Saturday, September 29, 2007
Apparently, Michael Lukas of "National Geographic Traveler" found a similar affection for Turkish sweets as he ventured to the center of Old Istanbul in Beyoglu. While on Istikal Cadesi_the closest thing to a Turkish Bourbon Street, Lukas stopped in at Saray Muhallebicisi_ a place he describes as serving up rice pudding fit for a sultan. In fact, the name of the pastry shop translates into "Palace Puddingmaker."
Lukas particularly recommends the 'firin sutlach,' which is oven-baked rice pudding. The travel writer said the dessert is the best rice pudding one can taste. It is made up of a pilant crust protecting the milky sweet rice instead.
The pastry shop also serves 'ekmek kadayifi,' which is syrup-soaked bread topped with clotted cream.
Lukas also said that the more adventurous traveler can try 'kazandibi,' which is Turkish pudding that is made with shredded chicken.
I had my own adventures back in 1985 when we were traveling through the province of Denizli in southwest Turkey near the Pamukkale resort. The waiter brought us an interesting meat with lots of hairs. When I asked what this mystery meat was, the waiter responded 'keci.'
Keci happens to be the Turkish word for goat!
This makes my second goat reference on this blog in 24 hours (see last entry).
Of course, no one made better sutlach than my late grandmother Zekiye Gokbudak, who spent the last 60 years of her life on Buyukada (The Big Island), off the Marmara coast of Istanbul. But, every Turkish person says that........the way everyone in North Carolina claims their grandmother made the best pecan pie.
For travel info on Turkey and all things Anatolian:
I am finally getting to an entry about my hometown stage company, Mill Mountain Theatre. I happen to live a lot closer to Greensboro, hence the reason why I started this series with Triad Stage_ the main theatre in the Gate City.
Like Triad Stage and the other theatres mentioned in this blog, Mill Mountain Theatre is offering a wide variety of selections for their 2007-08 season.
They kick off the season next week with "Hank Williams: Lost Highway," which will run from Oct. 3-21. The play focuses on Hank Sr.'s life, which is what country songs are all about_beat-up pickup trucks, lonely roads and honky tonk bars.
The next play to grace the main Trinkle Stage at Mill Mountain is "Lord of the Flies." Before it was the basis for a controversial CBS reality show, William Golding's universally-loved novel about teenage boys turning into savages on a desert island was transformed into this play adaptation by Nigel Williams. "Flies" runs from Oct. 30-Nov. 4
Christmas is the obvious theme of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" by Barbara Williams. It runs from Nov. 28-Dec. 22.
This is followed by another adaptation from a novel, as an adaptation of Stephen King's "Misery" runs from Jan. 23-Feb. 10, 2008. I've heard Mr. King's Victorian mansion in Bangor, Maine, is quite the pad!
One of my personal favorite plays, Larry Shue's "The Foreigner" takes the stage at Mill Mountain from Feb. 27-March 16, 2008. In this romp, Englishman Charlie Baler comes to Georgia and pretends to 'not speak English' to cover up his shyness. He finds out about all sorts of kooky things along the way. Not to be missed.
And, Steven Sondheim's Tony Award-winning musical "Into the Woods" runs from June4-29, 2008.
There will also be several special productions in the Mill Mountain Theatre calendar. Among those will be the upcoming Best of No Shame on Oct. 26 and 27. No Shame Theatre Roanoke is the brainchild of Todd Ristau, and it is a late night talent show which has seen everything from rap poems to chainsaw juggling....ok, slight exaggeration there.
The Best of No Shame will likely feature skits from a wide range of No Shame performers, including Adrien Monti, Mike Allen and perhaps Blake Lipscomb.
I actually read a poem called "The Breakfast Club Generation" at No Shame over the summer. But, a more hectic lifestyle has prevented me from returning to the venue whenever I'm in the Star City.
Incidentally, Mill Mountain Theatre should not be confused with either the local anti-Starbucks, Mill Mountain Coffee or the Mill Mountain Zoo.........too my knowledge no one at No Shame has performed a skit with a live animal, though someone did use a fake rabbit for one highly-amusing sketch some two years ago.
Maybe, one day someone will bring a goat on stage and help make No Shame history!
Friday, September 28, 2007
"A fashion is nothing but an induced epidemic."
"A lifetime of happiness! No man alive could beat it, it would be hell on earth."
"An American has no sense of privacy. He does not know what it means. There is no such thing in the country."
"Democracy is a device that ensures we be governed no better than we deserve."
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Thanks to Michael Chaiken's column about new dvd releases in "Film Comment," I found out that the Chicago-based Facets is releasing the 1978 epic "Out Hitler: A Film From Germany" on dvd.
The film from Hans-Jurgen Syberberg has both its admirors and detractors. Leonard Maltin has dismissed as an opus mess, but the late Susan Sontag called it: "one of the great works of art of the 20th century."
Chaiken said the film is a 'surrealist, tour de force' which gives a 'satirical indictment' of the rise of the Third Reich.
The seven-hour film, which originally aired on German television, retails for $79.95 (I'll settle for putting it on my Netflix que myself). It was first shown in the United States through Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope distributor in 1980.
As someone who admires German filmmaker Wim Wenders, I have always had an appreciation for both classic and modern German films, which was inticed by a film class at Hollins University taught by Klaus Phillips.
In a recent blog entry, I ranked Wenders' 1987 film "Wings of Desire," which was turned into an awful Nicholas Cage-Meg Ryan film "City of Angels," as my personal favorite foreign film of all time.
For another interesting look at German cinema history, I recommend the 1982 documentary "Burden of Dreams" about Werner Herzog's efforts to film "Fitzcarraldo." Some say Blank's film even surpasses Herzog's brilliant journey down the Amazon River.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I have noticed this week that many folks are talking about celebrities who have seemingly disappeared from the public eye. In a column about working out for the Greensboro alt weekly "Yes Weekly!," editor Brian Clarey mentioned former "Saturday Night Live" star Joe Piscopo.
The comedian did a brilliant impersonation of Frank Sinatra to Eddie Murphy's Stevie Wonder in a satire of "Ebony and Ivory," back when Piscopo was on the show in the early 1980s. It had me asking: "Hmmm...what has happened to him?" I know he was mentioned in a Tom Petty song......
