Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Where's the bunny rabbit?

Help me Onechan. I've lost my bunny rabbit. Can you see it?

bunny one.jpg


Maybe it's here:

bunny two.jpg


What about the pretty green:

bunny super green.jpg

But doesn't its tail look a little funny?


And here's and extra special question for bonus points: Who said "Usagi! Usagi! My kingdom for an Usagi?" Was it:

a. The Mayor of Townsville
b. Buddha
c. Elmer Fudd III


Uncle Bill

Monday, July 30, 2007

Goodbye French Alps, Hello St. Andrews!

Here's how the LPGA money list, the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit, the Rolex Rankings, and the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index look after the Evian Masters. And here's who's already qualified for the British Women's Open (the final 20 spots were decided on the 30th in the last qualifying event, but it looks to me like there was a playoff at +1, so I'm not sure who's actually in).

So who are the favorites to win the first women's major to be held at St. Andrews? I think the last few weeks have cleared certain things up. Even at 85%, Annika Sorenstam is a threat to win any tournament she enters. But Lorena Ochoa is the best women's golfer in the world--even playing terribly for her for much of the Evian Masters, she could have been in a playoff with a par on her 72nd hole or won outright with a birdie. Who else must be considered a leading contender? Given that the difference between the Evian Masters Golf Club and the Old Course at St. Andrews is at least as striking as the difference between the Scottish Open's Loch Lomond course and any of the usual men's British Open sites, I wonder how many players will do what Se Ri Pak--and, from what I can tell from the leaderboard of the AXA Ladies tournament, the top JLPGA players like Yuri Fudoh, Shiho Oyama, and Sakura Yokomine--did this year and spend the week before the Women's British Open resting and prepping for the LPGA's last major and the LET's biggest tournament. Certainly Sophie Gustafson's decision to skip the HSBC didn't hurt her, as she contended this week right up until the last two holes of the tournament and finished T6. On the other hand, the momentum gained by Jeong Jang (2nd), Ji Yai Shin (T3), Momoko Ueda and Sun Ju Ahn (T6), and Eun-hee Ji (T16)--not to mention winner Natalie Gulbis, the resurgent Juli Inkster (T3), the charging Angela Stanford (T6), and the streaky Christina Kim (T6)--may give them an added boost at St. Andrews.

Big question marks, however, remain over many other people I'd expect to contend later this week. Do the fine finishes of Morgan Pressel, Laura Diaz, Paula Creamer, Nicole Castrale, and Meaghan Francella on Sunday portend well for this coming Thursday, or does their otherwise shaky play the rest of the week put them in the same category as Karrie Webb, Mi Hyun Kim, Shi Hyun Ahn, Seon-Hwa Lee, Ai Miyazato, Angela Park, Laura Davies, and Maria Hjorth--likely top 30s but questionable top 10s? And will the bad play of Suzann Pettersen, Cristie Kerr, Brittany Lincicome, Stacy Prammanasudh, Jee Young Lee, Meena Lee, Sherri Steinhauer, and Michelle Wie in France carry over into Scotland?

Well, here are the historical stats on this year's field's finishes at previous British Women's Opens. I wonder if the great play of young Korean golfers from the LPGA and KLPGA in 2007 will inspire Se Ri Pak and Mi Hyun Kim to get over their recent struggles in the UK. I wonder, too, who will step up in the race for the last spots on the U.S. Solheim Cup team, as Nicole Castrale, Christina Kim, Laura Diaz, and Meaghan Francella are fighting to catch Sherri Steinhauer or earn a captain's pick. And if my friend Moira Dunn will make the cut and break the $100K mark on season earnings in her quest to retain her card for the 2008 season. I'll make my picks from Chiba!

Post-Modern Monday: Rhinoplasty

Cross-posted at The Valve.

A decade or so ago I read an article about appropriation as a BIG THING in the art world. I thought it was silly. And so I did what any intelligent person does when confronted with high-toned silliness, I riffed on it.

I took Dürer's rhinoceros as my starting point:

durer rhino.jpg

I then scanned it into my handy-dandy Jobs-Wozniak Appropriator and concocted the following dialogue on bioengineering and informatics.

* * * * *

“Do you think he would mind?”
“Albrecht Einstein?”
“No, Dürer, Albrecht Dürer, the print maker.”

1 rhino blue.GIF

“Mind what?”
“If I appropriated his rhinoceros.”
“What for?”
“I want to do some genetic engineering.”
“Genetic engineering?”
“Yes. I had this dream the other night. A voice kept repeating 'zebroceros' over and over again, with a very deep and meaningful intonation.”
“What's a zebroceros?”
“Well, it must be a cross between a zebra and a rhinoceros.”
“And you want to get into genetic engineering so you can make the cross. Isn't that going to be difficult? I mean, the zebra and the rhinoceros are such very different animals. Do you think the cross will take?”

2 Zebroceros green.GIF

“Don't see why not. This isn't like ordinary cross-breeding. Here we get right into the genetic material, the information specifying the organism's form and function. We just splice one strand of information into the other and voilà! we've got it.”
“I see. Tell me. Do you think we could make a rhinana?”
“A rhinana?”
“Yeah, a cross between a rhinoceros and a banana.”
“Well, if it's OK with Albrecht. It's his rhinoceros.”

3 Rhinana yellow.GIF

“You mean there's no problem about the rhinoceros being an animal and the banana a plant?”
“Of course not. When you get down to the genes it's all just information. Bits and bytes of biocode.”
“Well, then let's try something between animate and inanimate. Wrapping paper. Yeah, a rhinoceros and wrapping paper.”

4 Orange rhino.GIF

“But wrapping paper doesn't have any genetic code at all. No DNA to splice.”
“But it does have a pattern. And the pattern is information, just like the DNA. What should I call it”
“Wrappoceros? Papoceros? Zigzagoceros?”

5 Digital rhino red.GIF


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Natalie Gulbis Wins Evian Masters in Presselesque/Lincicomesque Fashion

Remember how Morgan Pressel won the Kraft Nabisco Championship? Remember how Brittany Lincicome won the Ginn? Well, both events were back in April, so you probably don't. Let me give you the short story: each played well under great pressure and difficult conditions on a day many people had a better chance--some a much better chance--to win but didn't. That to me sums up Natalie Gulbis's win at the 2007 Evian Masters. This is not a knock on Gulbis--in fact, both Pressel and Lincicome have played great since their unlikely wins, joining the ranks of the LPGA's elite players. Here's hoping this win has the same effect on Gulbis's career.

Because she beat a lot of great golfers today. She knew that Lorena Ochoa was making a charge ahead of her; at -5 through 13 holes, Ochoa got to -4, but a pair of bogeys, including a very costly one at 18, offset by only 1 birdie, dropped her back to -3 for the tournament. Despite this disappointing finish, Ochoa was the leader in the clubhouse for quite some time. Christina Kim had pulled even with her through 15 holes, but a bogey on 16 dropped her to -2 for the tournament. Meanwhile, Sun Ju Ahn was squandering her 33 on the front, which had also brought her to -3--her 37 on the back dropped her into a tie with Kim. Playing one group ahead of Gulbis, Momoko Ueda got it to -3 through 14, but like Ochoa finished with a pair of bogeys and a birdie to drop out of contention late. Gulbis's playing partner, Annika Sorenstam, was -4 through 9 and still at -3 through 14, but a +1 finish over her last 4 holes kept her out of contention. Gulbis herself couldn't get anything going on the back, either--at -5 through 9, and -4 through 14, she did well to stay there and pass Ochoa, but as she said during the post-tournament interviews, she was incredibly frustrated with herself while waiting for the groups ahead of her to finish, because she never thought she would be low enough to even get into a playoff. Ji Yai Shin, after all, was -5 through 10, and a double-par-bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie roller coaster put her at -3 with two birdie holes to go. Sophie Gustafson was in even better shape at -4 heading into the 17th. After a tough start, third-round leader Juli Inkster had clawed her way back to -5 through 13 and despite bogeying the next 2 holes was also at -4 heading into her last two holes, thanks to a clutch birdie on the 16th. Her playing partner Jeong Jang came into 17 with 2 straight birdies under her belt, bringing her back to -3 after a terrible front 9. So Gulbis certainly had cause for alarm. But after 17, things looked a lot better for her: bogeys by Shin, Gustafson, and Inkster, and a par by Jang meant that everyone still on the course was chasing Gulbis heading into the 18th. With Shin's birdie, Gustafson's bogey, and Inkster's par, only Jang could catch Gulbis, and she did with her 3rd birdie in her final 4 holes. But on the first playoff hole, the 18th, Gulbis just missed eagle and Jang couldn't make her 15-foot birdie putt to match her birdie. Amazingly, Gulbis had prevailed--just as Cristie Kerr had been telling her could happen while they were waiting for the final groups to finish their rounds.

So congratulations to first-time winner Natalie Gulbis! On a day that a lot of Americans made big moves--Meaghan Francella (70, +5, T30), Brittany Lang (70, +4, T24), Nicole Castrale (70, +1, T19), Paula Creamer (69, +1, T19), Laura Diaz (71, -1, T12), Morgan Pressel (69, -1, T12), Angela Stanford (70, -2, T6), and Christina Kim (70, -2, T6), among them--you made the biggest one of all!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Wind--and Scores--Up on Moving Backward Day at the Evian Masters

The LPGA third-round interview page for the Evian Masters puts it rather blandly--"Saturday's scoring average was 75.082, which went up nearly two shots from the first- and second-round averages which were at 73.388 and 73.357, respectively"--but sometimes you need to deadpan it when the best women's golfers in the world have one of their worst days of the year. Only 7 players got under par and only 4 more avoided going over par, while 9 failed to break 80, including people who started the day thinking about being in contention on Sunday like second-round co-leader Jin Joo Hong (80), first-round co-leader Brittany Lincicome (82), former top-Super Soph-in-tournament Kyeong Bae (82), #2 on the LPGA money list Suzann Pettersen (81), and, yes, Michelle Wie (84).

