Monday, December 31, 2007

Last Entry of 2007-for Norman Mailer

I am going to conclude the 2007 year with this quote from author Norman Mailer who died this year. There were a substantial number of cultural icons and political leaders who lost their lives this year. Alas, I don't have time to remember them all. But, Mailer was certainly one of them.

This quote is the last one I will use from "The Film Yearbook 1984." Many film buffs know that Mailer tried his hand at directing several films, including a film version of his own novel "Tough Guys Don't Dance." But, several people may not know that he acted in the 1981 Milos Forman film "Ragtime."

Here is his quote about that experience:

"It's really like the Army. You're uncomfortable. You're never fed at the hour. You have to take orders."

Future blog entries in the coming days are scheduled to include: The Person of the Year, my political endorsement, the North Carolina State women's gymnastics team and (time permitting) an entry about "Caucus the Musical" now being performed in Des Moines, Iowa.

Thanks to all of you who took time to read my blog this year.

Happy 2008.

The Best Dickens Novels Are..........

My friend Tom Angleberger of Christiansburg, Va., is a devout fan of 19th century British author Charles Dickens who is popular this time of year because after all he wrote "The Christmas Carol."

Angleberger's favorite Dickens book is "Bleak House," which made into a PBS "Masterpiece Theatre" mini-series recently.

Here is a complete list of his top five Dickens books:

1. "Bleak House"

2. "Our Mutual Friend"

3. "Little Dorrit"

4. "The Pickwick Papers"

5. "Tale of Two Cities"

Angleberger said that he also likes "David Cooperfield," "Martin Chuzzlewhit," "Great Expectations" and "Barnaby Rudge." He surprisinly doesn't care for "Oliver Twist" (I didn't ask him about the musical adaptation or the 1968 film version of "Oliver!). Nor does he like the 1841 novel "The Old Curiousity Shop." He considers "Hard Times" to be the very worst Dickens book.

Angleberger recently published a children's book under his pen name Sam Riddleberger. He is also a columnist for "The Roanoke Times." His "What's on Your Mind?" columns runs on Mondays.

His wife CeCe Bell is also a children's author, and she has a running series with The Sock Monkey character- it is not to be confused with the sock monkey in adult cartoonist Tony Millionaire's books!

Useful links:


Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy Birthday (New Year's Baby) Devrim Kale

I just figured out a way to post easy entries and make my friends happy. As often as I can (and if I am aware of it), I will wish them each a happy birthday here_ until this gets old!

My friend and fellow Radford University alum Devrim Kale was born on New Year's Day, 1976. Hence, he will be turning 32 on Tuesday.

Devrim just got married a few months ago.

Before attending Radford University, Devrim attended The Blue Ridge School in Charlottesville, Va.

He is originally from Edirne, Turkey- a lovely city which borders Bulgaria and Greece. The area is known for its olive oil wrestling tournament (American readers-I am not making this up!). To my knowledge, the sport, which is a form of greco-roman wrestling ,will not be featured in the upcoming Oympic Games from Beijing, China. 

I also do not believe that Devrim has ever participated in olive oil wrestling. Alas, to my knowledge, women still do not participate in this sport either. But, I don't think feminists in Turkey particularly care.

Devrim moved back to Turkey some time after graduating from RU in 1999.

I am not 100 percent sure what business he is now, but I know that at one point Devrim was in the family business_his father ran a car dealership in Edirne.

I had lost contact with him until finding him on Facebook.

A Virginia Ham for the Governor of Kansas?

According to the Dec. 29th edition of "The Roanoke Times," Virginia Governor Tim Kaine (D) has a wager with fellow Democratic governor Kathleen Sebelius on who will win on Thursday, Jan. 3.

The wager is not about the Iowa Caucus, which also happen that day, but rather the Orange Bowl football game between Virginia Tech and the University of Kansas.

It is not unusual to see the Virginia Tech Hokies in a major bowl game, but the same can not be said for The Kansas Jayhawks. The school from Lawerence, Kan., is much more widely recognized for its men's basketball team, which won an NCAA Championship in 1988.

In an editorial in Saturday's paper, "The Roanoke Times" stated that if the favored team from Blacksburg, Va., win the game in Miami that Gov. Kaine will recieve a selection of Kansas beef products.

Conversely, if the Jayhawks who were undefeated until they lost to The University of Missouri late in the season win the big game, Gov. Sebelius will get- what else?!- a Virginia ham.

As the paper indicated, Virginia is known for other things, including peanuts in the part of the state, wine in the Charlottesville-area and candles from Williamsburg.

In a humorous jest, the editorial board suggested that an even more appropriate gift from the Old Dominion might be an orange traffic cone.

My prediction for The Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech 31 Kansas 17.

My prediction for the Iowa Caucus: I have a slight conflict of interest on the Democratic side as I might be volunteering for one of the candidates (Hint: The one based in Chapel Hill, NC), but on the Republican side I think the winner will be (just barely) Mitt Romney. He seems to be very good at kissing babies.

My sister Lale and her husband Matthew Lovell are both alums of Hokie U.

Useful links:

Kansas Fans: Feel free to let me know any good sites related to Jayhawk U.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Classic Quotes from Paul Newman

I am back home in North Carolina, and amazingly enough it is raining here! We've been in a crisis drought for several months now. But, even though rain has become as scarce as snow in Arizona, I still don't feel like going out when it rains.

Hence, I am devouting this Saturday night to my blog. I asked my friend and fellow blogger Moviezzz about which person I should quote from tonight.

Earlier this month, I decided to use some quotes from movie stars that were listed in "The Film Year Book 1984." My first serious movie book that I got when I was 13 years old.

Several of those stars like George Burns, Dudley Moore and Sir Alec Guinness are no longer with us.

But, Paul Newman sure as heck is. Most of these quotes were from Newman when "The Verdict," directed by Sidney Lumet, was in theatres. At the time, he was still not an Oscar-winner. He got that long overdue award for "Color of Money" a few years later.

Here are some quotes from Newman from that book, which might be available somewhere from amazon:

"I stopped signing autographs when I was standing at a urinal at Sardi's and a guy came up with a pen and paper. I wondered, do I wash first and then shake hands?"

On Lumet: "I'm gonna start calling him Speedy Gonzales. He's the only guy who could double-park in front of a whorehouse. He's that fast."

"I wasn't driven to acting by an inner compulsion. I was running away from the sporting goods business."

On the 1977 film "Slapshot" about minor league hockey: "Ever since Slapshot, I've been swearing more. You get a  hangover from a character like that, and you simply don't get rid of it. I knew I had a problem when I turned to my daughter and said, 'Please pass the EXPLETIVE salt.' "

For movie news and commentary check out Moviezzz's blog:


UNC Tarheels Women's Gym Team

When everyone outside Chapel Hill hears a mention of the University of North Carolina athletics, they instinctively think of basketball, but the school has competitive teams in a wide range of sports.

