Tuesday, December 26, 2006

My 'Unofficial' Top 10 Films of the Year

This will be my last entry before heading to Mexico...........just for a few days.....:)

My unofficial top 10 (because by no means have I seen enough wrothy films yet) are:

1. Borat
2. Little Miss Sunshine
3. The Prestige
4. Crossing the Bridge: Istanbul (documentary about Turkish musicians by Turkish-German director Fatih Akin)
5. Three Times (Taiwan)
6. United 93
7. Half Nelson
8. Science of Sleep
9. The Devil and Daniel Johnson (doc)
10. The Queen

Turkish dancer in Md. is making waves

I came across an interview from the fall of 2005 with Turkish dancer Nejla Y. Yatkin. It was with the Fairfax, Va. cable access program "Turkish American Hour" (see link below). Yatkin, who speacializes in modern dance, is based in Maryland. Yatkin will be performing in Germantown, Md. on March 24. Her web site contains many pictures of her performing. Yatkin told the interviewer that by growing up in Berlin she was exposed to many cultures, and she said that her many influences can be seen in her dances.

Yatkin's site

Turkish American Hour

Were you dreaming of a WHITE Christmas?*

I think all us have at one time or another been seduced by Bing Crosby's rendering of a "White Christmas," even if we are Zen Buddhists. The reality is alas much different than the fantasy. Perhaps, there is no better evidence of this than digital photos taken by my sister Lale and her husband Matt. With their permission, I am posting a link to these photos.
Be careful what you wish for!


Monday, December 25, 2006

The Fonz is Captian Hook?!

I was looking at the BBC News web site, and I cam across this interesting tid bit. Apparently, both Henry Winkler, of "Happy Days" fame, and Patrick Duffy from "Dallas" are performing pantomime at two different theatres in London. Winkler will be starring as Captian Hook in a panto version of "Peter Pan" at the New Wimbledon Theatre. And, Duffy will be performing in "Cinderella" (He'll be playing Baron Hardup, as opposed to Cinderella) at the New Victoria Theatre. Pantomime is unique because well it is acting without using words! Winkler replaced David Hasslehoff! TV's Fonz told the BBC that: "They're still explaining it (pantomime) to me," Winkler said. "I've had a week of rehearsal, my brain is numb."

I imagine that it is!

The BBC's web site is:

Click on "Americas" and the story should be easy to locate, depending on how many days it remains posted.

Offbeat Christmas entry- Klezner, anyone?

On the evening of Saturday, Dec. 9, I stopped by the Green Bean coffehouse in downtown Greensboro. As I was there, I saw this band set up and noticed they had a mandolin and a clarinet. The band was Sinai Mountain Ramblers, the only Klezner..traidtional Jewish music... band in the area. I stopped by later that night and watched them perform. I must admit it was my frist glimpse of Klezner music since I saw the late John Candy and Eugene Levy make fun of the music in a "SCTV' comedy skit when I was about 12 or 13 years old. But, this music is really enjoyable. Much like polka, it is the kind of music which seems very unhip during one's Depeche Mode/Billy Idol teen angst years but one appreciates it as they realize just how awful Def Leopard proves to be once the angst has subsided. The band's web site said that the Sinai Mountain Ramblers started in 1997. Three friends who happened to share a love for playing string instruments and a common interest in traditional Jewish folk music got together on Sundays. They added a clarinet player in 1999. Sinai Mountain Ramblers play Klezner tunes from Eastern Europe and contemporary Jewish folk. The group studied Klezner music further in Montreal in 2001.
The band consists of:
Gary Silverstein- mandolin
Kurt Lavenstein- cello
Rich Lerner-guitar and percussion
Paul Fribush-clarinet and tsimbol
Other Klezner artists include: Michael Alpert (New York), Sam Glacer (LA) and Jack Gabriel (Denver).

In other Greensboro music news, my friend Bruce Piephoff, a folk singer/poet, is scheduled to release a new recording in February. The premiere party is scheduled at the Two Chicks Art Gallery in downtown Greensboro. Here are some useful links:

Sinai Mountain Ramblers

Bruce Piephoff

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Prophetic writing from Walt Whitman

Ever since I strated working with semi-literate students at Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke, I have started taking classic writers much more seriously. Currently, I am reading the Library of America collection devouted to poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892). Many well-read people are probably familiar with the fact that Whitman visited veteran hospitals right after the Civil War. I found the following journal entry by Whitman, which was written in March of 1865. The short piece is entitled "Wounds and Disease" and it appears in his prose collection titled "Specimen Days." It seems exceptionally moving considering what many who are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are going through now.

                               "Wounds and Disease"
    "The war is over, but the hospitals are fuller than ever, from former and current cases. A large majority of the wounds are in the arms and legs. But there is every kind of wound, in every part of the body. I should say of the sick, from my observation, that the prevailing maladies are typhoid fever and the camp fevers generally, diarrhea, catarhal affections and bronchitis, rheumatism and pneumonia. These forms of sickness lead; all the rest follow. There are twice as many sick as there are wounded. The deaths range from seven to ten percent of those under treatment."

I highly recomment the Library of America series. They've been a real learning experince for me.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Cong. Virgil Goode (R-VA) doesn't speak for me...

I almost decided to let this go. But, as this story is making national news and since I work in Cong. Goode's 5th District, I have decided not to let this go. I am not spiritually a Muslim myself, but as the son of a Turkish immigrant, I am outraged that Goode said he would do his best (paraphrase, but essentially what he said)  "to keep Muslims from entering this country, and holding public office." The disclosure of this controversial letter came because Goode inadvertently sent it to a local Sierra Club chapter president in Charlottesville, Va. Goode comes from Rocky Mount, Va.- one of the most conservative towns in his right-leaning district, but he also represents Charlottesville which is the most liberal city in Virginia. There are two pro-life billboards in Goode's home jurisdiction of Franklin County which proclaim that 'abortion is the worst form of child abuse.' My ears perked when Goode made a similar striking anti-Muslim comment on WVTF (public radio station in Roanoke, Va) during his debate with Democrat opponent Al Weed in October. I don't recall the exact comment, but it was not far off from this one which has recieved just deserved national attention. Kudos to the alternative newspaper "C'ville Weekly" for breaking this story. Goode was formally a Democrat, but he has always been arch-conservative. His racist comments come in the same year that former Sen. George Allen (R-VA) made his infamous macaca comments near the Kentucky border during a campaign rally. I must also commend newly elected Cong. Keith Ellison (D-MN), who was the initial target of Goode's letter, for handling this matter gracefully. Ellison was born in Michigan, and is not an immigrant to this country. Goode's comments are insulting to all of us who are the offspring of hard-working Muslim immigrants who have contributed in medicine, education, and all walks of American life. As a proud Virginian, I am also insulted that he makes all of us look bad on national level. Hopefully, and if there is indeed a just God, he will meet the same political fate as Allen when his term expires. Goode won his election over Weed with 60 % of the vote. One expects that Weed, a vineyard owner, will take on Goode for a third time in 2008.

For more info:



Great movie blog from my friend Bilge Ebiri

My sister may be the one with literally four feet of snow on her doorstep, but I sort of feel that way too. Since, I was supposed to be south of the border today- and, I don't mean NC, I thought work on my blog which has been neglected in recent months.

My latest entry... my (wow!) fourth of the day concerns a movie blog from Bilge Ebiri. He is an independent filmmaker in New York and has written extensively about filmmakers like Bernardo Bertolucci and the late Yilmaz Guney. His film "New Guy" is available from netflix.com

But, Mr. Ebiri has another venture. I should warn folks in places like Boones Mill, Va., that the following does contain SOME ADULT CONTENT and should not be viewed in public library or on your work pc. It includes talks about people's worst film-going experiences, a trailer for the new Harry Potter film due out this spring, and some interesting photos of Marilyn Monroe.

The Screen Grab is available at:


Ebiri is also in post-production on his short film "The Purse Snatcher."

A Poem by Nazim Hikmet..Turkey's most famous poet

On a day in which I was supposed to be in Mexico, but due to my sister and brother-in-law (who were supposed to join us) being trapped by an awful snowstorm in Longmont, Co., where they live, I have been here at my mother's home in Salem, Va. most of the day.

I have wanted to put up an entry with the poety of Nazim Hikmet (1902-1963) for quite some time. Hikmet was controversial because of his socialist views, and had been residing in Moscow for a number of years at the time of his death.

I was reading a book of Walt Whitman poetry earlier today, and I think Hikmet's style captured Turkey's difficulties in facing transition in much the way that Whitman's work captured what America was going through during his lifetime.

I found this poem "About My Poetry," which was translated by Mutlu Konuk and Randy Blasing on the Internet.

About My Poetry

I have no silver-saddled horse to ride,
no inheritance to live on,
neither riches no real estate_
a pot of honey is all I own
red as fire!

My honey is my everything,
I guard
my riches and my real estate
-my honey pot, I mean-
from pests of every species,
Brother, just wait...
As long as I've got
honey in my pot,
bees will come to it
from Timbuktu....

I've also wanted to mention that a friend of mine, K. Kamal Ayyildiz, who is also originally from Roanoke, Va., has a published book of poetry enttitled "The Cistern."
Originally published in 2004, "The Cistern" is available from http://www.amazon.com

Hikmet's poems, as well as the works of many other legendary poets can be found at:

Need a last minute gift?

I found out the other day that my friend Tom Angleberger, a columnist for "The Roanoke Times," is married to children's author Cece Bell. She is the author and illustrator of the popular sock monkey children's books. Tom has his own children's book which is due out soon. The last children's book I read was "Naked Lunch," which isn't nearly as demented as "Green Eggs and Ham"

For more info:


Test.........this is only a test........

I just want to see if I can actually post this entry. I had troubles entering a blog entry the other day. Incidentally, I was supposed to be in Mexico today. Long story. Short entry.
Felix Navidad............:)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Grandin Theatre to screen "A Christmas Story"

Though I may live in NC, I am still in the Roanoke area quite often. In fact, I am here now! I will be out of the country on Dec. 23, but I thought I would mention that the Grandin Theatre will be screening "A Christmas Story" that night at midnight......"The Good Shepard," a new political thriller starring Matt Damon, is slated to be among the regular films showing there Christmas weekend. The Stephen Frears biopic "The Queen" will be in its 83rd week of release there as well.............:)

For those in NC, my 'new state," the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro is showing "Dr. Zhivago," at 7:30 pm on Tues., Jan. 9, 2007. The running time of the film is 14 hours and 27 minutes- just kidding! And, "The Queen" hasn't been around for 83 weeks quite yet, but it may!

