Monday, June 30, 2008

Virtual Postcard from İstanbul...

Merhaba from the old Ottoman capıital. Very hot today....Also the city is quite crowded.....whew! We ate kofte and yogurt for dinner... Miss the cat Gizmo.......Would write more but mom would get ticked...gotta catch the night boat back to Buyukada....may actually have a latte a Turkish Starbucks tomorrow....saw The Other Boylen Gırl last night....sorry to see natalie portman lose her head!

Take care....TG

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Is There a Cure for Jet Lag, Yet?

This will be a short and sweet entry as I need to somehow get some rest and relaxation before taking the 36-hour flight (slight exaggeration) to Istanbul tomorrow.

I have no idea when I will be back on this blog, but I will leave you with Turkish pop diva Ajda Pekkan's cover of the Helen Reddy pop feminist anthem "I Will Survive" in Turkish no less!

 In Turkish, the song has been translated to "Bambaska Biri/The Special One" (hmm...doesn't that title seem more appropriate for a song from The Pretenders).

Alas, I did not get around to seeing "Get Smart" at the Grandin Theatre nor did I get to see the Mill Mountain play production of "Into the Woods" here in Roanoke, Va.

But, when I get back, hopefully, I will see some of my friends in Virginia and North Carolina again. And, perhaps, there will actually be a woman who wants to go out with me. Hopefully, it will be someone who looks a lot like Ashley Judd.

Of course, I could get discovered by the Turkish Martin Scorsese and become the Turkish Harvey Keitel while I'm there, and come back to America six years later as a movie star. I just hope I don't take off all my clothes for the camera like Harvey did in "Bad Lieutenant." Well, then again, I suppose there would be a price for fame.........!

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It's a Starbucks World After All

I was reading an article in a travel/business magazine called "Condo Neste Portfolio" until my mom yelled at me for something. I am going to Turkey with her tomorrow. Where are the nerve pills when you need them?
The article was about Howard Schultz, the  founder and CEO of Starbucks. He is one of the few politically-progressive kazillionaires in the world, and for that one must profoundly admire him.
But, Starbucks is taking over the world quicker than Ming the Merciless took over the universe in "Flash Gordon" though somehow the small town I live in North Carolina does not have a Starbucks. (We did get a cool coffee shop a few months ago, though!)
Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and New Delhi are always without a Starbucks (I forgot to look up Baghdad.)
However, that is not the case with most towns!
I posted an entry last year that there were some 39 Starbucks in the greater Istanbul area. Well, that number has gone up!
Here is a list of Starbucks locations in various cities in America and around the world. If we left out your town, our sincere apologies. In the meantime, kick back and enjoy a cold frappucino.
Oh in case anyone was wondering that is Britney Spears in this photo.


Athens, Ga.-5
Austin, Tex.-10
Bethesda, Md-14
Boulder, Col.-9
Greensboro, NC- 12
Los Angeles-17 (yeah, I thought it would be more too!)
New York-31
Seattle-44 (the home of Starbucks)
Springfield, Mass.-7

Starbucks-The World

Athens (Greece)-32
Istanbul-53 (up from 39 last year)
Mexico City-76
Tokyo- 205 (wow!)

Don't Slow Down in Maryland

Glenn Conrad of Columbia, Md., recounted a real-life 'Twilight Zone' experience he had while venturing on I-95 as he was going to BWI Airport between Baltimore and Washington, DC, to pick up his wife.

Conrad is one of many Americans who has decided to make amends so he can save gas, or as he puts it in the commentary piece he wrote for Sunday (June 22) edition of "The Washington Post":
"Slowing down is touted as thrifty, patriotic and eco-friendly. Too bad it's also 'criminal.'"

Yes. Amazingly enough, Conrad was pulled over by a Maryland state trooper for driving 50 miles per hour in the far right lane of the highway with little traffic on the road.

Conrad contends that he goes 65 mph downhill, and he starts to press the gas pedal again when he drops to 50 miles per hour.

But, the cop told Conrad that he was a danger to other motorists, and hence he actually wrote him a traffic violation warning.

When Conrad protested, the police officer trumped the fact that he catches a lot of drunk drivers by scouting out slow drivers. When Conrad said he had not been drinking, the cop allegedly snorted before going back to his patrol car.

Thus Conrad is left to conclude that: "It seems to be a good American, I have to drive faster. I need to use more gas. Go figure."

Conrad emailed the Maryland State Police about laws concerning minimum speed limits. As one might expect, he got no response.

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PS_ The image is of a crab shack somewhere in Maryland. I thought it might make for a more interesting visual than a cop car or a picture of someone driving on a freeway.

Odd Careers_ Executioners (Entry 6 of 6) with Video of Jane Fonda Hanging

Since I expect a fair number of fringe right wingers visit this blog from time to time (one of them actually defended Dick Cheney!), I thought I would post this video clip from the 1970 western "Cat Ballou," which features a hanging of Jane Fonda. Perhaps, it will give me 300 hits by the time I fly to Istanbul tomorrow.

On a more serious matter, my home state of Virginia executed its 100th person last night. I have always been opposed to capital punishment, but I fully sympathize with Gov. Tim Kaine (D). He is also an opponent of capital punishment, but political realities are what they are. At least, Virginia is a distant second to Texas in this regard. And, Kaine has been criticized for stopping several of the more controversial executions, including one just last week.

I certainly feel for the family members of people who have been murdered. And, except for the likes of Sister Helen Prejean and other members of the clergy, I wish some death penalty opponents would not try to contact people on death row. It only helps the other side politically, and in most instances it certainly seems to show a sense of disregard to the victims' families.

Even though we have a fairer system of justice than most places, I am vehemently concerned that way too many people have been wrongfully executed for murder. And, there is the moral question of how can a state take a person's life if they have sentenced someone to die for the exact same action.

I have certainly questioned myself many times over my view, including most recently the brutal shooting murder of University of North Carolina student body president Eve Carson in Chapel Hill back in March, but people exonerated from death row like Earl Washington of Virginia are quickly forgotten. In fact, most states rarely offers them any form of monetary compensation for a wrongful conviction.

