Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Year's quiz

Happy New Year. Yeni yiliniz kutlu olsun! I am in the Boulder, Colorado area visiting my sister Lale and brother in law Matt. Hence, today's New Year's Eve quiz comes from Colorado Daily, one of their local papers.

Q: How did "Auld Lang Syne" come to be associated with New Year's Eve?

A: The Scottish song, written by Robert Burns in 1788, became popular in the U.S. in the '30s and '40s when Guy Lombardo ended his annual broadcasts from the Roosevelt Hotel in NY.

The web site for the Colorado Daily is

And, yes, there is a Guy Lombardo fan site on the net. It is run by some 'patriotic Canadians' who claim him as one of their own. I, for one, am a fan of Lombardo's music though I do not admit that publicly!

The Lombardo fans site is:

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Zeki Maviyildiz performed in Raleigh, NC

Zeki Maviyildiz, a dancer from the eastern Turkish city of Kars, recently performed in Raleigh, NC, as part of his BlueStar  Dance Project at an international dance festival in the Carolina capital. Maviyildiz's group consists of child dancers, as well as adults. The children's performance told the story of an 18th century folk hero along the lines of Koroglu. Maviyildiz also performed at the November festival with adults from his troupe in a separate dance. Maviyildiz has traveled around the globe, as part of the Turkish National Folk Dance Troupe. In April, Maviyildize performed in "The Merry Window," a performance sponsored by the Opera Company of North Caolina. The folk dancer resides in North Carolina, and is a student at Wake Tech Community College. His BlueStarDance Group is also based in Raleigh, N.C.

A longer version of this story appears in the Nov. 19, 2005 edition of the Long Beach, Ca.- based USA Turkish Times. the info for it was provided by the American Turkish Association of North Carolina.

The web site for the BlueStar Dance Project is

The web site for USA Turkish Times is

And, the web site for ATAA NC is


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

ArabFilm has released unique film about Iraq

Arab Film Distribution which has released such interesting films as the Palestinian film "Rana's Wedding" and the Iranian/Kurdish film "Marooned in Iraq," has released a DVD of the critically-acclaimed, but little-seen documentary "Return to the Land of Wonders." The film is the work of Maysoon Pachachi, who is the daughter of Adnan Pachaci who was Iraq's foreign minister in the pre-Sadaam Hussein 1960s. The film documents the daughter's return to Baghdad after a 35-year basence. She accompanies her father, who is also assisting in the efforts to draft Iraq's constitution. The film is said to be one of the few films which shows the nature of things from an Iraqi perspective and unveils the dynamics which are involved. It is not, from what I've read, an anti-American or anti-Western film though it is the type of narrative which one would be hard-pressed to find on Fox News or CNN.


For more info, the film's web site is:


I have confirmed that it is also available from NetFlix


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Christmas postcard from 1926- a simpler time

I must profess that Christmas is NOT my favorite time of the year. I think religious conservatives have overpoliticized it (especially this year), and Shopping Mall, Inc. has commercialized it to the point where reverting it back would be like to trying to find a virgin in a Parisian brothel. It is also a time of great misery for people of other faiths, which would not be so bad if more of us invited our Vietnamese neighbors to our Christmas table but it rarely seems to happen. There have also been more executions in December than any other time of the year, and that has been true for several years now. And, divorce and suicide rates tend to be higher now most other times fo the year, and this is also a time when a lot of people are laid off from their jobs. But, ironically, I must agree with conservatives that perhaps Christmas was a more charming affair many decades ago though we were stilly dealing with cultural demons like segragation and racism. Nevertheless, I think all of us wish for that Norman Rockwell Christmas painting for ourselves with Gene Autry's "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' in the background. Though, Christmas is a time of the year which can at least momentarily bring families together. And, I suppose there are moments when all of us find that.Rockwell moment, however fleeting it may be.


With that in in mind, I will share this Christmas postcard I found. It is postmarked Dec. 22, 1926 and it was sent Miss Edith Forbes in the Southeastern part of Roanoke, Va.- my hometown. I don't have to equipment to actually download the front of the card but it contains two little girls lying in bed with Santa perched behind their bed-post. It is a rahter large bed, and the girls are dressed in white gowns which give them an angelic look. Santa has some kind of doll hovering on top of a bag of toys. The front says:

Hearty Christmas Greetings

I wish you a bright Christmas Just filled with pretty things And hope you will be happy With everything it brings

The back has a pencilled message from Lillian Hall which reads:

Wish you a Merry Xmas and Happy New Year With Love, Lillian Hall

It has a 2-cent stamp on its back


I hope everyone finds that Rockwell moment either for Christmas, or for New Year's Day. I know I am looking for it, but at the moment it seems very far away. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

American Seeks Politcal Asylum in Turkey!

