Wednesday, December 29

Lutheran High North Sign-Gate Controversy!

If you have driven by Lutheran High School North recently, you may have noticed a new sign planted on the outside of the fence. While I was made aware of this change by an elusive tweeter/former blogger (Aflu4President), I shrugged it off as no big deal. Its a sign, who cares. But apparently this is not the case, as a raging debate has arisen. Two sides of the argument have been born out of this issue, resulting in a dispute that will ultimately tear apart a nation (possibly). Welcome to Lutheran North Sign-Gate 2010-2011.

One side of the argument loves the new sign. They claim it was a needed improvement over the old letter card design that stood outside of the school for years. They like how the brown colored metal matches the brick on the exterior of the building and hails back the early, brown and gold days of the past. The electronic letters allow for easy changes to the message, as well as a scrolling marquee. Also, supporters point out that vandals can no longer create their own “special” messages with the old changeable plastic letters. One would even say the supporters would give the sign two enthusiastic thumbs up.

The other side of the argument vehemently opposes the changes. In fact, they are about to round up the troops and yank it right out its moorings They say that the brown sign does not match the current color scheme of the school (black and gold). LHN changed to their current colors in the mid 1990s. The naysayers say “nay,” and also conclude that this sign would fit in at a time when the student body was tight rolling their pants and rocking mullets, but not today. They also note that the sign’s actual letters are hard to read, as they are reportedly too small and move too fast. Apparently reading paragraphs of information while driving 55 MPH is not an easy task (I can do it). They also point out that some of the letters and even the Mustang logos have fallen off and disappeared into the oblivion of 24 Mile Road. There are also whispers that the money for the sign could be put to better use. Maybe spend a few extra dollars to raise the heat a few degrees? Or pay off a few Cam Newtons to get the Mustangs beyond round two of the football playoffs? Or even buy an updated mascot, replacing Musty, the ridiculous half horse-face, half human-face laughingstock of the Catholic League. But they digress.

So what do you think? Was the sign a needed improvement? Or was it an ugly, tragic waste of funds? Did you even notice the sign? Let your opinion be heard in the poll on the top of the right hand column, or leave a comment detailing your thoughts on this pressing issue.

And speaking of sign-gate controversies, good job Seminole Elementary School, on the use of your electronic sign that has been flashing error messages since November. Great use of my tax dollars.

Thursday, December 16

SwimmersItch Top Albums of 2010

So 2010 was an interesting year for me. For the first time, I really tried to branch out of my musical comfort zone. I began listening to a wider spectrum of music. Yet, when compiling this list I realized that I am still firmly planted in my pop-rock roots that were formed in eighth grade listening Yelllowcard's Ocean Avenue. Yes, I am not afraid to admit that I am still a sucker for a catchy pop-punk song. As much as I want to give new genres of music a chance, I can't place them over the plethora of bands within that familiar power chord family of music. So here is my list of the best albums of 2010, whether you like it or not. Haters gonna hate.

10. Believe ItMercy Mercedes-There is good pop-punk, and then there is sugar coated, auto-tuned, neon crap called bad pop-punk. Mercy Mercedes used to be in that latter category, but this time, they came up with a great overall record, minus the fluffiness. Super catchy hooks, paired with decent song writing and an air of seriousness kept this album in my Zune's rotation. Best Songs: Only You, Ways to Go

9. Dancing with a Ghost, Valencia- Here is another band doing pop-punk right. They apprached it from a serious side, and the result was a solid album, full of meaningful songs with huge hooks. The vocals are great, with emotion dripping from every line. Each song sounded unique, which is rare in this genre. Best Songs: Consider Me Dead, Somewhere I Belong
Black & White
8. Black and White, The Maine. This band reinvented itself, and ignored it's past which focused on lyrics specially made for 14 year-old girls. This time, they came up a with classic rock sound that set it apart from the competition. They had probably the catchiest album of the year, and showed signs of maturity in both lyrics and musicianship. Best Songs: Growing Up, Right Girl

7. My Dinosaur Life, Motion City Soundtrack- I love albums that have significance behind them, and this was the prime example, as lead singer Justin Pierre made Dinosaur Life (a reference to his past) after overcoming a drug addiction. The result is a meaningful album, full of creative lyrics and catchy choruses. The band didn't forget it's roots and still managed to fit in a lighter, goofy side we have come to expect from Motion City. Best Songs: A Little Less Ordinary Life (Need a Little Help), Her Words Destroyed My Planet, Disappear

Thousand Suns6. A Thousand Suns, Linkin Park- Probably the most polarizing album of the year. I happened to love it, and I think they figured out how to be a band in a post nu-metal world. They actually sounded like a conformable rock band, not a band still dwelling in their DJ scratching, rap days of the past. There is a wide variety of songs that help to keep the album fresh, and the vocals are stellar. They clearly tried to push themselves creatively, and managed to pull it off. The only complaint I have is the speeches between the songs. I want music, not political commentary. Best Songs: Waiting for the End, Iridescent, Wretches and Kings

