Tomorrow (officially, anyway--though you can probably get it today) my travelogue on Chinese food and why Dallas can't do it authentically hits the stands. (Hint: It has something to do with guts.) Tomorrow also marks the beginning of the NBA Finals. This is significant, because while it is exceedingly difficult to get around Beijing without speaking a lick of Mandarin, I quickly learned it's not so bad if you speak a little NBA. After some street hawker tried to sell me a Mao watch on Tiananmen Square, with the sadistic dictator's arm saluting away the seconds, I ran into a student intent on practicing his English. Right in the glaring gaze of Mao Zedong, we had the following exchange:
"Dallas. Texas. You know, Dallas Cowboys?"
"Dallas Cowboys. Football.
"Oh, yeah. World Cup!"
"No, no, no. Footb...Wait, you know NBA? Yao Ming?"
"Oh, yeah. Kobe. Shaq. Shaq right on!"
"OK. Dallas. Mavericks."
"Dirk! Oh, yeah! Dirk. Free throw. Whoosh. Dirk right on! You from Dirk?"
"Yeah. Dirk. Dallas."
"Cool. Dirk. Dirk close by Duncan?" --Mark Stuertz