For These Ping-Pong Players, That Seems to Be Just the Way the Ball Bounces

Sure, USC's football program has regained some of its luster with that Orange Bowl win. But another set of victorious athletes feel they're being ignored by the school. I mean the table tennis players.

They have won several tournaments, but team members -- who call themselves the Ping-Pong Posse -- complain of subpar facilities on campus.

The tables "are not even even," one player told the Daily Trojan recently. "That's like playing on stairs." The balls were compared to "L'eggs containers for pantyhose -- you can pull them apart. We should put candy in them, not use them for Ping-Pong."

And, finally, the indoor area where they play is often crammed with plants. "Can you imagine [basketball player] Sam Clancy going up for a rebound and getting caught in a tree?" a player asked.

The ball's in your court, USC.

Unreal estate: Today's viewings (see above) include:

A house that boasts an entryway as well as framed glass openings through which one can peer (from Ron Robinette of San Clemente).

An offer of free arid land for buyers of "recipe's" (Jean Sweet of Tujunga).

And, for those who want to have some work done on their homes, Roseann Herman of L.A. noticed the availability of some reptilian construction types.

Trash talk: Citizens who wish to address the Irvine City Council must fill out speaker's cards beforehand, and the city seems to be making a sarcastic comment about the value of such input (see photo).

My two cents: Just because Northern California was the scene of the Gold Rush, do we have to keep getting the shaft down here? I read in the L.A. Business Journal that in the voting to determine the look of California's new quarter coin, the leading design shows a gold prospector flanked by a bear and a redwood.

Unless the last item is the Redwood Saloon on 2nd Street in downtown L.A., I don't see an image that says much about Southern California.

Just last year, you may recall, the Postal Service came out with a "Greetings From California" stamp that was dominated by the Bay Bridge, with the Transamerica pyramid and the San Francisco skyline in the background.

Maybe it's time for Southern California to secede (yes, the San Fernando Valley can come too).

Power play: I mentioned that during a UCLA basketball game, a DWP radio ad said (or warned): "As long as the Bruins keep producing star athletes and star students, we'll keep the lights on." I was afraid this meant the DWP was thinking of darkening Pauley Pavilion, since UCLA's basketball team is off to its worst start in 57 years.

But UCLA employee Philippe Brieu informs me that about 85% of the school's power comes from its own power plant. This is a better arrangement: Leave it up to the school to decide when to cancel the basketball season.

MiscelLAny: For today's "Duh!" Award, Diane Kieffer of Malibu writes that while visiting the Grand Canyon, she noticed a sticker on the toilet in her hotel room warning, "Reclaimed water -- do not drink."


Steve Harvey can be reached at (800) LA-TIMES, Ext. 77083, by fax at (213) 237-4712, by mail at Metro, L.A. Times, 202 W. 1st St., L.A. 90012 and by e-mail at

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