Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Year One: There was a time...

When I had no idea what I was doing. But I'm not sure anyone knew except Nonna. I could cover content and I could design activities for different types of learners like they sort of, kind of, maybe taught us in the dip Ed. But I didn't really have an embedded pedagogy. I could put on a show. But Nonna's office had a window that faced my whiteboard. And Nonna could see everything. Nonna knew I couldn't spell to save myself and clearly hadn't been taught grammar at high school. So she taught me, often in front of the kids I was suppose to be teaching. I was never threatened or insulted by her, she did it with such a humor and an honest desire to help me get better. But man did I make sure my board work was flawless before the end of the year. She suffered no fools and if I really had no idea she wouldn't have let me get away with it for long. 

When I nearly died inside because bad kids felt like it was my fault. Two of my students were the first kids in years to be sent home early from year 7 camp. I was mortified. They beat up another kid when I wasn't watching and it felt like it was all my fault and I was a horrible teacher and probably a horrible person for not stopping something I didn't know was happening. 

When I didn't have a back wall in my classroom. More than once I caught myself watching my colleague teach in the classroom across the room because it was way more interesting than what I was doing. Nonna found this hilarious. 

When I had to sleep for 30 minutes every night when I got home from work.

When I first took up responsibilities beyond the classroom. Somehow I ended up leading a literacy PLT in year one. At least I actually applied for and was successful in taking over the SRC coordination. And I learnt a hell of a lot more about kids and teachers than I did by just being in the classroom. The penny dropped - what I really liked was learning. I got to know a group of kids with different qualities and capabilities beyond what they were invited to show in the classroom. These kids inspired me to do better as we plotted ways of doing good in the world - even it was just painting a dividing line so students could stick to the left side when using the staircase to the portables. We staged a winter sleep out and at the end of term 1 my shaved head ended up in the local paper for lukemia fundraising.

When I needed therapy to figure out how to cope with it all. It was personal as much as professional but at one stage he told me that "I could be a principal at 33 if I really wanted but would probably burn out and then be stuck with nothing." Or I could slow it down a bit and get a life. It took me a while to adjust but eventually it became manageable. Nine Inch Nails helped tremendously here. The boozy weekends not so much. 

When the principal asked what I wanted to do and the other graduates were shocked at my answer. I was far too confident and wasn't afraid of what we (as in the team of graduates) had accomplished up until that point. I wouldn't learn humility until much later.

When my mentor showed me what was possible and we ran with it. For my VIT registration we designed a lesson where my year 8s would teach his year 7s about poetry (form, poetic devices, message and purpose). We took over the whole library for a double period and coached them through it. It was amazing. It was what I would come to understand as 'the right work'. Researched based risk taking in the classroom. When after the portfolio was finished he challenged me to publish journal articles, based on the adjustment we would make to common content strategies. I worked these into reflective practices in my teaching that are still the best part of my 'game.' 

When I knew I could do this, that I loved it, and it was all going to be ok. When Tanya, Ashok, Lauren, Jacinta, Alana and Eric found out I was taking their class for English again the next year their reaction confirmed that I hadn't ruined their education or their lives. They believed in me before I believed in myself. 

When I sat next to Mel the music teacher and knew this was going to be my life.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Best albums of 2015

Listed in no particular order.
Listen to Best of 2015 METAL by Kristyan on @AppleMusic.
Listen to Best of 2015 by Kristyan on @AppleMusic.

Alabama Shakes - sound and color
Lead single 'Don't wanna fight no more' captures the essence of their sound - groovy guitar, funky bass and a soulful vocal line to sing along with. Brittany Howard's old soul vocals is the best blues voice going around right now and it is just what the world needs to be listening to. 'Gimme all your love' is another nightlight. It is a album that everyone should pay attention to. Highly recommended.

Gary Clarke Jnr - the story of sonny boy slim
The opener, 'the healing', is one of the best songs of 2015 - in a year when we sorely needed it. There's some gorgeous guitar work before the second half of the album leaves behind the blues for a more Neo-soul vibe, helped in no part by the gospel singers employed for backing vocals. Not the follow up everyone was expecting after so long but still a great talent who will continue to surprise and grow. Recommended.

