As I Lay Dying rises to greater heights with “Awakened”

William Faulkner continues to strike from the grave. Not by any recent literature releases or people still enjoying his works, but rather by a metal band that is named after his famous book, As I Lay Dying.


It appears As I Lay Dying may have released their best album yet to date, something that may incur the wrath of hardcore fans who rightfully point to the masterpiece that is Frail Words Collapse.  I primarily have made the above rash assertion because this album actually seems to improve upon what As I Lay Dying has done so well for over 10 years; making metal that is brutal, beautiful, catchy, technical, lyrically rich, and pit/mosh worthy for all ages. Oh and one last thing; Josh Gilbert.

Awakened features what I believe to be greatly improved vocals by their basist Josh Gilbert, whose voice (cleans) on previous records was still rather effectively used. It appears his pop-punk sideproject, Year One, may have improved his vocal abilities and brought them to the next level.

If anyone is familiar with metal-core and metal in general within the last few years, they are aware of the rather abundant amount of clean vocals employed by vocalists who  seem to sing at tenors so high that only dogs can hear them.  Notable bands who we can throw loosely in the metal genre that employ such vocals include I See Stars, Pierce The Veil, Sleeping With Sirens, We Came As Romans, The Devil Wears Prada (Who I like very much.), Blessthefall, For The Fallen Dreams, For All Those Sleeping, I The Breather, It Prevails, ect. Even Spencer from Periphery falls into this category, though he can actually sing.  And, no, I am not ashamed that included Blessthefall, but I digress.


Well whatever happened to sounding like a man? Killswitch Engage, Trivium, Bury Tommorrow, All That Remains, and even new Attack Attack seem to have been able to pull it off.  Josh Gilbert, however, has made proven with his excellent clean vocals that not only is As I Lay Dying in this category, but that they are in the top of the pack even if they aren’t as raspy as Scot Stapps. (Shudder.) Luckily for us, AILD are rather talented musicians and have been able to ensure that Josh’s cleans actually fit well into each song that they are utilized so that it stands out, but doesn’t detract from the heaviness of the songs.

In the first song on the album, Cauterize, we see AILD brilliance at work in an over-saturated and breakdown dominated metal-core genre. As soon as I heard the breakdown in the song followed by a rather astonishing solo, I realized the album would be headed for even greater heights. Did I mention that I almost always hate solos? Color me deeply impressed.

After getting my hands on the leak and having listened to the album three times through, I’ve realized there isn’t a single song on Awakened that is weak; its everything I’ve always expected of As I Lay Dying and more. It has every necessary ingredient: emotion, lyrical beauty, well composed songs, powerful screaming, excellent and effectively placed clean vocals, technical riffs that don’t bore you, and a bit of a new feel that works perfectly.  Is this their best work yet? Only time and repeat playing of this album will tell.

– I’m still shocked by how much this album has and is impressing me. This hasn’t happened with metal as of late for myself.

Statism and the “Mandate”

At about 5 AM with my brain still awake  and tweaking from the effects of a monster and coffee, I was further stimulated the welcoming cold air of my store’s frozen section which I had been asked to help “face”.   It was around this time that I got into a conversation with one of my co-workers about those exciting topics like the election, what and why the presidents actions have occurred, and the the question as to what is a “liberal”.   Well “liberal” means so many different things depending on your ideology, so we ended up discussing this much more in-depth.

Well the subject of the healthcare bill and its mandate came up and my coworker said something like this; “I like the mandate.” It was at just about this point that the conversation wasn’t able to continue much further due to a commotion at the other store which turned out to be someone having a heart attack in another department.

The quick statement made about the “mandate” made some thoughts run through my head during the rest of the morning, my ride home, and even now. Subsquently, my mind has been besieged my a domino effect of thoughts.

If a mandate for national healthcare is something to be advocated, then what other topics, issues, ect are mandates acceptable to advocate for?  One is forced to pick and choose what laws will mandate and what they won’t. Most progressives/liberals today will insist that morality, if it is religious in nature, should never be legislated. (That doesn’t make sense.) However, the nature of law itself is enforcing morality on the general public. Well, why choose this? Apparently the notion that healthcare is a human right is one of the prevailing reasons for the advocacy of this.  The question then arises: What is a human right? Who determines human rights? Where do they come from? Can we vote something into being a “human right”?