Hope everyone has a great holiday.........

Vietnamese New Year is just around the corner!

For more info on the Grandin, go to:


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Tribute to Ahmet Ertegun

Alas, my blog is now looking like the obits section of a local paper. I have already mentioned the recent deaths of William Styron and Robert Altman.

But, it would be hard for me to overlook Ahmet Ertegun. The prominent Turkish-American was the founder of Atlantic Records and help bring acts like Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones into our pop culture. He died at age 83 this week. Another Turkish-American record producer Arif Mardin died earlier this year.

There is a tribute page to his memory at the Atlantic Records web site.


Unique new show from preacher's son

There is a new show_ a six-part documentary_ about Jay Bakker. The tattooed rebellious figure is a liberal Christian minister who happens to be the son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. The first episode reairs Monday night at 9 p.m. and new episodes will air on the Sundance Channel every Wednesday at 9 p.m. I saw the first episode, and I found Bakker to be a very interesting person. It turns out that Heritage USA in Fort Mill, SC-the theme park founded by the Bakkers- is now pretty much an empty lot. Jay is alas more or less estranged from his father, though he maintains a close relationship with his mom, who is sadly in a major battle for her life with breat cancer. The series is from the filmmakers who brought Tammy Faye's life to the screen some five years ago.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Remembering Robert Altman

I was very saddened to hear of the passing of one of my favorite film directors last month. Robert Altman, who died at age 81, was an absolute genius. He made many great films which are familiar like "The Player," "MASH," and "Nashville;" but he also made many memorable unfamiliar films like "Three Women" and "The Wedding." He will be missed.

Well, Thank God I was wrong.....!

It has been a crazy time hence the long delay between entries. Nevertheless, I am delighted that I was dead wrong in my election predictions. I did not think that Claire Mackaskill would defeat Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo) or that ultra-corrupt Montana Republican Senator Conrad Burns would lose his seat as well. It is also delightful to see James Webb replacing George Allen. I must however profess reluctant ambivilance about how well Congressional Democrats can lead. I fear that Cong. Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca) may be too much of a lightning rod to be an effective Speaker of the House. I'm also concerned that Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is too much of a lock, and thus the right-wing pit bulls, ie. Rush Limbaugh and Jerry Falwell, will vote in a political centerist like John McCain and Rudy Guiliani to counter her. But, at least, the likelihood of a fervent, militant ultra-conservative like President Dubya coming into the White House in 2008 now appears minimal at best. Of course, a lot can happen between now and then! 

Monday, November 6, 2006

U.S Senate Predictions.....I'm a Bit Nervous.........

One might imagine that a political independent who votes for Democrats 99 % of the time such as myself would feel very confident given all the current poll numbers. But, both Al Gore and John Kerry were reportedly going to win on Election Day, and it's been a long time since John F. Kennedy edged out Richard Nixon in 1960. Nevertheless, I hope we can party 'like it's 1994' tomorrow night. I feel confident that the two U.S Senators I most disdain Sen. George 'Maccacovitz' Allen (R-Va) and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa) are both going down. But, I am afraid that the ultra-corrupt Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mt) will once again barely prevail mainly because Montana is heavily Republican and Burns has been in the Senate for a long time. Here are my predictions...to save time I will mention the party of my projected winner as opposed to mentioning the candidates' name, except in a few circumstances.

While the first few projected winners will be Democrats, you will notice a gradul change as you scroll down. These are not all the races, but most of them.


Democrat JAMES WEBB (my biggest regret about moving to NC is not being able to vote for him...I hate Allen that much)

2) Maryland-


3) Rhode Island-

Democrat- just barely

4) Pennsylvania

Democrat- bye Rick!

5) Conn-

the Lieberman Party

6) Ohio-


7) Michigan-


8) NY-

Democrat- Hillary, of course

9) Tenn-

Republican Bob Corker will barely prevail over Harold Ford Jr. I hate to see a pro-Turkish Democrat lose, but I can't see good ole boys voting for an Afr-American

10) Florida-


11) WV-

Democrat.. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) stands to surpass Strom Thurmond as the oldest U.S. Sen. ever

12) NJ -Democrat Bob Menendez will prevail in a tougher than expected race.

12) Montana-




Republican- arch conservative Sen. John Kyl is expected to barely prevail her

14) Missouri- Alas, I think Sen. James Talent will hang on and this will just prevent the Democrats from overtaking the Senate.

With a possible Lieberman defection, it may not matter anyhow. I also think Democrats will prevail in Minnesota and New Mexico. I believe I've included all the competive ones as well as some which may be closer than expected.


In spite of my slight pessimism, I am still expecting major gains in the House. I sense that the Democrats will definitely get at least 20-25 seats for a comfortable takeover. Of these candidates, I hope Cong. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Co) is among those who will need to take one last trip to the Lincoln Memorial.

There are needless to say some good moderate Republicans, such as Sen. Lincoln Chaffee (R-RI), who stand to lose because of the GOP's move to the fringe far-right.

All in all, it should still be a good night. And, all of us in the Virginia disaspora should be thankful that George Allen made his grand maccaca gaffe near the Virginia-Kentucky border, back in August. He should now have plenty of time to watch football games and munch on potato chips..........which is what he should have been doing all along!



Sunday, November 5, 2006

Thoughts on Election Day and the Religious Right

I am in a bit of a lazy motif on this Sunday afternoon. Everything is pretty much closed here in Reidsville, NC, on Sunday, so it is perhaps harder to feel guilty about being lazy than it might be in Provincetown, Mass.- the most liberal city in America (with Provo, Ut., being the most conservative). But, I am certainly no fan of the religious right. I was delighted by the recent scandal in Colorado involving Rev. Ted Haggard, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals. As many of you know, Haggard has apparently partially confessed to being involved with a gay male prostitute in Denver. Haggard is reported to have made numerous trips from Colorado Springs to Denver to 'get a massage'

In a statement released by the Rev. Barry Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, it has been a really tough year for the religious right.

Lynn went on to say that: "Their (the religious right's) moral champion Tom DeLay left Congress in disgrace. Their 'family values' allies in the House were caught covering up the Mark Foley scandal. Then they learned that Karl Rove's office thinks they're nuts. And, now one of their most influnential leaders is mired in scandal." Lynn went on to say that Haggard represents more people than the Rev. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson combined. Lynn also said that the religious right leaders need to focus more on their own family because they try to fix anyone else's.

On this week's editiion of the PBS show "The MacGaughlin Group," the panel which consists of far-right activist Pat Buchanan and liberal political commentator Lawerence O'Donell, predicted a Democratic take-over of both the House and Senate. Buchanan reluctantly stated that Sen. Rick Santorium (R-Pa) would go down to defeat. The panel also agreed by a 3-2 margin that Jim Webb would defeat Sen. George 'Maccacowitz' Allen (R-Va)- the nickname is on that many beltway insiders have tagged the arch-conservative senator with.

And, lastly, "Rolling Stone" has named the twn worst members of the U.S. House of Representatives. The lone Democrat on the worst offenders list was Cong. William Jefferson (D-La). Those named included far-right extremist Cong. Marilyn Musgraves (R-Co.) who my sister Lale and her husband Matt have the misfortune (in their words) of being represented by. Pres. Bush went to Greeley, Co., to support Musgraves over the weekend. She has been one of his staunches allies. Musgraves is known for being aggressively homophobic. Cong. Barney Frank (D-Ma.) told "Rolling Stone" that Musgraves would always be ardently against gay marriage because the thought of one homosexual was offensive to her; therefore, the thought of two gay people being together would be absolutely appauling to her. According to "Rolling Stone," Musgraves also blacked out parts of health books which dealt with sex education while she was a member of a local school board.

Alas, there are no important Senate races in NC. But, I am hoping that our Congressman, Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) will soundly defeat Vernon Robinson, aka 'the black Jesse Helms." As a Winston-Salem city council member, Robinson was absent for 20 out of 22 committee meetings. I would say that he is a shoe-in for the ten worst Congressional candidates!

Related sites:





Friday, November 3, 2006

Remembering William Styron

I had chance to meet the author of "Sophie's Choice" at the 1997 Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville. His daughter was there to show a film she directed based on a Styron short story. I believe "Shadrac" was the title. I wrote a term about Styron's work when I was at Radford University circa 1994. I read the novel "The Confessions of Nat Turner," which won him the Pulitzer Prize in 1967. Styron also wrote a breakthrough book about his struggle with depression called "Darkness Visible." He died at age 81 this week. "Sophie's Choice" was recently made into an unlikely opera, and it premiered in Washington DC. He will be missed.


Any errors in this blog are due to the fact that it was written in haste!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Turkish People are Celebrating Republic's Day.......

This will be my 100th entry!

Sun., Oct. 29 is Republic's Day, which is the closest equivalent to the 4th of July.

Turkey did not become an independent country perse on Oct. 29, 1923, but it was the date that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk formally founded the Republic of Turkey. Previously, Turkey was the Ottoman Empire. Though, Turkey has remained a strong democracy, the trappings of geography and a controversial history continue to cause perplexing problems across all sectors of the at-times politically and socially divided country.

As a Turkish-American, I look forward to this day each year and I feel fortunate that it has fallen a weekend this year. There is always a dinner at the Turkish embassy in Washington DC, as well as many local events. In our region, ATA-NC is hosting a day-long event at the University of North Carolina which will consist of discussions and folk dances. The Turkish students at Virginia Tech, who I have always been supportive of having attended college at nearby Radford University, are hosting a evening dinner at More Than Coffee in downtown Blacksburg.

Turkey continues to face many challenges ahead especially with the complicated situation in Iraq, which has alas caused political complications with the United States. But, I am hopeful that these problems will be resolved soon and even though I am highly poltically opposed to both George W. Bush and Turkish PM Tayyip Erdogan, I am glad they have a cordial relationship given the present circumstances involved.

To find out more about Turkey, I recommend the following site:





Friday, October 27, 2006

Politics is getting nasty even at the local level here...

Well, pardon the cliche, but I suppose it has come down to this.

