Fredonia’s Got Talent!

Apologies to my regular readers for taking this mini-sabbatical from Mostly Harmless!  Probably the main reason I’ve been too busy to blog has been all the extra time I’ve been putting into meeting with my students this past month to consult with them on their critical essays and final research projects.  Although most of them chose not to do web authoring projects, a good number did; here are links to their work:

Please check ’em out while you’re waiting for me to finish grading!
[cross-posted at sf@SF and Citizen of Somewhere Else]

Happy Birthday, Imoto! Otanjobi Omedetou!!

Imoto turns 8 today.  She’s an amazing girl.  She’s into so many things!

She’s working hard to get to Level 2 at gymnastics. Don’t know if down the road she’ll try out acrobatic gymnastics:

Or rhythmic gymnastics:

But right now she’s inspired by the Fab Five from the 2012 Olympics:


She also likes to play golf with me. I hope we can do a lot more of that this summer!

I’m really glad imoto likes to laugh.  We definitely share a sense of humor.  She loves watching How It Should Have Ended on youtube.  Here’s one of her favorites:

Yup, she loves Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit!  Not to mention Frozen, Tangled, Brave, Powerpuff Girls, Pretty Cure, and Winx Club, to name a few more!

Best of all, she’s a hard worker, great student, kind friend, and loving sister!

So happy birthday, imoto!


AXA Ladies Sunday: 20-Year-Old Ayaka Watanabe Secures 1st JLPGA Victory with Birdie-Birdie-Eagle Finish

For most of the day today at the AXA Ladies, the final pairing and the entire final round looked like a victory lap for 28-year-old Saiki Fujita.  Her 2-shot lead on 20-year-old Ayaka Watanabe through 36 holes had grown to 5 by the time the final pairing reached the 4th tee and even a double bogey on the 356-yard par-4 6th–her 1st blemish since Friday, bringing her total to 1 bogey, 1 double, and 1 eagle for the week–only seemed to spur her on to even better golf, as she birdied her next 3 holes in a row to post a 33 on the front anyway.

So what if Watanabe bounced back with 2 late birdies to return to -8 or Bo-Mee Lee birdied 3 of her last 4 holes on the front to move to -9?  Fujita was -13 and cruising, with a gigantic 8-shot lead on hometown hero and 18-year-old Asuka Kashiwabara to boot.  And after matching Watanabe’s and Kashiwabara’s birdies on the 178-yard par-3 13th, Fujita’s lead was 5 on Lee and Watanabe and 8 on Kashiwabara with only 5 holes left to play.  The only question seemed to be whether she’d get her 1st win in almost 3 years with 3 straight 67s or not.

But then Fujita bogeyed the 379-yard par 4 14th even as Kashiwabara birdied it and she lead Lee and Watanabe by 4 with 4 to play and Kashiwabara by 6.

And then she bogeyed the 388-yard par-4 15th right after Lee had birdied it.  Now it was only 2 on Lee with 3 to play, but at least it was still 3 on Watanabe and 5 on Kashiwabara, right?

Wrong.  Watanabe and Kashiwabara cut it to 2 and 4, respectively, with matching birdies on the 162-yard par-3 16th.  Then Watanabe followed it up with another birdie, this time on the 383-yard par-4 17th, to pull within 1 of Fujita and pass Lee, who had bogeyed it just minutes earlier to fall 3 shots off the pace.  So the only player Fujita had to worry about as they came to the tee of the 505-yard par 5 was Watanabe.  All Fujita had to do was birdie it to secure her 6th career JLPGA victory.

Instead, she bogeyed it.  And Watanabe eagled it!  Watanabe had turned a 5-shot deficit into 2-shot victory in a mere 5 holes!  Now that’s how to make your 1st-ever JLPGA victory memorable!

