Strike this!

Posted on 27 Aug 2009 at 4:08pm
By Rich Lopez Staff Writer

How a joystick helped this hero train for the ultimate sport: Fruit Bowl

BOWL OF FRUITS
Dallas Super Fruit Bowl, USA Bowl, 10920 Composite Drive. Aug. 30. Registration begins at 1 p.m.; play begins at 2 p.m.; awards at 4:45 p.m. $30 per team (4-member teams). HRC.org.




The author, in his guise as a couch potato, plans a special training regimen for his team bowling debut.

I’m a procrastinator. Major. Weeks ago, I got the e-mail to join the Dallas Voice company team for this year’s Fruit Bowl, a campy fundraising party benefiting the Human Rights Campaign. I smirked and then continued working.

Now, it turns out, the team is short a man; the tourney is this weekend; and all eyes are looking to me. It probably had something to do with that pitch I gave about writing it up and joining the team. I don’t know.

With mere days to prepare and a full plate of work (and food — a boy has to maintain his energy), I had to find time to work on my baby splits, five-baggers and killing the ball (oh yeah, I know the terminology). That’s when neighbors in my East Dallas 16-plex came to the rescue.

This year’s theme is all about superheroes, and we appropriately came together just like the Avengers. Once I put out the distress alert on Facebook, Mary was on it in a flash sending out the call to the others. It was heeded when super-duo Scott and Jessica offered the perfect solution.

We were going to Wii.

This would save time and trouble of going to an actual bowling lane to train. Perfect technique and skill was waiting for me just down the hall. Clearly, we are the best hero team ever.

I walked on into their handsomely decorated space that made me seethe with jealousy. If I dwelled on it too long, I would switch to the dark side and find myself with archvillains — Doctor Doom instead of Mr. Fantastic. There wasn’t time for that. Getting my strike on was the goal here.

Being a Wii virgin, I discovered I had to make a Mii, an avatar of myself that would be born into this gaming universe. What happened to the days of just grabbing a joystick and playing the game?

The duo’s technological superpowers enabled me to recreate myself from skin color to hair to eyes and even a beauty mark. Jessica scanned my face as I clicked through options of facial hair shapes. Bizarro Rich was soon born to fight pixilated bowling pins and avoid the treacherous gutter villain.

By this time, Jesse had come over to "drive," which apparently means one person clicks all the buttons to keep us moving. This was his power as well as teaching me how to curve the ball. Although I wasn’t overly fond of his snarky comment about Bizarro Rich looking like a Mexican Hitler.

Jesse the Driver put me on training mode. These exercises would put me over the top. We began with "Picking Up Spares" where I had to take down a number of pins in various formations. I progressed to four lanes but those snake eyes splits got the best of me. I pray this doesn’t happen on the real lanes.

"Spin Control" tested my powers the most.

"This will force you to control the ball," Jesse said.

He was right. Barriers in the lane drove me to curve the ball and attempt to hit the one pin. I missed often. The pin would mock me while still standing there like a lone finger. I cleared six lanes but I needed to work on this. Better yet, I’ll just ignore it.

Turns out, Wii is pretty easy. I knocked down more pins than ever and gained confidence as the Fruit Bowl was days away. I wondered if this was going to help.
"I do think this can improve your game. It can show how you twist your hand when you let go," Jessica said.

It was a valid point. I made conscious efforts to not twist my wrist and got the results I needed with strikes and spares. Even though I lost the first round, I had broken a 100, which is always my personal goal.

During our second round, I still didn’t win but I played my best game ever in my life. My official training was complete and I was ready. My 142 score was such a triumph I knew I had the powers to take on the best of them and help my new superhero team take the Fruit Bowl.

That is if they let me join.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 28, 2009.

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