Monthly Archives: July 2013

A Run to the Lighthouse

I love trail running.

My mom loves lighthouses.

So, when I discovered a 3 kilometer nature trail that ends at a lighthouse, I just knew I had to lace up my shoes, strap my camera to my wrist, and hit the trail.

It’s time for another Photographic Tour! 

Today we are exploring George Nicholson Trail in St. Catherines, Ontario.

The trail starts at Port Weller East Park

and runs alongside the water, curving here and there.

It’s nice to see that there are areas like this to sit and take a rest and enjoy the view.

This sign, made me stick to the stone trail.  Poison Ivy is definitely not something I want to deal with.

I love waterfront trails like this . . . but this is the first one I have ever done that had a lighthouse waiting for me at the end.

I couldn’t wait to see what it looked like. 

This is what it looks like from the beach I parked my car at.

It was a hot day but I couldn’t cool down with a swim.

I bet this swim advisory was only temporary. There has been some pretty severe weather recently and that probably stirred up a few things.

You can see the red and white lighthouse at the edge of the water in the distance.

And here is what it looks like close up.

It might not be the most gorgeous lighthouse in the world, but it is in my corner of it, and it was a nice journey getting here.

More Nearby Running Tours

Riverside Skatepark – Cambridge, Ontario

It’s time for another skatepark tour.

Today, we are visiting Riverside Rails in Cambridge, Ontario.

There is a really nice bowl course that was opened in 2007.

The street course was opened two years later.

It’s nicely laid out for single runs with plenty of obstacles, rails, and even a set of stairs to jump.

The rail in the centre here is a nice touch.

I much prefer the bowl and this park doesn’t let me down.

I much prefer to skate half-pipes and was really excited to see that they included this mini-ramp in the design of the park.

Read the instructions carefully before skating. Ha!

Whoever designed this park really knew what they were doing. The bowl is not to steep or deep. It flows nicely and also has a mini-ramp. Very nice park and well worth the trip to Cambridge.

More Skatepark Tours

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transformers Done Right

Transformers Volume 2: International Incident

The art in this trade paperback is absolutely gorgeous. I also love how they keep the original transformer characters looking like I remember them. There is even a nice joke about it thrown in.

It really makes no sense for the constructicons to be green and purple in colour but I wouldn’t want to see them any other way. The above joke makes the story work more effectively while paying homage to the original series and toys.

The comics do Transformers right and I really appreciate that.

Transformers Volume 3: The Revenge of the Decepticons

Megatron is back and he is more powerful than ever. He is actually scary in this book, much more so than he ever was as Galvatron in the second generation of the original cartoon series.

He is clever and cunning as well. I want to read the next issue because it looks like he might be able to pull off a victory. Not that I am routing for him mind you, but it does make for some great storytelling.

More proof that the best Transformer stories are happening in the comics.

My Reading Log for 2013

Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children


Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

This book makes some interesting points that fly in the face of conventional wisdom.

It makes sense to not fight in front of the children, right?

But of course fighting is inevitable in a relationship. There are going to be disagreements and arguments. How we handle these moments in front of the children can make a huge difference. We need to show them that we have been able to work things out. They cannot just see the argument but need to see a successful resolution as well.

I can honestly say, I never thought of that.

Here is a small excerpt from the book;

“What this means is that a parent who pauses mid-argument to take it upstairs – to spare the children – might be making the situation far worse, especially if they forget to tell their kids, “Hey, we worked it out.”

There is also a really interesting discussion about television. Violent television such as Power Rangers is actually better than watching educational television such as Arthur.

I never would have thought that would be the case, but it makes a lot of sense they way the authors break it down in the book.

I have thought about this a lot. I know that many of the teenager sitcoms are absolutely horrible. The characters are rude and insulting and they are rarely called out for this kind of behaviour.

In educational preschool programs we see the same thing. The majority of episodes spend almost the entire program setting up a conflict. The children watching these shows see all sort of negative behaviour – behaviour the shows are actually trying to discourage.

