Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Education Major Classroom Observations: Countdown to Destruction...en espanol!

When you are a music education major, it can be difficult to fit in the required number of classroom observations along with your own daily schedule of classes and activities.  That is why despite my previously unpleasant experience observing an elementary classroom, myself and a group of friends ended up observing another K-5 school way too early in the morning.  I'm not sure that things here were worse, but they definitely were much stranger.

It made the occupation of cat herding seem even more simple and relaxing

For starters, this school had band in the 5th grade, which seemed like a good idea until I we walked into the cafeteria.  This room, which the students associate with the freedom to talk, scream, and eat delicious tater tots, was also where their band class took place.  Maybe it was due to this association that the class was out of control, but their poor 1st year teacher was having no luck holding things together.

He also had a very strange system of telling the students to quiet down.  Every time they began to get too loud, he would raise his hand in the air and count to three.  He had an incredibly deep voice, which somehow made his countdown sound even more bizarre.  It went something like:

ONE!!!!!...TWO.... Three.

Once he was done with the countdown (which he used every 3-5 minutes), the students were rarely quiet.  Now in case you think the out of control classroom was all his fault, there were some definite head cases in the there that to this day I'm not sure how he should have dealt with them.  

After one his booming countdowns, a boy that had been acting up the entire class period screamed in a very high pitched voice "I'm gonna kill myself!"  He then proceeded to grab a music stand and repeatedly bang his head against it.  Any concern that I, my friends, or the teacher had for the boy's emotional and physical well being, however, was quickly replaced by shock and terror as the boy maniacally cackled as his skull clanged loudly over and over again.

"We all go a little mad sometimes."
Norman Bates from 'Psycho': Mass murderer and amateur behavioral psychologist

Another time, the teacher had to make a percussionist put his drum sticks down due to him hitting every person and object within 10 feet of him.  When the student proceeded to simply use his hands to strike inanimate objects and his fellow classmates, the teacher made him sit down next to us.

Rather than hitting our group, however, the boy proceeded to lay on his back along the lunch room table and slide up and down it for the rest of the period.  Since no one was getting injured and no property was being damaged, the teacher ignored this and continued teaching.  As we watched in disbelief at this and other bizarre occurrences in the class, Seth (one of my best friends) and I did all we could to stifle the occasional urge to laugh. Unfortunately for Seth, he was caught one time and severely admonished...by a 10 year old girl.

  Pictured:  An unstoppable force

As we left one day, the little girl walked right up to him, pointed her finger, got in his face, and yelled "It is NOT polite to point! It is NOT polite to laugh!  YOU are VERY RUDE!"  The sight of a 300 lbs man getting verbally eviscerated by a girl the size of his left arm was surreal enough, but Seth's blank stare that had a hint of shame to it nearly made me laugh (and get admonished) as well.

The worst thing we saw, however, happened to one of the quieter and well behaved kids.  At the end of one of the class periods, we had stuck around to finish writing up our observation sheets.  Nearly all the students had left, but one lone clarinet player was still attempting to put away her instrument.  For those of you unfamiliar with the instrument, a clarinet is put away by being taken apart into multiple pieces.  It also has a daily cleaning ritual that must be done to ensure that it works properly.  Anyone that has been playing for a while can do this in 2 minutes or less.  To a little 5th grade girl that just began playing the instrument, however, it can be a bit like attempting brain surgery.

As the girl slowly and carefully took apart her instrument, one of the Spanish teachers walked in.  At this point I should mention that we were at a total Spanish language immersion school; students are required to speak Spanish for half of the day and a majority of them have never spoken the language before.  The teacher that had stormed into the cafeteria was a striking Latina woman dressed in a beautifully flowing flower print dress.  Any kindness in her soul that the teacher's fashion sense portrayed was quickly dashed when she sternly barked:  "If you are NOT done packing up your instrument in 10 seconds, you will have no recess!"

As the student frantically sped up the process of putting away her instrument, the teacher slowly and loudly began to count to ten in Spanish, which somehow made it seem infinitely more dramatic.

