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Call For Bloggers

Editor:  Lao Du has been responsible for most of the blog entries for Ping Pong Parkinson since its inception.  Mostly, these blogs have consisted of rants and diatribes revolving around his strong distaste for…  well, everything , and they all have been mostly pointless and inanely foolish.  Occasionally he has tiptoed into Parkinson’s Disease topics, but only tangentially.  For the most part, his flapdoodle and screwy-hooey has revolved around sandpaper ping pong and his bountiful ill-will directed at the bane of his existence:  the ITTF (the International Table Tennis Federation).

      But here’s the matter at hand:  Lao Du is a volunteer at Ping Pong Parkinson, but he is not a “Ponger” (i.e., he does not have Parkinson’s Disease).  It’s time, well overdue, that we should have People with Parkinson’s (PwP) write about their own personal experiences from their own unique points of view, and to share their stories, impressions, ordeals and achievements with our expanding group.  It would also be refreshing to hear what criticisms or favorable comments they might offer.  Thus, starting now, we are officially soliciting blog submissions from any and all members of Ping Pong Parkinson.

     (Note:  I will be forced to allow Lao Du to write about satanic pedophiles and alien abductions if we do not get any responses.  And while we are waiting for our first real blogs to come in, I have permitted one last fanciful, mentally aberrant offering from our resident  heretic. )

True Grit:  Sandpaper

     Look at that white thing flying on that table!  It’s a plane.  No, it’s a comet … No, it’s  a meteor.   Wait, wait, it’s off the table now and it’s slowing up.  Holy smokes, will you look at that thing spinning on the floor like a gyro!  Hey, how ‘bout that – it’s a Xushaofa 3 star, ITTF approved, 3.7mg, 40 mm+ ping pong ball.  Jeese, it was moving so fast – I thought it was some kind of celestial body moving through the universe, making a temporary visit to Table # 2 at the Westchester Table Tennis Center before exiting the solar system.  Could hardly see that sucker.  Good gracious!  What the heck could propel such an object at such staggering speed and spin?  Hold on, there’s only one guy who could answer that question. No, not Einstein; he couldn’t tell ya. No, the only guy who knows the answer … is the equipment vendor at our ping pong club.

     Okay, I just talked to the equipment guy, and now I know, too, how that ball reached supersonic status: Someone hit that ball with a Donic Bluestorm Z1 Turbo.  That’s a surprise, actually, because my initial suspicion was that it was launched by a Saturn Five rocket (it’ll get you out of Earth’s orbit if you aim it correctly). 

     Can I tell you somethin’?  I have lived among table tennis players for some time now.  I have seen them up close and have learned of their quirks and idiosyncrasies.  And all of this has not improved my considered opinion that they are mostly techno freaks interested mostly in speed and spin.  Most of ‘em just want to murder the ball.  You wanna know something? That is a misdirected goal with only a fleeting reward. “Fun”  (with a capital ‘F’) should be the main pursuit of all  ping pong players,  except for the most venal and vacuous among us, who only wish to record victories in their personal diaries.   (Editor: Hint: Lao Du keeps a diary.)

     But here’s the question that arises concerning all of this:  Can you have fun without rubbers that cost 75 bucks each, and that you have to replace every few weeks?  Can you have fun without 2 millimeters of sponge covering a Butterfly Zhang Jike Super ZLC  table tennis blade that costs $569.99 (not including the tax)? Do we really need 7 plywood layers interbedded with a few carbon laminations? And do you really need a sweet spot wider than your rear end?  The answer, my friends, lies mainly in … the hands of the misguided ITTF.  Who are they, you may ask?  They are, in fact, the rulers of the universe – that is, the Table Tennis universe.  They lay down the rules from their Mount Olympus (the Greek gods live with them up there) near their posh retreat in Lausanne, Switzerland.  They lay down the law.  That law, unfortunately, does not involve FUN.  It does not include sandpaper. 

     I ask you:  Have you ever tried to play with a sandpaper racket? Well, don’t knock it until you try. Your dimples will suddenly appear while you’re playing (i.e., a smile), because you’ll have longer rallies.  You will begin, once again, to love your neighbors and your enemies.  You will find that there’s a glow about you as you forgive others who have betrayed and treated you badly.  The Holy Spirit will come upon those that renounce the sponge and take up ping pong as it was really meant to be played.  (3M ProGrade 150 or 220 grit sandpaper at Home Depot – less than a dollar a sheet)  Lao Du

PPP: Volunteering

Ya know, I’m getting real tired of those birds I feed every morning.  Bunch of ingrates.  Here I go out and spend over 32 bucks for a sack of black oil sunflower seeds every month – the ones they love the most, the best for their health (high fat content) and the most expensive – and you’d think they’d be grateful.  Nope!  No gratitude, not even when there’s snow on the ground and they can’t find anything to eat anywhere.

  I don’t expect much, really I don’t.  Is it asking too much for a titmouse to occasionally land on my shoulder when I’m next to the feeder, and chirp a few thank yous into my ear?  When I whistle  the sounds of a Black-capped chickadee, wouldn’t you expect a few courteous replies from one of those empty-bellied, starving little avians?  I mean as a show of appreciation.  Nope!  Never happens. And those nuthatches.  Jeese, the nuthatches!  I’ve never known a batch like those  upside down boobies!   Just a bunch of ungracious, disrespectful and inconsiderate frickin’ birds.  All of ‘em!   And if you think the cardinals, sparrows  and woodpeckers are any better – Fohget It!  In fact, they’re worse.  Ya know what they do?  They wait for me to leave the area around the feeder before they greedily go for the free food I’m donating.  And then they fight among themselves.  I’m tellin’ ya, it’s a shameless gluttonous spectacle… that I’m payin’ for.  Jeesh!

