Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ode to '08

This won't be the best poetry comparable to Yeats, if it's even poetry at all, but I wanted to commemorate the activities that I went through in the past year that helped me grow as a person.

This I call Ode to '08.

my first festival
or two
traveling to Tennessee for the first time
and driving my first Suburban

Bob Dylan playing live
"Like a Rolling Stone" with my own ears
before he fades away

Mason Jennings
in an embrace
Bob Dylan's future mimic,
saw him live
with some new familiar faces

Jack Johnson
Modest Mouse
Stone Temple Pilots
Foo Fighters
Robert Plant
Citizen Cope, Derek Trucks, Black Keys,
Umphrey's McGee, OAR, Newton Falkner,
to name a few

Maya Angelou
sat on a chair
in the same room as I
as she shared her poems
from pure memory
and I felt the preciousness of life in her fragile words

My first kitten Marley
came in with a bite
and a pounce
and a hiss
and a scratch or two

Moved to my first apartment,
for real,
no college bullshit
fake life continuing

I devoured my first taste of
and felt teased by the South--
how dare we Northerners
deny ourselves the bliss--

Tiny birds ate right out of my hand
and I flinched a few times
but I got by

To a mountain top I climbed
with soar limbs the next day but

I endured my first hurricane
in the South,
what so many often experience,
yet I, the outsider,
sat locked inside with wet carpets
squishing beneath my toes in my socks,
and I laughed when the trees
dipped to a right angle

I graduated college

I started a new school

I went through most of my masters
and came out with a memoir

I, wrote, a, memoir

I read it aloud to a stranger
who holds more power than me
I shook
but I read
and gained trust in another

My friend faced real issues
I struggled with her through
as her '08 is less striking
and not a smile glued

I had my first class
and I officially became
Ms. Sautter

my new friend
a new experience

I discovered the library
and audio tapes

reading, reading, reading...

Augusten Burroughs my new dessert
I feast on memoirs
and The Doors and The Beatles
with a new thirst

My home
was the center of a family Christmas,
I, the host, for the first time

I ruined manicotti,
devoured too much popcorn,
discovered gin and tonics,
and shots of Bacardi Limon

Twilight became an obsession
with True Blood--
a vampire fancy I never saw coming--

The Office was an instant
the dry comedy
like Conan
that never filled my insatiable hunger

BrrrrrI drove my first
around the lake
with a spotter of course
but now I can drive it
with some help to pull it in
to the dock

is my name
especially for Lost

I finegeled my first Christmas tree,
fake of course,
decorated without my family
but with my new

I own my first pair
of salt and pepper shakers

A pea coat fits me

My boots molded by a damp closet
and I finally let go of phsyical items

swim around me
at my first Aquarium
dazzled by the sea life

Mike Birbiglia
made me laugh
just a few times
especially in Boston
where the Sox went down
but I saw them in their hometown

Six Flags
was my first

was my second

was definitely not my third

but the drive was sure nice

and now I sit
by a fire
in my home
with a partner
awaiting soon
a coming year
that I do not
entirely fear

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bird Feeding

Last weekend, I visited Long Island to see my good friends from college. I was surprised when my friends brought me to a natural preservation for birds and wildlife in Sag Harbor on the island. I was very impressed with the preservation.

At this location, birds of all kinds roam freely--the noise of the fluttering of their wings and chirping is so calming. They can be spotted anywhere on the trails--in the brush, flying in the air, perched on limbs. The most common birds we spotted were chicadees, tit mice, cardinals, and blue jays. It was really a trip.

But, one cool thing about this place is that the birds eat right out of your hand. So, we brought a sack of birdseed, and if you put a pile in the palm of your hand and lay it flat and still, they will perch right on your hand and eat right out of it. It was amazing, incredible.

It took me a little while to adjust to swooping birds landing on me. I freaked out the first few times, but I finally got it. They were just coming up behind me, which scares me!

Watching the birds eat in your hand was a very cool experience too. Some are very picky while others just want to get in and out quick. The birds seemed to enjoy the sunflower seeds the best. Watching them devour the seed after they plucked it out of your hand was also very cool.

The best spots to feed the birds was where there were heavy thistles where they could hide and simply stand on the end of a short branch and make a small leap over to your hand. You can easily tell these populated areas because humans swarm there to feed them. Too many people is intimidating, but it is a gorgeous walk even if you just want to admire the birds. The trail goes all the way down to the beach and through the woods. It's a very calming and relaxing experience.

So, here are some lovely photos from the trip. It was definitely a cool experience to tack onto my life's tasks and accomplishments.

And this is how I felt at the end of the day...

So, what do you think of bird feeding or bird watching?

Monday, December 29, 2008


I'm back. I haven't posted in a very long while due to moving and lack of cable/internet, but here is my ferocious comeback.

Not a big one tonight, but I did come across a very cool website for those of you who really enjoy unique t-shirts. If you like a t-shirt that no one else has and will gain a lot of comments, check out this website, Threadless.

All of these t-shirts look like they are articulately designed by someone very creative. Imagine having that job--designing t-shirts for a living. These kind of t-shirts are very cool too. They are eye-catching and witty. Check them out.

When I was looking at the main website,, the website dictates that Threadless is a community-based company that has an open-call for t-shirt design submissions. So I guess this company really opens itself up to upcoming artists who would like to make their artwork public. What a very cool idea. I love when people capitalize on creativity and spreading art.

If your design is accepted by the company, you win cash prizes. So why not try to submit a design? You could win $2,000, a $500 gift certificate to Threadless, and $500 each time the shirt is reprinted. I wonder how many submissions are actually received and how well this offer is followed through with.