UNO!     DOS!     TRES!
The little girl quickly broke down the three main segments of her clarinet.

CUATRO!     CINCO!     SEIS!  
The little girl hurriedly took her reed off the mouthpiece and placed it in its case.  She was afforded a bit more time due to teaching rolling her 'r' on the number "cuatro" for about 8 seconds.

The little girl quickly put each part of the instrument in its proper place inside the case and slammed it shut.

Unfortunately, the girl forgot to latch the case closed as well.  As she yanked her instrument off of the lunch table and began her desperate sprint towards the door, her clarinet flew out of its case and shattered all over the lunch room floor.  The student, her band director, and our observation group stared in stunned silence at the devastation before us.  The Spanish teacher raised one eyebrow, stuck her nose in the air, and tersely whispered "No recess for you!" 

Clearly this woman was a fan of 
Seinfeld as well as making little girls cry.

As she dramatically turned around to leave the lunch room, her dress spun and billowed out like a bright orange flower.  Her heels clicked off into the distance as the girl, her band teacher, and our observation group continued to stare in stunned disbelief.  Counting to 10 in Spanish had always been something that I associated with Sesame Street and friendly puppets; now this girl (and myself) would forever associate it with a broken instrument and not getting to play outside.  It would also be yet another reason that as a music education major, teaching elementary school became a much scarier prospect.

And why I still break out in a cold sweat
if I hear puppets counting in Spanish.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Stop taking the Westboro Baptist Church so seriously...they don't.

(photo @ zimbio.com)

The Westboro Baptist Church has long been synonymous with every form of evil, malice, and disdain that we can possibly come up with.  It is so bad, in fact, that even the Klu Klux Klan thinks that they go too far.  This probably has to do with the fact that they often stage protests in which they declare that God hates just about everybody (except them), especially the gay community.

Their church website, www.godhatesfags.com, can clue you into their beliefs a little bit more if you were still unsure (when it's not shut down due to various cyber attacks).  They even provide a handy schedule of their hateful protests so that you can meet them there and scream your head off.

Screaming over the internet is so impersonal

Recently when Apple co-founder Steve Jobs passed away due to cancer, the Westboro baptist church sprang into action.  Margie Phelps, who is the daughter of the the church's founder Fred Phelps, posted this little gem on her twitter account.

As you can imagine, plenty of people were kind enough to point out this ironic failure on the part of Mrs. Phelps.  She responded by saying that God created the iPhone to tell the world that Steve Jobs was in hell.  Shirley Phelps-Roper, another one of Fred's children responded:

"Steve Jobs did NOT create anything-God used Steve Jobs to create amazing STUFF for WBC to preach like a mug!  Jobs vainly imagined HE did it!"

At this point, I became very frustrated and a little bit disappointed.  I have followed the WBC for a long time with a certain morbid curiosity.  While I detest their celebration of dead US soldiers and their racist/homophobic hate speech, I have to admit to being at least a little bit impressed by their legal acumen and their amazing ability to self promote.  That's why this clear and totally avoidable blunder by the Phelps family was so surprising to me.

The only other time that I can recall something like this happening was when a radio show and it's callers dared to question why it was alright for Shirley Phelps-Roper to have sex (and bear a child) out of wedlock while others would burn in hell for their sins (skip to 16:00 to hear Shirley Phelps-Roper get burned).

How could people that are usually so on top of things about free speech litigation and self promotion make such a huge gaffe?  Could it be that occasional instances of hypocrisy were inevitable with so much widespread condemnation?

...or maybe the people from the WBC weren't as ardently inhuman and hateful as they portray themselves to be.  It was at this point that while browsing reddit, I came across a video of Westboro Baptist Church protesting a Justin Bieber concert.

An extremely rare instance when the
WBC and I have found some common ground.