One thought that particularly interests me is in what both political parties would support/advocate when it comes to mandates. Depending on the issue one will insist something should be mandated and the other that it should not, usually regarding the social issues.  Another question to consider: Would a mandate banning abortion be appropriate, as many conservatives would insist that it is? Progressives would insist that it is not. However, they’ve continually opened that door when they advocated for a healthcare mandate.

The fact that we are so willing to mandate anything today in our society, specifically on a national scale indicates how much we’ve all become advocates of centralized power.  To put it more bluntly and efficiently; statism.  How could this have happened? It appears we’ve all bought into the notion that not only do we know what is best for people, we own them to a certain degree.


Saturday, June …

As you all know, Saturday, June 2nd, was a day/night filled with short tempers, angry words, and the eventual fights that broke out that brought out the Gurnee police at the Gurnee VFW.  This has hopefully cooled down a bit after over a month of trying to refrain from contributing to the drama. However, the facts and the implications of what happened need to be relayed to the rest of the scene. This kind of nonsense has not been forgotten, nor should it be.  Beware, I’m about to rant.

The best part about this fiasco was that everything that went down Saturday took place at kids benefit show right during which the Mayor of Gurnee was present.  So a few broken tables later, bloody faces and bodies from unnecessary fights, and a complete lack of respect for everyone involved, all of us “hardcore” kids and otherwise all seem like unruly brutal hedonistic selfish hooligans that “Don’t give a shit.”  The drama really still hasn’t stopped, regardless of efforts to do exactly that.

I feel quite bad for the people who set up the show, most specifically Jonathan Schiffley.  Elysion Fields who waited there the whole day to play didn’t get to play, due to the fights breaking out before their set.

Simply put, the fight(s) should never happened. What happened to Mikel, should never have happened. However, it did happen. These fights at shows continue to be provoked, to almost occur, or to actually occur and end up stopping the show and depriving bands like Elysion Fields from being able to play that night. Testosterone was running quite high though. Apparently, so was some of the estrogen levels as there were one or two girls who threw a punch, though this was supposedly a misunderstanding. No idea what the truth is there though.

This is so hardcore!

The question we need to ask ourselves is: What is causing these fights? Immaturity? People’s desire to look tough and badass in front of their friends? Apparently, it’s possible for people to regress, specifically when feeling very mighty with fellow comrades in arms. Seriously, this mini-gang mentality has seemed to leak into every aspect of society and culture in some sort of desperate endless dance for community. I guess our “hardcore” community is no exception to this.

We really don’t have much of any “community” in Lake County, nor the surrounding area. The excuse for community that does exist seems to be limited to a few of the crews, who insist that they aren’t crews. It’s a great joke, but the fact that these crews end up beating down people with frequent 5 to 1 odd simply isn’t funny anymore.  If anyone gathers the balls to say anything to them, pushes them away, or try to fight back/say something after getting crowdkilled, they are subjected to being “defended” against by these crews .

That’s obviously not “friends defending each other”, as someone on facebook tried to insist, rather its an un-motley crew  intimidating , beating, and bringing a Taste of Chicago/Wisconsin State Fair to anyone who dares to do anything after getting hatemoshed during the duration of a show. (Yet another example of failure by our public school system.  Curse you John Dewey and your social norms for society.) Who knows, maybe we can introduce flash mobs of brutality to the scene to bring it to the next level.

What is attracting crews to shows? It’s no coincidence that they come out to “mosh” when bands such as The Acacia Strain, Emmure, and even Whitechapel are playing. It really shouldn’t really surprise anyone that the crews do come out and essentially viciously attack people in the pit when that behavior isn’t only just vocally encouraged by the bands there, but is prevalent in their lyrics.  Granted the fore-mentioned bands aren’t really hardcore, but they attract avid “hardcore” kids and crews to their shows consistently.

Is this really what our hardcore scene is about?  This of course assumes that we have one, which I’m not sure is a completely accurate conclusion. Most of the “hardcore” we have isn’t really hardcore, but rather a bunch of bands chugging along with some 2-step riffs, beatdown yells, and some random breakdowns thrown in there for pit calls. I reject that notion, by the way.

