Monday, December 31, 2007

There's an article in the NYTimes today about virtual life for kids:

Some excerpts:
Worlds like Webkinz, where children care for stuffed animals that come to life, have become some of the Web’s fastest-growing businesses. More than six million unique visitors logged on to Webkinz in November, up 342 percent from November 2006, according to ComScore Media Metrix, a research firm.

Club Penguin, where members pay $5.95 a month to dress and groom penguin characters and play games with them, attracts seven times more traffic than Second Life. In one sign of the times, Electric Sheep, a software developer that helps companies market their brands in virtual worlds like Second Life and, last week laid off 22 people, about a third of its staff.

By contrast, Disney last month introduced a “Pirates of the Caribbean” world aimed at children 10 and older, and it has worlds on the way for “Cars” and Tinker Bell, among others. Nickelodeon, already home to Neopets, is spending $100 million to develop a string of worlds. Coming soon from Warner Brothers Entertainment, part of Time Warner: a cluster of worlds based on its Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbera and D. C. comics properties.

. . . .

But more is at stake than cultivating new revenue streams. For nearly 50 years, since the start of Saturday morning cartoons, the television set has served as the front door to the children’s entertainment business. A child encounters Mickey Mouse on the Disney Channel or Buzz Lightyear on a DVD and before long seeks out related merchandise and yearns to visit Walt Disney World.

Now the proliferation of broadband Internet access is forcing players to rethink the ways they reach young people. “Kids are starting to go to the Internet first,” Mr. Wadsworth said.

. . . .

The power of the virtual worlds business was shown recently when Vivendi announced a plan to buy Activision, a publisher of video games for consoles like the Sony PlayStation 3. Vivendi owns World of Warcraft, a virtual world for adults with more than nine million members and revenue of more than $1 billion.

Still, the long-term appetite for the youth-oriented sites is unclear. Fads have always whipsawed the children’s toy market, and Web sites are no different, analysts warn. Parents could tire of paying the fees, while intense competition threatens to undercut the novelty. There are now at least 10 virtual worlds that involve caring for virtual pets.

Privacy and safety are a growing concern, particularly as companies aim at younger children. Some virtual worlds are now meant to appeal to preschoolers, using pictures to control actions so that reading is not required.

So I'm thinking about a re-working of Lord of the Flies in which the main action takes place in an adult-free virtual world and the growing chaos there threatens to spread beyond that particular virtual world and take down the whole net. Until, that is, the Power Puff Girls come to the rescue.

Radiohead + New Year's Eve = Hope for 2008

Go here around 7 pm tonight (on the east coast) for it!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Quickies: Time-Lapse Movies

Balloon race:


LEGO towers:

35 years of Shinjuku Skyscrapers:

Cross-country drive:

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Se Ri Pak Named After Japanese Anime Character?!

Just read a newspaper article posted on the Seoul Sisters discussion board that claims Se Ri Pak was named after a character from a 1980s anime series. In the midst of my final grading push now so I don't have time to verify this, but apparently it's a character known as "Seri" or "the Magic Princess." Ring a bell to anyone out there in Blogoramaville?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

And a Very Disney vs. Anime Hanukkah, Too!

Yeah, yeah, I know Hanukkah came early this year, but, please, it's a small-time festival of lights that got an undeserved promotion in the U.S. So which makes the South Park Dreidel song funnier, Disney or Ouran High School Host Club?

Special Christmas WAAGNFNP bonus clip: Full Metal Alchemist x Weird Al Yankovic's "Christmas at Ground Zero" AMV....

And speaking of Full Metal Alchemist, here's one of the few anime versions of Adam Sandler's "Hanukkah Song":

Monday, December 24, 2007

Have a Very Pretty Cure Christmas

We don't exactly celebrate Christmas in the non-Christian Constructivist household (although the Full Metal Archivist and I would love to celebrate it in the Japanese way, as a romantic holiday for couples). But onechan and imoto do love their anime, so just for them I'm putting together another Mostly Harmless medley!

Pretty Cure Max Heart Christmas:

Yes! Pretty Cure 5 Christmas:

Special bonus: a Pretty Cure train video, courtesy of Japan Probe.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Heeeee's Baaaaaa-ack! (Or Should that Be, "Heeee-ere's JP!"?)

A warm welcome back to JP Stormcrow! Last I saw him, he was brightening another recent installation of Berube golf course architecture with the following diamond in the rough:

[D’Souza’s] most recent book*, however, seems to have given some of his comrades second thoughts.

Don’t go fucking with my Grand Unifying Theory of Wingnut Mixed Political Metaphors dude! It requires Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, D’Souza’s Enemy at Home and your BFF’s “Discover the Network” to retain sufficient nutter street cred to support the emerging understanding of 9/11 as collateral damage from a doctrinal squabble between the Liberal Fascist Mensheviks and the Islamofascist Bolsheviks over how to best achieve the Fascist Internationale.

So don’t start. I swear I’ll go over to that uppity little blog of yours and retroactively shut it down like a year ago and make comment threads begin to disappear one at a time.

*As Dave Meier points out, MB is actually referring to his book before last. His latest is might as well be titled Atheistic Creedism.

JP Stormcrow: the gift that keeps on giving. Don't be a stranger, dude!

Maybe It's Just Me

But the latest turn in the cavalcade of wackiness that is the Lyndon LaRouche cult looks like it will yield the richest vein of humor yet. (If you have not kept up with the recent history of LaRouche and the LaRouche Youth Movement (LYM) with their studies of the details of Kepler and the power of bel canto singing, this article by Scott McLemee from Inside Higher Ed is a good place to start.) Their newest targets appear to be MySpace, Facebook and violent video games (maybe they're about to join forces with Sens. Lieberman, Clinton, Bayh and Brownback). You can learn all about the The Noösphere vs. The Blogosphere: Is the Devil in Your Laptop? here and here (warning: second link is a 22 MB .pdf) - and yes that is Bertrand Russell in the background.

There is a sad element to it of course, as this is just the latest in a series of Larouchian fund-raising gambits targeted at the gullible and confused of the world. Still, it made me laugh. In fact the following from a conference report , "Outflanking the British Empire, The Mass Effect", had me literally in stitches. It is amusing when read, but try singing it with gusto in a group to get the full effect. Holiday fun for the whole family!

A final presentation by the LYM’s Lewis Whilden, attacking the Facebook culture of today’s youth, concluded with the LYM, in four-part polyphony, singing the following lyrics, adapted to Felix Mendelssohn’s beautiful, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”:

Murdoch wants you in your place
firmly planted in MySpace.
While you’re walking to your class
out comes a bomb from Cheney’s ass.
This you do not want to see,
while the Dick gets whipped with glee,
We can’t afford to bomb Iran,
Bush’s Dick, he thinks he can.
That’s if you stay in your place,
firmly planted in MySpace.

When you’re fondling your mouse,
the bank forecloses on your house.
From the crash you cannot flee,
at least you have your HALO 3.
Homeless in the streets you roam,
a cardboard Xbox is your home.
Santa gives the gaming toys,
to 20-year-old little boys.
Games will keep you in your place,
nothing real in your space.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Wise Guy Christmas Medley

Crank up the volume and enjoy:

1000 Buddhas

Well, not yet a thousand, but they're working on it. Go here to see a bunch of interesting photos:

Paging Ron Sirak...

[This one's for your "he gets paid to write, I get paid to grade and comment" files.]

Nice piece on Tiger and Annika's recent wins, but I think someone needs to give your copy editors and fact checkers a holiday bonus, b/c they're letting you down when it comes to the LPGA.

Meanwhile, Morgan Pressel, Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis, Brittany Lincicome, Meaghan Francella and Nicole Castrale all won this year, indicating the United States has produced a twenty-something pool of talent to replace the disappointing the thirty-something group of Americans.

Good point, but did you know that Stacy Prammanasudh is American--maybe the #4 American right now? And Cristie Kerr ain't exactly chopped liver, although I suppose it's fair to assume you're talking about other 30-somethings.