And, of course, there are people whose actual job is to devise and later implement a lethal injection. I have to agree with "Inside the Actor's Studio" host James Lipton who said that the job he would least one to have is that of an executioner.
I suppose cleaningtoilets would have to be a close second.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Who Knew Communism Was So Much Fun?

I must profess one of the main reasons I love Youtube is that in addition to nostalgia, it graves my addiction to kitsch. I may be one of the very few heterosexual males who partakes in something that is perhaps better-suited for John Waters.

And, I hope the Baltimore filmmaking legend would agree with me that few things in life could possibly be kitschier than a Bulgarian pop medley recorded during a New Year's Eve program circa 1985. Where did they get that disco ball?

It's a good thing Youtube wasn't around when Ronald Reagan was president. If we knew people in a communist country were having this much fun, we may have wanted to actually end the cold war sooner, and then we wouldn't have had "Red Dawn!"

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To Congratulate the Germans (sniff, sniff) Nena's "99 Luft Baloons"

I guess everyone in Munich and Bursa (but few people in Greensboro) knows the result of today's EuroCup 2008 soccer match between Germany and Turkey, which was played in Switzerland.

Alas, in the 90th minute of play Germany scored to win the game 3-2.

But, to show that we are not sore losers (well, I can't speak for other Turkish-Americans), I am posting German pop star Nena's highly political 1983  pop song about the need for nuclear disarmament. I gather it is a personal favorite of Nancy Reagan's (that is a joke).

The Turkish team made a great run to get to the semi-finals though and it helped my friend Bahadir Acuner who roots for Fenerbahce (I root for their rival GalataSaray) bond as we are not used to pulling for the same team.

Perhaps, we can pull it off in Euro 2012...........insallah (that's the Turkish word for hopefully).

Note: This is the original German version of the song. I looked for German beer-drinking songs on Youtube, but few seemed available.

UPDATE: I just saw that there is a NEWer version of this song on Youtube. It came out in 2002. Nena still looks great as she struts barefoot down a sandy beach, but the remake is a disappointment. And, there is no reference to 'Captain Kirk,' but for the sake of nostalgia, you might want to check it out if you like........I'm too lazy to post it here!

I also found out that Nena is now 48, and the mother of four. She released an album of Rolling Stones and David Bowie covers last year. And, interestingly enough, she is still politically active as she helped form a free form alternative school in her native Hamburg. Her own kids take classes there. Nena said she felt there was a need for a more inspiring educational system than the one she grew up with.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tom Perriello for Congress (District 5 of Virginia)

 Everyone who reads this blog knows I have been quite vocal about expressing my dislike for Cong. Virgil Goode (R-Va) for his vile, racist comments he made about Muslim immigrants last year.He had the audacity and the gumption to make further racist comments in Congress earlier this year.

The reason for my disgust is two-fold. I am the son of a Turkish immigrant, and I grew up in Roanoke, Va., a mere 25 miles from Goode's hometown of Rocky Mount.

Goode and I actually have common friends, but that's all we have in common.

However, I realize that ranting about the negative qualities of a person, no matter how offensive their views are, only goes so far.

And, the fact of the matter is that there is a genuine, highly-qualified candidate named Tom Perriello from Charlottesville, who is deserving of Goode's seat.

Due to the fact that the Republican House of Delegates gerrymandered the fifth district  enabling it to consist of areas with a high white population and conservative political views on matters like guns and abortion, it is going to an uphill for Perriello or anyone to remove Goode. The incumbent is one of the most far right extremists on The Hill (Goode was ironically once a Democrat, but even then he was an arch conservative), and he has a voting record that would make Trent Lott look like Bobby Kennedy to prove it.

But, I am hearing an increase in the amount of people who are tired of Goode, and for good reason.

He is very unpopular among African Americans, thanks in part to a mere 21 percent voting record with the NAACP. And, Goode has also professed a dislike for gays and Hispanics (his views on illegal immigrants are also quite militant).

Today in Danville, Va., I saw a Perriello bumper sticker, but in South Boston- a city that is 35 miles away from Danville, I did see a Virgil Goode bumper sticker. Of course, the car with the Goode sticker was an SUV and there were also bumper stickers for Bush/Cheney (I know it's hard not to laugh) and Virginia's higly unpopular former governor Jim Gilmore who somehow thinks he can beat his senate seat opponent Democrat Mark Warner.

Warner is also a former governor, but one who left with an 80-percent approval rating. The highest approval rating in the nation at the time, and the highest one in Virginia's history.

This illustrates what is wrong in many areas like South Boston. People want to believe in a candidate who represents their views even if they have been lousy at the job in every capacity as Bush/Cheney, Gilmore and Goode each have. People don't read newspapers, watch C-Span or check voter information sites to see what the candidate is really like. And, as a result, congressional reps can get away with just about anything.

But, Goode's opponent is as different from him as Karl Rove is from the late Mother Teresa.

Perriello is active on the campaign trail in a very non-traditional way. He was at the Juneteenth Festival in Martinsville over the weekend, and he has helped start volunteer projects with Habitat for Humanity in Charlottesville and the Edwards Adult Day Care Center in Martinsville. He has also traveled to Africa to help with refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan.

I do not live in the fifth district of Virginia myself. And, I am grateful to be represented by someone who is a noble, ethical person in Cong. Brad Miller (D-NC).

But, Goode is morally unacceptable. In addition to his blatant, unapologetic racism, he has made many friends among oil and energy lobbyists in Washington, DC, and he was once tied to Jack Abramoff.

Like the folks who are trying to take power away from dictator Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Perriello is working against a man of wealth and influence who has the full support of the establishment and a disturbing amount of public support from people whose interest Goode votes against on a consistent basis (the fifth district is also one of the poorest regions of Virginia-except for Charlottesville, and many factories and mills have gone overseas).

I have written a letter to Goode to confront him for his views. Like many letters from constituents he does not agree with, it has gone unanswered.

We need Perriello to represent the region I work in. It would be a most welcome change in every regard. Though Perriello is also a superb human being whose qualities speak for themselves.

