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

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

The Poe Museum can be reached via email at or by calling 1-800-21E-APOE


The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore's web site is


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

Showtimers Theatre

And, of course, Kenyan Airways:

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 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, 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:


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


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:


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


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

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! 

Saturday, July 1, 2006

My sister is adopting a Guatemalan baby!

Well, this blog contains two jokes (lies). My sister and her husband Matthew are not adopt any children from Guatemala or elsewhere. This is an in-joke between siblings, which is too sorted and complicated to explain any further. And, I am not listening to any songs by the '80s group A Flock of Seagulls, though if I see a used CD from them for one dollar or less, I am have to pick it up out of nostalgia. If anyone from the CIA is reading my blog entry, and welcome by the way, I highly recommend A Flock of Seagulls music for all Guatannamo (I wonder if that word will come up on spell check) prisoners. I think it is the one of the few forms of torture that Geneva would approve of! At any rate, in all seriousness, my adorable sister and her husband Matthew have added new photos from Colorado, the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC (though I live in NC, I am actually closer to the White House) than to Biltmore! If you want to check out these great photos, you can go to their web site... which I forget at the moment (go to Google and type in Lale and Matthew Lovell)... and, please no jokes about Guatemalan babies. I think I might be able to get away with that, but as a result of this joke, Lale and Matt will be probably get A Flock of Seagulls CD for Christmas!

France beats Brazil- WOW!!!!

Viva La France!!! They are my favorite team in the World Cup (after the USA and Turkey- well, we didn't qualify this year...), and I am very pleased they won. Having said that, I did NOT watch the game. I did catch the last minutes of it while I was in Chapel Hill. France also beat Brazil in the 1998 World Cup final. They have Brazil's number!!!! I think it should be an interesting semi-finals. But, I think Germany has a clear advantage since they are playing at home though the Italians will be tough. I had also expected England to win today. I figured they would play incredibly well to make up for their lack-luster game against Ecuador, which they were fortunate to win 1-0. But, it was not to be as Portugal beat England in a shoot-out. I always hope that the World Cup will teach Americans more about geography, although I must profess that I'm not exactly sure where World Cup qualifier Togo is in Africa (I'm thinking that it's south of Ivory Coast-which also qualified), though I do know where the other 31 countries are. Togo had an interesting story in that their coach quit right as the World Cup started! I know if my high school soccer coach at Glenvar HS in Salem, Va., would have quit- I, for one, would have been absolutely delighted!

Pretty Good Turkish restaurant in Chapel Hill,NC

I had a chance to dine at Talullas on Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill, NC today. I thought since UNC is only in summer session that the town would not be very busy today. Well, that was not the case though I was able to find a table at Talullas. I've been to some slightly more authentic Turkish places, but it would take a while to drive to New Jersey! I had a Turkish pizza (lahmacun) there and even though it was Americanized a bit -it was pretty good! I also had an ayran while listening to traditional Taksim music. If anyone who stumbles upon this blog is in NC, the restaurants' web site is

I definitely recommend it.