Soulfly - archangel 
Max sold his soul to metal long ago and comes roaring back after a couple of average albums (including the disappointing Cavelera Conspiracy disc - Pandemoneium). The tracks 'Archangel' and 'Sodomites' standout for being groovy with massive choruses. If you've checked out on what Max has been doing, it is time to re-engage. Recommended.

Faith No More - sol Invictis 
Oh man did they nail this. After the reunion tour fell away they got on with the business of recapturing what made FNM so vital and they came through in a big way. Lead single 'motherfucker' is perfectly irreverent and a great set opener, led more by Roddy's vocals than Mike's, and sets the tone for another classic FNM album - there's plenty of genre bending, between ballads and punk rockers like 'superhero'. Highly recommended.

Dallas Frasca - LoveArmy
I first saw Dallas at Bluesfest in 2009 as she rocked one of the smaller tents. Six years later this album captures both the blues and groove of her older work with a few poppier moments and a lead single, 'success is the best revenge' that you can stomp the dance floor to. Should've been bigger. Check out this and 'you are beautiful'. Then tell a friend. Recommended.

Muse - drones
If you've heard 'psycho' and 'mercy' you know what's happening here. No dub step influences, few grandiose attempts to sound like Queen. Muse at their rockin, hook laden, sweet harmony, guitar heavy best. Best album since 'blackholes...' Like Soulfly, if you fell out of love with them over the last couple of albums then it is time to go back and hang out for the tour. Not convinced? Download 'reapers'. Recommended.

Parkway Drive - ire
To think they were a metal core band! Whilst Bring Me the Horizon have gone off into a far more pop-rock territory, Parkway have gotten 'poppier' and 'rockier' without losing any of their heaviness, this is the best metal album in Australia by the best metal band. There isn't a endless stream of breakdowns, they continue the song writing evolution that started with Deep Blue, now with strings, slower tempos and a bit of melody. This might sound scary to the older fans, but it completely works and adds a lot of colour and shade to their sound. Just look at the song titles! 'Destroyer', 'vice grip', 'crushed', 'bottom feeder'. Probably my favourite metal album this year. Highly recommended.

Lamb of God - VII Sturm Und Drang
They sound like LoG. The lyrics are the highlight as Randy draws in his imprisonment in Prague on songs like 'still echoes' and '512'. Heavy, groovy and then surprising melodic on the ballad! Yes, Randy actually sings on an epic metal ballad that should be part of their live set. Great to see them try something new. It won't work for everyone but it was the biggest surprise and one that worked for me. Recommended. 

Hollywood Vampires
Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp and Joe Perry convince Brain Johnston to sing Whole Lotta Love and School's Out. What's not to like? Recommended if you like rock n roll. You won't get it if you don't.

Fear Factory - genexus
Early reviews compared this to Digimortal and Transgression (the two worse FF albums) but it turned out to be closer to Obsolete. Plenty of groove, some melodic keys to go with the contrasting Burton C Bell vocals. 'Soulhacker' is a standout FF track, in the tradition of Replica and Edgecrusher. Fits well in their cannon, better than the Dino-less albums at the very least. Won't convince you if you're not a fan. Recommended.

Iron Maiden - book of souls
Wow. Even at this stage Iron Maiden still evolve. They've never rested on their laurels when it comes to new material and, whilst this one took 5 years, there's still some new sounds for the band to discover. The double album is bookended by two Bruce epics - the opener 'if eternity should fail' is brilliant, the closer 'empire of the clouds' is um, long. At 18 minutes it is probably 7 minutes too long despite the interesting story he tells in the lyrics. Elsewhere, 'speed of light' is an old school Iron Maiden single (with cowbell) and there's still plenty of head banging and singing to be done on 'death or glory', 'boo of souls' and the epic 'the red and the black'. However it is bloody long and I'm not sure how many get into the second disc. Still a better album than most are capable of. Recommended.