A Goode spokesperson/yes man told "The Roanoke Times" that Perriello was an out of touch liberal. I can only imagine that if David Duke were running for Congress in Louisiana that he would say the same thing about his opponent.

Let's hope the clear, best man_ Tom Perriello wins this race in November, not just for Virginia, but for allof America.

This is not merely about partisanship as I have expressed warm regard for my friend Cong. Frank Wolf (R-Va). It is about ethics and strong moral leadership, and a hope that there can be a representative who is familiar with the world's plight as America seems to be on a disturbing drift towards geopolitical isolatism_ which the likes of Goode seem to fully support.

Periello is thus recieving my strongest support. This is a full endorsement. And, yes, frankly, I do see Periello as Luke Skywalker and Goode as Darth Vader.

May the force be with him.

(This is a site in which Tom Periello will take questions on Saturday, check Perriello's campaing site for further details.)

Note: Perriello also has a Facebook page, which is regularly updated. He is also looking for donors and campaign volunteers.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Odd Careers (Entry 5 of 6)_ Militant Political Activists

 I suppose if one really wants to ask which direction America is going politically one should ask folks who dress like blue whales or grim reapers complete with plastic baby fetuses.

I think since I lean more to the center-left than center-right (my apologies to George Will) I am inclined to think the 'men in black' are a little bit scarier.

But, I must credit the anti-whaling crusaders for this entry. A few weeks ago when I was taking care of business at the Turkish embassy in Washington, DC, I saw two guys dressed like whales protesting outside the Japanese embasssy across the street. No one seemed to be paying any attention to them.

There is also an ad for Greenpeace in the current Sunday edition of "The Washington Post." They are actually looking to pay people!:

"Activism_Greenpeace. Stop Global Warming! $12-13/hour plus bonus and benefits. (202) 595-3368."

(I hope I'm allowed to post their phone number. I know may someone out there might REALLY need a job).

But, not to be out-done, I drove through Boones Mill, Va., today, an area represented by one of the most arch-conservative members of Congress, Virgil Goode who amazingly enough used to be a Democrat! I have been vocal about Goode due to extreme anti-Islamic remarks which he has made on a consistent basis. 

(We will be formally endorsing his opponent who happens to be a Facebook friend of mine here shortly.)

There are not one, but two pro-life billboards within five miles of each other around Boones Mill, as if a passerby could somehow miss the first one!

It would be cool if there was someone out there involved with both of these movements. In fact, if there is (Michael Moore, if you are reading this), someone should make a documentary film about them!

Oh, I had promised no entries today. I suppose it's a good thing that us amateur bloggers can do what we want without consequences.........ok, mom, I'll fold the laundry!

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Quote of the Week- from J.K. Rowling

This week's quote comes from "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling, who recently gave the commencement at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. Perhaps, it made some parents feel that they finally got what they paid for:

"I just write what I wanted to write. I write what amuses me. It's actually totally for myself."

The same could be said for this blog, especially since we average about nine hits per day!

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I am taking the 'day off' tomorrow (well, from this blog) as I need to get students ready for an exam. So, I recommend checking out the latest comic strip from my Facebook friend Shannon Wheeler. His most famous character Too Much Coffee Man is a hero of mine.

"Monkey Dust" Clip That's Funny and Suitable for TV!

The cult animated British tv-show "Monkey Dust" (we presume it ran late at night) is a sick, twisted animated gem. It is so radical, violent and politically incorrect that at times it makes "South Park" look like "Strawberry Shortcake." And, that is why I love it!

Amazingly enough, I actually found a clip of the show that is some how both tame and funny. I certainly had to look for one!

My personal favorite character from the show is the Paedofinder General who goes to extreme measures to rid the world of child molesters.....or anyone who might plausibly be one......

He reminds me of John Ashcroft!

For those of you with Youtube access and a very deviant sense of humor, there is a clip called "Monkey Dust-Reunion," which is quite hysterical. It's about a man and a woman, both married to other people, who meet again for the first time at a class reunion. I found it all the more funnier because my 20th high school reunion is coming up soon, though I can't imagine the depicted scenario happening to me!

As much as I would have loved to have posted it here, I came to the realization that would not be a good idea, especially if I were to one day run for Congress.

"Monkey Dust" also features racist tomatoes!

And, there is a piece which shows what "The Diary of Anne Frank" would be like if it were remade by a Hollywood action movie producer. Not to give anything away, but that little Dutch girl sure took down a lot of Nazis!

Belated HappyBirthday to Utah Gymnast Ashley Postell

University of Utah gymnast Ashley Postell, who recently concluded her outstanding college gymnastics career, turned 22 back on June 9.

In honor of that milestone, I am posting a Youtube video of her performance against Utah State back in February. The footage was taken in Salt Lake City.

The U.S. Olympic Trials for women's gymnastics were held last night in Philadelphia. As of this posting, I have no idea who is on the team! But, I will make the safe assumption that Shanon Miller has not come out of retirement.

I guess everyone knows the Olympics will be in Beijing, China, in August. And, there should be commercials for Coca Cola every two and half minutes!

"At Last to Kiss Amanda" (Entry 6 of 6)

I am concluding my series in which I take the first and last sentence of a given novel, and let folks decided what happens in between.

I started with the Barry Gifford novel "Wild at Heart" and I conclude with the obscure 1961 Frank Norris novel "At Last to Kiss Amanda," which I found at an estate sale in Roanoke, Va.

When I brought the book for all of one dollar, I had a huge crush on a woman named Amanda. Alas, nothing came of it. I hear she is now a circus acrobat in Sarasota, Fla. (that is a joke!).

Here is the first sentence:

"My friend Lamar Howell, one of my very oldest friends, shot and killed himself on my place at Echota."

And, the last sentence (well, actually the last paragraph):

"I have received five post cards from Amanda mailed respectively from Vienna, Brussels, Rome, Antwerp and, coincidentally, Paris. I hopefully expect to receive more of them, mailed from addresses nearer to home. And in the meantime, I have written this book."

Check Out This Pig!

