Color Commentary

British radio listeners received some unlooked-for entertainment in 1937 when they tuned in to hear Lieutenant Commander Tommy Woodroofe give a radio commentary on the illumination of the fleet at Spithead. It appears Woodroofe had fortified himself a bit before the broadcast:

At the present moment … the whole fleet is lit up. When I say ‘lit up’ I mean lit up by fairy lamps. It’s fantastic. It isn’t a fleet at all. It’s just … it’s fairyland. The whole fleet is in fairyland. Now if you’ll follow me through … if you don’t mind … the next few moments you’ll find the fleet doing odd things.

There followed a pause of 11 seconds, after which Woodroofe said, “I’m sorry, I was telling people to shut up talking.”


At the 1939 World’s Fair, San Francisco Seals catcher Joe Sprinz tried to catch a baseball dropped from the Goodyear blimp 1,200 feet overhead.

Sprinz knew baseball but he hadn’t studied physics — he lost five teeth and spent three months in the hospital with a fractured jaw.


In 1958, Canada held a bullfight. The Lindsay, Ontario, chamber of commerce approved $12,500 to arrange the event, apparently to promote cultural enrichment, but the transplant was shaky from the start.

Four Mexican matadors showed up on July 21, but the six bulls were delayed at the Texas border and the fight was delayed for three weeks. It finally went ahead, with three matadors, on August 22 and 23, over the objections of the Ontario SPCA, though organizers promised it would be “bloodless.”

Apparently the event itself went well, but when it was over the bulls were retired anyway, and Ontario never tried bullfighting again. Matador Jorge Luis Bernal told the Peterborough Examiner, “If a bull lives, he will be too wise for anyone to fight again. He will know the ways of the bull ring.”


José Silva and João Rafael devised this chess game to demonstrate at the 1978 Portuguese Junior Championship. The game is spurious, but the moves are legal:

1. a3 h6 2. b3 g6 3. c3 f6 4. d3 e6 5. e3 d6 6. f3 c6 7. g3 b6 8. h3 a6 9. a4 b5 10. a5 b4 11. c4 d5 12. c5 d4 13. e4 f5 14. e5 f4 15. g4 h5 16. g5 h4 17. Nc3 dxc3 18. Ra3 bxa3 19. b4 Nf6 20. exf6 Rh6 21. gxh6 g5 22. b5 g4 23. b6 g3 24. d4 e5 25. Bb5 axb5 26. d5 Bg4 27. hxg4 e4 28. d6 e3 29. Qd5 cxd5 30. Ne2 d4 31. Nxd4 Be7 32. dxe7 Qxe7 33. Bb2 Qe4 34. fxe4 cxb2 35. a6 b4 36. Nc2 b3 37. Ke2 bxc2 38. Rd1 Nd7 39. g5 Rc8 40. g6 Rc7 41. bxc7 Nb6 42. cxb6 h3 43. Rd7 Kxd7 44. Kd3 Ke6 45. e5 Kf5 46. Kc4 Ke4 47. Kc5 Kd3 48. Kd6 Kd2 49. Kd7 Kd1 50. Kd8 f3 51. g7 g2 52. h7 a2 53. f7 h2 54. b7 f2 55. a7 e2 56. e6 Kd2 57. e7 Kd1

turnabout 1

Okay so far? Now 58. a8=R h1=R 59. b8=N g1=N 60. c8=B f1=B 61. e8=Q e1=Q 62. f8=B c1=B 63. g8=N b1=N 64. h8=R a1=R:

turnabout 2

The players agree to a draw.

Four-Dimensional Basketball

The public school in College Corner, Indiana, straddles the border with Ohio — the state line runs right through the gymnasium. So at the opening tip of a basketball game, players jump from different states.

Until 2006, when the Hoosier State began observing daylight saving time, a ball thrown from Ohio would hit the net in Indiana an hour earlier.

Roll Call

In November 2006, 23-year-old David Fearn of Staffordshire changed his name to James Dr. No From Russia With Love Goldfinger Thunderball You Only Live Twice On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Diamonds Are Forever Live and Let Die The Man With the Golden Gun The Spy Who Loved Me Moonraker For Your Eyes Only Octopussy A View to a Kill The Living Daylights Licence to Kill GoldenEye Tomorrow Never Dies The World Is Not Enough Die Another Day Casino Royale Bond.

It’s the longest name in deed poll history.


Germany Schaefer stole first base. On Aug. 4, 1911, playing for the Washington Senators, Schaefer stole second base conventionally, hoping to draw a throw from the catcher so a teammate could steal home. The catcher didn’t throw, so on the next pitch Schaefer ran back to first.

That was legal at the time, but rule 7.08i now forbids a player to run the bases in reverse order “for the purpose of confusing the defense or making a travesty of the game.”

Duck Soup

T.S. Eliot was a fan of Groucho Marx. The two maintained a correspondence through the early 1960s, when Groucho accepted a long-offered dinner with the poet.

Eliot wrote: “The picture of you in the newspapers saying that, amongst other reasons, you have come to London to see me has greatly enhanced my credit in the neighborhood, and particularly with the greengrocer across the street. Obviously I am now someone of importance.”