Anyway, browse through the website or check out some t-shirts. It's well worth your viewing pleasure.

Here are some Threadless entries:

These designs are so good that they could be posters or hung as decorations somehow. Obviously not the funnier ones, but some are good enough to be artwork.

So, what do you think of Threadless designs and t-shirts?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ice Storms

Do you think the hype over ice storms is too much?

Yesterday, I was at Walmart, and the over-worked, frantic employee laughed with me over the craze of the weather. She told me that people are insane when they come to Walmart, stocking up on all the essential needs to be locked inside their house for an entire day or two as well as equipping themselves with the proper attire in case of any problem or issue.

We laughed as I saw the heaviness in her eyes from dealing with loaded carts filled with all the necessary survival supplies. With the upcoming snow storm tomorrow, I was almost barreled down ten times by customers frantically searching for their goods. Christmas also plays a big hand in the swarm of customers, but from the looks of their shopping carts, so does the snow storm.

As I am in the process of moving, I have had to call National Grid to set up my utilities. As they rescheduled my reading, the again overworked and tired employee broke down as she looked for my house on her computer. She said she could hardly hold open her eyes, and her children demanded so much from her after she was forced to work 12 hour days on her two days off, and on her first 8 hour day back, she was exhausted. She just wanted to go home. From what calls used to be sterile and business-like, mine soon turned to trauma and dismay. I didn't mind hearing of her problems, but again this reinforced the tolls we take from strong hits of the weather.

Even at my job, the weather is all people can talk about. What are the newest developments? What is going to happen? What is the worst story that happened while the storm hit? It's complete madness, but at least it gives you something to talk about with awkward coworkers.

At my apartment complex, a window bust open from a falling limb directly above my bedroom window. The shattered glass and tree limbs still lay there, as it has not been repaired as of yet, and I am constantly reminded of the damaging effects of the storm.

I know that some people really did suffer some major damage up here from the last ice storm (in Albany). The power was out for many people for up to 4 days. Trees fell on top of houses and cars--some places were a disaster.

News channels are incessant with covering the footage, which I do enjoy to some extent, but how much talk and hype are too much? Sometimes I feel we react to these things as if we're natural Floridians, but we're not! We've had tons of winters before. Snow and ice come and go. It's a part of our climate up here in the north.

What do you think of these snow storms/ice storms?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Autopsy

I saw this poem in the recent issue of The New Yorker, and I wasn't 100% sure about what the overall message was. I am hoping that someone can read it here and give me a little guidance because it's pretty intense. By reading it, I feel like I want to know what it's all about.

My Autopsy
by Michael Dickman

There is a way
if we want
into everything

I'll eat the chicken carbonara and you eat the veal, the olives, the small and glowing loaves of bread

I'll eat the waiter, the waitress
floating through the candled dark in shiny black slacks
like water at night

The napkins, folded into paper boats, contain invisible Japanese poems

You eat the forks,
all the knives, asleep and waiting
on the white tables

What do you love?

I love the way our teeth stay long after we're gone, hanging on despite the worms or fire

I love our stomachs
turning over
the earth


There is a way
if we want
to stay, to leave


My lungs are made out of smoke ash sunlight air
particles of skin

The invisible floating universe of kisses, rising up in a sequinned helix of dust and cinnoman

Breathe in

Breathe out

I smoke
unfiltered Shepheard's Hotel cigarettes
from a green box, with a dog on the cover, I smoke them
here, and I'll smoke them



There is a way
if we want
out of drowning

I'm having
a Gimlet, a Caruso, a
Fallen Angel

A Manhattan, a Rattlesnake, a Rusty Nail, a Stinger, an Angel Face, a Corpse Reviver

What are you having?

I'm buying
I'm buying for the house
I'm standing the round

Wake me
from the dash of lemon juice,
the half measure of lemon juice, apricot brandy,
that make up paradise


There is a way
if we want
to untie ourselves

The shining organs that bind us can help us through the new dark

There are lots of stories about intestines

People have been forced to hold them, alive and shocked awake

The doctors removed M's smaller one and replaced it, the new bright plastic curled around the older brother

Birds drag them out of the dead and abandoned

Some people climb them into Heaven

Others believe we live in one
God's intestine!

A conveyer belt of stars and saints

We tie and we loosen

and forgettable

So, what do you make of this poem? The sections, the references, the repetitions? What does this poem mean?

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Life and Times of Tim

HBO always impresses me with the talent they find. They always come out with the most innovative, intelligent shows that really rank above par compared with other television networks.

One new show that I am really enjoying is called The Life and Times of Tim. This new show is a cartoon that has that very simple style of drawing that is similar to South Park. But, this show is not as crude and obnoxious as South Park.

The Life and Times of Tim features its main character, Tim, who lives in New York City, works at a boring office job, and has a girlfriend who he always seems to disappoint. Tim is a guy who doesn't try to start trouble, but he always ends up in these terrible situations. They're hysterical, but sometimes they can make you really uncomfortable.

The writing is really well done. They have one-liners and conversations that really stick with you and make you laugh. The characters are original and creative, and they really resemble someone you might know but would never make fun of because they would find out about it. These impersonations of these people are spot on. I'm sure you can match someone you know to these personality types.

You never really know what to expect with every episode, even once it's already started. It takes many twists and turns and ends up in this bizarre place that you never imagined it would go. But, that surprising factor is pretty funny. It becomes so absurd and obscene that it's hysterical.

Anyway, give this show a try. The creator has made something here that really has the potential to shine.

I did learn from that this show started from a small movie short that he produced and won an award for. He then developed this idea into a show that now plays on HBO. It is well worth watching.

