Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hockey Fight of the Week

Hey Folks, I've been on vacation for the past week.  Here's a belated Hockey Fight of the Week so my googly analytics graph doesn't look so pathetic.

Sabres - Islanders Brawl

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Can We Just Move the Fucking Devils Already?

Look, everyone knows the NHL expansion into the South was successful in some areas and a failure in others.  It seems like every other day there's talk of a different one moving.  There are simply too many of them.  But you know who I really want to move?  The fucking New Jersey Devils.  You could argue that the New Jersey Devils are the worst fan base in the NHL, yes worse than Florida, Atlanta, and Phoenix.

Exhibit A: The Talent
The devils won the Stanley cup in 94-95, 99-00, and 02-03, and lost it in 00-01.  They are perennially in the playoffs, and feature one of the best goaltenders ever to play the game.  Suffice it to say, the team always gives its fans something to cheer about.  Which brings us to...

Exhibit B: The Fans
It's terrible.  Actually, since I just realized the Prudential Center opened for the 07-08 season, and up until then they used the larger Izod Center, it's worse than I thought.

Some numbers to consider:
  • Since the 00-01 season, the furthest back ESPN keeps attendance data, on a basis of percentage of arena filled, the devils have placed, at best, 21st in the NHL.  
  • This came in the 01-02 season, the year after two Cup Finals visits in which they filled a paltry 83.64% of their arena.
  • Since the lockout based on total attendance for those five years, the Devils rank DEAD LAST in the NHL.
  • In that time frame the Devils have won four division titles and never finished lower than fourth in the Eastern Conference.
  • This all comes in the third largest market in the entire country.
  • Their arena makes up less than .1% of their population and they still can't sell it out.
  • Their median household income is 13th highest among NHL cities.
  • The poverty rate is 10th highest among NHL cities.
  • Their local TV ratings are 18th out of the 22 U.S. teams that release them.
  • Are their ticket prices sky-high?  No, actually they're right in the middle, coming in at 14th lowest in the league.

To recap, you have a good team in a northern market with a huge population, that is fairly well off that can't even sell out their arena.  Fuck you New Jersey.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Revamping the NHL's Divisions: Two Methods

The way I see it, there are two methods in which to approach things.

Method 1: Remove two teams, reformat each conference into two seven-team divisions.
6 division games (6 * 6 = 36)
4 non-division, conference games (4 * 7 = 28)
1 non conference game (1 * 14 = 14)
1 game vs. the team in each division in the opposite conference that finished in your spot (1 * 3)
1 non-conference "rivalry game" (1 * 1 = 1)
82 games total.

Honestly, we don't need the "rivalry game" and I have no fucking clue how it would be decided, but let's have some fun.

 Pictured: Fun

Method 2: Add one team to each conference, reformat into four four-team divisions based on geography (like the NFL).  Move as necessary.
6 division games (6 * 3 = 18)
4 non-division, conference games (4 * 12 = 48)
1 non-conference game (1 * 16 = 16)
82 games total.

Note: I tried to do this a few minutes ago and I couldn't get it to work as there are 3 teams in the NW, and about 400 in the NE.  I might end up saying fuck all to conferences.  If it goes poorly, I'll blame it on Gary Bettman and Colin Campbell.

This Guy.


Method 1:


Well that was easy, I mostly just split it by geography and nuked the Florida Panthers.  Yes, I know the NY and NJ teams are further north than Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, but let's be honest, we might as well make one division of awesomeness, and put all the garbage teams no one cares about in one spot right?

Think of the rivalries in the north!  You probably have six of the top ten fan bases all in the same division.  They'll kill each other!  Plus, the southeast is already a one team show anyways.  When was the last time two teams from that division made the playoffs?  (2007).  How many times in the last decade have multiple southeast teams made the playoffs? (3).  Have more than two southeast teams ever made the playoffs? (no).


Just as easy, replacing Florida Panthers with Phoenix Coyotes.  Look at that, you have the other four top ten fanbases in the same division in the west.  And look!  Another division!



Method 2:
Disclaimer - I never once said this was a GOOD idea.


Uh well, the North and East divisions look pretty fun.  The East especially with Washington being moved to keep Philadelphia and Pittsburgh together.  The West is kind of a clusterfuck of shit (picture it) but geographically it works...kinda.


Not too shabby either.  Can you imagine those North Division games?  Holy fucking christ.  There will be the blood of a thousand dead Canadians on my hands.  And it will be awesome.  Again, the West Division ends up kind of retarded.  Hockey and the West just don't go well together.

The Top 500 Movies of All Time: What Belonged

Recently I stumbled across Empire's list of the Top 500 Movies of All Time here.  The list was generated largely using the rankings from a few movie sites, such as IMDB.com.  This is retarded as the recency tendency will tend to have movie-goers way overrating a lot of newer movies.  Just read the list, you'll see.

Now I can't comment on movies I haven't seen.  Which was 406 of the 500 movies.  So I'll take the remaining 94 and discuss why they do, or do not belong on the list. On to Part II where I rank the ones I've seen that I felt did belong.

I'm not even going to try and rank one genre against another, so I'm going to split them up into categories and go through them.

Comedy:
65). Harold and Maude
This movie should probable be higher.  It never gets old, the message is just as important today as it was in 1971, and the soundtrack, specially produced for the movie by Cat Stevens is superb.

73). Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

115). Blazing Saddles
Honestly, I think Blazing Saddles is a bit high, but there's something to be said for successfully using racial in the 70s, just nine years after African Americans received complete voting equality.

122). The Princess Bride
128). Lost in Translation

Initially I thought Lost in Translation was a bit high.  It really isn't much, and most people will hate it.  But there's something undeniably beautiful about it.

189). Ghostbusters

196). Amelie

Amelie is way too low, most likely because it's in a foreign language.  The movie is stunning in every definition of the word.  Even more, it's not even the best movie with Audrey Tatou staring and Jean Pierre Jeunet directing.

231). Shaun of the Dead

381). Monty Python and the Holy Grail

393). Garden State

Everyone who knows me, knows this is my favorite movie.



361). Clerks

435). American Psycho
445). Dumb and Dumber
463). Juno

A lot of people have a love-hate relationship with Juno either because of it's touchy subject matter, or the way in which it approaches said subject matter.



Sci-Fi/Fantasy:

3). Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back
22). Star Wars: A New Hope

Look, I like the Star Wars movies.  I don't think they're terribly well written, but there is no mistaking one fact.  They are ICONIC.  For that reason alone they deserve to be near the top of this list.