With coach Derek Galvin at the helm, the UNC women's gymnastics team has been a conferene contender in the EAGL (sort of like a gymnastics' equivalent of the ACC) for quite some time.

The Lady Tar Heels lose the talents of Christine Robella, Claire Smith, Courtney Turco and Miranda Ross, but they maintain key gymnasts like Shawna Kelly, Angela Lauten and Sarrie Rubin on this year's team.

The season starts on Jan. 20 at George Washington University with a meet that will also include William & Mary, Rutgers and Temple.

The first home meet will be on Feb. 10 against rival North Carolina State. The Tar Heels later host national powerhouse The University of Florida on Feb. 22. This is followed by the Tar Heel Invitational on March 1.

The Tar Heels also face NC St. again, along with SEC power LSU, in nearby Raleigh on March 15.

The regular season concludes with the EAGL Championships in Morgantown, WVa. (The Tarheels also go West Virginia University for a meet with the Mountaineers on Feb. 15).

I personally got interested in collegiate women's gymnastics when I followed them while I was at Radford University in Radford, Va., from 1993-96. The school sadly decided to cut the program. Earlier this year, another Virginia school James Madison University in Harrisonburg decided to end their program too.

Unlike football or basketball, women's gymnastics is a sport that strongly relies on support from students and the community. I hope UNC enjoys that support for many years to come, and I expect they will have another succesful season this year.

UPDATE: I plan to add an entry about North Carolina State's women's gymnastics team here soon.

SECOND UPDATE: A UNC gymnastics fan said I needed to add gymnast Christine Nguyen. As I recall she was also a stand-out gymnast with the Tar Heels last year. No snub of Ms. Nguyen was intended, and I hope she enjoys a great year in the gym.

Useful Links:

Note: The comment from Dawn Crawford to this blog entry has nothing to do with UNC women's gymnastics. It was probably added because of political content which has previously been posted on this blog. I hope everyone realizes that those comments- like all comments on this blog-were not solicited from me.





Friday, December 28, 2007

My Top 10 Films of the Year (First Draft)

My mind will assuredly change many, many times. Especially as I actually get to see some of the best films of the year, like "There Will be Blood," "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" and a certain Brad Pitt western with a very long title.

Nevertheless, even my friends who are not devout movie buffs always seem at least somewhat interested by  my choices for the best films of the year.  So, I've decided to go ahead and say what they are as 12/28/07. 
Many good films I have seen and liked a lot did not make the list. These include "Lars and the Real Girl," "The Zodiac," "Hot Fuzz" and the poignant Iranian film "Offsides." Many films that other people liked more than me also did not make the list. This would include "The Kite Runner," which I saw last week in Greensboro. Despite some great visuals and good acting, I personally consider it to be a slight disappointment.
And, many films I saw this year were not even close. This includes "Balls of Fury," which I thought of as one of the most dreadful films of 2007.
But, here are the best ten.............I imagine I will get some emails for this one:

1. "The Darjeeling Limited"_ I am still amazed that "People" magazine gave this film which I consider to be Wes Anderson's masterpiece one star!
2."Into the Wild"_ Sean Penn proves to everyone that he is as talented behind the camera as he is in front of it with this magnificent gem.
3."The Namesake"_ A wonderful, heart-felt film from Mira Nair.
4."I'm Not There"_ Todd Haynes put together an exceptional film about the many sides of Bob Dylan with this amazing independent film.
5."Eastern Promises"_ David Cronenberg stays in form after "A History of Violence."
6. "The Black Book" (Holland)_ I usually have more foreign films on the list, but it is still early. This one which was brilliant at every level, makes it for sure. A great comeback for Paul Verhoeven, whom I have always admired. I even like "Showgirls!"
7."The Wind That Shakes the Barley"_ This film from Ken Loach stayed  with me for a long, long time. Though it takes place in Ireland, it is a story about ethnic conflict which deeply resembles issues taking place in the Middle East.
8. "No Country for Old Men"_Many critics think this Coen Brothers film is the best movie of the year. I was a bit off-put by the ending, or else this would rank higher. Javier Bardem should win an Oscar for his lead role as a cold-blooded killer witha fetish for flipping quarters.
9. "Zoo"_ The most controversial film of the year is also one of the best. The film is about .........gosh, it's still hard to put it in print!*
10. "American Gangster"_ Kudos to  Ridley Scott for this genre film.

I have to respect my friend Moviezzz for holding off on his top ten list. Like me, he does not live in a major market. Obviously, unless one is a film critic in New York, Boston or Los Angeles, they are at a disadvantage. There is also not enough time to reflect on a film. My opinion of "A History of Violence" went up after I saw it. Conversely, my high regard for "Little Miss Sunshine," which I still consider to be a great film, declined somewhat after seeing it last summer.
My opinion as to what is the best film of the year has changed from December of each respective year.
Last year, "Borat" was listed as my favorite film of the year for quite some time but after finally getting a chance to see "Little Children," I decided it was my favorite film of 2006.
But, for right now, these are my favorite films of the year.............

*-The film is about a man and his horse, but it is not exactly "The Black Stallion."

Thursday, December 27, 2007

American Gangster Opens at the Lyric in Blacksburg, Va

This blog is also meant to serve as a teaser for my top ten films list of 2007, which will be revealed here tomorrow.

"American Gangster" is sure to make that list.

The film, directed by Ridley Scott, is a riveting story of the efforts of New York detective Richie Roberts (Rusell Crowe) to track down and help convict drug lord Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), who was a leading kingpin in Harlem in the late '60s and early '70s.
Lucas, who was born in LaGrange, NC, even smuggled heroin from Vietnam to the U.S. through the coffins of American servicemen.
A startling quote from the film's trailer has Washington's Lucas saying the following:
"The man I worked for had one of the biggest companies in New York City. He didn't own his own company. White man owned it, so they owned him. Nobody owns me though.'

The film was even the subject of a social commentary piece by Duke University professor of African and African American Studies Mark Anthony Neal in the Sunday, Dec. 23rd edition of "The Washington Post."
In his article "Does Denzel Always Have to Represent?," Neal said that Washington's career choices should not be ones which solely promote positive images of black characters (meaning Washington should not be a 'race man.').
 Neal said the bigger question is: "Why, as the nation grows to appreciate the many different ways of being black, do we still need race men at all?"

As for the Lyric Theatre in Blacksburg, it was built in 1929 and it opened in 1930. The Lyric's web site said it was one of the first cinemas in Virginia to show sound films. The Grandin Theatre in nearby Roanoke opened in 1932.