Here is another excerpt from the book;

“Ninety-six percent of all children’s programming includes verbal insults, and of the 2,628 put-downs identified, only 50 circumstances featured some sort of reprimand or correction — and not once in an educational show. ‘Fully 84 percent of the time there was only laughter or no response at all,’ found Dr. Cynthia Scheibe.”

Much of the content in these shows is dedicated to negative behaviours. The resolution of the conflict happens quickly at the end of the program and the kids don’t often associate that with all of the negative things they have seen. We are all influenced by what we see. That’s why I truly believe children are acting out more these days.

Riverside Park Trail Run (Cambridge)

It’s time for another photographic tour.

Riverside Park Cambridge, ON

I so love doing these. I lace up my shoes, strap a camera to my wrist, explore a new trail, and snap pictures along the way. Then I post them here so you can be my virtual running partner. And if you are so inspired, perhaps you will go hike or run these trails as well.

Today, we are exploring The Mill Run Trail in Cambridge, Ontario. The trail starts at Riverside Park but I did not go through this historic entrance. Instead I kept driving passed it without turning.

The road winds passed a skatepark and some soccer fields and then it comes to an end at Speedsville Road. This is where I parked and started my run.

The trail runs alongside the river and it’s nice and quiet back here.

It then links up to a very nice boardwalk that spans 80 meters.

There are several information plaques along the boardwalk . . .

and several places to stop and enjoy the scenery.

Of course, I was too busy running to slow down for longer than the ten seconds it takes to steady my camera and snap a shot every few minutes.

When I got to the end of the boardwalk, I took it all the way to the soccer fields, turned around, and then made my way over this bridge.

I snapped a picture of this bunny and then slowly walked closer to get a better shot. But he took off into the bush and I took off further down the trail.

I was really happy to see the trail loop its way back to Speedsville Road. By this time, I’d been running for about twenty minutes and covered roughly 5 kilometers.

The trail continued on the other side of the road and I ran down it for another five minutes. I wanted to see where it lead.

I think I am going to have to go back to this spot and run the other side of it. The trail brochure looks pretty awesome. There’s a lot more trail to cover and more photographs to be taken.

Chase March’s Visual Running Tours

Stolen Rap Gear and What You Can Do

I’ve had the chance to hang out with Mad Dukez and Fresh Kils and I have to tell you that they are hard-working, down-to-earth, all around cool guys.

It really is a shame to see that someone broke into their tour van and stole all of the equipment they need to write, perform, and make great hip-hop music.

The same thing happened to Brother Ali a few years back. It must be really frustrating to lose all the files, songs, and work that must have been on those computers.

And while that gear will probably never been recovered, we can help these artists get back on their musical feet, as it were.

I just threw some money their way. I made a small donation on their Indigogo campaign to help them replace their much needed gear. it seemed like the least I could do to help out some hip-hop brethren.

I hope you will click this link above and make a donation as well. 

Here is some more information about what happened and how you can help out.

THE LOWDOWN

On July 9, Mad Dukez, Fresh Kils, Uncle Fester, and their tour manager Kevin were enjoying a lovely day off at a park in Montreal during their Gettin’ Gatsby Tour. Unfortunately, someone decided to spoil their warm weather fun by breaking into their tour van and stealing their belongings.

The smash and grab crooks got away with three MacBook Pros, and MPC 1000, a DI box, K-Oscillator, headphones, cables, passports, clothes, as well as other personal possessions. The guys are now left without the belongings needed to perform for the remainder of the tour and are also unable to keep in contact with loved ones back home.

WHAT’S NEEDED

They need to raise $5,000 to replace all of the stolen gear so that Dukez and Kils can continue rocking their tour dates through October. In order to accomplish this, we are offering various personalized packages as a thank you for your donation towards helping them cover the cost of replacing the gear and fixing their broken van window.

All merchandise will be autographed by Mad Dukez and Fresh Kils themselves and any contribution made to this campagin will automatically give you, the supporter the chance to appear in the music video (scheduled to be shot in late-August 2013) for the next single off of the Mad Dukez and Fresh Kils Gettin’ Gatsby album.

THE IMPACT

The bottom line is that these guys are working musicians who make their livelihood off of touring and performing, and unfortunately cannot do either until their gear is replaced.

