. That was really the beginning of people paying attention to us, and getting some recognition of the stuff we’d been doing.”

Chase: “But you are out there playing shows a lot, aren’t you?”

Money Stax: “Yes, all the time.”

Chase: “I want to touch on this quote and have you respond to it. I will be asking it of the panel we will have in the studio for International Women’s Day as well, but I’d like to hear your take on it too. Murs said, ‘Hip-hop is not a positive environment for a young women, I’d want my daughter 50 miles away from this place, honestly.’”

Money Stax: “Wow! hearing stuff like that it’s like a gift and a curse and I can see where he is coming from with that statement. There is a lot of negativity overall with females in hip-hop but to say you wouldn’t want your daughter around any type of female hip-hop, I think that might be a little ignorant. You can’t make an assumption that an entire genre of music feels, acts, and raps a certain way, just like you can’t make an assumption that all blacks steal. It’s a prejudgment. It’s a prejudice. I see where he is coming from though. It’s just the norm for females not to be respected in the hip-hop game.

I demand respect no matter where I go, before I say I rap, after I say I rap, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about the person and who they are. I’ve heard plenty of female MCs that aren’t saying anything degrading about themselves or that use their sexuality to make music. I’ve heard plenty of male MCs that give props to females in general and treasure them, tell them they are queens, and treat them right. So at the same time, there is going to be the disrespectful music out there that has to deal with women, there is also going to be music that is respectful towards women.

So I think whoever made that statement, if they are that interested in hip-hop and want hip-hop to be part of their daughter’s life, they should take a couple of steps to research some other type of femcees and MCs that can accommodate that type of music because they are different types of music out there for everybody.”

Wise, wise words right there from Money Stax. We are going to take a little break right now and come back with more of this transcript tomorrow. In the meantime, you can listen to the entire interview right now with the player below, download it for free, or come back tomorrow to continuing reading. Thanks for tuning in!

Read Part 2

Music Playlist at

Clark Wright Conservation Area (A History of the Family)

One of the most popular features on my blog is my Photographic Tours.

My goal in starting the feature was to document the different trails I came across.As such, it has become a running log of sorts and a guide for people wanting to find some great trails.

I hadn’t thought much about the history of these sites. I was more concerned with the trail itself and whether or not it made for a nice cross country run.

Hilary commented on my post about the Clark Wright Conservation Area and wondered who Clark Wright was and what he had accomplished to have a park named after him.

I did a quick Internet search in order to respond to her comment and I couldn’t find any relevant information. In fact, the very first hit on my search was my own blog.

I recently received an email from the personal secretary of J.G. Clark Wright and she filled me in on some of the history and significance of the family. She even asked me to provide this information to you, dear reader.

Hi Chase,

Don’t know if you have gotten the background for Clark Wright, but I can give you some clues:
I was personal secretary to J.G.Clark Wright, and his younger brother C.W.E. “Bill” Wright from 1972-1980.

They were V.P.’s of E.J.Wright Central Limited in Strathroy, Ontario. I joined the firm shortly after E.J.’s death.  All of the kids were high achievers.

All four Wright brothers formed a band and toured all over Ontario and even into Michigan. Bill met his wife in Battle Creek, Michigan and they then settled in Canada. 
Donald Wright pursued music in Toronto, was a professor, endowed UWO Faculty of Music. His daughter put out a single in the 50’s that was very well received.
JG Clark went into journalism and marketing.  When he returned to Strathroy, he headed the Marketing/Advertising component of Wright Central. Personally, he was deeply involved in St.Clair Regional Conservation Authority (hence the Memorial Trail) and the Strathroy Library Board.

CWE Bill was the ‘salesman’ of the family. He never completed a University degree, but he was a power-house in Sales and expansion of our market into UK, the Caribbean, Europe. He also held the position of General Manager so that he was ‘hands-on’ with production at the Wright Assemblies’ plant which manufactured shopping cart, store shelving, pharmacy counters, etc which you no doubt saw at Shoppers Drug, CTC, Home Hardware just to mention a few that stick out in my mind.  He was also in charge of plant-safety and worked closely with IAPA and St.John Ambulance, and instituted First Aid classes for all the staff (I was the instructor). He was even awarded an Order of Canada.