What makes Watanabe’s win even more impressive is that she had missed the cut badly the week before at the T-Point Ladies.  Just 8 days later, she joined the youth movement that’s been redefining the JLPGA the last couple of years.  And she leaped to the 2nd spot on the 2014 JLPGA money list:

1. Onnarin Sattayabanphot ¥24.11M

2. Ayaka Watanabe ¥20.91M
3. Rikako Morita ¥20.42M

4. Yuki Ichinose ¥15.25M
5. Erina Hara ¥12.35M
6. Bo-Mee Lee ¥11.89M
7. Saiki Fujita ¥10.45M
8. Mami Fukuda ¥9.53M
9. Miki Sakai ¥9.17M
10. Asako Fujimoto ¥8.51M
11. Ji-Yai Shin 
¥8.04M
12. Bo-Bae Song ¥6.91M
13. Mamiko Higa ¥6.88M
14. Airi Saitoh ¥6.67M
15. Sun-Ju Ahn ¥6.49M


Rui Kitada, whose bogey-free 69 enabled her to catch Kashiwabara in a tie for 4th at -8, is in the next spot after Ahn, while Asako Fujimoto and Erina Hara, who finished in T7 at -6 (1 shot behind Lala Anai and 1 ahead of defending champion Natsuka Hori) bring the total to 9 Japanese players at 26 or younger in the top 15 of the money list–and 7 under 25!  One of them, Okinawa’s own Mamiko Higa, will be defending her title next week at the Yamaha Ladies.  The KLPGA’s Hyo-Joo Kim will be one of the visiting players in the field.  Let’s see if a Korean young gun can stop the Japanese young guns from running wild in the early stages of 2014.

[Update 1 (11:10 pm):  You have to watch this video of Watanabe’s finish!  Her birdie on 17 came from an awesome approach from a fairway bunker and her eagle was a chip-in!

Amazing!]

[Update 2 (11:26 pm):  This video covers the entire final hole plus the aftermath.  Thanks to my anonymous commenter for both links!]

Daisuke Takahashi Going to Sochi!!

Daisuke Takahashi will be the 3rd Japanese male skater–along with Yuzuru Hanyu and Tatsuki Machida–to go to the Winter Olympics, according to Japan TV.  After pulling out of the ISU Grand Prix Finals at the start of the month due to a leg injury–I’ve heard it reported as a stress fracture near his knee–Takahashi finished 5th at Japan Nationals, jeopardizing his hopes of returning to the Winter Olympics.  This will be the 2nd time in a row that Takahashi will be rushing a recovery from a major injury to compete in the Olympics.  Let’s hope he can bounce back quickly!

Here are his skates:



Here’s his emotional interview right after he finished 5th:

I was really afraid this was a career-ending injury. I’m relieved that we’ll get a chance to say goodbye to him at Sochi.

[Update 1 (11:02 am):  The Full Metal Archivist pointed me toward this recent interview with his choreographer Lori Nichol.  Helps put his journey and his free skate in perspective.]

[Update 2 (11:38 am):  Wow, this Japan Nationals was one for the history books!  Akiko Suzuki won the women’s gold in her last appearance at nationals with her mom watching her skate for the first time ever.  Yuzuru Hanyu broke 100 points on his short program in winning the men’s gold.  Kanako Murakami skated a fantastic long program and broke 200 to take the silver, qualifying for Sochi at the same time along with Suzuki and Mao Asasa, who skated a great short program and a so-so long.]

Welcome to Double Digits, Onechan!

Onechan is 10 today!  Shocking.  It seems all the videos I found for her earlier birthdays have been taken off youtube.  So here are some more!


New T-Joh Joint: "What’s Up with Lexi?"

The LPGA’s rookie class of 2014 can’t catch any breaks.  The very same day I finally get their membership right I find out Tiffany Joh has released a new video.  I present “What’s Up with Lexi?”


’14ers, the ball is in your court. Or rather, you have the honors now….

[Update 1 (9:46 pm):  Ugh, I was trying to figure out what T-Joh was parodying and having no luck, but 9-going-on-10 onechan knew right away.  Of course, she sent me to a different parody of “What Does the Fox Say” rather than the original, which is when I figured out that I am super-old.]

