Monday, 25 July 2016

Entertainment Monday: Youth is Wasted on the Young Theme (Monday July 25, 2016)


Entertainment Monday: Youth Theme

For this weeks Entertainment Monday I wanted to explore the theme of Youth by sharing songs about youth and aging or by sharing a song from a band with Youth or Young in their name.  In some cases I double down and share a song that may have Youth or Aging as a theme AND also be sung by a performer or band with Youth or Young in their name.  As a 40 year old in human years, I'm not sure how old that makes me in bear years, I am at what some would consider the top of the hill, just before going over the proverbial hill.  Therefore I wanted to share some songs that celebrate the walk we all must take through life whether we choose to or not.  Perhaps someday soon, even a generation or two from now it will be feasible for people to live for up to 200 years or more.  There are some people who are invested in science who truly believe we are not far off from the ability to extend human life significantly.

The first song I wanted to kick things off with is a song I absolutely love called Mind Over Matter by the band YOUNG THE GIANT!

The song in part celebrates a young man's love and his desire to spend his life with the girl he loves.

Mind Over Matter by Young the Giant


The second song on my list is the classic song Old Man by Neil Young one of greatest song writers of the last several generations. 

Old Man by Neil Young



The next song I am sharing is a song about the fears surrounding the Nuclear Holocaust.  Fears  which were very real during the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States.  The Cold War of course ended not long after this early 1980s song by the band Alphaville.  This was something of a popular graduation song for many high schoolers in the 1990s. 

Forever Young by Alphaville


As a kid I was a big fan of Musicals.  My parents often brought my family to the Gateway Playhouse in Bellport, New York on Long Island, and later when the playhouse moved part time to Patchogue, New York, my mom and I would go to see musicals.  I actually never saw the classic musical South Pacific at Gateway Playhouse (at least not so far as I can remember).  I did however get to see it with my good friends Kathy and Henda at Procter's Theatre in Schenectady, NY around 4 or 5 years ago.

Younger Than Springtime is a song sung by Lt. Joseph Cable, an American Soldier serving in the South Pacific during WWII who despite having a girlfriend he is engaged to back home in the United States falls in love with a teenage Polynesian Girl, who is the daughter of Bloody Mary the local Madame.

Younger Than Spring Time as sung by John Kerr from the Rogers and Hammerstein Musical South Pacific 1958 Movie Version



I hope you enjoyed the Youth Themed Entertainment Monday.  If anyone has any suggestions for a music themed Entertainment Monday that they might like to hear, please share your suggestion in our comments section.  If I feel like I can come up with a few good tunes to share around the suggested theme I will be happy to take up the challenge. --- Jon Bear

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Winter holidays in Townsville


Australian schools generally have two weeks of vacation per term. This is my first year of full time teaching and I was glad of the winter break! I’m currently teaching in the outback and I decided to go to Townsville for vacation. Townsville is one of the major rural cities in northern Queensland. My brother Paul came up from Brisbane to spend some time with me too. I also had an impromptu trip home to Brisbane after some travel plans fell through.

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I had been to the aquarium before when I had a brief stopover for work but it was so much fun being there with a company. The Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium has the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium. It has a diverse range of tropical, fresh and salt water sea life including sharks, jelly fish and turtles.

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As it was the school holidays, there were many shows on. We practically spent the whole day there..

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We saw the main attraction in the museum which was the exhibit of the HMS Pandora. The Pandora was a British ship that sunk in the Great Barrier Reef in 1791. The boat was in Australia to arrest the mutinous crew of The Bounty. The Bounty had been on an expedition to get some breadfruit from the Pacific Islands to grow on British slave colonies.
Some of the Bounty crew had forced their superior, Captain William Bligh and his supporters into a dinghy so they could use the ship to sail back to Tahiti. They enjoyed the lifestyle and some had started families.


For years, there were accounts that Captain Bligh was a cruel tyrant but modern historians believe he was fairly tame for that period. He wanted a tight run ship but he wasn’t a people person which put him at odds with people.

We also saw a Lego exhibit called Towers of Tomorrow. There were huge sculptures out of Lego of  Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands, Taiwan’s Taipei 101, Japan’s Tokyo Skytree, Kuala Lumpur’s twin Petronas Towers  and Sydney Tower.

This museum has an extensive collection of Australian army artifacts. It was my favourite place that we visited during our stay in Townsville. The artifacts were arranged by the war that they came from. I found it humbling to be reminded of the sacrifices that people have made for this country.
On the last day of my holiday, I learnt the train I was supposed to be travelling on had derailed. So I decided to go home to Brisbane for a few days. It was great catching up with my family and friends. I didn’t end up going on the train again as they still had no fixed it so I took the bus back to my rural community.