I do think they could have come up with a better title for the show though. It's just a little lame. But the voices are hilarious. Good job on matching voices to characters.

And look at the picture below. Look at how uncomfortable he is. It really captures the essence of his character in this one picture.

So, what do you think of The Life and Times of Tim?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Acting Like a Tree

I haven't seen many Christmas poems, but I found one here in The New Yorker. At times, I do enjoy a down-to-earth poem that isn't TOO difficult to understand, even though this does get a little more sophisticated towards the end.

Maybe this poem will appear to those who don't really do the traditional poems or who hate to read a poem and have absolutely no idea as to what's going on. And, if you love Christmas, this one is for you.

Acting Like a Tree
by Jonathan Aaron

When I got the party and saw everybody
walking around in Christmas costumes,
I remembered I was supposed to be wearing one, too.
Bending slightly, I held out my hands
and waved them a little, wiggling my fingers.
I narrowed my eyes and pursed my lips, making
a tree face, and started slowly hopping on one foot,
then the other, the way I imagine trees do
in the forest when they're not being watched.
Maybe people would take me for a hemlock,
or a tamarack. A little girl disguised as an elf
looked at me skeptically. Oh, come on!
her expression said. You call that acting like a tree?
Behind her I could see a guy in a reindeer suit
sitting down at the piano. As he hit the opening
chords of "Joy to the World" I closed my eyes
and tried again. This time I could feel the wind
struggling to lift my boughs, which were heavy
with snow. I was clinging to a mountain crag
and could see over the tops of the other trees a few late-
afternoon clouds and the thin red ribbon of a river.
I smelled more snow in the air. A gust or two whispered
around my neck and face, but by now
all I could hear was the meditative creaking
of this neighbor or that--and a moment later, farther off,
the faint but eager call of a wolf.

What do you make of this poem? First we are at a Christmas party and everything seems to be very silly. He is being imaginative as an adult, and the child is the most skeptical, which is strange because children are supposed to have imaginations. Perhaps they are being lost, especially around this time with the spirit of Christmas, or lack thereof.

Then he seriously imagines being a tree and what that's like, and then it ends. He loses himself in the moment and can seriously envision himself as this nonliving being. He sympathizes with the tree, the being that is killed off during this holiday. Almost like taking the side of the turkey during Thanksgiving. Is that the comment they are looking for here?

Or, is it more comical that one can imagine more what an elf would be like than a tree even though elves are fake and trees are real? And reindeers too. This whole thing is made up, sort of a fantasy we reenact every year, yet the child is skeptical of the tree? Not the elf or the reindeer? I don't know.

What do you make of this poem "Acting Like a Tree?"

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pooh Psychological Disorders

Today I was watching the Winnie the Pooh Christmas special, and I couldn't stop thinking about something I heard about in college: Characters in Winnie the Pooh each exhibit some sort of psychological disorder.

Now, I don't suspect that the book and series was created with this idea in mind, but when psychologically analyzing each character, I do think that each one clearly has a disorder that can be diagnosed based on their behaviors.

This was apparent when I was watching the special today. They are each so quirky and odd in their own way. That's what makes them so popular. They're great characters. But this can come along with a little analyzation.

Psychologists with the Canadian Medical Association wrote an interesting piece which can be read at this website. Their findings are extremely interesting to check out.

This website also offers links to other websites and articles on the topic.

Here is what I found from these websites:

Christopher Robin: Since Christopher Robin creates all of these characters in his mind, these characters represent feelings he is experiencing in his internal world. As a child, he is learning how to socially function and interact with the external world. Each character could represent a different reaction or feeling within himself as he learns to cope and deal with that extra world. The essay by Alan Bennett, from a website above, writes, "These different feeling states, the positions of the developing ego/self come to represent the characters, or, I should say that the 'Winnie-the-Pooh' characters come to represent the positions of the self in Christopher Robin." I almost think he might be schizophrenic if he actually takes on these personas. Either that or they represent parts of himself.

Winnie the Pooh: The Canadian Medical Association's article identified him with these disorders based on the following behaviors:

-ADHD: the inattentive subtype.
-Impulsivity and obsessive fixations on honey. (also obesity)
-OCD: Repetitive counting. OCD mixed with ADHD could eventually contribute to tourettes syndrome later on in life.

Piglet: Generalized Anxiety Disorder. He also has a speech imediment with his stuttering problem. Pooh and Piglet also have significant self-esteem injury.

Owl: Dyslexic, but extremely bright.

Tigger: ADHD. He cannot control his hyperactivity. He even will try anything that comes along his path which concerns psychologist with substance abuse problems. He is impulsive, a bad role model, a social magnet but those drawn into him will get themselves into trouble.

Kanga: The overprotective mother, obsessed with controlling her young.

Rabbit: OCD--he over-organzies and is obsessive with order. To me, for a male character, he is very feminine. Not that this is a disorder, it is just interesting to look at when analyzing his character.

Eeore: Depression, the most obvious. He needs some medication to brighten up his day.

All of these characters are male, with the exception of Kanga. I wonder why that is...?

Did I miss anything here or with other smaller characters within the show? Perhaps more or different diagnosis would make more sense.

What do you think of the psychological states of Winnie the Pooh characters?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What and How America Eats in Recession

In a recent article in PARADE, an article was featured called "What America Really Eats." It features statistics on what America eats now, especially now that we are in a recession, and just how we eat in general. NBC's Brian Williams had a follow-up commentary on the article.

How are Americans responding to the recession in terms of eating and food?