Teens on Tool: Middle Schoolers Play "46 and 2"

A buddy of mine forwarded me the following youtube clip.  At first, I thought it was fake, but it’s real.  It’s a pretty amazing rendition of Tool’s “46 and 2” by a bunch of middle schoolers!

Yes, I am about 3 months behind the internet. That’s how we roll here at Mostly Harmless!

Recommended Reading: Hee Kyung Seo’s Wedding

Head on over to Seoul Sisters.com for a fantastic thread on Hee Kyung Seo’s wedding!  Here’s a nice video on how her fiance proposed to her:

Way to Go, Daisuke!

Daisuke Takahashi skated a near-perfect short program today at the NHK Trophy to take an 11-point lead on Javier Fernandez.  The best part is, we got to see it on high-def TV thanks to TV Japan.  But here’s what you can see on youtube (you can also find it at NBC Universal Sports):


Amazing–you’ve gotta hear the crowd go nuts when he lands his quad perfectly!  I heard that his coach chewed him out for 40 minutes in the middle of the night after his short program at Skate America, which was nowhere close to this in quality.  I mean, he got over 50 points on technique alone, which is usually great but almost always overshadowed by his artistry score.

Takahashi skated last and while the overall quality of the skating was high (most were bunched in the mid-70s to low 80s), nobody killed it, even Fernandez, who skated right before him.  We thought Nobunari Oda got underscored a bit and were once again impressed with Adam Rippon’s skating.  Max Aaron’s going to need another great free skate like he performed in Skate America to get back in this thing, but it seems like he enjoys the long program more than the short.

Long story short, somebody’s going to have to have the free skate of their life to challenge Daisuke tomorrow!

Way to Go, Daisuke!

Daisuke Takahashi skated a near-perfect short program today at the NHK Trophy to take an 11-point lead on Javier Fernandez.  The best part is, we got to see it on high-def TV thanks to TV Japan.  But here’s what you can see on youtube (you can also find it at NBC Universal Sports):


Amazing–you’ve gotta hear the crowd go nuts when he lands his quad perfectly!  I heard that his coach chewed him out for 40 minutes in the middle of the night after his short program at Skate America, which was nowhere close to this in quality.  I mean, he got over 50 points on technique alone, which is usually great but almost always overshadowed by his artistry score.

Takahashi skated last and while the overall quality of the skating was high (most were bunched in the mid-70s to low 80s), nobody killed it, even Fernandez, who skated right before him.  We thought Nobunari Oda got underscored a bit and were once again impressed with Adam Rippon’s skating.  Max Aaron’s going to need another great free skate like he performed in Skate America to get back in this thing, but it seems like he enjoys the long program more than the short.

Long story short, somebody’s going to have to have the free skate of their life to challenge Daisuke tomorrow!

Here’s Hoping Lydia Ko’s Going Pro Video Goes Viral

When I read that Lydia Ko confirmed her decision to go pro via twitter and youtube, I didn’t rush out and check out the video.  From all her public appearances, she struck me as serious, reserved, mature, and slightly geeky in a more awkward than secretly cool way, so I didn’t greet the news of her youtube foray with the same excitement that a new Tiffany Joh production inspires.

But eventually I found the time to watch the video.  And now I’m recommending you do the same.  Because Ko’s genuinely funny in it.  Because it gives a clearer sense of her personality than any of her other public appearances.  Because the video itself is cleverly conceived and executed.  Just because.


Now that the HuffPo has plagiarized linked to Beth Ann Baldry’s Golfweek article, and the AP and the networks and major cable channels have picked up the story, the odds of the video going viral have increased.  Let’s see if all 50 of my regular readers–a mere fraction of Stephanie Wei‘s, I’m sure–can help improve the odds even further!

Detroit 2, Constructivist Family 2

I’ve gotta admit I can’t tell a quad from a triple unless Skate America, NBC Sports, or every freakin’ skate blogger/tweeter on the planet points it out to me (just search #SA2013), but I can tell you a little bit about what the Constructivist family’s Detroit road trip has been like so far.

