Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Congrats to the University of Georgia GymDawgs

Pictures: Katie Heenan,Tiffany Tolnay

The University of Georgia's women's gymnastics team won an amazing fourth consecutive NCAA title on their home mat in Athens, Ga., over the weekend. It was the ninth overall title for the Bulldogs (unofficially known as the GymDawgs), and it ties a record held by The University of Utah, which finished a close second at the championship meet.

Other teams in the "Super Six' meet included Stanford, Florida, LSU and Alabama.

The meet will be televised on CBS on May 10.

 Pictured: Ashley Kupets from last year's team. Her sister, Courtney Kupets, a former Olympian, was on this year's team but she was unable to compete at the final meet because of an injury.

 Picture: 2007 NCAA Championship Team

Perhaps, the emotion of the victory was best summed by Georgia gymnast Audrey Bowers: "To win four in a row is amazing, but this year we couldn't have asked for anything more."

Other GymDawg gymnasts include Marcia Newby, Courtney McCool, Grace Taylor, Paige Burns, Hilary Mauro, Cassidy McComb and Nikki Childs.

They are coached by Suzanne Yoculan, who was named coach of the year.

UCLA gymnast Tasha Schwikert won the all-around competition.

The meet in Athens was also the final one for Utah standout Ashley Postell, who was a standout gymnast for the Utes for four consecutive years.

Useful Links:





Video- REM and The Muppets

With this video, I conclude a trio of music videos featuring bands from Athens, Ga. REM, along with The B-52s, is one of the bands responsible for the thriving music scene there today.

Views of North Carolina- Snappy Lunch, Mount Airy

Since it is lunch time and there are no good photographs of Floyd's Barber Shop (which is next to Snappy Lunch), I thought I would make Snappy Lunch, a diner in Mount Airy as this week's image of North Carolina.

The border town of Mount Airy (all of five miles from the Virginia state line)  is known to most folks as 'Mayberry' since it is Andy Griffith's hometown and the town was the inspiration for "The Andy Griffith Show."


Griffith, who made a comeback of sorts in the independent film "Waitress" last year, still lives in North Carolina but he's quite a ways from Mount Airy (the town is also due north of Winston-Salem) as he is a resident of the Outer Banks villa of Manteo, a good day's drive from Mayberry.

I've only watched the show a handful of times since I was a kid, but it is still astonisgly popular in both the Roanoke (Va) and Greensboro markets. A friend of mine who works at WDBJ-7 in Roanoke said reruns of "The Andy Griffith Show" actually beat the local newscast of a rival station.

Useful Links:

Previous Entries:

1) Old Guilford Mill- Oak Ridge (Greensboro)

2) Eden Drivein- Eden

3) Varsity Cinema- Chapel Hill

4) Old Shell Station- Winston-Salem

5) North Carolina Zoo- Asheboro

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Another Controversial Entry.....My Top Ten Films List

I have to see a friend's film on tv tonight, so I'm going to make this quick. These are my FAVORITE  films (not the same as the films I think are the best ones ever made), alas Terry Gilliam's "Brazil" and many others didn't make this particular 'cut':

1. "The Graduate"

2. "King Kong" (1933 version)

3. The Godfather

4. Wings of Desire (1987, Germany)

5. The Pornographers (1966- Japan)

6. A Clockwork Orange

7. Psycho (Hitch version)

8. Once Upon a Time in the West

9. Gun Crazy

10. Distant (2002-Turkey)

Yes, I'm Voting for Hillary Clinton

Since Michael Moore ( a person I respect, but he is more to the left than I am)  is endorsing Barack Obama, and conversely the likes of Rev. John Hagee ( a person I don't respect) are putting their weight behind John McCain, Sen. Clinton seems like the most pragmatic choice so I will be voting for her in the North Carolina Primary on May 6.
I strongly feel that she will also be able to withstand the right wing antics that the likes of Karl Rove will put forth to keep The White House in Republican hands. I'm not sure Obama will be able to face those challenges, especially given what has happened with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright flap.
Hillary is also the only one strong enough to bring Osama bin Laden to justice. Republicans like to brag about how they are the ones better suited to protect us from terrorism but George W. Bush has failed to capture bin Laden despite many adequate opportunities.
I also would also like to see Dick Cheney brought before a Senate committee for all his major ethical crimes, including overseeing human rights abuses at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan (for starters), and Hillary may well be the only person who could see to that.
She is also the only one who can stop the nonsense in Iraq, and improve education and health care in America.
Love her or hate her, she's been through a lot at the hands of creeps like Ken Starr and she always finds a way to come out on top. She should hence be our next commander-in-chief.

Happy Birthday Uma Thurman

Today Uma Thurman is 38 years old (this "Rolling Stone" cover is from 1989), which happens to be my age.

I looked at her filmography and noticed that she was in Woody Allen's "Sweet and Lowdown" with Sean Penn. I've seen that film, yet shockingly I can't remember her being in it at all!

Useful Links: (No, I am NOT the person in charge of that web site-LOL!)

Video from Elf Power....(another Athens band)

Elf Power is a band I knew nothing about until this weekend. They have a unique sound which I can not fully describe. I like this video for the song "All the World is Waiting" for its animation as well. This is yet another cool band from Athens, Georgia.

