Thursday, May 31, 2007

Floyd Country Store to 'Re-open'

The Floyd Country Store in the hamlet of Floyd, Va., some 35 miles away from Roanoke, will be hosting a grand 're-opening' gala on the weekend of June 22-23. The store, which is known nationally for its Friday Night Jamboree, is not really closing, but rather it will be open for longer hours to make it more like a 'real store.' Store owner Woody Crenshaw announced this decision at a recent concert at the establishment.

The June 22 jamboree will feature Olen Gardner and Friends as well as bluegrass musician Wayne Henderson from Grayson County (Va.) as well as The Looping Bros.

Henderson has said that bluegrass legend Doc Watson sometimes stops by his shop in Rugby, Va., to play some tunes.

There will also be a June 23 concert at the store that weekend. The concert will feature Jim Costa, Tina Liza Jones and Rounder Recording artists King Wilkie, a bluegrass band from Charlottesville.

There are also many interesting concerts and events at the neighboring venue, the Sun Music Hall. Like the Country Store events, many of the following performances were arranged by local concert promoter Dylan Locke, who was formerly with the rock band Yams from Outer Space.

This includes the following:

Sat., June 2_ Grace Potter and the Nocturnals with Kat Mill at 8 p.m. The band is described  as a blues-rock quartet.

Sat., June 9_Contra Dance with The Avant Gardeners and Jim Roeder

***Sun. June 24 New Riders of the Purple Sage

Fri, Aug. 10 Floyd County Roots Revue

Sat., Aug. 11 Contra Dance with Toss the Possum

Fri, Aug. 24 Scott Miller and The Commonwealth


For more info on these events, here are some useful links:


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Who is Running, Who is NOT Running...?.....?!

I just heard on NPR that former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tn) is definitely running for president. I suppose since many people recognize him from "Law and Order," he might possibly be yet another arch conservative actor/politician who takes the White House. At least, one can credit Thompson for being a better actor than Reagan. He should have recieved an Oscar nomination for his role in "Days of Thunder!"

But, I am sure many of you are asking the proverbial question......."Who is not running?" To my knowledge, current Reidsville, NC Mayor James Festerman is apparently not in the race, nor is my( ironic!) friend and vocal pro-death penalty supporter  Virginia state delegate Todd Gilbert, who is (of course!!) a Republican.

However, many other people are indeed in this race, and some of them stand as much chance of winning a party nomination as the likes of Festerman and Gilbert!

So, here is my list of candidates of who is running, with a catch. I have thrown in two fake candidates from each party. You can guess who each fake candidate is, which will give me a chance to see if anyone is actually reading these entries. Of course, if I cared, I would have gone back to collecting stamps........

Here are the current lists for both parties:


Sen. Joe Biden (D-Delaware)

Sen. H.R. Clinton (D-NY)

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.)

former Sen. John Edwards (NC)

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wi)

Mike Gravel (Mass. by way of Alaska)

Cong. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio by way of the planet Neptune)

Gov. Bill Richardson (D-New Mexico)*

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)


Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS)

former Gov. Jim Gilmore (Virginia.......though I wish another state could claim him)

Rudy Guiliani (NY)**

former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee

Cong. Duncan Hunter (R-Ca)

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

former NY governor George Pataki

Cong. Ron Paul (R-Tx)***

former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney****

Cong. Mike Simpson (R-Id)

Cong. Tom Tancredo (R-Co)

Fred Thompson

Tommy Thompson (former Gov. of Wi)

*-my personal choice for the Dem nomination, but I will probably vote for Hillary

**- the other actor in the race (hey, he was in "Anger Management")

***- my personal choice for the GOP nomination, which is why I'm not a Republican

****- also known as the Republican Michael Dukakis

for more info:


Salt Lake City Discovery...Joe Bankhead

Have you ever noticed that you meet some of the most interesting folks you've ever met while you are on the road? Though I don't travel as much as my mother Lila Sullivan, who is now reportedly in Hannibal, Mo., I do periodically get out of the two states I live between.
My last venture was to Salt Lake City, Ut. One of my favorite movie theatres after the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va., is the Tower Theater in the 9th and 9th section of SLC. And, before going to see a midnight screening of "Swiss Family Robinson" there, I went over to The Coffee Garden.
It was there that I came across Joe Bankhead who travels between Utah, New Mexico and Texas. Bankhead is an artist, philosopher and semi-professional chess player. I once played chess fairly regularly until a 9-year-old girl who proved to be the Virginia state championship in her age group beat me as I was playing chess at a local club in Roanoke. I played a game of chess with Joe as well. It was the same result (I lost), but it was much less humiliating than losing to the girl.
Thanks to the internet, I have actually been able to keep in touch with Joe. I read his semi-monthly newsletter as I was traveling back from Utah. And, now as it turns out, he has his own blog.
So, I am using my blog to promote his blog with the full realization that if he can post youtube videos I may lose one of the two or three people who come to my blog regularly......I am of course one of those people too!
In his blog, Joe describes himself in the following way:
"I have been studying and learning everything I could find about the Total Human Being for many more years than I want to admit........."
For Joe's blog, you can go to:

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cong. Brad Miller (D-NC) Talks About Darfur Visit

I've reached one of those: "Wow, I had so many things to write about, but what do I write about?" moments. The number of hits on my blog is in decline, which means I better learn how to add youtube videos- especially the one I saw of a crazy man in Amsterdam who is seen juggling running chainsaws!

But, there are a number of important matters to discuss. Today, el presidente announced new measures to combat the genocide in the Darfur region of The Sudan. I was actually delighted to hear Bush take action, but I am concerned that it may be (pardon the pun) too little too late. Nevertheless, we can all push partisan differences aside and wish for the best (if only we could with Iraq).

This brings me to today's subject. Cong. Brad Miller (D-NC), who represents Greensboro and outlying areas, spoke at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro on Apr. 10 about his visit to Darfur. While this is dated material, the events that are occuring certainly are not.

I came across an article in the Apr. 18th edition of the Greensboro publication "Yes Weekly!" by Jordan Green, a reporter I greatly admire, about Miller's talk. To be fair, even though I am a partisan Democrat (unless an idiot like Jerry Springer is our candidate), there have also been visits to Darfur by Republicans like Cong. Bob Goodlatte and Cong. Frank Wolf, both of Virginia. I am not sure if Wolf took part in this trip, but I believe from reading a separate article in "The Roanoke Times" that Goodlatte did. I actually have tremendous respect for Cong. Wolf because of his global human rights iniatives. We met many times and even became friends (!) when I was a reporter in Woodstock, Va.

In Green's article, Miller, who went to The Sudan with a delegation lead by Cong. Steny Hoyer (D-Md), said he had reservations about meeting President Omar al-Bashir during the first week of April.

Miller said the Sudanese president snubbed the group, and they were instead met by a low-level government rep. He added that everyone in the delegation had reservations about meeting someone they regarded as a monster to begin with.

Miller told "Yes Weekly!" that he was also frustrated with Bashir's efforts to make humanitarian efforts in Darfur even more difficult. The NC Congressman added that what is going on in Darfur now is probably more tribal violence as opposed to an outright genocide, which it was in 2002 and 2003. An estimated 400,000 people have died in Darfur, and there are 2.5 million refugees from the violence.

Miller talked with an activist group at UNCG called Students Taking Action Now: Darfur. Student Katie Mariategui said she was disappointed by Miller's bleak assesment and that they would like to see an internationally enforced no-fly zone over Darfur against the Sudanese Air Force, which the group sees as an insitigator in the violent situation.

Miller added that he was frustrated with what the situation which he feels has been made worse by the fact that the United Nations Security Council has been unwilling to take action because member nation China is an economic partner with the Khartoum regime.

According to "Yes Weekly!," Miller said the following as he expressed his frustration:

"What is our point of leverage? I really don't want to send our military in. We did make a promise that we would never let genocide happen again, which has broken repeatedly in the past sixty years.........I want to stop it. What can we do?"