I last went to the Lyric in March of last year to see the Spanish film "Pan's Labyrinth." A month later there was a devastating shooting in Blacksburg on the campus of Virginia Tech where 32 people lost their lives.
Not that it matters, but The Lyric was showing the thriller film "The Host" that week.

I saw "American Gangster" at the SoBo Theatre in South Boston, Va., in November (the film opened nationally on Nov. 2).

I was even more impressed with Washington's performance in this film than I was with his Oscar-winning performance as the corrupt cop Alonzo in Anton Fuqua's "Training Day." He showed the many dimensions of Frank Lucas, including his family side which included going to church with his mother and his cold-hearted, brutal side which was unflinching and uncompromising. Fuqua was originally going to be the director of "American Gangster," but the film went way over-budget.

Useful Links:

Bill Richardson on the Assasination of Benazir Bhutto

This was taken from an email that New Mexico Gov. Bill Ricahrdson, a Democratic presidential candidate, sent to supporters earlier today. His message resonates across people of all ethnic backgrounds, religious views and most importantly-political parties:

"Ms. Bhutto's death is a heartbreaking blow, and she will be mourned by freedom-loving people around the world."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Birthday Emir Rauf Gokbudak

I want to wise a happy birthday to my distant relative Emir Rauf Gokbudak. He turns 23 today. I found about him through Facebook.

Amazingly enough, I discovered that Emir is the first Buddhist in the family! But, we already have Christians, Muslims, Jews and well- whatever I am!

He is also a fan of the Istanbul soccer team Besiktash. They are one of the arch rivals of my team GalataSaray.

Emir also likes "The Simpsons."  My favorite Simpsons' characters are the bus driver, Rev. Lovejoy and Apu. I believe all three of those are voiced by Harry Shearer (see earlier entry). And, I know my friend Moviezzz is a fan of that show as well.

Emir lives in the Istanbul suburb of Erenkoy, and in a mere 14 years, he will be my age and perhaps he will be listening to the music of his youth (in my case- Duran Duran, The Human League, Depeche Mode, etc.) even more than he did as a teenager!

UPDATE: By the way, Emir shares a birthday with Turkish comedic actor Sener Sen who turns 66, acclaimed tv/movie actor Richard Widmark who is still with us at 93 and Toi Friddle of Arlington, Va., who turns 12 (saw that in the Sunday "Washington Post").

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Vendor's Christmas Poem

I saw this cool poem by Russell Andavall a few weeks ago. It is called Vendor's Christmas Poem:

The clothes were strewn
                               to the ceiling over there
While the dishes filled the sink
                               beyond compare.

No time for vacuum
                            and no time for broom,
There's three inches dust
                              in every room.

Christmas, Oh Christmas
                            if you don't come quick,
I'm gonna get sick, sick, sick!

Dirty and dusty
                      the house
                                    it was trashed.

Just so I could make a little
                                        Christmas cash.

So dirty. So dusty,
                            I know that it's true
If my girlfriend
                      says that's why
                                           we're thru!

Dirty and dusty
                      the toilets are clogged
If my mom saw this place,
                      I know I'd be flogged!

Come wholesalers,
                            Come craftfairs
                                  And street sales too.
                                        Before I die
                                                 of this cough and the flu.

Oh Christmas, Oh Christmas
                   won't you please come
                   quick, quick, quicker
                            before I get sick, sick, sicker of this God awful mess.....
             When you come
             I'll finally be blessed.

Christmas, Oh Christmas,
thank God, its over again,
It's January, I'm broke and it's time to pay taxes again!

Note: For those in the Roanoke, Va., area be sure to check out a great local poet Mike Allen. He performs his readings at No Shame Theatre, which is sponsored by Mill Mountain Theatre. Their next show is Jan. 4 at 11 p.m.

Useful Links:

Check Out Christopher Knight's Christmas Tree

Two of my friends have great Christmas entries in their respective blogs.

For starters, Christopher Knight of Reidsville, NC, has pictures of his Star Wars-themed Christmas tree, which includes an ornament with Darth Vader fighting Obiwan Kenobi. Knight gained local, regional and even national recognition with his campaign ad that also featured a Star Wars-theme when he ran for Rockingham County School Board last year.

It reminds me of a year when I put up Turkish Karagoz and Hacivat shadow puppets from Bursa, Turkey, on my mom's Christmas tree. A visitor to our house thought there were  The Three Wisemen!

Knight also has a Christmas essay that he wrote for the school newspaper while attending Elon University in the Burlington, NC, area.

And, he talks about eating pizza at King's Inn Pizza in Eden, NC. Up until now, I thought the most unique thing about Eden was the town's drive-in theater and their Biscuitville, but it seems like Knight has found something else in the border town that used to be known for its textile outlet shops.

My friend Moviezzz has two great holiday entries as well.

The first one talks about the 1981 punk rock Christmas carol "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses. According to Moviezzz, Chris Butler from the band wrote a portion of the song in a New York taxi cab on the way to the recording studio! The lyrics were sung splendidly by Patty Donahue, and the song is still played on radio stations around the country and perhaps the world.

There is a nifty Youtube video of the song on the blog.

Moviezzz also has a trailer for "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," which I was fortunate enough to see at the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va, Saturday night.

The screening was quite an undertaking by my friend Jason Garnett, who manages the cinema that was built in the 1930s since the film print he used was the only one of the 1989 film that the studio had available!

Earlier in the week, Moviezzz made the stunning revelation that the grizzly "Silent Night, Deadly Night" film that spawned several sequels about a serial killer Santa Claus was actually directed by a born-again Christian! If you don't believe me, then you'll just have to check out his blog...........

Useful Links:


Monday, December 24, 2007

The Delicate Art of Shopdropping

I picked up a copy of the Dec. 24 edition of "The New York Times"  yesterday afternoon.

On the front page, there was a story about shopdropping, which is defined as:
1. To covertly place merchandise on display in a store. Primarily used in tactical media projects and art installations. A form of 'culture jamming.' S. reverse shoplift, droplift.

What this basically means is 1) someone either taking something from another part of a store and deliberately placing it somewhere else in the store, 2) placing a pseudo-product along with other products or 3) putting their creative work (poem, CD, dvd of their documentary film) in a department store shelf with other works for sale there to promote their creative venture.

The article by Ian Urbina featured a photograph by Kike Arnal of a Christmas t-shirt featuring Karl Marx, the Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin and Che Guevara with the message: "Season's Greetings from the Three Wise Men."

Another t-shirt with the images of those figures, which were placed in Wal-Mart and Target stores in the San Francisco area, says: "Peace on Earth. After we overthrow capitalism."

The t-shirts were put out by the arts group, the Center for Tactical Magic, based in Oakland, Calif.

Another artist in the area- Packard Jennings placed an anarchist action figure on the shelf of a Target store in El Cerrito, Calif. It was apparently eventually noticed by a store manager.

