Sunday, September 21, 2014

Soccer Game: Suwon 2 - Pohang 1

Post-Game Photo

My friend Kent invited my family and me to see a live soccer game from the Sky Box of Suwon's World Cup Stadium yesterday. I think I've not been in a stadium since I was an undergrad, when I went once to an American football game in college and found myself bored to tears - except I was too tough to cry - but I never went back. Soccer, however, is a whole new ball game for me, and I can enjoy watching it. There's more action in it than in American football.

To make this blog entry short, I'll just say that Suwon was losing with the score 0 to 1 in the latter part of the second half of the game when I had a call of nature, and when I returned from that call, the score was tied. Only one or two minutes later, Suwon scored again and kept Pohang from scoring till time ran out.

We had the opportunity to shake hands with the Suwon goalkeeper - who's also goalkeeper for the national team - and pose for photographs as well. You see me second from right. My wife is next to me, holding my hand, and I've got an arm on the shoulders of my friend Seung-Tae, a professor at Ewha Womans University, though I first met him in Germany 22 years ago. Kent is the big guy in the green shirt standing beside the equally big goalkeeper. Kent's wife in on the other side of the goalkeeper. The other player in the photo is - I think - the man who scored the winning goal for Suwon. The man between this other player and Kent's wife is no one I know. Finally, you see the four team mascots.

I'm not really one for watching sports, though I'll occasionally watch soccer and basketball, but I had a great time anyway!

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Broadway Joe: Fashion Hero?

Joe Namath and daughters Jessica and Olivia

I mentioned a few days ago my admiration for Guy Trebay's style. His literary style. He's a fashion writer -- so everybody knows his fashion style -- and in "The Rise of the Well-Dressed Man" (The New York Times Style Magazine, February 27, 2013), Trebay not only writes well and with humor, ending his article with a well-wrought punch line, he has some striking words to say about Joe Namath's early flair for fashion:
I found myself thinking about Broadway Joe. You remember him, of course, the quarterback legend and media gadfly, a self-styled cartoon whose athletic prowess was pretty nearly overshadowed by his randy off-the-field antics. Goofy-handsome and with gull-wing bangs swooping back from his forehead, Joe had woolly pecs, a dense Happy Trail and a wardrobe that called to mind a coal-town Oscar Wilde.

He wore shearling and raccoon and posed in pantyhose for a Hanes Beautymist commercial. He was an unabashed narcissist with a fondness for natty green blazers. He liked rump-hugging trousers with taut notch-pockets. He wore Brut cologne, silk foulards and white cleats on the field. Unembarrassed in his embrace of fashion, Namath was way out in front of the culture, a sartorial forerunner of all the athletes who have lately morphed from slobs wearing saggers into designer sandwich boards crowding the front rows at Versace shows.

He was -- if you'll forgive the use of a lint-covered term from the cultural sock drawer -- a metrosexual avant la lettre. Unlike the hippies and gender benders and rocker peacocks who were his near contemporaries, Joe Namath wasn't toying with masculinity. His liking for nice clothes was no particular "tell" for sexual preference. That he wore coats made from the sheared pelts of expensively farmed rodents did not mean Joe Namath secretly liked men: it meant he liked mink.
In contrast, most sports stars of those day cared not a whit about style, says Trebay, and Michael Hainey, the deputy editor of GQ, agrees:
"With the exception of Joe Namath, most sports stars in the past took a 'Who cares?' attitude about dressing."
Indeed, few men cared about fashion, until the last fifteen years, when style in clothing began to go mainstream. Did Broadway Joe play a role? Trebay thinks so:
I realized that Namath may have been slighted by historians of fashion. Maybe he is the liminal figure theory-heads are always rooting around for. Maybe, unacknowledged and in those long-gone days, it was Broadway Joe who began the inexorable march of butch dandies into the mainstream.
An intriguing perspective. I've often thought of Namath over the years, remembering his standing joke:
"I can't wait till tomorrow . . . 'cause I get better looking ev'ry day!"
That isn't happening to me these days of my decline, but maybe I can still go in style . . .

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pastor John Recalls REA Football . . .

