The Axis of Awesome

Mark Zimlich showed me this when I was in Chico yesterday. I thought it was mental. I know it’s  a 5-minute-long video, but stick with it. It features at least 30 of the best, catchy songs from the past.

The Axis of Awesome is a musical comedy trio out of Australia. These three men have been entertaining fans since 2006 with “their mixture of quirky original songs, catchy pop-parodies and hilarious banter,” according to the group’s website. Their album is available on iTunes, but here is a video, courtesy of Youtube.

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Sitting at Heathrow with 7 Hours Until My Plane

Originally written August 8, 2010

Sitting at Heathrow Airport at 11:53 p.m. seems as good a time to write as any. It actually seems like the perfect time to write because I am afraid to go to sleep. Imagine the nightmare I’d go through if I missed this flight…. Geez. No. I am going to stick through it.

Well, let me give you a scenario update. I am currently sitting in the Special Assistance area of Terminal 3 surrounded by weary travelers like myself. Across from me sits a man watching his laptop. To the left is a young man lying on the ground listening to an iPod. And behind me, there’s a conversation between three British men, two older and one appearing to be my age (and he’s fit!), discussing sailing, yachts and deliveries. And then there’s me.

It will be another four hours before the gate, which I’m not sure its location, opens up and I can check on my massive olive-green sidekick. That feels like an eternity for this traveler. In the last three days, I’ve stayed at two different houses and will spend my last night here. I just want a bed that’s my own. But even when I go home, I’ll still slip into a bed that’s semi-foreign to me. It’s strange the things that turn out to matter the most to you. When I think of home, I think of my bed in Chico with the black comforter and blue sheets. Bless.

More travelers have joined us. I wonder why they got here so early too. Well, I suspect I won’t find out. Normally, being social is important to me, but at this hour, I think we are all going to keep to ourselves.

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Gay Pride in Brighton

Originally written August 8, 2010

I’ve said that Brighton is colorful, but Saturday took it to a whole new level. After arriving late Friday night into Brighton and crashing on Chris’s couch,

Chris let me stay at his house, thankfully. Check out his band, "What's Your Vice?"

which used to be our couch – Well, kinda, I headed to town for the Gay Pride festivities. Before hitting The Level, I saw the parade and the crowd.

It was a massive storm of pink, yellow, blue, red, green, purple and gold fabric progressing down London Road to the

The parade was so colorful.

likes of the YMCA and The Black Eyed Peas.  People were drinking in the street, dancing to the music being projected out from the vans and buses in the parade and sharing in the celebration of pride.

I felt a bit like an outsider because while I support everything that Pride stands for and gay rights, I myself am not homosexual. So while I took pictures, clapped for the police officers, firefighters and EMTs who paraded down

Bold and proud.

This is one of the many civil servant floats that went by. I think it was doctors or nurses.

the street; and soaked in the atmosphere, I felt blessed to be able to take part in the celebration.

The day involved a lot of music, food, dancing and booze – As to be expected. After the parade, I made my way to Druid Arms for a drink, and then I went to the King and Queen to meet Fi and her friends. We proceed to do a make-shift pub crawl and met up

Fi and I at The King and Queen.

with others celebrating the occasion. The goal was to get to Preston Park where the other celebration was going on. London Road was for the parade; Preston Park was for the festival.

Preston Park was as populated as a well-attended music festival. A Warped Tour where transvestites and boy bands

It's a little blurry but you can see the big screen in the background.

were on the bill. It was awesome.  I chilled out on a piece of grass, ate Doritos (Don’t judge. I was starving.) and drank my Strongbow.

This Greg. I met him at Preston Park.

I even got to play with a dog. Others were doing similar things, and some others were doing things that are typical of a festival. But despite it all, everyone was enjoying themselves, and I didn’t see even one confrontation.

After Preston Park, I went looking for my mates. I’d lost them at the park. I wasn’t immediately successful, so I went back to Druid Arms.  And guess who I saw?!

