Friday, March 23, 2007

Greensboro Folk Singer Bruce Piephoff Performs....

To those of who frequent my blog, all 12 of you, you may have heard me talk about Greensboro folk singer/poet Bruce Piephoff who sings about everything from Amsterdam to meat factory workers. Bruce will be performing at The Flat on Summit Ave. in Greensboro on March 31. Those interested or in the area can call 336.965.7206 for more info. He will be backed Pat Lawrence and Scott Manning. The show starts at 9 p.m., and there is a $5 cover charge. If you happen to anyone who lives in Murphy, NC, near the Georgia border (quite a ways from here in Reidsville), Bruce will be performing there on May 9 at a place called The Daily Cure? (I can't read my own handwriting). For more info on that show, you can call 828.835.7322. Bruce's new cd is entitled "Sogni Doro." It is available for purcahse through his web site, which also lists other shows:


On DVD and In Theatres- "Colour Me Kubrick"

A new film from independent filmmaker Brian Cook is apparently being released on DVD and in movie theatres this week! The trend which seems to be a possible nightmare for theatre owners was started by Stephen Soderbergh when his film "Bubble" was released in late 2005. "Colour Me Kubrick" is playing at the Landmark E Street Cinema in Washington and the Galaxy Cinema in Cary, NC (Raleigh). The film details the life of Stanley Kubrick impersonator Alan Conway, who is played in the film by John Malkovich. "Film Comment" editor Chris Chang is calling the film: "a perversely entertaining docu-fare." Chang adds that anyone who has the 'slightest reservation about Malkovich's mannerisms' should perhaps avoid the film. But, Chang adds that the film is a delightful insight into what people will do for fame. The film was also given a thumb's up from mainstream film critic Stephen Hunter of "The Washington Post." He called the film a unique look at how movie obsessed the world has become. The movie is based on a real person who did in fact impersonate the director of "A Clockwork Orange" and "Dr. Strangelove........."



Monday, March 19, 2007

My Rant (on "Borat") was selected!

It has been one of those "Manic Mondays," but I was delighted to see that "Film Comment" magazine selected my rant on "Borat," which I have chosen as my favorite film of 2006. Alas, the magazine no longer publishes rants in their print editions, but they are posted on the web site below:


My friend Bilge Ebiri, a New York filmmaker, chose "Dave Chappelle's Block Party," a movie I'm hoping to see soon, as his favorite film of the year. I don't think either of us would have expected that those films would be the ones to top of our list prior to seeing them! I am still shocked how much I liked "Borat." The film is now available on DVD. The now-infamous rodeo scene in the film was shot in my hometown of Salem, Va.

Here is my list of top 10 films of 2006 as of today... it is always subject to change. the asteriks indicates films I have added since posting this list in January.

1. Borat

2. Little Miss Sunshine

3. The Departed

4. Three Times

*5. Tristam and Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story

6. United 96

7. Crossing the Bridge: Istanbul

8. Half Nelson

9. The Science of Sleep

*10. Flag of Our Fathers

(tie) "The Queen"


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Before "The Wind That Shakes...," There was "Cal"

The St. Patrick's Day weekend is giving notice to 'all things Irish.' I saw on a local news station, out of Greensboro, that there was an Irish festival at Wake Forest University (with the NCAA tournament at the same location, one would probably need the luck of the Irish to find a parking place!) and there was a St. Patty's Day Parade in downtown Raleigh yesterday as well.

The focus of all things Irish has lead to more media exposure to Ireland. Today, NPR broadcast a story about a controversial film about the origins of the IRA from liberal filmmaker Ken Loach called "The Wind That Shakes the Barley." Loach told NPR that some in the UK have gone so far as to compare him to Nazi-era documentarian Leni Riefenstahl!

But, this is not the first film about the IRA which has caused controversy in Britian and elsewhere.

I remember when I was attending college at Radford University and the Internet was becoming a hip waste of time. I had joined an Internet movie group. Basically, one of us shose a film and the rest of us watched it and told the others what we thought of the film. One recommendation was for the small Irish film "Cal," which came out in 1984.

The film was directed by Pat O'Connor, whose biggest 'hit' is the Keanu Reeves wheeper "Sweet November." And, it starred Helen Mirren, who recently won an Oscar as "The Queen" and an unknown actor John Lynch in the starring role. Lynch has been in other films about Ireland, including "The Secret of Roan Irish" (1994), a film which is unusual because its director John Sayles is an American independent film director.

