Here are some of my dreams, in no particular order.
-Raise $1,000,000 for charity by calling people cool.
-Use Goalproving to achieve my goals and to help others achieve their goals.
-Create fun, silly educational music videos for kids.
-Go to Maasai Mara, Kenya.
-Do something creative to help Barack Obama become the next president.
I actually set out to run about 9 or 10 miles, but then I kept making small deals with myself (e.g., just get to next that stoplight and then you can walk for a minute), and I came through on every single promise. I then agreed to let myself walk the last 4-5 blocks, therein completing the 19.38-mile journey from my apartment in Lincoln Park to my parents' house in Northbrook. Whoa.
Rough for the body; fantastic for the mind.
UPDATE: I later deemed this a failure of sorts, as I was getting ahead of myself. It, arguably, cost me the marathon, as I could never quite get back on track with the training after recovering from the shin splints and stress fractures in my feet. haha. However, I learned the lesson from it, so there are no regrets, baby. :)
It turned out to be a man named Amos. Amos Kipeen.
I entered the large gymnasium and saw a crowd gathered in a large circle around 4 or 5 colorfully-dressed people. They were performing -- chanting and dancing and jumping and shaking their various obscure ornaments, piercings and necklaces. One of them...I couldn't tell which...was making very loud shrill "whoooop"s and "ayyye"s. The two men were barefoot.
One was so tall and skinny.
But I loved watching them, especially when they began pulling strangers out of the crowd and just bringing them along for the ride. The strangers got into it, too, shaking dutifully to the chants.
I approached their table after their performance. They are the Maasai Buffalo Dance Cultural Change Group. They sing and dance in order to raise awareness and money, the latter of which is all donated to Matanya's Hope, an NPO that enables Kenyan children to go to high school. Most families there can't afford high school tuition, so education is pretty much a pointless dead-end joke, terminating after 8th grade and sending "graduates" right back to their homes to continue raising crops (but this time they know how to spell).
I went straight to the tall and skinny guy. He introduced himself as Amos, and then he and I talked for a good 15-20 minutes. I want to help him and his cause. He is only two years older than I. He has learned English fluently despite seemingly all odds against it. He is committed, and he wants a Law degree. Interesting...given that my dad is a law professor.
It got me thinking -- my Jewish parents always wanted at least one son who was a lawyer or a doctor. Maybe they can adopt Amos and send him to law school for free as my dad's son. How cool would that be?
And then they'll have their son with the law degree! Haha, think of how many Jewish parents are out there, longing to put someone through law school or medical school. And think of how many other bright young people are out there who would do anything to be put through law school or medical school. Somebody call the match-maker; let's launch the JPPTWPDSP (Jewish Parental Pride Third-World Professional Degree Sponsorship Program).
In the meantime, I've read up on all of the Matanya's Hope pamphlets and brochures, and I took Amos' business card. I think I'll send him an e-mail before he heads back to Kenya.
"This is my life. It isn't all I dreamed of and I tell myself sometimes that I might have accomplished more. But growing up in poverty rules out some avenues. You do the best you can."It's just heartbreaking to think that not only are poverty-stricken Americans equally promising and full of potential in childhood, but they are also fully aware of their inability to realize their dreams in adulthood.
--Bob Shannon, Boys' H.S. Football Coach, East St. Louis, IL
One gift that my job is giving me is a deepened sense of obligation and responsibility to underprivileged kids that can only--only-- come from direct exposure.
The quote above is from the book Savage Inequalities, by Jonathan Kozol. I bought it at Borders on my way back from my improv classes on Sunday evening. Incidentally, this book was mandatory reading for all incoming Duke freshmen, the summer I was a sophomore. And interestingly, one of the main case studies in the book is New Trier High School, my proud alma mater.
The 1.6-mile walk down Clark St. from Addison (where iO and Wrigley Field live) to Fullerton (where I live) is wonderful and pleasant, with lots of interesting people-watching and a steady stream of unexplored shops, establishments, and dumpster-filled alleys. I really do like this walk.
Here, enjoy it vicariously through the Google Maps Streetview Drag-Me Guy!
Note: Click "View Larger Map" in order to use Google Streetview.
View Larger Map
(Note: That was not a yell of frustration...it was a nice sigh of relief.)
I just deleted several blogs.
Well, I didn't really delete them, I just removed them from the internet. I copied/pasted each blog into a Word document, and then I deleted it from Blogger.
It feels nice - like a burden has been lifted from my shoulders. I'd really love to post all of my bloggity stuff in one place - my videos, my songs, my words, etc. It's not easy, but it seems like the right thing to do. It's good identity practice.
Anyway, I still have to figure out exactly where this place is (I have a lot of websites), but at least I know that I want one personal blog....instead of twenty.
p.s. here are some highlights from my little blog-purging session:
Yomimasho - A blog that was going to be about my year in Japan.
Total posts: 2
Things I Tell Myself - I guess this blog was going to contain little one-liners and thoughts. Um, why the hell would that need to be its own blog, separate from my personal blog? hahaha. Whatev's...it's gone.
Total Posts: 8
I started a new goalproving project, called "Apple Store."
My goal is to perform music on the small stage on the first floor of the Apple Store in Shibuya before I leave Japan. Enjoy the video.
Goalproving - Apple Store (Step 1) from jchap on Vimeo
Here's a lil songseed from last night.
That's what she said to me
I don't have to pay my dues
Download it: http://abitofnonsense.com/mp3/dues.mp3
As always, contact me if you want more info, higher quality stuff or garageband files to play around with. i'm working on streamlining this process.
Also contact me if you want me to work more on a song seed that you like. You just may help me finish a song!
I enjoy creating new words. It's such a glorious feeling to run a Google search with no results - it's as if the Gods of the Internet are saying, "You're original! You're a trailblazer! A pioneer! Nobody has thought of that word before!*"
*and put it on a website
In this case, the word that has appeared on the internet never before is: nevabefo. It means "never before."
Here's a music video I made for "The Alphabet Song" from Super Simple Songs, my school's original ESL/EFL CDs.
ACTUALLY, this "video" is really a stop-motion animation. It's a slideshow of about 650-700 individual photos, which I snapped one-by-one over the course of several hours. It was intense.
Q: Jeremy, why did you spend several hours gently nudging magnetic letters around a whiteboard?
A: Because that's my job, and it's awesome!
I teach English some days, and I make videos other days. The videos are to help spread the word about Super Simple Songs, which are CD's full of fun English songs for kids. Super Simple Songs are all written and performed by Devon, Troy and Tanja, the other teachers here at Knock Knock English.
Here are some more of the Super Simple Songs videos I've created over the past several months:
If you press the orange subscribe button on that page, you can find out whenever I post a new Super Simple Songs video.
Know anybody who might enjoy these videos? Like any ESL teachers or 3-year-olds? If so, send them the video links! Even better yet, put me in contact with them!
I planted a new songseed in the Creative Forest. It's called "You're Telling Me."
Here are the approximate lyrics:
you're telling me to go other ways/
i don't wanna go other ways/
i wanna go the way that i want to/
and if you don't want me to go that way/
then i'm sorry/
i can go this way if i want to/
i can go that way if i want to/
so far awaaaaaay/
from effectin me/
you're so far awaaaaay/
from havin an effect on me/
This is possibly the cutest video clip I've ever put online. You can read the story below.
This is Nagi. from Knock Knock
Nagi is a student at Knock Knock English, the school where I teach English here in Japan. Nagi and her Mama came in one day during their free time, because they wanted me to video her singing her new rap song. While I was setting some stuff up for the real video, we were listening to her favorite song by the Black Eyed Peas. She decided to record herself with my computer's video camera, and the footage was too precious to ignore.
You can find a bunch more videos I've made with Knock Knock English here: www.supersimplesongs.com/videos.htm
Here's a song I started (and finished) over the last hour. It's kind of representative of my current drive to share things online, regardless of their level of completion and refinement. If I only shared things when i felt they were completely finished and perfect, I'd pretty much never share anything.
So, I'm gonna start taking the extreme opposite approach -- just tossing each thing up here after my first sitting or two with it. As always, feel free to download it, enjoy it, remix it, etc.
Lemme know if you do anything cool.
Some of the lyrics:
I'm happy right now.
Sometime in 2007. May-ish.
5th? 6th? 4th? Around there...
polishedness is overrated
polishedness is overrated
polishedness is overrated
polishedness is overrated
what's the point of finishing everything if you ain't gonna finish anything, know what i mean?
what's the point of making it perfect if it's at the expense of never finishing it?
be okay with it not being okay, okay?
be okay with it not being perfect, and,
you'll find that you can finish it and it's always worth it
A guy named Jeremy S. sent me an e-mail saying that he likes my videos, and wants to come to Japan. I encouraged him to come! He said he wants to, but he's still in school. But would I be willing to do an interview for him? He has to interview someone with his dream job. Well, how could I turn that down, especially from someone named Jeremy!
