Tuesday, November 17, 2009

hang ten

This is NOT me at a recent surfing lesson.

Lifecycle of the pier

There were a lot of people fishing off of the Redondo Beach pier when I visited the other day.

Some big pelican-type birds were hanging around, ready to swoop in and get any stray fish scraps. The roof with a bunch of the birds sitting on top of it was right next to the sink/table where people would gut and filet the fish they caught.

There were lots of seagulls hanging around to get bread crumbs and stray bits of popcorn and ice cream cone dropped by all the tourists and kids watching the fishermen and pelicans.

So the fish, attract the fishermen, who attract the pelicans, who attract the messy tourists, who attract the seagulls...good thing no one follows the rules!

(look at the sign)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

like a David Hasselhof fan in Germany...

I was only in France for a few days last fall/winter, but Paris had a lasting impression on me. In doing a crude assessment of my ancestry, I've determined that roughly I am equal parts French, German, and Irish...and then a bunch of other stuff. During the first 26 years of my life I had never embraced my French heritage. I think this is partly because I could never pronounce any of their words (what's up with all the silent consonants?...coup, hors 'd oeuvres, Mardi Gras, etc...) and partly because of that post-9/11-freedom fries thing.

So when I decided to study abroad in Ireland for the Fall 2008 semester, it was more of a coincidence/convenience that I had the opportunity to spend some time in the City of Lights. My law school friends Tom and Marine were already in Paris working for the summer, and my friend Thomas was starting his study abroad program in Paris a couple weeks before my program in Ireland was set to begin. So this gave me a perfect excuse to go to Europe early, see the sights of Paris, and not need to know how to speak any French.

I ended up spending 8 days in Paris...5 in early September and 3 just before Christmas on my way home. I liked Paris much more that had expected. I've blogged about a couple of my favorite things already... http://www.chapmaster.com/2009/04/canal-saint-martin.html and http://www.chapmaster.com/2008/12/paris-weekend.html for example.

But one thing that I enjoyed most was French music. I loved it...even though I don't speak French. Since I didn't know what was being said/sung, the songs that really stuck with me weren't necessarily ones that I'd like if I were a frenchman or understood the lyrics. Just ones that sounded good to me... In fact, when I later told Marine about the songs I liked and asked her for the artist's names, I could almost hear her laughing all the was across the Atlantic. According to her, one song was for teenage girls to like, one was for old people to like....etc.

Nevertheless, you like what you like, so like a German who (inexplicably) loves David Hasselhof, here is my decidedly "uncool" list of favorite French music:

Cristophe Mae, "Mon p'tit gars"
This is the song which apparently was popular with the teenage girl crowd recently. It sounds like a pop-py love song but he's actually singing about his baby son. I heard this song on the radio at an internet cafe and had Thomas (who speaks French) write down some of the lyrics so I could find out what it was.

Michel Polnareff, "On ira tous au paradis"
On my last night in Paris before returning to the U.S., a group of us went to a sing-along at a local hole-in-the-wall bar. The place was packed...Christmas was less than a week away, the tiny bar was lit up with old-style Christmas lights, and of course good wine was flowing. There was a Bob Dylan-esque man with a guitar leading everyone in song...singing mostly folky French standards. Even though I don't know any French, it was fun to try and sing along and enjoy the festive mood. I liked this song so much I wrote down some of the lyrics to find it later. I'm not sure about the kazoo intro. As you can tell, it is great for singing along. The title is loosely translated at "Everyone will go to paradise/heaven."

Edith Piaf, "La vie en rose"
I heard this song first in Thomas' apartment at at going away party. The song is part of the "French Dinner Party" playlist on iTunes. I think the music sounds quintessentially Parisian. Edith Piaf is regarded as France's greatest popular singer. According to Wikipedia, legend has it that she was literally born on a street...onto the pavement...in Paris. She was abandoned by her parents at an early age, lived on the streets and in a brothel during her early years, performed as a "street acrobat" with her father, and gave a commission (paid out of her singing proceeds) to her pimp boyfriend so that he wouldn't force her into prostitution. It's amazing that such a beautiful song can come from a person with such a troubled life. (Mind you, I have no idea what the words mean...at least they sound beautiful.)