Miller did however praise the UNCG students for their political activism regarding the humanitarian crisis. He ruled out American military intervention, but he did say that he would be involved with the matter legislatively.

Like Rwanda before and Sierra Leonne presently, this seems to be yet another ugly situation in Africa which is going to be very hard for western countries to resolve.  

Useful links:

If anyone knows of any good links regarding Darfur, please point them out to me here below.


Sunday, May 27, 2007

(Red) Elvis and Bruce

Due to the fact that I've been known to jinx myself and miss events that I blog about, I've decided to start with a concert tour that I stand to miss out on as I have to go visit my disant relative Kirgi Gokbudak in Konya Eregli, Turkey (an in-joke I'll try to let the rest of you in on) in mid-Jue.
But because of my visit to my fourth cousin's village dwelling, I am not likely to catch the Russian swing band Red Elvises as they invade NC on their tour of America. The Red Elvises have apparently been around since 1995, and I had first heard heard of them from songs they had in a strange movie called "Sanurai Six String," but I had completely forgotten about them. I saw on their CDs at a store in Roanoke, and then I saw in "Indy Weekly" that they were playing in Raleigh.
As it turns out, they are also playing in Charlotte (June 12, Visualite Theatre), and Winston-Salem (Ribfest, June 15) in addition to the Raleigh show on June 14 at Pour Music Hall. I settled for their 1999 CD "Better Than Sex," which was only $6 (it was used!) at that Roanoke record store. The Red Elvises are not based in Moscow, but rather Santa Monica, Ca.
Much closer to home, my friend Bruce Piephoff, folk singer and poet from Greensboro, will be performing in Andrews, NC, which is only five miles closer to the Lincoln Memorial from my home (which is also in NC)!
Bruce will be performing at the Andrews Street Festival there on June_ sure sounds like a great show. Fortunately for my gas budget, he will also be singing his songs like "I Remember Asheville" and "20 Miles to Baghdad" at the Grove Winery in Gibsonville, NC, on June 8 from 6-9 p.m. That date will be one busy day for music lovers in the Triad for The Charlie Poole bluegrass music fest will be going on in nearby Eden, NC, that same day!
Bruce travels to Durham for the Eno River Festival on July 8 (I imagine that same day former NC Sen. John Edwards who lives in nearby Chapel Hill might be in Durham, NH, trying to collect votes... and, I don't blame him for that!, but he'll miss Bruce) and Mr. Piephoff has a big show at Triad Stage, normally a theatre venue, on July 10. Perhaps, Bruce will sing "If I Were a Rich Man" from "Fiddler on the Roof" for that show!
For those of you from my home state of Virginia who can't afford to visit me much less see the Red Elvises or Bruce Piephoff  in NC due to the fact that a trip to your neighborhood Sheetz station now costs more than a Rolling Stones concert ticket, there is an interesting show at Sun Music Hall in Floyd, Va., on June 24 as the New Riders of the Purple Storm... a band from the '60s (wow!) will be performing up in that southwest Virginia hamlet.
Lastly, Kirgi Gokbudak is apparently some musician, dancer from Konya Eregli, Turkey. I actually don't know him, but he has to be related to me. I found him by accident on youtube. He seems to be a talented artist in his own right but with things being the way they are, he probably couldn't get a visa to play anywhere around here. I would link you to the youtube video, but I don't have those meager technological capabilities on this blog, and I think I'd have at least 16 more hits if I did. I asked my friend Blake Lipscomb for help on that matter, but we were too busy talking about movies today. He maintains that "Saw 3" is better than the first one. I beg to differ.........that is another in-joke, but I think everybody'll probably get that one!

Useful links:

And, Kirgi Gokbudak's video is at just type in the name Gokbudak in the search engine........he's the only 'one of us' that comes up.

There is probably info on "Saw 3" on the Internet Movie Database ( any of you actually see it, let me know how it is (not that I really would care!)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Recognizing "The Turkish Star Wars"

Since it is the 30th anniversary of the 1977 release of George Lucas' "Star Wars," I thought I would add an entry regarding the 1982 film "Dunyayi Kurtaran Adami" aka "The Man Who Saved the World," which is known all over the world as "The Turkish Star Wars." It stars Turkey's former box office icon Cuneyt Arkin (see earlier entry from April '07).
There have been two developments with the film recently. First, the whole entire film, not just youtube clips, are available for free on the internet! I actually started to watch it, but I've seen it three time and I am going to a concert in Floyd, Va. And, last year, the film had a sequel "Son of the Man Who Saved the World," which is reportedly even worse than the original. It was directed by another former Turkish box office icon Kartal Tibet (he played Tarkan in a series of cult film in the '70s). On the IMDB, the film has a 1.6 rating, which makes it the third lowest rated film in the entire online film!
Phil Hall of recently wrote the following about the original "Turkish Star Wars" (pardon the pun):
"There's no Luke Skywalker here, but instead we have two middle-age space jockeys who are leading the way. Unfortunately, there was no budget for a spaceship here........"
In May of 2005, I helped screened the film along with my friend Jason Garnett, manager of the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke. I was interviewed by another friend of mine tom Angleberger of "The Roanoke Times."
Here is one passage from that article based on my comments:
" It (The Turkish Star Wars) is not, however, a meaningless rip-off. The movie was made soon after the 1980 coup in Turkey and does have political messages about the gangs, corruption and chaos that followed."
Some how, I expect my friend Bilge Ebiri, a respected film ciritic and cinema blogger, may not completely agree with my assesment. But, we have both publicly professed to having a love-hate sentiment with regards to Arkin's films and other Turkish films from the 1970s, which remains the most unique and productive period in Turkish cinema history. Incidentally, there is also a "Turkish Star Trek!"

Useful links:

Friday, May 25, 2007

Michael Moore Has to "Hold it"

I was going to take a day off from the blog as it is not getting as many hits as I would like this week (now, I know how PBS stations feel!). But, I read this interesting bit on a "Washington Post" entertainment blog.

William Booth, of "The Post," documented the following encounter between Michael Moore, the most familiar documentarian in America, and a reporter from a Chicago media outlet at the Cannes Film Festival. Pay attention to what his publicist says here!

Moore: "Okay, great. I just have to go the bathroom.'
Publicist: "Just do this interview first?"
Moore: : "What?"
Publicist: "Can it wait?"
Moore: "Can you believe what she just said?"

(editted for content...meaning I am leaving a few things here which don't really add to the exchange)

The Chicago reporter: "Seriously, I can wait. No problem. I just need ten minutes. Go. Really. Please."

Amazingly enough, Moore did the interview right then and there anyway! This prompted Booth to say that Moore should be outfitted with a NASA uniform.

Anyway, I am sure the few political conservatives who look at this blog were expecting this to be political. In all honesty, I am too tired for that %$&*@ today! But, I will provide a link to Moore's web site with info about his latest film "Sicko," which is being released here in the states four weeks from today.

In other documentary news, I highly recommend Alan Berlier's hilarious film "Wide Awake," now playing on HBO. It is about a subject dear to my heart: insomnia (note: this blog entry was posted circa 3:45 p.m. not 3:45 a.m.........hallejuah!)


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Quotes of the Day from Cartoonist Bill Griffith

As I was reading the latest collection of "Zippy the Pinhead" comic strips by Bill Griffith entitled "Connect the Polka Dots," I came across this hilarious one which came out exactly one year ago today. It contains the following quote:

"I give up. The World is run by 15-year-old boys and Republicans.......or is that an oxymoron?."

Another Zippy strip from Feb. 16, 2006, takes place at Roy's Grill in Rossville, Ga., which (I looked this up on mapquest) is just across the border from Chatanooga, Tn.

It has two great quotes. The first of which is:

"I've been thinking it might be fun to relocate to a red state and put up a 'Support Our Troops' sign and an American flag.