In the video below, Shirley Phelps is being interviewed by Scoops, an openly gay DJ from the same area as the WBC.  While you would figure that this combination of people would escalate into an explosion of vitriol and screaming, it was actually...really sweet.  He talks about how the Phelps' have had him over to dinner, danced and sang to Lady Gaga songs with him, and how they worked on signs to picket him TOGETHER.  Shirley affirms all of this, says that their church doesn't hate anybody (they are just "preaching the word") and dang it if she doesn't actually seem...human.  Don't believe me?  Take a look:

Later, at a WBC protest for Lady Gaga, Scoops shows up (dressed in drag) while they are singing a "remixed" version of 'Poker Face'.  This time, he is greeted warmly and dances and sings along with Megan Phelps.  I'm pretty sure he even gives Shirley Phelps-Roper a kiss on the cheek.


So maybe this is an aberration or a made up stunt.  Maybe Scoops never was inside their home...

...except that he totally was.  This video shows Scoops having Easter dinner with the Phelps family as Shirley brags about how great her cooking is.  She is still discussing her outlandish beliefs and protest plans, but she does it all with a casual air that most families would love to have at their own holiday feasts.

The piece de resistance, however, is when the oddly attractive Megan Phelps has Scoops come over with a camera (and decently good production values) to take an MTV Cribs style tour of the Phelps home.

Don't judge me.  Take out the hate speech 
and you've got yourself a pretty cute gal.

The Phelps family takes Scoops and the viewer on a tour of their "compound", which is in reality is a really sweet pad.  There is a great entertainment room set up, a massage chair, at least one pretty nice bedroom (with a SpongeBob SquarePants pillow, which for some reason makes me giggle uncontrollably), and of course, their extensive selection of signs.

Perhaps the most surreal parts of the video are when Scoops plays at their piano while sporting his very own 'God Hates Fags' merch and when a large number of the younger Phelps children are playing 'Just Dance' on the Wii while Shirley Phelps-Roper cheers them on.

I guess you can't really fault them too much for their taste in music.  This is the same group that put out an AMAZING parody of Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody.'  The fact that kids were all dancing to Survivor's 'Eye of the Tiger' at least gives me hope that no matter what type of messed up values and morals those kids end up having, they will at least be fans of good rock and roll.  It's also good to see that they are active and not just sitting on the couch when they play video games.


So why would the Phelps family let an openly gay man come into their home and film them?  According to Shirley Phelps-Roper, it's simply "'cause he asked to come over."  But the Phelps family treating one gay man (that admittedly can provide them with a lot of publicity) isn't the only thing that I found odd about how they conducted themselves.

Members of the church have claimed that even if they believed that their actions were not dictated by God, they would still do and enjoy them anyway.  They make countless parodies of classic and current pop/rock songs that are actually really well done from a production stand point.  (In the spirit of full disclosure, I have totally been jamming to their 'Poker Face' remix while writing this.)  In the film 'Fall from Grace', a 2007 documentary about  the Phelps Family, Fred Phelps (who preaches against all types of idolatry, including to the American flag and individual universities) is interviewed almost the entire time while wearing a University of Kansas Jayhawk warm up suit.

Rock! Chalk! Jayhawk! Go KU...STRAIGHT TO HELL!

Could it be that these people are really just a family of like minded exhibitionists, looking for ways to push the 1st amendment as far as it can be stretched?  If you don't believe that groups like this exists, then you clearly have not spend much time on the internet.  People are always saying unthinkably awful and destructive things under the cover of anonymity; maybe the WBC is a real world version of an internet troll.

They probably do hold onto the basic seed of many of their racist and hateful beliefs, but the outlandish condemnation, promotion, and even their entire lifestyle seems like more of product of an insular environment and a desire to be noticed...and strangely, to have (what they seem to consider) fun.

So the next time you hear of the WBC protesting a funeral, concert, school, or religious institution, don't give them what they want by countering their hate with your own.  Test their limits the real way; offer them a warm handshake and maybe even something to eat or drink.  As hard as it may be to find, compliment them on something like their shoes or the way they are wearing their hair.  If you live anywhere near the WBC, ask to come over and bring banana bread with you.