Alas, I missed to screening of the Coen Bros. film "Raising Arizona" at the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va., but I did get to go to The Pig Festival in Hillsborough, NC, today as well as attend a rather cool house party.
With that in mind, here is a quick Youtube clip of a potbellied pig in Vermont. I hope you see this before you have your bacon and eggs for your Sunday breakfast!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Correction: Turkey Beats Croatia

I am still in shock! I guess this one goes under: "Dewey Beats Truman." I was watching the EuroCup soccer game from Vienna, Austria, between Turkey and Croatia on ESPN at my mom's house here in Roanoke, Va.
After 119 minutes of scoreless action, Croatia scored what appeared to be the winning goal, and I promptly turned off the tv in disgust. My American mother got mad at me for shouting curse words: "It's just a soccer game, son. The world doesn't depend on it."
We then went to an Italian restaurant. I was still in a bit of a mood, but I tried to make the most of it.
Little did I realize that Turkey had scored a goal in the 120th minute to send the game into penalty kicks. And, Turkey then beat Croatia 3-1.
I got a message on my cellphone from a Turkish friend back in Greensboro, which I checked around 10:30 p.m., some four hours after the end of the game. It said: "Attila. We won the game on penalty kicks."
I was actually perplexed earlier in the night when I read a Facebook message from a Turkish friend which sounded joyful: "This is the way history will be written." Now that message makes sense.
I could not believe any of this! In fact, there is an 'UPDATE" on an earlier blog entry which is now wrong. I am not going to take it down.
In fact, I just now saw an article about the game in the online version of "The L.A. Times." I am still in shock.
There are even concerns that Bosnian Muslims, who typically root for Turkey, might start rioting in the city of Mostar, Bosnia, against their Croatian neighbors!
Turkey will now face Germany in the semifinals. This marks the third consecutive game that Turkey has won in the final minutes.
About the Photo: This is the Turkish alcoholic beverage of raki, which my stomach actually can't take, but it is drunk during good times and celebrations.
This certainly seems to qualify as one of those occasions!

XTC Video- (Our Last One from 1981)

Hmm....I did not initially plan to post consecutive videos from The Go-Gos, Klaus Nomi and XTC ( a British new wave band whom we've referred to before). But, all these songs came out in 1981 though our research department is working to verify the actual release date of "Our Lips Are Sealed."

This is a performance of the XTC song "Sgt. Rock (Is Going to Help Me)." Perhaps, since I've attempted to raise public awareness of a Turkish barber named Sabri Bogday who was sentenced to death by beheading in Saudi Arabia for insulting God* (and, people wonder why I fear the Christian Coalition), I should also focus on another important matter.

And, that is to get my local radio station 98.7 Simon-FM in Greensboro to play more XTC! We must have appropriate priorities in life, right?!

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*- See the entry "A Turkish-American in Istanbul" entry

Klaus Nomi Classic_ "Total Eclipse"

Last week, I had the chance to watch the 2004 documentary on avant garde singer Klaus Nomi who was one of the first celebrities to die of AIDS at the age of 39 in 1983.
The film is definitely a bit depressing, but there is no mistake that Nomi left an ever-lasting impression and hopefully this film will continue his artistic legacy for those of us who were too young at the time to be fully aware of it.
I found this 1981 performance of his song "Total Eclipse" on Youtube, which was recorded at the Ritz in New York in 1981. It is quite stunning!

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Rewind_ The Go-Gos Video: "Our Lips Are Sealed"

 I caught a glimpse of this video by the Go-Gos for "Our Lips are Sealed" on VH-1 Classics last night, which was made circa 1981 (I believe). 

Since my friend Jim from Springfield, Mass. (aka Moviezzz) is an unabashed Belinda Carlisle fan, I guess it's ok for me to tell the world that I love the Go-Gos.

I actually got one of their releases on a cassette tape for two dollars at a record store in Charlottesville, Va., about seven years ago. I believe it is the last tape I ever purchased.

While cassettes seem to be going the way of the hummer and California condors, according to "Rolling Stone," vinyl sales were actually up last year. My worst vinyl experience was when I found three Talking Heads albums (including the one with "Life During Wartime") that I had purchased at a Salvation Army store in Pittsburg, Kansas, when I was 16, were (ooops!) locked in the trunk of my mom's car on a hot summer afternoon. Even before the advent of global warming, this was still quite a setback.

But, I did find the Talking Heads' classic 1985 album "Little Creatures" at a record store in Roanoke several years later with one of my favorite songs of all time "Road to Nowhere."

Oh, I was talking about The Go-Gos, wasn't I???????????

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Gogol Bordello- The Band That Gets Around

 The Russian emigre gypsy-punk band Gogol Bordello is literally performing all over the globe in the next few days. This is a live performance of their song "Not a Crime," which was performed on a show called "Later with Jools Holland" (my presumption is that this is a show out of the UK).

Tonight, they are in Richmond, Va. Then, they go to Philadelphia, Brooklyn and then Istanbul, Turkey!

To see when they might be coming near your zip code, check out


Turkey vs. Croatia in EuroCup 2008 (with Tarkan video)

 On Friday afternoon (U.S. time), Nihat Kahveci, who scored an astonishing two goals in the last five minutes of the match against the Czech Republic, will take to the field as the Turkish national team faces Croatia in the 2008 EuroCup. It is an elimination game. The winner will face Germany in the next round.

As one might expect, I will hardly be neutral and to show my support for the Turkish side, I am posting the 'unofficial' Turkish national anthem here which is the pop song "Simarik/Kiss Kiss" by Turkey's very own Tarkan.

Tarkan is an internationally recognized star around the world, alas the only market he has not found a niche in is America. He tried to sing a few songs in English to make that happen. They simply aren't as superb as songs like this one............

UPDATE (June 20)_ Alas, Turkey lost the game against Croatia in the 120th minute of play by a 1-0 score. I know how those folks in New Jersey felt when The Hiddenberg crashed.......

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Odd Careers- Movie Extras (Entry 4 of 6)

 My friend Gary Frink of Luray, Va., has the rare distinction of running for Congress, once a Democrat and later as a Republican, in his native Michigan. Alas, he lost both times.

But, Frink was spotted in Richmond around the state capitol in 1999 by film director Rod Lurie who was looking for extras to be members of Congress in his film "The Contender" (2000), which was being filmed in Richmond. It starred Jeff Bridges, Joan Allen, Gary Oldman and Christian Slater.

