Saturday, November 02, 2002

Hayden has been added to the Links. Should have done that eons ago.
ZoNotes: Blue Eyes Crying, In The Rain...

San Antonio 6-5000
The San Antonio Spurs played some tremendous defense in the fourth quarter, holding the Vince Carter-led Toronto Raptors to 6 points in the entire stanza to come away with a 91-72 win at the opening game at the brand-spankin' new SBC Center. The arena, an intimate place with the capacity to fit 18,000 maniac Spurs fans, is a departure from the forbidding cavernous excesses of the Alamodome. The SBC Arena exists primarily because of Towers of Power David Robinson and Tim Duncan. First, Robinson helped make the Spurs a perennial playoff threat after it had been a lovable but forgotten bridesmaid in the NBA's pecking order. Duncan, who the Spurs took 1st in the 1997 Draft after Robinson was lost for the 1996-97 season with a broken foot, took the Men In Black to the next level, helping the franchise score its first NBA title in 1999, giving the Spurs some much-needed legitimacy in the process. Without these men, we Spurs fans woulds still be reminiscing about the days of The Iceman George Gervin and the electric 1970s-era excitement of HemisFair Arena.

Filling the Diaspora
ZoBro Ernesto Cortes is back in Laredo for the weekend, enjoying one of the perks of going to school at Texas A&M-Kingsville. His semester has been quite eventful from what he tells me. In the meantime, I am working on a possible return trip to Laredo sometime around the Christmas holiday season. Things are still somewhat amorphous, but I to think that I have an excellent chance to revisit home since I was back there in May.

"Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something."---
Henry David Thoreau

Friday, November 01, 2002

ZoNotes: Just Another Manic Friday

Dice Ride
An interesting congressional race with national implications is taking place in my home district, the 23d, down in Texas. Former state representative and Texas SecState Henry Cuellar (F'78) is locking horns with GOP incumbent Henry Bonilla. The district, as I've profiled before, is geographically disparate and wide-ranging. However, Cuellar could tap into the latent voting power of the electorate in this district. Bonilla's strength, historically, has been a pocket of turnout in Bexar County over in San Antonio. Cuellar's main base is his/my hometown down in Laredo. Cuellar resigned from the SecState job to expand his political horizons. The House is at the moment Cuellar's best shot to up his career portfolio. Now, with only about six seats separating us from a Speaker Gephardt, Cuellar's success has a significant impact on what could happen over in Washington. The Democrats subsequently have a legitimate target in this race, coupling an identifiable, moderate Democrat with a capable voting base.

Put frankly, an opportunity like this may not reappear for Cuellar.

Which is why you wonder why the national media is going bananas over such shoo-in Democrat victories in Senatorial races like Minnesota when they aren't focusing on the game-changers. The tragically deceased Paul Wellstone was slowly pulling away from Norm Coleman, and the decision to replace Sen. Wellstone with Walter Mondale doesn't really alter anything, in my opinion. Minnesota was likely to tilt left anyway. The only reason the GOP is competitive there is because a former Democrat is on the GOP ticket. Remember, it's the House that gives Bush his optimum political momentum -- the tax cut, the 9.11 and Iraq resolutions, and the budget. The biscuits rise on the House side.

It's here, in Laredo of all places, where real political capital could shake and bake. Isn't that cool?

"I am not young enough to know everything." -- Oscar Wilde

Thursday, October 31, 2002

ZoNotes: Offering Opinions So You Won't Have To...

The Fall of Jam Master Jay
Jam Master Jay, part of the revolutionary rap group Run DMC, died yesterday after suffering a shot to the head at his recording studio in New York. Run DMC single-handedly propelled rap into not only the cultural but economic mainstream, taking an urban medium and making it appeal to suburbia. The group's collaboration with Aerosmith is one of the all-time classics. That said, Jam Master Jay could not avoid the fate that ended the lives of Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac.

San Diego litigator Gil Cabrera asked me to provide a prediction for Tuesday's elections. If you thought that 2000 was weird, check out what happens next week. First, in the 2 years since the last election, neither party has created significant separation from each other. A mix of concerns, all converging at roughly the same time -- the war on terror, the jittery stock market, and the string of corporate corruption examples -- have effectively muddied the waters, as both parties have jumped on the "me too" train. Therefore, the daylight between, say, Richard Gephardt and House Speaker Dennis Hastert is relatively narrow, and you wouldn't expect that given the way that 2000 deteriorated into the biggest political smackdown in the history of the Republic. I don't think that there will be wholsesale changes in the composition of the House and the Senate. Of course, I'll expand more come Monday.

