Posted by: alexchap30 | August 12, 2016

2016-2017 English Premier League Predictions

It is that time of the year once again…it’s time for my yearly EPL predictions. With the kickoff of the 2016-2017 season a mere five and a half hours away, I felt I would weigh in with some of my thoughts.

Last year was another exciting season in the most prestigious league in the world. Leicester City, who was once ranked at 5,000 to 1 odds to win the title, came from out of nowhere to stun the soccer world and capture their first EPL title. I had them finishing 19th…so yeah…I got that one wrong. However, I did say to those who follow the blog to watch out for big seasons from Harry Kane and Georginio Wijnaldum which I did get right.

Before I get to the power ranking and final table prediction I have a quick tangent I want to go off on. I was not happy with this years Euro Cup. Despite great coverage from ESPN and an expanded field, the product was simply not enjoyable. Teams, such as the eventual champion Portugal, played cagey, defensive soccer. There was no real ambition or desire to go forward and stretch the opponent. Teams simply played conservative and waited huge chunks of time for one opportunity to counter attack. Many countries flat out parked the bus in front of the goal and waited for a shootout. Quite simply it was not the type of soccer I enjoy watching. I had high hopes for Euro 2016, but I was ultimately let down.

However, I am ever the optimist and I firmly believe that those lame tactics will not tarnish and destroy the EPL product and that we will see consitent, exciting soccer this season. And now, without further delay, I unveil the final table for the 2016-2017 EPL season.

2016-2017 Final Table Predictions

  1. Manchester United
  2. Arsenal
  3. Manchester City
  4. Chelsea
  5. Tottenham
  6. Liverpool
  7. West Ham
  8. Everton
  9. Leciester
  10. Stoke
  11. Southampton
  12. Middlesbrough
  13. AFC Bournemouth
  14. West Brom
  15. Crystal Palace
  16. Watford
  17. Burnley
  18. Sunderland
  19. Swansea
  20. Hull

So for the record we have Manchester United winning the title. Arsenal, Man City, and Chelsea will qualify for Chapmions League. And, sadly, Sunderland, Swansea, and Hull will be relegated. It is especially painful for me to put Swansea in the relegation category because I have really enjoyed watching them play the past few years. However, I just do not see enough talent on Swansea’s roster to see them doing very much this season. I did pick Leciester to finish 19th last year so you just never know.

Players to Watch 2016-2017

  1. Paul Pogba
  2. Sergio Aguero
  3. Romelu Lukaku
  4. Mesut Ozil
  5. Saido Berahino

 

 

Posted by: alexchap30 | August 6, 2016

Disco Inferno

There is really no way around it. I suppose I should search for some deep analogy, or profound reason why this is so…but instead I am just going to come right out and say it. I love disco! There is an energy around the genre that is inescapable, and I am left with the realization each time that I listen that the disco bands in the 1970’s were just plain cool. From the outrageous outfits, to the memorable beats the genre is just infe081227172428_500w_500hctious and makes you feel good.

And as I share my love for disco, I think it is important to note that the absolute apex on the cool-o-meter was the late 1976 release of the song Disco Inferno by The Trammps.

Disco Inferno would have been a tour de force on its own, but the song became even more recognizable and popular as it was paired/ featured prominently in the movie Saturday Night Fever (link). The song seemed to speak for an entire generation, and as the beat played one seems to be swept away in the
times.

Breaking down the video is another favorite pastime of mine. A few things that stood out on my most recent viewing of the video. In case you wanted to follow alon
g and do the same (link)hqdefault

  1. Those outfits!- The creamsicle tuxedos are amazing. If one
    were to ask what the perfect blend of orange and white looked like I would have to direct them to this video. The shoes are also incredibly polished and accentuate the entire outfit. It is also an amazing feat that all members of the group match perfectly.
  2. The dance moves- Very simple yet incredibly fitting for this video. Lots of 1-2 steps and finger wagging. Not exactly Michael Jackson doing the robot in Dancing Machine…but still pretty impressive.
  3. The Dance Floor- When you can include that much orange in a video shoot you have to consider it a win. I also like the lights that are lining the orange and black stage.

Here are some additional links in case you haven’t gotten enough of the cultural phenomenon.

  1. Disco Inferno extended version (link)
  2. Scene from Saturday Night Fever (link)
  3. Featured on Soul Train (link)
  4. Soul Train Part 2 (link)
  5. Wondering around New York (link)
  6. In New Jersey in 2005 (link)
Posted by: alexchap30 | June 23, 2016

Top 10 Rage Against the Machine Songs

Although I listed to a lot of hip hop music growing up, I consider Rage Against the Machine to be one of my major musical influences growing up. I still remember walking around the College of Marin campus listening to The Battle of Los Angles on my disc-man.

