Sunday, April 29, 2007

Moira, Moira, Moira!

Yes, this is about the Corona Championship and the reference in the title is not to The Brady Bunch's infamous "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!" refrain but to "Tora! Tora! Tora!" You know, kamikazes, planes going down in flames. My friend Moira Dunn was sitting pretty at -13 after birdieing the first 7 of 11 holes on Sunday. So what does she do when she gets herself into contention with 7 holes left to play? Well, she continued her bogey-free round--but threw a double and a triple in her last five holes in the mix to drop back to a tie for 18th, only two strokes ahead of Ai Miyazato, whose second consecutive 69 (this one bogey-free) got her to -6 for the tournament (T22). Moira shouldn't feel too bad--Pat Hurst also made an 8 on the last hole to drop from -18 to -15 and from a chance to win to 4th place. But a top 20 has to feel a lot worse than a top 10. She's gotta stop squandering these good tournaments if she wants to keep her card this year!

Oh, and Silvia Cavalleri outgunned Lorena Ochoa and Julieta Granada, whose 68s weren't enough to match the winner's second-best-round-of-the-day 66. Congrats to Cavalleri, Min (who won the rookie race when Angela Park failed to make a move on her), Granada (who won the Super Soph race with ease), and Maria Hjorth (whose 65 was the best round of the tournament and got her back under par)!

[Update: I was on urgent WAAGNFNP business in the wee hours of the am here--no, nothing to do with that Bay Area traffic thing--so I couldn't do the not-quite-live-blogging you've come to expect and tolerate, or perhaps just be resigned to, but in the comments here spyder ably picked up the slack. When I get back from the onsen, I'll post updates to the Rolex Rankings and official money list. All I can say is that Moira's thrown away more money in her last two tournaments than I'm going to make this year--and this will be the most I've ever made in my life!]

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Classic Gunfight at the Corona Championship Corral

Just when you thought the field was going to leave world #1 Lorena Ochoa behind after her 74 on Friday, she reels off the best round of the Corona Championship, a 64, to jump into a tie for first at -13 with the steady Silvia Cavalleri (69-68-69) and the hot Julieta Granada (71-68-67). If it were not for her three double bogeys (including one on 17 today) rookie Na On Min (68-72-67) would be the story of the tournament; as it is, she has to settle for a share of 4th at -12, wth Pat Hurst (70-69-68). But don't count anyone out among the 11 players at -9 or -8. Almost every single one of them has gone low this week, and as Ochoa's round Friday and Angela Park and Yu Ping Lin's today (a pair of even-par 73s) show, it's very easy to get passed if you don't keep making birdies and it's hard to go low twice in a row (and even harder to do it three times in a row). When 16 people can win, it doesn't make any sense to make a call, but look for at least half of the people four or five shots back to make an early run on the leaders. It's definitely going to come down to who gets hot on the first 10 holes and holds on during the last 8 (the 11th hole is probably the toughest on the course, and even though there are birdies to be had at the end, there are just as many bogeys). Too bad it won't be televised in the U.S.--it should be a wild finish. Here are the pairings!

Of course there are races within races in every tournament. Chasing Min and Park in the rookie race are Ji-Young Oh (-7, T17), Song-Hee Kim (-5, T21), and Jane Park and Jin Joo Hong (-3, T28). (Both Martinez and Sargent shot themselves out of this race with one bad round, unfortunately.) Among the Super Sophs chasing Granada are Hye Jung Choi, Teresa Lu, and Stacy Prammanasudh (-9, T6), Kyeong Bae (-8, T13), Linda Wessberg (-7, T17), and Meaghan Francella (-5, T21). (Blomqvist, Futcher, and Nirapathpongporn have slowed down so much that Miyazato has already passed them.) Looks like slightly-more-experienced youth is winning out over slightly-less-experienced-youth thus far. With few in the top 30 on the money list playing, making the cut, or playing well this week, those who are stand to move up. The money race should be in the back of people's minds or completely out of them, but it's hard to ignore it when there's that much at stake.

My friend Moira continued her steady play today and stands at -6 (T19), but she's got to be frustrated by that second-straight pair of late back-to-back bogeys that dropped her out of contention on Saturday. It's great that she's putting herself in position to contend, but she's playing well enough to be scoring much better. Here's hoping she gets more comfortable with going low as the season goes on. Tomorrow would be a good day to start, eh?

And my fave Ai-chan finally got the engine started; her 69 today pulled her to -2 for the tournament (T33). Actually, except for her disastrous opening 9 on the back on Thursday (41), she's been at or under par every 9 since then and today she finally started making birdies in bunches (she had 6, with two bogeys on the back to keep her from having a great round). So look for her to pass a lot of people who are less accustomed than she is to playing well on Sundays.

Gotta run--Pretty Cure 5's theme song is almost over!

How to Make a Dinosaur

Not a real one, of course. Just a remote controlled machine that acts like one.

What would Gojira think? And ((almost) big girl now) onechan?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Meanwhile, at the Corona Championship...

Congrats to gunning-for-Super-Soph-status Teresa Lu, whose birdie-birdie finish on the front today earned her a 68 and a tie for 2nd at the moment at -7.

Congrats to Erica Blasberg, whose eagle-par-birdie start and three-birdies-in-her-final-six-holes finish led to a 68 and a tie for 9th overall thus far at 5-under.

Congrats to Diana D'Alessio, who shot the low round of the back (31) and of the tournament (67), thanks to a birdie-par-eagle-hole-in-freaking-one start to her round today, vaulting all the way to -4 and a tie for 16th thus far.

Congrats to Kris Tamulis (-1, T31 so far), who bounced back from an opening 43 on the back 9 Thursday to shoot a 30 on the front side on Friday on her way to a 67, tied for low round of the day and of the tournament.

Congrats to Kyeong Bae, whose 33 on the front, her final nine today, helped her to a 69 and to join Tamulis and 16 other golfers who stand at -1 thus far.

Congrats to Jane Park, whose 32 on the back, her final nine today, earned her a 68 and put her in the company of the 50 or so other golfers under par thus far, among them fellow rookie Song-Hee Kim, who also shot a 32 in her final nine holes (on the front) for a 69. Park and Kim will be trying to catch their peers on the weekend.

Just like the rest of the field. Na On Min just rattled off three birdies in her last four holes to grab the lead at -8, but then fell back to a tie for second with a bogey on the 8th. Chasing her are fellow rookies Angela Park, who shot a 34 on the back already and has fired three birdies in her last four holes to get to -6 for the tournament with three holes to play; Sarah Lynn Sargent, who is in the clubhouse at -5 (T9 so far), and Ji-Young Oh, who is 4-under over her last 9 holes to catch her and has a chance to pass her over her final three holes; Jin Joo Hong, who is safely in at -2 (T26 so far); and Maru Martinez, who is tied with Park and Kim at -1, with the easier front side still ahead of her.

But enough about the rookies. What about my faves? Moira Dunn had a disappointing bogey-bogey finish to fall back to even par on the day and get passed by a lot of people for the tournament; still, at -4, she is only 4 shots off the lead and among the 20 players or so with a realistic chance to beat Ochoa this week, who is only E through 12 today, having just bogeyed two holes in a row herself. It looks like Ai-chan has a good chance to make the cut; at -1 through 12 and +2 for the tournament, she is currently one shot above the cut line (my pick this week, Jee Young Lee, is right on it).

So it remains to be seen if Julieta Granada (-5 today through 15) and Pat Hurst (-4 through 11) can finish strong on the back and if Yu Ping Lin (-5 through 13 today, with many birdie holes yet to come on the front) can catch or pass the leader Silvia Cavalleri, who is -4 on the day and -8 for the tournament with a number of birdie holes to come on the front. Or will Stacy Prammanasudh (she's -1 through 15, which is good enough to be tied for second) or Ochoa make a move on the more difficult back? Stay tuned!

[Update: Here's the Round 2 leaderboard. Clearly there are more congratulations in order:

  • to Sarah Lee, whose 28 on the front gave her a 66 on the day, brought her from E to -8 in a 9-hole-stretch, and left her alone in 4th, one shot off the lead;
  • to Angela Park and Yu Ping Lin, whose 65s took low rounds of the day and tournament away from Lee and vaulted them into a tie for 1st at -9;
  • to Silvia Cavalleri, whose bogey-free 68 earned her a share of the lead;
  • to Julieta Granada, who tied Teresa Lu in 5th at -7 for the Super Soph lead by matching her 68 today;
  • to Pat Hurst, who gave a few shots away at the end but still is in a tie for fifth after her 69 today;
  • to Beth Bader, whose 68 matched Erica Blasberg's earlier one, putting them in a tie for 10th with rookie Sarah Lynn Sargent and veteran Kate Golden at -5;
  • to Lindsey Wright, whose 67 was marred only by a double bogey-bogey hiccup in the middle of her round but who nevertheless leaped into a tie for 16th with Diana D'Alessio, Ji-Young Oh, Moira Dunn, and Lorena Ochoa (who shot a 74 due to four bogeys in her last 8 holes);
  • and to Wendy Doolan, for having the guts to follow up an 81 with a 68 and make the cut.

Condolences to Jee Young Lee, whose double-bogey on the par-5 18th dropped her below the cut line by one shot, and to Brittany Lang, who completely self-destructed, as well as to all the rookies who ended up missing the cut. At least Ai-chan will be playing on the weekend (her 72 was better than playing partners' Ochoa's and Lang's rounds by far, but still not enough to get her back to par).

So there are 20 people within 5 shots of the lead, among them a great mix of rookies, Super Sophs, players with a few years of experience under their belts looking to make names for themselves, and veterans looking to recapture (or find) the magic. Ochoa and Prammanasudh didn't do themselves any favors today, so it'll be interesting to see how the lazy LPGA press covers today's round.]