Throw in the plethora of talent from Asia--Jee Young Lee, Ji-AiYai Shin, Ai Miyazato and others--and the LPGA has its best depth since the heyday of Betsy King, Patty Sheehan, Amy Alcott, Beth Daniel, Dottie Pepper, Nancy Lopez, Meg Mallon and Juli Inkster, who remains one of the 10 best players in the women's game. Add the crafty veterans like Karrie Webb, Se Ri Pak, Sherrie Steinhauer and Pat Hurst and it will be much more difficult for Sorenstam to dominate than it was when she won 43 of 104 LPGA starts from 2001 through 2005.

Again, a nice point, and a nice smack-down of Doug Ferguson, but the devil's in the details, like adding Laura Davies and Catriona Matthew onto the "crafty veterans" list, putting Inkster, Webb, and Pak into a Hall of Famers list of their own, realizing that Ji-Yai Shin plans to join the LPGA in 2009, that Ai Miyazato is in a post-HSBC slump, and that any list of non-HOF Asian contenders therefore has to start with Mi Hyun Kim and include Jeong Jang, Seon Hwa Lee, Angela Park, and new mom Hee-Won Han.

Fairways and greens has always been the strategy employed by Sorenstam. We will see more of that from her in 2008, but we might also see something new. The talent on the LPGA might provoke Sorenstam to play a little more aggressively. "I used to be able to shoot 68 and win," she said this year at the British Open. "Now so many players are going low." That realization could very well mean we will see Sorenstam attack a lot more pins next year.

Nice quote. Of course Annika is exaggerating--regularly going -12 or -16 in 3- or 4-round events respectively would have gotten her 15 wins and 2 playoffs in 2007, and given her a great shot at winning the match-play HSBC--but if you rephrase her point into something like "cruising along for the most part around 70 and hoping to pass people just by going a little more under for a round or two won't cut it anymore on the LPGA," you have a decent way of framing her overstatement.

Looking for improvement in your LPGA writing in '08. I'm sure you have it in you! Have a great break and a happy holidays!

[Back to grading!]

[Update 1/7/08: The Florida Masochist caught a few more mistakes in Sirak's piece!]

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Super Happy Birthday, Onechan

From Sparkychan:


And Gojochan:

Lets take out the school

Please, may we have tea and ice cream? Yum!

Happy Birthday, Onechan

A little happy birthday medley for onechan, who turns 4 today!

Powerpuff Girls Z/Ojamajo Doremi/Mermaid Melody/Yes! Pretty Cure 5 AMV:

Powerpuff Girls Z/Ojamajo Doremi AMV:

Tokyo Mew Mew/Mermaid Melody/Lucky Star AMV:

Azumanga Daioh Chiyo-chan tribute AMV:

My Little Pony:

Special bonus--holiday music from Vanilla Mood:

Monday, December 17, 2007

Free Fall

Episode 3 of 2001 Redux: A Toy Odyssey

sitting on the nose.jpg

In the last episode Kongsan and Jumpsan had gone into space to investigate the Green Box over Citytown. At the end they were watching the mysterious box change colors.

infant-stars & box large freaky 4 glow.jpg

“Hey, look,” said Jump, “now it’s beginning to twist and spin.”

“It sure is,” said Kong. “I wonder what it’s up to.”

infant-stars & hot box spin 1.jpg

“Now it’s changing color, again,” said Jump.

“Yeah, it’s blue and purple.”

infant-stars & hot box spin 2.jpg

“And it’s spinning faster and faster. It doesn’t look like a box at all.”

“No, it’s all twirly and swirly,” said Kong.

“And whirly too! And now it’s green!”

infant-stars & hot box spin 3.jpg

“I wonder if it’s going to do all the colors of the rainbow?” asked Jump.

“I don’t know,” said Kong, “but it’s going faster and faster and faster and now it’s yellow.”

infant-stars & hot box spin 4.jpg

“Wow, this sure is interesting. I wonder what’s going to happen next?”

No sooner did Jumpsan ask the question, than a mysterious force began to draw her and Kong out of their spaceship and into deepest space. The deepest and coldest space ever! Brrrrrr!

infant-stars & hot box spin 5.jpg

“What’s going on?” asked Kong. “What’s happening to us?”

“I don’t know, but it sure is scary,” said Jumper. And Jumper was right. It was scary. And now they began to spin too.

infant-stars & hot box spin 6.jpg

And so Jumpsan and Kong began spinning and tumbling in space. Down and down and around and around and over and under and sideways, glideways, rideways, always. All ways they went, tumble tumble tumble.

tumble rumble.jpg

They kept falling and falling. They were both scared. Their hearts were beating thumpa thumpa thumpa thump thump thump, thumpa thumpa thumpa thump thump thump, thumpa thumpa thumpa thump thump thump . . . But they didn’t give up. They thought about each other and all their friends and they even thought about Coco and Nila, the brave little girls who saved Gojochan and Sparkychan. Pretty soon they saw a strange planet.

down down down.jpg

And still, they kept falling. “It’s a pretty planet,” thought Kong. “It’s a pretty planet,” thought Jump. And still they fell. And then they got separated. Kong couldn’t see Jumper, and Jumper couldn’t see Kong.

Oh dear! Oh dear! Oh dear! Pretty soon Kong heard a little voice: “Kong, this is Nila, friend of Gojochan and Sparkychan. Be brave and you’ll be OK.”

So Kong was brave and he kept falling. It was scary. But it was good, too. It felt all light and tingly.

kong falls.jpg

Oh me! Oh my! Oh me! Oh my! Jumper heard a little voice at the very same time: “Kong, this is Coco, friend of Gojochan and Sparkychan. Be brave and you’ll be OK.”

And Jumper was brave, very brave. It was scary. But it was good and tingly too.

jumpsan falls.jpg

And pretty soon Jumpsan landed in the woods near a patch of berries.

jump lands.jpg

“Hmmm, I feel OK. Two legs, two arms, yes, got those,” said Jump as she counted her arms and legs. “Got my tail, got my eyes, got my nose and ears and mouth and tummy and . . . I got everything. I’m OK. But where’s Kong? I hope he’s OK.”

Pretty soon Kong landed in the woods on a green leafy plant.

kong lands.jpg

Plop! Just so, it was a soft landing. “Got my legs, and arms, and toes and nose.” Said Kong. “Got my tummy and my eyes and my ears and my tail and . . . . I got everything. I’m OK. But where’s Jumper? I hope she’s OK.”

And so there they were, Jumper and Kong, on a strange planet. Both were OK. They listened to Coco and Nila and were brave. But they were also lost. Kong didn’t know where Jumper was, and Jumper didn’t know where Kong was. How would they find each other?

Shin 10, Sorenstam 1; JLPGA 38, LPGA 33

OK, one more golf post for 2007.

Congrats to Ji-Yai Shin, who won her 10th KLPGA event in 2007 this weekend, and to Annika Sorenstam, who won her 1st LET event, a title defense in Dubai. The big question for me is, who will have a better 2008? Even though Shin is staying on the KLPGA to add the career victory record to her single-season mark, she'll be playing in all the majors and events in Asia, as will Sorenstam, so we'll be able to make some head-to-head comparisons. Given how the Rolex Rankings have been tweaked to reflect the greater strength of field in LPGA events, it'll be tough for Shin to pass a healthy Sorenstam there, but still possible. Come 2009, when Shin will be playing the LPGA full-time--either by winning an LPGA event in 2008 or by winning Q-School--we'll finally be able to see how good she really is.

Oh, and JLPGA star Mi-Jeong Jeon has posted the 2008 JLPGA schedule over at the Seoul Sisters discussion forum. I count 38 non-team events--5 more than on the LPGA's 2008 schedule! This adds some perspective to Mulligan Stu's reflections on the future of the LPGA and Futures Tours. What kind of perspective? That will have to wait for 2008!

[Update 2/9/08: Eric reports in the (sob) last-ever issue of Seoul Sisters that this win for Shin will count as her first of 2008.]

Friday, December 14, 2007

Super Soph Top 20: December 2007 Edition

It's time for the final update to my May, June, July, August, September, October, and November Super Soph rankings. So here are those among the Rookie Class of 2006 who have had the best career to date. Feel free to disagree in comments!