No. This isn't Mehan but I could hemp but share this picture from the parade with you.

There at the bar is my friend Megan who I played volleyball with when I was 16 and living in the Bay Area. I was floored. I haven’t seen her in years and here she was in Brighton working. We caught up for a quick second but as I said, she was working. The world really seems small when things like that happen. Oh, good luck, Megan!

I ended my day by eating RFC and chilling on Brighton Beach. It was my plan to sleep on the beach but too many people were there. Then I was going to go chill out near the old flat because it seemed like safe place. Luckily, Kane allowed me to spend my last night at his flat instead. Not that I think I gave him much of a choice. Thanks, Kane! =)

So the verdict is: Gay Pride was and is awesome. Congratulations to California, too. I’m glad to hear that the state is living up to its reputation.


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Manchester, Chinatown, Scallops and the People’s History Museum

Originally written August 8, 2010.

So as you may be able to tell, I went to Manchester during this last week.

Manchester is about 200 miles away from Brighton.

Why Manchester? Well, why not Manchester? This city is No. 3 on a list of top 10 cities to visit in England and rightfully so.

This city has character. It isn’t your typical tourist town. It definitely is more of a locals’ town (and by locals, I mean business people of and in the UK).

My view as I walked toward The John Rylands Library.

It’s busy. It’s cloudy. There were a few tourist attractions, which as you know I went to, but the predominant sights were the buildings and overall structure of the city. It was so easy to get around and many of the buildings were eye-catching.

I started off by finding a hostel. I’d read about one online before leaving on my journey and decided to go there. It’s called Hatters Hostel, and it was probably the best hostel I’ve ever stayed at. I recommend this chain to anyone.

Hatters Hostel

After that and a little bit of research using the hostel’s free Wi-Fi, I went to The John Rylands Library and then the People’s History Museum Wednesday. I attempted to get to the Manchester United field but time didn’t permit. But let me tell you about this museum, which I went to on the recommendation of a Canadian who had been there the day prior.

The People’s History Museum gives you the history of people in England from the 1850s, I think, to the present. It was really entertaining to

Banners were popular.

Banners were popular and were used at meetings and protests.

learn about the struggles and accomplishments of the English people. In school, I learned about what the English king tried to do to “Americans” and the Boston Tea Party, taxes, etc. I learned about the struggles for the right to vote by both American men and women, and the clashes between rich and poor. But I hadn’t learned about English citizens’ fight to vote and what people went through. Smuggling newspapers in coffins just to disseminate a message? – Brillant!

I even got to make a button! It was fun.

My button! "I went to Manchester."

Thank you nice guy that worked at the museum who helped me make my button. I couldn’t figure out the machinery that was 6-year-old friendly. Sorry, America. But if you do go to Manchester, go to this museum. It’s free, not hard to find and really educational, and you can go through the whole museum in about two hours. Oh, and it’s interactive and kid-friendly – but I guess not 23-year-old-friendly.

After that, I used my handy-dandy Urbanspoon application on my BlackBerry to find a restaurant to go to. It suggested a Chinese restaurant in Manchester’s Chinatown. When I got

Very San Francisco-like, huh?

there, I was bombarded by Chinese food restaurant after Chinese food restaurant. I settled on Fu’s Chinese Restaurant.

Deciding to be a bit adventurous, I ordered things that I hadn’t ever ordered before. The scallop was so good. A bit chewy in some parts, but the sauce canceled out anything negative.

It was almost like tapas. Isn't it pretty?! I kept the shell.

I recommend you order it.

My night ended with drinking with a French lad, a young man from the Caribbean and a guy from Argentina. Needless to say, we were a diverse bunch. I felt very lucky that English is the “universal” language. I would think it would be Spanish, but yes, it is English.