Tonight, the band performs at Backbooth in Orlando, Fl. They return to Athens on Thursday night with a performance at the Caledonia Lounge.

Useful Links:

Monday, April 28, 2008

Video from 63 Crayons (Athens, Ga., band)

While I was in Athens, Georgia, I hoped to see if 63 Crayons was performing somewhere. Athens has lots of music clubs like the 40 Watt Club, but I wasn't able to see neither the band or any live music for that matter over the weekend (more on that later).
But, I met someone who knew Charlie Johnston the lead singer of the band at the Wuxtry Records store downtown.
63 Crayons was a popular band in my hometown of Roanoke, Va., circa 2001, but they decided to relocate to Athens in 2003 (according to Wikipedia).
Charlie and I worked at the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke. Alas, I've only seen the band perform once, but they have a unique post-modern sound as one can hear on this video for the song "Save Us," which features dancers with the Whistling School for Boys, also out of Athens.....

Useful Links:

The Black Barbershops of Athens, Ga., Support Obama

I just got back from Athens, Ga., and among the things which most struck me about the town that REM made famous was the strong support among black barbershops for Barack Obama.

It was a stark contrast from white barbershop windows in Virginia and North Carolina which are more likely to endorse Yosemite Sam for president.

There were at least five or six black barbershops in downtown Athens which had Obama signs in their windows. Other windows had images like this one perched in front of their stores, while another one had a photograph of Obama getting his hair cut by a black barber.

Haircuts have perhaps had more of a political impact than usual this election cycle as a result of John Edwards' infamous $400 haircut in a California hair salon, which arguably helped him lose the election to Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Though one has to wonder if former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has recieved some pricey haircuts as well.

The black barbershop seems to be a unique cultural experience, perhaps one day I'll find one here in North Carolina though I may feel just a tad bit out of place!

Useful Links:


Free Comic Book Day is Saturday, May 3!

Free Comic Book Day is Saturday, May 3!

Note from Tilly Gokbudak: Andrew Neal of Chapel Hill Comics has a great store in (where else?!) Chapel Hill, NC. I will probably be visiting a store closer to home for Free Comic Book Day. Alas, I know there are places like Altoona, Pa., which no longer have comic book stores! I asked my friend Terry Williams if I should use an image of Plastic Man or The Mighty Thor for this entry. He chose Plastic Man. Now I should ask him who to vote for in the North Carolina Democratic Primary, which is May 6!

Incidentally, the film version of "The Invisible Iron Man" (a Marvel Comics character) opens Friday. I believe they are simply calling the movie "Iron Man." 


Chapel Hill Comics is proud to once again be a participant in Free Comic Book 
Day! Free Comic Book Day is an international event which takes place on the
first Saturday of May. This year, Free Comic Book Day is Saturday, May 3. The
event will last all day, or as long as Free Comics are still available. We
always run out of some of the comics, so come early for the best selection!

There are no strings attached and there is no purchase required. Just come to
the store on Saturday, May 3 any time between 10am and 9pm, and you'll get free
comics! It's one of the most fun days of the year!

Keep an eye on our website this week where we will spotlight the various comics
that will be available for Free Comic Book Day!

Free Comic Book Day
Saturday, May 3
10am until 9pm
(come early for the best selection)
Chapel Hill Comics
412 W Franklin St
Chapel Hill, NC 27516

Andrew Neal
Chapel Hill Comics



Happy Birthday Penelope Cruz

Penelope Cruz, the Spanish actress who was nominated for an Oscar in "Volver," turns 34 today, which means that she is now the same age as my sister Lale.

Cruz has starred in some inferior American films like "Vanilla Sky" (which was a remake of the Spanish film "Open Your Eyes.") The film lead to her romance with co-star Tom Cruise. Apparently, Penelope wasn't too interested in L. Ron Hubbard so he opted for Katie Holmes instead! Cruz is alas dating Javier Bardem now as well.

To celebrate her birthday, I thought I would see how many degrees of separation she is from two presidential candidates who have made motion picture cameos (Barack Obama so far has not).

Cruz is three degrees removed from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. The former first lady was in "The Final Days" (2000) with Kevin Spacey who was in "Austin Powers in Goldmember" (2002) with Danny DeVito who was in "The Good Night" (2007) with Cruz.

Cruz is a mere two degrees removed from Sen. John McCain. He was in "Wedding Crashers" (2005) with singer/actor Dwight Yoakam who was in "Bandidas" (2006) with Cruz.

Useful Links:


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Happy Birthday to My Friend Ilhan Tuzcu

Dr. Ilhan Tuzcu is a professor at the University of Alabama. He is originally from Turkey, and previously he taught at Virginia Tech, where I hung out with him at Bollo's Coffee Shop in Blacksburg.

 I wish him a very happy birthday today. (I believe he is 40, but I don't like to put up any info that may later prove to be false or inaccurate unless it pertains to lying politicians.)

He happens to share his name with my late uncle Ilhan Gokbudak who was a Turkish diplomat.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Images of North Carolina- The NC Zoo in Asheboro

(Image Above: The Endangered Species Carousel at the North Carolina Zoo)

First, the big announcement_ I am going on hiatus until Monday. Enjoy this blog, and if you have any suggestions for upcoming entries email me at

(Be nice! Or I will have to feed you to this guy.................)