We should still ask ourselves; what is hardcore in Lake County about? Jesse Barnett from Stick To Your Guns has asked this same question:

“What is hardcore? I need someone to clear it up for me. Because I thought it was a community where every walk of life who felt alone, broken, and shattered could come and feel accepted. I thought it was less about the band name on your shirt and more about loving the music. Less about what comes out of your mouth and more about what you do. Not giving a fuck about what people think and doing what you know to be right in your heart. Yeah, breakdowns are cool but hardcore is about way more than that, so get your shit straight.”

The biggest problem facing our  “hardcore” and now defunct scene is a lack of respect. The lack of respect for each other, others, the venue, ect.  This lack of respect is quite obvious to those around Lake County, as the number of venues who hear the word “hardcore” cringe and refuse to allow hardcore bands or fans near their expensive establishments.  If we are lucky, they hire bruiser security guards who take no mercy in providing security who avidly execute their job description in the form of headlocks. Those of you who remember Clearwater should have fond memories of the bruisers a.k.a  rather large security guards in that venues employment.

It’s hard to specifically call out anyone for what happened at Saturday’s show, because of something my best friend, Tim Sheridan of Widower pointed out, “If your at a hardcore show, expect to get hit.”  To a large extent, that statement is true. Now to what degree is that true?

At a lot of hardcore shows in the area, Lake County included, I’ve seen a very certain group of kids, or rather now adults, show up and consistently crowdkill and hatemosh those around them, specifically those not in the pit. It’s not as if there is no pit space at the shows, rather quite often there is a ton of it. But many seem to choose to simply veer off/crash into the crowd on the far outskirts of the pit when they throw down so they can hit someone. Steve Mrozek put that kind of feeling and adrenaline quite accurately at a Monsters/Oceano show years ago, “I just want to hit someone.”

When one goes into the pit, they can expect just that;  to be hit. Usually people will just shrug off getting hit and keep going.  There are then those on the sidelines, in front, in back essentially – not near the pit, who get hit and get pissed about it. Is their feeling, attitude, and reactions regarding getting hit while not being in the pit justified? I would suggest that it is.  The issue here isn’t that people are getting mad about getting hit in the pit, in fact far from it.  It’s rather the people getting upset when you stand in the back of the room and take a windmill to the face.

There seem to be two lines of thought regarding specifically hardcore shows:

1. The whole floor is essentially a pit, and you should expect to get hit, crowdkilled, hatemoshed, ect. regardless of where you are.

2. The pit is where you throw down and get your aggression out, not the crowd nearby. Crowdkilling should never happen, and neither should hate moshing.

The pit, at least in Lake County has in some ways become a place where you can legally badly hurt someone, quite deliberately, and get away with it. When does passion, energy, and aggressive actions – hardcore dancing, throwing down, whatever –  cross over into deliberately trying to break someone’s face?

Now, I’m sure everyone has “hatemoshed” at one point or another, especially in this scene. I was guilty of it last year and Warped Tour where I spent a majority of the day in an angry and pissed mood, but that’s no excuse. In the words of Jock from Finding Nemo, “I am ashamed.”

I’m sure some of you know Anthony Hauser, who remains one of the nicest and respectful moshers I know. No, don’t laugh. Respect in this scene? SHOCKING! I was chatting with him a few weeks back about what happened on Saturday and he wisely pointed something out:

“Stuff like that doesn’t need to happen. I’ve been to ‘real’ hardcore shows and the shit they say happens only happens if the band is encouraging it like assholes. I’ve been to new york hardcore shows where it’s ‘violent’. Yea, they mosh hard but its never a 10 one 1 situation. If people had beef they left the venue and solved it. They at least respected the place.”

Considering the 6 on 1 “fight” that occurred Saturday, there wasn’t much respect of any kind, specifically for the people there or the venue.  Now here is a VERY  radical notion; maybe it’s time for bands to condemn this kind of crap that happens during their set. Until some of them grow the balls to do that, I will simply have to avoid going to shows where this kind of behavior is continually encouraged. I guess that means I won’t be seeing any shows where Sworn In, Barrier, ect. are playing.  Perhaps its time to bring some actual hardcore and some metal back to our scene.  It would be nice after all to mosh and not fear being deliberately hurt when you have to wake up for work the next day.