Also worth listening to: Chris Cornell - higher truth, Ryan Adams - 1989, Courtney Barnett - sometimes I sit and think and sometimes I just sit, Teenage Time Killers, Metal Allegence, 

Special mentions - Daniel Johns 'talk' and Bring Me The Horizon 'that's the spirit'. Kudos to both for having the courage to do what they want to do with their sound. It's just not for me. Some of it is great but ultimately I know Daniel Johns is way more gifted than a soul-influenced (Chet faker?), beats heavy album shows. Start with 'preach' and then go from there. Turn it back up to eleven next time. For BMTH, I hope they continue to grow and be massive for the sake of British rock music. Removing the heavy elements though has lost me.

Monday, December 28, 2015


The last real outlaw. 

For 40 years Motörhead set the standard for rock n roll. 100% pure rock n roll. Their early albums fell in with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal but they were way more than those flash in the pan bands, and had nothing in common with Maiden, Priest or Def Leppard. Whilst the initial line up would flame out, Lemmy was always at the center of it or more particularly, positioned stage right - bass across his shoulder and chin angled up to growl into the microphone. Warts and all.

He's the last outlaw because at no stage has Lemmy given a hoot what others thought of him. The warts remained despite being offered plenty to remove them. They flirted with the mainstream thanks to Ace of Spades, appearances on The Young Ones and various mainstream music shows, but they never wavered from doing what Lemmy wanted. He drank a bottle of jack before hitting the stage and usually a bottle while he was up there. And really, until he was well into his 60s, he never slowed down. While AC/DC have released 3 albums since 2000, Motörhead have recorded and toured behind 8 new albums this millennium alone, each of them dipped in the vibes of Chuck Berry, the blues and a healthy shot of punk rock attitude. 

Their war pig mascot has adored almost every one of their 23 studio albums and combined with their typeface is perhaps the most recognizable symbol of heavy metal in the world. There is far more to this band than that. And far more to the man.

The documentary Lemmy (2010) captured both the legacy and lifestyle of the man himself. Whilst it was mostly a tribute to exactly how badarse he was, there are moments tinged with sadness (he sits alone playing machines in the Rainbow, his difficulties being a largely absent father) but the man himself regrets nothing. He apologizes for even less. 

I had the experience of seeing Motörhead at the forum in 2007. He stepped onto stage in his cowboy hat and boots and leered into the microphone - "we are Motörhead and we play rock n roll". And for 90 minutes they played new stuff, 90s stuff, and ended with Killed By Death, Ace of Spades and Overkill. They pulled out their acoustic number, Whorehouse Blues, too with Lemmy on harmonica.

Lemmy's legacy spreads beyond just Motörhead. He inspired others for 40 years. At his 50th birthday the house band was 4 dudes known as The Lemmys, whose day job was being Metallica. He's worked with Slash numerous times, helped out Dave Grohl on his probot project and wrote a Grammy winner for Ozzy Osbourne. Hell he wrote ballads for Ozzy, far away from the usual thunder of Chase is Better Than  The Catch, Killed By Death and Iron Fist. He's covered Whiplash, God Save The Queen, Louie Louie and Stand By Your Man. 

He was rock n roll. And rock n roll isn't the same without him. To quote the film Airheads - "who would win in a wrestling match - Lemmy or God?
Trick question. Lemmy is God"

Rest in ... Who are we kidding? He's gonna still be louder than everything else.

40 years of Motörhead playlist on Apple Music

Friday, December 26, 2014

Slave to many masters - the problem of prequels

Peter Jackson is finally leaving Middle Earth behind. Lucky for us, Star Wars is back next year and the Marvel Universe will keep kicking along with the All Star DC-verse ready to launch in 2015. These large multi-film story archs that these films try to tell are great for fans to follow along with - Easter eggs are hardly in short supply these days. But needing to link together with other films drags down the story we are trying to enjoy now. The need to prepare for the future, in particular, shoe horns the director and writer into serving dual purposes with their story telling. Sometimes a director balances the two masters. Others struggle to do this.

The Hobbit, as a trilogy, falls into the second category. The original novel, as prequel to Lord of The Rings, contains only fleeting connections. There is the scene with Gollum and Bilbo's discovery of the ring, and the presence of Gandalf. From this Tolkien was able to create a rich tapestry fantasy world. But The Hobbit, as a novel works on its own. The story is succinct but still has a number of subplots, most of which are resolved adequately without the need for appendices. For those who came to Middle Earth via the LOTR trilogy, reading The Hobbit as a prequel is stil a rewarding experience.