I’ve come back to my job as teacher all refreshed. What I did learn was that I need to make more time for myself. Last term, most of my life was about work which I believe made teaching a harder experience. 

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

My first term in the Outback


In April, I moved to Outback Australia to teach in a small country school. I am a graduate teacher and this is my first real appointment. I am teaching a multi-age class as there are not many students at this school. I also teach almost all the subjects in the curriculum as the staff size is small too.

 It has been a big learning experience in being here in the Outback. Some of my romantic views on teaching and living in the outback have faded away. For instance, I wish there was more variety when it came to groceries and more things to do in general. I’m also not the teacher that I dreamt I would be. Some of it is due to my lack of experience and the other to time constraints and bureaucracy.

When I was a student teacher, I use to make creative lessons that were fun and engaging. Now, I just don’t have the time for that sort of thing. I use to be in survival mode where I could only plan on a day to day basis, then as I got more experienced I could plan a weekly schedule and thankfully now I can do term planning. During survival mode, I just concentrated on getting the students through the curriculum and doing the recommended lesson plans. Unfortunately, sometimes that wasn’t the most engaging thing for the students. Students don’t have to have fun to learn but they do have to be interested in their learning. We got through it but next term I hope to plan more engaging things for the students.

To be honest, there were more tough times than there were happy times. I cried more during this term than I do in a year. I’m not normally a crier but I have been overworked and stressed. My experience as a new teacher is not unique. New teachers often go through a hard time as they adjust to the realities of teaching.  I’m optimistic about next term though because I have time to plan for it during the winter break. I’m actually going on holiday for a week during the winter break but I’m still bringing my work with me. I have to mark assessments, write report cards and plan for the next term.


Monday, 11 July 2016

Entertainment Monday: 1980's Flashback (Monday, June 11, 2016)


1980's Flashback

As a child of the 80's I have always had a special place in my heart for the music of the decade.  It was the beginning of an exit from the disco and hard rock that dominated the 1970s and a movement into the popular and alternative music genres that dominate today's music.  In a way the advent of music television may have started the over saturation of popular music.  There is a plus and a minus to that.  I feel like that it's difficult not to find some music you like in 2016.  The challenge is more about sifting through all the the available music to find what you love.  This week I wanted to share some of the music from bands that first became popular in the 1980s that really influenced my musical tastes today. To this day the 1980s might be my favorite musical decade, but with so many songs from so many bands to share I will limit myself to just four.

R.E.M.'s musical catalog is legendary. I think I used to get under my sister's skin a bit when I would insist that I knew the lyrics to every R.E.M. song ever written. She would ask me lyrics to one song or another and I would always find some way to deflect her direct question by insisting that I did not have to prove anything.  I like that Michael Stipe mentions in this video that his favorite R.E.M. song is Fall On Me, which is also my favorite.  To me Michael Stipe has one of the most distinct and iconic voices of all time.

Fall On Me by R.E.M.


One of the first videos that made a real impact on me when I was a kid was Where the Streets Have No Name by U2. This made me think music and being a rock star was cool.  Which we all know to be true.

Where the Streets Have No Name by U2


While Tom Petty's American Girl may be best known for it's place in The Silence of the Lambs, it was an awesome tune way before that and way after.  This is the only of the songs I am sharing that I had the great honor to hear and watch performed live in Saratoga Springs, NY.  The version I am sharing is off of youtube and not from the concert I was at

American Girl by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers


While Tears for Fears has not had the same staying power as the three previous band's music I shared, Everybody Wants to Rule the World was one of the most popular songs and videos of the 1980s.

Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears


I will always love the 1980s because of the amazing music from that decade.  Please feel free to share your favorite 1980s tunes in our comments section.


Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan- Review by Carlyn

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Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a coming of age novel written by John Green and David Levithan. Both authors are very successful writers in their own right and they have both written many young adult books. Will Grayson, Will Grayson is their first collaboration. This book is unique in that John Green and David Levithan decided to write a novel about two characters that have the same name and the authors chose to each have one Will Grayson. The authors decided to write three chapters each about their Will Grayson and they wrote the rest of the novel together. John Green wrote the first three even numbered chapters and David Levithan wrote three odd numbered chapters after that.

At first, I found it hard to see to distinguish between the two Will Graysons because I didn’t know that the story would be told from both their point of views and that it would be in first person. However, I soon learnt the differences between the characters. I also learnt from doing research in this review, John Green’s Will Grayson’s text is all in lowercase and proper English while David Levithan’s Will Grayson has coarser language.