Bro. John in Training

Above, we see my brother, Bro. John, in his younger days training for REA Football! Or maybe not . . . but there was REA Football in Salem, Arkansas, as John explains in describing Salem football before the school program started (the year after my graduation, in 1975):
"Before that, we always played football at the electric company, either on evenings or on Saturdays. It was the Rural Electric Association back then, and there was a grass field where the parking lot is now. We played from light pole to light pole. It was tackle football and there was not a pad on us. There were a lot of broken noses. We had guys with a lot of heart and not much sense." (Kyle Mooty, "Greyhounds' program has traveled from REA to perfection," Area Wide News, November 14, 2012)
I was one of those without much sense, given my flying tackles. I must have banged a few brain cells silly! As I told my old classmate Jay Nemec, who forwarded the article with the quote from my brother John:
I remember REA football. So does my body!
It really does: the knees, the shoulders, the ankles, maybe all the corporeal hinges . . .

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Jeremy Lin Show

Jeremy Lin Outplays Kobe Bryant
Yahoo Sports
Getty Images

I don't blog sports. I don't watch sports. I don't play sports . . . anymore. But I used to play basketball, and like a long-time player -- which I was, having played from the time I was a kid until I was about thirty, when I stopped because I couldn't outjump the other guys anymore -- I have good court vision, so I notice things going on in basketball even without my paying attention, and I therefore knew that Jeremy Lin was the real thing over a year ago when I read a long article on him. I didn't even need to watch him play because the facts and statistics told the story, but he wasn't getting much attention because if the stereotype about white guys is that they can't jump, the stereotype about Asian guys is that they can't even do that! And if you can't jump . . . well, you can't play ball. Or so they say. But Jeremy Lin has now got the jump on everybody and made even Kobe Bryant, who was dissing the kid before Friday, eat a bit of humble pie!

I don't waste my time watching videos, but I chose to use up ten minutes of my life watching the highlights of Lin's performance Friday night in leading the Knicks to their 92 to 85 victory over the Lakers, and if you want to see some smart ballplaying by a kid who's solid in every way that counts on the court, then give yourself ten minutes to enjoy the Lin show. He's not spectacular in any single skill, but he's sound in every one of them, and the total effect is awesome! And that's not a word that I use lightly. He has great ball control, complete control of his dribble. He has excellent court vision and can see an open man across court and get the ball to the guy on a cross-court pass that you're not even supposed to try because it's so risky, thereby demonstrating exceptional passing skills. He can move -- the fake, the roll, the quick step, whatever, he can do them. He's a little guy, only six feet, three inches, but he's not afraid to drive to the basket against the big men and put in a lay-up, thus proving that he can get off the ground if he needs to. He can get physical and even score while getting fouled. He can rebound. He can shoot with deadly aim, even three-pointers, which might be the one skill in which his ability approaches spectacular. In the past four games, he has scored 25, 28, 23, and 38 points! But where he truly is spectacular is in his mind for the game. You watch him play, and you see a very smart ballplayer. He knows what needs to be done, and he gets it done, either by himself or by setting it up with teammates.

And that's my judgment of him after seeing this single performance.

The question now is how well he can handle the intense pressure. He's an Asian-American star basketball player who's done the unexpected, caught everyone off guard, and performed in an unprecedented way by scoring more points in his first three starts than anyone in NBA history. Every opposing player has now heard of him, even Bryant -- who only 24 hours earler didn't seem to know who Lin was -- and they'll all now come gunning for him. Especially Bryant, who reportedly said about the Knicks' victory:
"Enjoy it. They'll receive judgment next season."

And he wasn't talking just about the team -- he meant Lin in particular. Revenge.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Sa-Rah Finishes First Online School Year

Sa-Rah with Primitive Bicycle

Yesterday, our daughter Sa-Rah finished her first two semesters of online homeschooling and did well enough in this, her seventh-grade year, for us to take a modicum of pride in her achievement, so we went out last night to eat at Outback Steakhouse by way of celebration. The school that she 'attends' -- Keystone Middle School -- has worked her hard but in productive ways, especially teaching her some fundamentals of research and essay writing.

As evidence of a typical essay required by Keystone, here's a recent, short one that Sa-Rah wrote on 'forced' bicycle riding:
Reflection: Trying Something New
I can remember a time when I didn't want to do something, but ended up liking it, and still doing the thing regularly while maybe enjoying it the most in our family. Bike riding. Bike riding along the stream close to our apartment for hours and hours -- that was what I really didn't want to do. Especially, in the middle of the summer, biking would feel horrible because my body would become covered with sweat, and my T-shirt and pants would be sticking to my arms, legs, back, and almost everywhere! The sun gleaming its hot ray right over my head would burn my skin, and my hair would become burning hot, too! I always hated coming back home more than going, too. It seemed to take longer and it would look like our apartment was so far away. Of course, it would feel great after all that exercise drinking a cup of Coke or Gatorade, but I didn't think that was worth going through all that stickiness and heat.