Since today is Children's Day in my late father's country Turkey, I thought I would focus on something that reminded me of children. And, there is perhaps no better place that comes to mind than the zoo. I've heard that the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro is a nice place, but I have no kids so it's hard to find the incentive to go there. In addition to lions, they have monkeys, polar bears and lots of snakes.

My funniest zoo experience was when my sister Lale and I went to the national zoo in Ankara, Turkey, some 20 years ago. We were kind of surprised to see cats there, though the kitties on display were Van cats (pictured below_felines with white fur and sometimes red eyes that hail from the Van region of eastern Turkey. To my knowledge, there are no cats from Van or anywhere else at the North Carolina Zoo!)


Incidentally, Incidentally, the jurisdiction I live in has one of the highest kill rates for any animal shelter in the nation. Perhaps, those cats would be better off in a zoo!

Useful Links: (for info on pet adoption)

Other entries in series:

1) Old Guilford Mill_ Oak Ridge (Greensboro)

2) Eden Drivein_ Eden

3) Varsity Theatre_ Chapel Hill

4) Old Shell Gas Station_ Winston-Salem

Links to visit while I'm visiting friends in Kandahar, Afghanistan (that's a joke!): (Blog on movies) (Blog on entertainment and politics)



Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Birthday John Waters

John Waters, the filmmaker who made Baltimore hip, turned 62 today.

I must profess to not entirely liking his films as much as I enjoy listening to him to talk.

I briefly met Waters at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, where he was a judge.

"Serial Mom" with Kathleen Turner is perhaps my favorite film of his.

Though I tried to watch his 1974 film "Female Trouble" with the late transvestite actor Divine on Sundance Channel a few weeks ago, I only managed to watch 20 minutes, and it takes A LOT to shock or offend me!........(I've seen "A Clockwork Orange" 12 times!).

Like me, Waters also taught at a prison_in his case, the Patuxent Institute in Maryland, but he worked with convicted killers. To my knowledge, there were none of those in my prison class in North Carolina.

Waters also subscribes to over 80 magazines. I somehow wouldn't think "National Review" is one of them, but the man is full of surprises!

Waters also indulged in watching porn films at drive-ins as a kid! But, Bengie's Drive-In in Baltimore (built in 1956, pictured here) does not show those kind of films.

In fact, at the moment, they are showing "Penelope," "The Forbidden Kingdom" with Jet Li and "The Bank Job.

Two of Waters's films "Hairspray" and "Cry Baby" have been converted to Broadway musicals. The musical version of "Hairspray" was made into a film which came out last year and had Waters in a Hitchcockesque cameo role. He performed some kind of entertainment show at the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro last year, and hopefully some Southern Baptist left early (that would have been worth the price of admission alone!).

Useful Links:

(John Waters fan site) (As if Waters has Republican fans......, actually come to think of it, a newspaper editor I worked with was indeed both!) 

Favorite Film Series........Mr. Angleberger/Riddleberger

(Tom's pictured removed by request. I would replace his image with that of Felix the Cat, but alas I am tottally exhausted)

Hmmm....yes, I know my alter-ego is checking the results of the Democratic primary in the online editions of the Philadelphia newspapers but I wanted to get another top ten list posted since this blog is going on hiatus for a few days starting tomorrow _(sincere apologies to our loyal readers, but I will be back even though stamp collecting is far less time-consuming!).

Tom Angleberger, whose pen name is Sam Riddleberger, is one of the few friends I made in the newspaper business along with Jonathan the photographer (who I ran into at the Turkish Fest in Raleigh) being the other. This is partly because it is easier to be make pals in the mafia simply because mobsters are more likely (than reporters or editors) to look you in the face before they shoot you!

Tom/Sam wrote the children's book "The Qwickpick Adventure Society," which I had considered buying for my inmates (I briefly taught English at a prison in NC), before realizing that would be a very bad idea. Though I'm told Sam's book is quite a good read.

I met Tom while I was at a newspaper in Christiansburg, Va, in 1996. Tom wisely defected to "The Roanoke Times" and we both ended up covering the same town council meetings and even though the editors would chew me if there was a fact in Tom's story that wasn't in mine we are the best of friends.

His wife Cece Bell is also a noted children's book author.

Here is Tom/Sam's Top Ten Favorite Films List:

1. "Star Wars"

Hmmm.....I forgot to get an image of Darth Vader, so we'll go with the next best thing.

2. Casablanca

3. Babe

4. African Queen

5. The In-Laws (1979 version which was directed by Arthur Hiller of "Love Story" fame. The remake with Michael Douglas is an inferior film)

6. The Empire Strikes Back

7. Return of the Jedi

8. Strictly Ballroom (1992 film directed by Baz Luhrmann)

9. Six Degrees of Separation (1993 Fred Schepsi film based on the play by John Guare)

10. Lord of the Rings

Useful Links:

(So you can see how Barack and Hillary fared!)



Top Ten Favorite Films Series....Jason Garnett

Jason Garnett, the manager of the historic Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va. (pictured here), is the second person who gave me their top ten favorite films list. There were some interesting choices here.