Frink later went on to extra work for "Traffic," "Along Came a Spider" and "Hearts in Atlantis." Most recently Frink was featured in the comedy hit "Evan Almighty," which was filmed around Charlottesville, Va.

And, apparently, though Frink has other gigs, there are indeed people who make a living at it.

I was reminded of this when I spotted the following ad in the May 14th issue of "Independent Weekly," an alternative weekly paper in the Raleigh-Durham, NC, area:

Movie Extras: Up to $200/day. All looks needed to work with film and TV production companies. No experience required. Please call................

With my luck, I'd probably end up in a film like "Howard the Duck!"

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In Memorian- Tim Russert's Interview with Ron Paul

 Since this is 'technically,' a political blog, I think it's appropriate for me to join my fellow bloggers in paying homage to Tim Russert. For those who live in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Russert was a leading American political news figure with NBC. He was the host of "Meet the Press." Russert, who was also a best-selling author, died of a heart attack at age 58 on Friday.

Here is an interview he conducted with Republican long-shot candidate Ron Paul, who many of us political rebels (though I am a moderate Democrat as opposed to a Libertarian- the group which most supported Paul), admire a great deal.

My friend Christopher Knight is perhaps one of the leading Paul supporters in North Carolina, and he travelled to Chapel Hill to hear the Texas congressman talk.

Though it sounds like a cliche by now, Russert will be dearly missed. Talk show host Tavis Smiley talked about how he had great affection for Russert last night as he recounted how they were both contestants on a celebrity version of "Jeopardy!."

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A Turkish-American in Istanbul

Contrary to the header, this entry is NOT about me.

Through a random search for more information on the case of Sabri Bogday, a Turkish barber from Hatay, Turkey, who was residing in Saudi Arabia. Bogday had the misfortune of being accused of cursing to God by an Egyptian neighbor.

For this, he was SENTENCED to DEATH. And, in Saudi Arabia, the form of execution is beheading.

I first heard of the case two months ago, and I decided there was no time to be complacent.

It was thus through this mutual concern that I came across a blog from a Turkish-American in Seattle named Jeremy Orhan Simer, who also happens to be a progressive activist, and he had an extensive entry about the Bogday matter.

We are both looking to see if Bogday has indeed been spared. There is a rumor to that effect, but alas it can not be confirmed.

As it turns out, Simer is now in Istanbul and he has traveled throughout Turkey this summer.

I will be taking my own trip to Turkey later this month.

So, with this in mind, I am posting the pop music duet from Turkish singer Mustafa Sandal and his Greek girlfriend Natalia (this would have been unthinkable 25-30 years ago due to political tensions between the two bordering nations). The song is entitled "Hatirla Beni/Remember Me."

 I must profess that I am 'cok kiskanc*' of Sandal, for indeed, Natalia is quite attractive!

*- Turkish term meaning 'very jealous'

Useful Links: (Jeremy's blog)


Monday, June 16, 2008

"Raising Arizona" at the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va.

 The classic 1987 Coen Brothers film "Raising Arizona" is showing at midnight this Friday and Saturday night at the historic Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va.

Even though I wrote a college term paper on the Coens, I still enjoy their films.

I ranked "No Country for Old Men" slightly lower than a lot of other film fans, but it still made my top ten list.

I am in the process of putting together an updated list now that I've seen some of the other highly touted films of last year, including "Control" about Joy Division singer Iain Curtis who alas become a drug addict, fell in love with two women at once and offed himself at age 23.

But, he did leave us with "Love Will Tear Us Apart, Again" which is actually darker than most Coen Bros. films!

Although, "Raising Arizona" does actually qualify as a comedy. I need to ask my friend Moviezzz whatever happened to boxer Randall "Tex" Cobb who is in this film. I would assume he never went back in the ring.

NOTE: This is the original, not official trailer, whatever that means.

And, this marks my 800th entry........unless I am forced to remove my cyborgsex entry, which has so far caused surprsingly little controversy!

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Trailer for "Howard the Duck" (Bad Movie Extra)

"Howard the Duck" (1986) was one of the six films that I was considering for my series on bad movie posters. But, I thought I would still add the trailer to the film which stars Lea Thompson, Tim Robbins and Jeffrey Jones, here.

"Howard the Duck" laid an egg (pardon the pun) at the box office, but the Marvel comic book created by Steve Gerber, who died in February, remains a classic. Many people think Lex Luthor of "Superman" fame was the first comic book character to run for office, but Howard entered the race against Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter back in 1976.

Strangely enough, "Howard the Duck" is also a Facebook friend of mine. He does claim to live in Cleveland (where the comic book and film took place) and he also proclaims to be an alum of Case Western.

Gerber had a blog, which amazingly enough was still up after his death! But, it has not been updated since April.

I think this makes my third of fourth entry on Howard the Duck........hmm, perhaps, it's time to retire this fowl. But, then again, he is my favorite comic book character of all time.

There is also a new comic book version that I got from Chapel Hill Comics in Chapel Hill,, NC,  in which Howard lost his trademark cigar, and a fan actually put together a trailer for the non-existent "Howard the Duck 2."

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Movie Trailer for "Pumpkinhead" in Memory of Stan Winston

I heard the sad news that special effects wizard Stan Winston of "Jurrasic Park" and "Aliens" fame has died from cancer at the age of 62.
I had a chance to see Winston talk at the Virginia Film Festival several years ago when he presented a special screening of "Aliens" with Sigourney Weaver.
Christopher Knight, who I frequently cite on this blog, has a moving tribute to him on his blog as well.
"Pumpkinhead" was a 1988 low-budget horror film which marked Winston's directorial debut. I just got around to watching it myself last year.
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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Quote of the Week- Christie Brinkley

 My first inclination was to post a quote from "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert who died unexpectedly this week. But, I've been sort of depressed out of my skull most of this past week, even before Russert died on Friday.

So, since our last entry featured Chuck Norris, I made a decision that any tabloid journal would be proud of, and that is to include a quote from his infommercial co-host Christie Brinkley, who is hopefully not a right-wing lunatic:

"I wish my butt did not go sideways, but I guess I have to face that."