The Westboro Baptist Church has shown that they can give and receive hate better than any group around.  Now maybe it's time to take a page out of Scoop's book and see what happens when you show them a little kindness.  If they can show kindness to an openly gay man to the the point of having him over for dinner and considering him a good friend, there's no telling how far their limits of human empathy can be pushed. Who knows...you may make some very interesting new friends.

...and you may end up with one of the most awkward
and awesome family portraits of all time.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fun with the public school system: 'Reply All' strikes again.

Yesterday, one of my favorite times of the year occurred right before we began our Thanksgiving Break:  A holiday that I like to call "Email Festivia." 

It is a subject that I have covered before, but this time I have decided to go into a little more detail. The following is the actual text from but a few of the massive deluge of emails that I and every other employee in my school district received.  It began, as usual, with a very odd request/demand:

-Good Morning. We are having the same problem starting up AGAIN with teachers not turning in breakfast basket/slip this is something I really have to account for.So please take your breakfast and send the basket/slip BACK we all have a JOB to do.If you do not send them back I will send your student back if they come down for your breakfast the following day they will need to bring your slip.

First of all, I am in no place to criticize grammar and typos, but that paragraph nearly caused me to have vertigo.  Secondly, I have no idea what a “breakfast basket” is (although it sounds delicious) or why it requires a slip.  After about 10 seconds of deductive contemplation, I realized that someone had meant to send an email out to their school, but somehow had mass forwarded it to the entire school district.

What happens next is where the real fun begins:  The mistaken mass email rage cycle.  The first few responses, as always, are fairly mundane:

-Good morning,
 I am at West Ashley High School and have no clue what this e-mail is regarding.  If this is for a different school, I regret to say you e-mailed the incorrect person.

-I am not sure what this is in reference to.... I believe that you have the wrong person.

-I'm at Liberty Hill Academy...wrong person.  Sorry!

-I was just thinking the same thing...I'm at Military Magnet…

-Wrong Reginald (I'm at Mitchell)

-Wrong Michelle as well.

At this point the confusion is frustrating, but at least there is a logical reason for it.  Some of these people thought that they were copied to the message because they shared a name with a person at the message's intended school.  Others were simply caught off guard; they did not have the benefit of seeing 1400 responses in their inbox to clue them in that this was a mistaken mass mailing.  Their confusion is understandable.  Afterwards, however, things get a little bit more testy.

-Basket slips?   I thought we were using the scan cards....Is this a message for Oakland teachers?

-I do not know what this message is about or who it is from

-Is it necessary to send these to the entire school district?  Please adjust your send list.

-Please take me off this list.  Its VERY distracting to receive all these emails.

-When you reply to this e-mail you really only have to "reply to sender" so that everyone who received the original message doesn't also have a mailbox full of individual replies...

-Hello everyone!
I think we can all agree that [name removed] accidently mass mailed people with information that probably does not pertain to your school.  To avoid everyone on that list getting repeated confirmations of this obvious fact:
#1 Either email [name removed] directly
#2 Just ignore the message


Of course, these ironic warning and admonishments not to hit reply all (that were also sent out to the entire school district) continued to go unheeded.  It is at this point that anger and desperation begin to set in.

-I would like to get off this email list please.  It's freezing up my computer and I have no clue what a breakfast slip/basket is.  Thanks. 

-Please, reply only to sender, not to all.  You are all cluttering up my inbox!

-Please stop hitting reply to all! This message is being sent over and over and over again to the entire email list. 

-This is a mistake message. 

-Please stop replying all!!!!! I believe she received enough messages by now about the wrong school. THANKS!




Tensions had now boiled over due to all these distracting emails about breakfast baskets...and all the emails from people instructing everyone to stop responding to the mass emails.  By this point, the ratio of "what is this?" to "STOP SENDING ME THIS"  was about even.

Caps and bold font were also actually utilized in the above emails to make the senders' points that much more clear.  