"Cal" was based on a novel by Bernard McCaverty, who also wrote the screenplay.

The story of "Cal" is about a young man on the fringes of the IRA who falls in love with a married widow, played by Mirren, who lost her husband in an act of political violence.

The film's tag reads: "Out of Ireland's struggle, a pasionate love is born." I remember the film had a quite passionate love scene, which is quite tame compared with those which involved Mirren in "The Cook, The Thief, The Wife, and Her Lover."

"Cal" also came out when a number of trendy film were coming out of England, the most noteable of which is "Local Hero," which Al Gore_ of all people, has cited as his favorite movie.

It has been a good 12 years since I've seen "Cal." I remember as being a moving piece of social commentary which is actually well-balanced by the love story. It is available now on DVD.

For more info:


Friday, March 16, 2007

Wow- Winthrop Advances in NCAA Tourney

It may be the day before St. Patrick's Day, but it was not a lucky day for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish as they went down to defeat against Winthrop University, from Rock Hill,SC, just a few hours ago in the opening round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament in Spokane, Wa. The Eagles won the game 74-64.

For those who may have seen an earlier entry, my cousin Michael Dawkins, of Rock Hill, is an alum of Winthrop as is my mother Lila Sullivan, who lives in my hometown of Salem, Va. My late grandfahter Dudley Clarence "Doc" Sturgis (1914-1993) also taught at Winthrop for many, many years. Michael's younger brother Patrick will be attending classes there in the fall. And, my aunt Carol Cole of Roebuck, SC (have I left anybody out?) also went there.

But, Winthrop is NOT my favorite school from the Big South Conference. That distinction belongs to my beloved school Radford University in Radford, Va. When I went to school there from 1993-1996, we usually beat Winthrop. I used to call Mike and laugh in his face. It has been a long time since I've been able to do that. In fact, Mike usually does that to me now. The RU women's basketball team did defeat Winthrop at least once this year, but nobody seems to have noticed...........!

In other NCAA news, the alma maters of my late father Mehmet Gokbudak (1921-1983), and my sister and brother-in-law Lale and Matt Lovell of Longmont, Co., Virginia Tech, faces the alma mater of my cousins Brent and Kurt Gokbudak, both of California, which is the University of Illinois. The two teams meet later tonight. I should stay home at watch, but I am going to the movies. As it is, I don't expect my sister and brother-in-law to watch either. I think they are going to a MENSA conference this weekend..................:)

Tomorrow is my sister's 33rd birthday. If you want to send her an e-card, her email is

Actually, that is my email, but I can forward your card to her. And, since my birthday was just two weeks ago, you can send me a belated e-birthday card. I have not recieved any e-birthday cards so far, and I may be tempted to keep any e-cards you try to send to my sister!

According to an NPR email, the world's smallest St. Patrick's Day Parade will be held in Enterprise, Al, tomorrow. Perhaps, it is NOT raining cats and dogs ythere as it is here in Reidsville, NC. There will be a segment about that parade on the NPR show "Weekend America." I have one friend in Alabama, Ilhan Tuzcu of Tuscaloosa. I imagine he will have things to do than go to the parade! Perhaps, he is going to the MENSA conference too................




Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Interesting Useless Presidential Trivia

I saw this odd trivia question from an online version of "The Washington Post"'s online edition. I got it wrong, but perhaps my sister Lale Lovell, who might very well be as intelligent as Albert Einstein, or some of you can answer it:


What animal pair did Zebulon Pike give to Thomas Jefferson after exploring the U.S.'s Western Territory?

A) Antelope

B) Wolves

C) Grizzly Bears

D) Prarie Dogs

I answered "D," but the answer is strangely enough "C." But, as it turns out, the bears were mere cubs!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Review of "Hamlet," the 'First' Version