Editor:  Lao Du, aren’t you missing something here?

Lao Du:  Yeah, I’m missing something, all right.  I’m missing  the word thanks from the thankless.

Editor:  That’s not what I’m getting at.  See, the gift of giving is actually in the giving.

Lao Du:  Oh, real profound!  Hey! What kinda crapola are you feedin’ me here? Whatta you Confucius or somethin’?

Editor:  No, I’m serious.  You should consider this. You’ve got an open mind, right?

Lao Du:  Me?  Of course, don’t be silly.  Nobody is as open-minded as me. 

Editor:  Well, then listen to what I’m going to tell you about the admirable qualities and rewards that come from giving freely of money, material things, and yourself – the latter of which is a form of volunteerism.  Those birds you feed – you may not be aware of this – but you actually receive plenty of benefits from them.  They’re like your pets.  When you see them, I know you’re less depressed and not feeling the loneliness that the pandemic has foisted upon most of us.  And precisely, in an analogous way, your volunteering for Ping Pong Pong Parkinson – you’re still doing that, right?…

Lao Du:  Yeah.

Editor:  … that also provides you with a host of benefits that I’m sure you’re not even aware of.

Lao Du:  I thought I was volunteering for PD people (PwP).

Editor:  Sure, but you’re probably getting more out of it than they are.

Lao Du:  How’s that?

Editor:  It’s the social interaction, the companionship – it’s good for your brain.  And get a load of this: There are a whole bunch of studies that report that people volunteering to help others live longer. 

Lao Du:  No kidding? For real?

Editor:  Yes, absolutely for real.  Why? I know you’re going to ask me that, so I’ll tell you:  Because it gives you a raison d’etre.

Lao Du:  Raisons ets??  What’s that, some kind of chocolate candy?

Editor: No, no, no!   It’s English from French.  It means you have a reason to exist – a purpose.  You know – a life with meaning.  When you help others, believe me, you are also a beneficiary. 

Lao Du:  What kind of fish is that?

Editor:  You’ll live longer, okay?  Just leave it at that.  Yes, just tell all the people who volunteer to play ping pong  at PPP that they’ll live longer.

Lao Du:  Yeah, yeah, yeah, fine.  But what am I gonna do about those frickin’ birds?

Self-Haircuts and the Pandemic

I have been giving myself haircuts ever since this pandemic began. I’ve nicked my ears – both of them – a few times, and once my scissors actually went in quite deeply. If I hadn’t had any duct tape around when this happened, I might have surely exsanguinated. I’m tellin’ ya, I came close to cutting my ear off – not that I was trying to be beat out Van Gogh in that department or anything (although I can draw better than he could).

This self-haircut stuff is definitely not advisable. I base this conclusion on not just this recent personal quarantine experience where all of my coifs could be termed ‘hatchet jobs.’ Yeah, it turns out this wasn’t the first time I’ve had a problem. When I was a kid, oh, maybe 7 or 8 years old, my old man decided this one Sunday morning that he’d give me a haircut. Now I had never gotten a haircut from anyone other than a Sicilian and with the Italian crooner music going on in a barber shop, and when I saw my father limbering up his fingers by going snip snip in the air with those large silver blades from my mother’s sewing kit scissors, I was starting to get nervous. Real nervous. And he wasn’t calming me any by directing his cautionary ‘not to worry’s’ to my mom alone – not to me! He went even further with his reassurance that he was going to use a bowl. Wasn’t very reassuring to me, but then he repeated to my mom that she shouldn’t worry because the kid (presumably me) had a hat. He was referring to my Brooklyn Dodgers baseball cap. Now I didn’t quite understand what the bowl was for exactly, but my intellectual development at the time was sufficiently adequate to grasp the significance of the hat. And, man, I was shaking. Real nervous. And, of course, do I have to tell ya that I was forced to wear my Dodger hat for several weeks following this atrocity. My head was ravaged. A genuine hatchet job! And I still don’t know what the hell that bowl was all about.

Anyway, my advice to any of you ‘do-it-yourselfers’ in our Ping Pong Parkinson group, is that you let your wife or some other trustworthy person cut your hair for you … and only if you have a Brooklyn Dodger hat. Also, if your Parkinson tremor is not well controlled, I would strongly recommend that you not attempt any self-circumcision at this time, either. Wait until you get vaccinated and then let a pro (who has a just-in-case tourniquet) do it. Lao Du

Ping Pong and the Pandemic – Mitigating the Risk (Don’t Play!)

Big day ahead of me today. No, it’s not the weekly arrival of the ShopRite flyer, it’s something almost as exciting as that. Oh, yeah, big, big, big day: I’m gonna water the plants! When I’m through doin’ that I’m gonna write on my calendar that I did it … and then I’m goin’ back to sleep. When I wake up I’ll have some of the food that I made a week ago that I have to eat today because there are blue moldy spots starting to form on the edges. See, I don’t want to waste the food …because, as you know, there are people starving in the world. Oh, boy, but there are hairs coming out of the mold, too. Jeez, never seen that before. I’ll have to do a little surgical excising to get rid of those parts. I’ll add it to the stuff I feed the birds and squirrels – they shouldn’t know much about micotoxins. (Don’t look at me like that – what, are they gonna throw up or get cancer? They don’t live that long, so don’t worry about it, okay?).

