Tag Archives: The Karate Kid

“Searching for Sugar Man” and when fame doesn’t change a man. Team USA excruciatingly ties at World Cup. And “The Karate Kid” turns 30


So I mentioned briefly last week that I finally got around to watching the Academy Award-winning documentary “Searching for Sugar Man,” the story of a mysterious early 1970’s rock singer from Detroit named Rodriguez, who never found success in America but developed an enormous following in South Africa, where more than 500,000 of his records have been sold in the last 40 years.

The film, released in 2012, is astonishingly good, and at less than 90 minutes, packs a lot of story and fabulous music into an incredible story.
I don’t want to give away too much of the plot (The movie is playing on the Starz cable channel all month, and is on Netflix), because the story is so incredible, about how Rodriguez was living his life in Detroit as a construction worker, toiling in anonymity for decades, before being “found” and told what a sensation he was in South Africa.

But for days now I’ve been thinking about this theme of fame and success. Sixto Rodriguez made a few records in the early ’70s, and never became famous. And he seems pretty fine with that. When he was “discovered” by two enterprising and dogged South Africans, he was stunned, and happy to discover his music found a huge audience.

But it didn’t change him, this “accidental” discovery. So many times in America we’ve seen people go from anonymity to instant fame and it completely changes who they are, and what they believe.
Very rarely does fame not change a person. What I found fascinating about Rodriguez is he was living his anonymous life, suddenly became famous, then went back to his mostly-anonymous life for years afterward, until “Searching for Sugar Man” brought him back into the spotlight.

He’s still the same guy, living in the same house. And I think that’s beautiful and rare. In his mind, he’s always been a success, because he’s doing what he loved, and had everything he needed.

Not sure if I’m making the point I’m trying to make here. I guess what I’m trying to say is the true character of a person comes out when they suddenly get “famous,” and in Rodriguez’s case, it was wonderful to see.

Now go see the movie.


**Man, that USA-Portugal soccer game Sunday night was intense. Has a tie ever felt more like a loss in our lives?
I’ve really gotten into this World Cup, and from what my soccer friends tell me, this has been the best tournament in decades. But Sunday night brought forth all the emotions: Despair when Portugal got the early goal, encouragement when we tied it, elation when Clint Dempsey and a 20-year-old kid named DeAndre Yedlin team up to give America an improbable 2-1 lead, and then utter shock when with 30 seconds left Portugal ties it.

Crazy. Now the U.S. has to beat or tie Germany, or hope Portugal squeaks by Ghana by only a goal or so, to advance.
You know what else is crazy? That soccer’s “extra time” period is a joke; only the referee knows how much beyond 90 minutes the team’s will play, and even that seems to be an estimate.
Is there some intelligent reason why the referee can’t stop and start the clock whenever there’s an injury or sub? I mean, every other sport seems to be able to do it, but not soccer.
Just seems ridiculous to me.
Still, even with giving up the late tying goal and all U.S. fans feeling deflated, it was a hell of a game, and a hell of a performance, from the Americans. Now a tie or win against Germany and our boys advance to the knockout round, something very, very few people thought possible two weeks ago.


**A teenage soccer player named Daniel LaRusso moved from New Jersey to California, fell in with an old Japanese guy who was the handyman at his new apartment complex, met and fell in love with a beautiful blonde girl named Ali (with an “i”), learned karate, got bullied by some mean boys, then got the girl and some revenge at the end.

Sounds like the plot of a classic movie to me! “The Karate Kid” was somehow released 30 years ago last week, and Mental Floss has once again come through with some awesome facts (30 in all) about a movie that I, and everyone else in Generation X, considers a classic.

A few of my favorite nuggets from this piece:

— Daniel’s original last name was “Webber,” and even more horrifying, Johnny Lawrence was gonna be “Donald Rice.” Sorry, Donald Rice could be your attorney, not a blond karate killing machine.

— One of the greatest song/movie montages ever (above), Joe Esposito’s “You’re The Best,” was originally written for “Rocky III” but was replaced by “Eye of The Tiger.”

–That was NOT Mr. Miyagi actually doing the crane kick in the famous beach scene, it was a body double.
Well, you might as well tell me there’s no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny either, man.

Florida GOP doesn’t want teachers helping kids register to vote. A tribute to the Kobra Kai sensai. And a ridiculous wedding lawsuit

You know what the biggest fear of the Republican party is? No, not a weekend alone with Carson Kressley and Cam from “Modern Family.”

It’s voting. They don’t want people to vote. For a generation now, they’ve tried to make it really, really hard for U.S. citizens to vote. They’re just basically scared of the “wrong people” voting. You know, like African-Americans, Hispanics, and any other minority that doesn’t normally vote Republican.

Oh, they throw around words like “voter fraud” and try to make you think that the whole country is Chicago under Richard Daley, and votes are being stolen left and right.
But really, they’re just scared. And they’re making it harder and harder for honest, decent citizens like Jill Cicciarelli of New Smyrna Beach High School in Florida to get kids excited about voting and politics.