Here are his questions and my answers:
What do you do?
I teach English to Japanese kids, age 2-11.
Why do you do it?
I love kids, I love learning, and I wanted to live in Japan for a year.
How long have you been doing this?
Seven months, so far.
How much is the pay?
260,000 yen per month. That’s about $27,000 per year. In addition to that, they pay for my transportation to and from work (my train and bus tickets).
What type of education do you have?
I have a BS in Psychology from Duke University.
How far do you travel each day to get to your work?
About 5 minutes by bicycle, 20 minutes by train, 5 minutes by foot. Total about 30 minutes. Once each week (on Thursdays), I take an hour’s worth of trains, plus another 20 minute bus ride, and about 20 minutes of walking. Thursdays are about 1.5 hours of travel.
How old are the kids that you teach?
Age 2-11. The youngest ones (under 5 years old) come in with their Moms or Dads.
What subject do you teach?
Is it fun?
Very, very fun. It’s especially fun because, when we’re not teaching, we write our own original kids’ music and even make fun videos! We even do a podcast on iTunes, which helps parents learn to have some basic English conversations with their kids.
Check out our music videos on YouTube here: www.youtube.com/SuperSimpleSongs
And here’s our podcast: http://www.kodomoeikaiwa.podomatic.com/
Is it suitable for any one or just certain people?
Well, you have to like kids, because otherwise you will go crazy. That means you have to be okay with your students sometimes drooling, pickin’ boogers, tugging on your shirt and/or climbing on their Mom during class. If you like kids, and you’re willing to work hard and have fun, then it’s a great job.
Thanks for interviewing me, Jeremy S.! I hope this was helpful.
Carpathian S. Crumbliest
Plummer P. Elijah
Uncanny V. Disfavor
Who are these people? They're SpamFolks. They're imaginary people whose only purpose on this planet is to occupy the "Sender" column of the spam messages in my in-box.
But I love their names. I guess there's some system for automatically generating a first name, a middle initial and a last name, by borrowing names from some database of names, along with random words from the English dictionary. I think these make great character names, and I hope to one day make some sort of a song or video using these names.
So, today, I'm going to officially start my official list of my favorite SpamFolks. Please feel free to tell me some of your favorites, too...as long as they're actually "real" (meaning you've actually received an e-mail from them).
Carpathian S. Crumbliest
Plummer P. Elijah
Uncanny V. Disfavor
Barnacles P. Bib
Transcontinental K. Ferreted
Convoking G. Geezer
Bossed Q. Ensembles
Vogue K. Individual
Catalyze E. Eclipsed
Biko H. Appliances
Jawboned I. Inordinately
....more to be updated, each time I clear out my junk-mail folder.
Aight, yo, i'm gonna bring this blog back to life. It's been collecting dust for a while. From now on, I'm going to try and limit my posts to 5 sentences or less. If I try to make huge, long, grandiose blog entries, I never finish them.
As the boys passed through Chicago, they stopped to spread the word at a Cubs game. Knowing it would be good for their popularity, they offered me a free ticket and a Best's Kosher dog in return for my celebrity endorsement.
Check out their history-making road-trip (and possible documentary film!) at kicktheoilhabit.org/roadtrip
I'm leaving on July 24th to live in Tokyo for a year!
I will spend one year working for a cool language school called Knock Knock English. I will be teaching English to Japanese kids ages 2-12. The company is especially awesome, because it focuses on developing fun, creative stuff like Super Simple Songs. In short, this job is going to rule.
Hit me up if you or anybody else I know will be in/around Tokyo, or if there's any chance you'll be in Japan between July 2006 and July 2007.
Whoa! Life's cool!
1) Google search for "Jobs in Japan"
2) Stumble upon this page: http://www.jobsinjapan.com/
3) Click on Teaching.
4) Come across this listing, the appeal of which stands head and shoulders above the rest:
Knock Knock English in Setagaya seeks a native speaker who LOVES teaching and creating materials for kids. Teach 4 days/week, 20 hours maximum, with one day for lesson planning/creative pursuits. Special talents (music/design/web) a plus. Full-time from 8/28. E-mail devon(&')knockknockenglish.com for more info (posted 06/20/06)
5) Send Devon an e-mail, asking for more details about the position.
