Tip of the Week
Practice Matches vs. Tournaments.
Balticon and Table Tennis
I had a Science Fictional Table Tennis Weekend! I spent Friday and Saturday as a panelist at Balticon, the annual science fiction convention in Baltimore. (Here’s my Balticon Profile and Schedule – I was on two panels and had a book signing.) Despite being a science fiction convention, there were a lot of table tennis angles.
Here’s a picture of me at my signing. Here are the table tennis connections:
- Throughout the convention – both in panels, signings, and just talking with others at the convention, people kept saying, over and over, versions of, “Hey, you’re the table tennis guy, right?” Word has gotten out!!!
- Note the shirt I’m wearing – yes, that’s Baby Yoda (Grogu) playing table tennis! Part of the reason I wore that shirt that day was because I was on a panel called “Your Favorite Alien,” and so Baby Yoda was mine. (We talked a lot about various aliens in movies and novels.)
- Note the books fourth from the left – it’s The Spirit of Pong, my table tennis fantasy novel. What, you haven’t bought it? It’s only 100 pages and is on sale at Amazon for only $5.99!
- Note the book on the far left, and on the poster – Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions. One of the four main characters is a table tennis champion, and there are several table tennis scenes. Here’s my blog about that. However, there’s only one left in stock – I’ve changed publishers. My new publisher, Arc Manor, will be coming out with their version this summer. (Text won’t change, other than a minor change I’m requesting, but it’ll have a new cover.)
- Second from the left is another of my novels, Sorcerer’s in Space. The main character there is also a table tennis player, though that only comes up near the start.
- The editor of one of the major SF magazines told me they really liked my story, “First Galactic Table Tennis Championships,” which I’d submitted to them a couple of months ago, so there’s a good chance they’ll buy and publish it. If so, I’ll link to it in my blog. The story takes place about a hundred years in the future, where table tennis has spread to the local galaxy, with the first Galactic TT championships taking place in Beijing – with aliens from around this arm of the galaxy attending. Lots of intrigue, controversy, and interesting human and alien table tennis players!
One sad thing. On Saturday, while I was having eating in the hotel dining hall, pandemonium broke out across the street. As dozens of us watched, 15 police cars, two ambulances, and a fire truck arrived within minutes. Several said they had heard gunshots, though I didn’t hear that. A few hours later I went for a walk and discovered the whole area was cordoned off by the police, and a dozen police officers were guarding the area. I asked them what had happened, and they said it had been a shooting. Here's the Baltimore Sun article on the shooting at the waterfront promenade – two 17-year-olds were shot, one died.
Besides the panels and signing, my highlight of the tournament was finally meeting David Gerrold, who is both a famous SF writer (“The Trouble with Tribbles” and “The Martian Child,” which won the Hugo and Nebula awards, and about 70 novels) and a very active and outspoken progressive activist on Facebook, where I follow him and sometimes comment. I spoke with him for about ten minutes, and bought a couple of his books plus one of his toy tribbles.
I was back at MDTTC coaching on Sunday, where I had two group sessions, plus a private session with Navin Kumar. (Here's video, 54 sec.) In the Intermediate group, I was a walk-around coach. Focus was footwork (as always) but also placement – I kept harping on keeping the ball to the wide corners, not a foot inside the corners as so many do. For the Advanced session, they had an odd number, so I was a practice partner for 90 minutes – and after spending two sedentary days at Balticon, I was stiff as a rock. I came out exhausted, and had cramps that night! As usual, I blocked well, but when I had to move my level goes down, alas. But I actually had some good counterlooping rallies with some of the kids!
Operation Mincemeat with Ivor Montagu and Ian Fleming
I recently saw the movie Operation Mincemeat, which dramatized a real event from World War II. It’s described on IMDB as, “During WWII, two intelligence officers use a corpse and false papers to outwit German troops.” But there’s a table tennis angle – one of the main characters in the movie was the real-life founder of the ITTF and long-term president, Ivor Montagu! Yes, when Montagu wasn’t playing and developing table tennis around the world, he was a communist activist, while his brother, Ewen Montagu, was a British agent and one of the primary movers of the operation. Here’s the Wikipedia entry on Operation Mincemeat, and the Wikipedia entry on the movie. Here's an ITTF article on both his table tennis and his spying for the Soviets, and another on his founding of the first Worlds. (Ian Fleming, who would later write the James Bond novels the movies are based on, was also involved in the operation and as a character in the movie.)
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Here’s the video (15 sec) from Ti Long.
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Here’s where you can buy this shirt at Amazon!
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Here’s the cartoon – you can buy it for $9.95.
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