The fact that no crew member, not even Dukez or Kils could crack a smile during the informational video above shows just how much of a blow this experience was to the entire team. BUT, they are not going to stop touring and will continue to pull out all the stops every night to give their fans shows they won’t forget!!

By donating, you will be lending a helping hand in ensuring that these guys can continue to not only making a living for themselves, but above all, to continue making quality music for you, their fans, the people that make it possible for them to earn a living doing what they love.

HELP OUT NOW

Go to their Indigogo page and make a contribution to help them replace what they need to tour and make music. 

Thanks!

Hashtag Rap Explained

Welcome back to Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge. Today we are exploring the poetic device known as the simile. More aptly, we are looking at instances where rappers have taken the word “like” out of the comparison in a style that has been branded “hashtage rap”.

If you missed part one, you can go back and read it now, download the podcast for free, stream it with the player below, or just continue reading.

An emcee made it part of his style several years before this became the popular thing to do. Nowadays, you can’t listen to the radio or the latest mixtape or album without hearing an example of hashtag rap. In fact, it is getting so overused that it is now played out. It has become cliche and therefore something to be avoided according to the unwritten rules of rap.

In fact, this style was used in the early 2000s by a particular artist and members of his camp. It didn’t become employed by the masses until the second decade of this millennium.

So who was this early pioneer? I tell you he was part of the Dipset Crew. That’s right, I am talking about Cam’ron. Here is an example of how he used this style.

“I’m on the westside of Chicago, lookin’ for a bust down
And make me put my two arms up – Touchdown!”

That was from his song “Dipset Anthem.” Here is another example from “Girls.”

“And hope is hopeless, disappear in the air – Hocus Pocus.”

There are countless examples of the Dipset Crew using the truncated simile. Some of time, their use of non-sequitors seemed a bit absurd. The words didn’t quite connect as powerfully as we heard Drake or Kanye West do it several years later. Maybe that is why the style didn’t catch on until the late 00 decade.

But we can trace its use back even further. These rappers didn’t make it a style like Cam’ron did. In fact, when Cam’ron employing similes with use of “like” or “as,” Twitter hadn’t even been launched yet. That’s something to consider, the style that owes its name to Twitter was around before the popular micro-blogging platform was.

And speaking of Twitter, remember to follow us on there. You can find me @chasemarch just like you are running after the month. Daddy J maintains @DOPEfm and Jose reps @thewordisbond. Great hip-hop news, links, music, vidoes, podcasts, and real talk can be found on those platforms every day.

So Twitter launched in 2006 and quickly grew to become one of the biggest social media sites online. There are over 500 million users who generate 340 million tweets every day. Pretty impressive numbers.

I’ve got some impressive numbers to. I found some early examples of hashtag rap that will probably surprise you.

Method Man used this style in 1999. “The aliens they just landed/Any you in the way/Overthrow these niggas planet – independence day / fellons get slip melons.”

That was from a song he did with Left Eye called “Cradle Rock”

But we can go back even further. The Notorious B.I.G. did it in 1997 on the hit song “It’s All About the Benjamins.”

He says, “uhhh, undercover, “Donnie Brasco”

It would have been nice to credit the first use of Hashtag rap to Biggie. He really was a gifted lyricist and we lost him way too soon. But I found earlier examples.

Jay Z did one year earlier with his song Dead Presidents II. He says, “At the end of the fiscal year than these niggaz can wish to/ The dead presidential — candidate.”

But we can go even further back. ODB of the Wu-Tang Clan used it in 1995.

“I get psycho killer, Norman Bates”

That was an awesome rhyme. It shows that ODB really could kill a track just like the character he references from the horror film Psycho. The comparison really works well without him having to say “like.” That word wasn’t necessary for him to paint that picture for the listener.

Can we stop there? Or are there earlier examples of hashtag rap in hip-hop history?

I tell ya, I’ve been working on this show for weeks now. I tend to get a bit obsessed about things and I don’t mind sharing that with you. But there comes a time when the research needs to end. Otherwise I could drive myself nuts trying to find earlier examples. I have this fear that after I complete this show, and after it is aired, I will find an even earlier example than the one will end with today. Oh well. so is life, I suppose.