----Me, too....being a knee-jerk liberal is becoming tiresome."

A late quote from the same strip adds:

"Maybe we should move to Rossville, Georgia, buy a tract home and get jobs at Staples!!"

The link for "Zippy the Pinhead," which has been mentioned more than any other comic strip in this blog, is:

Alas, there is no internet link for Roy's Grill in Rossville, Ga., but I'm sure they have better burgers than Hardee's.



Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Turkish Police Say Bombing was Act of PKK Terrorism

There was a bombing in the Ulus (pronounced Ulush) district of Ankara, near the city's main museum devouted to Anatolian artifacts. Six people were killed, including a Pakistani national, outside a shopping mall. Police identified the suicide bomber as Guvun Akkus, 28, from the eastern city of Sivas. The governor of the Ankara district said the man had links with the terrorist group The Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), and he had a history of disruptive behavior. The city of Ankara, the Turkish capital, was hosting an international conference. A plastic explosive used by PKK terrorists in the past caused the blast. It is the first major terrorist incident in Ankara, though Istanbul has been struck with several deadly attacks. There are international concerns that this and other possible terrorist acts in the future could propel Turkey to invade northern Iraq, where many PKK agents take refuge. At the present time, U.S. forces consider Kurds in Iraq to be among their few political allies in a war that has caused more than 3,000 military casualties and is projected to cost U.S. tax payers over a trillion dollars in the future. Turkey is also experiencing its fair share of political turmoil out of concerns that the Islamic-leaning AK Party will take over and Abdullah Gul, the current foreign minister, will become president. His wife wears a head scarf. Over 1.5 million protesters took the streets in Izmir out of this concern.




Tuesday, May 22, 2007

New DVD of W.C. Fields Films- the 200th entry!

Today would have been the 100th birthday of Laurence Olivier, but the focus of today's entry is another cinematic genius, W.C. Fields (1880-1946). According to my one of my favorite film writers Chuck Stephens of "Film Comment," Universal is releasing a second volume of Fields' films on dvd, including "The Man on the Flying Trapeze" (1935) and "Never Give a Sucker an Even Break" (1941). Alas, I haven't seen that many Fields films, but I definitely love "The Bank Dick" (1940) about a nitwit who becomes a bank guard.

Fields had something in common with my good friend Tom Angleberger of Christiansburg, Va. Like the late comedian, Angleberger, a children's book author (under the name Sam Riddleberger), is also a juggler! However, Fields' very first film, the short "Pool Sharks" (1915) , dealt with Fields' other major off-screen talent which was playing pool.

Stephens said that "Trapeze" is the 'last bourbon-breathed gasp of Prohibition cinema and an enduring salute to insobriety.

Various online biographies of Fields state that the entertainer was born in Philadelphia and in fact wanted his tomb stone to say: "I'd rather be in Philadelphia," which was meant to be a joke, but he did not get his wish. He is buried at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, Ca.

At 11, Fields ran away from home and his first job was delivering ice.

He was first hired as an entertainer in Norristown, Pa. He later moved to clubs in Atlantic City, then vaudeville, and then Hollywood........

Fields was almost cast in "The Wizard of Oz," and he was the inspiration for the lawyer  Larsen E. Pettifogger in the comic strip "The Wizard of Id." But, perhaps the most shocking trivial item about Fields is that he 'secretly admired children.'

There is a W.C. Fields Fan Club. They recently held a gala in Beverly Hills in his honor. Leonard Maltin, who was mentioned in my last entry on "The Breakfast Club" was the host of the May 18 event.

According to Stephens, when one views "Sucker," they will see Fields diving out of an airplane and landing in firewater. Ouch!

For more info on the W.C. Fields Fan Club, go to the link:

Film Comment

I want to thank everyone for passing through my blog. Among the highlights of my blog was an entry announcing that my sister Lale and her husband Matt Lovell of Colorado were adopting a Guatemalan was a joke! Perhaps, Fields would've been proud.

The Breakfast Club Generation Gap

It is 3:20 a.m. It is a hot as hell night here in Mayberry, NC. It would be a great time to watch a movie like "The Breakfast Club" on cable, which brings me to this entry.

The 1985 teeange angst melodrama, directed by John Hughes, is now the subject of an essay collection entitled "Don't You Forget About Me: Contemporary Writers on the Films of John Hughes." The book is edited by Jaime Clarke, and was published by Simon Spotlight. It retails for $14.

I read about this book in the latest issue of "Film Comment." Coincidentally, there is an 80's cover band called The Breakfast Club which will perform in Raleigh and Greensboro next weekend. For those of you in my hometown of Roanoke, Va., this means road trip, right? Well, I suppose the answer to that is, 'maybe not.'

The book features the five stars of the film, Molly Ringwald, Emilion Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Alley Sheedy ...........and (I have to look his name up!) oh, Judd Nelson, standing beside Hughes. Fyi, Robert Downey Jr. wasn't in this one. And, neither was Jon Cryer. Or, Rob Lowe.

The film deals with five students who get sent to detention for various reasons. Each of them talks about themselves and their problems. Leonard Maltin calls the film 'self-indulgent,' but, hey, he wasn't a teenager in the 80's like we were.

The title song "Don't You Forget About Me" by Simple Minds remains to be one of the most endearing pop songs of the era though I'm not sure it quite has the impact it did when I was 15 (in '85) when I could relate to the song all too well. I recall stunning my friend Brian Woodward, who now resides in Richmond, Va., when I told him how strongly I felt about the song. Brian, who went by Woody, wasn't really into The Simple Minds, U2, Rush, The Talking Heads or any of the good bands. I think he prefered the likes of Madonna and Wham. He's now in the radio business!

Laura Kern, of "Film Comment," said Clarke's book discusses how Hughes' films had a profound effect on those of us who grew up then. Some of the essays deal with the brutalities of teenage love (and those were the ones who were lucky to get dates!), and the high school class welfare system. One essay has Moon Unit Zappa professing her lust for Jake Ryan's character in "Sixteen Candles." The book also features a forward by Sheedy, which is certainly worth $14 in itself......Kern also has this quote from Stanely Kubrick who actually said that the colloborations between Hall and Hughes were 'the best since Jimmy Stewart and Frank Capra!'

I actually made the following comment about "The Breakfast Club" on the IMDB on Nov. 14, 2004, after reading a Kevin Smith aritcle about why he considered Hughes to be an influence while he was growing up:

"Assuredly, if I became a film director, I would want to cite Akira Kurosawa as a mian influence as opposed to John Hughes, but like Kevin Smith, I would have to give credit for the impact Hughes' films had on my adolescence."

I later went on to compare the film to "Rashomon," Kurosawa's most famous film (ok, I forgot about "The Seven Samurai," it''s very, very late!). I think I was simply in an awkward state of mind since I wrote all that jibberish less than two weeks after el presidente's 'dubious' reelection.

Other Hughes' films include "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "National Lampoon's Vacation," "Pretty in Pink" and the aforementioned "Sixteen Candles." But, I consider "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" with Steve Martin to be his very best film. Hughes has strangely disappeared. We don't know why.

About the band The Breakfast Club, they are based in Atlanta and they strictly cover '80s music. They will perform at the Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh on June 1, and will return there later this summer. They will be at the Club House in Greensboro on June 2. The Brekafast Club was formed by Jerry Finley, the band's drummer. Finley had, according to the band's web site, performed with 80's 'legends' The Hooters and The Romantics ("I hear the secrets that you keep.........when you're talking in your sleep.' It's enough to make me wish I could sleep right now! The band's lead singer is Steve Campbell. He is originally from Scotland, as were The Simple Minds!

Useful links for the band at least:



Monday, May 21, 2007

Dead Poets Societ, Entry #9, Constantine Cavafy

Today marks the ninth entry in a series of 12 poems from poets who are no longer with us, and in the case of Rumi (see earlier entry on Apr. 16), have not been with us for quite some time!

