Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien

image source: Wikipedia

The film "The Sessions" received very favorable reviews when it was released last year, which included a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Helen Hunt. Based on the true life story of Mark O'Brien (portrayed by actor John Hawkes), I am reminded of another Academy Award connection, director Jessica Yu, in a blog entry I wrote on May 4, 2012.

Ms. Yu received an Academy Award in 1997 for Best Documentary, Short Subject for her film, Breathing Lessions: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien.  As described from Wikipedia, "The documentary explored his spiritual struggle coping with his disability; he had to use an iron lung much of the time due to childhood polio."

image source: Lemonade Factory Press

A poet and journalist, Mr. O'Brien attended UC Berkeley in his iron lung, co-founded a small publishing house, Lemonade Factory Press, and was an advocate for the disabled. Despite his disability, he lived a very fulfilling life. Something many able-bodied people have yet to accomplish.

Mark O'Brien died in 1999 at the age of 49.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Jennifer Lawrence - Winter's Bone

image source:

A few hours ago, 22 year-old Jennifer Lawrence was awarded her first Oscar for Best Female Lead Performance in "Silver Linings Playbook". This was her second nomination in 3 years. Her co-stars Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver also received nominations.

Prior to "Silver Linings Playbook" and "The Hunger Games", Ms. Lawrence caught the attention of film critics in "Winter's Bone", which garnered her first Academy Award nomination in 2011. She portrayed a 17 year-old teen who becomes the primary caregiver for her mentally ill mother, younger sister and brother.

For me, I liked "Silver Linings Playbook" very much but thought her performance in "Winter's Bone" carried much more depth and nuance (trailer clip attached). I saw it online last year and found it on a cable network it over the weekend. See it if you can. The film shows a grittier, poorer side of rural America we don't see too often.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Alternate Shot/Scotch Doubles - Bowling

On November 11, 2012 my blog entry on team bowling (Baker System Format) discussed how this format was going to be used for the new PBA League. Another form of team bowling, which is rarely seen on the professional level is alternate shot doubles, or also known as Scotch Doubles.

The concept of Scotch Doubles is pretty easy. You bowl with a partner. Bowler #1 bowls the first ball. If s/he rolls a strike, then Bowler #2 bowls the first ball in the next frame. This is where the term "pick me up" said to teammates when your goal hasn't been achieved has real meaning. If Bowler #2 doesn't bowl a strike, then Bowler #1 bowls the second ball for the spare.

Whether or not the spare is converted, Bowler #2 continues to bowl first until s/he strikes again. Ideally, you'd like to strike as much as possible. If you can't convert spares, then your weaknesses become very exposed. Unlike the Baker format, where you bowl a set number of frames, Scotch doubles requires you to concentrate on every frame, because you may have to bowl it. The number of frames you bowl can be as few as 5 or as many as all 10.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Chinese New Year Parade - Butte, Montana

image source: Wikipedia

Global metropolises such as Beijing, Shanghai, Jakarta, Bangkok, Manila, Sydney, London, New York, Vancouver, Toronto and San Francisco are known for their large and festive Chinese New Year parades. I learned today there is a smaller, not so well-known city in the western United States that holds a short and very loud version people from afar come to see.

No, it's not in California, Washington or Nevada. It's in Butte, Montana, hosted by the Mai Wah Society. Between 1850 and 1900, a sizable number (in the thousands) of Chinese settled in Montana Territory. As listed in George Everett's "Butte's Far Eastern Influences", there were 1,949 Chinese (total 20,000) living in Montana Territory in 1870.

Below is a YouTube video of the parade in 2011:

For 2013, Mai Wah's parade takes place on Saturday, February 16. San Francisco will host their Year of the Snake parade on Saturday, February 23. I'll be parked in front of my 47" flat screen TV watching the parade in HD.

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous new year. Gung hay fat choy.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

2013 Chris Paul PBA League All-Stars Final

"You're a champion. Be a champion..." -- PBA League owner Kevin Hart, Philadelphia Hitmen.

For those skeptics including me who cringe at watching celebrity sports matches, the PBA League All-Stars final demonstrated what the San Francisco 49ers were unable to do against the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl 47. While the match was far from we'll remember as a classic battle 50 years from now, it showed why league bowlers like me can't wait to get to the lanes. To compete AND have fun.

With a final score 270-267, the Chris duo of Barnes and Hardwick of the Silver Lake Atom Splitters trailed by as much as 28 pins to come from behind to defeat Bill O'Neill and Kevin Hart of the Philadelphia Hitmen.

Hart and Hardwick both held their own bowling with their pro partners, O'Neill and Barnes. The 5 frames Hart bowled were ALL strikes. In 2 of his 5 frames, Hardwick left the 10 pin standing and with ease converted them successfully for spares. What brought the Atom Splitters to victory was to punch out (finish with all strikes) in the 9th (Hardwick) and 10th frames (Barnes).

Best part of this, Kevin Hart and Chris Hardwick are comedians. Not former/current NFL or NBA pros they bowled against. Although this may reinforce to some that bowling isn't a sport, at least concede that it requires skills. Bowling is a lot more than throwing a heavy ball down the middle of an oiled lane.