And, then, let’s see … Oh, yeah, I have to do the mail. I’ve got about three dozen bills sitting on my desk that I have to pay. You know, the cable and internet, the electric company, the oil delivery and a bunch of medical bills from my insurance company that are 5 pages long and that I can never understand. I should have done that – paid the bills, I mean – but up to now I’ve been playing ping pong at the club and didn’t have time. That’s right! Believe it or not, this ping pong addict aint playin’ nowadays.

So, you may be wondering why I’m not at the club anymore. I’ll tell you why: Fear. And Disgust. And some unadulterated bitterness and resentment mixed in with revulsion. It all relates to the fact that some fellow denizens of our ping pong world refuse to wear masks (or wear them incorrectly – under their noses or just on their chins). By refusing to follow Fauci, they pose a clear and present danger to all of us (including themselves).

I did try to tell many of these ping pong brethren to put their masks on, but the animosity engendered by my doing this was palpable. I could really feel the anger and, in fact, even see the hostility on their maskless faces. Well, okay, I could have been a little more tactful, but whatever wrong I was committing by my clumsy insensitivity paled before their double wrongfulness of potentially killing someone, so I’m only partially regretting how I behaved.

One thing I did do, though, which I don’t regret, was that I did earnestly, and with some persistence, bring this grave matter up with management. They listened courteously and seemed even to convey agreement with the need to implement the chief recommendations of the Public Health Service of the State of New York. But, disappointingly, didn’t happen, and I just didn’t feel like being the ‘mask police’ anymore. Turned out, I was talking to the wall and, what with the infection rates and death count spiking, I just figured the risk was even too much for this particular risk-taker. I’ll wait for the vaccine and, meanwhile …. I think I’m gonna let the air outta every bum’s car in the club parking lot who refused to wear a mask. Lao Du

Health And Other Nuts (Ed. More flapdoodle/screwy-hooey from Lao Du)

This crazy health nut, whom I’ve known peripherally for several years, comes over to me the other day and starts in with this phony flattery on how I know so much about ping pong – like I’m an expert or somethin’. And then he asks me out of the blue what size ping pong table should he buy? This is really freaky stuff. This guy apparently thinks ping pong tables come in different sizes and colors, and all. So, I look him over carefully to see if this is a joke. Maybe next he’ll be asking me if bacon is kosher? And last year he comes over to me, probably thinking I’m a gastroenterologist, proclaims he’s got “hard stools,” what should he do? I mean I thought maybe he was trying to pull my leg. But he wasn’t. No, he wasn’t. He was dead serious. I told him to sit on a sofa, that it was much softer. Anyway, I eventually told him to buy a ping pong table without a net so that he’d finally be able to hit the ball to the other side. Look, wasn’t my intention to openly disrespect the guy but, truth is, I never cared for this simple-minded shmuckeroo to begin with, so I just tried to dust him off.

Ya know, I’ve discovered that there are dummkopfs like this all over the place (maybe most of ’em have “hard stools”), that they only use their heads to keep their ears apart. (Editor: Lao Du remembers this so-called joke from 3rd grade.) Maybe you know somebody like this. This one was obsessed about his health. I think you know the type. No gluten or processed food for them, and lately they’ve begun to develop a preoccupation about their telomeres and oxidative stress. Seriously!

Where the heck do they get this junkola? From the public television gurus? ( From Dr. Phil? From Dr. Oz?) From the homeless walking down the Bowery? From some know-it-all at the ping pong club? (Ed. Maybe Lao Du.) I dunno, but it’s all mostly cock-a-doodle-doo. Take this major theme of the aforementioned lunkhead: processed foods. He says he doesn’t eat that. Baloney! (That’s right – he eats baloney, and baloney is processed food.) What’s wrong with a processed food such as rice? Nothin’ much. It aint gonna kill ya. I mean people eat rice all over the world – for eons! But this butthead is apparently so obsessed with his bowel movements that he won’t touch a grain of it. Thinks his intestinal transit time will be slowed.

Ya know what white rice is? Correct! It’s a grain and, yes, it happens to be a processed food. Sure, they may mill off some of the good parts of the grain – the bran and the germ – so what? Okay, okay, maybe you can’t move your bowels for a week and you’re losing the protein, vitamins and minerals and your gums are gushing blood. But, Bunky, you’re not dying. And it fills you up. And it tastes good. So just shut the heck up about preaching how bad it is. (You wanna go to the bathroom every now and then, just eat some prunes – I hear they’re good for that.) These people hang on to every word from those TV four-flushers. They pop vitamin C pills because they tell ‘em it’ll prevent the flu. (Nonsense – it prevents scurvy.) Whew! So au courant!

Listen, don’t believe all the junk you hear from these sages and the guy down the block who all of a sudden is explaining his obesity on the basis of food being “addictive.” Believe the doctors and scientists. Yeah, the keto diet is good – for people with epilepsy (it’s not a fad for those with convulsions). Yeah, gluten should be avoided … if you have celiac disease. Duh!