1. The Big Lebowski (dir. Coen Bros., 1998)

2. Buffalo 66 (dir. Vincent Gallo, 1998)

3. No Country for Old Men (dir. Coen Bros., 2007)

4. City Lights (dir. Charlie Chaplin, 1931)

5. Band of Outsiders (France, dir. Jean-Luc Godard, 1964)

6. Cinema Paradisio (Italy, dir. Giueseppe Tornatore, 1998)

7. Ikiru (Japan, dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1952)

8. Red Dawn (dir. John Milius, 1984) .............I'm still wondering if he really meant "Red Desert," the classic Michelangelo Antonioni film!

9. "It Happened One Night" (dir. Frank Capra, 1931)

10. "The Royal Tennebaums" (dir. Wes Anderson, 2001)

Useful Links:


Monday, April 21, 2008

10 Favorite Films Series....Bruce Piephoff

We start of our 10 Favorite Films (or Plays) Series with Greensboro, NC, folk singer/poet Bruce Piephoff who was kind enough to share his top ten favorite film list with me.

I sent an email to many of my friends asking what their favorite films or plays were. Bruce was the first to respond. I got this idea when I heard that a North Carolina author asked writers around the world (ranging from Norman Mailer to Stephen King) what their favorite books were, and he actually published all those lists in a book of his own.

Bruce's favorite films are (He did not number his selections, so I think these are in no particular order):

"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (dir. Milos Forman, 1975)


"Taxi Driver" (dir. Martin Scorsese, 1975)

"The Grapes of Wrath" (dir. John Ford, 1940)

"La Strada" (dir. Frederico Fellini, 1954)

"The Godfather" (dir. F. Ford Coppolla, 1972)

"Chinatown" (dir. Roman Polanski, 1974)

"Frances*" (dir. Graeme Clifford, 1982)

*-(This is a film about singer Frances Farmer. It starred Jessica Lange, and this is said to be one of her best roles.)

"Apocalypse Now!" (dir. F. Ford Coppolla, 1979)

"The Deer Hunter" (dir. Michael Cimino, 1978)

"Raging Bull" (dir. Martin Scorses, 1980).

Bruce also listed "On the Waterfront," "The Big Lebowski" and "Sideways" among his favorites.

Useful Links:


Les Blank Screens Film at River Run Film Fest

A few years ago, veteran documentary filmmaker Les Blank came to our campus at Hollins University in Roanoke, Va. We have kept in touch, and I am a huge admirer of his work.

Alas, he comes to North Carolina on a weekend when I will be out of the state, but I want to promote his screening for those who might be in Winston-Salem area.

Blank will be showing his film "All in This Tea" (which he co-directed with Gina Leibrecht) at the The River Run Film Festival.

The screening times are Thurs., April 24 (8 p.m., Sawtooth), Fri., Apr. 25 (1 p.m., Main) and Sat., Apr. 26 (2:30 p.m., Reynolds).

The film, which I profiled in an entry a few months ago when the film had premiered in the San Francisco area, is a journey in which Blank takes us into the hidden world of tea as he follows world-renown tea expert David Lee Hoffman to remote, rural parts of China to find some of the best tea in the world.

Blank is known his unique films about filmmaking ("Burden of Dreams"), musicians ("The Blues According to Lightin' Hopkins") and food ("Garlic Is As Good as Ten Mothers"). Other films of his include "Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe" and "In Heaven, There is No Beer?," which depicts the life of polka musicians.

Useful Links:


1) Young Folks by Peter, Bjorn and John

Here is a complete list of my personal Top Ten Favorite Pop Songs:

1. "Young Folks" by Peter, Bjorn and John (surprise, I chose something new!)

2. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" by The Joy Division

3. "Don't You Want Me" by Human League

4. "Dudu" by Tarkan

5. "1...2....3...4.." by Feist

6. "Heart of Glass" by Blondie

7. "West End Girls" by Pet Shop Boys

8. "Take on Me" by A-ha

9. "Hold Me Now" by Thompson Twins

10. "Hungry Like the Wolf" by Duran Duran

Let the arguing begin...........

This marks my 700th blog entry..........perhaps, it's time to move away from Provo, Utah, ( a pseudonymn for where I really live) once and for all!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Kudos to the Organizers of Turkish Fest, Raleigh, NC

The amazing folk dancer Zeki Maviyildiz, pictured here along with his troupe, was among the performers at Turkish Fest_ a first of its kind event in North Carolina, yesterday.

(Note: this image is not from Turkish Fest itself)

I don't know exactly how many people attended, but I would guess that it was somewhere in the 2,000 range, which is the all the more remarkable because the Turkish population in North Carolina, while relatively high in Raleigh, is considerably lower than those of larger states in the northeast like New Jersey.

In fact, I'm fairly certain that there are no (or very, very few) Turkish people in small cities like Mount Airy, Roanoke Rapids or Lumberton.....!

So, for that reason alone (not to mention the time and effort to organize and promote an event as grand as this), one has to praise the event's primary sponsor the Divan Cultural Center in Cary, NC, and my good friends Volkan Ozdemir and Onur Kabul who are active in that organization.