At the end of the day, I just want to give it  up to Google Maps, Urbanspoon and Foursquare. Those applications made traveling in Manchester a lot easier. Google Maps helped me find Sinclair’s Oyster Bar,

If you look at the bottom left corner, you can see a couple walking toward the wheel together who had just met up. It was a great moment to capture.

which provided me with the view of the ferris wheel at night. If you don’t have those applications on your phone while traveling somewhere on a whim, download them. You will be happy.

Manchester, I will be back! I think it would be an easier place to find a job there. London and Brighton are tourist cities. Manchester might take me a little bit more seriously.

And until then, I just have to show you guys this. Now, this might be something that is a bit weird to take a

OK. I know I'm odd.

picture of, but it was necessary. This is a pretty cool hand dryer. You put your hands in the little hand area, and soap comes out. Wait of  after the that and then water comes out. After the water stops, air starts to come out. It’s completely automatic. How cool!

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The End of an Era: Goodbye 193 Elm Grove

Originally written August 1, 2010

Well, today was the end of an era. We said goodbye to 193 Elm Grove, Stan’s shop, Bib & Tucker and the need to take the 22 and 23 buses.

We lived next to a fish & chip shop, but it was never open.

Today was our last day in the apartment, and now Fi and I are staying at her parents’ house in Kent.

I’m sure that this experience, and by that I mean the move home, is more intense for Fi. She’s moved to her childhood home. I assume that I will feel that same intensity when I head home, but for now it just feels like any other day, just in a new location. It’s the life of a nomad.

See the fourth building down. That's Stan's! I loved having a shop so close.

Fi’s parents have been really generous though. I am staying in the house’s downstairs apartment. That means I have a little kitchen and a bathroom to use. This gives me a bit more independence, and that is something I really appreciate. I wish my house had one of these. However, I could see myself really liking it and living at home longer than I should. But enough about that.

This next week should be fun. I’m considering going to London or a really big mall, or as the English say, shopping centre, “nearby” to shop at Zara. They were having a sale while in Spain, and if I could have fit tons of clothing in my backpack, I definitely would have shopped with Mateo.

So, until tomorrow and when I’m dressed like a proper British 23-year-old, good night.

Oh, here are some pictures of the inside of the house.

This is the kitchen where we have a stove and a washing machine.

This is the common area attached to the kitchen. It used to have a big green couch instead of the little purple one.

Here's another view of the bottom floor.

Back to Update / August 11, 2010

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Hoe-garden and White Ale

We have dark ales; we have blonde ales. We have pale ales and Downtown Brown ales. But have you ever heard of a white ale?

The coloring suggests lack of flavour in my opinion. But hell, it's got its own cup!

It exists. Who knew? Having recieved part of my college education from Sierra Nevada, where I studied the benefits, pitfalls and all things related to beer, I was in a bit of disbelief  when the bar man told me that Hoegaarden was in the white ale family. And yes, it does say Hoe-garden – Great name!

It is lighter than a blonde in both color and taste and is served with a lime in it. Frankly, it’s a little dull for me. It lacks that bitter beer taste that I’ve come to enjoy. Thank you Sierra Nevada – but not for Celebration. This beer also has an odd smell of lemon despite the facts that it has a lime in it and is made with some part of an orange.

However, I am pleased to say that it sports 5% volume, which I will credit this slit buzz with. Definitely worth checking out, but I think I prefer my beer to have a bit more color to it.

Here are other reviews.

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Literally Historic Pieces of Literature and Being Like Belle in the Beast’s Library

OK. I think this up’s my nerdom up another level, but after reading a “What to do in Manchester” website and seeing this place, I just had to check it out.

I spent the last 90 minutes in The John Rylands Library on Deansgate, where I was able to look at exhibits, architecture and one of the larger collections of old and antiquated books that I’ve seen.

The library is a lot bigger, but a future Armani store kept getting in my shots.

The Library boasts itself as a “Magnificent neo-Gothic building with a large collection of books and manuscripts.” However, this description didn’t do it justice.