But enough about the negatives. Hall of Famer Juli Inkster (69) had the best round of the day and at -6 heads into the final round with a 2-shot lead on Jeong Jang (72), a 3-shot lead on Ji Yai Shin (70), Sophie Gustafson (72), and Diana D'Alessio (76), a 4-shot lead on Il Mi Chung (70), Natalie Gulbis (73), and Annika Sorenstam (74), and a 5-shot lead on Karrie Webb (73), Mi Hyun Kim (74), Laura Davies (74), and Momoko Ueda (74). Given that Angela Stanford's 69 got her to E and made up 5-6 shots on Christina Kim, Sun Ju Ahn, Maria Hjorth, Laura Diaz, and Linda Wessberg, I wouldn't count anyone in this group out--and I'd even give people at +1 like Lorena Ochoa, Seon Hwa Lee, Shi Hyun Ahn, and Eun-Hee Ji an outside chance if any of them can mount an incredible charge on Sunday. Which is more of a chance than Hound Dog gives them.

Unfortunately for them, even if Cristie Kerr keeps up her birdie pace over her final 6 holes or Morgan Pressel over her final 12 holes, there aren't enough holes left for them to get into the race. But everyone is looking to finish strong in the last round before St. Andrews and the Women's British Open. We'll see who's able to pull it off.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Catch you later alligator

Dear Onechan,

I'm so glad you were able to stop the little bears from climbing around in the cactus. It makes them all itchy and scratchy and the cactus doesn't like it either.

Sparkychan and I are getting ready to go back to America. We've enjoyed it in Japan, but we have to get back. We've decided to go back on the Cybertrain Atomic Dancer Galactic Express. See, here's a picture of us getting read to go in:

scoping it out.jpg

Yeah, I know it looks like a computer, but lets just pretend that it's a space-ship, OK? And it really does go into cyberspace. See, here we're talking to the pilot of the Atomic Dancer. Her name is Chiyochan:

ready to go.jpg

Isn't she cute?

Now we're in cyberspace. I wonder why it's all green and wiggly. Do you know, Onechan?

Gojira Approves

"I know, Gojochan! I know!" -- that's Sparkychan talking. "It's the little wiggly worm. It wants to talk to Onechan." See the little worm way back in there? It's white and has two eyes and a tail. You have to look real hard because it's little and hidden in the dark. But it's right there in the middle,

onechans little worm.jpg

"Hi, onechan! I'm the little worm. So glad to meet you. If you're ever in Kansas, put your red shoes on and we'll go out to have some ice cream."

Gee, Onechan, you sure are lucky. The little worm doesn't talk to just anyone. It's time to say goodbye -- or, as the old song says, "sayonara, not goodbye." Sparkychan and I are still in cyberspace. We'll send you another letter when we finally get back and tell you about the rest of our trip in cyberspace.

Sayonara, Viva Zapata, and terra del fuego,

Gojochan and Sparkychan

Evian Masters Second Round: New Pairings of Interest

In my preview of the Evian Masters, I assumed that the following juicy pairings would stand for the first two days of the tournament and thus was all prepared to report on who won over the two-day tournament-within-a-tournament here today:

Lorena Ochoa (72)/Karrie Webb (70)
Paula Creamer (75)/Ai Miyazato (73)
Ji Yai Shin (73)/Seon Hwa Lee (72)
Morgan Pressel (73)/Michelle Wie (73)
Annika Sorenstam (71)/Laura Davies (71)
Angela Stanford (73)/Sherri Steinhauer (72)

Well, after finding the time to read the first round interviews and look at the pairings for Friday's round, I now realize they're using the weekend method for three rounds rather than two. On the bright side, this leads to interesting new head-to-head match-ups:

Miyazato/Wie: hmm, maybe the Japanese media will pay a wee bit more attention to this tournament now?
Prammanasudh/Stanford: top Americans who deserve more recognition--who will make a move up the leaderboard?
Ahn/Lang: who will end their 2007 slide/slump this week?
Kerr/Ochoa/Gulbis: can Natalie hang with the best in the world? can they get into contention?
Steinhauer/Seon Hwa Lee: who will make a move to contend this week?
Sorenstam/Meena Lee: who will end their 2007 slide this week?
Francella/Hjorth: reprise of their HSBC match play quarterfinals showdown--can Francella beat Hjorth this time?
Webb/Angela Park/Ashleigh Simon: can the LPGA Rookie of the Year favorite outplay the world #2? can the LET's new star keep pace with her partners?
Mi Hyun Kim/Jang: can Jang jumpstart her 2007 season by keeping pace with the top Korean golfer in the world?

Other questions I'm interested in: Can fast-rising Super Sophs like Kyeong Bae and Linda Wessberg continue their fine starts? Can Pat Hurst and Christina Kim, not the steadiest of golfers, pull ahead of the field or will they self-destruct? Will KLPGA tour stars continue to shine and JLPGA stars continue to struggle? All I can say is, gambare, gambare, U-e-da!

Play has already begun. We should have a good sense of where the cut line will fall in a couple of hours. With some luck after our dinner engagement, I'll be able to report on the action in real time. And yes, all the boxes (but two that can't be finished yet anyway) got shipped. Moving Day in Fukuoka is over and we survived it.

[Update 1 (7/28/07, 5:21 am): First things first--go to Hound Dog's second-round summary. After you get the main story from him, you can follow my follow-up to my above questions from yesterday afternoon.

After tying Morgan Pressel on Thursday, Michelle Wie straight up beat Ai Miyazato on Friday. At E she's T28 for the tournament, 1 shot ahead of Pressel and 2 up on Miyazato. Stanford (74) played less badly than Prammanasudh (77), but both are at or near the back of the pack. So is the slumping Brittany Lang (74), who got totally outclassed by Shi Hyun Ahn (69), now sitting pretty at -2 for the tournament (T14). Natalie Gulbis (69) shocked me by beating both Lorena Ochoa (70) and Cristie Kerr (73), thanks to a closing birdie barrage on 4 of her last 6 holes; at -3, she's T6 and in the best position to contend on the weekend in a long long time. Great for her (and for me--I had picked her as a top 11 player at the beginning of the season), but still a huge surprise. Both the normally steady British Open champion Sherri Steinhauer (73) and HSBC match play champion Seon Hwa Lee (74) made moves in the wrong direction on Friday (Lee had 3 bogeys and a double--on 18!--to offset 4 birdies on the back)--another surprise. So did Meena Lee (73), who got toasted by the only-85% Annika Sorenstam (69), now -4 for the tournament, tied for 3rd, and only 3 shots off the lead. In a even more lopsided result, Maria Hjorth (71) continued her recent dominance over the injured Meaghan Francella (79), who barely made the cut. Meanwhile, Karrie Webb and Ashleigh Simon (72s) hung in there, while Angela Park (74) struggled. And Jeong Jang (71) squeaked by Mi Hyun Kim (72) to join Sorenstam in 3rd place at -4. Linda Wessberg (72), Kyeong Bae (74), and Momoko Ueda (67) all joined Gulbis and Kim at T6, along with charging veterans Laura Davies, Juli Inkster, and Sophie Gustafson, but Pat Hurst (76) and Christina Kim (75) did indeed take giant steps backward, joining KLPGA stars Ji Yai Shin (70), Sun Ju Ahn (73), and Eun-Hee Ji (76) in the barely-under-par group of golfers 5-6 shots out of the lead.

The Super Sophs are not looking as super as they usually do (especially Jee Young Lee, who needed 5 birdies today to offset her 5 doubles and a triple in her first two rounds!), but with the exception of Julieta Granada, whom I was sure was coming out of her slump, they all made the cut. We'll see how they--and leaders Diana D'Alessio and Jin Joo Hong at -7--handle the weekend pressure.

So go check out the second-round interviews and third-round pairings until the action starts up again!]

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Packing and Partying Makes for Dull Golf Blogging

Sorry, folks, today is Moving Day (well, taking boxes to the post office day) in the Constructivist household, so there's a ban on blogging (in abeyance for the 5 seconds it takes to post this.) Here's the leaderboard and first round notes and interviews from the LPGA, along with Hound Dog's summary. Draw your own conclusions!

Berube Mayoral Campaign Kicks Off with Analogy Contest

Cross-posted at Citizen of Somewhere Else.

Because it's our last Friday in Fukuoka (for this year, that is) and we have it on good authority that "analogies are mostly the refuge of the simple-minded," I hereby announce that the Official Michael Berube Campaign for Mayor of Blogoramaville is leading off with an analogy contest. Just fill in the blanks on any or all of the following in comments!

1. Michael Berube:[x=Republican Presidential Candidate]::a:b
2. Michael Berube:[y=Possible Mayoral Competitor]::c:d
3. Michael Berube:[z=Possible Running Mate]::e:f
4. Michael Berube:g::h:i

And remember to keep it simple, stupid. No similes or metaphors allowed.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Evian Masters Preview

The official site for the Evian Masters is a dream for someone like me who has to follow the LPGA on-line from Japan. Not only does it give you the usual links to things like scores, starting times, news, interviews, player profiles (quel Eurocentrique!), and the tournament history, but it also gives you web tv, a hole-by-hole intro to the course, and a blog (in French!). So I'll be spending as much time as I can at this site during the next few days, when I'm not grading, packing, doing goodbyes, playing with the girls, or sleeping. Not that much, in other words.

If you're into picking winners, this overview of the past finishes of those in the field may be worth examining. It suggests that the Evian Masters Country Club is a good course for Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie to attempt their comebacks from injuries, that it just might jump-start the games of Juli Inkster, Meena Lee, and Jeong Jang, that Lorena Ochoa, Karrie Webb, Paula Creamer, Mi Hyun Kim, Cristie Kerr, and Maria Hjorth are likely to contend, and that the top 4 Super Sophs--Morgan Pressel, Seon Hwa Lee, Ai Miyazato, and Jee Young Lee--have to learn quickly from their previous struggles in this tournament. What it can't tell you is how the 30 golfers playing it for the first time--including KLPGA superstar Ji Yai Shin, Rookie of the Year rivals Angela Park and In-Kyung Kim, and Super Soph Meaghan Francella--are likely to handle a course that seems vulnerable to low scoring from people playing well but tough on anyone with any weaknesses in their game. Nor can it tell you why Se Ri Pak is skipping the tournament this year. Although maybe the new issue of Seoul Sisters can.

