When He Talks about Running

I finally finished reading Maruki Murakami’s running book, “What I talk about when I talk about Running”. It was my spring basketball book, then the summer swimming pool book. Fortunately I wrapped it up before the ski season.

Murakami is the most popular Japanese writer, as well as the most hopeful future Nobel Prize winner. This book is a memoir about his...running career. He has been a long distance runner for more than 25 years, almost as long as his writing career.

I do not enjoy running. But his book prompted me to try once--2.6 miles, about 1/3 of Murakami’s daily routine. I even dragged my sun-hating girl friend to run with me. By the way, it always puzzles me why most of the Asian girls believe that they are part of the Dracula family and they can’t be exposed to Ultraviolet. Anyway, the short running took us more than an hour. The pain on my overworked knees and ankles were unbearable. We stopped by Dairy Queen for ice cream at the half way, which I am sure of would not be part of Murakami’s routine either.

After I read the last part of this memoir, I understood why the running is not for me. He wrote: “Of course it was painful. But pain seems to be a precondition for this kind of sport. If pain weren't involved, who in the world would ever go to the trouble of taking part of in sports like the triathlon or the marathon? It's precisely because of the pain, we can get the feeling, though this process, of really being alive -- or at least a partial sense of it."

I can’t put myself in the situation where pain is assumed to be a part of it. So running can never be my sports. However, ironically, I still hurt myself too much doing things other than running. I probably secretly enjoy the pain, and the privilege to whine about it. Sometimes I struggled with my sense of existence. Well, once in my life I was stunned by a malfunctioned automatic door -- I thought I vanished. If you haven’t noticed, I need consistent reassurance of my existence. The pain would be a great reminder of not only being alive, but also being here. Although I do not particularly look for pain in my daily life, it still comes to me to fill the void from my insecurity.

In the end of the book, besides thanking Raymond Carver’s widow for granting the permission to use the idea of the book title “What We Talk about When We Talk about Love”, Murakami, or the publisher, put a note about the font that is used in the book. It’s very pleasant to read:

The text of this book was set in Electra, a typeface designed by W.A Dwiggins (1880-1956). It avoids the extreme contrasts between thick and thin elements that mark most modern faces, and it attempts to give a feeling of fluidity, power, and speed.
This is the first time I read about the font in the book, in the book.

I am very fussy about fonts. I can’t stand the randomness that people usually adapt to in terms of the font selection. I am a Calibri person. I try to use this font whenever I can, reports, spreadsheets, presentations, or emails. The funny thing is that there are occasions--more often recently, I would have to hide my identity in documents due to various reasons. Besides my especially poor grammar and spelling, the font would be another giveaway for people to trace my work back to me. In most of those cases, I would use Consolas instead. When I need to be extremely cautious, Arial is the font of choice. I can never put myself as low as Times New Roman though. Murakami said he wants to have this carved on his gravestone: “Writer (and Runner). At Least He Never Walked”. Maybe I would say “At Least He Never Used Times New Roman” on mine.

So I rushed back from the swimming pool, to look up what my particular font says about me. I would imagine Calibri is modern yet is fully engraved with history. It would reflect my attempts to be witty, humble, and logical. Anyway, here is what Wikipedia tells me:

Calibri is a humanist sans-serif typeface family under the Microsoft ClearType Font Collection. In Microsoft Office 2007, it replaced Times New Roman as the default typeface in Word and replaced Arial as the default in PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook.
So much for my pathetic effort to be unique.




近年來越來越多醫學實驗,證明美式足球對選手可能造成永久性的腦部傷害。比賽當中球員互相撞擊的力量,跟被車撞到沒什麼兩樣,經年累月的結果,脆弱的大腦當然不禁折磨。最後,輕微的影響是感官或認知能力的衰退、或是失憶的症狀;嚴重情況包括阿茲罕默症、帕金森氏症,因而致命的案例也不少。 二○一五年由威爾.史密斯主演的電影「震盪效應」,片中他所飾演的法醫病理學家奧瑪魯,就是現實世界裡揭開美式足球黑幕的腦神經醫生。聯盟首先嚴重否認,不過證據快速累積,最後當然不得不低頭。 來自選手的集體訴訟案,目前已經進行到登記索賠階段。美式足球聯盟答應負擔生病後的醫療與保險,整體賠償金額可能高達三百億台幣,有望創下職業運動的另類紀錄。此外,聯盟已數次更新球場衝撞的規則,比賽中出現腦震盪徵兆的球員,再度上場前也需依照新規定,接受醫護人員評估。 就算如此,當選手們知道此項運動對身體造成嚴重傷害危險後,近兩三年有好幾位因此提前退休,或是拒絕高額薪水,決定另謀高就。這個月邁阿密海豚隊廿八歲邊鋒卡麥隆宣布高掛球鞋,「不值得冒這種風險。」他說。卡麥隆在過去四個球季裡,至少有四次嚴重腦震盪紀錄。 這一切改變是正面的,球員更懂得保護自己,從數據上能看出比賽時頭部衝撞的機會開始降低,腦震盪數字也顯著減少。更重要的是除職業選手外,各級學校聯盟都採用新標準,改善孩子們受傷情況。許多州甚至以立法方式,嚴格規定各種學生運動在腦震盪出現後,需要經醫生許可才能回到場上。 可是,去年總統大選,川普代表的保守勢力獲勝,情況卻又變了。 北卡州共和黨議員率先開砲,提出法案要讓家長有權許可自己小孩,在腦震盪後繼續比賽。法案裡把家長決定放在第一,排在醫生評估前面。對不少捍衛傳統價值的人來說,衝撞是比賽一部分,不能輕易改變。那些保護球員的措施讓「美式足球變得軟弱,跟美國一樣!」說這些話的不是別人,正是美國第四十五任總統川普。 選前在佛州的造勢晚會上,一位女性川粉突然昏倒,不過在接受現場醫療後恢復意識,回到會場繼續替川普加油,如此舉動馬上引起全場歡呼。川普在興奮之餘,不忘提醒現場支持者,美國已經被自由派搞得軟弱無力,「連她都可以回來,職業足球員被輕輕敲到頭卻不准上場?」後來選上總統的他譏諷地說。果不其然,選後黨內同志沒有放過挽救美式足球的契機,用新法案支持總統的理念。 正如川普首席策士班納所說,新政權將帶給美國全面而整體的改變:教育、環保、…


