Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Creative Outburst

I've been working on making Mega Man 2 bad guys out of beads that you iron/melt together. Tonight I decided to document it- JR

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Re-branding Reeves

            Times they are a changing. I've been teaching for 7 years at my Alma Matter: Pleasant Grove High School. I've been blessed to teach the most fun subject as well: English! Every year I get the task of getting the sophomores adjusted to High School. My goal by the end of the year was to have them looking at high school as what it is...a rock in their path that keeps them from the exciting college aged years of their lives. My goal with my 12th graders was to kick start their lust for life by reading fun books and then going on field trips. We read the Hobbit, and then went to the Hobbit. We read "A River Runs Through it" and then I take them Fly Fishing.

            Overall I went from scared first year teacher to a fairly well accomplished teacher whose classes fill up first on registration days because of my popularity. My students score high on tests and ENJOY being in the classroom. I bounce around like a caffeinated hamster telling jokes and engaging the students so that they enjoy their high school English Class and hopefully take some life lessons from me as well as essay writing skills.

            Along the way I also picked up the responsibilities of being the Student Council Adviser. When I got in, the school spirit was low, and we only ran about 3 activities throughout the year: Homecoming, Angel Tree (Sub for Santa) and then a bunch of things in May. I successfully introduced a super scary Halloween party, the all night volleyball tournament, and my baby: Save Ferris. That might be my favorite thing I accomplished at this school. After attending multiple school dances as a chaperon I realized that the music was horrible and students could not/would not dance to it. So we did "Save Ferris" which was made up entirely of 80's music and took all of the proceeds to give to charity. Most of the songs played that night were on vinyl and it was SICK! I even had the Beatles' Twist and Shout to play in honor of Ferris Beuler's Day Off. You've never seen a more pumped up crowd.

           However life happens. I have 3 young boys and a little girl (help!) on the way in October. I was able to kind of make things work financially by working at PGHS during the day and then at Discovery Academy in Provo a couple of nights a week. Meanwhile my wife started some projects that turned into great financial opportunities and has needed more time to focus on them. She's awesome. I was never home, and when I was, she was working and it just didn't work anymore. Here I was with an administrative license that I earned painstakingly at BYU for 2 years and I had applied 3 times to get a job with the district...without even getting an interview.

           My Principal is the greatest guy you'll ever meet. He decided to hire me into the TAA (teacher on administrative assignment) position at the high school next year. The plus? I'm still at PGHS, the school I love, the people I mesh with. The Minus? I'm out of the classroom. The issue I'm dealing with now is that it's not just a switch of assignment, it's a situation where I need to re-brand. What is re-branding? Well in my wife's world of blogs and instagram accounts, it means that you had a name, a company, whatever, and it wasn't working so well, so you rename it and try it again. English teacher persona Justin will not work in the front office...not entirely.

          I'm about as light hearted a person as you'll ever meet. I crack jokes to make people smile. I crank rock music loudly in the morning to wake myself up and get energized. I get to use creativity on a daily basis to implement out of this world lesson plans that will challenge my students while keeping them engaged and happy. But light hearted energetic and funny doesn't mesh as well with my new position.  

         I'm about to re-brand myself as a much more serious, business version of myself, which I can totally do. When it's time to be serious I can be serious. I can work within the confines of propriety while at the same time using my skills to make a difference in the lives of students. For example: most of the kids who will be sent to my office will not be being sent there because they did good things and have stellar attendance. So "going to the principal's office" will suddenly be "going to my office." How will I act?

         I will use my skills of humor and attitude to calm down situations. I plan on starting every conversation with the embattled student in the chair across from my desk with, "so tell me about yourself." The best part of my teaching job has been changing kids' lives...I want that to carry on with what I'm about to do.

        Making bad puns in class can turn a tired sleepy class into a bunch of teens laughing and smiling...I doubt very highly that bad puns in principal meetings will have the same effect...same goes with meetings between myself and angry parents, and the same goes for meeting with large groups of professionals looking for stats and such. So I will have to hold back the humor, and that's fine...but what will that do to me?