And, anyhow, why do all these people have these compulsive concerns regarding ‘slowing down aging’ and just living their lives for better bowel movements? Is that their primary focus? Come on! I’m telling you straight out that no amount of kale and blueberries and broccoli will make you a better ping pong player. Seaweed and probiotics aint gonna get you that coveted 2000 rating. All of that junkola, I tried it, okay? The polyphenols, the flavonoids – all the phytonutrients in the world – I tried it. (Editor: for one full day!) Guess what? Didn’t work. Before the invention of kale and baby arrugala, I seemed to be healthy enough with the iceberg lettuce and Wonder Bread. But, nowadays, you gotta go to those whole food stores to get the organic stuff without the pesticides. Nonsense! So, I decided to go back to Diet Coke and Cape Cod potato chips. You wanna know what happened? I was unbeatable! I was mowing down the bums that had started to beat me when I was on the antioxidants. I resumed my visits to Taco Bell and the IHOP (International House of Pancakes) – got me a foot high stack with plenty of that Aunt Jamima syrup. Turns out, my fiberless, high fructose, aspartame diet hit the spot. Par excellence. My forehand topspin smash returned to its former level of glory and magnificence, and my mood improved ( I was no longer calling every Joysey driver on the Saw Mill River Parkway a dumb bastard). Even my cognitive function was better (I remembered to bring out the garbage on time).

Bottom line: If you think that by eating a lot of berries you won’t get beriberi, then you probably subscribe to a Twitter feed recommending injected bleach for Covid-19. Lao Du
(Editor’s Note: I think we should bury bury Lao Du. Also note that a recent report published in the NYTimes has indicated that Vitamin C and Vitamin E are “tied to lower risk for Parkinson’s Disease.)

How To Find a Spouse Via Ping Pong

We have touted Ping Pong as a remarkable means of improving body and mind, and we’ve noted how beneficial it can be for those with Parkinson’s Disease. But perhaps that’s just too narrow a view of this sport’s potential benefits. Consider this: Ping Pong (table tennis) can also help you choose a spouse. No kidding! Take me, for example. I was married once. Big mistake. I knew that this … eh, vixen, my ex, might have been the wrong woman from the start, but figured I had nothing to lose. I was thinking that if everything else failed, that at least I could use her as a tax deduction. Was a stupendous, stupid miscalculation. I ended up losing the house, the car … my underwear (she got a court order which prevented me from getting even my size 34 stuff in the drawers). Well, my ex had a better lawyah than me (which is to say, more vicious), but all of that pain in court could have been avoided if only I had known that I could have vetted her out by having her play a game of ping pong. That’s right – ping pong! Look, it’s quite obvious that you can’t tell what a person is like by just taking a cursory look-see. Don’t judge a woman by her cheek bones, okay? Put her to the test: A Ping Pong test.
The principle or basis behind this concept is founded on the idea that psychological and physical pressure will divulge the true character of a person. Consider this: When conditions are benign, almost anyone can behave in a proper and decorous manner. Yeah, people gathering with no black clouds interceding, can be cordial and easygoing. But introduce a noxious, extrinsic element and all of a sudden you can tease out the central fibers of one’s true personality. You may discover that behind the Fairest One of All exterior – your pristine Princess Snow White – lies a Vlad the Impaler interior. And, if that be the case, my friend, woe is you! (You’re about to be impaled.)

Now, I ended up with this former spicy wifey of mine (I thought at the time that she was well seasoned), who got into a snit and beat me up in a foreign country. I didn’t know what my medical insurance would cover overseas, and it turned out to be what they call out-of-pocket, and I ended up the Seine without a paddle. I could have tolerated the brow beating from this snarling, overcontrolling, despotic woman a little longer, but when she actually started beating me in the head and kicking me in the groin, I knew she was looking to deprive me of more precious stuff than my Hanes 34’s. But here’s the thing: If I had only played ping pong with her when we first met, I could have avoided all of that craziness and mayhem. And the contusions. Yeah, I could have deduced from the disinhibition that a game of ping pong affords, that little Miss Snow White was a Janus-faced phony who kept a cleaver by her nightstand (a cleaver with the victim’s name on it – mine!, and … embossed yet!).

We might all agree that what you’re looking for in a spouse or partner is someone who is sweet and modest. It would be nice to have some empathy and affection residing in this prospective person, too, but above all you really need someone who is rational and REASONABLE! (Whack Jobs and Space Cadets need not apply.) Generally speaking, then, you wouldn’t want a woman who plays ping pong with an attacking style, because that will usually foretell a life not characterized by Double Happiness (such as suggested by the brand name of the ping pong tables in the club), but one of Double Trouble, such as sorrow and grief (as suggested by a butcher’s table). Better listen to me, Bunky. You want someone who is fair and compassionate, someone who will give you a mercy point when the score is 10 to zero. All right, then you better listen up. Here’s what you can infer about a woman when playing a game of ping pong with her.
Regarding Honesty: Does she cheat with the score, or do you have to keep saying the score after each point because you don’t trust her. Not trusting her after one or two points is definitely a caution alarm.

Does she play like a bimbo or an airhead, or is she smarter than that? Does she swing wildly – a lunatic with a paddle – kinda like a crazy, senseless ditz or might she play timid-style? I mean you don’t want a mouse, either. Can she focus and concentrate on the game or does she have her head in the clouds? Is she the constant coquette, brushing her hair to one side or the other and looking for a mirror. Does she have a wandering eye, looking at the other players, her eyes wandering over to where the guy with muscles is playing?

