June 2018 Shuffle

There is plenty of stuff I could write about education today.  But I don’t want to.  I’m in one of those “need to purge” moods.  I haven’t done one of these in almost a year.  Right now, I’m sitting in my kitchen typing away.  Aside from the music playing, it is quiet.  As always, these tend to be personal but every once in a while I may sneak in an Easter egg here or there.  This time is no exception. Continue reading

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Summer & Fall 2018 Preview: Movies, Music, TV, & Comic Books

Summer is here!  And there is a ton of great stuff coming out the rest of this year!  Music, Movies, TV, and even comic books!  Release dates as well! Continue reading

2018 Preview

Happy New Year!  2018 began with freezing temperatures.  Anyone who ventured up to NYC to watch the ball drop is crazy in my book!  But you only live once.  This is going to be a big year.  So what’s coming? A LOT! Continue reading

Thirty Years Ago… 1987

 

1987.  The year of Glasnost and Oliver North.  My junior and senior years of high school.

I look back to 1987 as a pivotal year in my existence.  For a teenager, there were some pretty major events in my life that year.

The biggest was my first grandparent passing.  My paternal grandmother died of cancer in the Fall of ’87 and it shook me up.

Another big thing was something called “Emmaus”.  This was a church retreat through my Catholic church in Ridgefield, CT.  For first-time Emmaus attendees, you were a candidate.  Those who had already been on these weekends were the workers who ran the whole thing.  I was a candidate in February of ’87 and got to work on the Liturgy team on a weekend in September of ’87.  This was a life-changing experience for me in a lot of ways.  I had always been somewhat religious, but this cemented it for a long time.  As well, I lived in New York but a part that was very close to the border of Connecticut.  I could walk through the woods behind some neighbor’s house and be in CT.  As a result of Emmaus, I met many wonderful new friends including one of my best friends in high school.  I spent a lot of time in Ridgefield, more than hanging out with people from my own high school.

I had four jobs that year.  The first was working for a comic book price guide in Ridgefield.  The owner of that magazine was also a co-owner of a comic book story in Danbury, CT so I would help out up there at times.  That summer I worked at Smith Ridge Market, the local grocery store.  I was “poached” by the nearby Vista Pharmacy in late summer and worked there the rest of the year.  I always worked throughout high school.

I didn’t get my driver’s license until after high school but I managed to take Driver’s Ed in the fall of 1987.  That made for some interesting rides.  I still remember the instructor having to hit the brake pedal on the passenger side as I was driving.

What I remember the most about 1987 was the music.  I wrote about 1986 last year, but 1987 just added to the list of alternative bands I discovered that year.  Bands like 10,000 Maniacs, Crowded House, Echo & The Bunnymen, Aztec Camera, and Erasure.  Bands I enjoyed before only got bigger, such as The Smiths, New Order, The Cure, Alphaville, INXS, R.E.M., Gene Loves Jezebel, The Housemartins, and Depeche Mode.  U2 had their biggest album to date with “The Joshua Tree”.  Rush had an awesome album that year and I got to see them in New Haven, CT that November.  For me, the best album of the year was New Order’s “Substance”.  That Christmas, a bunch of bands contributed to an album called “A Very Special Christmas” which I still listen to every year around this time.

There was a freak ice storm in early October that year.  It knocked out power in a lot of areas around us.  But the real “white-out” happened in the summer but I’ll hold on to that one!

The Yankees were my team and I saw them a few times that year.  Don Mattingly was my hero! The New York Giants won their first Super Bowl that year, beating the Denver Broncos in a close game.

There weren’t a lot of memorable movies that year.  The #1 grossing movie was “Three Men And A Baby” which tells you something right there.  I would say my favorite movies that year were “The Lost Boys”, “The Untouchables”, “Good Morning Vietnam”, and “Innerspace”.

In my family, the dynamics changed a bit.  Two brothers went to college and a third returned home for a bit after graduating college.  The youngest (me) and the oldest in the house.  That was different, but fun!

I spent a lot of time cycling into Ridgefield that year after school when I wasn’t working.  It kept me in shape but it was usually to go see about a girl.  True story!  The late days of Spring and early Summer were spent at “The Reservoir”, a local spot where a bunch of us would jump off a cliff and rope-swing.  I tried my first cigar that year.  I learned quickly I don’t like cigars.

I started “clubbing” at a place called Kryptons that year.  A friend of mine who bartended there would always help me get in.  Those were crazy times with my friend Pete.  I spent a lot of time “partying” that year.  I was young, crazy, and a bit wild.  I remember after my grandmother passed, one of my cousins got married.  I had a few at the wedding reception and somehow I wound up on stage singing Michael Sembello’s “Maniac”.  Not one of my prouder moments for sure!

I was in a school play called “The Boyfriend” that year.  I was an Assistant Stage Director for the school’s annual “Variety Show”.  My favorite classes were AP American History and Creative Writing.

I got my wisdom teeth out that Spring and a couple of weeks later managed to get a sausage seed stuck in one of the sockets.  Now that was pain!

That fall, the beginning of the end of the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia was starting.  We all tuned in to see if Jessica McClure could get out of that well.  Pope John Paul the II came to New York City. That summer, daytime tv was hijacked by the Iran-Contra hearings with Oliver North famously pleading the 5th Amendment. I was still creating pinball games on our Commodore 64 on snow days.

1987 was the height of my teenage years.  The best of times before the “real world” fully kicked in.

What’s Goin’ On?

I feel blessed today.  Maybe because it’s pay-day, but I have to think it’s more than that. Continue reading

July Shuffle

It’s been a few months since I did one of these.  What can I say?  Between the General Assembly, Joint Finance Committee, and a series on Smyrna School District Zero Tolerance practices, it has been hectic! Continue reading

March Shuffle 1.0

It’s the last day of the month, so readers will only see one music shuffle this month.  Given the article I posted earlier today, it is obvious music had a huge influence on my own life.  I developed that love at an early age.  I was always involved with music in some way going to school, whether it was choir or theater.  I took piano lessons until 5th grade and even tried the drums and trumpet during middle school.  You really don’t want to hear what my trumpet days sounded like!

“My Favorite Game”, The Cardigans: One of my favorite songs from 1999.  This reminds me of when I went back to visit Sweden that year.  It was my first time back in nearly two years and I had no clue what to expect.  The Cardigans, of course, are from Sweden.

“D’yer Maker”, Led Zeppelin: Back in the 1980s, I got into Led Zeppelin as a young teenager.  If you were “cool”, you dug Zeppelin.  I almost pretended to like a lot of their stuff.  It wasn’t until I was much older that I truly appreciated the band.  I always liked this song though!

“Follow You Follow Me”, Genesis: One of my all-time favorite songs.  This was one of Phil Collin’s first big songs he had vocals on after Peter Gabriel left the band.  When I was a kid, I believed in true love and that all you have to do is say certain things and it would be reciprocated.  Love is a lot more complicated than that.

“Every Breath You Take”, The Police: Most people might not be aware, but this isn’t a song about love and romance.  It’s about a guy actually stalking a woman.  Kind of creepy when you look at it from that angle.  But it was the biggest song in the Summer of ’83 as well as the biggest song from The Police.  That fame eventually led to the band breaking up and lead singer Sting getting his own solo career.  I liked a girl in 8th grade and this song reminded me of her.  Of course, back then I thought it was a song about love.  Such is life as a teenager!

