Monday, September 30, 2013

Thinking Out Loud

Another Monday night, another week ahead!  I don't know, maybe it's because I don't feel good, but I'm not feeling so great, mentally, these past few days either.  I've had a bad head cold and aches and pains since Saturday and I'm feeling more tired than I think I've ever felt before.  The mental part comes from the fact that I know I'm feeling run down because of school, which leaves me a bit exasperated.  I think it's time to start thinking ...and writing...again!

When I first started writing regularly for this blog, I was a mess.  Like before, only worse, I wore my heart on my sleeve for all to see and begat a following for John's World.  My popularity on the Yahoo Contributor Network came out of my personal pieces on my breakup with Joe, but my writing had never been so personal as it was almost three years ago.

That period of darkness in my life is something I'd like to forget.  Some of those pieces I wrote back then are still among my all-time page view leaders, but I've been somewhat gun shy about writing ever since.  I'm afraid of showing too much for all to see.  Still, with my latest stint at school and the working world in general, I know that if I ever want to do something else with my life I can't just sit back and wait for it to happen.

I'm not saying that I'm going through any kind of crisis, by any means, or that I'm going to start shining a light on my whole personal life through and through again, but I need to make a conscious effort to start writing again.  And that means making the time for it, which will be no easy task.

I am starting to think...there's so much to think about...

I have to start to focus more!

I'm doing too many things.  Between working full time, running the school's GSA, tutoring twice a week and teaching an evening class twice a week, I've got little time for much else other than chores around the house and sleep.  To top it off, my social life has really been busy lately, too, with weekends and some evenings filled with friends, and now family, too!  I love being social, but am I hurting myself by staying too social?

My job is the hardest it's ever been.  Maybe it's time for a change.  Is writing my next big thing?  Am I good enough?  If so, what do I write about?  Should I cut things down online and narrow my focus (there goes that word again!)? Should I work on my book and not write online for awhile?  

Ugh, that's just some of what's on my mind when I have time to think!  One thing's for sure, I have got to do something because in just three short weeks back to work I've already felt the physical effects of the stress I've been under, and that's no good!

I had hoped that my decision to go to Chile would set me off on another life-changing period of time where I'd get my life towards a better place again.  That was right before summer began.  Now that summer's over and I'm back to life, I just feel a little...no a lot...overwhelmed.  But putting this down in words helps me to think.  I really don't care if anybody reads it as long as it gets me to thinking...


Song of the Day - Dance Apocalyptic - Janelle Monáe


pitchfork

Some of you may remember Janelle Monáe from her featured vocals on Fun's smash, We Are Young.  Well, this young talent with the beautiful name (and a pretty face!) has a new album out called The Electric Lady.  Dance Apocalyptic is its second single and it is a fast moving, catchy ditty that's old school in a fun kind of way.  Check it out...



Janelle Monáe - Dance Apocalyptic [Live on... by eidurrasmussen

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Song of the Day - Not Fair - Lily Allen


Oh he treats me with respect
He says he loves me all the time
He calls me fifteen times a day
He likes to make sure that I'm fine


In this day, with Avicii's Wake Me Up making it so big using countrified music in his dance/club song, I think it's a good a time as any to resurface Lily Allen's Not Fair.  Lily is one of my favorite singer/songwriters of all time and I've always loved how she mixes simple, sweet sounding styles of music and melodies to her very adult lyrics.  Here, she effectively uses a country banjo background to mask a very serious, yet very amusing subject.  Catchy and singable, this one's one of my favorites.

It's not fair and I think you're really mean
I think you're really mean
I think you're really mean
Oh, you're supposed to care,
But you never make me scream
You never make me scream
You never make me scream...


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Song of the Day - All Night - Mr. 305, featuring Pitbull and David Rush


Here's a track from Pitbull's latest International Takeover project, which I haven't spoken of much since its release in July.   The album is a compilation of dance tracks by Pitbull and his posse, and there's plenty of good stuff to check out within the set.  All Night features singer David Rush and it's got a smooth groove that's perfect for getting warmed up for a night of dancing...




Friday, September 27, 2013

Flashback Friday Song of the Day - Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves - Cher

I was born in the wagon of a travelin' show
My mama had to dance for the money they'd throw...



