Hold these balls

Guess it could have been worse. In the NBA draft last week, Dallas Mavericks head coach-general manager Don Nelson picked an 18-year-old kid and a 7-foot-1 Chinese player named Wang Zhi-Zhi. So much for the saying, "He has a [politically incorrect term for Asian's] chance of playing in the NBA," which we've never uttered, but still...

It isn't the greatest draft in Mavericks history -- then again, name one that was. Chicago high school star Leon Smith insists he doesn't want to play a season in Europe, per Nellie's orders, and Wang has one more year on the Chinese Army team, which we hear is really good, at least against other Chinese teams. But still, it's not a disaster. According to Nelson, he had other risky prospects in mind when he and the brain trust sat down to make their selections in this year's draft.

For instance, Nellie told Buzz, he considered drafting a 432-pound Samoan, who, Nellie says, "can really fill up the lane." But he passed when he discovered the man had only one arm and couldn't see very well. "We already have Shawn Bradley," he explained.

Nelson also passed on Helmut and Dieter Lang, 9-foot-3 21-year-old conjoined twins from Germany, who played several years in the ECL (European Circus League). Nelson insisted the brothers could have been Dallas' own Twin Towers. "Plus, it's two players for the price of one," he said. "Think of the salary-cap implications." But he passed on the Lang boys, since he already has Shawn Bradley.

Then there was the 2-foot-3 power forward from F.P. Caillet Elementary School. Nelson said "Little" Jimmy Rexall has "tons of spunk" and "loads of potential" at the position. "Look, he's only 8 years old," Nelson said, his voice raising slightly when Buzz asked what the hell was he thinking. "I guarantee it right here and now: He will be Rookie of the Year in 2009. If he's not, then at that time, I will have [future Mavericks owner] Tom Hicks fire my grandson, Donnnnnn Nelson, the following season."

Fished in

"As a longtime Observer reader, I was not under the impression that any of your news-format stories were fantasies or fabrications, a la Globe, Star, Enquirer, etc.," writes Robert D. Balfanz in an indignant letter to Buzz.

Balfanz's gonads were frosted by an item printed here May 13 in which Buzz reported that we had seen a DART bus driver slap a sleeping wino -- rather helpfully, we thought -- to wake him up so he wouldn't miss his stop. This is true.

We went on to add that this was part of DART's new Stop and Smack service instituted "at the request of transients, vagrants, vagabonds, and narcoleptics." This isn't so true.

After reading Buzz, Balfanz wrote to DART president Roger Snoble seeking to "purchase a copy of the text of procedures that enable, outline, describe, and regulate this program. Further, I would like to know where, and by whom, the certification is administered."

Snoble replied, in writing, that "there is no truth to the program described. This is merely the author's attempt to provide satirical humor."

Merely attempted humor? Hey, Roger, if you think it's easy, you try it.

Still, we feel just awful about confusing Balfanz, cursed as he is with a humor deficiency. We want to assure Dallas Observer readers that virtually everything printed in the Observer is as true as we can make it -- unless it appears in a gray box.

On that score, Buzz would like to amend the item on "Stop and Smack." This is not a DART program. It is a federal program funded by Congress under a bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm, who said vagrant bus riders "need a good smack." If you have any questions, Mr. Balfanz, contact the senator. We're sure he'd be happy to hear from you.


Gov. George W. Bush has never struck us as the brightest guy on the political scene. Cheerful and personable, yes, but kind of dim. He's the Irish setter of presidential candidates. Admittedly, this is our liberal bias at work here. He may be a genius, for all we know.

Yet even liberally biased Buzz was offended by the rash of grief our Texian governor received over a few geographical gaffes. He referred to Kosovars as Kosvarians, Timorese as Timorians, and Greeks as Grecians. In the most grievous boo-boo, he confused Slovenia with Slovakia.

Does he deserve the criticism? Honestly, Buzz, like millions of graduates of American public schools, didn't even know there was a Slovenia, and we couldn't find Slovakia on a map. So does the governor of Texas need to know the name of every Eastern European province whose gross national product is measured in turnips? (Note to angry Slovenians: That's a rhetorical question, and we're talking about other nations, not yours.)

We suppose he does. So, to help Bush out, Buzz has prepared a little quiz to test the gov's, and your, geographical know-how:

1. Pottsylvania is A) the fictional home of Bullwinkle's nemesis, Boris Badenov; B) a real country whose prime minister is Boris Badenov; C) I don't know, and I don't care.

2) Freedonia is A) the fictional setting of the Marx Brothers movie Duck Soup; B) a European country located next to Slovenia; C) I don't know, and I don't care.

3) A native of the Virgin Islands is A) a Virgin Islander; B) exceedingly hard to find these days; C) I don't know, and I don't care.

If you answered B or C to any of the above, either you're exceptionally honest or you went to Buzz's high school. But don't despair: You, too, may have a place in the future Bush administration -- an ambassadorship, even. To apply, just stuff $200,000 in cash in an envelope and mail it to "George, I want to be an ambassador," in care of Buzz at this newspaper.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams