A Tribute to Roger Snow

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Photo/Obituary Published by Maine Sunday Telegram

Photo/Obituary Published by Maine Sunday Telegram

There are very few teachers during my years in school that had such an impact in a couple of aspects of my life as Roger Snow did.  Posted above is his obituary as it appeared in the Maine Sunday Telegram this week.

 

His passion for his craft exceeded anything that I ever saw from anyone.

 

It is difficult to call him a real teacher because he traveled amongst the different schools here in South Portland, Maine to spread his talents of teaching others the fine art of music.

 

When I was in the 5th grade, I wanted to learn a musical instrument.  So my parents and I went to my cousin’s music shop to look for an instrument.  My thoughts were that I really didn’t want to have any instrument that I had to blow because I usually had a shortness of breath so this type of instrument was out of the question.

 

So my choices were limited to something like the piano or violin.  Since my parents could not afford a piano and it would be heavy to bring to school, I decided on the violin.  The violin that my parents purchased was new and it cost about $500.  After shelling out that much money for the instrument, they could not really afford to purchase a new case which would have set them back a couple more hundred.  So I ended up buying a used and sort of rough-looking case.  It didn’t look great and was a little discolored but it served its purpose.

 

I used a DYMO label maker to put a label with my name and address on the case so it could be returned if ever lost.  Ironically that label has lasted many years later.  Unfortunately, my violin career hasn’t lasted that long.

 

I was one of two people at my elementary school who were interested in playing the violin, me and a girl.  As it turned out, her affection for the instrument varied and she would not show up for the practice sessions set up by Mr. Snow, our teacher.

 

I practiced the violin for about an hour everyday trying to learn the notes and songs from the songbook which was provided to me.  The learning of the notes was extremely difficult for me as I could not read music that well.

 

However, Mr. Snow was persistent that I could learn to read the notes even if I had to write down every translation below the bars in the book.  That, unfortunately, is exactly what I had to do.  Mr. Snow did not care if I did that because he felt that it was the best way to learn.  Unfortunately for me, I did this all the time throughout my short but beneficial musical career.

 

My high point of my musical career came at the 6th grade Christmas school program.   The girl who was supposed to perform with me was no-show.  So a decision had to be made:  would I perform alone or not perform at all.

 

Mr. Snow came to the rescue.

He encouraged me to go out and face the audience and perform what I had long been practicing.  I could feel the sweat dripping down my back as all of a sudden I felt the tie I was wearing suddenly tightened like a noose around my neck.

 

So Mr. Snow and I walked out onto the gymnasium floor together, where we started performing together.  Shortly he would stop, leaving me to continue the songs by myself.  I was still nervous even though he was sitting beside me.  After performing my 3 Christmas songs, Mr. Snow prompted me to stand up and take a bow. The crowd had given me a standing ovation.  Nervously I held my instrument with bow in one hand and violin in the other and bent over like I was going to have a stroke or something worse.  At this point, I could not wait to leave the floor and go out into the entry way.  Mr. Snow congratulated me on a job well done and I watched the remainder of the show from in the back of the room.

 

This night was probably the high point in my entire musical career.  Correction, this was the high point as things sort of went downhill from here.  The girl never returned to violin class ever again after this particular night.  So I spent the rest of the year alone in this class.

 

When I got into junior high school (7th grade), I was not alone.  There was one other boy, Michael, and 3 girls in the violin class.  Michael was not a great student, but he excelled at the violin.  As a group, Michael led us when we needed help because he had been playing the violin for several years and was a couple of years older than the rest of us.  His passion along with the passion of Mr. Snow  made our time very enjoyable over the next year and we performed well together during all the junior high programs that we were invited to.

 

Then came 8th grade and for some reason Mr. Snow was removed from the South Portland school music department.  It was never known if he retired or if he was forced out of the department.  This was the worst thing that could have happened to us.