With that, I present the modern Greek poet Constantin P. Cavafy (1863-1933) who died on his 70th birthday. Cavafy was actually born in Alexandria, Egypt, which is where one can find the Cavafy Museum.

Cavafy worked as a civil servant and a journalist. According to Wikipedia, his poems examined patriotism, Christianity and homosexuality and he has often been called a skeptic and a neo-pagan. Cavafy also lived in Liverpool and Istanbul, the city of his heritage, in his youth, before returning to Alexandria.

Cavafy was said to be a recluse. His most famous works include "Waiting for the the Barbarians" (1904), "The City" (1910) and "In 200 B.C." (1931) and his poems are ones which can be 'lost in translation.' With that, I present an English translation of his poem "Walls" (1896):


Without consideration, without pity, without shame

they have built great and high walls around me.

And now I sit here and despair.

I think of nothing else:

this fate grows at my mind;

for I had many things to do outside.

Ah why did I not pay attention

when they built the walls.

But, I never heard any noise or sand of builders.

Imperceptibly they shut me from the outside world.


Useful links:



Thursday, May 17, 2007

Brilliant Mike Huckabee Satire

I must profess that I have gotten stuck here in my hometown of Salem, Va., while visiting my mother for Mother's Day. Yes, I know it is now Thursday. "There's no place like home, Toto." Actually, I have a two-week break from school and my cousin Mike had to back out of our trip to the NC Zoo (see earlier entry).
So, I have way too much of my time surfing the web and watching Youtube videos. You know you are perhaps spending way too time on a site when you start watching clips of Turkish pop singer diva Ajda Pekkan and 1996 gymnastics routines of former Canadian Olympian Yvonne Tousek (actually I know Yvonne, but I don't know Ajda and assuredly they don't know each other).  Both are very talented people though_ I mean how many of you can do back sommersaults or sing in Turkish?
But, this collosal waste of time, did lead me to a new discovery_ poltical cartoonist, animator and stand-up comedian Scott Bateman, whom perhaps the rest of you may have heard of.
Bateman has a brilliant satire of former or current Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R). He is one of two dozen or so people who is running for president. I love politics, but I can only name two-thirds of the field. The guy who is running the car wash here on Main Street in downtown Salem is not running for office, but he might be a better choice than Virginia's former Republican governor Jim Gilmore, who had a fairly low approval rating here during his last term.
In less than two minutes, Batmeman zings Huckabee using the same actual speech that the Arkansas governor made to announce his candidacy. Bateman uses subtitles to makefun  of Huckabee and his monotone voice, posting such great lines as: "Maybe, you should make a run for Applebee's instead" and "Screw you immigrant gay couples who want adoptions." Bateman also quips: "Born in a log outhouse," when Huckabee talks about his 'roots.'
Huckabee got more media notice than the likes of Gilmore when he made fun of former North Carolina senator John Edwards' $450 haircut during a Fox News-televised debate in Columbia, SC. I'm sure he also has plenty to say about a certain former Arkansas first lady as well.
It seems that his chances for catching up with the three Republican front-runners, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Rudy Guiliani are limited, but regardless I will probably vote for that former Arkansas first lady anyway! One has to give kudos to Cong. Ron Paul (R-Tx), who is also running for president, for being the only 'official' Republican candidate to speak out against our funny, dirty war in Iraq.

To see the video go to and put Huckabee, Mike or Bateman, Scott in the search engine (sorry, I am not the most techno-coordianted person, or else the video migh be posted here!)

For more info on Bateman and his various projects, log on to:

Ajda Pekkan

Yvonne Tousek (who is much older now than the pictures on the site):

Wednesday, May 16, 2007 for great adult-themed cartoons

Well, I only have a few precious minutes for today's entry. I stumbled upon the hilarious off-the-wall comic strip "Kaz Underworld." Here is the dialogue from one of the strips, whose artist is actually named Kaz, it is entitled "Roadkill"...It features the remains of some animal (I couldn't really tell which one):

"What was I before I was run over?"
"I don't remember"
"Did I have legs? Did I cry?"
"Last thing I remember is...........

............. California5MVP881"

Other titles include "Snuff in Jail," "Eat What You Kill," "Dirty Animals" and "Fatherless Children."

Kaz has a hate mail section on his web site. Apparently, this strip was actually in the daily newspaper "The Arizona Republic." From the sounds of the letters, it didn't go over too well. But, this blog is not about to endorse John McCain anytime soon.........

PS- I just found out that Kaz drew a character called Dr. Worm for a They Might Be Giants song of the same name.


Similar strip Maakies by Tony Millionaire (featuring his version of the sock monkey)
Maakies, a very sick but funny strip, was made into an Adult Swim cartoon, which are also available on

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jerry Falwell: Death of a Far-Right Icon

Condolences are coming in across the country as a result of the passing of the Rev. Jerry Falwell (1933-2007), an ultra-conservative, far right televangelist who created the Moral Majority and helped fundamentalist Christians gain political power to the point where one of their own, George W. Bush, could actually become president of the United States.
Even people whose views are on the other side of the Falwell agenda, like the Rev. Al Sharpton, Paul Begala and Virginia's Democratic Governor Tim Kaine have expressed sympathy for Falwell's death.
I would like to do the same,  and I suppose I will since it is the appropriate thing to do. But that is difficult for many reasons even though Falwell resided in Lynchburg, Va., and I grew up in the nearby town of Salem. There is no joy in anyone's death even if they once said: "AIDS is God's way of spanking us," or if they said that Islam was a religion which fostered and promoted terrorism. His remarks about Islam sparked protests which lead to the deaths of many people in India and other places. Falwell also initially blamed 'the sins of political liberals' for Sept. 11th, and he publicly accused Bill Clinton of murder without ever apologizing.  He said similar awful things about Jimmy Carter.
Falwell will also be remembered for his lawsuit against "Hustler" publisher Larry Flynt on defamation of character charges, which resulted in an eventual victory for his adversary. In one of his other more infamous moments, Falwell even accused a character from the PBS children's show "Teletubbies" of 'being gay.'
Falwell also founded Liberty University in Lynchburg, a team that goes by the nickname "Flames." Falwell also recruited a Turkish Christian-convert (who I refuse to name), now a minister/teacher at Liberty, to seemingly spread his message of hate and intolerance towards the Islamic faith. This man also wrote a book to cash in on the zealous fervor of post-9/11 anti-Arab/Muslim racism.  I gather that it made lots of loot. While I have my own socio-political differences with my father's religion, I am sickened by what Falwell said the anti-Islamic bigotry he promoted.
Falwell was also an advocate for capital punishment and the dubious war in Iraq. He also said that the 'end of the world' could very well occur within his lifetime. I, for one, am glad it didn't!:)
Perhaps, the Rev. Barry Lynn of American United for the Separation of Church and State has put it best today:
"Jerry Falwell politicized religion and failed to understand the genius of our Constitution, but there is no denying his impact on American political life. He will long be remembered as the face and voice of the Religious Right," said Lynn, who also expressed his condolences.
Cody Lowe, the religion reporter, of "The Roanoke Times," wrote a good story, which does not include any editorializing (that's what us bloggers are for!), about Falwell and his life. An interesting detail I did not know was that his father, who died when Falwell was 15, was a succesful businessman in Lynchburg who was also agnostic! Alas, his father was also an alcoholic, which perhaps hints at why he was so fervent about his faith. Lowe's story also said that Falwell considered 'Ted Kennedy to be a friend!"
Fred Echols, of Roanoke's NPR station WVTF, said that Falwell started a small congregation called the Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg in the mid-1950s. Today, it is one of the largest churches in Virginia.
My lone chance to see Falwell in person was in Charlottesville during one of the many Virginia Film Festivals I attended. He was, surprisingly enough, appearing alongside his frequent nemesis Flynt who was there for a screening of the film "The People vs. Larry Flynt." But, my schedule did not permit time for that event.

