Sunday, November 27, 2011

Blackstar v.s. Vox

 Blackstar, or Vox. This sentence fragment has been my mindless debate for about a day now, and I think I have finally come to a conclusion.  In case you have been wondering, Blackstar and Vox are two different kinds of guitar amplifiers (the speakers that the guitar is plugged into), but in the business, we call them amps. I had been playing my guitar through a Line 6 amp, but judging by its deteriorating cheap sound, it was time to move on. After a couple of days of searching for a new amp, I found the Vox in guitar center. It sounded great and I was all ready to settle for it (despite its high price) when my dad found a Blackstar. They both sounded great, yet both had their flaws. Before I delve into their pros and cons, I should first explain the scale I used to weigh them. I figured that as far as the guitar sounds I play go, they could be divided into four categories. Those categories were Clean, Blues, Rock, and Metal. The Vox seemed like the better amp, it had an amazing, chime-like, dominating, perfect clean sound. With a distortion pedal it could make an amazing blues sound. For playing clean and bluesy music, the Vox would be wonderful, amazing, and even perfect. The problem came when I turned up the distortion. Adding distortion is generally how I get a more rocking sound. Sadly, the Vox just couldn't handle it. Blues was as rocking as this amp could get. Then I switched my guitar to the Blackstar. This amp had a great clean and a great blues sound, but those were no contest to the wonderful vibrations of the Vox. Then I turned up the distortion...
The waves of rocking chords emitting from the amp almost knocked me down! This amp definitely could rock, jam, and blast me away with metal. So the Vox dominated the lower levels, but the Blackstar dominated heavier sounds. I thought a bit...
I play more of the heavier sounds, plain and simple, so Blackstar wins there. Also, the Blackstar's clean and Blues sounds were fine, while the Vox's rock and metal sounds were terrible, so Blackstar wins there. The list goes on. Blackstar is lighter, cheaper, and doesn't need petals like the Vox does. It looks like the debate is over. I will now be playing guitar through a Blackstar amp!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I saw Breaking Dawn part 1

                I have heard many different people give many different opinions about The Twilight Saga, a book and movie series. Most males that I have talked to about the series (dare I say all?) have said that they hate the series, and that "Twilight sucks!"  Through inquiry I have found that most of these males have never read any of the books, and never seen any of the movies.
                Last Friday, I decided to see a Twilight movie, and judge it by my own standards, so that I wouldn't simply be conforming to the uneducated opinions of my peers. When I was first in the theatre to see Breaking Dawn Part 1, on the opening day, I quickly scanned the theatre for other males, I found two (three counting me). The theatre was almost packed with girls, proving that teenage girls truly are the target audience. I went in with high expectations. This movie has been much anticipated, and girls were itching to buy tickets. I figured that with all the work that went into this film, it must be decent. I pioneered before all of my peers, who hated twilight without ever reading the books or seeing the films, by going into that theatre with an open mind.
                After viewing, I can now honestly say that it was one of the WORST movies that I have ever seen! It was awful. I would never recommend this movie to anybody. It was badly written, badly directed, and badly acted. The plot was very unrealistic (looking past the vampires and werewolves, the movie was still unrealistic) and the directing made the movie appear to be photo shopped. The actors for the most part were not convincing. The one exception however, was Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan, the main protagonist. She did a remarkable job of portraying the turmoil that her character had to go through. I was very convinced by Stewarts acting.
                My last complaint, besides the movie's overall non-convincing production, is its rating. It was rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America. This was very misleading in my opinion. If I was rating this movie I would rate it R. In an attempt to not ruin the plot for anyone who plans to see the movie, I will only say that there was a scene of intense disturbance, and implied torture. The scene was unsettling to the point where I was genuinely surprised that audience members weren't fainting. There was also a huge glorification of teenage sex. If someone of the age 13 went into the theatre, they would see blood and gore and implied agony that could legitimately make someone faint. Not to mention the scenes of sex that took up a significant portion of time in the movie. Besides that, most actors did a disappointing job and the directing made everything look unnatural, like they shot everything separately and edited them together. I feel like I have finally proven to myself the previously uneducated assumption that Twilight is terrible.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The intentions and practices of Title IX

"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance...". This is the purpose of Title IX, a law created to prevent sexism in activities through schools, especially sports. This law however, is not perfect. I have been trying to convince my cousin, a freshman at Wheeling High school, to do gymnastics. Eventually my persuasion got to him, and he looked into joining his schools team. To his surprise, and my astonishment, he found that Wheeling High school only has a girl's gymnastics team (select a sport). Title IX was made to help women athletes, but in the process it has left behind many male athletes participating in "lesser" sports. Besides leaving them behind, it has even caused new problems for many male athletes. Jacob Torok, a swimmer of 15 years, transferred from the University of New Hampshire to James Madison University (JMU) when the first school's swim team was cut. This trully became a tragedy when JMU cut its swim team aswell. Many Universities, including JMU, have cut men's teams for the sake of Title IX. JMU has cut nine sports, predominately male, to comply with Title IX. Though the intentions of Title IX, to even out men and women's athletic opportunities, are good; the practice of Title IX is the problem. Many males are left behind, and even cheated by Title IX. In its efforts to even out the playing field for women, it has forsaken the men. Boys such as my cousin in Wheeling high are forgotten by the gymnastics program and people like Jacob Torok of JMU are having their sports cut. Something has to be done.
James Madison University students protesting when men's swimming was cut in 2007 (photo courtesy of Jacob Torok).
JMU students protesting the cuts

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Student Pressure

People blog for many different reasons, but the most common are that the blogger either believes that what they have to say is something the world needs to know, or they believe they can't continue to have their thought's trapped in their head. There is an issue that not only has been nagging at my brain, begging to be let out, but is an important thing for people in all positions to consider. This issue is workload. There is a common, yet dare I say false, thought that many people around the world share. It is the idea that if you don't work yourself until you can't work anymore, then you are lazy and not to be respected. In school, students are constantly being preached to that they need to be in honors classes, they need to get straight As, they need to do three sports a year and they need to be involved in every activity possible. Seven hours a day is not enough time for a student to learn, they need to continue their studies on their own time as homework, but what time is there for that? If the student is behaving as they should they should be getting home from their sport at maybe 6, or even later. They are then pressured to not only finish their assignments, all assigned from teachers who subconsciously expect their pupils to dedicate every last second on the subject that they feel is so important that they are to dedicate their lives to passing on their knowledge of it, but they need to do as good of a job as anyone else who is so passionate of the subject. These students are also pressured by their parents and peers, each of which wants to spend social time with them. The teachers, the coaches, the parents, the peers, everyone is trying to have the most influence on these students, but there are only twenty four hours in a day. Nine of those hours are supposed to be spent asleep, but there is just no time for that. These pupils are given a multitude of ridiculous tasks to complete in an unreasonable amount off time with the success of a professional. Their every move is monitored to be used against them when planning out their future opportunities. To any students reading this post, don't go crazy. Don't spend every waking hour working, and get sleep. But also remember that work pays off when not overdone. To anyone with power over students reading this, remember the pressures and keep that in mind. You can't expect more than what's reasonable.  
Barometer from Robert E. White Instruments, Inc