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Sports

Oct 9 2015

Meru vs. The Holiday Inn

by Hope L

meruI have written previously here about adventurous sports like mountain climbing, ultra-marathons and cross-canyon treks.

But when I saw the film Meru (which won the Audience Award at Sundance) over a weekend at the Midtown Art Cinema, I thought, “Oh, come on now!”

Narrated by one of my favorite authors, Jon Krakauer (who knows a few things about mountain climbing), the film follows the pursuit of three climbers to summit the thus far unattainable Himalayan peak Meru. (Click here to see the movie trailer featured at The Guardian.)

Now, when I read and blogged about Krakauer’s and other climbs of Mount Everest, I thought surely that must be the ultimate challenge. Hardly. Meru sort of makes Everest look like the Holiday Inn.

I’m exaggerating, per usual, but watching these guys in their ledge bivouac, dangling precariously and waving in the sheer winds of an ice storm, having first lugged their equipment up the straight vertical cliffs (no sherpas in their right minds would work here), fighting frostbite and avalanches in a quest to perch atop a single “shark fin” protruding from this massive rock–well, let’s just say they wrote the book on crazy.

But almost running out of food and fuel has to be the last straw. It’s not like they have Papa John’s on speed dial up there.  I mean, even at the bottom of the Grand Canyon you can get a meal in a restaurant!

No, although the views are breathtaking at the top of the world, I fear my only involvement in extreme sports will have to continue to be outlasting the green-haired Generation X-er on the Stairmaster next to me at the gym.

And oh, does that make me happy!

Mammoth Book of Eyewitness EverestBut undoubtedly I will be reading more about Everest soon, inspired by the new movie with Jake Gyllenhaal.  There’s nothing better on a chilly day (or a hot one) than reading inside in a comfy chair (or sitting in a climate-controlled theater) while the crazy people in freezing, life-or-death adventure-dramas do their thing.

Use this link to find more books at DCPL about mountaineering and Everest, including The Mammoth Book of Eyewitness Everest edited by Jon E. Lewis, with 32 firsthand accounts.

Note to self: Stock up on hot chocolate and popcorn!  It’s going to be a COLD winter!

If you want to view the trailer for Gyllenhaal’s film, see: Everest – Official Trailer (HD) – YouTube.

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Apr 1 2015

George Plimpton and Sidd Finch

by Jimmy L

George Plimpton is well known for many reasons. He was a founding editor of the Paris Review and stayed on as editor until he died in 2003. He’s also known for his sports writing. Back in 1985, he was asked to write a Sports Illustrated article on April Fools’ jokes in sports for the magazine’s April 1st issue. Plimpton ended up writing his own elaborate April Fools’ joke about Sidd Finch, a 28-year-old aspiring monk who could throw a 168 MPH fastball. Mr. Finch was indeed fascinating. He dropped out of Harvard and went to Tibet. How did he learn to pitch so fast? Well, throwing rocks, meditating, and playing French Horn had something to do with it. You might be interested in the April 1, 2005 New York Times article “An Old Baseball April Fools’ Hoax.”

We have a sampling of items at DCPL by George Plimpton (including The Curious Case of Sidd Finch). Check out this link to our catalog. Enjoy!

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Mar 24 2014

Athlete Wannabe

by Hope L

Born to RunI have never been able to run.

Sashay …  sort of.  Jog …  maybe.  Slog  …  definitely!   But,  RUN?  …   fogettaboutit!

Unless you count running to the bathroom during a really good movie or running across the street on a freezing-cold, wind-whipping day.  Then, I can and will RUN.

But, with the Olympics on television recently, I would still like to think of myself as an ‘athlete.’

Now, I have known people who have run 3 + miles (5k) and 6+ miles (10k), and I  hear there are people who can run 26 miles and change (in one outing!!!) in what we commonly call a ‘marathon,’  but I had never heard of a human running 50 or 100 miles (or more!!) in a single event.