Here are some interesting statistics on America's eating habits:

-59% have cut back on meat due to rising costs

-33% ignore expiration dates (40% expired bread, 30% canned goods)

-53% would pick up their hamburger, hot dog, ice cream cone, pretzel, or any food that hit the floor and eat it within five seconds of hitting the floor

-54% brew coffee at home or work

-71% always wash fruits and vegetables before eating

-21% won't go more exotic than sushi

-35% prepare meals from scratch

-28% buy more products in bulk

-1/3 said one thing they wouldn't give up is a balanced diet

-48% eat out less than they used to

-21% have their own vegetable gardens

(Vegetable gardens are now a $1.4 billion-a-year industry)

-61% rely on coupons and sales when buying food

-42% have switched to less expensive brands of food

-47% resist the urge to splurge on nonessentials on their shopping trips

-66% would never try to pass off prepared food as their own

So, what do you think of these figures?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I just came across a PB Shelley poem called "Mutability." It has some pretty strong themes that still hold true today. Take a look.

Mutability -- Percy Shelley

We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon;
How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver,
Streaking the darkness radiantly!—yet soon
Night closes round, and they are lost for ever.

Or like forgotten lyres, whose dissonant strings
Give various response to each varying blast,
To whose frail frame no second motion brings
One mood or modulation like the last.

We rest. – A dream has power to poison sleep;
We rise. –One wandering thought pollutes the day;
We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep;
Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away:

It is the same! –For, be it joy or sorrow,
The path of its departure still is free:
Man’s yesterday may ne’er be like his morrow;
Nought may endure but Mutability.

We are temporary, even though we might consider ourselves ostentatious and the thought of us actually dying is never that real to us. We are all mortal, and we eventually shall pass along. We think we are more important than we really are, when in the end, we will eventually be forgotten.

Shelley uses some excellent similes to drive this point home. First he uses the image of the cloud passing over the dark moon at midnight, and then we have the forgotten music lyrics. Like these things, we will eventually pass too and will be soon forgotten.

Life is in a state of mutability, constant change and alteration. The only thing we can count on is for life to be constantly changing. Every day will be different than the next, and that is the only positive thing to take from life. We will have our moments of sorrow and woes, but life changes. We can do what we will with our joys and sorrows, and tomorrow is a new day. Every day starts over fresh; revel in that.

I could comment more on sounds, alliterations, uses of imagery and other literary elements, but that's just boring. I just wanted to give some quick thoughts to share and perhaps hear a bit in return.

What do you think of PB Shelley's "Mutability?"

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sonnet XXX

Recently I came across an incredible poem by an incredible poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay. I'm not really a big fan of love poems, or sonnets for that matter, but I thought this one was very clever, and very modern.

This poem seems very true to love and very honest. It makes some excellent points about love and life, and I think it is insightful and thought-provoking.

Sonnet XXX
Of Fatal Interview

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution's power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.

I love how Edna St. Vincent Millay builds up so much how love is not essential to survive. It cannot provide the basic needs for human survival: food, shelter, water, medicine, healing. Even when enduring such pain, one could sell love for survive. But would you really give up the experience of loving someone just to be alive? "I do not think I would."

This brings up a good question. If you were on your death bed, would you take away all the loving experiences of your life just to stay alive even if you couldn't have any more once you survived? How much is love worth living life?

I just really enjoyed this sonnet. I think she really shows off her talents in this piece.

So, what do you think of the sonnet?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Led Zeppelin without Plant?

Rolling Stone issued an article in their latest issue that informed the public that the classic, legendary band Led Zeppelin will be reuniting, but will reunite without their lead singer, Robert Plant.

Do you think this is wrong?

After their reunion within the past year, rumors have circulated that Led Zeppelin would be getting back together. Unfortunately, since that point, Plant started a new project with Allison Krauss, even winning a Grammy for their song "Gone, Gone, Gone." Plant would rather continue doing his own projects than reunite with Led Zeppelin.

Plant released a statement in which he called reports of a Led Zeppelin reunion "frustrating and ridiculous." He said he would not be recording or touring with the band before adding, "I wish Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham nothing but success with any future projects."

Thus, Led Zeppelin is trying out new singers for their new project they're putting out. From John Paul Jones, the group's founding bassist: "We want to do it. It's sounding great and we want to get and get out there," he told the British radio program in an interview broadcast Monday. "It's got to be right. There's no point in just finding another Robert."

Potential replacement for Plant: Myles Kennedy, lead singer of Alter Bridge.

But, they would not keep the Led Zeppelin name on this project to be fair to the true foursome of Led Zeppelin. But would they play the same songs? They'd have to, I'd think, if they wanted the big crowd and the big tour.

What do you think of this replacement? Do you think it would be Led Zeppelin without Robert Plant? How would the tour go without Plant?

And why wouldn't Plant want to reunite?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Top 100 Schools in the Country

Yesterday, Yahoo! posted a feature article on the top 100 schools in the United States. I was very interested to see what kinds of schools made the list, what they're stats were, and where these schools were located. Being a native of New York, I was interested to see how many times we popped up and where those schools were located. New York City and Long Island really seem to dominate our list, while other states also pop out more frequently than we do. California also challenges us.