The films weren't comfortable with mere fleeting connections. Without being cynical as to why it took nearly nine hours to tell a story of less than 300 pages, it is worth considering how effective the films added material to build a coherent six part story, from Unexpected Journey to Return of the King. 

The primary story of The Hobbit follows Bilbo Baggins as he aids Theron's company of Dwalves in reclaiming the Lonley Mountain from the dragon, Smaug. There are three additional subplots added to this: the white council's investigation of the necromancer, the elf-dwarf sexual tension, and the orcs' pursuit of Theron. The white council stuff sees Elderon, Sauraman and Gandriel return to the series to create a link to the LOTR trilogy. The elf-dwarf romance adds a romantic subplot but little to Bilbo's story (hell, it's not even clear if either Bilbo, Theron or Gandalf even know about it!) and allowed Peter Jackson to include Orlando Bloom again. The Orc subplot does enrich the battle scenes and provides the orcs chasing the company with some purpose. This subplot also has nothing to do with LOTR. 

The white council parts are essentially pointless and distract from the main story. For viewers it is nice to see familiar faces and, for those who pay attention, it is nice to see that they knew of Saurein'a return 60 years before Gandalf visited Frodo to get the One Ring (now there's a plot hole for you). But it is The Hobbit's version of including C3PO and R2D2 in the Star Wars prequels. Familiar faces are fine but they create plot holes and actually take the audience out of the story. The distraction from the main story isn't a sign of good story telling - it's a sign of trying to serve too many masters. Even though The Battle of Five Armies is the shortest of the Middle Earth movies, it still spends time dealing with subplots that set up a separate trilogy - one that runs between nine and eleven hours depending on the versions you watch. Due to the excellent prologue in Fellowship of the Ring, there is little that needed to be set up anyway. The Easter egg in this case has developed into a significant number of extra scenes, none of which serve the story, and only serve to prolong the length of the film. (Someone there's even more for the extended additions!) Still, this is still better than Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, which pacts so many Easter eggs and video game scenes into it that it has little, if any, connection to even Episode II, let alone the original trilogy it is a prequel to. 

Sequels have been pushed into this problem too. The need to include a larger story sees stories that full of characters with little time for the audience to connect to them. Iron Man 2 sunk from the need to include scenes fleshing out SHIELD and the Avengers, at the expense of their antagonists and sidekick dynamic. XMen: The Last Stand and Origins: Wolverine both loaded themselves with characters and tried to fit into a larger story, creating plot holes and leaving themselves with little room to even tell their primary story well. It's worth noting that the First Class X-Men films, The Wolverine and Iron Man 3 cut down on the number of characters and subplots and told much tighter stories that ignored the overall continuity with a preference to telling their primary story as well as they can. 

A rare exception to all of this is the excellent Captain America: Winter Solider, mainly because its primary story is one that pushes the larger universe forward. For prequels, this just isn't possible. The audience already knows how it is going to end. Better off exploring a different part of the world, as X Men First Class and the Hobbit novel does, than telling a direct story that we know the resolution too (the Star Wars prequels). It will be interesting to see how the forthcoming Pan (a darker, grittier prequel to Peter Pan) handles these different demands.

In the end, whilst there are some cool moments for fans of the original triligies, prequels would be best if they kept the references to future stories to a minimum. Easter eggs are fine, but not when they don't serve their true master - the primary story they're trying to tell. I don't think the audience is even crying out for these parts of the story to be told - most likely they just want the story to be told well so they can lose themselves in another world for two (or three) hours.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Case for Relgation in AFL

Recently I've upset the odd friend with my references to the AFL needing a Division II. While it is intended to be deliberately provocative, there is some merit to include the possibility of splitting the AFL on a year-by-year basis so that we get a more even and (here's the buzz word) equitable competition.

How is introducing two division more equitable? The idea would be to play against teams of roughly equal standing. I wouldn't label each division numerically, but would go with Premiership Cup Division and Shield Division. Sell off naming rights for the Shield Division, and name the Shield after a significant figure, and you've already open up new revenue to distribute amongst those clubs. The Premiership Cup Division should be exclusive to Ch7.