I had a chance last night to watch a staging of William Shakespeare's "Hamlet" at the American Shakespeare Center (formerly Shenandoah Shakespeare- a title I liked a lot more) in Staunton, Va. The unusual thing about this version is that it was the rarely staged 'first quarto.' The play, along with other productions at the theatre, run through March 24. The troupe is also performing Shakespeare's "Pericles," which takes place in Antioch (modern day Antakya, Turkey).
In an explanation in the program for "Hamlet," the theatre's executive director Ralph Alan Cohen said that playwrights in Elizabethian England wrote plays for performance as opposed to publication. When it seemed that a play might sell in print, someone from the theatre would take the play to a printer in a single edition called a 'quarto.'
"Hamlet" was originally written in 1603, but the 'newer' version of the play, which is the one usually performed, was published in 1623 after Shakespeare's death.
I found the performance to be typical Shenandoah Shakespeare fare, and perhaps just slightly better than productions I had previously seen with them. Formerly a touring-only company, Shenandoah Shakespeare performs plays with 'the lights on,' no direction or set and surprisinly lots of modern costumes.
Benjamin Curns gave a good performance as the lead Hamlet. Curns was particularly good at the end during the play's fencing sequence, and his performance showed a full range of depth and emotion. James Keegan was also impressive as the King of Denmark. Keegan is a published poet and has taught English at the University of Delaware. He had a commanding presence throughout the play. There were two African-American actors in the cast who also gave outstanding performances (sadly, not something you see every day in theatre outside major metro areas), including Rene Thorton Jr. (Horatio), who played the title role in "Othello" for the company last fall, and Susan Heyward who was delightful as the tragic figure Ofeila.
Among the alumni of Shenandoah Shakespeare is Uzay Tumer, a fellow Turkish-American, who has become a 'celebrity waiter' in New York since appearing as a regular waiter in the reality tv-show "The Restaurant."

For more info on "Hamlet" and the other plays in Staunton, one can go to:

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Opus Takes on Darth Cheney

Wow, I am spending an unholy amount of time on my blog. Perhaps, a 21-year-old college student from Clemson U is making better use of their Spring Break in Daytona Beach. Alas, Clemson lost to Floridat St. 67-66 today at the ACC tournament in Tampa Bay, NC (I know that town is in Fla- it was a joke that people in this part of the country would get- especially if they lived in Greensboro). My cousin Mike Dawkins would have graduated from Clemson if he hadn't spent too much time in Daytona Beach, so instead he went to Winthrop U in Rock Hill, SC _I am still obviously bitter that his school has beaten my alma mater Radford U 47 consecutive times in men's basketball:) Mike has long since recovered from his alcohol dependency, and is now making more para than I'll ever see by selling popcorn at Charlotte Bobcats games. (Sorry, Mike_ it's been a long week. For the record, none of this above info is true except for the fact that he went to Winthrop and his school has beaten mine 47 consecutive times. Mike is in fact an excellent person, but sorry ladies-he's married and you'll have to settle for a pet rock...!)
At any rate, if you have read all my entries this week, you also have too much time on your hands. But, you may have noticed my earlier entry which borrowed comic strip lines from a "Zippy the Pinhead" strip which made fun of Cong. Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca). "Opus" is a much more widely-read comic strip than "Zippy," but it is in neither "The Roanoke Times" or "The (Greensboro) News-Record." I did happen to see the March 4 edition in The Sunday edition of "The Washington Post" at the Salem (Va) Library tonight. It pokes fun at our beloved president, I mean vice president, Dick Cheney. There will be a link with the actual strip at the end of this entry. Here is the dialogue:

Opus: Shh! The Vice President just snuck in from my closet of anxieties.
Opus (contd): Sir. There's a marsupial on your head.
Dick: That's your opinion.
Opus: I'm staring at it.
Dick: You're Not.
Opus: It's a marsupial and it's on your head.
Dick: Left-wing media hogwash.
Opus: Sir I think even Bill O'Reilly would say that there's a marsupial on your head.
Dick: You're wrong. He told me 'nice hairpiece.'
Opus: It's a maruspial.
Dick: I'm leaving
Opus: Please, don't up!
Dick: Why?
Opus: You're wearing a thong.
Dick: That's your opinion.


As always, if the link doesn't work, don't sue me!

Link to Fantastic College Gymnastics Photo

As some of you who know me might know, I am a huge college gymnastics fan. So much so, that I am planning to attend this year's NCAA Championships in Salt Lake City, Utah, which is like 9,500 miles from where I live on the Virginia/North Carolina border. I've seen some impressive college gymnastics photos over the years but this one of an Iowa State gymnast, whose first name is Katie, is absolutely the best one I've ever seen. The photographer had to have timed this perfectly, and perhaps took many other photos that didn't come out right. At the present time, the University of Florida is ranked #1 in the country in college gymnastics. Yvonne Tousek, a former UCLA gymnast, has a sister on the Gators team. I had been exchanging emails with her, but since I haven't heard from her in a while I may just have to root for Georgia (the Gators' rival) in Utah.............but they win practically every year, so.............hmm, Go Gators!

