'I am the serenest!' he says
LHASA, TIBET - Employing the brash style that first brought him to prominence, Sri Dhananjai Bikram won the fifth annual International Yogi Competition yesterday with a world-record point total of 873.6.
"I am the serenest!" Bikram shouted to the estimated crowd of 20,000 yoga fans, vigorously pumping his fists. "No one is serener than Sri Dhananjai Bikram - I am the greatest monk of all time!" Bikram averaged 1.89 breaths a minute during the two-hour competition, nearly .3 fewer than his nearest competitor, second-place finisher and two-time champion Sri Salil "The Hammer" Gupta.
The heavily favored Gupta was upset after the loss. "I should be able to beat that guy with one lung tied," Gupta said. "I'm beside myself right now, and I don't mean trans-bodily." Bikram got off to a fast start at the Lhasa meet, which, like most major competitions, is a six-event affair. In the first event, he attained total consciousness (TC) in just 2 minutes, 34 seconds, and set the tone for the rest of the meet by repeatedly shouting, "I'm blissful! You blissful?! I'm blissful!" to the other yogis.
Bikram, 33, burst onto the international yoga scene with a gold-mandala performance at the 1994 Bhutan Invitational. At that competition he premiered his aggressive style, at one point in the flexibility event sticking his middle toes out at the other yogis. While no prohibition exists against such behavior, according to Yoga League Commissioner Swami Prabhupada, such behavior is generally considered "unBuddhalike."
"I don't care what the critics say," Bikram said. "Sri Bikram is just gonna go out there and do Sri Bikram's own yoga thing." Before the Bhutan meet Bikram had never placed better than fourth. Many said he had forsaken rigorous training for the celebrity status accorded by his Bhutan win, endorsing Nike's new line of prayer mats and supposedly dating the Hindu goddess Shakti. But his performance this week will regai for him the number one computer ranking and earn him new respect, as well as for his coach Mahananda Vasti, the controversial guru some have called Bikram's "guru."
"My special training diet for Bikram of one super-charged, carbo-loaded grain of rice per day was essential to his win," Vasti said. The defeated Gupta denied that Bikram's taunting was a factor in his inability to attain TC. "I just wasn't myself today," Gupta commented. "I wasn't any self today. I was an egoless particle of the universal no-soul."
In the second event, flexibility, Bikram maintained the lead by supporting himself on his index fingers for the entire 15 minutes while touching the back of his skull to his lower spine. The feat was matched by Gupta, who first used the position at the 1990 Tokyo Zen-Off. "That's my meditative position of spiritual ecstasy, not his,"remarked Gupta. "He stole my thunder." Bikram denied the charge, saying, "Gupta's been talking like that ever since he was a 3rd century Egyptian slave-owner."
Nevertheless, a strong showing by Gupta in the third event, the shotput, placed him within a lotus petal of the lead at the competition's halfway point. But event number four, the contemplation of unanswerable riddles known as koans, proved the key to victory for Bikram. The koan had long been thought the weak point of his spiritual arsenal, but his response to today's riddle - "Show me the face you had before you were born" - was reportedly "extremely illuminative," according to Commissioner Prabhupada. While koan answers are kept secret from the public for fear of exposing the uninitiated multitudes to the terror of universal truth, insiders claim his answer had Prabhupada and the two other judges "highly enlightened."
With the event victory, Bikram built himself a nearly insurmountable lead, one he sustained through the yak-milk churn and breathing events to come away with the upset victory.
This story is clipped from the recent Darwin awards, which people get for doing something incredibly stupid. True story.
Here's the winner: Larry Walters is among the relatively few who have actually turned their dreams into reality. His story is true, as hard as you may find it to believe.
Larry was a truck driver, but his lifelong dream was to fly. When he graduated from high school, he joined the Air Force in hopes of becoming a pilot.
Unfortunately, poor eyesight disqualified him. So when he finally left the service, he had to satisfy himself with watching others fly the fighter jets that crisscrossed the skies over his backyard.