Does she have a temper? Does she throw her racket. Does she curse? Does foul language emerge when she’s losing? These are the tips of the iceberg. Foul language usually means you’ve got a harridan on your hands. If she uses the “f” bomb, you’ve got big trouble – trouble, my friend, right there in River City!

Is she emasculating – belittling and demeaning you. Does it seem like she wants to deprive you of your manhood by constantly trying to be the boss and wear the pants – telling you how to play, for example?

Does she respect you? When you have a commanding 8 point lead, does she still keep on saying that you’re just a lucky dude? Or, when you have an 8 point lead, does she ask you to adjust her bra straps? (Just tell her you aint falling for that … unless she’s a D cup – and only then if you think you can win the game without your brain connected.)

Does she have an “attitude.” Does she think she’s God’s gift to table tennis.
Does she have grit (i.e., is she clean and neat)? Well shaven? (no grit) Check her fingernails (long nails can be painful), and don’t forget to get a chromosome check (maybe she’s got a hidden y chromosome or something).
Does she have discipline – the self-control required to play good ping pong.
Does this person blame others for her defeat or complain about how lucky the other guy is.
Does she bear arms (check her bags), or does she have arms like a bear? Either way, you better maintain a canister of pepper spray on your person.

Is she kind? Will she in fact give you that mercy point? Or does she take no prisoners. You want a competitive wife? I don’t. I like submissive. If she wants to beat me, I’d drop her instantly. If she can beat me, I wouldn’t want her around for a millisecond, either (we’re entitled to a little pride – you want to have at least one thing you’re better at).

Is she energetic, or falling asleep and bored. Dump that type – you’re not there for her amusement or entertainment.

Is she generous or self-centered? Does she think of others? Does she pick up other players’ balls and respectfully send them back to their rightful owner, or does she just ignore the balls that come her way or maybe just kick them out of the way with disgust and growls, showing her canines in a Doberman pinscher warning display at the players at the next door table because they’ve interrupted her game with one of their balls. This type is dangerous. Dispose of these quickly.

Is she perchance polite? Does she ever say “Nice shot!” If not, you’ll probably want to unload her at the Pleasantville train station (don’t take her home in your car).
Is she evil or antisocial? Does she spit? If she spits in your direction, that’s a very bad sign (plus it’s unhygienic; the club frowns on this). Does she curse? Does she accuse you of cheating? Does she in fact cheat? Does she shake hands, give you a fist bump at the end of the match or just practice a karate chop on you? (If you’re injured by one of her savage nuggies, don’t let her get into the ambulance with you on the trip to the ER.)
Is she humble? Does she accept defeat. Is she big enough to tell you that you’re better than she is?

Let’s take it one step further. Is she just plain nuts? Does she actually think she can win against a man with your obvious manifest talents? If “yes,” then these are very strong signals telling you to dump the broad post-haste.

Does she show gratitude for the fact that you paid 10 bucks so that she could play at the club in the first place? If she kicks back about your payment, just remind her that George Castanza deserved full credit for paying for Elaine‘s Big Salad (on Seinfeld).

So, then, summing up, it’s quite obvious that you can’t tell what a person is like by just looking at her. Appearances, as they say, can be misleading and unreliable. Just don’t judge a book by it’s cover, okay? Malicious, evil-tempered women – harpies, harridans, termagants – though these may sound like genial bird species, beware, they are decidedly not! And you don’t want birdies like that in your nest, believe me.

Remember this, too: Consistency is key. Anyone can be a gentleman or a gentlelady for a short while, and we can all be fooled some of the time. But it’s more difficult to act well-mannered and courteously for most of the time, and if you’re a Phony Fraud a ping pong match will expose these fakeroodies.

The definition of caring is someone or something that shows kindness and concern for others – offers to pay for the club fee, for example. Does she do that? If that’s not in her personality repertoire, and if she takes an hour and a half taking a shower after the game – while you’re waiting around tearing your hair out (whatever strands are left) because you’re dehydrated and wondering if they’ll save your reservation at the restaurant – then dive for the gates. Skedaddle, pal, before she dries off, otherwise, down the line, you’ll be in court facing her vicious pettifogger(s) (her lawyahs with their pointy Italian shoes) who will be going after your family jewels and bank holdings.

If you generally see a pattern developing during the game of a corrupt and depraved individual – I mean if you’re detecting ruthlessness and more than a whiff of cruelty and savage and unrelenting ferociousness (i.e., you’re getting battered in a ceaseless onslaught), then for god sakes, run as fast as your legs will carry you away from this creature, and earnestly hope that she can’t beat you in your life-preserving sprint toward the exits. Because if she catches you, Bunky, you’re toast. This cursing, spitting, screaming, hissing Spitfire will make your life miserable. Take it from me, a man of such experience who has played the She-Devil, married her and has the scars to prove it… and no underwear.

Famous Lao Du Proverbs (a la Confucius) relevant to this discussion:
You may go fishing with your wife, but that doesn’t mean you want a fishwife.
If you want a woman as pure as Caesar’s wife, ask Caesar to give her a divorce.

