Friday, February 29, 2008

ESPN Game Day....Our Version

Since this is not a sports blog per se, it might be a bit extreme to cover all the major collegiate sporting events that are going on this weekend across the country.

But, since there are presidential primaries in Rhode Island, Vermont, Texas and Ohio, my circuits are a bit overloaded. And, let's face it, sports is less polarizing than politics.............hmm, for someone who lives in North Carolina, I just made one awfully darn naiive statement  (for those living in Bulgaria, there are huge college basketball rivalries in this state!).

Let's start out West, and in honor of my cousin Kurt Gokbudak's daughter Lauren's 19th birthday, which is today, we will start with her school The University of California at Santa Barbara.

Nicknamed the Gauchos, UCSB is one of the few schools in the country with a water polo team.

The men's basketball team will have its final home game against UC-Irvine starting at 10 pm Eastern Time.

The Gauchos will honor its seniors, including standout player Alex Harris from Alameda, Calif., along with seniors Ivan Elliot, Nedim Pajevic and Beau Gibb_gotta love that name!

Closer to home, my alma mater Radford University has its season finale at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.. My beloved Highlanders will face our arch-rival the Flames at 7 p.m. We won the first game in Radford, Va., 89-88.

The Highlanders are coming of a disappointing 77-54 loss to High Point University, just down the road in High Point, NC. But, the team has four promising players, including Martell McDuffy from Laurel, Md., who was recently recognized as Big South Conference player of the week.

Other standouts for RU include Joey Lynch-Flohr, Kenny Thomas and Amir Johnson. RU's assistant coach Ali Ton is from my father's country, Turkey.

Alas, there are no Turkish restaurants in Lynchburg, but there is a fabolous one called Tallula's in Chapel Hill, NC.

It will be at the University of North Carolina campus where the women's gymnastics team (my favorite college sport) will hold their final home meet of the year.

The event, also known as the Tarheel Invitational, will include The University of Maryland, The University of New Hampshire and William & Mary. It starts at 1 p.m.

UNC will honor four senior gymnasts, one of whom_ Sarrie Rubin will not be able to compete due to an injury sustained in a home loss to then third-ranked University of Florida last week (The Gators narrowly lost to another gymnastics powerhouse, The University of Alabama on Friday night).

But, the three other seniors, Angela Lauten of Kernersville, NC, Shawna Kelly of Chantilly, Va., and Alice Xu of Rockville, Md., will be trying their best on the vault (not to mention the bars, floor and balance beam!).

"This is the final home meet for our seniors and the team wants to make it special for them," UNC women's gymnastics coach Derek Galvin said in a UNC press release.

The Tarheels have been ranked in the top 25 this year, and one expects a good meet on Saturday.

From what I gather, UNH will be the toughest competition for the Tarheels.

I shall post the results for all these events on Sunday. Hopefully, one of the home teams will win.....err, except Liberty University.........:)

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Barack Fauxbama Controversy at "SNL"

Last week, this blog talked about the return of "Saturday Night Live" followin a 12-week long writer's strike.

Apparently that show which featured guest host Tina Fey and a surprise cameo from Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has started a bruhaha, which might help the ratings of this week's show with Ellen Page of "Juno."

The controversy stems from the fact that Fred Armisen, a non-African American actor, played Sen. Barack Obama in a skit lampooing Obama's race for the Democratic nomination with Sen. Hillary Clinton.

 In a "Washington Post" article about the matter by Paul Farhi, there was a quote from Maureen Ryan of "The Chicago Tribune" (a conservative newspaper no less) about Armisen's depiction of Obama:

"Call me crazy, but shouldn't 'SNL's fictional Obama be played by an African-American? I find 'SNL's choice inexplicable. Obama's candidacy gives us solid proof of the progress that African-Americans have made. I guess 'SNL' has further to go on that front."

Hannah Pool of the English newspaper "The Guardian" went even further, according to Farhi's article, by saying that the skit had minstrel overtones.

But, as Farhi pointed out, some people were not as critical including "TV Guide" which saw Armisen's Obama as a surprisingly subtle mimicry.

I can see both sides of this. For starters, I feel that in comedy unless something is outright offensive (and that varies according to each person) there has to be a degree of platitude. I've noticed that many people on the far right or far left tend not to have a sense of humor, so they don't seem able to make compromising accomodations.

On the other hand, as someone is half-Turkish, I have been taken back by depictions of Turkish characters played by non-Turkish actors which did not seem accurate even if the character was not a stereotype simply because there was an artificial feel to them.

I saw the 'SNL' skit in question, and while it was noticeable that Armisen is not black, his portrayal of Obama did not seem like a particularly funny one, but he does seem to be a figure who is hard to impersonate-which should help him politically, as it seems like politicians such as Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Mitt Romney are easy targets.

The other interesting item for this Leap Day is that (well I saw the headline from the right-leaning "News Max" publication) Rush Limbaugh-of all people- is 'endorsing' Hillary in the Ohio Democratic Primary. Hmmmmmmm...............


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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Rush Video-Fly by Night from 1975


I am posting this for my good friend Leigh-Anne Keatts, who is a huge Rush fan. My personal favorite songs from this legendary Canadian band are "Big Money" and "Distant Early Warning," but "Fly by Night" and "Tom Sawyer" are apparently the ones which are most likely to be played on the radio.


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Turkish Superman!!!! (Video)



Since Turkey has a fairly high cellphone user rate, I wonder if they still have any good telephone booths in Istanbul............

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Could He Be at a 7-11 in Boulder, Col.?

Progressive Air America talk show host and fellow Turkish-American Cenk Uygur, who is 500 times more entertaining than Bill O'Reilly, has an interesting log on his web site

Apparently, it has now been 2,360 days since September 11, 2001, and President George W. Bush still hasn't captured Osama bin Laden.

As Uygur pointed out on his last show, Bush now has a 19 percent approval rating.

I wonder what those numbers are like in Provincetown, Mass., which is believed to be the most liberal city in America!

Diablo Cody Mania is Spreading

I have never seen a Hollywood screenwriter quickly become a celebrity_it just never happens.

But, Diablo Cody is a unique cultural phenom. She is an ex-stripper who penned "Juno," and now she's an Academy-Award winner, as of Sunday night.

Movie blogger Joe Scott has a hilarious picture of her on his film blog

And, Colby Perkins of Wilmington, NC, raves about Diablo on a Facebook fan site devouted to her, which I just joined about a half-hour ago (hey, when you have insomnia, you got to find creative ways to fill the time!):

"Go Diablo! Her acceptance speech was so simple and sincere! I hope her win means that the misogynist haters will shut the hell up!," Perkins wrote. "I liked her dress because she seemed so comfortable in it and it showed off her tattoos"

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Dig that 'Juno' Soundtrack

Four entries in one day?

During the week?

It's called prograstination.

I am in the process of putting together a test for my community college class.

Fun, fun, fun........

This brings us to the soundtrack to the film "Juno," about a pregnant teenager who tries to find suitable yuppie parents for her unborn child.

It appears that the soundtrack to this film, which earned former stripper Diablo Cody an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay Sunday night, is the craze of the land as it is now the number-one selling record in America.

The soundtrack was partially influenced by the film's star Canadian actress Ellen Page and Jason Reitman, the director of "Juno."

Reitman told Austin Scaggs of "Rolling Stone" that he felt glam rock (ie. David Bowie) which Cody originally called for in the screenplay was inappropriate for the character of Juno:

"Juno's the most authentic character in the film," Reitman said. "Glam rock is by its own admission inauthentic."

He thus enlisted Page's advice, and she recommended the now-defunct band The Moldy Peaches.

Page let Reitman listen to the band's song "Anyone Else But You" and he was so taken in by it that he ended the film with that song, which Page and her co-star Michael Cera cover in the film.

