Thursday, January 31, 2008

Battle of the Bands: A Flock of Seagulls vs. Rush

Yes, we know no one in their right mind pays attention to the polls we post at "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time."

Nevertheless, I think it is good for those of you who are sick about seeing polls which ask if Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse should be our president, to contemplate over something that is perhaps even more meaningless.

A good friend of mine named Elizabeth Summerfield (not real name) from Danville, Va., who now attends a four-year school known for binge drinking and frisbee derbies, is a big fan of the Canadian band Rush, whose hit songs include the likes of "Big Money," " Distant Early Warning," "Tom Sawyer" and "Time Stand Still" among many, many others. Rush was considered heavy metal when they hit it big (well, they only have one top 40 hit), but now bands like Slayer make them look like our next band.....

A Flock of Seagulls was one of the greatest band in rock and roll history.....according to a hair-stylist magazine, which I don't read. (I am straight, and I have a crush on a Croatian girl who is 15 years younger than me to prove it! Of course, she has a boyfriend. Like Uma Thurman, she was probably born with one.....)

AFOS is best known for hit singles like "I Ran" and "Space Age Love Song." They actually have more top 40 hits to their credit than Rush. And, therefore, in my view, they are---of course!--- the better band:)

Krispy Kreme Sponsors Marathon?

My friend Christpher Knight of Reidsville, NC, is reporting on his blog that his life-long friend Chad Austin is taking in a fund-raiser event known as The Krispy Kreme Challenge in Raleigh, NC.

The annual event, which I presume is sponsored by the Winston-Salem, NC- company,  is a charity race that takes place on the campus of North Carolina State University.

Knight describes the event as following:

An individual starts at the bell tower of  NC St., and then begins a two-mile run to the nearest Krispy Kreme donut shop. The runner then devours a dozen original glazed donuts, and then races back to the bell tower. They have to complete the race within one hour!

Yes, I think this is like seeing Pat Buchanan's Moments in African American History or having Michael Moore moderate a Fox News Republican Debate from Provo, Utah.

According to Knight, Chad was able to complete the race. One imagines he had quite the sugar rush as well......!

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Does This Mean I Should Vote for Hillary?

Today, I got an email (obviously not for Turkish American eyes) from the Armenian lobby ANCA announcing that they are endorsing Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for the Democratic Party nomination.

ANCA has become increasingly difficult to the Turkish-American community and Turkey in recent years. Congress took up their effort to recognize the Armenian Genocide in a highly dubious bill this fall, which illustrated that House Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.) is every much of a 'budala' (Turkish word for idiot) as President George W. Bush.

Though Bush took up our side of the fence on this issue, his idiotic decision to go into Iraq has lead to a remergence of the PKK terrorist group which threatens the geopolitical stability of Turkey.

But, though ANCA does not practice terrorism unlike ASALA, an Armenian terrorist group which killed Turkish diplomats in Europe and North America in the 1970s, their own plans could lead to such tensions in the immediate near future.

Many of my fellow liberals, think the Armenian lobby merely wants a recognition of the 'g-word.' The reality is they also want to 'unite' eastern and western Armenia, which means they wish for Turkey to give them significant portions of eastern Turkey, which also happen to be the same geographic area that Kurdish militants such as the PKK want for a new Kuridsh state. Does this sound like Bosnia, to you? Well, it sure does to me.

Additionally, partisan Armenian American activists around the country have called for a boycott of Turkish products. As if refusing to eat Turkish apricots from the eastern city of Malatya (which is a city that the Kurds and Armenians want) would somehow lead to the Turkish government recognizing the Armenian point of view.

To be fair, Turkey has not helped matters by actually taking controversial novelist Elif Shafak, who teaches at a major university in Arizona, to court for 'insulting Turkishness.'

And, similarly, though none of us are responsible for his heinous murder, the killing of Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink did provoke the same uber-partisanship that the murder of Turkish diplomats did on our side some 30 years ago. Dink was a modest man whose political desires were far less extreme than Armenian activists in the West, but sadly his slaying has indeed helped Armenian ethnic partisans.

This leads us to Obama. He WAS my choice for the Democraitc nomination. Clearly, a smart man with great plans for vital areas, including education and the economy. And, both Hillary Cilnton and John Edwards, who dropped out yesterday, were both supporters of ANCA. They are individuals I still respect, and I even came close to volunteering for Edwards in South Carolina.

And, there are also plenty of House and Senate Republicans who have supported their cause as well, including Sens. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and Norm Coleman of Minnesota. And, many smart Democratic leaders like Cong. Robert Wexler (D-Fl) take up our side as has Cong. Jeff Flake (R-Az.).

The Armenian cause is not only supported by liberals who want to recognize genocides, but also by arch conservative racists who feel that Turkey is some kind of sinister society which must be subservienent to the West so that the country can become 'civilized.' I read one such letter from one such person the same day I submitted a letter-to-the-editor of a local paper to express my views on the matter. He even went so far as to say that the red color on the Turkish flag represents Greek blood.

ANCA also plans on endorsing someone for the Republican nomination. My hunch is that they will support Mitt Romney simply because he is from Massachussetts, which has a large Armenian American population. He made a comment that he would not have any Muslims in his cabinet.

Though she doesn't agreee with our side, perhaps we should support Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Such is ethnic politics.I have a great deal of respect for Armenian Americans, particularly people like Atom Egoyan and Eric Bogosian, but sadly politics seems as likely to divide us in America as it has in Anatolia long before the controversial, violent events of 1915 ever took place. I think lawmakers need to at least make an effort to objectively look at both sides, and make the best decisions they can.

But, it seems ANCA's influence is in part influenced by their deeper pockets rather than objective intellectual analysis. Conversely, the Turkish American organization ATAA needs to step up such efforts, and make counter political endorsements of their own.

One prime example of the Armenian's lobby extremism is the fact that they went after Bill Clinton's secretary of state Madeline Albirght. She joined all the other seven living secretaries of state in opposing the ANCA bill in Congress. Later, she started a commision to work on the current genocide inDarfur. The Armenian lobby called her a hyprocrite.

Of course, I realize most of you perhaps care more about who won the last hot dog-eating contest in Coney Island. And, for that reason, one has to give ANCA credit. They clearly don't want Armenian Americans to forget where they come from. Ironically, I think they are a perfect example of why Turkish Americans should not either and if nothing else (and, yes- alas, there probably is not much else) I can respect them for that.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Kinky New DVD: The Naked Prey

A few years ago when I was a student at Hollins University, I saw a video of a film that starred Cornel Wilde about a naiive westerner who gets pursued by tribesmen in an African jungle.

"The Naked Prey" was also directed by the Hungarian actor who also produced the film.

It is a current dvd recommendation from Margaret Barton-Fumo of "Film Comment" who said the 1966 film, which she describes as 'an anthropoligical chase' movie, is unigue for its shocking violence. Virtually the entire film features Wilde in a black speedo, which might actually scare the children even more.

I must say now that she mentions it the film did have a lot of exciting chase scenes. It's almost like "The French Connection" except instead of cars the pursuits involve warriors and elephants (well, I'm not entirely sure about the later).

One also has to like how Barton-Fumo describes the film: "sort of a National Geographic-meets-Apocalypto' hybrid. There are some brutal scenes of torture and killings, which might lead one to think they are watching the evening news.


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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Senator Has Cameo in "The Dark Knight"

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is making his third cameo in a "Batman" movie according to "Washington Post" blogger Mary Ann Akers in her column "The Sleuth."

Leahy has a bit role in "The Dark Knight" though the unexpected death of rising star Heath Ledger has put the film in post-production jeopardy.

Leahy is a life-long Batman fan. He has also done voice-overs for Batman cartoons and he has written a preface to a Batman comic book.

