Thursday, January 12, 2006

Dozens Reported Killed in Hajj Stampede

MECCA, Saudi Arabia - Muslim pilgrims rushing to complete a symbolic stoning ritual on the last day of the hajj tripped over luggage Thursday, and an unknown number of people were killed in the ensuing stampede, the Interior Ministry said. State-run television said dozens died or were injured. The stampede occurred as tens of thousands of pilgrims headed toward al-Jamarat, a series of three pillars representing the devil that the faithful pelt with stones to purge themselves of sin.

Must have been the will of Allah.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Larry McMurtry

Years ago I watched and enjoyed the made for TV series of Lonesome Dove, based off the same book by author Larry McMurtry. Later I read the book. And then reread it at least two more times—because it was THAT good!

Once, I read it during a family road trip vacation to California, in which we traveled from Wisconsin, through Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Nevada and finally California. After visiting friends and relatives across California, we circled back to Wisconsin via northern Arizona, New Mexico (with stops in Santa Fe and Albuquerque), northern Texas and back up north home.

The book was the perfect background for the road trip. I’ll never forget the excitement I felt as we cruised through the panhandle of Nebraska, where the “real” west seemed to begin, at least to me. The panhandle gave me my first glimpses of dryer land, sage brush, and mountains slowly rising in the distance. I could just imagine Apache or Comanche speeding towards our care on their horses, with their bows and arrows and guns at the ready. By the time we reached Wyoming I really felt that the setting from parts Lonesome Dove and the scenery that surounded me were melding together. I was walking the land described in Lonesome Dove. Oh how I wanted to camp down among the sage brush and cacti and "stay with you in the desert tonight, with a thousand stars all around..." becauseI had a peaceful, easy feeling.

Brokeback Mountain was also based off of a McMurtry book. Now I’m halfway through Anything for Billy, a McMurtry novel based around the life, crimes, and adventures of Billy the Kid.

McMurty is one of those writers who has the gift of seamlessly transporting one back to a specific place and time in history. His characters have depth. His descriptions of the land, scenery, dialects, and characters are so real that you literally leave 2006 and can taste the canned beans and harsh whiskey of the Wild West. You can smell the stale tobacco or cigar smoke—as well as the unwashed characters who at times live off the land and their cattle.

It’s not that Anything for Billy is a unique Western novel. Billy the Kid’s story has been told many times and in many places. But McMurtry does it in his own unique way, which makes the story come alive unlike most novels can bring to life any characters or locales.

I don’t know the point of this post. I guess if any of you readers are looking for an escape, for a book that carries you away from your day to day life off to a time and place that existed for only a short period, then Lonesome Dove is a book you ought to consider reading.

‘Nuff said, compandres.

Turkey races to contain bird flu outbreak

Now, I'm no doctor, but I fail to understand how holding turkey races is going to contain the bird flu outbreak.

Turkey races to contain bird flu outbreak

Story submitted

For the first time in years I've finally written a non-opinion (read: reporting) news story for a local suburban newspaper. The pay is not much, but it is the practice that I needed. It was actually a quite complicated story, and it was about business and money and stuff that I am NOT interested in AT ALL. But begging wannabe journalists can't be choosers. I was also asked to write a story about a local winery. I will try to conduct the interviews today, and the editor suggested I request a free winery tour and tasting to include in the story. Free wine tasting: not a bad perk. I think this story should be much easier and more enjoyable to write.

I just hope that the business story I submitted today is up to snuff in the eyes of the editors.

Monday, January 09, 2006


Not a bad day, not a great day. An "ehh..." day.

Had a nice workout, though. Did chest and abs. I've been changing my workouts just a tad; focusing more on form and higher reps instead of heavy weight and lower reps. I'm more or less happy with my muscle size and physique; I figure the more I focus on perfect form and control, the less likely I am to injure myself. The shoulder injury that I had previously this late summer/fall really rattled me and I don't ever want to hurt myself like that again.

Anyway, I went two houses down to visit my neighbor. He had been inquiring about glass gallon jugs because he's making his own plum wine from his tree and he needs glass gallons. I intentionally purchased some really terrible, cheap wine in a gallon jug to help him out and I'm drinking it now. Anyway, I actually went over there to see if he had a nug for me and my brother, but he didn't. But we both lamented what winter does to our block, how it keeps all of shuttered in our homes. In summer almost every night we'd have impromptu "parties," and hangout on one of our lawns, sip beers, shoot the shit and let our dogs--and for those of us who have them--kids run around.

No more.

Anyway, my other neighbor DID have something for my bro and I. I love my neighbors, even if one of them is a communist. I know he'll spare me, my brother and my landlord when his revolution comes.

Viva Revolucion!




Target Iran

By Arnaud de BorchgraveJ
anuary 9, 2006

If anyone has any doubt about the kind of nuclear work Iran has been doing for the past 18 years, it must be a case of naivete compounded by gullibility.

Nor should there be any uncertainty about what Iran's mullahocracy would do with a nuclear weapon. All of Iran's leaders since the Ayatollah Rohollah Khomeini replaced the shah in February 1979 have made it clear the objective is Israel's destruction.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Saw Brokeback Mountain

I saw Broke Back Mountain last night. And that, dear readers, means I was accompanied by a female—on a date! It was our second date, I guess. But I don’t want to get into that. At this point there’s nothing to discuss anyway. I will say that she isn’t Jewish and she’s from south of the border (no, that doesn’t mean she’s from Illinois).

My thoughts on the movie:

The love scenes mostly left it to the viewers’ imagination—whew. The last thing I wanted to see were a lot of male skin-to-skin sex scenes. Thankfully, Ang Lee left that part to the viewers’ imaginations. Nevertheless, the first love scene is a little shocking. I found myself giggling like a kid in sex ed, and my date was giggling as well. In fact, she wasn’t sure if she could keep watching. Go figure? But I understand why I laughed and so many people in the theatre must have felt as we felt. The story shattered stereotypes like anarchist-leftist-anti-globilization-freakazoids shatter windows of businesses. Specifically, the typical stereotype of a homosexual is not one of rough and tumble cowboys. The juxtaposition of tough, reticent emotionless men passionately groping each other and pressing their gruff, grizzled faces together as they kiss deeply is… well, funny.

But after time you get used to it. Once you get over that, you become more attuned to the story—which is sad and tragic—and can then appreciate the movie for what it really is (and I wont’ say, because I don’t want to ruin the plot for anybody who hasn’t seen it yet). Maybe because I was on a date I wasn’t thinking too deeply at the time about the movie, but the next day—today—I’ve been thinking about the movie. In my world, there are three types of movies: 1. Movies that are so bad I can’t wait until they are finished. 2. Movies I enjoy at the time, but soon forget about after. 3. Movies I enjoy at the time and then find myself pondering the following days. Broke Back Mountain is a category 3 Zak Movie.

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