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I've been slacking

Bet's brother told me I'm slacking so I'll get back to business. In my defense, it's the end of the school year and not only was I trying to wrap everything up, I was also helping Bet get ready for her trip to grad-school.

For the next 6 weeks I have no excuse for not posting b/c Bet is in America and I'm off work, so if I don't post now, I'm slacking!

First off, as I just mentioned, my wife flew out of Shanghai today headed off to grad school at Wesleyan in Connecticut. It's gonna be really weird being apart that long, I don't think we've spent more than a week (total) apart since we were married 5 years ago. She was really nervous about leaving for a few reasons: She HATES flying, she's nervous about grad school, she's gonna be in a city she doesnt' know around people she doesn't know, and she's gonna be away from me. But she powered through all that somehow and got on the plane. I know she'll do great though b/c she is seriously the most amazing person ever born!

Next topic de-jour we have our Ping-Pong banquet, that's right, Ping-Pong banquet. This year we've had a weekly ping-pong night at my friends house and it was pretty successful. Basically, few of us guys would get together for pizza and ping-pong every Thursday night. One of the fab five wrote a nice little blog about our guy's night so I'll just link to his instead of typing it all out. You can find the post by John Taylor here. (if you're reading this in China you'll have to anonymouse that page) But back to the banquet; we went to an awesome restaurant w/ an awesomely bad name, Naked Cow. This place serves kind of like western tapas. All the men gorged on the feast and filled our bellies, we all agreed that it was possibly the best meal we had ever had in China!

Lastly, the WHITE STRIPES! So this won't serve as a whole album review b/c the jury's still out. My first impression is that it is a GREAT album! I don't know if it will dethrone 'Elephant' or 'Get Behind Me Satan' but even if it were their worst album, that's no insult, so far this band has done no wrong.

It's midnight and I'm unusually tired so I'm going to bed. I'll write more later.


From the www, Vol. 14 - KICK

These two things are completely unrelated other than the fact they both involve kicking so that's what I'm going with.

This home video, of questionable quality, is a highlight reel of one of my 10th grade students. He's a REALLY good soccer player but the thing he does vastly better than anyone else in our league is long distance running. He's won the varsity city wide Cross Country tournament three years in a row. (since he was in 8th grade) But this video is pretty insane, enjoy. (It's hard to tell due to the video quality but in the parts where he's juggling w/ his feet, the ball never touches the ground. He kicks it w/ the bottom foot after throwing his leg over the ball in mid air.)


This video is flat out amazing! The 'unintentional comedy' rating is easily 10 out of 10! Watch for the body hair, ripping of body hair, kitten, and Bruce Lee's 'sound effects'.

Chuck vs. Bruce

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you, tomorrow, you're only a day away!

There's a little 'Annie' reference for John Taylor, who is not only a huge fan of 'Annie' but also a huge fan of 'Anne Of Green Gables' and 'Anne Of Avonlea'.

Tomorrow's the day!

Icky Thump will be in my hands (or iPod) around lunch time tomorrow and I'm a little excited about it if you haven't noticed. The White Stripes have quickly become one of my top five favorite bands and tomorrow they release their sixth album. (that's pretty crazy considering they've only been around for about 8 years)

I saved some of these videos for the last days of the count down but I went out of town for three days so 'the last days' became one; this one. WS have become pretty well known for their imaginative videos and that's mostly due to the genius of Michel Gondry. Michel Gondry is a weirdo to be honest, the guy is so creative in a child like way. It's like he took all your weird childhood dreams and put them on film exactly the way they looked.

He's directed films like Eternal Sunshine and Science Of Sleep and legendary music videos such as the Foo Fighters' 'Everlong', the Chemical Brothers' 'Star Guitar', Bjork's 'Human Behavior' and the list could go on and on. But this post isn't about him, it's about the White Stripes; I'll do a post about him next month. I mention him b/c he evidently loves the White Stripes b/c he keeps doing these amazing videos w/ them.

This first video is somewhat like a cartoon; it's made frame by frame w/ a picture at a time, the catch is that each 'picture' is made of Legos! To pull this off they filmed the band doing all these things w/ an old digital camera and then blew the frames up really big so that they could see each pixel individually and thus map out the Legos. Everything you see is Legos, pretty crazy...
This was also their 'breakout' video and introduced the band to the world.

The White Stripes - Fell In Love With A Girl

Next we have a video that uses projectors and silk screens to bring a two dimensional version of each frame. They're projecting video of 'what happened' on to Jack walking around in various rooms. This was all done w/o computer effects, so it has a very real look to it and makes no effort to hide the simplicity of the whole thing. Which is one of the main reasons I love Gondry's work so much b/c it all looks like something any Joe Shmoe could have pulled off if they just thought of it.