It is the first soundtrack for a Fox film to hit numero uno since (dare we say it) "Titanic" (see earlier entry).

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Why I Support Turkey's Incursion into Iraq...

Hmmm....though I'm not shy about my political views, I was a bit reluctant to discuss this matter fully, but it seems like the time is appropriate.

This will assuredly not be welcome by some Armenian Americans who seem to want to talk to their real estate brokers in Glendale, Calif., about which part of Turkey they can have (I am refering to the more radical Armenian Americans_certainly not all of them). Nor will it welcome by many Kurdish people in America.

It will also be criticized by radical right-wing warmongers who do not want any country to interfere with the American effort to bring peace and liberty to Iraq (insert laugh track here) and by utopian left-wingers who feel there is always a diplomatic way to keep terrorists from attacking innocent civilians in all circumstances.

But, Turkey has been patient and the terrorist group, the Kurdish Worker's Party (PKK), has launched terrorist attacks in southeast Turkey against many innocent people, both Turkish and Kurdish alike from camps within northern Iraq time and time again.

At a  recent bombing in the Turkish city of Diyarbakir, which has a significant Kurdish population, a bomb went off near a major hotel and it killed several school children_ many of whom were Kurdish.

I personally respect the Kurdish people, and I am disappointed that the PKK has come back from inactivity at a time when many Turkish people were trying to liberalize relations with Turkey's largest ethnic minority. The War in Iraq helped reignite this volcano as it gave militant Kurdish operatives in Turkey the view that they could somehow reunite with their brothers in northern Iraq.

It is truly a shame that a paranoid view developed in this country_ that by attacking Iraq, we as Americans could somehow liberate Iraqis in spite of enormous ethnic divisions while somehow preventing a terrorist attack (here?!) from a hostile, yet dormant dictator in Saddam Hussein who had not even attacked a neighboring country since his invasion of Kuwait in 1991.....not even his long-standing enemy Iran.

This painfully shows why we needed a president with foreign policy experience to replace Bill Clinton, who in my view generally handled this delicate part of the world quite well. George W. Bush was clearly not a person who had that background, and all of us as Americans and citizens of the world are paying the cost for that every single day........

I hope the Turkish incursions work, and that relative peace and stability is restored in southeast Turkey. I have had my disagreements with the Turkish government in the past, even though it is my late father's country, particularly the one that is presently in charge. But, they are undertaking an essential operation which even those of us of Turkish heritage who were a bit ambivalent about now fully support.


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Is Christopher Knight on Strike?

This blog entry is meant to be in jest....well, many of them are. (For the record, my sister Lale Lovell and her husband DO NOT reside in Provo, Utah- see earlier entry).

I know Christopher Knight of Reidsville, NC, personally though we've met only one time at the town Christmas parade, which is actually held in late November(!), last year.

He is not really 'on strike.' But, after getting close to half a million hits on his blog (hmm. I think I've got some work to do to catch up with him), he suddenly decided to leave his blog on Feb. 6. It has been three weeks, and he has not returned!

One of his last entries was about the mysterious reasons why fundamentalist Christians like President Dick Cheney...., I mean President George W. Bush.

Apparently, they are politically attracted to him because he is bringing us closer to the end of the world (Hmm......who knew that I, a devout secularist, could find common ground with them!). And, this will allow Christians to get into heaven sooner, perhaps before the latest Batman movie opens this summer.

It was a brilliant commentary by Knight, and it was a refreshing point of view from someone with a different political view of the world than myself as Knight is a Ron Paul Libertarian and I am a Democrat.

But, for the moment, Knight is not blogging. He told me that he was simply burned out.

I guess it can happen to anyone.

My friend Moviezzz is not on hiatus though. And, yesterday, he had a great column about the impending dvd release of the 1980s tv show "Square Pegs," (it ran from 1982-83, I believe) which feautred a teenage Sarah Jessica Parker and a soundtrack with era punk bands like Devo and The Waitresses. It will be available in May, unless, of course,  Bush brings us all closer to the end of the world as we know it.........

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I've Found a Fellow Titanic-Hater

My good friend Bilge Ebiri and I once had a long argument over "Titanic." The 1997 Oscar-winner for Best Picture is a film I personally disdain and Ebiri, a New York film critic and independent filmmaker, admires a great deal.

But, there appears to be at least one other film connosieur who thinks James Cameron's bloated spectacle is a waste of four and half hours (or however long it's running time is).

Mark Burger, a former L..A. film critic who relocated to Winston-Salem, NC, a few years ago, appears not to be a fan of the Kate Winslet-Leonardo DiCaprio epic either. And, he disclosed this in a recent column in the Greenboro alternative newspaper "Yes Weekly!."

In a column about the Oscars, Burger, who I met at a Christmas party in Greensboro in December, quipped:

"Then again, whichever film wins best picture, it'll be an improvement over 10 years ago....Titanic," Burger said. "I saw it, I reviewed it, I still don't believe it. And I still don't get it. But, far be it for me to hold any kind of grudge against a movie that made a lot of people_especially a lot of teenage girls_so happy. It is, I suppose, the standard by which all others are to be judged. Isn't that a scary thought?"

Amen, Mark!

As it turns out, the film will be shown at the Carolina Theatre on April 21 at 7:30 p.m.

My early assumption is that there is no way in hell that I'll be there (as much as I admire the Carolina Theatre), but there is always a slim chance that some very attractive Latvian blonde woman who just retired as an acrobat from the Bolsevik Circus might ask me out.

And, then, of course, I will sit through "Titanic" in its entirety and listen to that annoying theme song from Celine Dion as the credits roll and feel like I am 'king of the world.'

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Sidney Poitier Quote

Today's quote comes from Sidney Poitier, who was the first African American to Oscar for Best Actor ("Lillies of the Field" in 1963).

Poitier recently turned 81 (on Feb. 20). He is also a prostate cancer survivor, and he is fluent in Russian.

A remake of his classic film "A Raisin in the Sun," which was based on a sterling play, airs tonight on ABC.

He is also a lifetime Oscar recipient.

Here is the quote:

"I was the only Black person on the set. It was unusual for me to be in a circumstance in which every move I made was tantamount to representing 18 million people."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I Should've Let My Cat Pick the Oscars*

Around 2:00 p.m. today, I called my sister Lale Lovell who lives in Provo, Utah*(NEWSFLASH: She won her Oscar pool! She knows when not to listen to me), and here are some excerpts from that conversation:

LL: How about Best Actress?

TG: I saw "Away From Her." I must say it is quite a downer, but Julie Christie was quite good. She is brilliant. I can't honestly see anyone else winning that award. (pause) Well, since it is the Oscars, they might give it to that girl from "Juno."

LL: So, you don't think they might give it to that French actress?

TG: The one who played Edith Piaf?

LL: Yea.

TG: Oh no. No way.

LL: Huh. Ok, how about Best Supporting Actress?

TG: You know mom and I saw "I'm Not There," in Roanoke. We both thought Cate Blanchett was a better Bob Dylan than all the guys in the movie. I've heard Amy Ryan was good in "Gone Baby Gone" as well, but....

LL: So, you'd go with Cate Blanchett? But, she did just win two years ago.

TG: Yeah, but she's even better in this movie. I'd say there's a 60 percent Blanchett will win, and a 40 percent chance that it will go to Amy Adams.

LL: Amy Adams?

TG: Oh, I meant Amy Ryan.

LL: What about Tilda Swinton for "Michael Clayton"?

TG: I think that has a better chance for Best Orginal Screenplay.

LL: Over "Ratatouille" and that stripper who wrote "Juno?"

TG: Yes.

LL: Ok, what about Best Foreign Language Film?