There are also artists who place painted cans of products like pork and beans (labels are removed). The chief one of these is artist Ryan Watkins-Hughes, who showed his 'art-work' on the web site

The artist placed the cans on grocery store shelves in Providence, R.I., and Brooklyn, NY.

The article in the "Times" also said that Christian evangelists take part in the practice to spread fundamentalist messages.

I have yet to witness any shopdropping though my mother and I noticed a copy of the novel "Kite Runner" in the photography section of a bookstore in Roanoke, Va., the other day.........but, I somehow don't think that qualifies as shopdropping.

Kudos to Urbina for an excellent article.

Useful Links (you'll want to see this!): (I am presuming that registration is required)

Note: The practice was reportedly startedby the feminist group The Barbie Liberation Army which took Barbies off the shelves and replaced them with GI Joe dolls.

Great Line from Bad Santa

Time is short, as I have 20 minutes to get in a blog entry for Christmas Eve.

Two other things were planned but we will take care of one of those tomorrow, which is in 19 minutes....

I found his great line from the Terry Zwigoff cinema classic "Bad Santa." The title character is actually named Willie. He was played by Billy Bob Thorton. It was spoken to Waiting Boy, which was played by either Cody Strauch or Marshall Dvorin, according to the Internet Movie Database.

Here is the line (how appropriate with the screenwriters strike still in effect!):

Watching Boy (stares at Willie): I saw you at another mall.
Willie: Well, I'm happy for you.
Watching Boy: If you really are Santa, you could do magic.
Willie (whispers): Wanna see some magic? Ok, let's watch you disappear!

The IMDB also reports that this film used the "F-word" 147 times! It should hold the record for a holiday film for quite some time..........

The film aired on Comedy Central, presumably in an edited version, earlier tonight.

I saw the film when it first came out at a multiplex in Myrtle Beach, SC. I happened to see the film in early January, hence I was the only person watching it in that whole entire screening room!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

"Juno" Opens at the Grandin Theatre on Jan. 4

The indy film "Juno," which Roger Ebert named the best film of the year, opens at The Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va., on Jan. 4.
My sister Lale saw the film in Denver and really liked it. The movie deals with a teenage girl who gets pregnant and tries to find the proverbial perfect couple to adopt her love child.
I was at last night's midnight screening of "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." There were some 200 people there!
My friend Moviezzz, a film and entertainment blogger,  is a big fan of the Chevy Chase holiday film, but he reportedly did not drive down from Springfield, Mass., to take in "Vacation."
Although the manager of the Grandin, my friend Jason Garnett, told me that some college students from the Fairfax, Va., area drove some 180-plus miles down to Roanoke to take in a midnight screening of "The Goonies" earlier this year!

Useful Links:

Happy Birthday Harry Shearer

Traffic on my blog is moving slower than a Friday night in Boones Mill, Va. So, I will keep today's entry short and sweet.

The voice of Rev. Lovejoy on "The Simpsons" and the star of ensemble films like "A Mighty Wind" and "Best in Show," Harry Shearer turns 64 today.

I found while listening to the NPR concert series "Mountain Stage" that Shearer is actually married to folk singer Judith Owen. She was not in "A Mighty Wind!"

Shearer was also in the 1985 mocumentary "This Is Spinal Tap," which my friend Leigh-Anne Keatts cites as one of her favorite films.

The actor-comedian-author currently has an NPR show called "Le Show," which seems to be airing only in select cities.

He also celebrated his birthday (update from original post) in Seattle in a holiday-sing-a-long with his wife.

Useful Links:

Saturday, December 22, 2007

You Can Vote for Our Person of the Year


Polls have generally not work on this blog at all. The exception was when I asked who win a soccer game between Turkey and Greece in Istanbul, and lots of people voted for Greece even after the game which Greece won 1-0 was played. I suspect they did this to iritate me (I'm half-Turkish).

There were lots of choices on my list ranging from Madeline Albright to Ron Paul to hot Canadian singer Leslie Feist.

But, ultimately, these are the two individuals who stand out.

Both Comedy Central talk show Stephen Colbert and poet Nikki Giovanni stood out in a time of tragedy.

Colbert decided to use procedes from his new Ben and Jerry's ice cream flavor Americone Dream for the families of Charleston, SC, firefighters who lost their lives in a blaze at a furniture store there earlier in the year. Colbert has made it big on every level as he sticks it to the neo-con right-wing idiots who are gradually turning this country into Syria on his nightly comedy series. But, he hasn't forgotten his hometown of Charleston, SC. He has also helped raise funds for text-books for South Carolina schools.

Colbert made an effort to actually get on the ballots for BOTH parties in the Palmetto State primary, which is finally happening next month. But, his efforts fell through. Although, I have no doubt that he would make a better president than Mike Huckabee.

Nikki Giovanni, who has been an acclaimed poet for decades, stood out when she read a poem for victims of the Virginia Tech shootings which occured in April. 32 students and faculty lost their lives there.

Giovanni, who teaches in Blacksburg, Va., read her poem which featured the emotionally-vigorating lines of "We are The Hokies," at the memorial service where both Gov. Tim Kaine and George W. Bush were present. 

I didn't quite fully realize the impact of Giovanni's poem until I went to a small pharmacy in nearby Salem, Va., where they have been known to play Rush Limbaugh on the radio, and there on the door was Giovanni's poem. I have to wonder if they had read any of her other poems, which have been highly critical of the war/fiasco in Iraq (among other things). 

There are many other figures who have stood out this year including Elizabeth Edwards who has courageously battled cancer as her husband former NC senator John Edwards hit the campaign trail, but ultimately, these two seem to be the best choices.

It's now up to you to decide our 'person of the year.' And, if there are no votes, I can either flip a coin or pull a name out of the fish bowl.

I Lost My Karaoke Virginity Last Night

For those who've never tried it, I suggest starting with another song besides Journey's "Who's Crying Now." The ballad which contains lots and lots of high notes made my voice quiet hoarse.

I lost my karaoke virginity some time shortly right before or after midnight at the semi-annual "Yes Weekly!" Christmas party at The Greene Streete Club in downtown Greensboro last night. There was one person was said I did a 'great job?!'

I have to thank Brian Clarey, the editor of "Yes Weekly!," which is Greensboro's alternative newspaper_ and, in my view a far superior product to the city's newspaper "The News-Record." He was the one who invited to the party through FaceBook.

The highlight had to be an erotic version of "Santa Baby" performed by scantily clad young ladies in Santa hats and black bras with candy canes. I wish Mitt Romney, who was reportedly last in North Carolina to attend a fund-raiser by the owner of the Carolina Hurricanes hockey team in Raleigh, could have been there to see it!

Perhaps, next year we'll see Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) there. If her husband comes, he definitely won't need to worry about taking Viagra!

