It’s that time of year. Long days, hot weather, and great tanning opportunities…
if you are in Australia, that is.
But with the internet, tv, and a little imagination, Australia can come to you.
Every tennis grand slam tournament is enormous for the players. They offer the highest ranking points which means the best chance for players to move up in the world tour rankings. But from a fan’s point of view (and probably the players’ as well), some slams are better liked than others.
Most players and fans will divulge that their favorite tournament is Wimbledon. Why? Well it’s prestigious as all get out. I mean players still have to wear all white. Heck, even the mighty Federer was required to change his orange-soled shoes last year. How anyone was able to see the bottom of that man’s feet, I’d like to know. Those must be some really close up seats.
Let’s summarize the grand slams in short phrases: Wimbledon is definitely the most elegant, the French Open is definitely the dirtiest in multiple ways (2 reasons: French people are there, and clay is not fun to play on), and the US Open is torturous because it reminds Americans of the absence of great contemporary American players (except Serena, beast mode). The Australian Open is undoubtedly my favorite.
It’s labeled the “Happy Slam” by players. The atmosphere is electric. It’s the mid summer classic of the southern hemisphere. You see players sweating unlike in any other tournament. Day matches under the clear Melbourne skies are steamy, and can weed out the unconditioned players faster than a drunk Aussie falling off his bar stool (that’s fast).
January carries a sense of optimism because it is the first month of a new year. It’s a chance for wrongs to be righted, for defeat to be conquered by victory, for great athletes to escape the frigid temps of the north and appear in the middle of summer. This seasonal change alone is almost surreal, and sometimes the results will follow. Last year, Stanislas Wawrinka came into Australia following a 2012 season that saw him finish barely in the top 30. Unbelievably, in the 2013 Aussie Open Stan nearly beat 2-time defending champ Novak Djokovic in one of the greatest matches of all time. He lost the match, but that experience in Australia gave him the confidence to have the best season of his life. He finished the year in the top 8 and finished in the top 4 at the year end event in London.
And from the fan’s perspective, it couldn’t be more convenient. The day matches start at 4pm PST and run through the night until about 3am PST. So you can come home from work and catch some midday Aussie action. Of course, if Djokovic is playing, the night matches could very well go until 6:30am. But this is what makes it so exciting.
I recall watching the 2012 final. Djokovic vs Nadal. 5 and a half hours long. I had been drifting in and out of sleep. But I remember waking up at 6:45 with the sun in my eyes, and seeing Djokovic and Nadal struggling to stand up at the center of the court. Before Djokovic was handed the champions trophy. It was so hard for them, the tournament had to run out lounge chairs so they could sit during the ceremony. I remember thinking to myself, these guys just let it ALL out on this court. They’ve lost the ability to walk, in the name of winning. What a match. What a tournament. I love it. Cheers, mates.
Last weekend I was playing tennis in Venice, taking full advantage of the mild California December weather (75 degrees or bust). Through the course of 3 sunny hours on court, I played two sets then rallied with a kind stranger. After it was all said and done we were saying our goodbyes. When I said something that would alter the course of this stranger’s day, possibly his life. Okay, maybe that’s being a bit over congratulatory of myself. Let’s stick with day.
“Have a Merry Christmas.” Simple enough, right? But he was stunned by this. I was the first person in all of mighty Los Angeles that had wished him a Merry Christmas. Up until now, it had been nothing but Happy Holidays. Happy Holidays? Let’s examine this socially acceptable 21st century greeting….
An annual survey by publicreligion.org found that less than half of Americans in 2013 say Merry Christmas, while the others utter the generic words Happy Holidays. Now it doesn’t take rocket science to know that Happy Holidays is the politically correct place holder over the religiously over-toned Merry Christmas. However it’s equally surprising (at least to me) that this generic utterance was manufactured by big business. That’s right, big bad corporations.
Ironic, in the sense that many of the peeps who routinely say Happy Holidays also hate big business. How do I know? I live in LA and work in entertainment. Trust me, I know of this hatred. So what if they knew where Happy Holidays came from? Their world would be destroyed. They couldn’t switch to ‘Merry Christmas’ because that’s offensive to other religions, but ‘Happy Holidays’ is a corporately manufactured term used to protect big business (and we can’t encourage big business because that would make us soulless and anti-poor people.) I honestly don’t know what the happy holiday people would do if confronted with these facts. Maybe they’d move to Guam. Hmmm, that’d be nice. I hear Guam is pretty this time of year. But I digress, because this is the season for us all to get along. Let’s wait ’til February to send them there. Now back to the story……
So, I’m putting my racquet back into my Wilson tennis bag (product placement intended, give me free stuff Wilson!), and the man I just rallied with is telling me that I made his day by wishing him a Merry Christmas. See, he lives in LA as well, where Happy Holidays reigns supreme. A lot of people may have thought that what I said was heresy, but this kind, Caribbean immigrant is grateful for it. He shakes my hand and smiles, “and a Merry Christmas to you too.”