"There will be a rain dance on Friday night, weather permitting. -- George Carlin

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

ZoNotes: Autumn Rising

The Men In Black Come Back
ZoNotes still loves his Spurs, and in a nationally-televised TNT audience, knocked out the defending champion LA Lakers 87-82 at Staples Center last night in the season opener for both teams. The win isn't totally satisfying as both ShaqDiesel and Rick "Vanessa Williams" Fox were out with injury and suspension, respectively. Still, Malik Rose, Tim Duncan, and hardocourt immortal David Robinson had solid opening efforts, picking up an important win against a conference rival and doing it the hard way -- defense, rebounding, and timely shooting.

A key in beating the seemingly invincible Lakers is to force Kobe Bryant to take a lot of shots. Kobe picked up a cool 27 points in the losing effort, but Tim Bowen forced him into a 9-for-29 performance from the field. Now, this isn't some sort of magic elixir designed to render defeat unto LA, but it does contribute to the overall gameplan.

Buffy Recap: If You Haven't Seen It, It Isn't a Rerun
Last night UPN put on a replay of the season premiere, so fans who missed it can work themselves up to familiarity as to what's going on in Season 7. Next week, there will be a new episode, so I can get back to the regular reviewing schedule.

He Doesn't Like It Complicated
Sean Mullaney (B'00) sends us this commentary by Susan Konig speaking favorably about Canadian recording sensation Avril Lavigne. And yes, I do sing along in the car when I hear it on the radio.

Aaron Ammerman (F'00) caught a screening of The Ring this past weekend and gave it kudos for its chilling horror.

"No statue has ever been put up to a critic." -- Jean Sibelius

Monday, October 28, 2002

ZoNotes: Bittersweetness...

The Chechen Prisoners...
Which country is the last known power to use chemical weapons not only on its enemies, but on its own people?

A. Iraq
B. Russia
C. Iran
D. North Korea

If you answered B, then you are correct! The rescue of over 800 hostages at a Moscow theater over the weekend from homicidal Chechen terrorists displays the particular ruthlessness of this conflict. Chechnya, home of one of the most, shall we say, expressive brands of Islamic extremism in the world has been privy to some of the most egregious violence in the last few years. For Russia, Islamic sentiment has always represented a threat to its immediate geopolitical interests -- the so-called "near abroad."

Given the circumstances of this act of terror committed by the Chechens, Russian forces would inevitably have suffered numerous casualties amongst the hostages regardless of the method they chose to eliminate the Chechen terror cell. Unfortunately, after having chosen a hallucinatory agent and dispersing it in the theatre, many of the hostages also inhaled the as-of-now unnamed substance.

Now, if this were 1985, or even 1989, and Soviet forces had fired a gas weapon into a crowded theater, we would rightly be critical. However, the current situation -- the global war on terror -- will force a reassessment. A cornerstone of American foreign policy in regard to Russia the last few years has been to criticize the Russian campaign in Chechnya. The Russians' decision to fire the gas weaponry into the theater, coupled with Musharraf's continued electoral tricks to say in power in Pakistan, shows what America will tolerate in the struggle.

Again, President Vladimir Putin had a narrow window of options -- any choice would have resulted in numerous dead hostages. But to fire a weapon, and then not disclose its type to medical personnel, is where I might see a problem.

Usually this would be reserved for Pride of the Fall, however, with Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith eclipsing Walter Payton's rushing record yesterday in a 17-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, I think it is noteworthy to render praise upon him in the main blog.

I think Emmitt is the best RB in the history of the game. He might deflect that praise, but I agree. Emmitt was not only a complete back, he was made of sterner stuff than his contemporaries. Who could forget his 237-yard game against Philly in 1993? Or, the 1993 season finale, when Emmitt -- having suffered a separated shoulder, took the Cowboys on his back and played a game for the ages? What about his 25-TD season in 1995?

Here is to Emmitt. He rode the steel horse for so long.

"What a beautiful fix we are in now; peace has been declared." -- Napoleon Bonaparte, Treaty of Amiens, 1802.