The White Stripes - Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground

Here's a video that takes the previous 'cartoon' idea into the realm of video. This video takes one second (and shorter) shots of video and puts them together like a cartoon frame by frame. They used over 30 drum sets to make this video and if you watch closely you'll notice that each burst, which happens to the rhythm, only contains the exact pieces of the drum kit that she is playing during that beat of the song. i.e. when the drum beat is 'kick-snare-kick-kick-snare' that's exactly what you see laid out across the frame. And if you're catching onto the theme here: No special fx were used in this, everything you see is actual film.

The White Stripes - Hardest Button To Button

This last Gondry video is pretty trippy, Gondry takes a camera/lens that distorts one side to be small and the other to be large, and vise versa. Then he constructs a sound stage full of props that work into that lens scheme and makes for a really weird ride of sizes shifting and changing. It's a lot like when Alice was following the rabbit into Wonderland.

The White Stripes - Denial Twist

Finally, we have a video that wasn't done by Gondry but it has a really cool kaleidoscope effect that I'm sure he'd find a way to do w/o using any special effects. This video won tons of awards and pushed the White Stripes even further into mainstream popularity. Who hasn't heard this song?

The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army (the audio is a little off)


We're going-going back-back to yangshuo-yangshuo

Friday morning we're flying out to Guilin for a little three day trip to Yangshuo w/ our good friends John and Mandy Taylor. This will be our 4th trip there but it should still be fun. It'll just be nice to get out of the big city for awhile. I'll post some pictures and stories on Monday or Tuesday.

Oh ya! The White Stripes new album comes out Tuesday, I'll get a review up of that too!

China's blockin' blogger like LeBron blocked Duncan!

So the past two days or so I haven't been able to access my account page and thus, can't 'blog'. Today its working again and so I'm trying to get this in before the next random swat comes down. So if you ever wonder 'man, he's getting lazy' it's probably just a 'no access' issue.


8 days

One of my favorite White Stripes songs is Hotel Yorba, a nice little folk ditty from their third album, White Blood Cells. I have quite a few live versions of this song that are a little more up-tempo and, in my opinion, are better than the album version.

Here's a good example of how good this song can sound:


Why do I teach at SMIC?

While teachers in the states have to worry about fights, drugs, pregnant students, and all kinds of other violence; I have these kids...

Now you know why I'd rather teach here, SMIC kids are pretty good kids.


From the www, Vol. 13

I am all for teaching kids that underage drinking is wrong and dangerous, I'm all for teaching kids the dangers of drugs and all of that. I myself was the victim of a hit and run by a drunk driver and could have easily died that day had it not been for God looking me out.


This picture was TOO HILARIOUS to pass on!

Where do I start?
1. It looks like the girl is about to have a seizure.
2. You can barely even tell there's a drink in her hands.
3. That's a martini right? What kid starts w/ martinis? They'd have to have a working knowledge of how to mix drinks. (and they'd have to have access to an olive and a martini glass)
4. The tightly braided pigtails. How can we expect the parents of this young lady to talk to her about alcohol when they've obviously not talked to her about her pigtails yet. She's probably been rocking these since she saw Pocahantas or Anne Of Green Gables. (which we all know how Anne and Diane got drunk whilst jabbering about Gilbert)
5. How old is this girl? They couldn't have picked a more ambiguous person for this; I could guess this girl to be anywhere from 14-23.

I guess, in the end, I'm just baffled (like w/ the album covers) that this passed through various levels of production before it became an advertisement. I mean, someone got paid to make this; this is someone's job. They came up w/ this and then someone else, who gets paid to do this for a living, said "ya, Bob, that looks great! Get it to the printers." I guess, even in last phase of the process, the printer should have said "I'm sorry, I have too much integrity and pride in my job, I refuse to print this turd-burger."

Please don't anybody get angry at me for joking on this picture; I fully encourage and support this cause. In fact, go to this website and check out their causes; they do a lot of good work.


12 days

This is a cool little video.

Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground - Live on VH1

From the www, Vol. 12

Smoke and mirrors baby.

I just came across this, it's pretty funny in a deadpan way. It's really sad that their series was stolen from them; imagine Nash and LeBron in the finals, that's what basketball should look like. That'd be more like the 130 point games of the 80's playoffs, back before cheap shots and boring basketball ruled the day.


LeBron James

Before I get to the subject at hand, I wanted to let you know that I posted like 4 new posts today, very unusual after that sparse month of May. So feel free to scroll down after this.