It’s a bit hard to find these examples without carefully listening to records and there are so many albums, singles, MP3s, videos, and whatnot vying for my attention that some might slip by.

In my digging, the earliest example I could originally find was from A Tribe Called Quest.

“Mind gets flooded, ejaculation”

That’s from the slamming track “Bugging Out” from the classic album “Low End Theory” by A Tribe Called Quest. It was released on September 24, 1991.

One month early, PM Dawn released “Of the heart of the soul and of the cross.” Their stand-out hit from that album was a tracked called “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss” and it is the best example of the modern hashtag rap style that I have been able to find.

“I guess I’ll leave that question to the experts, Assuming that there are some out there/ They’re probably alone — solitaire.”

They set up the comparison, pause, and then deliver the punchline. It’s an effective use of a truncated simile. And exactly the kind of thing that Drake did and made popular twenty years later.

The hip-hop historian in me didn’t want this trail to end with PM Dawn. Although, truth be told I bought that album on cassette back in the day. Their second album was even better, in my humble opinion, but they are a pop act. I wanted to be able to attribute this style to a real hip-hop group.

So I kept digging. I listened to some of my old school tapes. I searched the lyric archives online, and I talked to my brother about this topic. He immediately reminded me that Public Enemy employed this style a bunch of times. He should know, he might just be their biggest fan.

So here is an example from their debut album way back in 1987. I’ll play a portion of it fro you right now.

This is Public Enemy “Raise the Roof”

Did you catch the hashtag rap. If not, let me spell it out for you. “Fly ladies of the 80s – sororities”

That is awesome!

I am so glad I found an old-school example of hashtag rap. I knew there had to be one and it is so cool to have this trail end with Public Enemy.

So there you have it, Public Enemy employed similes without the use of “like” or “as” way back in 1987. This is hashtag rap when the pound symbol really had no useful function. I always wondered why it was on our phones. Now I use it all the time on Twitter and so rappers use it all way too often.

It has become a style where rappers are running out of comparisons to make but still feel the need to throw in a hashtag or a ridiculous non-sequitor. It is getting way out of hand.

I remember back in the early 90s when rappers would overuse the simile. Erick Sermon used to litter his rhymes with them. And I don’t mean to pick on him because I love EPMD but some of his comparisons seemed a little off.

Rappers need to be creative. This is a poetic artform afterall. But maybe it is time to hang up our reliance on simile. When used too often in rap, it really starts to water down the message, It doesn’t paint a clear picture in the listeners’ minds. It just becomes noise.

Back in the ’90s, in the backpacker era, rhymes were so littered with similes that it was starting to get out of hand. Wordsworth joked about it in High and Mighty’s Open Night Mic Remix. He said, ‘You can’t write without using ‘like’/ What are you, some sort of valley girl?”

In this second decade of the 2000s, we really need to hear someone taking shots at the overuse of hashtag rap. Thank goodness we have this track from Taboo.

That was Now Yous Can’t Leave by Taboo. He talks about the overuse of hashtag rap in that song. I especially like the line, “these bitch MC’s are gimmicky Took the like out your similes so I don’t like your similies”

That’s nice!

This whole thing reminds me of another gimmick that got played out in the 1990s. Das Efx had a tongue-twisting kind of flow that many rappers tried to imitate. The Beatnuts called out the overuse of that style in their song “No Equal”

“But all that tiggedy-tiggedy tongue-twistin shit don’t impress me
It’s just a phase, and you know damn well
That you’ll fall off in a minute, cause that shit don’t sell
Funny how you think you could surpass me, or outlast me
With that bullshit style, you’re fallin fast, gee
See, I suggest you go back where you came from
(Your mic, and my mic) Come on, don’t play, son”

That was The Beatnuts “No Equal” and if that song came out today, they wouldn’t be calling out tongue-twisting. They would have said, “All that hashtag rap don’t impress me / It’s just a phase, and you know damn well / That you’ll fall off in a minute, cause that shit don’t sell.”

