Monday, March 31, 2008

The student rant is back

After a couple weeks on break, the student rants are back. This is James from Chagrin Falls.

Ashlee Simpson should be exiled from Hollywood

I would like to personally extend my congratulations to Ashlee Simpson, as she joins the ranks of supremely untalented people like Paris Hilton, and Jamie Lynn Spears who have ridden on the coattails of family members to fame and fortune. Due to the fact that the world of music is being systematically destroyed by scores of untalented pop stars who project image over talent and actual music, I am forced to write this article to expose Ashlee Simpson for the alarmingly untalented person she is.
Although it is quite amusing to see her throw tantrums, look completely idiotic, break into tears, walk off stages, and blame other people because she cant carry a tune. Wannabe pop star Ashlee Simpson should be banished from Hollywood, or I fear the little sense the American people have to tell good music from bad music will be lost forever…even though it seem some already have. From acting to singing to dancing, Ashley is a failure…indeed she sucks. Sucks so bad in fact, that I believe that she singularly represents everything that is wrong with today’s made-to-order carbon-copy music stars, short on talent but long on connections, trumping talent and creativity time and time again. But to my great dismay, the American consumer can’t seem to get enough.
To my amusement she has had disaster after disaster. First she was busted lip syncing on “Saturday Night Live.” Originally, she blamed her band for playing the wrong song, then she said it was SNL’s fault for playing the wrong tape with her “back up vocals”. Nobody’s buying it Ashlee. Less tears and a little more talent might have helped her avoid the scandal but some things just aren’t in the cards…Everybody hurts, sometimes…Everybody cries, sometimes…deal with it Ashlee. Next she performs at the Orange Bowl where she actually gets the entire stadium to boo on national TV, forcing the camera to cut away.
In all honesty sometimes I wonder who’s dumber, Ashlee or Jessica? Though it can’t be entirely their fault. The triggerman in the whole thing is Joe Simpson, her father. He micro-manages Team Simpson and is founder, president and CEO of the highly lucrative SimpsonCorp. Believe me when I tell you that Big Joe, the ex-Baptist-minister-turned-music-manager who handles both girls’ careers, takes the way his cash cows are portrayed to the world very seriously. During an interview with Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush, he made it quite clear: “we let you into our lives and then you print crap you know is not true because you know us, but its new and its gossip and you forget we have a relationship,” Joe said of the tabloids. Perhaps if he didn’t want the products of SimpsonCorp. to be critiqued so harshly, he shouldn’t have forced his product on the market. It must be tough to find yourself filthy rich after a long day of pimping your kids as pop-icons. Don’t worry you can dry your eyes on all those big fat checks you cash at the expense of your children’s dignity. Cry about it Joe…seriously.
After blood, sweat, tears, and “back up vocals” here we are. If Ashlee Simpson is allowed to continue her violent rampage, I fear the worst. Although it very fun to watch her screech her way through high notes and make fun of her “butt-chin”. Do you people to remember our generation of music because of scandals of Ashlee Simpson? I think not.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Catchy commercial

Here in northeast Ohio, we have Norton's Furniture ads that run late at night on local tv. In Montgomery, Alabama, there's Sammy Stephens and his Flea Market. I have to give the guy credit. His rap is creative and catchy. This is one of those locally produced commercials that you actually remember.

Credit goes to blogger Suzanne out in Mississippi for posting this on her blog. Thanks, Suzanne for putting this one up. The guy's video has well over 2.4 million views and it's still going up.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Slow news day?

This is a current item on Yahoo! News today:
Obama's NCAA bracket faring slightly better than McCain's.

What? Hillary didn't fill out a bracket?

It amazes me what "journalists" think makes a good story. Journalists think we, the audience, want to know this stuff. It doesn't matter if it's the presidential campaign or any other story, we should be critical of what the media puts out as "news."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Barack's Speech

The news world is abuzz about Barack Obama's speech in Philadelphia a couple days ago. The speech was in response to the recent firestorm surrounding Obama's former spriritual adviser. Ever since Barack's run for the White House started, race has been an issue. With Geraldine Ferraro's criticisms and Obama's former spiritual adviser's comments, Barack felt the need to deliver this well thought out speech.

Since this speech has aired, praise and criticism has been heavy. People who praise Obama have said the speech was needed and are happy that he spoke out on the race issue and how it personally affects him.

Those who oppose Obama, mainly Republicans, have been hammering away at Obama. On my way home from work today, I listened to Michael Medved and he kept saying that Obama was "changing strategies" by playing up the race issue and asked, "how is he helping the race issue by constantly bringing it up?" Medved brought up former President Clinton's town forum style meetings on race, saying they were weak.

I don't care for criticism like that by Medved. I don't get how Medved can blast Obama for addressing the issue of race when it has been an ongoing issue in this campaign...but Medved doesn't say what Obama should have done instead. For the people who criticize Obama, I wish they would come up with an alternative as opposed to just saying, "he's playing the race card." How else should the race issue be handled? Is staying silent on the issue a better plan?

