Thursday, April 30, 2009

First Line of a Novel (Entry 11 of 11)

We conclude this series with the first line of Frank Baum's classic novel "The Wizard of Oz:"

"Dorothy lived in the midst of the great Kansas praries, with Uncle Henry, who was a farmer and Aunt Em, who was the farmer's wife.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

True Confessions (10 of 11)_ The Camel Days

As I was walking on campus today, I held my nose with two fingers as I walked right past a smoker.

It's a bit ironic since I used to be a smoker myself!

For a brief while in 1989, I did actually indulge in this very bad habit.

My cigarette of choice was mostly Camels.

The habit formed purely from peer pressure. In the summer of 1989, I traveled to my father's country Turkey for the usual summer trek.

While there, my friend Muzzafer and his gang of friends would all smoke. After a while, it seemed socially appropriate to fit in and smoke with them.

I actually brought a whole carton of Maltepe-brand Turkish cigarettes from Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul which I brought with me to Roanoke, Va.

I would smoke these cigarettes and share them with friends who smoked when I attended Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke.

The story of how I quit smoking is perhaps the more interesting one though. A few years later, when I was attending Radford University, my friend Bahadir and I went to a bar in downtown Roanoke.

Though we were both smoking Camels, we told a couple of attractive women who saw us that we weren't really smokers. They didn't buy it. I quit smoking after that.

Alas, I now live in an area along the Virginia-North Carolina border where many people still smoke regularly.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Celebrity Birthdays- Penelope Cruz is 35

Today is the collective birthday for three very attractive Hollywood actresses. Oscar-winning Penelope Cruz turns 35 today.

Jessica Alba is 28.

And, Bridgette Moyhahan turns 38.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Quote of the Week_ Pablo Neruda

This week's quote of the month comes from the late poet Pablo Neruda. It is in honor of National Poetry Month.

Neruda is a favorite of my friend, modern dancer Nejla Yatkin who is currently performing a show in Istanbul, Turkey.

Her web site is

Here is the quote:

"Love is so short, forgetting is so long."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Silly Photo to Fill Space

I usually add commentary with my 'silly photos to fill space,' but this time, I think I'll just let you deal with the visuals.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Old Cinemas_The Victoria Theatre in San Francisco

San Francisco may be one of the very few zip codes in America where I might actually be a Republican (that is certainly not the case in rural North Carolina where I reside!).

Of course, a place like San Francisco has many unique cultural attractions, and from what I've read The Victoria Theatre seems to fit that proverbial bill.

The theatre began as a vaudeville house when it was built in 1908. The Victoria began to show films in the 1930s, and it later became a burlesque house in the 1960s (pictured here).

The Victoria was closed in 1976, and it reopened a few years later.

Currently, the cinema is showing the independent film "Rolling," which is about an underground warehouse party in Los Angeles where a teacher, a drug dealer, a lawyer and a high school senior look for their next thrill.

The Victoria, located in the Mission District, seats 480 people. It was also featured in the 1973 Walter Matthau film "The Laughing Policeman."

It is located at:

2961 16th Street
San Francisco, Calif.
(415) 863-7576.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Know Your Mayors (7 of 12)-John W. Hickenlooper

Today we go to the Mile High City as we continue to profile twelve mayors of American cities. If I am so inclined, we may profile international city mayors at some juncture later this year.

Mayor John W. Hickenlooper of Denver, Col., was born in Narbeth, Pa., on Feb. 7, 1952. He is a graduate of Wesleyan University. His wife Helen Thorpe writes for magazines such as "The New Yorker."

Hickenlooper is a real estate developer who owns several restaurants in the LoDo section of Denver. And, he is one of the founders of the original Wyakoop brewing Company microbrewery.

The mayor's post in Denver is a non-partisan job, but Hickenlooper is believed to be a Democrat and he helped the city land the Democratic National Convention where Barack Obama made his historical speech last year.

Hickenlooper is a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and he was named as one of the top five big city mayors in America by "Time" magazine.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Today is Children's Day in Turkey

This image is of Turkish children in school. Children's Day has been celebrated in Turkey, my late father's country, since 1935.

Children from all over the world come to Turkey for the occasion.

I actually marched in a Children's Day Parade in Zonguldak Eregli back in 1978 when I was 8 years old.

Though I grew up in Roanoke, Va., we did live in Turkey for two years from 1977-1979.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

For the Bard's B-day-a Quote from Will Shakespeare

Tomorrow is William Shakespeare's birthday, so for the occasion we have two quotes from the Bard on our two respective blogs.

Of course, most Americans are undoubtedly more fascinated by the fact that Lauren Conrad of "The Hills" will not be attending Heidi and Spencer's wedding.

The American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Va., is currently performing "Hamlet" (pictured here, but not the ASC production) along with other vintage Shakespeare plays.

They sent out an email with quotes from the Bard regarding Earth Day but none of them seemed as catchy as his standards, like this one:

"Bening born is like being kidnapped. And then sold into slavery."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

First Line of a Novel (10 of 11)- Cat's Cradle

Today, we go with a simple line from the vintage 1963 Kurt Vonnegut novel "Cat's Cradle," which is also the name of a cool night club in Carrboro, NC (Chapel Hill) which actually doesn't allow smoking (how cool is that!).