Top Super Sophs

1. Seon Hwa Lee: Dominated the Kyoraku Cup and Lexus Cup, proving herself to be the best player in Asia at the end of 2007. Perhaps to be changed to "in the world" in 2008? We'll have to see. (For a start, it would help if the Mostly Harmless Best of the LPGA system would rank her ahead of the other top Super Sophs! But that's the difference between a career ranking like this one and a season-plus ranking like that one for ya.) The fact that her birdies per round went down so sharply must be due to a combination of less accurate iron play and less deadly putting (she dropped from 1.75 putts per green in regulation [T2] in her rookie year to 1.81 this season [T25]). Given that her greens in regulation rate stayed almost steady while almost everyone else's plummetted this season (she was nowhere near the top 10 as a rookie but was in it as a Super Soph), I'd bet her putting bears slightly more blame for her PPGIR drop. But with a 12-1-0 record in match play over the past two seasons, she shouldn't be too upset with her putter. After all, she moved up from top 15 in scoring average to top 10, even though it was slightly higher in 2007 than 2006.
2. Morgan Pressel: Salvaged her Lexus Cup with a tough victory over Jeong Jang in singles matches, much like she did in the Solheim Cup by knocking off Annika Sorenstam. Right now I rank her the third-best American in the world, behind only Creamer and Kerr. Looking to improve on that status in 2008. Given how much she improved her putting as a Super Soph--a better scoring average despite a much lower greens in regulation rate this year (although still good enough for a top 10)--I wouldn't put anything past her.
3. Jee Young Lee: The best Super Soph without a win as an LPGA member on the LPGA Tour (she won as a non-member in the Korea event in 2005) and perhaps the second-best golfer in Asia, judging by her Kyoraku and Lexus Cups, should excel in 2008. It's more a question of "how many?" than "when?" when it comes to wins for the top-ranked Super Soph in our Best of the LPGA system. Just imagine what happens when she puts together a putting performance like her rookie year (T6 in PPGIR) and an approach shot performance like her sophomore year (4th in GIR).

Certified Super Sophs

4. Ai Miyazato: Has to be happy that Momoko Ueda is listed as a 2008 rookie. Looking to put her second-half sophomore jinx behind her. And it was a doozy--she went from being neck-and-neck with the top 3 to Granada and Lang's "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger" territory. In fact, the GSPI puts Wessberg ahead of her, and Francella, Bae, Yoo, and Choi as her closest competitors--ahead of Granada and Lang--so you can tell almost precisely how tough their seasons were by how close the mid-level Super Sophs are to them.
5. Julieta Granada: Her big question is whether her 2008 will be more like her rookie or sophomore year. Was among the 7 Super Sophs with a scoring average below 73 in 2007 and suffered a less intense birdie drop-off than Lang or Miyazato, so she showed she can gut it out even in a bad season.
6. Brittany Lang: Had the toughest sophomore jinx of them all, so bound to have a better 2008.... Right?
7. Meaghan Francella: Looking to start 2008 as hot as she started 2007--and sustain her performance throughout the entire year. Staying healthy will be key to that project.
8. Kyeong Bae: Poised to make a quantum leap in 2008. She's a birdie machine!

Super Sophs in Waiting

9. Hye Jung Choi: Most likely to succeed of the Super Sophs who have been flying beneath most people's radar thus far.
10. Linda Wessberg: Exempt on both the LPGA and LET (where she stands #7 on the money list despite playing only 10 events--and hoping her 11th in Dubai will move her even higher), so will have an interesting choice of schedule in 2008. Here's hoping she commits to the LPGA full-time, like the other top European players. [Update 12/17/07: Ah, she faded to 15th at Dubai and got passed on the money list by Annika, who successfully defended her title.]
11. Sun Young Yoo: Crossroads year for her--can she improve on her strong cut rate with more top 20s and remain ahead of those charging behind her, or is she going to remain someone who makes cuts and keeps her card but doesn't contend?
12. Karin Sjodin: Looking to regain her standing as the top European in the class.
13. Teresa Lu: Like Francella, slowed by injuries after a fast start to 2007; looking forward to a healthy and productive 2008.

Super Potential

14. Katie Futcher: Apparently happy with the number of tournaments her almost-but-not-quite-non-non-exempt status will get her into, as didn't try for Q-School.
15. Nina Reis: Couldn't close the deal in LPGA Q-School like she did at the LET's. Looking to rebound next year from a terrible 2007 on both continents, probably by focusing on Europe and trying for relatively few LPGA events.
16. Minea Blomqvist: Like Futcher and Reis, non-exempt on the LPGA for 2008, but as a winner on the LET is fully exempt there in 2008, so has something to fall back on if she continues to struggle in the States. Look for her to continue her LPGA-centric schedule, but balance it out a bit more than in the past two years.
17. Virada Nirapathpongporn: Her Q-School was good but not-quite-good-enough for exempt status, just like the end of her 2007 season. Still, as the #2 Super Soph in Q-School, looks to be ready for a fast start to 2008. As yet another non-exempt player, she'll need one.
18. Kim Hall: Basically has had one good tournament a year, but this year's good one was good enough to get her fully exempt for 2008. Good for her.
19. Veronica Zorzi: Likely to scale back her appearances on the LPGA even further in 2008, as the only thing she has done well here is (barely) make cuts. [Update 12/17/07: Although how about her being close to contention in Dubai?!]
20. Na Ri Kim: Barely held on at Q-School for non-exempt status in 2008.

Super Sophs to Watch in 2008

21. Danielle Downey: The only Super Soph to snag a card for 2008 at Q-School. Has the worst career record of the bunch, but will have more chances than most to improve on it. First step: make more cuts!
22. Ashley Hoagland: Still waiting to hear about that medical exemption for 2008; if she gets it, will pass Kim the first cut she makes that Kim doesn't.
23. Louise Stahle: Got non-exempt status at LPGA's Q-School, so it'll be interesting to see if she decides to play in more than the European Swing events she's likely to qualify for in 2008. An official Friend of Ai-chan, here's hoping she plays more in the States! [Update 12/17/07: An opening 64 in Dubai put her in contention for awhile, but even though she finished the tournament weakly, she still closed out the season as the LET's Rookie of the Year!]

For your reference--and mine--here are the stats on which I'm basing the December 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 played this season--how much money they made, how they scored, how many birdies they averaged per round, and how many greens they hit in regulation on average 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. Seon Hwa Lee, $1.10M (#5), 71.56 (+.26), 3.13 (-.33), 67.0% (-.8%)
2. Morgan Pressel, $.97M (#9), 71.34 (-.17), 3.44 (-.17), 66.9% (-4.1%)
3. Jee Young Lee, $.97M (#10), 71.62 (+.16), 3.45 (-.44), 68.4% (+.3%)
4. Ai Miyazato, $.79M (#17), 73.01 (+1.79), 2.87 (-.85), 57.4% (-10.9%)
5. Meaghan Francella, $.51M (#29), 73.09 (-.66), 2.79 (?), 64.0% (?)
6. Julieta Granada, $.41M (#33), 72.92 (+1.59), 2.60 (-.60), 61.3% (-6.7%)
7. Brittany Lang, $.35M (#39), 73.05 (+1.70), 2.77 (-1.11), 64.3% (-5.1%)
8. Kyeong Bae, $.31M (#41), 72.91 (+.58), 3.25 (+.21), 59.8% (-7.7%)
9. Hye Jung Choi, $.29M (#45), 73.08 (+.18), 2.73 (?), 61.3% (?)
10. Karin Sjodin, $.20M (#58), 73.60 (+.79), 2.75 (-.75), 62.0% (-6.1%)
11. Teresa Lu, $.18M (#63), 72.84 (-.04), 2.86 (-.05), 65.0% (-1.7%)
12. Linda Wessberg, $.17M (#65), 72.93 (-4.57), 3.10 (?), 54.1% (?)
13. Sun Young Yoo, $.13M (#75), 73.06 (+.53), 2.58 (-.38), 63.6% (-5.4%)
14. Kim Hall, $.13M (#76), 73.88 (+.14), 2.38 (-.14), 57.8% (-7.5%)
15. Minea Blomqvist, $.09M (#93), 73.96 (+.92), 2.64 (-.03), 57.2% (-3.4%)
16. Katie Futcher, $.08M (#95), 74.04 (+1.21), 2.50 (-.46), 61.1% (-6.7%)
17. Nina Reis, $.05M (#120), 73.84 (+.93), 2.77 (+/-.00), 59.5% (-6.5%)
18. Na Ri Kim, $.04M (#125), 74.15 (-2.80), 2.46 (?), 62.0% (?)
19. Virada Nirapathpongporn, $.04M (#126), 73.48 (+.04), 2.82 (+.45), 61.1% (-1.2%)
20. Ashley Hoagland, $.03M (#136), 73.78 (+.90), 2.11 (?), 57.5% (?)