So, it really is time to retire this poetic device. Hashtag rap has become cliche. It works in moderation and has been diluted from overuse. We need to take a pause on this pause-stop-flow. See what I did there?

There is a lot of room for creativity in hip-hop. Let’s not forget that.

Before we rap things up on this topic, I did manage to find an even earlier example than the Public Enemy one I played for you. I’m cheating a bit because I am going outside of hip-hop culture, but good music is good music and this artist is definitely a pioneer in his genre as well.

I am talking about John Lennon. We wrote a hashtag line way back in 1965

That was from “It’s Only Love” by The Beatles and the hashtag line is “When you sigh my, my inside just flies, butterflies.”

I wanted to see if hashtag style rhymes had been used in literary poetry but this is a show on the history of music. As such, I am happy with this search bringing us back to a music pioneer such as John Lennon. He might not have influenced the style of rap, but then again?

Thanks so much for tuning in today. I have had a lot of fun exploring this topic in detail. If you have any comment about the show and what we do. get at us on Twitter. @DOPEfm for the radio show @thewordisbond for the hip-hop magazine website and podcast, and @chasemarch to reach me about anything hip-hop, education, writing, skateboarding, or anything else.

Gotta love the hashtag and how easy it is to communicate online with anyone, anywhere in the world. We continue our mandate to bring you the best in real hip-hop music and talk every single week over the airwaves or wi-fi.

This is Chase March signing off till next week reminding you, “You Better Know Your History!”

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Know Your History – Hashtag Rap

Rap is poetry. I know a lot of people would disagree with that succinct statement but if you really think about it, where in modern society do we such wordplay, such poetic expression, such commentary, such emotion and feeling, and a wealth of rhyme. We can get all those things in a single rap song in less than 3 minutes.

Of course with a limited amount of time and an excessive amount of listening choices, the rapper as a poet has to command attention quickly and capture wandering ears if only for a moment.

Adam Bradley writes, “In poetry where a premium is put upon verbal economy, any technique that has the capacity of expanding the meaning of a single word is valuable. When artfully rendered, puns do just that: opening a range of associations that the poet/MC can exploit for the purposes of oral expression.”

One word. That is all an MC needs to call forth a variety of images and details. That’s all a talented rapper needs to command the attention of fickle listeners. One word is enough to spark an entire style and trigger a crowd of copycats hoping to cash in on that success.

So what is this one word? How does it fit into a show on the history of hip-hop music and culture? We will get to that in a second.

Hi, my name is Chase March and welcome to Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge. You can stream this show with the player at the bottom of the post or download it for free.

For the next half hour we are going to explore the phenomenon of what some people call Hashtag Rap, other people call it Pause-Stop Flow or Delayed Punchline Flow. Whatever you call it, it all comes down to a single word . . .

Simile – “the most accessible and versatile way that MCs can dress up their words. A simile is a direct comparison between two distinctly different things, usually using like or as to connect them. In their simplest form, similes offer direct comparisons for the purpose of revealing the unexpected similarity of disparate things.”

That’s another quote from Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Style by Adam Bradley. It’s a great read that analyzes how poetic this art form really is. And it’s nice to see scholars acknowledging the lyricism and artistry that is often hiding in plain sight. The music can overshadow the brilliance of a pithy rhyme, the content of a an entire verse, and the message in a song or album.

This book was published in 2009 and that was right around the time that a new trend was developing in rap. A trend that hadn’t yet been branded. And a trend that now, four years later, has just about run its course. At least I hope so.

Everything in moderation, right? I mean, when something is overdone, it becomes tired. The most brilliant example of linguistic expression can become cliche. And the chief job of a decent writer is avoid cliches.

George Orwell wrote an essay in 1946 entitled “Politics and The English Language” where he states some pretty solid writing rules. Talented rap artists apply these rules all the time in their songs.

Rule # 1 – Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print

Of course, we would modify that rule to say – never use a metaphor or simile that you have heard in another song or by another artist.

Rappers are always striving to come up with creative similes. And it’s simply because they “have the capacity to reshape our vision of the world. More than any other contemporary form of linguistic expression, rap plays with words in ways that jar us from our settled sense of reality, opening up new ways of seeing and even feeling. This too, makes it poetry.”

