Thursday, October 30, 2014

Song of the Day - The Days - Avicii

Under the tree where the grass don't grow
We made a promise to never get old..

Avicii is back with a brand new song, and this one's got star power.  Former Brit teen idol Robbie Williams, who did make quite a name for himself after his days with Take That.  With several top selling albums, as well as seven #1 singles in his native U.K., Williams takes the vocals on this melancholic and melodic tune that's both a nice follow-up to Avicii's best selling True and a nice lead-in to his next album, Stories.  The new record is set to include other stars, as well, including Coldplay's Chris Martin, Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong, and Jon Bon Jovi.  Oh, I am definitely looking forward to that one, but in the meantime we've got The Days...   

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Song of the Day - Waves - Mr. Probz

My face above the water
My feet can't touch the ground
Touch the ground...

...And it feels like
I can see the sands on the horizon
Every time, you are not around
I'm slowly drifting, drifting away
Wave after wave

This song and especially these words have been floating through my mind the past two days.  Lost! 

Drifting away, wave after wave, wave after wave...  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Auto-Correcting Myself?

Do you ever talk to anybody about your depression?

That was my friend Frank earlier tonight, via Facebook messenger.  It was a private message to me, but it may as well have been a public one.  His words were in response to a new profile picture I had posted earlier today...the one you see above, which was actually taken two years ago.  I posted it simply because I wanted a change from my old picture, and there aren't any new ones I've taken lately, so voila.  Only what I hadn't realized was that the look of the picture reflected the mood, or the aura, that's been surrounding me lately, especially tonight, in this moment, and maybe I unknowingly put it up there for a reason.  

There was another friend of mine who commented on the same picture earlier than Frank.  He said that he didn't like it, that the look on my face wasn't a happy one like so many of the others I've put up in the past.  Well, now that it's there and I realize it sends a message I want to send, I am going to leave it until whatever dark cloud that permeates my aura and my mind goes away.

Maybe I am depressed.  Feeling sorry for myself?  Not really this time around.  I've just been questioning life in general a lot lately, especially after the deaths of two young people I was somewhat connected to, both just yesterday, and for no apparent purpose.  I think I've lost faith, faith in the world, faith in a Higher Being, faith in my fellow man, faith that doing good will get you good. 

When things are going bad, every little thing exacerbates the problems.  There've been a lot of things in my life lately that have done just that, and I don't know how to fix them and so I feel somewhat hopeless.  I feel stagnant, stuck in the mud I know I've partially created and not knowing how or not seeing any way out of it.  And the mud permeates every facet of my life, from work to home to my relationships with friends and family and my lack of finding my other half.  

Yes, it sucks, but I'm not putting this out there for anyone to feel sorry for me.  Writing is actually therapy for me, and even though I leave myself vulnerable by doing this, maybe someone out there will read this and know they're not the only ones feeling these feelings, and that's a good thing!  

I think subliminally I posted that picture because I've been thinking of taking a total break from Facebook and other so-called "social media," and the picture in a way shows my disdain for this so-called reality that is not all that real.  Ever since I posted that video on "Auto-Correcting Humanity" the other day (which, by the way I shared with my students), I've been doing a lot of thinking on the subject.  

The problems with humanity today that are discussed in the video are all very real and sadly very widespread throughout our society.  People don't relate to one another in personal ways like they used to, but relate instead to that tiny little thingamajig in their hand rather than the person right in front of them. 

In discussions with other people about the video, I've found that I've gotten plenty of nods, as if to acknowledge the problems that exist.  But no one seems to want to change.  Including myself.  I find it monumentally difficult to change.  Yes, I've lost faith in my fellow man, but can I gain it back again for myself, as well?  

I realize this is part of what burdens me, what this one or that one posted on Facebook, questioning the meaning behind a text, how many likes did I get for my picture on Instagram, how many followers I've gained and lost on many things.  Social media does have a purpose, and a good one at that, but it should never get in the way of living.