Back in the early 70's, Cher had a string of three storytelling classics, each one to hit the pinnacle of the pop charts.  This one, from 1971, was the first and it was followed two years later by Half Breed and then Dark Lady in 1974.  Each of the three tunes had the same type of flavor and each still rank among the singer's all time best songs.


Cher - Gypsys Tramps And Thieves - Early 70's by thegirlstheyrock

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Song of the Day - Make the World Move - Christina Aguilera & Cee Lo

If one smile can erase a frown
Imagine what two can do
Turn it up...



I've been in a Christina mood lately, ever since hearing this one being played over speaker system at the mall the other day.  This is one of my favorites off of Lotus, and I thought about posting my own video to this one, but I'm not all that crazy about that one (True Love is really my best thing!).  So, check out X-Tina performing Make the World Move with Cee Lo on The Voice.

Spinning faster
Round and round
Let me hear that future sound...



Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Song of the Day - Never Gonna Stop - Maison & Dragen


Today's Hump Day song is strictly for clubbers.  It's pure, high energy through and through....


 
Maison & Dragen feat. Jeremy Carr - Never Gonna... by WoudaRecords

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Song of the Day - Woman's World - Cher


Welcome to Cher mania...at least in some circles. Yes, after at least a year of hype, one of the world's pre-eminent diva's has finally released her Closer to the Truth album.   Honestly, I have to admit that I'm not as excited about it as I once was.  Oh sure, I'm going to download it, but I think maybe all of that waiting, along with the endless play of this song in bars and clubs, has waned my excitement for the record.

I admit, I loved Woman's World when I first heard it in what seems a long, long time ago, but over the months I've come to regard it as many people did from the beginning: as a mindless club song full of glitz that doesn't really suit someone of Cher's age.  Oh, who am I to talk right?  Anyway, stay tuned for a track by track review of Closer to the Truth, and in the meantime, check out Woman's World:


 


Monday, September 23, 2013

Song of the Day - Only You - Yaz

All I needed was the love you gave
All I needed for another day
And all I ever knew
Only you



Here's a highly overlooked classic from a classic album from 1982.  The artist is Yaz, also known as Yazoo, the album was Upstairs At Eric's, and the song is one of the most beautiful ballads ever!  Back in the early 80's, Yaz lead singer Alison Moyet, would have been comparable to Adele, a soulful British singer with a powerful instrument.  Check it out...



Yazoo Only You by Celtiemama

Sunday, September 22, 2013

90 Days to Chilé


Three months from today I will be jetting of to Chilé.  Not since my 2002 and 2004 trips to Italy have I attempted to such a big trip to such a faraway place, and I am now officially starting to get excited.  


Back in 2000, when I quit my job at Citibank, I had made two big decisions in my life: to go back to college and to go to Italy.  Within two years, I had accomplished both tasks.  It was a time of great change in my life and I feel like in the years since, I haven't taken such bold steps again. Now I believe that life is all about taking bold steps and so...

    

Chilé is not a place I ever dreamed I'd visit, and I'm happy to be going there.  I know very little about the place, but I intend to find out more in the next 90 days.  I'll be staying with my pal Jorge and his partner Rodrigo in his home in the El Tabo region of the country.  From what Jorge's told me, he lives near the sea and it'll be summer when I  go so it should be cool!  I'll also be there for both Christmas and New Year's and that should be cool, too!


So stay tuned as I learn more about the country I'll be visiting.  I'm out of time at the moment, so I will catch you next time... 


Song of the Day - Left Right - Inna


Last night I went to a party thrown by my friend Al and I got to play deejay for the first time since P-town.  It wasn't really like I was actually DJ-ing, cause all I really did was make an iPod playlist of songs to be played throughout the night, but I did a pretty good job I think based on all of the complements I received on the music.

Before last night, I hadn't played this one in along, long time, but just a couple of years ago I was playing this one out!  The song, by Romanian dance/club singer Inna, has an infectious back-beat that reminds me of sunset dancing on the beach.  Love it!


  


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Somebody Loves You


Awe, I'm ashamed to say that I haven't watched this video until this morning even though it's been floating around the Internet for awhile now.  If you haven't seen it, click play and watch how love is the same no matter what...



