Monday, June 25, 2007

Why I play basketball

My friend and my sister both inquired as to why I play basketball given that in the past year I have:
a) dislocated my shoulder, though only partially
b) sprained my ankle enough such that one time I required crutches while another time I visibly limped for a few days
c) been poked in the eye
d) sprained the index finger on one hand and the middle finger on another
e) broken several pairs of glasses (when I wore glasses)
f) suffered numerous scratches, bruises, near fistfights, and occasionally a deflated ego

Moreover, the rationale for playing basketball decreases when one considers:
a) I play no defense
b) I am not that quick
c) I cannot rebound - not for lack of height or trying, but rather lack of instinct. I am the anti-Rodman - I intuitively go to where the ball isn't.

But I continue to endure these injuries and limitations precisely because I have one pretty decent skill - I can score. Generally with a jumpshot with a range up to 3 feet within the three-point line or with a variety of strange looking, unorthodox layups, hook shots, and runners, I can be the offensive anchor of any team (which has a rebounder, defensive presence, and a post player).

However, there is a caveat: not only is my scoring ability consistently inconsistent, it is also EXTREMELY streaky. I have played games where the ball sails through the air like a bullet fired from the rifle of a man with cerebral palsy, bending rim, backboard, air, other players, etc. And I have played games where it was easier for me to sink a shot than to even dribble, where an opposing player could grab both my arms and intentionally foul me, and my cranium would make the shot, soccer style. So basketball for me is better than going to Vegas. I do not know which version of my basketball playing self will show up, and so each time is essentially a new hand of blackjack.

What I also like about basketball is that you cannot lie or hide yourself when you play. Everything about your skill level in a decent game comes out, sometimes your strengths and usually all your weaknesses. While in my youth this may have been a metaphor for improvement and growth, lately I've realized playing basketball helps me accept who I am. I am unlikely to improve drastically (unless of course I enrolled in some sort of program, but I am not that committed to the sport) and so each time I play it is more about understanding my limitations and working with, versus against, them.

If you're in NYC and want to play, I'm usually in Stuyvesant town at 11:30a-noonish on the weekends.

If you challenge me to a game of H-O-R-S-E, I will kick your ass.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

"Once" - what a music video aspires to be

Just saw Once. The reviews have been pretty solid - 97% at Rotten Tomatoes. 97%!

It's been heralded as the modern musical without kitschy tunes and ridiculous dancing; just honest, heartfelt music. A simple story which sits behind the tracks, and in any other context would seem strained or fake, but in this movie, beautifully natural. The director himself describes the film as a video album, and that is the perfect definition. Once is a grown up music video, weathered, cynical, and wiser like its main character.

If you're in the mood for something a bit unconventional, honest, and don't mind beautiful, intermittent music with your movie, check out this film. And buy the soundtrack. Apparently the flick was made on a shoestring budget and has light distribution, so I'm doubting they're seeing big bucks.

On another note. I immediately bought the soundtrack and realized Columbia should have created a bundled promotion whereby a moviegoer or a soundtrack purchaser could either a) buy either a movie ticket or album at a slight discount b) given its indie status, be entitled to purchase or access some special premium content like documentaries, pre-orders for the DVD (which I'm apt to do), and additional tracks.

One annoyance: the CD has no lyrics! What fool forgot this! This is one CD you find yourself singing along to unconsciously.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

My liver still hurts (from the wedding)

Yes I got hammered, two nights in a row. Something like four tequila shots the first night, and the equivalent in beer/wine/shots the second night. Two morning runs. One In-n-out combo. Three touching wedding moments (eyes did glaze but no crying). One rental car. Too many hash browns. One yellow tie. Six tuxedos. One hangover (that would be the groom). Hangover free for me. Two advil and one powerade (also for the groom). Two or three flirtations - kind of hazy. One email address. One drunk email. Two cute replies. One limbo bar. Countless laughter. Too many women. And perfect sun.