Akers said that the senior Vermont senator, who has a reputation for being one of the more liberal senators on The Hill, will donate money from the film to The Kellogg-Hubbard Children's Library in the state capital of Montpelier, Vt., where he got his very first library card.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Sundance Leftovers

Film critic Jeff Vice of the Salt Lake City newspaper "The Desseret Morning News" made some interesting observations about this year's Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, in a newspaper column yesterday.

He stated the following:

* Actor William H. Macy of "Oleanna" and "Wild Hogs" fame made use of public transportation to get around Park City, which assuredly made some tourists very happy.

*Actress Amy Adams of "Junebug" and "Enchanted" showed up for a screening of her Sundance film "Sunshine Cleaning," but Vice admits that he didn't notice her until it was too late.

*Most amusingly of all, Vice thought actor John Malkovich, who was a great aloof art teacher in "Art School Confidential" and who starred in the Sundance film "Great Buck Howard," was kidding when he said that he wanted to sneak away from the fest and take in a Utah Jazz game. He did in fact show up for a Jazz game against the Los Angeles Clippers a few days later.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Beat Goes On....Mike Gravel to Campaign in Fla.

For those who are interested in catching extreme long-shot candidate Mike Gravel, a former Democratic senator from Alaska who now reportedly lives in Boston, in person, it appears that you will have two opportunities in Florida this Monday.

According to his official campaign web site, Gravel will be at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, where the Republicans held their debate this week, at noon.

He then heads to Pine Tree Village for a town hall meeting at 3 p.m.

Hopefully, gravel will finally crack the 1,000 vote threshold.

At first I thought this guy was nuts, but now I fully admire his determination. And, I agree: he does deserve more press coverage (this is not an endorsement).

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Obama's Landslide_The Map Tells the Story

Sen. Barack Obama won all but two counties in the South Carolina Primary today. Horry County (Myrtle Beach) went to Sen. Hillary Clinton. And, Oconee County went to former North Carolina senator John Edwards, who was born in that jurisdiction.

But, the story from South Carolina has to be that Obama got more than 70 % of the vote in the counties of Sumter, Marion, Williamsburg and Jasper.

In Williamsburg County which neighbors Horry County, Obama got a whopping 74 % percent of the vote, compared to 17 % for Clinton.

In York County (Rock Hill), Obama won with 46 % compared to 36% for Clinton, who had campaigned there the day before and 17 % for Edwards.

In Charleston County, which also paved the way for Sen. John McCain in the Republican Primary last week, Obama got 63 % of the vote as opposed to Clinton's 24% and Edwards' 15% tally.

The turn-out for the Democratic Primary was even greater than it was for the Republican Primary. This is fairly startling because South Carolina is a definitive red state.

The African American vote went squarely to Obama in every part of the Palmetto State.

I think the people of South Carolina have chosen well as it is now firmly apparent that Obama is a better candidate than Hillary Clinton as McCain is a more solid choice than either of his rivals, Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee. (I guess technically Rudy and Ron Paul are still in it).

I truly think that if Obama and McCain square off in November, that it will be a great shame that one of them will have to lose.

And, the articles I read did not even mention Mike Gravel, the long-shot Democratic candidate who is 'still in the race.'

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Hillary Has Kind Words for Rudy!

Sen. Hillary Clinton actually said nice things about former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani during a stump speech in Rock Hill, SC, yesterday.

The South Carolina Democratic Primary is being held today. A Zogby poll on Friday showed Sen. Barck Obama with a significant lead over the former first lady, though it also indicated that former North Carolina senator John Edwards might finish above the twenty-percent threshold in today's race.

Clinton made the remarks which were quoted by Matt Garfield in an article for the local Rock Hill newspaper "The Herald" in response to a question from a "New York Times" reporter about whether she felt for Rudy given his low polling numbers in the Florida Republican Primary.

She started by quipping: "You're so bad," but then she gave what sounds like a surprisingly gentile comment given the partisan mud-slinging on both sides:

"He's worked very hard in this campaign," Hillary Clinton said. "Anybody who puts themselves in this arena deserves our respect. This is not easy."

Rudy was campaigning at a rally for Cuban Americans in Miami where he continued the party mantra of being tough on the Cuban government, regardless if Fidel or Raoul Castro is in charge. Rudy still trails all the leading contenders as he has a mere 15 percent of the vote in the Sunshine State.

Obama held a rally with a sizable turnout Friday night in Florence, SC. Edwards is also making his rounds around the Plametto State as he held a rally in towns like Laurel, SC.

Cong. John Spratt (D-SC) was on hand for the rally, which was Hillary's first stop in Rock Hill. He has not endorsed any of the candidates, but he complemented Hillary for visiting his district:

"Sen. Clinton, you can go back and tell Bill (Clinton) that you drew a bigger crowd than he did."

If I lived in Rock Hill, where much of my mother's family still resides, I would probably vote for Edwards today. South Carolina's leading newspaper "The State," out of Columbia, has said that undecided voters will determine today's outcome.

One has to give South Carolina Republicans credit for choosing Sen. John McCain, who looks to be one of the few candidates on either side who can work with the other party

Fringe candidate Mike Gravel is still in the race. Though, he spent at least some portion of the week in Utah at the Sundance Film Festival (see earlier entry). It will be interesting to see how manyvotes he gets in Spartanburg.

Useful Links: (Charlotte NC political blog)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Dennis Kucinich Drops Out

From Tilly Gokbudak: In four minutes, this will literally be yesterday's news, but I had a chance to jot down the exact quote from "The Washington Post" on Friday afternoon, regarding Dennis Kucinich's departure from the presidential race:

"I want to continue to serve in Congress," Kucinich said. "There is a point at which you just realize that you, look, you accept it, that it isn't going to happen and you move on."

Or, perhaps Kucinich didn't have enough cash for his campaign workers to spend the night at another Super 8 in Spartanburg..........

But, there is still Mike Gravel.

For those of you living in either Baku, Azerbaijan, or Muscat, Oman, Kucinich was a fringe candidate in the Democratic Party, who also represents a suburban Cleveland district in Congress.

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Edith Wharton Quote

I would like to dedicate this quote to one Rudolph Giuliani as he hopes to become 'the comeback kid' in the Florida Republican Primary.

Believe it or not, I almost wrote a letter defending the former New York mayor to the Greensboro, NC, paper "The News-Record" because I think the far-right has been criticizing him pretty harshly, and hey only people with my political views have a right to do that!

Alas, it is an election year and my mother can't stand the guy.

There is a non-partisan side of me that would like to say: "Gosh, you know being the mayor of New York City had to be an impossible job, even before 9-11," but if I said that, I would also have to say: "Gosh, being the president has to be hard work."

However, if Rudy G or his campaign spokesperson leaves a message here and offers me free Yankees tickets (errr...I'm a Red Sox fan) or free tickets to the new Broadway version of "Young Frankenstein," I'll go one step further and endorse him outright............hey, when it comes to politics____that's the new American way!

Edith Wharton (1862-1937) was an American writer who wrote such novels as "House of Mirth" (1905) and "Age of Innocence" some ninety years before they were both turned into movies.

Here's the quote:
"A New York divorce is in itself a diploma of virtue."

First Sunday Opens at Rockingham Theatre

My good friend Gary Doss runs the Rockingham Theatre in downtown Reidsville, NC. This week, they are showing "First Sunday." Based on the reviews of the film, I thought I would promote this here because.....well, Gary might need all the help he can get!

In all seriousness, the Rockingham Theatre, which is known affectionately as "The Rock" is a great place for the whole family to see a movie. And, the popcorn is quite good too.

In fact, if you go see "First Sunday" and tell Gary that you heard about The Rock through this blog, he will give you a and that's worth the price of admission in itself. (Movies at The Rock are a mere five dollars_matinees and children prices are cheaper. In nearby Greensboro, the same movie can cost you up to four dollars more!)

"First Sunday" stars Ice Cube, Katt Williams and Tracy Morgan. The David E. Talbert film is about two best friends who also happen to be bumbling criminals.

