June 25, 1967:
This blog lives for comments, so it is very disappointing when one pops up that looks promising and turns out to be a fake—some pleasant-sounding gibberish sent out at random by evil agents of Viagra. They probably think that I will be so flattered by the compliment that I will go ahead and post the comment even though it clearly has nothing to with me.
And in truth I am often tempted to do so; it seems a shame to let them just go to waste, especially since they sometimes contain delightfully off-kilter turns of phrase. So herewith, a few examples:
“Sylvester Weisbrod” on The David Bowie Diet:
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I was deeply saddened to learn of the death this weekend of Manute Bol, the 7-foot-7 Dinka from Sudan who, among many other adventures on planet Earth, played 10 seasons in the NBA. 3 of those seasons were for My Golden State Warriors, and it was then and future Warriors coach Don Nelson who had the genius idea of keeping Manute from clogging the lane on the offensive end by encouraging him to shoot 3-pointers. Once in a while one of them would go in, and I remember watching one particular game where he hit a bunch of them. The crowd went wild, of course.
Basketball fans loved Manute. In fact, as far as I can tell, everybody loved him. By all accounts he was a warm, funny, and big-hearted man who just happened to have an 8-foot-6 wingspan. It was this last fact that made him the only player in NBA history with more blocked shots than points…well, that along with the arrogance and foolhardiness of opposing players, whose stubborn determination to attack the basket often allowed Manute to get three or four blocks on the same play. As he put it, “Don’t you have cable? Didn’t the other guys tell you? Nobody dunks on Manute B-O-L!”
There are lots of great Manute stories…how he killed a lion with a spear…how his landlord once complained to Nelson because he was cooking in the fireplace rather than the kitchen of his Oakland apartment…how he may have coined the phrase “my bad.” But he also suffered a lot in this world. After retiring from basketball he more or less gave all his money away and ended up a destitute political refugee. He got involved in cheap stunts like being a jockey for a day and fighting William “The Refrigerator” Perry on Celebrity Boxing. Later he was involved in a serious car accident that nearly killed him, and contracted a rare and exotic skin disease that finally did.
Manute’s name in his native language meant “Special Blessing,” and it was apt. Manute Bol was a special dude and the world is the poorer for his departure from it. I’ll give the last word to his friend and former teammate, a man not much given to sentimentalism, Charles Barkley: “If everyone in the world was a Manute Bol, it’s a world I’d want to live in.”
My sincere desire to be a good world citizen by enjoying the World Cup has been severely tested by a number of circumstances. I already wrote about the vuvuzelas, but at this point they are the least of my issues; I’ve kind of grown accustomed to them, in fact. Here is a brief list of the other things that are annoying me:
- The remarkable lack of scoring should come as no surprise, but despite my resolution to be all serene and grown-up about it…well, this morning I was watching the Netherlands team play a very skillful version of the strategic game, much of which involves going backward to go forward, and found myself thinking of all the other things I might be doing at that moment. Which were few, honestly, because it was 5 o’clock in the AM. I spent a few minutes working on my as-yet-half-developed theory that part of the reason Americans don’t like soccer is that, in contrast to many of the games we play, it mirrors real life in that scoring is relatively rare and thus to be celebrated with great fanfare. That doesn’t take into account basketball, though, and I think that fully fleshing out this theory will require a substantial grant from the relevant authorities.
Here’s the rest of that story about the Hell’s Angels, the puppy, and the bulldozer. (Note to self: great idea for children’s book!) Unfortunately, it leaves a lot of questions unanswered:
German police said on Monday that after making his getaway from the Hell’s Angels club, the 26-year-old dumped the bulldozer, causing a 5 km (3 miles) traffic jam near the southern town of Allershausen, local police said. He then fled to his home nearby where he was apprehended by the police.
“What motivated him to throw a puppy at the Hell’s Angels is currently unclear,” said a spokesman for local police, adding that the student had lately been suffering from depression.
The puppy was now in safe hands, the spokesman added.
(Reporting by Max Chrambach, editing by Paul Casciato)
The best line is “What motivated him to throw a puppy at the Hell’s Angels is currently unclear.” So marvelously deadpan, and if you imagine it being said with a German accent, it’s even better.