6) Send him a resume. He responds by saying that he plans to interview people who are in Tokyo first, since he generally hires locally.
7) Ask him if he'd be willing to e-mail me some of the questions he plans to ask the people in Tokyo. Set up brilliant "Jeremy Should Work for Knock Knock English" webpage with video interview and other goodies.
8) Cross fingers.
I am coordinating the development of a fun, original SAT class for The Ivy Tutors.
Seriously -- if you are currently living in or around Orlando, wanting some help studying for the SATs, you should think about TITs. I'm telling you, TITs are great. Just grab one, and suddenly you'll understand things you never knew before.
Anyway, I'm really enjoying this, and it's great experience. Even though my wonderful parents tend to ignore this fact, I do actually want to educate people, someday.
I love you, Mom and Dad!
The Chapman/Nelson family took a nice road trip down coastal California. We got to spend a couple days at Disney Land with Michael, Jennifer, and Mira (my niece)! I'm pleased to say that we had a wonderful trip, and that everybody is doing well. Thanks, Mom and Dad!
Dave and Dad modeling proper UV-protection measures while we wait for the ferry that will take us around the San Francisco Bay. We saw Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge while listening to the history of San Francisco on closed-circuit radio!
Mom relaxing at our favorite cafe in San Francisco - the Hollywood Cafe. The family that owns and operates this fine establishment is just so friendly! We ate there every morning. Plus, they keep a wall of paper napkins, featuring messages and pictures penned by various customers throughout the years. Well, Mom drew a lovely picture of San Francisco, and guess what!? -- Her art made it onto the wall!
George Robert Henry Dennis Shufflebarker Painter IV and I met our freshman year at Duke University, when we were singled out, together, as the two most endlessly talented and promising individuals in the entire Class of 2005.
Note: Parts of this account may or may not have been slightly fabricated.
Recently, the two of us decided to utilize a rare and fortuitous opportunity to temporarily inhabit Rob's parents' beautiful, remote property in Oviedo, Florida. (Thank you, Rob's parents!)
We home-spun all of our clothing, dying each garment with the vibrantly colored (but poisonous!) juice of native alafayaberries. This practice was time-consuming, but well worth it!
For transportation, we carved a small canoe out of an old oak tree. We used the scrap wood to construct a simple, but effective dock. Our lifestyle was peaceful, freed from such burdens as awaiting paychecks, expensive gas, and social awkwardness. We most delighted in our total avoidance of shameful fast food, and pathetic trips to Wal-Mart.
After getting settled, we saught jobs at a quaint, local attraction called "Walt Disney World." I would describe the place as a sort of backyard family entertainment center, with a few different games and activities for the kids. We enjoyed growing close with the small, tight-knit staff at Disney.
When we weren't working, we recorded some songs and filmed some videos, including our world-shaking rap video, "Gas Pricez." Unfortunately, our home-made movie camera's wind-up battery began to malfunction, precluding us from further creative works.
As a conclusion to our stay at Oviedo, Robbie and I conceptualized what will soon be the coolest website ever.
We're still working out some final kinks...but there's a sneak preview.
By the time I return from Japan, my girlfriend Amy will be a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management! She is earning her degree at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz School of Public Policy, in Pittsburgh. (Her classes started less than a week after she graduated from her Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs.)
She is amazing.
Which reminde me - if you have any stories about Amy, quotes to inspire her, or other stuff she might enjoy, please send them to me so that I can include them in WeLoveAmy.com - a daily-updated fan site we created for her.
Well, technically, it's called Walt Disney World. But yes - I worked there. For a couple of months. I was at Disney's Animal Kingdom as an Educational Programs Instructor.
Basically, when lucky-ass students from rich-ass schools got to visit Disney World on wicked-ass field trips, I would take them around the park and chitter-chatter with them about animals and such.
Of course, as part of the job, I got to go on sweet, informative rides like the Kilimanjaro Safari. Oh, by the way, I know every obscure animal in the world. And how long its horns can grow.
With the younger kids (as young as 1st grade), I would discuss survival strategies, asking things like, "Whoa! Can anybody guess why this colobus monkey might have such an oily coat of fur?" And, "Hey! Do you guys think that scimitar-horned oryx would make a good pet?"
With older students (up to 12th grade), I would take them "backstage" and show them the various behind-the-scenes facilities, like the Animal Nutrition Center, in which a full-time staff lovingly slices carrots and celery all day, every day.