Perhaps, Falwell had another side. But, then again, perhaps he didn't.

Useful links:

Americans United for Separation of Church and State:

Roanoke Times:

Teletubbies (Can't Resist)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Izmir- Photos are Worth 1,000 words

The news that 1.5 million people took the streets of downtown Izmir, Turkey's third largest city, yesterday is making headlines around the world. People even came in from boats to the harbor, and several others flew or bused in from other cities, even Istanbul and Ankara. Zeki Fuat Gencpinar, a shopkeeper in Izmir, told the Turkish newspaper "Hurriyet"  that he quickly sold out of all Turkish flags in stock. Protestors waved Turkish flags to symbolize that Turkey must remain secular in accordiance with the republic's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
I was startled to see western journalists and intellectuals actually defend Muslim conservative P.M. Tayyip Recep Erdogan and foreign minister Abdullah Gul. While neither men are dangerous in the Teheran sense, they do not represent a progressive agenda for Turkey's future and could harpoon efforts for Turkish entry into the European Union. But, both Claire Berlinski in "The Washington Post" (sunday edition) and Dilip Hipo in the liberal online journal "TomDispatch," criticized efforts by the military and the civilian populous to stand up to these arch conservative figures in Ankara!
I will be the first to admit that Turkey is a very complicated country. And, in fact, it is a bit awkward for a political liberal like me to support nationalist secularists. But, unlike this country where nationalist conservatives and religious conservatives are united that is NOT the case in Turkey. Thus, I can guarantee that MANY people with my political views joined in the protests, which have also occured not only in Istanbul and Ankara, but also smaller cities like the Aegean port of Channakkale. "Huriyet" said that even former Greek PM Konstantins Michotakis has verbally said that he would like to see a secularist take the presidency as opposed to Gul, the most likely candidate to replace current outgoing president Ahmet Necdet Sezer.
One of the major issues is the fact that both Gul and Erdogan's wife wear headscarves, and in Turkey that is viewed as a political statement. As strange as that may seem, I fully understand this viewpoint all too well. Historically, it goes back to the 1920s when Ataturk said that women should no longer wear headscarves in public. It may seem like an imposition for Ankara to want women not to wear headscarves (the law actually prohibits women from wearing headscarves in govt. offices and universities), but assuredly if hard line Muslims have their way then women could be forced to wear headscarves and/or veils in Turkey. It is thus an issue.
A BBC comment site had viewpoints from all over the world. Musafa Cankart of Izmir said he and his wife participated in the protests. He added that his wife was concerned about what a president with a conservative Muslim agenda could mean for the women of Turkey. Ceyhun Ozturk of Istanbul added the current Erdogan govt. has tried to sneak in Islamic rule to secularism. And, Ismail Tepedag of Bursa, gave another perspective as he said that the PM was no threat to secularism and that the protestors did not represent the majority of Turkish people- a view I personally disagree with.
Arthur Pomer of Milwaukee, Wi., said the following:
"It is heart-warming that so many people are willing to demonstrate in favor of a political mandate."
I do sympathize with religious conservatives in Turkey on some issues. I think Ataturk's desires to change Turkey overnight between 1920 and 1923 caused a tremendous sense of political and cultural oppression for those who did not fit in with his cause. This not only included religious Muslims, but also ethnic Kurds_ a group with which there is still considerable tension in Turkey. He was also a bit shortsighted on his long-term plans for Turkey which quickly fell apart after his death. As a result, the first of three political coups occured some 25 years after Ataturk's death in 1960.
Of course, the War in Iraq and the Cheney/Bush administration's unholy alliance with the Kurds in northern Iraq hasn't helped matters, and of course, it is doing nothing to 'protect our freedoms and liberties' here, nor is it bringing democracy to Baghdad, or any sense of comfort to 'our friends' the Kurds.
There was sad news out of Turkey today as well. Journalist and documentary filmmaker Turan Yavuz died at the age of 50. Yavuz's film "Exile in Buyukada" about Russian intellectual/opposition leader Leon Trotsky's surreal political deportation to Turkey and how he ended up on the island of Buyukada near Istanbul in the 1930s is one of the very few Turkish documentary films available in this country. It was released through Facets Home Video, out of Chicago. I saw the film two years ago, and I highly recommend it.

Useful links:

(For Pictures and Video of the Demonstration)
Turkish Tork Blog:

Hurriyet (English version)

Facets Home Video:

Post-script (Clarification): I wanted to add that both Berlinski and Hipo made good points about Turkey, even though I had many major disagreements with the points they presented. Berlinski said that the secular establishment has consistently failed to produce reliable political candidates. Sadly, this is a valid point and there is no better example of that than the failed leadership of former PM Tansu Ciller (Turkey's first female PM), but this does not mean that the country is ready for a president whose wife wears a head scarf. It is simply unacceptable, and surely 1.5 million people can't be wrong.....

Dead Poets Society, Entry #8, Emily Dickinson

I was all set to post a blog entry about Turkish food and NC B-B-Q to illustrate the strange circumstances us multi-ethnic people, particularly in the South, find ourselves in. But, I got overwhelmed with information. Hence, I will post my planned entry on Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), so I can wrap these dead poet entries up fairly soon.......!

According to the questionably reliable Wikipedia, Dickinson was largely unknown during her lifetime. Like Charles Bukowski, most of her poems were published after her death. she is believed to have written 1,789 poems in her 55 years of life. She lived primarily in Massachussetts.

Dickinson is said to have been a recluse, but scholars have suggested that she did indeed have some friends.

There is also a lot of stuff on the web about Dickinson's sexual orientation. Some say she was a lesbian. Others say she was bisexul. Hmmm....I'm not going to go any further with this.........

And, lastly, for those of you who might be inclined to fly off to faraway places at a moment's notice (like my mother) there is the World Emily Dickinson Conference in Kyoto, Japan, between Aug 3-5. I suggest you make plane reservations now!

The poem from Dickinson that I have selected is an appropriate one for a rumored recluse, "Wild Nights_Wild Nights."

"Wild Nights_ Wild Nights" (1861)

Wild Nights_Wild Nights!
Where I with thee
Wild Nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile- the Winds-
To a Heart in port-
Done with the Compass-
Done with the Chart!

Rowing in Eden-
Ah, the sea!
Might I but moor-Tonight
In Thee!


Sunday, May 13, 2007

My Sister's Trip to the Denver Botanical Gardens

This is the first of my proposed "all in the family' triology (of blog entries), which may also include my cousins Kurt Gokbudak of Laguna Nigel, Ca., and Michael Dawkins of Rock Hill, SC. Michael and I are hopefully going to the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, NC., on Wed.
But, for right now, my focus is my little sister Lale Lovell of Longmont, Co. Along with her husband Matthew, they recently ventured to the Denver Botanical Gardens and they took an estimated 12,900 digital photograps of the place (slight exagerration).
According to the Gardens' web site, the attraction is a 750 plant refuge which was established 55 years ago. There is a Big Bugs exhibit at the gardens, which includes a 7-ft. assasin bug (got Raid?!) and it runs until June 24. The gardens' web site is also promoting their feature flowers whichare the Syringa vulgari and the common lilac. I am sure Matt and Lale took photos of those flowers...perhaps, they saw some venus flytraps too!
 The link below to their photos also includes one from trips to Mexico (which I joined them on) and Italy (which I did not).
As for the NC Zoo, their web site announced the winner of a name the lion cubs contest.
The winner was Kyle (no last name given), 16, of Oak Ridge, NC. He chose the names Dakota, Casey and Mecca for the cute little cuddly cubs which should be able to eat children in a short amount of time (forgive my dark humor!).
Speaking of children, Mike and his wife Maria have an adorable son Nicolas. I got Nicolas some children's books from my friend Tom Angleberger's wife Cece Bell at the Ram's Head Bookstore in Roanoke yesterday. Tom has his own book under the pen name of Sam Riddleberger, which was just published! In spite of the fact that I brought two books from Tom's wife and none from him, we are still on speaking least, we were as 1 p.m. today.
Mike is also a great photographer. He should have a web site of them, and perhaps he does.
I was told I was fairly good at photography too_ I did after all take a photography class, but I have alas neglected the hobby for (many) silly ventures, such as this blog!
I would write more but my mom's 'delightful' dog Mitzi is about to attack Gidget, our other's too bad we didn't see a cockfight when we were in Mexico, but it looks like I'm witnessing one now.............:)