 

His replacement wanted to transform Mr. Snow’s orchestra into the new head’s band.  What this meant was that the violin section would be history.  We had a choice: pick up a new instrument or leave altogether.  However, Michael would have none of that.  He led a protest to keep the violin section and keep the whole group as an orchestra.

 

Michael’s passion led to failure and unfortunately for the 5 of us, we were shown the door.  It took a few weeks before the final decision to oust us happen but when it did, Michael took it the worst.  He became so distraught over the whole situation that he dropped out of school and allegedly got hooked on drugs.  As far as I knew, he never went back to school becoming a victim of the ignorance of the school department.  I saw Michael a few years ago and he seemed to be off drugs and much more mellow, but he looked much different and appeared to finally be at peace with the world and himself.

 

However, the real question for those of us who cared was what happened to Mr. Snow.  Rumors circulated that he was fired; others said he was forced out, and others thought he just retired.  My violin ended up getting retired living in the storage space in my parent’s garage.  It has not been opened in many years so I don’t know the condition of the instrument, but I have no intention on selling it.

 

That question would always remain unanswered for me, but his disappearance would not be long as during high school in 10th grade he made reappearance in my life.

 

During my sophomore year in high school, when I had the first chance, I decided to take the driver’s education course offered in the school.  Since the course was held at the school, we all were sitting there on the first day anxious to find out who the teacher was.  To my surprise, and the surprise of others, the teacher was Mr. Snow, the music teacher who inspired my musical aspirations.

 

He was a great teacher of driver’s training, but when it came to actually getting behind the wheel of a car that became a different story for some.  I remember the car being a bright red Chrysler K car, a popular type of front-wheel drive car of its day.  The car clearly was labeled a driver’s education car with a big sticker on both front doors and on the trunk.  The label had the Chrysler logo on it with the words “STUDENT DRIVER” clearly written on it.

 

For me, it should have said “LOOKOUT CRAZY LOON ON BOARD”.  Given that Mr. Snow took out 4 students per day for their driving lesson, my day was always met with the same sort of sweat that haunted me years earlier at the solo Christmas concert back in elementary school.

 

My first time behind the wheel, the vehicle was parked near a cliff overlooking Sebago Lake.  Naturally, the first thing I did was to put the car into drive and almost sent the car over the cliff.  Thankfully, Mr. Snow had a brake pedal on his side of the car to stop me from making him, me and the others a stupid lesson on how not to drive and end all of our lives in a heartbeat.

 

Over the next few weeks, each of the four of us, were allowed about a half hour of drive time so we were together in the car for about 2 hours a week.  While everyone else in our group progressed rather well, I still struggled with the whole driving thing.

 

However, Mr. Snow was persistent in seeing me succeed as I did in music class.  When the course ended, everyone else was ready to take their driver’s test, but Mr. Snow did not want to see me fail.

 

Since he had the driver’s education car for another few weeks, he decided to give me additional lessons free to give me more time behind the wheel.  This extra time made a huge difference as this extra training along with the time my father gave me driving his car allowed me to pass my driver’s test in the first try.  I was extremely proud and happy that Mr. Snow did this much to help me succeed for a second time in my life.  Also, the Chrysler K car survived with all the bumpers and 4 wheels still on it.

 

He went above and beyond anyone in wanting to help me.  I think he would have done this for anyone who needed the help.  It was just part of his nature.  However, I believe that anyone who would do something without pay just shows his dedication to his craft.  He had the drive to make anyone succeed whether behind the wheel or behind a musical instrument.  (Writer’s note:  Sorry about that pun I could not resist.)

 

In the years that followed, I only saw Mr. Snow a couple of times when I worked at the mall.  He pretty much kept a fairly private life despite having such a talented existence.  Maybe that is why he was so great, he knew when to stay out of the limelight and let others get the glory.