“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”, Blue Oyster Cult: Another song that kind of creeps me out but I love.  This was the song that played at the beginning of “Stephen King’s The Stand” mini-series from 1994 as a virus is released that eventually kills most of the population.  The survivors are either on the side of “good” or “evil”.  Darkness is always overcome by light.

“Tomorrow People”, Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers: When Bob Marley died, many fans never thought they would hear his voice again.  In the late 80s, his son Ziggy showed the world that Bob Marley was alive and well with his voice.  It also reminds me of graduating high school because the song came out around that time.

“The Journey To The Grey Havens”, Howard Shore: I am a Tolkien geek and proud to say it.  The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings will always be favorites of mine.  Howard Shore’s music to the LOTR trilogy was perfect and fit each scene perfectly.  By the time The Return of the King came out in December of 2003, I had already scheduled time off at work to see the movie on opening day.  Shore’s music for the last 20% or so of the film is constantly on my shuffle.

“Parting Words”, Michael Giacchino: The season finale of the first season of LOST will always stand out for me.  Giacchino and the orchestra created a beautiful score as Michael, Walt, Jin and Sawyer prepare to leave the island on a raft.  Farewells were said and a husband and wife parted ways.  Between the epic score and the beautiful scenery of the beach and the great silhouettes of various characters, it was one of the highlights of the show.  Another keeper on my shuffle list.

“Until She Comes”, Psychedelic Furs: From the band’s last studio album in 1991, their first single was one for the ages.  Butler’s moody vocals combined with the guitar and drums in the song created a classic song.  I was dating someone at the time for over a year and a half.  Things were good at that time.

“Drawn To The Blood”, Sufjan Stevens: I just heard this song a few months ago.  During one of the darkest and scariest weekends of my life.  I won’t go into details, but this song perfectly hit how I felt that weekend.

“Into The Mystic”, Van Morrison: “Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic.”  One of the most beautiful songs ever written, musically and lyrically.  This is quintessential Van Morrison here folks.  If you’ve never listened to this song, I urge you to seek it out now.  I consider this one of those songs that always soothes my soul no matter how much that soul seems to be lost or scared.

“And The Cradle Will Rock”, Van Halen: The rowdy screams of David Lee Roth intertwined with Eddie Van Halen’s sliding guitar riffs in this song make it a classic.  “Have you seen Junior’s grades?”  An anthem for the rockers of the early 1980s!

“Fix You”, Yellowcard: The band’s remake of the Coldplay single is much better than the original in my humble opinion.  I spent many years trying to fix something I didn’t think I could replace.  I was wrong.  Don’t get me wrong, I tried.  But some things just can’t be fixed no matter how hard we try.  It is a humbling realization when you finally understand this.

“Chapter 12 Verse 5”, Henry Jackman and Dominic Lewis: Earlier this month, I watched the first two seasons of “The Man In The High Castle”.  I don’t binge-watch shows that much, but from the first episode of this series I was hooked.  This piece was done very early on in the series at a pivotal moment for one of the characters.  Trust is a tricky thing when your back is against the wall and it can be very easy to be fooled.

“Underneath the Sycamore”, Death Cab For Cutie: I listened to this song all the time in the Summer of 2011.  I would drive my son to summer camp in the morning and pop this song in along with many other songs and sing on the way to work at the top of my lungs!

“Under Pressure”, Queen and David Bowie: It is hard for me to pick my absolute favorite song of all time.  There are a few contenders for that position.  This is one of them.  Everything about this song makes it the best.  Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury and David Bowie are in perfect synch and melody with each other.  But the lyrics, the damn lyrics get me every single time. “Cause love’s such an old-fashioned word and love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the night.  And love dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves.  This is our last dance, this is ourselves under pressure.”  The world will never have musical gold quite as good as this.

“All This Time”, Sting: I am going nuts with the awesome songs coming up on this shuffle!  This first single from “The Soul Cages” in 1991 hooked me from the first time I heard it.  I must have played this song a thousand times in the first few months the album came out.  Mixing history and a relationship between a son and his father along with religious verses is something only a singer like Sting could do. “Teachers told us, the Romans built this place.  They built a wall and a temple at an edge of the empire garrison town.  They lived and they died.  They prayed to their gods but the stone gods did not make a sound.  And their empire crumbled and all that was left were the stones the work men found.  All this time, the river flowed.”  How much of what we do will make a difference in a thousand years?  What will we be remembered for, if anything?

“A Gift Of A Thistle”, James Horner: In the movie “Braveheart”, William Wallace’s father dies when he is a young boy.  At his funeral, the boy is lost in his grief.  He knows his life will never be the same again.  He can’t find comfort anywhere.  A little girl, recognizing this, picks a thistle from the ground and gives it to young Wallace.  This tender scene, as Wallace lets the tears flow down his cheek, is the birth of love.  When he returned to his home after many years away, the first thing he did was find that little girl and profess his love to her.  A hand that reaches out can have ramifications that span decades.  Never be afraid to offer comfort to those who are lost and alone.  Many of us have been right where Wallace was at that moment.  But how many have taken on the role of the little girl?

“The Dead Heart”, Midnight Oil: History is filled with subjugation and discrimination.  For the original natives of Australia, this was the story for the Aborigines.  Like Native-Americans in our own country, it took a long time for the native inhabitants of the smallest continent to gain acceptance and respect by the invading white man.  Peter Garrett, the lead singer of Midnight Oil, was very active in helping to make this happen.  He also went into politics and fought for the rights of the Aborigines.  Nothing but respect for those who are forced to leave their land by an invading force!

“All Right”, Toad the Wet Sprocket: I love b-sides to singles.  In the days of digital mp3s and iTunes, the b-side is a lost relic of a bygone age.  This was one of Toad’s b-sides back in 1992.  I didn’t find it until 1995 when the band released a compilation of their b-sides and hidden tracks.  It quickly became one of my favorites from the band.

“Rise”, Eddie Vedder: One of my favorite books and movies from the 00’s was “Into The Wild” by Jon Krakauer.  Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder provided the soundtrack to the film.  Have you ever just gone for a hike by yourself, into the wilderness, and allowed yourself to be surrounded by the vastness and beauty of it all?  I have.  You just want to get away from the world and see the beauty of it for yourself.

“I Got A Name”, Jim Croce: This song always reminds me of my earliest years.  I’m not sure why.  Perhaps I heard it when the song was released in the mid 1970s.  Never be afraid to sing your song.  Don’t be afraid to speak, even when the world doesn’t want you to.  It is your inherent right to speak about things.  Doesn’t always guarantee you will be heard, but for those who want to hear you, they will listen.

“Tequila Sunrise”, The Eagles: Country rock.  It’s the best way to describe the magic that was The Eagles in the 1970s.  The California band told the stories you didn’t read about in the newspaper.  They were the simple stories about love lost, heavy drinking, and the idiosyncrasies of man.  The late Glenn Frey sang his heart out on the song about the morning after.

“The People Who Grinned Themselves To Death”, The Housemartins: I’m not one to follow the crowd.  I don’t always subscribe to the “popular” view.  Usually that view tends to have a price.  That view is often brought about by politicians who are following the will of lobbyists who serve corporations.  The end result is the people having something taken away from them in some way as the companies make more and more money.  It takes time to see through the smoke and mirrors, but once you do it is hard to look away.  For myself, it is even harder not to act on it and point it out so others can see as well.