When I transferred to the University of San Diego my roommate Paul and I would spend long minutes looking through our CD collections before always deciding to play some Rage as we got pumped up for our intramural basketball games. Along with Red Hot Chili Peppers Rage was the most common choice of music to be playing when we would have people over at our Lido Court house in San Diego.

To this day I still enjoy going through the catalog and rocking out to different songs in the collection. And the amazing thing about Rage is that, with a few exceptions towards the end of Renegades, all of their songs are good.

However, I am a man who enjoys lists and power rankings. So with that as a backdrop, I decided to examine which songs were truly the cream of the crop in the Rage Against the Machine discography. As always this list is just my personal opinion. Feel free to chime in with your own favorite songs or albums. Is there a song that was a noticeable snub? The list will go from 10 to 1…with 1 being the top song in the collection.

Top 10 Rage Against the Machine Songshqdefault

10) Born of a Broken Man (link)- One of my most listened to Rage songs. I used to listen to this song a lot my junior year of high school. My brother would often complain that I would wake him up by playing this song first thing in the morning.

9) Voice of the Voiceless (link)- Another track from the brilliant album The Battle of Los Angeles. 

8) Killing in the Name (link)- One of the all time Rage hits. When I saw Rage Against the Machine at Rock the Bells a few years back they came out to this song. The crowd went absolutely ballistic upon hearing the opening chords.

7) Revolver (link)- One of the more under rated Rage songs on the album Evil Empire. 

6) Calm Like a Bomb (link)- The track is amazing, and I also appreciate the use of the oxymoron in the title.

5) Roll Right (link)- Great baseline. Great song. Great band.

4) Bulls on Parade (link)- Probably the biggest hit from a group that made nothing but hits. What an amazing song to get you fired up for something. I like listening to this song before my men’s league basketball games.  Sure I get some strange looks in the parking lot, but the gym knows I mean business.

3) Township Rebellion (link)- I always liked this song but it wasn’t until the 2010 World Cup in South Africa that it vaulted into the elite status for me. As people around the world noticed South Africa during this tournament…Rage kept delivering their message of standing up to injustice and oppression. The song highlights historical inequalities within the country that are important to remember.

2) Down Rodeo (link)- Another Rage song which highlights the inequalities within a country. In this instance the country is the United States and the inequality comes in the form of economic injustice. Rage always had a social conscious which was important to me as I was coming up in the world.

1)  Wake Up (link)- Perhaps a bit of a surprise at the top spot. Wake Up has long been one of my all time favorite songs. The message of being vigilant and being an informed citizen speaks to me. The dangers of giving up your rights is a powerful one. And then there is the final scene of the movie The Matrix which uses this song to perfection. That also helps in any power ranking. (link)

Posted by: alexchap30 | December 31, 2015

Top 5 Hip Hop Songs of All Time

I love hip hop. The genre has always been something that I have been attracted to. I grew up listening to 2Pac, Wu Tang Clan, and DMX. Many of my all time favorite formative memories involve hip hop in some capacity. So even trying to create a favorite hip hop artist or song list was always going to be impossible. I think in the end my endless love for the genre is why I decided to make this a top 5 list instead of a top 10. If I had pushed this list to ten then I would have felt like there would have been some noticeable slights. However, with only five songs to pick as the elite of the elite I didn’t have to feel bad about hurting feelings and I could really focus on what the all time slappers were. 

I am sure that this list will cause a lot of debate and second guess….which is the point. I would love to hear what your favorite hip hop tracks of all time are. Please feel free to post your fave five in the comment section below.

The list will go from 5 to 1 (with one being the greatest/ most influential track of them all).

5) M.O.P- Ante Up (link)

4) The Game and 50 Cent- Hate It or Love It (link)

3) Mobb Deep- Shook Ones Part II- (link)

2) Snoop Dogg- Gin and Juice (link)

1) Wu Tang Clan- CREAM (link)

What I noticed about the list is that a lot of the songs are at least ten years old. In addition, a majority of the top 5 songs came from East Coast rappers. I considered a number of Snoop Dogg songs when I first started thinking about the list (Gin and Juice was always going to make it…but a few others were cuts that just missed out).

Thoughts? Comments? Clear snubs?

 

Posted by: alexchap30 | August 17, 2015

Jam of the Day (7/18/15)

I get asked the following question all the time…..What kind of music do you like? What are you grooving on right now?

