Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ball in Japan: The G Suns, not the おじさんs


When I first came to Japan, I really didn't ball for maybe 6 months, other than once or twice every two weeks with the kids. I was bigger than them, so I couldn't really hit the post as hard as I wanted to. Couple that with my unnoticed but almost unbelievable loss of shape, (undoubtedly due to the abundance of two things that I had never had enough of: money, and beer), and I was in trouble. There is no such thing as pickup ball in Japan. Let me repeat...there is No Such Thing. This was especially troubling for me, only ever having played pickup ball my whole life. I talked to the coach at my school, and he introduced me to a club team in my area. That club team turned out to be the G Suns, or Glowing Suns. Here are the founders:

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(In the beginning, I'm like, 'This is the G Suns', but I say it wrong and it sounds like Ojisans, which means old men. My teammate is like, that's not what it is. I then ask how long have they been running the team, and they said over ten years.)

When I first started going to the G Suns' practices, I spoke Japanese, but in an effort not to sound dumb, I rarely spoke. It was pretty cool though, because for a while our main form of communication was ball. I've found that's how you make your friends. You can tell a lot about someone from the way they ball.

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These guys are more relaxed than the other team I play with, the Hailars. All of them are really nice guys, although they are a little rough on me at times. They refuse to try and speak English. "お前のために日本語喋ってるやん、いい勉強になるやろう?" (For your ass we are speakin' Japanese, you better study!).

Overall, practice is the shit. Everyone watches every game, so if you pull something nice off, you get hooked up. At the same time though, if you do something dumb, you get the catcalls. It's a nice little atmosphere.

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(Here's a dude I had trouble guarding when I got here, the dude who hits that J in the beginning of the clip. This dude's J is, can't even describe it. Cash, Milk, Money, Splash, Bottoms - all that. You can hear it too, it's just common sense that he's gonna score, no one cheers or anything. If he's open, it's a layup, from wherever. And he is real good at getting his shot off, from whatever position. I take pride in my ability to block J's, so I've spent a lot of time guarding him, and he's definitely helped my game. He's also the captain of that other team I go to.)

So, yups.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Further Away You Are...

...the easier it is to see the other side.

I've just finished doing my Christmas classes this semester, and it's been really interesting to see how much, or rather how little, the kids here know about Christmas. Obviously, in the western world, Christmas is huge. I won't even try to describe it. As a kid, along with everyone else, I would get ridiculously excited about Christmas, get the Christmas spirit, everything. That whole month of December would just be awesome. I think a big part of why that is is because Everyone is involved, Everyone thinks the same thing.

Everyone in the western world, that is.

It's been really interesting to see that there are things that get people riled up in the same way, but just have nothing to do with things that we care about. Conversely, the things that get us riled up have no effect on other people. No one in Japan, (can't say no one, some people do), really cares that Jesus Christ was born in December, it didn't affect them. No one in America really cares about the various Gods that the Japanese festivals are dedicated to. It has no effect on them. It's such a cool experience to see things from both sides. To look at Christmas from the Japanese perspective, as a whole. It seems so easy to write off as something that isn't important, fat white guy giving presents, Jesus birthday, how are those two things connected? Doesn't make sense. Oppositely, looking at Japanese holidays, big floats, chants, doesn't make sense. The thing that does make sense is that Everyone is involved, Everyone believes in the same thing. And that has been the most interesting thing to me. If you and Everyone believe in the same thing, it lights something in you. Community, faith, something...can't really explain it.

The depressing part is the level to which this feeling is taken to. When you try to explain Christmas to someone who hasn't experienced it or understands how it came about, it doesn't get through. When someone tries to explain どんたく to someone who hasn't experienced or understands how it came about, it doesn't get through.