 

 

 

 

Exclusion of Music & The Arts In Delaware’s ESSA Plan Results In Awesome Letter To Delaware Legislators

The Delaware Music Educators Association sent a letter to every single member of the Delaware General Assembly earlier this week urging the Delaware Dept. of Education to include certain recommendations in the final draft of their Consolidated State Plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act.  Members of the organization felt their pleas for inclusion in the state plan were ignored.  Last night at the final Delaware Governor’s ESSA Advisory Committee meeting, the head of the organization gave public comment.  He wished Delaware would include music and the arts in their accountability system.  The Delaware DOE will submit their final plan to Governor Carney for signature on Monday, April 3rd.  Below is the letter sent to the Delaware lawmakers.

Every summer, members of each state’s Music Educators Associations convene in Washington, DC to discuss matters of advocacy, share visions for the future of music education, and speak with our elected members of Congress regarding these issues.  In June of 2014, members of the Delaware Music Educators Association (DMEA), in conjunction with the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and other state Music Educators Associations, helped to successfully lobby members of Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, putting an end to the era of No Child Left Behind. This was a major victory for education—specifically music education. Some of the most important provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act for music education include:

  • A New and Clear Intent to Support Our Nation’s Schools Through a Well-Rounded Education: This is a change from NCLB, which focused heavily on the academic success of students narrowly defined as reading and math only.  
  • Enumeration of Music as a Well-Rounded Subject: Replacing the Core Academic Subject language from NCLB, this language clearly articulates that music should be a part of every child’s education, no matter their personal circumstance.  
  • Requirements for Well-Rounded Education: Schools will now be able to assess their ability to provide a well-rounded education–including music–and address any deficiencies using federal funds.  All Title I programs, both schoolwide and targeted, are now available to provide supplemental funds for a well-rounded education, including music.  
  • More Professional Development for Music Educators: Funds from Titles I, II and IV of ESSA, may support professional development for music educators as part of supporting a well-rounded education.  
  • Flexible Accountability Systems: States must now include multiple progress measures in assessing school performance, which can include such music education friendly measures as student engagement, parental engagement, and school culture/climate.  
  • Protection from “Pull Outs”: The new ESSA discourages removing students from the classroom, including music and arts, for remedial instruction. 

When the Delaware Department of Education began to draft its plan for the ESSA, it seemed that music and arts educators in the state would finally have a voice in helping to build a framework for ensuring that all of Delaware’s students had access to a well-rounded education.  Sadly, that does not seem to be the case.

During the second revision of the DDOE ESSA, a survey was created to allow for public feedback regarding the state’s plan. DMEA reviewed the document and was discouraged to find that the arts–specifically music–were referenced only once throughout the entire plan. Utilizing the online survey, members of DMEA, art educators, parents, and community members voiced their concerns to the DDOE, urging them to consider what a truly “well-rounded” education might look like for Delaware students.  With the release of the final draft of the DDOE ESSA plan, it appears that feedback has fallen on deaf ears.  Not one suggestion made by the DMEA, Delaware educators, or parents found its way into the revision.

Also discouraging is Delaware’s lack of inclusion of the arts in its ESSA plan despite such inclusion by other states. Some examples of the importance other states are placing on music include:

  • Michigan includes “Time Spent in Fine Arts, Music, and Physical Education” as an indicator of school quality or student success as part of their accountability system. 
  • New Jersey collects and reports on student access to and participation in the arts as part of a school district’s report card. 
  • Iowa addresses a “well-rounded education” for its students, citing music as a required subject for grades K-8 and requires students in grades 9-12 to have three courses in the arts.  Additionally, the state lists the Iowa Music Educators Association (IMEA) as representatives on the Well-Rounded Issue Specific forum and names the IMEA as stakeholders.
  • Idaho cites music and arts programs as allowable expenditures for Title IV-A funds and goes on to say “Exposure to the arts is an important component of a well-rounded education. As such, LEAs may establish or expand arts education through the purchase or rental of instruments for underserved populations that provide unique music opportunities for those who have not been exposed to music education.”
  • Addressing Title IV funding, Tennessee states: “It is imperative that students have access to coursework and activities that interest them. We heard from hundreds of parents and educators how critical the arts and music, health and wellness, sports and clubs are in a student’s development, as well as supporting students’ academic interests and lifelong learning.”

As an organization with a vested interest in the success of students, DMEA is insisting that music and the arts be included in the DDOE ESSA as a mandatory means to attaining a well-rounded music education. We want to be represented in ESSA, and we need our feedback on the second draft to be considered as ESSA is finalized. Without requiring the presence of music and arts education in Delaware schools, we are certain this Act will fall short of Delaware student needs and hinder the future generations to come.

The Delaware Department of Education, the public-school teachers and administrators, and the citizens of the state of Delaware all have a solemn obligation to our children—our future—to educate them as best we can.  However, education does not stop at survival skills and those things that are “easy” to measure.  It also includes “living skills” and those things not so easy to measure. Math, Science, ELA, and History are all very necessary for our sons and daughters to live and survive, but music, poetry, art, dance, and theatre are what they LIVE for. An ESSA plan from Delaware that does not include those is a document that is negligent.  The Delaware Music Educators Association is more than willing to sit at the table with the Delaware Department of Education to help find ways of ensuring that music and the arts are an inclusive part of our students’ educational experience.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Clint Williams, DMEA President

Daniel Briggs, DMEA President-Elect

Cera Babb, DMEA Advocacy Chair

Thomas Dean, DMEA Advocacy Committee

February Shuffle 1.0

Continuing the tradition from last month, this non-education series of articles is all about the music!

“Kick”, INXS: Heh heh heh.  About all I can say about this!

“Nothing Lasts Forever”, Echo & The Bunnymen: I actually didn’t find this song until 2006 when I picked up a greatest hits compilation of the band.  The title says it all.  At least in its current form.  Life is like energy, it doesn’t disappear, it just evolves.

“The Drugs Don’t Work”, The Verve: Drug addicts have a tough time of it.  I would like to think each and every one had a moment in their lives when they could have taken a different turn and stopped the rough road they went down.  Nothing good comes of it.  It tears apart families and destroys lives.  Sometimes it kills people.  It is an epidemic no matter how you slice it.  One addict is one too many.

“How Do You Love?”, Collective Soul: There are people in this world who do not get love from the time they enter the world.  It leaves horrible scars.  They don’t get that basic foundation that most people get.  They were deprived of that nurturing comfort that forms who they are.  They grow up.  It is incredibly sad what happens to these people.  Is it their fault for the decisions they make when they are older?  Hard to tell.  The problem is they believe they are always the victim and it is always someone else’s fault.  Things like accountability go out the window and they are in a constant state of self-defense.  They don’t even realize this.  If you offend them in any way, you are the enemy.  They will justify any event or situation to fit their needs, which tends to be fleeting in the grand scheme of things.  When they do something wrong, they believe it is not their fault.  They are hard-wired at a very early age to never really trust anyone.   They will lie based on fear.  The truly sad part?  Many of these people don’t get the help they need and there is no medicine that can cure this.  They can be the hardest people in the world to give love to because the odds are very high you won’t get it back in return.  But be assured, they are loved.  Even when those who love them think they can’t give anymore to give and the well has run dry, they are there.  Sometimes that is the truest love of all.  It isn’t romantic or glamorous or sexy, but it is very real.  When they want to cast you aside, as they have done so many others, based on a perceived threat that is not ground in reality, they will smear your reputation and leave you feeling hopeless.  I’ve heard some say this kind of person can never be fixed.  That can be a very bitter pill to swallow.  With God’s love, I think anything is possible.  But they are also His lost sheep.