Man, with a quote like that, you have to love rap music and Adam Bradley’s book about the poetics of it.

There is almost no way to trace where similes began in rap music because you can hear them in so many songs from the earliest rap recordings right up to the present day. But when was the first time we heard a simile without the use of “like” or “as” connecting the two things being compared?

Drake is probably the one responsible for making this a style unto itself. He would set up the comparison, pause for a moment, and then deliver the simile as is it were a punchline.

In his hit Forever, he says, “Swimming in the money, come and find me — Nemo/ If I was at the club, you know I balled – Chemo.”

He is using two different similes here. He could have said, “Swimming in the money, come find me like Nemo. If I was at the club, you know I balled like Chemo” and that would have been fine. It doens’t sound nearly as fresh as the way he actually delivered those lines though.

He basically traded the word “like” in both of those similes for a rest. In other words, he pauses, doesn’t say a thing, and then completes the simile without ever having to say “like.” It somehow makes these simply similes even more powerful.

This is a brilliant technique. Taking a simile and punching it up by pausing, not saying “like,” and then delivering the pay-off.

Maybe Drake was following George Orwell’s 5 Rules of Writing.

Rule # 3 – If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

His meaning comes across perfectly well without the use of the word like. The comparison is made, we get the visual in our heads, and it sounds fresh and original.

That original version of that song came out in 2008 and a star-studded remake came out one year later. At the time, we didn’t have a name for that particular style but it did seem like it belonged to Drake and no one else. He made it his own in a way that no rapper before him really had done.

But he was not the first rapper to employ this technique. He wasn’t the first person to use a truncated simile.

Kanye West did it two years prior. He said, “Here’s another hit… BARRY BONDS.”

And he even coined a term for this poetic device. We no longer have to describe it as “simile without the us of like” or refer to it as a “truncated simile” or label it “pause-stop-flow” or even worse “delayed punchline flow.” It now has a name. A name that comes from an unlikely source. That’s right, it comes from Twitter.

Kanye West had this to say on Funkmaster Flex’s radio program . . .

“We develop and change rap styles all together. Like, look at say the hashtag rap–that’s what we call it when you take the ‘like’ or ‘as’ out of the metaphor. ‘Flex, sweater red–firetruck.’ Everybody raps like that, right? That’s really spawned from like ‘Barry Bonds’: ‘Here’s another hit–Barry Bonds.’ So even like when I sat with Nicki [Minaj] in Hawaii, I was like, for this album, particularly–and I still like that, that style is super fresh–but this album, we not even doing similes. It’s just a series of statements. We get on some real push the culture forward–I think that’s the biggest reason ‘Power’ took me like five thousand man hours to sit there and write it.”

Hashtag Rap. It’s not the worst name. And it does aptly describe the style.

In Twitter a hashtag is a way to label our posts so the can be easily tracked and shared. You do so by using the pound sign, that weird tic-tac-toe symbol that was pretty much only ever used as the short form of writing out the word “number.” Now it you want people who search “hiphop” to find your tweet, you type a pound symbol and then the word hip-hop without using any spaces or dashes.

Here is an example #hiphop

Kanye West and Drake both creatively used hashtag rap as a style to deliver a powerful simile to make explicit comparisons between things. Their wordplay called up imagery in our minds and was quite frankly brilliant.

But where did this style come from?

Drake actually credits it to Big Sean. In “Supa Dupa Flow,” Big Sean strings together a seemingly endless trail of hashtag rap.

Click through to read the conclusion of this transcript or you can stream the entire show right now with the player below. It is also available as a free download.

Continue Reading

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Fables and Sandman: Old Characters – New Spin

Fables: Volume 17 – Inherit the Wind by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, and Shwan McManus

I discovered the world of Fables three years ago and I have read all of the trade paperbacks up to volume 17 now. The story really is incredible. It features all of the fairy tale characters we know and love in a modern setting.

In a previous issue, the North Wind was killed in an epic battle. Now, one of his kin must step up and fill that role. Since the Big Bad Wolf renounced his claim to the throne years ago, it falls to his children. Neither he nor his wife, Snow White, are excited about the prospect however.

