Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011 (Hong Kong)

FIRST NIGHT OF THE RUGBY SEVENS: This is hard to capture. I will be embarrassed to say that it will take me longer to write a little about our baptism in the Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament than it took to PLAY AN ENTIRE GAME. There were 12 games, each one lasting 14 minutes of running time (7 minutes per half; 2 minutes per intermission). Scores from last night's opening-round matches in Hong Kong Stadium were all over the map: New Zealand beat South Korea, 61-0. Samoa beat Mexico, 64-0. Australia beat Zimbabwe, 42-0. Fiji beat Malaysia, 49-0. England beat China, 59-5. But you probably know that already.
The closest games were France 12, Portugal 5; Scotland 12, Tonga 10; Argentina 22, Canada 21; and U.S.A. 24, Japan, 19.
This all happened in the space of a couple of hours. No TV timeouts; no delays of game for injuries; no 20-second timeouts for coaches. Don't blink.
Once we got inside the stadium, Sandy and I were able to watch the game with a number of people from various financial/investment businesses. All were able and willing to explain the rules of rugby and the specific strategies of the lightning-quick Sevens games.
Nestled in the middle of the evening's contests, Canada beat France in the women's title game, 28-14, establishing themselves as a solid favorite to win Olympic gold in the Rio Olympics in 2016. From our perch, Sandy and I realized that the French team was part of a VERY LARGE CONTINGENT that were IN FRONT OF US in a very long immigration line when we landed on Monday night. We did NOT hold it against them.

AMBUSH MARKETING: Corporate sponsorship is baked into the tournament. It is the Cathay Pacific/Credit Suisse Hong Kong Sevens. One of the features of the festivities is the so-called "ambush marketing" that other corporate entities engage in to glean some of the corporate attention for themselves. For example, Deutsche Bank distributed dozens, if not hundreds, of hats, fur-lined vests, woolly leggings and fluffy hats--mostly in distinctive baby blue. All had a logo. You could see them throughout the stands. Another corporation--Telstra--was a bit more outrageous. They distributed Elvis wigs and rugby shirts. We caught up with some of them in the subway after the game. They posed. I didn't check for blue suede shoes.

WORDS AND IMAGES: By coincidence, I'm in Hong Kong while copy editing for our TidePool Press a manuscript of a memoir by Marian Schlesinger that includes a section about her visit to China in the 1930s--including, using spelling from her time, Shanghai, Foochow, Hong Kong, Peking. The descriptions have helped me appreciate my little window on China in the here-and-now. In one part, she describes working with a teacher of distinctive Chinese landscape painting. His name was Mr. Teng. Here's an excerpt:
"I was running fast to keep up, as he took me over the threshold of this ancient art, taught me to draw plum blossoms, tree peonies in spring, mountains in a winter rain, gnarled pine trees, ginkgo trees, water running over rocks, bamboo stalks in the wind. Each had its ordained vocabulary of strokes. It was like studying harmony and discovering the underlying elements on which concerti and symphonies are built. Forever after, I looked at Chinese paintings with a new eye."
I've included an example (not from our book) at right.

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