Monday, April 17, 2006

The Horrors of Spring

Drink Free or Die

Well, we’ve made it out of winter and are well into Spring. Down here in the Wild and Free Dukedom of Bejar, it’s almost Fiesta time, and, just as I’d hoped, Texas tourism officials have finally stepped up to the plate and helped put a stop to the growing infringements of Drinkers Rights.
As of last week the TABC operation that sent undercover agents, who said that “they could spot drunk people in bars and restaurants just by looking at them”,into bars has been suspended. Victory, for now at least, is ours.
Not surprisingly, the national president of MADD, Glynn Birch, said in a statement: "MADD supports the enforcement efforts of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to prevent underage drinking and stop the over-service of intoxicated adults,”.
The efforts of two Texas Democrats, Senator John Whitmire and Representative Kino Flores, along with several leading Texas tourism officials, have, for the time being, put a halt to the TABC’s tacit abuse of power. What’s more, because if their efforts, later today, the Texas House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee will hold a public hearing to re-examine the program, and, hopefully, put it exactly where it belongs, in the garbage with the empties.

Just as I was settling into the idea that, perhaps, this Spring would be a time of renewal and rebirth, full of some measure of hope in the world, I stumbled across *this*piece of fried gold:

“Israel is preparing, as well. The government recently leaked a contingency plan for attacking [Iran] on its own if the United States does not, a plan involving airstrikes, commando teams, possibly missiles and even explosive-carrying dogs.”

Explosive-Carrying Dogs

Now, a few days after the Washington Post ran that story the White House denied any and all plans for a strike on Iran. What no one bothered to dispel, deny or refute, was that Israel has, indeed, trained squadrons of dogs to carry out, what would seem to be, suicide missions into Iran, with explosives strapped to their backs.
Strange as this might sound, however, according to a post on the Harpers Magazine website, dated January 5, 2006, the “Minimum number of insurgent attacks in Iraq since November 2003 using explosive-carrying dogs or donkeys: 6”
So, it looks like some of those “Improvised Explosive Devices” we’re always hearing about in the news, are in fact, in some cases, exploding dogs or donkeys. How’s that for a bad day on the job?
Now, as much as I am appalled and shocked at the sick, sadistic idea of exploding livestock and pets at people, a small part of me has to admire the pure inventiveness and creativity of it. I mean, how does one come up with that kind of thing? Does Ahmed Irhabi suddenly think to himself, “Hmmm…I could strap myself into this exploding vest….or….Here Fido, come here, boy…”
Nature has turned against us. It’s as if Planet Earth has decided to shake us off like so many fleas on a dogs back. As if the world wasn’t strange enough already, we now have to worry about roving packs of well trained, heavily armed, dogs blowing us up.
A very happy Easter, indeed. At least I can drown out my grief and worries in one of my local saloons without fear of being spied on, or rounded up, by The Buzzkill Contingent and their NeoProhibitionists Thugs. Fiesta Week can’t get here fast enough for me. Nor, for that matter, can the NBA play-offs.

“Overly Jumping For Joy”

Just when it seemed that the only way the L.A. Lakers would get into to the play-offs was if they bought tickets, Kobe shifted and shimmied his team to a 109-89 win over the top ranked Western Division Phoenix Suns, earning them an ill-deserved place in the NBA play-offs.
"It doesn't really seem like we're overly jumping for joy, but it is a great accomplishment for us," he [Kobe Bryant] said. "We came from last season when we didn't make it. This season nobody expected us to make it and here we are." (Link)

I used to have an emotionally bloated, but very old, friend who was Lakers Fan. The year that we stopped being friends the Lakers knocked out the San Antonio Spurs by a cheap shot made in game 5. With a quarter of a second left in the 4th quarter, the ball was inbounded to Derek Fisher, who then, in a totally quantum feat of space-time bending, received the pass, pivoted toward the basket, lined up, and shot the ball...And sank a for a deuce, giving them a 74-73 win.
It was that shot that ended the Spurs dreams for back to back Championships. Going into game six, which would turn out to be 4 in a row for L.A., most of us here knew that the Fat Lady was warming up her voice. In some ways, I believe, it was that very shot that Fisher made that also ended my alleged friendship with that fellow. In other ways, of course, it was over a woman.
In the end the Lakers won only one game in the Finals and lost the Championship to the Detroit Pistons and, more importantly, to the East. After that the Lakers kind of disintigrated. Disgusted with Kobe, and aging Shaq went to Miami, An equally aging and ring hungry Karl Malone is now with San Antonio. Even The Guru Coach Phil Jackson was handed the sack.
In 2005 the once mighty Los Angeles Lakers didn’t even make it into the play-offs. I was, needless to say, over-joyed. The thought of his beloved Lakers milling about in their mansions and watching the games on their televisions filled me with a wonderfully rightious Schaedenfreude. I was tempted to call him from a bar the night the Spurs beat the Detroit Pistons to reclaim the NBA Championship title but, I thought, he might mistake my gloating as a signal that I had intentions of renewing our association.
This year while the San Antonio Spurs (61-19) are in a playful spar with the Phoenix Suns for first place in the West the Lakers (44-37) have snuck in on the skin of their teeth. Plenty of us were surprised by that but no one was really concerned. No one, however, was "overly jumping for joy", here, either.
The Lakers are no longer The Lakers they once were. They are a dull shell of their former briliance. Yhey are no longer defending Champtions, they’ve got only one player, who has made a career out of being a ball hog, and their coach was happy fading out into the sunset, before, in typical L.A. fashion, being coaxed back by the money that they threw at him.
When they are knocked out by the Suns in round 1, (most likely in game 5), I am going to gloat. I will order a fresh beer, raise it in the air, then tap the base of the bottle lightly to the bar, and I will drink with the greatest of glee.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

In Memoriam

  • One Year ago today, His Holiness, Pope John Paul II passed away. This was the first Pope that I really recall in my life. For many, including myself, he was a source of inspiration and hope.
    That day, for the first time in nearly 27 years, the World had no Pope. Crowds wept openly and 5 million people descended on Rome, to pray, to console each other, and to celebrate the life and works of he who had given so much of himself to the world.
    So, today, let us remember that it has been one year that one of the most outspoken voices for peace, for love, and for humanity was silenced by God. Let us never forget his messages and his mission.