       My biggest worry next year is that I'm going to get too serious and lose my "lust for life." I end so many class periods and so many days exhausted but with the biggest smile on my face...will it be the same next year after a long day at the office followed by supervision at a sporting event? I hope so. So here's what I'm going to do:

       I am going to try to recommit to being super creative outside of the job. Guess where I'm going to share all of this creativity? Here on my blog because man I used to be a great photographer. I was in A.P. Art and I just MADE things, you know what I mean? So my creative outlet will be here, feel free to drop by and check it out. I just may need the validation. I'll start working on a screenplay soon I hope. My dream is to be at least nominated for an academy award, that's not too lofty is it? Delusions of Grandeur? Or attainable dream?

       Though it sounds like I'm overly distraught about leaving teaching, know that I'm also equally excited to try my hand at the administration side of the equation. I think I'll be good. No, I know I'll be good. I've managed to be employee of the month at every job I've ever held, and I intend for that trend to continue. Watch out world, here I come.

Friday, April 24, 2015



Sunday, January 4, 2015

End of the year list 2014

2014 was a doozy. Quite frankly I'm fine leaving it behind. This year saw some amazing movies and albums released. I have a hard time ranking things because I often feel guilty for leaving things out. Hence there will be many honorable mentions.

Top 3 Films of the year:

For a self proclaimed geek, it was a pretty danged good year. Of course it will pale in comparison with 2015 where we get Fast and Furious 7, Jurassic Park 4, Avengers 2, and Star Wars 7....but we still had some winners this year. I've honestly not seen any of the Oscar contenders thus far so my film viewing this year will pretty much be just the films I saw in the theater. So here's my top 3 films and a few blurbs about the honorably mentions.

3rd Place: Edge of Tomorrow
I love me some good sci-fi, but too often the sci-fi movies that come out are stupid and R rated. This makes for low financial returns and a focus on the gore instead of the story. Enter Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in a really surprisingly well put together movie. It was much like Groundhog's Day, only instead of Bill Murray living every day in Pennsylvania, we get some really witty actors living and dying daily in a battle against alien organisms. I found that the best part of this movie turned out being the actors and their chemistry. A movie like this with other actors could have ruined it, but Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt were perfect together. The most underrated part of the film was Bill Paxton as the leader of a bunch of grunts in the military. He was hilarious and snarky, which for me made the movie. A perfect character, no matter how big or small, can make or break a movie. 

2nd Place: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
I went back and forth on this for a while. The number 2 and number 1 spot were hotly contested and I had to give this one 2nd place though if you asked me tomorrow I could easily put it to number 1. The first Captain American film was simple and in retrospect was really underwhelming, however because it was a period piece we need to treat it as what it was...and it was pretty good. As the Avengers and other comic book movies continue to dominate the box office it was easy to look at this April release as just another super hero flick that would make 200  million dollars and leave quietly. However if I had to label this movie, it wouldn't be as a "Super Hero Movie." It was a spy thriller  much akin to Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. The climax of the film was an incredible action sequence which had some of the best visuals I've ever seen in an epic fight scene. It was a smart movie, balanced with great performances by Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Redford. I bought this one on Blu-Ray the day it came out and have enjoyed going back through such a fun movie. 

1st Place: The Guardians of the Galaxy

As great as Winter Soldier was, there's no way I could top this movie. There are only a handful of movies that I have left the theater thinking, "that was a flawless film." Some of these include: Pirates of the Caribbean: the Curse of the Black Pearl, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Avengers, and other classics. This movie was the funniest film of the year as well as one of the best action pics ever I did see. I think this movie can be summed up by this: Pretend that Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and the A-Team had a baby. BANG! That's guardians of the galaxy. Vin Diesel's "I am Groot" lines were among the most memorable of the year. Rocket Raccoon as voiced by Bradley Cooper was flawless and the entire cast was given great lines that got a chuckle out of the audience. The 80's references combined with the fact that the soundtrack, made up entirely of oldies, hit the top of the charts, made this a must see as well as a must own. It was even the top grossing film of the year which is impressive. I loved it.