[Update 2: Here are the pairings for Saturday's round. Round 3 is known as moving day, so we'll see if anyone is able to break away from the pack. Moira is playing with Lorena, so it should be quite a show. I also think the earlier Jane Park-Kyeong Bae pairing and the later Julieta Granada-Teresa Lu pairing look as interesting as the Angela Park-Yu Ping Lin final group. But I would definitely be following Moira and Lorena all day and then waiting to watch the leaders' groups come into 18.]

On Playing with a Three-Year-Old Girl

This one is for onechan, who's into mazes and puzzles lately, and had her first swimming lesson on imoto's birthday.

When we're not doing some kind of fantasy role-playing thing (on which more in a sec) or reading (usually in English, b/c my Japanese is so slow) or playing catch or balloon golf/baseball or kakurembo or eating a snack together, we're at the kitchen table doing the mazes or the puzzles (when we're not drawing pictures of her and her friends with super-long ponytails and babies in their stick-figure tummies--don't ask). We have basically the same approach to the latter--take whatever turn makes sense at the time and backtrack when necessary (mama wants her to erase her mistakes, which of course she does when she does puzzles with mama, but I'm more about the trial and the error than the appearance of perfection)--so the only thing I have to do is check that onechan didn't cheat by breaking through the walls instead of walking through the doors (she likes those metaphors a lot). But with puzzles it's different. I like to proceed rationally, by getting the corners in place and then the edges and then working my way in, but onechan likes to put tomodachi together, which means matching pieces that look similar, by shape and picture. We find a way to compromise and combine our two methods and have a good time in the end, but it always takes a bit of butting heads to get there. You can learn something about teaching by playing with a three-year-old.

But that's not what this post is about. This post is an attempt to document, in chronological order, the various parts I have been assigned by onechan in the fantasy role-playing adventures we've invented together over the years.

1. She's Dora, I'm Boots.
2. She's Bubbles, I'm Buttercup, imoto's Blossom, and mama's Miss Bellum. (I've repeatedly tried to convince her she should be Blossom, I should be Bubbles [my favorite PPG], and imoto should be Buttercup--or that I should be The Professor and mama should be Buttercup--to no avail.)
3. I'm the bear (from a Japanese kids' story where a young bear first puts his clothes on all wrong and only gets it right at the end--this is less a fantasy role-play than her refrain whenever I make a mistake, but I'm including it anyway).
4. She's Inu Yasha, imoto's Kagome, I'm Miroku, and mama's Sango.
5. She's a Pretty Cure superhero, I'm a bad monster (although sometimes I become a good monster, usually I have to laugh like a supervillain and try to kidnap imoto, who's one of those cute little usagi or risu sidekicks from the various seasons; various stuffed anmals and cardboard cutouts of anime characters get recruited into this game).
6. We're going to the beach like Corduroy and his friends, and I have to drive us there.
7. She's imoto (a little tiny baby, this small [holding her thumb and forefinger almost together]), imoto's onechan, I'm onichan, and the tsuma is my girlfriend--I'm liking this new one the best, as I get to act like the mean teenage boy who's only into his girlfriend and is bored by his younger sister. Fun!
8. This technically doesn't belong on the list, because I don't have a set role yet, but often onechan is My Melody and imoto is Kuromi (because she is rough and hasn't learned how to be yasaashi like onechan yet).

Have I mentioned onechan has a great sense of humor and is into wordplay of all kinds? That she loves the Beatles and the Oh Brother Where Are You soundtrack as much as she does the first Powerpuff Girls cd and the Japanese kids' songs that her aunt taped for her? That when she was a baby she didn't object to most of my favorite music (unlike her mom)? That she can sing most of the Pretty Cure and Onegai My Melody opening and ending songs, not to mention several Baptist hymns, in Japanese (gotta love that yochien)?

Let's just say that I'm looking forward to the time she's old enough to appreciate bebop cola and the episode of Sealab 2021 from which it comes:

Or maybe I should hope she never finds this kind of humor funny?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Plying the Percentages

Giants ballclub logo

In the spirit of Opening Day the Giants stumbled along for the next week and a half with that same awkward brand of ball that caused them to cough up the season's first game and earn the public derision of all who follow them, as discussed below. 2 and 7 after the first nine games. 2 and 7!

2 and 7, a ratio of wins per game played (.222) to which even the poorest team in the long annals of the game couldn't descend consistently over the course of an entire season. Even with all the storied ineptitude they brought out onto the field, the most laughable of the early New York Mets squads was never that bad, they were never .222 bad over an entire season.

Knowing that, even if this year's Giants club were to match the established record of Met ineptitude, stretches of better play should be expected to break out here and there after a 2-7 start just to bring the average up to the previously established sub-standard of a season's worth of poor play registered by the Mets.

Particularly I care to attend to Visquel's play whatever the outcome. He's the best Giants shortstop I've had a chance to watch, going back to their Seals Stadium days. I remember the dire times with André Rodgers in the lineup, who Prescott Sullivan in the San Francisco Examiner suggested might benefit from an apron sort of thing to keep the ball from going so consistently between his legs. Visquel is a great shortstop. He has the tremendous talent out there on the field for all the running and catching and throwing required by his position. Often he proves by demonstration that yes, the human form can in fact execute some adroitly made move or other that no one had bothered to think posssible before. So, there is Visquel to keep an eye on.

Although, now, after nineteen games, the Giants are 11-8. There are many, many ways to combine wins and losses that will lead to a record of 11-8 (.579) in any strech of nineteen games of the schedule, and snappy ways to figure out all the possible combinations of wins and losses that will get your team there, and among those combinations the small set with its few ways to distribute 9 wins among the next ten games, when the team's started off 2-7, to get to the desired result.

No ballclub wins nine of ten games consistently, but the Giants did just that, won nine of ten and the last seven in a row. Already this season the Giants have ranged from unpardonable to unbeatable, from the subperformances following Opening Day to the brisk dispatch of the despised Dodgers over the course of the past two nights, extending the ballclub's win streak to seven games and featuring, last night, yet another home run from the presumptively drug-depleted Barry Bonds.

Over the course of 162 games, .579 would be roughly 94 wins, and 94 wins is a good competitive count in this year's hunt for a place in Major League Baseball's playoffs. Any team in the NL West that can keep up an 11-8 pace over the course of the season is almost assured of winning the division.

Still, the bullpen's pitchers are going to cough up a lot of games late. Can't be helped with the staff they've got, I suppose, though just hearing the name of any of them pronounced after the seventh inning, even this early on in the season, forces an expression of real alarm from my throat. The rotation looks strong, though, there is that.

[UPDATE: Last night the Giants completed a sweep of the Dodgers in Los Angeles, coming back after being down 3-0 early to win their eight game in a row, 5-4, boosting the club's record to 12-8 and tying the Giants for a share of the division lead. Very satisfying, very satisfying indeed.]

Happy Birthday, Imoto

Imoto turns 1 today--tanjobi omedeto! I think I have to come up with a new handle for her. To be sure, she remains a Happy Sporty Science Girl, but somehow that doesn't capture her joy in climbing over the rest of the family at bed time and early in the morning while we're trying to fall or stay asleep, the way she leans down low over the kitchen table while sitting in her high chair to see around her mom when an image on the tv interests her, her love of the grapefruit, her random screeches of glee while she's toddling around the apartment, or her attempts to imitate onechan's soccer, golf, and climbing feats.

As her first birthday approached, I'd been thinking about all the ways she might never have existed. Off the top of my head, I could tell you a good handful of stories about times in my life I could have lost it (amazingly, none even resulted in a serious injury). The fact that the tsuma and I are together in the first place is a miracle of improbability. And I won't even get into the circumstances of imoto's conception! Let's just say she's a very lucky girl and leave it at that. But aren't we all?

(Seriously, I've never understood that literary cliche about wishing you'd never been born. Do people ever really feel this way? I guess I'm like that character in Neil Gaiman's Sandman who resolves never to die because life is too interesting--and Death honors his resolution for as long as he continues to hold it.)

So these are for imoto, while I wait till she gets old enough to let me know which version she likes better.

1997 at Glastonbury:

2006 at Bonnaroo:

2006 at Berkeley:

Can't believe I didn't post any of these to last weekend's WAAGNFNP open thread! It's practically my theme song....

[Update 4/29/07: d celebrates his daughter's first birthday at Lawyers, Guns, and Money. Any other late-April birthday girls I should be aware of (besides Alter Ego's)?]

Read All About It: Ochoa #1

It finally happened: Lorena Ochoa passed Annika Sorenstam in the Rolex Rankings. Even ESPN is covering the story.

The Golf Channel gives the tee times for this week's event--fittingly, it's in Mexico, with Ochoa defending her title (I would definitely be following the Ochoa-Miyazato-Lang group). Here's the Hound Dog's preview. I'm thinking Jee Young Lee has the best chance to beat Ochoa, myself. I'm also curious to see how youngsters like Angela Park, Jane Park, and In-Bee Park handle the altitude. And of course I'm hoping Moira Dunn can finally break through and stop self-destructing whenever she gets close to contention this year!

In other LPGA news, reports that Sorenstam and Michelle Wie are planning to return to competition from their injuries in the same tournament at the end of May. I'll believe it about Sorenstam when I see it, although it hurts to say that because it would be a great story.

[Update 1 4/27/07: Here's the leaderboard. Stacy Prammanasudh had a nearly flawless round and leads at -6. Ochoa out-eagled her and out-birdied her, but made a bunch of bogeys to end up tied with rookie Na On Min in second at -5. Speaking of the rookies, a bunch are at or under par, some done (Paige Mackenzie, Maru Martinez, Angela Park) and others just getting started (Jeanne Cho-Hunicke, Jin Joo Hong, Sarah Huarte, Kristy McPherson, Ji-Young Oh, and Sarah Lynn Sargent). They're threatening to outshine the Super Sophs this week, who are lead by Cameron Diaz-look-a-like Linda Wessberg at -4 (with Hye Jung Choi, Julieta Granada, Brittany Lang, and Virada Nirapathpongporn breathing down her neck and Kyeong Bae, Minea Blomqvist, Meaghan Francella, and Katie Futcher lurking). Not all the Super Sophs played well, though. My fave Ai-chan held steady after two double bogeys in her first 9 holes to shoot a 76, but will have to scramble to make the cut tomorrow, just like my pick Jee Young Lee, who couldn't get anything going today either. Is there a Mostly Harmless jinx? I hope not: Moira Dunn is off to a good start with a 2-under 35 on the tougher back side, with an easier front to take advantage of and post her first really low number of the year!]

