I’ve read all the Onion books (and compiled a list of greatest hits), but the two most scarifyingly plausible stories were, one, a tale of Japan’s being catapulted back to the 21st century by an earthquake (complete with present-day photo of J-teens straight out of Fruits), and, two, last week’s well-delivered parody of American blowhard sportscasting. (The Onion’s video interferes with you when you pause; YouTube’s is as blurry as ever; iTunes’s version is clearest.)

Except the sport here is sepak takraw (ตะกร้อ).

The delivery is another example of meaning imparted by intonation rather than words. I think it’s time for an annotated transcript. (You have no idea how much work this entailed, or of how many facts the Onion’s writers cribbed from Wikipedia and sometimes got wrong.)

MICHAEL BANNON: Right now, news from the international saypack tackraw league. Bad boy Nguyễn Thị Bích Thủy is grabbing headlines once again. The Chon Buri Tigers have announced that they have suspended Thủy a record fifth time this season, citing his public criticism of coach Ha Tung Lap for not running the offence through him more. Once again, here are those controversial comments from Thủy.

THỦY (translated): I am the best player on my team. Just give me the damn sepak takraw ball.

BANNON: We’ve heard that before. And joining us now is senior Onion News Network sports analyst Reggie Greengrass. Thủy just can’t stay out of trouble, can he?

GREENGRASS: It certainly seems that way, Michael.

— Well, “give me the damn seppik takraw ball” – I mean, come on, doesn’t Thủy get the ball as much [as] if not more [than] any other takrawer in the league?

— It’s unbelievable, Michael. I mean, Thủy touches rattan on 85% of the Tigers’ volleys, OK?

— Right.

— He’s earned the attention. He’s got a roll-spike rate of 93, but he’s asking for more.

— 93 is great. What does he want?

— Look, when you’re in your 13.1-by-6.4, you’ve got to be thinking in terms of your regu. This season alone, Thủy’s cautionable offences include entering the court without the technical delegate’s permission –

— I love that.

— Showing dissent through word or action and leaving the court without the permission of the technical delegate.

— How does he get away with this?

— Coach Lap tried to instill some discipline. He moved Thủy from the service circle to the quarter circle. We both know that’s not an easy decision to make with a King’s Cup on the line. Michael, this guy basically thinks of himself as the god Hanuman – you know, playing takraw in a group of monkeys like in the mural at Wat Phra Kaew?


— Big picture: Is Thủy good for seppik tikraw?

— Well, listen, interest in the sport has never been higher. But is it for the right reasons? I mean, do we want to talk about his regu substitution pattern or the fact that he’s dating Nahathai Lekbumrung?

— Yeah, I’m jealous. Well, he’s already had a tremendous effect on the rest of the league.

Onion screenshot: Actual Thai-bean-custard container — Absolutely. Other takrawers are not as vocal as Thủy, but they are signing ฿3 trillion deals, releasing their own luk thung albums. Their faces are all over our Thai-bean-custard containers –

— That’s for sure.

— Yet many of these guys can’t even wait around after a match to sign rattans on the pitch. I think sepak takraw is gonna have to take a long, hard look at itself if it wants to keep relating to the average fan.

— You bet. Reggie Greengrass, thank you for your time, sir.

— My pleasure.

— Talk to you again.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2008.02.09 13:15. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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