It was time for the school district to step in and handle things with this timely message:

-Good Morning Everyone,
I wanted to let you know that if you have received an email from "[Name Removed]" concerning baskets and slips, this is not a virus, but rather an email inadvertently sent to all teachers within the district.  While it might be tempting to reply to this email for additional information, please do not reply.  We've had numerous folks replying to "all" and this is causing other issues for our users.  So the best advise I can give you this morning is if you should happen to receive this email, simply delete it from your mailbox.  Thanks everyone.

Of course, this caused everyone that had somehow not yet seen the original source of all the confusion (or who were just discovering it) to join in on the fun:

-I do not who were trying to email but I am not the one. I am at JIES and I do not eat breakfast here. Thanks.


-I'm not sure why I am BC'd on this email. I have no idea what it is in reference to.

-It seems to me that a bunch of us got this email for no reason.  Could we please stop replying to all, because now it's really clogging up inboxes!  A reply to sender will do!  Thanks :)

Now normally, I dedicate myself to simply being an amused spectator during the ensuing chaos.  This time, however, I decided it my turn to get into in the holiday spirit by sending (to entire school district, of course) the following response:

-Just wanted to chime in and say that all of you who demanded everyone stop hitting reply all...and then also hit reply all...absolutely made my day :)

Have a good Thanksgiving Break, everyone!

This resulted in an awesome finale to Email Festivia that I will always cherish.  The first thing that occurred was my email inbox getting bombarded by automated 'Out of Office' replies and 'undeliverable' notifications.  Once that was done, the praise and adulation began rolling in:

-Ha Ha!!! And my response is to the sender only... This whole situation just adds another reason to my theory that we should have had the whole week off! Enjoy your break!!! 

-Mine too my friend! Hilarious.

-Finally, someone had the nerve to say this.  I was cracking up myself!  :)

-LOL at your response..Note, I only sent this to you!!

-Unfortunately, for email, there is not a "LIKE" button...because I totally would have done that for your email!

-The well known legend of your incredible teaching ability is clearly matched by your peerless wit.  It would be an honor to name my first born child after you.

Okay, that last one wasn't real, but the others (and many more that came in throughout the day) were real.  The other benefit to all this was that after I sent my email out to the entire district, the flood of "breakfast basketgate" related mass mailings stopped dead in it's tracks.  Today, I truly felt like a The Hero of Email Festivia amongst my coworkers.  


Happy Email Festivia and Thanksgiving to Everyone!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Education Major Classroom Observations: A Spectator to Anarchy

When working to obtain a degree in education, one of the requirements is that you do classroom observations of certified teachers at local public schools.  These observations give you a chance to see what it’s like to manage classroom behavior and successfully teach a lesson plan outside of the controlled environment of a college education class.  It also gives you a chance to see the spectacular catastrophes that occur when a room full of children loses control.

When I was in college, I did many of my observations with the same group of people.  One person I always went with was my good friend Brad, who like myself was a music education major and a trombone player.  Brad was the type of guy that was very low key, had a subtle yet hilarious sense of humor, and was smarter and more dependable than 99% of the people around him (myself included).  In other words, he was one of the few people whose company you could actually tolerate and even enjoy while driving to a school before the sun had come up.   

One semester, Brad and I were observing an elementary school music class during the mornings before our college classes began for the day.  Hearing students attempt to sing ‘My Country, 'Tis of Thee’ or playing the recorder (aka the devil’s instrument) at 7:00 AM is not the best way to start your day.  I am often amazed by the fact that kids at that age can be so utterly cheerful and energetic in the morning while I wished for nothing more than complete silence and a place to put my head down.

Let's just make it through this
so we can get back to Sociology class and sleep.

One day, the teacher asked Brad and I if we could bring in our instruments and play for the class.  We both agreed and were actually looking forward to performing for the class.  It would be nice to get to do something other than sit in one place and listen to kids sing along with overly cheerful recordings of various patriotic songs.  When we arrived at the school that morning, however, Brad and I were greeted with a much larger audience than we were expecting.