Ping Pong Morbidity (Ed. Ping Pong Flapdoodle / Screwy Hooey from Lao Du)

This is a dangerous sport we’re engaged in. Who would have thunk it? Ping Pong? Hey, you should be asking yourself whether you should you let your toddler start playing ping pong in the first place (think football as a possible safer alternative; maybe rugby). Your little rugrat can get a finger caught in the net. His head could hit the table. And then there are the rest of the injuries connected with the sport – that’s the quandary parents are facing these days. I’ll tell you straight out: I wouldn’t let my kid play ping pong. No way! I mean you’re talkin’ real pain and suffering from arthralgia, myalgia , neuralgia, proctitis (well, maybe not that), arthritis and rheumatism – all kinds of ‘itis’es and ‘isms’ and ‘algias’ – enough to make you sick. As I write this, my shoulder is killing me, and that’s after taking two Advils. And, of course, I can hardly put any pressure on my right knee – the one without a meniscus. My Achilles is acting up, too, which is right next door anatomically to my plantar fasciitis (that’s not a political affiliation, by the way). I blame it all on ping pong.

Editor: Lao Du, you aren’t an orthopedic surgeon, how would you know about Ping pong injuries?
Lao Du: I’ll tell ya how I know: I’ve had ‘em and I’ve got ‘em – that’s how!
Editor: Are these purported conditions that you profess to have, would they happen to be just some more excuses for why you are losing to just about everybody these days? I hear that some baby tots and moppets are even wiping the floor with you. And they’re still in elementary school!
Lao Du: Well, for your information, this one baby tot that you’re referring to, has lessons just about every hour on the hour.
Editor: But, come on, my Chocolate Labrador weighs more than she does. She’s tiny, and maybe not even potty-trained yet.
Lao Du: Yeah, but your Lab can’t beat me ‘cause he doesn’t take lessons like she does. I’m tellin’ ya, it’s not fair – all of that there professional instruction.
Editor: Well, what’s stopping you from taking lessons?
Lao Du: They charge more than a buck and a half an hour.
Editor: Oh, yes, I should have known. It’s your penny pinching.
Lao Du: Frugality! Thriftiness!
Editor: Okay, okay. Well, tell us more about your ping pong injuries. You were telling me you had some loss of muscle, is that right?
Lao Du: Yep, it’s called sarcopenia, and it’s so inconvenia. I’ve got all of these “itus-es”, too. I’ve got tinnitus, bronchitis, dermatitits, vaginitus. ..
Editor: You have vaginitis???
Lao Du: Sure, I don’t discriminate.
Editor: And how would you explain your irrational behavior.
Lao Du: I know what you’re thinkin,’ that it’s dementia because my brain is in absentia. Nothing further from the truth ! My brain is not flickering, so stop your snickering.
Editor: How would you explain your keratosies and the lack of elasticity of your skin?
Lao Du: I can’t. It’s true: my skin has the elasticity of all of my worn-out underwear.
Editor: Which you refuse to throw out, right? What about the keratosies?
Lao Du: I practice good eating habits. Why should a guy who eats Post Toasties get the most keratosies? And why we’re at it, why should a guy who eats Wheaties get diabetes?
Editor: Probably because they rhyme. What about your knee and ankle? How could they possibly be ping pong injuries if you keep saying that you tore your meniscus on a hibiscus and ruptured your Achilles in the Lesser Antilles?
Lao Du: Well, I happened to be playing ping pong in Tortola with a woman named Lola, who all of a sudden demanded some Cola. When I reached for a bottle of RC, that’s when I incurred the wrath of the ping pong gods.
Editor: What happened to Lola? Did she beat you?
Lao Du: No, she slipped a disc while sipping some bisque.
Editor: I though she was drinking Cola?
Lao Du: She changed her mind.
Editor: All in all, it sounds like you’re falling apart.
Lao Du: I am falling apart. I got degeneration. I got necrosis. I got tendinosis and tendinitis (which hurts me during the day, too). I got microtears and macrotears in my joints.
Editor: You are indeed very tearful. Maybe you should give it a rest and stop playing ping pong. Or, can’t you think of another sport to play where you’d have a good chance of beating prepubertal children?
Lao Du: Tiddlywinks. I could probably do well in that, but there’s no glory in it. “Tiddlywinks Champ 2020” is not something I want etched on my tombstone.
Editor: All right, I’ll think I’ll end it there. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Lao Du: Yes. I just want to wish everyone a Happy Ash Wednesday and a good Lent season.
Editor: Eh, you may have the wrong holiday. I think you mean you want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.
Lao Du: Yeah, okay.

Raise The Net (A Ping Pong blog)

Editor’s Cautionary Note: Lao Du, a.k.a. “Retro Man,” is not a relic of some bygone era – he is a relic of today! His views are anachronistic and outmoded. He even talks like he’s from a bygone century. For example, he uses “22 Skidoo” all the time; nobody – and I mean nobody – knows what it means except him and Gabby Hayes. Yet, somehow he has survived from the distant past, from some faraway, remote, nonadjacent galaxy. He shouts from the rafters and other high perches of his, wailing and moaning about the injustices of his losing to what he often refers to as the corrupt world of the squishee. When he occasionally wins, you don’t hear any bewailing or bemoaning – not a peep out of him. He only gripes about “techno-bats,” as he refers to them, when he loses! Try to disregard the crybaby absurdness that follows if you can, because every now and then – when there’s a blue moon – he accidentally, and very unintentionally, can come up with something sensible (in this case, about ‘nets’ – see below). Of course, you have to wade through his flapdoodle/screwy-hooey before you get to anything substantial. My advice: Put on some boots before trudging through all of his …gunk. Good luck. Try not to drown. Oh, and one more thing: The rant that follows is strongly influenced by the movie Elmer Gantry (Burt Lancaster), which Lao Du apparently viewed recently on the free Turner Movie Network (i.e., he didn’t pay to see it). Lots of hellfire preaching here. Try to just ignore the threats on your life.