My good friend Moviezzz frequently answers such questions in his movie blog (see link below). This week, he talked to former child actor Keith Coogan, star of "Adventures of Babysitting." It turns out that Coogan now has a blog called "Adventures in Los Angeles." I expect he gets more hits than me......To my knowledge, Coogan was not Ricky Schroder's co-star on the 1980s sitcom "Silver Spoons," but perhaps I am wrong about that.
All of this leads to wonder what ever happened to ALL THOSE one-hit wonders of my teenage years, circa 1985. There were thousands of them, weren't there?
And, for whatever reason, I am more curious about Men Without Hats whose hit song "The Safety Dance," than any other group. This includes the likes of Talk Talk_ "It's My Life," which was covered by No Doubt a few years ago. Or Wang Chung, though they were actually a two-hit wonder. I guess I could wikipedia each and every single one of them, but..........you know that might be just like draining Lake Lochness.
Keith Coogan's blog:
(For those who might be EVEN more curious about Men Without Hats or other long-forgotten pop culture entities).
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
As someone who works for two different community colleges in two different states (Virginia and North Carolina), I was pleased to see the mention of a pro-community college blog entry on "Gate City," a local Greensboro, NC, blog.
The Sept. 12 entry was made in reference to an editorial in the Greensboro newspaper, "The News-Record," by David Hoggard.
Hoggard's son attends Guilford Technical Community College ( GTCC), which has campuses in Greensboro, High Point and Jamestown. He said that attending classes at GTCC has been a great experience for his son. The blog entry added that local residents should not view community college education as a last resort.
According to the Gate City blog, Hoggard said his son will able to transfer to state school (ie. North Carolina State University) while only spending $5,000 in classes for the preliminary part of his education.
The Gate City blog added that with educational debts being a major concern, perhaps more parents should consider community college education as a viable alternative to the more expensice four-year schools.
While the entry talked about North Carolina in particular, I think people in other parts of the country are undoubtedly contemplating community college education for valid reasons such as the ones cited by Hoggard.
Alas, Virginia recently saw devastating cuts in community college funding. The school I work for lost over $500,000 in funding at a time when the number of students taking classes there is on the rise. But, the crisis is also going to felt at four-year state schools in Virginia, such as my own alma mater Radford University.
But, with parents like Hoggard vouching for the community college experience, perhaps both teachers and students can look forward to the proverbial brighter tomorrow.
Monday, September 24, 2007
It is a boring Monday morning. And, I probably have a thousand other things that I need to do (don't we all). If there is one good thing about Monday morning, it is the realization that I would perhaps be equally bored and lacking oxygen to the brain right now even if I were in New York, Las Vegas, or Baghdad.
So, we will be quoting renown playwright/author Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), perhaps best known for his novel "Picture of Dorian Gray," who was known throughout England for his quick wit.
"A little sincerity is a dangerous thing and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal."
"A man can be happy with any woman as long he does NOT love her."
"Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much."
"Arguments are to be avoided, they are often vulgar and often convincing."
And, lastly, my personal favorite:
"Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative."
Sunday, September 23, 2007
While the Peruvian people 'welcome' their former president Alberto Fujimori, who has been classified as a dictator, as he steps of an airplane from Chile, our own 'el presidente,' George W. Bush continues to inch America in that direction as he assails on the political rights on one of the leading activist groups which opposes him while trying to say their views are unilateral with Congressional Democrats.
I, myself, had reservations about the now-famous/infamous Gen. Betray Us ad which ran in "The New York Times" last week. But, the president seems to think that the ad is somehow more patently offensive than the swift-boat attack ads which helped him defeat Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to win a reelection, in 2004. And, we are all paying a cost for that as Bush's cowboy diplomacy continues to ail our nation on a daily basis.
But, Bush's denouncement of MoveOn, which came in an afternoon speech this week (a rare speech, I might add) has only been helping the liberal activist organization.
MoveOn is reporting over 12,000 people donated more than $500,000 to their group after Bush's reference to them a mere day after his speech.
The group also posted this anynomous letter from a soldier in Iraq:
"I'm currently in Iraq. I do not agree with this war, and if I did support this war, it would not matter. You have the RIGHT to speak the truth. We know you support us. Thank you for speaking out and for being our voice. We do not have a voice. We are overshooted by those who say that we soldiers do not support organizations like MoveOn. We do."
MoveOn's posting came at a time when the American Friends Service Committee announced that our government was spending a staggering $720 million a day!, on the Mesopatamian Mess, according to "The Washington Post."
Bush's actions were also confronted by MSNBC commentator Keith Olberman who criticized Bush 43 for portraying the Republican Party as the party associated with the U.S. Military and criticizing Democrats for somehow being opposed to them. Olberman said the line in the sand that the current occupant of The White House crossed is one that paves the way for a military junta.
Today on "Face the Nation," Sen. Hillary Rodham-Clinton (D-NY) said all attack ads were irresponsible. But, since she also mentioned ones against former Democratic Georgia senator Max Cleland and Kerry, the right-wing pit bulls will likely accuse her of being soft on MoveOn. Ithink for this reason Clinton should have said America is a free country and a capitalist one. So, if MoveOn can pay for an ad in "The New York Times," then they have a right to their view regardless of whether I, or anyone else, agrees with it or not. After all, the Republicans have no such issues when they accuse war veterans like Cleland and Kerry of being 'unpatriotic.'
Saturday, September 22, 2007
When I was in Utah this past April, I had a chance to see a performance of the play "Facing East" by the Plan B Theatre Company in Salt Lake City. It was a fascinating look at how a Mormon family came to terms with their son's homosexuality, after he had already committed suicide.
The theatre sent me a brochure for their upcoming season. Since I live in North Carolina, it will be absolutely impossible to see any of these productions myself, but I thought I would put the word out about their performance schedule. After all, one can access my blog in Salt Lake City, or Zonguldak, Turkey, for that matter as much as they can log on to it from High Point or Winston-Salem.