It was also great to see my friends Jonathan the photographer, Erol and Nida at the event along with Numan bey and his family.

And, of course, it was 'fevkalade' (wonderful) to eat some fine doner (gyro meat) with yogurt, a Turkish specialty.

Insallah (hopefully), we will get to do this again next year!

Useful Links: (Zeki Maviyildiz's web site. Mavi Yildiz means 'blue star' in Turkish.)


Four Quotes from Four Dead Poets

"A great city is that which has the greatest men and women," Walt Whitman.

"Hope is the thing with weathers that perches in the soul_ and sings the tunes without the words and never stops at all," Emily Dickinson.

"However and whereever we are, we must live as if we will never die," Nazim Hikmet (1901-1963).  He is considered to be Turkey's great poet.*

"Humor is laughing at yourself at what you haven't got when you ought to have it," Langston Hughes.

April is National Poetry Month in the United States.

Useful Links:

*Though often arrested for his communist beliefs, Hikmet is now even refered by the Turkish government. Hikmet died in exile, and he is buried at Moscow's famed Novodevichy Cemetery. A Turkish biopic film about Hikmet's life entitled "Mavi Gozlu Dev/ Blue-Eyed Giant" was released in Turkey in 2007.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Howard the Duck is My Newest Facebook Friend?!

I'm not sure who is keeping the Facebook account for the most famous fowl in Marvel Comics history, but nevertheless I am now friends with Howard the Duck!

Alas, Howard's creator Steve Gerber died an untimely death at the age of 60 in a Las Vegas back in February.

Howard first hit comic book stands in 1975, when Gerber was still in his mid-twenties. Last year, a new edition of the character came out though it lacks the wit and humor of the original series, which Gerber also penned.

According to Howard the Duck's account, his birthday was on November 12, 1926, and he is listed as a alum of Case Western University in Cleveland, which is where Howard the Duck stories take place.

We won't mention the "Howard the Duck" movie which came out in 1986.

And, perhaps Christopher Knight might be stoked to know that Howard the Duck is supporting Ron Paul for president. I am still unsure about who to vote for between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for the North Carolina Democratic Primary, so perhaps the input of a fictional character really could matter! The closest thing I can of is the fact that former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan has endorsed Obama!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Images of North Carolina- Old Shell Station in Winston-Salem

With gas prices reaching $3.40/barrell, all of us regardless of politics, race or religion, might well be feeling nostalgia for the good ole days when gas something like 34 cents/gallon.......or less!

This one-of-a-kind shell-shaped gas station was built circa 1930, and it still exists today (though one can't buy gas there) at its original location on the corners of Sprague and Peachtree streets in Winston-Salem........a town known for bringing America two of its most 'healthy' products (cigarettes and doughnuts_ as the city is the corporate home of R.J. Reynolds and Krispy Kreme respectively).

The station still stands thanks to the efforts of Preservation North Carolina.

L.L. "Fuzz" Everhart, who managed the station in the '30s and '40s, told that there is just no gas station that could replace this architectural gem:

"If it had fallen, it was just a piece of history that could never, ever be replaced."

Useful Links:

Other Images in this Series (see back entries):

Old Guilford Mill, Oak Ridge (Greensboro)

Eden Drivein, Eden

Varsity Theatre, Chapel Hill

Public Apology to My Friend McKenly Graves

I must profess that I inadvertently thought my friend McKenley Graves was some sort of cyber-stalker/prankster when he left an anynomous comment to my entry on the University of Florida women's gymnastics team.

So, I am offering him this noble gesture, which will hopefully seem more sincere than the pictured $1,000,000 Mitt Romney bills pictured here!

UPDATE 4/20: Romney made the following comment jokingly at a light-hearted affair in Washington, DC, this week. The comment came at the top of a top ten reasons why our campaign failed list, which was done in the form of a David Letterman piece:

"There was a flaw in our campaign theory that as Utah goes so goes the nation."

2) Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division

There is a depressing back story to this band who hit it big with this song in 1979. As many pop music fans know, Joy Division's Ian Curtis killed himself in the early '80s when the band was at its height in popularity.

Curtis's life was recently chronicled in the film "Control," which should be out on dvd very soon. The film was cited by several film critics as being one of the better films of 2007.

Joy Division and its spin-off group New Order, which covered this song, were featured in the "Trainspotting" soundtrack.

The Cure also covered "Love Will Tears Us Apart."

This song gets me every time..........!

3) Don't You Want Me Baby by Human League

This 1981 smash hit "Don't You Want Me Baby" actually seems to get better with age. I have no idea why that is! Through my friend Moviezzz, I found out that the lead singer actually sang that the title for the forgotten '80s film "Electric Dreams." I initially thought of ranking this song numero uno but I decided this slot was the best one for it.




Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Virginia Tech, One Year Later

There are many things that could be said about the mass shooting at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007, which left 32 students and faculty members dead. My sister is a alumnus of the school, and many friends either go there or have graduated from the school in Blacksburg, Va.

The events have also been politicized by sides of the gun control dispute, but today that does not seem appropriate.