TG: Hmm....I don't know here. For the contest at the Grandin (a theatre in Roanoke, Va.), I chose "Beaufort" from Israel. I've heard a lot about it. But, the films from Russia and Poland have great directors. There is also a film from Kazakhstan, right?

LL: Yes, "Mongol."

TG: Oh yeah, it's about Genghis Khan.

LL:There's also "The Counterfeitters" from Austria.

TG: Yeah, neither of those films are going to win. Andre Wadja directed that film from Poland. He's a legend. He's in his eighties. Maybe, you should pick that one.

LL: Ok, I'll go with you on this one. You sound pretty sure about it. What about the documentaries? I know that's one of your favorite categories.

TG: Oh, definitely, "No End in Sight." I saw it on dvd just a few weeks ago. It's brilliant. It shows what a disaster this war in Iraq is at every level.

LL: You don't think Michael Moore will win?

TG: Not this year.

LL: What about one of the other three films?

TG: It's going to "No End in Sight," sis. I feel very confident about that.

LL: Ok, now we're at Best Song. There are five songs from "Enchanted." There's one from "Once."

TG: Oh, the song from "Once" is just great. I think that will win.

(Hey, I did get a few right!)

Lale told me she was choosing the French short subject live action nominee "The Mozart of Pickpockets" because she liked the title. Indeed, it won!

She got 12 right for a $10 gift certificate to Blockbuster. Of course, since they live in Provo, Utah**, the selection might be very limited.

I have to also send kudos to my friend Moviezzz who did an absolutely brilliant job blogging about tonight's Oscars. You can get a minute-by-minute of the telecast at his blog

I also expect my friend and movie blogger Joe Scott out of Greensboro, NC, to have insightful thoughts on the Oscars at his blog

In fact, one or both of them may you give you a complete list of the winners, which I am not (hey, I only get eight or nine hits a day, all right!).

Congratulations are in order for the Coen Brothers. I've been a fan of their's since "Blood Simple" and "Raising Arizona" came out when I was a teenager. I think more people wrote papers on their films at grad school at Hollins University than any other filmmaker living or dead. 

I just saw "There Will Be Blood" this afternoon. Daniel Day-Lewis gave a stunning performance which would have assuredly made his late father-in-law Arthur Miller proud.

The lone sad note of the night was finding out that Senegalese film director Ousman Sembene had passed away. Yes, I am a movie geek, but this man was a genius in every way. I just hope I spelled his name right.

*-The cat in the header refers to the family cat Gizmo. As a joke, I let Gizmo pick the Super Bowl. He did in fact choose the New York Giants!

**-Lale does not actually live in Provo, Utah. They actually right outside Provo in the community of Orem, Utah......ok,ok, I couldn't resist! They live in another western state_one which did not go to Mitt Romney.

And, I should add that portions of the conversation were fictionalized to make it more entertaining.


The Envelope Please- My Oscar Picks for Tonight

As some of you who read this blog regularly (both of you) may recall I left it up to Gizmo the family cat to pick the Super Bowl. He boldly predicted the New York Giants would beat the undefeated the New England Patriots. He wuz right! So, he now wants the most expensive cat food on the market, which is why I am picking the Oscars (forgive our silliness here at Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time).

I will either be proven right or wrong in a matter of hours, so here it goes:

Best Picture: "No Country for Old Men."

Best Director: Joel and Ethan Coen "No Country for Old Men."

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis "The Will Be Blood." (I've been told this is a sure thing).

Best Actress: Julia Christie "Away From Here" (But, I somehow won't be shocked if Ellen Page wins it for "Juno." It was a cute performance.)

Best Supporting Actor: Casey Affleck for ..........???!!! Just Kidding! Of course, it is going to Javier Bardem of "No Country for Old Men."

Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan- of all people for "I'm Not There."

Best Documentary: "No End in Sight"

Best Foreign-Language Film: "Beaufort" (Israel).

Best Score: "Kite Runner"

Best Costume: "Sweeney Todd"

Best Editting: "No Country for Old Men"

Best Animated Feature: "Ratatouille" (though I prefer "Persepolis")

Best Cinematography: "No Country for Old Men"

Best Art Direction: "Atonement" (this is a pure guess. I at least hope the film is nominated in this category!)

Best Original Screenplay: "Michael Clayton"

Best Adapted Screenplay: "No Country for Old Men"

It is amazing. "No Country for Old Men" barely made my top ten best films of 2007 list, yet I somehow see it winning at least five Oscars!

My friend Moviezzz will actually have live blogging from the Oscars on his web site:

And, a number of movie theatres including the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va.,  and the Carousel Grand Cinemas in Greensboro, NC, will show the Oscars live. My favorite categories are actually the shorts, foreign-language films and documentaries, but it is always fun to watch until the bitter end.

At least, I don't expect an infamous choice like "Forrest Gump," "Titanic" or "Crash" this year! 

My Ten Favorite Oscar Winners of All Time

I fully expect to 'get some mail' for this one...........

Let's start by fully disclosings the films that do not make the cut.

They are: "Gone with the Wind" (1939), "Casablanca" (1942), "The Lost Weekend" (1945), "From Here to Eternity" (1953), "The Bridge on the River Kwai" (1957), "Midnight Cowboy" (1969)- which just missed, "Gandhi" (1982), "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991), "Schindler's List" (1993) and "American Beauty" (1999).

These are all films that I've seen and I like tremendously, but there was only room for ten films.

There are some films which did not make the list because I either outright disdain them or consider them to be overrated. These include: "It Happened One Night" (1934), "Rebecca" (1940)-Hitchcock's only Oscar winner, "Marty" (1955), "My Fair Lady" (1964), "The Sound of Music" (1965), "Oliver!" (1968), "Platoon" (1986), "Forrest Gump" (1994), "Titanic" (1997) and "Crash" (2005).

Now, the 'envelope' is here with my top ten:

1. "The Godfather" (1972)

2. "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962)_ I've been told it doesn't work on dvd, for obvious reasons!

3. "Annie Hall" (1977)_Sorry, "Star Wars" fans, this film actuall deserved to win in 1977.

4. "The Last Emperor"(1987)_ A new Criterion edition of the film was released this week.

5. "The Godfather, Part II" (1974)

6. "The Apartment" (1960)_ But, I still think "Psycho" was the better film that year.

7. "The Deer Hunter" (1978)

8. "Unforgiven" (1992)

9. "West Side Story" (1961)

10. "On the Waterfront" (1954)


I look forward to reading all the critical emails.........but, that is the nature of top ten lists!


Happy Birthday Ece Cirnaz

I wanted to wish a happy 36th birthday to my friend Ece Cirnaz. She lives in Ankara, Turkey. Her birthday is on Monday.

We met in 1992 at an ATAA Turkish-American Conference in New York at the Vista Hotel which was connected to the World Trade Center, which sadly no longer exists.

Ece was living in New York at the time.

I was hoping to see her when I was in Turkey, but the one time I came to Ankara, she went up to the Black Sea port city of Samsun to visit relatives.

Ece's hobbies include scuba diving and ballroom dancing.

Her favorite kinds of music, according to her Facebook page, are oldies, pop and latin music.

And, her favorite tv show is "CSI." I'm presuming she means the original one which takes place in Las Vegas.

Dogum Gunun Kutlu Olsun, Ece.............That's 'Happy Birthday, Ece' in Turkish.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

"Saturday Night Live" is Back!

After a bout with food poisoning last night (who would have thought two chicken enchiladas could do so much damage??!), I am hoping to recover this evening by watching the first new episode of "Saturday Night Live" since early November when the Hollywood Writer's Strike ceased production.

I was a huge fan of the show when growing up in Salem, Va., in the 1980s. But, in recent years, my interest has shifted to "Austin City Limits" which surprisingly seems to show as many reruns as "SNL" even though it was one of the few shows not affected by the strike. But, one can only watch John Mayer perform so many times.