Career LPGA Money List (rank), Total Events/LPGA Majors/Wins/Top 3s/Top 10s/Top 20s/Made Cuts (rate): About the only thing these stats are useful for is comparing people who entered the LPGA in the same year (although if you count generations by 3 years, it can be interesting). 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 been at this for only two years, so the career money list is a decent stat for comparing them, 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 20s, top 10s, top 3s, and victories. So here's how they stand:

1. Julieta Granada, $2.05M (#78), 56/0/1/5/10/19/43 (.768)
2. Seon Hwa Lee, $2.02M (#79), 56/0/2/6/16/31/54 (.964)
3. Jee Young Lee, $1.54M (#102), 48/0/0/4/16/28/46 (.958)
4. Morgan Pressel, $1.44M (#112), 49/1/1/4/18/29/45 (.918)
5. Ai Miyazato, $1.32M (#119), 45/0/0/4/14/19/37 (.822)
6. Brittany Lang, $.89M (#179), 53/0/0/2/9/21/36 (.679)
7. Kyeong Bae, $.60M (#226), 48/0/0/2/6/10/36 (.750)
8. Meaghan Francella $.51M (#238), 28/0/1/1/4/8/19 (.679)
9. Sun Young Yoo, $.36M (#273), 49/0/0/0/2/8/36 (.735)
10. Karin Sjodin, $.32M (#287), 43/0/0/0/3/9/28 (.651)
11. Hye Jung Choi, $.30M (#298), 27/0/0/0/3/7/18 (.666)
12. Teresa Lu, $.26M (#321), 41/0/0/0/2/5/26 (.634)
13. Katie Futcher, $.20M (#351), 40/0/0/0/2/2/24 (.600)
14. Nina Reis, $.19M (#356), 44/0/0/0/2/3/26 (.591)
15. Virada Nirapathpongporn, $.19M (#361), 39/0/0/0/1/4/20 (.513)
16. Linda Wessberg, $.17M (#376), 14/0/0/0/3/4/9 (.643)
17. Kim Hall, $.16M (#381), 32/0/0/0/1/2/13 (.406)
18. Minea Blomqvist, $.16M (#383), 32/0/0/0/0/2/18 (.563)
19. Veronica Zorzi, $.09M (#450), 16/0/0/0/0/1/13 (.813)
20. Na Ri Kim, $.05M (#501), 24/0/0/0/0/1/9 (.375)

Other Career Measures: Rolex Ranking (as of 12/10/07) and rank, Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index (as of 12/9/07) 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, 5.27 (#12), 70.65 (#12), 0
2. Jee Young Lee, 4.95 (#14), 70.34 (#6), 2
3. Ai Miyazato, 4.49 (#17), 72.28 (#51), 14
4. Seon Hwa Lee, 4.42 (#19), 70.57 (#11), 3
5. Julieta Granada, 2.83 (#43), 72.95 (#79), 0
6. Meaghan Francella, 2.15 (#51), 72.49 (#58), 0
7. Brittany Lang, 2.08 (#53), 73.20 (#88), 0
8. Linda Wessberg, 1.74 (#70), 72.21 (#44), 5
9. Kyeong Bae, 1.37 (#85), 72.51 (#60), 3
10. Hye Jung Choi, 1.27 (#94), 72.91 (#77), 0
11. Karin Sjodin, 1.02 (#119), 73.31 (#97), 1
12. Teresa Lu, .96 (#127), 73.27 (#93), 0
13. Sun Young Yoo, .86 (#139), 72.53 (#61), 0
14. Veronica Zorzi, .81 (#150), 73.85 (#147), 2
15. Minea Blomqvist, .74 (#162), 73.86 (#148), 5
16. Kim Hall, .71 (#170), 74.28 (#182), 0
17. Nina Reis, .53 (#217), 74.06 (#166), 5
18. Virada Nirapathpongporn, .48 (#232), 74.12 (#171), 0
19. Katie Futcher, .44 (#241), 74.00 (#159), 0
20. Na Ri Kim, .19 (#376), 74.75 (#223), 0

Thursday, December 13, 2007

And Zen Mai Samurai?!


This isn't even one of the very best episodes, but it includes the opening and closing theme songs. Plus you can get to a lot of other episodes uploaded by michellewie1011 through this one....

Your Chance to Watch Framy!

Seriously, this is up there with Juppon Anime:

Watch this before it gets pulled from teh U2bes....

Wednesday, December 12, 2007



The Full Metal Archivist Blogs!

In Japanese! Check out SMAP Watcher when you get a chance. Maybe someday she'll rethink her "no videos" position. Until then, you can review the Mostly Harmless SMAP archives and do that Google blog search you've always wanted to do but never took the time.... Or learn to read Japanese.

On a side note, the U2bes has lots of Inai Inai Ba, Pitagora Suichi, and Juppon Anime video up lately. If you like cute kids, Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions, or ten sticks doing funny things, they're for you. Here's one to whet your appetite:

This one's subbed, but it's just as fun w/o translation.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Lift Off

Episode 2 of 2001 Redux: A Toy Odyssey

In episode one Jumper and Kong got a call on the Red Phone. “There’s a mysterious green box up in space over Citytown,” said Mayor Grumpy Grumble. And so the two friends sat down to plan plans and scheme schemes, while drinking hot chocolate and eating cookies. Note for squeamish adults: there's no poop in this episode.

hot chocolate & cookies 2.jpg

Kong: “So, how’re we going to investigate the green box if it’s up in space?”

Jumper: “Why, we’ll have to go up in space.”

Kong: “Gee, I’ve never been in space. How do we get there?”

“We’ll have to fly in a rocket ship.”

“A rocket ship! Won’t that go higher than high and faster than fast?”

“Yes, it will. It’s so neat.”

“Uh . . . I don’t know . . . I mean, what if it crashes?“

“It won’t crash, Kong. It’s safe.”

“I don’t know. Sounds pretty scary to me. You ever done this before?”

“Lots of times. That’s how I used to visit Sparkychan and Gojochan.”

“Well, OK, I guess, if you say so.”

And so the two friends went to Jump-Off Space Port, at the very farthest edge of Citytown:

embankment 2.jpg

When they got inside it was BIG.

double escalator.jpg

jump and kong in space station.jpg

Finally, they saw their space ship. And they jumped right on it:

sitting on the nose.jpg

Jump: “Um, err, I don’t think we’re supposed to be on the outside of the ship.”

Kong: “Why not?”

“’Cause we might fall off. And get cold.”

“Get cold?”

“Yeah, Kong, it’s cold out in space.”

So the two friends got inside the space ship:

kong inside.jpg

jump in space ship.jpg

two travelers.jpg

Then the space ship took off. Rumble rumble roar roar whooshhh whooshhh whooshhhhhh . . . . it went. Jump and Kong were in space!

“Whee! This isn’t so bad,” said Kong.

“That’s right,” said Jump, “it’s not bad it all. It’s fun.”

And so they flew and flew and talked and talked. They even had hot chocolate and cookies. And then . . . .

infant-stars & box small.jpg

“There it is,” said Kong, “the green box.”

They got closer, and the box got bigger . . .

infant-stars & box medium.jpg

. . . and bigger . . .

“Boy, it sure is big,” said Jump.

infant-stars & box large.jpg

And, look!” said Kong. “It’s turning funny colors”

And so it was:

infant-stars & box large freaky 1.jpg

“It’s turning blue and red,” said Jump. “I wonder what’s happening?”

infant-stars & box large freaky 2.jpg

“It’s still changing,” said Jump. “I’m getting scared.”