[Update 2: First, way to go, Moira! A birdie-birdie finish got her to 69 and a tie for 5th after the first round! But this is going to be a wild tournament and anything can happen in the next three rounds. If you want to know why, take a look at Il Mi Chung's scorecard--note the 2 on the par-5 8th (is that a double eagle or an albatross?) and note her final score (72). How about Hana Kim's? She had two eagles on the front, matching Ochoa, but couldn't shoot better than a 70. Because there are so many eagles/doubles and birdies/bogeys out there, you can expect to see similarly roller-coaster-esque rounds from the 53 players at par or better, the 35 under par, and the 14 who shot 70 and under. Prammanasudh's and Dunn's bogey-free rounds are the exception to the rule--consider that Ochoa made 4 bogeys and Na On Min made a double and a bogey on their way to 68s, that Wessman shot a 30 on the front, and that too many didn't break 40 on the back. This should be quite a ride, with the winner between 15- and 18-under if conditions stay favorable.]

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Abandoned--for SMAP and Hugh Grant!

Last (unexpectedly long) weekend was decidedly domestic, but I can point to the exact moment it came to an end. The tsuma and I got both girls to sleep at a relatively decent hour on Monday night and were deep in my second-favorite kind of conversation when the clock struck 10 and she rushed to the tv to catch SMAP. I was going to watch with her, just to keep her company, until I found out Hugh Grant was to be one of their guests--so instead I just joined her for his segment and tried unsuccessfully to come up with a decent post idea in the interim. She predicted the clip would be up on teh YouTubes in less than a week. Well, it took 3 days. Here it is:

6-year-old drummer & hip-hop international

Here's a Japanese jazz trio, playing on the street, with a 6-year-old drummer trading fours:

And here's a blog entry on international hip hop.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Press Bias in Baseball

Giants ballclub logo

Of course I always hope the Giants win, but especially on Opening Day, with all the festive bunting draped all over everything and all. The Giants had their expensive new guy with the left arm out on the mound on Opening Day, backed by their retooled squad, a packed house, perfect weather, blah, blah.

They played bad. Game Spoils Opening Day, read the Chronicle's front page headline, with a big page-spanning No, Really, Play Ball sprawled across the top of the sports section, The Sporting Green as it is known in the Chronicle.

If a minimal requirement of a major daily newspaper is sufficient staff for a few of them to be devoted nearly full-time to the task of writing healdines and captions, then the Chronicle meets and often exceeds that standard. It has plenty of people working for it, and some make up the front page crew authorized to fashion its front page headlines, while at the same time somewhere nearby the others of the editorial staff assigned to the sports page crew toil away crafting the pithy nuggets of their own. The reporter on a major daily newspaper, the journalist who files the story itself, such as it is, doesn't write the headline or the captions accompanying the story. That headline belongs to somebody else, with occasionally the noticeable tension between the headline and what's actually being reported visible to the passably close reader of the two.

In this case, in this opening day's Chronicle, the one printed the day after the galling particulars reported there, there is a happy congress of all three staffed functions here, a disparaging unanimity of report made manifest in the first paragraph of The Sporting Green's

Start with a quart of awful and add two teaspoons of hideous. Throw in a dash of miserable and you had the recipe for the Giants' 2007 opener Tuesday. The best they could do with this foul-tasting stew was dump it in the trash and hope to start fresh with new ingredients tonight.

—Henry Schulman in San Francisco Chronicle, April 4, 2007

Henry Schulman is the Giants beat writer for the Chronicle. He's assigned to the team, follows them around and files a story after each game, summarizing the action. He's been at it for mumbledy-something years now.

Sports writers have the freedom of the press. Pointedly, they're allowed to build a lede for their stories with judgements, as Schulman did in his Opening Day article. All the familiar supporting documentation for his judgements is readily available for easy inspection right there on the inside page where his article concludes: there's the clubhouse chat, there's the standard box score, everything there required to buttress his asperity.

As I said, Schulman travels with these guys. He sees them every day and he has the pulpit of the sports page to tell the world anything and everything he might want to reveal about them, and I'm sure over the years he's developed a sense of what he's willing to disclose about the players of this game he's paid to watch and what he isn't. But, as for reporting on the game, clearly he's accustomed to writing what he witnessed with no punches pulled, and the players must expect that of him, too.

Last night on the Daily Show, John Stewart interviewed Matt Cooper, who operated under markedly different conditions inside the Beltway in Washington, D.C., working for one of Time Magazine's flagship bureaus, vending its version of what passes for news of the White House. He was one of those given the famously leaked name of CIA worker Valerie Plame Wilson by a name he was reluctant to pronounce in public because of the bond of unrevealability established between Cooper, the White House beat writer, and the unnameable one in the Administration who had passed along the officially reserved name of Joe Wilson's wife.

Cooper collaborated on a story with a couple of other writers for Time Magazine, each of whom knew, as Cooper did, that the unnameable was Karl Rove.

The story, in fact, hinged on the simple fact that Karl Rove was the one that Cooper hadn't named. The three collaborators wrote a story pretending they didn't know that salient detail, a lapse in reporting but necessary to the copy eventually published by Time.

Henry Schulman has his informed witness of Giants games published in the Chronicle's Sporting Green. There's enough entitlement left in his version of freedom of the press that summary judgement, when due, will fall swiftly where it may on those thrilled and on those agonized by the report.

But this is not the case with the Washington press corps, so demure in exercise of its freedom that three of its members can agree that due diligence in protection of a source requires them to ignore the one fact known to all, as if the Chronicle had determined in its coverage of Opening Day to leech all reference to the pratfall of a loss it turned out to be from its pages, and insert instead a report of the day known by the front page crew, the sports page crew, and the journalist crew to be a false unsupportable lie.

Matt Cooper, in short, is not Henry Schulman.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Radio Free Constructivist

spyder at WAAGNFNP started an open thread looking for musical anti-despair vaccines for the weekend. True to my Blogger profile, I found a few YouTube clips you all may enjoy. My work is done there--now jump in, yourself!

TTLB Back in This, Our Hour of Need

Mostly Harmless has been "a insignificant microbe" in the TTLB Ecosystem from the start, mostly because TTLB has been "on sabbatical," so to speak, in 2007. Well, thanks to Astaroth, Gojira, and NZ Bear, it is no longer. I can only speculate that TTLB's return is carefully timed to bring a little joy to the outskirts of blogoramaville. To which I can only reply, in the immortal words of SMAP, "Arigato-ohhhhhh":

I'm sure we'll all rest a little easier tonight, knowing more accurately where we fall in the Great Chain of Bloggy Being. If anyone wants to nominate NZ Bear for sainthood, I can attest that my stomach has been feeling better today, miraculously.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Pop Quiz Time Again

Ah, my stomach is bothering me again. Clearly, this is because

a) I ate too much sushi this evening;
b) I didn't wait long enough to start visiting Sadly, No!, The Poor Man Institute, Jesus' General, Pandagon, and Lawyers, Guns and Money again and am paying for even the vicarious and thoroughly-mocked exposure to Greater Wingnuttia;
c) I laughed too long and hard at Berube's latest;
d) JP Stormcrow's latest has brought my liberal guilt/conservative paranoia dialectic to a boil;
e) my second damn post at WAAGNFNP must have just gone up;
f) something else;
g) all of the above.

Back to the Future

Still have no ideas for new posts that feel right to me for Mostly Harmless right now, but I did come across (via Boing Boing) a link to a YouTube video of Richard Dawkins introducing Douglas Adams, who then does a reading from the part of his Hitchhikers series that inspired my own conceit for the Blogocalypse Carnival from April Fool's Day. Here it is:

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Posts That Got Away; or, ...On the Bright Side

What better way to acknowledge how truly awful a week this has been than to try to start a meme asking people to describe the posts they chose not to write out of respect for the recent dead?

In the interests of full disclosure, here are the posts the world was spared from reading (or, more accurately, ignoring as usual) from me at Mostly Harmless:

  • an apology/confession to the LPGA professionals whom I may have insulted on Monday, detailing my experiences playing high-stakes golf in terrible weather conditions, complete with embarrassing results thereof;
  • continuing installments in Mostly Harmless's YouTubeocalypse;
  • more musume-related cutesiness, complete with a report on the start of the new academic year in onechan's yochien;
  • a plug for my then-forthcoming-but-now-who-knows-when second WAAGNFNP post;
  • a reflection on my capacity to compartmentalize, starting with my decision to show ultra-violent clips from Kill Bill, Volume I in my Representing Japan class the afternoon after I first heard about the Virginia Tech killings and closing with the contrast between my reactions and those of my more-innocent-than-I-imagined 18-year-olds to the clips;
  • a parody of the supposed dangerality of English majors, irresponsibility of Creative Writing professors, and influences of video games--that is, of the response of some in the U.S. to the shootings at VA Tech, especially when contrasted with those of many in Japan following the assassination of the mayor of Nagasaki this week.

Don't you feel just a little bit better knowing that these posts went unwritten?

[Update 4/20/07: Check out Raincoaster's response to the question. Thanks for going far beyond what I was hoping for!]

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Guy Goes to Sleep for a Few Hours and Misses the Weirdest LPGA Finish Evah; or, Sunday Bloody (Windy/Rainy/Apocalypsy) Sunday

So, please, tell me, shot by shot, what the FUCK happened over the last 6 holes of the Ginn Open! I can see the numbers in front of me:

  • Ochoa finishing double-par-bogey-bogey-par-double for a 77 and second place (-9).
  • Davies finishing par-bogey-par-par-double-triple for a 79 and third (-7).
  • and Lincicome WINNING with a bogey-birdie-par-par-par-bogey finish for a 72 (-10).

