Monthly Archives: December 2013

2013 – It’s a Rap

At the start of the year, I decided to set some goals. I know I should have looked back at these before now, but I didn’t. I really should have.

There is no point in setting goals or making New Year’s Resolutions if you aren’t going to keep them forefront in mind. The problem is that you need to track them somehow. Ben Franklin had a great way of doing just that.

via http://writingprompts.tumblr.com/
via http://writingprompts.tumblr.com/

There are things I want to accomplish in 2014. I should note them and track them to make sure I get them done.

But before I do that, let’s see how I did on on My 2013 Goals.

1) Contribute a half an hour of content to DOPEfm weekly this year.

I surpassed this goal. I expanded The Word is Bond Podcast to become to The Word is Bond Rap Radio Hour and ran those segments on DOPEfm as well. I also started working on a third show and doing live radio every week. It’s been a lot of fun!

2) Polish two of my novels and get them ready for publishing.

I didn’t even look at one of my manuscripts this year. I failed on this goal two years in a row. I need to remedy that in 2014.

3) Write something.

I did write a piece for an anthology this year. It’s not quite what I meant when I said write something but it will do. I’ll keep you updated with the process to publication.

4) Keep Fit.

I did lots of skateboarding and continued to cross country run. I managed to discover some new trails as well.

5) Read a lot.

I read 61 books over the course of the year. I fell a bit behind on blogging them. I will finish that up next week. Last year I read 65 books in total. I wonder how many I’ll read in my third year of blogging every title.

6) Be the best teacher I can possible be.

I took two teacher-upgrading courses this year from the University of Windsor. I am now one course away from earning my Music Specialist. It was tough doing a Part 2 AQ during the start of the school year, especially with everything that happened around that time. I think I’ll just stick to summer courses in the future.

I still feel like I am learning on the job. I have a long way to go to becoming the best teacher I can be. I will continue to work on this one – always.

7) Spend quality time with the family.

I got to spend a fair bit of time with my dad in his final days. In a way, we got to say, “Goodbye” too. It still hurts that he is gone but I will always treasure the time we shared. He was a great father.

8) Keep track of all this stuff.

I failed at this one. I will have to do the Ben Franklin Style of record keeping this year. Maybe I should write a schedule and make time for each goal. I need to do something different, that’s for sure.

Batman Knightfall – Comic vs Novel vs TV Show

Batman: Knightfall

This is an iconic story in the Batman universe. It was a huge event starting in 1993 and it crossed over into every related Batman title. The main story ran in Detective Comics, which introduced the character in 1939 in issue # 27. Batman became the star of the title shortly thereafter and remained so even after the introduction of his self-titled series.

This is a huge graphic novel that collects Vengeance of Bane # 1, Batman #491-500, Detective Comics #659-660, Showcase ’93 #7 and 8 and Batman: Shadow of the Bat #17-18 and clocks in at 640 pages.

The story revolves around Bane and I don’t think there are any spoilers left. The cover art pretty much gives it away. Bane is the man who broke Batman’s back.

This story was reworked for The Dark Knight Rises, which really let me down.  Incredibly, I much prefer the novel version of the story as opposed to both the comic and the movie.

 

I read this novel as a teenager and it was brilliant. It is still my favourite way to experience this iconic story.

Although, I really enjoyed how Bane was portrayed in the Animated Series.

 

I think he was much scarier in the cartoon than he was in the latest feature film. I really need to get my hands on the DVD collection of that series. I would so love to watch it from beginning to end one more time.

There are two more volumes to this story in graphic novel form. I will have to read those at some point. I still don’t know exactly what happens in the aftermath of Banes destruction and the devastation he unleashed on Gotham City.

I’m currently reading a modern Batman comic. Stay tuned to this blog for my review of that story as well.

My Reading Log for 2013

Jack of Fables Comes to an End

I’ve been following the adventures of Jack Horner a.k.a. Jack the Giant Slayer a.k.a. Jack Frost since I first discovered this comic book series. It’s been a great read . . . but all great things must come to an end.

I’ll admit that it felt like the series ended with the last issue. I really didn’t know how they were going to continue the series with the situation they’d left the main character in.

Jack of Fables 8 - The Fulminate Blade

Jack of Fables – The Fulminate Blade

Volume 8 of the on-going series has the title character’s son taking over the title in its entirety. It was strange not having Jack in this book, but the story still managed to deliver just what you’d expect from the series.

Jack Of Fables 9 - The End

Jack of Fables – The End

I laughed out loud several times during the reading of this final ever Jack of Fables story. I can’t say much more about it without giving out spoilers.