I hope to devote future entries to the families of the victims I documented this time last year, including Henry Lee, an outstanding student who was the son of Vietnamese immigrants, who lived in my hometown of Roanoke, Va., and graduated from William Fleming High School with honors.

"The Roanoke Times" ran a special section on Sunday in tribute to those who lost their lives. Here are some of the quotes:

"The most important thing that might happen from all this is not what happened to the victims and not what happened to the families, but what lessons the other 26,000 students take away from it," Brian Cloyd, father of shooting victim Austin Cloyd who was from the hamlet of Narrows, Va.

"Ultimately, you think of the great waste that occurred on that day. The lives that were lost. The potential," Ishwar Puri, professor and engineering department head.

"I remember spring last year as cold because that morning it was cold.....It's kind of refreshing and exciting to be in springtime again. And now it's warm and nice and now my last memory of spring isn't the coldest day there was in spring," Heidi Miller, Virginia Tech student wounded in the shootings.

Useful Links:



Turkish Studies in Yerevan, Armenia

According to the March 5 edition of the English-language "Turkish Daily News," there is a Turkish language and literature center in Yerevan, Armenia- of all places, at Yerevan State University.

According to the TDN, 100 undergraduate students, 25 master's students and four PhD students are enrolled in the program, which was started by Istanbul-born Hrachya Acharyan in 1943.

Vercihan Ziflioglu wrote the TDN story in which depratment chair Alexander Safaryan, who has in the program since 1986, said that he thinks Turkish and Armenian linguists should engage in joint studies at the university level.

Safaryan said that such a joint effort took place with the Middle Eastern Technical University in Ankara in 2002 but turbulent diplomatic realtions have stopped such ventures for the time being.

Safaryan said there was an interest in Turkish literature in Armenia, particularly the works of Turkey's most well-known novelist Orhan Pamuk.

Safaryan added that hsitoric disputes (Turkey and Armenia have a well-documented dispute over violent conflicts that took place in eastern Turkey in 1915) should not prevent cultural and intellectual exchanges:

"I am a linguist, not a historic. My area of specialization is the Turkish language and culture. I have never conducted any studies of the 1915 killings and therefore it is not my area of specialization."

Student Susanik Zakaryan, 21,  told the TDN that she visited Istanbul for two weeks, and she felt that Turkish youth did not have enough information about Armenia and that learning Turkish could help her foster better communications with Turkish people her age.

Tense diplomatic relations between Yerevan and Ankara were also the reason why student Nareg Zulayian, 19, enrolled in the Turkish studies program.

Useful Links:

4) Turkish pop star Tarkan's meg-hit "Dudu"

This song from Tarkan is NOT in English, but that shouldn't keep you from enjoying it....

5) Feist_ 1....2....3....4...

Here is song number-five in my favorite pop songs of all time list. This tune from Feist, '1....2...3....4...." is obviously a bit more current than the likes of Blondie or A-ha. I had a chance to see her perform at the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro last year. Oh well!


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Guess What's in the Fridge?

Last week, my friend Tom Angleberger, a children's book author who lives near Blacksburg, Va., joined Facebook along with his wife Cece Bell, who is best known for the Sock Monkey series of children's book (not to be confused with Tony Millionaire's Sock Monkey comic strip which is definitely aimed more for adults!).

I decided to welcome Tom to Facebook by saying: "Welcome to the cult. You should try the butterscotch pudding," this was of course in reference to the strange suicide cult in San Diego that was in the news some ten years ago.

Over the weekend, I babysat the family cat Gizmo (see earlier entry) back in Roanoke as my mom went to her college reunion at Winthrop University in South Carolina.

The first thing I did on Friday afternoon was to look in the fridge and see what food was in the house.

Sure enough, there were two butterscotch puddings in dessert bowls that my mom must have broughtt from Heironomos in 1976.


Since there wasn't much else to eat in the house, I had them both by Saturday afternoon.

Useful Links: (Sam Riddleberger is Tom's pen name) (not sure about this one!)


Monday, April 14, 2008

Happy Early Birthday to Bilge Ebiri

 A few weeks ago, I guessed that my friend Christopher Knight of Reidsville, NC, was 35. As it turns out, Knight is just a tad bit younger than that, but on Wednesday my good friend Bilge Ebiri is indeed turning 35 (I doublechecked that!).

Like Knight, Ebiri has been involved with blogging and filmmaking. His independent film "New Guy" (2003) is a brilliant social statement on the lonliness of the workplace_ ie. Dilbert Syndrome.

His favorite movies include "Barry Lyndon," "The Conformist" and "Blame it on Rio***" (ok, that last one is a joke!). His favorite film of last year is the Iranian film "Offside" about a girl who can't go to a soccer game because she's a girl (well, that's the rather simplified version of the story).

Ebiri's favorite tv shows include "The Wire" and "The Simpsons."  And, his musical tastes range from Oasis to political rocker Billy Bragg.

Since he is both a Turkish-American and a film buff, one wonders if there is anyone out there who has gotten us confused.

There is one main difference between us though as I am the one who is an Olympic triathlete and he is not (of course_that is also a joke!).

Ebiri lives in New York with his wife Jeanne. He has also writtern extensively about the Turkish filmmaker Yilmaz Guney ("Yol"), Stanley Kubrick and Bernardo Bertolucci. And, he directed a short film entitled "The Purse." He has also worked for various publications as a writer including "Entertainment Weekly" and "New York" (magazine).