23). Back to the Future
24). The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
39). The Matrix
47). E.T.
132). Pan's Labyrinth
172). The Wizard of Oz

It is really hard to stay high in this category as an older movie.  Usually technology advances to the point where the CGI just is no longer good enough to make it watchable.  I think that's the draw in The Wizard of Oz, in that the movie isn't the least bit about the special effects.  They're almost there as an after-thought, while the story is told.  Several modern filmmakers should remember that.

232). Jurassic Park
383). Serenity

You can't take the sky from me.  Name me another TV show that aired 12 episodes and yet went on to spurn a major motion picture.

452). Unbreakable

I think this is a better M. Night Shyamalan movies than The Sixth Sense.

465). 12 Monkeys

This movie is crazy good, and yet no one seems to remember it, or hold it in very high regard.  Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis are unbelievable and this sets the bar for futuristic post-apocalyptic movies.

484). The Fountain

Just weird.

498). Back to the Future II



Action - Adventure:
3). Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc
210). Platoon
306). Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
371). Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

It's next to impossible to be funny in an action-adventure movie without crossing over the line into incredibly stupid.  Just look at the latest Indiana Jones movie.

372). Army of Darkness
This should be higher.  While not strictly a B-movie (since the budget was fairly big), it definitely sets the bar for all B-movies to come with the perfect blend of comedy, stupidity, and chainsaw-wielding awesome.

418). V for Vendetta



Horror:
134). Seven
238). Requiem for a Dream

Requiem for a dream is definitely a horror movie, just not in the conventional sense.

332). The Sixth Sense
490). Sweeny Todd
499). Saw


Drama:
4). The Shawshank Redemption

While not my favorite movie, this may well be the best movie I've ever seen.

44). Schindler's List
96). American Beauty
227). The Professional (Leon)
240). Forrest Gump

Such a wildly entertaining movie.

260). Field of Dreams
274). Sin City

So beautiful visually that it's almost worth a spot on this list for that reason alone.  How many movies can boast that?

305). The Prestige
311). American History X
328). The Truman Show
331). The Green Mile

So good, you won't even notice it's over three hours long.

433). Good Will Hunting



Those Left Behind:

The following is a list of movies I thought were left off the list.

The Nobel Son (2007)

Like I said previously, I think The Nobel Son is one of the best heist films ever made.


Labyrinth (1984)


Labyrinth has such a strong cult following, I'm genuinely shocked it was discounted.  Who doesn't love seeing David Bowie's balls?

Ace Ventura (1994)

Ace Ventura is much funnier than Dumb and Dumber.

What Dreams May Come (1998)
This film is simply gorgeous, in both storytelling, and actual appearance.  It's one of the few films shot on Fuji Velvia (RVM) film stock due to the amount of color in the movie.

Franklyn (2008)

Absolutely the best Dystopian - Futuristic movie.

Slumdog Millionaire (2009)

This one gets a pass because the list was released in 2008.

A Very Long Engagement (2004)

One of the very few films that can rival The Shawshank Redemption for the best movies I've ever seen.  It's in French, so that will turn a lot of people off.  Same lead actress (Audrey Tatou) and director (Jean-Pierre Jeunet) as Amelie.

Let the Right One In (2008)

Also probably too late to make the list, but one of the best Vampire films ever.  Edward Cullen has nothing on this girl.

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (2007)

Easily much cuter than any Kids movie on the list up to and including Toy Story.

The Mighty Ducks (1992)

"You quacked at her?"

The Top 500 Movies of All Time: What Didn't Belong

Recently I stumbled across Empire's list of the Top 500 Movies of All Time here.  The list was generated largely using the rankings from a few movie sites, such as IMDB.com.  This is retarded as the recency tendency will tend to have movie-goers way overrating a lot of newer movies.  Just read the list, you'll see.

Now I can't comment on movies I haven't seen.  Which was 406 of the 500 movies.  So I'll take the remaining 94 and discuss why they do, or do not belong on the list.  Starting in Part I with the movies that didn't belong.



The Superhero Movies:
15). The Dark Knight
81). Batman Begins
309). Transformers
406). Iron Man
411). Spider Man II
432). X-Men II
437). Spider Man

None of those movies even deserve to be on the list.  No, not even The Dark Knight, which I already know is the movie I'm going to catch the most flak for.  Look, to be fair, TDK is probably the best comic book movie ever made.  Which makes it around the 9,000th best movie ever made.

The Batman franchise had sunk so low that all people were really looking for was a couple of movies that didn't suck.  When they got a couple of movies that not only didn't suck, but were actually pretty good, that's when things got blown out of proportion.  I like Heath Ledger as much as the next guy, but it is really stupid to use his performance as a justification for TDK being a great film.  It's kind of like putting Max Afinogenov into the hockey hall of fame based on the 360 goal.  Um...no.  And, whoever the casting director was, if you want me to get attached to a female protagonist to the point where I care what happens, you're going to have to do a lot better than Maggie Gyllenhaal.  Just saying.


The Kids Movies:
99). Toy Story
141). Snow White
179). Toy Story
310). The Lion King
322). Aladdin
343). Monsters Inc.
407). The Jungle Book

I don't really have a problem with any of the above movies, I just don't think that movies for children are worth making much of a fuss about.  Especially Disney movies which give kids a healthy dose of unrealistic circumstances and expectations regarding life.  If anything, I would include The Lion King, or one other Disney Movie that I will mention later.


Franchise Movies:
34). The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
54). The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
56). Casino Royale
91). Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
203). Monty Python and the Life of Bryan
233). Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
234). The Bourne Ultimatum
330). Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
365). The Bourne Identity
409). Men in Black
449). Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
453). Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
454). The Bourne Supremacy
471). Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
475). Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
500). Oceans 11

I'll just go rapid fire here.
  • The new bond movies suck and killed everything that made Bond enjoyable.
  • Temple of Doom is my favorite IJ movie, but there's no way it measures up to RotLA or tLC.
  • The Bourne movies are good action flicks, nothing more.
  • You have to be legally retarded to include any of the new Star Wars movies on a top anything list that doesn't have the word "suck" in it.
  • Ditto for the new Indiana Jones movie.
  • I like Harry Potter, but condensed versions of the books have no place in movie Valhalla.
  • There are better heist movies than Oceans 11, like After the Sunset, or The Nobel Son.
  • The rest simply aren't good enough.