One of the unique things about Plan B is that they feature a solid selection of plays from local playwrights. Due to the need to fill seats, many places are reluctant to do this, hence the reason why there are going to be more productions of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" than plays by a well-respected local/regional playwright.
With that in mind, Plan B starts its season on Oct. 19 with "Exposed," a world premiere by Utah playwright Mary Dickson. The play examines how Utah was downwind from 928 nuclear bombs which exploded in a Nevada desert from 1951 to 1992, and the environmental impact of those acts.
Plan B's season continues on Nov. 16 with "Gutenberg! The Musical!" by Scott Brown and Anthony King. The farce is actually based on the life of Johann Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press.
And, the final announced play of the Plan B season will be "The End of the Horizon" by Utah playwright Debora Threedy. Premiering March 14, 2008, the play will focus on the life of artist/naturalist Everett Ruess, who disappeared in a Utah canyon ala "Into the Wild" at the age of 20 in 1934.
For more info, one can call (801) 297-4200 or visit Plan B Theatre's web site at:
Friday, September 21, 2007
I want to thank all my sponsors..........Smith-Stokes Chrysler Dodge Jeep in Reidsville, NC. ....The Boutique Hypnotica_Retailer for Leather Goods, Hair Dye, Incense, Candles and Tapestries in downtown Greensboro.........My Cousin Vinny's_ Pizza, Pasta and More in downtown Winston-Salem.......The Eden Drive-in in Eden, NC_ now showing the South Korean Godzilla-ripoff "Dragon Wars" along with "Balls of Fury"............and The Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va._ now showing "Eastern Promises" by acclaimed director David Cronenberg...........
In all seriousness, it has been fun!
I have to thank my friends Moviezzz, Christopher Knight and Beth Wellington for providing links to my blog.
When I posted my first entry on this date in 2005, I simply wanted to start a blog which reflected both my eccletic tastes and an Turkish-American from southwest Virginia's perspective on this crazy world we live in.
I haven't had any problems with disturbing people as some bloggers have. I have tried to be a bit more careful when hearing about how a female blogger from Boulder, Col., was threatened by some strange nutcase in a sexually and violently explicit way.
I have only had one strange response to one of my posts and that was from some right-wing extremist who seemingly thought my post about immigration from Iraq was about Hispanic immigrants here. He then said we all needed to vote for Fred Dalton Thompson. It is not a view I share, although I welcome anyone with anything useful to say regardless of their politics.
On occasion, I have even mentioned thoughts from people like Armenian-American activist/journalist Appo Jabarian, whose views I generally differ with for reasons which are far too complicated to explain here, because I think all bloggers need to think outside their own cyber-sandbox.
Recently, I even ranked former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney (R) as being the best political presidential campaigner along with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), even though he (Romney) is not the person I want to most see as the occupant of The White House come 2008.
I have also tried to bring attention to people like Greensboro folk singer Bruce Piephoff and Salt Lake City artist Joe Bankhead, who are both proverbial local heroes who are more far fascinating than the likes of either Britney or Paris.
And, I have also tried to focus on films, theatre and the arts_ whether it be acult film with '70s Turkish cinema matinee idol Cuneyt Arkin or a documentary about a prison in California or a relevant poet, modern dancer or Russian rock band (I've done one posting each on The Red Elvises and on Gogol Bordello).
I haven't had as many hits as some bloggers and most of those reading this blog know me personally. But, this has given me a chance to make postings about more personal things, such as the recent marriage of my friend Ugur Celikkol in Bursa, Turkey.
With that in mind, I hope to be on here many years from now regardless of who reads or doesn't read my blog.
A note about my 'advertisers.' There are no real advertisers to this blog, though AOL posts some, since they are my server. All the 'ads' that were mentioned from the top came mostly from the June issue of "The Piedmont Triad Hippo."
The Grandin Theatre and the Eden Drive-In were not mentioned in that publication. But, they are both showing those films that I had alluded too.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
The Lincoln Center is hosting screenings of several films from renown Turkish film director Zeki Demirkubuz. He is one of several filmmakers of Anatolian heritage who is making his name known in cinema circles around the world. The others include the likes of Nuri Bilge Ceylan ("Distant," Climates") and Turkish-German filmmaker Fatih Akin ("Head-On"). Akin's latest film was screened at the Toronto Film Festival last weekend.
The Lincoln Center's web site called Demirkubuz a contemporary filmmaker who is able to make a clear distinction between mental interiors and fantasy exteriors.
To date, none of Demirkubuz's films have been released in America, though he has been invited to several film festivals and special screenings, one of which occured at Duke University a few years ago.
Along with the likes of Ceylan, Yesim Ustaoglu and Handan Ipekci, Demirkubuz is leading a new wave of Turkish cinema which focuses on the artistic aspects of film as opposed to the pop cinema of the 1970s, which featured stars like Cuneyt Arkin and Turkan Soray.
Admitedly, Turkish pop cinema had a notorious reputation thanks to films like Arkin's "Dunyayi Kurtaran Adam/The Turkish Star Wars" (1982), directed by the ever-amusing Cetin Inanc. But, it was the same pop cinema which lead to the emergence of Turkey's first internationally cinematic figure, the politically controversial Yilmaz Guney, who died in 1984.
Demirkubuz was born in Isparta, Turkey, in 1964. He emerged as an assistant to Zeki Okten, who had worked with both Guney and pop cinema figures like the late comic actor Kemal Sunal.
Demirkubuz has directed films like "Block-C," about a troubled marriage from a woman's persepective set in a modern apartment in the suburban Atakoy district of Istanbul.
The films that will be part of the screenings include Demirkubuz's most recent effort "Destiny," which premieres on Sept. 21 as well as his films "Fate," Confession" and "Waiting Room."
The director will be at the Walter Reade Theatre on Sept. 22 at 3 p.m.
Though I live some 12 hours south of New York and can not make these screenings, I am personally delighted that Demirkubuz is continuing to grow in reputation.
Monday, September 17, 2007
This will shock some of you. But, this is going to be a non-partisan entry (what???!!). But, just for the record, I think President George W. Bush is the worst American president since our 18th president, Ulysses S. Grant, who presided over the White House from 1869-1877.
