Monday, January 30, 2006


A few days before the flight-instructor test, we took a little break from the studying and went for a snowshoe in the mountains. The all-study, no-gym approach these last few weeks left me gasping for air on gentle, rolling trail that alongside a mountain with relatively little elevation gain.

This was New Year's Eve, and the hike, along with heavy doses of Tanqueray and the Captain, helped me relax a great deal. The temperature was in the 50s up in the mountains -- this was near Keystone Ski Resort -- and I peeled off many layers only minutes into the hike.

The trail was probably less than two miles long in one direction. At the end, the trail just stopped in the snow before a vast clearing. (See picture). We debated the merits of pushing onward and blazing our own trail. Ericka said, "I don't know, maybe there's avalanches down here." I scoffed. "No, it would have to be much steeper for that to happen."

Decided we were too tired to explore further, we turned around. It was about this time a gentleman jogging on snowshoes approached. "You guys should be careful," he said. "There's a lot of avalanches on that clearing ahead. It can get pretty dangerous."

Spared an idiot's fate, we returned to our lodging for a night of free-flowing drinks at 9,000 feet. It was a great hiatus from studying, which incidentally kicks off again today. I'm going to start banging through the material for my instrument instructor's certificate. With any luck, it will take me about a quarter of the time the initial CFI studying did.

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Friday, January 27, 2006

A Million Little Lies

Considering I spend a good portion of my efforts ripping various yahoos, I thought I would take a rare pause and give credit where credit is due to one of my sworn enemies.

Oprah Winfrey.

Generally speaking, this bloated windbag spends her time as a pied-piper for American women who have nothing better to do with their lives than sit around watching daytime television. We've covered her overall worthlessness in this space before, so I won't belabor that point now.

What has become relevant is the current threat to the legitimacy of her book club. Based on her shameless, gushing recommendation, the memoir A Million Little Pieces by James Frey became an explosive overnight success. In the last two weeks, it was learned this clown fabricated the more salient details of his life of addiction and crime. As it turned out, he wrote was A Million Little Lies.

Rather than feel outraged at being used as an unwitting accomplice in the con of her audience, Winfrey raced to Frey's defense. In a phone call to Larry King, she said:

"The underlying message of redemption in James Frey's memoir still resonates with me, and I know it resonates with millions of other people who have read this book."

"What is relevant is that he was a drug addict who spent years in turmoil from the time he was 10 years old drinking and tormenting himself and his parents, and stepped out of that history to be the man that he is today and to take that message to save other people and allow them to save themselves."

"To me, it seems to be much ado about nothing."

At best, it was disconcerting to see Winfrey abrogate her role in boosting this charlatan to stardom. At worst, it was repugnant for her to dismiss the importance of truth with such a casual wave of the hand.

She learned hard lessons following those comments. She reversed her stance. Whether O felt genuine contrition for taking such an absurd position to begin with or was making a more calculated move to stem the groundswell of alarm aimed at her precious book club is subject for debate. What's important is that she apologized.

"I left the impression that the truth is not important," she said. "I am sorry."

Oprah repented for more than two minutes at the start of Thursday afternoon's show. Regardless of her reasons, she did the honorable thing. It may have taken her far too long and perhaps came grudgingly, but congratulations are in order. Ms. Winfrey finally got it right.

While we're doling out kudos, I'd like to fellate myself. On Oct. 11, 2005, I wrote in this space that "What is wrong with" her book club is that it "has zero credibility." Little did I know that it would only take three more months before Oprah would so succinctly prove that point.

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Friday, January 20, 2006

I'm back

After a long month of tedious study, I am back. The test is done. I passed. It was a two-day deal, and most stressful.

I'll get some new material up soon, but wanted to announce the return.