Here is the link to the Iowa St. gymnast's photo:

If I made an error, please don't sue me!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Top 10 Films of 1970_ the year I was born

I had debated about putting up this blog entry, but I think it is a good idea after all. Incidentally, I am on Spring Break from school (I now teach at Danville Community College in Va.). I should add that by 'favorite,' I mean that at least one of these films should not be on anyone's top 10 list if one is refering to quality!

Here are my choices:

1. "Claire's Knee"_ This is the best film from French filmmaker Eric Rohmer, who is still alive and was directing films even as he was approaching 90. I think this film, which I found in the Hollins University library, is a touching film about lust........I should see it again!
2."The Conformist"_ My friend Bilge Ebiri, a New York critic/filmmaker, has championed this film and considered it one of his personal favorites. It is from Bernardo Bertolucci, and it is an excellent piece of social commentary molded around a thrilling plot. I should see it again too!
3. "MASH"_ This film is right up there with "Nashville" and "The Player" as the best film made by Robert Altman, who passed away in November. "MASH" is worth watching for the hilarious shower scene alone! Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould actually tried to overthrow Altman on the set, and screenwriter Ring Larnder Jr. wasn't thrilled with the changes to his script. But, the end product was a huge commercial and critical success.
4. "Le Cercle Rouge (The Red Circle)"- A wonderful film from Jean-Pierre Melville who was a master at directing capers. One of his earlier films "Army of Shadows" was rereleased theatrically last year and finished as the third best film of the year in a "Film Comment" critic's poll.
5."The Honeymoon Killers"_ This film will give you the creeps as it shows how love and lust leads an overweight woman to commit heinous murders with her new-found Romeo. This is a very unsettling film, but it was brilliantly shot and editted. It was remade into an even more grissly Mexican film called "Deep Crimson," which I saw last week. I must say the later brought out my 'inner Jesse Helms!'
6."Five Easy Pieces"_ Jack Nicholson made a few good films before "Chinatown," and this is certainly one of them.
7."The Ballad of Cable Hogue"_ A moving Western from Sam Peckinpah. I ran into the since-deceased Jason Robards Jr. at the Virginia Film Festival some ten years ago. He told me this was one of the best films he was involved with. If you see it, you'll understand why he felt that way!
8. "Gimme Shelter"_ Jason Garnett showed this movie at the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke for a midnight screening last year. I alas missed out on that, but I did catch the film on DVD. Criterion did an excellent job on this one, per usual. I had a chance to see Albert Maysles, the co-director of this film, at the 2005 Full Frame Film Festival.
9."Zabriskie Point"_ This film by Michelangelo Antonioni is hardly his best, but it is very interesting! One can find the soundtrack with a score by Pink Floyd in virtually every record/music store in the country.
10. "Hayatim Sana Feda_I Love You, Feda" (loose translation). Turkish matinee idol Cuneyt Arkin, of "The Turkish Star Wars" fame," made a half-dozen bad films in 1970 alone. I saw this melodrama, also with Turkish cinema queen Turkan Soray, for free on the Internet. It is among the most amusing Turkish films I've ever seen, and there are many too choose from! It is an 'ode' to Douglas Sirk and those Rock Hudson/Doris Day movies where Tony Randall was always the third wheel. Believe it or not, I used this as one of the dozen or so Turkish films that I analyzed in my college thesis on Turkish cinema!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The band Chicago in Roanoke 2nite. Ooooh! Exciting!

I don't normally taut "The Roanoke Times" unless it pertains to a column by my good friend Tom Angleberger or a well-written crime story by my fellow NoShamer Mike Allen. It is not so much that I am a bitter ex-journalist (however true that might be), but rather because much like the "The (Greesnboro) News-Record" or the infamous Media General (an awful company I used to work for) paper "The Richmond Times-Disptach," once a proponent of segregation, the Roanoke paper has become too corporate for words.
But, I was very amused by today's column by Ralph Berrier Jr., who once worked at "The Radford News-Journal" (as did I). Berrier was 'promoting' tonight's concert performance at the Jefferson Center in downtown Roanoke by the pop-rock band Chicago.
I loved Berrier's quips about how former lead singer Peter Cetera left the band in the 1980s following a string of ballad hits because 'he became full of himself.' Berrier also rightly stated that during the 1990s, my beloved Chicago Cubs actually experienced more success than these dorks.
And, Berrier said that the band's latest record "Chicago XXX" is supposedly available on the net, but 'that rumor has not been confirmed.'
I personally think one of those sappy Cetera-voiced ballads "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" should be used as a method of torture for both terrorist suspects and Lewis Libby ("What did you tell Tim Russert? Spit it out!).
Amazingly enough, the concert by this has-been (make that HAS-BEEN) band actually costs more tonight (tickets range from 42 to 69 bucks before handling fees- what???!!!!) than it would have in 1984 when those ballads were being played on Roanoke top 40 station K-92 every 24 minutes. I wish I could profess that only my high school friend Brian Woodward of Richmond, Va., who later worked at K-92, was the only person who liked those songs but alas I was seduced by them as well. And, today, they make me scream as if I am withdrawing from Lexapro!

To check out Berrirer's column, go to:

Excellent "This American Life" Episode on Anti-Arabism

One of the best things to come out of WBEZ, Chicago's NPR station, is the documentary series "This Ameircan Life," which had made celebrities out of David Sedaris and Sarah Vowell. The host Ira Glass is a bit of a lesser-known commodity, but that might all chance when the show introduces a new television edition which premieres on Showtimes on March 22.
I found an excellent show, which originally aired on Dec. 15, 2006. The name of the show is 'Shouting Across the Great Divide.' It focuses on a subject dear to my heart, the growing tensions between the Muslim world and the West. French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, a (yikes!) Maoist, once dubbed the Cold War to be a conflict between "Karl Marx and Coca Cola." It seems something similar is happening now, and indeed many people on both sides have been effected by that. And, those of us who really do have two fig trees in both gardens are all the more caught up in this 'Ayatollah vs. Dick Cheney' fill-in-blank mess.
The episode looked at a Muslim couple with young children living in post-Sept. 11th America as well as a New York ad executive who was commisioned to sell America in the Arab World. He had about as much success as I would if I put together a Yousef Chahine (Egypt's best-known film director) festival at the North Theatre in Danville, Va.
The piece about the couple was extremely moving. In 33 minutes, the documentary segment illustrates just why many Muslims living in America are opting to go back home_ even if home is the West Bank (without the help of racist, anti-Islamic Cong. Virgil Goode of Virginia).
The piece tells the story of Serry, an American Muslim, and her Palestinian husband. Serry convinced her husband to come to America, before Sept. 11th. She informed him that 'our children will never encounter prejudice or hatred' here.
Sadly, the children got just that when their teacher told them they would burn in hell because they did not worship Jesus Christ. Other children also began taunting them, and calling them terrorists. As a result, the couple eventually split up when Serry's husband decided to go back to Palestine though they did recently settle a lawsuit with the school system.
I must profess I almost cried when I heard this piece. It was a sad reminder of my childhood when I came to the realization (after living in Poland, Turkey and Salem, Va-my hometown between 1975-79) that children everywhere were basically awful. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why Ifound Todd Solodnz's dark, independent film "Welcome to the Dollhouse" so endearing. I do think there might be good children, like my cousin Mike Dawkins' infant son but they are probably greatly outnumbered.
 And, that is also why I could identify identify with this piece at every level. Kudos to Glass. I hope his tv-show is as much of a success as the radio version of "This American Life" has proven to be. Perhaps, he can convince Condi Rice to listen to the podcast.

Related Links:

Monday, March 5, 2007

Zippy the Pinhead Challenges Nancy Pelosi.........

The other night when I was sepnding an unholy amount of time surfing the net, I came across some recent editions of my favorite comic strip, "Zippy the Pinhead" by Bill Griffith. The underground comic strip has a huge cult following, and was mentioned on a "Seinfeld" episode. It runs in "The Washington Post," "The Baltimore Sun" and "The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette" among other papers, though you will not see it in papers for smaller markets, like Roanoke or Greensboro. I have also seen it some alt weeklies.

On Jan. 6, Griffith took on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca) in a comis strip called "Politics As Usual." The irony is that Griffith usually takes on Republican targets (as I am know to do myself). But, I just loved the dialogue from this particular strip.

It takes place on a subway. And, Zippy is looking out the window as he talks to Griffey (the cartoonist's alter ego). Here is the dialogue:

Zippy: "The New Congress is a lot like a new Adam Sandler movie."