Andrew went into Law and he formed a company in London : Wright & Associates.  His son Andrew C. also went into Law and ended up being appointed to the Bench, while I was with the Company.  Everyone was very proud.  Wright & Associates was contracted as the Company’s legal council.

Now, we come to the only daughter of the family: Dr. Mary J. Wright.  She specialized in Early Childhood Psychology at UWO and is still involved with the programmes she helped pioneer. She was awarded “Women of Excellence” in 2007. Her acceptance speech was a little abrupt because she was going in for hip-replacement surgery shortly.

As you can imagine, with everyone relatively close and intertwined, I was fielding calls from just about everyone, including the next generation.  With so many men in the mix, it wasn’t workable to announce “Mr.Wright is on the phone for you, Mr. Wright.”  Mr.Bill and Mr.Clark were only divided by a wall, but if a question came up after some dictation, I would simply announce, on my way by, that “Mr.Bill needs to talk to you, Mr.Clark, when you have a minute.”

Everyone soon got the hang of it and it was: Miss Mary, Mr.Andrew, Mr,Don, etc.  right thru the next generation, as well.
Thanks, Renate for providing us with this additional information. If you want to learn more, you can visit the Business and History page from the UWO archive. There you will find an article dedicated to E.J.Wright Central Limited.

What Teachers Actually Do (It’s Much More Than You Thought)

I found this lovely graphic on Tumblr and I just had to highlight it here on this blog.

A lot of people don’t understand what teaching is all about. I come across people who frequently belittle my chosen profession or who really don’t understand why I do what I do.

Here is a great video where Matt Damon talks about why teachers actually do all of these things you see in the above pie chart.


He says, “You think job insecurity is what makes me work hard? . . . A teacher wants to teach. I mean, why else would you take a sh*tty salary and really long a** hours and do that job unless you really love to do it.”

I love teaching. It is a rewarding experience on so many levels. But it is a lot of hard work. Most people who complain about the pay or hours they think the teachers actually put it or earn, could never handle a classroom of twenty-five children of varying needs, skills, and abilities.

This video is brilliant! Taylor Mali really breaks down what a teacher makes in this clip.

Here’s just one of the gems he drops in this inspirational speech. “I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.”

Our children need teachers who are passionate about their craft. They need people who believe in them and push them to achieve. They need cheerleaders in their corner encouraging them to work hard, to try their best, and to not let a failure or a bad play stop them from soldiering on. They need coaches, choirmasters, and bandleaders to inspire them and teach them about art and athletics. They need to hear messages that show they are cared for, valued, and important.

That is what I do on a daily basis. That is why I am a teacher. When I see a student succeed at something they didn’t think they could do or when I see the lightbulb of understanding go off, it is the best pay-off I could ever think of.

We teachers are here for your children. But we are often undervalued and under-appreciated. I wish that would change. I hope I’ve been able to educate a few of those people out there, the ones who often confront me the way the dinner guest did in the above clip.

Teachers make a difference!

Thank you for letting us teach your children. It’s a huge responsibility that I don’t take lightly (and neither should you)

Superheroes, Time Travellers, and Fairy Tales (Graphic Novels Have it All)

I am continuing my mission to record every book I read over the course of this year. So far, you have seen hip-hop memoirs, novels, and the  first batch of graphic novels.

I love that you can get graphic novels from the library. Here are the latest ones that I have borrowed.

Doctor Who – The Ripper

This is the first graphic novel with the new cast. The artists have done a great job at bringing these characters to life on the page. I could actually hear Amy Pond, Rory, and The Doctor as I read the dialogue.