The pairings for the first two rounds of the tournament (which didn't have a cut until this year, by the way) are also very interesting. As Mulligan Stu pointed out at Waggle Room, Morgan Pressel and Michelle Wie are playing together, but that's only part of the story. So are world #1 Lorena Ochoa and world #2 Karrie Webb, American sweetheart Paula Creamer and Japanese sweetheart Ai Miyazato (not to mention money list neighbors), the KLPGA's Ji Yai Shin and the LPGA's Seon Hwa Lee, the Euro-legends Annika Sorenstam and Laura Davies, and duelling Solheim Cup qualifier contenders Angela Stanford and Sherri Steinhauer. So check out who triumphs in these matches-within-the-tournament each day.

The Evian Masters Country Club is a short, hilly, tight, and tricky course. It puts a premium on local knowledge, good decision-making, and smart approach shots. It takes driver out of the hands of the majority of the field on the majority of holes, but it requires them to put themselves on the correct side of the fairway on almost every one of them. The tee shots are usually framed by trees and sand traps, the fairways are usually tilted in one direction or another, and the greens are usually multi-tiered and undulating. Most of the par 5s are reachable in two for most of the field (even Mi Hyun Kim says so about the 7th!), especially the 18th, which tempts you with its relatively wide fairway and threatens you with the creek and sand traps surrounding the green. The back 9 looks a lot tougher than the front to me--even though the last 3 holes are very very short, they look (and sound from the player commentary) very very tricky. I can certainly understand why people either go really low or struggle to break par in this tournament (and often do both over the course of their four rounds).

With the course being so hilly, most of the field dealing with jet lag and recovering from the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship (for one reason or another) the previous week, and the last major of the year--the British Women's Open (at ST. ANDREWS)--coming the following week, players' physical conditioning, mental toughness, and ability to deal with their emotions will be an even bigger factor on this European swing than it usually is. I don't see any of the first-timers in the mix on the weekend except maybe Ji-Yai Shin, Momoko Ueda, Kyeong Bae, or Angela Park. And I don't know how Annika Sorenstam's back and neck, Mi Hyun Kim's knees and back, Michelle Wie's wrists, or Paula Creamer's swing changes will affect their play, much less which Karrie Webb or Cristie Kerr or Suzann Pettersen are going to show up this week. So in the end I'm looking for Jeong Jang, Morgan Pressel, Seon Hwa Lee, Ai Miyazato, Laura Davies, Angela Stanford, Carin Koch, Sherri Steinhauer, and Maria Hjorth to be chasing Lorena Ochoa on the weekend. I'll let Hound Dog pick the winner, as he's been doing so well (barring the unpredictable HSBC match play event) with his predictions lately.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


From an email I recently sent to a friend:

I went to see Satoshi Kon's "Paprika" over a week ago. I was a bit distracted at the time, and so had trouble giving it my full attention. But then, it's the sort of movie that's presents difficulties similar to those in "Revolutionary Girl Utena." It's difficult to keep track of just which symbolic/surreal world you're watching at any given moment. In the case of RGU, of course, we've got a film that's retelling a story that's been told twice before in my expansive forms; so there's a problem of condensation. As far as I know, "Paprika" isn't like that. But it's still a challenging film.

I sense that here's a mode of organization that's more Japanese than Western so that one can't simply attend to it through the foreground-action focus that works for Western stories. You need to de-couple from the foreground action and simply let the gestalt wash over you.

Beyond that, we really struck me is how much "Paprika" seemed to be in thematic and imagistic dialogue with other films, including earlier ones by Kon, but also Miyazaki ("Spirited Away," "Princess Mononoke"), Takahata ("Pom Poko"), and Oshi ("Innocence"), Otomo ("Akira"). We've got dolls, carnivalesque parades (of kitchen appliances, and frogs), a human reminiscent of Miyazaki's Night Walker (and, in a way, of Akira), and shrinks and detectives (Kon's own milieu). It's quite a collection of "stuff."

Monday, July 23, 2007


Blogoramaville needs a mayor by 2009. The WAAGNFNP needs a vehicle for parodying actually existing political campaigns between now and then. It's a match made in heaven.

"But Constructivist," you say, "what is this 'Blogoramaville' you speak of? Skippy says we're livin' in blogtopia." Sorry, people, but blogtopia is so last microsecond. Hadn't you heard that it got invaded, conquered, surveyed, and parcelled out, like, bloggy years ago?

"Whatever," you reply. "How is your dumb riff on McLuhan any better?" Well, after Turner (Ted) proclaimed the Closing of the Electronic Frontier Era, we've entered a new phase of virtual community-building. Blogoramaville gets at the cheesy small-town stench (I mean, barnyard aroma) of so many bloggy interactions. It's where we're at. We ain't no global village.

"All right, I'm in," you answer, conveniently getting into the spirit of "our" "dialogue." "So if Townsville has The Mayor and Springfield has Mayor Quimby, what kind of mayor does Blogoramaville deserve?" Great question--thanks for asking!

We all know Blogoramaville is a wasteland of broken windows, unreadable graffiti, and angry extremists who have nothing in common but their complete lack of civility. We all know the families who have left for the big city, "gone on vacation" indefinitely to parts unknown, or been driven out of town by flame-thrower-toting flash mobs. We all know how much fun it is to persistently and ruthlessly mock the village idiots. But there has to be more to life in Blogoramaville than that. We need to elect a Mayor to figure out what that is.

This is where the WAAGNFNP's own Chairman-for-Life and Professor of Dangeral Studies Michael Berube comes in. Or would, if his loyal cultists Partyers could just--somehow--get organized.

Anyone got any ideas how to do that?

Besides the WAAGNFNP's own Tribunus Laticlavius of the Ministry of Offense and Defense, that is, who offers Berube the following campaign slogan:

"Vote WAAGNFNP in 2008--you'll never have to vote again!"

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Battle of the Super Sophs at the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship

Just like I hoped for, it's Ai Miyazato vs. Seon Hwa Lee in the finals of the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship! Due to some technical difficulties at the site, I've spent the last half hour checking out the tournament blog and Alex Myers's Match Madness to catch up on what I've been missing.

Ai-chan walked into the finals despite playing her worst round of the tournament, thanks to a Maria Hjorth meltdown in their semifinal match. Seon Hwa had a bit more of a struggle in her semifinal match with Mi Hyun Kim. After both players began with some shaky golf, they were all square through 8, but Seon Hwa took control of the match between the 9th and 12th holes, thanks to two birdies and a pair of bogeys by Kim. Although she bogeyed 13 and 16 to allow her 3-up lead to dwindle to a single hole, Seon Hwa closed the match out in style with a birdie on 18. As Kim was playing the steadiest of anyone in the tournament this week, it's a bit surprising to me that she was so shaky against Seon Hwa, but that's match play for you. And that's the effects of playing your second 36-hole day in a row. This format is definitely biased toward the young. It's as much a mental and emotional as a physical challenge to win this thing.

And it showed at the start of the final match. Despite bogeying three of her first four holes, Ai-chan was only two down to Seon Hwa. After the rough start, both players stabilized their games over the next few holes, matching each other par for par and birdie for birdie (on the 6th and 9th). A bogey by Seon Hwa on 11 opened the door for Ai-chan to get back to 1 down for the first time since the 3rd hole, but she returned the favor with a bogey on the 12th. After winning the 14th with a birdie, however, Ai-chan was back to 1 down with 4 holes to play. Meanwhile, Maria Hjorth was throwing a birdie barrage at Mi Hyun Kim on the back 9 to cut Kim's 3-up lead to 1 up going into the 18th holes. CBS must be pleased--or as pleased as they could be with the tournament living up to its global billing in parochial America.

Stay tuned!

[Update 1 (6:19 am): Mi Hyun Kim birdied 18 (her sixth of the day) to secure a 2-up victory over Maria Hjorth (who also made 5 birdies in her final round). Bet you they were wondering where those birdies were in their semifinal matches! Meanwhile, Seon Hwa makes a 10-footer for birdie on 15 to go back to 2 up on Ai-chan. With two par 5s in the last 3 holes, if Ai-chan can extend the match to 18 this will be a great finish.

On a side note, it's details like the length of Seon Hwa's birdie putt that have been missing for the most part from both Myers's live blogging and the HSBC tournament blog. For those of us who are forced to follow this thing on-line, we would appreciate it if those live-blogging it would tell us where the shots are going. They're acting more like tv color commentators than radio play-by-players, so to speak.]

[Update 2 (6:23 am): Ah, that's more like it. The HSBC tournament blog reported that Seon Hwa sank an 8-footer for birdie on the par-5 16th hole, forcing Ai-chan to make her 5-footer to keep the match going. And she did! But she has to win the par-3 17th to stay alive. She has birdied it before this week--can she do it again?]

[Update 3 (6:29 am): Just went back and checked Ai-chan's earlier matches and it turns out she hasn't birdied 17 before. Must have been thinking of someone else! No tme to check now--both players hit great approach shots on 17, with Ai-chan putting her's inside Lee's.]

[Update 4 (6:45 am): Seon Hwa made her birdie to close out the match with a 2-up victory! Congratulations to the Class of 2006's Rookie of the Year, who not only wins for the second time on the LPGA and vaults into the top 5 on the money list this year thanks to her $500K winner's check, but who also found her game on the final day of the tournament after struggling all week, beating perhaps her biggest rival on the tour in a head-to-head showdown. Ai-chan can't feel too bad, though, as she hit pressure shots and made pressure putts down the stretch, vaults into the top 10 on the LPGA money list, and passes the $1M mark in career winnings with her $300K second-place check. With all eyes on them, they played some great golf from the 5th hole on and hopefully brought some new fans to the LPGA.]