Maybe a way out of the mud would be to change my online habits, even a little bit.  In conjunction with what I learned about not stressing over the little things from my conversation with the same Frank a couple of weeks ago and seeing a connection between my darkly clouded mind and spending so much of my precious time wasted on my virtual "connections" to the world, I want to pull back in a meaningful way.  I'm not sure when or how long or what form that will take, but soon.  

Though I will pull back from Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and all things cell phone for a spell, I will continue to post here.  After all, I'm working on a life story...

Stay tuned...   

Song of the Day - Electric Feel - MGMT

Here's a song from psychedelic band MGMT from their 2008 debut album Oracular Spectacular.   Somehow I happened to miss this the first time it came around, but thanks to good ole Spotify, I have now added this track to my ever growing list of tunes on my iPod.  The song, to me, sounds a lot like a certain singer from the 80's who's popularity at the time reached the stratosphere.  Can you guess who I'm talking about?  Check it out and take a stab at it...

Monday, October 27, 2014

Song of the Day - Shake It Off - Taylor Swift

Seeing Kelly Clarkson perform Taylor Swift's Shake It Off last night from Buffalo had me changing my plans for today's Song of the Day.  Like I mentioned yesterday, there are plenty of new songs I'm looking forward to sharing with you, including Swift's next big song, Welcome to New York, when it's available.  Since realizing that Swift's 1989 album comes our today, I figured I'd re-post her big smash, and the very first Taylor Swift song I ever bought!  Shake It Off...  God, I hate that I love this song!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Kelly Clarkson Wows with a Cover of Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off"

I absolutely love it when singers cover the songs of other singers, especially when it's done right, and in Buffalo last night, Ms. Kelly Clarkson did a fun interpretation of Taylor Swift's Shake It Off. Swift's newest album, 1989, drops tomorrow and the young superstar couldn't have been more excited about the performance:

Swift tweeted the video, adding "Watching Kelly Clarkson SLAY "Shake It Off" is an excellent way to celebrate 26 HOURS TIL 1989!!!"  Nice!  You go Taylor....and Kelly!  Now, everybody,

And the players gonna play play play play play 
And the haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate...

Roller Coaster Road Trip 2014: Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center

After spending pretty much the entire morning at the Grand Ole Opry, there was one more place we had to visit before heading into the city of Nashville itself.  I admit, I wasn't too excited about it, and it was an awfully long walk on a hot day from the Opry itself to get to the other side of the parking field, where the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center stood.

Now both Rich and Eddie knew all about the place beforehand, and I think that Rich had mentioned it to me also, but it's not the type of attraction I'm ordinarily attracted to.  That being said, although there was no real "attraction" to be had, the place is a giant, beautiful, architectural work of art!  I won't say too much about's basically a giant hotel, but with lush waterviews and gardens and all sorts of other types of beauty around, the looks of the place made me wish I could spend a night or two.

Check out some pictures and you'll see what I mean...

Pretty incredible, huh?  I would never go all the way to Nashville to check out the Gaylord Opry Resort, but I would definitely love to stay there!  Stay tuned for the last two posts on the Roller Coaster Road Trip 2014 coming soon.  In the meantime, check out some prior pieces...

Song of the Day - Riptide - Vance Joy

Here is one of my newest favorite songs.  I've been downloading a lot of great new music lately, including yesterday's song by Gorgon City, and today's by Aussie singer/songwriter Vance Joy. Riptide is a whole other genre of tune, modern day folk, that's driven by a strumming guitar, Joy's rich voice, and a catchy chorus.  So if you don't know it already, you should surely click play and check it out....

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Song of the Day - Coming Home - Gorgon City

Today's song is from a British electronica duo I only recently discovered, though they've been around for a couple of years already.  I just downloaded their brand new album, Sirens, and this is the record's opening cut, a pleasant, head-bopping tune that fits well equally as a hypnotic lounge song or a late-night dance floor groove.  Check out Coming Home...

Friday, October 24, 2014

Flashback Friday Song of the Day - Under Pressure - Queen w/David Bowie

This week's Flashback Friday song was easy to choose for me.  Pressure is what I'm feeling a lot of these days and I'm always looking for something, anything, to help me to ease that stress.  Sometimes a cool song like this one lightens the mood for a couple of minutes at least and makes you forget. That's one of the great things about music...  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Auto-Correcting Humanity? - Yeah!