But it's the how rather than the what or why that interests me most right now. Were they playing in the dark on 17 and 18? Are there grounds for a controversy here over the Tour forcing the field to finish?

And the field did suck--there were over 40 people under par at the beginning of the day and under 20 by its end. Ai-chan actually got a T24 (and almost $22K) by birdieing the 9th to get back to +1 for the tournament; Gulbis shot an 80 and just missed the top ten anyway; Meena Lee was the only person under par for the day and walked away with a T8 (and over $57K); Juli Inkster's E round (itself a collapse from her -3 start) got her a T4 (and over $118K)! There's more, but I have to run.

So much for my prediction that the conditions would favor the last few groups, eh? Or my all-but-1% concession to FHP at Pandagon.

Please, someone with the Golf Channel just describe 17 and 18 if that's all you have time for! Inquiring minds want to know--and this is definitely tabloid fodder.

[Update: For official Tour propaganda, this'll do. Anyone got more?]

Ginn Stories to Follow

Besides how many holes they're going to get in today (they're already in their second suspension of play due to dangerous weather conditions) and who's going to best handle the elements and the pressure, that is.

Rookie Race: Angela Park has been having a tough time this weekend and is now +4 through 57 holes. In-Kyung Kim has just passed her, standing at +3 through 55 holes with Kristy McPherson, who has finished 61 holes. Charlotte Mayorkas is at +1 through 62 holes, while Sarah Lynn Sargent leads the pack at -3 through 57 holes. Given the conditions and the inexperience they're dealing with today, who wins the rookie race this week is very much up for grabs. Don't count Park out--she has already shown the ability to bounce back from bad stretches in several rounds this year.

New Contenders for Super Soph Status: The best that could be said for Meaghan Francella, Na Ri Kim, and Kyeong Bae is that they made the cut, although that's cold comfort to the former two, who were contending early. Ai Miyazato, at +1 through 60 holes, is stuck in neutral. Stacy Prammanasudh is hanging in there at -2 through 58. Seon Hwa Lee and Jee Young Lee are starting to play well, standing at -4 through 60 holes and -5 through 56, respectively. But the biggest surprises among the class of 2006 this week are Karin Sjodin, who has the lowest 9 of the tournament (a 30!) and (having avoided a truly disastrous round on Saturday) now stands at -3 through 60 holes. She's one shot behind Minea Blomqvist, who has completed 57 holes, and three shots behind the sophomore all of them chasing, Hye Jung Choi, who is -6 through 56 holes. There's a decent chance 6 of the top 10 players this week could be from the class of 2006. What sophomore jinx?

Battle of the 1990s Stars: Laura Davies at -14 and Se Ri Pak at -9 haven't played a hole yet. Juli Inkster has climbed to -7 through 56 holes and knows how to play well in bad conditions. Carin Koch is holding steady at -5 through 57 holes, tied with Mi Hyun Kim, who has finished 56 holes and is already over par on the day. Grace Park and Karrie Webb are two shots behind them after 57 holes. And Laura Diaz is one shot behind them through 60 holes, although she is having the best round of anyone today so far at three-under. Pat Hurst, at +1 through 61, and Meg Mallon, at +2 through 60, are dueling to avoid being the worst of this bunch this week.

Nerves of the Haven't-Been-There-in-a-Whiles: Will Nicole Castrale (6th place), Birdie Kim (T7), Choi (T7), and Sarah Lee (T7) play well enough to stay in the top 10? I've already expressed my doubts on this one.

And What About Moira? Well, she got off to a great start on the tenth hole today with an eagle, but promptly gave both shots back over the next five holes. She's currently T35 at E and may have an advantage in wet, windy, cold weather, having experienced enough of that in central NY growing up to know how to deal with it. Still a chance for a top 20, but she's going to have to help herself.

[Update 1 (2:52 am): Was I ever right when I said weather delays would favor the leaders. Just making pars is enough to move you up the leader board today if you weren't in the last four groups, and the few people under par are making big moves. Cases in point: Juli Inkster is -2 through 8 holes today and is T5 at -8 (she started the day at T9); Paula Creamer is -2 through 12 holes and is T18 at -3 (she started the day T31); Laura Diaz is -1 through 12 and is T32 at E (she started the day at T50). The only person among the leaders having trouble is Natalie Gulbis (+3 through her first 6), so it looks like at best a four-person race, and only then if Ochoa, who has opened up a two-stroke lead on Davies, collapses. The rookie race is more of a free fall, as Sargent has fallen to E through 62 holes, Mayorkas to +1 through 68, McPherson to +3 through 66, Park to +6 through 63, and Kim to +9 through 60. The sophs are holding it together a little better: Choi is E through 6 and still in the top 10 at -6, Seon Hwa Lee is -2 through 11 and two shots behind her, tied with Jee Young Lee (+1 through 9), while Blomqvist (+2 through 9), Sjodin (+2 through 11), and Prammanasudh (+1 through 9) have fallen back to Ai-chan territory (E through 12)--never mind the rest. The 1990s stars are doing even better: Davies and Pak, at E through their first 5 or 6 holes, may be losing ground to Ochoa (-2 in the same stretch!), but like Webb, Koch, and Park, who are T13 at -4 for the tournament, they are gaining ground on the field. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Mi Hyun Kim, who is five-over her first 7 holes and has dropped into a tie for 21st, not far from Diaz and Mallon, but safely ahead of Hurst, who is four-over through her first 13 holes. Moira is +4 through 12, so she's in pretty good company--can't feel any better, though, especially for someone who should know better how to grind in tough conditions.]

[Update 2 (3:09 am): Too soon to tell, but it's starting to look like it might come down to Sargent (E) v. Mayorkas (+1) in the rookie race, Hye Jung Choi v. Jee Young Lee in the soph struggle, Pak v. Inkster for second-best 1990s all-star of the week (both are -9), and Ochoa (-15) v. Davies (-14) for the win. I'm going back to bed--Moira has gone from bad to worse and Ai-chan just bogeyed her first hole in a while.]

More Classic Family Anime

Two anime featuring family life that have been staples for decades in Japan--maybe for longer than I've been around--and I haven't yet featured them at Mostly Harmless? For shame!

Here's the Chibi Maruko-chan opening:

and ending:

These are the old theme songs for the show that the tsuma watched when she was a kid--and that her musume are watching new episodes of.

Here's the Sazae-san opening:

and one family's live-action tribute to the show's ending:

The tsuma claims everyone who grew up in Japan knows this song.

Just for fun, here's Sazae Trek:

and i-sazaesan:

Just in case I turn out to be wrong here.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Why It's Not Going to Be a Two-Golfer Race in the Ginn

A certain Dangeral Professor and I have been exchanging emails about the LPGA (it started over Melvin Tolson not being on the Academy of American Poets web site, honest, courtesy of one of the eagle-eyed readers of Slant Truth) and he was so bold as to predict that nobody will catch Ochoa and Davies this weekend. Here are some reasons he's going to be proven wrong:

1) The course is firm and hard today and scores are already high. People who were playing well at the start of the tournament are not anymore. Case in point: Meaghan Francella, who's been playing as well as anyone this year, just reeled off four quick bogeys on her front side. Sherri Turner, Karen Sjodin, and In-Kyung Kim are marching down the leader board. My friend Moira Dunn, who got it to -5 through 26 holes on Friday, proceeded to give every stroke back in her last ten that round, and it's taken her 10 holes today to get back under par. No such luck so far for Ai Miyazato, Stacy Prammanasudh, and Kyeong Bae among many others not taking advantage of the back 9 this morning and hovering around E or +1. Even Natalie Gulbis is off to a tough start today. So there are bogeys to be had out there today. Davies is a streaky player and Ochoa still has not figured out how to avoid the weekend collapses that plagued her early in her professional career (even last year at this event, her Saturday was ugly, if not as ugly as the Saturday two weekends ago). BTW, Ochoa just bogeyed the par-5 3rd--the same hole she doubled yesterday--to fall to -11 through 4.

2) There are birdies to be had for many. Shi Hyun Ahn is four-under through 13 today, tied with Birdie Kim, who's four-under through 9, and three other golfers who still have a legitimate shot at the win, all at -5 for the tournament. Sarah Lee, who's four-under through 8, joins Brittany Lincicome and Suzann Pettersen at -6. Se Ri Pak birdied two of her first three holes to join the front-runners, only one back of Mi Hyun Kim and Natalie Gulbis, four behind Ochoa, and six behind Davies. More than 3/4 of the people already under par in the tournament going into the weekend are under par today. It's true that there's a lot of pressure on those -4 or better to go low today and Ochoa and Davies can afford a mediocre round and still be in the mix, but knowing that makes it tougher on the two leaders to stay aggressive.

3) Sunday is predicted to be cooler, windier, and stormier all morning. Whoever adjusts best to the changing conditions, the stop-and-start golfing, and the new course after the front passes through will be the winner by the end of the day (the afternoon should clear up, so they should get the entire round in).

It's not that I'm rooting against the soon-to-be-world-#1 or the veteran who needs two more LPGA wins to qualify for its Hall of Fame. I'm just saying the old cliche, "there's a lot of golf still to be played," is as true as ever.

So we'll see who's right when I get up!