Useful links:

Lale and Matt's photos:

Denver Botanical Gardens

NC Zoo

Tom's site

Cece Bell's site

Dead Poets Society, #7 (of 12), William Blake

Since it has been 250 years since his birth and perhaps because his grave was recently 'discovered' in London, English poet William Blake (1757-1827) appears to be vogue again, which he was not during his lifetime. Now before I add anything else, I need to say I am a total novice when it comes to poetry, unlike films which I am perhaps too knowledgable about (it has perhaps even cost me friends!). And, I am writing down stuff that was said about Blake on Wikipedia, which is not entirely reliable. Blake was also a painter and a printmaker.
Here is my Blake poem of choice, "The Lamb."

"The Lamb" (1789)

Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave the life and the bird to feed,
By the stream and o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing wooly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice!
Little Lamb who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb I'll tell thee,
Little Lamb I'll tell thee!
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb:
He is meek and he is mild,
He became a little child:

I a child and thou a lamb,
We are called by his name.
Little Lamb God bless thee.
Little Lamb God bless thee.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

For Mother's Day- Tribute to Joan Crawford

With Mother's Day being tomorrow, one is reminded me of the film "Mommie Dearest," based on a book by Christina Crawford about the alleged abuses of her glamorous movie star mother Joan Crawford (1905-1977). The film makes me thankful that my own mother Lila Sullivan has been pretty kind to me over the years. The 1981 film, made famous by the line: "No More Wirehangers Ever!" and which stars Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford ,is actually going to be screened at the Criterion Cinema in New Haven, Ct., at 11 a.m. tomorrow. But, since that is a 14-hour drive for me, and perhaps even farther for you, others of you may want to catch Crawford's own 1945 film noir classic "Mildred Pierce" which airs tomorrow afternoon on TCM (I believe at 1:15 p.m.). Joan Crawford also starred in "Grand Hotel" (1932), "The Women" (1939) and "Johnny Guitar" (1954). My friend Daryl Davis of Atlanta showed one of her films "The Damned Don't Cry" (1950) for us while I was attending grad school at Hollins University.
For more info on Crawford, including photos and video clips, one can link the site:

Controversy at L.A. Times

Since I am a Turkish-American who is never shy about my ethnicity, it may shock some of you to know that I have befriended a number of people of Armenian heritage. Of course, there is a 'certain issue' which divides us. Due to the sensitive nature of the 'certain issue,' I usually (but, not always) side with my side of the fence on political matters pertaining to this 'certain issue.' I am opposed to any recognition of the issue involving whether the g-word (genocide) should be used to describe what happened between our sides in 1915 when the Ottoman Empire was still in power by the U.S. Congress. One may assume this is merely because of ethnic partisanship, but it is rather because the certain issue is used by politicians arbitrarily for other reasons which have nothing to do with happened or didn't happen in 1915. A case in point is a Republican congressman from Indiana who decided to vote for recognition of the Armenian perspective because he was ticked that Ankara wouldn't allow American troops to enter Iraq through Turkey.

However, there have also been times when I have taken up for the 'other side,' which has brought dismay from other Turkish-Americans. I was one of the few Turkish-Americans who felt that filmmaker Atom Egoyan had an artistic right to make his 2002 film "Ararat," and while I had differences with certain aspects of the film, I did not feel in any way that it was a racist film along the lines of "Midnight Express." My view was in direct oppostion to those presented by Guler Koknar, an ATAA (see link below) executive, on an NPR stroy about "Ararat." She is a person I otherwise respect both personally and politically as she has made tremendous sacrifices to improve our standing in American society and Turkey's standing in the world.

This brings me to today's topic, which is a dispute between vocal Armenian activists, like journalists Appo Jabarian and Harut Sassonian against Douglas Frantz, the managing editor of "The Los Angeles Times," over alleged discrimination against reporter Mark Arax, also of Armenian heritage, regarding a story about that 'certain issue' (the Armenian Genocide dispute).

I must profess that I find some of the allegations, which are also being pushed by the leading Armenian activist group ANCA, are ones that I have a hard time believing, such as the notion that somehow Frantz is 'conspiring with Turkey.' The media has seldom done any favors for my father's country, but alas even Turkey's most reliable newspaper "Hurriyet" is not as trust-worthy as some foreign media like the BBC when it comes to reporting on all things Turkey.
Though assuredly anti-Turkish biases and ignorance flourish. I recall one time when NPR refered to Istanbul, not Ankara, as the Turkish capital. And, Fox News went even farther by calling Turkey "an Arab country." I'm still laughing over that one!
But, in spite of that difference of opinion, I have some sympathies with
Jabarian here. When can one report on a matter that might be dear to them? I have noticed that very few reporters who cover Turkey internationally are of Turkish heritage, which leads me to believe (I was a reporter for ten years myself, but I always covered local and regional issues) that perhaps if I had made it to "The Washington Post," that someone else would be asked to cover Turkey. And, assuredly as someone who speaks fluent Turkish, I would seemingly have a major advantage over many in that regard. This is not to say that the likes of Pamela Constable, who used to cover Turkey for the "Post" have not done an outstanding job. In her case, she earned my reluctant admiration. But, it does not answer the question and as ironic as it may seem, though I am not calling for Frantz to resign over this (in my view, he shouldn't), Armenian Americans have a right to ask these questions. In fact, we all do.

If you want to try to understand both sides of the 'certain issue,' which in my view (and, I oppose capital punishment) is 1,000 times more sensitive and difficult than even the likes of the death penalty debate (yes, I am serious), then I recommend these sites, which in my view won't resolve this dispute whatsoever, but both illustrate how arduous it is to indeed find 'common ground,' even though the reality is that most 'other Americans' see both Turkish and Armenian Americans as outside the melting pot.

Theses respective sites are:

The Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA)

ANCA- the leading Armenian American organization

Friday, May 11, 2007

Congrats to All College Grads

I want to take a moment to wish my friend Debroah Webb, of Denton, Tx., congrats on her graduation from North Texas State University.  I am sure Debroah, who is a remarkable, talented person (though I have never physically met her in person!) will do well at whatever she chooses.

I am presently all of 35 miles away from the commencement that the world is taking notice of at Virginia Tech.

Retired Gen. John P. Abizaid will be speaker at the Hokie commencement which is getting underway in less than two hours (Fri. at 7 p.m., EST). All 27 of the students (an additional five members of the faculty were slain on Apr. 16) will recieve posthumous degrees. They will include victim Jarrett Lane of Narrows, Va., who had been accepted into graduate school at the University of Florida.

On a happier note, another local school in the Roanoke area Roanoke College (actually in my hometown of Salem, Va.) had a record 480 graduates last week according to "The Salem Times-Register," where I worked as a journalist from 1997-98. I actually covered a rodeo event there which would become famous/infamous when it was visited by a certain fictitious tv personality from Kazakhstan named 'Borat!' (And, footage of that rodeo is in the film "Borat").

For info on the Va. Tech commencement that you may not see on the AP, one can link to the Va. Tech student newspaper "The Collegiate Times:"

Late Notice- NCAA Gym Champs. on CBS- tomorrow!