I am not a major fan of the conservative Turkish newsapaper "Zaman," but I was amused to read in its English-language web site that an American citizen is among the 20,000 applicants for political asylum in Turkey. Zaman said that the paper work for the unnamed American citizen has yet to be completed. The conservative daily added that citizens of Israel, Greece, Burundi, China, Russia, Iran, Ghana, Burma and Belgium have also requested asylum. The article did not mention the ethnic origin of the American citizen. Zaman is arguably one of the most anti-American/Western newspapers in Turkey. But, it is ironically one of the few besides the English-language "Turkish Daily News" which has an English-language web site. Turkey's most reliable newspaper "Hurriyet" has also recently started an English-language web site.


The English-language web site for Zaman is

The web site for the Turkish Daily News is


Monday, December 19, 2005

ACLU is NOT declaring war on Christmas

Fred Quigley, executive director of the American Civil Liberites Union, sent out a release stating that the ACLU is not waging an anti-Merry Christmas campaign, nor is the group trying to remove "In God, We Trust" from American currency or get our armed forces to fire military chaplains. Quigely put out the release in response to far-right groups like the Alliance Defense Fund, which has started an anti-ACLU "It's OK to say Merry Christmas" campaign. Quigley also said that the ACLU has worked on behal of many Christian clients, including a Baptist minister in Inidiana who wanted to preach his message on a city street.

The Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, has said that he and his organization have been the target of similar radical efforts. Lynn said that he has recieved death threats, and one person went so far as to say to him point blank: "I hope you die soon, Merry Christmas." Lyn said that his group is also not waging any anti-Christmas campaigns and blamed the Rev. Jerry Falwell of Lynchburg, Va., for enciting public paranoia.


Locally, there was a recent controversy here in Roanoke, Va., regarding what the local seasonial tree in downtown Roanoke should be called. It has been called a Holiday tree for years, but many Christian activists want to see it formally renamed as a Christmas tree.


The ACLU's web site is

The Americans for the Separation of Church and State's web site is



Sunday, December 18, 2005

Japanese spa in the Shenandoah Valley?!

According to the Dec. 14th edition of the Washington Post, there is a new Japanese bath and breakfast in the mountain community of Star Tannery, which is just north of Strasburg, Va. The Pembroke Springs Retreat is a bit out of my (and probably your) price range as rooms are $165/night for the weekend. But, you get to bathe in 104 -degree water, which overlooks a nearby hill. And, in the morning you can get an authentic Japanese breakfast which consists of grilled salmon, steamed rice and soup, seaweed and mixed vegetables. Walter Floyd, the co-owner, said that half the guests were either Japanese or people who had a Japanese interest of some sort. One of those guests was Washington DC resident Noriko Miyagawa who told the "Post" that was 'in heaven.' For more info, call 1-888-348-1688 or log on to

Let us know how that salmon and vegetable brekfast was.......!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

FullFrame film "Yellow Brick Road" on Cinemax

A documentary about handicapped adults performing a stage production of "Wizard of Oz" will air on Cinemax at 7 pm on Wed., Dec. 21. The film, which I saw at FullFrame, was well-recieved by the audience. The filmmakers examine their subjects beyond their various handicaps, which inlcude conditions like Down's Syndrome, Directors Matthew Makar and Keith Rondinelli had many obstacels getting the film produced, including obtaining the film's title from the heirs of L. Frank Baum, directing the film while working other jobs, and getting film for the documentary project.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Film about Che Guevara's translator planned

According to today's BBC World Service web site, South African antropologist Katrin Hansing is planning to film a documentary about Cuban revolutionary figure Che Guevara's Congolese translator, Freddy Ilanga.

Ilanga was a rebel who in his later years became a brain-surgeon.

The film was beset with the worst production possible, Ilanga's death!

Ilanga became intrigued with Guevara because he was angry over the way white colonialsts had treated African blacks.

Ilanga later moved to Cuba, and became a brain surgeon. He had not returned to the Congo until a few years ago. Despite Ilanga's death, Hansing plans to finish the film.

An Argentianian-Brazilian feature film, entitled "Motorcycle Diaries," about Che Guevara's travels through his own native South America was an acclaimed film which was also released here in the USA last year. 

Correction: Ilanga did not actually go to the Congo, but he was planning to when he died. He did, however, reestablish contact with relatives there through the Internet.

Second correction: The music I was listening at the time of this entry was by Ali Farka Toure. He is from Mali, which is actually not close to Senegal!