"Me, too," said Kong. "But, ya know, it's kinda pretty, too. Don't you think?"

infant-stars & box large freaky 3.jpg

“Looks like it’s heating up,” said Kong.

infant-stars & box large freaky 4 glow.jpg

“Now it’s glowing,” said Jump. “I wonder what’s happening. Is it going to explode?”

“I don’t know,” said Kong, “I don’t know. But I just talked with Mayor Grumble, and he said that Citytown is OK.”

“That’s good,” said Jump. “I think we just have to keep calm and investigate.”

And so the friends kept calm and began to investigate. What did they find out? Did the green box explode? Did it turn into candy? What did it do? Tune in next time for the next episode of 2001 Redux: A Toy Odyssey.

The Best of the LPGA: December 2007 Edition

With the completion of the Kyoraku Cup and Lexus Cup, it's time once again for Mostly Harmless's attempt to combine the best systems for ranking the top LPGA golfers--'tis the (BCS) season, after all. By using the Rolex Rankings, the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, the LPGA Official Money List, and Hound Dog's Top 30, I hope to identify the Best of the LPGA. [Update 1/7/08: Mulligan Stu discusses the latest survey on which golfers made the most money, on- and off-course, in 2007 at Waggle Room.]

As before, one player is light-years ahead of the pack:

1. Lorena Ochoa: Across-the-board #1--by far. Should qualify for the Hall of Fame in 2008--only question is, how quickly will it happen?

And again, only one player is ranked in the top 5 in each system:

2. Suzann Pettersen: #2 money, #4 RR, #4 GSPI, #2 HD. Let's hope her back/hip injury sustained during the Lexus Cup turns out to be a minor one. Wants her 2008 to be better than the 2007 of Karrie Webb, 2006's #2 player.

There is now a trio in the top 10 in each system:

3. Paula Creamer: #3 money, #6 RR, #2 GSPI, #3 HD. Closing on Pettersen at the very end of 2007. Poised for a breakthrough in 2008.
4. Mi Hyun Kim: #4 money, #9 RR, #5 GSPI, #4 HD. Let's hope she comes back in 2008 well-rested from the many injuries that have been bothering her over the last several months. As banged-up as she has been, it's amazing how well she has performed in that span--she stayed neck-and-neck with a very hot Creamer.
5. Cristie Kerr: #6 money, #5 RR, #10 GSPI, #8 HD. Among those who started their careers in the Sorenstam Era, behind only Webb, Pak, and Ochoa in career victories and only $30K behind Kim on the career money list. But no longer the best American golfer.

Surprisingly, only one player makes the top 10 in 3 of the 4 systems:

6. Jee Young Lee: #10 money, #14 RR, #6 GSPI, #10 HD. Best of the Super Sophs without a win as an LPGA member. Should end that drought before Miyazato. Played great in the Kyoraku and Lexus Cups.

That means there's a big bunch among those in the top 10 in 2 of the 4 systems:

7. Morgan Pressel: #9 money, #12 RR, #12 GSPI, #5 HD. Seems to be coming out of a late-season slump just in time for 2008. Ready to contend for top American status.
8. Seon Hwa Lee: #5 money, #19 RR, #11 GSPI, #6 HD. My #1-ranked Super Soph remains #3 in this system. The way she played in the Kyoraku Cup and Lexus Cup, not for long, it looks like. Perhaps the best golfer in Asia right now. When will Rolex figure out just how great she is?
9. Angela Park: #8 money, #29 RR, #13 GSPI, #9 HD. If the 2007 Rookie of the Year also figures out how to win on the LPGA in 2008, watch out!
10. Annika Sorenstam: #25 money, #3 RR, #3 GSPI, #12 HD. Seems to be physically recovered from her serious back and neck injuries; should be playing her best again in 2008, but how far up the rankings can she go?
11. Stacy Prammanasudh: #14 money, #15 RR, #9 GSPI, #7 HD. Had a tough time in the Lexus Cup, but still one of the best--and steadiest--American golfers.
12. Karrie Webb: #22 money, #2 RR, #7 GSPI, #23 HD. Will fall fast in 2008 unless she can put together a streak like she had in the second half of 2006 and pre-season of 2007.

Next we have golfers in the top 20 in all 4 systems:

13. Se Ri Pak: #16 money, #10 RR, #16 GSPI, #13 HD. Now that her Hall of Fame year is over, can go back to concentrating on golf, building on the momentum of captaining Team Asia to victory in the Lexus Cup, and recovering from her various late-season injuries. Looking to extend her shrinking lead on Kim and Kerr (well, about $2M, that is) on the career money list in 2008.
14. Jeong Jang: #7 money, #11 RR, #20 GSPI, #11 HD. Athough she came on in the second half of the season, 2007 has to rank as a disappointing year in the context of her excellent career--capped off by missing a putt to keep Team Korea alive in the Kyoraku Cup and being one of the few on Team Asia with a losing record in the Lexus Cup. Unlikely to be blocked from the winner's circle in 2008.

There are a bunch of Americans in the top 20 in 3 of the 4 systems, but whether they'll do as well in 2008 is an open question:

15. Juli Inkster: #18 money, #7 RR, #23 GSPI, #20 HD.
16. Nicole Castrale: #15 money, #28 RR, #14 GSPI, #14 HD.
17. Brittany Lincicome: #13 money, #16 RR, #25 GSPI, #17 HD.
18. Angela Stanford: #19 money, #32 RR, #17 GSPI, #16 HD.

There's quite an international bottleneck among those in the top 20 in 2 of the 4 systems or in the top 30 in all 4, and all except Ai-chan are looking to move up in 2008 as they did in the second half of 2007 (she's just looking to get her game back):

19. Natalie Gulbis: #12 money, #21 RR, #27 GSPI, #18 HD
20. Maria Hjorth: #11 money, #31 RR, #31 GSPI, #15 HD.
21. Sherri Steinhauer: #23 money, #24 RR, #18 GSPI, #19 HD.
22. Catriona Matthew: #28 money, #25 RR, #19 GSPI, #26 HD.
23. Sophie Gustafson: #30 money, #26 RR, #21 GSPI, #25 HD.
24. Sarah Lee: #20 money, #42 RR, #15 GSPI, #24 HD.
25. Ai Miyazato: #17 money, #17 RR, #51 GSPI, n.r. HD.

Then there are those ranked in the top 30 in 3 of the 4 systems:

26. Laura Davies: #21 money, #39 RR, #29 GSPI, #21 HD.
27. Shi Hyun Ahn: #27 money, #36 RR, #24 GSPI, #22 HD.
28. Christina Kim: #23 money, #46 RR, #26 GSPI, #27 HD.
29. Laura Diaz: #26 money, #41 RR, #28 GSPI, #29 HD.

In 2008, look for Hee-Won Han to move back up these rankings even more quickly than Catriona Matthew has returned from her maternity leave this year--Han would be #14 in the GSPI if she had played in enough events this year, Hound Dog puts her at #28, and she's still at #35 in the RR. She'll soon be joined by Eun-Hee Ji--#8 in the GSPI once she gets enough events in to qualify, #30 on the Rolex Rankings, and certainly one of the leading challengers to Angela Park in the Class of 2007--along with In-Kyung Kim, Inbee Park, and Jane Park (who ran off a wire-to-wire Q-School victory to close out her season)--particularly if my gut feeling is right that she's going to play full-time on the LPGA in 2008. It'll be interesting to see if veteran Pat Hurst (#35 money, #34 RR, #32 GSPI, #30 HD) can claw her way back among the world's elite next season, but with Momoko Ueda (#13 RR, #8 GSPI) already listed as a 2008 LPGA rookie (thanks to her win at the Mizuno Classic), it's going to be very tough for Hurst--and, for that matter, everyone outside the top 20--to do it.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Lexus Cup: Team Asia Rules

So the Lexus Cup results are in: a huge 15-9 victory for Team Asia over Team International. Here's the breakdown by day:

Round One (foursomes--alternate shot): Asia 6, International 0
Round Two (four-ball--best-ball): Asia 3.5, International 2.5
Round Three (singles--head-to-head): International 6.5, Asia 5.5