How would the particulars work? I'm glad you asked!

The Split
The easy bit. For examples I'm going to use the 2012 season as a guide, mainly due to the Essendon fiasco last year compromising the make up of the bottom 10 teams.

After the season we would split the AFL into two divisions. The top 9 teams would be the Premiership Cup Division, with the bottom 9 comprising the Shield Division.
For example,  based on 2012, we would have:
  • Premiership Cup Division: Hawthorn, Adelaide, Sydney, Collingwood, West Coast, Geelong, Fremantle, North Melbourne.
  • Shield Division: St Kilda, Carlton, Essendon, Richmond, Brisbane, Port Adelaide, Western Bulldogs, Melbourne, Gold Coast, GWS.
The Season Schedule (not a FIXture)
Team would play each team in their division twice (home and away) making for a 16 game schedule. This would enable teams to play against teams of roughly equal footing (though incidentally, several of the top Shield teams from the above list beat GWS by 90-100 points, and North lost their 2012 elimination final to West Coast by 100 points too, so it wouldn't be perfect). There is 4 games a week in each division with one bye.

The AFL could introduce additional games, and revenue, via one of the two following methods:
  • Two heritage or rivalry rounds - Teams would nominate two teams to play against from another division for historical reasons. In the above example, Essendon could nominate Collingwood and perhaps West Coast or North Melbourne. St Kilda might nominate Collingwood and Geelong as a grand final rematch. Since everyone would want to play Collingwood, the AFL would make these decisions. These games could be played for premiership points since every team gets the same number of games against someone in the other division.
  • A secondary 'knockout' competition - the NAB Cup. Teams play preliminary pre-season games for a 'seeding' in the knockout cup. The knockout cup would take place over four rounds throughout the season. Teams that are already out would get a bye that week. This would enable the AFL to schedule some of these rivalry games across divisions and create a longer season. 
Finals series 1 - Winning the Shield Division
After 16 games, the top four teams would play an elimination finals series over two weeks.
  • Week 1 - 1 v 4, 2 v 3.
  • Week 2 - Shield Grand Final: The winner plays off for the Shield. 

Finals series 2 - Winning the Premiership Cup Division 
After 16 games, the top six teams would play a final series in the following format:
  • Week 1 - Elimination Finals: 1, 2 get a bye. 3 v 6, 4 v 5.
  • Week 2 - Semi Finals: 1 v winner of 3 v 6, 2 v winner of 4 v 5
  • Week 3 - Grand final between winners of semi finals
Between the two divisions there are 10 teams involved in finals. From the Premiership Cup Division only the 7th placed team isn't involved in anything (see below for teams 8 & 9). You could have a playoff for 6 (the 'wild card' spot) between 6 and 7

Promotion/Relegation or Playoffs?
The grand finalist of the Shield Division play against teams 8 and 9 from the Premiership Cup Division. 9P v 1S, 8P v 2S. Winners are promoted, losers are relegated (or stay in the Shield Division). These games could be played as preludes to the Premiership Grand Final.
We could also just promote or relegate based on finishing position without the need for games between the two.

The Draft
The draft could still occur as is. Bottom teams from the Shield Division get top picks. Ideally it would be a lottery amongst the bottom five Shield Division teams to make tanking a less desirable option. I would, however, mandate four year contracts for first round picks. This would avoid the temptation for top picks to jump to Premiership Cup Division clubs after just two years.

The Benefits
  1. An equitable schedule. Teams play similar teams twice. Removes all confusion about the FIXture. Everyone plays everyone in their division twice (home and away).
  2. Less games for players minimum 16, with maybe a couple more - no more 'rest' listed next to big names and veteran players. No chance of top players playing 26 games (including finals). Teams get two byes a season.
  3. More teams involved in finals. 10 instead of 9. A wild card playoff in the Premiership Division between 6 and 7 would make this 11 teams.
  4. Teams playing against teams of a similar skill level (as noted previously this would never be perfect but it is a start).
The Drawbacks (and some responses)
  1. Missing out on some big drawing games. Using the basics of scheduling and the 2012 example, Essendon, Richmond and Carlton would not have played Collingwood in 2013, meaning all three and the AFL miss out on big crowds. There also would not have been a Showdown in Adelaide or a Battle of the Bridge in Sydney. (This has been addressed via the heritage or knockout cup suggestions.)
  2. Some teams get stuck in a division meaning there is a widening gap between big and small clubs.  (But isn't is the case already? When was the last time Melbourne played finals? When was the last time Hawthorn, Geelong, Sydney and Collingwood missed finals? At least if Melbourne managed to play more games against the likes of GWS, Bulldogs & Essendon - who they beat in 2012 - they might be a better chance of playing off for the Shield, even if they didn't get promoted.)
  3. Loss of revenue due to TV rights. Less games means less money. (Hence the suggestion for additional games that don't compromise the overall integrity of the competition).