Well, I often say, it depends on my mood. I listen to jazz, funk, disco, and classical amongst other genres. However, if you really know my musical taste you would know that I have a soft spot for old school hip hop. The 1990’s produced a bevy of amazing artists and tracks. It was a golden age for the hip hop genre. The tracks seemed to have a message and the hip hop game seemed to mean something.

As I was going through some of my favorite YouTube videos, while waiting for an evening basketball game I stumbled upon this track. The combination of Big Punisher’s rapping skills and the smooth beat make this a classic.

As an end of summer treat…..enjoy. (Link)

Track: You Came Up

Artist: Big Punisher feat. Norega

Posted by: alexchap30 | August 16, 2015

Summer 2015

The 2015-2016 school year will be starting up this coming week.  With the finals hours of summer slowly ticking away I thought I would look back at the top moments of the past few months. Below are some of the moments that stood out to me for one or more specific reason. The whole summer was a success but the moments that you will soon see are ones that I will remember for a long time to come.

The list is not written in any specific order but rather it is a running diary of things that came to my mind.

1) Taking BELL students to the Disney Museum in the Presidio. 

I had a chance to work Summer School for the BELL program this summer and it was a blast. Each day that I went into school I had a chance to grow as an educator and work with fantastic people.  I was hired as an Instructional Coach which meant that I got a chance to observe teachers and help design lessons. All of this was important and worthwhile, but for my money the highlights of the program were the days that we got to take the scholars on field trips. The best of the field trips, in my opinion, was when we took the group to the Disney museum in San Francisco. It was the first time I had been to the museum and it was really cool to see all of the art and artifacts from the many Disney films. There was also an exhibit by Salvador Dali which really added to the experience.  The students really enjoyed getting out of Marin, and I heard a lot of positive reviews as the group walked through the different rooms.

2) Taking the Health CSET

On a whim a few months back I decided I wanted to challenge myself and take another CSET. I thought about what the most realistic option would be and decided that it would be interesting to learn more about Health. I really enjoyed the process that led up by the test. By studying each evening I felt like I had a task and a purpose to continue moving forward. I also learned a lot about nutrition and healthy eating. As strange as it sounds I actually really enjoyed the test as well. There is a nervous energy that goes along with taking a test and it was fun to stretch the brain muscles. I will find out the results in about a month and keep the audience posted.

3) Lunch Basketball at the YMCA

Another important goal that I set for myself this summer was to get back in basketball shape. After summer school ended I had a chance to get down to the noon runs at the Terra Linda YMCA. This was great on a number of levels. Firstly, it was nice to catch up with a lot of the guys who I don’t have a chance to see too often throughout the year. In addition, the exercise was consistent and by the week of week 3 I was getting back to making moves that I routinely pulled off in my younger days.

4) Manchester United vs Barcelona at Levi’s Stadium

At the end of July I met up with my tailgating homies, Nelson and Damien, and we headed to Levi’s stadium to watch soccer giants Manchester United and FC Barcalona do battle on the soccer pitch. As a soccer junkie that was a fantastic treat for me. It is not often that giant clubs like these roll through town.

It was cool to reunite the tailgating crew for a non 49ers event. This is the 2nd time the crew has assembled for a non football game and both times have been epic. We indulged in sausages and chicken wings and made bold proclamations for the game. The game also lived up to my expectations as there were a number of goals, crisp passing, and big stars showing off their ball handling skills. It was also a major bonus that we had some of the only shady seats in the stadium (man is it hot in Santa Clara in July).

5) Rogers going away dinner at Sorella’s in Fairfax

After three years working at Davidson, my good buddy Keith Rogers ended up leaving to go back down to Los Angeles to be closer to his family and to get married. While we were bummed to be losing Rogers we wanted to show him how much he meant to us by throwing him a going away dinner. The week after school ended a group of Davidson teachers (Casey, Sarah, Kobe, myself) took Rogers out to Fairfax for a nice Italian dinner. The courses kept coming and the company was great. From the Caprese salad, to the pasta, to the steak I still dream about the different courses and the next time we can host an event at Sorella’s. For more information about Sorella’s follow this (link).

And as a follow up to this post, although we will nit have a chance to see Roger’s every day this year I will be going down to his wedding in November. Congrats Raji!

 

Posted by: alexchap30 | August 7, 2015

2015-2016 English Premier League Predictions

It is that time of year once again where I make my annual EPL picks for the coming season. Although I am as excited as I have ever been for this season, I will be streamlining my post this year. There will be a short wrap up on my thoughts at the end of this blog, but I will be not be giving a team by team in depth analysis as I have done in previous seasons.

Before I get to my predictions I have a random list of the best days of each premier league season.