Do you know that the average person spends 
around four years of his life looking down at his cell phone?

A friend of mine shared this video with me recently, telling me that she couldn't help but think of me when she watched it. You see, I instituted a new rule in my class this year concerning cell phones. As you can imagine, these devices have become a huge distraction in the process of teaching and learning and kids are not the only ones affected by it.

So many I's, so many selfies,
not enough us's and we's
You see, technology has made us 
more selfish and separate than ever! 

This year, my new rule aims to curb that huge distraction that comes with texting and Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram, and all of the other things that have become the new, sad norm to how we socialize with each other. When a student is caught using their cell phone in my classroom without permission, all of the students in the class must hand theirs in for the period, not just the student in question.  The end result is the students' anger is towards the one person who committed the offense and not me, thereby curbing the use of the tiny handheld computers that are so, well, everywhere!  I've been sharing some of my biggest takes on Facebook...

Cell phones and iPads and such have become a problem not only for our children learning in school, but for all of us.  That once faraway notion of virtual reality has slowly but surely creeped up into the very backbone of our collective psyches and I think it's all for the worst...

We sit at home on our computers
measuring self-worth by numbers of 
friends, followers and likes.

Back to the video...I watched the entirety of the three minutes and twenty seven seconds of truth that day, not once, but several times, every word attesting to the sad truth that has become our society and our world today.  Although I've attempted to curb the problem in my classroom, it doesn't stop with children. We're all guilty of much of what is said in the video, including myself.

The attention span of the average adult today
is 1 second lower than that of a goldfish.    

I believe that, unfortunately.  I see firsthand everyday, and I know you all do, too, how people are consistently distracted by the little electronic device in their hand.  At parties, during bowling night, and even at times when I'm spending time with just one other person, attention is never 100% on the here and now.  There's always one eye and one ear out for a ring or a chime or a flash on a screen to tell us that somebody poked us or another want to be our "friend."  It's pretty sad, no?

Anyway, I have already begun to try to do my part in making it better before it's too late.  My Facebook visits, and posts have decidedly become less, and so has my activity on Twitter and Instagram.  If it weren't for sharing these posts in those places, I'd probably be daring enough to say that that would be it for awhile, even if for a week.

So anyway, take a look and a listen to what this dude has to say.  That is, if you could keep your attention on it for that long.  He makes a lot of sense!  Perhaps all of this is part of what I said that I was beginning to get onto something here the other day.  Maybe part of what keeps my mind so occupied and so stressed all the time has to do with my own affliction for social media.  I should post a picture of this great dinner, or I gotta answer that notification.  Ugh!  Maybe making a conscious effort to curb my online habits will leave me time for more important, and real, things to do with my time.  Can it hurt that much?  We shall see...  

Song of the Day - Ghost - Ella Henderson

I keep going to the river to pray
Cause I need something that can wash out the pain

Ella Henderson, a former sixth place finisher on the British version of X-Factor, contributes a really nice song as the first single from her debut album, Chapter One.  Ghost is definitely a song I can identify with and I love virtually everything about it, from the singer's rich vocals to the inspirational feel on the music and in the chorus.  If you haven't heard Ghost yet, then what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Song of the Day - Kind and Generous - Natalie Merchant

You've been so kind and generous, I don't know how you keep on giving
For your kindness I'm in debt to you
For your selflessness, my admiration
For everything you've done, you know I'm bound
I'm bound to thank you for it

I normally reserve the posting of this particular song for the Thanksgiving holiday, and I may very well do so again in a couple of weeks, but it is very appropriate for me to post today because I need to thank a very special person who will be leaving my side so to speak, for good.  You see, for the better part of the last year, I've had an assistant in my classroom who has done so much to make my life easier at work, and after today she'll be moving on to her own classroom in another school district.