It’s the end of an era. 

The original series, Fables, is still going strong. I’ve only read up to Volume 17 and there are four more volumes available now. I hope they’ll be at the library soon. I really enjoy this series.

My 2013 Reading Log – all of the titles I read over the course of the year

The Humans are Worse than the Zombies

Walking Dead TPB

 

The Walking Dead: Volume 4: The Heart’s Desire by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Cliff Rathburn

The Walking Dead is a very popular television series that was based on a comic book. I read the first hardcover collection a few years back and am only just getting around to reading more of the title.

The story is centred around a small group of survivors. Zombies are everywhere and they are fighting hard to stay alive and stay together.

The survivors are literally prisoners in this issue. They have holed themselves up in a prison. They have cleared it out and barricaded themselves inside. The zombies stay on the other side of the fence eerily watching them.

One of the survivors on the inside had this to say, “I was a prisoner here. It’s weird how different this place can become just by sleeping with the cell door open. . .

I was never out there. I was never in danger, hunted, terrorized by those things. I was here BEFORE they came to life and started killing people . . . And I was in here after.

So yeah–it’s a new world, but God help me . . . I like this world better.”

The appeal of this series is how it is so character driven. It’s not so much about the horror. It is more about the relationships, the fight to survive, and the drama.

Walking Dead TPB

 

The Walking Dead: Volume 5: The Best Defense by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Cliff Rathburn

The real horror in this volume comes from how the humans treat each other. A global tragedy like the zombie apocalypse should have brought people together. That’s what has happened so far with the small band of survivors that Rick has been leading and keeping safe for nearly a year now. But when a helicopter crashes and he goes to investigate, he is met with a bigger horror than the zombies outside the gate.

My Reading Log for 2013 (with links to each title)

A DOPEfm Christmas 2

DOPEfm Christmas 2

I get bored of the same old Christmas music every year, that’s why I do my best to bring you a fresh hip-hop mix every season.

I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t have to repeat too many songs from the first edition of A DOPEfm Christmas.

This years collection features these tunes

Foreknown ft. Rashenal – The Jolly Man Cometh
Pharcyde – All I Want for Christmas is Someone Else
Nappy Roots – Nappy Holidays
Cross Movement – Different Kind of Christmas
Sweet Tee – Let the Jingle Bells Rock
Derek B – Chillin With Santa
Karidinal Offishall and Friends – Christmas Rappin’
Random – Wishlist
Foreknown – Saved by the Bells
Big Daddy Kane – Cold Chillin’ Christmas
Torae – Waiting on Christmas
Kayne West – Christmas in Harlem
Run-DMC and Friends – Santa Baby
Atmosphere – If I Was Santa Claus
K-Murdock – A Christmas Story

Enjoy the mix!

A DOPEfm Christmas 2 http://source.mp3

Long Live Daredevil

 

Daredevil: End of Days by Brian Michael Bendis, David Mack, Klaus Janson, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Alex Maleev

Daredevil meets a violent end at the hands of his arch-nemesis Bullseye. That’s not a spoiler alert either. This book is about the final days of our favourite super-hero.

The strange thing about this story is that the main character dies at the beginning of the book. He says one word just before dies, however. A word that completely unravels Bullseye.

Reporter Ben Urich starts an investigation to find out why Daredevil had been absent for years, why he returned to crime-fighting, and why he died. It’s personal because he has always respected and admired the super-hero. He even knew the man behind the mask.

 

He starts writing the story of Daredevil’s final days. He interviews many of Daredevil’s allies, enemies, and former lovers and pieces of the story start to come together.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s well-written and beautifully drawn by some of the best writers and artists to ever work on the ongoing series. It’s a dark tale that wraps up Daredevil’s story nicely

My 2013 Reading List (tons of great novels, comics, and teaching-related books)

Access: Louis Logic

I will be live on the radio later today in a segment we call Access. 

Louis Logic will be our special guest for this week’s show. You can listen live on the radio or watch the visual stream and ask questions via the chat room.

You can tune us in on 91.5 WPRK in Florida on your radio dial, or worldwide on the Our Show, Kevin NottinghamThe Word is Bond, and the embedded player below.

I hope to see you all there later today. We get started at 5:30 EST!

Don’t miss it!

The Final Days of Captain America

Captain America: The Chosen by David Morrell and Mitch Breitweiser

Ever since Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, comic writers have been inspired to tell the stories of the final days of our favourite superheroes. Origin stories have always been popular, but now exit stories are becoming all the more frequent.