  1. Boxing Day
  2. Survival Sunday (last game of the season where all games are simultaneously broadcast)
  3. FA Cup 3rd Round
  4. Opening Day
  5. Tyne & Ware Derby at St. James Park

Although you will see many of the usual big money teams at the top of this list, the thing that I like about the Premier League is that a number of teams have a realistic shot at competing for the title each year. This is in contrast to some of the other major leagues in Europe where it is a one or two horse race seemingly every year.

Final Table (Predictions for 2015-2016)

  1. Chelsea
  2. Arsenal
  3. Manchester United
  4. Manchester City
  5. Liverpool
  6. Tottenham
  7. Southampton
  8. Everton
  9. Swansea City
  10. Stoke
  11. Crystal Palace
  12. West Bromwich
  13. West Ham
  14. Newcastle United
  15. AFC Bournemouth
  16. Aston Villa
  17. Norwich
  18. Watford
  19. Leicester City
  20. Sunderland

For the second year in a row I see Chelsea raising the trophy at the end of the season. The quality that Chelsea has up and down their roster is obscene. It will be interesting to see if striker Radamel Falcao can regain his elite form. The luxury of being at Chelseas thoug is that even if he does not find that world class ability he once had the Blues still appear to have enough around him.

I like what Arsenal is building under Wegner. Acquiring Petr Cech was a major coup. Mesut Ozil is one of my favorite players to watch. Ultimately the Gunners don’t have quite enough to keep up with Chelsea, but it will be a fun season for them.

I believe that Newcastle will survive a relegation battle due to Papis Cisse regaining his form and because of the strong signing of Georginio Wijnaldum (link). It won’t be pretty at times, but as the great college basketball coach Jim Valvano once said “The key is to survive and advance.”

Ultimately I think that Watford, Leicester, and Sunderland will go down. With that being said, I have a lot of respect for what Leicester did last season as they conjured up the great relegation escape. It is also possible that Norwich goes down…but in the spirit of full disclosure my love of the Canaries have have them a little bit higher in the table than they deserve.

Players to Watch

1. Georginio Wijnaldum (Newcastle)

2. Bastian Schweinsteiger (Manchester United)

3. Harry Kane (Tottenham)

4. Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace)

5. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

6. Petr Cech (Arsenal)

As always comments are welcomed. It will be interesting to revisit this post in May to see who stepped up and how close these predictions were. One thing is clear though….there will be a number of exciting moments in the coming season. In the words of former Jets linebacker Bart Scott..”can’t wait.”

Posted by: alexchap30 | July 21, 2015

Song of the Summer (2015)

When Michael Ravina and I were were in high school we started a tradition of naming a Song of the Summer each year. It all started our freshman (or sophomore?) year of high school. We were hanging out at his parents pool spending an afternoon in the water trying to beat the heat. As we were lounging we had 106.1 KMEL playing in the background. All of the songs that they were playing were sounding good, however one of the songs stood above the rest. The song that rose above the rest, and would ultimately go on to be the first annual Song of the Summer was  Ghetto Superstar by Pras (link).

From that summer on a Song of the Summer was always named. Sometimes the song was a new hit and sometimes it was a throwback song that just seemed to fit the times (the best example was Bob Marley- Exodous in the late 2000’s……link).

This year the Song of the Summer came to me as I was driving to Summer School. I put in the Outkast greatest hits CD and the song that I immediately started grooving on was Funking Around. Now, I didn’t want to get ahead of myself so I tried listening to the CD a few days later on my way to the gym and I was still feeling it. That settled it…we had found our Song of the Summer for 2015. Congrats to Funking Around on joining an exclusive list. (Note: I actually have all the Song of the Summers written down somewhere. When I find that list I will post it.)

Below is the video for you to check out. Thank you to Outkast for creating awesome music.

Posted by: alexchap30 | July 19, 2015

Carnegie Deli

I want to take a few minutes tonight to talk about a sandwich experience unlike any other. I am talking about my April trip to Carnegie deli in New York (link). While I had been to Carnegie deli before it had been six years since my last visit and I was questioning whether it was as good as I remembered. I was figuring that I had randomly over hyped it and that it was probably going to be whatever. It was not whatever. What follows is my Spring 2015 memories as I traveled into the heart of Carnegie deli.

I found out I was going to New York in February. It was at that point that I got word from our 8th grade trip coordinator Mike Runyeon that I would be be helping to chaperon a trip to the east coast over Spring Break. I was not sure where we would be staying, but I figured that if we were close I would find a way to make a pilgrimage to Carnegie’s.  As it turned out our hotel was two doors down from Carnegie deli…this development pleased me.

