Weird Tales

November 20, 2013

Interview at Weird Tales Magazine

Weird Tales Magazine interviewed me yesterday about my writing, both table tennis and science fiction & fantasy. (If you read it, feel free to comment!) I was also able to talk a lot about my new novel, "Sorcerers in Space." Remember, Sorcerers in Space isn't just a fantasy novel - it's about a 13-year-old who has to give up his ping-pong dreams to save the world!!! There are 11 scenes that mention table tennis in some way, mostly early on. So buy it!!!

I have a story coming out in Weird Tales in January, "Galahad Returns," and had another one in 2009, "Defeating Death." The latter includes these immortal lines:

Zargo walked to the basement door. It had been boarded up ever since an accident involving a rather unfortunate former assistant and a rather unfortunate game of ping-pong that got out of hand. ("Magic and ping-pong," Zargo had solemnly said, "don't mix.")

Besides this table tennis blog, I also have a science fiction & fantasy blog, though I don't update that as often.

One of the strangest things is that I get interviewed more as a science fiction and fantasy writer than as a table tennis coach and writer. Below are the four times I've been interviewed that I can recall. Note that the only one that interviewed me about table tennis was the humorous one by The Daily Quarterly.

  • Weird Tales Magazine, 2013 (about my writing in general)
  • New Myths Magazine, 2013 (about my SF & Fantasy writing. They've published three of my stories.)
  • The Daily Quarterly, Part 1 and Part 2, 2011 (a humorous interview about both my table tennis and my fiction writing)
  • Community Fridays, 2008 (about my SF & Fantasy writing. It refers to me as a "semi-retired table tennis coach, which was true at the time, when I was focusing on fiction writing.)

Picture of O'Day and Me

Here's a picture of me (on left) coaching Orioles pitcher Darren O'Day yesterday at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. Here's another where you can see Darren about to hit the ball. His forehand and backhand are now pretty good, even in live play, now that he's got the tip down and moves to each ball. To work on his backhand counter-hitting I introduced him yesterday to "The Backhand Game." I put a box on each side of the table to block off all but the backhand side. On his side I only gave myself about 1.5 feet, while on my side I gave him half the table, 2.5 feet. Then I spotted him five points, and we went at it, backhand to backhand. I won each time, but now he has a goal, to beat me at that game. When he does, then we'll gradually move the boxes so we are both covering 2.5 feet and remove the spot - but he has to earn it.

He's picked up looping pretty well in multiball, but still needs work on incorporating it in game situations - we're working on it. He can loop against both backspin and topspin, but in multiball finds it easier to loop against topspin. I've also started him on backhand looping against backspin, but only in multiball.

He practices all these shots at home on a robot he bought recently.

His serves are getting pretty spinny. I taught him the forehand pendulum serve, and he's practiced it a lot. He still feels a bit awkward going from the serving grip to his regular grip.

Play Closer to the Table

Here's the article: The Pyramid Rule - Playing Close to the Table

Great Counterlooping Point

Here's a video (58 sec) of a great rally between Taiwan's Chuang Chih-Yuan and Japan's Kaii Yoshida, with a nice Chuang celebration at the end.

Scream Player Revealed

Remember the video I posted on Monday (at very bottom) of an obviously very good player playing in a Scream mask and outfit? The player has been unmasked - it was Christian Suss, a member of the German National Team and world #58 (and as high as #17 three years ago). Here's an article and video on this.

Car Pong

Here's a video (3:31, in Spanish) that shows a table tennis tournament held with a mini-table entirely in the back of a car! I think it's some sort of advertisement for Chevrolet Captiva.