Captains Se Ri Pak and Annika Sorenstam stuck with the same pairings over the first two days and only slightly reordered them. Thus, Super Sophs Seon Hwa Lee and Jee Young Lee beat Natalie Gulbis and Suzann Pettersen twice, 3&2 and 2-up (although when Pettersen withdrew with a back injury after ten holes of the second round had been completed, Gulbis reduced their 3-up lead to 1 before finally succumbing) and Ji-Yai Shin and Amy Hung beat Maria Hjorth and Brittany Lincicome twice, 4&2 and 2&1. The other two rematches did not go as well for Team Asia: Sarah Lee and Meena Lee lost to Cristie Kerr and Nicole Castrale 3&2 Saturday after beating them 1-up Friday; similarly, Jeong Jang and Shi Hyun Ahn lost to Angela Park and Nikki Campbell 3&2 after beating them 2&1. Meanwhile, Candie Kung and Ayako Uehara followed up their shocking defeat of Sorenstam and Catriona Matthew 3&2 with an almost equally surprising tie with Morgan Pressel and Stacy Prammanasudh. And Pak and In-Kyung Kim teamed up for two wins, first 2&1 over Pressel and Prammanasudh, then 1-up against Sorenstam and Matthew.

After the first two rounds, then, Team International needed a miracle on Sunday. Thanks to Pak's generosity in agreeing to rest her injured shoulder and share a half-point with the injured Pettersen, rather than showing up on the first tee and collecting the full point, Team Asia would need to get only 1.5 more points on the day to retain the cup. Here's how it played out:

Sorenstam def. Kung, 4&3 (9.5-3.5)--Annika now 6-2-1, Candie now 5-2-2 in the Cup
JY Lee def. Castrale, 2&1 (10.5-3.5)--Jee Young now 5-1-0
Park def. Hung, 3&1 (10.5-4.5)--Angela now 2-1-0
Kim def. Prammanasudh, 2&1 (11.5-4.5)--In-Kyung now 3-0-0
SH Lee def. Kerr, 3&2 (12.5-4.5)--Seon Hwa now 6-0-0
S Lee def. Campbell, 3&1 (13.5-4.5)
Hjorth def. Ahn, 3&2 (13.5-5.5)
Uehara and Matthew halve (14-6)
Pressel def. Jang, 2&1 (14-7)
Lincicome def. M Lee, 1-up (14-8)
Shin and Gulbis halve (14.5-8.5)--huge comeback for Ji-Yai, who's now 2-0-1
Pak and Pettersen "halve" (15-9)

In the end, the fighting Super Soph Lees and rookie In-Kyung Kim were the only players to go undefeated; for Seon Hwa and Jee Young, leading their team to victory in the Lexus Cup must have felt a lot better than being among the few bright spots for a loaded yet defeated Team Korea in the Kyoraku Cup last week. Moreover, at 12-1-0 in match play over the past two seasons (the only loss occurring in the second round of the 2006 HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship to fellow rookie Brittany Lang), Seon Hwa is far and away the best in the world at this format over the past two seasons--yet at 8-3-0 Jee Young is one of the few within shouting distance of her.

Fellow Super Soph Morgan Pressel again salvaged another disappointing team match play event in 2007 with a closing individual victory; at the Solheim Cup, it was over Sorenstam, here it was over Jang. But the leader of Team International turned out to be Rookie of the Year Angela Park; in fact, she was the only player on her side to garner a winning record. Even so, she was outshone by her fellow rookie In-Kyung Kim.

Perhaps we're beginning to see an interesting rivalry emerge in this competition. For it to go to the next level, the best in the world over a season have to join in, year in and year out. I'm talking about players like Lorena Ochoa and Paula Creamer for Team International and Mi Hyun Kim, Momoko Ueda, and Ai Miyazato for Team Asia. It was great to see Kung make a comeback and Kim, Hung, and Uehara make such successful debuts, but when even players coming off disappointing seasons by their standards, such as Ahn and Meena Lee, made the team, it suggests that too many in Asia (and especially in Japan) don't rank the Lexus Cup as highly as their fans would hope. (Mi Hyun and Ai-chan had good excuses for bowing out this year--injuries and slump, respectively, but for only the lowest-ranked member of the victorious Kyoraku Cup Team Japan to join Team Asia is something that should not be repeated in future Lexus Cups.)

Well, that's it for the 2007 LPGA season. After two final-season rankings a little later this month, that's it for the golf blogging until 2008. I write this as imoto is charging through the computer room wielding two plastic golf clubs like samurai swords....

Friday, December 7, 2007

Japanese Jazz Guitarist

& vocalist . . . a bit older than onechan:

Now a little bossa nova:

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Lexus Cup Day One

Imagine this being read between deep hacking coughs.

You can follow the match-ups at the LPGA's real-time scoring page. The LPGA Insider gives you some backstory. So does this Seoul Sisters discussion thread. And of course there's the official site.

There. That'll tide you over until I find out from my doctor if I need to cancel classes this afternoon for a trip to the emergency room (pneumonia? flu? WTF??)....

[Update 1 (1:40 pm): Wow, on cue, I just got the call and it's probably just the usual thing going around here right now. I get to teach! Yeah!]

[Update 2 (12/8/07): Hound Dog has round one covered.]

Monday, December 3, 2007

Kyoraku Cup: Upset City

Building on Eric's fantastic reports over at the Seoul Sisters Kyoraku Cup discussion thread, here's how Team Japan pulled off their improbable victory in Fukuoka this past weekend.

Day 1
1 Shi Hyun Ahn 74, Yuko Mitsuka 67 (Japan 2, Korea 0)
2 Mi Jeong Jeon 75, Erina Hara 72 (Japan 4, Korea 0)
3 Se Ri Pak 70, Shinobu Moromizato 73 (Japan 4, Korea 2)
4 Sarah Lee 71, Miho Koga 71 (Japan 5, Korea 3)
5 Jeong Jang 72, Miki Saiki 74 (Japan 5, Korea 5)
6 Hyun Ju Shin 70, Kuniko Maeda 73 (Korea 7, Japan 5)
7 Seon Hwa Lee 73, Akane Iijima 77 (Korea 9, Japan 5)
8 Jee Young Lee 71, Yui Kawahara 74 (Korea 11, Japan 5)
9 Bo Bae Song 82, Chie Arimura 64 (Korea 11, Japan 7)
10 Eun Hee Ji 77, Ayako Uehara 76 (Korea 11, Japan 9)
11 Sun Ju Ahn 72, Sakura Yokomine 71 (Korea 11, Japan 11)
12 Ji Yai Shin 72, Midori Yoneyama 71 (Japan 13, Korea 11)

Day 2
1 Jeong Jang 71, Yuko Mitsuka 74 (Japan 13, Korea 13)
2 Shi Hyun Ahn 77, Akane Iijima 76 (Japan 15, Korea 13)
3 Hyun Ju Shin 72, Miho Koga 74 (Japan 15, Korea 15)
4 Eun Hee Ji 78, Sakura Yokomine 70 (Japan 17, Korea 15)
5 Seon Hwa Lee 69, Yui Kawahara 73 (Japan 17, Korea 17)
6 Mi Jeong Jeon 73, Erina Hara 73 (Japan 18, Korea 18)
7 Sun Ju Ahn 72, Midori Yoneyama 79 (Korea 20, Japan 18)
8 Mi Hyun Kim 73, Ayako Uehara 76 (Korea 22, Japan 18)
9 Sarah Lee 75, Kuniko Maeda 72 (Korea 22, Japan 20)
10 Ji Yai Shin 72, Shinobu Moromizato 68 (Korea 22, Japan 22)
11 Bo Bae Song 75, Miki Saiki 72 (Japan 24, Korea 22)
12 Jee Young Lee 72, Chie Arimura 75 (Japan 24, Korea 24)

Here's what happened, in Eric's own words:

This year, unlike the last time they had a tie, they decided to have a playoff. It's somewhat hard to piece together how it worked, but it was something like this. They played the 18th hole, pitting a player from each team against each other. First Seon Hwa Lee and Yokomine clashed, but they both tied. Then it was Mi Jeong Jeon vs. Moromizato (why?), but they also both tied. The third playoff hole was JJ vs. Miho Koga. On her third shot she landed in the bunker, but she hit a great out to a meter. But Koga had a 4.5 meter putt for the win. She missed that, then JJ had merely to sink her par putt to tie again. But she missed it, and just like that, the Cup was Japan's.