 

But here in this blog post, I felt it was time that he got the glory that he long deserved.  Unfortunately, I had to write it as an obituary tribute rather than as a lifelong tribute to someone who always went that extra mile.  (Writer’s note:  Sorry about that one too.)

 

When I decided to write this, I wanted to find a current picture of Mr. Snow to put into this post, but I could not find one.  Since my old yearbooks were not accessible, the only picture that I have is an old picture of someone at the beginning of their career rather than the older white-haired gentleman that I knew all those years.  Either way, he had a long honorable life and always had my respect.

 

Rest in peace, Mr. Snow.  I know someone up there wants to hear you play one of your many instruments that you played so well.  You will never be forgotten especially every time I get behind the wheel of my car.  Just as long as I don’t ever find that cliff and forget which way to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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No Beyonce for You at Target

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If you have not heard, Beyoncé has a new album out.

 

Just don’t look for it at your favorite local store.

 

At least not until this Friday.

 

This is when her self-titled CD will be released tentatively.

 

Just don’t look for it at your local Target store though.

 

According to the company, they don’t want to be part of a cd that has already sold over a half-million copies on iTunes.

 

Can you blame them?

 

Less than a week before Christmas and this cd drops out of nowhere with no advanced notice whatsoever.  Certainly not the kind of business anybody wants this close to the holiday.

 

So what is the REAL reason that the company isn’t going to carry this cd?

 

I believe that Target likes to have exclusives to the CDs that they sell so selling this one as a non-exclusive would not be in their best interest. After all, what company would not want to make extra money for extras such as bonus songs, bonus CD/DVD, collectable packaging or some other gimmick?

 

Just look at most of the new releases that have occurred in the last month.  Most all of them have had exclusives to Target giving them an edge in selling a special product.

 

Chances are that every store will sell the cd at pretty much the same price.  This gives nobody the advantage and being so close to the end of the year, no company wants to be stuck with inventory that they can’t sell and will have to count after the new year.

 

Consider, also the greed by both Beyoncé and her record company for wanting to swoop in at the last minute and steal sales away from other recent releases.  Nothing says love to your favorite artist than cutthroat marketing.

 

Finally, there is the issue of too much of a crowded field of CDs already out there.  There have been way too many releases in the last few months and some have been sold out for weeks with no chance of restocking before the holidays.  Customers won’t settle for something else when what they is sold out.

 

My recommendation:  leave this CD alone until after the new year when it will probably be cheaper and chances are that a special edition will be released later in the year by some chain.  As a non-fan of her, this is a recommendation from someone who likes their physical media.  This one just isn’t the one.

 

 

Please note:

 

This is the last posting for this year.  I will return the first week of January with a brand new posting (if all goes well).  For you date counters out there, that means approximately 3 weeks from now I will return

 

Until then, remember have a safe and happy holiday season or if you don’t celebrate the holidays, make one up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday Night Dies Hard

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For the second week in a row, I decided to watch Saturday Night Live.  Unfortunately, it was the worst 1 ½ hours I have spent in a long time.

 

I didn’t watch this episode for seeing Bruce Willis fumble around unfunny skits, I tuned into seeing Katy Perry perform her latest hit “Roar”.  Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed with that, but I wish I could say the rest of the show could have equaled what Katy did.  Compared to Miley Cyrus last week, Katy’s performances on the show were much more expansive and she was much less dressed than Miley was the week before.  However, Katy stole the show from Bruce.  She really should have done this show without him because she was nowhere to be found in any of the sketches as far as I could tell.

 

The only funny sketch in this episode was the “Boy Dance” bit.  Beyond that nothing was really funny except the opening sketch involving Bruce being an astronaut trapped by NASA government shutdown.  A second astronaut skit was not only not funny, but was simply dull as was much of this episode.

 

It seems to me that SNL is losing its mojo.  The skits aren’t funny even though they have funny people on the show and talented singers which can and could also act as well.  So why is this show failing so much?