As he sat there in his lawn chair, he dreamed about the magic of flying. Then one day, Larry had an idea. He went down to the local Army-Navy surplus store and bought forty-five weather balloons, and several tanks of helium. These were not your brightly colored party balloons, these were heavy-duty spheres measuring more than four feet across when fully inflated. Back in his yard, Larry used straps to attach the balloons to his lawn chair, the kind you might have in your backyard. He anchored the chair to the bumper of his jeep, and inflated the balloons with helium. Then he packed a few sandwiches and drinks, and a loaded BB gun, figuring he could pop a few balloons when it was time to return to earth. His preparations complete, Larry sat in his chair and cut the anchoring cord.
His plan was to lazily float into the sky, and eventually back to terra firma.
But things didn't quite work out that way. When Larry cut the cord, he didn't float lazily up; he shot up as if fired from a cannon! Nor did he go up a couple hundred feet. He climbed and climbed until he finally leveled off at eleven thousand feet! At that height, he could hardly risk deflating any of the balloons, lest he unbalance the load and really experience flying. So he stayed up there, sailing around for fourteen hours, totally at a loss about how to get down.
Eventually, Larry drifted into the approach corridor for Los Angeles International Airport. A Pan Am pilot radioed the tower about passing a guy in a lawn chair at eleven thousand feet, with a gun in his lap . . . now there's a conversation I would have given anything to have heard! LAX is right on the ocean, and you may know that at nightfall, the winds on the coast begin to change. So, as dusk fell, Larry began drifting out to sea. At that point, the Navy dispatched a helicopter to rescue him, but the rescue team had a hard time getting to him because the draft from their propeller kept pushing his home-made contraption farther and farther away. Eventually, they were able to hover above him and drop a rescue line, with which they gradually hauled him back to safety.
As soon as Larry hit the ground, he was arrested. But as he was led away in handcuffs, a television reported called out, "Sir, why'd you do it?" Larry stopped, eyed the man, then replied nonchalantly, "A man can't just sit around!"
Mark Steuer recounts this tale:
Many years ago (back when we all were still playing D&D), I ran a game where I pitted two groups against each other.
Several members of Group One came up with the idea of luring Group Two into a trap. You remember the Hand of Vecna and the Eye of Vecna that were artifacts in the old D&D world where if you cut off your hand (or your eye) and replaced it with the Hand of Vecna (or the Eye) you'd get new awesome powers? Well, Group One thought up "The Head of Vecna."
Group One spread rumors all over the countryside (even paying Bards to spread the word about this artifact rumored to exist nearby). They even went so far as to get a real head and place it under some weak traps to help with the illusion. Unfortunately, they forgot to let ALL the members of their group in on the secret plan (I suspect it was because they didn't want the Druid to get caught and tell the enemy about this trap of theirs, or maybe because they didn't want him messing with things).
The Druid in group One heard about this new artifact and went off in search of it himself (I believe to help prove himself to the party members...) Well, after much trial and tribulation, he found it; deactivated (or set off) all the traps; and took his "prize" off into the woods for examination. He discovered that it did not radiate magic (a well known trait of artifacts) and smiled gleefully.
I wasn't really worried since he was alone and I knew that there was no way he could CUT HIS OWN HEAD OFF. Alas I was mistaken as the Druid promptly summoned some carnivorous apes and instructed them to use his own scimitar and cut his head off (and of course quickly replacing it with the "Head of Vecna"...)
Some time later, Group one decided to find the Druid and to check on the trap. They found the headless body (and the two heads) and realized that they had erred in their plan (besides laughing at the character who had played the Druid)...The "Head of Vecna" still had BOTH eyes! They corrected this mistake and reset their traps and the "Head" for it real intended victims...