Monday, December 12, 2005

New book from Village Voice columnist

With Ahnuld deciding to go through with a controversial execution (I fimrly oppose the death penalty), the continuing fiasco in Iraq and the never-ending head scarf controversy at Istanbul University in my father's country, I am simply too overwhelmed to write a political commentary piece for my newest blog entry. But, apparently, I am not the only one overwhelmed with nonsense these days. Village Voice columnist Anya Kamenetz, who I had emailed earlier this year has informed me that she has a new book entitled "Generation Debt: Why Now is a Terrible Time to be Young." It is due out in February. At 35, I may not no longer be considered 'young,' but surely the problems Anya examines are universal ones. Her book will deal with student loans, credit cards, low wages, no benefits, bad jobs, no jobs (yes, I know how that is!0, and tax cuts for very wealthy white men. The book will examine the plight of 12 people who are confronted with such problems as a result of this national epidemic. One can find out more about the book at and if you like you check out Anya's blog at

She is also available for campus tours this spring

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Turkish soccer news- GalataSaray beat Besiktash

Well, the world may not be a better place than it was yesterday. But, at least, my favorite Turkish soccer team, GalataSaray defeated Besiktas 3-2 yesterday. Alas, Turkey did not qualify for the World Cup, so I will have to root for the USA team and/or Costa Rica (I love underdogs). I am happy to report that BursaSpor is winning the second division. My friend Ugur Celikkol lives in Bursa, and the whole city has been in a state of suicidal depression since they feel down a group. Alas, GalataSaray still trails the menacing evil that is FenerBahce. But, second place is good for now! Sanirim, pek yakinda, sizi buyuk seklinde gecegiz-'We will beat you in the not too distant future (again!)"........Cim Bom bom.....

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan-midnight screening

The Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, VA ( will be showing the early 80s sci fi masterpiece "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," a film that I clearly feel is far and away the best of the series. And, I also think it is better than a good 80% of the original Star Trek series' episodes. The 1982 film is based on the 1967 Star Trek episode "Space Seed," and it features a then unkonw (and, alas a now has been) Kristie Alley. The film was directed by Nicolas Myer. It will be screened at midnight on Sat., Dec. 17


Updated Dec. 18: Alas, it was a low turnout last night. I expect the weather and the bulk of area colleges closing for the semester were the culprits. But, it was a very impressive print. The Grandin Theatre is hoping to show several more midnight movies next year. I will keep everyone posted.

Friday, December 9, 2005

Yes Virginia, there's a Noel Coward Society!

After listening to La Theatre Works CD of a performance of Noel Coward's "Design by Living." I was surprised to find out that this legendary playwright of the '20s and '30s has a huge Internet following. I must admit that I knew (and, perhaps still know) little about Coward and his work, though assuredly he seems remarkably different than my own personal favorite playwright, David Mamet. But, for those who are interested in learning more about Coward join me in visiting the web site of the Noel Coward Society, which is based in London, at:


Tuesday, December 6, 2005

"Ice Haven"- a review of a graphic novel

Daniel Clowes is an artistic genius, and his new graphic novel "Ice Haven" from Pantheon Books is as chillingly good as his best known works "David Boring" and "Ghost World," the later of which was made into an award-winning independent film. Clowes captures the isolation and hypocricy of suburban America as well as Rick Moody and Breat Easton Ellis in novels and Gus Van Sant and Ricahrd Linklater in films. The plot revolves around a missing boy who becomes the focus of the fictional Ice Haven, a place which resemble suburban cities like Evanston, Illinois and Springfield, Virginia. The story takes us into the lives of those in the city who are seemingly most affected by this breaking story/tragedy. At times, Clowes takes tangents by having a fictional graphic novel critic overanalyze his work perhaps as I am right now. The unique characters include a detective of questionable moral character, a TV-bunnyman who has a horrifying off-screen persona, a repressed 20-something girl who loves a man who doesn't seem to care about her, an overweight amateur writer who finds time in his week to watch "Temptation Island" (haven't we all done something equally insepid)- then complains about how he can't find time to write (and about how time keeps slipping away), little boys who want to falsely take credit for the missing boy when adults aren't supervising them in their backyards. This is not "Peanuts,' but Clowes can be seen as a subversive Charles Schultz who shows quite clearly that in a country with so much opportunity, there are indeed children who aimlessly bang tennis balls against a concrete wall and then deviantly look for ways to make life more exciting. It should alaram us all, but we haven't been paying attention (perhaps, for a very long time). Thankfully, Clowes has!


My rating: three and half stars (out of 4)