I plan on going to the Milwaukee Warped Tour on August 1st, and I expect to see kids with Kingmaker, Sworn In, Terror, ect shirts doing what “they do.” So if any of those kids really want to take a shot at me, feel free. I plan on throwing down for The Ghost Inside regardless of what happens, but don’t worry, I don’t fight back, I simply run away and avoid possible legal repercussions that face grown adults in the real world.

Marx’s Ideology: The advocation of force for the new revolutionary religion.

Many people, some of whom identify with the “heart” of Marx seem to believe that his ideas about government and society shouldn’t be confused with the modern day infamous examples of Communism that we have seen in the 20th century.

There seems to be a prevailing notion that the advocacy of force and violence to achieve  and maintain the ideals and the system of of “communism”  in a society were ideas outlined and utilized by ideologies that were influenced by Marx, such as the Bolshevik revolutionaries in Russia. This notion would suggest that Marx was not a proponent of violence and force to achieve his philosophy outlined in the Communist Manifesto.

I’ve seen individuals with various Marxist influence debate this notion with those of a clearly anti-marxist philosophical influence. What might shed some light on the accuracy of this notion is what Marx actually said, particularly during the rather violent revolutions which occurred across much of Europe during 1848.

Most people have never heard of the speech that Marx gave in 1848 upon his arrival in Paris, called the “I am a revolutionist speech.” This speech was his endorsement of what would become the foundation of the new revolutionary religion that would engulf much of Europe.In fact, I couldn’t find it online anywhere, and it’s not as if the history books would dare to relay back what he said in this speech. It would put him in too much of a questionable light.  Marx had entered Paris in February of 1848 and on March 4th he gave this speech to one of the revolutionary cells there:

“I am a revolutionist. I want to march in the shadow of the great Robespierre. Let blood drip from my hands. Let blood flow through the streets and victory shall be ours. Here is what virtuous citizens would say to you if he, our great lord and master, Robespierre were still alive today. When an overcrowded vessel is caught at sea in a violent storm, a part of the crew is thrown overboard to save the rest, and so we must kill those citizens who stand against us in order that righteousness may prevail. So let us kill. Let us exterminate the bourgeois in order to save society from catastrophe. We will save them, or we will kill them and save them. It is their choice.”

As Dr. George Grant in a lecture concerning the Revolutions of 1848 put it, “Not exactly friendly words.”   Marx, however, had more to say about violence and its role in his revolutionary ideals;

“It is obvious that in the bloody fighting that lies ahead as in the fighting in the past, the workers will be victorious chiefly through their own courage, determination , and self sacrifice. Far from opposing the so called excesses, those examples of popular vengeance against hated individuals or public buildings which has acquired hateful memories, we must not only condone these examples, but lend them a guiding hand. Let the mob be the mob.

Notice Marx not only endorses his fellow ideologues to encourage mob violence during the Revolution, but to utilize it.

I had never even heard of The Revolutionist Speech, until I started listening through Dr. Grants Modernity Lectures and heard his 10th lecture titled “Revolution 1848.” I mentioned that particular quote to several other people who all demanded sources, so I contacted Kings Meadow to see what the source was.

The source and the quote it turns out is from a book by James Billington entitled, “Fire in the Minds of Men.” I thought to myself, who is that? It turns out Billington is the chief librarian of the Library of Congress. Dr. Grant’s staff at King’s Meadow recommended this book  as stunningly insightful concerning the revolutionary faith. I’ve actually started reading through this book and am stunned by the amount of information it contains.

Now some of have dismissed or downplayed the significance of these quotes as simply hyperbole to be expected at the time, considering that the Revolution was occuring. Note the the influence of these quotes seen in Marx and Engles future signature work, the Communist Manifesto

Whether or not that is the case, what Marx said and his philosophical influence on today’s society should stand out. If speeches like this were given today, Marx would probably have been arrested of inciting mob violence and proposing “terrorism” against his opponents. Also imagine if someone else in today’s current society had said something like this.

Now this is just my opinion,  but what Marx had to say is just another example of why the word “revolution” always has dangerous and violent implications. History has taught us that almost every revolution to immediately affect a  society has resulted in violence and force of some kind to overthrow that current system of government would have to be employed. The various revolutions of the 20th century confirm this to even a more appalling degree.