So, here is the list of the top 100 schools:

Rank and School
(1st figure=quality adjusted exams per test-taker)
(2nd figure=college readiness %)

1 Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Alexandria, VA 6.8 100.0
2 Oxford Academy
Cypress, CA 4.4 99.5
3 Pacific Collegiate Charter
Santa Cruz, CA 4.1 98.8
4 High Technology High School
Lincroft, NJ 3.1 98.4
5 Design and Architectural Senior High
Miami, FL 2.7 97.8
6 International Academy
Bloomfield Hills, MI 5.9 97.8
7 International Baccalaureate School at BHS
Bartow, FL 5.3 97.5
8 Preuss School UCSD
La Jolla, CA 1.9 97.1
9 Academic Magnet High School
No. Charleston, SC 4.0 95.5
10 Gretchen Whitney High
Cerritos, CA 4.1 94.4
11 Pine View School
Osprey, FL 4.1 94.4
12 Maine School of Science & Math
Limestone, ME 2.8 94.4
13 Basis Tucson
Tucson, AZ 3.2 93.8
14 International School
Bellevue, WA 2.6 91.8
15 Ridgeview Classical Charter Schools
Fort Collins, CO 2.9 91.3
16 Benjamin Franklin Senior High School
New Orleans, LA 3.3 90.7
17 Early College at Guilford
Greensboro, NC 3.4 90.0
18 School of Science & Engineering
Dallas, TX 5.6 88.9
19 Idea College Preparatory
Donna, TX 1.0 88.9
20 Raleigh Charter High
Raleigh, NC 4.8 88.9
21 Lennox Mathematics, Science, and Technology Academy
Lennox, CA 1.5 88.6
22 University High School
Tucson, AZ 4.7 87.7
23 Stuyvesant High School
New York, NY 3.6 87.6
24 International Community School
Kirkland, WA 3.6 87.5
25 Loveless Academic Magnet Program High School
Montgomery, AL 2.4 86.8
26 California Academy of Mathematics and Science
Carson, CA 1.9 85.8
27 Boston Latin
Boston, MA 3.3 84.3
28 School for the Talented and Gifted
Dallas, TX 5.3 84.3
29 High School of American Studies at Lehman College
Bronx, NY 1.9 84.3
30 Hume Fogg Magnet High School
Nashville, TN 2.9 82.8
31 Dual Language and Asian Studies High School
New York, NY 1.6 82.4
32 Staten Island Technical High School
Staten Island, NY 2.4 82.4
33 Bronx High School of Science School
Bronx, NY 3.2 82.0
34 Northside College Preparatory High School
Chicago, IL 3.6 81.9
35 City Honors School at Fosdick Masten Park
Buffalo, NY 2.3 81.8
36 Walnut Hills High School
Cincinnati, OH 3.6 81.6
37 Yonkers High School
Yonkers, NY 2.9 80.7
38 Baccalaureate School of Global Education
Long Island City, NY 2.5 79.8
39 Lowell High
San Francisco, CA 4.5 79.8
40 The Science Academy
Mercedes, TX 3.1 79.7
41 Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet - Pearl High School
Nashville, TN 3.2 78.6
42 Charter School of Wilmington
Wilmington, DE 4.0 78.1
43 Stanton College Preparatory
Jacksonville, FL 4.8 77.8
44 Walt Whitman High
Bethesda, MD 3.7 76.9
45 University High
Fresno, CA 2.7 76.5
46 Horace Greeley High School
Chappaqua, NY 3.5 75.3
47 Dr. Ronald McNair Academy High School
Jersey City, NJ 2.3 74.8
48 Queens High School of Science at York College
Jamaica, NY 1.6 74.2
49 Great Neck South High School
Great Neck, NY 4.3 74.2
50 Wyoming High School
Wyoming, OH 3.4 74.1
51 Edgemont Junior-Senior High School
Scarsdale, NY 3.8 73.9
52 Yes College Preparatory School
Houston, TX 1.4 73.2
53 Oscar De La Hoya Animo Charter High
Los Angeles, CA 1.0 73.2
54 Thomas S. Wootton High
Rockville, MD 3.9 73.0
55 McLean High
McLean, VA 2.9 72.5
56 Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professions
Houston, TX 2.3 72.2
57 Winston Churchill High
Potomac, MD 3.7 72.0
58 Westshore Junior/Senior High School
Melbourne, FL 2.5 71.8
59 Northland Preparatory Academy
Flagstaff, AZ 2.5 71.6
60 Mission San Jose High
Fremont, CA 3.2 71.5
61 Alexander W. Dreyfoos, Jr. School of the Arts
West Palm Beach, FL 2.9 71.5
62 Jericho Senior High School
Jericho, NY 4.2 70.9
63 Payton College Preparatory High School
Chicago, IL 2.3 70.8
64 Piedmont High
Piedmont, CA 2.9 70.1
65 South Texas Academy of Medical Tech
San Benito, TX 0.7 70.0
66 Masterman Julia R Secondary School
Philadelphia, PA 2.5 69.9
67 Brooklyn Technical High School
Brooklyn, NY 2.0 69.8
68 Signature School Inc.
Evansville, IN 3.6 69.5
69 Peak To Peak Charter School
Lafayette, CO 2.9 69.4
70 Hawthorne Math and Science Academy High
Hawthorne, CA 0.8 69.3
71 Townsend Harris High School
Flushing, NY 2.1 69.0
72 Paxon School/Advanced Studies
Jacksonville, FL 2.5 68.9
73 Monta Vista High
Cupertino, CA 3.6 68.8
74 Henry M. Gunn High
Palo Alto, CA 4.9 68.2
75 Pittsford Sutherland High School
Pittsford, NY 3.9 68.0
76 Langley High
McLean, VA 3.2 66.9
77 East Chapel Hill High
Chapel Hill, NC 3.6 66.9
78 Bellevue High School
Bellevue, WA 3.2 66.8
79 Carnegie Vanguard High School
Houston, TX 2.2 66.3
80 Saratoga High
Saratoga, CA 3.5 66.3
81 Highland Park High School
Dallas, TX 3.5 65.7
82 Suncoast Community High School
Riviera Beach, FL 2.2 65.5
83 High School for Health Professions
Mercedes, TX 1.2 65.5
84 Cold Spring Harbor High School
Cold Spring Harbor, NY 3.9 64.9
85 Newport Senior High School
Bellevue, WA 3.2 64.6
86 Maritime & Science Technology Academy
Miami, FL 2.4 64.4
87 Blind Brook High School
Rye Brook, NY 3.0 64.2
88 Wheatley School
Old Westbury, NY 3.5 63.6
89 Davidson Magnet School
Augusta, GA 1.8 63.4
90 Woodson High
Fairfax, VA 3.0 63.2
91 Pittsford-Mendon High School
Pittsford, NY 3.2 63.1
92 Scarsdale Senior High School
Scarsdale, NY 3.3 63.1
93 d'Evelyn Junior/Senior High School
Denver, CO 2.3 63.1
94 Animo Leadership High
Inglewood, CA 0.8 62.9
95 Ottawa Hills High School
Toledo, OH 3.1 62.8
96 Corbett High School
Corbett, OR 2.2 62.5
97 Coeur d'Alene Charter Academy
Coeur d'Alene, ID 1.7 62.2
98 Chagrin Falls High School
Chagrin Falls, OH 3.8 61.4
99 La Jolla Senior High
La Jolla, CA 3.6 61.4
100 Belmont High
Belmont, MA 3.8 61.2