Song of the Day - You Got the Love - Florence + the Machine

Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air
I know I can count on you
Sometimes I feel like saying Lord I just don't care
But you've got the love I need to see me through


Good morning and Happy Saturday!  Today's song is my second favorite Florence + the Machine song.  You've Got the Love, just like Dog Days Are Over, is happy, quirky and uplifting, just like me, haha.  Enjoy!  




Friday, September 20, 2013

Flashback Friday Song of the Day - Get Off - Foxy


I was chatting with my friend Evan last night and he put me in the mood to choose a disco song for Flashback Friday.  I perused my iTunes library and came across this funky old favorite.  Enjoy and Happy Friday!  Woo hoo!

  


Thursday, September 19, 2013

A first GSA meeting brings about some old fears

I originally wanted to write this post last night, but like with everything else lately, I simply ran out of time before I had the time to do it.  Maybe it's better that I write this now anyway, after the fact. You see, today was the first meeting of our school's GSA, or Gay/Straight Alliance, and this year I am running the club with my pal Laura Kim.  Though I am excited at the prospect of being a role model and mentor to a bunch of GLBT kids, the whole thing conjures up some very old and pretty scary feelings.


Mr. Myers, the ESL Teacher

Back in 2009, I penned a piece for Yahoo called A Day of Silence, which is partially about a national awareness day sponsored by GLSEN and carried out by GSA's across the country.  The rest of the essay concerned how I have to walk a thin line at my job, especially when that particular day rolls around in April.

My students are like my family, and being the person that gives them the essential lifelong tool of language makes me kind of a special person in their lives.  That being said, they know much of what there is to know about Mr. M, though there's one part of my life that I've never discussed with them.

As a teacher I've learned that not being straightforward with students leads to nothing but trouble. They're a lot smarter than many of us give them credit for and we need to speak with them as young adults, not children.  I pride myself in engaging my students them with open and honest dialogue, and I know they appreciate that.  As such I feel they get to learn more not only about English, but about life, as well.  So in a way I've always felt like a hypocrite in not being totally honest with them about me.

The GSA

Fast forward to this school year.  I said I was excited at the prospect of being able to provide guidance and leadership to another group of kids near and dear to my heart, yet I'm finding myself scared at the prospect of outing myself to this group without it leaking into my classroom.  I feel like I'm facing a momentous moment of truth.

Last night capped a few weeks of faraway anticipation by bringing the reality of the impending meeting into my psyche.  I was decidedly nervous, especially when one of my students mentioned yesterday that he wanted to come to our meeting.  I know that in this day and age I shouldn't be so uptight about it, and up until about a week ago I had openly decided that I would come clean to the kids at the first meeting in the hopes of bringing some of my own experience into the equation of their young lives.  But once I arrived at the meeting today all of that changed.

Our First Meeting

One of the goals that LK and I have for the club this year is to increase its membership.  For the past several years the group has only consisted of about five to six kids, and they were mostly all girls.  In order to be a real gay/straight alliance, we also felt we needed to get some boys into the mix, too.  We really played up the first meeting big time this week during morning announcements, promising prizes to all who showed up, and it worked!  Upon arriving late to the meeting (of course!), I walked into a round of applause (thanks LK!) by about 20-30 kids.  Wow!

With a combination of the hot temperature in the room, that many kids, and the fact that I didn't really know any of them too well, I immediately made a decision to put off my "coming clean." Though I rarely am at a loss for words in the classroom, my thoughts went warbly as Laura Kim did her thing and got them all excited about the club.  My words were minimal at best, and not very inspiring.

So somehow I've got to get through this.  Maybe it's just the fear I'd harbored inside of me from when I was young and things weren't as accepting, but knowing myself and how I like to operate, I'm going to do it and do it well.  It just might take a little longer than I had originally thought.  Stay tuned and let's see how this plays out...


Song of the Day - A Little Respect - Erasure


ahomosthoughts

Today's song is dedicated to Andy Herren, who was named the winner on last night's Big Brother season finale.  This season was my very first time ever watching the show and like many people, I got sucked into this drama-ridden fishbowl of a game show all summer long.  Andy was the token gay guy on the show this season and I liked him at first, but after stabbing so many people in the back throughout the last several weeks, I wasn't rooting for him anymore.

