Cowboy singer Murphey comes to town

The Brewery and Buffalo Creek Ranch bring Michael Martin Murphey, the No. 1 best-selling singer/songwriter of American cowboy music, to the Carson City Community Center on Jan. 27. This is something of a coup for the Brewery, so you might not want to miss him.

His hits include "Wildfire," "A Long Line Of Love," "I'm Gonna Miss You, Girl" and "Cowboy Logic."

Murphey sings at 7:30 p.m. in the Bob Boldrick Theatre at the Community Center, 851 E. William St. Tickets are $25 for all seats. A $3 discount is available for BAC members, students and seniors. Call 883-1976 or see www.breweryarts.org.

COWBOY POETRY OUTING

It's not to late to make your plans to attend the 23rd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering on Jan. 27-Feb. 3 in Elko. They've still got tickets and hotel rooms. Call (888) 880-5885. The theme for the Gathering is "The Ranch." Not exactly T.S. Eliot, but fun poetry anyhow.

NON-SMOKING GAMERS NOTE

Bill's Lake Tahoe Casino has become the Lake's only "smoke-free" casino, the Stateline casino brags. Who needs a law to become a more healthy watering hole? Bill's Casino opened in 1987 as a lower-priced alternative to the larger, glitzier casino/hotels at Lake Tahoe.

Bill's and Harveys are both owned by Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. Other nice touches at Bill's include the "Dog & Draft" hot dog and beer for $2.50 (fine for after a day of skiing).

LOOKING AHEAD

Frank Sinatra Jr. does "Sinatra Sings Sinatra" Friday and Saturday with tickets $45 Friday and $55 on Saturday. Smokey Robinson appears Jan. 27 with tickets $85 to $110. And Starship starring Mickey Thomas shows up Saturday Feb. 3 at a more modest $30

PARLE-VOUS FRANCAIS?

You don't have to speak French to enjoy the cuisine at Z Bistro off Roop at Basque Way. Open since November, the Bistro (which usually means a place run by pop in the kitchen and mom out front, but not in this case), Z Bistro is open for breakfast and lunch (until 2 p.m.) and offers truly French faire. The crepes are a bit different from what we have had in Paris, but they're still tasty, and the bier is truly French. Specials such as charcutrie on cos cos met with the approval of my longtime Paris foreign correspondent friend. Decor is modestly French as well. Z Bistro joins Viet Pho in giving the city an international flavor.

FROM THE VAULTS

The Chinese film "Farewell My Concubine" was one of the first movies by Chinese directors to make a mark in the United States. The story covers 50 years of modern Chinese history in Beijing, from the invasion by the Japanese to the Nationalist return to the Communist victory in 1949 to the Cultural Revolution.

That's a lot of history to cover and Leslie Cheung and Zhang Fengyi as two stars of the Beijing Opera do a fine job of bringing it to life. They are joined by Gong LI, who later went on to star in other modern Chinese movies. Gong Li is very effective as a prostitute who buys her way out of a brothel to wed Fengyi. This is a long film of two hours and 35 minutes and is rated R, although it is actually pretty tame and has no sexually explicitly scenes. The costumes are fantastic, the Chinese opera scene lively and the major characters all fine. It's in Mandarin with subtitles and worth the time spent on it.

Reading the Nevada Appeal may give you an idea of what is going on in the Mideast today, but probably not the why of it all. That's why Bernard Lewis' "What Went Wrong? The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East" (Perennial/HarperCollins,$12.95) is an important book for all of us.

Lewis is an acknowledged scholar of the Mideast and a noted historian. His book explains many things not obvious to most of us. He takes the reader through the period of Islamic domination of the Western World, when Muslim scholars did most of the scientific and technical advances, when Islam knocked on the doors of Vienna, only to suddenly fall by the wayside as Europe took over in science and technology.

Lewis explores the reasons (mostly the Islamic refusal to move on from its religious constraints) for "what went wrong" in clear, footnoted logic. Reportedly, much of what the Bush administration has done in the Mideast is based on a reading of this book. Many interesting bits, such as why Muslims don't wear neckties, are included here. Lewis is not sanguine about either Islam or the Western response here, but this is 186 pages of important information needed to evaluate what happens in the Middle East these days.

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