[Update 5 (7:18 am): SI.com lead with a USA Today AP story on the HSBC, quite a bit better than yesterday's. Same story at CBSSportsLine. Ai-chan was the first golf story on Japanese tv, but it was short again and the visuals were unimpressive/ By contrast, Ryo Ishikawa's return to Japan was covered in more detail and they showed clips from a Q&A with him at the airport. What gives?]


Dear Onechan,

Sparkychan and I have been having lots of fun in Japan. We enjoyed pushing the typhoon away from you and Imoto and your Mommy and Daddy and all your friends. And we're having lots of fun hanging out in the baths and eating ice cream and playing pachinko and stuff. But you know what? We miss our friends back at the yochien at home.

Would you say "hello" to them for us and tell them we miss them? Here's a bunch, including Lululololala the Lion and Tomatimatami the Tiger:

the gang.jpg

And would you tell the little bears to Stop Climbing Around in the Cactus?


Thank you, Onechan.


Gojochan and Sparkychan

PS What happened to the little bears? Have they been drinking too much Kansas Kool Aid?


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Any Given Round: HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship Road to the Final 4

OK, I have to admit I knew yesterday morning that Ai Miyazato had made it to the Sweet 16 in the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship, thanks to Japanese tv morning news editors' decision to show a 15-second clip of her wins in the first two rounds (after a much longer story on teenage sensation Ryo Ishikawa blowing up at a junior tournament in California). I shouldn't complain, as Sergio and the gang got no play at some minor tournament in Europe. In fact, with the top JLPGA players deciding not to compete in the HSBC--they decided to play here instead (just out of spite I'll be cheering for Na Zhang to extend her 5-shot lead tomorrow afternoon, although I may miss the actual action, as we have plans for another farewell get-together that could turn out to be an all-day affair)--I shouldn't have been surprised that Ai-chan got the micro-story treatment from the Japanese media. We'll see in a few hours how many seconds Ai-chan's third-round win over Christina Kim nets her on Sunday morning tv in Japan!

While I'm waiting for the other matches to finish up--and rooting for Super Sophs Seon Hwa Lee, Jee Young Lee, and Meaghan Francella to join Ai-chan in the Elite 8--let me offer my own recap of the first two rounds. And then pick up with the third- and fourth-round action.

Round 1
Since I spotlighted the Super Sophs in my first diary entry over at Waggle Room, I'll lead with them here at Mostly Harmless.

The best of the best Super Sophs Morgan Pressel got beat by Birdie Kim. Again. I wonder if losing to a miracle bunker hole-out in a major feels worse than bogeying your last two holes to hand a hard-fought match to your rival. Only Pressel knows.

Let's look at some Super Soph comebacks to get the taste of that upset out of our mouths.

Jee Young Lee was +4 over her first three holes and (no surprise) 3 down to Karin Sjodin, but she responded with two birdies on the next two holes to get back within 1. She oscillated between 1 and 2 down over the next 8 holes, but thanks to Sjodin's 2nd consecutive bogey pulled to all square with 4 holes left to play. The home stretch started badly for her, as she bogeyed the 15th while Sjodin birdied it, but a birdie on 16 got her back even with Sjodin. The match came down to the 18th and Lee sealed the victory with a birdie. Huge comeback for Lee; big disappointment for Super Soph in Waiting Sjodin.

Seon Hwa Lee also made a great comeback. At 3 down after Diana D'Alessio made her third birdie of the day on the 14th (with no bogeys), you figure Lee is out of it, right? Nope. Lee wins all 4 closing holes, 3 of them with birdies. She didn't get Rookie of the Year in 2006 for nothing.

Hye Jung Choi was +2 through 5 and lucky to be only 1 down to Juli Inkster. But 3 consecutive birdies and an Inkster bogey on 10 gave Choi a 3-hole lead that she wouldn't relinquish.

OK, enough about comebacks. How about Super Sophs who took control of their matches? Well, there were only two.

Meaghan Francella jumped out to an early lead on Meena Lee--at -2 over her first 10 holes, she was 4 up. And even though she was +1 over the next 6 holes and Lee was -2, which got Lee to only 1 down with 2 to play, Francella withstood the charge and won the match with a birdie on the par-3 17th. A big upset for the injured Super Soph. Perhaps a sign that her rib muscle is finally healed?

Unlike Francella, Ai Miyazato got off to only a solid start in her match with Becky Morgan--both were even through 7 and all square. But then Ai-chan took over with birdies on 8, 10, and 14, the last of which sealed the deal, thanks to Morgan's bogeys on 11 and 12. Golf is a streaky game to begin with and match play is Windex-proof.

Tell it to Julieta Granada, who got a little bit unlucky against Reilley Rankin. If you're -5 through your first 10 holes, you don't usually expect to be only 3 up, but Rankin practically matched Granada birdie for birdie on the front. Then disaster struck, as a combination of 3 Granada bogeys and 3 Rankin birdies led to losses on 6 straight holes and an early exit for the career money leader among the Super Sophs. It's hard to see such a tough loss as a positive, but I think Granada's game is coming back online for the second half of the this season, just as it did in 2006. You heard it here first: her slump is over.

The same can't be said for Brittany Lang, who was +3 through 10 and 4 down to Lindsey Wright, when a Lang birdie and then a Wright double bogey got her back to only 2 down with 6 left to play. But doubling 14 and bogeying 15 ensured that Lang's slump continues. That Wright beat Annika Sorenstam to make it to the Sweet 16 and took Jeong Jang to extra holes in the third round is unlikely to make Lang feel any better.

Perhaps the only person who feels worse than Lang is Kyeong Bae, who bogeyed the 19th hole to lose to Angela Stanford. I say "perhaps" because a glitch in the HSBC site's software is not letting me look over the first 18 holes of the match!

Besides the Super Sophs, the most interesting thing about Round 1 is trying to figure out if Janice Moodie beating KLPGA #1 Ji-Yai Shin, rookie Charlotte Mayorkas beating world #2 Karrie Webb, or Amy Hung destroying U.S. Women's Open champion Cristie Kerr is the biggest upset of the day. It's a tough call, but given how bad Shin and Kerr played, I think the nod has to go to Mayorkas, who only went -4 over her last 6 holes (against Webb's -2!) for the win. When neither golfer recorded a bogey and each was -5 on the day, you know Mayorkas earned her win.

Round 2
Here's how crazy golf is. Reilly Rankin may well have been the hottest golfer coming into Friday (even hotter than Lorena Ochoa, Stacy Prammanasudh, Ai Miyazato, Young Kim, Hye Jung Choi, and Charlotte Mayorkas), so of course she went +7 through 11 and was lucky to be only 4 down to Carin Koch. Like Choi, who was +5 through her first 6 holes, she made an early exit Friday. In fact, of the golfers who blistered the course on Thursday, only Miyazato advanced to the Sweet 16 with another back 9 surge, this time against British Open champion Sherri Steinhauer.

Joining Ai-chan in the Sweet 16 were Thursday's comeback kids, the fighting Lees. Jee Young used 4 birdies to destroy Nicole Castrale while Seon Hwa just played less badly than Janice Moodie.

Meanwhile, Meaghan Francella and Jeong Jang were beneficiaries of uncharacteristic late-round collapses by #1 in the world Lorena Ochoa (+4 over her last 10 holes to blow a 2-up lead) and #1 rookie Angela Park (+4 over her last 7 holes to blow a 2-up lead), respectively. And other 2007 stars like Paula Creamer, Se Ri Pak, Suzann Pettersen, and Stacy Prammanasudh had similarly lackluster over-par performances, losing to Maria Hjorth, Christina Kim, Rachel Hetherington, and Pat Hurst. So in the end it's a toss-up who had the toughest loss--although again I have to single out Charlotte Mayorkas, who lost on the third playoff hole to Laura Diaz, over her top contender Annika Sorenstam (who ran into an incandescent Lindsey Wright).

After the carnage was complete, 4 Super Sophs found themselves in the Sweet 16. With only Mi Hyun Kim ranked higher than Ai-chan, only Kim and Jeong Jang ranked higher than Jee Young Lee, and only Kim, Jang, and Pat Hurst ranked higher than Seon Hwa Lee, they had to be among the favorites to win the tournament.

Round 3
Amazingly, all 4 Super Sophs advanced to the Elite 8! Ai-chan did it in style, outplaying Christina Kim on the 5th through 11th holes and holding on for a 2 & 1 win. Jee Young Lee and Meaghan Francella, by contrast, relied on late collapses by their older competitors Laura Diaz (+2 over her final 4 holes after fighting back to draw even with Lee) and Pat Hurst (+3 over her last 5 holes to squander a 1-up lead), respectively, while Seon Hwa Lee again played just a little less badly than her opponent (this time Laura Davies, who was +5 over her first 13 holes to spot Lee a 3-hole cushion).

Like Ai-chan, Mi Hyun Kim is playing good golf through her first 3 rounds. She took advantage of early and late mistakes by Rachel Hetherington to cruise to a 3-up victory. The same can't be said of Jeong Jang, who lost an early 2-hole lead on Lindsey Wright after bogeying the 6th and 7th holes, then parred out while Wright made a bogey and two birdies, the last on the 17th to give her a 1-up win. Like Wright, Amy Hung is getting fitted for a Cinderella dress, as she took Carin Koch to the 19th hole and won it with a par. It took Maria Hjorth a birdie on her 19th hole to defeat Angela Stanford and continue her run of grueling victories over higher-ranked opponents.

So, heading into the quarterfinal matches (which are going on right now), there's a decent chance we could see an all-Super Soph Final 4. Jee Young Lee has the toughest draw, facing off against Mi Hyun Kim, while Seon Hwa Lee has to face the giant-killing Lindsey Wright and Meaghan Francella has to face down the battle-hardened (but perhaps exhausted) Maria Hjorth. On paper, Ai-chan has the easiest draw, facing Amy Hung, but you never want to have to beat the Cinderella in the field.