5. What Separates Me from You, A Day to Remember- What once was a br00t@l popcore band took a decidedly mainstream turn with their latest album. The result is a fast paced, hard hitting and passionate album that isn't afraid to mix breakdowns with catchy lyrics. Lead singer Jeremy McKinnon's graveley vocals show surprising range, and is enough for me to tolerate (skip) the screaming and enjoy the rest of the album. Best Songs: Better Off This Way, All Signs Point to Lauderdale

Cardiology4. Cardiology, Good Charlotte- Before this album, I hated what this band had become. They used to sing about their dislike of airy celebrities, then they became celebs themselves. The couldn't seem to recapture the success of the past when they put out their last album, which was total crap. So for this album to impress me, after I came in expecting terrible results, was pretty surprising. In fact, it is the best pop-punk album of the year, hands down. It is full of clean sounding instruments and vocals, as well as great songs that go beyond girls not liking boys, just cars and money. Best Songs: Right Where I Belong, Standing Ovation, 1979, Let the Music Play

3. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West- Say what you will about his personal life, the dude can make good songs. This isn't a rap album, but a music album. No other rappers would dare feature Bon Iver or Seal on their songs, let alone the plethora of A list guests on the tracks. I think it isn't quite a good as the hype, but overall a great album. It is a mesh of art and music, and something completely different than your typical Soldier Boy ringtone album. Best Songs: Dark Fantasy, All of the Lights, Lost in the World

Dark Is the Way: Light Is a Place2. Dark is the Way, Light is a Place, Anberlin- I didn't get the hype on the last album, but this one makes me understand it all. Anberlin can not only make personal, emotional songs, they just proved they can make towering, stadium-rock anthems. The album is carefully arranged, and takes a good set of headphones and a sharp ear to dissect all of the different layers to the rich songs. Stephen Christian has the most unique voice in rock today, and he uses it to the fullest in this installment.  Best Songs: The Art of War, You Belong Here, Impossible

1. LOVE, Angels and Airwaves- When my all time favorite band releases an album for free, I have to put it as number one, right? The album is an incredible musical roller coaster that begins with the soaring Flight of Apollo and Young London, then levels out with smooth tracks like Shove and Clever Love. Listening to the songs make you want to go outside and conquer the world, or at least run a mile or two. Its extended intros build suspense and its transitions guide the listener right into the next song. In fact, playing the album in one continuous, non shuffled form reveals that almost all the songs are connected and lead into one another. Angels and Airwaves have mastered that "goosebump" factor I have come to enjoy in their music, as well as the positive and forward thinking lyrics. And did I mention it is free? Best Songs: The Flight of Apollo, Young London, Shove, Soul Survivor (...2010), and every other song on the record.

Honorable Mention:
Speak Now, Taylor Swift
The Adventures of Bobby Ray, B.O.B.
Of Men and Angels, The Rocket Summer

Stay tuned for the top songs of 2010. And Alejandro is not one of them.

Monday, December 6

Actual birth caught on Google Earth

So Google has been driving around in ridiculous looking trucks, taking pictures of buildings for its Streetview feature, which obviously lets you view the street. So in their roaming, they managed to capture someone's first seconds on planet earth. Right in the street. I've always been fascinated with Google's satellite view, which has led to plans for a giant sign on the top of my roof, or a specific pattern mowed into the lawn. The big problem is the timing. You never know when Google is going to fly over or drive by, making an elaborate moment impossible. But not for this kid. No, he managed to get one of the most incredible moments in his life captured by a van with a camera traveling at about 25 MPH. My street isn't even on Streeview, and my apartment complex isn't even built yet on Google Maps, yet this kid's birth is captured for all to see. Bravo, kid with good timing. Click the picture to get a better view.

By Aaron Brandt, fetus turned blogger. 

PS-check out my newest video and join the fan page on Facebook

Thursday, December 2

Aaron's Christmas List!

Christmas time is upon us. I am currently in my room looking out over a snow covered parking lot, drinking hot chocolate and listening to some Vince Guaraldi Trio Christmas jams. Ahh the good life. As I get older, there are fewer items on my Christmas list. In fact, this year I would be satisfied with one item, and one item alone. The Playmobil Security Checkpoint could be the greatest toy ever invented. Nothing says childhood fun like a plastic pat-down. Notice the racial profiling, as the scarf-wearing Arabic man is subject to cruel and unusual punishment by the TSA. I don't ask you readers for much, but if someone wants to give this to me, then send me an email and I'll get a mailing address ASAP.
The longer you wait, the more people buy plastic one way tickets from the Playmobil Airport in the Middle East to the Playmobil Airport in Detroit with no plastic luggage or plastic money and try to blow up our Playmobil Jet Plane. What's that you say? The security measures even didn't work? He got through this security checkpoint with a bomb anyway? Uh oh, looks like Playmobil needs to come up with a full body scanner toy, complete with a back room for private pat-downs. Of course that will lead to the need for a Playmobil court to settle all of those lawsuits. Anyway, this toy offers hours of fun, and denying it to any child is a crime, punishable by one year in Playmobil Abu Ghraib.

PS- I also accept cash donations as gifts (large bills only).

By Aaron Brandt, who has flown three times; twice in a plane and once in a space shuttle simulator.