However, in last night's finale it quickly became obvious to me and to Andy's fellow contestants that this was indeed a game and Mr. Andy only did all what he did just to get himself in a position to win in the end, which he did, defeating fellow contestant Gina Marie Zimmerman.

Now the reason for the song has nothing to do with the song itself, but the act.  Throughout the season, I was always reminded of Erasure's Andy Bell whenever I looked at Andy (coincidence?), and so I told myself that if he won, I'd put up an Erasure tune today.  (I have no idea what I would have put up if GM would've won.)

So anyway, here's Erasure with A Little Respect, a great, great song!

 
Erasure - A Little Respect from Melanie Roberts on Vimeo.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Song of the Day - Somebody Loves You - Betty Who



Now here's one of those songs that I knew, but I didn't know I knew.  Ya know?  Hehe....  My pal Kyle shared it with me last night and when he played it I immediately recognized it, though it had never really been on my radar before.  Nice tune!  Happy Hump Day!


Betty Who - "Somebody Loves You" - Official Music Video from Evan Savitt on Vimeo.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Song of the Day - Hold On, We're Going Home - Drake


Here's Drake's latest, a silky smooth R&B groove that's oh so nice! 
 Enjoy and Happy Tuesday!


Monday, September 16, 2013

P!nk is Billboard's Woman of the Year!


Stop the presses!  Finally, somebody has recognized my gal P!nk for her stellar work on The Truth About Love album and its ensuing tour.  Ms. Moore was just named 2013's "Woman of the Year" by Billboard Magazine and will be on hand December 10th in New York City for its Women in Music event to accept the award.  Now I may be biased, cause I was already a P!nk fan before The Truth, but truth be told, this awesome record made a disciple outta me.  

So check out a performance of Try from this year's AMA's and see what I'm talking about...

 

Check out some pieces by me on P!nk, too...







And some blog posts...







Song of the Day - Family Affair - Mary J Blige


Second Monday of the school year and I needed something to pick me up.  Yeah, can you tell from all of my posts lately that it's going to be a great school year?  Ugh, I needs mo' time!  Hmm???  Anyway, let's get a crunk up on it....

We don't need no haters
Just try to love one another...



Sunday, September 15, 2013

Song of the Day - Royals - Lorde

And we'll never be royals (royals).
It don't run in our blood,
That kind of lux just ain't for us.
We crave a different kind of buzz.





I am crediting my pal Kyle for today's Song of the Day.  When Kyle first heard it, he knew I'd dig it, too, and I do!  The singer is a New Zealander named Lorde and I just love her voice on this one. Definitely worth checking out...


Lorde - Royals(US Version) Song Hd by TariqAwesome

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Song of the Day - You Want This - Janet Jackson


soulbounce

Here's a classic from Janet Jackson's stellar 1993 eponymous album.  The up tempo tune masterfully samples the Supremes' Love Child and Kool and the Gang's Jungle Boogie and is pure joy through and through!


Janet Jackson & MC Lyte - You Want This by welcomeback

Friday, September 13, 2013

Flashback Friday Song of the Day - Murder on the Dance Floor - Sophie Ellis Bextor

It's murder on the dance floor 
So you better not kill the groove, deejay


panicmanual

Here's a groovalicious 2001 neo-disco tune from British singer, songwriter, model and deejay Sophie Ellis Bextor.  Haven't heard this one in a long time, and it still gets me going...TGIF!


Sophie Ellis Bextor - Murder on the Dancefloor by MovieFanQS

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Song of the Day - All You're Waiting For - Classix


stereogum

Today's song was brought to my attention just recently by friend and fellow blogger Sonny.  In his message to me relating the song, he called it "a fun end-of summer song that you heard at the start of summer."  Unfortunately, I didn't hear it at the beginning of summer, but I wish I had.  The music track reminds me of an R&B song from the 80's, with a lil bit of contemporary dance groove thrown in, and the vocals are fun, too!.  Mr. Sonny was right.  It is fun, but can it really be the end of the summer?  Waaah!