Like how we avoided another traffic jam on the 75 and got to the men’s practice session just about on time by freelancing it through some pretty scary neighborhoods on the way to the Joe Louis Arena (score 1 for Team Constructivist).  Or how we again enjoyed the Detroit People Mover and had another great dinner, but this one gave The Full Metal Archivist stomach trouble (score 1 for Detroit).  Or how cool it was to watch Adam Rippon and Jason Brown rock their short programs, then get smoked by Tatsuki Machida (whose name has been pronounced seemingly every way but right by the rink announcers), but how disappointing it was when our fave Daisuke Takahashi couldn’t bring his jumping to the level of his artistry on the ice right after Machida’s brilliant performance (score another for Detroit).  Or how much the girls enjoyed dancing around after the practice skates, riding the People Mover, and getting make-up done and pictures taken at the fake Puffs kiss and cry area between the men’s skate and the dance competition (score 1 more for the Constructivist family).

Instead, though, let me focus on how amazing Meryl Davis and Charlie White are.  So many couples skated so awesomely.  The Reeds got a season best and still ended up in 6th, while the Shibutanis did the same and looked to be in great position at 61.26 and 1st of 6 teams.  Until the Italians beat them by 8 points, that is.  Facing the same kind of pressure that Takahashi did, Davis and White made it look effortless, elegant, charming, sophisticated, romantic, and athletic.  Like Takahashi, they have a level of artistry and body control and musical interpretation that is truly their own.  Unlike Takahashi, their biggest rivals (Moir/Virtue) weren’t competing against them.  But sometimes it’s as tough being the favorite–especially in front of a home crowd–as it is being the most popular skater in the world who’s fighting for a spot in his 3rd Olympics against 5 other world-class Japanese skaters.

I’ll close with some video and some notes, first on Machida:

I was repeatedly impressed by how much air this guy gets.  I wonder if he can dunk…

Rippon:

Loved his reaction at the end! Maybe he can take a page from Adam Scott’s book and get a big win today!

Aaron:

Man, he practices hard. He was the only one going full-bore in the morning practice session. Hey, he’s young, he can handle it.  (Me, I’m officially in my mid-40s and walking like someone in his mid-80s.  I’m beginning to think my back won’t be better by the time we leave Detroit.)

Shibutanis:


I hope onechan and imoto learn from these siblings how to appreciate each other and work together!  Have I mentioned that imoto’s discovered moodiness and loves to needle onechan into overreacting and getting in trouble?  Seriously, I don’t usually like brother-sister pairs on ice, but these two picked some great music and skated their hearts out!

In closing, Jason Brown has it all:  flexibility, jumping ability, artistry, personality.  Don’t be surprised if he wins this thing.

Father’s Day Video: Cockatiel Sings Totoro Theme Song

For all the Miyazaki dads out there!

Happy Father’s Day!

Recommended Reading: In-Kyung Kim, Blogger; BoA, "Magician"

In-Kyung Kim is now a contributor to the ESPNW Blog!  Check out her 1st post from this Wednesday introducing her interests and those of some of her peers from South Korea.

It’s pretty cute that she referred to BoA as a “magician,” when she’s actually a major international pop star and multilingual musician in Korean, Japanese, and English.

Here’s a live version of the 1st BoA song I ever heard (thanks to the Full Metal Archivist):

I guess she is a bit of a magician, after all!

Anime fans may recognize this one as one of the ending songs from Inuyasha!

This one’s for the FMA (BoA with SMAP):

 

Lizette Salas’s Eagle on Youtube

It’s hard to believe there’s so little on youtube on Lizette Salas’s final round, but let’s see if we can up the hit totals on these videos of her eagle on the 10th in the final round of the LPGA LOTTE Championship:

The even more amazing thing is she made 5 birdies in a row shortly after sinking this shot!

There’s even more video at LPGA.com!

Friday Night Levity: T-Joh’s July 4th Video Lights up YouTube

Things are going to be super-serious over the weekend at the U.S. Women’s Open, but take a few minutes to enjoy Tiffany Joh’s latest youtube sensation, apparently filmed right before takeoff on the LPGA’s charter flight to Wisconsin.