But wait!  I had  heard of this before, a few years back on the television program “Live with Regis and Kelly,”  Regis was joshing with Dean Karnazes, an “ultramarathon” runner, via Skype.  (An ultramarathon is any sporting event involving running and walking longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.195 kilometers: those that cover a specified distance, and events that take place during a specified time span.)

Phew!  My shin splints hurt just thinking about it!

[read the rest of this post…]

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Jan 16 2014

Winter Olympics

by Glenda

Sochi 2014 OlympicsDid you know the Winter Olympics start February 7, 2014 and are being held in Sochi, Russia? When I think of the Winter Olympics I think of my favorite winter sport, which happens to be figure skating. I think of all the wonderful figure skaters that I have had the pleasure of watching compete in Winter Olympics past, skaters like Michelle Kwan, Kristy Yamaguchi and Tara Lipinski. I am so excited that the anticipation of the games has me wanting to go ice skating.

The Olympic Games will also allow us to watch sports that do not get a lot of media coverage like bobsledding and speed skating. Everytime I think of the Olympics either Winter or Summer, I always think back to Atlanta 1996. Yes, right here. I think back to Muhammad Ali lighting the Olympic torch starting the Olympic Games.

If you would like to learn more about the Winter Olympics visit your local library and pick up a few books. Here are a few suggested titles:

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Over the weeks and weeks that this blog post idea had been brewing in my head, amazing things have been happening. The city of Atlanta was in the throes of football hysteria as our Falcons were beating themselves a path to the NFC Championship and possibly the Super Bowl. Atlantans were buzzing with excitement, anxiety and expectation for their Falcons. Buses, billboards and houses were festooned with the home team’s paraphernalia. I’d even begun engaging folks with the simple “How ’bout them Falcons?” greeting, sometimes opening the door for an avid football fan to hold court about statistics, history and analysis of a sport that is still a bit of a mystery to me.

But I’m finding that not knowing all of the ins-and-outs of football isn’t an outright impediment to enjoying a Sunday afternoon in front of the t.v, watching the game. That is especially true if you can catch the game with friends and family who don’t mind explaining how it all works—as long as you don’t ask too many inane questions or make too many comments about how cute Tony Gonzales is.

Of course, there also are great books in the Library that extol the wonders of football to the uninitiated, the intimidated or the indifferent-until-the-Falcons-have-a-winning-season type of prospective fan. Football for Dummies by Howie Long and John Czarnecki is an obvious first choice for me—I don’t mind admitting to dummyhood. Plus, you can never go wrong with a For Dummies book if you’re in need of straight-forward, easily digestible information.

But another excellent book for football novices is the well-written, extremely entertaining and lovably titled Get Your Own Damn Beer, I’m Watching The Game: A Woman’s Guide To Loving Pro Footballby actress, author and football wife Holly Robinson Peete. I’m thoroughly enjoying this book in which Peete shares anecdotes of her love for football and offers her knowledge and insight into the sport.

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There is still time to register for the Literacy Alliance of Metro Atlanta’s 5K Run/Walk for Literacy! The Literacy Alliance of Metropolitan Atlanta (LAMA) is a practical and innovative coalition that seeks to achieve 100% literacy among metro Atlanta’s adults and families. The 5K Run/Walk for literacy is an excellent way to get fit and promote literacy at the same time. Don’t miss out on this family-friendly event with prize giveaways! 100% of the proceeds support literacy programming and initiatives throughout Metro Atlanta.

To register, follow this link. Please select “DeKalb County Public Library Foundation” as the organization to benefit from your registration.

Online registration is $20 for individuals or $60 for a group (up to 4 individuals); day of registration is $25 for individuals and $70 for a group.

Online registration closes on Friday, September 28 at 6:49 PM. The race starts in Decatur Square on Saturday, September 29 at 8:00 AM.

For more information on the Literacy Alliance of Metro Atlanta, please click here.