“The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)”, John Williams: How many of you have hummed this piece in your head when you know trouble is coming into a room?

“Waiting In Vain”, Bob Marley: Nothing soothes the soul like a little Bob Marley!  I remember days after school hanging out at Scott’s Reservoir, a man-made body of water between New York and Connecticut.  On one end of “the res” as we called it was a rope swing.  On the other end were cliffs you could jump off.  Down from the rope swing was the end of the res and it was there I camped out at times.  You had a limited time each year to enjoy the swimming adventures at the res.  Usually between Mid-May to the beginning of July.  After that they drained the res for a while.  My parents didn’t want me going there, but that didn’t stop this rebellious teenager.  A lot of good times with friends at the res.  I met a lot of people there as well.

“Bliss”, Tori Amos: What do you do when you finish a book in your life?  You start a new one.  But sometimes that beginning is very slow and boring.  This was the place I was in back in 1998.  Little did I know what was lurking around the corner!

“Upside Down”, Jack Johnson: Like Marley, Jack’s music is awesome for the soul!  I always think of the Curious George movie when I hear this song.  My son Jacob loved watching the video to this song.  His favorite part was when Jack Johnson slips on a banana peel and falls into the water.  I can still hear the laughter through the years!

“Into The Night”, Julee Cruise: Back in 1990 I was in a nasty depression.  The years and some bad stuff took their toll on me.  The absolute worst thing you can do while in this state is watch a show like “Twin Peaks”.  But of course I did it anyway.  David Lynch’s mega-opus into the bizarre and surreal town in Washington captured audiences as they wondered who killed Laura Palmer.  They solved the murder but the show fizzled after that as the central hook was gone.  But it is coming back this Spring for… who knows!

“Rain King”, Counting Crows: This is a Summer of ’94 song!  I just graduated college.  Between the New York Rangers finally winning the Stanley Cup again and O.J. Bronco chases, it was a crazy summer.  But for me, it was very quiet.  Just the way I wanted it!

“The Rose”, Bette Midler: This is one of those songs that holds several different meanings for me, going all the way back to 1980 when it first came out.  Each time, each era, I feel as though it holds more importance, more weight.  Love means so many different things to so many people.  It can be the greatest comfort in the world or it can bring immense pain and sadness.  It all depends on where you are at.

“Bleecker St.”, Simon & Garfunkel: When I hear songs like this that came out from the years before I was born I am envious.  I always wondered what I would have been like in the 1960s.  Judging by this blog and the content I tend to put up on here, I think I know the answer to that question!

“Tears In Heaven”, Eric Clapton: Nothing hurts more then losing a child.  I remember when Eric Clapton’s son fell out of a window and died.  I was working at a deli and it came on the radio.  I felt so bad for Clapton and his family.  This song perfectly summarizes his anguish.

“Going Back”, The Outfield: In the summer of 1992, I got to back home to New York for a few months.  I was working on a magazine about comic books and I stayed with my aunt and uncle near where I grew up.  That was a great summer!  I lost touch with my friends Steve and Neil a long time ago and haven’t been able to find them.  The highlight of the summer was going to San Diego for the first time.  Watching the sun set over the Pacific at Mission Beach as I sat in a bar with my friend Steve.  There are many reading this who may have seen the sun rise at the beach, but if you have never seen it set over the Pacific, make sure you put that on your bucket list!

“New Dress”, Depeche Mode: You think political angst is just an American thing?  To the British in the 1980s it was everything.  But the media focused on celebrities.  Thus this song.  But the message is about Princess Diana’s new dress.  It is actually a get out and vote song when you really listen to it!

“Sleeping Satellite”, Tasmin Archer: Another summer song, this one belonging to 1993.  Another summer at my aunt and uncle’s place in New York.  This summer wasn’t as much fun because I was a co-editor on a book about comic book artists.  There were many late nights getting all the pieces together for this mammoth undertaking.  I did get to San Diego again that summer.  But this was one of those songs that I played over and over again that summer.

“Noah’s Dove”, 10,000 Maniacs: Probably in my top ten songs of all time.  The first time I heard it was driving into a small town in West Virginia.  During Spring Break my senior year of college, I spent that week helping out people in that small town.  It was refreshing and a nice change of pace.  I have always felt giving and volunteer service is good for the soul.  But this song… it’s like “The Rose”, holding different meanings over the years.  At times I felt like Noah’s Dove.  Sometimes it is someone else.

“Ring The Bells”, James: Man, this shuffle sure is picking out a lot of songs from the nineties!  When bad stuff happens, we feel alone a lot.  Like no one can help us.  And sometimes we feel God isn’t there either.  Be assured He is.  He may not be there the way you want Him to be, but he is definitely there!

“The Dolphin’s Cry”, Live: Beginnings are usually awesome.  Full of promise and hope.  New feelings and excitement.

“Daysleeper”, R.E.M.: In the fall of 1998, I got a new job at a mortgage company.  I wanted to do really well at this new job.  A few months into it, I got a call from someone.  This person let me know they got engaged.  Being that I used to date this person, hell, moved across the Atlantic Ocean to be with this person, it crushed me when I heard it.  Cut to my taking a break at work, smoking a cigarette outside.  This woman I had seen before came out.  She could tell I was upset.  I told her what happened.  We talked for a while about it and she helped me to not let this news ruin my day.  These are the moments where friendships are born.

“Song2”, Blur: If you were into the Grunge movement in the nineties, this song was almost an anthem.  Body-surfing, the grunge dancing, the loud music.  Yeah, it was a movement!

“Brother”, Needtobreathe: If you see your brother is down, go to him.  Doesn’t have to be your biological brother.  We are all brothers and sisters on this planet, no matter what color we are.  Some people may not seem like they want help.  Give it a shot.  You could actually save a life!

“What Does It Take?”, Honeymoon Suite: If one song could perfectly encapsulate what my life is like now, this would be it.

Time for bed.  I’ll post this in the morning.

 

January Shuffle 3.0

Is the third time the charm?  Let’s find out! Continue reading

January Shuffle 2.0

I did this a couple of weeks ago and I enjoyed it so much I thought I would do it again.  So here we go! Continue reading

The January Shuffle

Music.  It reverberates the soul.  It brings back memories of good and bad times.  When I listen to music, every song brings back something for me.  It could be sadness, anger, hope, triumph, or happiness.  It can remind me of a time period in my life or a specific person.  One of my favorite things to do is put music on shuffle and see what comes up.  I love the shuffle cause you never know what is going to come up.  Anything goes.  I thought I would write a post about what songs come up and what those songs mean to me.  Something a little different.

“Where’s The Ocean”, Toni Childs: The album came out a few years earlier but I first heard this song in 1990.  It was a very difficult time for me.  I was in college, taking six classes after switching my major from business to psychology.  I was working part-time, had a girlfriend, and was cast in a play at college.  It was too much and I fell apart for a while.  I was only 20 and it felt like I was spinning my wheels in ice.  As a result, I wound up switching my major the next semester to communications.  It was a tough time but the lessons I learned from it still help me now.