By now, even people living in North Pole, Ak., know about the scandolous mud-slinging in the US Senate race in my home state of Virginia. I actually started to laugh in the floor when I heard that the right-wing drudge report (use of lower case letters is deliberate) actually took passages from Senate James Webb's novels to try and smear him. I do have to wonder- having met the man as a reporter- if Sen. George Allen could write a children's book much less an epic war novel. But, all of this seems highly irrelevant when you consider that Ronald Reagan's last screen-role was as a hit-man in Don Siegel's filmation of Ernest Hemingway's novel "The Killers." Similarly, Gov. Ahnuld (R-Ca) made it big by essentially playing a serial killer in "The Terminator" (1984). Nevertheless, if I were a resident of Malibu or any other California town, my reasons for not voting for the former body-builder would have nothing to do with any of his movie roles- not even "Kindergarthen Cop"............

Here in Rockingham County (NC), just over the Va. state line, the mud-slinging is perhaps just as bad as the Virginia Senate race though. Apparently, a secret mailing went out from a group called "Democrats for Phil Berger Jr." The 34-year-old Berger is the Republican candidate for District Attorney. He faces incumbent Democratic Dist. Attorney Belinda Foster. The suspicious letter for Berger said that as district attorney Foster asked an assistant district attorney, who is actually a Southern Baptist (according to the rumor mill), to convert from Judaism to Christianity because in her words 'all Jews go to........." Since Foster is African-American, one has to wonder if the mailers, who could in fact not be associates of Berger, had racist intentions themselves. The address on the mailing was from Eden, NC, where the Rockingham County Republican Party is based.

Foster herself made the campaign interesting by refusing to debate Berger for our local-TV station whose call letters I myself forget. Her deliberate abensentism made for some awkward moments in the debate (well, what little I watched), but Foster's intentions are quite justifiable when one considers that this tv-station makes about as much effort to cloak their political-leanings as Rush Limbaugh or the aforementioned drudge report. Of course, my blog here makes little effort to cloak political biases (I personally hope everyRepublican in the country except Cong. Frank Wolf (R-Va)- one of the most honest, ethical politicians I know- loses and loses badly on Election Day). But, I am no longer a reporter- except for a few free-lance gigs and I am not going to be hosting any poltical forums anytime soon.

In my own jurisdiction, I will vote for Cong. Brad Miller (D-NC) who is facing ultra-right-wing, xenophobic/homophobic candidate Vernon Robinson who has been dubbed 'the black Jesse Helms.' Robinson's over-the-top campaigns can be found on youtube.com, where one can also see the pulled-from-the-air ads of former Cong. Mark Foley (R-Fl) who Bill O'Reilly actually tried to label as a Democrat!

If anyone passing through here knows of any other interesting political tid-bits, please pass them on.

And, lastly, if there is anyone who wants to make informed electoral decisions beyond petty partisanship, which I may do when Chelsea Clinton becomes president, the best site for you is:


............I have already checked to see that indeed Sen. George Allen (R-Va) is to the right of Mr. Potato Head.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My Friend from Hollins has Film about Turkey........

I have been meaning to post this here for some time. As it is, the some time should be now since Sadie Tillery, a friend of mine who went to Hollins University (I was the only guy in her class, which made for a Kafkaesque experience), is about to present a documentary film that she produced entitled "Time Pieces" at the Museum of Radio and Television Broadcasting in New York on Sunday at 5 pm. Alas, I can not be there, but I hope the screening goes very well. "Time Pieces" is a compilation of short documentary films from a host of Turkish and American documentary filmmakers. The project was organized by the FullFrame Documentary Festival in Durham. "Time Pieces" debuted at the festival this year. It was also screened in Istanbul last month. Sadie traveled to Turkey with the film. I have traveled to Turkey many times, but never with a film! But, I may very be traveling there in the summer of 2007, so I suppose any thing is possible............I don't have the link to the film festival that Sadie's film will be in, but if one Googles The Museum of Radio and Television, they should be able to find it........I hope!

Cal Thomas Slam in Local Paper

Since the national spot-light is on the Greensboro area_ a place where I am still trying hard to make friends, I thought I would add this great letter to the editor which was published in "The News-Record" on Monday. It was written by Jean Rodenbough of Greensboro. It reads:

Cal Thomas, in his column, "No place is safe from evil" promotes home schooling as the way to avoid the dangers of evils that lurk in public schools. He is writing about the shooting of the Amish schoolgirls in Lancaster County, Pa. I wonder if he is aware that the shooter, Charles Carl Roberts IV, was home-schooled?

Link: http://www.news-record.com


El Presidente Visited Greensboro Today......

(Hail to the Chief- Audio Sound Bite)


I had the 'rare opportunity' to see then-candidate George W. Bush speak at a lavish fund-raiser in downtown Richmond in Februrary of 2000. I was amazed how he sounded just like the sound bites of him that would air on C-Span. Surprisingly, a Republican volunteer agreed with me when I made this comment, but he said that Bush was much 'better in person."

Today in Greensboro and the Randolph County (NC) community of Randleman which is home to Kyle Petty's Victory Junction Camp (ironically, I applied to work there over the summer), some members of the community had a chance to indeed meet President George W. Bush in person. I can imagine that if my child (I don't have any) had been at the Greensboro elementary school, I may have been happy because it is not every day that a child can meet a president. But, if my child had asked Bush a tough question, such as "When are we going to get out of Iraq?"- which few reporters from our area are likely to do (if they can even talk to him), I would be even more proud of him.  

One of the amazing ironies that few local media outlets have examined is the fact that Bush visited a Greensboro elementary school to tout 'No Child Left Behind,' even though Rockingham Community College in my jurisdiction saw dramatic federal cuts in its adult education programs. As someone from the school effectively told me, "Bush may not leave any child behind, but the parents of those children are another matter." The issue was brought to the attention North Carolina Public Radio. They did a segment on RCC's plight, which aired on May 3, 2005.

Tonight, Bush will visit the former ambassador of Estonia who now resides in Greensboro. The dinner is a $1,000 fundraiser for Republican candidates. Given the fact that Republicans stand to lose one or two congressional house seats on Nov. 7 (former Redskins quarterback Heath Schuler is a Democratic candidate in the 12th district which includes Asheville), it seems likely that this year they may actually need the extra cash.

Interestingly enough, "The Vagina Monologues" author Eve Ensler, who has just published a novel (monologues is a play) is also in the Triad. She will be speaking in Winston-Salem for about $10 or $11.

For more coverage of the Bush visit (and, maybe/perhaps the Ensler visit), you can visit Greensboro's CBS-affiliate on the web:



If that is the wrong link, I guess the only I can say is..........oooops!:)  

Friday, October 13, 2006

Intersting NC-Set novel is out now

I lost this initial entry, which was very frustrating. But, I strongly believe in finishing what I started.


There is a great locally-produced public-tv show in NC called "NC Bookwatch." This week's show, which reairs- alas only in NC, at 5 pm on Sun. profiled "Grievances," a novel about an unsolved murder of an African-American youth which happened 30 years ago in SC. The story revolves around a Charlotte newspaper reporter, Matt Harper, who stumbles upon this story and decides to investigate it over his editor's objections. The author Mark Ethridge was a reporter for "The Charlotte Observer." While there, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his work investigating Jim and Tammy Faye Baker. Other "NC Bookawatch" titles include Tom Carlson's non-fictional book "Hatteras Blues," which looks at how NC's Outer Banks are undergoing a surprisingly hard economic turning point.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Interesting plays in Washington DC and Durham, NC

As an appendix to my last entry, I thought I would mention two interesting plays which are starting their respective runs at Arena Stage in Washington DC and Man Bites Dog Theatre in Durham, NC, respectively. As of tonight, Arena Stage is producing "Nine Parts Desire" a one-woman show by Heather Russo about nine Iraqis and one Iraqi-American who talk about how their lives have changed since the outset of our invasion/occupation/liberation of Iraq. Russo was interviewed about the production on NPR's "All Things Considered." Alas, Washington D.C. is four and half hours from Reidsville, NC.

Durham is slightly closer, but I'm not sure I can make this one either. Nevertheless, it is worht mentioning that Man Bites Dog Theatre will be performing an 'all African-American" version of Anton Chekov's play "The Cherry Orchard," which as perhaps many of you know takes place in Russia during the outset of the 20th century. One has to applaud the theatre for deciding not to have the play take place in the American South, as they had rationally contemplated. I think this play would have been even more interesting if my friend Agnetta, who recently got married and moved to Chicago, was in it. She had performed in a Showtimers production of "The Crucible" in Roanoke, Va. I say this because Agnetta is from Kenya.......! If any of you have any black friends named Vladamir be sure to mention this production to them............

Since most of my friends are still in Roanoke, Va., and can not watch the stars hovering over the barns here in Rockingham County, NC, with me.......I do hope some of you can make the time to check out NoShame Theatre... a weekly late-night dose of improve and over-the-top skits. I am hoping to come back err...... soon. I need to finish a skit or two though!


Useful links.....

Arena Stage: http://www.arenastage.org

Man Bites Dog Theater http://www.manbitesdogtheater.org (I hope!)

And, lastly, Mill Mountain Theatre (where NoShame is performed) is http://www.millmountain.org

I think millmountain.com is the web site for the coffee shop just down the street from it!

"Half-Nelson" opens at Grandin Theatre in Roanoke

Hi again. It has been a while. I now live in Reidsville, NC, and work in Danville, Va. My cousin Mike Dawkins, who lives in Rock Hill, SC, and works in Charlotte, NC, probably understands how surreal it is to live in one state work in another; but, it alas proves that the old cliche about being two places at once in sadly true. Case in point, the highly-regarded independent film "Half-Nelson" is showing at the Grandin Theatre in my hometwon of Roanoke, Va., and the Chelsea Theater in Chapel Hill, NC. It looks like I can not go to either place- this weekend- but, I would like to suggest that anyone who reads this in either of those two areas try to check out this film. In a review by Melissa Anderson of "Time Out New York," which was published in the July/Aug. 2006 issue of "Film Comment," she states that "Half-Nelson" is a memorable fim. She adds that it is an extension of director Ryan Fleck's short "Gowanus, Brooklyn" (2004) and that "Half-Nelson" is never cluttered with the 'each one, teach one' sappiness seen in Hollywood films like Michelle Pfeiffer's "Dangerous Minds." Anderson also credits stars Ryan Gosling who gave a striking performance in "The Believer" (2001) and Shareeka Epps for a profound film which is 'no one-note redemption song.' Anderson says that the film is about an intergenerational, platonic relationship in which the two lead characters Dan and Drey learn to take care of each other.