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Aug 6 2012

Let the Reading Begin!

by Nancy M

While summer vacation might be winding down for many children, and is over for others (which this northerner cannot wrap her head around), summer is still in full swing and so are the Olympics.  This Olympics I have been a much more tearful, blubbering fool than ever and I think it’s because I’m a new mom. Recently, my ten month old son stood up in his crib for the first time and my heart nearly burst with pride. I feel this same pride for these young, accomplished athletes, which only intensifies when they pan to the parents (Missy Franklin, anyone?). I can only imagine how it must feel to have a child work so hard and win an Olympic medal.  Like many parents, I dream about all the great things my son will become one day, and currently that dream is for him to be an Olympic athlete! Now, if you would like to help bring out the Olympian in your child, the Library has many inspirational stories of athletes throughout history. Here are a few recommendations:

America’s Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Ederle by David Adler

Describes the life and accomplishments of Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to swim the English Channel and a figure in the early women’s rights movement.

Zishe the Strongman by Robert Rubinstein

Relates the unusual story of Zishe, a poor Polish Jew, who became the featured Strongman of circuses throughout the world.

Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull

A biography of the African-American woman who overcame crippling polio as a child to become the first woman to win three gold medals in track in a single Olympics.

For children who would like to learn more about the Olympics and its origins:

Ancient Greece and the Olympics: a non-fiction companion to Hour of the Olympics by Mary Pope Osborne

Annie and Jack present information about ancient Greece and the athletic events known as the Olympic games that were held there.

Olympics by Chris Oxlade

Surveys the history and traditions of the Olympics, highlighting memorable events from ancient Greece to the present day.

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Jul 2 2012

Reaching Olympus

by Jnai W

The World is less than a month away from the 2012 Olympic Games in London and my excitement is steadily growing.  While I cannot rightfully call myself a sports fanatic, I always look forward to the Olympic Games. It’s hard to resist the glamor and spectacle of the Opening Ceremonies. The world’s elite athletes step forth into the Olympic Games with flags waving, beaming proudly in anticipation of representing their respective nations in competition. Then, of course, there are the sporting events, the opportunity to share in (at least, vicariously and from the comforts of our own living rooms) an athlete’s moment in time, the culmination of years of hard work, discipline and sacrifice for their sport. Needless to say, I find it all incredibly romantic and awe-inspiring.

In seeing these Olympians, or any great successful athlete,  I try to imagine what it must be like to have the drive, the strength and the mastery to scale the heights of their sport. What does it take to become a world class athlete ?

Right now I’m juggling a few books on the subject of great athletes and the success they achieve. I haven’t gotten as far as I’d like into one book in particular, Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success by Matthew Syed but I’m working on it. The author, himself a two-time Olympian and table-tennis champion, offers great insight into what it takes to achieve success and prestige in sports or any other field. Syed illustrates that one must apply “purposeful practice” to his or her craft in order to achieve excellence, with extensive research pointing to a minimum requirement of 10 years to gain mastery of one’s sport or field.

Additionally Syed proposes that natural ability and practice may not be enough to reach the Olympics but that “practically every man or woman who triumphs against the odds is, on closer inspection, a beneficiary of unusual circumstances”, some sort of opportunity or privilege that gives them the edge over their peers. In Syed’s case, for example, his excellence in table-tennis was the result of not only copious amounts of practice and his own propensity for the sport but also of having ready access to practice facilities—a tennis table in his own home and a table tennis club only a few miles from his home. These circumstances, plus having a teacher who was also a table tennis enthusiast and coach, all conspired to make Syed a champion, more so perhaps than his own talent.

While I’m still pouring over Bounce, I’ve since been drawn to another wonderful book on the life and times of one of America’s favorite athletes. For The Love of The Game: My Story is a gorgeous and well-written biography of Michael Jordan, basketball superstar and Olympian.  Of all the details of Jordan’s career and various achievements, there was one particular passage which, to me, is very telling of how he rose to the top of his game. Jordan is not only a talented, disciplined and industrious athlete but also he is a visionary of his own success. “I have used visualization techniques for as long as I can remember,” Jordan writes. “It wasn’t until later in my career that I realized the technique is something most people have to learn. I had been practicing the principles naturally my entire life.”