I am also going to shock those three of four people who visit this blog on a semi-regular basis, by entering something completely original! There are thus going to be no useful links at the bottom of this because this is 100 % my opinion.
Here in order from top to bottom are all the folks running for president, and time permitting I may list a few candidates for the next Rockingham County, NC, school board race.
The Best to the Worst
1. (tie) Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) and former Mass. governor Mitt Romney (R). These guys were both in the same Labor Day parade in New Hampshire. Is that any surprise? These two guys are as omnipresent as they come.
I would give the nod to Obama, since he has a day job in the U.S. Senate, but Romney came here to the Tarheel State for a fundraiser in Raleigh at the home of the multi-millionaire owner of the Carolina Hurricanes hockey team (though assuredly I am neither a Republican or a Mormon!).....so, maybe he cares about us.........
Romney could be the GOP-equivalent of Mr. Clinton....he is that good at chicken bbq politics. But, Obama is equally relentless and one should never underestimate the power of Oprah.Perhaps, if these two are the nominees then a Supreme Court justice might once again decide who the president is.
3. Mike Huckabee, the former Republican governor of Arkansas, actually makes his ultra-right wing politics views seem downright cozy. And, he isn't afraid of NPR or Bill Maher. As a former Southern Baptist minister, he nows how to preach to the choir without being as scary as Newt Gingrich, and that's scary! But, I think the financial limits of his campaign budget will prevent him from being the second president from Hope, Ark.
4. Hillary........Hillary........Hillary.......Yes, the candidate that Republicans love to hate is not about to self-sabotage anytime soon. She has been grilled by the left too, with "The Nation," "Mother Jones" and Michael Moore all taking shots at her. But, this only seems to make Hillary stronger. She unveiled her new health care plan today, and tomorrow she will probably tell us she plans to win people over in Ogden, Utah. It may not work, but it sounds darn good and ultimately if we've learned anything from Bush 43, it is that people want to believe what they hear.
5. John Edwards_ No one here in the Tarheel State seems to be paying much attention to him, which is disturbing because he is from here! But, Iowa seems to be another story as Edwards has brilliantly traveled the state 18 times over, so much so that he probably knows everyone in Cedar Rapids as well as the names of their pets! I would prefer if Edwards tried to return to the Senate, especially since there appear to be few North Carolina Democrats trying to unseat Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R). Her voting record isactually much more conservative than people, even in places like Chapel Hill, seem to realize.
6.Rudy Guilani..........The former Republican Big Apple mayor is quite the personality, and he has milked 9-11 so much that he should feel comfortable on an Iowa farm. But, he just doesn't seem to be engaging people in places like Nashua, NH, the way Romney is. He is undoubtedly one of the few Republicans who can be at ease besides Leno or Letterman, but the same thing was once said of John McCain.
7. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Ct)....Yes, 90 of all Americans have no idea he's running for president and that might include 50 of the folks who live in New Haven. But, he has been on Charlie Rose, Conan O'Brien, Tavis Smiley and all the Sunday morning talk shows. For a guy with no chance, he sure seems to put himself out there. And, he has a new book too.........well, ok, they all have new books, don't they?
8. Sen. John McCain (R-Az)....."The New York Times" reported that McCain was at a VFW in Rock Hill, SC, over the weekend. It's a good thing the local college, Winthrop University, does not have a football team or perhaps only nine would've shown up. The once-renegade maverick who once got the attention of independents and even Democrats (myself included) has isolated himself from all corners of the geopolitical spectrum and his campaign is an absolute horrid mess. But, they still like him in New Hampshire_ the problem is that state neighbors Romney's Massachusetts.
9. Gov. Bill Richardon (D-NM)__Wow, here is my personal choice for prez. Gov. Richardson has done it all. What a resume! And, his campaign ad for the gubernatorial race in New Mexico where he pretended to be a sheriff out of an old western was brilliant. But, he is losing out in every debate to the big three contenders. I have been consistently disappointed with him in this regard. If he had a full eight minutes to talk, it would be a different story. But, he doesn't. And, just as the likes of Abraham Lincoln would probably not make itin today's soundbite Youtube world, the same can be said for our best politicians.
10. Cong. Ron Paul (R-Tx)_ Amazingly enough, I completely forgot to include this guy when I initially posted this entry on Monday night. I think Ron Paul is absolutely right about the fiasco in Iraq, and Republicans should remove the cotton from their ears whenever he says: "It was a mistake to go, and it's a mistake to stay." But, unfortunately regardless of what he does or how he campaigns, a Republican against Bush's war is about as likely to get the nomination as a Democrat who favors the melting of the polar ice caps.
11. Fred Dalton Thompson......The former Republican Tennessee governor will soon realize that entering the presidential race THIS LATE is kind of like asking permission from Thompson's "Days of Thunder" co-star Tom Cruise if he can meet Katie Holmes at Starbucks.
12.Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.).....Next.....
13.Sen. Sam Brownback (D-Ks)....Oh, this guy's even worse.
14.Cong. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio).......He gets more attention than many more-qualified candidates, but then again everyone was talking about Britney Spears' appearance at the MTV Music Awards Show too.
15.Cong. Duncan Hunter (R-Cal.)_ I'm not even sure he's still in the race, and I actually pay attention to presidential campaigns from gavel to gavel. That can't be good for Hunter.
16.Well, I knew I'd forget someone's name....He's that old man who used to be the Democratic senator from Alaska in the 1960s....Maybe, someone in Anchorage knows who I'm talking about. Mike Gravel? Hmmmm....I guess that's his name.
17.Cong. Tom Tercredo (R-Col.)........To quote Joseph Conrad: "The horror! The horror!"
Ooooops....I noticed that I mispelled Rudy Guiliani's name, but I caught it before you did!
Last night, I went to see "Balls of Fury." Hmmm. It was pretty bad. But, it was the only movie playing where I live. Though, I still prefer the Rockingham Theatre over a multiplex.
As I was deliberating whether to walk out of a film- something I very rarely do, my friend Moviezzz in Mass., was not only watching the Emmys, but posting live blog entries over the gala awards show, which was broadcast on Fox-TV.