Mayer will not be the musical guest on "SNL" tonight, but rather those honors will go to country singer Carrie Underwood, whoever she is (I haven't followed country music since Garth Brooks emerged in the 1990s).

The host of tonight's show will "SNL" alumnus and Hollywood writer (well, actually she lives in New York) Tina Fey, who recently won an Emmy for acting in "30 Rock," a brilliant sitcom that she created.

Lorne Michaels told "The New York Times" that he is very disappointed that the show missed much of the election cycle. He told Bill Carter of the "NYT" that he would have liked a chance to rib former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (Michaels incidentally has been listed as a donor for John McCain's campaign, which is shocking considering that Michaels once employed Al Franken).

Tonight's show will mark the first of our consecutive live "SNL" broadcasts. It is something that Michaels is apprehensive about, but he feels that it needs to be done as he told the "NYT:"

"We haven't done that since 1976," Michaels told Carter, "when I came to the conclusion that it was a very bad idea."

UPDATE 2/24: This proved to be a pretty good show. There were surprise cameos from Mike Huckabee, who was actually quite funny, and Steve Martin. Fey was a great guest host. I loved how she refered to Rush Limbaugh as 'the Jeff Conaway of right-wing talk radio' during a Weekend Update commentary segment.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Fish Filet on The Bosphorous

According to the Feb. 16th edition of "The Turkish Daily News," fishmongers (chefs) dressed in Ottoman garb are filleting fish from a boat docked in the Eminonu district in the European side of Istanbul.

Marlene Schafers wrote that a passerby can hear the words: "Buyrun! Buyrun! (Here you are! Here you are!) as each of the fishmongers tries valiantly to gather their attention.

Schafers wrote that those dinning on fish sandwiches include housewives, high school and bazaar merchants who do their own brand of economic recruiting.

There are three boats which serve cusotmers side by side.

Schafers wrote that the boats bob up and down on the wavy waters of the Golden Horn.  

One of the unusual aspects of the fish fry is that one might assume the fish being served is caught from the very waters of the Bosphorous, but in fact in this world of globalization, the fish being served is Norwegian mackerel as the Turkish seas have been overfished.

Burhan Cakar who manages the business said he believes the fish grilling did not start during the Ottoman Empire, which ended in 1923, but rather some time in the 1950s, which was ironically when my late father Mehmet Gokbudak came to America.

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"The Foreigner" to be Staged in Roanoke, Va.

On Feb. 27, Mill Mountain Theatre in Roanoke, Va., will roll out its production of the late Larry Shue's "The Foreigner," which first premiered in Milwaukee 25 years ago.

The performance runs through March 16.

I liked the way the theatre's web site describes the play's complicated, but hilarious plot:

"You can't believe everything you hear. Just ask Englishman Charlie Baker, an out-of-place guest at a remote fishing lodge in Georgia. When Charlie's shyness keeps him tongue-tied, his fellow Brit tries to cover by telling the locals that Charlie can't understand English!"

After its initial run at The Milwaukee Repetory Theatre, "The Foreigner" landed on Broadway in 1984, which makes me wish we had seen it instead of "Zorba the Greek" when we went up to New York that year. But, Anthony Quinn is dead now, and assuredly there are no actors who are quite like him, well ok, maybe Tony Curtis.

Shue himself was actually in the cast for the play on Broadway and he played 'Froggy' LeSueur. Later, actor Ian Trigger replaced Shue as Froggy in the Broadway production, and the actor/playwright played Charlie.

Shue was tragically killed in a plane crash near Staunton, Va., about a year later. I saw his friend actor Bev Appleton, who was in Terence Malick's film "A New World," give a brilliant tribute to him at his theatre in Harrisonburg, Va., some seven years ago.

"The Village Voice" called "The Foreigner" a play that is 'a constant invitation to relax and laugh at the foolishness of life."

Tickets for the Mill Mountain performance are $25-30. The box office can be reached at (540) 342-5740 or 1-800-317-6455.

While in Roanoke, I have occasionally participated in Mill Mountain's No Shame Theatre, which is the brainchild of actor/playwright Todd Ristau. No Shame features skits, jugglers, banjo picking and poetry readings. To my knowledge, no one has walked barefoot on broken glass yet, and I will not volunteer to be the first.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Arthur Miller quote

Today's quote comes from one of my favorite playwrights Arthur Miller (1915-2005). Arena Stage in Washington, DC, is presenting two of his plays, "Death of a Salesman" and "A View from the Bridge" simultaneously starting on March 14 at their temporary location in northern Virginia.
Miller is also known for penning "The Crucible," and for being married to Marilyn Monroe from 1956-1961:

"The theatre is so endlessly fascinating because it's so accidental. It's so much like life."

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Incidentally, Miller's son-in-law Daniel Day-Lewis is expected to win his second Oscar Sunday night.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Kosovo is Free.........

It will be interesting to see what the political divorce of Kosovo from Serbia (both formerly a part of Yugoslavia) will mean for the Balkans and the world as a whole.
Russia, Spain and Greece (among others) have not recognized Kosovo as of yesterday.
But, both the United States and my father's country of Turkey recognized the world's newest country this week.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan announced that Ankara was formally recognizing Kosovo's independence on Monday.
And, the sentiment extends to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (which is currently only recognized by Turkey).
Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat, who would presumably like to see his country recognized soon, said:
"I salute the independence of Kosovo," Talat said (published in "The Turkish Daily News") "I ask that those who object to the independence of Kosvo take into consideration that no people can be forced to live under the rule of other people."
The Republic of Cyprus, which is referred to as Greek Cyprus in Turkey, has not recognized Kosovo's freedom.
Peter Finn of "The Washington Post" reported today that ethnic Serbs in Kosovo set two border posts on fire in northern Kosovo.
There have been long-standing tensions between Serbs and Kosovar Albanians since the Ottoman Turks, who were Muslim allies of the Albanians, defeated Christian Serbs in Kosovo in 1389, some 600 years before the Fine Young Cannibals topped the pop charts with "She Drives Me Crazy."
(As a Turkish-American, who has been caught in the middle of crossfires with Armenian-Americans and Greek-Americans as well as some fervent, radical Turkish-Americans, I know one can only take ethnic strife so seriously!).
At any rate, I wish Kosovo well, and though they are our ethnic brothers given the situation with Kurdish unrest in southeastern Turkey, I can sympathize with the Serbs as well. But, somehow I don't think I'd enjoy being in the Balkans right now though it is presumably a happier place than most parts of Baghdad.........

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Huckabee Supporter Voting for Hillary! (in Wisconsin)

We were initially NOT going to devote much space here to the Wisconsin Primary, but it seems like circumstances dictate a chance in direction.
With that in mind, Mike Burlingame, 48, a corrections officer, told "Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel" blogger Crocker Stephenson that even though is a Mike Huckabee supporter, he opted to vote for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary today at his polling station in Cudahy, Wisc.
His reasoning is that he simply does not want Barack Obama to become president, and he thinks a vote for Huckabee is a mute one because John McCain is 99% certain to be the Republican nominee.
In Bay View, Wisc., Elizabeth Kandziora, 84, and Daniel Wenzel, 78, said they were voting for Clinton for far different reasons.
They cited her experience and her health care strategy as reasons why she should become the first female president.
Wenzel, a retired aluminum products installer, told Stephens that: "she has more on the ball."
This one could actually be interesting though "Washington Post" blogger Chris Cilliza, whom we refer to often hear, said that if Obama hits 60 percent today in Wisconsin Hillary could be in major trouble.
Both Clinton and Obama are courting John Edwards, and each visited him in Chapel Hill, NC, home. No report as to if either one of them was wearing a North Carolina Tarheels shirt.