 
Classixx - "All You're Waiting For" feat. Nancy Whang — Official Music Video from Urban Outfitters on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A 9/11 Song of the Day, with Commentary - Dear Mr. President - P!nk



Dear Mr. President, 
Come take a walk with me. 
Let's pretend we're just two people 
And you're not better than me. 
I'd like to ask you some questions if we can speak honestly. 

Twelve years ago today, one of the most terrible tragedies to ever befall this great country of ours took place. The events of September 11th, 2001 changed forever those of us who were unlucky enough to witness what happened on that terrible day.  I've written plenty over the years about how 9/11 affected my life, including one piece written two years ago about how that day was the beginning of the end for me in having any faith in ours or any government for that matter.

What do you feel when you see all the homeless on the street?
Who do you pray for at night before you go to sleep?
What do you feel when you look in the mirror?
Are you proud?



the guardian

Back then George W. Bush was our president and although we all stood proudly and defiantly behind him as he showed face in the aftermath of 911, about half the country (including me) believed he was the epitome of what was wrong about America: corporate greed, a widening gap between rich and poor, a faltering educational system, a sagging economy, and forever being meddlesome in everybody else's business but our own.

How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?
How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Can you even look me in the eye
And tell me why? 

Five years after 911, P!nk recorded a song called Dear Mr. President, with the help of the Indigo Girls.  As with most of her songs since 2001's Misundazstood, this one was a tune masterfully penned as an open letter to a leader who, to many, seemed far removed from true American Life.

Dear Mr. President,
Were you a lonely boy?
Are you a lonely boy?
Are you a lonely boy?
How can you say
No child is left behind?
We're not dumb and we're not blind.
They're all sitting in your cells
While you pave the road to hell.


During the 8 years of his presidency I always believed that George W. was bad for this country, and I couldn't wait for things to change.  Then in 2008, Barack Obama was elected and suddenly there was hope.  But in the years since my optimism has faded into obscurity with our political system as a whole.  I feel a fool to even have thought that anything would change for the better. It's not that I don't still believe Obama's heart is in the right place, but I no longer believe that any one man can make a difference anymore, and it makes me sad!

What kind of father would take his own daughter's rights away?
And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay?
I can only imagine what the first lady has to say
You've come a long way from whiskey and cocaine.  


911thetruthnews

I agonized over which song to post today in remembrance of this very sad anniversary.  For the past two years I've placed Jay Z's New York State of Mind in this place, and I considered it once again this year, but then decided against it.

How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?
How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Can you even look me in the eye?


Everywhere I go, every place I look, I see things that make me pessimistic.  From conditions at my own job to my interactions with fellow Americans.  I read it in the newspapers, on the Internet, and see it on the television, and I find myself trying to avoid all of the bad things I see, hear and experience, but it's everywhere.  Narcissism, greed, selfishness, and cheating at every turn, from the richest of the rich to the poorest of the poor.

Let me tell you 'bout hard work
Minimum wage with a baby on the way
Let me tell you 'bout hard work
Rebuilding your house after the bombs took them away
Let me tell you 'bout hard work
Building a bed out of a cardboard box
Let me tell you 'bout hard work
Hard work, hard work
You don't know nothing 'bout hard work
Hard work, hard work


So yeah, you could say that 9/11 has changed my life.  Though I weep for the dead and harbor hatred for the guilty, I can see how it all came to this.  No one deserved what happened to them on September 11, 2001.  No one deserves to have their lives taken away at the hands of another, especially through no fault of their own.  One might have thought that the experience of 9/11 would not only change our hearts, but our minds as well, and for the better.  But it seems we've all forgotten what we really stand for as a country, and that is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Not just for self, but for all!


How do you sleep at night?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Dear Mr. President,
You'd never take a walk with me.
Would you?

I've often wondered to myself if this song could be applied to President Obama, and I think maybe that it could.  Governors seem so far removed from the lives of the governed.  Then again, could the condition of our way of life today be pinned on any one man?


Regardless, it is important for those of us who remember that day to never let it go.  Our brothers and sisters who perished, their families, and all of us need to learn from the experience. We need to contemplate how maybe our way of life was responsible for what these maniacs did on that day, so that maybe each of us can begin to put out positive, selfless energy towards our fellow man and not tread so heavily into our own selves without regard for the rest of those with whom we share this world.