With this and the last two blog entries, some of you may be outright shocked to learn that I am actually more into theatre than films days. But, to me, this is very much like trying to to decide if one should go out with Rosario Dawson or Scarlett Johansson- though, assuredly, if I were dating either of them I could probably stay at home, watch reruns of "CSI: Miami" and be happy........! Nevertheless..........

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Documentary "I'm a Sex Addict" now on DVD

For anyone who may be spending their spare time watching hours of porn, waiting to see if a certain woman comes by a particular street corner at 3 a.m., or likes to fly to Amsterdam for other reasons besides visiting the Van Gogh Museum, you can now see the exploits of another sex addict as experimental documentary filmmaker Caveh Zahedi puts all of his experiences into his surreal film "I'm a Sex Addict." The film, which failed to garner a theatrical release in spite of critical acclaim in some circles, is now out on DVD through IFC Films, as of Sept. 12.

Amazingly enough, I saw this film at a special screening at the Grandin Theatre in my hometown of Roanoke, Va.! Jake Mahaffy, then a professor at Hollins University, arranged for Zahedi to come to Roanoke in November of 2005 (has it really been close to a year!) where he showed this film.

I found "I'm a Sex Addict" to be rather intriguing, but I would have preferred some more 'distance,' as the film is a personal narrative documentary- the kinds which Michael Moore and North Carolinian Ross McElwee of "Sherman's March" fame have made famous. As it is, the film is told exclusively from Zahedi's perspective and one questions how those around him, including the women he loved, felt about his exploits.

To promote the film, Zahedi wrote an interesting piece in the current issue of "Film Comment." It features excerpts from his diary about the experience of trying to get his film some very necessary publicity.

In a passage dated Feb. 17, 2005, Zahedi states that the second review of "...Addict" appeared in "Variety." It was a less than flattering review by Debroah Young in which the critic stated that Zahedi had defined his own sub-genre of screen narcissism.

Zahedi responded in his diary by saying that Young's comments were highly annoying. He added that he has been accused of narcissism in the past, but the charge seems exasperating to him since his film makes a delibertate effort to 'if anything, exaggerate (Zahedi's) character defects.'

You can be the judge by watching "I'm a Sex Addict" for yourself. The web site for IFC films is (I believe) www.ifcfilms.com

If you live in the Roanoke, Va., area, and want to bring "...Addict" back for an encore, you can always call my friend Jason Garnett, general manager of the Grandin. Perhaps, they can arrange to show "I'm a Sex Addict"  for a midnight screening of the film the same day they show "Fox and the Hound" at 10 a.m. for the kids, and get the two films mixed up!

Lastly, I, Tilly Gokbudak-if I can be narcissistic- want to sincerely thank everyone for logging onto my blog. As of Sept. 21, this blog will be one-year old. There have been 92 entries and close to 700 hits so far.

My friend Tom Angleberger, who is a columnist for "The Roanoke Times," has suggested  that I should make my blog more 'sexy' by perhaps adding a podcast of a chainsaw juggler or something. I do have a good friend Blake Lipcomb who has juggled hammers, but that isn't really what the kids want to see.* Perhaps, one day if I become as computer-savvy as my brother-in-law Matthew Lovell in Dogville, Co.**, I may have to look into that.

Incidentally, my brother-in-law Matt and my sister Lale recently adopted two pit bulls into their home and I understand they get along quite well with their cats, Flash and Whizzo*** 

*-Alas, Blake dropped a hammer on his head last week, and I am told he may now have amnesia.

**-Dogville, Co., is an all-too obvious nod, nod, wink, wink to all my film buff pals.

**-See my blog entry about the Guatemalan babies!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The great Orson Welles

There is a new book by Joseph McBride about the great auteur/moviestar/stage director entitled "What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?" (University of Kentucky Press, $29.95), but I am motivated to post this latest blog entry because of a fantastic production of the Austin Pendleton play "Orson's Shadow" that I saw last night at the Deep Dish Theatre in Chapel Hill, NC. (The roadside back to Reidsville was a bit of an adventure because I missed a fork in the road near Gibsonville but, well......never mind!). Both Pendleton's play and McBride's book deal with Welles' artistic inability of live up to making "Citizen Kane" (1941) in his mid-20s. Welles first gained notoriety before "Kane" by helming a radio theater version of H.G. Wells novel "War of the Worlds" which was so realistic that many people in New Jersey really believed their twon was being invaded by Martians... some even so far as to commit suicide! In the Deep Dish production, veteran stage actor Derrick Ivey was great as Welles. According to the playbill, he also has the distinction of playing Richard Nixon (arguably my 'favorite' Republican president) in a play called "Nixon's Nixon." The Pendleton play deals specifically with Welles coming to direct a stage version of the acclaimed play "Rhinoceros," which became a film starring Gene Wilder in the 1970s. That performance featured Welles' long-time rival Laurence Olivier and the two played out their feud while in rehearsal! Pendleton, also a veteran stage and screen actor, got the idea for the play by listening to Welles' rants while on the set of the 1970s movie "Catch-22." In an article in the current issue of "Film Comment," film scholar David Thompson, an irreverent figure in his own right, wrote about McBride's book. Thompson said that the book differs from some of McBride's other works on Welles in that it focuses on the last two decades of the legend's life. During this period, his only film of acclaim was the documentary "F is for Fake," and even that has his detractors. The Thompson piece reflects the British historian's own comments about Welles in his book "A Biographical Dictionary of Film" (1995), which my sister Lale got me for a birthday present several years ago. (She knows me well!). In that entry, Thompson stated the following about Welles: "But, so little of the life of Welles is all or anywhere near true. He inhaled legend- and changed our air. It is the greatest career in film, the most tragic, and the one with most warnings for the rest of us." The Pendleton play is also available in a CD version from LA Theatre Works. It is how I initially became aware of the work. I found it in the Salem Public Library in my hometown of Salem, Va. Deep Dish Theatre's next production will be of the acclaimed play "The Exonerated," which features real-life testimonials from individuals who were exonerated from death row. It has drawn considerable opposition of death penalty proponents because it is indeed a powerful, thought-evoking work which was made into a tv movie which aired on CourtTV (of all places!).


Useful Links:

Deep Dish Theatre: http://www.deepdishtheater.org

Film Comment: http://www.filmlinc.com

LA Theatre Works http://www.latw.org

And, of course, for Welles himself I'm sure you can google him, and get tons of info!

Saturday, September 9, 2006

LiveArts in Charlottesville has acting workshop

If you have the time, money, desire and means of transportation, you might want to take part in LiveArts' Actors' LAB for guys. The workshop will be coordinated by Clinton Johnson. It will start on Sat., Sept. 16 and run through Oct. 28. The workshop is $175 for members and $200 otherwise.

LiveArts is the largest theatre in central Virginia, and has produced such recent plays as Arthur Miller's "All My Sons" and the quirky musical "Urinetown." They are located in Charlottesville, Va.

According to a flyer from LiveArts, the workshop is designed for men who want some acting experience or who wish to hone the talent they may already have. Through a focused look at the male roles in the LiveArts season ahead, the workshop will provide a chance to learn the ropes and dive into the manly style of acting.

There will also be a showcase featuring class work at the end of the workshop session.

I love this part- LiveArts is recommending that participants wear deodrant (mandatory!) and perhaps bring some Old Spice as well.

LiveArts will open its regular play season on Thursday, Spet. 21 with the Peter Schaffer play "Amadeus" that was the basis for Milos Forman's 1985 Oscar-winning film.

For more info: Call 434-977-4177 ext. 100, or email education@livearts.org

LiveArts web site is: http://www.livearts.org


Friday, September 8, 2006

Less Controversial 9/11 Show on PBS

By now, everyone has assuredly heard about ABC's controversial mini-series with Harvey Keitel which has been criticized by 9/11 Commission members, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nv) and even former president Bill Clinton for allegedly fabricating incidents to shoulder the blame on Madeline Albright and other Clinton administration officials for the attacks. There is an alternative on that night, however. The acclaimed PBS series "Frontline," now in its 20th season, will air a two-hour documentary entitled "Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero." It will air at 10pm, EST in most markets, including Blue Ridge Public TV in Roanoke (Va) and North Carolina Public TV, which covers Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte. According to the program's web site, the documentary will feature interviews with priests, rabbis, an Islamic scholar and a photographer who captured the horrific evens that unfolded in New York on that day. I hope those of you who stumble upon this blog can watch it.



Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Recipe 4 Carolina Claret Mud Meat

This current blog entry will mark the conclusion of my 'food trilogy.'

The weather here in Reidsville, NC, is very nice considering that it rained all night and for most of the morning.

Yesterday, I had a chance to go see a performance by Greensboro folk singer Bruce Piephoff at the Grove Winery in nearby Gibbonsville, NC. I met Bruce during a screening of the documentary "The Devil and Daniel Johnson" at the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro last week. He sings a great range of songs, including songs about Greensboro such as "Tate Street Blues," but I really enjoyed his songs about labor conditions at meat packing facilities in eastern North Carolina. His web site is http://www.brucepiephoff.com

Here is the recipe, as promised. For more info about the Grove Winery, their web site is http://www.grovewinery.com

Carolina Claret Mud Meat

1 Cup- Claret wine

1.5 cups of stew meat cubed

1 cup of julien carrots

.25 cups of water

1 tbs. of grape seed oil

.25 cups of flour seasoned salt and pepper

3 scallions diced

1 bay leaf

2tbs of chopped cooked bacon

1tbs of butter

Toss beef in seasoned flour. Heat oil and brown beef. Add rest EXCEPT scallions and bacon. Cook one hour- covered. Brown scallions in butter. Add to Beef. Add Bacon. Cook for one hour. Remove meat. Reduce liquid to sauce consistency. 

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Vegeterians in Wyoming???!