You enter a store in December, what do you see? Most likely, a lot of very sad, droopy faces (and people). The season of giving becomes the season of losing the second you step into that Westfield Shopping Town. So why do people do it? If I see people walking into a mall in 2013, I can only assume they have yet to master the internet. Or maybe they’re just traditionalists, or maybe they are trying to get away from their technology. Nothing wrong with that, I guess. But let’s face it……
The act of going to stores for Christmas shopping is so passé.
It’s 10 times easier, and safer (there’s a brawl at Walmart almost everyday this month), to shop online. Regardless of whether you take advantage of Cyber Monday, or forget to (guilty), it’s worth paying more to stay away from the droopy faces (and people, remind you). So work smarter, not harder.
It’s not called Turkey Day, let’s be perfectly clear. There are way too many great dishes served with a Thanksgiving meal to only give credit to the turkey. Besides, we should give more credit to the ‘thanks’.
363 days of the year we are too busy and/or don’t care enough to appreciate anything, Thanksgiving and Christmas are the two opportunities we get to rectify this behavior. And we all regress when it’s our Birthday (the Day of Selfishness). So put your iPhone down and stuff your face, I know I will.
For some reason it’s taken me years to notice this. Maybe it’s my grumpy, old-age self, or it’s because I spend hours a day in my car like any Angelino. But I see more and more people drive 10-15 mph under the speed limit. I understand that LA freeways aren’t conducive to NASCAR-like speeds, but even the few times when there is light traffic, people still choose to slug along at disturbing paces.
I don’t understand it. Life goes by too quickly to voluntary spend it in a car when you have a wide open freeway to speed down. Don’t people have anywhere to be? Do they actually enjoy driving? Are they too busy texting, Instagraming, Facebooking, and Twittering behind the wheel to focus on going the speed limit(I call that the quad-fecta)? Or is this our culture becoming lazier? Is it because we are too obese and out of shape to expend the energy needed to push a gas pedal hard? My guess is… probably not. Instead, I think it speaks volumes to the selfishness in human nature. And this isn’t a bad thing, necessarily. But it proves why political concepts involving “giving back” or “sharing with others” never works. If people can’t respect and ‘give’ the road to others, then how can we count on people to share revenues or…. healthcare resources. Not trying to rock the boat, as I don’t like getting wet (it’s too cold outside and I’m not wearing warm enough underwear). But just relaying a noticeable metaphor that should be common sense to us all. Peace, yo.
Week 3 has been one of those odd ball weeks in the infant NFL season. The Panthers, who had started the season 0-2 (and looked stagnant in both losses with subpar performances by Cam Newton), found a way to beat the NY Giants 38-0. Huh?!?!?!? That can’t be right. Nor can the Ravens beating the Texans 30-9. Or the Seahawks winning 45-7…. actually that one’s believable #againstJacksonville. But the Steelers?? The Steelers getting creamed again to fall to 0-3? As a resident Steelers can’t stander I am happy about this, but it’s still pretty weird.
We shall see what next week brings, but as always, it’s about fantasy football. Because I have all but lost in both of my leagues yesterday, I am already looking forward to Week 4. Can it arrive yet?
At least we’re finally in Fall.
Coming out a winner in difficult situations is no easy feat, but it speaks volumes to a person’s character and mental stability.
When you start noticing that you’ve become consistently successful in these situations, it means that you have matured. You’ve strengthened the most important organ in your body, el braino. You see, children today are giving trophies for participation. There is no need face adversity head on because, well, there is no adversity. This makes it much more difficult to conquer difficult situations when we reach adulthood. But those of us who do, it speaks volumes to our maturity.
Look at Novak Djokovic. Prior to 2011, he was always a bridesmaid and never a bride when it came to competing with Nadal and Federer in Grand Slams. He would quit in matches, literally quit. He would complain of ailments, and their validity was questionable at best. Then something clicked inside of him, and he went on to have a legendary run in 2011, catapulting him to the top of the sport. He was no longer struggling through matches, he was making his opponents struggle.
There’s much we can take away from this, primarily that it’s never too late to start triumphing adversity. It makes you feel good and become a more successful person. When you start triumphing these situations you realize how many of your walls were mentally constructed.