The class of 5th graders that we had been observing was about 35 students that were packed into a very modest sized classroom.  The school decided that since there were “guest artists” coming to perform, they would also bring in a sizable portion of the 3rd grade and kindergarten classes.   This easily brought in over 100 small children, who now surrounded us to the point that many were sitting on the floor right under our music stands.   We were probably violating numerous fire codes, (and personal space issues), but to the students’ (and their teachers’) credit, they were very quiet and attentive while we played…

…until Brad said one of the most ill advised thing that you could ever say to a room full of children.  

We were about to play one of our last trombone duets for the day, which was called ‘Gigue.’  Brad introduced the piece the students:

“Alright guys, the name of our next song is ‘Gigue’.  It is pronounced the same way as the word ‘jig’ which is a type of dance.  So how about while we play this next piece for you, every stands up and does a dance, or a ‘jig’, of their own!”

Brad's words being  translated by the gods of chaos and destruction.

Before I could warn Brad of the absolute ragnarok that he had just commanded, he was already counting off for us to begin playing.  My musician's instincts took over and we began our duet.  No one, however, was able to tell that we had started because in front of us was the most incredible display of kinetic chaos that I have ever seen in my entire life.  This includes multiple rock concerts and college/pro sporting events.  A tornado would have been preferable to the absolute terror and destruction that Brad’s call for spontaneous dancing by the students had wrought.

For example:  When someone says that kids in a classroom are “bouncing off the walls,” they most likely mean that the students were very hyperactive or at worst, running/jumping within the confines of the floor.  What Brad and I observed (as we stoically continued to perform our Baroque duet) were students that were LITERALLY bouncing off the walls.  Some jumped towards the wall and kicked off of it with their feet, which sent them hurtling backwards into clusters of their unsuspecting classmates.  Others simply flung their entire bodies into the wall and collapsed back onto the floor, only to get back up and repeat the process.

Some students went with the more mundane option of simply flailing their arms about while running back and forth across the room.  Others dropped to the floor and convulsed as if a demon were being exorcised from their bodies.  If a student had experienced a seizure, no one would have known.  

Why are everyone's pupils dilated?

The teacher whose classroom we were in kept a giant beach ball near the back of the room.  The ball lasted all of about 15 seconds into the fray until we heard a very loud "Pop!"  This of course did not deter any of the mass chaos that was happening around us.

I also distinctly remember one of the youngest students that was standing near us.  He was attempting to do an actual Irish Jig while complete anarchy raged around him.  I appreciated the effort.

The noise in the room had also grown to a phenomenally insane level.  Shrill screams and maniacal laughter created a wall of sound that completely drowned out our playing and every attempt at a coherent thought.  The students were screaming so loudly that by the time we finished the piece, no one was aware that our performance had concluded.  Brad and I put down our horns and watched as the teachers desperately tried to regain control of the classroom.  It would take them almost 10 minutes to get the class to settle back down and stop losing its collective mind.

A few chairs and desks may have needed to be moved back into place, as well.

“I guess I shouldn’t have said that,” Brad said sheepishly as a lunch box flew by his head.  

"Yeah, probably not," I replied as another student crashed into my music stand, knocking it to the floor.

It was in that moment that I decided teaching elementary school was not really for me.  Of course, if it was the only job available, I'd be willing to take it.  But I would need to make sure that there were clear guidelines prohibiting 140 kids from spontaneously dancing in a confined space.

And no recorders.  Ever.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Justified Sports Hatred: Duke

(photo @ mascotsinreview)

When I was growing up in Georgia, I had no idea that I would end up at the University of Kentucky until my senior year of high school. My blue blood transfusion, however, was not a very difficult procedure. I had always been a fan of basketball (NCAA and NBA) and had followed Georgia Tech casually during my days in Atlanta.

But even during this time following an ACC team, I had never felt the need to hate Duke. When I first arrived at the University of Kentucky, I was welcomed with open arms, a music scholarship, and a mandate that I should hate the Duke Blue Devils with every fiber of my being.

The message was  crystal clear 
once we crossed the state line.

When I dared to ask "Why do we hate Duke so much?", I was severely beaten and made to ride out of town with a bag over my head while on a horse afflicted with severe dementia.