I am not one myself (a vegeterian), but I found this to be very interesting. According to the special Food issue in the Sept. 11th edition of the liberal magazine "The Nation" (http://www.thenation.com), there is a new trendy vegetarian place in Jackson, Wyoming, which is the main vacation destination for our 'beloved' vice president Dick Cheney. In fact, the Cheneys spend their entire summer there. One has to wonder if there is now such a place in Crawford, Texas too?!

The mention of this came in the letters section in the front of the issue, and it was submitted by Jon Wiener of Irvine, California.

The name of the establishment is the Harvest Cafe. It is located at 130 W. Broadway Street in downtown Jackson. Wiener said the menu consists of homemade pies, organic salads and strong espresso. There are also new age readings and live music performances at night.

The place is listed among places to find vegetarian cuisine in Wyoming on the internet site http://www.vegetarianusa.com

As you might expect, there aren't that many vegetarian places in Wyoming.........

A poem by Andrew Hudgins about.... eating.....

I have wanted to post a poem on this blog for this longest time. I thought about posting the only real poem I've written "The Girl from El Paso," but it is perhaps too long and I am no Robert Frost. I've also thought about posting a poem from my friend Kammal Ayyildiz who is a poet, but his book of poetry "The Cistern" is at my mom's house in Salem, Va. But, I think I've found one which was published in the Spring 2005 Food issue of "Oxford American." This entry will be the first of my food trilogy. Stay tuned.....


Here is "Unfilled Desire" by Andrew Hudgins. I suppose since this blog is not a magazine, and I am not making one dime of it- he can't sue me!:)



by Andrew Hudgins

When I was just a boy

my deep, unfilled desire

was eating chocolate icing_

all I could acquire

But mother only let me

scrape the batter bowl

and that was not enough

to glut my greedy soul.

I yearned to make a batch

of double cookie fudge

and spoon it in my mouth

until I couldn't budge.

But now that I am twenty,

in bars and drinking beer,

I ask for Miller Lite

because my friends would sneer

at what I really want.

It wouldn't wow the chicks

if I ordered up a bowl

and a box of brownie mix.


Oxford American is a quarterly collection of Southern literature and journalism, published in Arkansas. Their web site is http://www.oxfordmag.com

Ironically, Andrew Hudgins, author of "Ecstatic in the Poison," lives somewhere in Ohio.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Book Review- "Fiasco" take unique look at flops....

For those of you who live in the Roanoke area, you may have read my book reviews which have appeared periodically in the Sunday "Roanoke Times." As I am getting ready to write another review for another book that the book page editor Mary Johnson sent me, I thought I would write a mini-review for a delightful book that my sister Lale Lovell got for me for my 36th birthday in March.


The book is entitled "Fiasco: A History of Hollywood's Iconic Flops." It is written by James Robert Parish. who has authored books about film director Gus Van Sant ("Elephant") and actor Jason Biggs, of "American Pie" fame. The book retails for $24.99 and was published by Wiley and Sons (www.wiley.com)

Parish looks at how 15 films from the Elizabeth Taylor soap opera "Cleopatra" (1963) to Warren Beatty's $90 million comedy "Town and Country" (2001), and how each of these highly touted projects went way over budget and ultimately proved to be either critical or box office calamities, or both.

The book has some films I actually like, including (always hesitate to admit it) "Showgirls" (1995), "The Chase" (1966), "The Cotton Club" (1984) and "Waterworld" (1995). I also liked Robert Altman's "Popeye" when I saw it as a kid at at the Salem Valley Cinema in the summer of 1981 (was part of a double-bill with "Airplane!"), but when I saw it as a adult, I realized that even amazing filmmakers like Altman can direct truly bad films.

Other films profiled, included "Shanghai Surprise" (1986), "Battlefield Earth...(2000), "Last Action Hero" (1993) and "Cutthroat Island" (1995). And, a film which was featured in a classic "Far Side" strip- "Ishtar" (1987). In the Gary Larson strip, customers are in a video store from hell and the only movie that is available is "Ishtar."

The book was incredibly well-researched. There was stunning revelations, including how the first camel that was to be one of the stars of "Ishtar" was eaten for dinner by locals in Morocco! It also talks about how Robin Williams wanted out of "Mork..' obligations very badly, and he thought "Popeye" was his ticket out of hell ("I thought it would be my 'Superman.'). The ever-sexy Gina Gershon apparently knew "Showgirls" was going to be quite campy and hence decided to act like she was in a "Guiding Light" episode- with lots of sex and nudity. 

 John Travolta spent 20 long years hoping to bring L. Ron Hubbard's novel "Battlefield Earth..." to the screen. But, he was to old to play the good guy, Johnny Goodboy Tyler, so he decided to play the arch-villain instead and pay himself $20 million in the process. And, lastly, Kevin Costner shelled out a fortune to have gills that appeared below his neck in "Waterworld" (he was playing a half-man, half-fish character) digitally removed!

It is also amusing to read about how Warren Beatty brought not one, but two old flames- in Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn- together for "Town and Country." The shoot was such a mess that Keaton told the director Peter Chelson that 'you will never have it this bad on any shoot ever again!' And, how Madonna, the star of "Shanghai Surprise" insisted that one take was all she needed...........

"Fiasco..." not to be confused with the best-seller about the War in Iraq, which stands to perhaps last until the year 3000, is a great, amusing read. There is an on-going theme of the book which is that ego and ambition and lots of financiers eager to give a green light can indeed pave the way for nightmare productions that can now cost well over $100 million!  

But, it is Travolta who puts things into perspective with his thoughts on "The Battlefield Earth" calamity, which he thought would be 'as big as Star Wars.' "Earthquakes.Fires. War. These are disasters. A film losing money at the box office is not a disaster."  

Monday, August 28, 2006

Tragic Day in Turkey. Terrorists are Reponsible.

In a shocking development, there were five bombings in Turkey within a 24-hour period on Sunday. The worst one occurred in the popular Mediterranean tourist mecca of Antalya_ it killed three people and injured 87. There were three separate bombings in another tourist villa- Marmaris, just across the Mediterranean from the Greek island of Rhodes and about three hours west of Antalya. The worst of the blasts in Marmaris ripped a mini-bus apart. It injured a total of 21 people- 10 Britons and 11 Turks. The other blast of the day occurred in the Bagcilar neighborhood in Istanbul. It injured six people.

I obtained info for this entry from two different sources. The online version of the Turkish newspaper Miliyet reported that the Antalya blast occurred around 4:45 pm (Turkish time). The Miliyet article also said the terrorist group the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) founded by jailed militant Abduallah Ocalan was responsible for the blast. Miliyet reported that the bomb, believed to be located between two parked mopeds, struck the downtown area of Antalya. It broke windows and ultimately caused fires in restaurants, shops and banks. Miliyet said British ambassador Peter Westcott has issued a warning against British citizens wishing to travel in Turkey because of Sunday's events. The other source for my entry is the BBC World News. The news agency reported that authorities in Antalya were looking for two suspects in the blast. The BBC reported that a satellite group of the PKK called the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) claimed responsibility for the Istanbul and Marmaris bombings and issued a jubilant statement on their web site saying that 'tourists should not come to Turkey.'

The BBC said London resident Rob Laughton, 41, was having dinner with his wife and friends in Marmaris when the mini-bus explosion occurred.

"We just sat there and heard this almighty explosion---we saw the bus and bodies lying on the ground. We just thought, we just don't want to be here. We just ran away," Laughton said.

On a personal note, I am sickened by these attacks. Antalya and Marmaris are very nice towns. I've had the pleasure of visiting both of them. I hope those responsible are apprehended soon. I am also concerned that such heinous acts could add to ethnic tensions between Turks and Kurds. People on both sides have worked hard to improve things without resorting to these barbaric tactics, and I hope this fails to damage that resolve. And, lastly, I hope the Turkish tourism industry rebounds from this as it has from all such deviant acts in the past.





Sunday, August 27, 2006

I gave "Little Miss Sunshine" a 10!

I have been reviewing films for the web site of the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va., since December of last year. I have given many films, including "Capote," "An Inconvenient Truth," A Scanner Darkly" and "The World's Fastest Indian" high ratings. But, I have never given any of the films a perfect 10. Well, with "Little Miss Sunshine" that has all changed. I thought the film was brilliant. The screenplay and the directing are superb and the cast is stellar. Alan Arkin may have given his best screen performance since "Wait Until Dark," which came out in 1967! But, Toni Collette and the rest of the cast are remarkable as well. I was really surprised how much I liked this film, perhaps as much as "Sideways," which I consider to be the best film of the decade so far. I want to thank Jason Garnett, mgr. of the Grandin for this great opportunity to review films- something that an increasing amount of newspapers are 'importing' to save costs.

For my review, log on to:


UPDATE: For a different view, you can go to my friend Jim's movie blog. He lives around Northhampton, Mass. He apparently did not like the film. Alas, I could not locate his review of "Little Miss Sunshine" due to a glitch from my pc. But, it should be under the August archives. Regardless, Jim's blog is pretty cool. He updates it almost every other day! The latest entry concerns who should be the next Wonder Woman. His choice is Eliza Dushku ("Bring it On")- great choice! Jim's blog is located: http://www.talkingmoviezzz.blogspot.com



Friday, August 25, 2006

Many Turkish Things in Raleigh area

I must admit to being very impressed with the Turkish community in Raleigh, NC and really the whole state of North Carolina. There aren't- to my knowledge- any other Turkish people in Reidsville, but it is amazing how much is going on elsewhere. For starters, there will be a fund-raiser for the group Bridge to Turkiye on Fri., Sept. 8 at 8:30 pm at the Art and Wine Gallery in Raleigh. The special guest will be Turkish instrumentalist Fahir Atakoglu, who performed an amazing fund-raiser in November of 1999 in Washington DC to raise money for the earthquake which devastated Turkey in August of that year. My friend Ismail Arslan of Greensboro has been very involved with this organization, and from what I've gathered they are involved with building schools in rural Turkey and other noble activities. On Sept. 9th, the Divan Cultural Center in Cary, NC, which is a suburb of Raleigh will start Turkish cooking lessons for $15/month. One can get more info about the sessions by emailing the Divan Center at info@divannc.org


Those who want more info about the fundraiser can email me at tango74@aol.com


WUVT to air Turkish music program 2:30 Sat.