Everyone Loves These Movies But Me:
9). Pulp Fiction
43). The Big Lebowski
53). Donnie Darko
113). Anchorman
337). 300
487). Superbad

Pulp goddamn Fiction.  Ninth best movie?  Really?  Is that even the ninth best movie made that year?  (The Shawshank Redemption, Forrest Gump, The Professional, Clerks, Dumb and Dumber).  Yikes.

The Big Lebowski just bored me when Tara Reid wasn't talking about sucking dick, which, disappointingly, was most of it.  I thought Donnie Darko was okay, but not earth shattering (I think you might have to be high?), certainly no better, and probably much worse than The Butterfly Effect.  Anchorman is just stupid.  Will Ferrell, cut that shit out.  300 was okay.  Superbad made me laugh, but top 500 movies of all time?  No way.

I can come up with $1,000...



Top 500 Movies...Really?
188). School of Rock
310). Gremlins
325). Kill Bill Vol. 1
387). Rain Man
423). Kill Bill Vol. 2
455). Top Gun
456). 28 Days Later

I love Gremlins and 28 Days Later, but masterpieces they are not.  Rain Man just proves Tropic Thunder (which I am ashamed of having degraded myself enough to watch) correct.  High Profile Actor + Ugliness/Retardation = Academy Award.  It's long and boring, and this is coming from a guy that mainly watches movies that the majority of people consider to be long and boring.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Best Ways My Blog Has Been Accessed (A Google Search Commentary)

As some of you know, I use Google Analytics to track the traffic to my blog.  It gives me mountains of useful and entertaining data, including what Google searches have brought people to my blog.  Below are some of my favorites.


1). Sidney Crosby Catholic

Not sure how this one worked since my blog isn't in the top five pages for either a web search or an image search.  So this person was really looking for damning religious information against Crosby I guess.  The best part is, they spent 23 minutes and 58 seconds on my blog.  I guess that makes me entertaining and I should be flattered?  Or they really, really wanted that Crosby info.



2). Kind of Ass

I don't know what this searcher was looking for.  Again, with my browser and internet settings and all that crap, I don't find my blog within the first five pages.  I do hope this intrepid web traveler found the kind of ass they were looking for.



3). Devan Dubnyk

This poor, poor interneter.  It was probably his mom or something and all I do is rant about how terrible he is, and compare him to Patrick Lalime.  P.S. Congrats to you and your agent Devan, for using the Jedi Mind Trick to convince the Oilers to give you a $100,000 raise for a save pct of .889 and a GAA of 3.57.  Maybe you could use the force to...I don't know...stop pucks?

Photographic Evidence that Devan Dubnyk Once Actually Saved a Puck
Credit: nhl.com


4). Bondage Sex

Alright, this one makes me really proud, I confess.  I mean, I'm really going for a certain level of debauchery here, and this about takes the cake.  Seriously, half of my entries feature sex, though to be fair there's less titties and more research and statistics...oh well.

On a side note, how is Kink.com's Sex and Submission not the first hit for this search?  I'll spell it out for you in case you're retarded.  This is porn.  Know the consequences before you click.  I will link the first SFW pic I find with this search.  This may take a while.

Everyone, it's Buffalo Native Lorelei Lee!
Photo from Sex and Submission


5). Family Sex

Do not do a Google image search for this.  I'm fairly certain several of the results are in fact illegal, and I have no desire to get a closer look.  I don't know who you are, but on July 6th you were craving some incest, and somehow found my blog (I'm guessing because of my entries on sex-ed).  So...um...way to go?  Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go shower.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Everyone Loves (Fetish) Porn (They Just Don't Admit to it)

Inspired by a message from a cool gal I met online.

And PBS is AWESOME

Hell the title could be everyone loves porn and it would probably be just as true.  Finding accurate statistics regarding porn usage is all but impossible.  The only numbers I am actually willing to trust right now are from the Kinsey Report which found that 54% of men and 12% of women were aroused by erotic images.  Of course, that study was done in the 40s and 50s, when access to pornography was much harder to come by.

We're going to steadfastly IGNORE any study done by ABC (owned by Disney) since ABC has routinely come down very hard on pornography, and their studies are funded by such organizations as the Christian News Wire, and the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families.  No bias there at all.

Even Mickey Needs Orgasms...

What I did is I looked though my buddy list on AIM.  I have a legitimate interest in human sexuality and am very open to both giving and receiving advice, stories, and so on about sex.  So I know the habits of my friends fairly well.  I considered regular porn viewing to be once or twice a week, and expanded it to include nude images of current sexual partners as well as graphic literature.  Yes women, those romance novels you read are porn.  Get off your high horses.


por·nog·ra·phy

  1. Sexually explicit pictures, writing, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal.

Does Buddy X View Porn Regularly?


So from my informal study, throwing out those whose habits I am not privy to, 75% of men and 63% of women regularly view pornography.  Granted many of my friends are of the younger and more progressive variety, but those numbers are pretty similar to what a smattering of google searches shows, that about 70% of Americans regularly view pornography.

So we've established that the American People love their porn, even if they are ashamed to admit it.  (As ABC studies routinely suggest that 75% of Americans think pornography is morally wrong.   One study said 94% of Americans believe a ban on pornography should be legal.  Ridiculous).

Moving right along, the article I linked at the top of the page states: 

"In a recent study at the Kinsey Institute we found, rather surprisingly, that a group of highly sexually active men did not respond to porn clips that had proven successful in eliciting sexual responses in earlier studies. It was not until we provided them with a wide variety of porn clips to choose from, depicting anything from group sex to sadomasochism (S&M), that we started to obtain clear signs of arousal."


It feels good to be liked, and to feel like part of a group, and as such everyone wants to fit into a contrived definition of "normal" when the truth is people are anything but.  Literally everyone has some sort of fetish or preference regarding sex.  Some are relatively common, like "boob-guys" and "ass-guys."  Some are less common, like foot and bondage fetishes.

There is a stigma attached to such things, and too often people are afraid to be seen of as weird or think of themselves as weird.  Especially when the public is wholly ignorant as to what bondage actually is.  Are you picturing a woman like the above, perhaps leather masks and hoods and paddles?  Well don't.  Bondage is simply the act of restraining someone.  If you've used fuzzy handcuffs during sex, you've done bondage.

Admit it, you like this.