Furthermore, if President Clinton's town forums on race were weak or a joke, at least he did something about it...or at least attempted to. I noticed that nothing has been said about President Bush's efforts to address racism, which should have been addressed following Hurricane Katrina. Nothing was said about Bush's efforts to address racism because there haven't been any efforts to address racism.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Elliott Spitzer coverage

(Sarcastically speaking) It was very difficult to find anything on the demise of New York Governor Elliott Spitzer's downfall this weekend. The 24 hour news channels have been wall-to-wall with the coverage on Spitzer. And it hasn't just been about Spitzer. It's also put the spotlight on a call girl. The prostitute has a MySpace page and is/was hoping to be a recording artist. She had a song on her MySpace page which cost 60 cents to download. Guess what. As a result of all of this media frenzy, her song has been downloaded over one-million times...putting a nice amount of change in her pocket.

I haven't named the young lady here. I don't see the point. I think her getting famous off of this is crazy. At the same time though, not all of this is her fault. I saw a story on CNN Headline News that showed the media frenzy outside of the building where the governor was holding his press conference with his wife by his side. The media horde was overflowing outside of the building. A crew from Access Hollywood as well as Brazilian TV were there. I have one question: Why?

Do you think the coverage is as ridiculous as well?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Great Experience

This past Monday, I took my students to the International Film Festival at Tower city in Cleveland. Every year, this proves to be such a valuable learning experience for the kids. My classes saw the documentary called "Jump!" The movie website ( says, "JUMP! is a feature-length character-driven documentary about competitive jump rope that follows kids on five teams from around the country who push physical and psychological limits in pursuit of winning the World Championship."

Everytime I take my classes to the film festival, the organizers of the film fest have members of the cast and crew from the film there. Pictured above are members of my Excel TECC junior and senior class as well as the director of "Jump!", Helen Hood Scheer.

Below, Alex from my junior class, shows off his incredible leaping ability as he jumped rope with two crew members of the documentary.

Below, the guys from class pose with two of the stars from the movie.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Blizzard of '08

The Blizzard of '08 is over and estimates say Cleveland got hit with between 20 and 24 inches of snow between Friday afternoon and Saturday night! That's amazing. Today was "nice" in terms of a letup from the snow. The major streets have gotten plowed and salted. Here on my street, not so lucky. The photo above is my car as it was Saturday afternoon around 2, before I ventured out for a trip to the grocery store to stock up for the rest of the day and today. I got home Friday at 4:30 and had not touched my car until I decided to go shopping and took the picture. I got stuck at the end of the street going to the store and got stuck again on the way back at almost the same spot.

The photo above is of our oldest Scottish Terrier, Fiona. Fiona is seven years old and loves to play outside in the snow.

Friday, March 7, 2008


This week and next week, in many school districts, including mine, parent-teacher conferences are taking place. Those of you who read this blog, I have some questions for you relating to this issue since many of you have been involved in this process in some way (hopefully) at one time or another.

As a parent, what do you believe is the right amount of involvement in your child's education? How much is a good education stressed in your home? If it is stressed, how do you do it? What kinds of things do you do to constantly keep it in your son's/daughter's minds that education is so important?

What are some things that you believe that teachers do well?
What are some things that you believe that teachers need to do better at?

Oh, and please, if there are certain things that relate more to certain grade levels as opposed to others, please specify that.

Consider this the online version of a parent-teacher conference. I am here to listen. Your suggestions and comments are always welcome.

New addition to the family

Hello, everybody. It's not often that I post about something personal but I need to. Meet Delilah. My wife brought home Delilah about a week and a half ago. Delilah weighs a little under two pounds and is all about love. She's really quiet except for when my wife or I leave the house. Then, she cries like a baby. She makes our two Scottish Terriers look huge.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Political tricks

No one seems to know how or who created this political ad but distorting a candidate's skin tone is a bit extreme in terms of trying to sway opinion. I think we all have seen enough of Obama to know that the top photo is not a true representation of his skin tone. I find it amazing that the candidate who has the most buzz in this election has had to endure having a photo circulate of him in African clothing as well as this color manipulation.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

An era gone by.

It was reported in today's (Cleveland) Plain Dealer that polka bandleader Johnny Vadnal passed away this past Monday. He was 84 years old. Vadnal appeared on many tv shows like "Polka Varieties" and "Polkatime USA" (where the clip is from below).

And here is another classic polka artist who is also in heaven...Frankie Yankovic.

Vadnal and Yankovic were two of the most influential artists on that genre, who were often seen on national tv. Polka on national tv is long gone. Now, to watch polkas, you primarily have to get it on cable access shows.

I grow up on this music listening on staticky AM radio out of Trumbull County on the way to Warren on many weekends to visit my grandma, who was first generation American on my Dad's side.

Question to the readers of this blog: What media memories from your past, preferably your childhood, do you miss the most and why?