In the current issue of "Yes Weekly!," reporter Jordan Green, who was also at the party, wrote a great story on how a defense contractor firm in High Point, NC, is trying to get Rudy Giuliani in The White House by skirting campaign finance laws.

For everyone there, it was more fun than being a five-year-old kid who still believes in Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, and I didn't even get to mentioning how the band covered Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf!"


Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Birthday Mom!

A few months ago my friend Christopher Knight, of Reidsville, NC, posted a heart-warming entry on his blog about his mother's birthday.

At the time, I thought I could never try something like that on my own blog because it seemed too personal.

But, like Mitt Romney, I've changed my mind!

It seems all of us have some inclination to praise our parents when everything is going well, and conversely blame them when things aren't quite clicking.

I'm not sure either is really justifiable as we are who we are, and at the end of the day- unless you are President George W. Bush, you really can't feel that your parent is directly responsible for your successes or setbacks.

But, where they do make the major difference_from my vantage point_ seems to be in supporting you when you need it most. Just yesterday, I was in a painful disposition since one of my classes required exit exams which students had to pass in order to pass my class.

One of my students was very distraught when I imformed him of his grade. As a former teacher herself, my mother advised me on which course of action to take. I followed her advice as closely as I could. And, I hope it somehow makes a differene not just for me but for the student who did not pass the exam- though, in my view, he most assuredly deserved to.

Life can indeed be a profoundling isolating experience. The people we elect for office, even the ones who we actually voted for who won, (with some notable exceptions) have been known to let us down either politically or morally.

Conversely, our friends might not come through when we need them most.

But, my mother has consistently always been there for me.

I thus wish my mother Lila Sullivan, who turns *# tomorrow, a happy birthday, and I hope she has many more to come.

When she was growing up in Rock Hill, SC, my mother would often get underwear on her birthday because it was too close to Christmas. Assuredly, my sister Lale and myself do not make that mistake!

My friend Bruce Piephoff, a Greensboro folk singer, has a great song called "Mama" that was one of his recordings a few years ago. He has a new CD coming out in February.

Useful Links:

Clap Your Hands for Rudy?!

It was a kwazy semester of teaching school, but thank Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha and Superman, it has finally come to an all-too abrupt, screeching halt.

There were many topics I delayed as a result of my life being more hectic than rush hour at Unioun Station, and one of them was this insane banter from Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani.

During a campaign stop at Northern Iowa University back on Nov. 9, Rudy tried to 'inspire' young voters by telling them to get over their apathy.

The whole exchange was documented by the liberal publication "Mother Jones." They quoted the former New York mayor as actually saying the following:

"I'll tell you what I'd say (to apathy)," his-honor said. (Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap!) "Wake up! Look at America. You are so lucky. You live in the best country in the world."

Rudy then told the students to travel around the globe, and see how the rest of the world was more destitute that the good ole US or A (has he been to Harlem? Surely......he was the mayor of New York, right?!).

He continued by saying:

"You get a chance to vote. And, if you pass it up, it's your fault."

"Mother Jones" quoted Justin Brinker, a 22-year-old junior, on what he thought on the mayor's stump speech:

"Ummm, I guess there's not a whole lot I can say about it."

NPR reported yesterday that Rudy has recently put together a Christmas-themed campaign ad that will run in Iowa.

I wonder if it's a hit on Youtube?

Useful Links:


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Congressman's Christmas Gifts to Their Wives

Fellow Turkish-American and political progressive Cenk Uygur (yes, there are two of us!), who hosts a radio show with Air America, is a blogger for The Hufington Post. The conventional thinking would be that because of this The Hufington Post would be my favorite political blog, but I actually read Mary Ann Akers' The Sleuth much more often_ blame it on time restraints (I have to look for odd jobs on CraigsList-I'm sure Cenk understands!).

With that in mind, Akers latest column revealed what some members of the U.S. Congress have brought their spouses for the holidays.

Due to time restraints here and a paranoid fear that Akers may sue me for millions of dollars for copyright infrigement, I will only mention two of the congressman she talked about in this entry.

According to Akers, who bears a striking resemblance to actress/writer-on-strike Tina Fey ("30 Rock"), House Appropriations Chairman Cong. David Obey (D-Wis.) got his wife something my mother always gets me:

"My wife hates to shop (editorial comment: WHAT???!!) so I buy clothes for her_ then she'll take half of them back because she thinks it costs too much."

Retiring Cong. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) opted to sneak in wife's jewelry box and take several of her official spouse label pins and American flag pins and make them into a bracelet.(Note to self: Insert Nixon joke here at a later time.......)

On a personal note, I sent Christmas cards to two members of The Hill_ Cong. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and the representative of my district _Cong. Brad Miller (D-NC).

I truly appreciate both of them.

Even though I am a Democrat, I had a chance to become close to Cong. Wolf while I was a reporter in the Shenandoah Valley town of Woodstock, Va. He has been passionate about the problems afflicting Africa, and he has made several dangerous journeys to places like The Sudan many times_ even before the genocide in Darfur began.

 As a Turkish-American, I am especially grateful to Miller for voting against an Armenian-American lobby measure that would have caused needless tensions between Washington, D.C., and Ankara without resolving a century-old dispute.

Now that Cong. Tom Tancredo (R-Col.) has left the presidential race, there are only three U.S. Congressional reps in the race: Cong. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Cong. Duncan Hunter (R-Cal.) and the man whose campaign unleashed a blimp over Raleigh, NC, this week_ Cong. Ron Paul (R-Tx.).

Akers also has a great entry about Condi Rice's secretive shopping spree in Chevy Chase, MD, that came right before she headed over to the Middle East to resolve a clash between fans of GalataSaray and Fenerbahce (forgive the Turkish in-joke! They are Istanbul soccer teams). Apparently, Rice purchased a lavish gift for Laura Bush.


Useful Links:


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Awaiting Rambo IV? Yes, Me Neither.

For today's entry, we refer back to The Film Year Book 1984. And, the quote I'm selecting comes from Dolly Parton's "Rhinestone" co-star (see earlier entry) Sylvester Stallone:

"I'm a very physical person. People don't credit me with much of a brain, so why should I disillusion them?"

That's all the time I have for today, kids_times are kwazy around here! But, I will also leave you with the number 3 and the letter 6.........I definitely need a vacation from teaching...............


Useful links:


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Letter to a College Newspaper

While combing through a dated Sunday edition of "The New York Times," I came across a program listing for the PBS documentary series "Independent Lens."

During the week of Dec. 11, they aired a doc called "The Paper" (not to be confused with a film from the mid-90s which starred Michael Keaton).

It is about the experiences of college journalists at "The Daily Collegian," the student paper of Penn State University.

Ever since my days as a reporter at "The Tartan," the student newspaper of Radford University, I have tried to keep up with local college newspapers whenever I'm in a college town.