The Rock was built in 1929 and it is one of the oldest operating cinemas in the Greensboro area which still shows films on a daily basis.

Other old cinemas in the region include The Carolina Theatre in Greensboro and The Graham Cinema in Graham, NC.

There is also The Eden Drive-In (closed for season), which is owned by the same people as The Rock, in Eden, NC.

If "First Sunday" is not your type of movie, don't fret. Gary should have something new next week.  And, you can always just go in for the popcorn.

Shows are at 7:30 p.m. nightly with 3:00 p.m. matinees on Saturday and Sunday.

Useful Links:

(You can also call the theatre up to hear Gary's funny messages)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

NC State Gymnast Stands Out on Beam

Leigha Hancock, a senior communications major from Suffield, Conn., was named the EAGL Conference Gymnast of the Week last week for the second time in the early 2008 season last week, and the tenth time in her career.

Brandi George, a sophomore with the University of Maryland from Orlando, Fla., recieved the honor this past week.

Hancock currently ranks second in the balance beam nationally. Her team, the North Carolina State Wolfpack, rank 24th in the nation in women's gymnastics.

The team lost a meet in Tuscon, Ariz., to the 12th ranked University of Arizona Wildcats.

Their next meet is Saturday at Ohio St. The Buckeyes are also a nationally ranked team.

The Wolfpack scored a 192.350 in the Arizona meet.

The University of North Carolina Tarheels also had a meet over the weekend.

In its meet, The Tarheels won the George Washington University Invitational over the likes of the host school, William and Mary and Cornell University.

UNC won the meet with a score of 193.75.

In a UNC sports press release, Coach Derek Galvin said his team's performance was a very pleasing one:

"It was one of our strongest opening team performances that we've ever had at Carolina," Galvin said. "The strong leadership of our seniors provoked at strong performance at every class."

Chrsitine Nguyen, a sophomore from Plano, Tex., earned first place in the all-around at the Washington, DC, meet with a score of 38.875. Nguyen also finished first on the balance beam.

Kara Wright, a sophomore from Virginia Beach, finished first on the floor.

Karli Jones, a freshman from Columbia, SC, made a solid debut and she finished fourth in the all-around behind Nguyen and Wright.

The next meet for the Tarheels will be Feb. 1 at Townson State University in Towson, Md.

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Irish Playwright's Film at Sundance

Acclaimed Irish Playwright Martin McDonogh is exhibiting his film "In Bruges" at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

McDonogh wrote and directed the film, which is a comic-thriller about two London-based hit men who are ordered to hide in Belgium after a bothced 'job.'

The film is the first festuare for McDonogh, but he also wrote and directed the Academy-Award winning short film "Six Shooter," which I saw on the Sundance Channel recently. The short is a hysterical film starring Brendan Gleeson about a surreal train ride that a middle-age man takes in the English countryside after his wife's suicide.

The current film stars Gleeson as well-established movie star Colin Farrell.

McDonogh is best known for the provacative play "The Pillowman," which was performed at Studio Theatre in Washington, DC, last year. The play won the 2004 Olivier Award for best play.

Salt Lake City film critic Jeff Vice saw the film at Sundance, and he enjoyed it.

It is one of the early hits from this year's festival.

On a personal note, my thoughts go out to the family and friends of Heath Ledger. A genuine star who had just given a remarkable performance in "I'm Not There."

He will be missed.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oscar Nomination for Borat's Country!

I am always curious about which films are selected for the best foreign-language film Oscar. Alas, there are too many Americans who have only seen "The Passion of the Christ" or some Jackie Chan import in subtitles.

But, this year there may be slightly more coverage of who wins this award because one of the five nominated films "Mongol" is from Kazakhstan, which is the home country of Sasha Bara Cohen's fictional Borat character made famous/infamous in the mocumentary "Borat," which was partially filmed in my hometown of Salem, Va. (and that part of the film was the famous/infamous rodeo sequence).

"Mongol," directed by Sergei Bodrav, is the story of Genghis Khan's early life when he was in slavery. The film was mostly shot in China, and one board poster on the IMDB said the cinematography from Sergei Tromfimov reminded him of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon!).

Only two of the five films came from internationally-know directors. Those are "12," a Russian film from previous Oscar winner Nikita Mikhlakov (he won for "Burnt by the Sun" in 1994) about 12 jurrors who must decide the fate of a Chechen teenager charged with murdering his stepfather.

My friend Bilge Ebiri was one of Mikhalov's assistant directors for the Russian film "The Barber of Siberia," which never released in America despite having Julia Ormond in the lead.

The other film from a known director is the Polish film "Katya" from veteran filmmaker Andrej Wajda. It is a Holocaust story, which is said to be profoundly moving.

The remaining two best foreign langague nominees are "Beaufort," an Israeli film about the conflict with Palestinaians and the Austrian caper "The Counterfeiters."

Perhaps, the bigger story is which film did NOT get nominated.

Those include the Spanish horror film "The Orphanage," the French animated film "Persepolis" and the German film "The Edge of Heaven," from Turkish German director Fatih Akin who also helmed the critically-acclaimed film "Head-On" a few years ago.

But, the most surprising snub was against the Romanian film "4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days," which was a Cannes Festival winner and was considered to be one of the five best films of the year in both "The Film Comment" and "The Village Voice" critic's polls.

An Iraqi film "Jani Gal" was also considered as was the Turkish film "Takva/A Man's Fear of God," about an Islamic fundamentalist's inner struggles with his faith, from directorOzer Kiziltan.

The Iranian film "Offsides," which Ebiri  (also a New York film critic) considered to be the best film of the year, was not even considered as the governments of each country choose which film should be considered for the foreign-language film Oscar.

"Offisides," which is about an Iranian girl who sneaks into a soccer stadium to watch a game, was extremely controversial in Iran (in fact, I believe it was banned, but we don't have fact-checkers to verify that!). Hence, it was not chosen by the Iranian government.

I predict that "12" will win the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, but I have yet to see any of the nominated films. In fact, I'm not sure any of them have been outside major market cities as of this juncture.

For more info on the Oscars, I highly recommend my friend Moviezzz's blog (link below).

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My Prediction for Best Picture Oscar

Since this year's Academy Awards ceremony may be shorter than the films nominated for best shorts, I will keep this entry to a bare minimal.

The Best Picture nominees are:


"There Will Be Blood"

"Michael Clayton"

"No Country for Old Men"


This is tricky because "Atonement" was a film that was made for an Oscar nomination. It is this year's "The English Patient."

"Blood" and "Old Men" are dividing the critic's lists as the top choice. And, last year, the Oscars actually chose a great film "The Departed" though they have been known to actually do that occasionally, ie. the Best Picture Oscar for "Million Dollar Baby."

"Juno" and "Michael Clayton" have as much as chance of winning as Fred Thompson does in Florida.

Well, I'm getting hungry, so let's get this over with............

My pick is "No Country for Old Men."

The broadcast is scheduled for..............oh, let's not talk about this any further until the writer's strike is over with!

UPDATE: I was stunned to see that "No Country for Old Men" is even showing at a movie theatre in the small town of Eden, NC. For those of you who live in the Roanoke/Blacksburg area in Va., the Coen Brothers film will be showing at the Lyric Theatre in Blacksburg starting on Friday.

"There Will Be Blood" is currently showing at the Grandin in Roanoke. Other regional cinemas showing that film are The Carousel Grand (Greensboro, NC) and The Galaxy Cinema (Cary, NC).

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Where's Mike Gravel?

As many of you who look at this blog frequently or at least once a month might know, I love to pick on politicians.

And, there is no softer target that a complete unknown, fringe candidate trying desperately hard to get attention while the mainstream media pays attention to which kind of gel Mitt Romney uses for hair or what kind of juice that Barack Obama has with his morning breakfast.

Enter Mike Gravel.

The former Democratic Alaska Senator got 442 votes in the New Hampshire Primary, but he is still in the race!