DJ Onur Bilgen will be hosting a Turkish music radio show on Virginia Tech's student-run radio station 90.7 WUVT-FM from 2:30-4pm on Saturdays starting tomorrow. The show will likely have everything from pop sensation to Tarkan to traditional Turkish folk songs. WUVT also runs an excellent Greek show that was started by my late friend Kriton Hatsios. It has traditionally started at 11 a.m. I co-hosted the Turkish music show on WUVT-FM with my Bahadir Acuner in the 1990s. At last report, Bahadir was part of a Turkish delegation that visited the planet Saturn-LOL!:) This is my way of saying I have no idea what he's up to. The Turkish music program is available online at:




Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I had met the Blacksburg man who went on a killing spree

The shock is just now wearing off. I had met Bill Murva some years ago at Bollo's Coffee Shop in downtown Blacksburg, very close to the Virginia Tech campus for those of you unfamiliar with the area. I used to go to Blacksburg on Friday afternoons when life in Roanoke and Salem got a bit boring. One time this strange kid in his early 20s came in. He was barefoot, and smelled or looked dirty. He was out-going and sociable, but I felt uncomfortable around him. Bill seemed to be well-liked, and apparently had many friends in Blacksburg. He took to outsiders. I saw him a second time when he waved at me from across the street next to Bollo's. I was looking for my car to go back to Roanoke when he spotted me and waved at me. I rarely try to avoid people, unless I went to high school with them but even then I usually try to be nice. Nevertheless, I really did not want Bill to see me and at the time. I was walking in a darkened area far from a streetlight, and the fact that he saw he bothered me. I did eventually wave back.  I wasn't sure why I felt disturbed by him. He was barefoot, which seemed even odder then because I recall it was a cold month when this second encounter took place. But, I don't think anyone who knew or met Bill Murva could have foreseen this happening. I feel sick and disgusted by what he did, and for the families of the two men he murdered. I am sure it will be a long time before the families of the Montgomery County police officer and the hospital security guard heal from this. The only redeeming thing is that no one else was killed. I vehemently oppose capital punishment, but I never sympathize for people who engage in such heinous, awful crimes. He certainly deserves life imprisonment. Virginia Tech was also shaken up by this as the whole school was closed down on Monday for the first day of classes. Hopefully, all will be back to normal very soon.


For more info:


The Roanoke Times' web site: http://www.roanoke.com


Monday, August 21, 2006

PBS Wide Angle to air "Turkey's Tigers"

Tomorrow night at 9 p.m. on most PBS stations, including UNC-TV here in North Carolina, the independent documentary series "Wide Angle" will air "Turkey's Tigers," a film by directors Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill that will explore the complicated relationship between Islam and politics in Turkey. The program will contain interviews with many government officials, including Turkey's politically conservative prime minister, Abdullah Gul. The documentary was filmed in several locations, according to the "Wide Angle" web site, including Istanbul and Gul's native Kayseri in central Turkey. "Wide Angle" is hosted by Dalit Dhaliwal, of BBC News. The following week's "Wide Angle" will deal with kidnappings in Brazil.

For more information:


Wide Angle web site: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/wideangle



Friday, August 18, 2006

Political News- George Allen and Joe Lieberman....

Ooooops! I just lost my whole blog entry. Well, those of you reading this may not have had time to read the whole thing anyway. In short, based on a personal experience I had in New Market, Va. six years ago when I was a reporter in which an Allen staffer grabbed my arm with force as I was talking to a Washington Post reporter while Allen was being interviewed by a DC tv-station, I am not surprised by what he said to a Webb campaign volunteer in Breaks, Va. near the kentucky border. The term 'machacha' was clearly a racist slur. The incident made global news as it was reported in the BBC. I first heard about it in the online version of The Washington Post. An African-American columnist from The Roanoke Times said the comments also stir past controversies including Allen's support for a Confederate Heritage Month when he was governor of Virginia.


In other news, fellow Turkish-American Cenk Uygur is among those grilling Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Ct) for saying that 'terrorists would welcome a Ned Lamont victory in November.' I was actually hoping Lieberman would win the Connecticut primary to show partisan unity at a critical juncture, even though I strongly disagree with his views supporting the War in Iraq. But, after those comments, I am sure I would vote for Lamont if I lived in Hartford. Uygur was absolutely right to say that those comments were ones we'd expect to hear from someone like Dick Cheney, not a Democratic Senator.

Useful links:




http://www.the-youngturks.com (I hope that link is right)

Cenk Uygur's liberal talk show kicks Rush Limbaugh in the.......... and it can be heard live via podcast from 6-9 pm Mon.-Fri.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Hootie and the Blowfish are back! Concert in NC....

I was amazed to hear that among the summer concerts at WolfTrap, just outside of Washington DC, was Hootie and the Blowfish. I had thought they had either broken up, or were now a has-been band that would play in places like the Salem Fair. But, they are on a whirlwind tour of these united states. They are now back in their home state of South Carolina, and on Sun., Aug. 20, they will perform with opening act Better Than Ezra, another '90s group we haven't heard from in a while, at the Alltell Pavilion at Walnut Creek in Raleigh. I saw an ad for the concert in the Raleigh alt-weekly "Indy Weekly." The Hootie and the Blowfish Foundation is asking those attending to bring school supplies in support of the Wake County School System!

Upcoming concerts at Walnut Creek also include two other '90s bands Counting Crows and The Goo Goo Dolls on Wed., Aug. 23- a day when I may be in the Tri-Cities area, but yeah- I'll be otherwise engaged!

Hootie and the Blowfish continue their road trip through the fall. Among their concert dates will be:

Sept. 15 Tampa, Fl.-Ford Auditorium

Oct. 8- Superman's hometown Metropolis, Il.- Harrah's Casino

Nov. 5- Atlantic City, NJ- House of Blues


They will also be performing in cities like Colorado Springs, Co., Cheyenne, Wy., Memphis, Tn. and West Palm Beach, Fl.

Tickets for the Raleigh show can be ordered at 919-831-6400 or by logging on to


Hootie's web site is http://www.hootie.com

And, Indy Weekly's site is http://www.indyweek.com

If anyone can remember the title of any of the Columbia, SC group's songs- I know "Time" might be one of them- please email me or enter them on this blog entry. I sold the only CD I had from them at a yard sale- or something- some years ago.


Friday, August 11, 2006

A cool letter to the editor (from the NY Times)

With the events that unfolded yesterday in the UK, I almost hesitate to type up a letter criticizing our president, but then again- NAAAAAH!


In the Sun., July 23rd edition of Ann Coulter's favorite paper, "The New York Times," Morris Roth of Fort Lee, NJ, wrote the following letter.



Perhaps the most revealing insight into George W. Bush's speech to the NAACP is contained in the president's comments to Rev. Jesse Jackson backstage after the speech. After Mr. Jackson urged him to begin a 'meaningful dialogue' with a broader range of black organizations, the president is said to have told Mr. Jackson, "Well, talk with Karl Rove."

And all along, I mistakenly thought George W. Bush was president.




Thursday, August 10, 2006

Recipe for NC Banana pudding

To once again, I show some homage to my new state- though of course I still love my home state of Virginia- even Boones Mill. Here is a recipe in the Aug. issue of "Our State" for what is actually called 'Nanas from Heaven (aka Southern Banana Pudding)


Two 3-ounce boxes vanilla pudding (not instant)

One 12-ounce box of vanilla wafers

Four to Six very ripe bananas, sliced.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pudding according to package directions. The key is the layering. In an oblong glass baking dish, put a layer of vanilla wafers on the bottom, then bananas, then pudding: repeat with wafers, bananas and pudding.


Then you should allow the pudding to sit for five minutes before serving.

There is more in the magazine version of the recipe, including directions for meringue and a standard recipe for banana pudding.

The above recipe was originally published in "Hungry for Homes: Stories of Food from Across the Carolinas" by Amy Rogers. John Blair, Publ. Winston-Salem, 2003,  $19.95

The web site for "Our State" is http://www.ourstate.com

There is also a public-tv show based on the magazine, produced by WUNC-TV. It airs here in NC at 9:30 pm on Thursdays- http://www.wunc-tv.org

 I do not know if it is shown outside the state as the magazine show for "Alaska" magazine which airs nationally is, but "Our State" has not been shown in Va. to my knowledge though the magazine is available at Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million in Roanoke.

On last week's "Our State," they profiled the Biltmore Estate in Asheville as well as the town of Hot Springs (NC), due north of Asheville on the Tenn. border. It is known for its river rapids (apparently). 

I wonder how it compares with the Hot Springs I know, in Bath County, Va.- it is located in the lower Shenandoah Valley near the W. Va. border. The Jodie Foster-Richard Gere Civil War saga "Sommersby" was filmed there. I was last in Bath County, Va., while en route to Highland County with the Roanoke Valley Birdwatchers group. I must profess great admiration for the group as I could never keep up with those birds!  


Saturday, August 5, 2006

Baseball teams from Salem, and the Triad win on Fri.

The Salem Avalanche from my hometown of Salem, Va., are on an amazing run as they won their 17th of 21 games last night by defeating the Myrtle Beach Pelicans 5-0 in a game that was played in SC. Avalanche CF Ervin Alcantra hit a solo homer in the third which put the Avs up for good,paving the way for their big win in the Carolina League.

Meanwhile, the Greensboro Grasshoppers hosted the Savannah Sand Gnats in South Atlantic League action. And, the Hoppers came away with a 4-1 win thanks to the combined pitching efforts of Aaran Thompson, Jason Iehl and Brad Stone. According to the Hoppers web site, manager Brandon Hyde is pleased with the team's defensive play this season.

And, lastly, in Frederick, Md., the Winston-Salem Warthogs (20-20) defeated the host Frederick Keys in another pivotal Carolina League game by a score of 3-1. The Hogs were helped by starting pitcher Kyle McCulloch, who was the 2006 first-round pick of the Chicago White Sox. The Hogs jumped ahead thanks to a two-out RBI single by Chris Kelly to score Victor Mercedes in the first inning. Mercedes would finish the game by going 4 for 4. Hogs reliever Oneli Perez gave up a run in the eighth inning, but closer Fernando Hernandez was able to secure the win, and get his 12th save of the season.


The Avalanche are Class-A team of the Houston Astros. The Winston-Salem Warthogs are an affiliate of the White Sox. The other four teams in the Carolina League are the Potomac Nationals, Lynchburg Hillcats, Kinston Indians and Wilmington (De) BlueRocks.