Maurice Chevalier, "Ca sent si bon la France"
This song was also on the iTunes "French Dinner Party" playlist. Maurice Chevalier is where the stereotypical "huh-huh-HUH" image of a frenchman comes from. This song reminds me of French merriment. It is ironic that the only video version of this song I could find is set to images of rioting in Parisian suburbs. Oh well, you take the good with the bad. As a side note, I found that listening to the iTunes "French Dinner Party" playlist was perfect music to listen to while writing my seminar paper and studying for the bar exam earlier this year. I had no idea what the words meant because they were in French and it was lively enough to keep me awake.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Brite Spot

Here is a homeless man crossing the street in Echo Park LA with all of his earthly possessions.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


would you hire a bankruptcy/DUI attorney who has "FRAUD" emblazoned on the front of his office?

Monday, October 5, 2009

my acting debut...

This is a billboard I spotted the other day in Beverly Hills advertising the new George Clooney movie "Up in the Air." They filmed alot of the movie in St. Louis. Back in March I was an extra in a scene. It was a really cool experience to see how everything worked "behind the scenes" and to see George up close. I signed some agreement promising not to reveal any details of the movie or the filming...but suffice it to say that there is probably about a 25% chance that my face (or the back of my head) will flash by briefly in the background of one scene. Pretty sweet, huh?

I'm very excited because this represents the start of my acting career. One thing I've noticed is that every other person you meet out here is in "the business"...(the entertainment business). For example, on my first day out here I met an animator/puppeteer on a Cartoon Network show. On the first day of work I discovered that my co-worker's cousin is a famous movie star whose husband is in a sitcom. Last summer when I was out here I met an actor who appeared in several episodes of "Dallas," "Charlie's Angels" and the "A-Team," and voiced one of the dinosaurs in "The Land Before Time." I haven't spotted any celebrities around town yet...

I don't actually want to be an actor of course. The closest I've gotten to starring in a show was when I operated the curtain at my 8th grade talent show. I don't think I would mind being a model...but I wouldn't want to know when people were taking pictures of me. It always seems like my pictures turn out better when I don't know they're being taken. Another requirement would be that I would already be in the physical condition required for the modeling job...no extreme fitness plans, no drastic wardrobe changes, no posing. I guess all I really want is to get money for people taking pictures of me as I go about my business in my natural habitat--like a zoo animal but with better legal representation.

(Yes Thomas, I know that zoos are unnatural, unhealthy habitats in which animals are held captive, enslaved for human enjoyment and curiousity. If I could personalize this blog, I would substitute the word "safari" in place of the word "zoo" in your edition.)

Even though I don't want to be actor, I'm sure my role in the Clooney movie will pay off in other ways. Of course it will make for interesting bar conversation, improve my street cred and impress chicks...but I really want to appear in the movie so I can put it on my resume. Ideally I'd able to provide the exact time of my appearance or even attach some still shots of the scene. I could put a photo of my performance on the reverse side of my resume. Or better yet, I could just print my resumes directly on the back side of a photo of me and George Clooney.

The movie should be released in late November or early December...I'll be sure to let everyone know if I'm in it!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fantasy football

Not surprisingly, I defeated Andrew last week in our fantasy football league. This week I'm facing a team that is 0-3, so I feel like I have a pretty good shot at having 2 wins in a row.

Century Sunset

Rising out of the mist, you can see the skyline of the famous, mythical Century City. Er, well, maybe not famous or mythical, but it was a really cool sunset.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Johnny Cash vs. Adam Lambert experiment

While we were driving yesterday, I played Adam Lambert's cover version of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." Thomas was appalled. So Thomas decided to do a side-by-side comparison of them both covering U2's "One"...

Note: Sorry this is 7 days late...I had to move to another state and then figure out how to compress video clips before I could get this posted.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Day 1: 9-2-09

So the big day finally arrived. Time to head west. I've been getting ready for a few weeks, but today was the official first day of my journey. Here is a narrative of the day, in pictures.