Kimmie explained why she chose the players she did for the playoff. Seon Hwa, obviously, was chosen for her match play brilliance, and Jeon had won on this course in the recent past. JJ is obviously a great player as well, although she didn't talk about why she chose her.

My guess is Jee Young Lee would have been next on deck had Jang made that par putt. In any case, it's on to the Lexus Cup. Hopefully Se Ri Pak's recent hip and shoulder injuries will have healed up a little and the conjunctivitis in both eyes will clear up in time for the competition. There's a big chance for redemption here for Ji-Yai Shin, Sarah Lee, and Shi Hyun Ahn, who seriously underperformed in Fukuoka. Super Sophs Seon Hwa Lee and Jee Young Lee should anchor Team Asia and face off against the top players on Team International.

But more on the Lexus Cup at the end of the week. What I want to emphasize here is how cool it would be if the organizers of the Solheim and Kyoraku Cups would put their heads together and follow my advice!

Q-School: The Last Cut's the Hardest

Around the end of the ADT Championship, I remarked that the 2007 season was all over but the shouting--that was for Q-School. Mulligan Stu surveys who's shouting for joy over at Waggle Room, while Dave Seanor also covers some of those shouting from frustration over at Golfweek (although I'm surprised Taylor Leon didn't get a paragraph). But the most interesting page to me--outside of the Seoul Sisters discussion board thread--simply lays out the final results from the tournament itself.

It shows the Super Sophs in Q-School--Virada Nirapathpongporn, Nina Reis, and Na Ri Kim--were not the only ones unable to improve on the conditional status they had already earned via the 2007 money list...there were 8 others who made it to the final round who proved unable to draw on their LPGA experience and make a late charge. But Danielle Downey, a completely unheralded member of the Class of 2006 (and a Rochester, NY, native!), gave herself a chance to compete week in and week out in 2008--we'll see if she takes advantage of it.

It also shows how strong the Class of 2007 may yet prove to be, for with Jane Park and Su A Kim leading the way at Q-School, and Becky Lucidi and Sophie Giquel giving themselves another lease on life by gaining 2 of the last few cards, Angela Park, In-Kyung Kim, Inbee Park, Na On Min, Jin Joo Hong, Charlotte Mayorkas, and Ji Young Oh will have even more company, especially when you count classmates with non-exempt status like Song Hee Kim and maybe even Eun-Hee Ji, a KLPGA star who earned exempt status through the 2007 money list. But they won't be joined by Maru Martinez, who missed the last cut.

Speaking of the KLPGA, Hee Young Park will be coming to the LPGA for sure, but Na-Yeon Choi, who had a disappointing Q-School and finished 2 shots shy of a card, will have an interesting choice to make: what kind of schedule will she plan for 2008? Same goes for LET standouts Ashleigh Simon and Anna Rawson, who just missed exempt status, and Amy Yang, who just missed missing non-exempt status--they will face the same choice that Super Sophs with non-exempt status on the LPGA and exempt status on the LET like Minea Blomqvist and Nina Reis have to make. Better to have a choice, as Kiran Matharu and Nikki Garrett can attest.

More on the Class of 2008 in 2008!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

3Tops Declares Winter Festival Season is OPEN

Let there be rejoicing in WAAGNFNP land!

3tops & snow.jpg

Looking for signs in the East:

signs in the east?.jpg

No train on the tracks:

yellow backup.jpg

Kyoraku Cup: Down to the Wire

If you like drama, just click on this link to the Seoul Sisters discussion board's thread on the Kyoraku Cup and scroll away to your heart's content. If you want a little more set-up, read on!

With Team Korea leaders Se Ri Pak and Mi Hyun Kim dealing with some serious injuries and many members also playing for the International side in next week's Lexus Cup (on which more another day), Team Japan, while still a serious underdog, actually had an opportunity for a major upset this weekend in Fukuoka. And for the second time in three years, they were able to eke out a tie. (Although the Japanese media is reporting that Team Japan won in a playoff when Jeong Jang bogeyed the third playoff hole.)

Here were the match-ups for Day 1 and Day 2--more when the full results are in.

Q-School: The Cut Has Been Made

And it was at +6. Paige Mackenzie missed it by 2 shots. Nikki Garrett and Beth Bauer by 8. And Kiran Matharu by 11. Amy Yang at +4 (T48), Na Ri Kim at +3 (T44), Maru Martinez and Na-Yeon Choi at +2 (T37), and Nina Reis, Virada Nirapathpongporn, and Song Hee Kim at +1 (T27) will be fighting to remain inside the top 52 and maybe make a move into the top 17 after the end of tomorrow's round. It's a real pressure cooker for Yang and Choi in particular, although I'm unclear exactly what kind of non-exempt status rookies SH Kim and Martinez and Super Sophs NR Kim, Reis, and Nirapathpongporn already have. Will they be able to pull out all the stops and go for every pin in an effort to catapult themselves into exempt status for 2008, or will they have to play sensibly just to secure a more-secure non-exempt status than they already earned during the 2007 season?

Meanwhile, the other 6 players I've been following who are already inside the top 15--

1 Jane Park 65-70-71-68 274 -14
2 Su A Kim 70-72-70-68 280 -8
2 Hee Young Park 72-67-74-67 280 -8
4 Ya Ni Tseng 70-73-72-66 281 -7

5 Meredith Duncan 69-71-71-71 282 -6
5 Carolina Llano 69-71-69-73 282 -6
5 Taylor Leon 73-71-68-70 282 -6
5 Ashleigh Simon 70-70-72-70 282 -6

9 Sophie Giquel 72-70-71-70 283 -5
9 Louise Friberg 71-73-71-68 283 -5
11 Liz Janangelo 70-71-70-73 284 -4
11 Kelli Kuehne 67-71-70-76 284 -4
11 Nicole Hage 71-72-68-73 284 -4
11 Beth Allen 71-71-71-71 284 -4
11 Russy Gulyanamitta 69-72-72-71 284 -4

--will try to play "catch me if you can." There are 15 golfers within 4 shots of this lead pack and only 2 more exempt spots to go around. Perhaps only the leading Parks can truly breathe easy during the LPGA's version of musical chairs that begins a little later this morning, but with just about everyone starting on the front and a good number of people starting on the back having broken 70 at least once this week, we could be seeing a lot of volatility on the leader board. Good luck to all!

This One's for Uncle Bill: Onechan's First Concert

While I've been sequestering recent onechan and imoto updates, particularly those having to do with language, storytelling, and teaching, over at Citizen of Somewhere Else--at least when I've been awake and free on Fridays to do so--this story is too Mostly Harmless to wait. It shows that between Uncle Bill, the storytelling lady at the library, one of her sensei at her Fredonia hoikuen, and My Melody, onechan may be developing something neither her dad nor her mom (who's now going by Full Metal Archivist in these here parts, but that's another story) ever had the inclination or opportunity, respectively, to cultivate: musical talent.

Although we've all known for more than half a year that onechan would be getting a bike for her 4th birthday, in the past couple of months she's been gravitating to the instrument sections of the toy areas we've make the mistake of getting too near while doing other shopping, looking longingly at the most realistic of the elementary-school-age guitars on display (no pre-school imitations for onechan!), and asking for a guitar for her birthday. So now she knows what she's getting for her 5th. Guess that set of kids' golf clubs will have to wait for her 6th! Anyway, as part of her fall rhetorical campaign, onechan has insisted she already knows how to play the guitar. I've taken this sally with a grain of salt, treating it about the same as her belief that she beat me when we played croquet-style golf together near that onsen just outside Fukuoka this past spring. But last night at a friend's place, onechan treated us to some pre-dinner jamming, some musical accompaniment to the meal, and a post-dessert concert, all on a guitar with a missing string.