Once people realize that, many of them find that they actually enjoy aspects of something they previously found extremely distasteful.  How many women like being held down?  That's a form of bondage.  Hell, sex in itself is often a type of power exchange.  One party is usually on top, controlling the action.  While you might not think of it that way the next time your girlfriend is riding you, she is in a dominant position and you are in a submissive one.  The more you know...

It's kind of funny how people dismiss dominant - submissive or master - slave relationships as being inordinately strange.  There is a degree of power exchange in every aspect of sex, those people are just realistic about it and bringing it to the forefront.  The people that denounce such  things are the same people that enjoy frequenting strip clubs, playing strip poker, or photographing their partner nude.  Those things are exciting because they put one party in a position of power.  It's the reason why people enjoy oral sex and when their partner wears sexy lingerie (preferably the girl, but hey to each their own).

The bottom line is you people are weirder than you think.  Why don't you eliminate a source of stress for yourselves and embrace it?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Reflecting on Soccer and the World Cup


Soccer

Before I begin, I should give some info on my soccer background.  I had not watched a single game of a previous world cup.  My soccer watching had pretty much been relegated to watching my ex's cousin play in high school.

Now, I'll be perfectly honest, I didn't hate those games.  I hated being there when we could have been doing...something else.  But they were genuinely fairly entertaining, and I'm not just talking about yelling "two minutes for diving" every time someone fell down and parents started bitching.  Those kids played hard and they traded chances pretty well.

Soccer is probably the only sport in the world where the youth players have more balls, more toughness, and more integrity than their professional counterparts.  In fact, the less serious it is, the more miraculously tougher the players become.  I played indoor soccer in college.  No one pulled any of that diving shit.

So I listened to the U.S. play England, and I watched the U.S. play Algeria and Ghana, and I watched the finals between team B.J....er...the Netherlands and Spain.  The games aren't boring.  They're not exciting, but they're not boring either, especially if you get a couple of good teams like the Netherlands and Spain going at one another.

But why don't people watch?



First of all, Americans are bigoted ignorant idiots.  Probably half the country sees foreigners doing something and is immediately turned off.  But most of those people don't have TVs or electricity, or running water, or genetic diversity anyways.

Next we're going to skip a paragraph of meandering crap for what everyone knows I'm going to write.  It's the diving.  It is 110% the god damn pussy diving.  Some of the afore mentioned Americans might be able to get over their stereotypes if soccer players didn't fall into every single one of them.  And the worst part is, you can't even single anyone out (except Italy), every team does it (but Italy does it more).




Look, I want to like soccer.  I can even look past FIFA's retarded officials.  I can look past the United States not being all that great.  I can look past ties.  (I can however NOT look past a team playing for a tie when they need a win to advance in the Group Stage.  Yeah, FUCK YOU Algeria).  But the diving, oh my god, get rid of it.  Do something, hand out retroactive red cards upon video review, fines, just something to get it out of the soccer culture.

The bottom line, I was legitimately entertained.  It's pretty much the perfect thing to do when you have no job.  Wake up a little early, fire up the TV, and peer over the laptop every few minutes while you play a good RPG.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Random Shit I Like

In the future, I'm going to move this to Monday, but since it's Sunday and I'm motivated, the first installment can come right now.



After the NHL decided to stupidly crap on all of its individual team forums by merging them into one super forum with an atrocious (and blindingly white) layout, Sabres fans (and the fans of many other teams) revolted and began creating their own forums.  Sabres Junkie is the premier place for discussion on Sabres and NHL related topics for Sabres fans, and it is my home on the internet.  Plus the admin designed that banner so you know it's awesome.




Easily the funniest and most endearing webcomic on the internet.  I'd post a sample, but that might be copyright infringement or some shit so I'll just leave the link and banner.  But then Phil told me it wasn't.  In addition to being funny, the storyline is compelling, and the drawing style is magnificent.





Random images, one at a time.  Quick load times and GIFs.  It's like crack.

Hockey Fight of the Week

Kaleta Wrecks Zherdev; Peters Wrecks Boll

Thursday, July 8, 2010

America's Got Talent: My Favorites

I hate reality TV as much as any other American, but I confess there are a few things I will watch.  America's Got Talent is so alluring, so entertaining that I can't help myself.  I think what sets it apart is the variety.  It's not like American Idol where you see eight hundred and six different sob stories.  There are singers, acrobats, magicians (love them), dancers and freak shows.  It truly is something to watch.

Now the final forty-eight acts are set for the last string of auditions that are voted on by the American viewers.  Without further ado, a few of my favorites.

Chips Cooney - Comedian, Magician
Some people get Chips, some people don't.  I personally think he's hilarious.



Doogie Horner - Comedian
I feel for Doogie, I really do.  He came in at the tail end of a ton of comedians in his first audition and was booed mercilessly.  In the Vegas audition for one of those final forty-eight spots he did a comedy act for basically no audience.  Say what?  Thankfully they passed him through.



Lindsey Stirling - Violinist, Dancer
This is hands down my favorite act, and it's frusterating because they've shown so little of her.  A portent of big things to come?





Debra Romer - Singer
This goes against two things I normally detest about these sort of shows.  I don't like how they all ultimately become a singing competition, and I don't like sob stories.  That having been said, there's something so genuine about Debra Romer that is so appealing and so touching.  It's something I honestly haven't seen since Kellie Pickler's American Idol Audition.

Everyone knows I love female vocals.  t.A.T.u., Avril Lavigne, Paramore, Frou Frou, Taylor Swift, Kia Grannis, P!nk, Miranda Lambert, The Wreckers, and Cadcada, and I am absolutely buying Debra Romer's first CD.

Sabres Free Agency: Those Other Days

I'm going to do a rundown of the Sabres activity on the Free Agent Market thusfar pretty much because it was an easy topic to come up with and I am lazy.

Easy
The Defense:
The landscape of the defense is slightly different, seeing Henrik Tallinder (Devils) and Toni Lydman (Ducks) leave, with Jordan Leopold (from Pittsburgh) and presumably Mike Weber (Portland Pirates) taking their places.  What exactly does that mean?

Click for Full Size

Durability:
Now the first concern has to be games played.  Players do you no good if they're parked in the training room, and Weber and Leopold have both faced significant injuries in their careers.  However, I would point out that Weber played 80 games last season, and Leopold played 81 last season and 83 in 08-09.  And how soon we forget about Henrik Tallinder.  The dude was never fucking healthy.  Games played starting in 02-03: 46, 72, 82, 47, 71, 66, 82.  Kind of like the olympics, he showed up in force about once every four years.  In his career, Tallinder has only played four more games per year than the "Tim Connolly-esque" Jordan Leopold.