In short, the job was awesome, and I was glad.
Until I realized that it was becoming more and more difficult to wake up at 5:45 am, since I wasn't going to sleep until like 3:46 am. And, before long, 3:46 am gave way to 4:24 am, and then 4:58 am, and so forth. Eventually, it became downright absurd, because some nights I would stay up editing videos or writing music until like 6:15 am. I was going to sleep after I was supposed to have woken up. And that didn't work, see...because it was like...negative time, see.
So I quit.
David (my bro) will be in Vietnam this coming year, as a Henry Luce Scholar. For those of you who don't know, that's a big frickin deal. Luce Scholars are ballers. David's a balla'.
As a side note, just in the last few years, David has written, produced and starred in a one-man play, taught at the Northwestern Cherubs Program, assistant directed multiple performances, including plays at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, and travelled to Budapest, Hungary, as a Fulbright Scholar. Like I said, baller.
I used graduation gift money to purchase a G5 iMac. Within minutes of plugging in this computer, my creative life absolutely exploded (in a good way). I haven't looked back since.
Nowadays, the hardest thing for me to do is to not proselytize every single person I see. If you would not like to hear about Macs, I understand, that's fine. I would urge you to NOT read below the red line.
Hey! Welcome to the section where I rave about how awesome my new iMac is.
Below is a short list of ways in which my mac has made my life easier, more efficient and way more fun. I'm sorry if a lot of them seem unclear -- it's taking me a while to go through all of them and explain them in more detail.
Feel free to contact me if you want to hear more about anything you see below. I would be more than happy to explain.
Ways in which my life improved once I purchased an iMac:
-Creativity. I have used it to create everything you see on abitofnonsense.com. I didn't have to purchase any software.
-Videos and Pictures. I have made high-quality videos and pictures with the iSight camera that is built into the front of my computer. More samples coming soon.
-More desk space. I have no idea how they possibly crammed all the mechanics of a monitor this awesome into an inch-and-a-half. But I'm happy about it.
-More foot space. Oh yeah -- somehow, they also found a way to get the entire fucking computer in there. I don't like to swear in public, but this is an exception. I never had to schlep or find a spot to plop down my computer's "PCU" or "Tower," because there is none.
-Photobooth: take awesome, funny and cool pictures with the built-in camera
-iMovie: super-easy movie-making program, awesome effects, transitions, titles, etc.
-GarageBand: totally intuitive music-making program.
-iTunes: versatile and intelligent jukebox
-WorldBook: encyclopedia/dictionary/more that came free on the computer
-iPhoto: stores all of my pictures and lets me do a lot with them
-iDVD: lets me create and burn DVDs, like the one I made for my college comedy group
-oh, which reminds me -- I have a CD-RW/DVD-RW super-drive.
-FrontRow and Remote: lets me browse, watch and control all of my music, videos and pictures from across the room.
-MightyMouse: a pretty sick mouse, with a bunch of programmable buttons, and a really fun, tiny scrolly-ball guy.
-Drag between programs: good gosh, this is the handiest thing EVER. i can just drag and drop songs, videos, images, text, etc. directly from one program into another
-Spotlight - instantly searches through all of my files, and is actually good at it
-I can search for files/folders when uploading or opening a file, instead of manually browsing through everything like a chump.
-I can search for files/folders and folders when downloading or saving file, instead of manually browsing through everything like a goon.
-I can change a file name while that file is open, without my computer crashing.
-To quote my friend John, "things just work." I can view foreign characters and PDFs and all kinds of media files online, without having to download all sorts of garbage.
-I can take a picture of my screen with one button, and it will be saved as an editable image
-3 USBs and 2 firewires
-built-in wireless, bluetooth, infra-red compatibility
-no spyware...no adware...no viruses, all clean stuff
-more. way more.
Back in November, I and my roommate Faber entered Geico's Golden Gecko video contest. The challenge was to create a 15-second trailer for a fake movie that has something to do with Geico or a gecko.
Thanks largely to all of your votes and support, our entry, Medulla Oblongecko, won 2nd prize out of all the comedies! The prize was a sweet LCD TV, which we sold on Craig's List for a fat wad of Jacksons.
You can see our entry and the other winning entries here. Ours is the one right in the middle - 2nd place comedy.
Thank you again for your help; I look forward to soliciting much more of your time with my ridiculous quests for fame, fortune and glory...
Update: The contest website has closed down, so I'll work on getting a copy of our video back up here soon.