We should all have these problems!

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

"Invasion USA"- Bad Movie Posters- Entry 6 of 6

Believe it or not, I actually watched "Invasion USA," a 1985 Chuck Norris film, on dvd a few weeks ago.

The intention was to show it along with Michael Moore's "Canadian Bacon" as a doubleheader consisting of two polarizing political films from the opposite sides of the spectrum.

Alas, only my friend Gary showed up and he only stayed for about a half-hour.

Nevertheless, I went ahead and watched this film which would assuredly give Anne Coulter an erection (I know she has a lobster underneath that dress!)

It is really bad, really paranoid and really dated. Though in post-September 11th America, the film will be probably have more followers than it would have otherwise. And, there is also the fact that Chuck Norris has made a cultural comeback without even appearing on television except in a Mike Huckabee campaign ad (or an infommercial for Bowflex).

KGB agents somehow invade America through the Florida Keys, where Norris happens to live alone (I think he has a dog). The Reds then go on to try to blow up a school bus, take a female reporter hostage (she is the symbol for a weak liberal in the film) at gunpoint and they also attempt to bomb a church with lots of old people who sing hymns while coming close to destroying Atlanta in the process (Wait, how do they get from the Florida Keys to Atlanta, so quickly?).

I won't 'spoil' the ending, but it's a keeper. Nevertheless, I have to agree with Leonard Maltin who called the film: "Repellent in the extreme."

My friend Jason Garnett, who is manager of the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va., actually has a copy of "Invasion USA" on film, and if Chuck wants it, he'll have to take it away from him........well, I better not say that.

NOTE: I just noticed that apparently others can not see the Norris poster image on this blog......ERR!!!!!!...........I'll try to fix this if/when I have time.

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Odd Jobs_ Beer Tasters (Entry 3 of 6)

 According to, there is actually an occupation called 'beer taster.' The person performing these duties actually taste and spit beer out all day in the hopes that they will improve the product.

The following image of the Czech beer Pilsner Urgel may cause some controversy (as if the cyborgsex entry won't) as my late father's country Turkey is playing the Czech Republic in Euro Cup 2008 Sunday night. Turkey has had problems with the Czechs, but there is a first time for everything.......!

It should also be pointed out that I wanted to use an image of the Turkish beer Efes Pilsen, but the images were way too large........!

UPDATE (June 16): Hey, Turkey came from two goals down to beat the Czech Republic in Geneva, Switzerland, by a score of 3-2, with two goals being scored in the very last minutes of play! I only wish Turkish goalie Volkan Demirel had not head-butted a Czech player so that he could have played against Croatia. Nevertheless, it has been an exciting EuroCup, and it will be interesting to see who comes away with the cup.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Maybe This Will Help Ratings........

 Lately, I've noticed fewer and fewer hits on this blog. While not taking it personally, I was thinking what could bring people back in droves.

There is no research to prove this, but I think most people who read blogs are guys in my age bracket. And, I was wondering what could lure the 30-39 year old male to a blog. And, then, it came to me:


I hope no kids come to this site, but if they do, well there is a Woody Woodpecker cartoon for them to watch.

Bad Movie Posters_ Jaws 3-D (Entry 5 of 6)

 It was March 4, 1983. My 13th birthday. The worst day of my life. In fact, it still is. My father had died of an abrupt heart attack at age 62 in his bedroom. I was alone in the house when it happened. Later that afternoon, a thought came to my head: "Is there anything in life, worth looking forward to at all?"

And, for some reason, aside from a family trip to DisneyWorld that June, the only thing I could think of was the fact that "Jaws 3-D" would be out that summer.

This actually marks my second Bess Armstrong film in our mini-series of bad movie posters ("Jekyll and Hyde Together Again" is the other). I think the expectations for this film were so high that every teenage boy in America thought it was going to be awesome. Perhaps, it was going to even top the original "Jaws."

The first sign should have been the fact that Steven Spielberg was not directing this film. Those duties went Joe Alves. Secondly, there was little suspense and the damn 3-D glasses didn't do a thing for the movie at all.

The plot is simple: Jaws goes to Sea World. Dennis Quaid and Louis Gosset Jr., come to the rescue, but everyone is so scared!

I was real depressed that the only thing I was looking forward to besides going to Disney World was such a dud.

I must profess that when I was disappointed by the latest Indy Jones film; I wasn't quite as bummed about it. As a grown-up, you realize life still basically sucks, but summer movie sequels really can't change anything!

Useful Links: (where I got the image from)


Yet Another Bad Movie Poster ("Zapped") Entry 4 of 6

Yes, it was the summer of 1982. I was 12 years old. And, thanks to films like "Porky's" and "Zapped!," I realized I was a heterosexual male even though I wasn't quite old enough to see them. Fortunately, we got cable the following year.

Perhaps, if Christian fundamentalist nuttcases and there are plenty of 'em in places like Roanoke Rapids, NC (not where I live, but it's similar enough), really want to 'convert' gays they should show sexually confused teenage boys these cheesy teen sex films from the Reagan era.

Ironically enough, Willie Aames of "Eight is Enough" was the co-star in this film, and he is now "Bibleman" on some religious tv network. I know he has also toured with the great Satan himself The Rev. Franklin Graham of Boone, NC. I would personally gladly pay $85 to see a Motley Crue reunion concert instead, even though I think seeing them at their peak in 1987 is enough.

The star of "Zapped!" is Scott Baio, aka Chachi, who was on some reality-tv show on Vh-1 in which he tried to find love. I think it would have been great if Erin Moran, aka Joanie, was one of the contestants. Then, I may have watched!

According to Leonard Maltin, "Zapped!" is a stupid satire of "Carrie" in which two college-age guys have telekinetic powers which allows them to zap! women in their breast area and magically remove their blouses and bras.

This may be one of these rare films which would offend virtually everyone, which would almost make it worth one's time, but alas the time 'tottally' sucks. Maltin gave it a 'generous' one and a half stars.

Amazingly enough, this film is being released this week on dvd.