Check out the actual article itself with comments from viewers here.

So, what do you think of this list?

Friday, December 5, 2008


Speaking of vampires in yesterday's post, I think it's quite fitting to also comment on the newly released movie from Stephanie Meyer's cult book series Twilight.

I resisted Twilight for a while because it got so many insane followers. Teenage girls ate this book up, reading it and devoruing it by the masses. I didn't know what I was going to get myself into when I read it, but I am glad that I did.

I was also a bit nervous for the movie and how they would portray it, but I saw the movie last night, and it was very close to the book's plot details. I thought that there were no big surprises or differences: if anything, she did a great job syncing up the book and movie, even though parts were difficult to comprehend at times.

My criticism of the movie isn't too long of a list. I think that if someone hadn't read the book, the movie might not be interesting and it would be very difficult to follow. I had questions on the movie at times, but my book knowledge helped me understand certain parts. I know the movie got ripped apart for cheesy action scenes and special effects, but I didn't think they were too bad. Those parts HAD to be in there, and I don't think there's really a way to make it look real in any respect.

The love scenes were a bit dramatic, but that's how they were in the book! You can't criticize the movie's dramatic romance because it was exactly as Meyer wrote it in the book. It was a bit cheesy, but I ate it up, and I'm sure girls and women out there did too.

The casting job, I thought, was well done. I didn't question any roles. I didn't think the actor's were that terrible either, as I have heard some people criticize both acting and the actors selected for Bella and Edward.

Some embellishments were a bit much, but I guess they were necessary to fill in some spots from the book and to add to the future movies they will probably make in the future. Does anyone know if they're going to make the whole series?

I'm interested to see where Meyer is going to take the plot because I have only read Twilight thus far. I did get a sneak peak at the conflict in the next book because the movie gave it away, but that's okay. I'm not too angry about it.

So, what did you think of the Twilight movie?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

True Blood

Last week, HBO aired the season finale of one of its new shows, True Blood. This show has been showered with success and is already in production for its second season.

The season finale was much anticipated and it lived up to all of the horror and mystery that had been building since the first episode. The second-to-last episode revealed the killer, Renee, who then took off after Sookie in the final episode only to be killed by her with Sam's help. Yikes.

I didn't suspect Renee, but it makes sense. During the last episode, I started to think ahead. What will they use as suspense if they solve who the killer is? But then, the last scene of the finale answered that.

Is that Lafayette dead in the car? Did they kill him off?

They CAN'T kill of Lafayette! He's one of their best characters. He is so unique and different--they have killed off too many people in this show. They need some of their better characters to stick. I wonder if he's going to be turned into a vampire or will be saved by Bill. We'll have to wait until summer to see.

What do you think happened to Lafayette?

Perhaps he was killed by that crazy new vampire that Bill created. Maybe there's a new killer? Maybe the antagonistic vampires really weren't killed in the fire and came back for revenge? What do you think?

Otherwise, the show is creative and really comments and touches upon true themes and observations from life. I love how they represent the intolerance of others, especially within the church. Their representation of religion is very interesting. Drugs and homosexuality are also touched upon, and I enjoy their portrayal and commentary. I think the deep south is a very fitting setting for this kind of a show. I am just curious as to where they will take this show.

And what's going on with that shape-shifter that Tara is with? She obviously wants something. And why Tara? I'm surprised Tara's going along with it since she's so strong-willed. Perhaps this will be another conflict coming up in season 2.

I really like their casting job. They have created strong characters with fitting (and unique names) which I am completely satisfied with. I used to dislike Sam, but I don't think he's that bad though. I am just interested to see what other kinds of magical creatures they will introduce since now we know about shape-shifters, vampires, and potentially werewolves. This show could really expand.

Do you like Sookie with Bill or Sam? (Personally, I root for Bill. Sam can get on my nerves).

And, I just really dislike that song in the intro. Yuck.

So, what do you think of True Blood, where it's headed, or what happened in the season finale?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Black Like Me

I just finished reading Black Like Me, a nonfictional piece written in 1961 by John Howard Griffin. As a project, Griffin, a white man from Texas, disguises himself as a black man using sunlight, pills, and creams to see what the experience was like in the deep south of being a different race in the 1950s. His experience is mind-blowing.