Although we ran a very crowded trip, I had a feeling that on our third and final day in New York I would be able to find some time away from the group. This turned out to be true and so it was that while the students checked out central park with several of the other chaperones, Borg Klein and I snuck away for a legendary sandwich.

The real question that nagged at me as we walked through the avenues was what type of sandwich I would choose. It really came down to the corned beef or the pastrami. It was a tough call but ultimately, with a little nudge from Klein, I settled on the pastrami.

When I walked into Carnegie’s I was impressed with the pictures on the wall, a seemingly endless testimonial to the quality of the sandwiches. The deli had an old school feel, and the people behind the counter were well versed in the sandwich arts.

I ordered the pastrami to go with an extra pickle on the side. The sando was pilled THICK with meat. It also came with a side of mustard, but aside from that…plain. It seems like the deli does not want anything to take away from the delicious flavor of the meat…smart play.  The flavor was almost indescribable…the meat is flavorful and seems to melt like butter in your mouth. The mustard is the perfect compliment to the sandwich as it adds a tang to the experience.

I would recommend taking the trip to this sandwich mecca to anyone who is serious about their sandwiches. Follow this link for some visuals of the deli (link) The sandwich and the whole deli experience at Carnegie’s is unrivaled. Truly a great eat. Below are a few of the pictures I took from my trip to the deli.

Carnegie Deli Closeup

Closeup of the pastrami sandwich.

Pastrami sandwich with pickle and mustard.

Pastrami sandwich with pickle and mustard.

Posted by: alexchap30 | July 19, 2015

2015 Marin County Fair

Each July Marin resident are treated to a fantastic county fair. The fair has been a Marin tradition for as long as I can remember and it is something that I look forward to each year. This year I was particularly excited when the fair rolled into town as I had received word from several former students that they had submitted writing that they wanted me to take a look at. I was also excited for the fair as it meant a full five evenings of fireworks and a three day weekend away from work.

The first exhibit I always like to look at when I go to the fair is the garden exhibit. It is really cool to see how the designers incorporate the plants and themes each year. While I was not blown away by any of the garden exhibits this year I did appreciate some of the ideas that I saw. Two things that stood out to me were the use of an elephant in an animal themed garden and a giant set of colored pencils used in a second garden. Attached is a photo of the pencils

Colored Pencils used in a garden.

Colored Pencils used in a garden.

Another highlight this year was getting to watch the short films that the fair brought in. I was glad that I found the time to take these films in as they were all very good. The best of the short films was a documentary called “Born to be Mild” which chronicled men whose passions were on the mild spectrum. I found myself drawn to this movie as you could tell that the people telling the stories were very passionate about their obscure hobbies. I have linked a trailer to the movie which you should check out (link).

The biggest attractions for me each year are the art galleries and the essays/ crafts. It is in these two exhibit halls that I traditionally spend the majority of my fair time. This year was no exception as I spent the bulk of two days pouring over the writing and admiring the creative skills of people around the county. I was really impressed with the work and skill that Davidson students past and present showed in their writing. A couple of my former students won first place ribbons for their creative writing, which was something that I was really proud about.

As far as the actual artwork…I am always a big fan of landscape paintings and photographs. One of my favorite pictures this year was of a castle in Switzerland. I was also impressed that some of the students who went on the Washington D.C trip this year submitted shots from that trip. One of the photos from our visit to Arlington National Ceremony even took home a prize. Go Cougars!

The concerts were another hit this year. One of the highlights of the fair was going to the Kansas (link) show with my mom and buddies Tom Kordick and Casey Shannon. Lots of laughs all around as powered sugar from Casey’s funnel cake splattered all over my shirt. It played out almost exactly like this scene from The Big Lebowski (link).

And as always the main event of the fair were the fireworks. I am not a man built for hyperbole….but this years show was the best one in the history of the fair. The show lasted a full fifteen minutes and the fireworks went consistently higher into the air than they had at any other viewing (and I am a man who would know as I have not missed a single evening since 2007). The color combinations were spot on and the variety of fireworks enhanced the show. At both the half way mark and three quarter mark of the performance the fireworks were so intense that you would have sworn that this surely must have been the finale. Great work by the organizers.

As usual the fair was a big hit. The fair is a wonderful tradition and something that helps to mark the passage of time. I am thankful that the fair continues to innovate and improve each year while still maintaining the core traditions that makes it excellent.

Attached are a couple of my favorite images from this years festivities.

??????????????

Casey Shannon and Cade at the Kansas show. 

??????????????

The ferris wheel overlooking the grounds at the Marin County Fair.

Older Posts »

Categories