My last visit to a place where college students outnumber residents (well, the Census stats are not right in front of me), was when I stopped in Chapel Hill, NC, on Nov. 2 to see an Athol Fugard play at The Deep Dish Theatre there.

I had heard that the University of North Carolina student paper "The Daily Tarheel" had run an offensive political cartoon about Turkey during the time when the Armenian lobby looked like they were going to be succesful in pushing federal legislation that many of us in the Turkish-American community are still vehemently opposed to, in the fall.

But, the cartoonist did something which President George W. Bush would never do even if accidentally killed a million Ethiopian children_ he apologized!

With that in mind, I picked the Nov. 2 edition of "The Daily Tarheel," and I found a very interesting bit.

It was not from one of the student journalists, even though there were a number of interesting articles by them, including one by Abbey Caldwell about a hockey tournament for UNC's hockey coach Jim Sapikowski, who was murdered along with his wife in 2005 by their own teengae son who is now awaiting trial.

The piece that caught my eye was a letter-to-the-editor by Tim Wander, a senior in history. As many of you outside the state even know by, North Carolina has experienced a devastating drought which according the WUNC-FM, has cost state farmers millions and millions of dollars in losses.

In his letter, Wander said that each state resident needed to take serious measures to avoid wasting water. The City of Raleigh, which is near Chapel Hill, has taken some new measures as have several cities in the state.

Wander also talked about ways to cut water use. Though the letter was published a month and a half ago, little has changed as far as rainfall amounts in North Carolina.

Here is that letter (virtually)  in its entirety:

"In light of the amount of rain we have received lately, one might be led to believe that we are on our way to recovering from this horrible drought.

But the recent showers amounted to little more than a sip for a very thristy earth. A letter to the editor last week urged us to meet our needs with bottled water, but I would suggest a re-evaluation of our 'needs.'

Taking military-style showers, washing our cars in the rain, collecting rainwater and only flushing in emergencies are just a few of the countless ways.

Yes, we need to drink water. But, we can even curb that most basic need by being conscious of ourselves in a broader context.

I have not showered in a week, but when I inhale I only sense the sweet aroma of conservation."

Now, I must profess that I need to take my showers significnatly more than once a week and I have a pet-peeve about unflushed toilets, particularly in the men's room.

But, maybe we can use this drastic situation to justify not washing our cars for a while_ unless that is if you live in an area with a lot of pigeons.

Useful Links:



Monday, December 17, 2007

Maybe We Can Win Against JMU Tonight.....

Technical difficulties have prevented me from posting what I had originally intended this morning, but perhaps since it is a Monday and Christmas is a week away, no one is really in the mood for political things anyway (Did I just say that?!)..........

So, I must painfully admit that my alma mater Radford University in Radford, Va., got killed by the Georgetown Hoyas in Washington, DC, on Sat. night.

The fourth-ranked Hoyas beat my beloved Highlanders by a 110-51 margin.

The Radford U sports department said that sophomore Amir Johnson of Pittsburgh lead the Highlanders with 12 points and Mortell McDuffy of Laurel, Md., grabbed seven rebounds for RU.

The Highlanders (4-7) now head to Harrisonburg to face James Madison University tonight. Though I will be rooting for the Highlanders, I was saddened to hear that many JMU sports, including both men's and women's gymnastics, were cut this year due to Title IX regulations. I have been friends with Roger Burke, who coached both of these teams for the Dukes.

But, as a Turkish-American, I was delighted to hear that the Highlanders have a Turkish assistant coach Ali Ton who was profiled in a "Roanoke Times" article a few weeks ago.

I graduated from Radford U in 1996. While I was working for "The Salem Times-Register" in Salem, Va., I had vowed to shave my head if Radford U could beat the top-seed Duke BlueDevils in the NCAA tournament back in 1997. Needless to say, I didn't need to shave my head.

I also have a rivalry with my cousin Michael Dawkins. He went to Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC, which is also where my mother went to college.

While we were in college, Radford almost always beat the Eagles. And, I got to tease Mike at least once a year. But, in recent years, Winthrop has dominated the Big South Conference. Here's to the hopes that I get to make that phone call this year........

Update 12/20: Well, my beloved Highlanders lost 90-60 to West Virginia last night in Radford. I think we should play the Halifax County High School Comets from South Boston, Va., before we head to Columbia, SC, to face the South Carolina Gamecocks. I mean a win's a win, right?!

Useful links:


Update on Dec. 18: Oh well. The Dukes beat us 85-74 last night. RU sophomore Kenny Thomas of Richmond, Va., hit a three-pointer to make it a one-point game with 3:30 on the clock but JMU went on a run to win the game by 11 points. RU next faces The West Virginia Mountaineers tonight in Radford, Va.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hanukkah Rocks! (Alas, I'm Not Jewish)

A Dolly Parton concert in Minneapolis.

A holiday musical by The Plan-B Theatre in Salt Lake City.

A Nejla Yatkin dance performance in New York.

A Les Blank documentary film in San Francisco.

An opera based on a comic book character in Portland, Ore.

A theatrical play about racism and capital punishment in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

A one-man show about torture of Arab terrorism suspects performed in Boston.


These are just some of the things I've promoted on this blog which I could not have possibly attended due to geography.

In keeping with that tradition, I am posting an entry today about a Hannukah rock concert_ I kid you not_ at The Birchmere Theatre in Alexandria, Va., just outside Washington, DC- which is some five and half hours away (Note: Mapquest dos not seem to add traffic time!) from the fictional town where I reside in North Carolina.

According to the Dec. 8 edition of "The Washington Post" the show was the idea of New York singers Rob Tannenbaum and David Fagin.

The show will consist of songs which make light of being Jewish, such as "Shiskas are for Practice." The price of admission is $19.50 and the shows are on Dec. 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m.

The Birchmere is located on 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va.

Phone: (202) 397-7328.

Last year, I posted an entry about a klesner band (klesner is a form of Jewish music) called The Sinai Mountain Ramblers. They are based in Greensboro, NC, and they performed at a community Jewish festival this year. Even though it was not in Hilo, Hawaii or North Pole, Ak., I was unable to attend it. Perhaps, next year, when it occurs again, I'll be in one of those places and regret missing out a great time in The Gate City!

Userful links:

Well, we have none this time, but I suppose I should give the link to "The Washington Post" to avoid any frivilous lawsuits:

PS_ The music I'm actually listening to is the '80s pop-rock band Night Ranger. I did not wan to admit that publicly!

Dolly Parton....Mitt Romney's Running Mate?

For those half-dozen of you who come to this blog on a semi-regular basis, you may be wondering if there is any grand plan here. I think I will answer that concern by leap-frogging from sheep sacrifices to Dolly Parton.