Lao Du: Let me lay down the law first and give you the unvarnished and unimpeachable facts: The squishee is really a poorly designed contraceptive sponge device that has been manufactured to look and act like a ping pong paddle in order to evade confiscation by those who advocate a pro-life position. Beneath the rubber layer of the racket lies a polyurethane foam component soaked in spermicide (marketed artfully as a ‘speed glue’). Do not be conned by the hyperbole coming from the vendors selling you these godless products. The only speed, spin and control you’ll get from these paddles, is when you’ll be “hurled headlong” to “bottomless perdition” (John Milton, Paradise Lost).

Rallies – if there are any – are usually very short with the modern unsporting sponge paddle. See, that’s the problem. As a result, the fun part of Ping Pong is squeezed or, more rightfully, squished out of the game. Now, Buddhism tells us that the road toward happiness requires us to forfeit material possessions. Thus, discarding your squishee is necessary to be in compliance with one of those Noble Truths of that great religion, and will ultimately lead to longer rallies. It’s just common sense: Give up the squishee!

Knowing about human behavior as I do (Editor: he’s a genius), there is no way the average Joe or Josephine is gonna do this voluntarily. That is why we have to criminalize the squishees – or at least send to prison those that use them. That also goes for anyone using long pips or antispin. These evildoers should be sent up the river (we’re lucky SingSing is close close by), or maybe they should be given a one-way ticket to Alcatraz or some place where they can’t escape. Maybe Devil’s Island or … New Joysey. Yeah, New Joysey (shamelful land of the urine-colored license plates)! Yes, indeed, they should be sent to these places where there is plenty of sulfur and fire (especially Joysey) for a long, long time. For their crimes against humanity. For the way they torture opponents. Hey, they deserve life!

Yee (Editor: Yee?? Really?) sinners who insist on using these diabolical instruments must rid yourselves of your misguided cherished beliefs. These bats (rackets) may make it easier to hit a topspin loop, but they also lubricate the slimy road to Hades where you’re surely headed. Oh, yes, without making amends, you’ll slide swiftly downward toward the infernal region faster than you would on a free fall water slide in an aquatic park. I say to you solemnly and for your own wellbeing, take heed. Open your minds now – this instant – and return to the fold. The ITTF has sold you a bill of goods. You’re all doomed sinners facing perpetual torture in inextinguishable fires… hot ones, unless you turn around and follow the righteous path.

When I walked into the club the other day, I was totally shocked by being suddenly accosted by a scene as odious as I would have encountered entering a smoke-filled opium den in the 19th century with painted women and other nefarious types. It was horrible. I was overcome with a wave of convulsions at seeing before me an endless line of squishees at the tables. The place was thick with them – (Editor: as thick as his curly hair used to be … in the back.) I saw a Killerspin JET 800, an Yinhei, a Stiga Carbonado 290, a Tenergy 80 FX Proline, a DHS Hurricane and, of course, several Yasaka Rakzas 729’s. To witness this wickedness, these perversions – was enough to cause projectile vomiting, which I could not suppress.

Lisen, if you don’t want reprobates in the club, then why make an exception for those using the devil’s treacherous equipment. Killerspin will kill ya. Stiga is a contraction for smegma and stigma – you want those on your racket? Yasaka means ‘devil’ in Japanese and 729 is Satan’s favorite number. And, also, Yinhei means eternal suffering in Chinese. (Editor: Nonsense. Lao Du made this all up.)

Now, I ask you: Do you really wanna burn in hell, or would you rather be saved? Better wake up to the reality of a hellish future, my brothers and sisters, if you don’t get straight with the Ping Pong Gods right this moment. Repent! I say, Repent! Save your souls! You can still have your greed, lust, gluttony and sloth, but leave the squishes with the speed glue behind. Don’t let your rubberized spongeitis blind you. Lucifer is between the layers of your immoral paddles, and he is bursting to come out and spread his demonism. Cleanse, I say! Wash away the evil and vileness that you hold in your hands. Return to the righteous path of honorable primal and chaste materials. Discard Lucifer’s synthetic composites – the Lord does not want DuPont and Dow interfering in his favorite table game – and come back by cleansing your souls with primal materials – sand and paper. Amen. (Editor: Point of information: There is absolutely no sand in sandpaper.)

The wicked deserve to be cast into hell – that is divine justice. But there is one thing that even immoral degenerates using these cheating devices can do to redeem themselves. They can join the righteous in demanding that THE NET BE RAISED! This will at least neutralize some of Satan’s ping pong influence. Well, I have spoken. 23 Skidoo! Lau Du

Editor: I thought it was 22 Skidoo.
Lau Du: Whatever.

Neanderthals (Editor: More screwy hooey from Lao Du)

I just saw this article from Scientific Reports which headlined: “Neanderthals may have used their hands differently from humans.” As an ardent ping pong player, this aroused my curiosity as to how the Neanderthals may have held their rackets when they played our game. But there was no answer to this question in the article. They just wasted the space by talking about what kind of hand shakes Neanderthals had. I would have preferred to know what kind of milkshakes. But, never mind, the thing of it is, I had written about prehistoric table tennis in this blog previously, and since the Neanderthals lived for 350,00 years, I thought they deserved another look-see and a few more paragraphs as it related to these pertinent ping pong matters. (And screw the article’s report on the “trapeziometacarpal complex”, the shape of their ‘hand bones.’ Okay, so they had meatier hands than us and could squeeze the life out of you. Thanks for telling us what we already knew.)