Round 4
Mi Hyun Kim is 2 up on Jee Young Lee through 4, thanks to a Kim birdie on 1 and a Lee bogey on 4. If Kim hadn't matched Lee's bogey on 3, she'd have an even bigger lead.

Seon Hwa Lee and Lindsey Wright are trading bogeys--each has 2 in their first 4 holes and they're all square.

Meaghan Francella also has a pair of bogeys to start her round yet is only 1 down to Maria Hjorth after 4.

Ai-chan bogeyed the 5th to fall one behind Amy Hung.

More at the end of the round!

[Update 1 (6:45 am): Well, the girls woke up early, but not early enough for me to catch any of the quarterfinal action (online, that is). This is where I get mad at Japanese tv, as three of my favorite golfers made it to the final 4--but only two of the Super Sophs. It's Ai-chan with the easier draw, against a hot Maria Hjorth, and Seon Hwa Lee with the tougher one, against Mi Hyun Kim. Hjorth and Lee got into the final 4 the easy way--neither Francella nor Wright played well. But Amy Hung more than hung in there with Ai-chan (who needed a birdie on the last hole for the win) and Kim withstood a mid-round run by Jee Young Lee (who threw an eagle and a couple of birdies at Kim to erase an early 2-hole deficit). But in the end the two steadiest players in the tournament gutted out tough wins and have to be the favorites in their semifinal matches.

If Kim wins this thing, it's possible she could knock off 3 of the top 4 Super Sophs on the way to doing it. But I'll be rooting for a Seon Hwa Lee-Ai Miyazato shootout in the final round.]

[Update 2 (8:08 am): Well, no Ai-chan that I could find on early morning Japanese tv. Which is probably better than the U.S. webby coverage. ESPN.com and SI.com's partners both took a long time to update their sites and during that span put news of the woman Tiger plunked with his drive ahead of their outdated HSBC stories. CBSSportsLine.com once again had the best golf coverage among the non-specialist sites, but even their coverage was weak, focusing on the white upstarts and practically ignoring the Asian stars. True, Meaghan Francella deserved to be a big story and whoever beat her on her home turf deserved a lot of credit and attention. But the implicit Great White Hope focus on Hjorth over three players more highly ranked than she is simply ridiculous. If, as Geoff Shackleford and Mulligan Stu are emphasizing, only hard-core LPGA fans (guilty as charged) are paying attention to the HSBC, golf writers should understand that Mi Hyun Kim is a huge name in women's golf, Seon Hwa Lee is the former rookie of the year, and Ai Miyazato is a huge name worldwide. Scott Nicholson's story made it to Golfweek's site, as well, which means that prospective women's pro golf fans are treated to the worst golf sportswriting of the week. Nice. Hope The Florida Masochist gets on this.]

[Update 3 (8:16 am): Nicholson's AP story made it to ESPN.com before SI.com--way to go, Golf Digest. Still in the middle of kids' tv, so no Japanese media watch news yet.]

[Update 4 (8:20 am): OK, enough complaining. Alex Myers at Match Madness blogs for The Journal News (Francella's home newspaper, which hosts her blog, too) and his coverage of the HSBC is worth reading. Plus he's an Ai-chan fan. So go there now!]

[Update 5 (7/23/07, 9:47 am): Forgot to mention that despite giving up her six-shot lead in the JLPGA event on Sunday, Na Zhang recovered to beat Sakura Yokomine by birdieing the par 5 she bogeyed to fall back into the playoff in the first place. And I got to see it live at my friend's house, pulling him away from a sumo event. Turns out the HSBC was being aired on cable in Japan, but of course we're not paying for cable in Fukuoka and it was 4 am in NY when I had access to my friend's cable. In any case, I hope this shows Yokomine, Momoko Ueda (who finished 5th), Mi-Jeong Jeon, and Shiho Oyama that they would have been better off playing in the HSBC.]

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Super Soph Top 20: July 2007 Edition

In honor of this being Mostly Harmless's 100th golf post, I thought I'd give fans of the NCAA Road to the Final 4 jonesing for a 64-team bracket to fill out and planning to try their hand at predicting this year's winner of the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship a partial scouting report. Now is as good a time as any to update my May and June Super Soph ranking, as 10 of the people on this list are in the field this weekend. And since I'm going to be on the road to Kagoshima and back Thursday through Saturday, I'm going to miss blogging the Road to the Sweet 16. Which is too bad, since I consider this the first of several reality tv LPGA events in the second half of the season that have the potential to draw new audiences to women's golf (provided the British Open is boring, that is). Here are the pre-tournament interviews and brackets.

In any case, the main purpose of these rankings remains to determine who among the Rookie Class of 2006 has had the best career to date, with improvement and consistency the key criteria. For those at the top, I'm counting their 2007 stats more highly than their career stats, as they already have the consistency and get more credit for improvement. For those at the bottom, I'm counting their career stats more highly than their 2007 stats, because that's a better indicator of potential than a slump in the first half of this season.

With the European swing coming up after the HSBC, it'll be interesting to see if the Super Sophs concentrating on the Ladies European Tour this season can outperform those ranked ahead of them here on their home turf. My guess is no, but we'll see. FYI, I pick Francella to lose to Meena Lee and Jee Young Lee to beat Karin Sjodin in the first round of the HSBC--and the other 7 Super Sophs to move on to the next round. I'll be back Sunday morning Japan time to check out how well the 100 Yen Nishijin Mostly Harmless Crystal Ball is working!

Certified Super Sophs

1. Morgan Pressel: After a blistering late June and early July, she has consolidated her position as the top Super Soph and even extended her lead on the competition, despite the generally fine play of the Lees and Miyazato.
2. Jee Young Lee: Seems to be getting her game back after a slight slump in the previous month. Pulled ahead of Lee a bit, who remained steady but couldn't get any top 10s in the last 3 events.
3. Seon Hwa Lee: The most consistent of the Super Sophs stayed just ahead of Miyazato by a hair.
4. Ai Miyazato: Extended her lead on Granada and would have passed Lee except for her unexpected missed cut in a major.
5. Julieta Granada: Showed signs of life the past 3 events, but if Francella gets healthy and Bae starts hitting more greens, is in serious danger of getting passed by them in the August ranking.
6. Kyeong Bae: A few more top 10s and she'll join the elite among the Super Sophs.
7. Meaghan Francella: Struggling with a rib muscle injury but still deserves to be ahead of Lang--that should tell you how badly Lang is playing this year!
8. Brittany Lang: Needs to wake up! Used to be among the elite of the Super Sophs--if things continue as they have been, will drop down to "Super Soph in Waiting" status by the end of the season.

Super Sophs in Waiting

9. Hye Jung Choi: She's shown she can make cuts and is having a very good year. Now the question is can she move to the next level with more top 10s and more tournaments in contention--if so, she could pass the ailing Francella. Already ranked ahead of Lang in the GSPI.
10. Karin Sjodin: Doing better than Yoo in most stats with fewer tournaments under her belt. Can she make the Jee Young Lee jump this season? She plays her in the first round of the HSBC, so that'll be one big test!
11. Sun Young Yoo: Good thing for her Lu is hurt and Wessberg isn't playing much on the LPGA this year--definitely in danger of getting passed unless she gets her game in gear.
12. Teresa Lu: Like Francella, she's struggling with a nagging injury, but her game has gone totally south, as opposed to merely southward. She's in a bit of a Catch-22, as she needs to earn enough money to get exempt next year without having to go through the ordeal of Q-School, but she needs to get better in order to start making cuts again.
13. Linda Wessberg: With 2 top 10s in only 9 LPGA starts, she could be a star on the LPGA if she commits to playing more events. Has already won this year on the Ladies European Tour.

Super Potential

14. Nina Reis: In danger of getting passed by Futcher.
15. Katie Futcher: Pulling ahead of those behind her.
16. Virada Nirapathpongporn: In danger of being passed by Hall and Kim.
17. Kim Hall: Some good play recently moves her up the rankings a bit.
18. Na Ri Kim: Doing well with relatively few LPGA events under her belt in her career.
19. Veronica Zorzi: Seems committed to the LET.
20. Minea Blomqvist: Only reason remains ahead of Hoagland is last year's performance.

Honorable Mention
Ashley Hoagland: fell off the chart this month.

For your reference--and mine--are the stats on which I'm basing the July ranking.

2007 LPGA Money List (rank), stroke average (compared to last year's), birdies per round average (compared to last year's), greens in regulation (compared to last year's): I'm going to focus on four key indicators of how well someone is playing this season--how much money they've made, how they're scoring, how many birdies they're averaging per round, and average greens in regulation per round. (I figure I can figure out how well they're hitting their irons and putting by comparing the last three figures, so I won't include putts per green in regulation here. And by comparing this year's and last's results on those same three figures, I can see who's improving and who's backsliding.) Some of the figures Hound Dog thinks are most important I'm looking at in the career stats (below), where I think they belong. These stats are all about the present and future.