Tv critic Scott D. Pierce of "The Desert Morning News" in Salt Lake City apparently enjoyed the show even less than I liked "Balls of Fury:"
"Fox did do the nearly impossible- it made the Emmy show itself worse than ever. It had all the professionalism of an elementary-school production."
The Emmys made news this morning because it cut away Sally Field and Ray Romano, apparently because they used 'bad words.'
I was happy to hear that my favorite sitcom "30 Rock" won the Emmy for best comedy. Though, Moviezzz strongly feels "The Office" deserved it more. I won't argue with him, since he likely has the whole town of Scranton, Pa., behind him (that is where the show is set...the American version).
Here is a brief synopsis of some thing Moviezzz captured during his live blogging:
7:57 p.m. Nigel Barker likes Eva Longoria and Lisa Edelstein's dresses the best.
8:41 p.m. Jennifer Love Hewitt has arrived. And all is right with the the world.
9:16 p.m. David Chase wins for "The Sopranos."
10:56 p.m. I was almost asleep again, but did James Sapder just beat out James Gandolfini?
For more on the Emmys:
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Hmmmm. I passed up a chance to see the ever-gorgeous, hip Canadian singer (Leslie) Feist, (whose video of her song "1...2....3...4" is being played on some I-Pod commercial), when she played at the Carolina Theatre in downtown Greensboro back in July because I was just wasn't sure if she was worth a measly 20 bucks.
Apparently, concert-goers in East Hampton, NY, had no such issues when they shelled out a whopping $3,000 for a concert by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers the week before Labor Day.
The current issue of "Rolling Stone," with 50 Cent and Kanye West on the cover, reported this item. The concert is a part of a lavish series, which included other high price shows by the likes of Billy Joel (what?!!!), Prince and the Dave Matthews Band, which also performed a recent free charity concert at Virginia Tech (perhaps after this show they could afford to!).
Those present at the Petty show included Richard Gere, Christy Turlington, Mort Zuckerman and former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, who was said to be grooving to "American Girl."
In other music news from "Rolling Stone," former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony had the dubious luck of finding out that he was not going to be a part of the group's reunion tour online! Anthony is being replaced by guitarist Eddie Van Halen's son Wolfgang Van Halen (whose mother is Valerie Bertinelli).
The Van Halen tour starts in Charlotte on Sept. 27. The group, which once again has David Lee Roth as its lead singer, will be heading up the road to play at the Greensboro Coliseum here in the Triad. Tickets will reportedly be less than $3,000.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Wow! This marks my 300th entry for this blog. I suppose given the fact that two people looked at this yesterday, one has to feel that I am either a) very dedicated or b) insane.
Last week, I saw the latest Kevin Bacon film "Death Sentence," which the "Footloose" star almost carried on his own. The Death Wish-vigilante plot is though really over-the-top, but that's another matter.
This gave me the idea to see how many degrees of separation there are from Kevin Bacon, and those presidential candidates who have been in movies.
Amazingly enough, there are four candidates who has screen credits, and three of them are Republicans!
Everyone knows that Fred Dalton Thompson, the former GOP senator from Tenn., has been in numerous films like "The Hunt for Red October" and was in tv's "Law and Order." But, fewer people may know that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Sen. John McCain (R-Az) and former New York mayor Rudolph Guilani (R) also have several film appearances to their credit.
Thus, I decided to see how far removed they were from Kevin Bacon. As many of you know, a University of Virginia computer science student came up with the Oracle of Bacon, which can let a person know how many film credits separate Bacon from another actor. The system even has the likes of Turkish film icon Cuneyt Arkin (see earlier entry), who is three degrees removed from Bacon. If an actor appeared in the same film as Bacon as local actor R. Keith Harris did in the 1998 film "Digging to China," then there is only one degree of separation.
So, here are the degrees of separation from Bacon and the four presidential candidates:
1. Fred Dalton Thompson (2)
Thompson was in "White Sands" (1992) with John Lafayette.
Lafayette was in "Loverboy" (2005) with Bacon.
2. John McCain (2)
McCain was in "Wedding Crashers" (2005) with Lauren Fritz.
Fritz was in the Bacon film "He Said, She Said" (1991).
3. Rudolph Guiliani (2)
Guiliani was "Anger Management" (2003) with the gorgeous Marisa Tormei
Tormei was in "Loverboy" (2005) with Bacon.
4. Hillary Rodham Clinton (3)
Clinton was in "Final Days" (2000) with Kevin Spacey.
Spacey was in "The Shipping News" (2001) with Debroah Glover.
Glover was in "The Big Picture" (1989) with Bacon.
Other political figures I found, include another New York mayor Ed Koch (D). He was two degrees removed from Bacon as is Ronald Reagan. Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, who has some feature film credits, was also two degrees away from Bacon.
If you want to see how many degrees your favorite star is from Kevin Bacon, the link for the Oracle is simply:
Friday, September 14, 2007
Last September, I had the chance to enjoy an excellent play, "Orson's Shadow" at the Deep Dish Theater in Chapel Hill, NC. It has to be one of the few theaters located inside a shopping center, but they gave a tremendous production which remains one of my personal favorites from last year.
Deep Dish continues its season with "How I Got the Story," which ends tomorrow night. The play by Amlin Gray focuses on an 'embedded' war reporter who tries to get a handle on a culture he doesn't know while covering a war he can't grasp. Sound familiar?
The Chapel Hill theater will then produce "A Lesson from Aloes," from Oct. 18-Nov. 10. It is a play by South Africa's leading playwright Athol Fugard, and the production will be directed by John Darling. Fugard's plays have been very hip on the stage circuit recently. Studio Theatre in Washington, DC, is currently presenting another Fugard play "My Children! My Africa!"
"A Lesson From Aloes" deals with three long-time pals who are split by political circumstance. They both meet for dinner amid suspicion that the other is a traitor.
From Feb. 14 to March 8, 2008, Deep Dish presents "State of the Union." The witty look at politics was the 1946 Pulitzer Prize winner for drama.
And, the season concludes with "The Clean House" by Sarah Ruhl with direction from Tony Lea. The play is touted as a look at a young Brazilian woman who is housemaid in these United States. The play runs from May 1-24, 2008.