I apologize in advance if any of what I've said has given cause to offend.  It's just how I see the world today, and it's not good.  As always, it is my hope that my words can elicit thought into what I've said here and effect some sort of change for the better.  Never, ever forget!



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Song of the Day - Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield

I am unwritten, can't read my mind, I'm undefined
I'm just beginning, the pen's in my hand, ending unplanned


Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten



tumblr



Normally I'd put this one up as Song of the Day on the first day of school, but yesterday's tune was more appropriate for how I felt going back after the summer.  Still this is one to live by...



Natasha Bedingfield - Unwritten by kratosx

Monday, September 9, 2013

Great Adventure's Zumanjaro Drop of Doom coming summer 2014


A couple of days ago I penned a piece for Examiner on the newest rides coming to amusement parks for the summer of 2014 and my local park, Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J. will be adding a new drop tower right under the edifice of the great Kingda Ka.  Here's what I wrote about the new ride:

It's been a long time since Great Adventure has added a brand new roller coaster, and fans of the park won't be getting one in the coming year either. That doesn't mean that local enthusiasts won't be getting something new to get excited about next summer. Six Flags announced recently that it will be adding an all new, record-breaking drop tower smack dab within the edifice of the world-famous Kingda KaZumanjaro Drop of Doom will be the world's tallest drop tower, dropping riders a whopping 450 feet straight down at speeds of up to 90 miles per hour.

I just caught a glimpse of the ride on YouTube and thought I'd share it here.  Since I'm not a fan of drop rides, I think maybe this will be the closest I'll be getting to riding Zumanjaro:



Song of the Day - Back to Life (Acapella) - Soul II Soul

Today is the first day of school for students in my district. So yeah, it's back to life for me!


**The version of this song here is the original version that appeared on this classic late-80's album.  If you know the song, you probably know the version that played on the radio back then, with a dance music track to go with Caron Wheeler's soulful vocals, but this version is DA BOMB!!!! Oh, it was a favorite of mine back in the day and I damn well wore it out!  The vocals are fabulous, just like in the radio version, but at around 2:40 the drums come in to form an irresistable beat to go with the chorus.  Slammin'!

    

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Time to put my game face on!

It's time to put my game face on!


Well, we are finally here, the eve of the first day of school for the kiddies.  Like everything else this summer, I'm not feeling like I usually do about the start of school.  At this time last year I posted a piece entitled, Today Is Where Your Book Begins, and it's all about how the new school year is a time for fresh starts.  I still believe that, but in the back of my mind I'm seeing not so blue skies ahead.

I've spent the past couple of months enjoying a wonderful summer and now that it's back to the grind I'm not so enthused.  Oh sure I miss teaching and I miss my students, but my work schedule is going to really stink this year and I'm not sure how long I can keep shoveling it against the tide.  

One of the first themes I'm going to introduce this year will be goal setting, and I think I'm going to have to set some for myself, too, all the while remembering last year's theme:

Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

So things aren't so swell looking on the work front, but I believe that anyone can improve on the things in their lives that they don't like and I need to find me some improvement.  Our lives to this point in time are what they are because of the choices we've made and we have the power to change that for the better with the choices we make from here on in.  This has always been a quest of mine, yet still I never quite seem to find my utopia.  

Change is never easy, especially when you feel like you're without the power to do so, yet if change never happens, then, well, nothing changes. So once again I know I need some form of change going forward, but how will I do it?  What do I have to do to make real change in my life happen for the better?  Perhaps this will be the newest chapter in the little social-experiment known as my life and I may once again have to delve into Millman's book and do some goal setting of my own.

I'm hoping that maybe being with my students tomorrow and going forward will inspire me to action.  That way maybe one of the birthdays or New Years or first days of school won't do this to me.  We'll just have to see.  Here's to a new school year!


Lots of Fun at the 10th Annual Out in the Park: Kingda Ka; RIP Rolling Thunder

Yesterday was the 10th Annual Out in the Park event at Six Flags Great Adventure and one of the funnest ever!  It had been about three years since I last attended the event and every time I've ever gone, it's always been with my B.F.F. Rich, but yesterday's outing was different in several ways, and in the end it was one of the best ever!