1. Morgan Pressel, $778.9K (#4), 70.81 (-.70), 3.51 (-.10), 69.3% (-1.7%)
2. Jee Young Lee, $628.4K (#11), 71.30 (-.16), 3.44 (-.45), 72.8% (+4.7%)
3. Ai Miyazato, $413.5K (#15), 71.78 (+.56), 2.96 (-.75), 64.6% (-4.7%)
4. Meaghan Francella, $370.0K (#21), 72.57 (-1.18), 2.86 (?), 64.8% (?)
5. Julieta Granada, $333.5K (#23), 72.53 (+1.20), 2.51 (-.69), 64.2% (-3.8%)
6. Seon Hwa Lee, $310.5K (#25), 71.65 (+.35), 3.04 (-.49), 66.8% (-.9%)
7. Kyeong Bae, $238.4K (#30), 72.58 (+.25), 3.48 (+.44), 60.2% (-7.3%)
8. Hye Jung Choi, $211.0K (#35), 72.65 (-.35), 2.78 (?), 63.4% (?)
9. Karin Sjodin, $154.3K (#46), 73.02 (+.21), 2.76 (-.73), 64.4% (-3.7%)
10. Brittany Lang, $141.5K (#50), 73.51 (+2.16), 2.37 (-1.51), 65.5% (-3.9%)
11. Teresa Lu, $101.5K (#65), 72.95 (+.06), 2.82 (-.20), 67.0% (+.3%)
12. Sun Young Yoo, $80.4K (#78), 73.36 (+.83), 2.57 (-.39), 64.3% (-4.7%)
13. Linda Wessberg, $66.8K (#82), 72.96 (-4.57), 3.00 (?), 59.4% (?)
14. Nina Reis, $47.3K (#107), 73.50 (+.59), 2.86 (+.09), 61.3% (-4.7%)
15. Kim Hall, $45.8K (#109), 73.82 (+.08), 2.36 (-.16), 60.4% (-4.9%)
16. Katie Futcher, $44.5K (#111), 74.16 (+.18), 2.47 (-.44), 59.9% (-7.9%)
17. Na Ri Kim, $39.8K (#113), 74.22 (-1.51), 2.38 (?), 62.3% (?)
18. Ashley Hoagland, $31.2K (#122), 73.78 (+.90), 2.11 (?), 57.5% (?)
19. Virada Nirapathpongporn, $30.8K (#123), 73.81 (+.35), 2.83 (+.46), 59.4% (-1.9%)
20. Minea Blomqvist, $23.2K (#133), 74.97 (+1.93), 2.63 (-.04), 53.6% (-7.0%)

Career LPGA Money List (rank), LPGA Majors/Wins/Top 3s/Top 10s/Made/Missed Cuts Percentage (and totals): About the only thing these stats are useful for is comparing people who entered the LPGA in the same year. Between inflation, changing purses, and length/timing of careers, it's very hard to compare and contrast winnings across generations of LPGA greats. Fortunately the Super Sophs have not even been at this for two years, so the career money list is a decent stat for comparing their short careers, even if it's a bit unfair to people who were not exempt in either or both years. What would really be great is if we had a world money list in inflation-adjusted dollars, with inflation- and exchange-adjusted other cash denominations added in (or just totalled up separately to avoid comparing dollars and yen), which included all each golfer earned as a professional on any tour. But even the guys don't have that, so that'll have to remain a dream for now. I include these other ways of seeing how the Super Sophs finished relative to their competition in the tournaments they entered because they reveal a lot about how well someone is able to compete at every level, from just making cuts to getting top 10s, top 3s, and victories. So here's how they stand:

1. Julieta Granada, $1.97M (#79), 0/1/5/10/.795 (35/44)
2. Morgan Pressel, $1.24M (#124), 1/1/4/16/.919 (34/37)
3. Seon Hwa Lee, $1.23M (#125), 0/1/5/10/.977 (42/43)
4. Jee Young Lee, $1.20M (#131), 0/0/3/12/.949 (37/39)
5. Ai Miyazato, $.95M (#163), 0/0/3/12/.857 (30/35)
6. Brittany Lang, $.68M (#207), 0/0/2/8/.667 (28/42)
7. Kyeong Bae, $.53M (#234), 0/0/2/6/.757 (28/37)
8. Meaghan Francella $.38M (#263), 0/1/1/3/.647 (11/17)
9. Sun Young Yoo, $.31M (#291), 0/0/0/2/.707 (29/41)
10. Karin Sjodin, $.28M (#307), 0/0/0/3/.656 (21/32)
11. Hye Jung Choi, $.22M (#336), 0/0/0/2/.750 (12/16)
12. Nina Reis, $.19M (#349), 0/0/0/2/.684 (26/38)
13. Teresa Lu, $.18M (#366), 0/0/0/1/.625 (20/32)
14. Virada Nirapathpongporn, $.17M (#368), 0/0/0/1/.545 (18/33)
15. Katie Futcher, $.16M (#376), 0/0/0/1/.639 (23/36)
16. Minea Blomqvist, $.10M (#429), 0/0/0/0/.483 (14/29)
17. Veronica Zorzi, $.08M (#449), 0/0/0/0/.833 (10/12)
18. Kim Hall, $.08M (#454), 0/0/0/0/.360 (9/25)
19. Linda Wessberg, $.07M (#465), 0/0/0/2/.444 (4/9)
20. Shinobu Moromizato, $.06M (#475), 0/0/0/0/.000 (0/0) [this can't be right, but that's what her biodata form says!]
21. Ashley Hoagland, $.05M (#506), 0/0/0/0/.462 (6/13)
22. Na Ri Kim, $.05M (#509), 0/0/0/0/.455 (5/11)

Other Career Measures: Rolex Ranking (as of 7/16/07) and rank, Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index (as of 7/15/07) and rank, International (as of the end of the 2006 season) and Non-Member LPGA Wins: This is a way of seeing how those Super Sophs who sometimes or regularly or always compete on other tours stack up over the course of their careers to date (the RR includes results over the past 104 weeks on the LPGA, LET, JLPGA, KLPGA, and Futures Tour; the GSPI includes results over the past 52 weeks on all these tours except the KLPGA).

1. Morgan Pressel, 7.53 (#6), 69.76 (#5), 0
2. Ai Miyazato, 5.75 (#12), 70.20 (#11), 14
3. Jee Young Lee, 5.01 (#16), 70.03 (#8), 2
4. Julieta Granada, 3.97 (#25), 71.53 (#41), 0
5. Seon Hwa Lee, 3.77 (#28), 70.68 (#19), 3
6. Shinobu Moromizato, 2.75 (#42), 72.23 (#64), 0
7. Brittany Lang, 2.51 (#45), 72.73 (#78), 0
8. Meaghan Francella, 2.24 (#49), 72.03 (#55), 0
9. Kyeong Bae, 1.67 (#69), 71.59 (#42), 3
10. Linda Wessberg, 1.37 (#97), 73.40 (#128), 5
11. Karin Sjodin, 1.33 (#100), 72.51 (#71), 1
12. Veronica Zorzi, 1.12 (#116), 72.93 (#88), 2
13. Hye Jung Choi, .99 (#130), 72.38 (#68), 0
14. Teresa Lu, .97 (#134), 72.94 (#89), 0
15. Sun Young Yoo, .95 (#136), 72.29 (#66), 0
16. Nina Reis, .74 (#170), 73.04 (#98), 5
17. Louise Stahle, .68 (#186), 73.37 (#125), 0
18. Minea Blomqvist, .63 (#196), 74.50 (#209), 5
19. Virada Nirapathpongporn, .54 (#227), 74.63 (#220), 0
20. Katie Futcher, .41 (#273), 73.36 (#121), 0
21. Rebecca Coakley, .38 (#283), 74.94 (#248), 0
22. Kim Hall, .36 (#291), 74.26 (#179), 0
23. Na Ri Kim, .27 (#334), 74.02 (#164), 0
24. Ashley Hoagland, .25 (#347), 73.62 (#140), 0

Calling all kidz! Calling all kidz!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hakata Yamagasa Rocks! Chiyo Rules!

July 1-15 is probably the biggest festival in Fukuoka: Hakata Yamagasa. Guys spend basically the two weeks before and during the festival training for its culmination on the 15th, when there's this kind of a race that begins at 5 am in which--well, if a picture is worth a thousand words, this ten-second clip from YouTube from last year is worth several billion....

Fortunately or unfortunately, you can't see the thongs those guys are wearing for the competition too clearly in that clip. So here's another. Click at your own risk (and wait, wait, for it....).

Yup, basically teams of a hundred or so guys [Update 7/23/07: actually, it's 600-3000)] work together carrying this float (no more than 15-20 at a time, it seems) [Update 7/23/07: actually, it's around 25)] that they designed and built on a course that winds through the city streets in a kind of mini-marathon, complete with time trials. I'm proud to report that our neighborhood--Chiyo--won their category. Our only contribution was to watch the guys running through the street one night chanting, "Washoi! Washoi!" (which they do while carrying the float). We did take our friends visiting from Nagoya to the shrine inside of which all the teams did a kind of figure 8 early in the race--including one float that looked (on tv, that is) like it was about 30 feet tall, and looked even taller in real life (onechan was afraid it would fall down on her). Yes, we learned our lesson from the previous time we went to that temple during the Candy Throwing Festival (otherwise known as Setsubun--originally they threw soybeans, then during the Bubble Economy, money--which probably accounts for all the gigis and babas who almost crushed onechan and imoto scrambling for the candy that was being thrown when I foolishly asked the tsuma if we could experience it from the middle of the crowd rather than its edges) and only ventured into it hours after the last float did its loop.

Now I understand why the tsuma was so disappointed with the July 4 parade in our hometown last year. And that you actually can turn a parade into interesting tv, unlike, say, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day one. These guys are so hard-core that they never thought of cancelling the race, even though all during the second half of the week forecasters were predicting that a powerful typhoon was bearing down on Fukuoka. One team leader was quoted on tv as saying it would make it even better.

Now that's a festival I can get behind. Figuratively. Definitely.

This One's for Uncle Bill

Onechan's favorite video on teh youtubes lately is the one she calls the "funny Powerpuff cartoon." It's the one in Portuguese I added to my old post on the rainy season a few days ago when I realized the copyright hawks had blocked the English version. And it's the one she was clamoring for in the first comment on Uncle Bill's latest Sparkychan and Gojochan Adventure, Onechan's Choice. So after dinner tonight I was on my own with the girls and of course I showed them that video. (I needed a distraction from onechan's envy of imoto's new pull-ups--apparently, she wanted the "shippo" [tail] on the back, that plastic adhesive strip you can use to seal up the dirty diaper--and snipping the shippo off and sticking it to the back of onechan's undie wasn't doing the trick, especially when imoto was trying to rip it off!)

Afterwards I wanted to get them in the tub and get them to sleep before the tsuma returned home from reading manga at BookOff, but they were pretty revved up. So I had the brilliant idea of showing "Down'n'Dirty," one of my favorite episodes--in Portuguese, of course.