Other theatres in my blog entry series (so far):
Thursday, September 13, 2007
With a fiasco going on over in Mesopatamia, people dying because their health insurance providers feel they are too young to get cancer, and American jobs being sent to Sri Lanka so some CEO can buy another limosine, I think it is time to continue electing Democrats (in most instances) to the Senate.
While I can not support the likes of chief Armenian-American ally Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), I certainly think we need someone to continue the likes of Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Ks), who claims to represent 'the fetuses of unborn children' in the U.S. Senate. Incidentally, Brownback is running for president.
Today, former Virginia governor Mark Warner (D) formally announced that he will be running for the U.S. Senate. Warner initially mulled over a presidential bid before deciding it was not in his best interest.
Ironically, I think former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore (R), who also tried a highly dubious effort to win the White House, says it best-regarding Warner's bid:
"At this critical time in our history, we can not afford to send a Democrat to the Senate. That would be bad policy."
If an arch right-winger like Gilmore, who might be Warner's opponent (I would actually prefer him over Republican Cong. Tom Davis who would likely be a tougher challenge) puts out this kind of a message then assuredly it is time for fresh new blood in the Senate.
Virginia has not had two Democratic senators since 1970. Sen. James Webb (D-Va) pulled a stunner when he defeated George "Maccawitz" Allen last year. Yesterday, Allen was throwing a football around campaigning for a Republican candidate in rural Franklin County, which is perhaps one of the few areas of Virginia where Allen is still popular.
Mark Warner would replace Sen. John Warner (R-Va), who is stepping down after 30 years of public service. Mark Warner actually ran against him in the 1990s, and almost pulled off his own huge political upset. I had a hance to meet Sen. Warner in Richmond several years ago. While I am not a Republican, I fully respect his moderate efforts. He is one of the few GOP senators to express concerns about Iraq.
Though I no longer live in Virginia, I certainly hope Mark Warner becomes the junior senator of the Old Dominion. He had an astonishing 80 % approval rating as governor which helped get Tim Kaine (D) elected as his replacement.
Now, if we can just find a decent candidate to run against Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) in the Tarheel State.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
My thanks to the four people who visited yesterday's blog.......and the 4,000 of you who will hopefully log on today.
I was not able to write any entries about Michael Vick during the week that the news broke about his dog-fighting enterprise, back in July because I was vacationing in New England.
I saw Vick play at the 2001 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., when he was a Virginia Tech Hokie. His actions are indeed shocking, and they were even more disturbing for those of us who once rooted for him.
Nevertheless, his activities are also a great outlet for late-night talk show hosts.
Conan O'Brien said the following about Vick during a recent monologue:
"Earlier today, NFL star Michael Vick plead guilty to dog-fighting charges and apologized for his actions. Vick's exact quote was: 'I'm a cat person.' "
Tonight, O'Brien has Mary Kaye Olson and singer Lyle Lovett as his guests. Thursday's show features Sen. Chris Dodd (D) and country singer Kenny Chesney. While Friday, O'Brien talks with former New York Giants star Tiki Barber, who is from my hometown of Roanoke, Va. One has to wonder if O'Brien will ask Barber about Vick. Barber is an alumnus of UVA, which is Va. Tech's arch rival.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
My good friend Beth Wellington wrote a poem in honor of the employees of Windows on the World, a restaurant a top the World Trade Center, simply entitled "Windows on the World."
Many of the emplyees were Hispanic immigrants from El Salvador for her blog some months ago (see link below). Like so many people from so many countries around the world (which the far-right has forgotten), many of them lost their lives on 9-11.
I first read about their story through "The Village Voice" web site at an Internet cafe in Bursa, Turkey_ where I was in mid-September of 2001.
Windows on the World opened with the World Trade Center in 1976. It was known for a high-priced menu, and a strict dress code policy_ which required men to wear jackets.
Former employees of Windows on the World opened a new establishment "Colors" on 417 Lafayette Street in Manhattan on Jan. 4, 2006.
One of the fallen employees of Windows on the World is believed to be "the Falling Man," so named because of his leap which was captured on film during the events of Sept. 11th. The man was initially identified by a Toronto newspaper, but it could not be verified upon close scrutiny.
Monday, September 10, 2007
I saw an interesting letter-to-the-editor in Friday's "Roanoke Times," by Ben E. Campbell from Hillsville, Va.
Hillsville is a town best known for a Labor Day Flea Market which attracts vendors and visitors from as far away as New England. It is generally a politically conservative area. The flea market also has a gun show, which has been the focus of media articles about gun show loopholes. But, this year, local and regional Democrats set up a booth there to promote their cause.
Campbell also proves that not everyone in southwest Virginia is a conservative Republican. But, he does touch upon a growing concern that I have myself about the potential of Sen. Hillary Clinton, as talented and articulate a candidate as any, becoming the Democratic Party nominee for president.
In his letter, Campbell writes:
"It goes beyond all reason to me why so many Democrats are anxious to nominate Hillary Clinton for the Democratic ticket in 2008.
The question they need to be asking themselves is: Can she win the White House when facing a Republican opponent? Answer: Most definitely not."
Campbell goes on to talk about Karl Rove's obsession with the junior senator from the Empire State. He added that the northeast and California would not be enough to overcome a likely deficit in red states, especially those south of the Mason/Dixon line.
The Hillsville resident concluded his letter by talking about the consequences of a Clinton nomination if her current negative perception is not remedied:
"Cast your vote in the primaries for any Democrat any other than Hillary.* Otherwise, don't complain when Rudy is barking orders from the White House."
*-I presume he was not thinking about Cong. Dennis Kucinich when he made this statement!
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Piephoff, a folk singer, is known for an array of songs including "20 Miles to Baghdad" and "I Remember Asheville." He will be performing with his bandmates Scott Manning (guitar, dobo, mandolin and banjo) and Pat Lawrence. Bruce's latest cd release is "Sogni D'Oro."
American Aquarium is best known for songs like "Anne Marie," "Big City" and "Telling a Lie," which could be a politician's anthem.