“Sounds Like A Melody”, Alphaville: Like the last song, I didn’t get into Alphaville until a couple of years after their debut album came out.  But 1987 heralded many changes in my life.  Especially once I became a senior in high school.  I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life.  I had already decided to skip a year after high school instead of going to college.  In the meantime, I partied and partied hard.  I used to go to a nightclub called Kryptons back then.  I was, of course, under age, but having a friend as a bartender helped a lot!  They would play this song there and my friends and I would attempt to dance and probably looked like idiots.  I have lots of memories at Kryptons and most of them are fun times.  I have no clue if the old club is still there.  It changed owners and names a lot in the decade after that.

“Absolutely Still”, Better Than Ezra: Better Than Ezra is one of my favorite bands of all time.  Most people know them by their biggest hits, “Good” or “Desperately Wanting”.  But for me, all their albums are a gold-mine.  This song came out in 2009.  I remember the first time I heard this song.  I was driving my son to daycare and the words just hit a chord inside me.  It made me think of family and the blessings we take for granted.

“I Won’t Let You Go”, Switchfoot:  This band is a Christian band.  Most people don’t know that.  They hit the mainstream back in the early 2000s.  This song came out this fall but I just heard it last month.  When you really listen to the words, it can be confusing.  At first I thought it was about a guy swearing not to give up his woman.  But I soon realized the singer is actually singing through God’s viewpoint.

“Selling The Drama”, Live: 1994.  Senior Year of College.  Senior Week.  I can’t remember for the life of me if I was sober at any point that week.  Live hit it big with this song.  Ed Kowalcyzk has an amazing voice.  This was in the middle of the grunge movement and Live was right up there with Nirvana and Pearl Jam that year.

“In Your Eyes”, Peter Gabriel: Most people know this song from the movie “Say Anything” from 1989.  But the song came out in 1986.  I remember going up to Cape Cod with my cousin Liz one weekend to see our grandparents.  We listened to this album on the way up along with a few others.  I remember walking on the jetty at the beach one night.  I spent many summer days growing up on that jetty.  It was before my junior year of high school.  My life changed a lot during my sophomore year.  New friends, new hang-outs.

“San Diego”, Blink 182: This is from their album that came out last year.  This band is from San Diego.  I lived north of San Diego for a few years back in 2001 to 2004.  My future wife and I moved out there.  We actually lived in a small suburb of San Diego called Rancho Bernardo for about eight months before we bought a house in Riverside County.  But I worked in Rancho Bernardo the entire time I lived there.  California is an awesome place to live.  And no place is better than San Diego.  You can go to the beach and then to Julian about an hour away if you want to see snow in the winter.  I did that one day.  It was awesome!

“My Fault”, Imagine Dragons: I always think of the first year of the Firefly Music Festival when I hear any song from Imagine Dragons first album.  I also think of my mom, who was very sick at that time.  It was 2012.  I felt massive change coming on the horizon.  I knew my Mom wouldn’t last much longer (she passed away in May, 2013).  My son’s disabilities were growing.  Things weren’t good.  But I tried to hang on to hope as best I could.

“Hey Jude”, The Beatles: There will never be another band like The Beatles.  My earliest musical memories involved The Beatles.  They broke up the year I was born but my parents had many of their albums.  I remember listening to them all the time.  But it would be years until I got “Hey Jude”.  This is one of McCartney’s best songs in my opinion.  I saw him in concert back in 1990 up in Philly and the crowd went nuts when this song began.

“Wake Me Up When September Ends”, Green Day: While this song came out in 2004, 9/11 was still very fresh in my mind.  I don’t know if this song is about that tragic day, but I always think about it when I hear this song.  No event in my lifetime left a scar like that day did.  I still remember every single second of that day and the night before.  We had just bought a large screen TV but there were issues with the first one we got.  The screen would get blurry and we couldn’t see anything.  This was when I lived in California.  I got up for work at about 5am, which would have been 8am on the east coast.  I had a horrible dream the night before.  Guerilla soldiers were cutting people with knives at some camp.  That wasn’t something I normally dreamed about at all.  I remember taking a shower and remembering the dream.  It disturbed me on many levels.  The day before I read something in the local newspaper about two nuns who had been freed by the Taliban.  They were recounting their experience with the Taliban.  One of them remembered seeing an office.  On the wall was a calendar of planes.  After I got ready for work, I was drinking a cup of coffee.  My wife and I drove together to work since we both worked in San Diego and we lived an hour north.  I heard something on the tv (with no visible screen) about a plane flying into a building.  I assumed it was in the Mid-East.  I went outside for a smoke and when I came back in the reporter said “another plane has flown into the World Trade Center.”  I sat there with my jaw wide open.  I yelled to my wife what happened.

“Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season)”, The Byrds: When I was about seven or eight, my family and I were driving to church one day.  I had heard this song before.  But for some reason I can’t remember, my mother began explaining how this song came from Ecclesiastes in The Bible.  I remember thinking it was really cool that such a popular song came from The Bible.  It is one of my favorite parts of The Bible.  “There is a time for every purpose under Heaven.”  I actually try to hold on to that when things get rough.  How there is a reason for everything.  We may not know it at the time but sometimes we understand why and what it led to later on.

“Sleepwalker”, The Wallflowers:  In October of 2000, my future wife and I moved to California.  We packed up a U-Haul and drove across the country.  I drove the U-Haul and towed my car behind it.  My wife drove her car behind me.  It took about five days.  On the fourth day, we left our hotel in Amarillo, Texas.  From there we hit New Mexico and then Arizona.  We stopped by a mall in Flagstaff, Arizona.  I heard “Sleepwalker” a few times in the weeks before we moved.  As I passed a record store, I saw the album it was on just came out.  I instantly bought the CD.  From Flagstaff, we drove through mountains that take your breath away.  All the way down to Phoenix.  I replayed “Sleepwalker” a lot during that long winding journey through Arizona.  I saw the sun set to the west as I drove through terrain I had never seen before in my life.  Majestic doesn’t even describe what I felt during this ride.

“Sold Me Down The River”, The Alarm:  I moved to Pennsylvania in 1989.  Remember how I said I was taking a year off after high school?  That year was up.  My parents moved from New York and I went with them.  I decided to start college at Bucks County Community College.  A new friend of mine introduced me to The Alarm.  This song had just come out and I heard it on a Philly radio station called WMMR.  I used to take drives up and down the Delaware River back in those days.  This song was on a lot back then!

“The Space Between”, Dave Matthews Band:  This song reminds me of my fiancé.  Who is now my wife!  This song came out shortly after we became engaged.  The lyrics don’t match what was going on with us, but it reminds me of that time.  The love of my life!

“Communication”, The Cardigans: Shortly after my son Jacob was born in 2004, my wife and I made the decision to move back east.  She was off work for maternity leave for six weeks and then it was my turn.  When I wasn’t spending the day with my son, in those rare moments when he consistently slept, I was packing things up for the big move.  I bought the album “Long Gone Before Daylight” one day and it became my soundtrack for that time.  I remember playing this song as Jacob was sleeping in his aquarium swing.  He looked so peaceful, just rocking back and forth.  When our children are babies, we can remember these moments.  To this day when I see him sleeping, I have that same feeling.  Peaceful.

“Human”, The Killers: Fall 2008.  No one knew what the heck Brandon Flowers was talking about with this song.  “Are we human or are we dancer?”  It didn’t matter.  I loved this song and still do.  I was in the midst of some adult growing pains when this song came out.  Without going into details, it is something we all go through at one period in our lives.  When we mistake confidence as hubris and we become arrogant.