To all future “revolutionaries”, here is a thought; instead of calling for revolution, we should instead call for reformation. This doesn’t begin legislatively, but rather in the community, the family, and the individual.
– If you have never listened to any of Dr. Grant’s lectures, I highly encourage you to give them a try. I have yet to hear anyone else who is as articulate an orator as Dr. Grant. His Modernity Lectures will give you a new outlook and a very important worldview lesson on what occurred from the early 1800s all the way up to the end of the Cold War.

Oh NO! Healthcare stands with “good intentions” but sets terrible precedents.

What matters isn’t specifically what was specifically in the healthcare bill, but rather the precedent that the bill sets. The court has essentially found that the, “US Constitution has the authority to force a US citizen to do enter into a business transaction against their will..” – Kurt Wuckert. He couldn’t be more correct.

I love how people say that the good this does for the current healthcare system is what is important. However, we all forget what kind of implications this bill has. If the government can force you to buy this, what else can they force you to buy for the “collective good” and the rest of society which we are so privileged to be allowed to exist. (I reject the social contract.)

Most of us would agree that the fundamental hallmark of a free society should be the rejection of “force” in every situation where it can logically, reasonably, ect. be avoided.  Forcing citizens to buy a private good from a private company or risk penalty has dangerous implications, not to mention the precedent this sets. Attempting to call a penalty a tax is just politics as usual.

Essentially I gather the following from this ruling:

– Government now assumes to force an individual to engage in commerce
– Government now assumes power to force an individual to act.

To make matters worse, this bill did and will not help the situation we are facing regarding the reform of this whole health insurance fiasco. Furthermore this bill reinforces corporate capitalism at the state level as it still doesn’t allow any of us to purchase out of state health insurance. The federal mandated individual in-state monopolies still exist, creating yet another example of truly capitalistic and lassie-fare we supposedly are in this country. 

Essentially, if this hasn’t already become one, this whole issue is a sign of the “age” war to come. Someone, according to almost any senior citizen you ask, has to pay for their growing medical bills and expenses. Currently one of the only ways to do this, at least in some people’s minds, is to force young people like myself into the system to pay for them. I resent this with a passion. If possible, I’d attempt to find a government plan which I would therefore abuse as much as possible in order to get every last cents worth of revenge on those who have stolen my money yet again through legal methods.

School sexual harrasment policy harrases six year old.

I saw this rather amusing, yet disturbing article from the Washington Post a week back on Drudge concerning the supposed sexual harassment of one student by a fellow student who is six years old. That’s right, six years old. What exactly did he do? Nothing. It’s what he said to his fellow female student.

“I’m sexy and I know it.” quoting a line from that pop/hip hop sensation LMFAO. The schools policy regarding lyrics such as these expressed at school is quite rigid.

School officials issued a statement saying they couldn’t discuss the case, but they pointed out a school board policy that defines sexual harassment as any unwelcome sexual advance. There is no age limit.

From my perspective, this is quite interesting. Philosophically or at least specifically in the matter of jurisprudence, I strive to be a kind of “All or none of the above guy” concerning actions and speech.  However, this isn’t a legal matter where exceptions make for bad law. School policy with no flexibility where six year olds are concerned is disturbing.

Ideas on school policy always have unintended and unforeseen consequences.

What does this tell us about the relationship between modern culture and the middle-school and younger children? Apparently, they are now quite aware of what sex is at their age, as well as what constitutes sexual harassment. No tolerance policy means no tolerance.  Even though the school is obviously going to need to take another, much closer look at their sexual harassment policies, they probably aren’t too off in setting policy that will be effective for the future.  Just imagine the lawsuits that are about to take place concerning every possible angle of this policy, sexual harassment in general, and the money certain lawyers are about to make.

Believe it or not, young kids these days, and I’m talking about your 7-10 year olds have a pretty good idea of what “sex is” thanks to our over-sexed culture. The self-proclaimed 7 year old on 4chan isn’t too far from gaining a very deep understand of the concept of sex, and I’m pretty sure the 10 year old on xbox live threatening to doggystyle my mom after a loss in Modern Warfare 3 has a pretty good idea about the topic now.  I used to think they were just spouting insults they had heard, but more and more, the innocent nature you want to believe is there has been forcibly perverted. I’m personally going to blame Glee for this growing epedemic, but there’s plenty of blame to go around.