The Greensboro Grasshoppers are the lower Class-A team of the Florida Marlins.


These are the home sites for the teams, all of whom broadcast their games live on the Internet.

The Avs host the Lynchburg Hillcats on Monday.

Earlier in the week, the Avalanche played the Warthogs in Winston-Salem as a day game in which temperatures passed the 100 degree mark. The Warthogs won the game, and no one was reported to have suffered a heat stroke.


Salem Avalanche: http://www.salemavalanche.com

Winston-Salem Warthogs http://www.warthogs.com

Greensboro Grasshoppers http://www.gsohoppers.com


Friday, August 4, 2006

"Scanner Darkly" opens at Grandin Theatre-Roanoke

The new animated film "A Scanner Darkly" from director Richard Linklater ("Slacker," "suburbia") opens at the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va. today. The film is based on a work by the late psychedelic sceince fiction writer Philip K. Dick, whose previous works have been the basis for films such as "The Blade Runner" and "Minority Report." It has recieved rave reviews. Linklater also directed the film version of "Fast Food Nation," which screened at the Cannes Film Festival, and will be released this fall. "A Scanner Darkly" stars Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr. and Winona Ryder. I find it interesting that Linklater chose to cast two troubled stars (Downey and Ryder) for this film.

It leads to a trivia question, which I myself am congering up:

Downey and Ryder starred together in a 1988 film entitled "1969" with Keifer Sutherland. The film marked the directorial debut for playwright Ernest Thompson, who is best known for this play which later became a film which won an Oscar for its star.

Is the play:

A) "Tender Mercies"

B) "Driving Miss Daisy"

C) "On Golden Pond"

or D) "A Trip to Bountiful"


Theatre buffs will know that A and D were written by Horton Foote. "Driving Miss Daisy" is an Alfred Uhry play, so the answer is "C." The movie won Henry Fonda an Oscar for Best Actor shortly before he exitted stage left:(


"A Scanner Darkly" is also showing at the Caneo Arthouse Theatre in Fayetville, NC, for those of you looking at my blog here in NC. And, if you live in the Denver area, as a certain member of my family does, the film is showing at Landmark Crossroads in Boulder, Co.


The film was recently profiled by "Film Comment" magazine. And, when it was playing here in the Greensboro area, it was reviewed by Glen Baity for "Yes Weekly!" Ironically, I became the replacement for Baity at a local newspaper, but the experience for me was straight out of a Dick novel hence the reason why the paper is not being named here!

Here are some useful links regarding this blog entry:




Film Comment http://www.filmlinc.com

Yes Weekly! http://www.yesweekly.com

-Click on 'front cover' then 'flicks' and you will find Baity's reviews, including a very humorous one for "Clerks II" in which he recalls his experiences working as a video store clerk in Lexington, NC.





Update on Aug. 10: I enjoyed "A Scanner Darkly" tremendously. I gave it an 8 out of 10. I have not had a chance to check the Grandin Theatre web site yet, but it might very be available at the theatre's web site: http://www.grandintheatre.com



Thursday, August 3, 2006

Journalists make less than George Washington did?

I get political news from "The Washington Post," and they also send political trivial questions. I usually miss them, though I was on a winning streak. The following question ended my streak, but I think it is interesting enough to post here.


Q: How much was George Washington's salary as president?


Was it:


A) $12,500

B) $20,000

C) $25,000 or

D) $30,000


If you guessed C, you are right! I would offer you a free trip to Alaska, but well maybe when I win the NC Lottery (which I never play!)

Update Aug. 10: Many people may not realize this, but the "Washington Post" is available free on the web without registration, unlike "The New York Times." They had a great preview of the Democratic primary in Connecticut in Sunday's paper. Their web site is: http://www.washingtonpost.com


Friday, July 28, 2006

So, do you know when "The Raven" was published?

Through reasons that are too complicated to explain here, I came across the Edgar Allan Poe Museum's web site. The museum is located in Richmond- NOT Baltimore, though a number of historical sites related to Poe are found in John Waters' hometown.

They have a quiz on Poe knowledge. I got 5 out of 10 right. Well, perhaps there is a Robert Frost quiz. Anyway, here is one question I got wrong. It is one which I thought I would get right since I consider "The Raven" to be among my favorite poems!


The question was worded: The year Poe's infamous poem "The Raven" was published in:

a) 1844

b) 1845

c) 1846





It is: B- 1845.

I guessed C- 1846!


The web site for the Poe Museum is http://www.poemuseum.org

They are located at 1914 E. Main St. Richmond, Va. 23223

The Poe Museum can be reached via email at info@poemuseum.org or by calling 1-800-21E-APOE


The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore's web site is http://www.eapoe.org


On Oct. 1st, they will be hosting a tribute to Poe at his grave which is located in Baltimore at Westminister Burying Gardens on the corner of Fayette and Greene streets. 

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Harsher Side of Living in Hawa'ii



This is the link to an excellent story that originally aired on NPR's "All Things Considered" on Monday, July 24. The heart of the problem in Hawa'ii, especially the island of Maui, is that the average Hawaiian makes $40,000 a year since most jobs are in the tourism and agricultural sectors, but the average house costs a whopping $1 million per year. Much of the cost has been driven up bu retirees from the mainland. And, I thought houses in Chapel Hill (my favorite NC town) were expensive!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Man from here in Reidsville, NC wins big

In a story that was first reported by the online edition of the Greensboro, NC newspaper "The News-Record," Dennis Mebane purchased a winning $100,000 lottery ticket from the North Carolina Education Lottery from the Huffs Barnes Street #211 store here in Reidsville. The lottery commission announced this in a July 18 press release. According to the release, Mebane usually purchases his tickets from a country store near his home but that store was closed so he went to the store on Barnes Street instead. Mebane traveled with his son to Raleigh to collect his winnings which will actually be watered down to $68,000 after taxes. The ticket was from the Ruby Red 7's game, which was first introduced in June. T

There have been some activists, such as Winston Salem State professor and Presbyterian minister Dr. Carlton Eversley who told Greensboro's CBS-affiliate WFMY (Channel 2) during an interview which aired on May 22 that most lottery tickets are purchased in more economically repressed areas. Eversley added that the games can lead to gambling addiction, and took funds away from poor jurisdictions.

In its web site, the North Carolina Education Lottery states that lottery funds go to projects involving school construction, developing kindergarten programs for at-risk four-year-olds and college scholarships.

North Carolina is the last state on the east coast to introduce a lottery. It was started here in the Tarheel State earlier this year.

The web site for the North Carolina Lottery Commission is:





Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Kenyan Wedding Crashers??!

While I was at a hotel in Durham, NC, I had a few minutes to surf the net. I decided arbitrarily to visit the homepage of The Roanoke Times to see the latest column from my good friend Tom Angleberger (see earlier entry below), and low and behold, I saw an article mentioning the marriage of my friend Agnetta Omukuba, a native of Kenya, who is also a student at Roanoke College. Agnetta was buying her dress at Patina's, an independent wedding dress/tuxedo business, on Rte. 419 near Tanglewood Mall. I think I went there to rent a tux for my sister's wedding in Blacksburg, Va., back in 1996. I believe it took less than 19 minutes. But, one of the reasons why Agnetta was chosen for this story about Patina's, which is on the verge of relocating (or was it closing? Hmmm. You always miss these little details when reaidng online), is because the wedding will take place on Aug. 12 in NAIROBI, KENYA!!! There will be 600 guests! And, the wedding party will consist of a whopping 19 members. I must profess though I know Kenyans wear shoes, don't hunt lions for their meals or ride zebras instead of taxi cabs, that I was amazed that Agnetta chose to wear a traditional (and expensive!) wedding dress. I met Agnetta while taking a French class at Virginia Western Community College. She did better than I did. Agnetta also acted in a Showtimers Theatre (community theatre in Roanoke) production of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," which means that only can she speak better francais but she has also acted in one more Arthur Miller play than moi! Although, I did help a student at VWCC (where I later tutored) understand "Death of a Slaesman." I explained that Willy Loman was basically like Charlie Brown. You see they are both losers who think they are winners. I suppose that wouldn't quite work as a thesis topic. At any rate, if anyone wants to take after Vince Vaughn (who cares if he's sleeping with Jennifer Anniston) and Owen Wilson and crash Agnetta's wedding to a man who I've heard once ran the Boston Marathon, it will be quite expensive. A friend of mine who is flying from Birmingham, Ala. to Istanbul said it was costing him close to $2,000. Alas, Kenyan Airlines offers no flights from the USA to Kenya, but you can take a plane to Nairobi on their airlines from London, Amsterdam, Istanbul or Harare (that's the capital of Zimbabwe).


To read the article which mentions Agnetta, you can go to:



Other web sites to places/businesses mentioned in this entry include the following:

Roanoke College http://www.roanoke.edu

Showtimers Theatre http://www.showtimers.org

And, of course, Kenyan Airways: http://kenya-airways.com

If you do go to Nairobi, please show us the photos!


Friday, July 21, 2006

Guilford Community College produces funny play

Reisdents of the Greensboro-High Point area may not be fully familiar with the theatre program at Guilford Community College in Jamestown, NC, but after seeing their production of English playwright Shelagh Stephenson's comedy play "The Memory of Water," I was fully impressed. The play earned a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Comedy in 2000. Stephanson has also penned Ancient Lights, Mappa Mundi and An Experiment with an Air Pump. She wrote radio plays for the BBC before that. The GTCC production of "The Memory of Water" was directed by William R. Lewis, who is in his 18th year as the school's theatre director. The play runs through Jully 22 at 8 pm. The play revolves around sisters living in a flat who squabble about the impact that their recently deceased mother had on their respective lives. The play is both touching and an absolute romp, and it will bring to mind the BBC comedy series "Absolutely Fabolous." Much of the play's humor derives from one of the sister's libido. It is not a play that is suitable for all audiences. The theatre's next production will be of: "A Piece of My Heart" starting on Sept. 27. They will also perform the famous Alfred Uhry play "Driving Miss Daisy" starting on the evening of Nov. 27.

For more info, one can access the theatre's web site at:




Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Controversial execution in Va. scheduled for Thurs.

The Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty is urging Virginis residents to call the office of Gov. Tim Kaine (D) to prevent the execution of Brandon Hedrick on July 20. Hedrick has requested to be executed in the electric chair instead of death by lethal injection. Hedrick confessed to the Appamottox County killing of Lisa Crider. The crime involved another person Trevor Jones, who according to the VADP masterminded the robbery and gave the gun to Hedrick, who has been labeled as 'slow.'

Gov. Kaine said on the WVTF radio program "Evening Edition" that there was no question of Hedrick's guilt, but there is a question regarding his IQ level. Kaine won the race to the Governor's mansion over Republican Jerry Kilgore, the state's former attorney general. Kaine won the election even though he opposes capital punishment, which at least 60 % of all Virginians support. During the campaign, Kilgore's campaign evoked the name of Adolph Hitler in order to smear Kaine for his personal beliefes regarding the death penalty. The tactic backfired as many Jewish residents of Virginia chastised Kilgore's campaign in response to their efforts. Kaine has overseen one exectuion since being elected in November of 2005. The VADP said that Hedrick was an indigent defendant and did not recieve appropriate counsel. Gov. Kaine said he still personally opposes capital punishment on "Evening Edition," but the fact that the General Assembly always strikes down moratorium measures puts Virginians sharing his view in a political bind.The jurisdiction of the crime is 30 miles east of Lynchburg. The United States is one of the few Westernized countries that imposes capital punishment.

Though I have been outraged by a number of recent heinous crimes, including the murder of an El Salvadoran immigrant in Charlotte, NC, I personally oppose capital punishment. I do not however contact people who are on death row out of respect to victims' families, though I do not dispute the rights of other people who oppose capital punishment to communicate with such individuals. I do believe there are individual who are wrongfully sentenced to death, but I personally prefer distance until an individual has been cleared of the crime.In Virginia, Culpeper resident Earl Washington Jr. is one such person who was cleared from death row due to DNA evidence. He is now a free man.

The office of Gov. Kaine is 804-786-2211 ext. 6 (public policy).

The North Carolinians for a Moratorium, another death penalty opposition group, is scheduled to hold a meeting in Durham, NC, on Aug. 8. Email me at tango74@aol.com for details.

In other news regarding Gov. Tim Kaine, his office announced that Pres. George W. Bush (R) has granted Kaine's request for federal assistance to nine Virginia localities, including Rockbridge, Highland and Bath County in the wake of severe weather that began on June 23. The federal funds will be used to cover damage to infrastructure and debris removal. Gov. Kaine has also reached a budget accord with the General Assembly. And, he is planning to hold six regional meetings to develop his Economic and Workforce Development Strtegic Plans. There is a schedule of the meetings at Gov. Kaine's web site (listed bellow).

For more info:

Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty web site:


Gov. Tim Kaine



Update: The state of Virginia is scheduling another execution for Michael Lenz on July 27, a week after the scheduled execution of Brandon Hedrick.

The VADP is holding protests on both July 20 and 27 from 4-6 p.m. at the Broad Street entrance to the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond. Additional vigils will be held at the Greenville Correctional Center, in Jarratt where executions take place and other locations throughout Virginia.

The VADP is based in Charlottesville. They can be reached at 1-888-567-VADP.

Update on July 21: Another form of what I view to be an archaic form of justice was carried out as Hedrick was executed in the one stoplight town of Jarratt, Va. According to cnn.com, Hedrick's last words were: "I pray for the unsaved. I'm ready to go free." Hedrick chose to be killed by the electric chair as opposed to a lethal injection because he feared the later. The murder of Lisa Crider in Appamattox County that we was convicted for occured in 1997. Next week, Michael Lenz is scheduled to be the next person scheduled for a state execution. He was sentenced for the murder of a fellow prison inmate.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

POV-a PBS documentary series season continues

Tonight at 10 pm, POV is airing the documentary "The Fall of Fujimori" about former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori who was exiled to Japan. Filmmaker Alex Cox of "Repo Man" fame wrote a story about the documentary in the current issue of "Film Comment." Next week, POV airs "The Tailenders," a documentary about the Global Recording Network, a Christian missionary recording outlet which has produced recordings about the Bible for the most remote places on earth. POV generally airs at 10 pm on Tuesdays in most markets, including WUNC-TV here in North Carolina.


For more info:




Update, July 21: According to an email about the program, The Global Recording Network was found in 1939 and has produced audio version of Bible stories in over 5,500 languages! The film is directed Adele Horne, who grew up in a fundamentalist household but has since moved away from the movement. The documentary was filmed in the United States, the Solomon Islands, India and Mexico. The film is intended to be a filmic essay that examines the missionaries' strategic use of media and the intersection of missionary activity and global capitalism.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

A plug for my friend Tom's columns in the Roanoke Times

For those of you from my hometown of Roanoke, Va., it is entirely possible that you've spent half your adult life wondering how Mill Mountain got its name. Of course, if you now live in Roanoke, which I alas don't, you probably know about Ooops the runaway monkey from Mill Mountain Zoo who was found at nearby Roanoke Memorial Hospital. Well, if you want to know how Mill Mountain got its name, my friend Tom Angleberger who is a columnist with "The Roanoke Times" has the answer to that question in his column, which is published on Fridays but available on the web every day of the week. A columinst from 'The Washington Post' recently said newspapers may be the only industry in the country which gives its product away for free and wonders why people are buying fewer papers! Tom's column can be found at:


It is indeed free!

Tom is married with two children. He lives in Christiansburg, Va., and he is one of the nicest people I ever met in the business. We once worked in the same jurisdiction for two different papers, but my like the title character in "Memento," I must profess that a rock hit my head and I have forgotten that period of my life entirely.... so I wish!:)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Retro Screenings and Al Gore's new movie

It seems like summer is the time for retro-screenings. These are screenings of movies from by-gone eras.


Here in my immediate area, the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro will be showing "Gone With the Wind," my favorite spaghetti western (just kidding) on July 18 at 1:30 pm and 7 pm.

The Carolina is a nice, renovated old movie theatre. Last month, they screened "Easy Rider" and in May, my friend Lovinder Gill's independent comedy film "Chicks 101" was shown there. The venue also has stage events, including the current theatrical performance of "Peter Pan," which is being put on by the Community Theatre of Greensboro. The play will run from July 14-22 at 7pm, and on July 16, 22 and 23 at 2 pm.

The web sites for the Carolina Theatre is: http://www.carolinatheatre.com


In Wilmington, NC, Jengo's Playhouse will be the venue for a Blue Velvet Fest, which include a screening of David Lynch's classic 1986 film "Blue Velvet," which refers to an old Roy Orbison song of the same name. The wild masterpiece features Dennis Hopper, Isabella Rossellini and Kyle McLaughlin among others. It has been considered a cult classic. The screening will take place at 8 pm on July 28. There will also be an exhibit of art inspired from the film at the screening, at the same venue, starting at 6pm.

Fore info on the Blue velvet fest, one can contact independentartcompany@hotmail.com


And, last but not least, the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va., an independent cinema which I frequently contribute movie reviews for, will be screening Quentin Tarantino's 1993 crime classic "Pulp Fiction" at midnight on July 27 and 28. The theatre's web site is: http://www.grandintheatre.com


The Grandin is also showing the new film about Al Gore's efforts to educate the world about the dangers of global warming, entitled "An Inconvienent Truth" My review of the film (I gave it 8 out of 10) is included on the web site. I have run into some conservative web sites criticizing Gore's view on the matter, but I think given the news from Belize that their coral reef, which is the largest in our hemisphere, is in danger of environmental destruction from global warming and tourism, the film seems to be a very timely one indeed.

In addition to the Grandin, the film can be seen in our region at the Carousel Cinemas in Greensboro and the Varsity Theatre in Chapel Hill, a place which was seen in an episode of "Dawson's Creek".... oh boy!

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Remebering Namik "Nick" Atakkaan

I usually don't post serious matters on this blog, but I want to make an exception for my friend Erol Atakkaan's father Namik Atakaan. By coincidence, I had just moved to nearby Reidsville, NC, a few months ago. I had been in contact with Erol, who lives in Los Angeles but once lived in Charlotte, for a while. I got word from the Turkish American Association of NC that Namik Atakkaan had suffered a heart attack. The name sounded familiar but I did not realize it was indeed Erol's later until a few days ago. Alas, even before I recieved a group email from Erol, I found out that Namik bey had passed away.

Namik Atakkaan was 81. He passed away at Moses Cone hospital in Greensboro, NC on June 27.

He is survived by Erol, three daugthers,two son-in-laws,  his fiance Linda Sewell, and six grandchildren in addition to other relatives in Turkey.

He moved to the United States in 1952. Like my late father, Mehmet Gokbudak, he attended the University of Michigan. Although I would doubt they would have met since my father graduated from Ann Arbor in 1949. Mr. Atakkaan was awarded a master's degree in engineering. He later taught math, electronics, engineering, computers and pysics at various institutions.

Namik Atakkaan was also an accomplished piano player and ballroom dancer.And, he was a long-time member of the Turkish American Association in NC (ATA-NC).


Funeral services for Mr. Atakkaan will be held in Istanbul. There will be a local memorial service in Greensboro at a later time.

Information for this blog entry was taken from the obituary for Namik Atakaan which ran in the Sunday, July 2 edition of the News-Record, the local newspaper in Greensboro.


Condolences to the family may be sent through the Hanes Lineberry Funeral home via email at haneslineberryfh@aol.com


Sunday, July 2, 2006

Looking for a new religion???!

As the three people who might be reading this blog now, I was in Chapel Hill yesterday. I had an amazing time. To think, it was the result of a decision not to drive any further on I-40 (en route to Raleigh)! Anyway, while in Chapel Hill, as I was walking past the Varsity Theatre, which I saw in an episode of "Dawson's Creek" once, I came across some Hari Krishnas. As it turns out, they have their cult- sorry, congregational meetings in nearby Hillsborough, NC. They meet at 5pm. And, they offer a free vegetarain feast as well as- of course, singing! For more information, their web site is www.newgoloka.com

On the other side of extreme, I have noticed that between here and Eden, NC, there is a radical Christian church which has a firetruck on its front lawn. I was caught off-guard by the sight of this. It was only until I saw the words 'FIRE ESCAPE' beneath the fire truck, that I got what they were saying! Alas, I have no web site for this cult... sorry, I meant congregation- of course!