I wish him a happy 35th birthday. 

***-One of his other top three is actually "The Leopard" by Luchino Visconti

Video #6- "Heart of Glass" by Blondie

Sunday, April 13, 2008

What Should I Put in My Netflix Que Now?

I have 10 slots open in my NetFlix que. I have some odd choices, including the Turkish film "The Abortion," and some genuinely interesting-sounding films like the documentary "Waiting for Fidel" which inspired Michael Moore to make "Roger and Me." But, I'm not sure where to go from here.....any suggestions? If so, email me at
Yes, it's late....I hate Sunday night insomnia!

I'd Love to See This Job Interview....

This is from an actual ad I saw on Craigslist:

"Looking for men and women of all ages and sizes to star in very discrete adult films being filmed in Kannapolis, NC (not actual city in ad).
Compensation is from $40-500 and shooting starts in 2-3 weeks. Films to be shot once monthly. NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE!"

Hmmm..........yes, truth really is stranger than fiction, isn't it?

Happy Birthday Blake Lipscomb........(with a quote from Conficus)

My good friend Blake Lipscomb just finished an impressive run in his theatrical debut as a an actor with "The Spoon River Anthology" at Virginia Western Community College.
The 'intellectual chicken farmer' (hmm....he may get me back for that) from Vinton, Va., turns 44 on Monday. His interests include Buddhism and eastern philosophy, so we have this quote from Conficus which will also serve as our quote of the week (my apologies to the 14 percent of Americans who consider Bush a good president):
"An oppressive government is to be more feared than a tiger."

Blake is also known to perform skits at No Shame Theatre, as is a certain Turkish-American with a very dark sense of humor!

Useful Link:

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Brian Clarey! Now Send Him to Cannes...

Brian Clarey is the editor of Greensboro's best newspaper (sorry, "News-Record"), the alternative weekly "Yes Weekly." He is 38 today, which now officially makes him my age. But, since he is married, he can not 'potentially' bring Scarlett Johansson to his 20th high school reunion (see earlier entry), but since I'm still single, I can..............:)
Clarey has a more-realistic venture that he is working on though, but it will take some funding.
Along with Dustin Keene, and Matt McNeill, Clarey was  part of  the crew  for  the  short film "JoBeth," which was the winning film for of the Greensboro 48-hour Film Project last year.
Amazingly enough, the film got accepted into the Cannes Film Festival, but none of them can afford to go there.
So, they have started a web site aimed at raising $10,000 for expenses.
Brian's witty columns are one of the things which make "Yes Weekly!" such an enjoyable read. In his columns, he has discussed the lure of "America's Next Top Model," having his house broken into (yikes!) and the excitement of seeing Van Halen at the Greensboro Coliseum.
I had the pleasure of meeting Brian and the paper's gifted reporter Jordan Green at a fundraiser for Fred Thompson (just kidding!)_ it was actually at a Christmas party downtown last year where everyone laughed hysterically when I lost my karaoke virginity to "Who's Crying Now?" from Journey.
Brian also looks a lot like Bruce Springsteen.
In fact, I hope I did not just get their photos mixed!

Useful Links:

Want to Play Fantasy Movie Mogul?

 My Moviezzz  has joined this entertainment business variation on fantasy football.

Since I've started dating Scarlett Johansson and taken up skydiving, my time for such a venture would be very limited (in all seriousness, I am working on a play and a short story and there is this blog!), but perhaps someone out there would like to be see if they could be the next David O. Selznick!

Other Useful Link:

The image is of Tim Robbins from the 1990s' Robert Altman classic "The Player"

Friday, April 11, 2008

Poet Nikki Giovanni Coming to Greensboro

Last year on April 16, there was a terrible shooting at Virginia Tech. The horrific incident lead poet Nikki Giovanni, also a teacher at the school, to pen "We Are Virginia Tech."
But, Giovanni was nationally recognized long before she read her moving poem at the memorial service for the 32 victims of that shooting spree. She is listed as a distinguished member of Oprah Winfrey's 25 Living Legends, and she is also known for her work as a civil rights activist and for being a close friend of the late poet, author James Baldwin.
Giovanni, the author of over 20 books, was also recognized on this blog as the 2007 Person of the Year (see earlier entries). As we said at the time, she was chosen over political comedian Stephen Colbert who was first runner-up.
I had the chance to talk to Giovanni when I was a reporter in Christiansburg, Va., back in 1997.

On April 27, in recognition of National Poetry Month, Giovanni will be coming here to Greensboro with a talk at the historic Carolina Theatre downtown.
The free event starts at 3 p.m.
For more info, one can call Steve Sumerford at 336-373-3636.

A documentary about Walt Whitman, another poet from another era, airs nationally on PBS on Monday night at 9 p.m. as part of the "An American Experience" series. The broadcast will feature North Carolina author Allan Gurganus.

Useful Links:

Fluke Snowstorm Stops Utah's Gym Team....for now.....