South Park has yet again called this issue way in advance with the most effective and humorous commentary about “sexual harassment” in schools. In fact, they called this over 10 years ago. Witty, raunchy, over-the-top, but the points made are note worthy.

Seriously, why it is so hard to distinguish between actual sexual harassment and a six year old who doesn’t know what sex is? The waste of tax-payer dollars both through lawsuits and misspent “education” budgets, rash and under-thought policies by school boards, and reputation/avoidance of bad publicity isn’t just going to plague our schools in the near future, it’s going to scar kids like we never could have anticipated.

Instead of calling for some sort of regulatory or further oversight from some educational Czar, we need to encourage accountability in a much more important and close fashion.  The only real solution is for communities to come together and address these issues themselves. Perhaps stories like this, and the numerous that will undoubtedly occur will cause school boards and their perspective teacher’s unions to finally realize the impact of not letting parents have a substantial say in determining their own schools policy.  It seems only a matter of common sense that if you are paying tax dollars into a district, you should at least have a say in the policy and in how those funds are spent.  Radical, huh?

Franziskaner: A good beer for real men.

It was by accident that I discovered one of the best beers I’ve ever had.  A month back, I as at the Bay Billiards in Fox Lake to watch the UFC fights, and I was in the mood for something that wouldn’t taste like it came in a 12 pack for 6$.  I noticed several beers on tap, saw what looked like a monk on the handle, and at the suggestion of the barkeep, I tried a glass of  Franziskaner. I took several sips of it, savored the flavor, and had to ask him a few times what it was called again.

What does it taste like? Well it tastes a bit like Hacker-Pschorr, except a bit sweeter, smoother, and has a kind of “full” feel to it. Don’t worry about the sweet taste though. It is what makes Franziskaner have such a smooth aftertaste.

I’ve had the fortune of bringing a 12 pack of this to a few different places, and it’s been met by the same impressed looks every time. The only problem I seem to run into is that only the Lake Villa Liquors seems to actually sell 12 packs of it.  My work, Marianos, sells 6 packs of it, or a build your own six pack for about 9$ with a large selection of beers to pick from in case you just want to get one bottle of it to sample.

It’s a real treat on tap though. So if you’re in the Fox Lake area, God forbid, stop by the Bay Billiards and get a glass of it. You won’t be disappointed; you will be astounded.

Another plus for me personally is the manly vibe I feel after taking a swig of one of these, something that is always important for the self-esteem, especially after listening to one of my many guilty pleasures, Vanessa Carlton. I don’t always drink good imports that cost 5$ for a glass, but when I do, I prefer Franziskaner,

Starbucks to suffer yet another Boycott.

It seems like there is a call for a boycott of something or someone, just about everyday. Now the self-proclaimed, “socially responsible” Starbucks is a repeat offender that has been added to that list yet again.  This time it isn’t over their support of gay rights, rather it’s over the company’s adherence to state and local law concerning gun control. Starbucks just can’t seem to win, but boycotts don’t seen to dampen their ability to continually satisfy their customer base.  Apparently customer service is important to some businesses. Now, it appears this boycott against Starbucks is set to start on Valentine’s Day.

Who is the offending party? National Gun Victim’s Action Council, an organization known for their tolerance of individual rights and common sense; just not for this issue and second amendment right. This is yet just another example of what has gone so wrong with an understanding of political ideology and force nowadays. Disregard protection under the law when you don’t like it, or call for more law when you feel someone is doing something they shouldn’t be able to do. Please, give us yet more of typical cultural hubris.

While this doesn’t set legal precedent, it still sets another precedent. That is the notion of using good intentions and just concerns to influence businesses into violating the rights of their customers if a particular group believes those concerns to be important enough to trump the customers rights. In fact, it’s this kind of action, behavior, and thinking that labor unions, local regulators, and federal agency bureaucrats with no accountability to the voters have been fighting against for a long time.  Behold another example where the issue and situation trumps one’s rights.

This whole line of thinking is something that needs to be opposed and revealed for its disturbing and dangerous nature. Freedom is freedom. Rights are rights. You don’t make exceptions, no matter how valid, just, and good the reasons behind said exceptions may be.  History has shown us just how easily a Stalin, a Hitler, and a Wilson can easily use those exceptions to create precedents that can be used to justify even the most heinous of actions.