“Take It All Back”, Judah and the Lion: Right now, this is probably my favorite song.  Ever since Mumford & Sons came out, banjos have become a bigger part of music.  At least the music I like to listen to.  This song actually mentions the word banjo.  And then slides into one of the best banjo riffs I’ve ever heard.

“The Tide Is High”, Blondie: If you were alive in December 1980, you know this song.  I lived in Roanoke, Virginia at the time.  I knew we would be moving to New York the next Spring.  But life was good when you are ten.  I remember roller skating to this song at Olympic Skating Rink in Vinton, VA.  I had been a big Blondie fan ever since “Heart of Glass” came out.  Still love this song!

“Let Go”, Frou Frou: In January of 2005, we had been in Delaware for a few months.  I was working at the Bank of America call center in Dover.  I remember a lot of snow.  I had just watched the DVD of “Garden State” and bought the soundtrack.  I remember leaving work one night.  The snow was coming down.  There weren’t many cars on Route 13 in Dover.  This song came on.  I hate driving in snow.  It gives me this weird agita I don’t like at all.  I remember hearing this song and saying to myself “Let Go” as I drove through the snowy roads back home.

“Strangelove”, Depeche Mode: Remember that night club Kryptons I talked about earlier?  This is another one of those 1987 songs that always reminds me of Kryptons.  My friend Pete and my second cousin Krista who was visiting from Oregon decided to go out one night and we wound up there.  I remember having too much Cranberry and Vodka that night.  My bartender friend used to hook me up!

“Come Original”, 311: 1999:  Autumn.  I had just turned 29.  My twenties were crazy.  Maybe it was because I knew I would be turning thirty soon.  I felt my need to party diminish greatly that fall.  Going out three to four nights a week were starting to show.  I wanted, no, needed something more.  After a while, I felt like I was just playing the same record over and over again, every week.  I began dating my future wife that December.

“Blessed”, Elton John: This song reminds me of November of 1995.  Before I moved to Sweden in 1996, I spent about a week there visiting someone.  As she drove me to the airport that snowy, cold, and dark November morning, I already knew I would be moving there.  So did she.  This song was playing as she pulled out of her driveway.  It was 5:30 in the morning.  Flash forward to last week.  I hadn’t heard this song in years.  Whenever I heard it in the past, it reminded me of that person.  For a long time.  I put all that behind me a long time ago, well before I got married.  But when I heard it, I actually listened to the words.  It is about a man getting ready to have a child.  I couldn’t help but think of Jacob and how blessed I feel to have him in my life and proud I am of him.

“Smoky Mountain Rain”, Ronnie Milsap: Yes, you will find me listening to a little bit of country.  Not the modern-day country music, but music from when I lived in Roanoke as a small boy.  This was one of those songs.  I believe it is another 1980 song.  A lot of the songs from that time period I would hear listening to Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 every Sunday night.  I used to tape them on my tape recorder.  I think I may still have one of those cassette tapes lying around somewhere!

“City Of Blinding Lights”, U2: This is in my top five favorite U2 songs.  Easily.  Everything just flows, the piano, the guitar, the bass, the drums.  But Bono’s words hit home with me the first time I heard it.  “Blessings not just for the ones who kneel, luckily.”  When Bono sings “I’m getting ready to leave the ground”, The Edge takes off with this swirling riff that leads to the main chorus.  Aside from being a great song, it also reminds me of one dark night in my life.  I got into a terrible fight with someone in my life and it led to a very strained relationship between the two of us that has never quite been the same since.  It was stupid and silly stuff that started it.  I lacked the patience at the time to deal with that stupid and silly stuff and it is something I regret to this day.

“Take It Easy”, The Eagles: Glenn Frey passed away last year.  It bummed me out for a while.  Probably more than David Bowie who passed a week earlier.  When I lived in Roanoke as a child, I considered this my golden years.  When life was innocent and pure.  Not tainted by politics and real-life issues.  Just being a kid.  Playing with friends.  Taking long walks for hours without worrying about someone kidnapping me like we tend to think nowadays with our own kids.  Exploring the world I lived in every chance I had.  Making all those kid mistakes and just bouncing right back.  I miss those days.  Not days I could or would live in again, but with a fondness that brightens my soul.  And The Eagles were right there the whole time!

“When You’re Falling”, Afro-Celt Sound System and Peter Gabriel: This reminds me of the move from that suburb of San Diego to Riverside County in May of 2001.  To a little town called Menifee.  To our beautiful two-story home with the small back-yard.  Watching the sun set over Mount San Jacinto those first times.  Fixing up our home.  Buying a lawn mower for the first time.  Painting rooms.  Sitting on the patio with the love of my life on those warm nights.  It all seemed so simple and easy back then.

“I Will Follow”, U2: back again!  I saw them in 1985 during their Unforgetable Fire Tour.  In New Haven, Connecticut.  It was the first concert I ever went to.  Bono would just grab someone from the audience and let them play his guitar or dance with them.  As the band has aged over the past thirty-five plus years, it can be hard to imagine them back in those younger days.  How many bands stick around for this long with the same line-up from when they first started?

“Still The One”, Orleans: This reminds me of the summer of 1978.  I was eight years old.  We belonged to this swim club called Aquanet.  My brothers and I spent many of our summer days there.  Swimming, shooting pool, buying candy from the food court, running around, the life guard telling me not to run, listening to the songs of the summer.  Those were the days!

“Since You’ve Been Gone”, The Outfield: This song has a specific story and meaning.  I was in a fight with a friend and I stopped myself from picking up the phone for a long time.  I heard this song in August of 1987.  Right after, I picked up the phone and just said “Let’s meet.”  Sometimes when we let go of our stubbornness it can be a good thing!

“Reunion”, Collective Soul: May 1995.  A transition.  Letting go and letting in.  “Change has been what change will be.  Time will tell then time will ease.  Now my curtain has been drawn and my heart can go where my heart does belong.  I’m goin’ home.”

“Rock The Casbah”, The Clash: Once upon a time, The Clash was the best band in the world.  During their latter days, they hit it big when “Combat Rock” came out in 1982.  There was no more tubular song that fall then “Rock The Casbah”.  This is one of those songs that never seems to come off my MP3 player!

“I Will Follow You Into The Dark”, Death Cab For Cutie: As we get older, we tend to lose people we love more and more.  Sometimes it happens unexpectedly and others it is a long road to travel.  This song reminds me of the fear the dying must have.  A terrifying feeling of an ending.  I believe in Heaven and eternal life.  I believe our souls embark to a life greater than one we can ever imagine.  But that one moment scares me.  I pray I don’t die alone.  I can think of nothing more miserable.  I want those I love to be around me so I can hopefully say goodbye.

“The Sound of Sunshine”, Michael Franti & Spearhead: Another Firefly song.  When this band played, the sun came out after a morning of rain.  Soon, the band played this song.  Beach balls started flying through the crowd.  Everyone was singing along.  People were smiling and dancing.  Enjoying life.  It was the sound of sunshine.

“Times Like These”, The Foo Fighters: In the fall of 2002, I remember driving down the 15 (yes, on the West Coast people put “the” before major highways) and hearing this song on 91x.  That journey from Menifee to Rancho Bernardo.  Menifee to Murietta to Temecula to Fallbrook to Escondido to Rancho Bernardo.  Through the mountains.  The endless line of stopped cars no matter what road you think will be a short cut.  Road rage all around you.  Motorcycles whizzing by as you sit there forever.  Sometimes you just crank the volume all the way to the top and sing your ass off.