I had the chance to see Bruce at the Grove Winery, near Greensboro, on Labor Day. It was another good show_ as always. The Grove is hosting the Burlington-area fiddle and accordion band Mebanesville this weekend as well.
Bruce will also be performing at the Pres. Church of the Covenant in Greesnboro on Sept. 23 at 9 a.m. He will also be at the Tate Street Festival near UNC-Greensboro on Sept. 29 starting at 3 p.m.
And, lastly, Bruce will be performing at the Fountain General Store in Fountain, NC on Oct. 5.
American Aquarium continues their tour of the Tarheel state with a concert at the Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh on Sept. 21. They then move to Snug Harbor in Charlotte on Sept. 22.
The Piephoff-American Aquarium show starts at 8 p.m. at The Garage. Other info is available by calling The Garage at 336-777-1127.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
The production will be recorded on dvd. Erica and I both attended Hollins University around the same time, where we took part in the school's screenwriting and film studies program. Alums of the program include Winston-Salem filmmaker Lovinder Gill, whose first film "Chicks 101," is now available on dvd.
Alas, I will not be able to attend the event since I live approximately 8.5 hours south of Philly- not counting traffic backups on I-95. But, given that I have not been there since a high school field trip in 1987, I certainly hope to make it up there again someday since assuredly there are far more interesting things than the Liberty Bell and the Betsy Ross Museum!
Friday, September 7, 2007
The Turkish Chuck Norris was born on this day in 1937 in Eskisehir, Turkey. Cuneyt Arkin was a matinee idol throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
My personal favorite Arkin film is "Hayatim Sana Feda/I Love You Feda," a romantic comedy which was influenced by Douglas Sirk films of the 1950s. In the 1970 film, Arkin is a playboy who befriends a female singer played another Turkish film icon Turkan Soray. He acts like a jerk. She goes blind......Well, we've all seen this sort of film before, but Feda was a unique Turkish film experience nevertheless. Oh, of course, they fall in love and get married.
But, in the West, Arkin is best known for starring in "Dunyayi Kurtaran Adami," aka "The Turkish Star Wars." The 1982 film has become the most popular Turkish film on the Internet Movie Database. The film's director Cetin Inanc said that he wanted to make a science-fiction movie in Turkey because it was something that had never been done before. Ironically, he chose to rip off George Lucas, but when one considers how much money American films have made in Turkey, often at the expense of the domestic film industry, one really can not fault Inanc for feeling the way he did. Though, one should fault him for his filmmaking!
Arkin was the hero of Inanc's film, and he did things that most box office icons in the West would have refused to do, including ridicilous high jumps over 'alien invaders' which should have made him the Turkish Bart Conner.
Arkin was also a contradiction. He frequently starred in films which correlated with his own nationalist political views, incluing the "Battal Gazi" series of the '70s and "Once Vatan/My Country First," in which Arkin goes to Cyprus ala James Bond to liberate Turkish Cypriots from the 'evil Greeks.' That film was made in 1975, only a year after the Turks and Greeks had a brief, but bloody war in Cyprus. But, in 1977, Arkin actually joined socialist-leaning actors in a May Day parade in Istanbul. And, in 1978, Arkin was in the ensemble cast of "Maden/The Mine," which was a scathing indictment of labor abuses in Turkey. Thus, in many ways, Arkin is the epitamy of Turkey, which is also a contradiction of cultural and geopolitical trends.
Arkin does not make many movies now, though he did star in a sequel to "The Turkish Star Wars" that was made recently. My understanding is that is 'not quite as good as the first!"
For more info on Arkin, go to http://www.imdb.com
And, to see some hilarious movie clips of his, some of which are in archive editions of this blog, you can go to http://www.youtube.com
Thursday, September 6, 2007
One of the nice things about a blog that gets considerably fewer hits than those of my friends like Christopher Knight and Moviezzz is that I can personal things without fear of sounding well, a bit too personal.
Though my good friend of 20 years Ugur Celikkol lives far away in Bursa, Turkey, we have always managed to keep in touch. Ugur is a highly succesful tour business operator in Bursa and his family has managed the Karagoz Antique Shops in Bursa, Turkey's fourth largest city and a former Ottoman capital, for two generations.
On Saturday, Ugur is getting married! While I can not be there in person, I certainly wish him and his new wife much happiness. I am sure they will have many happy years together_ size mutlu yillar diliyorum, arkadasim!
The Celikkols are also very active in perserving Turkish shadow puppet theatre, best known for the primary character of Karagoz (Black Eye) and Hacivat....I have always viewed Karagoz as a semi-literate figure who symbolizes traditional Turkish village life while Hacivat is a sophisticated man who represents the urbanized Turkish intellectual. The Celikkols involvement in this cause has always impressed me very much.
Ugur is also a fan club president for the local Bursa soccer team, BursaSpor aka The Bursa Crocodilees (see earlier entry).
Anyone wishing to send best wishes can leave them here as a comment or email me at email@example.com
Ugur's Travel Business, which has tour trips in both Turkey and Greece can be linked too at:
This is a continuation of my blog which details the theatre seasons of various stage companies. While much of these entries pertain to theatres in North Carolina and Virginia, there are some from outside the two states that take my life revolves around.
While I was living in the Woodstock, Va., area, I would venture some 90 miles north to Washington, D.C., to enjoy some plays at Arena Stage. The most famous theatre in DC may be the Ford's Theatre- where Lincoln was assasinated, but Arena Stage is the one which consistently produces outstanding productions. It has also been a national launching pad for plays like "The Great White Hope," and the theatre has enjoyed a clsoe association with playwright Paula Vogel, of "How I Learned to Drive" fame.
Starting Sept. 14, Arena Stage produces "Well" by Lisa Kron. The autobiographical comedy focuses on stories of childhood and family with a focus on mother-daughter relationships. During her journey, Lisa is visited by characters from her past, including a bully who tormented her in grade school. The heroine also talks about growing up in a household full of allergies and activism.
Other Arena Stage plays this season include: "The Women of Brewster Place," "Christmas Carol 1914," "Ella," "Mystery of Irma Vep," and two Arthur Miller plays, "Death of a Salesman" and "A View from the Bridge."