Griffey: "How So?"

Zippy: "Both create these really high expectations."

Griffey: "For an Adam Sandler movie?"

Zippy: "Yes. Adam Sandler is th' Jerry Lewis of our time........a true auteur!"

Griffey: "Don't Hold Your Breath."

Zippy: "Will Nancy Pelosi listen to Adam Sanlder's plan for withdrawal from Iraq? Or, are we all doomed?"

Griffey: "You're wrong. Donal Rumsfeld is th' new Jerry Lewis."

If my sister, who makes about as much money as Bill Gates and Summer Redstone combined, happens to be visiting my blog, she would be happy to know that Griffith is selling this and other Zippy strips for a slight stipen. Black and White strips are $56, and color prints are a 'mere' $175. All strips are autographed.

Wendy Wasserstein play available for streaming....

Last year was a particularly devastating one for theatre fans as both Wendy Wasserstein and August Wilson passed away. Arena Stage in Washington DC is currently performing Wilson's play "Gem of the Ocean" and they will produce Wasserstein's "The Heidi Chronicles" within the next few weeks. One of my alma maters, Hollins University in Roanoke, has also presented a symposium on on Wassersteing and the NC School of the Arts in Winston-Salem also acknowledged Wasserstein with their production of "Heidi," which is her most famous play. "An American Daughter" is perhaps a lesser-known work, but it continues her tradition of quirky characters and pop culture references. The play is being presented by LA Theatre Works in their radio play series this week. Alas, I had great difficulty streaming the play on Saturday night, which is very unusual! This production stars Mary McDonnell, Gregory Itcin and Kevin McCarthy. The play is a spin on the pitfalls of political appointees. Dr. Lyssa Hughes is a respected health care consultant who is a perfect candidate for Surgeon General until she pulls a Sen. Joe Biden (D-De) and inserts the proverbial foot in her mouth. The play, appropriately enough, takes place in Washington D.C.

Useful links:

http://www.latw. org

http://www.scpr. org/programs/latw (the actual site for the play)

Sunday, March 4, 2007

My Friend Greg Wood in a Charlottesville Play

I am pleased to announce that my friend Greg Wood will be acting in a play called "The Good Times are Killing Me" at LiveArts Theatre in Charlottesville, Va. The play starts March 22. The play will be the first one that Greg has acted in with LiveArts, but he has been in several stage productions in the Charlottesville area, including a performance as Mortimer Brewster in "Arsenic and Old Lace"  (a part that Cary Grant played in the movie version) in Fork Union, Va.


Saturday, March 3, 2007

Zodiac Killer Movie is Worth Seeing

I had a chance to see "Zodiac" at the Grandin today. It is playing in movie theatres everywhere, and is fully expected to be this weekend's box-office champ. It is the latest film from David Fincher, a rare Hollywood director with a loyal cult following. Fincher is best known for directing "Se7en" and "Fight Club." "Zodiac" has many solid elements, including screenplay, sharp edits, brilliant set design, solid cinematography and most importantly_ great acting. I especially like Chloe Sevingy as an aloof housewife who is despondent over her cartoonist husband's obsession with the Zodiac Killer case. And, Robert Downey Jr. was sensational as a chain-smoking newspaper reporter who broke all conventional rules. There are some things which trouble me about the film, but I think the fact that's its based on a true story and the fact that the killer was never caught (though the film hints at the most likely suspect) causes some of these qualms. The movie is not as grissly as some may fear, though there are some chilling scenes. I think this could be Fincher's best film, though I liked "Panic Room," which I saw at the tiny Dalke's Cinema in Woodstock, Va., a tad bit more. Even those who might shy away because of the subject matter will like this one!

The Grandin Theatre to Screen "Phantom/Opera"