Fortunately, I was able to return in time for classes to start...and to learn why it was that the bluegrass state and many others absolutely despised the Dookies.

To be honest, I privately (and very silently) thought it was almost exclusively due to jealousy over Duke's high level of success at basketball.  What I came to discover during my college years and beyond was that while jealousy may be an ingredient, Duke hatred is far more pure and righteous than I ever could have ever imagined.  It was so bad in fact that when my dad recently reminded me that I owned a Christian Laettner jersey from when he played for the Atlanta Hawks....

....okay....go ahead and laugh.
Get it out of your system...

...as I was saying, when my dad asked me if I still wanted the jersey, I told him in no uncertain terms to burn it.  The following are a few of the many reasons why hating Duke is infused into mine and many other college basketball fan's DNA.

1.  Duke gets calls and they flop worse than a soccer team.

-Preemptive counter argument:  No they don't!  That's just the haters that don't like our fundamental, throwback style of basketball!

'Traveling' in basketball is a violation that occurs when the player holding the ball illegally moves one or both of his feet. In this 2009 game against Wake Forest, Duke did not seem to be aware of this rule. Fortunately for them, neither did the refs. While I'm not completely sold on this uploader's count of 12 steps, I personally counted at least 6.

Admittedly, that one was pretty subtle. Let's take a look at this game from 2009 against Virginia Tech. Near the end and with the score still close, Duke's Jon Scheyer is somehow able to miraculously move his feet and entire body multiple times right in front of a ref without a call being made. Even the announcers can't believe what they are seeing.

Here is one of my all time favorites: Kyle Singler receives a slight bump from FSU's Chris Singleton. This causes him to flail his arms about like a tool and hurl himself to the floor, getting the foul call and some heart warming sympathy from Dick Vitale.

Speaking of flopping, Duke has made it into an art form...most of the time. They were even recognized for their ability/willingness to do it CONSTANTLY by Sports Illustrated. Here are a couple of my favorite unsuccessful attempts.

First up, we have Greg Paulus mistiming his flop about 2 weeks before anyone gets near him (laugh track not mine, but still very appropriate):

Next up is one of my favorite moves that is still being used in the NBA by JJ Redick himself:  The Duke After Shot Leg Kick.

By the way, in case it wasn't readily apparent from that last clip, JJ Redick is a punk. Watch here as he completely goes MMA on a guy just for being in the way of him falling down. Unfortunately, I could not find the result of the call, but Dick Vitale seems more amused and proud of Redick than anything (which is a nice lead in to our next point).

2.  The media loves Duke and is not afraid of letting it show.

-Preemptive Counter Argument:  Keeping dreaming!  The media only seems to love us because we are always so good.  What else are they going to report?  

Well, you are correct in saying that Duke is usually good. In fact, I'm surprised that even though they are consistently a top 10 team, ESPN can still write articles about how the team is flying "under the radar" when they are ranked #3 in the nation.

However, I do think this one gets overblown...with one major exception: Dick Vitale, who praises Duke even when he is calling a game that doesn't involve the Blue Devils.

By the way, Dick Vitale doesn't care if you get tired of him talking about Duke, he's going to do it anyway.

3.  The NCAA favors Duke.

Preemptive Counter Argument:  Oh shut up Kentucky fan!  That's total bull and you know it!

No, it's not.

Let's take out the things that are hard to prove as facts...like that Duke always gets favorable NCAA tournament seeding.

Let's also leave aside things that look shady, but can't be proven...like a recruit's mom miraculously getting a high paying job at a Duke booster owned money management firm.

Let's just deal with facts...and Corey Maggette. In 1997, high school basketball star Maggette received cash payments totaling $2,000 from a summer basketball coach named Myron Piggie. That same year, Maggette signed with Duke.

In 2000, a federal grand jury in Missouri handed down an 11-count indictment of Piggie, which detailed payments made by him directly to Maggette. By NCAA rues, the payments should have compromised Maggette's amateur status. 