[Update: Well, this was worth getting up early for. Birdie Kim shot a 66 to get to -7 and in the thick of the race for third--it's been a long time since she's done anything good, so it'll be interesting to see how she handles the pressure and the conditions Sunday. Karrie Webb matched her for the low round of the day and at -4 has a realistic chance at a top 10 finish (not unlike Grace Park and Minea Blomqvist, whose 67s got them to -3). Brittany Lincicome shot her second 67 of the tournament to get to double digits under par, but still must be disappointed, as she bogeyed the par-5 17th when she had a real chance to post a 65 and put some pressure on Ochoa and Davies (both of whom had up-and-down rounds but ended up at -14, with a four-shot lead on their nearest competitors, thanks to their clutch birdies on 18). There were a bunch of 68s, led by Se Ri Pak, who ended the day in fifth place at -9. But Mi Hyun Kim (-6) dropped out of contention, Suzann Pettersen (-7) didn't play well enough to get into it, and Natalie Gulbis (-10) lost another stroke to Ochoa and Davies. I just don't see Nicole Castrale (-8), Sarah Lee (-6), or Hye Jung Choi (-6) doing well enough on Sunday to get into the mix--they're much more likely to get passed by Juli Inkster (-6), Shi Hyun Ahn (-5), Jee Young Lee (-5), and Carin Koch (-5).

So all in all, Floating Head Professor's pick is looking better than mine heading into Sunday. The weather remains the big x-factor, though. Depending on how much it rains and how cold and windy it gets, the course could become vulnerable to very low scores for those who hold on during the stormy weather and 20-30 mph winds expected for most of the morning. If it warms up quickly after the front passes through and the greens take enough water to get soft but the fairways remain hard, there's an outside chance a few people among the top 12 golfers at -6 and better could go really low, like, say, 62-65 low. But that's a really big if--much more likely is that people going off early will have a tough time scoring and the leaders' starts will be delayed, protecting them from the worst of the bad weather. Given Ochoa, Davies, and Lincicome's length off the tee, they stand to benefit the most from whatever conditions the weather and the course throw at the field (Pak and Gulbis have only average power). So if you're looking to disagree with Professor Berube's two-person-race pick, you'd be much better off saying it's a three- than a five-person one (but if you're truly insane, you might predict that Pettersen and Mi Hyun Kim are due for some Sunday magic).]

[Update 2: Eagle-eyed readers of this insignificant microbe of a blog will no doubt have noticed that my previous update spins away the fact that Ochoa and Davies extended their lead on the rest of the field between Friday and Saturday, because they will of course have already appreciated my point in doing so: with more people within striking range of them with 18 rather than 36 holes to go, the odds that both will bring their closest pursuers back into contention on the front nine on Sunday due to the difficulty of the weather and course conditions give my position against Berube's two-player-race scenario close to 50-50 odds. The fact that it's my only chance that Berube won't have been right plays absolutely no role in my calculated vagueness on what "odds" and "close to" means in the previous sentence. None at all.]

Our 100th Post: Weekend My Melo!

Onechan is seriously into Onegai My Melody. Here's another version of their theme song:

In case you need more weekend surrealism, check out this Batman parody:

Friday, April 13, 2007

Ginn Open Questions

1. Lorena Ochoa has 16 birdies in 36 holes. Laura Davies has 3 eagles in the same stretch. Both stand at -12 going into the weekend. Can they keep it up? More troubling for their competitors, can they go even lower than they already have?

2. If the answers to both questions are no, who will step up and challenge them? Natalie Gulbis, who is playing nearly flawless golf at -9? Like Ochoa, who also has one uncharacteristic double bogey, she is making an insane amount of birdies. Mi Hyun Kim, who is making enough birdies to go really low but making enough mistakes to only be at -7? Suzann Pettersen and Se Ri Pak, whose Kraft Sunday collapses may motivate them this weekend while chasing the leaders from seven back?

3. It took one round for Angela Park to catch fellow rookie In-Kyung Kim at -1. Now they both trail Charlotte Mayorkas by one stroke. Who will prevail this weekend?

4. As the same amount of shots separate the leaders from the others playing well as the people who just made the cut at +2 from the people at the bottom of the top ten at -4, the race for the top 10 is still wide open. Can Karen Sjodin (66), Christina Kim (67), Silvia Cavalleri (67), Jee Young Lee (68), and Pat Hurst (68) continue their hot Friday play into the weekend? Can Meaghan Francella, Shi Hyun Ahn, Ai Miyazato, Moira Dunn, Paula Creamer, and Cristie Kerr figure out how to go low this weekend?

5. Can Karrie Webb, Grace Park, and Jeong Jang find their games and eke out top 20s from yet another disappointing start to a tournament this year?

6. How will people respond to the pressure of the pairings?

7. Are there any better LPGA bloggers than The Florida Masochist or Seoul Sisters (especially their chat board)? Because I can't find them (and Seoul Sisters isn't really a blog). [Update: The Hound Dog's bark is ok, but he needs more bite.]

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Terrible LPGA News

I know, I know, Vonnegut died, Imus got fired, Kos stupided stupidly--there's lots of news going on in the real world worth blogging about. I'll leave that to others. Here's mine:

Annika Sorenstam withdrew from this week's Ginn Open because of her first major injury in her career--one ruptured disc and one bulging disc in her back. She revealed that she's been playing in pain for weeks.

This is terrible news for Annika and terrible news for the LPGA. Michelle Wie's wrist injuries are one thing, but she has her entire career ahead of her. Annika has always been in great shape, so she's in a better position to recover from this than anyone, but still, we're talking most of the season gone at best (I don't buy the "around one month" spin from the tour). The LPGA loses its best golfer ever--and the golfing world loses someone who's a close second to Tiger in terms of impact on the sport--right at a time when the season was beginning to really heat up and get more media attention, especially with Morgan Pressel's first major victory two weeks ago. Now I understand why Annika never sounded enthusiastic in interviews this spring about the new wave of challengers to her #1 spot in the world--she must have been worried she wouldn't be able to play in enough tournaments this year to really put up a fight.

All I can say is that it's a good thing the talent pool in the LPGA is so deep and the competition so intense from week to week. Take the leaderboard this week as an example. The scores are low this year compared to last year--the course is playing a little longer because of the rains early in the week, but that also means the greens are holding more than last year. You needed to break 70 today to get in the top 10, and even then you'd still be chasing Lorena Ochoa and Laura Davies (66) and Brittany Lincicome (67). Lest you think the course only favors big hitters (all three leaders were averaging around 280 yards off the tee today), defending champion Mi Hyun Kim was five-under her last 12 holes to card a 68, despite only averaging 235-yard drives, and rookie In-Kyung Kim (238 yards!) used an eagle on the par-5 9th to help her to a 69 (4 shots ahead of Angela Park, the only person ahead of her in the Rookie-of-the-Year race). In other good news, Na Ri Kim's 68 makes it look like she wants to be counted among the Super Sophs I've been following this year, Natalie Gulbis's 69 might just mean her slump is over, and Se Ri Pak's 69 and Suzann Pettersen's 70 show they have shaken off the effects of their unexpected collapses in the final round of the LPGA's first major two weeks ago. In bad news, Paula Creamer (74), Jeong Jang (74), and Morgan Pressel (75) will be struggling to make the cut.

Among my faves, Moira Dunn is two-under through 16, with three birdies since the 9th hole and one more good birdie chance on 17 to come. Meaghan Francella is already in at -1. Ai Miyazato joins Stacy Prammanasudh, Cristie Kerr, Karrie Webb, and Meena Lee, among others, at E (T35 right now [T36 at the end of the day])--not out of the tournament by any means, but in need of three strong rounds to have a chance to catch Ochoa. Grace Park is stuck in the middle of the pack at +1 and will be in danger of missing the cut with a mediocre second round. With 36 people under par so far, the cut culd easily be at +1 tomorrow.

Technical note: the Rolex Rankings are being recalculated for the beginning of next week, so expect a little bit of a shake-up outside the top 50 and then look for more gradual changes in people's rankings who haven't been playing really well or really badly in the past thirteen weeks (when results still count more than the next 91 weeks).

[Update: Here is the first round summary, with loads of interviews, courtesy of the LPGA site. Moira did birdie 17 but bogeyed 18--an improvement on her typical pattern this year thus far, in which she's been close to contending several times but plagued by the inopportune double bogey, but still quite frustrating, nevertheless. Natalie Gulbis took over for Moira on that front, doubling 18 to fall 3 behind Ochoa and Davies. Ai-chan only averaged 222 yards off the tee, but she hit 15 greens and had six birdies--and six bogeys--on the day! Must have been a weird day. Tell Grace Park--she doubled her first hole, the 10th, and was 5-over with eight holes to go, so what does she do but reel off four birdies during that stretch? It'll be interesting to see which Miyazato and which Park show up on Friday!

Here are the pairings for round 2. I would have had a great time following the Ochoa-Lincicome-Miyazato group, especially watching short hitter Ai-chan making as many birdies as the big hitters, but for Friday the Kim-Kerr-Pressel group looks to me like the one to follow, as Kim is playing for the lead, Kerr to get into contention, and Pressel to make the cut. The Na Ri Kim-In-Kyung Kim-Sarah Lee group also looks like it would be good to follow, as it'll be interesting to see how less-experienced players adjust to the course firming up on a hot and dry day. Better take advantage of the good weather the next two days--Sunday may be stormy.]

The Latest Hit at the Constructivist Household

Pretty Cure Splash Star's cute usagi to ragtime!

Sure to please all 1-to-4-year-olds. (And decent odds with the 4-to-104-crowd.)

Another Reason the LPGA Is Better than the PGA

Better interviews. Seriously, read them all. It's about as good an introduction to the history of women's golf as you can get in ten minutes--by turns funny, revealing, moving inspiring. And these are just the first pre-tournament interviews.

Oh, and the pairings are out, too. With all respect to fellow NYers Moira and Meaghan, I'd be following the Lorena Ochoa-Ai Miyazato-Brittany Lincicome group if I were in Orlando (and might sneak over to watch the Mi Hyun Kim-Morgan Pressel-Cristie Kerr group on the other side if I had a chance). But I'm in Fukuoka, which means I'll just have to settle for one round when the JPLGA comes into town in mid-May!

And yes, the Japanese hip hop run is over for now. Unless others want to run with it!

This One's for Ian Condry, Halifu Osumare, Suzuko Morikawa, Oliver Wang, Deborah Whaley, Gary Okihiro, Nikhil Pal Singh....