說到大聯盟知名經紀人波拉斯,大家腦海裡出現的,可能都是負面貪婪的形容詞,「吸血鬼」是台灣媒體給他的外號,紐約人雜誌稱他「勒索大師」也好不到哪裡去。這位曾經在小聯盟打過四年,卻因為膝傷結束球員生涯,有藥劑師跟律師背景的爭議人物,從八○年代中期進入選手經紀領域,從此改變大聯盟經營模式。 「球員的薪水會跟棒球產業的市值同步快速成長,在未來,我們說不定還會看到長達五年,三千到四千萬美金的合約呢!」,一九九○年的春天,才三十七歲的波拉斯在「棒球美國」雜誌大膽預言棒球的未來。後來,職棒產業價值真的向上翻了數倍,球員的合約更是屢創新高。光是今年跟馬林魚隊簽下長約的陳偉殷,合約總值就是波拉斯當年預測數字的一倍。 儘管多數球隊對這位超級經紀人有很複雜的情緒,對他旗下球員來說,波拉斯團隊提供的全面服務,卻是他成功的原因之一。在球員面臨重大決定,或是球場低潮的時候,雖然手下有幾十位大牌球星,波拉斯還是會親自跟球員或家屬花很長時間溝通。而他處理球員問題的技巧,更是令人佩服,像是上周剛發生的例子: 紐約大都會隊的「黑暗騎士」哈維,去年被媒體跟球迷趕鴨子上架,超出預定投球局數兩成,結果今年狀況奇差,跟去年表現判若兩人,最近在主場比賽,還遭到無情球迷噓聲相迎。面對如此情況,波拉斯被訪問到客戶表現的時候,他告訴記者,「去年此時,有一位投手,防禦率高達六.五五,五月底進了傷兵名單。如果只看數字的話,你會說這個投手完蛋了…可是,他最近剛跟球隊簽下美金一.七五億的長約。」 波拉斯說的是國民隊的史特拉斯堡,也是客戶之一,他從去年下半季到今年為止表現優異,球隊用高薪提前續約。「經歷韌帶置換手術的投手,復原過程有很多變數。」「我還要澄清一件事,去年是哈維自己想要多投的,並不是球隊的錯。」波拉斯再拿出幾項精密的現代數據,說明如果除去運氣影響,哈維的表現沒有比去年差很多;他又提到哈維春訓前在經紀公司訓練營六周,體能狀況非常好,完全沒有受傷。 在短暫的訪談裡,波拉斯用史特拉斯堡跟哈維的比較,建立谷底反彈的可能性,讓大家降低對現在成績的重視;儘管全世界都知道年輕的哈維去年受了委屈,他可以痛罵球團「早跟你們講應該只投一百八十局」,可是說那是哈維自己的選擇,不但給球團一個下台階,也讓客戶看來大器;拿出自家數據的分析,讓原本針對哈維球速下滑,打者揮空率下降的數字派專家,不再獨占話語權;提到春訓前的自主訓練,讓大家知道哈…


魔拉1998年加入三商虎,正好是中職首度放水案的訴訟期,後因為紐約大都會隊給了小聯盟約,讓魔拉只打了44場球賽就離開,但在台灣的獨特經歷,仍讓他留下難忘回憶。方祖涵提供 【方塘鑑開】半季盜壘王:三商虎魔拉






幾個月前住得不算遠的魔拉(Melvin Mora)約我吃早餐,跟他第一次見面,原本只要談些小事,沒想到聊到一個段落竟然已經過了中午。看著面前健談的中年大叔,很難想像他在職棒九年因為想跟大帝士拼盜壘王,兩個月就盜三十七個壘包;然後在鈴木一朗的生涯最巔峰,竟然能夠跟他競爭聯盟打擊王,一直到球季最後一個月才被甩開。不管是短暫的中職生涯,或是後來在大聯盟的十三年,魔拉好像跟數據有仇似的,不斷向極限挑戰。