Group Two, by this time, had heard of the powerful artifact and decided that it bore investigating since, if true, they could use it to destroy Group One. After much trial and tribulation, they found the resting place of "The Head of Vecna!" The were particularly impressed with the cunning traps surrounding the site (one almost missed his save against the weakest poison known to man). They recovered the "Head" and made off to a safe area.
Group Two actually CAME TO BLOWS (several rounds of fighting) against each other arguing over WHO WOULD GET THEIR HEAD CUT OFF!
Several greedy players had to be hurt and restrained before it was decided who would be the recipient of the great powers bestowed by the "Head"... The magician was selected and one of them promptly cut his head off. As the player was lifting "The Head of Vecna" to place it on it's new body, another argument broke out and they spent several minutes shouting and yelling. Then, finally, they put the "Head" onto the character.
Well, of course, the "Head" simply fell off the lifeless body. All members of Group Two began yelling and screaming at each other (and at me) and then, on their own, decided that they had let too much time pass between cutting off the head of a hopeful recipient and put the "head of Vecna" onto the body.
SO THEY DID IT AGAIN!... [killing another PC]
In closing, it should be said that I never even cracked a smile as all this was going on. After the second PC was slaughtered, I had to give in (my side was hurting)...
And Group Two blamed ME for all of that...
MIT certainly has a reputation to be proud of, but its admissions department went a little over-board, I think. The first letter is an honest-to-goodness mailing from MIT, the second is one prospective student's reply:
April 18, 1994
Mr. John T. Mongan
You've got the grades. You've certainly got the PSAT scores. And now you've got a letter from MIT. Maybe you're surprised. Most students would be.
But you're not most students. And that's exactly why I urge you to consider carefully one of the most selective universities in America.
The level of potential reflected in your performance is a powerful indicator that you might well be an excellent candidate for MIT. It certainly got my attention!
Engineering's not for you? No problem. It may surprise you to learn we offer more than 40 major fields of study, from architecture to brain and cognitive sciences, from economics (perhaps the best program in the
country) to writing.
What? Of course, you don't want to be bored. Who does? Life here *is* tough *and* demanding, but it's also *fun*. MIT students are imaginative and creative - inside and outside the classroom.
You're interested in athletics? Great! MIT has more varsity teams - 39 - than almost any other university, and a tremendous intramural program so everybody can participate.
You think we're too expensive? Don't be too sure. We've got surprises for you there, too.
Why not send the enclosed Information Request to find out more about this unique institution? Why not do it right now?
Michael C. Benhke
P.S. If you'd like a copy of a fun-filled, fact-filled brochure, "Insight," just check the appropriate box on the form.
May 5, 1994
Michael C. Behnke
MIT Director of Admissions
Office of Admissions, Room 3-108
Cambridge MA 02139-4307
You've got the reputation. You've certainly got the pomposity. And now you've got a letter from John Mongan. Maybe you're surprised. Most universities would be.
But you're not most universities. And that's exactly why I urge you to carefully consider one of the most selective students in America, so selective that he will choose only *one* of the thousands of accredited universities in the country.
The level of pomposity and lack of tact reflected in your letter is a powerful indicator that your august institution might well be a possibility for John Mongan's future education. It certainly got my attention!
Don't want Bio-Chem students? No problem. It may surprise you to learn that my interests cover over 400 fields of study, from semantics to limnology, from object-oriented programming (perhaps one of the youngest professionals in the country) to classical piano.
What? Of course you don't want egotistical jerks. Who does? I *am* self-indulgent *and* over confident, but I'm also amusing. John Mongan is funny and amusing - whether you're laughing with him or at him.
You're interested in athletes? Great! John Mongan has played more sports 47 - than almost any other student, including oddball favorites such as Orienteering.
You think I can pay for your school? Don't be too sure. I've got surprises for you there, too.
Why not send a guaranteed admission and full scholarship to increase your chance of being selected by John Mongan? Why not do it right now?
P.S. If you'd like a copy of a fun-filled, fact-filled brochure, "John Mongan: What a Guy!" just ask.