UPDATE 2/20: Obama got about 57 % of the vote in Wisconsin. He did even better in his native Hawaii on Tuesday. According to "The Honolulu Advertiser,"  he beat Hillay Clinton 76 % (28,347 votes) to 24 percent (8,835). Only Mitt Romney, who got 88 % in Utah, fared better in one primary this election cycle.

Environmental Activist Newt Gingrich???!

Two months ago, I had the notion of adding an entry about this but other things, like my cat Gizmo's Super Bowl pick (he did choose the Giants!), kept me from posting about a shocking new book by none other than former Republican Congressional leader Newt Gingrich about our need to be environmentally aware.
I have not had a chance to read or even glance at "A Contract with the Earth" by Gingrich and Terry L. Maple (222 pages, Johns Hopkins Univ. press, $20), but I am curious to know if he talks much about Al Gore.
The book was reviewed by Juliet Eliperin in the Dec. 23 edition of "The Washington Post."
Gingrich offers a ten-point pledge, and it goes so far as to praise the virtues of 'mainstream environmentalism' and hailing the Endangered Species Act as a 'success story,' according to Eliperin.
He also reportedly calls the nation's leadership on the environment 'timid and restrained,' and he is critical of both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush for not significantly advancing an environmental policy.
But when it comes to Gore's favorite subject, which is global warming, the former house speaker from Georgia evokes cautious politics as he states while the federal government should reengage in international talks that mandatory caps on carbon emissions could pose qualms for the business sector.
Most interesting about the book, according to Eliperin, is Gingrich's use of military rhetoric: "we must demand a complete and decisive victory."
Perhaps, this means one day Chuck Norris will come out for respecting people of Islamic heritage. Well, we can only hope...........

Monday, February 18, 2008

If the Village Voice Chose the Oscars.....

I thought that might be a catchy way to introduce this latest entry which lists the winners of "The Village Voice-LA Weekly" critic's poll by category.

Strangely enough, they left off Best Director. But, I sense they would have picked Paul Thomas Anderson ("There Will Be Blood").

The Oscars are on Sunday, unless limo drivers go on strike.....

Here are the other winners in the Village Voice poll (I wonder if my friend Bilge Ebiri had a vote in this one) :

Best Picture: "There Will Be Blood"

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis "There Will Be Blood"

Best Actress: Anamaria Marina* "4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days"

Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem "No Country for Old Men."

Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett "I'm Not There"

Best Documentary: "No End in Sight"

*---yes, yes, I know the Romanian actress Anamaria Marina was NOT nominated for Best Actress, but she was the winner of The Village Voice poll. Though Julie Christie of "Away from Her" was number two in the poll, and she is nominated (I also think she'll win).

I'm curious to know who will win the best live action short, even though it takes about a year and a half to find the film that won!

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Wow-Wisconsin Up for Grabs?

I thought this was a done-deal myself, but apparently Dan Balz of "The Washington Post" talked to some folks who think the Wisconsin Democratic Primary 'could go either way???!!!!'

Hmm....this might be much more interesting than we presumed. Since Wisconsin neighbors Barack Obama's Illinois, I thought this would be a lock. In fact, Hillary Clinton quit campaigning here a day early.

Perhaps, she now needs to have a few hot dogs with the Cunnighams at Big Al's....forgive the '70s humor!

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Happy 54th Birthday to John Travolta


Since our last entry was about Chuck Norris, a Republican, why not devote an entry to John Travolta, a Scientologist.

Personally, I'm not sure which is worse.

It might be interesting to know if there are Republican Scientologists.

My favorite Travolta film is "Pulp Fiction," which is about 100 times better than "Wild Hogs," which he was in last year (it narrowly missed my ten worst films list).

But, he is best known for "Saturday Night Fever" and "Grease."

I'll let you decide which is best.

Unlike Norris, to my knowledge, Travolta has NOT endorsed a presidential candidate. But, if he wants to endrose fringe Democratic candidate Mike Gravel, it might help the former Alaska seantor get name recognition. But, Travolta may still get more votes in tomorrow's Wisconsin primary.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Can't Get Enough of Chuck Norris?

For Mike Huckabee supporters and Bowflex fans, there is great news this week.

According to my friend Moviezzz's blog, the fourth season of "Walker: Texas Ranger" will be out on dvd on Tuesday.

Along with Chuck Norris' show which seems to be picked up by one cable network after another, Tuesday also marks the day that the third season of "Coach," an ABC sitcom which starred Craig T. Nelson, will 'finally' get released on dvd.

"Walker: Texas Ranger" was the favorite show of my late stepfather Donald Sullivan. He was a lifetime NRA member (I'm not!).

As the comic strip character "Zippy the Pinhead" might say: "I think it's time to put some Jiffy Pop in the microwave."

And, as for Huckabee, I am willing to bet money with any of his most fervent followers that he will not win the Wisconsin Republican Primary, which is also on Tuesday.

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Results of the Aforementioned Sporting Events

As it turns out, it is easier to add a new entry than to add on to previous information.

First, the bad news_ Winthrop University beat Radford University, my alma mater, at the basketball game in Rock Hill, SC, on Saturday night by 74-59 margin.

Clemson beat NC St. in men's basketball in Raleigh, NC, on Saturday afternoon by a 71-64 margin.

Though, we didn't mention this game, it was a bad day for Virginia Tech in men's basketball as the University of North Tarheels routed them in Chapel Hill, NC, by a 92-53 count.

And, the host North Carolina State women's gymnastics team won their quad meet with a score of 195.150.

Penn State finished second with a score of 194.775, followed by Kent State, 194.025, and William & Mary, 189.625

Penn State's Brandy Personett won the all-around at the meet in Raleigh, NC.

All in all, it was apparently a fairly good weekend in sports. I did not hear of any NASCAR drivers or hockey players having near-death experiences, but then again I follow sports from a distance......

Wilde on Shaw........Quote from 1896

I had a chance to see a Triad Stage (Greensboro, NC) production of George Bernard Shaw's 1893 play "Mrs. Warren's Profession," which was initially banned in England because the profession Shaw refers to (though it is not mentioned in the play) is prostitution.

The program had a nifty quote from another witty playwright of the era, Oscar Wilde:

"(Shaw is) an excellent man: he has no enemies, and none of his friends like him."

I especially liked Rebecca Nerz as Vive in today's performance, which was the last one for the play at Triad Stage.

But, the next production will be for the award-winning play "Doubt." It will run from March 9-30.


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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Remembering Stever Gerber (1947-2008)

I was saddened to hear that Steve Gerber, the man behind the beloved comic book character Howard the Duck, died in a Las Vegas hospital yesterday from complications due to pulmonary fibrosis. Gerber was 60.

"Howard the Duck" debuted in December of 1975 in an issue of another Marvel Comics series "Man Thing." Howard was a character who wore a small Humphrey Bogart hat and a polka dot necktie, but the quacky character will always be known for smoking a cigar.

The duck that made Cleveland famous was the subject of a widely panned 1986 film also called "Howard the Duck," which starred Lea Thompson ("Back to the Future").

Howard the Duck also drew the admiration of teenage boys for his sidekick Beverly "Thunder-Thighs" Switzler.

My personal favorite cover of Howard the Duck comic book would have to be the fifth issue of the series which featured Howard standing up to a tall pro wrestler who bore an uncanny resemblance to The Incredible Hulk with the tag: "Waaaugh! It's the feathered fury versus teh man mountain ---Klout!"

In the very first Howard issue, he proclaims that there is always a way out of trouble, and that things are never as black as they seem. In the very next panel, Howard discovers that he has in fact stepped in slime.

Such was the nature of Gerber's highly satirical work, which added in social commentary whenever he could. In issue #5, Howard even makes fun of the likes of Daffy Duck which he sees as 'biased stereotypical trash which is an unfair representation of ducks.'