I can't believe that anyone could be so brave and selfless to do this. I find it extremely honorable. When hatred was so deep, maybe the deepest it ever was, Griffin jumps right into the center of the hottest part and faces cruelties and prejudices. His encounters really shed light on the state of racism in the start before the Civil Rights Movement, and it was very enlightening.

I found myself angered at the way blacks were treated. It's one thing to have been taught something or watch it in a documentary or film, but to read about true accounts word for word is horrifying. This is not fictional. These are real people who harvested some deep inner hatred. I know that we aren't fully accepting yet of one another, but I think we're making drastic steps to get there. We've at least come a LONG way since this book was published, which is a miracle.

It was interesting that he would go to some of the same places he would go to when he was white and the same individuals would treat him with such disrespect. He had major issues mostly with ignorance and hatred, being denied services he took for granted like using a restroom, buying a meal, having a drink or water, or even cashing a check. Even churchgoers would give him nasty cringes as they left the church. What an ironic situation.

Even though he learned a lot, I'm surprised he did this, because once he published his journals and findings, he was greeted with an uproar and backlash. He received death threats and was treated much differently by those in his community and others. He received much harsh criticism, as many people disagreed with his beliefs and did not want "one of them" (Caucasians) to try to persuade others to believe as he does. People don't like change, and change is exactly what he was suggesting.

Even his family was in jeopardy. I think his cause was admirable though. He really did spread a large message across the country, especially during a time where people needed to hear that message.

Griffin died of diabetes-related issues in 1980 at the age of 60, not from skin darkening complications as others have debated.

I honor his project and his book.

So, what do you think of Black Like Me?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Rolling Stone's Top 100 Singers

Rolling Stone recently put out an issue including the 100 greatest singers of all time. They like to do these lists, and I like them too. They've had the best albums, the best guitarists, the best songs. Now they have the best singers. That must be a hard job to do, to gather an accurate listing that covers singers from a variety of decades--not just what is popular today.

Here is the list from 100-1. Let's see what you think.

100 Mary J. Blige
99 Steven Tyler
98 Stevie Nicks
97 Joe Cocker
96 B.B. King
95 Patti LaBelle
94 Karen Carpenter
93 Annie Lennox
92 Morrissey
91 Levon Helm
90 The Everly Brothers
89 Solomon Burke
88 Willie Nelson
87 Don Henley
86 Art Garfunkel
85 Sam Moore
84 Darlene Love
83 Patti Smith
82 Tom Waits
81 John Lee Hooker
80 Frankie Valli
79 Mariah Carey
78 Sly Stone
77 Merle Haggard
76 Steve Perry
75 Iggy Pop
74 James Taylor
73 Dolly Parton
72 John Fogerty
71 Toots Hibbert
70 Gregg Allman
69 Ronnie Spector
68 Wilson Pickett
67 Jerry Lee Lewis
66 Thom Yorke
65 David Ruffin
64 Axl Rose
63 Dion
62 Lou Reed
61 Roger Daltrey
60 Björk
59 Rod Stewart
58 Christina Aguilera
57 Eric Bourdon
56 Mavis Staples
55 Paul Rodgers
54 Luther Vandross
53 Muddy Waters
52 Brian Wilson
51 Gladys Knight
50 Bonnie Raitt
49 Donny Hathaway
48 Buddy Holly
47 Jim Morrison
46 Patsy Cline
45 Kurt Cobain
44 Bobby "Blue" Bland
43 George Jones
42 Joni Mitchell
41 Chuck Berry
40 Curtis Mayfield
39 Jeff Buckley
38 Elton John
37 Neil Young
36 Bruce Springsteen
35 Dusty Sprinfield
34 Whitney Houston
33 Steve Winwood
32 Bono
31 Howlin' Wolf
30 Prince
29 Nina Simone
28 Janis Joplin
27 Hank Williams
26 Jackie Wilson
25 Michael Jackson
24 Van Morrison
23 David Bowie
22 Etta James
21 Johnny Cash
20 Smokey Robinson
19 Bob Marley
18 Freddie Mercury
17 Tina Turner
16 Mick Jagger
15 Robert Plant
14 Al Green
13 Roy Orbison
12 Little Richard
11 Paul McCartney
10 James Brown
09 Stevie Wonder
08 Otis Redding
07 Bob Dylan
06 Marvin Gaye
05 John Lennon
04 Sam Cooke
03 Elvis Presley
02 Ray Charles
01 Aretha Franklin

I think it's a thorough list. I am not familiar with some of the singers, but I'll take their word for it. I know that so many others would switch around their top ten from these, but no one will ever be happy with a list unless it matches theirs. I think they do a good job at getting diverse opinions to come up with these.

I know Bob Dylan is a bit hoarse, but he only made number 7? John Lennon over Bob Dylan? I don't think Lennon's vocals are more powerful than Dylan's. Dylan has one of the most distinctive sounds in music; there's no mistaking his voice for another's. But, again, that's just my opinion.

Do you think that they left people out of this list? Should some be higher than others?

How did Rolling Stone do with this top 100 singers list?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'd Do Anything For Love

This weekend, I heard the infamous Meatloaf song "I Would Do Anything for Love," and it got me thinking: What does that refer to in the song? He'd do anything for love, but he won't do what?

Does anyone know the real reason?

I did some research, and here is what I found thus far:

"Each verse mentions two things that he would do for love, followed by one thing that he will not do. The title phrase repetition reasserts that he 'won't do that' previously stated one thing. Each mention of 'that' is an anaphoric reference to the particular promise that he made earlier in the same verse.

