The Little Old Lady From Pasadena

     I ran into an old volunteer from PPP who was visiting the club the other day. This little old lady from southern California was playing ping pong, and I noticed that she was hitting the ball flat – just blocking the ball back to her opponent.  I had played with and instructed this woman some time ago, and was taken aback by the fact that she was not hitting the ball the way she’d been taught … by me.  I was offended.  I was indignant.  But I wasn’t gobsmacked. (I don’t get gobsmacked that easily.)  All that time I’d spent in trying to show this person how to hit the damn thing, and now she ends up like she’s been playing in a subterranean basement for a full pandemic year against her preschool grandchildren.  Made me sick.  But not gobsmacked.  

     Okay, so then maybe I put my nose into where it wasn’t welcome – I gotta big mouth, what can I tell ya.  So, while she was playing, I told her she couldn’t control the ball the way she was hitting it, unless she was playing with some newbie pushover, like maybe one of her grandkids.  Was just presenting the facts.  (Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts – Sargent Friday, Dragnet).  But then all of a sudden, I get hit with a savage tirade.  I should leave her alone, she says, because she’s only playing for fun and I (me) could never latch on to that concept!   Can you believe the ingratitude and the extraordinary brazenness flowing outta this granny?  Ah, well.  Listen I was only trying to help. 

     Editor:  I think I’ll surprise some of you, by saying that this is one time when I personally have to show some approval by supporting our zany blogger, Lao Du, with his little vignette.  This is not to say that he was correct in his intrusive approach to this erstwhile Ping Pong Parkinson volunteer, who only declared that she was interested in having fun. That’s well and good. There’s nothing wrong with fun; it’s an appropriate goal – for that woman … but not for People with Parkinson’s Disease.  Fun is a necessary component of our endeavors at PPP also, but by itself  it’s not sufficient to accomplish what Ping Pong Parkinson has set out to do.  May I remind you that our goal, our mission in a nutshell, is to promote the production of dopamine through the research-proven concept of neuroplasticity  and neurogenesis – the brain’s capacity to make new neurons and connections through challenging physical exercise.  The emphasis here is on the word challenging, and that, as it relates to ping pong, means always learning new skills.  It means learning how to impart topspin and loops.  It means cutting the ball, imparting underspin with pushes and chops.  It means thinking about strategy and evaluating  what your strengths are and figuring what your opponents weaknesses might be.  And it means countless (endless) other skills involved in playing ping pong.  There should never be a time at PPP when we rest on our laurels and do nothing further to improve, because standing still gets us nowhere.  Besides, new skills will enrich us, and promotes … fun! 

     PPP will recommence on 5 May.  Welcome back. 

A Weighty Matter

With my Pfizer vaccinations secured a few months back, I felt reassured that I could finally venture out and do some shopping for Ping Pong Parkinson.  The Chief (Nenad Bach) had given me an assignment to buy some weights because  research strongly suggests that weight training is an important method for targeting  the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. 

     Okay, so I went into Walmart’s looking for free weights. The greeting guy near the front door pointed to where his co-workers were standing and said you’ll find the dumbbells there.  On hearing this, I was offended, and told him it wasn’t nice to say bad things about other people,  just because they were stupid.  I went over to where those dumbbells were anyway, and asked the one who looked the least dense where I could find the free weights.  He looked at me quizzically, and told me straight out that they didn’t have any free weights, that you had to pay for them.  That’s what the dumbbell told me, can you believe it?  I then took a chance and asked another guy standing next to the first dumbbell guy another challenging question:  Could he please tell me where I could find a medicine ball?  He told me that as far as he knew, that they had no formal dances at that particular Walmart location.  

     I was aghast!  Look, I know NASA has been looking for intelligent life in our galaxy, but don’t you think it would be prudent if they started their search at a neighborhood Walmart first?  I mean, c’mon!  Well, anyway, completely disenchanted,  I’m headed over to Target to see if they have any resistance bands.  I hope they don’t steer me over to their music department.    Lao Du

How To Win At Ping Pong If You Stink – Lao Du

     I had just beaten a ping pong player who accused me of cheating 10 times in one game.  I told him that these malicious allegations were ridiculous – that I usually only cheat half as many times as he was charging.  And what he was saying was even more absurd, I told him, because the truth is I only cheat when I’m losing. 


     If you really wanna know, I used to have more success cheating when I played tennis.  On a tennis court, the opponent is light years away from you and the net will protect you when you call his ball out when it lands on the line. (If the guy is a big bruiser, you’ll have a few seconds head start to run away.)  In ping pong, on the other hand, when the ball hits the table you have to be a very nervy liar to call the shot “out”.  I mean I’ve done it (less than 5 times in a game, mind you), but it really has to be a low skimming shot to get away with that.  (And don’t say the ball was only an inch out.  With conviction, say it missed by a mile.)


     No, but it’s much easier just to cheat on the score.  If the opponent doesn’t announce the score after each point – i.e., he trusts you – than you’ll have an ample opportunity in taking him to the cleaners.  A couple of points added for you that way should give you your margin of victory for the match if the competition is close (has to be an integer of at least plus two from the correct score – four is best – otherwise you’ll really get the serve order screwed up and the opposing player is likely to call for an umpire … or a hit man).


      There are other sensible ways of violating the rules constructively, as well.  For example, if you return a serve into the net or bat it off the table, just tell the sucker on the other side of the table that it was a net ball.  What’s he gonna do, call you a cheat?  Just laugh at the doofus, and tell him what a sore loser he is.  Just don’t be defensive about it – that’s part of the positive mindset required to be  successful at doing this sort of stuff.


     One of my best methods at winning by hook or crook, is to call a let because of a distraction when you’re about to lose the point. This distraction could be a ball or a person moving nearby, or it could be based on a ball or person moving on Mars.  Just tell the guy you’re playing to replay the point, and if he’s fair-minded and honest (there are a few of these idiots around), he’ll succumb and consent – because it’s the right thing to do (remind him of this so that he can glorify in his rectitude). 


     If none of these methods I’ve outlined above work for you, then you’ll have to revert to one of my tried and true methods that are 100 % reliable.  Of course, this will mean a modest expenditure for either banana peels or ball bearings, either of which should be scattered on the floor of your opponent’s side of the table.  Lao Du

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