Howard also took on the likes of capitalist ego-maniac Pro-Rata and cult leader Reverend Joon Moon Yuc. And, he even ran for the presidency in 1976 (I wonder if he got more votes than Mike Gravel).

Gerber also co-created Marvel's "Omega the Unknown" and the 1980s animated tv show "Thundarr the Barbarian," which most boys my age probably watched.

Ty Templeton brought my favorite comic book character minus the cigar back in December of last year, but though the graphics are quite impressive, the new version simply isn't as brilliant as the original.

Gerber was a genius.

He will be missed.

Dancer Nejla Yatkin in Today's New York Times

I am pleased to mention that my friend modern dancer Nejla Yatkin of Washington, DC, is the subject of a "New York Times" article pertaining to her performance at Joyce SoHo in New York this weekend.

Yatkin's dance is based on the classic 1987 German film "Wings of Desire," which is directed by one of my favorite film directors Wim Wenders.

In the article by Jennifer Dunning, Yatkin was described as "a magician, telling tales and creating worlds with understated images and movement. The creature that emerged from the tulle, sculptured body gleaming, was like the core of a dark plum."

Dunning also describes Yatkin's "Echoes of Hope" dance as 'exquisite.'

The dance pieces feature music by the likes of Evelyn Glennie, Sheila Chandra and Jurgen Kneiper.

Symbolism is a key aspect of Yatkin's selections, according to Dunning, as: "a jump rope suggests childhood, and a bench adulthood...."

The second performance by Yatkin will be tonight at Joyce SoHo, which is located at 155 Mercer Street in New York, phone (212) 431-9233.

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NC State to Host Sweethearts Gymnastics Meet Today

Since I am sick-as-a-dog, I will not be able to venture down I-40 and see the 24th ranked Lady Wolfpack (6-5) host Penn State (#18), Kent State (#25) and William & Mary today at 7 p.m. at the Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, NC.

North Carolina State will be trying to rebound from road losses last week to the University of Georgia (#1) and the University of North Carolina (#21), which lost a close meet at West Virginia University last night.

But, the Lady Wolfpack had some promising results last weekend.

Freshman Brittany Vantz, of Lincoln, Neb., posted a 9.75 on bars and senior Leigha Hancock, of Suffield, Conn., scored a team best 9. 825 on balance beam in Athens, Ga.

Against UNC, freshman Brittney Hardiman, of Apopka, Fla., scored a 9.825 on vault and a 9.775 on balance beam, which made her the conference rookie of the week.

In an article on the web site, Hardiman told Tim Peeler that it was Keri Strug's inspirational one-legged vault at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta which made her want to become a gymnast:

"To me, that was amazing," Hardiman said. "I wanted to do that. I wanted to have the world look at me that way."

Hardiman will have her chance to perform a stunning vault this evening, let's hope it will not have to be performed with a leg injury!

The Wolfpack face the University of Michigan in Raleigh at 7 p.m. on Feb. 22 

The UNC Tarheels face another ranked squad in the University of Florida that same night in Chapel Hill, NC.

No entry about the Wolfpack gymnastics team would be complete without mentioning junior Mackenzie Payne, who is from my hometown of Roanoke, Va. She is a graduate of the Roanoke Valley Governor's School, where my sister went, but I'm not sure Lale ever perfected a back flip.

And, there is also one Ashley Shepard of Rock Hill, SC, who went to Northwestern High School where my cousin Mike (see previous entry) went to school. I saw Ashley perform a remarkable floor exercise at a meet last year.

I would also like to see William & Mary perform well tonight. They are the last remaining Virginia university with a women's gymnastics program. James Madison University lost their team last year.

Today is a big day for North Carolina State athletics as the men's basketball team plays Clemson at 3 p.m. at the RBC Center in Raleigh. I must say I am not sure who to root for here as the Tigers coach Oliver Purnell once coached my alma mater Radford University, which used to have a gymnastics team too.

My friend Engin Atsur, who was last year's team captain, played guard for the Wolfpack last year. I would suspect that he probably didn't have any time to date any of the gymnasts..........

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Radford @ Winthrop Today in Men's Basketball

I am still sick-as-a-dog.

But, if my alma mater Radford University beats Winthrop University, the alma mater of my cousin Michael Dawkins, I will be delighted.

Winthrop is coming of a 59-50 victory over Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., this week.

Hopefully, we can put them in their place!

Alas, Winthrop won the earlier meeting between these two schools when they played in Radford, Va.

The game starts at 7 p.m. Winthrop University is in Rock Hill, SC.

On a different subject, my thoughts go out to those who lost their lives in the Northern Illinois University shooting on Thursday. Radford University is near Virginia Tech, so I certainly understand what the NIU campus is going through.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Bruce (Piephoff) is Back!!!!!

I am delighted to finally getting around to promoting my good friend Greensboro folk singer Bruce Piephoff's 16th recording "The Chestnut Tree," which came out at the outset of 2008.

Bruce is known for his eccletic range of songs which have focused on the war/fiasco in Iraq ("20 Miles to Baghdad"), slaughterhouses in eastern North Carolina and forgotten baseball heroes.

"The Chestnut Tree" continues that tradition with songs about by-gone local bluegrass legend Charlie Poole ("The Ballad of Charlie Poole"), a death row inmate in Kentucky ("Jasper's World of No Return"), a musician's trip to Knoxville ("Notes from Knoxville") and a spoken tribute to a deceased old man named Marvin.

Piephoff's record also has songs about Anne Frank ("The Chestnut Tree," the title track) and Jesse Owens.

As someone whose seen Bruce perform many times over the two years I've known him, it is hard to offer an objective analysis of his music, but I was extremely impressed by this album.

Each song is woven with the next one quite well. "Notes from Knoxville" starts the record off extremely well and it continues its momentum until the final track, "The Vanishing Hitchhiker."

Other musicians who joined Bruce in the record, include the likes of Sam Frazier, electric guitar, Scott Walker, on cello and fiddle, and David "Driveway" Moore on blues harp.

In recognition of his new recording from Flyin Cloud Records in Eden, NC, Piephoff will perform at a CD-release party at The Coffee Break, which is located 1820 Spring Garden Street in Greensboro on Feb. 29, starting at 7:30 p.m. Phone 336-230-2310.

Those interested in buying "The Chestnut Tree," which costs $15, can go to the Flyin Cloud web site at (don't put in a 'g' at the end!) :

Other Bruce Piephoff links include:


Congrats to Seda Ertanis on Her Engagement (I'm Jealous!)

As I was coming down with a severe chest cold on Valentine's Day (Thank you, Cupid), some folks around the world were apparently getting engaged.

One of the casualties in this regard is my good friend Seda Ertanis,29, a very attractive Turkish woman, who has the misfortune of living in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Of course, since I live in a small town in North Carolina where everyone except me either carries a shotgun or a bible (or both), I can't make too much fun of Dubai!

Seda is going to get married to her boyfriend Ali, who will hopefully treat her better than my last girlfriend treated me.

I wish them both well in spite of my profound 'kiskanclik' (Turkish word for jealousy).

Ms. Ertanis is originally from Istanbul. I met her on an airplane that was going to the former Ottoman capital from Amsterdam back in 2003.

She as flying in from Tokyo. I was flying in from Detroit. We had actually lost touch until we got reacquainted through Facebook.

Seda is apparently a big fan of Justin Timberlake as he went to his concert in Dubai. I would also imagine that she is an admirer of Turkish pop phenom Tarkan. I hope she doesn't like George Michael, that would mean she has profound bad taste in pop music, but then again, she's getting married anyway, so what do I care?_LOL!

In all seriousness, I wish them all the best, and if things don't work, I'm sure they can find a good marriage counselor in Dubai............