 What do you think?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Man of Tomorrow

This was an idea I had for a sequel to Man of Steel... It isn't very good.

One year after the Battle of Metropolis, Lois Lane is constantly followed by federal agents, who believe she knows how to contact Superman, making it difficult for her to be seen with him. She has however begun a relationship with new journalist Clarke Kent. Superman sightings have become non-existent in Metropolis but there are consistent reports of him helping in other cities. Despite him initially helping in the rebuild efforts, there is a rising Anti-Superman sentiment. Lex Luthor is elected president on a campaign where he vows to protect America from future alien invasion. He claims to be able to control Superman but refuses to reveal how.

At the Daily Planet Lois Lane is investigating LexCorp's investments, including a mining operation in Arctic Canada. The operation is close to the site where a kryptonian ship had been hidden twelve months earlier and involves a huge dug out crater at the bottom of a mountain. She is captured when she discovers they are mining the remains of the crashed Kryptonian scout ship. She notices a large Hercules class plane that is co-branded with Wayne Enterprises Logistics and LexCorp Transport. Superman arrives to free her and easily defeats the Army guards. However, the cargo hold of the plane opens to reveal three robots that attack both. After easily defeating two of the machines, Superman is weakened by the third, which has glowing green gauntlets. LexCorp employees, guarded by military personnel, film the encounter. Lois eventually swings a crane into the arm of the machine, damaging the gauntlet. Superman is able to remove its head and in anger throws it towards the north pole. He attempts to use his heat vision to destroy the Hercules but is unable to muster the required energy. Feeling depleted he scoops up Lois and flies back to American soil.

Upon return to Metropolis, Clarke Kent becomes unwell. Desperate to know more, Lois travels to Gotham City to interview Wayne Enterprises President Lucius Fox. Fox reveals that WE is helping to fund the LexCorp operation as part of a government defense contract but refuses to reveal more, citing the top secret nature of their military contract. When she is escorted out, she is complimented by a younger Wayne employee who says he can tell her more. Eventually he reveals himself to be Bruce Wayne, eccentric billionaire. He shows Lois the camera footage from the Arctic battle and notes that the substance used is alien and can weaken Superman. He offers to help but Lois does not reveal Clarke's secret.

In Metropolis Luther publically releases the footage of Superman fighting the army up north. The footage does not reveal the robots or show Superman weakened. Supported by psychiatrist Professor Milton Fine, he declares Superman an enemy of the state and orders his arrest. Lois is arrested for aiding and abetting a fugitive and transported to a secure facility. Wayne contacts Clarke and meets with him. He reveals that Luthor has obtained an alien crystal from the ruins of the arctic ship. He also admits he knows Clarke is Superman and tells him, "you don't think the glasses are fooling anyone do you?" Clarke neither confirms not denies. Wayne reveals Lois is likely imprisoned in the Navada desert.

Luthor interrogates Lois himself. Lois asks Luthor about the substance, which he calls Kryptonite, and confirms he wants Superman to give himself up and join the military. Lois continues to resist Luthor so he calls for 'him.' Telling Lois that Superman has changed things - he has changed what is possible. Luthor calls for Professor Fine to enter. A hooded man enters the room and does not speak. Fine removes his hood, revealing diodes running out of his head. He touches his hand to Lois' head and merges with her brain. Her memories are transferred to the alien and she collapses unconscious. He nods to Luthor and communicates telepathically with him - he knows that Superman will be on his way.