I have to thank my good friend Moviezzz for the tip.

He is now also releasing his own political blog (see link below), perhaps he'll get some pissed-off Vietnam vets who will go to great lengths to actually defend Dick Cheney. I will end this by shockingly saying something nice about Mr. (Vice) President. He makes me nostalgic for Dan Quayle!

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Barack Obama's Running Mates_ My Predictions....

I projected John McCain's choices several months ago.

Here is my projection list for Barack Obama, with no commentary:

10. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.)

9. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY)

8. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-Kan., pictured)


7. Gov. Tim Kaine (D-Va.)_ A man I volunteered for.

6. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.)

5. Wes Clark

4. Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.)

3. (former) Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.)_ Conservative commentator George Will's pick.

2. Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.)_ "Washington Post" columnist E.J. Dionne's pick

1. Gov. Bill Richardson (D-New Mexico, pictured)



Tom Robbins' "Still Life With Woodpecker" (Entry 5 of 6)

Today, I continue my series with the first and last sentences from some of my favorite movies with the classic 1980 Tom Robbins' novel "Still Life With Woodpecker."

Robbins was born in Blowing Rock, NC, on July 22, 1936 for those of you who live in the Tarheel State.

I am also including a video with the vintage 1951 Woody Woodpecker cartoon "Puny Express."

Most of the Woody  Woodpecker cartoons on Youtube are in Portugese as they appear to be quite popular in Brazil. I am not sure which language this one is in since I am not in a position to actually view the video with sound (I am in a library-type environment).

I used to watch a lot of Woody Woodpecker cartoons myself as a kid during the Jimmy Carter administration from WSLS-10 out of Roanoke, Va. I believe that 4 p.m. time slot is now occupied by Dr. Phil.

And, one has to enjoy Tom Robbins' novels, they are as quirky as William Burroughs is surreal. Alas, one of the few novels of his that was made into a film "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" was a complete dud even though it featured Uma Thurman, whom we sometimes idolize here at "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time."

Here is the first and last sentence from 'Woodpecker:'

"In the last quarter of the twentieth century, at a time when Western civilization was declining too rapidly for comfort and yet too slowly to be very exciting, much of the world sat on the edge of an increasingly expensive theatre seat, waiting-with various combinations of dread, hope, and ennui- for something momentous to occur.

(Before the Epilogue)_ "Still, they were convinced that they could hear the chipmunk at the center of the earth. They could tell that the chipmunk was running smoothly now. Its wheels spun easy and free."



Wednesday, June 11, 2008

New Video- Modern Dancer Nejla Yatkin in New York

My friend Nejla Yatkin, a modern dancer from Washington, D.C., is on the verge of getting ready to perform her show "Wings of Desire," based on the classic 1987 German film by Wim Wenders (which Hollywood messed up with the remake "City of Angels"), at the International Arts Festival in Avignon, France, from July 7 to August 1.

I expect virtually everyone reading this won't be able to make it, but hopefully there will be some Youtube videos from that performance in the near future.

This particular video which was filmed in New York is among my favorite ones from Yatkin.  I expect that you will like it as well.

Useful Links: (Nejla Yatkin's official web site)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I loved this very short, sweet blog entry.........

For anyone else who has ever dealt with some sort of political confusion which seems to happen a lot to men my age (I'm 38) when you wonder if the same liberal politics you've believed in since when Gary Hart was running for president are a bit too utopian to uphold, there is a great blog (see link below) which will help you come to realize that the Republican Party and the conservative movement is a group where intelligent moderates, like Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), seem to be excluded and militant baby fetus extremists with links to the Christian Conservative movement, like Sen.Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), move to the top.

And, for those who think Sen. John McCain, a man I admire more than most Republicans, is a moderate, you should look at his voting record! (He votes with the Christian Coalition 85% of the time! I could understand if he was in Alabama, but not in Arizona!).

Currently, there is a simple entry entitled,"Doing My Part" on the Moderate Liberal blog.

The blogger simply states:

"Is Barack Obama a Muslim? No."

I must say that as the son of a Turkish immigrant who was a Muslim, I find the xenophobia on the right is quite tiring. It has not only been encouraged by idiots like Rush Limbaugh, but also elected officials like Cong. Virgil Goode (R-Va.),  who actually represents the town I work in.

Yes, we live in an age of terrorism, but Muslims were killed in the World Trade Center  as well and if we want to catch these Muslim terrorists, don't you think the FBI will need the help of .............well, Muslims?!


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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Quote of the Week: Robin Williams

 As many regular readers of this blog (all eight of you) know, I have many problems sleeping mainly because I'm a restless person who thinks about all the world's problems, whether it be the War in Iraq or the situation in the Darfur region of Sudan.

I know this problem gets even worse after I see a play like "The Diary of Anne Frank," or a film like "The Bridge," which is a documentary about people who've committed suicide by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco (don't watch it, if you're taking Lexapro!).

I even have irrational thoughts like my concern that I will one day, somehow become another P.J. O'Rourke (a former "Rolling Stone" writer who went from the far left to the far right politically) because I am now more politically moderate than I was when I was in college even though I agree with Barack Obama 79 percent of the time (according to

So, sure enough last night, I was thinking about what I would be watching on tv from my hospital bed at Moses Cone (local hospital in Greensboro, NC) if I were dying of leukemia_ (another irrational concern of mine). And, for some reason, I imagined myself watching a rerun of "Mork and Mindy" on Nick at Nite. Perhaps, it was because I saw a dvd set of it at a record store in Charlotteville, Va., on Saturday afternoon (No Mork doll included!). 

 I suppose if I were dying I would really choose "Mork" over an interview of Sen. James Webb (D-Va.), someone I truly admire, on "Face the Nation."

And, this leads me to this week's quote.

It is from Robin Williams, who played Mork (the show ran from 1979 to some point during Ronald Reagan's first or second term), and given the topic of this blog, it seems quite appropriate:

"Politics: 'Poli' a Latin word meaning 'many' and 'tics' meaning 'blood-sucking creatures."