"Salesman" starts on March 14, 2008, and runs through May 28. The lesser-known but equally impressive "A View from the Bridge" runs from March 21-May 18. Both plays are a part of Arena Stage's Arthur Miller festival.
I was fortunate enough to see M. Emmet Walsh in an Arena Stage production of another Miller play "All My Sons" some years ago.
Future entries in the theatre roundup are scheduled to include the Mill Mountain Theatre in Roanoke, and Live Arts Theatre in Charlottesville as well as the Deep Dish Theatre in Chapel Hill.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
It's way too &*%$#@ hot here in NC. But, it is not the first time that I have been unable to sleep due to misreable conditions. Though now that it is September, I was hoping some relief was in sight. One really has to envy anyone who lives in a place like Belfast, Maine, this time of year.
But, the bout with insomnia gives me an opportunity to promote mando filmmaker John Waters' one-man show at the Carolina Theatre in downtown Greensboro on Sept. 22 at 8:00 p.m.
The Carolina Theatre's web site says the show will be about how Waters came into becoming a filmmaker and why he chose the trash cinema genre. One can also expect that he will talk about his frequent 'leading man,' the late actor Divine as well as his hometown of Baltimore.
The venue is located at 310 South Green Street. Phone #: 336-333-2605.
I actually briefly met Waters at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
My personal favorite film of his is the 'smell-o-rama' 1981 classic "Polyster," though it has its faults. Waters is currently riding the waves of success following the musical film "Hairspray," with John Travolta, which was an adaptation of a Broadway musical based on his original film of the same name. I actually prefer the new "Hairspray" over the original, and apparently many other folks did as well!
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
It was reported in yesterday's "Washington Post" that former George W. Bush aide Karl Rove, aka Bush's Brain, told the 43rd president not to tap Dick Cheney as vice president.
The revealation comes from former "GQ" journalist Robert Draper who has just penned "The Presidency of George W. Bush." Since Draper knew W from his days as Texas governor, he was able to gain access that the media shy prez has denied virtually everyone else except Fox News.
According to the article in "The Post," Rove told Bush that naming Cheney as veep would be a mistake:
"Selecting daddy's top foreign-policy guru ran counter to message," the passage from the book reads. "It was worse than a safe pick-it was needy."
Though I am not a fan of Rove, who according to Christopher Hitchens is shockingly an agnostic, I do not wish that Bush II listened to him on this piece of good advice.
For articles that are slgihtly more slanted on GWB:
Apparently, there are increasingly a growing number of conservatives who are also at odds with Team Bush....if anyone has some good links from folks of that ilk, they can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The BBC is reporting that newly-elected Turkish Prime Minster Abdullah Gul, whose political party has Islamic roots, has promised the parliament in Ankara that he will maintain the separation of mosque and state.
"The Turkish Republic is a democratic, secular state governed by the rule of law," Gul said. "I am determined to uphold these principles and to further strengthen them at every opportunity."
Ironically, Gul's election last week is being welcomed more by European Union nations than it is at home, where secularists are generally very adamant in their opposition to Gul, whose wife is the first Turkish first lady to wear a head scarf (Tansu Ciler actually became the first woman elected as prime minister some 15 years ago in Turkey).
Senior military officials did not attend Gul's inaguration.
And, opposition leader Onur Oymen also expressed reservations to the BBC:
"A president should have the approval of the majority of the public," Oymen said. "This is not the case for Gul. I hope his election will not lead to tension."
Acclaimed Turkish newspaper columnist Mehmet Ali Birand Gul will face an uphill battle in terms of easing secularist concerns, but he added that the new Turkish PM is capable of fulfilling his obligations of uniting what has become the ultimate swing state on the world stage.
Secularist protests in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and the port city of Channakkale drew thousands of people to the streets several months prior to the August elections where Gul's party also won 47 percent of the parliamentary seats.
Personally, while I am concerned about Gul's election, he seems more capable of leading Turkey through a difficult geopolitical period than our own inept president here in America.
My thoughts go out to all those affected by Hurriance Felix in Central America. The hurricane hit the Honduran border of Nicaragua earlier today. For those, who are able and willing to help, assistance can be sent to the U.S. Red Cross.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Here is les etats unis, baseball season is winding down in many minor league towns, including my hometown of Salem, Va.
Last night, the Salem Avalanche defeated their Carolina League arch rival the Lynchburg Hillcats 5-1 behind six innings from starter Brad Norris. With a 7-3 win over the Wilmington Blue Rocks in Delaware, the Avs clinched a playoff spot though they remain a few games back of the division-leading Kinston Indians.
Meanwhile, those very same Indians clobbered the Myrtle Beach Pelicans 17-4 in South Carolina. Today, the Tribe's Sung-Wei Tsey takes to the mound against the Pelicans.
Our two local teams in the Piedmont region of North Carolina have been struggling here at the end of the regular season. The Greensboro Grasshoppers lost their fifth game in a row by a 5-2 to the West Virginia Power in Charleston. The 'Hoppers made local headlines thanks to two consecutive games with bench-clearing brawls when they played at home against the Kannapolis Intimidators_ a team neamed for local hero, the late NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt.....only in NC!
The Winston-Salem Warthogs fared a bit better on the road in Maryland as they split a double-header with the Frederick Keys. Mark Fleischer won the game for the Keys in game one, which the home team won 4-1. In Game 2, the Warthogs won 7-1 thanks to some solid pitching from starter Derek Rodgriguez, who improved to 14-5.
Two other NC teams battled it out in Durham, where the visiting Charlotte Knights won behind a shut-out from pitcher Andrew Sisso. The Bulls set an attendance record with 11,071 fans. They also set a new record for the whole year, as did the Greensboro Grasshoppers. The Bulls are one game behind the Richmond Braves in their division in the Triple-A International League.
Lastly, I saw that the Portland SeaDogs from Maine lost 7-5 despite a three-run homerun from Jay Johnson to the New Britain Rock Cats in Connecticut. But, the SeaDogs are just a half-game behind New Hampshire in the Double-A Eastern League. The problem is the season ends tomorrow........!
Apologies to the other teams, I simply don't have time to list every team mentioned up here!