My fellow blogger Moviezzz watched tonight's televised Democratic debate from Myrtle Beach, SC, (Amazingly enough, I did not!) and he mentioned that neither Gravel nor Dennis Kucinich were there.

Well, some political die-hards like myself might be wondering just where these guys were.

I have no idea about Kucinich, but I can account for the whereabouts of Gravel between the hours that the debate was in progress.

The logical assumption since the Democratic Primary in South Carolina is on Saturday that he would be in a place like Spartanburg,Columbia,  Rock Hill, Georgetown, Florence, Conway, Aiken ,Orangeburg or even Kings Tree, right?

Think again!

No, Gravel was not getting wasted at The Hard Rock Cafe in Myrtle Beach because he wasn't invited to the prom. Rather, he was far, far away at The Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah!

Apparently Gravel was part of a panel held by a group called The Creative Coalition. The subject of their dinner which started at 6 p.m. Utah time (which is like exactly when the Myrtle Beach debate was underway) was the impact of film on politics. A former secretary of agriculture was also there, but hey that guy's not running for president!

I got this info in an email from the Gravel campaign.

I am hoping to add a few more entries about this year's Sundance Film Festival, which started late last week, this week. I went there as a tourist in 2002. Bono, Colin Farrell and Bruce Willis have been some of the celebrities at this year's festival, which festival founder Robert Redford is trying to downplay. 

Two years ago, a more substantial political figure made an appearance at The Sundance Film Festival. That was Al Gore who presented his documentary film "An Inconveinent Truth" at the festival. It went on to win an Oscar and inform the world about the dangers of global warming.  

Martin Luther King Jr.'s Lone Film Appearance

With about a half-hour left for this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I thought I would enter a brief entry about the man who changed an entire nation in a monumental way.

I can't say enough about what King achieved.

When I wrote a story about the George Washington Carver School in Salem, Va., a segregated institution which is now an open elementary school for "The Salem Times-Register" ten years ago, I was deeply moved by the needless struggles that African Americans of the segregation era lived through.

I was struck by this when I saw an African American boy swimming in the same swimming pool as white children at the local YMCA here in North Carolina. Upon until King and his leadership, such things were not allowed to happen in this region of the country. We are clearly a better nation for his sacrifice.

This leads me to mention King's lone cinematic appearance. It is strangely enough in the highly controversial 1967 Swedish film "I am Curious Yellow," which has many frank sex scenes for its time (I have yet to see the film myself, though I know there is a Criterion Edition of it).

According to the Internet Movie Database (, King's appearance in the film was actually from an interview he gave in 1966 while visiting Stockholm to get Swedish support for America's Civil Rights Movement.

There were King events across the nation today, but one of them in Greensboro was supposed to feature an "American Idol" winner of African American heritage (I don't watch the show, and hence I can't remember her name). She was alas a no show, and no one as of yet knows exactly why.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Gizmo's Super Bowl Pick

A few months ago, the family cat Gizmo, who is a three-and-a-half-year-old feline with an appetite for whasically wabbitts, made some college football picks.

One day, I may very well post a digital photo of Gizmo here to prove his existence. I'll make sure it is on a day when he is not a backyard Hannibal Lecter.

Until then, I can offer you Gizmo's pick for The Super Bowl on Feb. 3..........this might cost me a few friends in Worchester, Mass...........:


New York Giants 27

New England Patriots 23


Yes, Gizmo is calling for the upset of century and if this holds true then the Patriots will NOT have an undefeated season.

Since they are both likely Patriots fans, I wonder if Mitt Romney and John Kerry will put aside partisan differences and sit down beside each other to watch this game together on a jumbo-screen at a conveinent Applebee's location.  

Perhaps, Kerry can give Romney some good campaign fact, if he really wants to support Barack Obama, I can't think of a better way to help him out!

For half-time, instead of seeing Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, I would prefer to see Romney, Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee put in a dunking booth with John McCain supporter Boston RedSox pitcher Curt Shilling holding the softball,or better yet the winner of the South Carolina Democratic Primary. 

Speaking of which, my own predictions for the South Carolina Democratic Primary on Saturday (hence I can't blame this on a cat) are as follows:

Obama: 44 %

Clinton 42 %

Edwards 14%

Kucinich (appx. ) 4,272 votes

Mickey Mouse 31

Donald Duck 19

Betty Boop 18

Mike Gravel * 6 votes

*- still an official candidate!


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Winthrop and McCain Win Today

Well, I guess a bag of peanuts are heading to Rock Hill, SC........

As discussed in my last entry, The Winthrop Eagles faced The Radford Highlanders today in Radford, Va.

My cousin Michael Dawkins is a Winthrop University alum. I went to a slightly better school in Radford University. But, today Winthrop was the better team on the hardwood as they beat RU 77-59 thanks to 20 points from Michael Jenkins.

And, speaking of South Carolina, Chris Cillizza of "The Washington Post" reported that thanks to huge John McCain support around Charleston, the Arizona senator edged out a victory over Chuck Norriss' sidekick Mike Huckabee.

Fringe Republican Duncan Hunter dropped out after finishing last in South Carolina. According to NPR, he blamed the media for having a 'vote the candidate off the island' mentality. Hunter still rarely got more than two percent of the vote at any given point and time.

The Democrats have their primary next week. I might be in the process of jumping ship from John Edwards to Barack Obama as Edwards did badly in Nevada today, but either way I don't live in a town like Chester, SC, so I don't think it really matters.

At any rate, Mike enjoy those peanuts.

I expect to have you send me peaches after we beat you in Rock Hill, when the two teams face each other again on Feb. 16.

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Eagle vs. Highlander

I was hoping to be at the Dedmon Center on the campus of my alma mater Radford University in Radford, Va., to watch my beloved Radford Highlanders take on my cousin Michael Dawkins' alma mater, which are the Winthrop University Eagles from Rock Hill, SC, in men's basketball action.

Alas, bad weather has struck Virginia and the Carolinas, which might be good news for fringe Republican candidate Cong. Duncan Hunter (R-Cal.) in the South Carolina Republican Primary. He may actually get a full two percent of the vote now!

Winthrop (10-7) and Radford (5-12) has dominated the series in recent years, but hopefully that will change today.

The game is currently underway. I tried to get the live feed from the game, but my computer isn't cooperating.

Hopefully, I will hear from Mike later today, and by then, I'll know who won.

I'm also curious to know if his brother Patrick Dawkins, who is a current student at Winthrop (where my late grandfather Dudley 'Doc' Sturgis was an economics professor), really voted for Ron Paul after all. Paul held a rally close to Rock Hill in nearby Fort Mill, SC, earlier in the week. Reportedly, someone drove all the way from Kentucky for the event!

I'm not sure anyone will drive from The Bluegrass State to watch the Radford game, but at least family bragging rights are on the line. (I imagine a drive to and from Paducah, Ky., would take a while and with the price of gas these days.........!)

In an earlier blog entry, we discussed how Virginia Governor Tim Kaine had to send his counterpart in Topeka, Kan., a Virginia ham after Virginia Tech lost to Kansas at the Orange Bowl.

I have made no such arrangements with Mike. But, I suppose he can send me a basket of peaches (Gaffney, SC, is actually one of the best places to find peaches in the country) if the Highlanders pull off the major upset this afternoon. Of course, if we don't win, I may have to deliver............hmmm...........peanuts?!  

But, either way one of us will be happier than the losers of the Republican primary!

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Rock Hill, SC, Newspaper Endorses McCain

My mother's hometown newspaper "The Herald" in Rock Hill, SC, is endorsing Arizona Sen. John McCain in the state's Republican Primary tomorrow. The Democratic Primary will be held in South Carolina on Jan. 26.

It may surprise some of you who know the politics of this blog that I have a great deal of respect and admiration for McCain. I even crossed party lines to vote for him over George W. Bush in 2000 during the Virginia Republican Primary on the assumption that the then-Texas governor would be a disastorous president. Needless to say, I was right.