Little did I realize when I first clicked on the link that Gojira would not only make an appearance at the end, but also would be the only thing that convinced Buttercup she needed to finally take a bath--not getting kicked out of her home, school, or city for stinking up the joint, but not being allowed to do what she loves best, fighting monsters, did the trick. The voice actor for Gojira in this version isn't as god as the one in English--or the one from the rainy day cosuplay episode when Buttercup dresses up as Miss Bellum--but it was good enough for us this evening.

Even though onechan got a bit more scared during the episode than I expected, she totally got the point at the end and rushed to the tub. Of course imoto followed her. While in the tub we had a huge discussion about whether imoto should be Buttercup (because she can be rough, like Kuromi), onechan should be Bubbles (because she's sweet like My Melody and cries a lot), mama should be Blossom (because she's the commander and the leader, of course), and I should be the Professor (duh!)--or whether imoto should be Blossom (because she can be stubborn and bossy), onechan should be Bubbles (because she's the joy and the laughter), I should be Buttercup (because I am the toughest fighter, in the family, that is, at least when play fighting with the girls and their cousins [all under 5!]), and mama should be Miss Bellum (because she's so smart and pretty)--but eventually got around to getting soaped up, rinsed off, dried off, and in pajamas. That's when the trouble began.

Imoto is used to falling asleep next to the tsuma after (or while) breastfeeding and this would be something like the, oh, second night in her life it wasn't going to be that way. She was happy biting the bottle I gave her for awhile, but eventually she got bored with that and started looking around for mama. When she couldn't find her, she cried and cried. I wasn't sure what to do beyond letting her tire herself out, but then I remembered two things: 1) how she had giggled her head off right after the tsuma headed out when onechan did a cute little silly song and dance number for her, and 2) how much she likes it when I hold her and sing her a song I made up for onechan (to the tune of Frere Jacques):

Atsui, samui
Atsui, samui
Daijo bu
Daijo bu
Kawaeeko [onechan]
Kawaeeko [imoto]

It's a bath song, actually--first the water is too hot, then too cold, then ok. The second half is about how onechan and imoto are "cute and good girls" (kawaeeko combines kawaii and eeko) and "good girls." Onechan liked it when I threw in "Arigato [onechan]/Arigato [imoto]..." and other variations (although I never thought of "Kimochee" [feels good for "Daijo bu"--next time), but imoto kind of looked up at me like, "What are you doing, dad?" After a few such dirty looks, I kept to the canonical version. And after only about a hundred reps, both girls were out. Piece of cake! I could do this every night.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Onechan's Choice

What's going on? Where are Gojira and Sparkychan? What are they looking at?

At the Movies

Wide Screen

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Pressel Rises to the Challenge in 3rd Round--Can She Pass Pak on Sunday?

Well, well, well, I had Morgan Pressel pegged as the kind of player for whom a 68 was a low round--steady, consistent, not prone to making many mistakes (despite that back 9 on Open Sunday), but not someone yet who was capable of going really low. So much for that idea. Her 64 on moving day at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic vaulted her into second place, only two shots behind leader Se Ri Pak. She made more birdies in her third round than her previous two rounds combined to get to -11 and put pressure on Pak, who's looking for her fifth career victory at this tournament alone.

The experience/youth dialectic defined the rest of Saturday's top 20, as well. The LPGA's youth movement was out in full force. Rookie In-Kyung fired a 65 (including a 27 on the front!) to get to -8, alone in third; third-year pro Alena Sharp's 67 more than erased yesterday's 74 and got her alone in fourth at -7; and Super Soph in Waiting Linda Wessberg had one of her best rounds in the States (she's won this year in Europe), a 66 that got her to -6 and a tie for 5th. Super Soph Seon Hwa Lee caught surprising rookie Jin Young Pak at -3 (T15), while the same pattern occurred with Jee Young Lee and Mikaela Parmlid at -2 (T20). Meanwhile, superstar veterans Laura Davies, Laura Diaz, and Meg Mallon joined fellow veteran Carri Wood and Wessberg at -6 (T5), while Wendy Ward and Beth Bader joined Angela Stanford at -5 (T10). Like Stanford, fellow "tweeners" Stacy Prammanasudh, Jeong Jang, and Candie Kung played their way into the top 20.

So Sunday opened with two races--for the win, between Pak and Pressel, and for the top 5, between the rest of the top 20--for with the wind up on the weekend, it would be unlikely for anyone else to get double digits below par. Pak let Pressel right back in it with 2 bogeys over her first 5 holes, and Pressel took advantage, making 2 birdies and 1 bogey over that same stretch to grab a 1 stroke lead. The lightning struck--a hole-in-one for Pressel on the 6th hole. Pak's birdie kept her within 2 strokes, however, and as the Super Soph parred out the front, the Hall of Famer kept the birdies coming on the 8th and 9th to pull back to even with Pressel at -14. And that's how they stayed until the 15th hole, when Pak made another birdie. So with three holes to go, including 2 par 5s, anything can happen. Meanwhile, the vets were moving up the leaderboard. Who will win? Who will get a top 5? Stay tuned! [Update 9 (9:00 am): Or just head to Hound Dog's LPGA Blog for a recap that has the benefit of finer wordsmithing and actually being able to watch the action on ESPN2!]

[Update 1 (5:25 am): Pak and Pressel traded pars on 16. The par 5s will decide this one. The shorter-hitting Super Soph is 4 under on them in the tournament, while the long Hall of Famer is only 3 under. Meanwhile, journeywoman Carri Wood is 1 hole away from the best finish of her career. A par or better will put her at -9 or better, almost guaranteed to be alone in 3rd place, unless Laura Diaz, Laura Davies, Linda Wessberg, or In-Kyung Kim do something crazy on their final hole or two. If they do, too bad for Wendy Ward, who finished at -8 and is tied for 4th right now; it would be a great story for a veteran coming off a rib injury to post a top 5!]

[Update 2 (5:29 am): Damn, the Mostly Harmless jinx strikes again! Wood bogeyed 18, bringing everyone at -8 into a tie for 3rd. Good news for Wendy Ward, though.]

[Update 3 (5:45 am): Pak and Pressel traded birdies on 17. It's down to 18!]

[Update 4 (5:55 am): Ward, Wood, Davies, and Diaz ended up sharing 3rd place at -8. In addition, Sherri Steinhauer fired a 66 to climb into a tie for 14th. Looking down the leaderboard, one clear lesson is the value of having been there before. Not only did the young 'uns wilt on the weekend a bit and get passed by the vets (Ji-Young Oh's 74-74 dropped her all the way to T51, Jane Park's Saturday 77 meant that her Sunday 70 only pulled her up to Oh's level, Mikaela Parmlid's closing 74 put her in a tie for 39th at +1 with my friend Moira Dunn and Cristie Kerr, Alena Sharp's closing 78 kept her from having her career-best finish, after all (T28), and Jin Young Pak's Saturday 74 erased her Sunday 69, keeping her out of the top 10 by 1 shot)--with the exception of ever-steady Rookie of the Year race leader Angela Park (E, T28), former Rookie of the Year and even steadier Seon Hwa Lee (-4, T15), fellow Super Sophs Jee Young Lee (-2, T21), Na Ri Kim and Kim Hall (-1, T26), and Julieta Granada (E, T28), and Brittany Lincicome (-3, T18), who played their way out of contention befoe the weekend--they also got lapped by tweeners like Angela Stanford (-7, T7 with In-Kyung Kim) and Stacy Prammansudh (-6, T9 with Linda Wessberg), not to mention Gloria Park (-5, T11) and Mi Hyun Kim (-4, T14). The only people for whom experience didn't pay off were Meg Mallon, Beth Bader, and Candie Kung whose 72s dropped them out of the top 10, and Jeong Jang, whose 73 dropped her out of the top 20.]

[Update 5 (5:59 am): Give Se Ri a lot of credit! After Morgan's hole-in-one, she could have folded, but instead she put the pressure on the Super Soph for the rest of the round, and it paid off on the 18th. A great victory against a great competitor!]

[Update 6 (6:19 am): I haven't been giving The Florida Masochist enough credit lately (perhaps b/c he hasn't been doing all that much LPGA blogging the last few months), but he sure hit the nail on the head this weekend. If rookie In-Kyung Kim ties an LPGA record for low 9-hole score and no one in the golf media (or, for that matter, golf-o-sphere) covers it, does it make a sound? To add my own $.02 to the mix, a Se Ri Pak vs. Morgan Pressel showdown on Sunday and all everyone can blog about is Phil Mickelson not winning in Scotland? What's going on here?! It can't just be that Phil lost more than Se Ri won, can it?]

[Update 7 (6:26 am): I mean, sure, it's cool that Mulligan Stu covered the Alexis Thompson (12)/Kimberly Kim (15) showdown in the Junior PGA Championship, but, really, is that the top story in women's golf this weekend? Yes, it's one of the few Tiger wasn't able to win and it's clearly a great predictor of pro success, but by that time last Saturday night, it was clear real-live pros on the LPGA (one might say, a living legend and a legend-in-the-making) were going to have a little showdown of their own. And Waggle Room is one of the most gender-equitable of the golf blogs out there. I repeat, what's going on this weekend? {Update 10 7/17/07 (11:34 pm): Mulligan Stu writes a great tribute to Se Ri Pak--on Monday! Better late than never.}]

[Update 8 (7:12 am): This is my 99th golf post; I celebrated over at Waggle Room.]

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Looking Ahead: The Next 25 Years

OK, over at Citizen of Somewhere Else I summed up the history of U.S. representations of Japan that I actually was able to deliver yesterday at the JASF (thanks, Gojira!). So here's how the talk ended (in plenty of time for Q&A, I might add--I'll blog the questions tomorrow at CitizenSE).

