Opinion writing in this era of the short attention span is mostly an exercise in list-making. Everybody does it. I've done it myself when sloth and lethargy reduced me to it.
I was reminded of that just now when Yahoo! recommended for my reading pleasure a list of the Top Ten Dunkers of the Last Decade.
These would be basketball players, I assume, and not evangelical immersionists or doughnut fanciers. And the featured dunks would be of more recent vintage than the epochal Chocolate Thunder or, mere dinks by comparison, the subsequent Phi Slamma Jamma stuffs.
(Extra credit if you can name others of the collective besides Olajuwon and Drexler.)
You real geezers will remember Wilt “the Stilt” Chamberlain as the Godfather of Modern Dunk, whose most notorious scoring prodigies came to involve dunking something other than a basketball into something other than a hoop — with no less than 75,000 consensual dunkettes, give or take, by his own estimate.
Color me skeptical of that claim. The Ol' Moi arithmetic tells me that would amount to 10 times a day over 20 years with not a single respite. Or five times daily without surcease over 40 years. Talk about your wilt. Besides the anatomical unfeasibility, just as a procurement feat, it would eclipse every known bordello or seraglio record since the 1,001 nights. There would've been vizier squadrons, working in shifts.
So no, I call bulldookey on the Stilt for that one.
One time during their glory years I saw all 14 Arkansas AM&N Golden Lions cagers dunk the ball one after the other in a pre-game warm-up drill, including monster throwdowns by two guys of lesser stature than Spud Webb, and the visiting Grambling team responded by doing the same thing only awesomer, with the supercool twarn't-nothing air. That was big-time impressive, but I have to say it was the dude in a gorilla suit using a springboard who elevated dunking a basketball into high art — and who was that masked man, or was it really a gorilla under the get-up?
Junior says it was Kerri Strug.
I know what you're thinking at this point. Two things: (1) It's probably an indication that you should get a life if Top Ten Dunkers of the Last Decade is a topic that you've mulled and wooled to the extent that I've already mulled and wooled it here.
And (2) to accomplish a mull or wool of such prolongation, such excuseless elasticity, you'd just about have to be one of these sad cases who phone in to these call-in sports talk-radio shows to share expertise on dribs of data that would glaze out even the paid ort collectors for Stump the Schwab.
In fact, I don't make such calls, but the point is well taken.
All right, three things: (3) A fixation on Top Ten Dunkers of the Decade would just about have to be traceable to a disagreement on the listed nominees. You think that I think that the No. 11 guy ( or someone even farther down the list, or perhaps the gorilla, or Kerri) should be elevated to a place in the dunker pantheon, which would entail demoting one of the website's choices, which wouldn't be fair, and so the debate would be on, and that's how you sell newspapers. Or in the present instance, give them away for free.
That's what we've come to here in Century 21 USA.
That's what passes for discourse. Having supplanted Jefferson-Hamilton, Lincoln-Douglas, Bentsen-Quayle.
Make a list. Have it contain a specified number of utter inconsequentialities. Hope it kicks up a row. Presto, you've created dialogue. You're a pundit. Be proud. Think of Thomas Sowell and Ann Coulter as colleagues. Go forward from there. Continue to rock the boat. Push the envelop. And stick to your guns, such as they are.
Remind those who affect to be unimpressed that the Ten Commandments are just a list same as yours. The Bill of Rights is a list. The Declaration of Independence is a list of grievances. The preamble to the Constitution is nothing if not listy. The Lord's Prayer is a kind of list. Lineup cards and playbills are lists that tell stories. Rollcalls, including the one up yonder, are lists. Thoreau crammed Walden with lists. Nixon had the Enemies List and Sen. Joseph McCarthy had a famous black one.There's an “A” list that you want on, and an “S” list that you don't. Jimmy Hoffa was on an “H” one that rhymes with the “S” one and you don't want on it either. The Huckabees have dozens of upscale gift-registry wish lists still open, and are waiting impatiently for you to do your part. Southern Baptists once kept a master list of everybody in Alabama who was going to Hell. We Death Panelists are already getting together our granny lists.
Lists and more lists. Top 10 Slime Weasels I've Known — four of these you might know or know of; the others, doubtful. One of the latter goes back to grade school. One is kin to me. One sucks, one blows, and another is a lying sack of dog excrement, as are, come to think of it, three of the first four.