But, like conservative columnist David Brook of The New York Times, I think McCain is a man of virtue and integrity in an occupation where both can be liabilities. This was made evident by the fact that a literal 'billion dollar lie' by McCain's rival Mitt Romney in Michigan propelled the later to victory.

Romney promised Michigan residents that he would somehow ressurect the state's auto industry. In my view, an endorsement by the very liberal filmmaker Michael Moore may have been slightly more credible.

In its endorsement of McCain, "The Herald" said his wllingness to go with what he believes makes him a candidate of moral integrity:

""While some regard McCain's maverick stands as traitorous , others see them as evidence of an inquistive mind, a willingness to stand on principle, a desire to find consensus amid contentiousness and a compelling need to put his country's interest over partisan concerns."

McCain has many things going against him. Conservatives disdain his pragmatic immigration stand. Independents and liberals wonder how such an intelligent figure can believe that we need to stay in Iraq for '100 years.' And, then there is the dreaded age question which made him the butt of some late-night talk show jokes, but like the expeirence question that looms over Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in his own quest for The White House, McCain seems determined to overcome it.

The Washington Post talked to a crusty Republican voter in Charleston, SC, who said that McCain's bipartisan work with the likes of Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wisc.) were signs that the maverick Arizona senator was some kind of Benedict Arnold reflect some of ridicilous things that McCain will need to overcome in the Palmetto State which made the dubious arch-conservative Strom Thurmond a life-long senator in Washington, DC.

But, like much of America, South Carolina seems to be changing. And, despite my own political allegiance to the Democratic Party, I would like to see the state which helped Bush win The White House eight years ago, turn around and choose McCain over some other Republicans, mainly Romney and Mike Huckabee, who would clearly be worse for the nation as a whole.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

August Wilson's "The Piano Lesson" Staged in Norfolk, Va.

Famed African American playwright August Wilson (1945-2005) is best known for his 'Pittsburgh Cycle.' These are ten plays that deal with African American characters over a ten year period in Wilson's native Pittsburgh.

"The Piano Lesson" is a Pulitzer-winning play that chronicles this period in the 1930s.

It will be staged at the Virginia Stage Company in Norfolk from now until Feb.3.

The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., will have stage readings of all ten plays in the Pittsburgh Cycle, starting in March.

The next play that the company will produce is "The Poetry of Pizza," by Debroah Brevoort, about an American professor who falls for a Kurdish pizza-maker while she is in Copenhagen, Denmark.

A famous quote from "The Piano Lesson" is:

"Money can't buy what the piano costs. You can't sell your soul for money. It won't go to the buyer. It'll shivel and shrink to know you aint taken on to it, but it won'g to the buyer."

The play was made into a tv-movie with Alfre Woodward and Louis Gossett Jr.

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He Said.......She Said.........

I'm glad that Democratic candidates Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton came to a supposed truce last night at a debate in Las Vegas. This only helps the like of Darth Romney.

But, last week, the two had some words for each other. Here is what Obama said about Clinton:

"What we saw this morning was why the American people are tired of Washington politicians and the games they play."

Hillary Clinton responded by saying:

"When the cameras are gone and the lights go off, what do you do next?, Clinton said. "He does not have a record of producing change."

Thankfully, there are five Republicans going at it like lions at The National Zoo as well.


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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My Ten Worst Films of 2007

Normally, I have refrained from making a 10 Worst Films simply because I did not see enough bad films to make such a list. But, this year, I managed to take in some stinkers.

Here they are, in reverse order:


10. "300"- This film based on Frank Miller's graphic novel should have been a much better film! What a bore.

9. "Rush Hour 3"- It's time to retire this franchise.

8. "Halloween"- Rob Zombie could be the first filmmaker who ends up in an asylum one day. This was one sick film with good technical qualities but no redeming value.

7. "The Invasion"- a remake of a remake of a great Don Siegel film.

6. "Resident Evil: Extinction"- Not Exactly "Mad Max."

5. "I am Legend"_ Surely the other two filmations of Richard Matheson's novel are better than this!

4. "Fantastic 4: The Rise of the Silver Surfer"- Jessica Alba might be hot, but this film was not.

3. "Balls of Fury"_A friend of mine said I was wrong about this.......oh well! It might be the very worst film Christopher Walken has ever appeared in.

2. "The Hitcher"_ This film, released early in 2007, was remake of mediocre C. Thomas Howell/Rutger Hauer thriller made 20 years ago that was itself a rip-off of "Duel." I saw it on a day when I was very bored. It didn't help! A truly dreadful film at every level.

1. "Mr. Bean's Holiday"- Rowan Atkinson proves he's no Jerry Lewis......


I hope none of these made your ten best list!



Quote of the Day- Noel Coward (1889-1973)

I have been meaning to post a quote from British playwright Noel Coward, author of "Blithe Spirit" and "Brief Encounter," for quite some time. Here is the quote:

"I love criticism just so long as it's unqualified praise."

Scott Bakula to Sing for Ford's Theatre (Perhaps, Linclon's Ghost Will Be There Too)

One thing I love about blogging is that it allows me to share with the world all the trivial info I accumulate on a daily basis.

During a recent trip to Washington, D.C., I saw that actor Scott Bakula who starred in the science fiction series "Quantam Leap" (1989-93) will be performing a benefit concert for the historic Ford's Theatre in the nation's capital.

But, the event will NOT be held at the Ford's Theatre, which is undergoing renovations. To make the matter more confusing, Ford's Theatre is now staging plays at a new temporary location. Hmmm....

Bakula will perform an evening of music ranging from Cole Porter, George Gershwin and Rodgers and Hammerstein.

The tv, movie and theatre actor has also appeared in some "Star Trek" movies as of late.

The event will be held Friday night at Sindey Harman Hall, which is locaed on 610 F Street, NW

Phone: 202-547-1122

It starts at 7:30 p.m.

I imagine this show will be slightly less expensive and more condusive to the ears than Barry Manilow's Jan. 20th concert at the RBC Center in Raleigh, NC. And, at least, Bakula's concert is going to a good cause.

The Ford's Theatre is famous because it is the place where President Andrew Jackson* was assasinated, which lead comedian Sarah Vowell to say that: "No one goes to Ford's Theatre to see the play."

But, the theatre has actually performed a variety of good productions, including a performance of August Wilson's "Jitney" last year.


*-I put Andrew Jackson in place of Abraham Lincoln to get everyone's attention. I expect someone will tell me that Lincoln was shot there not Jackson so they can assume they are smarter than me!


Fred Thompson Visits Steakhouse in Rock Hill, SC

I guess the former Tenn. senator thinks he has a prayer in The Palmetto State, where some conservative bloggers, are labeling Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) a liberal.

So, he is meeting some of his few supporters at the Golden Corral in Rock Hill according to the city's local paper "The Herald." He may need to buy lots of ice tea to get the vote in York County, and elsewhere.

Later in the day, Thompson heads to the hamlet of York, SC, for a walk with the town's mayor Eddie Lee before he takes a bus ride through the state.

Not to be outdone, Mike Huckabee will be flying for a stump speech in Rock Hill this afternoon as well. The former Arkansas governor is crossing new lines in the sand on his campaign as he actually delivered a sermon at a church in Spartanburg over the weekend.

Meanwhile, down in Charleston, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Ct.) will campaign for McCain at a synagogue to help him with the 'vast Jewish' vote in SC.

I noticed that our ethnic rivals, Armenian Americans, feel that they can somehow make a difference in the South Carolina Primary even though they have a mere 3,000 Armenians in South Carolina- which is the size of Denmark, SC. I guess every vote counts.

On the Democratic side, former North Carolina senator John Edwards held a rally at Myrtle Beach High School. Bill and Linda Hamann of Myrtle Beach were among his supporters.

 And, Barack Obama will have another campaign stop in the state capital. But, there is no word on whether Oprah Winfrey will be there with him.