As I was looking for some great quotes for my Facebook page, I decided to look at "The Film Yearbook 1984," which I got from the recently-closed Waldenbooks store at Tanglewood Mall in Roanoke, Va., back during the Christmas of 1983. (The mall_ for those of you not residing in The Star City_is still open. In fact, it still has a K & W Cafeteria).

The book has a tremendous number of funny quotes from the likes of Paul Newman, Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep and the pride of Seierville, Tenn.

In her quote, Dolly Parton expressed her misgivings about a film whose subject matter was seemingly disclosed in its title_ "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas."

Here is what she said, which is why I think she would be a perfect running mate for Republican candidate Mitt Romney, who carries on the Massachussetts political tradition of flip-flopping:

"It kind of embarrased me. I wouldn't recommend people take their kids to see it. I wouldn't say it's great family fun. I am upset about it. It was a big surprise," Parton said.

Parton has since moved on to other things, including building a lavish amusement park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. She was also in this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. And, as it turns out, she is soon embarking on a worldwide tour.

It begins on Feb. 28 at The Northup Auditorium in Minneapolis. And, for those of who wondering when and how you can see them, here are some other dates. She will be at The Opera House in Boston on March 5- one day after my 38th birthday!

Then, on March 7, she will be at Radio City Music Hall in New York_perhaps the mayor Michael Bloomberg will be there! She will be in the vicinity of the nation's capital when she performs at The Patriot Center in Farifax, Va., on March 11.

And, her last North American tour date (for the moment), will be at the historic Fox Theatre in Atlanta on March 12. Perhaps, she will sing "9 to 5." I did not get info on ticket prices, but I'm guessing they are cheaper than seats for Hannah Montana.

Those of you who are passionate Parton fans can visit her web site, which you probably already knew about:

While there, you can choose which one of Parton's bluegrass albums is your favorite. I'd vote for her 1999 release "The Grass is Blue," but I'm not sure if I've heard any tracks from it. Maybe, I have.

Alas, I did not get a chance to make a joke about the prominent feature which made Parton popular on the pinball circuit, nor did I talk about how we took a family trip out West which included a stop in Dollywood back in 1986.

But, I've got to call a friend to see if she might want to go Christmas shopping at Barnes and Noble. Oh.... I almost forgot! I gather that from time to time people living outside the USA actually visit this blog. So, if you live in Malmo, Sweden, you should rejoice because Parton is coming to your town too! Alas, she did manage to snub Roanoke and Greensboro. But, we can always hope that she'll come this way in 2009_ and bring lots of toys to the children of Whoville.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Everything You Wanted to Know About Sacrifical Lambs...

The actual title of this entry is "Everything You Wanted to Know About Sacrifical Lambs, But Were Afraid to Ask."

I am posting this entry in honor of Kurban Bayrami- the Turkish name for a Muslim holiday in which lambs are sacrficied and the meat is donated to the poor.

My good friend Volkan Ozdemir is with the Divan Cultural Center in Cary, NC (Raleigh), and they are hosting a feast for the occasion on Fri., Dec. 21, at 7 p.m.

I am not sure I can make the event as there are literally 100 things going on that evening in 'my two states' (Virginia and North Carolina)- some of which will be posted about right here! Of course, my biggest fear is that everything will cancel each other out, and I'll opt to stay home and watch Charlie Rose on PBS (Bill Clinton was on tonight- perhaps, it's time for tivo!).

I have an amusing story about Kurban Bayrami. When I was living in Turkey as a child in 1978, my late father Mehmet Gokbudak brought a sheep from a seller in the town of Kara Deniz (Black Sea) Eregli where we were living. He had brought the sheep for a sacrifice that was going to be held at my late grandmother Zekiye Gokbudak's house in Buyukada- which is off the coast of Istanbul.

I was not aware that the 'kuzu' (Turkish word for sheep) was going to be sacrficied. Having grown up in Salem, Va., I had no knowledge of the sacred rituals that were conducted in Moslem countries for the holiday. So, I made the sheep my pet! We drove four hours to the port of Bostanci (on the Asian side of Istanbul), and I was delighted to spend that time in the back seat of the family Volkswagen with my new pet. 

I also got to spend time with the sheep on the boat from Bostanci to Buyukada. In those days, the boat took a good 40 minutes (today it takes a mere 15). When we got to my grandmother's house, the sheep was tied outside underneath her stairs. I was horrified to see that the sheep had vanished the next morning.

My grandmother lied to me the next day and said that the sheep ran away. But, like the Santa Clause myth, I soon figured out what really happened. My mom said that my father felt guilty about the whole ordeal for years!

Personally, I have mixed feelings about sheep sacrifices. I saw one being performed on a street in Izmir, Turkey, and I thought the people involved should have shown more civil regard for those who might not want to see a ram being bludgoned to deathout in the open. I am sure representatives of the Turkish Tourism Bureau would agree!

But, on the other hand, it is a religious ritual that people have performed for thousands of years. And, the intention is a pure and nobel one.

I guess people should perform them in their own backyard, and hopefully, that is what is done in most cases.

And, like other religious holidays around the world, the occasion is one which is celebrated with lots of food and drink_well, in this case, ones without alcohol!

Turkish people are not the only ones celebrating the holiday.

I got an email from the Muslim cleric who conducted my late uncle Ilhan Gokbudak's funeral in Roanoke, Va. (Uncle Ilhan was living in Istanbul and he died in Brazil_ I need to write an essay- or better yet a memoir about that experience which happened in 2000).

Apparently, The Kufa Islamic Center which the Iraqi imam presides over will be getting their sacrificial sheep from a farmer in the rural community of Rocky Mount, Va, in Franklin County!

I just hope no 8-year-old boy got attached to any of them!

Useful Links:

PS_ Ironically, Rocky Mount, Va., is the hometown of Cong. Virgil Goode (R-Va) who made highly racist remarks about how Muslims shouldn't be allowed to immigrate to America. Like David Duke, Goode is not one who feels the need to apologize.

PPS (Dec. 16)_ Upon reading this entry, my sister who was around four-years-old in 1978 reminded me of a few little details about our sheep experience. The VW bug, which was the family car back then, was extremely tight in the backseat. Our father had brought it in Frankfurt, Germany_ of all places (if this is the right VW bug I'm thinking of). And, the sheep actually got quite sick on the journey! My sister also bonded with the sheep, which may have lead to my mother's request for a stay of execution. Alas, it was denied. 

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation at the Grandin (Roanoke, Va.)

Whew! It has been an insane week- to put it mildly.

I got late word that The Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va. will have a midnight screening of "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" on Dec. 22....I am presuming that means Sat. night/Sun. morning.

Fortunately, Jason Garnett- the manager of the Grandin is a good friend of mine so he can confirm or clarify this.

The movie stars Chevy Chase..........well, we all knew that.

