Friday, November 25, 2005

Pat Morita: 1932-2005

Just read where actor Noriyuki "Pat" Morita, whose role as Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid made "wax on, wax off" part of the popular lexicon, had died.

The Karate Kid is one of my all-time favorite movies, and Mr. Miyagi was one of my all-time favorite characters. He made me believe that if he could whip Daniel-san into a martial arts expert in a couple short months that even I could learn karate by painting houses, painting fences, sanding floors and, of course, waxing cars.

I also enjoyed Morita as Arnold on Happy Days, as well as Ah Chew in occassional appearances on my favorite television show of all-time, Sanford and Son. But I'll remember him most for his wit and wisdom as Mr. Miyagi. I've often thought of writing a tribute to Miyagi in the form of Robert Fulghum's bestseller "All I Ever Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" titled "All I Ever Need to Know I Learned from Mr. Miyagi." Maybe one day soon I'll do that.

Below is the Associated Press' story about Morita, and be sure to check out the excellent tribute my friend Chris wrote about Morita on his blog.

Actor Pat Morita dies at 73
, Associated PressActor Pat Morita, whose portrayal of the wise and dry-witted Mr. Miyagi in "The Karate Kid" earned him an Oscar nomination, has died. He was 73.

Morita died Thursday at his home in Las Vegas of natural causes, said his wife of 12 years, Evelyn. She said in a statement that her husband, who first rose to fame with a role on "Happy Days," had "dedicated his entire life to acting and comedy."

In 1984, he appeared in the role that would define his career and spawn countless affectionate imitations. As Kesuke Miyagi, the mentor to Ralph Macchio's "Daniel-san," he taught karate while trying to catch flies with chopsticks and offering such advice as "wax on, wax off" to guide Daniel through chores to improve his skills.

Morita said in a 1986 interview with The Associated Press he was billed as Noriyuki "Pat" Morita in the film because producer Jerry Weintraub wanted him to sound more ethnic. He said he used the billing because it was "the only name my parents gave me."

He lost the 1984 best supporting actor award to Haing S. Ngor, who appeared in "The Killing Fields."

For years, Morita played small and sometimes demeaning roles in such films as "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and TV series such as "The Odd Couple" and "Green Acres." His first breakthrough came with "Happy Days," and he followed with his own brief series, "Mr. T and Tina."

"The Karate Kid," led to three sequels, the last of which, 1994's "The Next Karate Kid," paired him with a young Hilary Swank.

Morita was prolific outside of the "Karate Kid" series as well, appearing in "Honeymoon in Vegas," "Spy Hard," "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" and "The Center of the World." He also provided the voice for a character in the Disney movie "Mulan" in 1998.

Born in northern California on June 28, 1932, the son of migrant fruit pickers, Morita spent most of his early years in the hospital with spinal tuberculosis. He later recovered only to be sent to a Japanese-American internment camp in Arizona during World War II.

"One day I was an invalid," he recalled in a 1989 AP interview. "The next day I was public enemy No. 1 being escorted to an internment camp by an FBI agent wearing a piece."

After the war, Morita's family tried to repair their finances by operating a Sacramento restaurant. It was there that Morita first tried his comedy on patrons.

Because prospects for a Japanese-American standup comic seemed poor, Morita found steady work in computers at Aerojet General. But at age 30 he entered show business full time.

"Only in America could you get away with the kind of comedy I did," he commented. "If I tried it in Japan before the war, it would have been considered blasphemy, and I would have ended in leg irons. "

Morita was to be buried at Palm Green Valley Mortuary and Cemetery.

He is survived by his wife and three daughters from a previous marriage.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Gallop and Gorge

What an appropriate name for a Thanksgiving Day road race! Since I was scheduled to do a 5-miler in my marathon training plan today, I figured why not run in the Gallop and Gorge 8K, which is just a hair shy of 5 miles. (About 4.97 if you want to get technical.)

I felt pretty good about the run, finishing in 46 minutes, 52 seconds, which works out to about a 9:25-minute mile average. That's better than what my training runs have been at a similar distance. My overall place was 403 out of 593. (For complete results, click here.)

It's a good thing I ran this morning though because after I galloped I certainly gorged this evening at Thanksgiving Dinner. So after laying on turkey, ham and all the trimmings, more galloping is in my future this weekend.

Giving Thanks

One of my favorite traditions is reading the Thanksgiving Day columns from veteran sportswriters like Furman Bisher of the Atlanta Journal Constitution and Ron Green Sr. of the Charlotte Observer.