Advantage: Wash


Offense:
The offensive numbers are relatively unspectacular across the board, with Leopold providing a slight bump in goal scoring, and a decent loss in +/- although I would point out he is -12 with Colorado and Florida, and even with Pittsburgh and Calgary.  Suffice it to say, Leopold is a solid, responsible defensemen when there is talent around him.

Advantage: Leopold and Weber

Physicality:
I think over the years we all appreciated Lydman's penchant for blocking shots and throwing hits.  Leopold is not know for a physical presence, but you can count on him for about 60-70 hits a year (the average is skewed by his 43 games in 07-08), which is more than Tallinder, and his 110-120 blocked shots leave him just shy of Lydman.

Then there's Mike Weber, beast extraordinaire.  His 45 hits in 16 games in 07-08 put him on pace for about 230.  He is going to make up for the physical game lost in Lydman's departure and then some.  While his 78 blocked shots are a bit underwhelming, one would think if he can bring one half of a physical game, he can bring the other.  Plus it's hard to shoot if you're, you know, knocked on your ass.

Advantage: Leopold and Weber

Responsibility:
The simple fact is that Leopold brings a responsible game that is light years ahead of Lydman and Tallinder.  The dude plays safe hockey, and it doesn't come at the expense of offense.  Even if you pop his numbers up to account for that short season, you're still only seeing about 30 giveaways a year out of him, about half of what Lydman and Tallinder brought.  Mike Weber is about on par with the dearly departed defensemen...but he's only 22, know how many times Tallinder was giving the puck away that early in his career?  Me neither because NHL.com doesn't have those stats.  But it was probably about 800.  Weber will learn to be more responsible.  Tallydmander are pretty much at their ceiling.

Advantage: Leopold and Weber

Oh Why the Fuck Can't Our Defensemen Hit the God Damned Net...ness:
Not a whole lot to say here, Leopold is a slight upgrade over Tallinder, Weber a slight downgrade under Lydman.


Advantage: Wash

Overall:
Leopold and Weber are going to minimize brain farts on the defense which can only make things easier on Ryan Miller.  The offense isn't a whole lot different than what Lydman and Tallinder brought, but the Physicality will be a slight upgrade.  Oh yeah, and it's coming at almost a $3M lower pricetag.  That ain't bad.



Offense (pretty much just Niedermayer):
There isn't a lot going on with the offense.  The Sabres brought in Rob Niedermayer, signed McCormick to a big boy (one way) contract, and have yet to extend offers to Mair, and Ellis.  There's some stuff going on with arbitration too with Kennedy and Kaleta, but I don't want to go into that.


Click for Full Size


Really the players most comparable to Niedermayer are Mair and Gaustad, and to a lesser extent McCormick.  The Niedermayer move isn't stunning in itself, but what it does do is force a couple of less talented guys (namely Mair and Ellis) into the pressbox, making the team better as a whole.

With Niedermayer, the Sabres can field a third line of Kennedy - Niedermayer - Grier, and a fourth line of McCormick - Gaustad - Kaleta.  I know that on paper, Mair is a better option than McCormick, but I feel on an energy line, McCormick, being younger, bigger and more of a fighter is a better fit.  Plus I feel that he's more defensively responsible than Mair.  Every once in a while Mair tries to be Derek Roy.  Not fucking cool.


Goaltending:
No fancy charts for this one.  We get Patrick Lalime for one more year at $.6M and we know what we have in Patrick Lalime.

Let's look at backup netminders (guys that played between 10 and 25 games) and see where Lalime fared:
(I was kidding.  It's actually going to be death by charts).


Nothing spectacular here...



Alright, so Lalime is about the middle of the pack stats-wise.  So what accounts for this:




Hmm...


Oh...right.  Every time he's in net the team in front of him forgets how to score.  Speaking of which, holy shit Michael Neuvirth, could your job get any easier?  But hey, what are we paying Lalime?


Wait...what?  He makes less than Devan Dubnyk?  Devan fucking Dubnyk...the guy that is so bad his career might actually wind up being responsible for the 2012 apocalypse.


The Bottom Line:
Look, there's still work to be done.  I know a lot of us are hoping that Drew Stafford gets moved for someone who doesn't suck and hates music in favor of a legit top line right winger.  Or that Ennis is good enough to play on the top line (crosses fingers).

But the Sabres have gotten better this offseason.  The defense is going to rely on more ifs than I like, but you're looking at

Myers - Leopold
Montador - Weber
Rivet - Butler

with a little Andrej Sekara thrown into the mix.  That isn't half bad.  Granted we need Myers to continue to play well, Weber to show us what he showed in 07-08, Rivet to come back strong after injury, Butler to bounce back, and Sekara to look like the beast he was in the olympics.  They may not all happen, but we're not going to see a worst case scenario out of each either.  That coupled with a defensive corps that is as a whole, more responsible should bode, well for Ryan Miller and the Sabres.

Likewise Niederymayer's signing doesn't look impressive in itself, but it shifts the team into four solid lines that I really like (and you should too):

Vanek - Roy - Please God Not Stafford / Ennis
Pominville - Connolly - Hecht
Kennedy - Niedermayer - Grier
McCormick - Gaustad - Kaleta

No defensively irresponsible Adam Mair, and no unimpressive Matt Ellis.  Sure McCormick doesn't have Mair's numbers, but he commits to defense, he hits more, and he was a force in the playoffs.

It would be nice to see a Martin, Michalek, Zherdev, Gagne, or Kovalchuk in Buffalo, but that's just not going to happen.  Darcy is doing alright for himself.  Remember, we went from tenth place to Division Champions with the loss of Jaroslav Spacek and the addition of Steve Montador and Mike Grier.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sex Education II: The Solution

Because it's easy to rip apart an existing system without offering a better one that is viable and works.  (I'm looking at you Marx and Engels).  I'm going to attempt to offer a solution to sex-education in America.  I may be in a bit over my head, but let's be honest.  I am really, really bored.


Step 1: Remove ANY Incentive to Teach Abstinence Only Sex-Education:

  • Dissolve Community-Based Abstinence Education which gives government money to local organizations that teach abstinence-only sex-ed.

  • Repeal the Adolescent Family Life Act which supports projects that teach the benefits of abstinence to teens.