“Rain In The Summertime”, The Alarm: Another Alarm song.  But this is my all-time fave of the Welsh band.  “And then I run ’til the breath tears my throat and the pain hits my side.  As if I run fast enough, I can leave all the pain and the sadness behind.”  I’ve run a lot in my life.  I’ve run towards things and away from things.  I’ve physically run.  Away from bullies.  For exercise.  For work.  I’ve run after my dog when she got out of the house a few times.  What has always fascinated me about long-distance runners is the wall.  That moment when they go past that point of exertion and get that extra shot of adrenaline and keep going.  Lately I’ve been looking for that wall.  I want to tear it down and go to that next level.

“What You Need”, INXS: It is hard for me to think of any INXS song without thinking of Michael Hutchence.  He was the lead singer and he died twenty years ago.  He killed himself.  He couldn’t hold on for just one more day.  As Bono from U2 said, he was “stuck in a moment you can’t get out of”.  A decade before that, INXS was on top.  Before “Kick” shot them through the stratosphere, they came out with “Listen Like Thieves”.  “What You Need” was the lead single and it showcased INXS at their musical peak.  Hutchence wailing, the horns blowing, building up to the crescendo.  Some music is just about the band.

“One More Time”, The Cure: In the fall of 1987, my paternal grandmother passed away from cancer.  It hurt, a lot.  She was the first major family member I lost.  My first grandparent to leave this earth.  We were close.  A few years before, I spent a week with her and my grandfather up at Cape Cod.  It wasn’t really on the Cape, but we always called it that.  It wasn’t far from the Cape though.  A beach town called Mattapoisett in Buzzards Bay.  They lived in this enclave called Antossawamock.  I remember one evening during that week, my grandmother and I just sat there talking on the couch, for hours.  She understood me in ways others didn’t.  I tell people the best way to build a relationship with my son is to make that connection.  Once you have that, you are golden.  I had that with my grandmother.  After her memorial service, I walked along the beach listening to this song.  I just wanted one more time.

“Swing Life Away”, Rise Against: Another song from 2004 that reminds me of my son’s first few months.  Wondering what his life would be like.  All the hope and promise.  Watching him during those May and June days sleeping in that aquarium swing.  Taking him for walks to Lake Menifee.  Waiting for his Mommy to get home from work.  Changing his diapers.  Just holding him for what seemed like forever.  Rocking him in the rocking chair listening to a Reggae nursery rhyme CD.  Reading tons of books to him.  Days I cherish.  Days I wouldn’t trade for any other day in the world.

“Ordinary World”, Duran Duran: I wasn’t expecting a great Duran Duran song driving back to college in January 1993.  But there it was.  Driving down the Pennsylvania Turnpike back to Cabrini College.  For months after, I would pop this song on.  I remember working on the school newspaper, The Loquitur.  I was the Associate News Editor.  On Tuesday evenings, you could count on myself and the other staff toiling away until way after midnight putting the paper together to send to the printer the next morning for a Thursday release.  We were a team.  We disagreed, we fought, we argued.  But when it came time to getting it done every week, we laughed, we joked, and we worked.  We made it happen.  And we never failed.  This was in the days before the internet changed journalism by leaps and bounds.  So we literally cut and pasted.  We cropped photos by scissors.  And then scanned them in.  It was fun!

“Don’t Ask The Reason Why”, Restless Heart: Growing up is tough enough.  Trying to cross that bridge between your teenage years and adulthood can be very tough.  It always helps when you have a friend to travel with.  I like to look back now and realize that I once had a best friend and we helped each other on that journey.  Through the laughter and the pain, we both made it to adulthood.  We all have those people where things get so bad you don’t talk to them anymore.  Far too much scar tissue.  But as the years have gone by, I recognize that place and time in my life with purpose.  How it wasn’t as bad as I once thought it was.  That time led to my carefree and reckless twenties.  Which led to settling down from that.  Which led to meeting Deb.  Which led to my incredible and awesome son.  Which led me to now.  I let go of the angst from that time period a long time ago.  Sometimes I want to say hi to my old friend.  But I understand the distance has a reason.  I hope you are well.

“Red Skies”, The Fixx: Back in 1982, the Cold War was in full swing.  We were all scared of the bomb.  Both the USA and Russia continued their nuclear buildup and we lived on the razor’s edge.  No one could have foreseen the collapse of the Soviet Union years later at that time.  It was the most important world event of the time.  After seeing “The Day After” in 1983, the horror of nuclear war came home on the TV screen.  People vaporized in an instant.  I tried to understand how two countries were hell bent on destroying each other.  It never made sense to me.

“Next Generation”, Alphaville: I found this song as a b-side on a 45.  For those who may be too young to understand what the hell I’m talking about, back then songs from albums had singles.  You could get them as a smaller vinyl record called a 45 or as a cassingle (a cassette single).  This dovetails with the last song somewhat.  Alphaville is a German band.  At that time, Berlin was still divided by a wall.  An East and West Berlin existed along with West Germany and East Germany.  It was the settlement Germany had to give to make peace after World War II.  The Russians got part of the country resulting in two different countries, a democratic and free state and a communist one.  Alphaville sang about that dynamic in a lot of their earlier songs.  When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, many folks in the world were terrified of a reunified Germany.  They thought they would go back to their old habits of the earlier 2oth century.  But the next generation made sure that didn’t happen.

“You Are Not Alone”, The Eagles: In 2007, after 27 years, the Eagles were reunited and it felt so good!  One of the songs on their new album, “You Are Not Alone”, was sung by the late Glenn Frey.  I wrote earlier about that moment of death and the horrifying feeling it must be.  I like to think of this song as that next step as our spirit soars to Heaven.  Into the loving arms of Our Father.  Death is very tough for the living.  But it is life for the dying.  That can be a hard concept to grasp for some people.  In the years since my mom passed, I’ve tried explaining this to my son who still has tough moments with it.  But I tell him she is happy now and she wouldn’t want him to cry about it anymore.  And that she wants nothing more than for him to be happy.

“Forever Young”, Alphaville: The first Alphaville song I ever heard.  The one that made me understand things on that cold and snowy Tuesday morning in December back in 1986.  The song that made me see a different world where we can be whatever we make of ourselves.

“We’ve Got Tonight”, Bob Seger: When we are young, we so desperately want to love and be loved.  We make so many mistakes trying to find that one person.  We stumble down that tricky road.  We dream and hope.  We cry and yell.  We fall and rise.  We find new loves in the wake of the old ones.  Love can take a long time to discover the central mystery to it all.  That defining moment when you realize what life is really about.  When you put away the toys of youth and see life in a new way.  I won’t tell you what it is.  If you don’t know, you aren’t there yet.  And that is a journey we all must make ourselves.

Okay, enough for one night.  I’ll have to do this again sometime!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intermission

If you may have noticed, I haven’t been writing as much lately.  I’ve been on an intermission of sorts.  Life stuff.  And fun stuff (for me at least).  I’ve been catching up on some reading and listening to a lot of music.  Things I used to do a lot before I started blogging.  I just need to wind down at times.  I’ve pretty much been on the go for over two years with education and I really don’t want to burn out.  So I’m taking some time off.  I’ll still try to get some stuff up everyday, but nothing to in-depth.  Unless something big comes my way.  Then I will get that up fast!