If you haven’t heard, Cicciarelli may owe her state, currently being run into the ground by Governor Rick Scott, thousands of dollars. Cicciarelli broke the law recently. She had the nerve to register students at New Smyrna Beach without first getting a registration license, and then she didn’t turn the ballots in under the brand-new deadline of 48 HOURS after the registrations were filled out.

This is all part of a larger pattern in Florida and other states; reduce early voting days, make it harder and harder for people who have moved to vote, etc.

It’s disgusting and despicable that Cicciarelli and other Fla. teachers have “broken the law” by trying to get young people excited about their future.

Truly pathetic. But not at all surprising.

**On a happier note, I love any video that has to do with “The Karate Kid.” Here’s a tribute to Kobra Kai sensai John Kreese, and the numerous facial expressions he makes during the All Valley Karate Tournament. The man got robbed of an Oscar, I tell you. Sweep the leg!

**Finally a truly ridiculous lawsuit. A man named Todd Remis is suing a New York photography studio for not properly documenting his 2003 wedding. He waited six years to file the suit, he and his wife are now divorced (she lives in Latvia now), but Remis wants the studio to pay $48,000 so he can re-create the wedding and re-shoot the last 15 minutes of the reception, which he says the photographers missed.

I mean, I don’t even know what to say. Except if this is the kind of guy Remis is, I have no trouble believing he’s divorced.

Oh, how we love our new Wii game


Move over, chocolate chip cookies.

Stand aside, sunsets over the Grand Canyon.

I’ve got a whole new love in my life, and baby, it’s a beauty.

For my birthday last week, my wonderful in-laws and my equally-terrific wife got me two new games for the Nintendo Wii: One, the Wii Grand Slam Tennis, I’ve been pining for for several months, and so far it’s pretty awesome.

It’ll be even more awesome when I figure out how to play well on the damn thing; you’ve got all kinds of shot control, but the movement side to side and up to the net is really difficult. Alas, I will master it.

But no, the true apple of my eye is the other game I received, and my friends, at the risk of sounding like Vince from Slap Chop, I cannot recommend this product highly enough.

Basically, you are taken to an island and you compete in 12 different sports, sports that you have never seen before in a video game. There’s wakeboarding, where you’re behind a boat and you’ve got to twist the remote side to side, catch a wave, and do crazy flips in the air (I rule at this game).

There’s skydiving, where you link up with people on your way to the ground from 20,000 feet and have to hold the position for a few seconds (this game, I’m not so good at).

But the best, best, best game is the sword-fighting duel challenge, which is exactly what it sounds like. You and a competitor are all dressed up in fighting gear, and stand across from each other in dueling positions. Then, when the horn sounds, you attack each other immediately, trying to land blows and shove the other person off the cliff, and plummeting down 50 feet into the water below.

It’s kind of like the joust competition on the old “American Gladiators” (which was just the most awesome Saturday morning show ever, and probably worthy of its own post at some point. Here’s an awesome video of kick-ass MMA fighter Gina Carano in a montage of her best moments on the show. But I digress.)

Anyway, as great as the joust competition is, and it takes a lot of skill, the wacky Nintendo people came up with something even more bizarre.

It’s called the “Speed Slice” challenge, and this is how it works: You and your opponent (in my case, my wife) stand their with your swords, and wait as a scary-looking man holds various objects.

Then scary looking man throws them in the air. You wait for the objects to land, and for a split second an arrow appears telling you which direction to slice. The first person to slice correctly gets a point, and first to 10 points wins.

I should point out that the objects include a pencil, a block of ice, and a watermelon. It’s insanely funny.

God, how I would’ve loved to be in that production meeting in Japan when they came up with this:

Employee 1: OK, so we’ve got this great sword-fighting game, where people can joust with each other and pretend to inflict violence.

Employee 2: Yeah, but that’s not enough. We need MORE!

Employee 1: OK, how about this: We give the two people swords, and then we have that dude from our Wii boxing game throw stuff at them, and they’ve got to cut it up really fast.

Employee 2: Brilliant. What should we have our guy throw?

Employee 1: How about, I don’t know, watermelon. And blocks of ice. And, and …

Employee 2: Roman candles!

Employee 1: Yes, Roman candles! Of course. We’ve got a winner on our hands!

Employee 2: Great. Let’s go eat lunch, and hey, do we have any more of those drugs around?

If you’re curious, here’s a demo.

So yeah, we played Wii Sports Resort a lot over the weekend. There’s also basketball, a frisbee game where you throw the frisbee and your little dog partner runs and catches it, and a very cool cycling game.

Bravo, Wii people. Bravo.

P.S. OK, since you’ve hung around this far, two entertaining if old YouTubes to give you a smile:

First, since the Vince from Slap Chop reference got me thinking about it, here’s three minutes of pure genius:

And then, because you know you love it, and because it’s one of my favorite movie montages EVER …

Daniel La Russo will live forever.