Lady Gaga on New Year’s Eve Kohaku Uta Gassen

Just like Annika Sorenstam and Paula Creamer before her, Lady Gaga delivered a great performance in a big event in Japan:  the New Year’s Eve countdown/musical extravaganza on NHK known as Kohaku Uta Gassen.

Somebody uploaded the closing montage from the 62nd annual show, along with the final judgment of who won the competition between the Red (girls’) and White (boys’) team.  It gives you some sense of the range and kinds of J-pop, enka, and other forms of music popular in Japan in 2011:

You probably noticed Lady Gaga in the montage, but here’s her full performance of “Born This Way”:

And “You and I”:

I don’t know if her performances counted toward the Red team’s total, but maybe she helped pushed them over the top for the 1st time since 2004. Somehow I doubt groups like AKB48 needed the help, though:

Heck, I think they outnumbered the guys all by themselves!

Make It BABYMETAL in 2012!

Happy New Year from Mostly Harmless!  Enjoy some BABYMETAL, what looks like an elementary-school-aged kawaii metal band from Japan, to kick off 2012:

OK, so even though Laughing Squid thinks they’re teenagers, I’m going with Blabbermouth, who has the lead singer at 13 and the 2 dancers/screamers at 12, not least b/c it fits my ’12 theme.  Anyway, if you think they look young in this video, check out this fan montage, which lays the “Doki Doki Morning” track over clips of Sakura Gakuin performing live (that’s the band they are an offshoot of):

It’s going to be a great year!  Or at least a weird one!  How could it not be when a fan came out with a computer-game style video of their debut song within 8 days of its official release?

Make It BABYMETAL in 2012!

Happy New Year from Mostly Harmless!  Enjoy some BABYMETAL, what looks like an elementary-school-aged kawaii metal band from Japan, to kick off 2012:

OK, so even though Laughing Squid thinks they’re teenagers, I’m going with Blabbermouth, who has the lead singer at 13 and the 2 dancers/screamers at 12, not least b/c it fits my ’12 theme.  Anyway, if you think they look young in this video, check out this fan montage, which lays the “Doki Doki Morning” track over clips of Sakura Gakuin performing live (that’s the band they are an offshoot of):

It’s going to be a great year!  Or at least a weird one!  How could it not be when a fan came out with a computer-game style video of their debut song within 8 days of its official release?

Daisuke Takahashi, Mao Asada Win Japanese Nationals

His free skate certainly wasn’t pretty, but Daisuke Takahashi retained just enough of his 10-point lead from the short program to hold onto the gold medal at Japanese nationals and hold off Takahiko Kozuka and Sendai native Yuzuru Hanyu.

Instead of making the post-ISU Grand Prix statement I was hoping for, Dai-chan brought his D-game and was lucky that neither Kozuka nor Hanyu could put together a perfect performance.  Both of his challengers had great programs going, but couldn’t nail a late jump, the 17-year-old Hanyu clearly because of asthma-induced exhaustion at the end of his program:

Clearly the future of Japanese figure skating is in good hands, as another 17-year-old, Kanako Murakami, had a chance to take the gold after a fantastic short program gave her a tiny lead over Mao Asada:

But the bubbly teenager was off in the free skate, falling to 3rd after Akiko Suzuki thanks to a flat-out trip late in her program:

The contrast in moods between Murakami and gold-medal winner Mao Asada couldn’t have been more pronounced. Asada, who pulled out of the ISU Grand Prix Finals in Quebec the moment she found out her mother was terminally ill but who couldn’t get back to Japan in time to see her before she died, was somber in interviews even after skating her best short program of the year:

But Mao-chan kept her composure the entire competition and skated a great-under-the-circumstances long program:

The changing looks on her face during the awards ceremony say it all:

You can see in the reactions of the crowd and hear in the voices of the announcers how deeply moved everyone was who watched Asada perform in Osaka the last few days.  The Full Metal Archivist and I were holding back tears ourselves.  Gambatte, Mao-chan!