  • Repeal Section 510 of the Social Security Act, which also grants government money to programs that promote abstinence as the ONLY form of contraception.

  • Tax private schools that have abstinence-only sex-ed programs.  Private schools can teach what they want, but if they contribute to making society worse, they should pay for it.

Studies have shown that Abstinence Only Sex-ed is linked to higher pregnancy rates, and rather than preventing unsafe sex, actually increases it due to a lack of understanding among teens regarding sex.  Abstinence only sex-ed is an abomination, and in fact runs contrary to religious beliefs because it increases the number of abortions.  What's worse, learning about condoms, or dead babies?

Step 2:  Repeal the Federal Law that establishes an explicit definition of Abstinence-Only Sex-Ed, and institute a new law that establishes an explicit definition of a Comprehensive Sex-Ed Curriculum.  Repeal all retarded state and local laws that ban oral and anal sex.  Let's move into the twenty-first century people.

Key Points in this Curriculum Could Include:
  • An introduction to sex as a biological process.  It's necessity as a component of nature.

  • The history of human sexuality.

  • Human sexuality in the modern world including pornography, contraceptives, masturbatorial aides, cultural interpretations, sexual positions, etc.

  • Sexuality as it applies to an individual including various types of contraceptives, their intended and proper use, facts and statistics regarding their reliability.

  • Sexuality in Relationships.  Different interpretations of sex and love and how they interrelate.  Sex as an expression of love, and what it means in a relationships.  The advantages and disadvantages of hook-ups, friends with benefits type relationships, and monogamous sexual relationships.  Positioning, techniques, and fetishes.

  • Questions and common problems regarding sex.  I would recommend viewing episodes of Talk Sex with Sue Johansson.

Step 3: Introduce an Incentive to Teach Comprehensive Sex-Ed
  • Grants given to the school districts with the best sex-ed programs.

  • Bonuses for areas with low instances of teen pregnancy.

  • Get the medical community and contraceptive industries involved.  Everyone benefits.  Teen pregnancy goes down, medical costs go down, and the contraceptive companies sell more of their products.  Encourage condom and birth control manufacturers to have seminars in public schools.

Step 4: Take the P-word Out of it
This is probably where I'm going to catch the most opposition, but I don't think parents should be allowed to dictate what their children learn about parts of their body and a fundamental aspect of human life.  I would eliminate any need for parental waivers to allow kids to be educated about sex.  Keeping your kids in the dark about a part of their own body is irresponsible and bordering on child abuse.

Take the afore mentioned federally approved comprehensive sex-ed program and include it a mandatory class in high school.  If you don't learn about sex, you don't graduate.  Health Class is one of the most useless classes you will take in high school.  Devote the majority of it to sex-ed and actually teach these kids something.

Step 5: Redefine How People View Sex:
This is the most difficult step as it is nearly impossible to change the widespread perception of something.  The only way to do it is to begin teaching sex-ed at a young age and to wait.  After a time, the generation that has grown up treating sex as it actually is, a normal activity that carries no religious "dirtiness" and is perfectly normal, will be in the majority, and they will pass their views down to their children.

The comfort level around sex needs to increase.  People need to be willing to share knowledge.  Knowledge can only be a good thing.  Look at the Dutch model.  Their teen pregnancy rates crush us, and they're legally able to start having sex two to three years before our children.  It's clear, the abstinence model just doesn't work.  If you don't understand that, don't have kids.  Seriously.

Sex, The Dutch Model

An Older Article Regarding Britain following The Netherlands' lead in teaching sex education.

In a nutshell, the article details the progressive stance the Netherlands (aka the Dutch) has taken regarding sex education and sex in general.  You can read the article yourselves, but a few high points:
  • Sex Education begins in Primary (Elementary) School.  We're talking real sex education answering actual questions that kids have, not just "girls have vaginas and boys have penises, the end."  (Note: I can confirm this fact).

  • “There is no point in telling children just to say ‘no' - this is a liberal country; you need to tell them why they are saying ‘no' and when to say ‘yes'. --- Dutch school headmaster Siebe Heutzepeter

  • At secondary school the sex education is formalized and children are shown how to use various types of contraceptive, how to have “safe and pleasurable sex”, the importance of responsibility and how to recognize the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases.

I should take this moment to point out that the Netherlands has among the lowest teen pregnancy rates, abortion rates, STD rates, and divorce rates in the world.  Let that sink in for a moment.  A country whose age of consent is 14, that teaches kids not only how to have safe sex, but how to have good sex beginning in part at the age of five, is currently whooping the world's ass when it comes to being sexually responsible.

Not that Kind of Ass Whooping

Let's contrast that with what I remember about my own sex-education, keeping in mind that I attended public school in conservative counties in a liberal state.
  • Fifth Grade - Guys and Girls Separated, Guys learn about Boners and how to Hide them (seriously that's what I remember most).

  • Sixth Grade - Guys and Girls Separated, both learn about different parts and about derogatory sexual terms.  CV learns what the words slut and whore mean.  Files them away for later use.

  • Tenth Grade - We learn about sex biologically.  Predictably, in biology class.  Waivers must be signed by parents.

  • Tenth Grade - Health Class, we learn about STDs and have a speaker on the importance of using condoms.  Waivers must be signed by parents.  The overall atmosphere is don't have sex or your penis will look like one of these slides.


Well that's...um...underwhelming.  Regrettably I don't remember any more specifics, or to what extent abstinence was pushed.  Sex is danced around and avoided so much it's ridiculous.  You won't find very many causes that I am more behind than more progressive sex education.  It's absurd how little Americans know about a biological process that 99% of people have on a regular basis.

 Pictured: The Worst Evil Ever!

Let's dance around this site for a little while.  Data from 2006, most of it copied and pasted from that site, with my thoughts following.
  • By their 18th birthday, six in 10 teenage women and more than five in 10 teenage men have had sexual intercourse.  (I've also read 80% of all teens by the age of 18, and 96% of all people by the age of 20, so the actual number is somewhere in there).

  • Of the approximately 750,000 teen pregnancies that occur each year, 82% are unintended. More than one-quarter end in abortion. 

  • Approximately 14% of the decline in teen pregnancy between 1995 and 2002 was due to teens’ delaying sex or having sex less often, while 86% was due to an increase in sexually experienced teens’ contraceptive use.

  • Despite the decline, the United States continues to have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the developed world—almost twice as high as those of England, Wales and Canada, and eight times as high as those of the Netherlands and Japan.