The plot thickens. The mystery deepens. A new category--Japanese hip hop--comes to Mostly Harmless.

Ian Condry's new book Hip Hop Japan (2006) and web site Japanese Hip Hop, along with Halifu Osumare's "Beat Streets in the Global Hood" (2001), get pride of place in this post.

But it turns out many people are working on the globalization of hip hop culture, including the contributors to Global Noise, Fanning the Flames, Black Cultural Traffic, The Afro-Asian Century (positions: east asia cultures critique 11.1 [Spring 2003]), and AfroAsian Encounters.

While you're waiting for the books to arrive, you can also check out Caleb Kinney's "hip hop influences Japanese culture" and Hip Hop Japan.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

from Japanese TV, really

Be darned if I know what's going on. It's from a Japanese variety show called "Silent Library" and Ernesto Hoost, a Belgian kick boxer, is the special guest.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

This One's for Mark Anthony Neal and Marc Gallichio

If you're not reading NewBlackMan, I don't know where to start about how wrong that is. But I just remembered that Mark Anthony Neal, who runs the blog, would be a great person to ask about Japanese engagements with hip hop culture. Here's one recent post on an African-American engagement with Japanese art. (For more on the artist he features, see her interview in Callaloo 29.3 [Summer 2006].)

Marc Gallichio is a foreign policy expert and East Asia specialist who became interested in Afro-Asian connections, which resulted in The African American Encounter with Japan and China. He doesn't blog yet, but don't hold it against him.

This One's for Patrick Macias and Matt Alt

We're getting closer to some answers to my questions from last post. Here are some clues, courtesy of An Eternal Thought in the Mind of Godzilla and AltJapan.

Macias has a new book out--check out his post announcing its first full-length review (in Japanese). While you're at it, the following exclusive podcast of Kokusin Tensai is relevant here in a way I will neither describe nor explain (just click).

Meanwhile, Matt wants to introduce us to JOE:

Pleased to meetcha!

So where are these clues leading us?

Sunday, April 8, 2007

This One's for Vijay Prashad and Bill Mullen

Vijay Prashad is the author of, among many other books, Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting (on Afro-Asian connections and the myth of cultural purity). Bill Mullen is the author of, among several other books, Afro-Orientalism (on African-American intellectuals' and activists' constructions of Asia). I can't think of two better people to interpret this photo--

What's the Converse of Afro-Orientalism?

--which raises the question for me, "what's the converse of Afro-Orientalism?"

I'm fairly familiar with the territory Prashad and Mullen map. I gave a conference paper in 1999 in which I linked Silko's Almanac of the Dead to currents in African American literature and Black Studies:

From Zora Neale Hurston’s Mules and Men to Maryse Condé’s I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem, from Ishmael Reed’s Mumbo Jumbo to Charles Johnson’s Middle Passage, from Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salt Eaters to Paule Marshall’s Praisesong for the Widow, African-American (in the continental rather than national sense of the latter term) novelists have told stories about spirits of resistance. They have inspired projects like Antonio Benitez-Rojo’s The Repeating Island and Barbara Browning’s Infectious Rhythm, so it should be no surprise that these and other novelists have also inspired Almanac of the Dead. But despite the thematic and other similarities among these works, I would place Silko’s novel in most direct relation to three novels in particular--W.E.B. Du Bois’s Dark Princess, Paule Marshall’s The Chosen Place, The Timeless People, and Patrick Chamoiseau’s Texaco--for each of these novels attempts to trace connections between the earliest encounters among Africans, Europeans, and Americans in the New World and present-day political and economic structures and movements, and each represents a different moment in internationalist Black Studies--Du Bois’s pan-Africanism and Marshall’s third worldism are well worth comparing to Silko’s indigenist narrative. In short, by analyzing how Silko’s Almanac of the Dead takes part in the Black Studies project, we can come up with ideas about how to continue its development, reach new audiences, and rethink its curricular and institutional practices and priorities.

Later it struck me that Gibson's Sprawl series also belongs in this pantheon, so to speak, and still later I finally got around to reading Reed's Japanese by Spring, which is by turns brilliant and infuriating.

Still, it strikes me that thinking about what to make of Japanese appropriations of black cultures and politics is a fairly new endeavor. The only example that comes to mind offhand is Sushi K, the parodic character from Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash. I attended a talk in Hawaii this January in which a Japanese pop culture scholar shared his research on actual as opposed to invented Japanese hip hop--what I took from it is that the music got better as the politics got more nationalistic, and both were in response to criticism from the mainstream hip hop press. It turns out he teaches in Fukuoka and we've hung out at the conference and here. Here's hoping he agrees to write for Mostly Harmless soon!

The Masters: To Be Continued

Go right now to the Masters leaderboard if you don't have access to a television. Rory Sabbatini is -4 through 8 holes and Retief Goosen is -3 through 7 to pull one stroke ahead of and even with Tiger (who's E through 5), respectively. Updates to come, but consider for the moment that there are 15 golfers within 5 shots of the lead right now. The tournament is still wide open. Cink is the leader in the clubhouse at +9; Casey is +7 through 13 and Singh is +6 through 12--if Pernice and Poulter screw up their last few holes, either Casey or Singh may be the first to surpass Cink. As Morgan Pressel can tell you, it's not a bad thing to be leader in the clubhouse late on a Sunday in a major. Still looking for alternatives to my prediction that +2 wins--any takers?

[Update 1 5:05 am: For those stuck "watching" this thing online, the hole-by-hole summary provides a pretty dramatic visualization of the top 25 (and more, if you want to go to later pages) players in the field--although you do have to refresh it to keep it current. Rather than clicking on the scorecard for each individual player to see why, for instance, Goosen and Sabbatini have switched places and Tiger's dropped to +4, you can get a nice overview of everyone's round through it.]

[Update 2 5:15 am: The Masters web site should really be a model for all tournaments that can afford/staff it. The statistics page is updated fast, and let's you see that the 3 easiest holes in the last 12 today and for the tournament are of course the par 5s (8, 13, and 15) and that of them 15 is the most dangerous, while the 3 easiest today are 7, 11, and 12 and for the tournament are 11, 12, and 18 (so far today 10 and 16 are playing tougher than 18)--all of which probably isn't news if you know anything about Augusta, but does remind you what holes to expect multi-stroke swings on. BTW, now Casey at +5 with two left to play has the best chance to post a number that might scare the people ahead of him.]

[Update 3 5:45 am: Well, Poulter is the leader at +8 in the clubhouse and Singh and Casey are coming back to him. There's a logjam at +3 and it doesn't look to me that we'll see anybody at E going into the last 2 holes. Jerry Kelly, at +5 with 4 to play, is the latest to have a chance to be a leader in the clubhouse who might be the eventual winner of the tournament. All I can say is that it's much better watching this thing on the tee-vee.]

[Update 4 6:00 am: Interesting sights. Tiger pitching to 1 foot on 11 to keep his hopes for a win alive after a terrible bogey on 10; Appleby following up with a fantastic two-putt from the front of the green to retain a share of the lead at +3. Jerry Kelly, fired up after a birdie at 15 brought him to +4, missed the slope that would kick his shot toward the hole on 16 and now needs a Tigeresque chip to put pressure on the leaders. Interesting sounds: almost every word and grunt out of the Japanese announcers. Casey is the leader in the clubhouse at +7. There are 11 people doing better or as well as he has out on the course right now. Still a wide open tournament.]

[Update 5 6:20 am: Lots happening--Johnson birdieing 14 to go to +1; Appleby doubling 12 to go to +5; Harrington eagling 13 to go to +4; Goosen almost putting his lay-up from the trees on 15 into the greenside creek; Kelly at +4 with 1 hole to go....]

[Update 6 6:23 am: Tiger fucking caught the slope on 13 by an inch and now has a two-footer for eagle!!!!!!!!!]

[Update 7 6:26 am: The girls are stirring. No more live blogging. Back when it's over!]

[Update 8 6:37 am: Yes! The girls fell back asleep. With Tiger's eagle and Kelly's holding the line at +4, then there are 7 with a chance to beat him.]

[Update 9 6:43 am: Will Zach Johnson prove my prediction in Update 3 wrong? He has a great chance for birdie to go -4 on the day and E for the tournament. Even though he just missed birdie on 14, Tiger also has a chance to prove me wrong, but it would take eagle-birdie on 15 and 16 to do it.]

[Update 10 6:45 am: Johnson did it!!! He has two bogeys in his six attempts at 17 and 18 so far. If he's at E at the end of the day, I don't see how he loses.]

[Update 11 6:49 am: Sabbatini birdied 18 to get to +3 and be lurking if Zach, Retief, and Tiger all mess up.]

[Update 12 6:54 am: Rose just got to +3, too. Goosen bounced his drive on 18 off a tree branch to stay out of the woods and give him at outside shot at birdie to become leader in the clubhouse at +2. Johnson split the fairway on 17--his rhythm looks great and he's staying aggressive. Only people who can catch him are Woods, Goosen, and Rose.]

[Update 13 7:04 am: Japanese tv cut to the news at 7, so I missed Zach's 3-putt for bogey on 17, Retief's approach shot on 18, and Tiger's entire 15th hole. Somebody fill me in in the comments!]

[Update 14 7:06 am: So Rose doubled two of his first three holes and is now only 1 behind Johnson, with Zach almost shanking his approach on 18 and facing a tough up-and-down. Is golf crazy or what?!]

[Update 15 7:09 am: Great chip by Johnson. Rose and Woods are going to have to take this from him.]

[Update 16 7:14 am: Ouch! Three straight missed birdie putts by Tiger on 14-16 means he needs birdie-birdie for a playoff....]

[Update 17 7:22 am: Unless Rose can eagle 18 (I assumed he'd make the bogey putt on 17--my bad! [7:23 am]), Tiger's the only one with some chance to force a playoff with Johnson....]