Honorable Mentions: X-men Days of the Future Past, The Hobbit: The Battle of the 5 Armies, Godzilla, Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit, Big Hero 6

Dishonorable Mentions: That stupid 300 sequel, Spiderman 2, Ninja Turtles

And now to Music....
K I'm super biased on this section and rightfully so, I'm not going to listen to something that I consider crap. The world is full of crappy music. These are the songs that are popular at 2 high school dances that I chaperon and by the third dance are no longer cool. Seriously, like this summer when everyone, myself included, thought that "I'm so Fancy" song by Iggy Azalia was really cool, but now it's SOOOO overplayed and done. I need music that sticks, and I found 3 albums/acts this year that I found to be incredibly interesting and of high quality.

3rd Place: Lorde: Pure Heroine. 
Thank goodness for Lorde. I have nothing against Katy Perry or T-Swift, I think both of those ladies or girls or whatever they are (I don't know, I'm 33 now, what do I call them?) put out great pop music that is a cut above the rest, but the radio becomes too saturated with that one poppy sound and once in a while it's nice to go elsewhere. Enter Lorde. Funny thing is, last year when that "Royals" song came out, I couldn't stand it, and I still don't like it. However, songs like, "Tennis Courts" and "Team" came around this summer and I really liked it.  I'm excited to see which direction she takes with her music, but her whole personae and vibe right now are pretty darned cool. Sometimes the bright poppy world needs a bit of edgy darkness thrown in the mix. There's a huge spectrum of emotions and too much focus on the "happy poppy people" grows bland. Good on her for going dark and being her crazy self.

2nd Place: 311: Stereolithic

I've been listening to 311 and attending their shows for years now. I believe that this summer was my 11th show overall. To be honest, the last 3-4 albums from 311 had their highlights, but overall they just didn't flow from track to track with greatness like "Music" or "The Blue Album" from years past. I guess this album caught me off guard because I figured it'd be another "2-3 good songs and the rest filler" kind of effort, but boy was I wrong. Track for Track this is the 3rd or 4th best album that 311 has ever put out, and that is saying a lot. In fact any fans of the band reading this would probably punch me in the throat and disagree with me but I don't care. I love it. The album reached perfection for me when I started hitting tracks found later on the album and I discovered "Friday Afternoon" "Simple True" and "Make it Rough." I think that Make it Rough was the nail in the coffin for me as far as this being a great album was concerned. At about 2 1/2 minutes in, they break into a really cool riff that makes me want to punch trough my window whenever I'm driving to my night job in Provo. I totally advise picking this album up. It was TERRIFIC live by the way. TERRIFIC!

1st Place: The Smashing Pumpkins: Monuments to an Elegy 
I know I know, big surprise that the guy who named his kid after the singer/songwriter from the Smashing Pumpkins just picked their latest album as his number one for the year. I have to be honest, even if they weren't my favorite, this would be my number 1 album of the year. There are only 9 tracks, which is very short for a Pumpkins album, but each one is SO good that it 's like I'm listening to 13-14 great tracks worth of quality. I read a lot into the fan pages and the opinions of those fans on facebook and on articles written about the band's recent release, and some people get it, some people don't. This album is in my opinion, as near flawless as a rock album can be. If your criteria for listening to rock and roll is, "there was a guitar and drums, so this qualifies as rock right? Am I cool now because I listen to rock?" then you have failed. Billy Corgan released the bands most recent drummer and brought in legendary rocker Tommy Lee to fill his shoes. The drums on this album dang near shatter my skull on some of the tracks. The first track: Tiberius, may be one of the best songs the Pumpkins have written in the last 10 years.
Every other track is full of so many highlights and interesting tones that I've listened to it at least 15 times in the last 3 weeks and I'm still finding little nuances and tones that I didn't catch the first time. They'll always be my favorite band and this album goes to show that regardless of how old the band gets, and how bad the music on the radio is today, Billy Corgan can still write really really really great rock songs.

I could write top 3 comic books, top 3 tv shows, top 3 sports thingies, but you know what? I'm tired. Bed time. Lates- JR

Monday, September 29, 2014

Book Character Pop Songs Assignment

I used to blog, and blog often. Has not been the case since I found out I can just tweet my thoughts and people would respond more. But this is gonna be over 140 characters so...gotta blog it.