First of all, this was the first time ever this event was held on a Saturday.  Usually it's held on a Friday, which makes it easier for the park to host the private event.  Being that it was a Saturday, and a beautiful one at that, the park was open to the public for the day and to our thingy after 8 p.m.  We were given bracelets to wear for identification and the rest of the guests were, um, kicked out at 8.  At first we weren't sure how it would work out, but I have to say, by the time the event had begun, the park had indeed emptied out to a manageable level and the lines to the rides became thankfully much shorter.


Also, this was the first time ever that Rich and I had company on our little excursion to our 'home' park, some of the guys from our bowling league.  Joining us to ride the rides was Gary, Eric, Sean and Kyle and having six of us, all willing and enthusiastic riders, together, was awesome!

Riding the Rides

As I always like to do, we started off on Kingda Ka, the king of all coasters.  I like to do that one first, as it always makes me jittery and once I ride that one, everything else is a piece of cake.  Like every time I've ever ridden it, the coaster did not fail to live up to expectation.  (Click the link on the coaster's name to read about what it's like to experience this ultimate of thrill rides.)





I tell ya, that ride never fails to make me nervous.  When the train moves out towards its launching point, the anticipation is enough to make you have a heart attack.  Then, all of a sudden you can feel the train loosen from its holding position and before ya know it, you're going from 0 to 128 mph in just a couple of seconds, and then up and over that giant hill. What a ride!



R.I.P. Rolling Thunder

Today is the very last day the Rolling Thunder will be operating, and we all got one last chance to ride it last night.  The twin racing coaster, which opened in 1979, lost a lot of its ridership to the newer, bigger rides, and so the park decided to dismantle the coaster to make room for the queue to next year's Zumanjaro Drop of Doom.  It's funny, but what once was one of the tallest structures in the park is now dwarfed by the likes of El Toro and Kingda Ka, two of its closest neighbors.

Normally there is no wait for the old thrill ride, but yesterday, probably because of its impending demolition and partly because the park was closing some of the major rides to empty out the daytrippers, we waited about an hour to ride the thing one last time.  Now I've never really been a big fan of Rolling Thunder.  Its ride is decidedly rough, like most older woodies, but I have to say I really enjoyed this last ride.  It's going to be weird not to see Rolling Thunder in Great Adventure's lineup, but at least I'm glad we got to ride it one more time! 



The rest of the evening was an absolute scream, both figuratively and literally.  We rode El Toro and Bizarro, Nitro, Green Lantern and Superman, and had a lot of laughs along the way.  





Song of the Day - Peacock - Katy Perry


Here's an old favorite video version of Katy Perry's Peacock that a couple of my friends have never seen, and besides, it's always fun to watch!  The video is just one of many you can find on Ryan James Yezak's YouTube page.  Enjoy!

  


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Song of the Day - Raise Your Glass - P!nk


It is a beautiful Saturday for riding coasters and feeling good! Heading out to Six Flags Great Adventure today for their 10th Annual Out in the Park event with a bunch of buddies and I think an uplifting song such as this one fits my mood perfectly!  Happy Saturday!



Friday, September 6, 2013

Flashback Friday Song of the Day - Personal Jesus - Depeche Mode



My bud Gary mentioned to me yesterday that he was going to see Depeche Mode on Sunday at Jones Beach and I've had this song in my head ever since.  Depeche Mode was one of the most successful new wave bands around and though they weren't my favorite, I still loved em.


depeche mode - personal jesus by robertjgunn

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Song of the Day - Fighter - Christina Aguilera


It's been awhile since I've featured Christina in a Song of the Day post and today we delve into her classic 2002 album Stripped and its third single, the rock-infused Fighter.  Enjoy and have a great Thursday.



Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Song of the Day - Summertime Sadness - Lana Del Ray

Kiss me hard before you go 
Summertime sadness 
I just wanted you to know 
That, baby, you're the best



It's taken me a long time to grasp anything by Lana Del Ray, but I've finally found something of hers that I love. Great song!