While the building was impressive, what was inside would make a few bibiophiles’ mouths hang open. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take pictures of these things, which would help jog my memory later on when writing, so I am going to tell you about them now while they are fresh in my mind. And of course I pulled out a pen and notebook and took notes. What kind of journalist do you think I am?

In order of which I came across them:

  1. A 10-foot-long Egyptian scroll that was separated into eight sections that were about 1-foot-wide.
  2. A letter home from a man in Israel about his intent to marry a woman he met. Dated: 1090 A.D.
  3. Gart der Gesudhuet, a gorgeous, large book with gold-edged pages, being kept in a glass case at 24 degree celsius.
  4. A 2nd Ed. The Canterbury Tales.
  5. A Qur’an, or an “example” of one – not sure what that meant. Dated: 1500.
  6. The oldest dated New Testament writing to survive. It was found in Egypt at Behnese, and was only 5 by 4 inches wide. It had bits of scripture from John. Dated: 125 A.D.
  7. Robert Boyle’s The Sceptical Chymist. “The Sceptical Chymist … Touching the spagyrist principles commonly call’d Hypostatical as they are the wont to be Propos’d and Defended by the Generality of ALCHYMIST.”  Apparently Boyle wasn’t a fan of conventional theory and challenged many popular theories of the times. Dated: 1661.
  8. Homer’s The Odyssey on a fragment of papyrus.
  9. Fragments of Deuteronomy 23-28, a Christian text, on papyrus that were found in Egyptian mummy wrappings. Dated: 2nd century A.D.

10. A copy of Harriet Breacher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

I’m sure you’ve gathered at this point that this library is a home of open-mindedness. And while thought to have never been a writer himself, Ryland and his wife were collectors of great works of the written world.

After the exhibits, I ventured off to find The Historic Reading Room. I thought I was going to find this place a bit dull compared to what I had just seen, but that turned out to be far from what happened.

This is one of many segments.

Remember when the Beast from “The Beauty and the Beast” has Belle close her eyes and he walks her into the library in his castle, and she is shocked and awed by the massive collection he has and how the books went up the walls all around the two of them?

That is how I felt.

Upon walking into The Historic Reading room, I was immediately surrounded by walls of old books and the great literary figures and prophetic thinkers of the past.

Quite a beautiful library isn't it?

Both of the two floors that this room boasted had little segments/rooms that were filled with books. On each side of an entrance sat a statue of a thinker of the past or important figure of the literary world. Shakespeare, Calvin and Homer were only a few of these.

At both ends of the room, there were stained-glass murals that were dedicated to religious men and scientific thinkers.

I can't believe I didn't realize what I was looking at until the audio tour told me.

The Rylands were unconventional Catholics that appreciated the achievements of the theoretical world regardless of the school of thought. Newton was just as important as Moses and St. John was just as important as Hooker.

This appreciation of both science and religion was moving. After I learned about the murals through the audio tour I was on, I immediately pressed repeat and listened again.

Anselm, Tomas Aquanis, and ***

Anselm, Tomas Aquanis, and ***

I think that many don’t give people of the past as much credit as past-people deserve. I am guilty of this as well, but experiences like these change my views. I wouldn’t thinking a cotton baron would be so well-read, appreciative of these works of art, and as forward-thinking to realize what science and religion both offer humanity.

If you come to Manchester, or I should say, when you come to Manchester, I recommend you check this library out.

Moses, Esaias, Johannes Apost, and *** are the first four featured and are followed by the three pictured above.

It is free to browser through and you can study in the reading rooms. The audio tour is $2.50, and while it doesn’t tell you a whole lot about the exhibits, it’s does tell you about the history of the building and the Rylands.

Next I will be trying to find The Printworks, which is a place The Smiths apparently played at. Tomorrow will be my full day in Manchester, and I will probably go see The Royal Exchange, The Lowry and a few other things.

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