In my English classes at the high school I have assigned students to relate the lyrics of a pop song to one of the characters in the book they are currently reading.

I've decided to write on   Lesley Gore's 1963 classic "You Don't Own Me" as it relates to "Tris" from the Divergent Series. Now granted I haven't finished the series...and I may have skipped the first book and watched the movie instead...but I'm getting this. So here are the lyrics:

You don't own me
I'm not just one of your many toys
You don't own me
Don't say I can't go with other boys

And don't tell me what to do
And don't tell me what to say
And please, when I go out with you,
Don't put me on display 'cause

You don't own me
Don't try to change me in any way
You don't own me
Don't tie me down 'cause I'd never stay

I don't tell you what to say
I don't tell you what to do
So, just let me be myself
That's all I ask of you

I'm young and I love to be young
I'm free and I love to be free
To live my life the way I want,
To say and do whatever I please

And don't tell me what to do
Oh, don't tell me what to say
And please, when I go out with you,
Don't put me on display

I don't tell you what to say,
Oh, don't tell you what to do
So, just let me be myself
That's all I ask of you

I'm young and I love to be young
I'm free and I love to be free
To live my life the way I want

So how does this relate to our friend "Tris?" 
Well, Tris as you may know, is a Divergent. This means that in her dystopian world setting, she doesn't fit into one of the 4 or 5 class molds that people have to choose from. So as this novel borrows a "Girl Power Killing People" page from the Hunger Games series, we have ourselves a super butt kicking female protagonist who desires to challenge authority whenever possible. When she is faced with the decision of which faction to join, she is supposed to choose "abnegation" (as per her family's tradition) but instead decides to break free and go with the more dangerous "Dauntless" class. "You don't own me I'm not just one of your many toys" says the song. She felt like a toy because she felt used by the government and the system that placed people where it felt they should be, instead of where they felt they belonged.
             Whereas Dauntless is the faction whose main responsibility is to defend the civilization from dangers without the gates...it would seem to be the obvious male job (as per historic norms) but in this case the girls are taken just as easily as the boys. "You don't own me, Don't say I can't go with other boys."  The original song is talking about being treated as property by overly possessive guys. I feel like this relates to Tris as she balances her relationship with authority. In Dauntless we see her fighting back against other Dauntless recruits, but later we see her rebel as a Divergent against all factions and a government who attempts to control those within the faction. 
              In the second book, there are multiple occasions where Tris' boyfriend/love interest, Tobias (Four), asks her to NOT engage in certain activities. By my count he's asked her 3 separate times to stay back when a dangerous mission or opportunity presents itself. ALL 3 times she's...well...I don't want to say disobeyed because she's under no obligation to "obey" the man...but she has gone against his wishes and put herself in danger. "You don't own me, Don't try to change me in any way, You don't own me, Don't tie me down 'cause I'd never stay." That's right, she'd never stay. She always does her own thing, and it frustrates Tobias. In this case Tobias represents the old way of thinking in a male dominated society. However, the great thing about dystopian novels, is that you can throw out any sense of normal historical social structures and make up your own norm.
                Really that's the point of dystopian novels though isn't it? You come up with this wildly outrageous society with weird rules that we would find archaic or unfair and then use that vehicle to point out flaws in our own society. I believe that Hunger Games portrays a strong message about class warfare in America, while the Divergent books are trying to discuss breaking the roles we find ourselves molding to because of past traditions. 
             "I'm young and I love to be young, I'm free and I love to be free, To live my life the way I want,
To say and do whatever I please."  Tris is young, and she enjoys her youth. She's free because she is divergent and doesn't have to be shackled down to any faction. She declares that she is living her life the way that she wants in every action that she takes...she does and says whatever she pleases.  The author, in my opinion, is trying to send the message to Young Adults everywhere that they are not stuck in the path that their parents or tradition has set for them. If a boy wants to be a cheerleader, awesome. If a girl wants to join the military, super. The roles that have been defined for so many for so long are starting to blur...and our Divergent minds, much like Tris' are keeping us open to the options that we desire. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Jane Eyre Girl...hahaha

I found these clips from the 1944 Jane Eyre hilarious...so I spliced em together. Enjoy "Stupid Girl."