Each year, these two venerable scribes eloquently count the blessings of life's simple pleasures with some sports references and humor mixed in for good measure. So on the day set aside to give thanks, I'll offer my own list in the style of Bisher and Green.

Today, I'm thankful for...

Food, clothing and shelter, for with these things the Bible says we should be content.

Parents who love me, believe in me and encourage me.

My brother, Brad and his calls and letters that I look forward to receiving each week.

Family and friends near and far, and the memories of good times shared together.

Tori and Stephanie, who can bring a smile to my face without even trying.

Football in January, basketball in March and baseball in October.

Another national basketball championship for my beloved North Carolina Tar Heels.

Parking spaces that are wide enough to pull in and open the car door.

The beach in the summer and the mountains in the fall....and for living in a state where I can enjoy both.

A good night's sleep.

Convenience stores that are open 24 hours.

A glowing "Hot Doughnuts Now" sign that lets me know it's time to fetch a dozen glazed Krispy Kremes.

Twinkling stars on a crisp, clear night.

Another Thanksgiving column from Furman and Ron. I'm already looking forward to next year's.

Those of you (namely Chris and Adam) who post comments to my least then I know that someone is reading.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sweet 16

Logged a 16-mile run this morning, which equalled the longest distance I've ever run continuously before....well, sort of. Technically, my longest is 16.2 miles, which I did all the way back on Jan. 29. Funny thing though...although I didn't run the same route, I ran 16.2 (2 hours, 58 mins, 59 secs) faster than I did 16 (3 hours, 5 mins 45 secs) this morning. Oh well...It's not about the time, but the distance.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Mile Marker 600

This morning's eight-mile run put me over 600 miles for the year -- 604.9 to be exact. The training is definitely getting tougher, my times are getting slower and body is feeling achier. But alas, I press on toward 26.2.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Adrian Rogers: 1931-2005

Adrian Rogers, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and longtime pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn., died early this morning due to complications from double pneumonia and cancer. Although I never had the privilege to hear Rogers preach in person, he became one of my favorite preachers to listen to through his radio and television ministry, Love Worth Finding. I'll always remember Rogers' booming voice along with the passion, love for Jesus Christ and evangelistic zeal that were clearly evident in his preaching.

In the foreword to Joyce Rogers’ recently released book, “Love Worth Finding: The Life of Adrian Rogers,” Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, writes:

“Only a few times in any century does a man rise out of the ranks of the ordinary with a touch of God upon him in such a way as to change the course of human history. Further, for that man to be a man of impeccable moral standards, while possessing a pastor’s heart, remarkable alacrity, profound dedication to the work of the Savior, as well as matchless pulpit eloquence and brilliance is extraordinary.

"To say that this is exactly what God gave the world in Adrian Rogers is not an attempt to fell the oak of his humility, but only to recognize what most of us know is true in order to praise God for what he has done through him and to thank Adrian Rogers for allowing God to have the use of all his talents and abilities.”

Monday, November 14, 2005

Miles to Go

With just under two months to go before my first marathon, I'm getting into the meat of my training schedule. The runs are getting longer, which means I'm having to re-adjust my schedule and habits to get them in. Saturday morning, I logged 15 miles at 4 a.m. in 35-degree weather before jetting off to class. This weekend, I've got a 16-miler on tap, which will equal the farthest distance I've ever run at one time. My training plan culminates with a 20-miler three weeks from race day. With the longer distances, reality is starting to set in regarding just how far 26.2 miles is and just how long it's going to take me to do it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Gonna Fly Now

It wasn't quite 4 a.m., and I didn't drink raw eggs, but I did feel a little bit like Rocky Balboa as I set out on a 7-mile, pre-dawn run at 5:30 this morning. The runs continue to get progressively longer on my marathon training plan. The lack of daylight in the evening now that daylight saving time is over coupled with the time it takes to get the long runs in is causing me to have to adjust my running schedule to get the runs in around work and classes. I didn't mind this morning so much. It was kind of cool running as the dark of night slowly gave way to the light of day.

Got Sith?

Picked up a copy of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith on DVD yesterday. Of course, I wanted to have a copy to complete my personal collection of the Star Wars saga, but I also bought it for tons of special features, especially the deleted scenes. One scene that was cut for the theatrical release that I really wanted to see was Yoda arriving on Dagobah. It's on the DVD as well as some scenes depticting the formation of the rebellion. So far I've checked out the deleted scenes, but haven't got to the featurettes and documentaries yet. I must have patience, like Obi Wan preached. Maybe sometime in the near future when I've got 13 or 14 consecutive hours to kill, I'll watch Episodes I-VI in succession.