So, one time for my middle school gym class I was required to write an essay about a sport. Any sport. Unfortunately, I hated all sports. Fortunately, I was blessed with a creative spirit, so I invented a new sport to write about. This is the opening paragraph of my essay:
Squid racing is exhausting, often frightening, disorienting, and dangerous to participate in. It is also exhilerating, fascinating, and it cultivates a deep friendship between man and mollusk. This informational paper will cover the care and training of squid, race course descriptions, and advice to squid racers.
Again fortunately, my gym teacher had a sense of humor, and was sufficently amused by my fictional "sport" to grant me full credit on the assignment.

Ever since, I've been toying with the idea of expanding my seventh-grade essay into a full-blown novel. This is the year I'm finally going to do it. In November, actually. NaNoWriMo, here I come!

Of course, I've already been scooped by Japan. Sigh.
The point is to shoo your squid around the oval with the help of a plastic "riding crop." The elderly guy on my right is a natural-born squid jockey, whisking the water a few inches behind his charge exactly the way the emcee demonstrated a few minutes ago. And the ten year old on track three has a winner on his hands: his squid rocketed out of the gate in an apparent bid for escape without any prodding at all. Meanwhile, I've got a mean bastard. His (?) chromatophores pulsate through a cycle of angry purples and reds as he furiously attacks the crop, balling his little tentacles around it like a tiny alien fist, drawing it into his angry little beak. I concentrate on shaking him off and that's when it hits me: I'm paying money to whack a squid with a stick. Good lord, what have I gotten myself into? Not for the first time in my travels through Japan, I'm struck by the thought that this is either the single greatest moment of my life or the single silliest, and I'm not sure I'll ever figure out which.