My wife and I cleaned out our garage today.  My car was filled with stuff we donated to Good Will.  I had to clean out my gutters when I saw weeds growing out of them in a couple of areas.  While I was doing that, a wicked wind blew green leaves all over the place.  I thought I might lose some trees on the edge of our property, but walnuts are very sturdy.

TV winds down for me in the summer.  Only a few shows I’m watching now: Game of Thrones, Preacher and Outcast.  The season finale of The Americans is on tonight.  I will definitely be watching that!  Like those who watch it, I think it is one of the best shows on TV now.  Having lived through the 1980s it is very spot-on with the rendition of the early part of that decade.  They even had a bunch of characters watching “The Day After” in one episode this season.  Kids today don’t live with nuclear threats like I did when I was a kid/teenager.  That movie scared the crap out of millions of Americans.  It came out in 1983 on a Sunday night.  I’ve watched it a few times since.

I was listening to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons earlier today.  The Summer trio are my favorite.  Highs and lows, with a crashing crescendo at the end!  Then I vegged out to some Imagine Dragons and later a band you’ve most likely forgotten about or never heard of called Gene Loves Jezebel.

I’m just blabbing here, about nothing specific.  My son has been watching Arrow and telling me all about it.  I’m a huge Flash fan, but I’ve been stuck on the first season of Arrow for a couple of years.  If you haven’t guessed, I’m a huge comic book fan.  In terms of shows and movies, Marvel gets the movies right and DC does really well with the tv shows.  I still haven’t seen Captain America: Civil War yet.  It is on my soon-to-do list.  Along with a million other things.

I’m kind of at a transition point.  My son is exactly where he needs to be with education.  His battles are a thing of the past for the most part so much my anger is fading.  That doesn’t mean I don’t care about education overall, I just don’t have that immediate connection to it I used to have.  I’ll still do the research and the digging and the listening.  But I am really trying to leave emotion out of it.  If anything, I’ve gotten more sarcastic with my writing.  I’ve been involved with this mess in Delaware so long and so intensely, nothing really shocks me much anymore.  But we are entering unchartered territory with Jack leaving next year and the upcoming elections.  At the time of this writing, Hillary is the Democrat nominee and Donald is the Republican.  I really can’t stand them both.  I was really rooting for Bernie, but his age concerned me a lot.  I don’t like the fact that both the frontrunners are two people who I’ve heard about for over twenty years and neither of them ever impressed me.  It’s kind of depressing actually.  I will fully admit it is very hard for me to not want to blast certain people involved in education.  I see them doing some of the same things over and over.  But it’s the everyday people I’m sometimes hard on, and I’m starting to feel bad about that.  My intention isn’t to hurt anyone.  I’ve always figured if you are going to attend meetings about education you are most likely a public person.  Even if they are “secret” or non-public meetings.  I know I upset a couple of people two weeks ago and I feel bad about that.  I’m going to try to be nicer to people on here.   I know, I’ve said that before and then two weeks later I was cussing out some folks.  When I have posts like that, I’m not going to publish them right away.  Sometimes the best thing to do is sleep on it and not go by the moment.

Alright, enough out of me.  For those reading this, I’m sure this was not the kind of post you wanted to read.  Everyone always loves the scoop (or the supposed scoop).  But even bloggers need a time out once in a while!

Governor Markell Signs “March for the Arts” Proclamation As New Arts Standards Are Approved By State Board of Education

The latest news release from the Delaware Department of Education covers the arts in Delaware schools.  Or more specifically, new “standards” for the arts.  Because in today’s society, we must standardize every single aspect.  I love the phrase “citizenship readiness”.  Does the DOE think all of the students in our schools are illegal immigrants?  Once you are born in the USA you are already a citizen.  Therefore, you don’t need to be “ready” to become what you already are.  More education “reformer” lingo, to go along with all of the other tired old words and phrases.

But I digress…

It looks like these arts standards were developed by those closely affiliated with the arts in Delaware, unlike the Common Core State Standards.  I will have to look more in-depth into these standards though.

Arts educators prepare to shift to new standards

Arts educators in public schools and in community and cultural institutions across Delaware will collaborate this summer to study the state’s new arts standards and begin aligning classroom instruction to the new standards.

The State Board of Education adopted the new, teacher-developed arts standards last week. They replace the standards that have been used to guide instruction in arts classrooms for the past 20 years for dance, media arts, music, theatre and visual arts.

Using a framework that includes philosophical foundations and lifelong learning, the new standards focus on the creative process and highlight learning that includes creating, performing, responding and connecting across arts disciplines.  Details on the new standards can be found on the state’s website here.

The initiative to update Delaware’s arts standards began this fall with the support of the Delaware Division of the Arts, the Delaware Arts Alliance, the Delaware Art Educators Association and the Delaware Music Educators Association.  More than 300 arts educators in the state also signed a petition requesting the Delaware Department of Education present new arts standards to the State Board of Education.

The Division of the Arts requires arts education grant requests to be aligned to current standards in the arts.  The Delaware Arts Alliance maintains arts education as one of its major advocacy goals along with economic development.  Both organizations are partners of the Delaware Department of Education.

The approval of the standards coincides with March for the Arts, a statewide celebration of arts education.  Governor Jack Markell has signed a proclamation designating the month of March as “March for the Arts” in the state of Delaware.  The importance of arts education is cited in the proclamation, as it “contributes to increased attendance and graduation rates; elevates academic achievement; and prepares students for college, career, and citizenship readiness.”

Alison May
alison.may@doe.k12.de.us
(302) 735-4006

The Exceptional Delaware Top 25 Christmas Songs Of All Time @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @Apl_Jax @ecpaige @nannyfat @Roof_O @TNJ_malbright @DelawareBats @BadassTeachersA #netde #eduDE #Delaware #edchat

I’ve always been a big fan of lists, so I’ve updated my top 25 favorite Christmas songs.  It’s pretty much the same as what I posted on Facebook last year, but the Pogues moved up, and Band Aid took the #1 spot again.  So without further ado, here’s the list.  Let me know if you agree (none of you will), and what you feel should be there and what shouldn’t.  And stay tuned for a post I can only call “Christmas Presents For The Enemies Of Public Education In Delaware”.  Feel free to leave input on that one as well!

Top Christmas Songs

1. Do They Know It’s Christmas: Band Aid

2. Christmas Lights: Coldplay

3. Christmastime: Smashing Pumpkins

4. Fairytale Of New York: Pogues and Kirsty MacColl

5. Christmas Time: Bryan Adams

6. Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home): U2

7. The Little Drummer Boy: Harry Simeone Chorale

8. Boots: The Killers

9. Merry Christmas Eve: Better Than Ezra

10. Aspenglow: John Denver

11. I Believe In Father Christmas: Emerson, Lake and Palmer

12. Please Come Home For Christmas: The Eagles

13. Some Children See Him: Andy Williams

14. All I Want For Christmas Is You: Olivia Olson

15. Gabriel’s Message: Sting

16. 2000 Miles: Mighty, Mighty Bosstones

17. Feliz Navidad: Jose Feliciano

18. River: Sarah McLachlan

19. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas: The Pretenders

20. I Wish Everyday Could Be Like Christmas: Bon Jovi

21. Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer: Elmo and Patsy

22. Carol Of The Bells: The Calling

23. A Christmas To Remember: Amy Grant

24. Happy X-Mas (War Is Over): John Lennon

25. Christmas Day: Dido