For what it's worth, Leonard Maltin gives the film three stars, but then again he gave "Taxi Driver" a mere two....but, I think it's a fairly fun film. I didn't realize until just now that it came out in 1989! To think, I was 19-years-old back then. Alas, the late Imogene Coca- who played an annoying relative in "National Lampoon's Vacation" is not in this one!


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"Wrestling with Angels" Premieres on Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 9 PM

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Subject: "Wrestling with Angels" Premieres on Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 9 PM
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Monday, December 10, 2007

New Film from Les Blank- so much for my hiatus

I suppose my sister Lale Lovell knew this would be harder for me than I realized.

But, I am breaking my vow not to add blog entries for a good cause- to promote a documentary film by my good friend Les Blank, who is best known for his 1982 film "Burden of Dreams," about German film director Werner Herzog's effort to film an epic film (which is hard to spell) in the Amazon River basin of Peru.

Blank's latest effort is a documentary about tea. It is called "All in This Tea," and it was filmed in (where else?!) China. There is an article about Blank and the film, which he co-directed with Gina Leibrecht, in yesterday's edition of "The San Francisco Chronicle."

The Film opens at The Roxie in San Francisco and at the Smith Rafael Center in San Rafael, Cal., on Friday.

For more on the film and Blank, one can access these web sites:


Friday, December 7, 2007

Postcards from The Past, and My Hiatus (until Dec. 21)

Well, it has sadly come to this. I have so many things between now and Dec. 21 that I am going to put this beloved blog, which has even received hits from Armenian-Americans for Fred Thompson,* on hold until Dec. 21.
There are many, many things I have not had a chance to get to but hopefully they will still be here two weeks from now.
In the mean time, I am going to leave you with a suggestion to go The Giffords Ice Cream store in Bethasda, Md., if you are in Washington, DC area. I am not receiving any money from them for this plug, but they sent me some great postcards last year and it definitely seems like a cool place to visit. I just hope they are not closed for the season!
And, since today is Pearl Harbor Day, I will leave you with this postcard from 1941 (actually dated April 18) and I will dedicate to the memory of my stepfather Donald Sullivan (1918-2003), who was himself a WW II veteran.
The postcard, which I would scan if I had such talents, is of the Pennrose Country Club in Reidsville, NC. It was sent from a woman named Frances to a woman named Frances Adkins in Vinton, Va.- just outside Roanoke.
Here is the message:

"I called to tell you all I was coming back with Edna, but no one answered any way.**
I am down here and enjoying this beautiful sunshine so much. See you all soon. Love Ruth."

*-One may not get this joke unless they know me. I am a Turkish-American, and a Democrat. My late uncle Omer Bati, an Istanbul lawyer, came close to throwing me off the balcony when I told him that I had voted for Michael Dukakis over George Bush when I was 18 in 1988 upon a summer visit to Turkey in 1989............since there are some people with irrational negative views of Turkish people, I should point out that I am joking- but, he was not happy with me at all!

**-I am aware that anyway is one word. It was spelled as two words on the postcard. I guess they did not have spellcheckers in those days.

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Turkey to Face Armenia in 2012 World Cup Qualifier

Regardless if the game is played in Istanbul or Yerevan, fervent nationalists on both sides are likely to make this historic match-up a difficult one for the players on the field, the referees and perhaps even-if the game is played in Istanbul- the simit (pretzel) vendors.
Ironically, I found out about the game though Armenian-American activist/journalist Appo Jabbarian, a person I get along with pretty well considering how..........I think I need a bottle of raki*:)
According to Jabbarian***- whose name I hope I spelled right, so I don't inadvertently start World War III, Turkey will face Armenia in qualifying for the 2012 World Cup in South Africa, which Turkey attempted to host as well.
Turkey and Armenia will be in Group 5 along with traditional powers Spain and Belgium. The other teams in the group include Estonia and Bosnia-Herzegovinia.
Turkey has been up and down in EuroCup qualifiers. They lost to traditional rival Greece 1-0 in Istanbul, but the team turned around with a resounding win over Norway. The most historic moment in Turkish international soccer was a victory over Japan for a stunning third place finish in the 2002 World Cup. That team consisted of international superstars Hakan Sukur and Hasan Sas.
According to Jabbarian, Armenia has had its own recent ups and downs as well. Armenia won a game on the road over Kazakhstan- the country Borat put on the map, and they also defeated Poland 1-0 in the Armenian capital of Yerevan. But, the team lost to Belgium_ the country that the rest of the world (except the US) knows as the home of beloved comic book character Tintin. I personally think a Turkey-Armenia game could be competitive- especially if played in Yerevan, though even folks who would be more objective than me would also likely expect Turkey to win.
I hope Jabbarian shares my view that many of us reasonable people want to distance ourselves from radicals who use soccer bulletin boards on the internet to post needless hate messages. I saw some on a Greek soccer site, which sickened me- one poster basically said Turkey was a backward country, undeserving of being a World Cup host. But, I have also witnessed a Turkish hacker doing something similar to Armenian soccer site.
I once read such a message from an Armenian militant who expressed joy over the Turkish earthquake of 1999 on a BBC message board. But, despite our different views on many matters, I know Jabbarian would never stoop to such depths as Iwouldnot as well. In each case- regardless if it is a Turk, a Greek or an Armenian, it is simply sad to see people, who might very well be grown men, acting like pathetic teenage boys.
Of course, not all animosity of this nature involves ethnic political spats. Traditional Istanbul powers GalataSaray and Fenerbahce play tomorrow.  I'm sure my  friend Bahadir Acuner from Seattle, an FB fan, will let me know if my beloved GS** loses the game, which should be over by 2:30 p.m., Eastern time. Conversely, he will probably send me a virus if we win!

*- Raki is the Turkish equivalent of the Greek alcoholic beverage Ouzo. One should drink neither if they are nursing a baby, taking Prozac or while watching a soccer game with Bahadir Acuner.
**- I do have friends who root for GalataSaray including Volkan Ozdemir from the Raleigh, NC-area. One of my other friends Ugur Celikkol maintains a fan club for the soccer team BursaSpor in Bursa, Turkey. Alas, they lost to the other Istanbul Besiktash 1-0 today.
***- Yikes! I did in fact misspell Appo Jabarian's last name by accident. I decided not to change it as the mistake actually makes the entry more humorous- even if it does start World War III.........

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I tried to find a site for Armenian soccer, but I was unable to locate one. However, I can refer one to Appo Jabbarian's web site even though I respectfully disagree with many viewpoints concerning Turkey that are presented in his publication, "USA Armenian Life." But, both of us love the game of soccer, though I must admit Appo follows it closer than me. In fact, it would not completely shock me if Jabbarian knew the final score of the GS-FB game before I did!


PS- Alas, Fenerbahce won the game over GalataSaray 2-0 on Saturday.