There are a lot of other things happening in the world of Fables. With the great battle over, different factions are vying for position and influence.

I highly recommend this graphic novel series.

The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, and Malcolm Jones III

The Sandman is one of those titles that I had meant to getting around to reading but never managed to until now. The series ran for seven years staring in 1989 and amassed 75 issues.

Fortunatelty, most of these issues have been collected into graphic novels. I kept seeing the later volumes in the library but I really wanted to read the series from the beginning. So when I saw, volume one of the shelf this week, I just had to pick it up.

It was an interesting tale. It gets a bit horrific as it deals with dreams, nightmares, and hell. I can only imagine how much more graphic it will get in the subsequent volumes.

My List of 2013 Reads

The Gate Thief

The Gate Thief by Orson Scott Card

This was sitting on the new arrival shelf at the public library. I picked it up because I have always enjoyed Orson Scott Card’s work. I love his work in the genre of science fiction and the medium of comics and I did read one of his urban fantasy novels last year. So, I thought I’d give this one a chance.

I have never been much for fantasy as a genre, but urban fantasy is much more accessible. I like the fact that the tales are set in modern times. They involve magic and all sorts of unusual people with mysterious powers. This story is no different.

It revolves around Danny North, a high school boy, who is able to open up portals (or gates) that allow him to transport himself or anyone to any location he chooses. It turns out that this is an old art as well. But no one has made a gate in quite some time after The Gate Thief closed all of the portals to end an old war.

Danny opened one without evening knowing what he did. And the war is immediately rekindled. He gets some help from his non-magical friends and from The Gate Thief himself, but can he count on him?

I won’t give away any more of the story, just in case you want to read it.

I didn’t know that this was the second book in a series but it didn’t stop my enjoyment of it whatsoever. There were a few moments near the beginning where I thought I was missing something, but as I read on, it was easy enough to catch up to the story. It really did stand on its own as well.

My Complete List of 2013 Reads

Who Stole My Style . . . I mean, Stile

I don’t get out to Grimsby very often. But when I do, the Niagara Escarpment calls out to me. There is just something about running up Hamilton Mountain and doing so through a network of trails. It is challenging and beautiful. I love it.

This is a trail map of the route I usually take.

The trail is really nice and works its way through several different terrains.

There is one section of this trail that requires getting over a fence.

The fence is there to protect children who play soccer on this field. You can see the collectors lane of the highway at the top of that hill.

This is a stile. It’s basically a double-sided ladder that helps you get over the fence.

The problem I had with my trail run this weekend was that this stile wasn’t there. The trail marking sign was still there but the stile was gone.

My first thought was that they had rerouted the trail. I ran up the hill beside the fence just to the left of this older photo where . . . I was met with an even taller fence.

I had no choice but to climb the fence myself. I really wanted to run all the way up the escarpment and I wasn’t going to let the absence of a stile stop me.


Once I got over the fence, I was able to rejoin the trail. You can see the blue trail marking on the tree and how this route lets you go underneath the busy highway.

It was a nice run but I am still left with a few questions . . .

Did someone remove the stile because it was damaged?
Will they be replacing the stile?
Do the people who maintain the trail even know it’s gone?

and

Who Stole My Style?

Sorry, I just couldn’t resist that pun!

More photos of my run up the Niagara Escarpment

The Word is Bond Rap Radio Hour

The Word is Bond Rap Radio Hour is now on the air.

We rebranded the podcast and wanted to start off big. We have a new scratching introduction by DJ Inform. Much props on that, sir! We also have an exclusive theme song as our backdrop, done by Hexsagon.

We also have a big competition going on right now. We asked you to submit your best track and we got over 200 submissions. We picked our Top 10 to feature for this week’s show. But we need your help.

Download this show for free or stream it with the player below.

VOTE for your favourite song.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

Next week, we will count down The Top 5 as decided by YOU! We will crown an Unknown Underground Champion.

Help us promote the new radio show. It’s not exactly new though. We’ve been going strong for the past 65 weeks and show no signs of letting up. Find us on iTunes and subscribe so you’ll never miss a weekly episode.