I'm always tinkering with that phrase in my head, 'Those who stand for nothing, fall for anything'. That has been my problem. Belief is such a powerful force. People really into their own causes, own religions, I've always looked at them two different ways, at the same time: pity, that everything they believe is focused through one prism, one way of thinking, that a filter is placed on the very root of every idea they have; and envy, because they have the bravery to do so.

That's the big question I've been messing around with recently: What do you stand for? What is the thing you pour yourself into, that you can stand up and proclaim? I'm comfortable with the fact that I can see both sides, but not comfortable with the fact that I can't feel either.

Merry Happy Christmas.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ball in Japan: The Golden Stars of Itoshima

It's the end of the semester, so we have some half days before the real winter vacation. This is great for me, because I can hook up with the kids and play ball at work. Excellent situation. Anyways, I'm always talking about how good my kids are, so I wanted to give a first hand account of what a practice is like at our school.

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When it came time to say how he was doing, he replied with, 'I'm fine, thank you'. Classic.

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Almost every team in Japan has team managers. They do all the stuff that the team takes for granted. Taking stats from the games, making tea to drink after the games, cleaning the bird shit off the court. These guys are awesome.

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Here's some of the drills the kids do. We have a lot of kids on our team, so it's pretty impressive that every one can stay in tune and not stray away from the team.

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One of our girls got injured pretty seriously and won't be able to play for a couple of months. That doesn't stop her from coming to practice and getting her shots up though.

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The architect of it all, the coach. His English has gotten really good, to the point where I can just speak to him regularly and he'll understand. He is also the one who introduced me to the teams I play for now. I owe a lot to him.

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Here's the end of practice huddle.

It's like this every time I go. Talk about lucky.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sorry for the Absence

My fault. I've been half busy and half lazy, so I'll take half the blame. A lot of stuff has happened, don't know really where to start, but here we go.
  • Got sick.
  • Finished all of my classes for the year.
  • Got better.
  • ...
That's about it. Haven't surfed at all, and haven't really played ball as much as I have been wanting to. Really trying to get all my stuff together for the trip to Germany, and tying up loose ends. Kinda hazy right now, Christmas spirit mixed with Christmas preparation leads to Christmas pressure/haze. So, I'll leave this at this. Here's some video from the other day.

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Long Weekend

Broke it down like this:
  • Friday: JET Nabe thing - was pretty fun, didn't really eat too much, but Lena got some really good video that I gotta get from her and put up...Straight MCing.
  • Saturday: Brand New Heavies at Billboard Live with friends, explored Daimyo a little, made some new friends.
  • Sunday: Didn't go surf in the morning (still angry at self), 忘年会 with EN friends and Lena.
Three straight nights of drinking have taken their toll on the throat.

Other than that, just looking forward to getting to Germany for the Christmas break. Haven't been there since I left when I was...11? 12? Gotta lot of stuff planned, can't wait to see those guys. Apparently, my Mom has been hyping me up to all of her friends over there, I'm gonna be the main attraction for a while. Hope I live up to the hype.

Here's some stuff I saw over the weekend, thought it was pretty funny.



"You are now my homeboy." The face at the end of the video is just great.



I used this one cuz it has the KG quote. Awesome.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bored at Work: Awwww...

I'm sure a lot of you saw this on the Yahoo front page the other day, but I gotta put it up here. I was, unexpectedly, affected by it. Started thinking about other videos that hit me like that, here are some of them.



Video speaks for itself.



I was bumbling around on Youtube and found this video...That is the best birthday wake up dance I've ever seen.



The flex at 1:39, I still do that when I get fouled and score on putbacks in the lane.



This one is just awesome. You can see the buffaloes kinda hesitate, but then one of them is just like, no way, this is not happening. Classic.



I watched it again as I was putting it on the blog, and STILL got goosebumps when he said it.



"It's one thing to talk about it, but it's another thing to go out there and do it." This guy is on another level.

I'll end it with that one.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Flow-etry

I love this talk. It takes about twenty minutes, but if you got time, it'll make you think about what makes you 'flow'.