Leaving my house. The truck was pretty full...almost Beverly Hillbillies-style. I made the decision a few weeks ago to not rent a U-Haul truck or trailer. This forced me to make many difficult decisions about what to take and what to leave behind. Unfortunately, when it was all said and done, I had to leave behind my bike (which I use twice a year), my golf clubs (once a year) and crock-pot (never used). :'(

Here's a picture of Thomas and me just before we left. We were about 5 minutes away when we had to return for some forgotten items. Thomas was really good natured about the fact that I had planned on a 10am departure and we didn't actually get on the road until 1:50pm. Believe it or not, that's a 1 hour 10 minute improvement over last year.

We stopped for gas outside of Columbia at a Conoco station that also doubled at Larry's Boots.

While I was filling up, Thomas managed to get into a somewhat heated debate about religion on Facebook using his new "Space Phone." The Space Phone proved very useful. We were able to listen to mlb.com streaming the baseball game as we drove through Middle-of-Nowhere, KS.

We made a quick stop by the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka on the way to Taco Bell.

I spotted this cool looking Pancake House in Topeka.

Breathtaking sunset over beautiful mid-Kansas.

Look what immediately greeted me upon my arrival in lovely Burlington, CO (see last post).

That's pretty much it for today. Tomorrow we'll be in Denver and up in the Rocky Mountains. I will post another update tomorrow night if there is internet at our next hotel.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

the beginnings of a road trip

So I'm planning a trip out west and am looking at motels to stay at along the way. I think we'll be staying in the middle-of-nowhere, Kansas the first night. This is the photo for the least expensive place I could find. I guess the fact that the motel chooses to feature 4 withered houseplants as their main photo probably indicates that their room service menu is not too extensive.

Friday, August 7, 2009

And you thought you had a strict father...

After making last minute reservations at a local hostel, Andrew and I aimlessly wandered around Galway for the better half of an afternoon while Tom went fishing and hobnobbed with street performers. We were on a deserted side street when I spotted a creepy skull and crossbones carved into a wall. It appeared to be part of some sort of memorial, but the descriptions carved into the stone were faded and discolored, so it was impossible to know what the memorial commemorated. Thanks to the magic of PhotoEditor and the internet, I can fill in the details.
"The Lynch Memorial Window"

As legend has it, this window marks the spot where the Mayor of Galway, James Lynch Fitzstephen, hanged his own son in 1493. His son Walter murdered a Spanish guest of the family, and gave himself up to his dad, Galway's mayor and the town's chief magistrate. Everyone in town liked Walter. When his father convicted him and sentenced him to death, a mob demanded Walter's pardon and tried to rescue him. The Mayor, Walter and the bailiffs couldn't reach the place of execution because of the large pro-Walter crown demanding his release. Enraged, the Mayor took his son inside their nearby house, took him upstairs, tied a rope around his neck, and threw him out the window. Walter hanged to death in full view of the crowd below. The legend (several different versions of which I found online) serves to show that "the enforcement of the law was more important than the bonds of family." Some people believe that the word "lynch" comes from this event.

"This memorial of the stern and unbending justice of the chief magistrate of this city, James Lynch Fitzstephen, elected mayor A. D. 1493, who condemned and executed his own guilty son, Walter, on this spot, has been restored to its ancient site A. D. 1854, with the approval of the Town Commissioners, by their Chairman, Very Rev. Peter Daly, P. P., and Vicar of St. Nicholas."
"1524: Remember deathe, vaniti of vaniti and al is but vaniti"

Cool looking door located nearby

Monday, June 29, 2009

He was the world

I've never really been a huge Michael Jackson fan, although I admit that some of the Jackson 5 songs are classics, and I did own the cassette tape that had "Black or White." The Gloved One's recent and sudden death is saddening. I've seen on TV several people who had interacted with him recently saying that he was so frail and sickly looking that they weren't surprised something happened.