I have been meaning to post about this all week........but anyway in less than 24 hours, CBS will broadcast the NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships that I attended in Salt Lake City, Ut., two weeks ago. Yes, that means, I know who won.....:) But, there will be some great routines, especially from Georgia, Florida, Utah and UCLA which was a surprise at the championships. The other two schools in the Super 6 are Nebraska, which I also saw earlier in the year at NC St., and Stanford.

Alas, Oregon State did not make the final 6, though they made the final 12 (there were 3 days of competition, and the footage that will air will be mostly from the team finals). I met some of the Oregon St. gymnasts during an autograph session on the last day (Sat.). I really enjoyed chatting with the Beaver team captain Yuki Lamb, a junior who is from Knoxville, Tn. I must admit I did not know who she was right-off-hand even though I had seen her perform (no name tags at the session). Lamb told me that she never got homesick in spite of the long distance from 'Rocky Top" and that she really enjoys competing for Oregon St. I later saw on a team web site that she would have liked to have competed for the University of Tenn., but one problem- they don't have a team!

 I also met Ashley Kupets from Georgia, a standout gymnast who was not competing due to an injury. Like Jordan Swikert of UCLA, Ashley is a talented gymnast who is perhaps overshadowed by an over-achieving sibling (and, though I'm not a gymnast- I know the feeling!).

The shock of the meet was that Alabama did not make the final cut, though former Olympic standout Terin Humphrey came through on the individuals (you'll have to see which event she won for yourself!).

I was one of the few 'neutral fans' at the meet, meaning I am not an alumni of any of the original 12 schools that were competing. But, I was rooting for Florida, which had dynamic gymnasts like Amanda Castillo and Samantha Lutz. The Gators had never won a meet coming into Utah (again, I will leave it at that since the meet has not been nationally broadcast). And, Georgia came in as the two-time defending champions. Utah had a hectic year but they were hoping to come together to win their 10th NCAA championship.

Among the standout performances were: Liz Tricase (Stanford), Ashley Postell and Kristin Baskett (Utah), former Olympian Courtney Kupets and her teammate Katie Heenan (Georgia) and Tasha Swikert (UCLA).

The meet airs from 4-6 pm Eastern Time on CBS, check local listings.

I also have to give kudos to the University of Denver for making a go at it in the first round. The Pioneers were the smallest school in competition. And, additional kudos to LSU for wearing a maroon and orange ribbon to recognize the tragedy at Virginia Tech. I was told that alas one of the Tiger gymnasts lost of a friend  in the shattering event that hit all of us from Virginia close to home. The Tigers had an outstanding year in spite of losing their top gymnast from a year ago.

Please excuse any spelling errors on this entry. I inted to correct them at a later time. More info on college gym, including photos of the finals can be found at:

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Guy Maddin- Winnipeg's Cinema Icon

Hmmm. I realize with entries about Sylvia Plath and Robert Frost that film afficiandos, perhaps the main supporters of my blog (perhaps!), may be flocking elsewhere. Hence, I am devouting this entry to independent maverick filmmaker Guy Maddin whose films are even more 'interesting' (as in strange) than David Lynch. Actress Isabella Rossellini has acted with both auteurs though with her appearance on "30 Rock," the only network sitcom I watch, one does wonder if she is going mainstream...........naah!

At any rate, upon visiting my friend Bilge Ebiri's cinema blog ScreenGrab, I found out that Maddin, also a contributor to "Film Comment" magazine, has a new film which is being screened at the Cinema Village in New York (I should have booked a Greyhound) this weekend.

Maddin's latest film is entitled "Brand Upon the Brain!"
It is reportedly a silent film, and the screening in New York will feautre a live orchestra, live foley artists (wow!) and guest narrators, including Rossellini, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson and Crispin Glover.

Phil Nugent, one of Bilge's fellow bloggers at the ScreenGrab, interviewed Maddin, who leave the confines of Winnipeg for New York for the screenings, earlier in the week.

A few years ago, my friend Jason Garnett, manager of the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va., (my hometown), actually brought in another Maddin film "The Saddest Music in the World." It was perhaps the most stunning thing he had ever done at the Grandin up until he brought in "The Turkish Star Wars," starring Cuneyt Arkin (see earlier entry), for a midnight screening which I introduced. Jason also brought in a live orchestra this year for a screening of "Phantom of the Opera," but alas he has not been able to book Lou Reed who to my knowledge has never performed in southwest Virginia.

For those of you who either love Maddin's work or think you might, I also recommend my favorite comic strip "Zippy the Pinhead" by Bill Griffith, which is actually carried in "The Washington Post" and "The Baltimore Sun." Griffith's May 5 strip dealt with "A Brief History of the Washing Machine."

I may have to copy it and hand it to the Mexican guy who runs the landromat I infrequently visit in my new place of residence- Reidsville, NC. But, I think that might really confuse him.

Useful links:


Maddin's new film

The Grandin Theatre

Zippy the Pinhead

Dead Poets Society, Entry #6, Robert Frost

For starters, I want to thank the (wow!) 20 people who entered on this blog since I was last here. There are hundreds of things to blog about today, and I am sincerely overwhelmed. So, I suppose it is fitting to go back to a simpler time and a simpler man. Like most of you, I feel asleep in high school English class at Glenvar High School in Salem, Va., (I am in Salem again at the moment. I may be the only person who is not a truck driver who travels between Virginia and North Carolina as much as I do) at the mere mention of the name of Robert Frost (1874-1963). I am on the verge of falling asleep now as well, but it has nothing to do with this legendary New England poet. Today's selection from Frost is entitled "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening."


Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
Abd miles to go before I sleep.

For those of you who have an entire summer vacation, and have decided not to go to Daytona Beach, you may want to visit Robert Frost's home in South Shaftsbury, Vt.
Info on the historic home as well as much more info about the poet who gave us such top 10 hits as "Fire and Ice" and "Nothing Gold Can Stay" can be found at:

http: //

Monday, May 7, 2007

Dead Poets Society, Entry 5, Sylvia Plath

On a nice, bright sunny day, a part of me feels a tad bit guilty about posting a poem by Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) because she did commit suicide at a very young age. But, those of us who are even occassional connosieurs of poetry have become more interested in her work since a movie was made about her short, turbulent life (forgive my percieved shallowness). So, here is "Metaphors" from Ms. Plath:



I'm a riddle in nine syllables,

An elephant, a ponderous house,

A melon strolling on two tendrils,

O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!

This loaf's big with its yeasty rising.

Money's new-minted in this fat purse.

I'm a means, a stage, a cow in a calf.

I've eaten a bag of green apples,

Boarded the train there's no getting off.

New Concept: Anti-Art School

I must profess that my regional lifestyle (which is too complicated to fully explain here) perhaps prevents me from getting to know more people in my backyard, which is now the hamlet of Reidsville, NC, population circa 15,000. But, there are indeed some interesting folks in my community. One of them happens to be someone I never met (but her face looks familiar) named Madelyn Greco, 38, aka Foxy Moxy. Greco was profiled in the recent issue of GoTriad (a publication of "The (Greensboro) News and Record") as she is preparing for her first 'art class' at the TwoArtChicks Gallery at 609 S. Elm St. in the heart of downtown Greensboro on Fri., May 12. The tickets for the event are $10 a piece.

Greco told Sue Edelberg of "GoTriad" that her class, known as Dr. Skethcy's Anti-Art School, was an effort to introduce residents to an alternative drawing class. Greco said she got the idea from her friend Molly Crabapple from New York. Crabapple created Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School as a more relaxed environ for those who wanted to learn more about art, dance, and other related ventures.Greco explained what one could possibly expect when they enter her 'class' :

"The idea of Dr. Sketchy's is to be the antithesis to that (traditional art classes). There's music and stuff happening and contests and prizes and music and performance. Even it's life drawing, it's not this plain, dry atmosphere. It's more fun than your average drawing class," Greco said.

Foxy Moxy added that her short-term goals for the class is to get enough interest so that it is an continuing enterprise, saying that "it would be great to have people participate on whatever level."

