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