Superman arrives but cannot break through the facility's walls because they have been laced with Kryptonite. Stuck outside he is surrounded by helicopters, tanks and armoured vehicles. Weakened, he is beaten by military strongmen in Kryptonite enhanced armour. Unwilling to risk killing them Superman does not resist and is taken into custody. The footage is played across the world as Luthor declares the War on Superman over.

Superman is placed in a cell with Lois. She does not recognise him, despite him trying to jog her memory. Luthor faces Superman himself. He offers him the chance to join the military. Clarke refuses, declaring his loyalty is to the people of earth - not a military ruler. Professor Fine emerges from the darkness and calls him Kal El. He introduces himself as the Brainiac - a being of Krypton who was part of the artificial intelligence in the original scout ship. He tells Clarke he is programmed to ensure the safety of Krypton and that he needs Clarke's help to do so. Luthor begins to get nervous and asks what is happening. Clarke tells him that Braniac means to kill him. Luthor orders the Braniac arrested but the military are unable to restrain him. Brainiac escapes into the desert and heads for Metropolis. Clarke is unable to stand due to the restraints and asks to be freed so he can stop brainiac. Luthor reluctantly agrees and Clarke leaves with Lois.

He is unable to fly so they begin walking until a Wayne Enterprises jet meets them. The pilot informs them that Mr Fox asked that they be escorted to where ever they want to go. Fox has also supplied a Wayne Tech suit that absorbs the sun's radiation and heats the body. It is black and already has the House of El shield emblazoned on it. 

In Metropolis, Brainiac uses LexCorp construction vehicles to rebuild parts of the city to resemble Krypton. Using his enhanced powers he is able to rebuild skyscrapers as defense towers. 
Clarke returns to Metroplois and, with help from Perry White, arranges a national broadcast. He apologises for the destruction of the city a year before and plays a video of Luthor conspiring with Braniac, supplied by Wayne. He calls on Braniac to meet him in the arctic to settle the score.

Clarke and Braniac battle at the North Pole. The battle rages across the arctic, south towards Canada. Frustrated, Braniac uses projections of his Jor El to convince Clarke to surrender. Clarke eventually resists and weakens Brainiac using a kryptonite laser supplied by Wayne. He uses his ice breath to freeze Braniac. Rather than kill Brainiac, Clarke imprisons him in the remains of the LexCorp crater in Canada, and causes the mountain to avalanche into the crater. Brainiac, and the last remains of the Kryptonite, are buried within. Superman rips the black suit from his body, revealling his usual blue costume beneath. Still weakened by his exposure to the Kryptonite Superman submits to the Canadian military, acknowledging that in order to help others he needs to play by their rules. 

Clarke Kent returns to work for the daily planet, on the day Luthor is impeached, and is called into Perry White's office. He sends him on assignment to Central City where rumours are circulating that another 'superhero', dubbed The Flash, has been fighting crime. Before leaving he visit Lois in hospital and promises to do whatever he can to restore her memory. 

Sometime later, beneath the collapsed mountain, the remains of Brainiac melt and are fused with the corpse of a nearby kryptonian solider. The corpse begins to mutate. It's eyes glow red as the creature is reanimated amongst the rubble. Doomsday is born.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Brightest Day or Blackest Night?

I am conflicted.

But first, thank you for reading my blogs throughout the campaign. Your support been appreciated. From the first blog in June until now I had triple the amount of views. The last blog in February had more than 1500 views. Your messages of support helped me, and my colleagues, through the campaign.

And here we are.


In each blog I was clear - this was never about the money. I said so to motivate my colleagues, to educate the lay person on why we had to fight for a better deal, and on why we inconvenienced parents and students for three-and-a-half days. I meant every single word. More money would be nice. But I saw this as an opportunity to advance our profession. Our log of claims had more provisions that would improve our conditions than it did details about money. I had hope we could take a stand and push teaching well into the 21st Century. That's why I call it a profession - it is more than a mere job or career. It is a calling. It is a noble occupation - one of service and one critical to our development as a society. The best of us are amongst the kindest, more generous and selfless people in the country. We deserve to be treated as such and be able to work in conditions that allow us to excel at our profession.