[Update 18 7:26 am: Did you see the look on Tiger's face when his approach from 121 on 17 went in the bunker?! Well, sometimes it's easier to get it in from the sand than the fringe, but, wow!]

[Update 19 7:32 am: Rationality says it's over, but how cool would it be for Tiger to eagle 18 to force a playoff?]

[Update 20 7:40 am: Congrats to Zach Johnson--another great first-time Masters winner!]

[Update 21 8:18 am: Japanese tv's priorities are so cute--although I saw that Tiger broke a shaft hacking out of the trees on 11 (which makes his par there even more impressive than I thought back in Update 4), I still never saw how he failed to birdie 15, yet I've seen every hole of Shingo Katayama's nice round today twice, the second time when they broke away from Zach's boring speech to show it. OK, time to take onechan to yochien and get back to work. Thanks for the comments, everyone!]

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Don't Call It a Comeback

So right now it looks like Tiger's going to be in the final pairing on another Sunday in Augusta. He must have torn up the course, right? No, he shot a 72 to stay at +3--still tied for the second-best round of the day, but he was standing on the green at 15 with a two-putt in front of him to get back to E for the tournament and proceeded to three-putt. Then he finished bogey-bogey for the second time in three days. Very un-Tiger-like.

So those damn golf writers who were beating up on the field after the first round must have been right, right? I hate to say yes, but it's true. I woke up just in time to see Stuart Appleby triple 17 when he was the only person in the field under par and realized that Tiger had gone from four down to one down in one hole. But surely Justin Rose, who looked to be playing well, would finish strong and make a statement? No, he bogeyed two of the last three holes to fall back to a tie with Tiger. What about Padraig Harrington, who shot the low round of the tournament, a 68, on Friday? Ah, he doubled 15 (a hole he had tripled on Thursday) and needed a late birdie to pull within one shot of Tiger by the end of the day. What about all the other leaders going into the weekend? Nobody broke 75. Wetterich didn't even break 80 and Vijay barely did.

The course is winning. This is still anybody's tournament. Cases in point: Retief Goosen's 70 puts him only four shots out of the lead; ditto Phil Mickelson's 73; ditto David Toms's 74; ditto Luke Donald's 75; ditto Jim Furyk's 76. Tiger has been -2 his last 24 holes, so he's gotta be the favorite, but this will not be easy even for him. You must watch the final round.

This One's for Claire

Claire (she of teh funny) just asked for a little something like this, courtesy of Quiet Bubble. Never let it be said that we don't aim to please here at Mostly Harmless. And sometimes the dart straightens up and flies right.

[Update: Here's another job search post--also inspirational. Anyone got more?]

Friday, April 6, 2007

Masters-Related Questions

Won't be able to follow Tiger's second round live, but so far he's +2 through 5, which means he bogeyed the two tough holes and failed to birdie the two easy holes. This on a day when it appears there are birdies to be had on the front. So could this year's Masters be for Tiger what this year's Kraft Nabisco Championship was for Annika? The golf writers I've been reading praised him for grinding out a 73 in the first round when he was driving the ball badly and buried everybody else in the field for not taking advantage of his struggles to build a huge early lead on him--as if it's inevitable he'll snap back into form and play well the rest of the tournament--but how many times have you ever seen Tiger finish bogey-bogey after finally getting under par, much less in a major? His recovery shots from the trees on 17 and 18 were not the usual things of beauty we've come to take for granted from Tiger in that position. Is this just not his week?

[Update 4:47 am: Well, it may yet still be his week. After bogeying 6 of his first 12 holes today, he finished his last six holes at two-under to card a 74, which puts him at +3, in the top 20, and only 5 shots behind leader-in-the-clubhouse Brett Wetterich with a long weekend yet to come. Maybe Zach Johnson, Tim Clark, or Justin Rose will be able to break 70 today and break away from the field. We'll see.]

[Update 1:30 pm: Well, as you can see from spyder's comments and the pairings for Round 3, nobody pulled away from Tiger, despite him having one of the worst rounds in his Masters career on Friday. Sooooo, my questions remain--do you go by his first 30 holes and decide the problems with his swing are too much even for him to fix this weekend, or do you go by his last 6 holes and run with the feeling that he's going to reproduce his first win at Augusta, this time giving 21 more holes away to the field before getting into gear? I must be a hopeless romantic--I'm leaning toward the latter. It would be nice to see him continue playing well and force others to do the same if they want to win this thing.]

Who Is to Blame for My Sense of Humor? Part I

So onechan has been trying to be funny lately and sometimes succeeding. I mean, she's always appreciated rhymes and puns and intentionally mispronounced words and all sorts of bilingual wordplay, but it's only in the last few weeks that she's made a serious attempt to contribute her own material. The mispronouncing subway stops I give the benefit of the doubt just to encourage her a little. But she's actually been funny this week. Yesterday when I finished the dishes and decided to ham it up with a touchdown sign and an "I am the greatest dishwasher in the world!" (hold pose), she looked at me, paused just the right amount, and said "No, you're not" in just the right tone of voice. Nice.

Imoto has an even better sense of humor than onechan. She was giggling practically from the womb (something onechan never did) and by six months was not only appreciating "inai inai ba" (peekaboo), she was doing it herself. Since she started walking, she's added the "pretending to bite you" game--and just today when we were holding hands pushed or hands toward my mouth and looked at me expectantly, so what could I do but join in the fun by pretending to bite her hands?--to her repertoire. And when she and onechan aren't fighting over something onechan has that she wants or something she has that onechan wants, they crack each other up with all sorts of physical play and high-pitched squeals of delight. It's enough to get me really down that my semester begins next week.

And make me wonder where my sense of humor comes from. So when the inspiration strikes in the coming weeks, I'm going to attempt a Walter Benjamin-style self-inventory of the influences on my sense of humor.

But this weekend I'll be working on something for the WAAGNFNP's contribution to Blog Against Theocracy Week and of course Masters blogging....

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Top 10 Weirdest Anime

Someone has been trolling YouTube for anime clips and has come up with a list of the top 10 weirdest anime. I'm familiar with some of these from DVDs (Serial Experiments Lain, Cat Soup, FLCL, Panda-Z), have heard of others (Sgt. Frog, Excel Saga), while others are new to me. I've only watched the clip for Oruchuban Ebichu, described as Sex in the City with a hamster. Yep, that's what it is. Not for the kiddies, not at all.

All Poop All the Time

In the spirit of attempting to exorcise the stomach bug I've got--a weird one, which doesn't affect my appetite at all but makes me pay for giving in to it--here are two clips of many on teh YouTubes from Pants Pankuro, one of my favorite characters in Japanese kids' tv.

First, some subtitled classic Pankuro:

Next, some newer characters (note the Kansai dialect):

The book we got based on these characters helped onechan finish the very drawn-out toilet training process.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

No 1 no 2 Cuteness aka Japanese candor about the body

First cartoon cuteness with kitties, where the whole family gets in on the fun, and then a live action finish:

Onechan is probably past this stage -- no? -- while your family will be back in the USofA by the time imoto needs this kind of instruction and encouragement.

In Which We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled TV Humor Inventory for a Pop Quiz

My stomach has been killing me today and most of yesterday because:

a) I have the norovirus;
b) my WAAGNFNP premiere is today (my time);
c) I invoked Warren Ellis's Transmetropolitan in vain over at Is there no sin in it? (aka shirokuma-no basho);
d) I am wracked with liberal guilt;
e) I must bring myself to watch one of the Great (Blogging) Scotts do a Baudrillardean vloggy take-down of Ann Althouse's vlogging;
f) something else;
g) all of the above.

Whatever you do, don't believe Them when They tell you that trying to find fun or humor in being doubled over a keyboard can be fun and funny.

[Update 4/7/06: The answer, for those who were wondering, was f)--my stomach, either being psychic or a time traveller, was in pain from laughing at Berube's Vlogtopia post at the WAAGNFNP's sworn enemies, teh CT.]

Monday, April 2, 2007

GNF Watch

My first We Are All Giant Nuclear Fireball Now Party post, a sequel to my liberal guilt/conservative paranoia one here awhile back, should be up at Party HQ by the time U.S. clocks catch up to Japanese ones. I won't say anything more about it here, except that one of the Great (Blogging) Scotts probably won't believe me when I say it was drafted well before our initial exchanges in the "more annihilistic than thou" war of position that seems to be shaping up between Crooked Timber and the WAAGNFNP.

Just to up the ante in the shameless self-promotion sweepstakes, I'll note in passing that JP Stormcrow cleverly, humbly, and silently updated his Mostly Harmless Nabokov tribute at his place and the MOJ/MOOAD's. In fact, you can find many Mostly Harmless authors writing for the WAAGNFNP--when the inspiration strikes them and the queue opens up--yet none of them felt the need to devote a post to it here (i.e., are as lazy bloggers as I). Oh, and did I mention BerubeWatch (now with one link per word!) is getting great ratings in Germany?

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Not-Quite-Live-Blogging III: Only the LPGA's First Major Edition

OK, so the final round of the LPGA's first major of 2007, the Kraft Nabisco Championship (formerly the Dinah Shore Golf Championship), is under way. I'm excited enough about it to forgo some sleep and follow the action here at Mostly Harmless.

First, a word about the pairings. The first group off the first tee--Angela Park/Sakura Yokomine/Laura Diaz--is interesting to me because it has the leader in the 2007 Rookie of the Year race, a much-hyped though underachieving Japanese golfer, and a wily NY veteran. My friend Moira Dunn went off at 8:12, two groups behind the Annika Sorenstam/Pat Hurst pairing and right ahead of the Angela Stanford/Karrie Webb/Mi Hyun Kim group. Of course the final three groups will get the most attention from CBS, but the 8:56 pairing--Lorena Ochoa/Ai Miyazato/Jee Young Lee--interests me the most, as the first two are among my top 5 favorite golfers and the third is having a great sophomore year, despite having been outplayed and overshadowed last year by her better-known rookie peers.

