Sat, Jul 11, 2009 - Page 8 News List

JOHNNY NEIHU'S NEWS WATCH: Games people play in silly season

By Johnny Neihu 強尼內湖

Break out the mango shaved ice. Yes, dear reader, the silly season has finally arrived.

“Silly season” derives from the traditional summer lull in the newspaper business as politicians take their summer break and news begins to dry up. The silliness begins when desperate editors try to fill the void with sensational and ridiculous news stories designed to part readers from their hard-earned cash.

Here in Taiwan, the opposite is true: The nation’s politicians and cable TV channels do their level best to fill our screens and newspapers with pointless and largely ridiculous bullshit day in, day out during the entire year.

Summer is indeed a strange time on these fair shores. Not only do most legislators keep their mouths shut for a couple of months, but also the nation’s poor, downtrodden schoolkids end up attending more classes than they do during semester. That’s when they’re not busy drowning in rivers and streams.

But this summer promises to bring a refreshing change, as we Taiwanese will be able to sit back, relax and watch a bunch of foreigners acting like performing monkeys.

I’m talking about the World Games, of course, which start on Thursday in “the southern port city of Kaohsiung,” to borrow a phrase from our friends over at the Central News Agency.

What exactly are the World Games, I hear you ask? Well, the Games are the poor, socially inept, wayward relative of the Olympics, chained in the cupboard under the stairs and only let out once every four years.

The World Games are basically a dumping ground for sports the Olympics no longer wants or never wanted in the first place. Got a strange sport that nobody has heard of and even less people want to play? Then the World Games is your oyster, so to speak.

So, if you’re at a loose end later this week, and feel like getting some exercise in the 35°C heat while trying your hand at Fistball, Korfball or Tchoukball, get yourself down to Kaohsiung. I hear there are still spots available for Team Taiwan.

The Games are the culmination of a six-year slog since Kaohsiung won the right to host them back in 2003. Usually, China would have done its utmost to block such a deal, but back in 2003, when Chicom officials informed their masters of Kaohsiung’s plan to host the Games, the conversation went something along these lines:

Chicom official: Chairman Hu, the renegade province is bidding to host the World Games in 2009. Do you want us to put a stop to this?

President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤): What did you say, the World what? What is it?

Official: I’m not exactly sure, but I’ve heard they involve billiards, boule, ballroom dancing and parachuting.

Hu: The triumphant proletariat of this mighty nation has yet to master such bourgeois pastimes. Besides, there can’t be any money in it. Let those splittist turtles have these so-called World Games. When they turn into a disaster, they will only come running to the Motherland for solace, furthering the Great Unification Master Plan. Hah, hah, hah!

The Chicoms were right, it seems, because if ticket sales are anything to go by, the Games have about as much marketability as a French kiss from KMT Legislator Chu Feng-chi (朱鳳芝) — after she’s taken the false teeth out.

On July 8, just one week to go before the Games, Deutsche Presse-Agentur was reporting just 25 percent of tickets had been sold. And most of those were for the opening and closing ceremonies — we Taiwanese are suckers for fireworks, you see.

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