Maggette initially denied receiving any money. Later that year, however, Magette and Piggie admitted under oath that money changed hands from coach to player. The entire report by Dan Wetzel (which is an excellent read) can be found here.

There's just one problem, though.  Wetzel's article was written in 2004. The admission of guilt happened in 2000...and the NCAA had done absolutely nothing by that point.  

When NCAA spokesperson Monica Lunderman was asked about this, she replied:

"We don't have any information on that. The NCAA does not provide comment concerning "ongoing investigations."

Lunderman then yelled 
"LOOK!  IT'S CTHULU!" and ran out of the room.

What the heck were they still investigating? The guilty parties had already confessed.  

Maybe they were trying to work out whether or not Duke needed to be punished since Maggette took the money before he was enrolled at Duke.  

But the NCAA already has a rule about that--if a teams plays an athlete that is not eligible...even if they didn't know about it...and even if the NCAA cleared that player to go to enroll... "strict liability" will still be enforced. Playing an ineligible player means that the wins, banners, and championships from the years they were at the school are all vacated.

This is exactly what the NCAA did to Memphis for playing Derrick Rose. Rose was alleged to have cheated on his SATs, but it was never proven. Still, Memphis was forced to vacate it's Final Four appearance and all wins from that year. Duke, on the other hand, still has it's banner flying and its wins from Corey Maggette's year at the school in the record books.

In this great follow up piece by Gary Parrish, the NCAA is quoted as saying that there was insufficient evidence that Magette "knew or should have known" that he was taking money...even though he admitted to doing so while under oath in federal court.

No Consistency At All

4.  Duke's fans are lame.

Preemptive counter argument:  What?!  The Cameron Crazies are the best fans in basketball!  At least, that's what my cheer sheet tells me to say...

Yes, the cheer sheets, little slips of paper given to all the students so they know what to say and when to say it. That's pretty ridiculous in and of itself, but at least it has the potential to be creative. The actual cheers however, are normally pretty stupid.

But at least being lame isn't as bad as being an elitist jerk. When Elton Brand decided to leave Duke early to go into the NBA, he received this letter (posted in the link above) from Duke student Jennifer Taylor:

From: Taylor, Jennifer
Sent: Friday, April 16, 1999 2:55 PM
To: Brand, Elton
Subject: Leaving Duke
I graduated from Duke last May and just wanted to express my disgust for your decision to leave the Duke program after only two years. As an alum, not only do I hold the school in high regard, but the basketball program as well, especially since both have deservedly garnered such a great deal of respect for their accomplishments.
As part of our basketball program, you represent Duke as a whole. We are first and foremost an academic school, you clearly did not belong at Duke in the first place if this was the extent of your commitment to Duke and a college education in general. You have not only insulted the current students who are putting in four years at a school they love, but also the thousands of alumni who have realized the value of a Duke education and what an honor and privilege it was to be there for four years.
If you do not realize the opportunity you has infront of you to play for Coach K and at the same time attain a Duke diploma, then that is certainly your loss. I just wish that you has spared us the notion that you were continuing in the tradition of being a Duke student-athlete, in emphasizing excellence in both academics and athletics. You will not be considered part of the Duke family, in my mind as well as many others. You have by no means proved yourself worthy of that title.
Jennifer Taylor

Brand's response was very telling...and priceless:

Thank you very much, for reminding me of the reason why I left Duke. People like you can not and will not ever understand my situation. I'm sure daddy worked very hard to send your rich self to college. While real people struggle. I would also like to extend an invitation for you not to waste your or my time ever agin. Never being considered a part of your posh group of yuppies really hurts me to the heart. Yeah, right. Because I don't care about you or your alumni.

Sincerely, Elton Brand #42 NBA

5.  Christian Laettner

Yeah so I liked him when he was with the Hawks.  That was before I was shown the following video.  No, not "the shot".  It's the one where he purposefully stomps on Kentucky player Aminu Timberlake...and shows absolutely no remorse for it years later.  

Happy Duke hating everyone...and Dad, please make sure that you've burned that jersey by the time I come for my next visit.

Please also feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter.