A student recently asked me if there was an amateur summer sporting event similar to the Japanese High School Baseball Championship, one that captures Americans’ attention the way it does the Japanese.
The short answer is: no. While high school football and basketball state tournaments are popular and well-followed in certain parts of the country, they only really register on a regional scale (organizing a nationwide competition that includes teams from all 50 states would be difficult and expensive due to the size of the country). Plus, high school sports are rarely played during the summer.
The closest thing I can think of is the Little League World Series, which takes place every August in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Little League Baseball is a youth baseball organization for 10 to 12 year olds with member clubs all over the world. The winners of 16 qualifying tournaments (eight from America, eight from areas outside the U.S.) go on to represent their region at the LLWS. Like Koshien, the LLWS has its own hallowed ballpark: Howard J. Lamade Stadium, which has been hosting little league games for nearly 60 years and can seat around 30,000 fans if you count the many that enjoy watching from the large grass hill in the outfield. The tournament is broadcast live on ESPN and many of the young participants have gone on to play in the Major Leagues, including Gary Sheffield, Jason Varitek, and Yusmeiro Petit (the only player to ever win the LLWS and World Series).
Despite taking place in America, it’s actually teams from other countries that have fared better over the contest’s 71-year history. The Japanese team is actually the second-most successful LLWS club, their 11 championships (including five since 2010) trailing only behind Taiwan’s 17.
However, while most casual American sports fans are familiar with the event, to most it’s still not much more than an afterthought: something to put on TV in the background during an otherwise dead period in the American sports calendar (unless of course there is a big scandal surrounding the tournament, as there was in 2001 and 2014).
For some reason, I’ve always been a fan of the following painting:
I’d seen it online and in cafes, but I never knew the painting had a name or a controversial history until today. It’s called The Singing Butler and it was painted by Jack Vettriano in 1992. I’m not sure what draws me to this painting, most art critics (and Jack Vettriano himself) would say that the painting is not very good. I don’t stand alone in my admiration, however; reproductions of The Singing Butler are apparently the best selling art-print in the United Kingdom.
There’s something undeniably romantic about the painting. There’s an air of mystery and your brain is forced to fill in the blanks. I like to imagine the maid anxiously calling out for the couple to stop dancing right now because they’ll ruin in their lovely clothes in the sea spray and the rest of the dinner guests will be looking for them and they’ll just catch their deaths in the rain. The couple pays her no mind as the butler continues to serenade them (I imagine he’s singing “Bella Notte” from Lady and the Tramp), spinning in wide circles with his umbrella as a dance partner. The couple themselves are old friends and the twilight holds the possibility of a rekindled relationship…or not. Tonight, they are together and laughing like old times and that’s all that has always mattered.
At Amic’s Ishii location, there is a large and fantastically-detailed map covering the front wall of the lobby. As a lifelong map lover, I can easily spend way too much time walking back and forth, exploring the map for new cities, mountain ranges, and islands I have never heard of.
Sometimes I like to look these places up on Wikipedia and Wikitravel just to see what comes up. Other times I do similar random exploration just by zooming in on random places in Google Maps; here are three of my recent “discoveries”:
South Georgia Island: Situated in the South Atlantic about 1000 miles/1600 kilometers east of the Falkland Islands, this British overseas territory has snow cover eight months out of the year. Only about 20 people live there, outnumbered drastically by the literal millions of penguins, reindeer, seals, albatross, and countless other animal species that call the island home. Until recently the island also had a major rat problem, but after a mass extermination effort that involved dropping poisonous bait from helicopters, scientists say the island is once again rodent-free.
Ushakovskoye: A now-deserted settlement on Russia’s Wrangel Island in the far north east of the country, just a few hundred miles from Alaska. The settlement was established in 1920s by the Soviets essentially to keep Britain and America from doing the same. Despite having temperatures that rarely get above freezing, the settlement grew to have electricity, an airport, and even a museum of natural history. Eventually the settlement stopped being subsidized and most residents moved back to the mainland, save for the town’s final resident, who was killed by a polar bear in 2003.
Mount Nyiragongo: Resting on the Rwanda-Democratic Republic of the Congo border is conical volcano Mount Nyiragongo. Its main crater spans over 2km wide and within lies a lava lake that volcanologists think might be the deepest in recent history. Extremely active, the volcano’s lava flows can reach speeds up to 100kmh/60mph and in 2002 it erupted so powerfully that it caused a series of earthquakes in the area that continued off and on for three months.
Have you ever stared at a word so long or seen it repeated so often that you start to doubt that it’s actually a word? This morning I had to convert a few files into one pdf and took to naming the files “content 1”, “content 2”, and so on. That’s when it hit me–content is a really strange word. Has it always looked so strange? Is it pronounced with the stress on the first syllable or the second? Does the stress on the syllable actually change the meaning of the word? Was I even spelling it correctly? What the heck was a content anyway? I became convinced that I was making up the word. I felt that it looked deeply wrong despite not getting the squiggly red line under the word. What the heck was going on?! Before I had an epic word meltdown, I took a trip to Google to make sure I wasn’t the only one affected by this phenomena.
According to Matthew J.X. Malady, an Slate columnist/super villain, this condition is called “wordnesia” and it happens to the best of us, even linguists and professors! According to Malady’s article,
“James contended that our conscious experiences are made up of components he referred to as the nucleus and the fringe. The nucleus consists of sensory information that we discern easily and have no trouble perceiving (the individual letters that make up words, for instance) while the fringe entails more nebulous experiences or responses that help inform fully developed thoughts. Fringe-type sensations involving familiarity, significance, and correctness would appear to be critical in connecting all the dots when reading and writing, but in some instances the signals can get crossed. Sometimes, as Epstein says, “the fringe provides a sense of ‘wrongness’ when it should be providing a sense of ‘rightness.’ ”
To put it simply, while we’re going about our reading and writing business, there seems to be a small hiccup in our brain that says “This word isn’t right!” To put it even more simply, no one knows definitely why this happens to us. The good news is that the symptoms don’t seem to last very long and I was back to converting files in no time! Has wordnesia ever affected you?
Raise vs rise
Both raise and rise refer to something going up, but there is a difference.
Raise needs a direct object – if you raise something you move it up. It has both literal and non-literal meanings and it is a regular verb, so it’s past and past participle forms are raised.
- I raise my eyebrows when I’m surprised.
- The government plan to raise taxes.
- He raised his voice at me in anger, but I forgave him.
Rise does not take a direct object – things rise or go up by themselves. Rise is an irregular verb so the past form is rose and the past participle is risen.
- The sun rises at 6a.m.
- The water level rises twice a day because of the tide.
- The bird rose into the air and flew away.
In English, there are many ways to have your speaking partner repeat themselves if you didn’t hear what they said. Some of these are pretty colloquial, but try out the following the next time you are speaking to a native English speaker and need them to repeat something.
- “Can you say that again?”
- “What did you say?”
- “One more time, please.”
- “Can you repeat that?”
- “I’m sorry?”
- “What now?”
- “Can I hear that again?”
- “I beg your pardon?”*
- “I didn’t catch that, can you say it again?”
*use only if you think the person is saying something offensive or surprising.
Have you heard of this new Netflix show, Insatiable, that may or may not be coming out later this year? I watched the trailer earlier this week and it seems…problematic, to say the least. Here’s the official trailer so you can judge for yourself:
Yikes. I have many problems with this show just from seeing the trailer.
Patty is portrayed by Debby Ryan, a 25 year old actress who is playing the part of a high schooler. Patty is constantly bullied for her weight. She believes that if she were thinner, she could have a normal high school experience of dating boys and being friends with the popular girls. Patty’s life changes dramatically when she is seemingly punched in the face by a homeless man which causes her to have her jaw wired shut. She then loses an incredible amount of weight and seeks revenge on those that made fun of her in the past. Patty decides to get even by winning a beauty pageant. Patty and her classmates may or may not learn a lesson about inner beauty and that getting revenge on others is bad.
Sigh. Here’s what I have a problem with:
I realize that this show was probably written by a team of people who have been out of high school for twenty-some years. Granted, I’ve been out of high school for about ten years, but I can almost guarantee you that no one makes fun of people for being fat. Have you seen the statistics of obesity in the U.S.? Newsflash: practically everyone is overweight.
That being said; Patty?? Who under the age of 50 has the name Patricia aka Patty? It seems pretty convenient that this story is about an overweight girl who just happens to be called Patty. Such lazy writing.
Additionally, the “Mean Queen Bee” of the high school trope is so played out. Think of the most popular girl at your high school; was she mean? No, right? Because then no one would like her. The popular girl in school is probably smart, athletic, and nice to her friends and classmates, and indifferent to everyone else. Additionally, the trailer shows that someone has spray painted “Fatty Patty” on Patty’s school locker. That’s destruction of school property! I’m pretty sure “petty vandalism” isn’t a popular high school girl’s list of hobbies.
My biggest complaint is the entire premise of the show, really. A young girl (portrayed by an adult) is punched in the face by a man which causes her to lose a lot of weight. She wants to lose weight because she wants to be attractive to her peers and have a “normal high school experience”. The popular girls in her class constantly tease her for her weight and so after she loses said weight she decides to get her revenge on them by way of a beauty contest.
Do you see what I’m getting at here? This show has opened a can of worms that can be so damaging for young viewers. Young people are already susceptible to body issues and might try to copycat Patty’s method of losing weight. I think there’s a possibility that this show could cause eating disorders or body issues as people try to seek validation through weight loss.
It seems like the writers of the show have heard the recent backlash and have responded in kind.
What do you think? Is Insatiable problematic or will you give it a try?
In with time expressions
In is a preposition of time. It can be used with:
- I’m going on holiday in May.
- I’ll next see you at Christmas in December.
- I think we arrived some time in June.
- In winter, it’s cold.
- I think this year I’ll have my holiday in summer.
- Mummy, do the leaves fall off the tree in spring or in autumn?
- I finished school in 2000.
- The Titanic sank in 1912.
- I grew up in the 1930s.
Times of day
- I leave home in the morning.
- I get home in the evening.
- I’ll see you in the afternoon.
- I can’t sleep at night.
The past, present and future
- In the past, people died much younger.
- You need to learn to live in the present.
- In the future, you’ll learn everything from videos.
When I read, I make many highlights and underlines. Usually these are new words, interesting facts, or thought-provoking quotes. I put the best of those quotes in a dedicated Evernote document, which I look at from time to time if I am feeling down or in need of inspiration; here are a few of my favorites from that file.
“The superior man is distressed by his want (lack of) ability.” –Confucius
“Freedom is not the absence of commitments, but the ability to choose—and commit myself to—what is best for me.” –Paulo Coehlo
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” -Rumi
“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” –Carl Jung
“Even if you fail at your ambitious thing, it’s very hard to fail completely. That’s the thing people don’t get.” –Larry David
“We are born here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you any different.” –Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
“The more you invest in yourself, the more other people invest in you.” –Unknown
“This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.” –Gary Provost
This is totally nerdy but I heard this track on a Dark Souls live stream (a live stream on Twitch of someone I like playing Dark Souls 😛 ) and searched for it on Soundcloud right after. This is a sound I don’t usually listen to, but Lil Kuudere and his producer Sukoyomi really made something catchy and hard-hitting here and I can’t get enough of it recently.