John Green’s Will Grayson is affluent with two parents who are doctors. He is best friends with Tiny Cooper, a flamboyantly gay teenager who is writing an autobiographical play. Will becomes apathetic after losing some friends for defending Tiny against the homophobic slurs that they said against him.  Will and Tiny’s relationship is strained when Tiny bases a character on Will Grayson in his play and Will starts to suspect that Tiny is self absorbed. Will is also interested in their mutual friend Jane but she has a boyfriend.

David Levithan’s Will Grayson is poorer than the other Will Grayson. He’s gay but hiding it from his friends and family. Will Grayson thinks he’s found love online with a boy named Isaac but Isaac isn’t what he seems. Levithan’s Will Grayson is also going through depression.

This was my first young adult novel that had a gay main character. I would say that it’s rare to have a gay protagonist. I wasn’t expecting it but it was an interesting to read about a romance between two guys. What I really liked from the book was Tiny’s musical at the end. Levithan even published the whole script, it’s called Hold Me Closer: the Tiny Cooper Story. It sounds like it would be a fun musical to watch and I would love to hear all the songs.

I didn’t really like the Will Graysons or Tiny Cooper to be honest. It was the relationships between the Will Graysons and Tiny Cooper that I found jarring. Firstly, John Green’s Will Grayson and Tiny Cooper have been friends since primary school. However, it seemed that Tiny took his friend for granted and he has a tendency to be self-centred. This is sort of addressed in the book. Will Grayson also learns that he’s a bore to be around when he’s apathetic about life. I don’t think it gets resolved though but they do remain close friends at the end. The other Will Grayson and Tiny get involved in a clingy relationship which I found nauseating.  Although, I do know that it is normal for young people to fall hard each other especially when it’s your first romance as it was with Will Grayson.

I didn’t like this book but I’m still interested in reading it again someday. I want to know whether my feelings will change after a re-read. Two of John Green’s books Paper Towns and The Fault in their Stars have been turned into movies .I would be interested to watch Will Grayson, Will Grayson if it ever gets adapted into film.


Monday, 4 July 2016

Entertainment Mondays: Taeyeon (Monday 4 July 2016)


Taeyeon is an Kpop singer from the group Girls Generation. I recently stumbled upon her song Starlight featuring DEAN after watching a video about Korea. The song is about being in love and how they are each other’s “starlight”.  Starlight has been on my repeat list ever since. I love the cruisey, dreamlike vibe of the video clip which I believe is filmed somewhere in California and the music is a fun chill out song.



After listening to Starlight, I went to listen to other the songs by Taeyeon. I also like I featuring Verbal Jint which set in a gorgeous location but this time in New Zealand. The song is about escaping drudgery and going after your dreams.


Thirdly, I love her song Rain where Taeyeon sings about how every time it rains she misses her loved one. I love the symbolism in the video clip when the room starts to slowly flood.  



I’ve definitely become a fan of Taeyeon. I look forward to listening to her other songs. 

Monday, 27 June 2016

Entertainment Monday: Superhero Songs (Monday, June 27, 2016)


Entertainment Monday: Superhero Songs (Monday, June 27, 2016)

There are several great songs that mention Superheroes and Super Man is likely the most common subject of songs over the years.  There have been songs that mention other heroes as well though and as a fan of comic books and Superhero movies I wanted to share some songs that feature Superheroes.

The death of Superman was a comic book that came out in 1992.  Five years later in 1997 Our Lady Peace came out with a song called Superman's Dead.  I don't know if it was inspired by the comic book or not, but I always thought it was a great tune to rock out to.

Superman's Dead by Our Lady Peace


As a Little Kid My oldest brother Robert had an Album about the Justice League of America.  One of the most memorable songs from the album was about Plastic Man.  To this day I can remember the opening and the first verse!

Plastic Man off the Justic League Record


Superhero's are not only the subject of songs by male artists.  Taylor Swift sang her own popular tune about the Man of Steel.

Superman by Taylor Swift


One of my favorite Superhero Songs of all time and favorite Superman Songs is It's Not Easy by Five for Fighting.  The song was eventually used during the Smallville television series after repeated calls from fans to include it during the series.

Superman (It's not Easy) by Five For Fighting


The Cure took on another Superhero with their epic song Lullaby, a dark tune that mentions Spider Man.

Lullaby by The Cure


Back to the Superman theme, 3 Doors Down also sang their ode to one of the original Caped Crusaders with their hit Kryptonite.


Hopefully you enjoyed our Superhero themed Entertainment Monday and if you are wish to share some of your favorite Super Hero songs that I may have left out in our comments section, please do so.

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