As any regular reader of this blog should know, I think MJ's crowing achievement was his masterminding of the "We Are The World" video. With his artistic ability and pop culture gravitas he was able to call together the stars of 1985 to not only help starving people in Africa, but help me in my epic insult/darts battle over Tom. For that I am eternally grateful...

Friday, May 8, 2009

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Belfast demonstration

Whatever street we were on in Belfast must have been a designated "protest street" because when we went by later in the day, there was another demonstration going on. This one was more like a parade, as there were a lot of children marchers and banners. The chants were not in English. Our tour guide said they were advocating for traditional Irish (Gaelic) to be taught in schools.

Since we were in Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, I don't think spoken Irish was required in the schools. However, down in Cork (and maybe the rest of the Republic of Ireland) I think that every school kid learns Irish and actually has to take an Irish proficiency test on the college entrance exams. Just as a casual observer, it seems to me that the language issue is deeply rooted in the politics and history of the island, rather than in education or language. Even in Cork where everyone had studied Irish, very few people actually spoke it. Preserving the native language seems to be more of a point of national pride or national heritage...which I think is a good thing in a place with such a fascinating and complex history. As to whether school kids should be made to learn Irish, who knows?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Belfast protest

When we were in Belfast, we happened upon a protest in front of Subway (the sandwich shop, not the Metro) on one of the main streets downtown. They were protesting workers' rights...something about pregnant women and immigrant workers not getting equal pay or equal treatment. Like most of Belfast, there was a heavy police presence. So of course, I took alot of pictures of the goings on.

Mmmmmm....Burger King...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tom's Cheer

Goooooooooooooooooooooo....pit stains!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Norway: Royal Palace, etc.

Here's a video clip I shot of a motorcade we saw in Oslo, Norway. The cars were headed towards the Royal Palace. So maybe the crown-prince was in the limo. It's mildly interesting.

The Royal Palace, Oslo


A guard locked himself out of the house

Oslo po-po

Monday, April 20, 2009


Here's a 2 for 1....a police car and metro stop in Barcelona, Spain.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Mud puddles are more fun than finding easter eggs...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

London Metro (Underground)

Here is the famous logo of the London Underground.
Some of the Underground stations in London, like the one here, look just like storefronts or shops from the outside. But only you'd get on an escalator, go down below, and pay like $6 for a ride.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Wedding Season

This year's wedding season has officially started and it looks like it will be a record-breaker for yours truly. I recently received 2 invitations to weddings in the mail...one in May and one in June. I will attend at least 2 others later in the year...including a starring role as a groomsman in my cousin's wedding in October. Here's a picture from the last wedding I was a part of...
This is the "crazy shot" picture from my friends Chris and Amanda's wedding in Hawaii last summer. I think the picture turned out really well. We're all crazy and have having fun in the sun and whatnot. I actually didn't think the picture was going to turn out at all. Worse, I thought I might have ruined it. I am the one leaping there in the middle. On the first try I misjudged my leap, didn't go up high enough, was off center, and accidentally landed on the gown a little bit (oops, sorry Amanda). However, we did a retake, I nailed the jump like Tonya Harding sticking a triple axel, and photographic history was made.

(ps-I didn't take the picture myself...I stole it from Facebook...)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Vatican City, Rome, etc.

In honor of Easter Sunday, I thought I'd put up some pics of Vatican City from our visit to Rome. When I was hunting for them in my Italy folder, I came across some other Italy pics I don't think I ever posted...so consider this a sort of Rome grab-bag.

St. Peter's Basilica...it was rainy and at night, so my pictures of Vatican City didn't turn out all that great. And by the time we made it up to the door, visiting hours were over.

I think that the pope's apartment is the lighted couple of windows on the top floor on the far right.

Caught in the rain.

Caught in the rain again. You can see 2 street vendors trying to sell us roses behind the guy in blue.

In our hostel's tiny euro elevator.

Rome Metro (subway) sign.

In the Termini metro station, waiting for the train. It's Halloween, hence the ladies are wearing masks.

The Colosseo metro stop.

Random street protest. I think they were protesting something about higher university tuition costs or school fees. We also saw protests in Istanbul and I think a few in Ireland. Maybe I'll have to start another category...