This graphic novel tells the story of Captain America’s final days. He is a soldier right until the end, but he realizes that sometimes fighting isn’t as important as inspiring others.

The story starts off in Afghanistan and we are introduced Corporal James Newman. He tells us that he’s been fighting in the war for quite some time. “I’m so used to being scared that I’m numb.”

 

This opening sequence really hits home and shows the harsh realities of war. It seems like the Corporal starts hallucinating when Captain America shows up at his side and helps him save his squad.

Spoiler Alert

It seems like Captain America is dying and reaching out to this soldier via some sort of telepathy. He is inspiring him and teaching him how to become a hero. It’s almost as if he is grooming him to become the new Captain America.

The story is very well done. I didn’t want to put it down. It is inspiring and tells a superhero story that is grounded in the real-life heroes we don’t seem to celebrate as much as the fictional ones in this culture.

I really enjoyed this story and I think you will too.

My Complete (and ever-growing) List of 2013 Reads

Polarity Bear Tours the Zoo

polarity bear

Polarity Bear Tours the Zoo: A Central Park Adventure by Sue de Cuevas and Wendy Rasmussen

This book tells the story of a polar bear who lives in a zoo.
She is unhappy being caged up with nothing to do.
This is the first picture book that I’ve been asked to review.
Like many illustrated books for children, it is told in rhyme.
But I have to admit, this style doesn’t work all of the time.

Okay, time to stop rhyming and look a little more closely at this book.

Polarity Bear

The book is beautifully illustrated with a water-colour technique. You can see the polar bear’s emotions quite clearly on every page. She starts out sad and depressed and then becomes happy and amazed at all of the things she sees on her adventure.

In the story, she is able to break out of her cage and she embarks on all sorts of new adventures. She is genuinely happy on this little field trip until she gets dizzy on the carousel and gets a few scrapes and bruises. She then rushes back home and no longer has to be sad about living in a small cage.

The zoo owners have expanded her habitat and made it a much better place to stay.

I like the story and the message behind it. I think zoos are a great place for children to learn about animals from different parts of the world. I know that many people are against locking up these creatures up and putting them on display, but there are ways to make sure these animals are comfortable and happy even in a zoo.

My only criticism of the book is that some of the rhymes don’t fall off of the tongue so easily. I think I hold children’s books to a fairly high standard when it comes to story and rhyme. The two need to work together perfectly.

That being said, I know children who love animals and zoos will get a lot out of this book. It can open up discussion about the fair treatment of animals. It can be a fun read one lazy afternoon. And it even ties in community since it is set in a real place with a familiar setting.

My 2013 Reading Log (with links to every title I read this year)

A Free Method Book For Beginning Music Classes

When I first started teaching music, I used the resources that were on hand at my school. The method book we had was Standard of Excellence and I wasn’t really happy with it. Almost all of the pieces used the same five notes, were in the same key, and it was rare that new music elements were added.

I came across another method book near the end of the school year. As I flipped through the pages, I was really impressed with it. I loved how the lessons were sequential, easy to follow, and highlighted key skills on every page.

The only problem was that this method book was published in 1960 and my copies were fairly old and beaten up. Some of the books had writing in them, some were missing pages, dog-eared, or stained.

I knew that I wanted to use this method book for my instruction this year, but I also knew the condition the books were in would turn a few students off. I couldn’t order new copies since they were long out of print and I didn’t have the budget to order a new method book either.

So I photocopied each book onto ledger-sized paper and stapled them in the middle. I laminated covers that were easily identifiable by instrument and presto, just like that I had a new method book.

Music Book Bin

Band Fundamentals in Easy Steps by Maurice Taylor is an excellent resource. By Lesson 5, we are already getting first and second endings, slurs, melody and harmony, solos and tuttis.

The only problem with this book is that the saxophone are required to play notes that are lower than those of their Concert Bb scale. As such, they need to learn more notes than any of the other instruments, which is a challenge when we play beginning sheet music that uses the more familiar Bb scale notes that they haven’t been practising by going through the method book lessons.

That being, said, I think this is a small problem that is easily overcome by using Bb scale warm-ups on a weekly basis.

As such, Band Fundamentals in Easy Steps has become my method book of choice for my music classes. You can print off the PDF files for each book and take them into a copy shop. They can easily run them through a copier to print them off on ledger-sized paper so they are double-sided and can then be folded over to form a book quickly and easily.

Book 1: Alto Saxophone
Book 1: Clarinet
Book 1: Drums
Book 1: Euphonium / Baritone
Book 1: Flute
Book 1: French Horn
Book 1: Tenor Saxophone
Book 1: Trombone
Book 1: Trumpet
Book 1: Tuba

Book 1: Conductor’s Guide

Keeping a PDF version on your computer is a great idea as well. This way, you can project the piece of music you are working on directly to your Smartboard. I do this all the time and find it very useful. I hope you will too.

Teaching Tip Archive – great tips, lessons, and resources every Tuesday

Writing by The Seat of Your Pants Can Work Wonders

There are two trains of thought when it comes to writing – Planning and Pantsing. The former involves writing outlines and breaking down all the elements of a story before putting pen to paper to begin the first draft. The latter involves flying by the seat of your pants and making things up as you go along.

Stephen King is a big proponent of the pantsing method. He likes to discover his stories like they were artifacts.

In his book On Writing, he states, “…knowing the story wasn’t necessary for me to begin work. I had located the fossil. The rest, I knew, would consist of careful excavation.”

I love to write this way too. I have an idea of where I want to go but I never have the ending written in stone. I discover it along the way.

The best advertisement for pantsing that I can think of is Breaking Bad.

Breaking Bad is quite simply brilliant television. I just finished watching the final episode and the bonus content from the DVD.

Creator, writer, director, and show runner, Vince Gilligan explains how he is a big proponent for pantsing and how it paid off in the final scene of his epic series.

Warning: Spoiler Alert – If you haven’t seen this series, do yourself a favour and buy the DVDs, rent  or borrow them from your local library. You’ll be glad you did. This is compelling television that is so well-written, performed, and produced that you will be glued to your television.

I cut up this “Making Of” featurette from the DVD just to show you how the creator of Breaking Bad is a pantser and how this method of writing is just as, if not more, effective as planning and outlining.

Enjoy and happy writing!

Access: Marco Polo (Live Radio TODAY)

Conshus and I team up to interview all sorts of hip-hop artists in a weekly feature we call Access. This is live and interactive radio that pushes boundaries.

You can tune us in on 91.5 WPRK in Florida on your radio dial or worldwide on the Our Show, Kevin Nottingham, and The Word is Bond.

Marco Polo will be our special guest for this week’s show. You can listen live on the radio or watch the visual stream and ask questions via the chat room.

I hope to see you all there later today. We get started at 5:30 EST!

Don’t miss it!

Batman, Robin, and The Red Hood Join Forces

 

Batman & Robin: Dark Knight Vs. White Knight by Cornel, McDaniel, Tomasi, Gleason, Winick, and Tocchini

There are three stories in this graphic novel. My favourite is not the title story, however. I much prefer the story arc that had Batman and Robin joining forces with The Red Hood.

A little bit of history here that shouldn’t come as a spoiler to any dedicated Batman fan. The Red Hood is a vigilante that doesn’t have the morality of Batman, although he has a history with him. He was Robin at one point in time.

 

But he met a nasty end at the hands of the Joker.

 

Jason Todd’s story was brilliantly presented in the animated feature film, Batman: Under the Red Hood. I highly recommend this movie.

Spoiler Alert

In this graphic novel, Jason Todd is imprisoned in Arkham Asylum. He makes an appeal that he doesn’t deserve to be held in a facility for the criminally insane and as such, gets transferred to a regular prison. He unleashes havoc in the general population and kills several inmates.

He escapes the prison and once again dons the mantel of The Red Hood. In the panel before this final page teaser to set up the next issue, he mentions how he had to improvise with his costume . . .

 

This make-shift costume is definitely inspired by Punisher but I like the new look. And I am interested to see where this character goes next.

My 2013 Reading Log (every title I’ve read over the course of this year)

Recommended Reads: Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth

In the near future, we live in one of five factions. Each group is conditioned to think, act, and behave in a certain way. When we turn sixteen years old, we are given a test that assigns us to one of the factions. We then have the choice of staying in the faction of our family or transferring to one of the other four.

We are introduced to this world through the character of Beatrice Prior. Her test proved that she didn’t exactly belong to any of the factions. It turns out that she is “Divergent” and that this is a scary and pretty much unspeakable thing.

She renames herself Tris and abandons her home faction for a new one. She tries to understand exactly what she is and why.

The writing is fast-paced and brilliant. This is a world that mirrors our own. We have all been conditioned to act and behave in certain ways. This is science fiction at its best. It shines a light on our own reality while delivering a spellbinding story. I simply couldn’t put the book down.

We get a resolution at the end of the book, but I am left wanting to read more about Tris and this dystopian world she seems destined to overthrow. Good thing this is a trilogy. I will be reading the next book, Insurgent, very soon.

I’m adding this title to my Recommended Reads section. You should check it out.

My 2013 Reading Log (Every book I’ve read this year with links to each title)

On Live Radio . . . In Florida

I’ve started off on a new adventure in radio that I am really excited about. I can now be heard live on the air in Florida Saturdays at 5:30 p.m. EST.Conshus and I team up to interview all sorts of hip-hop artists in a weekly feature we call Access. This is live and interactive radio that pushes boundaries.

You can tune us in on 91.5 WPRK in Florida on your radio dial or worldwide on the Our Show, Kevin Nottingham, and The Word is Bond.

This Saturday, J57 will be our special guest. You can listen live on the radio or watch the visual stream and ask questions via the chat room.

One of the coolest things about this new venture is that we continue to talk to the artists as we play their music. So you can stream the show live and then catch bonus content later on YouTube. You can join us by watching the streams on several respected hip-hop sites such as Kevin Nottingham and The Word is Bond.

We’ve done two of these segments so far and they have both been a very enjoyable hour of radio., I hope you’ll tune in this weekend.

We get started at 5:30 EST today.

Don’t miss it!

The Great Gatsby on the Boardwalk

Fan-created cover by Stuart Ward for Hfour.ca 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I didn’t see the new feature film of this story that came out last year. I figured I should read the book first. After all, it is a classic.

I have to say that I was not all that impressed with the book. It is told from a relatively insignificant character. We don’t even meet the title character for quite some time. And when we do, there is more mystery of who he is than anything else.

One thing that did interest me about the book was the connections I made with the television series Boardwalk Empire. They are both set in the 1920s and mention some of the same historical events. It was cool to have some visuals in my head from the series as I read the novel.

The novel is pretty much a tragedy and a sad tale but it didn’t really tug on my heart-strings. I have to say that it was a bit of a let down for me.

Boardwalk Empire – Seasons 1 – 3

I just finished watching the first three seasons of the HBO series, Boardwalk Empire. It revolves around the exploits of Nucky Thompson, played by Steve Buscemi, and his rise to become the kingpin of the bootlegging industry.

This period piece is set amongst the prohibition era in Atlantic City in the 1920s. It even has a young Al Capone in it. I am not sure how historically accurate the story is but it makes for compelling television.

Just be forewarned that it is an extremely violent show riddled with course language, nudity, and graphic violence. I am surprised that I have stayed with it this long. This is not usually my cup of tea.

My 2013 Reading Log (with links exploring each title in detail)

Silent Cacophony is Moving Soon

I’ve built quite the estate here over the past seven years and blogging has taken me to places I never would have imagined when I first started Silent Cacophony back in March of 2007.

If you access my blog via http://chasemarch.com you won’t notice any difference.

If you have been coming here through my Blogger address, you will need to update your bookmarks soon.

If you subscribe to the blog via email or a reader, things should remain the same. Please do me a favour though, if you don’t see my weekly posts showing up, send me a line and let me know. I iwll do my best to correct the problem quickly.

It will be nice hosting this party on my own domain. It will give me some freedom to try new things and to own all of my content.

I think this move will be a great thing and I hope you will follow me to my new digs. We’ll continue to build together. Big things have been happening and I am really excited about all of them.

Cheers!

Chasing Content – December 2012

CalStateArch_Tour3 by vlasta2

It’s time for another edition of Chasing Content – that monthly feature that has us digging through the archives to unearth of all of the good things that were happening here last year at this time.

Read all of the posts from last December

or just these favourites

My Year in Review

Wow, looking back at this is rather telling. There were four goals that I completely failed on and I didn’t do any better this year either. Those four things are still on my radar. I am just going to have to find time to fit them into my busy life in 2014.

Pipes and Rails Skatepark Tour

This is one of the best places to skate in the winter. I don’t even mind having to go out of my way. The ramps are very well-designed and look stylish as well. It’s a great skateboarding spot.

Know Your History – The Famous Sample

I love producing a radio documentary on hip-hop music and culture every month. This is one of my all-time favourite shows. I look closely at one record and how it has been sampled over and over again in all sorts of creative ways.

Tallest Silver Brings Comics to Life

I absolutely love her. She is a cosplay artist who manages to bring comic books characters to life in a breath-taking way. She is launching a webseries entitled Sweethearts of the Galaxy soon too. I can’t wait!

Comic Strip Newsletters

This is a great way to communicate with parents. Send home a newsletter in comic strip form. I did it last year and it was a lot of fun. I need to do this again soon.

Thanks for Chasing Content with me!