Okay, so we've established that teenagers have sex (shocker christians!).  And that sex results in pregnancy, which is often undesired amongst teenagers (gee, no shit).  And that the decline in unwanted pregnancies, and therefore the decline in abortions is due to better sex education, specifically regarding contraceptive use.  SEE THAT CHRISTIANS, YOU SHOULD WANT BETTER SEX EDUCATIONS BECAUSE IT RESULTS IN FEWER DEAD BABIES!  IN ADVOCATING ABSTINENCE ONLY SEX-ED, YOU ARE INDIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR DEAD BABIES!  HOW DOES THAT ONE FEEL?
Deep breath, now putting hard facts behind the stupidity.
  • By 2002, one-third of teens had not received any formal instruction about contraception.

  • More than one in five adolescents (21% of females and 24% of males) received abstinence education without receiving instruction about birth control in 2002, compared with 8–9% in 1995.  (This is one of the most fucking retarded things I've ever seen).

  • Between 1995 and 2002, the number of teens aged 15–17 who had ever engaged in sexual intercourse declined 10%.  (Your abstinence only sex-ed ISN'T FUCKING WORKING).

  • In 2002, only 62% of sexually experienced female teens had received instruction about contraception before they first had sex, compared with 72% in 1995.  (STOP KILLING BABIES, GOD DAMNIT)

  • In 1999, one in four sex education teachers taught abstinence as the only way to prevent pregnancy and STIs—a huge increase from 1988, when the fraction was just one in 50.  (ARGH!  WHY ARE WE GOING BACKWARDS?!)

  • More than nine in 10 teachers believe that students should be taught about contraception, but one in four are prohibited from doing so.

  • Eighty-two percent of adults support comprehensive sex education that teaches students about both abstinence and other methods of preventing pregnancy and STIs.  (And 18% are anti-abortion, but like watching babies die...apparently).

  • Currently, 35 states mandate either sex education or education about HIV/AIDS and other STIs, but their laws tend to be very general. Policies specifying the content of sex education are typically set at the local level.  (Only 35 fucking states, god damnit, what if only 35 states had to teach children basic hygeine?)

  • Eighty-six percent of the public school districts that have a policy to teach sex education require that abstinence be promoted. Some 35% require abstinence to be taught as the only option for unmarried people and either prohibit the discussion of contraception altogether or limit discussion to its ineffectiveness. The other 51% have a policy to teach abstinence as the preferred option for teens and permit discussion of contraception as an effective means of preventing pregnancy and STIs.
Yes, you're reading that right, 86% of schools promote a policy that amounts to willful ignorance.  Yes, 86% of schools think that the DUMBER you are about something, the BETTER OFF you will be.  How the fuck does this make any fucking sense to rational human beings?

Oh...right...

You think that last photo is in jest?  Well fuck you.
  • There are three federal programs dedicated to funding restrictive abstinence-only education: Section 510 of the Social Security Act, the Adolescent Family Life Act’s teen pregnancy prevention component and Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE). The total funding for these programs is $176 million for FY 2006.  (I should note that CBAE started in 2000 and gave federal funds to local organizations that promoted Abstinence-only sex-ed.  Thankfully, 25 states refuse the funding because they are not FUCKING retarded).

  • Federal law establishes a stringent eight-point definition of “abstinence-only education” that requires programs to teach that sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong and harmful—for people of any age. The law also prohibits programs from advocating contraceptive use or discussing contraceptive methods except to emphasize their failure rates.

  • There is currently no federal program dedicated to supporting comprehensive sex education that teaches young people about both abstinence and contraception.

  •  Despite years of evaluation in this area, there is no evidence to date that abstinence-only education delays teen sexual activity. Moreover, recent research shows that abstinence-only strategies may deter contraceptive use among sexually active teens, increasing their risk of unintended pregnancy and STIs.

  • Evidence shows that comprehensive sex education programs that provide information about both abstinence and contraception can help delay the onset of sexual activity among teens, reduce their number of sexual partners and increase contraceptive use when they become sexually active. These findings were underscored in “Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior,” issued by former Surgeon General David Satcher in June 2001.

Literally every piece of quantifiable data points to comprehensive sex education being beneficial in public schools.  Comprehensive sex education has been linked to a decrease in STIs, a decrease in teen pregnancies, and a decrease in teen abortions.  Furthermore, over 4/5ths of the country and 9/10ths of teachers support broader sex education.

And yet public schools everywhere skirt around the issue, or worse, teach abstinence only sex ed.  This is akin to giving a criminal a gun and just telling them not to use it.  It's pretty clear that a religious minority has hijacked our public schools and is responsible for a curriculum of sex education that runs contrary not only to the wishes of parents and educators, but contrary to the health of those it is supposed to benefit.

That's the kicker isn't it?  Those religious folks completely ignore the real goal, the benefit to their children, in favor of preserving some sense of morality within themselves.  They fear that in educating kids about sex, they are promoting an immoral lifestyle, when in reality they are simply giving them the tools to make good choices.

What is a parent's worst fear?  That their child will be harmed by having sex too early.  Studies place the average age of a loss of virginity in the United States between 16 and 17 years old, below the age of consent in many states.  In the Netherlands the average age of one's first sexual encounter is 17.7, a clear indication that knowledge doesn't corrupt, rather it encourages good decisions.  How are you supposed to make a conscious decision not to have sex if you don't know anything about it?

I'm a 23 year old male.  I've had five girlfriends starting when I was 17.  As you can tell by reading this blog, I am one of the most well read and well informed individuals when it comes to sex.  I've studied the findings of Alfred Kinsey, William Masters, Virginia Johnson, and learned from Sue Johansson.  I have an avid interest in the BDSM community.  Suffice it to say, I know a lot.

I'm also very open about sex.  I have no problem having a discussion about bondage, power exchange, pornography, masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, even homosexual sex, as many of my friends would attest.  I go by the moniker "Criminally Vu1gar" and could probably be described as a sexual deviant.

I also didn't lose my virginity until I was 21 years old and have only had sex with one girl.  I believe that abstinence is stupid, but that love is an essential part of sex.  I don't do hookups, friends with benefits, or fuck buddies.

The religious right can fight physiology and biology all it wants, and it will lose every single time.  Teenagers have the parts, and they have the desire.  No amount of IMitS (Invisible Man in the Sky) can take that away.  If the prevailing attitude continues to be a fear of knowledge, then the problems I have mentioned will remain exactly that, problems, and the rest of us will continue to be held hostage by their illogical and downright asinine beliefs.