Odd Jobs (Entry 2 of 6) Minor League Baseball Mascots


Since today is Father's Day, and one of my fondest memories was taking my late stepfather Donald Sullivan out to a minor league baseball game in Salem, Va., where the Salem Avalanche play, some ten years ago, I thought I would use this opportunity to post an entry about minor league baseball team mascots.

This is a relative low-paying job in which you get to wear a hot suit and worry about little boys kicking you in the groin, but you get a lot of attention. Fortunately, when I worked for the Salem Avalanche a few years back, I was not asked to be Mugsy, the team mascot (which is a dog with a baseball cap).

Alas, I didn't see a good image of Mugsy to post here.

But, I did find some images of (in order) mascots for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in Appleton, Wisc. (that is indeed a mascot that is a snake!), The Hickory Crawdads out of Hickory, NC, The Mrytle Beach Pelicans from Myrtle Beach, SC, and lastly this guy who looks like Gumby for the Altoona Curve in Altoona, Pa.

I've heard the temperature in Lynchburg, Va., where the Lynchburg Hillcats play was 97 degrees today. I can't imagine what these guys (and gals) must be going through!

(Note to other bloggers: I don't know how many of you have tried to get four pictures in one entry, but this created problems for me. I also considered using an image of the Winston-Salem Warthogs mascot which was posted on an earlier entry, but I think I'll go with what I have here!)

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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Bad Movie Posters, "Hardbodies 2" Entry 3 (of 6)

 The 1986 teen sex comedy "Hardballs 2" is the sequel to the slightly less dreadful 1984 teen sex comedy "Hardbodies." I will not publicly state whether I saw these two films, but I was a teenage boy when they both came out.

I was also a bit hesitant about posting this as the poster is a bit more unabashed than my usual fare, but after you've had a right-wing fanatic praise Dick Cheney (What??!!!....Well, I suppose there are Robert Mugabe admirers in Zimbabwe) in the comments section of your blog, one feels a bit less cautious of other things.

Amazingly enough, "Hardbodies 2" is no longer in the Internet Movie Database's bottom 100 list, though it has a meager 2.7.

I must profess when I walked out of the movie theatre showing this film in the Bakirkoy section of Istanbul back in...........(of course, I saw the other film showing there, nudge, nudge, wink, wink) ...........the summer of 1987, I did think it was perhaps the worst film ever made.

The plot line is as follows: A film's crew is travelling from America to Rhodes, Greece, to produce a movie. Before their work is done they will have to face many unusual situations.

Neither "Hardbodies" or "Hardbodies 2" is listed in Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide, which is always by my computer for entries such as these. But, I will take a very wild guess, and presumes that he thinks they both suck. I certainly do (ooops! I wasn't supposed to say that.)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Turkish Melodrama Video Festival w/Turkan Soray

Background: A few weeks ago, I posted an entry about Turkish movie queen Turkan Sorary. Here are some examples of her work, and there is something universal about all three of these clips which go beyond the need for subtitles.

Clip One: This is from Soray's 1990 film "Berdel" with famed Turkish actor Tarik Akan. The film was directed by the late Atif Yilmaz, who was a respected filmmaker in Turkey. Soray is an Anatolian wife who has been betrayed, and she is disgusted by the presence of her husband.

Clip Two: "Hayatim Sana Feda/ My Life Belongs to You, Feda" is a romance comedy which co-starred Cuneyt Arkin, who was best known for action movie roles. This 1970 film which resembles American films of the era like "Pillow Talk" is a personal favorite of mine, though it is not neccessarily a well-made film.

Clip Three: "Dila Hanim"_ vintage clip from 1977 film in which once again a betrayed woman seeks 'intikam' (revenge). Soray's co-star here in Kadir Inanir, another leading man of the era.

I will be away from this blog until Sunday or Monday........

Hope you enjoy these clips  

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Brooke Shields on Smoking (Quote of the Week)

I got this idea when I saw another quote from Brooke Shields about how 'one can't be a good girl' all their life during the previews for the new "Indy Jones' movie.

(Women should know I saw 'Sex and the City' a night later, and I thought that was the better of the two films. And, yes- I am straight! Alas, Brooke is spoken for... though at least, she's no longer with Andre Agassi) 


And, I would love to see this other quote posted on the wall at BJ's Grill in Stokesdale, NC. Alas, many restaurants in North Carolina and Virginia still don't have designated 'No Smoking' sections. But, amazingly enough (as reported in this blog- well, we mentioned it), passengers riding buses and taxi cabs in Istanbul, Turkey, must now put out their Camels!

As for her film, as much as I loved Brooke Shields in "The Blue Lagoon," I think "Pretty Baby" is the guiltier of the two guilty pleasures. Brooke turned 43 over the weekend.

Here is the quote:

"Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life."

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PS-Someone do me a favor and permalink this! It was much more of a pain in the neck to post this than you would think............


Six O'Clock News Bloopers

I must profess that since my blog is only getting eight hits/day (perhaps the nice weather is to blame) that I have been more focused on developing an army of Facebook friends (118 as of press time) and today I surpassed my good friend Leigh-Anne Keatts. And, of course, I wasn't coy about it.

But, since it is the six o'clock hour I thought I'd post these news bloopers from KCCI in Des Moines, Iowa, even though I have yet to actually watch them myself!


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

For 'President Cheney'- John Denver's "Country Roads"

For my friends in Bursa, Turkey, who may not be aware of why I'm posting this. Yesterday, 'Vice' President Dick Cheney made an incest joke about West Virginia when talking about the surprising genelogical links between him and Barack Obama.

There is a part of me that wants to be forgiving to the man who will be played by Richard Dreyfuss in the Oliver Stone film "W" (see earlier entry) since those of us from Roanoke, Va., have made many West Virginia jokes ourselves.

But, Dick Cheney is not my favorite person in DC, and this is an election year. On top of that, West Virginia is a swing state that Bush-Cheney carried in both 2000 and 2004. So, I dedicate this song for Cheney and I hope he can make future blunders in the coming weeks and months ahead.

For what it's worth, Cheney apologized. But, who cares?!

Trivia about the song: According to local folks in the area, "Country Roads" was actually penned in Mount Jackson, Va. The song does allude to the Shenandoah River in that area.

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