UPDATE on Jan. 16: According to a conservative blogger, Thompson signed copies of "The Hunt for Red October" dvds at the Golden Corral. There were an estimated 500 people at the rally, but alas the sound system was only good for 100 folks. I'm picking Thompson to finish third in South Carolina. I know my mom's native state pretty well, and they like their guys who are to the right of Jesse Helms. Thompson seems to fit that bill.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Film Comment Releases Top Ten Films List

If you think most blogs which talk about movies are listing too many top ten films list, I will tell you this: They are good for hits!

My friend New York critic/filmmaker Bilge Ebiri was one of the participants in this year's critics list for "Film Comment." Others included filmmakers Paul Schrader and Guy Maddin as well as distinguished critics like Amy Taubin, Graham Fuller and J. Hoberman as well the always interesting Nathan Lee of "The Village Voice" (see earlier entry).

One of the more interesting lists was from Maddin, who is the best thing to come out of Winnipeg, Canada since the cult band The Crash Test Dummies. He had two westerns, "The Assasination of Jesse James...." (#24) and "3:10 to Yuma" (#47) as his one-two films respectively.

I thought it was interesting that three of the ranked films, "The Bourne Ultimatum," (#31), "Ratatoille" (#21) and "Superbad" (#44) actually played at the Eden Drive-In in Eden, NC.

My friend Blake Lipscomb, back in Roanoke, told me that "3:10 to Yuma" made it to Hull's Drive-In in Lexington, Va.  

My favorite film of the year "The Darjeeling Limited" was #39, (it finished in "FC" editor Gavin Smith's top five) but Ebiri's top choice the Iranian film "Offside" came in higher at #18. My friend and fellow blogger Moviezzz is an admirer of the Irish musical film "Once" (which I have not seen!). It came it at #32.

Two of the films, "Juno" (#33) and "Atonement" (#43) are currently playing at the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke.

Here are the top ten films:

1. "No Country for Old Men" (Joel and Ethan Coen, U.S.)

2. "There Will Be Blood" (P.T. Anderson, U.S)

3. "Zodiac" (David Fincer, US)

4. "Syndromes and a Century" (A. Weererasethakul, Thailand)

5. "I'm Not There" (Todd Haynes, US)

6. "Killer Sheep" (Charles Burnett, US)- this film was actually made in the '70s, but not released until this year. 

7. "Lady Chatterley" (Pascale Ferran, France/Belgium)

8. "4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days" (Cristian Munglu, Romania)

9. "Eastern Promises" (David Cronenberg, UK/Canada).

10. "Colossal Youth" (Pedro Costa, France) 

For the other 40 films, go to:

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Blues Brothers Screening in Greensboro, NC

When I recieved an email notification of "The Blues Brothers" from the Carolina Theatre, it sounded almost like Jake and Elwood were going to perform there.

But, there is in fact going to be a screening of the 1980 John Landis comedy, which stars the late John Belushi as Jake Blues and Dan Aykroyd as his literal partner in crime Elwood Blues.

The film was one of the first to be based on a "Saturday Night Live" skit, and it's considerably better than the 1993 filmation of "Coneheads," which also starred Aykroyd.

"The Blues Brothers" was followed by the 1998 sequel "Blues Brothers 2000," which I have yet to see.

The film is also airing nationally on Cinemax this month.

Among the interesting facts about this comedy cult classic, which was filmed in and around Chicago (where else?), is that it features cameos from the likes of Steven Spielberg, Frank Oz, late blues singer John Lee Hooker and a then unknown Paul Reubens, who would later become the ever-annoying Pee-wee Herman.

The "Jailhouse Rock" sequence at the end features none other than singer Joe Walsh.

The soul food cafe where Aretha Franklin sings was called Nate's Deli in real life, but it has alas become a Chicago parking lot_ so much for film tourism.

The line: "The mafia's out there" was also altered to "The mob's out there" when the film aired on television after recieveing protests from Italian-American organizations.

Leonard Maltin gave the film three stars, saying:

"Off the wall from start to finish, with some fine music woven in...."

The film has a few new scenes in the dvd version.

The screening starts at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

The Carolina Theatre is located at 310 South Greene Street in downtown Greensboro.

Call 336-333-2605 for more information.


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Friday, January 11, 2008

Make Otto the School Bus Driver Proud, Dude.

Last week, while I was in Washington, DC, I was hoping to find some lucrative job that would pay more than my current meager wages here in this fictional North Carolina town where I reside.

I started my job hunt with the classified ads. More specifically, I looked in one of these free employment guides than you find in local convenience stores and laundromats.

And, sure enough, I found an interesting job- though it is not one I want.

Fairfax County (Va.) Schools are looking for a few good school bus drivers!

Yes, if you live in the greater Washington, DC, area, and you've come to the same realization I have_ which is basically that a master's degree matters as much as having three years experience as a bus-boy at Denny's_you might want to get a pen and jot this info down.

The starting salary for a Fairfax County school bus driver is $16.57 per hour.

The ad states that there are excellent retirement, health and dental plans as well as life insurance and disability insurance (like if you get hit in theback of the head from some seventh grader's Rubik's Cube).

You will also be guaranteed 35 hours per week and you will get six paid nonworking days.

And, there is the added benefit of childcare cost savings- infants and preschool aged children and (get this!) grandchildren may ride with you.

Hmmmm.....I can't 'expletive' stand kids. I guess if you also have that quality, they might hold it against you.

If you are actually interested in this, email me at and I will give you more detailed info (ie. where to call, go online, etc.)

This job listing reminded me of "The Simpsons" character Otto, who drives a school bus while listening to the likes of Metallica and Ozzy Osbourne- yeah man!

My good friend Moviezzz, who coincidentally resides in Springfield, Mass., is an expert on all things Simpsons. Alas, his town lost out a screening of the world premiere of "The Simpsons Movie" to Springfield, Vt., over the summer.

I wonder if either town has their equivalent of Otto. Personally, I don't think I could drive a school bus and listen to Megadeath at the same time, but I can post this blog entries while listening to the semi-awful music of my high school years on the radio.

I just wish they'd play that great song by A-ha again.

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Frosty Protests Republicans in Myrtle Beach

Even though I'm a Democrat, I do tend to feel that young people, particularly college-age folks, can be a bit politically naive. Perhaps, this is because I have become (dare I use the 'c' word) slightly more 'conservative' over the years. But, hey-I still like to listen to Midnight Oil. And, maybe one day the Aborigines will be free.
But, young people to their credit are much more likely to get involved with a cause and take their message straight to the candidates. I mean I don't think I could have the nerve to walk up to Nancy Pelosi and tell her to stand up to Armenian Americans (I'm a Turkish-Ameircan) - as much as I would want to do that.
Thus, one has to credit Sara Tansey, 19, of Litchfield Beach, SC, which is a suburb of Myrtle Beach.
Last night's Fox News Republican Debate took place at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. I wonder if any of the candidates were spotted around town wearing Myrtle Beach Pelicans hats. Personally, I think John McCain would look good in one myself.
Tansey is a sophomore at the University of South Carolina, which means she does not wear Clemson Tigers hats, especially on game day.
Dressed like Frosty the Snowman, Tansey told "The Myrtle Beach Sun News," that global warming is a  matter that everyone needs to be concerned about.
"What we stand to lose are our weather patterns," Tansey said. "It's mid-January, and it's 70 degrees today."
Tansey added that this will eventually means that children will not be able to build a snowman, (which will cost a future Mike Huckabee a vital photo-op in Sioux City, Iowa.)
Speaking of naive young people, the Myrtle Beach newspaper also had a photograph of a cute two-year-old boy holding up a sign for Mitt Romney.
They also had a great photo of Jeri Thompson, who would be the first first lady to look a Maxim cover girl, walking by a sand sculpture of her beloved husband Fred Thompson_ I don't think she married him for his looks, do you?
 And, a Ron Paul helicopter also passed through the area- if only that could help him win the nomination.
I just wish John Kerry had pulled a Joe Lieberman and crossed party lines to endorse his fellow Boston Red Sox fan Romney instead of Barack Obama (only an endorsement from Tony Soprano could hurt more!). Now, that would have been better than seeing Huckabee pheasant hunting.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

XTC vs. Adam Ant- 500th Entry!