 

I think it is that the cast just hasn’t gelled together.  Add to this some very poor writing and it all spells disaster.  Can this show be saved?  While it is still early in the season, it is not known yet who future guests will be, but I suggest that scripts be written to fit the person on the show instead of generic skits that just fail.

 

This week Katy was a winner and Bruce died hard on Saturday night.  Sounds like a great movie sequel to me.  Or not.

 

My score:  1 (Bruce Willis) / 8 (Katy Perry)

 

Summary:  Girl singers rule!  Unfortunately, Bruce was not funny, which stands to understand why he hasn’t hosted in over 20 years.  I saw what could be “Weekend at Bernie’s III:  The Die Hard Edition”.  It really was that bad.

 

2 Cool Disney Shows to Beat the Heat

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Last week, I took the week off because of the heat.  However that did not mean that there wasn’t some cool entertainment on TV provided by Disney Channel.  In fact, 2 cool shows to be exact.

 

Last weekend started with the premiere of “Teen Beach Movie”.  First off I want to say that this movie actually didn’t suck unlike much of the kinds of movies that both Disney and Nickelodeon have been known for lately.  In fact, I would put this movie in the same sort of category as Disney’s last big movie “High School Musical”.  In fact, I actually enjoyed this one much better than that.

 

On its premiere last Friday night, the film was dedicated to Annette Funicello for her work on beach movies of the past.  Unfortunately, subsequent airings didn’t have this dedication.  This really makes me think that this was a half-hearted dedication.  If you don’t know who she is, go ask your parents or grandparents.  Chances are that they still may have a dusty copy of “Beach Blanket Bingo” lying around somewhere to pop into the VCR.  After watching that, it is easily understood where this movie was coming from. This may be the movie’s biggest strengths and possibly its biggest weakness.  Certainly the Geritol generation will get this movie idea, but the youngsters may be a little confused.  Somebody like me this movie is almost a perfect fit.

 

The main idea behind this movie is that 2 teens go surfing and wind up in some strange wave landing on a beach that seems to be a place where everybody lives on a beach spending their day singing and just hanging around the beach.  The characters on this beach seem to be trapped in a movie life.  Add to this a mad scientist who seems to want to harm the beachgoers and you get a fun movie.  I really didn’t understand the mad scientist plotline, but apparently they needed some sort of plotline.

 

This movie is full of fun songs and dance numbers, which actually were rather enjoyable.  The only downside to this movie was one scene which featured a green screen background of waves behind the main characters.  I am dropping my final score by a ½ point because of this.

 

While Friday night premiered the standard version of the movie, Saturday morning featured a “live chat” edition and Sunday night featured a “Sing Along” edition.  Next Saturday night is scheduled to feature “Learn the Dance Moves” edition.  If most of these sound familiar, these were mostly done with the HSM movies as well.

 

Do I recommend this movie?  Most definitely especially for the parents.

 

Friday night also saw the premiere of the new series “Liv & Maddie”.  This show focuses on 2 teen girls, Liv (a former Hollywood star who just ended a 4 year TV series run) and her twin sister Maddie (a basketball player with her own odd personality).  When Liv comes back home, Maddie seems to live in the shadow of her twin.  Breaking out of her shadow for Maddie seems to be what this show is all about.

 

When I first saw the preview for this show, I thought “real twins” just like the Sprouse twins were on the show “Suite Life of Zack and Cody”.  Surprise!  This show is played by one girl (Dove Cameron) and she actually pulls it off really well.  The scenes between the twins are well-integrated making it seem like this is really 2 girls when it is really one.  While this concept has been overused over the years, it seems to get better with each show and this one it is really convincing.  I still think this is portrayed by 2 actresses, but nowhere does it point in that direction.  It is really that good.  I have high hopes that this show continues the high of this preview episode as compared to the type of junk released by Nickelodeon recently.