What’s particularly fascinating is that Starbucks is taking what is almost a neutral stance on this issue. Shockingly, they are deferring this whole sidetracking issue of individual gun possession and carrying to whatever the state and local laws regarding gun laws mandate for wherever that particular Starbucks location is.

Badly mistaken organizations like this one should attempt to at least be tolerant of the few rights we still have left, the second amendment being one of them.    Sure, you might not like guns and what can result with their use, but the right is there for a reason.  Isn’t this what tolerance is supposed to be all about? Apparently not, if you think you know how to better protect someone than they do for themselves.  (In fact this issue is yet another example of just how much base assumptions will affect one’s regarding “gun rights.”)

If recent history has taught us anything, just one citizen armed with even a .22 could have put an early end to the VA Tech massacre.  Or the campus could have waited for law enforcement to arrive, which they did, and suffered  30+ deaths of their fellow campus body on that horrible day.

If only we applied sangs like “I disprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.” to issues such as these.  I, however am applying that to even this ludicrous boycott. Consistency can be a b**ch, but is an absolutely essential concept when examining one’s assumptions about freedom and liberty.

I would urge everyone of us to go Starbucks in the upcoming weeks and support their stand to actually respect our constitutional rights. When you go through that drivethru and enjoy that hot beverage, do remember – it’s not coffee, it’s Starbucks.

Red Tails ultimately fails. Badly.

If you’re looking for a movie that is well written, inspirational, and filled with characters that will draw tears from your eyes and future admiration for their courage, then Red Tails IS NOT the movie you are looking for. It’s not even close. Not even a strong performance by Terrence Stamp, a badass pipe and bomber jacket wearing Cuba Gooding Jr, and a series of actually well cinema-graphed battle scenes would be enough to save this forgettable film.
What should have been an inspirational epic about the courage of a group of men to stand up for their beliefs, their families, and their united fight against the depravity of racism instead turns into a film filled with horrible dialogue, bad plots, and misplaced star roles.

I don’t know exactly what went wrong when the script was written, but never has it been so evident. The absolutely horrid and cheesy dialogue punches you in the face with one of the very first line’s in the movie, “Germans!” scarring what was a rather well shot battle scene. The fighters racing to and fro and bombers crumbling into fiery pieces in a tracer filled sky wasn’t enough to redeem this first scene as it was literally ruined by line after line of bad dialogue. It seems that the dialogue was written by 5th grade students writing their initial first drafts of their first attempt at a fictional short story filled with lines that the character’s were forced to say in a manner that were as cheesy as possible.

The question I ask myself is, “How can anyone mess up a story about the valor of the Tuskegee Airman this badly?A flight-leader who is a struggling alcoholic, his brother who is a rebellious ace in the making, and a grinning Cuba Gooding Jr. whose voice and lines just doesn’t match his part detract so badly just 30 minute in that you may just want to walk out and demand a refund. Don’t even get me started on the love story. The horrid side plots look like they were thrown in posthumously and mar already non-believable characters.  
Remember, all you struggling script writers desperate for originality -lines thrown in for comic relief should at least live up to their purpose once or twice in a film. Bad writing has turned Red Tails into what appears to be a a bad B movie with no Quentin Tarrentino to redeem its cover. Seriously, how one make the characters in this film so inconsequential to their own stories? 
If you are really desperate to hear the story of the Tuskagee Airman, then for once go do the unthinkable; read about it. Or if you’re attention span can’t handle that, Glory, or more specifically Morgan Freeman, will at least deliver some of the elements of courage and justice that should have been manifested in this excuse for a film.
Red Tails is a film that will and should be remade. Forget my attitude toward the lack of originality in Hollywood and the resulting remakes.  It is beyond me how a tool, yet brilliant producer like George Lucas managed to mess up this film so badly. It’s like being let down Stephen Hawking who suddenly can’t fathom long division.  Forget that Red Tails was ever made. Forget about seeing it. Save yourself. 
– 120 minutes of 1 star quality. 

Hard Working Homeless Teenager overcomes subpar Long Island education.

Samantha Garvey, a 17 year old senior in Long Island, became a semi-finalist in what is apparently the “highly prestigious Intel Science Competition”.  I’ve never heard of it before, and I’m sure a lot of us simpletons and ignorant libertarian buffoons haven’t, but apparently it’s a big deal in the science community.