So how are people doing early? Jee Young Lee eagled the first hole to jump ahead of Ai-chan and Lorena, who only parred it, and get to even par, 4 shots off the lead. Angela Park is the only one playing decent early on in her group, and even she is one-over through 7 holes. Moira is also off to a solid start--unlike Sorenstam and Hurst. Angela Stanford and Karrie Webb birdied their first hole to get to +3 for the tournament, a two-stroke swing on Mi Hyun Kim, who is now two-over through 3 holes. Juli Inkster is the second-hottest golfer on the course; two-under through 6 holes, she is at +4 and tied for 20th with Cristie Kerr and Karrie Webb (who just bogeyed the third). For these golfers in the race for the top 20, getting under par over the first 12 holes is a must, as the last 6 holes are among the most treacherous in golf.

OK, updates will follow as interesting things happen.

[Update 1 (1:38 am): Ai-chan birdied the second--she's tied with Lorena at +1, 5 shots off the lead. There are now 15 people with a realistic chance of winning today. Oh, and Scott Eric Kaufman is fucking funny.]

[Update 2 (2:24 pm): Inkster is the only one keeping her momentum and is two-under through 10. This does not bode well for everyone chasing the final threesome of Se Ri Pak (-5), Suzann Pettersen (-4), and Meaghan Francella (-4), because the way they've been playing, going even or one-under for the first 12 holes today will not cut it if you weren't already under par at the start of the day. There are a lot of people at E or -1 for the round thus far--including Annika now, but not Creamer, Ahn, Ochoa, Webb, Kim, or, sadly, Dunn (already +2 through 8, dammit, and T29!)--but no one is putting any real pressure on the leaders just yet. Of course, the course itself puts enough pressure on its own to keep this tournament wide open yet, but you don't want to be more than 3 back with 6 holes to go if winning the year's first major happens to be a goal of yours.]

[Update 3 (3:20 pm): What a difference an hour makes! Hee-Young Park (-2 today through 12 but with 5 birdies) and Heather Young (-1 today through 11 but with 3 birdies) show that there are birdies to be had on the back 9 and are continuing their good play onto the front, despite recent bogeys. Jee Young Lee has followed up a bogey with a birdie to return to -2 on the day and E for the tournament through her first 8 holes. But the big development is that new mom Catriona Matthews has put together four birdies and a bogey in her first 7 holes and Stacy Prammanasudh has put together three birdies in that same span to pull within one and two shots respectively of leader Se Ri Pak, who's at -5 for the tournament through her first 5 holes. Pettersen and Francella have weathered a bad stretch and remain within a few shots of the lead, while Lincicome and Pressel are hanging tough and still in the thick of things. Meanwhile, Paula Creamer and Lorena Ochoa are moving backwards fast, Juli Inkster has bogeyed two in a row to fall back to E on the day, and Karrie Webb and Moira Dunn have battled their way back to match Inkster's round. And this is all before most of these folks have reached the back 9! Stay tuned!]

[Update 4 (3:51 am): OK, things are just about to get interesting. Angela Stanford is -3 through 12 holes today and is about to enter the Twilight Zone of the last 6. It'll be interesting to see if she, Ai-chan, and Jee Young Lee, who are all at +1 for the tournament and under par on the day, can make a charge on the back 9 and put themselves into contention--and if Paula Creamer, who's also at +1 on the day by way of being +4 through 8 holes, can arrest her free fall and work her way back up the leaderboard. There are still 15 golfers with a realistic chance to win today, but the odds are getting longer for 9 of them--everyone in the middle of the pack who got to two- or three-under on their rounds at some point today has been unable to sustain the pace, and two of them lost their momentum while playing the easier (front) side. The course is tough.]

[Update 5 (4:25 am): Here's how good Lorena Ochoa is. After playing her previous 26 holes at 8-over, she birdies 11 and 12 to get back to +1 for the tournament and 6 shots back of Suzann Pettersen as she enters the Twilight Zone and Pettersen enters the back 9. Given the way she came back on Pettersen last week down the home stretch, I wouldn't count her out. Shi Hyun Ahn is as tough as they come, too; like Ochoa, she is back to E for the day (and -1 for the tournament) after a bad start to her round today that made it look like she wasn't going to bounce back from her second disastrous back 9 in a row on Saturday. If the group at -4 for the tournament--Stacy Prammanasudh (-4 through 11 today), Catriona Matthew (-3 through 11), and Se Ri Pak (E through 9)--have anything to say about it, though, this will end up being a four-player race. BTW, there's a neat race to see who's the second-best Japanese golfer, as Yuri Fudoh, Shiho Oyama, and Sakura Yokomine are all tied at +11. And Moira remains E for the day with 3 holes to go, T21 for now. Go Moira!]

[Update 6 (5:08 am): Moira rocks! She just shot a bogey-free 33 on the back 9 today to finish with a 71 and end the tournament at +4, good enough for 19th place right now. In other news, amateur Stacy Lewis is three-under through 15 holes today and only 4 shots behind leader Suzann Pettersen, who just opened up a two-shot lead on Se Ri Pak and a three-shot lead on Stacy Prammanasudh, Catriona Matthew, and Brittany Lincicome by making her fourth birdie in her last 8 holes. Shi Hyun Ahn bogeyed two in a row just to prove me wrong in my last update. Could it be a third disastrous back 9 for her in a row? But she's not alone: Pak, Ochoa, and Webb are now over par on the day, Ai-chan bogeyed two in row in the Twilight Zone to join them, Inkster and Hee-Young Park could only manage 73s despite their hot starts, Sorenstam ballooned to a 75, and others did far worse. In fact, Moira is one of only 7 people who are under par today--and the only one to have finished her round. This is definitely a good sign for the rest of the year for her, as difficult as it is for NYers to start strong in the spring.]

[Update 7 (5:20 am): Congrats to Angela Stanford--she just posted a 69, which is likely to be the best round of the day. In case you were wondering, Yuri Fudoh is likely to win the race for second-best Japanese golfer in the field--unless top 10 in the world Shiho Oyama finishes strong. And, yes, there's just no way she deserves that ranking--the Rolex Rankings give too much credit for JPLGA tour finishes, given the tour's weakness compared to the KLPGA. Realistically, it's down to an 8-person race for the win right now--everyone else is over par on the day and unlikely to get low enough to put pressure on those at -2 or better.]

[Update 8 (6:06 am): Well, Moira's and Angela S's rounds are looking better than ever, as there are only three people left on the course under par and they're all moving backwards. Even more impressive, though, is Morgan Pressel's 69, which puts her at -3 for the tournament, two shots behind Suzann Pettersen and ahead of everyone else in the field. If Pettersen falters and no one else steps up, Pressel would become the youngest winner of a major in LPGA history and also the youngest winner of the KNC.]

[Update 9 (7:25 am): Hmmm, maybe that Mostly Harmless 100-Yen Crystal Ball is actually working--Pettersen collapsed, no one else stepped up, and Pressel won! Amazing and heartbreaking finish for so many people--too bad imoto's waking up even earlier than usual made me miss it, and that Japanese network TV apparently only will air the LPGA when Ai-chan is among the leaders, so I'll miss it twice--spyder, care for an update in comments? Just to further support the idea that the MH100YCB is half-way decent, let's recap the Twilight Zone's evil powers. +5: Pak (T10). +4: Pettersen (T2). +3: Prammanasudh (T5), Creamer (T15). +2: Matthew (T2), Miyazato (T15). +1: Lincicome (T2), Francella (T5), J.Y. Lee (T13), S. Lee (T13), Lang (T15). And that's just among those who had a chance to win at the start of the day. So congrats to Morgan and condolences to everyone else. Let's hope her victory motivates Michelle Wie to come back from her two wrist injuries in time to give herself a chance to break Morgan's record in the three remaining majors this year. More after the money list and world ranking updates come out.]

[Update the Last (4/3/07, 3:53 am): As promised, here's the link to the new Rolex Rankings. Ochoa's bad finish means she's still .3 points behind Sorenstam, while Pressel jumps 13 spots to #4 in the world, Suzann Pettersen 12 spots to #20, Brittany Lincicome 10 to #21, Catriona Matthew 9 to #31, Meaghan Francella 25 to #49, Angela Park 14 to #97, and Moira Dunn 36 to #180. The money list should be has been updated soon now, just under twenty-four hours since I posted this final update. So I'm adding the money list position in [] in the next couple of sentences (for example, Dunn [49]--yeah!). Going back to my beginning-of-the-year predictions, it certainly looks like many of the folks I neglected to put in my top 11 are for real (uh, Pressel [1]-Creamer [6]-Prammanasudh [3]-Francella [5]-J.Y. Lee [7]-Pettersen [4]-Matthew [8]-Granada [12]-Ahn [11]-Stanford [15]) and some that I did are struggling (uh, Gulbis [65]-M. Lee [71] in particular, but Sorenstam [10]-Webb [16]-Kerr [25]-Miyazato [19]-S.H. Lee [32]-M.H. Kim [22]-S.R. Pak [27] have plenty of room for improvement, too), but it's a long season and in the end only supports my point that you're not going to see much of a separation between the #1 and #15 players on the money list this year. (For those unconvinced that money is the best measure of success, it's worth parsing together the scoring average, rounds under par, and birdies lists, to get an overall feel for how someone is scoring [Mi Hyun Kim provides a great example of why combining these stats is useful]; and you can get a sense of how well someone's ballstriking, short game, and putting are going by parsing together their driving accuracy, greens in regulation, sand saves, putting average, and putts per green in regulation stats.) Moving up is going to take top 3s and anything but top 10s opens the door for everyone else in the top 30--we're talking that kind of pressure in every tournament this year. It'll be interesting to see who handles it the best. I can't help but hope that Michelle Wie looks at the quality of competition on the LPGA and sets her sights on being world #1 by age 20. She has plenty of time to take on the men--and should keep doing so as often as she feels like it--but she's going to have to work really hard on her short game to even be the top American woman golfer next year. Just saying.]