You may sensibly ask why this is important. Okay, here’s why: It is estimated that 20 percent of Neanderthal DNA currently survives in modern humans. That doesn’t mean our own chromosomal genetic code consists of 20 percent Neanderthal stuff. At least not for most of us enlightened ones, for which the figure is much less than that. But it’s in there. Yep, it’s in there. Neanderthals do emphatically still exist … but mostly concentrated in players who use long pips. Well, Europeans have some residual DNA also, mostly clustered at the International Table Tennis Federation (the ITTF) in Laussane, Switzerland.

You have to realize that both fossil and genetic evidence indicate that Neanderthals and modern humans (Homo sapiens) evolved from a common ancestor sometime between 700,000 and 300,000 years ago. Probably, we both derive from a guy using a Seemiller grip (he became extinct, but some penholders still have an uncanny resemblance).

Previously, anthropologists had believed that many Neanderthals lived in the Scarsdale and Larchmont geographical regions. But, now, thanks to the development of new, highly sensitive scientific instruments, scholars believe with near certainty (i.e., 5 Sigma) that Neanderthals migrated to Chappaqua, Tuckahoe and probably Pleasantville long before the ITTF created the Expedite Rule (of which the latter act proves that the ITTF ranks are saturated with genotypes linked to extinct hominoids). How do we know this, that these large headed, Trump resembling beasts (it’s the red hair) arrived in Pleasantville? Aside from radiometric dating instruments, one only needs to check out some of the cavemen playing in the club on league night. Bunch of rubes playing for ratings. (Ed. Lao Du kept the following stupid joke out at my insistence: “These guys -i.e., league night players – took Covid-19 and IQ tests at the same time – they both came back negative.”)

And, by the way, there is often heard the mistaken view that the modern sandpaper player is a Neanderthal descendent, but this is false. Completely false. It’s a rumor. Make that a conspiracy theory embraced by a few lunkheads at the Westchester Table Tennis Club. The modern sandpaper player is actually genetically linked to a great lost advanced civilization, the Romulons (much nicer people, by the way, than the Klingons.)

Now, there had been a lot of discussions – controversial discussions – as to whether Neanderthals could actually keep score without having to use stones or tree branches to scratch out numbers in the dirt. However, all of that was debunked when it was discovered in the 1980’s that Neanderthals had a hyoid bone. That, my friends, was truly a momentous breakthrough, because it meant that these forbears of ours could talk … and argue with referees. So, then, the discussions took on a completely different tack and a slightly different question arose in the anthropology community: Did the Neanderthals play to 21 or did they play 11 point games? That, regrettably, remains a subject of contentious debate.

But, now, consider this key matter: What is the difference between a human and a Neanderthal? The main difference is that Neanderthals were slow to adapt to the new sponge technology and were unable to advance when paired against Homo sapiens in most European tournaments. They did protest for awhile, but their voices were completely stricken from the record when the whole lot of them went extinct some 30,000 years ago (some scientists say 40,000 – but what’s 10,000 years if they didn’t have Xushaoufa 40mm+ competition balls).

So, now we’ve come full circle in our historical journey. We can report with great clarity, that it wasn’t habitat degradation that killed off the Neanderthals. No indeed. It was the squishee – the sponge paddle. Mark my words: Our species is surely headed for a similar speedy extinction if we persist in using those diabolical techno-paddles. We should thus take heed, because “those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it” (Winston Churchill). Lao Du

“Hope Springs Eternal”

I just read a synopsis of Michael J. Fox’s latest memoir, “No Time Like The Future,” and it reminded me once again not to have the nerve to complain about … anything! This man, who founded an organization to end Parkinson’s Disease through medical research, is a model of courage. He has an indomitable spirit, stoically refusing to be vanquished by his afflictions, though acknowledging their heavy toll. And, unfortunately, adversity keeps knocking on his door. Besides coping with PD since the age of 29 (early onset PD), he has been beset with other medical calamities, including a spinal cord tumor and a fall with a very badly fractured arm which left him wheelchair bound. And, yet, he manages to maintain a form of resiliency which allows him to cope and retain a spark of optimism. I think that most mortals would succumb to these disastrous challenges (I would, for sure), but his finding solace in his wife, family and friends, and some activities sends a positive message. It is a message of Hope – that in the end medical science will prevail and snuff out the suffering.

When we get battered by persistent misfortune, it’s hard to gather up psychological defenses to stave off impending doom and destruction. But, eventually relief can come. One has to try and keep the faith – to hang in there. Think about the WWII Battle of The Bulge. This was the largest and most costly of the battles involving Americans in the war. In mid-December, 1944, things were looking bad – really bad- but reinforcements eventually arrived and a month later, although suffering thousands of casualties, the American troops turned it all around and began to march in the right direction (toward Germany).

At this time, there is as yet no cure for Parkinson’s. And there may not be the equivalent imminent offing of relief for PD by a George S. Patton leading a Third Army who relieved our encircled soldiers at Bastogne. Nevertheless, we should be heartened by the massive efforts being undertaken by research scientists (e.g., at the National Institute of Health, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research) who have made some important strides. And given how successful and speedy was the development of the Covid vaccines, I think it’s not overly polyannish to expect that positive developments in PD will be forthcoming, as well.

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