 

Summary:

 

“Teen Beach Movie” – A great movie with a 1960’s theme.  This is highly enjoyable by both parents and kids alike.  I see a strong possibility of a sequel or 2 in the future.   The movie is currently running on Disney Channel and is also available on DVD.

 

My Score:  8.5

 

“Liv & Maddie” — Twins reunited with cute premiere episode.  This show is highly promising given that a single actress is playing both of the twins.  Preview episode airing now with series premiere in mid-September..

 

My Score:  9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Victorious is Over?

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After nearly 3 years and 58 episodes, Victorious is now in the history books.  I wasn’t expecting to see the series finale come this early or end the way that it did.  To say that the series got a proper send-off is like saying that a book ends just because you ripped out the last 20 pages.  In other words, this show did not get the proper ending or any closure ending whatsoever.

It’s sad that this show became a rude and unnecessarily violent show probably just proved that this show needed to die and fast.  Funny it wasn’t anymore.  It became one angry mess with storylines that were all over the place and quickly ended without seeing real resolutions at the end of them.  I really thought that this show could have lasted much longer if the concept from the earlier episodes had continued through the entire series.

Victoria Justice’s previous series of Zoey 101 lasted 7 episodes longer and even through that series got wishy-washy to the end, it still was given a decent conclusion.  Could it have been that Dan Schneider, the creator, after being told it was cancelled, decided not to give the show a proper ending just out of spite?  It’s unknown, but something tells me that played into how this series ended.

So now here are my awards for this series:

  • Best Episode:  Wi-Fi in the Sky”.  This early episode really showed the characters at their best.  It pretty much was all downhill from this point forward.
  • Worst Episode:  “Rex Dies”.  Anybody who thinks death and hospitals are funny will enjoy this sick episode.  I cringed every time I watched this episode.
  • Best Guest Star:  Ke$ha.  Lots of glitter everywhere and Ke$ha actually had funny lines.  Maybe if the music thing doesn’t work out, she will have a future in comedy.
  • Worst Guest Star:  Shirley Jones.  The former Partridge Family star was unrecognizable playing a possibly dead star.  Just another not funny episode.
  • Best Extended Special Episode:  “iParty with Victorious”.  Yes, it really was an iCarly episode, but this crossover was the best of the series that was longer than the standard ½ hour.
  • Worst Extended Special Episode:  “Locked Up”.  Who thinks prison is funny especially in a country nobody would ever want to go?  Electrocuting a squid wasn’t funny either.

 

The real question now is what happens next.  Rumors of a Cat and Sam (from iCarly) spinoff is in the works and may happen by year’s end.  This may be our last hope until Dan Schneider comes up with something else.  Until then, all we have on Nickelodeon are lame cartoons and the return of Supah Ninjas.  I guess all is not all bad.

Where We Are Now..It is 2013 Right?

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When I started this blog 7 months ago, I had no idea what it was going to be or what I would discuss.  Ironically 2 topics came up to me more often than not.  They were the lousy service provided by Time Warner Cable and the mass shooting violence that has happened around the country.

Unfortunately, there is no solution to either problem.  In fact, both problems seem to have escalated since the first of the year.  More murders have happened around the country and TWC has eliminated the Ovation Channel without lowering their cost by even one penny.

Here is what I would like to see for 2013:

Gun Violence:

  • Congress needs to toughen gun laws.  Forget the mental illness crap, one recent murder in Maine involved a guy drunk and killing 2 people who were his renters.
  • NRA needs to stop making foolish comments like they did after the Newtown incident.  Only banning automatic and semi-automatic weapons are the solution, no matter what the NRA says.
  • Stop blaming video games, movies, and music for the violence.  They are minimal parts of the big problem.
  • And finally, tighten gun registration and background checks.  This is a strong deterrent and must be enforced.