The most important part of this story is that she is homeless, or to be more matter-of-fact, lives in a homeless shelter with her family.  That’s right, a homeless shelter. This story which broke on Friday feels like it is something out of Touched By An Angel. This tearjerker, and rightfully so, is a high-point and something to be fondly remembered, just like the Packers unexpected and welcome loss in the playoffs.

Samantha Garvey and her father at Brentwood High School –
Brentwood, NY – Jan 12, 2012 (credit: Sophia Hall / WCBS 880)

Let’s however give credit where credit is due, and I’m sure almost none of that credit really belongs to the school system in Long Island. Most schools across the country aren’t lucky/blessed/fortunate enough to  have the “Freedom Writers” experience happen.  In that movie, the kids actually decided to try to further their education, which as we know, is more often than not the case anymore. Why?

 Broken families across the country that haven’t managed to instill into their children the concept of just how important a good education is to their futures, and I’m not just talking about nearby Waukegan. Instead our parents are desperately trying to work with their promising youth of tomorrow who can barely read and spend their time cussing 12 year olds on Xbox live, developing early drug habits and slacker tendencies, and becoming media addicts who think tweeting about Glee is the most important part of their life as well as everyone elses.  I guess substituting An Inconvenient Truth for actual grammar lessons in English class just isn’t cutting it.

 This all being said, one very important point needs to be acknowledged; it is the students who ultimately determine their own success. Consider the rather lackluster amount of competent students being pumped out by their assembly lines a.k.a schools who aren’t ready or able to compete for a job against the 50 year old’s now working minimum wage positions, and count your blessings. Hard work with even just a bare amount of skill and talent may be enough to outshine the “socially conscious and aware” students that have been fed a steady dose of, “We’re all winners.”  I suppose losing horrendously at Modern Warfare 3 to their fellow trashtalking ADD ridden pupils should easily dissuade them from that nonsense. Kid’s can be cruel after all,  and the trash-talking in Modern Warfare 3 isn’t a far cry away from becoming a digital version of Lord Of the Flies.

Surprisingly, this story clearly demonstrates that hard work, being studiousperseverance, and devotion to one’s education, are useful and plausible tools to pull one up by their bootstraps. How improbable! Her 3.9 GPA proves her diligence which has now given her the opportunity to possibly win a prize of over 100,000$  Stories like this are what America used to be about, but more and more are becoming an unfortunate rarity in a society dominated by phrases like, “You have too much money!”, “Mine!”,  and “I deserve this, it’s my right!.”  Sowing the seeds of nasty notion of entitlement in our youngsters is bound to have ugly consequences, but proper education is apparently just that.

We don’t see enough Samantha Garveys these days. Why? Because the very notion of hard work has become a bad joke. In all fairness, a society which consistently rewards the lazy and punishes the hardworking, takes away most of the incentive to even bother to try, yet we wonder why entrepreneurship seems to be a thing of the past.

While this story is heartwarming, we shouldn’t forget the reality of the events that have produced this kind of situation; It seems twisted financial priorities are a common occurrence nowadays and “accountability” is a very dirty word. I know we’d all love to see many more Samantha Garveys, but I wonder just how realistic that hope may be. Consider the politicized minefield that public education and education reform has unfortunately become. Until we address the fact that our money seems to end up going into the pockets of teacher’s union bureaucrats and politicians, instead of to the schools, students, and teachers themselves, stories like this won’t continue to occur. What will continue is stories about bad teachers receiving six digit figure salaries, even after being convicted of sexual mischief with their students.

Millions upon millions of misspent foreign aid dollars may perhaps buy the goodwill of other countries who already hate us due to our imperialistic tendencies, while our homeless starve and the nations’s poorest schools become havens for drug trafficking, gangs, and corruption.  On the domino effect of thought that my reflection of this article has taken me on, one thing still remains clear; we must break the bureaucratic nature of the teacher’s union and remind them that their duty is to teach rather then to lobby.

While this inconvenient truth may wear down our desire to make something of ourselves, just remember, success is still there for the taking. All you have to do is give it your all and dress like you want the job, instead of talking in ghetto speak with your pants hanging down to your knees.