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Which Political Figure is Sexier?


Yes, we have a subversive sense of humor here at Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time. But as Bill Clinton, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Sen. Larry Craig (R-Id.) have proven there is an inherent link between sex and politics.

I also thought about including Dick Cheney and Nancy Pelosi. But, I can't imagine anyone would want to do either one of them............unless, they are a lobbyist.

This is one poll's results that I am interested to see. Even though I generally vote for Democrats, I may have to go with Condi on this one!

I also hope Hillary Clinton, the candidate I'm still supporting (as if it matters), does better here than she did on Tuesday. Perhaps, it will give her a boost going into the Wisconsin Primary.

Kinky Valentine's DVD Pick....."Kinsey"

When I visited Antigua, Guatemala in May of 2005, I was quite stunned to see Bill Condon's biopic "Kinsey," based on the life of sex researcher Alfred Kinsey playing at a small movie theatre there!

I had seen the film which stars Laura Linney, Liam Neeson (as Kinsey) and Peter Sarsgaard, at the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va., several months earlier.

I thought in spite of some slow scenes, the film was effective look at the secret side of American sexuality and why there is always an inherent conflict in our society about what goes on in people's bedrooms.

Laura Kern of "Film Comment" said the film focuses on more than just the scientist's commitment to the study of human sexuality as it looks at his own distorted personal life, including his bisexuality.

Kern added that the role was Neeson's strongest for "Schindler's List" and it provided him with another Oscar nomination. The film critic also credited Linney for her own brilliant performance as Kinsey's wife as well as Starsgaard as his assistant who ultimately seduces both of them.

Kern also said that the Puritanical values which Kinsey had to deal with still exist to do this very day, and perhaps the film would be even more timely if seen in 2008 given the recent sex scandals of Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho).



Wednesday, February 13, 2008

For Valentine's Day: Sex Advice (well, not from me...)

Brian Clarey of the Greensboro, NC, alternative kick-ass publication "Yes Weekly!," has a column entitled "Sex therapy 101" in this week's edition.

For his column, he interviewed local sex therapist Tim Britton.

One tip that Britton suggests is not having "I Love Lucy" reruns on Nick-at-Nite interupt your intimacy.

While talking about communication between couples, Britton suggests that women need and crave attention, and they don't want a Charlie Rose interview with Fred Thompson to get in their way:

"When it (open communication) happens, it frequently happens in the bedroom, and she initiates it_it's maybe the only time she has (her spouse's) attention. Bedrooms should be free of television," Britton told Clarey. "There should only be two things in the bedroom: Sleep and whoopee. No ironing boards, no negotiations, no bartering. It should be an island you can retreat to."

And, hopefully, with this advice, you can have a great moment of sexual intimacy while your's truly is reading the latest play from Henrik Ibsen.


Remembering Giget (1989-2008), The Family Dog

It has not been the happiest of times at my mom's house as she lost a third pet in a 12-month time span.

Giget, the beloved family poodle (actually, I'm bad with breeds), died after a long illness. She came into our living room through my late stepfather Donald Sullivan, who was her original owner.

Mitzi, the other family dog, died in October.

Ari, the family cat, died in March. We still miss him.

But, there is still Gizmo (see earlier entries). The three-year-old feline is ever the backyard Hannibal Lecter.

Perhaps, people who are starving to death in Tanzania should lose a family pet so they can understand what Americans go through. It is not easy!

In all seriousness, my mother is holding up fairly well. And, if I had such talents, I would have posted a photo of Giget that I took in her prime.

I'll miss the walks by the Roanoke River that we used to take.

So long, ole pal.......

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Aristophanes Play in Charlottesville, Va.

My friend Greg Wood is in the ensemble cast of "Lysistrata," a stage play by ancient Greek playwirght Aristophanes at Live Arts Theatre in Charlottesville, Va. The production will run until March 1.

According to the Live Arts, the play is about:

"Everything you need to know about men live and die by the sword. Ribald and profound, these words have gained meaning with each of the 2,500 years that have passed since they were written. And the women they empower have become more vital with every redundant bout of armed foolishness undertaken by men when they must care."

Tickets for the show are $10-22.50

There will be a shows this week starting on Wednesday (pay what you can night) at 8:00 p.m. Thursday's performance will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday the play will be performed at 8:00 p.m., and there is a Sunday matinee at 2:00 p.m.

Live Arts is also producing the Edward Albee play "The Goat or Who is Sylvia?."

For more information, contact or call 434-977-4177, ext. 108

Virginia, Maryland and DC Vote Today

My home state of Virginia, where I also work, will be choosing Democratic and Republican candidates for the White House today. There are also primaries in Maryland and Washington, DC.

It is expected to be a big day for Barack Obama and John McCain. And, today could be the final body blow to the the Mike Huckabee campaign.

Huckabee spoke at the O. Winston Link Museum in Roanoke on Monday for a crowd of about 600 people. "The Roanoke Times" said most of the supporters were the likes of Little League coaches, Sunday school teachers and blue collar workers.

Ruth Bellman drove about 50 miles from the rural town of Dublin to hear Huckabee speak. She said she was praying for a victory from the former Baptist minister.

Huckabee, who was endorsed by Jerry Falwell, Jr., also held rallies at evangelical churches in Lynchburg and Richmond.

Another former Arkansas governor, President Bill Clinton was also in The Star City. A far larger group of 1,200 people turned out to hear him speak at Patrick Henry High School. Health care was one of the central issues, he discussed according to "The Roanoke Times:"

"Raise your hand if you you someone who doesn't have health insurance," Bill Clinton said.

Both Obama and Hillary Clinton were to hold rallies in Roanoke. Obama's rally was to be at 7 a.m. (not a typo) at the Jefferson Center, but high winds in southwest Virginia forced both candidates to campaign elsewhere.

Hillary addressed political scientist Larry Sabato's Politics 101 class at the University of Virginia, according to "The Virginia-Pilot" (Norfolk, Va.).

Student Erin Garratt told the 'Pilot' that she was convinced to jump off the Obama bandwagon and vote for Hillary today.

When asked by another student about what she likes about the political process, Hillary said it was the personal experiences of meeting people, and having a chance to be invited into their lives.

The former first lady and New York Senator said she strongly supports the separation of church and state as well as embryonic stem cell research.

Obama opted to campaign in College Park, Md., on Monday, but his supporters travelled across Virginia to show support for his campaign.

I came across former Mississippi Governor Ray Mabus (D) in Danville, Va. He told me that he thinks Obama has a chance to win traditional home states, like Mississippi and Louisiana, in November, should he win the Democratic nomination.

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D) was among the early supporters of the Obama campaign. Dan Balz of "The Washington Post" said Kaine might also have a chance at being on Obama's short list for a vice preisdential pick. His 18-year-old son Nat Kaine rallied for Obama in Roanoke, and he showed supporters his voter registration card.

Chris Cillizza of "The Washington Post" said Obama is expected to win decisively in both Maryland and Washington, DC. WDBJ-7, the CBS affiliate in Roanoke, said that Obama was beating Clinton by a 60-38 margin in Virginia.

Huckabee has closed in on McCain, but not enough to pull off the proverbial major upset.

The Arizona senator spoke at the Virginia Aviation Museum in Richmond with retiring Sen. John Warner and former senator George Allen, who lost his seat to Sen. James Webb in part because of his infamous use of the racial slur 'macaca' at a rally in the far southwestern community of Breaks, Va.

McCain gave a red meat speech which placed a major emphasis on continuing the war in Iraq and the fight agaisnt terrorism.

According to the "Pilot," McCain is courting the Christian conservative vote which primarily went to Huckabee by having Christian right leaders like former fringe presidential candidate Gary Bauer of Indiana speak during rallies.