Greco moved to Rockingham County (NC) from Pittsburgh. She has opened eyes in the Reidsville community (which needs some eyes to open......from an outsider's perspective, it comes across as the sort of town where those of us who do not go to chuch on Sunday are made to feel like we are taking part in a Satanic cult or members of the Ozzy Osbourne fan club). She helps another local resident Scott Fray run the Living Brush Body Painting venture. I wonder what they would say about all my body hair...........hmm.....


For more info, here are some possibly useful links:

Foxy Moxy's web site:

TwoArtChicks Gallery

Phone: 336.273.9885


And, for Ozzy Osbourne's fan club, well'll just have to google it


Friday, May 4, 2007

New Play Fest in Roanoke Continues.....

I had initially meant to post this entry some two weeks ago, but the events that unfolded at Virginia Tech and my trip to Utah distracted me.

Mill Moutain Theatre in Roanoke,Va., not to be confused with the Mill Mountain Coffee Shop or Mill Mountain Zoo, is producing its annual festival of new plays. The runs are wrapping up (yikes!) next weekend.

The first of two newly produced plays in Roanoke includes: "The Fever Chart: Three Short Visions of the Middle East" by Naomi Wallace. Mill Mountain is touting the play as a stunning and surreal triptych of life, death, conflict and forgiveness that mines the complex history of the region. Wallace's previous works include "One Flea Spare," "In the Heart of America" and "Slaughter City." David Gothard directs the first play.

The second of the plays in the festival, sponsored by Norfolk Southern, is by NoShame Theatre founder Todd Ristau. Along with the likes Blake Lipscomb, Mike Allen and Adrien Monti, I have performed bits at NoShame. Some of which actually worked!

Ristau's new play entitled "The Third Wish," takes place in a Las Vegas casino where losers are winners. Unlike William H. Macy's film "The Cooler," which also took place in a Vegas casino (where one can also see Mario Bello necade!), this play is a romantic comedy. "The Third Wish" also features music from musicians Sonny Campbell, Chris Shepard and Amy Alls, and it will be directed by Cheryl Snoodgrass.

Tickets for the plays at Mill Mountain are available at 540-342-5740

I should also be entering a post soon about a new play from my friend Tommy Trull, entitled "Echoes of Mercy." But, in case I forget, that play will be performed in Greensboro, NC, at the Greensboro Cultural Center from May 17-20. The phone line for those tickets is 336-272-0160. Seating is limited.

In other Virginia/North Carolina theatre news, LiveArts in Charlottesville, Va., will begin its production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" on May 10* with Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh reprising their famous roles (just kidding!)

Useful links:

Greensboro play info:


* Note the correction, I initially said the production was starting June 10

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Turkey, the Ultimate Swing-State

For anyone who has been to my late father Mehmet Gokbudak's Turkey, one has probably come across cultural tension. In the Aegean resort town of Kusadasi, one can see topless European women on the beach as Anatolian peasant women enter the sea in full garb- headscarves and all! In the Beyogly section of Istanbul, one can see conservative Muslim families walking past lingerie shops which would put Victoria Secret to shame.

So, this week's constitutional crisis which pits the country's conservative PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan against political rivals determined to keep his foreign minister Abdullah Gul from becoming Turkey's next president. I politically favor the likes of opposition leaders Deniz Baykal and Mehmet Agar who are working diligently to prevent the power grab. Street protests also erupted in Istanbul over the weekend, bringing an estimated 1 million people to the streets to protest. Mustafa Unal, a columnist for the conservative-leaning "Zaman" newspaper was quoted in the BBC: "After so much uproar, the best thing is to let the people have the last word."

Erdogan has said the following: "To interpret Turkey as if it is divided into two camps in murder," Erdogan stated. "Even if our views and lifestyle are different, we are one nation and one Turkey."

All of this sounds rational on the surface, but Erdogan and Gul's wives both wear headscarves, which has been deemed to be as much of a political symbol as it is a cultural one. The Republic of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was the first to encourage women not to wear headscarves, and that historical significance is the prime reason why women are not allowed to wear head scarves upon entering major universities or the Turkish parliament.

Thus many in Turkey are very frustated. The BCC cited comments from the following residents of Turkey.

Ebru Tutu, a young woman from Istanbul, said: "I don't believe anyone here could have predicted the chaos we're truly in. As always, we stop listening to reason and started behaving emotionally. The main danger in my country is the military, not the protesters or any civilians. the government and the army are locked in a bout of political wrestling."

Onur Cetinkaya, also of Istanbul, added:

"The constitutional court did what it had to do. Whether it seems right or wrong, it was a neccessary decision to cool down relations between the government, the army and the public."

Turkey's last coup was inSeptember of 1980. It resulted in political suppression in both liberal and conservative circles. Many Turkish people welcomed Gen. Kenan Evren's coup (Evren later became president), but in recent years, the horrific nature of the abuses caused by Evren and his cronies has come to light and many in Turkey are not happy that no one has been held accountable for these crimes.

Useful links:




Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Don't Call Her Cheney...........

For those who were wondering where I was for a whole week, I was in Salt Lake City for the NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships (more on that later).

While I was there, I picked a copy of the city's alternative weekly, "Salt Lake City Weekly."

There was a pleasant surprise in the newspapers there as I found that the protest against Brigham Young University's commencement speaker (Vice) President Dick Cheney by the BYU Democrats paved the way for an alternative commencement headlined by Ralph Nader, who ironically helped bring Cheney-Bush to the White House. The event was so successful that it made for a front page story on "The Deseret Morning News," one of the main newspapers in Utah, right beneath the mug of our (vice) president.

But, there are actually a number of Utahns who take exception to the former CEO of Haliburton and the man who has lead this country into the most immoral/neglicent wars in our history (and I am going back to the French-Indian War).

One such person is Candice Chaney of Park City. She wrote the folloing letter-to-the-editor to "Salt Lake City Weekly" responding to an incorrect crossword puzzle clue in that paper.

"A recent crossword puzzle had a misspelling on 32-down (Crossword Puzzle, March 29, City Weekly). Normally, I would let these things go, however, it did involve my name.

Having been blessed with a last name that is pronounced the same way as the vice-president's, I always get the question of 'Cheney, like the vp?' My response is: 'No, I'm not Cheney, like Dick. I am Chaney, like Lon.' Please don't rob me of the only dignity my name seems to conjure up."


Salt Lake City Weekly


(Note the correct link, I had earlier said the link was an honest mistake, but the internet is not a very forgiving entity!)



Korean-Americans Respond.........

The Virginia Tech shootings on April 16 have sparked a divide in the Korean-American community. Many older Koreans tend to feel a moral obligation to apologize when someone from their country or of their heritage does something awful as Seung-Hui Cho did in Blacksburg. But, the younger generation takes exception to this as they feel no one represents their race or culture. I truly sympathize with them as many of us who are Turkish or Turkihs-American are in this same trap routinely, whether it be the fact that Mehmet Ali Acga, the man who tried to assasinate the last pope in 1981, was Turkish or whether we are dealing with ultra-nationalists who were responsible for the murder of Hrant Dink, a journalist of Armenian heritage, in Istanbul earlier this year.

I saw an interesting letter in the April 25 letter to the editor of "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution" which addressed this very issue for Korean-Americans. An article about their awkward bind in the wake of the Tech tragedy was also published in a recent edition of "The Washington Post."

Here is the letter to the "AJC" by Chung Hun Lee of Duluth, Ga.:

"Koreans have expressed their sincere apology for the actions of Seung Hui-Cho. Some Koreans have taken his actions personally by apologizing and expressing a sense of guilt. Why should we apologize for the actions of a single maniac?

Instead, Korean-Americans need to express their sincere condolences and pray for the the victims' families. We should not be ashamed nor express apology for our Korean heritage."


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Washington Post