Imagine a young Olympian envisioning her journey from a youth spent practicing her discipline to the moment she reaches the podium, medal draped around her neck and her nation’s anthem playing triumphantly. No matter how these athletes have reached Olympus, the world will be watching. I can’t wait!

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Apr 30 2012

The Fenway Way

by Greg H

This April marked the 1ooth anniversary of the opening of Boston’s Fenway Park.  Plenty has been said and written about this landmark’s centennial and I can’t think of much to add except by way of a juxtaposition. Here in Atlanta we’re talking about demolishing a perfectly serviceable twenty year old stadium to build a new facility with that most fashionable of all features: a retractable roof. The cost is projected to be in the neighborhood of one billion dollars.  Readers can take sides over which number is the more outrageous; the one billion dollars for the new structure or the mere 20 years in age of the old.

We have always been a disposable society, but there must have been a time when, at the very least, a twenty year old, multimillion dollar building was not considered something suitable only for the wrecking ball.  Fenway Park, then maybe only ninety years old, was once thought to be ready for demolition.  That was, however,  before three and four generations of Red Sox fans, and baseball fans everywhere, considered the memories and history that Fenway embodied and decided it needed to be restored, not replaced.

Comparing Fenway Park to the Georgia Dome is an apples and oranges type of exercise.  And I’m not suggesting that  Bostonians  have a more cultivated sense of history than Georgians do. (After all, look at the lengths to which Atlanta went to preserve the Margaret Mitchell House.)  It’s just that places become special precisely because they’ve been given time to become special. If the Georgia Dome’s days are numbered,  here’s hoping that maybe Turner Field can, someday,  be like Fenway.

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Mar 2 2012

The Zombies are coming!

by Amanda L

Did you know that there is a 5K obstacle course that is coming to Georgia? Instead of running against time you are running to avoid the zombies.  The Run for your Lives event is this weekend in Union Point, Georgia where the zombies will be chasing the participants. This event has been traveling the United States.

Want to know more about Zombies? Check out a Zombie’s history of the United States: from massacre at Plymoth Rock to the CIA’s secret war on the undead by Worm Miller. You might also be interested in Tracking the man-beasts: Sasquatch, vampires, zombies and more by Joe Nickell. Trying to avoid those zombies? You might try, The Zombie handbook by Robert Curran

Zombies have been hot over the last few years in the fiction arena. Here are a few titles you might want to explore if you like zombies:

Zombie, Ohio: a tale of the undead by Scott Kenemore

No one is safe in a zombie apocalypse… not even a zombie. With society decomposing before his eyes, and violence escalating into daily life, Peter, a rural Ohio college professor, finds his old friends are loath to associate with him. When he finds out that the automobile wreck that killed him wasn’t an accident, Peter resolves to solve his own murder.

The New Dead: a zombie anthology 

RESURRECTION! The hungry dead have risen. They shamble down the street. They hide in back yards, car lots, shopping malls. They devour neighbors, dogs and police officers. And they are here to stay. The real question is, what are you going to do about it? How will you survive? HOW WILL THE WORLD CHANGE WHEN THE DEAD BEGIN TO RISE? Stoker-award-winning author Christopher Golden has assembled an original anthology of never-before-published zombie stories from an eclectic array of today’s hottest writers.

Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

In a post-apocalyptic world where fences and border patrols guard the few people left from the zombies that have overtaken civilization, fifteen-year-old Benny Imura is finally convinced that he must follow in his older brother’s footsteps and become a bounty hunter.

Raising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory

After a zombie attack, Wanda Mayhall rescues a near-dead infant on the side of a frozen Iowa highway and decides to raise him without telling the authorities, but as the boy gets older he realizes that there are other living dead in the world like him.

This is just a sampling. If you like zombie literature, what would you recommend that you have checked out at the library?

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