I must say as I recover from the passing of Ari, the beloved family cat_ a feline which even made the vet who had to put him to sleep cry, it is indeed good to go back to my favorite past time, which is- of course- tripping out on heroin (just kidding!). No_ I am refering to film indulgence/obsession. I have been a film fanatic pretty much since I saw a Charlie Brown movie at some theatre in Roanoke (perhaps the closed Terrace Theatre) when I was 3-years-old in 1973. In hind sight, my mother probably wished she had taken me to the circus that day instead. Roanoke may not be as hip as Austin, Tx., but Jason Garnett, the mgr. of the Grandin Theatre, has managed to bring some amazing things to the Star City. On Sunday, March 11, the Grandin will screen the classic 1925 silent horror film "Phantom of the Opera," which thankfully has absolutely nothing to do with Andrew Lloyd Weber (though the musical was alas inspired by this film). Adapted from a novel by Gaston Leroux, Lon Chaney Sr. stars as a mysterious figure who haunts the Paris Opera like a ghost. He is_ of course_ taken in by a gorgeous babe ala Norman Bates. And, all sorts of mischief ensues. I saw the film, which was also screened on Halloween night at the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro, NC, this past Halloween, at the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville some years ago. I don't recall the presence of a live organ though, but indeed a live organ will be accompaying this screening at the Grandin. Admission is $10, and there will be seance afterward.............:)
Other interesting films that will be special-screened at the Grandin, include "Fight Club," which will be shown at midnight on March 17, which will be my sister Lale Lovell's 33rd birthday. I mention that because Lale's favorite movie, "The Princess Bride," will be screened at midnight on April 28 at the Grandin. But somehow I can't see her flying all the way from Colorado for the occasion_ that's like something I would do!

I turn 37 tomorrow. It has also been 24 years since my dad died......

With the death of Ari, I am headed for what appears to be a surreal, sad birthday weekend. But, amazingly enough, I have been here before! My birthday is March 4, 1970. I was born in Roanoke Memorial Hospital in Roanoke, Va. My sister Lale, now Lale Lovell, was born in the same hospital almost exactly four years later on March 17, 1974. My childhood birthdays were very happy ones. I remember my Aunt Mulhime (who died in 2003) coming from Istanbul and my uncle Ilhan (who died in 2000) both coming to our apartment in the little town of Zonguldak Eregli in the Western Black Sea part of Anatolia for my 8th borthday in 1978. (We lived in Turkey for two years from 1977-79, so my father could work at a Turkish plant for his employer, G.E. I was not born there as some people assume) Sadly, all of that changed five years later, when my dad died of a massive heart attack at our Diamond Road home on March 4, 1983, my 13th birhtday. It is an experience which remains unsettling to this very day. In a strange twist of irony, my stepfather Ralph Wright, who I did not get along with until the last few years of his life, died on my 26th birthday from complications due to a heart attack. I was attending Radford University at the time, and I was at a total loss of how to handle the situation and the coincidence. There have been some good things that have happened on my birthday over the years. I remember taking a road tip on March 4, 1994_ my 24th birthday, and I ended up in this desolate town called War, Wv. For some reason, it was a trip which resonated with me for many years. I even wrote a popular newspaper column about it. And, I actually started my job at a weekly newspaper in Woodstock, Va. on my 29th birthday (well, it was a happy day at the time!) I suppose there is some sort of surreal connection between birth and death, like the connection that Robert Frost made between fire and ice. But, I will be damned if I can understand it. I suppose it is reasons like this that make fundamentalists turn to religion, and I turn to David Lynch movies.

Remembering Ari, the Beloved Family Cat (1987-2007)

Anyone who has visited this blog knows (or should know) that I am hardly the sentimental type. The exception is, of course, when the ole grim reaper raps on my door. Ari, who was also called Buck, came into my life at a very difficult time in 1989. For some reason my late stepbrother Steve, who died a premature death in 1993 (he was younger than I am now), decided to leave his two cats at our farm in the rural hamlet of Buchanan, Va. We still have no idea why he did something so foolish. Nevertheless, my mom was able to recover one of those cats. We initially named him Araman. My late father, Mehmet Gokbudak, had a cat by that name when he was a child in Istanbul. In Turkey, it was rare for families to have cats in their homes_ at least, that was the case in the 1930s. My father named our family cat on Diamond Road in Salem after Araman. Like the other Aramans, Ari was a black and white cat. We shortened his name to Ari. But, my late stepfather Ralph Wright liked to call him Buck. So, he had two names. He lived a long, full life. He would be about 90 years old in human years. Still, the death of a pet is not an easy thing to deal with. I fully realize this is not something that a starving kid in Bangladesh would be concerned about, but whenever we lose something dear to us it is inevitably difficult to adjust. My favorite memory of Ari is when he brought a live rabbitt into the house when he was still very young. The rabbitt stayed in the house for several days_ much to our horror. He ultimately finished him off. Quentin Tarantino would be proud. We will miss you, Ari. Happy Trails.............