And that is just sad.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Hockey Fight of the Week

Paul Gaustad vs. Tim Jackman

Leave Me the Fuck Alone: An Explanation of Introversion

Largely Inspired by This Article


Odds are if you know me and know me well, you'll realize that I am a very solitary person.  If you know me even better, you'll realize that in spite of this, I am not a particularly shy person.  That might boggle the mind of a few since those two traits are usually assumed to go hand in hand.  Loners are seen as anti-social losers that just need to "get over" their shyness.

My previous employer never understood this.  I worked at a desk in a cubicle in a building in a restricted (to the public) area.  Interaction, while still a necessary part of every day life, was not an essential job skill.  I was one of the nicest people there, always friendly and never in a bad mood.  Still during performance reviews, I was constantly told to be more engaging, to show more excitement.  That frustrated me to no end.  You can't ask someone to fundamentally alter their personality, and you can't ask them to express emotion in a way that more suits your perception of 'acceptable.'  To be perfectly blunt, that's just stupid.

Not My Life Anymore!

That's the kind of treatment that introverts face though, the stigma of being society's losers just because we prefer the company of ourselves or of a few close friends.  It's not all that surprising, after all, extroverts (as the article says) comprise 75% of the population.  We are in the minority, and it doesn't help that most human beings are almost completely unable to put themselves in the shoes of another person and understand their views and motivations as they apply to them.

If Only it Were That Easy...and Hot

It's especially annoying if you're a person (like myself) whose hobbies tend to produce a quiet, solitary atmosphere.  I catch shit for spending too much time alone and on the computer.  These complaints are mystifying to me.  I'm a fucking writer, what the hell am I supposed to do?  Take my laptop to Starbucks?  How is that any more acceptable?  Putting people around me doesn't change the fundamental aspects of my personality.  I'm still going to write and that is a solitary activity.

Actually now, I'm probably more social than I've ever been.  For the first time in my life, I'm comfortable hanging around with a group of people (thanks Sabres Junkie!).  I never pass up an opportunity to watch a Sabres game with friends over watching it alone, even if it involves driving two hours to Buffalo.  I went to Party in the Plaza twice last season.  Those that have known me a while know how strange it is to associate my name with the word 'party.'  Just don't favor that type of social interaction, but in this case it's a format that appeals to me.

The point is that being introverted and being sociable are not mutually exclusive.  Now you know...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Three Most Influential Educators in My Life

In No Particular Order

1). Sue Alexander - Ninth Grade English
Going through elementary and middle school, the book on me was pretty much that while I was strong in Math and Science, I was weak in English and History.  My highest overall grade in English to that point had been a 94.  In the four marking periods in Ms. Alexander's class I received a 99, 99, 94, and 99, and a 98 on the final.

I don't remember too much about English classes before Ms. Alexander's.  I remember being bored a lot, and never being particularly challenged or inspired.  Funny how with Ms. Alexander, a teacher widely regarded to be among the strictest, I never felt that sense of monotony.  I remember being introduced to Romeo and Juliet, and Truman Capote and Ray Bradbury and the fantastic posters she had adorning the walls about The Globe Theatre and Shakespeare.  I remember for the first time, absolutely knocking my writing assignments out of the park.

Ms. Alexander was the first English teacher I ever had to show me that not only was I a good writer, but I loved doing it.  If there is a sole reason that I began writing early in tenth grade, she is probably it.  She gave me a lot of leeway in class which I, as a creative person, appreciated.  Some assignments can be horribly stifling, especially expository ones when the writer tends towards penning fiction.  Yet I never felt that way in class.  I remember that we had to do a five page research paper on some facet of Shakespeare.  I believe mine ended up being eight or nine pages long.  And not only that, but holy crap, it was easy!

That feeling has stayed with me through the years.  From then on, all the way through college, I heard people bitch about writing assignments (especially as an engineering major).  Look, I have one book that's 236 pages, single spaced.  Another is 342 pages double spaced.  I have almost a hundred short stories, probably stretching over 500 pages, single spaced.  So...lab reports, optional ten page papers, Writing Across the Curriculum assignments, are these supposed to actually be difficult?

Thanks Ms. Alexander



2). Kate Flood - 12th Grade Contemporary Literature
Kate Flood is probably the funniest teacher I've ever had.  She let me do pretty much anything in class, up to and including homework for other classes.  There is nothing I respect more than a teacher that lets me be myself.

There's no real nice way to say this, but Contemporary Literature was the class taken by the Seniors who didn't want to do any real work their senior year because it was easy.  Thus I think the effort on a lot of assignments from the majority of the class was underwhelming.  I took two English classes my senior year, so I wasn't in Contemp-Lit to slack off (even though I did), I was there because I wanted to be.  And I wasn't disappointed.

There is a lot from this class that sticks with me, even six years later.  Ms. Flood had bar-none the most interesting curriculum of any class I've ever taken.  I feel that she encouraged her students to be individuals, and that reflected in the things that we did.  I'll never forget the unit we did on unconventional relationships, culminating in the viewing of one of my all-time favorite movies, Harold and Maude.  I mean, isn't every relationship unconventional?  It seems that way for me.  One of my closest friends for the past seven years is five years younger than me.  Most of my close friends were met on the internet, and the rest of my close friends are a few years older than me.

I think a lot of people hold back from showing the world who they are out of a fear of appearing weird.  Flood's class taught me to not only accept being extremely strange, but to celebrate it.  And I do.  All the freaking time.



3). Mary Doherty - 11th Grade Honors English, 12th Grade Mythology
Liked her so much I had her twice!  Ms. Doherty is probably the teacher I visited most after I finished high school.  She is and was an extremely nice person, and really went the extra mile in assisting students.  She simply seemed to care much more than other teachers, and it shined through in the way she taught.

I remember in eleventh grade she showed a friend and I the confidentiality agreement she had to sign upon accepting a job in Baldwinsville.  It had some pretty interesting Cold-War era language even though she began work in the mid nineties, long after the Russians were a huge issue.

For an honors class in which you expect to be challenged, she always seemed to make things easy on the students while still expecting them to raise their effort to match their intelligence.  In a year when I only had to take one English elective, I took two because I liked what Doherty brought as a teacher, and I was interested in the subject matter of Mythology.  I think that's the ultimate sign of respect to an educator, realizing that when you're done being taught, you're not ready to be done learning from them.