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Archive for May, 2009

Sounds like an ad on Facebook or something, but it’s actually the theme of a story by the Los Angeles Times about teachers in LA Unified that are “housed” – basically paid to do nothing while charges against them go through the system.

The main portion of the story details disabled teacher Matthew Kim, who gets paid $70,000 a year plus benefits to sit in a room doing crossword puzzles.  How long has this been going on?  Seven years.  Why is he waiting?  Because he has sued the district for firing him, saying it was discrimination because he is disabled.  Why does the district say it is firing him?  Because of his four counts of sexual harassment in one year.  He was only hired by the district after he sued for discrimination when he wasn’t hired by 15 schools.

In the meantime, the district has spent more than $2 million on him in salary and legal costs.

Another disturbing example of unions protecting the bad, along with the good.  But also an example of how bad school districts behave.  Most of Kim’s harassment repots came in his first year, but it wasn’t until he had been there over two years and gained tenure (wow, a whole two years for tenure?) that the district decided to TRY and fire him.

Pathetic on all counts.

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Moz featuring somewhat creepy child that isn't his.

Moz featuring somewhat creepy child that isn't his.

It took me a couple (nearly three) months to buy it, but I did, frankly because I’m in love with Morrissey.  Prior to Years of Refusal‘s I heard “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris,” and was rather unimpressed.  I’ve been under the impression that Morrissey’s guitarist/musical director, Boz Boorer, has been rather booring (sic for a cheap pun).

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly am of the persuasion that Moz’s previous album was actually better than most music in general (to the credit of both Moz and Boz), but held up against, say, Viva Hate and Vaxhaull and I (to name two very solid albums), Ringleader of the Tormentors is not especially great.  Something about Ringleader didn’t quite grab me in the way that even You Are the Quarry did (and did well).  But I eventually got over my fears and bought it.  Here’s what I discovered:

First the bad news: Years of Refusal (like Ringleader before it) has not [yet] captured me heart like the Morrissey tunes I am in love with.  Something about this album feels slightly soulless and overproduced, at least musically.

This next bit can be interpreted either way: the lyrics of this album are very strong, very aggressive, and even combative/pissy.  I personally enjoy when Morrissey is pompus (though I can’t say quite the same for Bono).

Now the good news: I’d consider the album to be rather dynamic.  Morrissey considers this work his strongest, and I would somewhat agree with that as far as sheer vocal dynamics go.  Morrissey demonstrates on this album, perhaps better than any of his recent efforts, that he is an excellent vocalist; clear, pitch-perfect, and versatile.  The backing music is mediocre though (unfortunately, something I’ve come to expect from Boz), with several strong points, but leaves you begging for a Smiths reunion.  *Also, there are coyote howls in the middle of a song (maybe that will entice you to purchase and listen to find them).

If you’re a fan of Morrissey and you don’t think he’s abandoned everything he once stood for when he wrote You Are the Quarry, (we’ll ignore Southpaw Grammar and Maladjusted), you might enjoy this album.

CAI contributors and readers, your thoughts on Years of Refusal?

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