We have reached yet another milestone, as this marks our 500th anniversary. I suppose using the pronoun our is a bit over-the-top since I've done 99 percent of the work.

Terry Williams of Danville, Va., is responsible for the other one percent, but he is busy studying physics these days.

And, to mark this occasion, I am posting my first entry to be based on an obscure song. "XTC vs. Adam Ant" is a single from They Might Be Giants "Factory Showroom" release. The Brooklyn-based TMBG are also known for cult hits like "Istanbul, Not Constaninople" and "Birdhouse in Your Soul."

The song is in reference to two new wave pop acts of the early 1980s:

"XTC versus Adam Ant
Content versus form

Fighting for their place
in rock and roll

There is no
right or wrong."

Though I'm not a professor of pop music, the TMBG song's theme seems to be that there is room for both flashy style and artistic intent in the music profession.

It lasts of all a minute and a half or so, as most TMBG songs tend to do. The band's music has also been featured on the sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle" and the NPR/Showtime series "This American Life."

 XTC is best-known for the songs "Making Plans for Nigel," "Senses Working Overtime" and "The Mayor of Simpleton."

Adam Ant was a flamboyant, theatrical pop singer who was also an actor. He is best known for the smash hit "Goody Two Shoes." His video for the song "Strip" is quite over-the-top, and if you feel trapped like Dilbert in your cubicle, you might want to check out that video on Youtube.

They Might Be Giants will next perform at the Beacon Theatre in New York on Feb. 2. Other tour dates include the college-towns of Bloomington, Ind., Madison, Wisc. and Charlottesville, Va.

Supper is ready!

Thanks for taking the time to stop and visit my blog. I look forward to seeing you when we reach 1,000 entries.

For the record_ 'je prefere XTC."

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Thoughts on the Hollywood Strike

I recently read an interesting newspaper column about how the Hollywood strike might actually improve the Oscars.
Of course, as with the Golden Globes, there might be no stars at the Oscars as the writers have requested that they not cross the picket line.
For the record, I am neutral on the strike. I know it must be irritating for coal miners from Welch, W.Va., who risk their lives every day to see well-paid writers complain about compensation.
But, on the other hand, many television shows and movies would suck if not for a good script. Tom Shales of "The Washington Post" said the writing on "The Wire" is absolutely superb as it is on "Friday Night Lights" and "30 Rock." And, indeed these folks need to be more appreciated- even if they don't live in Welch, W.Va or Burlington, NC- where many textile plants have closed.
The columnist had also mentioned that the strike would take out all those annoying introductions. I know they really go over the top with the best foreign-language film nominations. I can just imagine what they would say if the Iranian film "Offside" (see last entry) was nominated:

"This is a story a girl. A girl who desperately wants to get into a soccer stadium. But, she can't get into the soccer stadium because she lives in Iran. Here is a tremendous story of bravery and courage and (pause) sacrifice."

(Note: This entry was modified from its original version)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Bilge Ebiri: Bourne Director Deserves Oscar Nomination

The amazing thing about blogging is that just when you think about posting regarding one subject, something else comes up which makes you decide to seismically shift what you were planning initially.
Yesterday, I almost fell out of my chair while watching CNN when I heard George W. Bush tell Turkish President Abdullah Gul that Turkey, my late father Mehmet Gokbudak's country, should be admitted into the European Union.
I found myself almost shocked to be in full agreement with a president that I have disliked tremendously.
Later, I found that he signed a federal bill sponsored by Charles Schumer (D-NY) that makes it harder for mentally ill people to get guns. Wow!
Surely, he will say something later in the week that will make me reread George McGovern's "Washington Post" editorial about why he must be impeached. But, right now, he at least temporarily has my good will. And, I now feel that if elected Mitt Romney would actually be even worse.
This leads me to tonight's subject. Yesterday, I mentioned Nathan Lee's surprising revelation that "Village Voice" critic Nathan Lee felt that the Adam Sandler-Kevin James film "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry" was one of the ten best films of the year.
I saw that film as part of a double-bill with "Bourne Ultimatum" at the Eden Drive-In in Eden, NC, this August.
My friend New York film critic/filmmaker Bilge Ebiri wrote an excellent endorsement on Facebook for that film's director Paul Greengrass who directed the controversial, yet magnificent film "United 93" last year. He said that Greengrass fully deserves an Oscar nomination for Ultimatum.
I liked the latest in the Matt Damon series, which is based on thriller novels by Robert Ludlum. In fact, I almost gave it an 8 out of 10, but ultimately I felt that the limits of the genre ultimately prevented Ultimatum from being a truly great film. The ending was a bit too predictable for my tastes, and I thought that Julia Stiles was perhaps slightly miscast in a pivotal supporting role.
Ebiri slightly differs from my view for he feels that Greengrass expanded the film from all the conventional trappings of the spy thriller. He also feels that the choices Greengrass were more far more bold and original than those of a well-established action film director like Peter Hyams (who has directed at least one Jean Claude Van Damme film) would go with.
Ebiri also said (paraphrase) that Greengrass did not rely on the gimmicks that most action directors would go with, thus making his direction among the most splendid efforts of the year.
It is an interesting viewpoint, and Ultimatum was ranked #25 in "The Village Voice" film critics' poll.
Ebiri's own choice for the best film of 2007 radically differs from Ultimatum. He chose the sweet, moving (yet highly political) Iranian film "Offside" by Jafar Panahi about a teenage girl who sneaks into a Tehran soccer stadium. As one might expect, there is not a single car crash in that film. In fact, I'm not sure there has been even one car chase in the entire history of Iranian cinema.
Ebiri has also written extensively on Italian filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci and the late Turkish filmmaker Yilmaz Guney, a highly political figure whose film was being considered for a film by Turkish German director Fatih Akin of "Head-On" fame.
One can find Ebiri's writings on those directors through the Australian internet film journal "Senses of Cinema."
He is also the director of the independent film "New Guy" which is a filmation of a Kafkaesque nightmare set in the confines of a 'Dilbert'* environment.

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*-For those who might be blogging in from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, "Dilbert" is an American comic strip by Scott Adams, which is set in an office.

Dewey Beats Truman

It was actually the undecided voters as much as the independents that apparently allowed for Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) to prevail over rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)
On the Republican side, Sen. John McCain, whose campaign once lost all its financial resources, rebounded with a triumphant win over Mitt Romney, who had spent millions and millions of dollars in New Hampshire. But, just like Iowa, the former Massachusetts governor's expenditures prove that you can not merely 'buy votes.'
"The Concord Monitor" had excellent New Hampshire Primary coverage. I read articles from both their newspaper and the always outstanding "Washington Post," and I can honestly not say that one publication did not have any better coverage than the other. This is quite outstanding considering that "The Post" has all-star political journalists, like Dan Balz, but "The Monitor" still shined with their political coverage.
"The Monitor" quoted voters like Anglina Obara, 37, of Weane, NH, who decided to vote for McCain over Iowa winner Mike Huckabee because  the Arizona senator was performing better in the polls.
Patti Smith, 55, of Hopkinton, NH, told "The Monitor" that she voted for Obama over Clinton because she wanted to do something positive for young people.
But, George Duley, 88, of the state capital Concord said experience mattered to him and he chose Hillary. Christine Crepo, 33, also of Concord chose Clinton over Obama as she was driving to the voting station.
Jim Richardson, 49, of Franklin, NH, chose Romney over McCain because of the age factor.
And, James Otey, 18, of Cantebury, NH, was among the many young people who have taken a liking to Cong. Ron Paul (R-Tx). Otey said he supported Paul because he wants the government to stay out of people's lives.
Another telling story from New Hampshire has to be the dismal showing for former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson. Rush Limbaugh's favorite candidate got 2,884 votes across the Granite State, for one percent of the vote. One of the reasons for this is likely because even New Hampshire Republicans are pro-choice (52%) as opposed to the much more conservative Iowa (22 %). Thompson and Huckabee have been fighting for pro-life voters.
Even Cong. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) fared better than Thompson as he got close to 4,000 votes, but that still accounted for one percent of the total Democratic vote. Like Iowa, more Democrats came out to vote in New Hampshire. There were many obscure candidates on both sides, including Dal Lamagna (D) who got a mere 8 votes.
In a "Washington Post" column, former John Kerry consultant Meredith Chaiken said even she was undecided about which Democratic candidate to choose. She said until this election she couldn't fathom how people could not make up their minds given the saturation of information about each candidate. In her column, she said 51 percent of Democratic voters and 61 percent of Republican voters in New Hampshire were similarly confused about which lever to pull.
For the record, I am still supporting former North Carolina senator John Edwards (D), who gave an eloquent speech last night, though it rephrased many of the same themes he has expressed before. He got 17 percent of the vote in New Hampshire.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Nathan Lee Puts "Chuck and Larry" in His Top Ten!

On a day in which I almost fell out of chair because 1) George W. Bush- of all people- said something I 100- percent agree with (more on that later) and 2) Bill Clinton went after Barack Obama in New Hampshire as if he were his number one political nemesis Mike Huckabee (they are both from Hope, Ark., after all), I was stunned to hear respected "Village Voice" film critic Nathan Lee put the Adam Sandler film "I Know Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" on his top ten films of the year list.
I almost would have sooner expected the Hollywood Writer's Strike to be fully resolved!
I saw the film about two New York firefighters who pretend to be gay in order to get benefits at a drive-in theatre in Eden, NC, this August as part of a double-bill with "The Bourne Ultimatum."
The film is actually a tad bit better than the mostly awful reviews it has received. Among the writers for Dennis Dugan's film were Alexander Payne, who wrote and directed the great film "Sideways."
Lee was the only film critic in the "LA Weekly/Village Voice" film critics poll to vote for "Chuck and Larry" though "Blades of Glory" got two points in the critics' survey and the sequel to Eli Roth's torture porn film "Hostel" ("Hostel : Part 2) also received a vote.
The openly-gay New York film critic named Richard Kelly's follow-up to "Donnie Darko," "Southland Tales" as his film of the year. As Lee noted in his column about his choices, the film was a complete box office flop.
Lee said the negative reviews of "Chuck and Larry" come from well-meaning straight film critics. Among those who trashed the film most vocally were Peter Travers of "Rolling Stone."
But, Lee was adamant in his defense of the film:
"This shit is mad funny and it will do more to normalize the idea of gay marriage than a hundred crap fag entries booked at the Quad."
This is not the first time Lee has championed a film that is seemingly devoid of any artistic merit. In an issue of "Film Comment," he praised the ping-pong parody "Balls of Fury" with Christopher Walken. It is in fact my choice for the very worst film of 2007.
The survey named the latest Daniel Day Lewis vehicle "There Will be Blood" as its film of the year. The film opened in Washington, D.C. over the weekend. It opens in Raleigh, NC, on Friday and at The Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va., later in the month.

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The Independent Vote in the Granite State

I was going to initially look at the online versions of all the major New Hampshire newspapers this morning, but I only had time to look at "The Concord Monitor."

"The Monitor" got a lot of attention for essentially comparing Mitt Romney to a Republican Ken Doll in an editorial. I completely agree with what they said as he increasingly seems to be the kind of stereotypical politician who will say anything to get elected. Romney has also spent an astonishing amount of cash in the Granite State, including $4.4 in ads on one television station alone.

At a rally in Manchester, NH, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D), who only got two percent of the vote in the Iowa Caucuses, had a great quip which was quoted in an article by Sarah Liebowitz in "The Monitor:"

"When I'm president, I'll fill my cabinet with Democrats, independents and Republicans. Don't worry, I won't overdo the Republicans," Richardson said.

But, the big story in New Hampshire is expected to be the independent voters. They are expected to help deliver the vote for Sens. John McCain (R) and Barack Obama (D) in their respective primaries.

Liz Cooper, a Concord housewife, told "The Monitor" that she is leaning towards voting for the Arizona senator, but her husband is supporting Obama.

Jan Bass, a college professor from Plymouth, NH, is voting for Obama though. In 2000, when McCain upset George W. Bush in New Hampshire, he voted for the senator. His shift in allegiance could be the one that matters if the two candidate win their party's nominations for the presidential election.

New Hampshire has also played a big role in the presidential election. While much of the focus was on Florida, it was Bush's narrow win over Al Gore in New Hampshire in 2000, which was due in large part to help from McCain, which paved the way for one of the most scandalous and inept presidential administrations in modern American history.

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Monday, January 7, 2008

And, now a word from our sponsor......

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When you come in, be sure to ask specifically to see the booth of Lila Sullivan. She has great stuff. Really, really great stuff.

I guess we can now return to our regularly scheduled programming.........................BTW, there are also lots of nice horses in Lexington. Two movies, "Gods and Generals" and "War of the Worlds" were both filmed in the area. And, there's a nearby zoo for the kids!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The New Hampshire Roller Derby.........??!

I am of course jokingly calling the New Hampshire Primary by an affectionate name to reflect the true nature of the campaigns.

I was in Washington, DC, for the weekend (more on that later).

But, it was a bit odd as I watching "Face the Nation" from our hotel room in Fairfax, Va., this morning while Sen. John McCain was being interviewed in Bedford, NH, I thought: "You know- there might actually be more politicians in the Granite State than there are in the Beltway right now!"

Fundamentalist Christian Republicans seem quite happy by the surprising victory of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, of Hope, Ark. (don't you love the coincidence here?!).

There is even a meetup group for Huckabee in the small town of Stoneville, NC, where bowling is probably considered to be sinful and deviant- if it's done on a Sunday afternoon!

But, I think they will be in for a rude awakening once the New Hampshire Primary, which takes place on Tuesday, is finally over with. I'm sensing the one Republican I wouldn't mind having a beer with (oh, I forgot about Ron Paul) is going to win this one.

The same rude awakening might hold true for a friend of mine who was once the county chair of the Democratic Party in Woodstock, Va.- where bowling is also considered sinful and deviant- if done on a Sunday afternoon (of course, finding an open bowling alley on a Sunday in these places is about as hard as finding a Hillary '08 yard sign). Though, he hasn't told me who is voting for, the man  who I will call 'Joe' is probably a Clinton supporter.

Of course, since I'm an Edwards supporter, I am not going to be jumping for joy are my predictions.

Let's start with the Republican Party:

1. John McCain
2. Mitt Romney**
3.Ron Paul
4. Mike Huckabee
5. Rudy Giuilani (sorry, but it's time to go back to New York. At least, the Broadway strike is over)
6. Fred Thompson * (go back to "Law and Order")
7. Duncan Hunter (why are you still in this thing?!)

And, the Good Guys_ and Gals:

1. Barack Obama (note to right wing ****h***s, that's with a 'b' not an 's')
2. Hillary Clinton (sorry Bill, no 3rd term)
3. John Edwards (but, I'll still vote for you)
4. Bill Richardson (I know_ I felt the same way when they voted on my high school homecoming court)
5. Dennis Kucinich (see Duncan Hunter)
6. Mike Gravel (see Dennis Kucinich)

*- By the way, Thompson got the endorsement of Rush Limbaugh. Even Republicans don't seem to give a fig about that, any more......!

**- Oooooops! I inadvertently got Mitt mixed up with Mike in an earlier edition of this entry. I wonder if this happened in Iowa. With all his loot, Romney should demand a recount in Iowa. Of course, he will soon need a recount in New Hampshire too!