"But I'll never forget the way you feel right now ..."
"But I'll never forgive myself if we don't go all the way tonight ..."
"But I'll never do it better than I do it with you ..."
"But I'll never stop dreaming of you every night of my life ..."

In addition, the female vocalist predicts two other things that he will do: "You'll see that it's time to move on" and 'You'll be screwing around.' To both of these, he emphatically responds, 'I won't do that!'

Some people misunderstand the lyrics, claiming that the singer never identifies what 'that' thing is, which he will not do. Steinman predicted this confusion during production. An early episode of the VH1 program Pop-up Video made this claim at the end of the song's video: 'Exactly what Meat Loaf won't do for love remains a mystery to this day.' A reviewer writing for Allmusic commented that 'The lyrics build suspense by portraying a romance-consumed lover who pledges to do anything in the name of love except 'that,' a mysterious thing that he will not specify.' The reviewer concludes that the mystery is revealed during the closing stages of the song, incorrectly implying that all references of 'that' refer to the female vocalist's predictions at the end. Others assume that 'that' is an exophoric reference to a sex act." (Wikipedia)

Further, Meatloaf comments on the amiguous meaning: "Jimmy always said, "You know what? Nobody's gonna get it." And he was right."

And, when asked in a 1998 interview with VH1 what "that" refers to, Meatloaf replies, "It's sort of is a little puzzle and I guess it goes by - but they're all great things. 'I won't stop doing beautiful things and I won't do bad things.' It's very noble. I'm very proud of that song because it's very much like out of the world of Excalibur. To me, it's like Sir Lancelot or something - very noble and chivalrous. That's my favorite song on the record - it's very ambitious."

So, what does "that" really mean or refer to? Does anyone know?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Master of Disguises

A new poem surfaced in the recent issue of The New Yorker that I would like to post and look into. It's called "Master of Disguises" by Charles Simic.

Master of Disguises

Surely he walks among us unrecognized:
Some barber, some clerk, delivery man,
Pharmacist, hairdresser, bodybuilder,
Exotic dancer, gem cutter, dog walker,
The blind beggar singing, Oh Lord, remember me,

Some window decorator starting a fake fire
In a fake fireplace while mother and father watch
From the couch with their frozen smiles
As the street empties and the time comes
For the undertaker and the last waiter to head home.

O homeless old man, standing in a doorway
With your face half hidden,
I wouldn't even rule out the black cat crossing the street,
The bare light bulb swinging on a wire
In a subway tunnel as the train comes to a stop.

I was wondering if I could get some alternate interpretations of the poem. To me, the most obvious reference to "he" who walks among us is the Lord himself. Kind of like Joan Osborne's 1996 song "What If God Was One of Us." Is he this guy or that guy on the street? We'll never know, but it could be possible. Anything is possible.

I wonder why the whole poem is almost all descriptions of different people that He could be. He could have just left it as the first stanza and then continued with a new idea to branch off. Is the poet trying to just show how many possibilities it could be that he's a different person, man or woman, elite or blue collar, man or animal, light or thing?

Or, does the poet mean that we can find the Lord in any person, animal, or thing (whether that thing is reall Him or not). Like, we can be enlightened or receive the wisdom or faith we need in anyone or anything around us. Or is it just plain and simple that He could be anything anywhere?

I think my favorite part is the second stanza where the poet paints the picture of the dull, fake American family who is "frozen" as they watch a "fake fire." We all know these families. They appear solid and strong on the outside, but it's all a show. Why is the family juxtaposed into this poem? Is the undertaker brought up to reinforce death coming, that we are mortal?

Using a fire to sit in front of is even a Hellish, deathly image, as if the family is fake and has no faith, so they will go to darker places. I don't know. I'm trying to speculate.

To me, the poem has a lot of overwhelmingly dark places with a bit of light. The fire in the store. The train in a tunnel (coming to a stop). The black cat with its white eyes. The bare light bulb in the tunnel. The half hidden face of the homeless man. But they all are mentioned in the second and third stanzas--not the first. Does this represent faith or hope? How life is like on Earth? What is the purpose of these dark/light images?

So, what do you think of the poem "Master of Disguises?"

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Twilight Release

For those Twilight series fans out there, you probably have already seen the movie. A lot of my students have not only seen the movie on opening night, but they've seen it multiple times. I'm sure this is another reason that the movie is gathering so much money in its first week open.

Thus far, Twilight grossed $7 million from shows at midnight on Thursday when it opened. It is expected to reach between $30 and $60 million by the end of the week.

This movie breaks records, not necessarily for the high amounts of money coming in, but for that money coming in for a female director. Pretty impressive.

From Yahoo! News: "When the counting's done, Twilight's Friday take may rank as the 14th or 15th biggest opener of all time, having surpassed the debuts of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($25 million) and Quantum of Solace ($27 million), to name two recent blockbusters."

But who can be surprised with these numbers? Girls, older women, and even guys have plunged into this series and are obsessed with it almost to the extent of the Harry Potter series. Those fantasy series for a YA audience really sell. Interesting idea for those struggling writers out there who need a breakthrough...

Does anyone know if they're planning on making movies for each of the books in the series?

Anyway, I expect to see the film soon, so a movie review will follow in the next week or so. This is a good week for it to debut as kids are off of school and families need something to do when they come to visit. Going to the movie theatre is the best option because you can do something together but not really interact or engage with one another. Good ideas.

Watch the interview with the author here. If you're interested in the Twilight series, check it out.

So, what do you think of the release of Twilight ?