Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Brief Personal History of Organized Sports Part 1: Karate

For the first time in years, I have entered a sports league. It isn't that I have anything against organized sports, per se, it's simply that, in a long and sordid history with them, I've never been any good. Don't get me wrong, I love playing games. Street hockey and backyard baseball were awesome growing up, and if you challenged me to a game of croquette or beach volleyball, I'd be all over that. Once something gets organized, it generally went down hill for me. They say that what's most important about sports is having fun. This statement was probably made by someone like Babe Ruth or Harry Potter, or someone else that never lost at their selected sport. Winning is fun, no one can argue against that. Over the span of my life, I've rarely won at organized sports. I think it might be easiest if I break this post up into the different sport's I've attempted.

I distinctly remember my first attempt at “organized” karate. Having grown up with an Okinawan grandmother, I figured I was a shoe-in for karate. At 5 ½ My mother enrolled 3 older siblings and myself in a karate studio (dojo?) It was awesome. Despite the teacher (master?) yelling incomprehensible things to an inattentive 5 year old, I was having a blast. I was determined to kick the hardest and to run the fastest. My dreams were quickly shattered. The downward spiral probably began with my attempt to become a yellow belt. I loved my karate uniform (Gi?) But I noticed that the only people that had a white belt were people that had enrolled after me.
Decidedly, I needed some color in my awesome ninja attire. The problem was, this required me to memorize a routine that was decidedly more difficult than actions like “kick” or “yell High YA!” There was a loophole, one that I had every intention to exploit. You did your routine, side by side with two other students. I strategically took my place in between the two others and used what I assumed to be my peripheral vision, but turned out to just be full head turns instead, to watch and follow their every move to the T. After a grueling 2 ½ minutes the routine was over. I was singled out by our master(?). Like I said before, I didn't comprehend much of what he said (not because he had a heavy asian accent or anything, he was about as white as they got.) I was hopeful, but I did not receive my yellow belt.

Shortly after this incident came the one that ended my career in karate. In the midst of doing exercises that had nothing to do with breaking bricks with our fists or walking on glass, my body had decided that enough was enough. As I stared into the confused face of my training partner, I unloaded the contents of my guts right there on the floor. I left that building crying in the arms of my mother, never to return again.

This was one of my first, but certainly not last attempts at succeeding in organized sports. The longest bought came in the form of baseball, a sport loved by my entire family, of which I had little skill in, even after roughly 6 years of playing.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Labor Day Weekend Musicals

                This weekend I have the privileged opportunity to attempt to survive a weekend among the elements. For labor day weekend (and my birthday) I will be camping with my wife and her family. I probably will not survive. I've considered the possibility that this is some type of life insurance scheme concocted by Shannon, but the jokes on her. I have no life insurance! I will spend two nights in what will be the psychological equivalent of a haunted mental asylum, except instead if a padded cell with thick walls to protects me, I'll have to fend off the bears behind a paper thin piece of fabric that die-hards will insist is a shelter. If I'm not eaten by the bears, I'll almost certainly contract typhoid fever from the mosquitoes, as I can't afford enough DEET to physically bathe in. (as opposed to the non-physical bathing, I guess)

               I may be overreacting a tad. We'll technically be at an RV park, Shannon and I will be in a tent across the way from her families fifth wheel. Also, the campsite has wifi, so that's a plus. I've never really been “real” camping. It's not that I wouldn't love to test my skill roughing it in the woods, but have you seen “Grizzly Man”? Look, all that to say: Just because I can't have a musical movie marathon this labor day weekend, doesn't mean you can't. Seriously, you have three days to kill, allow me to suggest a few of my favorite musicals to watch this labor day weekend.

Saturday: The Pirates of Penzance

                This Gilbert and Sullivan classic follows Frederick, a man who was mistakenly apprenticed to a band of pirates until his 21st birthday. The performances in the 1983 movie version are excellent, with Kevin Kline perfectly exaggerating the image of masculinity as the pirate king. It is a story of mistaken identity, duty, and lots of misunderstandings.

Sunday:Little Shop of Horrors

                       Made in the 80s and set to the backdrop of 1960s New York, “Little Shop of Horrors is a cautionary tale about the difficulty of stopping malicious actions, once they're put into motion, even if they're for good causes. Seymour Krelborn (played by Rick Moranis) Works in a plant shop on skid row. His compromises start small but grow to monstrously huge levels. This movie directed by Frank Oz, and sports a Jim Henson Creation as the villain. It expertly weaves 80s camp with fun 60s style music. The movie has a number of cameos including: Bill Murray, John Candy and James Belushi. Steve Martin has a small but great role.

Monday: Fiddler on the Roof

                      Giving a glimpse into Jewish life and tradition, “Fiddler on the Roof” is a classic. If you haven't seen this movie yet, you should make it a priority. It follows the life of a Jewish family in pre-revolution Russia. A father tried to protect his family while staying true to his heritage.

               This isn't an exhaustive list, but it's a pretty good way to spend a small portion of your labor day weekend. Have fun!