My expectations have not changed at all.  That is why I am conflicted. My government and my union do not share my expectations.

The government is only concerned with where they can save money. That's why they gutted the regional offices, cut VCAL funding and look to put up performance pay and make it available to only a fixed amount of staff - regardless of overall school performance. (Allow me to digress for a moment - performance standards should be maintained, enforced and developed. Hell perhaps there should be bonuses. But this is not what the government suggested, nor did they put up for a model for what the performance standards would look like. It was dollars and cents - nothing else.) The government has shown no interest in our welfare or creating conditions that would allow us to educate every single kid. Instead we will remain overworked and under resourced. Quite simply - this government does not care about our students or the people we entrust them too everyday. School improvement does not fit the election cycle, nor is it sexy for the TV.

Sadly my union is no better. The campaign was flawed from the start and treated the public like idiots. Instead of promoting our conditions they focused solely on the "best paid in the country" election promise. Politicians lie - especially when seeking re-election. Highlighting this does not court the public's sympathy or support. And it sets us up for failure. When you publicly campaign on the prospect of increased wages you better deliver. The proposed agreement does not give us 30% over three years. It does not give us all 12% over three years either (our revised offer). The figures quoted by the union include the automatic 2.75% from the previous agreement (for not having a new agreement by January 1, 2012). It include the $1000 sign-on bonus. Which is great - I lost just under $900 in pay for striking. At my current pay level I'll end up with around 10% more by 2016. Which I will take.

What I won't take is the conditions. Class sizes are the same (we wanted them lower). Face-to-face hours are the same (we should have wanted them lower). There have been changes to the excess rules which will save the government money because more expensive, experienced teachers will not be able to transfer to another school if their school downsizes or closes. This is great news for the thousand graduates looking for a job. Not so great for the hundreds who have been displaced already. There have been no changes to the situation with contracts. This was a central part of our campaign (as it was in 2004 and 2008) and we have made no progress. Monitoring contracts does not mean a thing - they are monitored now. Maintaining the status quo is fine if you're satisfied with the status quo. And here in lies the problem.

The worst part if the agreement has (as it was in 2008) been presented to the public as a win. From this there is no turning back. It was released to members, finally, on Friday afternoon. Confusingly the government also called it a win and quoted different figures! The public's patience has been stretched by our strikes, the government's stubbornness and the fact that a lot of people don't rate what we do.

Here is the conflict. We vote NO and reject a pretty shitty deal and we probably spend another year negotiating. The government does not want to give us more money - which is why they have not in the proposed deal. The public will not support us through more strikes and don't even notice the other bans we had in place with the exception of reports. The 38 hour week? My school cancelled exactly one event - and it was one that teachers barely attended anyway. Teachers don't like to do things that disadvantage students. Our hearts are just too big. And that's why the campaign is over. 

If we vote YES we accept the deal and the conditions. This is great if you're fine with how things are now. It is basically the same. We have made no progress and, to be honest, the union is not interested in this either. I doubt most teachers are interested in it. But they should be. We allowed them to run a campaign about the pay, and allowed factions to debate the place of entertainment in our rallies. It is time we expect more of ourselves and our officials.

The answer then lies with the teachers. If you want to be treated like a professional you need to act like one and we, as a profession, need start holding each other to a higher standard. Most importantly we need to hold our government and our union to that standard. If we want progress then it will come from us. We deserve to be paid and treated as if we are being entrusted to enrich and develop the next generation. We must work to convince others, including our union leaders, that this is what we want.

But not this battle. This campaign is done. We have a government and union that are only interested in dollars and cents.

I am conflicted on how I will vote for this agreement. I don't see the point in voting NO, but barely agree with the YES.

I am clear about what I expect from my government and my union. When the time comes I will vote accordingly on both.

We are a great profession. We need to remind them of it.

I want this profession to move forward. And I will continue to fight for conditions that are better for our children.

Do me a favour. This week write to a teacher (current or former). You can find them on facebook no doubt. Express your gratitude. Their union and our government has kicked them - pick them up again. Trust me, we rarely get acknowledged for what we do. If you know someone who deserves send them a quick note. 

"People should not be afraid of their governments - Governments should be afraid of their people."
Thank you for your support.