Ok, back to LeBron:
This is amazing! This guy plays basketball like it's 1987 and he's going toe to toe w/ Bird, Magic, Jordan, and Barkley. This is one of the greatest performances I've ever seen in basketball. He scored 29 of his teams last 30 points, and scored the last 25 outright. He did all of that in about 17 minutes. (from 7 minutes left in the 4th quarter through 2 overtimes) And they were throwing 2, 3, or 4 guys at him! I personally think it wouldn't have mattered if they threw all 12 at him; he wasn't going to be stopped. Now the Cavs play the spurs in the NBA Finals and we get to look forward to Bowen throwing cheap shots at him and trying to end his career.

Now before 'ballhog' can pop into your head (Jordan) it should be said that LeBron only did this cause he had to; he had over half of his teams assists in the game and leads his team in assists in almost every game.

Game 5 on May 31, Eastern Conference Finals, Cavs vs. Pistons

From the www, Vol. 11

I guess you can all tell that I'm done coaching b/c all of the sudden I'm posting like wildfire. (yes, wildfire has a blog)

A friend of mine came into my office and mentioned the name of a comedian I hadn't thought about in a while, Mitch Hedberg, so I hopped on Youtube to find some laughs. If you don't know who he is, that stinks for you. I love his humor b/c he looks at things from a different angle.

If you ever hear him you'll immediately notice that he has isn't exactly 'sober and proud', which might attribute to his askew view, but most definitely attributed to his death two years ago and the ripe ol' age of 37.

Here's a sample of Mitch late in his career, this is from Letterman.

From the www, Vol. 10

I love when I find something cool when I wasn't looking for anything remotely connected to it; today I did that twice. Youtube is like a maze, but there's not really any wrong turns; you see something they think is related and you follow it to things you didn't know you wanted to see or didn't know existed.

That happened to me today and here's the three things that caught my eye.

This is one of my favorite Wilco songs, admittedly it's b/c it refers to Florida a lot and b/c it's upbeat. (just like the sunshine state)
Monday - I believe this is from their DVD 'I Am Trying To Break Your Heart' but I'm not certain about that. (who cares right?)

This is only for people that already like Wilco b/c it's a little rockish and disorderly.

Kicking Television - Live on Sound Stage (from their tour w/ Sonic Youth)

(if you don't like Sonic Youth, you probably won't like this but the last 5 minutes are so good!)
From the same tour, same show, same magical moment in time, here's Sonic Youth w/ Rain On Tin.
Jeff Tweedy stands in on guitar on this one but what I find interesting is that there are four Fender Jazz Master (I think that's what they're called) guitars, making five appearances between the last two videos. (three are identical) One is being played by Wilco's Nels Cline, twice by Jeff Tweedy, one by Thurston Moore, and Lee Ranaldo is playing a red one. Is it some underground secret that this is the best guitar for cool bands?

I also came across a great version of California Stars, one of my favorite Wilco related songs, but the audio/video was off sync. That bummed me out.

Revision: After posting this I watched the videos again and I don't think that's Jeff Tweedy w/ Sonic Youth. I watched/taped this show when it came on TV and I don't remember Tweedy being on stage for a Sonic Youth song. Who knows, either way the guitar thing is still right.

What A Year!

I mentioned in the last post that I'm finally finished coaching for the school year but that doesn't do this year any justice.

I don't mean this to sound like anything other than reference:
(most of you already know this stuff)
It was 15 years ago that I first picked up a basketball and fell in love w/ it. Since then, I've played on undefeated teams, been a team captian twice, had tripple doubles, won 2nd place in the state of Florida, and played w/ D1 basketball players as my teammates; but this season was up there with or above all of that stuff. This year, basketball wise, was one of the best years I've ever had and I don't even get to play anymore b/c of my back.
(I mean this year was also amazing in my general non-basketball life too, it's just that I'm talking about basketball right now)

This season, all of my teams exceeded my expectations and, at times, completely surprised me. I still get goose bumps when I think back to our games in the SAS Holiday classic or the game at SCIS or the 5 threes we hit on Suzhou in the SISAC tourney or the two middle school tournaments. I couldn't be more proud of my girls this year, they worked so hard and improved so much! I've been known to ramble so I'll end this quickly. Girls, you were so awesome this year and I can't wait to coach you again next season! GO SHARKS!!

My Varsity Girls

My Middle School team
(John and Mandy coached these girls too; there were two teams)

This is 'my team' out of all the girls above

This is the 'elite team' I mentioned before which consisted of a select group of girls from the two middle school teams pictured above. We took 2nd place.



14 days

So I'm officially done w/ all sport related projects, coaching/misc, for the year. I can't tell you how happy that makes me. I mean, I love coaching but I coach 70% of the year, so I'm a little tired and need some rest.

One thing that will definitely put a smile on my face is the White Stripes' new album, which brings me back to the countdown.

(like that segue?)

Denial Twist - Live on VH1
(this version is very different than the one from last week but I like them both)