Whose luggage was that anyway?

345 people are dead at this year’s pilgrimage to Mecca. From the NYT story:

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 12 – A stampede on Thursday at the annual pilgrimage to Mecca killed 345 people, the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry said, the deadliest such event since 1990. The Saudi Red Crescent Society said as many as 1,000 had been injured.

The pilgrims, most of them from the Indian Subcontinent, were trampled to death when they tripped over luggage left at the entrance to the Jamarat Bridge and were overrun by a crowd rushing behind them, said a ministry spokesman, Mansour bin Sultan al-Turki.

The official explanation:

The ministry had set up luggage storage areas near the bridge, but that there was not enough space for all the bags. There are no hotels along the way, just a few camps, and little in the way of security, so most pilgrims, or hajjis, take their belongings with them wherever they go.

Could be replays of the carnage coming in the news:

“About 700,000 people had gathered there today, but we still don’t know exactly what happened,” said Osama al-Bar, director of the Hajj Research Center at Um al-Qura University in Mecca. “We had seven cameras on the scene and will be studying them tomorrow.”

1,402 people died there in 1990, so I guess it could have been worse.

Cwnage.

So I’m sure there are a few of you out there who still watch Jon Stewart’s Daily Show (fine show, fine show), which means there are probably some of you who have been watching the Colbert Report, too. Right now I have to give it up for my man Stephen Colbert. Any doubts about the comedic excellence of the Colbert Report were answered for me during the opening credits of the first episode I viewed a few weeks back. It’s been brilliant ever since. Anyone who has seen the opening credits will know what I’m talking about. I can’t decide what’s funnier – his 360 degree newsman-from-the-heavens poses or the crazy adjectives swirling behind the former Daily Show maverick on the show’s introduction sequence. Colbert had me from the word Grippy.

Between rapid fire monologues, pre-interview crowd boosters and utter Cwnage of his guests, Colbert still manages to remain on focus, like the Eagle soaring above his prey.

Anyone interested in the myth that is the man is well advised to visit www.colbertnation.com. It’s a fansite with much funny content. Nice guy and superfan Avery entertains with a daily wrap up of the C-man’s doings and also entertains with his own bits of really funny commentary about his day to day life and commitment to the Colbert way. Cobert Nation also sports a letter from Mr. Colbert himself. He writes:

Why endorse a Colbert community website? Because it’s built by you, the people-or in this case Avery Gordon, an American hero who not only “gets it,” but also understands that web commerce generated through use of a public personality’s image must result in full compensation for that personality. (Check out the Eagle’s Nest online gift shop for officially sanctioned Colbert Gear, just in time for the holidays.)

I laughed hardest at the Colbert fanfiction, this bit by Kim B:

Dateline: San Antonio, Texas, site of the Republican National Convention. It’s a blistering day in late summer, one of those muggy affairs where the humidity’s off the charts and it feels 20 degrees hotter than what it says on the thermometer. In short, it’s shorts weather. Short shorts weather.

Given the hellish conditions, O’Reilly shouldn’t be surprised to see Stephen emerge from the bathroom wearing desperately cropped cutoffs. But these shorts’ particular cutoff is, quite frankly, shocking – we’re talking well above the thigh. It’s suddenly the slightest bit warmer in the room, the lack of air conditioning only somewhat offset by Stephen’s icy-cool demeanor as he sports what might as well be a set of denim bikini briefs.

“Looks like the only thing failing to spin in this zone are the rotors on our air conditioner, eh O’Reilly?” deadpans Stephen, focusing his trademark stare squarely on O’Reilly’s quivering eyes. But O’Reilly can’t meet his gaze – to him, the shorts are like a car accident, in all the right ways.

“Who would’ve thought, Stephen Colbert and Bill O’Reilly, cooped up in a tiny one-bedroom press dorm for the duration of the RNC,” continues Stephen, nonchalantly resting one foot on the bed in a seemingly innocent but, from the perspective of his shorts, deliciously provocative way. O’Reilly tries to tear his eyes away from Stephen’s ensemble, but finds that his muscles will not obey his brain’s desperate command.

Also entertaining are the numerous reports of Colbert sightings from fans:

My name hasn’t leaked to the press yet, but I’m a municipal employee, and a big time embezzler. We’re talking millions of taxpayer dollars. Anyway, I saw Stephen yesterday, when he rappelled down the side of my building, crashed through my office window, and nailed me with a Citizen’s Arrest. He seemed cool.

LMFAO. Anyway, just like the opening credits of the Colbert Report (remember, that’s a silent ‘t’ for both words), this CR fansite is worth checking out for the brand of uninhibited comedy Colbert has perfected on his show…oh, and also for the six inch image on the right side of the site of what appears to be a crisply dressed Colbert riding an avalanche while mugging for the camera. Brilliant.