The other candidates in the race are Democrat Mike Gravel and Republican Ron Paul. Of the two, Paul has at least achieved a significant degree of name recognition.

UPDATE (2/13/08): Obama swept all three primaries. At a rally in Madison, Wisc., last night, he said: "We're on our way." We'll see if Hillary can make yet another comeback.

On the GOP side, McCain expectedly won all three primaries, though Huckabee got an impressive 44 % (compared to McCain's 48%) in Virginia. Ron Paul got four percent of the vote in Virginia.

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Friday, February 8, 2008

Bela Lugosi Meets Dennis Kucinich

One day when I was a college student circa 1995, I found a copy of Ed Wood's "Plan 9 from Outer Space" at a video store (that was what we had before dvds, kids) in Radford, Va.

I heard that there were several scenes featuring Hungarian-born actor Bela Lugosi (aka the original Dracula) even though he had died during filming.

Wood apparently decided to use his chiropractor in place of Lugosi and have him hold a vampire cape up to his face so no one would know he wasn't Bela.

Enter Dennis Kucinich.

He dropped out the Democratic race several weeks ago to maintain his Ohio Congressional seat which is being challenged even from within his own party. Kucinich actually fared better than Fred Thompson (in terms of votes. I am aware that they are in different parties) in the New Hampshire Primary, but he was still getting about one or two percent of the Jeffersonian party's vote.

But, according to the public radio series "Weekend America," scheduled to air nationally tomorrow, the Kucinich campaign in Washington state is still up and running!

Their hope is apparently that their views will somehow influence Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in their platform after they either gets the nomination to go against (highly) likely Republican candidate John McCain (sorry, Mike Huckabee fans, the man upstairs and Chuck Norris can only help him so much!).

The promotional email for "Weekend America" asks the question: "Are they delusional or nobly crusading on behalf of their ideals?"

I guess if you live in Walla Walla, you can decide for yourself when Washington state holds its caucuses tomorrow. I must admit its confusing as to who gets primaries and who gets caucuses! 

Alas, North Carolina doesn't hold a presidential primary until May 6 which will be four weeks after the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments conclude (and, basketball in NC is bigger than soccer in Rio de Janeiro, so I guess I should readjust my priorities!).

My home state of Virginia has one on Tuesday, and this year it will actually mean something unless you happen to be a Republican.........

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Remembering the Mitt Romney Campaign...

I thought I would head this the same way I usually do when someone I will miss has died. I am not a Republican, though they are good for material, but gosh darn it I really am going to miss the Mitt Romney campaign and that hair!

I have made more fun of Mitt Romney than other politician ever on this blog. That includes people like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Fred Thompson and Nancy Pelosi (well it's good to show nonpartisanship when it comes to making fun of these people).

He was such an easy target, and gee whiz I really want to take a moment to pause and think about all the sacrifices that he, his wife, their five perfect sons, Daffney, Veronica, Shaggy and Scrappy-Doo made on the campaign trail going through places like Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Nashua, New Hampshire, in order to win the presidency and try to make America a better least according to his image.

Here is one last Romney joke that was made earlier in the presidential race. (Hey he did win the endorsement of "The National Enquirer" I mean "The National Review" and that should count for something):

"Mitt Romney stunned everybody by raising $23 million..... in small donations. Apparently, he got one dollar from each Osmond," Jay Leno.

We'll miss you, Mitt. But, we sure are glad you're not going to be our president. Now, you can take some time off and go duck-hunting with your pal, Dick Cheney. Or, perhaps you can cross party lines and come down to Chapel Hill, NC, and take in a UNC basketball game with John Edwards. I'm sure you two would have 'lots' to talk about.

But, knowing my party as well I do, I would not be surprised if we somehow find a way to let you have a shot at actually winning The White House in, that's a scary thought!



Congrats to Miss Virginia! Well, She Came in Fourth

I suppose since the Miss America Pageant was on Jan. 26 in Las Vegas this entry may seem as dated as one devouted to a Fred Thompson rally in Anderson, SC, but I am proud that Hannah Kiefer represented my home state well. She finished fourth in the competiton (yikes! I have no idea who won........).

Kiefer is an alumnus of Hollins University in Roanoke, Va. It is an all-women's college which has such distinguished alumni as writer Annie Dillard and controversial photographer Sally Mann. But, amazingly enough (since I am a guy), I am also a graduate of the school!*

While in Vegas, Kiefer performed ballet en pointe in the talent portion of the competition and she sought to raise awareness of 'creating healthy choices' for teens.

Miss Virginia also praised Hollins University in a "Richmond Times-Dispatch" interview:

"I attend an all-women's university where we all are encouraged to be individuals and we're encouraged to be achievers."

My other alma mater, Radford University beat Jerry Falwell, Jr.'s Liberty University 89-88 for homecoming in a men's basketball game that was played in Radford, Va., on Saturday. Other than Winthrop University, there is no other school that I'm happier to see us beat.

*-I went to Hollins for graduate school in the film studies discipline. The school is co-ed at the graduate level.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Congrats to Mitt Romney on Winning.........Utah!

We love former Massachussetts governor Michael Dukakis....I mean Mitt Romney here at Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time. I now estimate that I have made more fun of him than all the other Republican presidential candidates combined, and that includes Fred Thompson.

And, I am ashamed to admit that we may have actually been even harder on him than any member of the infamous Bush-Cheney administration! (Yes, I's that possible?).

So, to show our apologies to Mr. Romney who has assuredly campaigned very hard and recieved very little rest, we are going to congratulate him on winning...........Utah!

I know most of you think that a Mormon Republican candidate winning Utah is like Barack Obama winning over an Oprah Winfrey studio audience, but Romney really kicked butt in the Beehive State!

He captured 88 percent of the vote, an absolute coronation, in the Utah Republican Primary, where fringe candidate Cong. Ron Paul actually got more votes than Mike Huckabee! And, front-runner Sen. John McCain of Arizona finished a distant second in single-digits as well.

According to Bob Bernick Jr. of "The Desseret Morning-News" (a Salt Lake City newspaper), it was the largest victory in a major contest in Utah history as Romney won all 36 of Utah's convention delegates.

But, Romney, aka The National Review poster boy, did not fare well almost everywhere else as his rival McCain won in key states like California, Oklahoma, New York, Illinois and Missouri, which lead Democratic Party leader Howard Dean to say that McCain is now the Republican nominee in an e-mail to Democratic constituents.

Perhaps, Fox News should now hire Dean to join the booth on Election Night this November so he can 'project' a winner in Florida (for those of you in Nepal, I am refering to an infamous moment in broadcast history which occured the 2000 Presidential Election).

On the other side of the political spectra, the Democratic race appears to be a virtual dead heat according to "Washington Post" political blogger/cloumnist Chris Cillizza.

Utah Democrats, who perhaps feel like vegans in Omaha, chose Obama over Sen. Hillary Clinton by a 56-40 percent margin. Obama won 13 states in total.

Megan Riffe of Salt Lake City told Bernick that she was deligthed to see a high turnout for both Obama and Clinton supporters in a state which only votes for Democrats about as often as elephants mate (though LBJ somehow won the state in 1964).

Obama supporters in SLC partied at The Skybox Bar and Grille downtown, where apparently one can actually have a Budweiser.

But, Hillary had a good night as well as she won in Super Tuesday's California primary. She won a total of eight states, including Romney's Massachussetts despite Obama endorsements from John Kerry and Ted Kennedy. On the GOP side, Romney was able to win his home state but Donny Osmond was not by his side for his 'victory' speech in Boston last night.

This blog is supporting Clinton over Obama, mainly because of experience and because the junior Illinois senator was endorsed by the Armenian lobby (see earlier entry). And, (with respect to my Armenian friends), if your name was Mustafa, Omer or Ayshegul, I assure you_ you would understand.

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