Car Pong

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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September 16, 2011

Wang Liqin forehand loop

In regular and slow motion (0:46) The perfect loop? Note the smooth weight transfer and body rotation as he creates torque. He's a three time World Men's Singles Champion (2001, 2005, 2007), world #1 for 25 consecutive months (second most ever), and winner of 21 Pro Tour singles events, the most ever. And I once interviewed him (through a translator) and shook his hand. Yes, my playing hand touched his. Regrettably, I've washed it since.

Service practice reminder

The following is a public service address. Remember that serve that let you down at the last tournament? The one that was going slightly high, or slightly long, or that nobody seemed to have trouble with? Isn't it time you go out and fix that problem for next time? Get a bucket of balls and practice. Here's a ten-point plan to serving success. I've got a bunch of other articles on serving here

USA Table Tennis Leagues

Yesterday there was an email exchange among USATT and other officials regarding the USA League Finals at the USA Nationals. Should they be an open event, where anyone can show up representing a region, or should they only allow teams representing a region with an established regional league? I'm strongly for the latter. There are established leagues in some areas (such as BATTF, LATTF, and NYTTL, representing the bay area (San Francisco region), Los Angeles, and New York (which includes teams from states as far away as Maryland). Here's my response.

"I really, Really, REALLY hope we can turn these leagues into a national thing. This is how many European countries developed huge memberships. I strongly recommend going with only allowing regions that have established leagues; otherwise, it's just another open event at the Nationals, and there's no incentive to grow. We need a nationwide network of leagues like these or we'll always struggle to gain membership. I also hope that those developing these leagues (BATTF, NYTTL, LATTF, others) have studied or will study how the European and Asian leagues started up and grew so that we can steal ideas from them in developing a USA model."

In another email, I wrote:

"I think there are some misconceptions about leagues. First, setting up leagues should not be a primary goal; they are the MEANS to a primary goal, which is to drastically increase membership, as has happened in other countries all over the world and in other sports. (They are an intermediate goal on the way toward this primary goal.) Our membership has been described as a round-off error, and that's not going to change until we do something to change it."

"Second, leagues are not set up for the benefit of the few existing clubs. They are set up to bring in new players which leads to new clubs set up primarily for league play. Germany, for example, didn't create its leagues for the benefit of its 11,000 clubs, which didn't exist at the time. It was the leagues that led to the 11,000 clubs. Before they created their leagues, they were in a similar situation as the U.S."

"Leagues and full-time training centers with full-time coaches and junior programs are beginning to take off around the U.S. . . . and that is the most promising thing I've ever seen in our sport."

I also wrote some strongly worded criticism of USATT's lack of effort in the league department, but I won't post that here at this time. Suffice to say they were severely reprimanded. Severely!!!

U.S. and NA Olympic Trials in Cary, NC

Here's your chance to buy tickets to see the U.S. Olympic Trials (Feb. 9-12, 2012) and North American Olympic Trials (April 20-22, 2012), both in Cary, NC.

Golf Pong

Yes, it's Golf Pong as former junior star Grant Li takes on golf pros Jason Day, Matt Kuchar, and Frederick Jacobson. Jacobson was a nationally ranked player in Sweden twenty years ago, who still plays in San Diego occasionally with Stellan Bengtsson in San Diego. (3:33, but doesn't get to the table tennis until 2:12.)

Machete Pong

Yes, it's Machete Pong as Comedian Jimmy Fallon takes on English adventurer, writer and television presenter Bear Grylls. (2:47, but starts with a 16-second commercial.)

Car Pong

Yes, it's Car Pong. Really. (0:14)

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