Lana Del Rey - Summertime Sadness 2012 by elbellavistas

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Song of the Day - Make You Feel My Love - Adele

When the rain is blowing in your face
And the whole world is on your case
I can offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love



These beautiful words were written by Mr. Bob Dylan and they are sung here by the immensely talented Adele.  I must admit I did not know this song until I discovered this British treasure, but I'm glad I discovered it.  Simply beautiful!


Adele - Make You Feel My Love @ The Albert Hall by javierlobe

Monday, September 2, 2013

Here's to a Great Summer!

Summer moon, on your face 
For the wind blows so sweet
Come away, come away
Dance with me...

Let us dance to forget
Let us dance to remember
All those days last summer


Even though many people think that dance music is mindless music without meaning, I always beg to differ.  Oh sure, there's plenty of dance stuff out there that is, well, mindless, and that's because it's main purpose is to make you dance, not contemplate the meanings of life and love.  There are many dance songs out there, however, that are just as meaningful as those of any other genre of music. All one has to do is look to Madonna or Robyn, Janet Jackson, Avicii's Wake Me Up, etc. to find dance songs that are anything but fluff.

The lyrics above are from a 2005 dance song called Summer Moon by a French-based project named Africanism All Stars, and the words fit so nicely in my life right here and right now. Yesterday, like virtually every Sunday of Labor Day Weekend before, I ventured to Cherry Grove with my friends, and like every other Sunday of Labor Day Weekend before, I was surrounded by good people and great friends.  

Yesterday's trip to the Island of Fire was a special one, different than all of the other ones before it. Though the cast of characters was different, the experience was like always, fun and full of joy, but this time I brought with me a different perspective of the present.  The players in yesterday's outing were mostly from bowling, that wonderful little weekly social event that is chock full of special people, and of course my pals Rich and Bobby were there, too.  


Throughout the evening we laughed, we chatted, and we danced.  We danced to forget and we danced to remember.  At least I did!  This was a summer unlike any other for me, full of high highs and low lows, and there were many things about it that I'd like to forget and yet countless others I'll cherish in my mind for years to come.

My broken relationship with my family has followed me like a gray cloud throughout the summer, but in the wake of that mess I've come to learn a very important thing.  Where I've been feeling that this situation reflected poorly on my character, I've learned that it says nothing bad about my character. Regardless of what's happened with them, I am surrounded by a great number of people who have no other ties to me other than friendship.  They've all made the choice to be in my life and I know it's because they love me for who I am.  


My social circle has grown by leaps and bounds ever since I joined that bowling league last fall, and this summer I've fostered great relationships with many of those people.  Being with them in P-town just a few weeks back was a wonderful experience that became a catalyst for forging what I hope will be lifelong relationships.  Aside from that, I am now and will forever be grateful for my buddies Rich and Bobby, who are so much more important to me to be called just friends. They are family.   


So as summer draws to a close and the school year is less than 24 hours away, I stand here in my present satisfied with my life and who I am.  These past six years have been long and difficult for me as I've sought to find out who I really am.  Though the roads been difficult and there's a lot of navigating yet to do, I can say at this moment that it was all worth it.  This summer was a special one for me, full of happy memories and good times with great people: roller coasters in Virginia with Dita, a weekend with Flo and Francois, some very exciting moments in Atlantic City, trips to the beach, working with the little ones again, clubbing in the city, a nice reunion with my sister Chrissy, Friday night chitchats at Nuts N Bolts, P-town, and of course, Fire Island.  



A little over two years ago, I wrote a poem about myself for the A-Z Blogger's Challenge, and upon reading it I can see that not much has changed about me since then.  The core of my being is strong, and I continue to both appreciate what I have and to seek out new nuggets of wisdom along the way.  



Today I put summer behind me to focus on here and now, and what is to come.  Back to school means back to life, but I know it doesn't all have to be mundane.  I will get my enjoyment in life once again through my kids during school days and I will continue to forge my relationships with the people in my life during nights and weekends.  Soon I will be placing focus on my upcoming trip to Chile and possibly a trip to Canada afterwards.  This post has been a living, breathing example of one of my Keys to Life, to live in the present, appreciate what you've had and what you have, and always look to tomorrow with optimism.  It's not easy to do, but it is so worth it.

So here's to a great summer 2013, to a great school year and a great life!  Check out Summer Moon...