TWC:

  • Scrap the current navigator interface.  It looks bad and locks up all the time.
  • Fire the programmers.  These people are idiots and don’t get how to fix the errors in their navigator system.
  • Update the guide to show correct programming at all times.  Sadly, I many times have recorded shows that don’t exist because the programming guide was very wrong.  Unfortunately, TWC doesn’t get the idea that the guide needs to be current to work properly with the DVRs.
  • Lower the price of product or increase features.  Yes, you get more bang for the buck with satellite, but TWC could implement the same features if they really applied themselves and not even charge more.  Maybe they just don’t understand that concept.

I don’t expect either of these issues to be resolved in the near future as there are nobody who is interested in fixing the problems no matter how many people die or how many angry TWC customers there are.  I will continue to update on these topics when necessary.

Hopefully, next week I can discuss a more enjoyable topic like television or the next political nightmare.  But until then…stay tuned.

Gun Control and Mental Illness

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Certainly there are no words that can express my feelings for what happened in Newtown, Connecticut this month.  What I can express words on is that this could have been avoided if only we had tighter gun control laws.

The bad thing is that it seems that everybody wants to blame “Mental Illness” as the cause of the events.  Seriously, is this the excuse to be used on every violent incident now?

It has now even gotten worse as other things have been blamed for all the recent violence.  Amongst them include:

  • Movies – Let’s stop blaming movies for all the violence.  After all, I don’t know of many cars that fly through the air and have weapons in their front grill.  The blamers want to convince us that movies are the problem.  This has been blamed for too many years and foolishly.
  • Video games – I have heard this one ever since the 1990’s when games like Doom came out back them.  Do killing monsters really make people want to kill people?  I have didn’t buy it then and certainly don’t buy it now.
  • Music – Poor Ke$ha.  She is being blamed for her song of “Die Young” for being the inspiration for the recent violent acts.  I have heard this song many times and I don’t think the blamers get it.  Yes, this song gets me pumped only because I like it, but I certainly don’t feel violent because of it.  Of course, I still get pumped up over Britney Spears “Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman”, but then again that’s just me.

What we should REALLY be blaming are the things that really count and amongst them are:

  • NRA – One of the largest political action groups buys the people who make the decisions in Congress.  They wave their second amendment rights around like they were the American flag.  We need to get people in Congress who are not puppets of the NRA.
  • Gun Resellers/Retailers – Many states don’t do background checks before they sell a weapon and sometimes they ignore the laws anyway.  The laws vary from state to state which makes matter worse.  I remember when I was working at Woolworth, the rules were that the gun application would have to be faxed to Augusta and then wait about 3 days to get a response.  However, one time there was no response after 3 days so the salesclerk went ahead and sold the weapon anyway.  It turned out that one NEVER should have been sold after the report came back as being a risky person.  Nobody ever heard the end of that one.  Resellers have to act more responsible and keep the laws in mind and abide by them.
  • People like Norman Hamann – This nutcase needs to be in jail or a mental facility.  He believes his own fears allow him to walk around with a gun in his belt.  Sadly, I believe everyone else is scared of when he might crack and start using it.  What bothers me even more is that he thinks that it is ok to film his encounters with the police.  If anybody is mentally ill, Norman is the top of the class.

Sad to say there will be more gun violence if the real issues are not addressed.  It does not matter what the President does or Vice President thinks he can do will matter.  Mental illness is just a rubber stamp that I believe that everybody has if pushed far enough.  Even I was once called mentally ill.  I will have more to say about that in a future post.

The biggest question that has been asked lately is “Are we really safe anymore?”.  My answer is “I don’t believe so and never will, just don’t scare the children with that information.”

For now the only things we should worry about is the fiscal cliff or even worse the Mayan’s prediction of the end of the world.

 

Notice to all:

I will not be posting to this blog until after the first of the year as I feel that both the reader and myself need a holiday vacation from everything that has been going on in the world lately.  I plan on being back right after the first of the year with possibly a look back at the previous year and my look ahead to the next one.  So until then Happy Christmas and Merry New Year or something like that.

 

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