While she played some classics--the Alphabet Song was a big hit, plus she came about as close as she ever has to differentiating X from S in it--it was her original material that really got the audience going. With imoto on the sound system (the Full Metal Archivist and I were holding our breaths all night because it was made up of really nice radio/turntable/CD components [and others I, uh, don't know the names of], with only the turntable out of imoto's reach), onechan treated us to a series of variations on "x is everywhere," along with strumming, picking, and even slapping. Highlights: twice she ended a song with a classic move, first by turning the "where" in "everywhere" into two syllables and later by throwing off a final power chord after closing out the lyrics and main melody; the line "Bunnies are everywhere" coming out of nowhere in the middle of a non-"x is everywhere" composition (which prompted me to wonder aloud if it's true that bunnies can be found on every continent); her whispering into my ear at one point, "Chicchi plays the guitar!"; and her turning over lead singer duties to me, accompanying me on a truly terrible rendition of a song I used to sing to her a lot when she was a baby, the Presidents of the United States of America's "Peaches." She even got her first guitar blister (with apologies to Mark Knopfler, it was not on her little finger), which, thanks to me, she confused with a splinter (hey, when a little girl shows you her finger after doing "exercise" on the bottom of the bannister, says it "feels like wood," yet you can't see or feel anything wrong with it, what are you going to do? I sent her to her mom, the family expert at splinter removal, who promptly identified the blister). And to top it off, she and imoto got to stay up long past their bed time.

So thanks for leading the way on onechan and imoto's musical education, Uncle Bill!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Kids Rock

In the second half he plays the blues:

A little country blues:

Connie faces the judges with "Over the Rainbow" – get out the facial tissue:

A little piano for you:

Swing Time

Here's a cartoon called "Swing":

And here's Uncle Bill playing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot":

Friday, November 30, 2007

What is it, Onechan?

mad cow behind white puff.jpg

What's the white thing in front? What's the fuzzy blue thing in the background?

Extra credit: Is the Mostly Harmless Jinx in there somewhere?

Q-School: Every Shot Is Crunch Time

With 2 rounds to go before the LPGA Q-School field is cut to the top 70 and ties, the players are now being grouped by score. Those playing the Champions course today (they play two rounds each on each course before narrowing the field for the final round, so will play the Legends course Saturday) are in the best position to give themselves a chance to play on Sunday for the top 17 spots (exempt status for 2008) or for 18th-52nd place (non-exempt status).

So who among those I've been rooting for are stuck on the Legends course today? Kiran Matharu (+13), Nikki Garrett (+9), Beth Bauer (+9), and Paige Mackenzie (+5). Of them, only Mackenzie can still play her normal game, as the cut line could be anywhere from +2 to +7, depending on how the players who are struggling thus far handle the conditions and the pressure; Garrett and Bauer are going to have to go under par over the next 2 rounds to have a chance, and Matharu will need to go very low.

Almost in the same boat as Bauer is Super Soph Na Ri Kim (+3), who trails her classmates Nina Reis (E, T36) and Virada Nirapathpongporn (-1, T26) in the race for exempt status. All of them will have to pick up their games to finish in the top 17 this Q-School--they can't count on the people ahead of them to falter. Same goes for Amy Yang (+1, T45), Taylor Leon (E, T36), and Ya Ni Tseng and Maru Martinez (-1, T26). Na Yeon Choi and Song Hee Kim, both T14 at -2, have each had one bad round already and are unlikely to falter again. Ashleigh Simon is cruising at -4 (T5), right behind the leaders Jane Park (-9), Kelli Kuehne (-6), and Hee Young Park (-5).

So 6 of my 17 faves are leading the field, another 7 are still in the hunt, 2 can get back into it, and 3 will need to play some inspired golf today and tomorrow just to have a shot at non-exempt status. Good luck to all!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Mostly Harmless Jinx Strikes Again: Kyoraku Cup in Fukuoka (Again)

What's the biggest international team competition in women's golf? You may think the Solheim Cup (Team Europe vs. Team USA) or the Lexus Cup (Team Asia vs. Team International), but consider the annual showdown between the top Korean and Japanese golfers, formerly known as the Pinx Cup and for the past two years known as the Kyoraku Cup. Team Korea has won 4 of the last 5 matches (the other was a snow-shortened tie), so Team Japan has major motivation this time around. That said, they are incredible underdogs this year, as most of their biggest stars are not participating.

I couldn't attend the 2006 contest, held at the Fukuoka Century Club, for two reasons. First, I was giving a talk at the Kyushu American Literature Society at the same time. Second, and more important, I didn't know about the Kyoraku Cup. You start blogging and you learn things...but sometimes a few months too late. And of course this December I'll be on the wrong side of the world. Figures.

Hey, at least I'm not at Q-School.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

what superhero are YOU?

Your results:
You are Superman

Green Lantern
Iron Man
Wonder Woman
The Flash
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

Go, Momoko, Go! I Mean, Come, Momoko, Come! I Mean...

Courtesy of Don at With Malice, here's a Japan Times piece speculating about Momoko Ueda playing the LPGA full-time in 2008. (For the wealth of information on Ueda's career, let's forgive the writer his ignorance of LPGA history, shall we? Hisako Higuchi is a good example, to be sure, but what about 1987 Player of the Year Ayako Okamoto?! Don't 17 career victories, 6 runner-ups in majors, and $2.75M in career winnings [pre-Sorenstam Era]--not to mention entry in the World Golf Hall of Fame--count for anything these days?)

I hope Ueda appreciates the opportunity to play on the LPGA without going through Q-School, considers what it would be like to be the favorite for rookie of the year in a class that could be as strong as the Super Sophs (and might well include other young but seasoned pros from other tours like KLPGA stars Na-Yeon Choi and Hee Young Park, LET sensations Nikki Garrett, Kiran Matharu, Anna Rawson, Ashleigh Simon, and Amy Yang, Ladies Asian Golf Tour star Ya Ni Tseng, and Futures Tour standout Taylor Leon), and jumps at the chance to be a historic trailblazer with Ai Miyazato for young Japanese female golfers. Ueda-san, gambare!

Monday, November 26, 2007

LPGA Q-School Week

Just like college students around the country (and their professors) are returning to classes after Thanksgiving Break, hopefuls who want to play on the most competitive tour in the world are going to the LPGA's Q-School this week. I'm rooting for Super Sophs Na Ri Kim, Virada Nirapathpongporn, and Nina Reis, KLPGA stars Na-Yeon Choi and Hee Young Park, LET sensations Nikki Garrett, Kiran Matharu, Ashleigh Simon, and Amy Yang, struggling 2007 rookies Song Hee Kim, Paige Mackenzie, Maru Martinez, and Jane Park, former NCAA and current Futures Tour standout Taylor Leon, Ladies Asian Golf Tour teenage star Ya Ni Tseng, and struggling LPGA veterans Beth Bauer and Kelli Kuehne to snag the 17 exempt cards for 2008 that are up for grabs from November 28th through December 2nd. But good luck to all!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

And yes...

...that was our 400th post. Let the celebrations begin! Release the hounds! Repeat this post in a Montgomery Burns voice! Again! Faster!

Welcome, Crooked Timberers

If you've recently come to Mostly Harmless via this Australian election update, please feel free to hang out, relax, check out the archives. For more from your guide, JP Stormcrow, you can go here or here, or just check out our "politics" tag. Which takes me back to the early days of this here experiment in interwebitudinal fun, back when this blog mattered made a difference was often funny based in Japan, before it became all LPGA and stories for kids all the time. You can tell how much things have changed here when, upon checking out our most recent slew (for us) of visitors and composing this piece, the following associations rattled through what's left of my brain: "Has Berube finally returned to golf blogging? Crooked Timber--now there's a great name for a golf blog! How can I get a joke about a mashie in a post on this? Is a mashie even made of wood? Or is that a niblick? Heh, niblick. Australian politics...hmm, I wonder if Karrie Webb reads Crooked Timber? Bet she's glad the 2007 season is over. Hey, isn't Amy Yang playing out of Australia these days? Wouldn't it be cool if she did well in Q-School? Now there's a kid with a good head on her shoulders. Ah, kids. Time to check on onechan and imoto." The end.