First of all, my headline is slightly misleading as the Utah Utes women's gymnastics team is expected to finally arrive in Minneapolis in time for tomorrow night's crucial NCAA regional gymnastics meet, but they have had major complications.
First of all, they were to leave Utah on Thursday, but the team's flight to Minneapolis was scraped due to high winds.
But, coach Greg Marsden told Linda Hamilton of "The Deseret Morning News" in Salt Lake City that team would reroute through Billings, Mont., today to make the North-Central meet by Saturday.
But, there is a catch-they are expecting eight inches of snow in Minneapolis on Saturday. And, the flight might not be able to land, at least not on time!
Other teams at the team include Arkansas, Arizona and Iowa. One would expect they had their share of travel problems too.
Utah is ranked #2 with a 12-1 record.
Marsden told the SLC newspaper that (referring to the weather mishaps): "It's not ideal, but we'll make the most of it."
Practice was scheduled for this afternoon. A poster on reported that Arizona's team came in late Thursday night.
The Utes squad features the nation's top-ranked collegiate gymnast Ashley Postell and reigning 2006 bars champion Kristina Baskett.
The Utes also feature the likes of Nina Kim, Jessica Duke and Daria Bijak.
I will update the results to see if this meet does indeed manage to make it through all the weather problems.  Minnesota is known for winter storms, but in April in the age of global-warming?
The NCAA gymnastics meets at the regional level are not televised_for reasons which are not entirely clear, much to the disappointment of college gymnastics fans like myself, and it has been a matter of concern for quite some time.

Useful Links:

Ironically, this entry had its own problems including my inability to get an image of Postell or Baskett posted here without something going wrong. I can vouch that the photo is of a Utah gymnast, but just who it is or when it was taken is not known!

UPDATE ONE: The internet rumor mill is that the Utes just landed in Minnesota, but they came in on two separate planes!

UPDATE TWO: And, for all their troubles, the Utes prevailed! The other school which qualified for nationals in Athens, Ga., with a second-place finish in Minnesota was the University of Arkansas. Utah scored a 196.95 and Arkansas scored a 196.25
Other regional qualifiers from the other regional meets included top-ranked Georgia, Florida, UCLA, LSU, Oklahoma and Stanford.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Images of North Carolina- Varsity Theatre in Chapel Hill

Well, they are no longer showing "Kissing Jessica Stein," which came out in 2002, but this week The Varisty Theatre in Chapel Hill, NC, is showing the Academy-Award winner for Best Foreign Language Film "The Counterfeitters," which is an Austrian film about the Holocaust.

They are also showing the comedy "Smart People" with Dennis Quaid, which is also showing the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va., which is managed by my friend Jason Garnett.

The Varsity is a historic cinema and it was made famous when Katie Holmes walked by it in an episode of "Dawson's Creek." Of course, she was not known as the annoying wife of Tom Cruise back then!

The cinema is on East Franklin Street, which is the street where Tarheel basketball fans gather before and after UNC games.

The street, which still maintains its charm despite the presence of one too many Starbucks, is also where one can find a great Turkish restaurant in Talulla's.  This is  where one can munch on a lahmachun (Turkish pizza).

And, in close proximity, there is the ever-nifty Chapel Hill Comics, which is managed by the comic-savvy Andrew Neal whom I had the pleasure of meeting back in November. If you haven't collected comics since "Howard the Duck" concluded its initial run (circa 1979), I'm sure Mr. Neal will be able to fill you in.

The Varsity Theatre is located at 12 East Franklin Street. Phone: (919)-967-8665.

PLEASE NOTE: There was initially an error with the spelling of Talullas and its link, that has been corrected.



Quote of the Week: Ptolemy

I hate to disappoint my legions of fans, especially those of you in Yerevan, Armenia,  (forgive the ethnic humor), but I am actually exceptionally pressed for time today.

So, we are merely going to supply a quote from renown astronomer mathematician, philosopher and astronomer Ptolemy, who lived a very, very long time ago:

"Everything that is hard to attain is easily assailed by the mob."


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Glenvar High's Class of 1988 Has 20th Reunion

 Yes, my fellow Glenvar Highlanders, the 20th reunion for our beloved alma mater is now set for the weekend of Sept. 19th-20th with a tailgate party before the school's Friday night football game and a potential cruise on the Virginia Dare at Smith Mountain Lake the following day.

Our school is located in Salem, Va., and our most famous alumnus is Tilly Gokbudak.

Of course, if you were not around in 1988, you may not realize that Michael Dukakis ran against George H.W. Bush that year, and American politics has been on a continous downward trend ever since!

It was also the year when Scarlett Johansson was three years old!

Life really isn't fair, is it?!:)

In all seriousness, I hope I have a date for this one. If Ms. Johansson is available and not shooting a film that week, my email is

I may have to ask the woman I might be dating  if this is permissible, but hey it would make up for not going to the prom in a very big way!

Anyone who wants more information can email me (see above) and if you are indeed a member of our class and not an imposter, I will forward to it to the good people in charge, if that's ok with them.

I would mention all the people I would like to see but that might violate their privacy. However, if any of you from the class of '88 at GHS would like a mention here I will provide you with the address where you can send a payment of $250 and you will see your name here right away! Of course, I might need that money to pay Ms. Johansson's airfare.......!