Thanks for listening!

Gareth Malone and The Power of Choir

The first time I saw Gareth Malone on television I was completely blown away. He has inspired so many people to come together and sing. And for several years he has done it in front of television cameras.

When I saw that he had also published a book on the experience, I knew I had to read it.

Choir: Tears, Triumphs and Transformations by Gareth Malone

Here is a passage that sums up one of the reasons I have been so impressed with what he has been able to accomplish.

“In all my TV shows I’ve been sent into new and unfamiliar settings to create something from nothing. This requires me to pick up on the mood of the situation and run with it.”

He just has a way of energizing any group and creating a great community of singers.

I don’t know much about vocal music. But what he says in this next passage can apply to all music conductors, band leaders, and choirmasters.

“I went to seek advice from David Hill . . . He offered sage advice: if at the end of the evening he had not made eye contact with every single member of the choir, then he felt he had not done a good job.
I have always tried, whenever possible, to conduct from memory.”
I wholeheartedly agree. I have been trying this style of conducting this year as well. I do my best to look at my students as they play their instruments. It’s so much better than looking at a score. There is more to be said about engaging the room as opposed to the printed music. 
I haven’t seen all of the series he has done but I really want to. I even learned about a few through the course of reading this book that I was completely unaware of. I really want to see his documentary How a Choir Works. 
With what I have seen, he always made it look so easy. This book shows that it wasn’t simply a cakewalk. But it was worth it. He has energized a nation and brought choirs to whole new heights.

My List of 2013 Reads

Teaching Tip – Standardized Testing

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 Standardized Testing. It will include tips about how to instruct our students on taking tests such as the E.Q.A.O. and other such tests.

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

You might also want to check my Pinterest page for more great teaching ideas.

I hope you enjoy these Teaching Tips.

EQAO test

Please Note – This will be the only Teaching Tip for the month. It’s summer holidays and I need the break. As such, I will be running posts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays this month. I will resume Teaching Tip Tuesdays and my regular blogging schedule in late August. Thank you!

Chasing Content – July 2012

It’s time for another edition of Chasing Content, that monthly feature that has us looking back at what was happening on the blog last year at this time.

Read all of the posts from last July . . . 

or just these highlights.

I’ve Been Saying It Wrong All This Time

How many phrases do we use all the time that we say slightly wrong and not even notice it? I found out that I’d been using one wrong when I finally saw it in print in a book I was reading. There are many phrases that I use that I have never seen in print. I wonder how many others I cam screwing up.

Scrabble Tiles, Word Games, and YA Combine in “Multiple Choice”

I love reading Young Adult fiction. I think this genre has some of the most open and honest storytelling that we can find these days. This book is one of the few that quite literally called to me when I saw it at the library. And it didn’t disappoint.

Mission 5: Now’s About Write

I formed a rap group in the mid 90s and we released two albums. This is our second release and one that I produced entirely by myself. Enjoy the tunes either via stream or free download.

Write Dangerously with Barbara Abercrombie (Podcast and Free Download)

I had a great conversation with Barbara Abercrombie regarding her book A Year of Writing Dangerously. It’s a book that every writer can find inspiration in. I just got her new book, Kicking In The Wall and hope to talk to her about it soon as well

The Carroll Trail – A Photographic Tour

I had a lot of fun on this run. It loops around a golf course and still manages to be a part of nature. If you find yourself in Tillsonburg, Ontario with some time on your hands, it’s worth the visit.

Not a Good Wedding Song (Listen to the Lyrics)

It surprises me when people don’t listen to the lyrics of a song. There are so many songs that people claim are romantic that really aren’t. I’ve heard dozens of “wedding songs” that don’t celebrate the institution of marriage. It really bothers me. How about you?

2 Late – A Mixtape

I’ve been listening to this one all week. It’s been a year since she and I broke up but I still think of her. I think I realized things too late in our relationship. This tape reflects my feelings quite well.

Thanks for Chasing Content with me!

Click on the links, leave comments, and visit the Chasing Content Archive for these “Best of” posts for every single month I have blogged.