I've always believed that ESL teachers are made from the same cloth.  We are the kindest, most selfless of people who care deeply for our students and dedicate much of our time and energy towards nurturing them and helping them learn and grow.  Brittany is surely one of those people, and for the last nine months or so I've been only too happy to share with her my students and my crazy world and she has responded with the greatest modicum of responsibility and caring that I believe is so lacking in today's world.  

So, to Brittany I say thank you, thank you, thank you!  I am so  proud of you and I know you will serve your own students with the same great care and attention that you have shown to mine.  They'll be lucky to have you, and I wish you nothing but the best of luck. I am surely going to miss you!

Oh I want to thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you
Thank you

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Song of the Day - Say My Name - Odesza, featuring Zyra

Here's a sweet little dance tune by electronic duo Odesza.  It's from their sophomore effort, In Return, and from the sounds of it and the looks of their popularity, these two are ones to watch, for sure...

Monday, October 20, 2014

Song of the Day - Bucket List - Nelly Furtado

Climb a mountain swim the seven seas 
Get your body to look like Hercules 
Jump out an airplane with a parachute 
Fly up and away on a hot air balloon

In this lifetime
I want you to be mine
Cuz I took a long look at my bucket list
And I saw that at the bottom it said our first kiss and
Whoa I'm running out of time
Whoa I'm running out of time

This past Friday, I began a Music Fridays weekly lesson with my advanced group of students and one of the first songs I chose to work with them on was Nelly Furtado's Bucket List, which until this moment I had no idea was ever a single.  The tune is one of my favorites off of her Spirit Indestructible album, which didn't really do so well, unfortunately.  

Get on your boots and visit the North Pole
Try every sport until you score a goal
Follow the path of a butterfly
Go to Ground Zero and do nothing but cry
We don't know how much time left we got left in this world
This beautiful world

Anywho, this song is about just what you think it is, a bucket list. I've always loved the idea of having a bucket list...I really already have one in my head...and so I'm going to be bringing Friday's lesson into today.  So if you don't know the song, and/or you're looking for a song to pick you up a little and bring you into some daydreaming, then by all means click play below.

Read more: Nelly Furtado - Bucket List Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

I think I'm on to something here...

I have no idea where this one's gonna go, but I do know that there are a lot of things going through my head right now and I need to get something, anything, out.  It's Sunday night already, and my one day off is coming to a quick close.  I swear, I think the work week should be the other way around...five days off, two on.  Weekends always go by so fast, and when you work an extra Saturday, well, you seem to have no weekend at all.

I went into today determined to get stuff done.  My house has been a mess lately, laundry needed to get done, and the yard work, oh the yard work that I never seem to get to was on the agenda for my short Sunday, but like every other day in my life, nothing went as planned.  Though I didn't get anything done, actually enjoyed most of how I spent the day,

It started off with an impromptu invite to a brunch this morning and immediately afterwards a friend stopped for what eventually turned into an all day visit.  And so, my laundry sits undone, the vaccuuming and dusting is still in a desperate state and forget about the yard work, much less grocery shopping.  Ugh!!!

All this does is cause me stress over the fact that I've either got to do these things after work in the very little time I have during the weeknights (chuckles to self!) or put it off till next weekend, which I'm sure by then there will be things added to the list, as well as other distractions from doing them. Plus I've got school planning I need to do now, but I'm sort of rebelling against that at the moment to write this post.

The friend with whom I hung out with all day was an old neighborhood pal of mine named Frank. Frank had only recently come back into my life after years of living out of state, and he's one of those friends I never seem to have time to see.  So even though spending a lot of time with him took away time from doing me doing chores, I enjoyed myself,..chores are no fun anyway!

During our conversation, Frank responded to one of my grumblings about the stuff I had to get done by reminding me that I shouldn't worry about them and I should just enjoy the moment.  Gee, why didn't I think of that?  It's exactly what he was doing...enjoying his Sunday with an awesome friend (lol), and so was I.  So why is it that I couldn't then, or even now, hours later, still feel stressed over this pile of stuff at home and at work that I simply can't expect myself to get to entirely?  

Hmmm...I think I'm on to something here...