Khiva, Uzbekistan: Explore this Pearl of Central Asia!

Uzbekistan is a country in Central Asia. Since it broke free of the Soviet Union in 1991, Uzbekistan has had to find its feet as an independent country, no longer under the control of others. And tourism is obviously a great way for an emerging nation to make some progress.

One of the most exciting places to visit in Uzbekistan is Khiva. The genesis of the city is commonly explained by a well known legend. Sam, one of the sons of the prophet Nuh (roughly analogous to the Shem and Noah of Jewish and Christian tradition) dug a well in the middle of the desert. This well is now to be found in the ancient ruins of Ichan-Kala, the walled inner town of Khiva. Read more Khiva, Uzbekistan: Explore this Pearl of Central Asia!


You Can Take a Hike

You Can Take a HikeLately, whenever someone invites me to go hiking, my response is usually: “You can take a hike.” That’s because, I really don’t care for hiking.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not lazy. Okay, maybe that’s a lie. But I used to take long walking excursions all the time. It’s one of my wife’s favorite leisure activities – so much so that she snuck it into our wedding vows: “I promise to love, honor and cherish you – and take annoyingly long, arduous hikes into mosquito-infested woods in the middle of nowhere – so long as we both shall live” I probably should have read over our vows a bit more carefully, but young love makes you say yes to the craziest things. Read more You Can Take a Hike


Welcome to Portland

[The following is a message from the Portland, Oregon Visitors’ Bureau.]

Welcome to Portland, Oregon, America’s Most Liberal City.

If you’re planning to spend a few days in the Rose City, we at the Portland Visitor’s Bureau would like to offer a few friendly suggestions to help make your stay as pleasant as possible.

First, we might as well get this one right out of the way. In Portland, we’re slightly left of center in our politics. If you’re a lifelong Republican or you accidentally voted for Donald Trump, no need to apologize. But, you might want to rethink your travel plans. We hear Tulsa is a place you might enjoy, with its expansive plains and oil rig fields.

But if you’re someone who thinks Hillary should have been our 45th president, or better still, Bernie, or even better yet, Spider-Man, then you’ll feel right at home here. Our city’s motto is KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD. In case you thought that was Austin, Texas’ motto, you’re right. We don’t mind sharing. Read more Welcome to Portland


Documentary 2,000 Miles to Maine Fails to Suck

I regularly accept requests to review films and do so with boisterous glee. Hollywood is afraid of my brutal honesty but, once out of the “Golden State” of California the fear dissipates and my poignant slams are more graciously accepted. But then I get ambitious, underfunded, granola-laden documentary and I’m giddy as a schoolgirl thinking, “Tearing bad boy apart should be easy.”

Documentary 2,000 Miles to Maine Fails to SuckI sat down to watch it, pen in hand, anxious to bring to humorous light the many painful shortcomings and unintentional self-mocking… yes, I really do much of my writing with a pen but that’s not the point. The sound was okay, the composition was fine, even the back music fit in well. Ten minutes into the film, frustrated, I threw down my notepad and committed to just watching it

The film 2,000 Miles to Maine documents hikers attempting to trek the 2155-mile Appalachian trail from Georgia to Maine highlighting the difficulties and improbabilities involved in walking mountain trails in all weather, traversing more states than most people ever even get to see. I didn’t know there were interstate hiking trails and, admittingly, it’s a pretty romantic notion for sure.

As the trek and the film progress (both “northward” if I can use that to mean both “to the North” and “for the better). I did find the very few things I had expected to humorously poke fun at, though each came around as intended devices to the film. Many featured hikers gave up (Aha, I got something!) but they’re mostly followed up with. Unlike most documentaries it lacks the ever-present narrator and, once again, my would-be Aha! moment dissolved again as I realized that made me actually judge the speakers rather than rely upon the disembodied voice to tell me what to think.

As it winded to a close I was prepared with my anger. Nothing to mock is a mocker of me as a satirist (or cynic, if you prefer). Not to be outdone by a single DVD of any [non-pornographic] sort (those have always been my undoing and outdoing indeed), I steeled myself for the impending slam as it must surely follow.

In the final moments the triumphs of human spirit brought out in low-tech straight forward, real-life ways, my own inadequacies as a social aggressor seemed insignificant. Watching the trail end without fanfare, without outside praise but rather with overwhelming personal success and gratification gave me hope in the spirit and steadfast resolve of mankind. It’s almost tear-jerking, honestly.

If a dude with a backpack and cast-titanium resolve can walk the Eastern Seaboard, he can do anything! If he can do anything, so can I! Yes, I can make a mockery of film.
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Of course, walking to Maine takes 4-7 months to do, and so shall my insult to film come. Give me ’til sometime early 2005 and my comical review will surely be forthcoming, unless of course, like 90% of those who attempt the Appalachian Trail, I give up the hike. In the meantime though, I will be watching film again. In fact, if there was a 2000 Miles to Maine book, I’d buy it too. Sometimes I feel sucked into self-doubt, but was singly the most uplifting true story I’ve seen since The Rookie and didn’t even have baseball in it.