It was a weekend to remember.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sleep is boring

I couldn't sleep so I went running. My head feels woozy and everything has a unique floating quality. The blocks passed me by, the streets were still noisy with trash trucks and drunk suits, and the glare squeezed my eyes. Bars keep their doors open while blanketed bodies lie wrapped like mummies in the street. And the stores sit closed like sleeping guards protecting hidden jewels. We live in the City and the City lives within.

My friend is getting married Saturday. Marriage - that's like the last stop on the train of adulthood. The train basically stops there - the conductor tells you to get off and you're done. That's it. You're at your destination, preparing some perhaps unborn (or about to be conceived) individual who shares some of your DNA to go on another train. We're all subway commuters getting off at different stops, only there are no maps and no transfers.

I should sleep. I'll never grow my readership (and hence, ad revenue) with these strange entries.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I'm going to live

Turns out my shoulder will be alright, it's even feeling better. X-rays were negative, in fact I think the nurse said for a man my age it was in great condition. Or I could have been imagining that. Either way I should be back to making jumpers, playing poor defense, and yelling at strangers in no time.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

So I popped my shoulder...

...this morning playing basketball. I'd like to say I was having a monster game but really I was quite winded (it was my 3rd or 4th game, 2nd full court). I went for a rebound, someone bumped me, and then realized I couldn't move my right arm (along with searing pain). I looked like something out of a horror film because I couldn't move my arm down.

At this point I was thinking, do I pop the shoulder by myself like they do in the movies? But given my relative inexperience in such things, as well as the previously mentioned searing pain, I thought otherwise.

My buddy Ray and a random dude on the court graciously offered to walk me to Beth Israel, but strangely enough my shoulder popped itself back into the socket on the walk over. So I regained some range of motion and the pain went away but now there's still some soreness and I have limited motion. I'll probably see a doctor to check it out and make sure there isn't any ligament damage. If anyone has suffered a similar injury, please share any special treatments/therapies as I'd like to recover as soon as possible.

It's really not as bad as it sounds. Yup, I'm being tough - nothing can stop THE YUJIN.
(Though feel free to lavish me with notes of sympathy and care packages. :-P) Looks like I'm on the injured list for awhile.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Top three 2 am in the morning

Couldn't sleep so what the hell, let's type. These are:

Sowing the Seeds of Love by Tears for Fears - I first listened to this after winning a tape recorder from a trip to Disneyland (I was like 5 or 7 at the time) and my sister graciously shared one of her favorite tapes, and given that she was in a total 80's mood at the time, which wasn't that weird given that it actually WAS the 80's at the time, that was one of the first pop songs I really liked. It was so different because of all the clashing sounds, the buildups and being high before you really understood what being high was all about. And it was such an upbeat song - I probably didn't even know what "sowing" meant, but whatever it was, it was cool.

The Luckiest by Ben Folds - I remember a coworker at Bain (Dan Galemba) told me about this song and how he wanted to play this at his wedding. And when I first listened to it, I felt like a million tiny hands reaching into my chest and simultaneously squeezing my heart. It's the kind of song which might derive some of its impact from old movies or lame photos but isn't overly saturated with maudlin lyrics or piano riffs. What's so great about the song is that you simultaneously want to sing it for that special someone, but also want someone to sing it about you. Okay, and now I must make my obligatory "let me stop before I puke" because really, I'm just getting quite mushy.

I will follow you into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie - This song I initially heard was taken aback. I mean he's obviously saying he's willing to GO TO HELL for the love of his life, and that's supposed to be romantic. But if you really listen to the song, it's actually an atheist/agnostic's creed. He makes fun of heaven and hell by comparing them to cheap motels, he remembers his harsh Catholic upbringing and the hypocrisy it espouses, and describes death in a reassuring, nonchalant manner without regard to consequence. He's not brave for his willingness to go to hell for his love because he doesn't believe in hell or heaven. In fact, his use of the word "dark" implies he believes there's NOTHING after death. And that's why this song is so cool - to pop culture and raving hordes of teenagers it's totally an indie love theme, but to those of us listening, really listening, the song is a gigantic smirk/dig at religion.

Monday, June 4, 2007

We'll see if this thing works...
“For music fans, either you get to see the future of the music business, or you get to watch a really wonderful plane crash,” Billy Nguyen said.