I ended up liking it, though. Another annoying-sticky-hot-sweaty-thirsty day, and my dad wanted me to go bike riding with him. Of course, I said no, but that never worked, and it was a good thing it didn’t work then, because if I didn’t go biking then, I might never have come to love this great sport. Anyway, my dad and I rode our bikes along the stream, and went a little differently than usual. I was getting tired, but something made me not complain so much like other times, and finally, we reached a wonderland for bike riders.

There was a orange colored tent-like figure that had writings on it, saying something like 'Coke, Gatorade, Beer, Ra-men, pork, beef, fresh squid . . .' and it just kept going on! The place turned out to be a small restaurant for bikers who would bike along the streams. It had all kinds of drinks and foods that would cheer me up after all that hard exercise, and made me feel better. The food was great, too!

After experiencing that wonderland, I came to like bike riding with my family, and now also like it not only because of the eating, but mainly because of the exercise. I now like the heat and sweat and coolness that come after it.
Not bad for a bilingual thirteen-year-old kid whose better language is Korean, and with time -- five more years, to be precise -- Sa-Rah will have worked through the grammar errors and corrected them. I'll make sure of that. Her English teacher liked it, at any rate, and wrote:
"This is such a wonderful essay. I'm glad that you now enjoy bike riding. This is a great activity to stay healthy and active."
I guess that Sa-Rah's essay must have met the standards . . . even if there is room for improvement. But that's always true, isn't it?

By the way, I didn't have a recent photo of Sa-Rah with a bike, so I selected this relatively recent image of her with a young horse that belongs to my old high school math teacher and surveying boss, Mr. Jim Scott, whose Ozark farm she visited last summer, as some readers might recall.

Within a few days, Sa-Rah, En-Uk, and Sun-Ae will again be in the Ozarks, doubtless revisiting Mr. Scott's farm, so perhaps I'll soon have more such photos to post.

Maybe even one of a bicycle . . .

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Manny's Unconquerable Mind?

Manny Pacquiao and Freddie Roach
(Image from New York Times)

The sports writer Greg Bishop has some surprising facts to share about Philippine boxer Manny Pacquiao in an article for the New York Times, "Out of Chance Meeting, a Formidable Pairing," which is something of a human interest story about the fighter and his American trainer, Freddie Roach.

I don't keep up with professional sports despite having played basketball and baseball as a kid, and later a year of judo and a semester of badminton at university. My older brother can recall specific details of athletes' achievements that he saw on television or read about, but he's got brains to spare for that sort of thing. I save my brain space for history and literature because I don't have as much volume, apparently.

But that's what interested me in the article by Bishop, who makes Manny sound like a wunderkind:
The boxer has taken months off, recording music and running for political office, and he returned to each camp stronger, as if the training never stopped . . . . [He] possesses an innate ability to block out the world, to box for millions of people but not feel their collective weight. Inside the Thai restaurant [near Roach's gym], with fans pressed against the glass outside, Pacquiao strummed his guitar, surrounded by his entourage yet very much alone. This complex world suits a complex man. Pacquiao dabbles in darts, basketball and billiards. He has a photographic memory, learned to play the piano in one week and, when he is not training, often sleeps only three to four hours a day.
My first question: Is this hype? Or does Pacquiao truly have a 'photographic' memory? Did he really learn to play the piano in one week?

My second question (actually, my fourth): How is the name "Pacquiao" pronounced? Apparently, "pa'kjaw." (But how is that pronounced?)

And about his ability to go without training and return stronger, I also wonder (hence his wunderkind status). Is he some sort of superman? A Nietzschean Uebermensch?

I recall from the early 1980s reading a newspaper article -- I think that the paper was the San Francisco Chronicle -- about a scientist working in his Bay Area laboratory who would take two weeks off every summer to climb Mt. Everest. The peculiar point was that he never trained for the climb. He would simply fly to Nepal, join his climbing team, and ascend to the highest point on earth as if out for a mere stroll. Fellow scientists who studied such things told him that what he was doing was impossible. But he did it anyway.

I've forgotten the man's name. Wish I had Manny's unconquerable mind so I could recall.

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