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April 6, 2012

MDTTC Open House

If you are within driving distance of Gaithersburg, Maryland, come to our Open House and Grand Re-Opening this Saturday! There will be free refreshments and raffles throughout the day, and it's your chance to talk table tennis with the MDTTC coaches and players, as well as to see the newly renovated and now gigantic MDTTC, which has doubled in size to 10,000 sq feet and 18 tables. Here's the schedule:

  • 10:30 AM - Noon: Junior Group Training (FREE!)
  • 12:00-1:00 PM: Demonstrations and Exhibitions (FREE!), featuring MDTTC Coaches and Top Players: Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, Jeffrey Zeng Xun, Han Xiao, Tong Tong Gong, Nathan Hsu, Derek Nie, Crystal Wang, Larry Hodges, others.
  • 1:00-1:30 PM: Service Seminar by Larry Hodges (FREE!)
  • 1:30-2:00 PM: Lucky Draw Mini Tournament (used to be called Parade of Champions), anyone can sign up (FREE!), single elimination with games to 3 points! Gift certificates to the Final Four.
  • 2:00-4:00 PM: Open Play (FREE!)

MDTTC Spring Break Camp Highlights

Here are the highlights from yesterday, Day Four of the five-day camp:

  • The "best" way to teach the backhand. I've found the most successful way to teach the backhand to beginning kids is to have them keep their rackets low to the table, slightly closed, and have them raise the racket as the ball hits the table, so that the racket and ball are always lined up. By doing this they learn to contact the ball with a topspin motion, and take the ball on the rise. When I just show them the stroke and guide them through it, often they end up with a very flat and awkward technique.
  • Backhand push and the violin. I learned from Cheng Yinghua a new way to teach the backhand push - he tells them the forward swing is like the downswing of the bow when you play the violin. I tried this out with several kids and it seemed to work.
  • Today was looping day. I introduced looping backspin to all the beginning kids. It's amazing how fast they pick it up.
  • Footwork practice. A new and popular footwork exercise was to pair the kids off, and have them take turns moving side to side quickly, with lots of starts and stops, with the other trying to match them. It quickly became exhausting - which was good, since it meant they weren't jumping up and down for the next half hour.
  • I introduced a new game to the kids. We often play a game where they rotate hitting two forehands, trying to hit my water bottle on the table. If they hit it, I have to drink it, and it's never just water - it's something like worm juice or (today) slug juice. The new version has one player hitting ten shots, and all the rest on the other side, along with two bottles. If the ball hits a bottle, they get 2 points. If it hits the table, and nobody catches it, they get 1 point. If the shot hits the table but someone catches it, or they miss the shot, then 0 points. Most of the kids seem to have more fun trying to catch the incoming shots than actually hitting them.
  • Open House exhibition with junior stars. I went over with several of the top junior players what we'd be doing at the Open House demos and exhibitions this Saturday.

New World Rankings

Here are the new world rankings after the recent World Team Championships. And here's an ITTF article about the new rankings and China's dominance - they hold the top five spots for both men and women. On the men's side their main challengers are Germany (with world #6, 10, 21), Korea (world #8, 14, 15) and Japan (world #7, 19, 20). On the women's side their main challengers are Japan (with world #6, 10, 12) and Singapore (world #7, 9, 14).

Want to bid to run the 2012 North American Championships?

Here are the specs!

Ping-Pong Door

Why have a door when you can have a door and a ping-pong table?

Eating a ping-pong ball

Here's a 31-second video of someone eating a ping-pong ball. I've eaten a lot of Chinese food this week, but does eating a ping-pong ball count?

Non-Table Tennis: Weird Tales sale

Yesterday I sold a story to Weird Tales, "Galahad Returns," 6300 words. It's a humorous fantasy about Sir Galahad (of King Arthur fame), who returns to Earth after spending 1500 years searching the galaxy unsuccessfully (on the Greek winged horse Pegasus) for the Holy Grail. He jousts with fighter jets and tangles with the U.S. president, nukes, and a painting of former president and unfortunate King Arthur namesake Chester Arthur. It's my 59th short story sale and my second sale to Weird Tales. (Here's my science fiction & fantasy page.)

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