What does it mean for the future that Hello Kitty, Pikachu, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Naruto represent Japan for American kids today? Or that slightly older kids first encountered Japanese culture through Power Rangers, Sailor Moon, Final Fantasy, or The Legend of Zelda? One thing it means is that even greater proportions of Americans in the next 25 years are likely to have positive associations with Japan, due in part to their immersive, interactive, multi-vector leisure experiences made possible by Japanese technology. I’m not denying that the youngest of these younger generations have probably been almost as oblivious, selective, and subjective in their engagements with Japanese culture as I was in the 1980s, or that their understanding of the actual Japan has probably been as limited as mine was before I started visiting and researching it around 2003. And they certainly will be influenced by future political and economic shifts and shocks. But I want to suggest that these generations will be a lot less easy for anyone to manipulate than American publics were in the 1940s and 1980s. The odds of military or economic conflict between the U.S. and Japan seem increasingly long over the next 25 years as a result.

It’s not just that “American otaku,” as some in these subcultures identify themselves with pride, are likely to become an even more influential part of the cultural mainstream in the U.S. in coming years. It’s also that problems the younger generations of the U.S. will have to face up to--stemming from the globalization of capitalism and climate change, and including peak oil and alternate energy sources, food production and distribution, demographic shifts, and a host of social issues associated with access, equity, and risk management--are associated in many Americans’ minds with Japanese efforts to solve them. The image of a green Japan may prove to be the most potent representation of Japan in the U.S. in the coming decades.

That is, I think we can expect to see a shift from largely cultural appreciations--of “beautiful Japan” (kawaii culture, Miss Universe, youth fashion, animation culture), of “cutting-edge Japan” (information and entertainment technology, robotics, social dynamics), of “weird Japan” (just do a google search on this phrase to see what I mean!)--to political reappraisals of Japan in the U.S. Part of this will be fueled by regional realignments as crises like North Korean nuclear ambitions force East Asian powers to renegotiate their security policies (not to mention their understandings of each other’s histories) and as the growing importance of intraregional trade forces Asian tigers to learn to grow together (rather than primarily relying on exports to the U.S. and Europe). And part of this will be fueled by a shift in American political culture from Republican-led efforts to orient a new Cold War against radical Islam or China to Democrat-led efforts to head off, mitigate, or recover from global crises and their repercussions for the U.S.

It’s possible, of course, that the U.S. will turn out to have learned the wrong lessons from the twentieth century. It’s possible that Iraq will become Imperial America’s Korea, Iran its Manchukuo, and Saudi Arabia its China--and that Japan will someday face the choice of when and how to break off an alliance with such a dangerous and destabilizing partner. By the same token, it’s possible that Japanese political culture will accelerate its rightward shift and intensify Asian rivalries so much that the U.S. would be forced to distance itself from an embarrassing and erratic ally. But it’s much more likely, I believe, that even U.S. political and military leaders will find much to learn from the post-W.W. II transformations of Japan in the near future. And that liberals in both countries can encourage their fellow citizens to reexamine their own countries’ colonialist and militarist pasts and shift their nations’ priorities to focusing on solving problems of the near- and mid-future.

So my projections for the next 25 years of U.S.-Japanese representations and interactions are surprisingly, if guardedly, optimistic. I’m curious to hear what yours are. Thank you for your time and attention. I’d be glad to respond to any questions or comments you wish to share with me.

[Update 7/25/07: The Onion does a hilarious riff on the Japan=future theme!

There They Are! Yippieeee!

Hey, Gojochan, I see them.


Onechan and Imoto.

its wrong i say.jpg

Gojochan: Where are they?

Sparkychan: Right down there. See them?

Gojochan: Yeah!

Sparkychan: You think they could hear us if we yelled?

Gojochan: I don't know. We're still pretty high up in the sky. This isn't Kansas you know.

Sparkychan: Let's try anyhow.

Gojochan: OK.


Sparkychan & Gojochan: Hi Onechan.

Gojochan: How's Imoto? Is she feeling better?

Sparkychan: Did you ever find the little worm? What about your umbrella?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Pak Applies Pressure to Field; Field Replies, "Not in the Face!"

Sorry, a little allusion to Arthur's battle cry (from The Tick) there in my title. But by firing a 68, Se Ri Pak has reached -11 and extended her lead on the field. Sure, her rookie namesake Jin Young Pak is -7 with 8 and 9 left to play, Meg Mallon's 65 got her to -5, and Morgan Pressel and Jimin Kang are at -4. But no one expects Pak to come back to the field over the weekend, so those within striking range will have to play flawlessly over the weekend.

Frankly, right now the biggest drama in the tournament is who will qualify for the Women's British Open at the close of the round. By my count, the younger Pak, Carri Wood (who broke 70 for the second straight time and is T3 at -5), and rookie Ji-Young Oh and Marcy Hart (T7 at -3) are in. But then there's a tie (for 13th) at -2 between rookies Jane Park and Mikaela Parmlid and veterans Jill McGill and Sherri Turner. I don't know what the tie-breaker is, but Turner's double on 18 would be a horrible way to miss a chance to compete at St. Andrews (Parmlid's double on the 5th, her 14th hole, would be the second-most-painful way)--if it's by lowest Friday score, McGill's 66 would be a great way to earn that 5th spot! But Not-Yet-Super Soph Kim Hall could pass them all and make this question moot with a birdie on the tough 9th that would get her to -3.

The other interesting question is whether the cut line will be +2 or +3--well, interesting to those at +3, that is, not to Paula Creamer, Pat Hurst, Silvia Cavalleri, or Meena Lee, who could not make Friday charges, or Kyeong Bae, who uncharacteristically collapsed in round 2. In at +2 are Meaghan Francella and Natalie Gulbis, both dealing with injury troubles, and Julieta Granada. Whether enough of the 9 people still on the course at +1 or +2 will move back to +3 or higher will decide this one. Stay tuned!

[Update 1 7/15/07: Between the interviews and Hound Dog's summary, we have a bit more clarity on the qualifiers for the British Women's Open, but still no official word. The cut ended up at +2 and Jin Young Pak fell to -6, 5 shots back of Se Ri Pak.]

[Update 2 7/16/07: Ah, here's the answer on the Women's British Open Qualifier. Here are the third round interviews and Hound Dog's third round summary; life got in the way of blogging the third round, so I'll make it up by not-quite-live-blogging the finish today.]

Help is on the way

PC5 and PPGs were successful. Gojira has consulted this worthy, who provided her with with the latest Constructivist-Hyper-Surreal-Weather-Blaster:

Things sure do change

When last I checked, Gojira & Sparkychan had gotten that super-whatzit-gizmo and boarded a Super-Atomic-Astro-Dancer Spaceship to come to the aid of Japan:

Sparky-chan and Gojo

Calling Gojira! Gojira, Can You Read Us?

Were she up, onechan would no doubt want Gojira to know about Man-Yi, the Evil Typhoon Monster that the SS is sending to Kyushu. It would be great if Gojira could head to Kagoshima to help out the people there and send Man-Yi more to the east than the north. We have our hands full fighting the Moderately Evil Fever Monster attacking imoto overnight, but we've already asked Pretty Cure 5 and the Powerpuff Girls to bust Gojira out and help fly Her over to Japan.

Yet More Otaku Autoethnography: New Worlds

Last night I focused on cutting a page or two from my JASF talk to leave time for more Q&A for once...and most of the following ended up on the cutting room floor. So I'm giving it a "Second Life" here. Well, actually I turned it into a handout and expanded it, so it's not like it's really gone from the talk. But I will make a special one-time Mostly Harmless offer. I'll send the handout--FREE, using the magic of attachments--to anyone who figures out how to email me and uses the magic word.

Along with changes in my personal life that I alluded to at the beginning of this talk, these interests led me to begin getting more systematic in my engagements with Japanese popular culture around 2003. I began looking through a wider range of American writing for images of Japan. Not just Gibson and Stephenson, but other science fiction writers like Orson Scott Card, Philip K. Dick, Marge Piercy, and Kim Stanley Robinson wrote futuristic and alternative history novels in which Japanese people and culture played important, if often problematic roles, as well. In addition, I devoured travel narratives and memoirs like Elena Tajima Creef’s “Notes from a Fragmented Daughter” (1984), David Mura’s Turning Japanese (1991), Bruce Feiler’s Learning to Bow (1991), Cathy Davidson’s 36 Views of Mount Fuji (1993), and Kyoko Mori’s Polite Lies (1997). Even here, though, I was selective; having read criticisms of similar works by writers ranging from Roland Barthes to Dave Barry, from Pico Iyer to Lydia Minatoya, and from Karl Taro Greenfield to John David Morley, I simply avoided their writings on Japan. What I couldn’t avoid, I analyzed, criticized, and discussed, such as major Hollywood productions like Pearl Harbor (2001), The Last Samurai (2003), Lost in Translation (2003), and Kill Bill (2003-2004). But above all I devoured all the anime I could find in English on television or with English subtitles on DVD, from old favorites like InuYasha to new ones like Ghost in the Shell: Stand-Alone Complex and 2nd Gig, Full Metal Alchemist, Trigun, FLCL, Paranoia Agent, and Samurai Champloo, not to mention just about every Studio Ghibli movie I could find, along with films like Tokyo Godfathers and Millennium Actress and Metropolis.

As I was doing all this, I noted that I wasn’t alone--and the phenomenon wasn’t limited to animation. Disney and Studio Ghibli performed some kind of merger that ended up putting America’s biggest Miyazaki fan in charge of Disney’s entire animation arm; manga in translation was appearing in major national book store chains like Borders and Barnes & Noble; the video game industry was regularly reporting sales figures larger than the American film industry’s; Japanese superstar athletes competing in the U.S. like Ichiro, Matsui, Dice-K, Shigeki Maruyama, and Ai Miyazato were getting lots of attention from the U.S. sports media; and web sites, newspapers and magazines, and even scholarly journals were publishing copious commentary and analysis of all these developments. With the rise of “Web 2.0” technology like blogs, YouTube, and Google Video, even more networks for distributing representations of and images from Japan were spreading fast. Clearly, Japan had arrived in twenty first-century U.S. popular culture.

Now let's see if I that typhoon coming allows me to actually give the talk today. So far it's just blustery and drizzly (and weather.com is definitely low-keying this thing in its forecasts)....