Monday, February 04, 2008

What's The Best Kind of Bear?

Dwight Schrute once asked one of the fundamental questions of our time. OK, actually it was Jim Halpert pretending to be Dwight Schrute, but an important question it is -- what is the best kind of bear?

Jim said black bear. I wish to offer an alternative.

What's the best kind of bear? I say a beer-drinking, cigarette-smoking, mortar-shell carrying bear who fights Nazis. That kind of bear is Voytek the Soldier Bear. And Voytek kicks ass.

This story has been a topic of discussion in my house for several days. According to the BBC, who presumably thoroughly fact-check this kind of thing, Voytek was a bear that Polish soldiers found wandering in the hills of Iran in 1943. Apparently a docile creature, the bear became the unit's mascot and was trained to carry heavy mortar rounds. Which he did during the Battle of Monte Cassino.

"He was just like a dog - nobody was scared of him," said Polish veteran Augustyn Karolewski. "He liked a cigarette, he liked a bottle of beer - he drank a bottle of beer like any man."

When the troops were demobilised, Voytek spent his last days at Edinburgh Zoo where he died in 1963, presumably of lung cancer. Now, the good people of Edinburgh and Polish veterans are trying to get a memorial built for Voytek. Here's hoping they do it. You can send a letter of support to the The Scotsman in Edinburgh.

Exhibit B: If you need more evidence that bears kick ass, allow me to point you to The Bible, by way of Cracked magazine. Yes, we are sinking that low. The topic is 9 Most Badass Bible Verses. The subject is Number 8: II Kings 2: 23-24. "From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. "Go on up, you baldhead!" they said. "Go on up, you baldhead!" 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths." See -- even God knows that bears are awesome. And who hasn't wished they could summon up some bears to deal with wisecracking juvenile delinquents? Think about that the next time you're at Hulen Mall.


LPJ said...

That is the best Bible verse ever, and I'm constantly amazed that hardcore Christians don't use it to convince skeptics, since it's clearly divinely inspired. I imagine the modern version of this is that terrible moment when you realize that you are stuck at a red light, next to a school bus. Summoning a little ursine wrath would be great at that point.

Hey Steve, unrelated, but ... could you scan and upload the hilarious pictures from the fragile Japanese flying machine? The "do not" pictures are fantastic, and I wanted to point them out to friends here ...

pete g said...

Voytek is my homeboy!

Carol Noel said...

I love this. Though he doesn't smoke cigarettes or drink beer (although he might want to if somebody bothered to ask), our bear here at the Amon Carter Museum is quite friendly -- even if he is a bronze sculpture. His name is "Bear Cub Grooming" by the sculptor Paul Bartlett (1865 - 1925), and he's currently "living" the museum's Main Gallery. Come see!