The first issue of this four issue collection is a humourous tale about spam email coming to life as holograms. I really got a chuckle out of it. The next story deals with Jack the Ripper and in true Doctor Who fashion, he isn’t exactly who the police think he is. Overall, it was a pretty good read and I hope to see more adventures with Amy, Rory, and The Doctor.

Green Lantern – The Sinestro Corps War

Sinestro was once the greatest Green Lantern of them all. He didn’t agree with The Guardians, an ancient race who created the Green Lantern Corp to help protect and keep balance in the universe, and tried to change the nature of the corps. He was ultimately banished from the Corp but now he has returned with even more power than before. He started his own corp and named it after himself. These new lanterns are powered by the emotion of fear and wield the power of yellow.

Sinestro wants to establish order in the universe but thinks the best way to do it is by ruling over all with fear. The war between the Green Lantern Corp and the new Sinestro Corp is a huge one that spans the galaxy.

You should read this one before The Blackest Night Saga that I wrote about last month. I read the books out of order simply because I just pick up whatever interesting books happen to be at the library at the time. That being said, this book really does stand on its own, so you could read it anytime.

Fables – Rose Red

I absolutely love this series. It deals with the fairy tale characters we all know and love but it has them living in our society in the present day.

This fifteenth chapter in the series focuses on Rose Red. She is Snow White’s sister and the current leader of the Fable community. This story reveals some of her past with her sister and sets the stage for the ultimate battle of good vs evil. The Fables have an unlikely ally against the sinister Mister Dark and their battle is epic.

Well worth reading. I’ve written about the series before and highly recommend it.

Daredevil – Born Again

This one is from my personal collection and it’s one of the most iconic Daredevil stories. I hadn’t read it in years but felt like I had to revisit it last week.

The Kingpin hides behind his legitimate businesses while secretly controlling the crime in the city. For years, Daredevil has been trying to take him down. But when the Kingpin discovers the true identity of Daredevil, he uses his power and influence to slowly undermine every aspect of Matt Murdock’s life.

Matt’s life falls apart all around him and he has no idea why such bad luck has fallen upon him. He is driven to near insanity by the Kingpin’s subtle plan. It’s brilliant plan except for one thing. You’ll have to read it to find out though.

Star Trek: Assignment Earth

This graphic novel finally brings to life the vision Gene Roddenberry had for a spin-off to the original Start Trek television series. The Season Two finale that aired in 1968 featured a mysterious character by the name of Gary Seven. In this book, we learn more about who he is and what his mission on Earth is all about. I wish this book would have given us a little more of his backstory and perhaps more of a tie-in to Star Trek: The Original Series. It’s pretty much for die-hard fans only.

Maestro Inspires and Entertains

Maestro Fresh Wes is a hip-hop pioneer. He was the first Canadian rapper to have a Top 40 hit and was the biggest selling hip-hop artist out of Canada prior to Drake. Even people who don’t consider themselves to be rap fans are familiar with his work. “Let Your Backbone Slide” still bumps at parties and clubs all over the world.
You might know him as an actor as he has been in countless movies and television shows. I am really enjoying his portrayal of the cool and popular teacher on the CBC series, Mr. D.
Wes Williams can now add one more title to his resume, author. Stick to Your Vision: How to Get Past the Hurdles and Haters to Get Where You Want to Be is more of a self-help book than a hip-hop memoir but for those of us familiar with this iconic rapper, we do get some great personal stories from his long and illustrious career.

Maestro came out the gate strong with his debut album but never managed to achieve the same level of success with his follow up albums. It didn’t stop him from trying, branching out, and continuing to create art whether through music, film, or television. He’s definitely had his share of ups and downs and he uses these stories to help inspire us readers to stick to our own vision.
The book is named after his hit single, Stick to Your Vision. YouTube won’t allow for emebedding of the video but you can go here to watch it.
This is another one of my favourite videos. It’s called “Hard to Be Hip Hop” and it is a duet with fellow Canadian rapper Classified.

You might want to check out the other hip-hop memoirs I’ve read this year as well.

Happy Reading!