Vonnegut's novel, oh by the way, is about the end of the world.

Here is the line:

"Call me Jonah."

True Confessions- 9 of 11- Michael Jackson T-shirt

The year was 1984. The place was the little town of New Market, Va., in the Shenandoah Valley. It was truly an awful time in my life as my father had recently died, my mother remarried a man I didn't get along with and I relocated to a new school.

But, there were some happy times such as this venture to New Market where the town was conducting its annual Civil War reenactment.

There was also a carnival in town, and they had several games. One of which was a basketball shooting contest. Much to my shock and amazement, I shot three consecutive hoops in a row to actually win the game.

But, when it came time to choose a prize there was a surprisingly limited selection. And, much to my surprise I decided to select a cheap Michael Jackson t-shirt for my 'grand prize.'

I would actually wear the very unhip t-shirt to Glenvar High School in Salem, Va., one time. Well, perhaps, I was stupid enough to wear it a second time.

It would actually shrink very quickly, and it would disappear from my wardrobe altogehter after a short amount of time.

But, hey it was like the last time I won something until I scored a Pink Floyd LP from the now defunct Rock-105 in Blacksburg, Va., when I was a senior in high school.

I recently saw a copy of Jackson's mega-hit lp "Thriller" at a flea market in Greensboro, NC. Surprisingly, it was going for $10, which was actually more than what I paid for one in 1983. But, like my t-shirt, my "Thriller" record is nowhere to be all!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Kudos to the Georgia GymDawgs

Congratulations to the University of Georgia Bulldogs' women's gymnastics team, also known as the GymDawgs for winning their fifth consecutive NCAA title in Loncoln, Neb., over the weekend.

The team was lead by standout gymnast and former Olympian Courtney Kupets, pictured here.

The order of finish was as follows:

1. Georgia
2. Alabama
3. Utah
4. Florida
5. Arkansas

The meet will be televised on CBS on May 9 at 2 pm, EDT.

Quote of the Week-John Cho from "Maxim"

His "Harold and Kumar" movies co-star Kal Penn is going to work for President Barack Obama, but John Cho (who is Harold) is focused on the new 'Star Trek' movie which opens in May.

Cho, who is much older than he looks (he is 36!), had this great quip about the White Castle fast food joints which Harold and Kumar made famous/infamous in the current issue of "Maxim" magazine:

"It only takes one White Castle burger to kill you.... if it hits you in the exact right spot."

Friday, April 17, 2009

Silly Photo to Fill Space

We originally hoped to post a photo of some 'alligator sneakers' but we were blocked so we opted for this shot of an alligator feeding frenzy instead!

The reason for this blog entry is because the University of Florida Gators are one of the six teams that will advance to the Super Six Finals in NCAA women's gymnastics action this weekend in Lincoln, Neb.

The other five are Georgia, LSU, Arkansas, Alabama and Utah.

I incorrectly picked UCLA and Stanford to make it, but oh well!

Kudos to Elise Wheeler of Southern Utah University for advancing to uneven bar and beam finals.

Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, May 2

Saturday, May 2 is Free Comic Book Day here in les etats unis.

Two stores here in North Carolina are preparing for the event.

Acme Comics in Greensboro will host several artists including Jonathan Hickman, Mark Morales, Mike Choi, Chris Samnee and Sean McKeever_ among others.

While Chapel Hill Comics which is (of course) in Chapel Hill, NC, will be giving out comic books with characters that include Sonic the Hedgehog, Wolverine, The Green Lantern, and The Savage Dragon (who endorsed Barack Obama! We imagine this really ticked off Bill O'Reilly).

Tomorrow happens to be Record Store Day. Like comic book stores, record stores have also hit hard times in recent years as just one (Plan 9) closed in my hometown of Roanoke, Va.

It should be noted that we found a great photo of a silly-looking man dressed like Sonic the Hedgehog, but we were sadly unable to post it here for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Political Confusion Test (16 of 21) Earth Day or Tea Party

Yes, folks one can see the political divide everywhere including where I live in Boneville County, NC (fictional county).

Just yesterday, there was a 'tea party' in the town of Ararat (fictional name) where folks held up negative signs about their commander-in-chief. At another such rally in Greensboro (real town), one person refered to our president as 'Baby Killer Obama' (yes, I agree that person is an idiot!).

For those in Karachi (real place), the tea party is being held to protest Barack Obama's efforts to stabilize our economy with a bail out package, even though Republicans are just as too blame for the economic mess as anyone else in Washington, DC (real place).

But, on Saturday, in Boneville we will have an Earth Day celebration with live bands outside the Backstreet Buzz Coffee-Shop (real place). This is undoubtedly going to be the very first Earth Day celebration in Boneville.

Some how, I doubt my good friend Chris Knight (I'm sure he'll let me use his real name since he is an uber extrovert) won't be there as he once refered to Earth Day as 'Nerf Day.'

I, for one, am not an environmentalist fanatic but if Ahnuld thinks global warming is a reality and each summer day in Boneville feels as hot as hell's kitchen when it's on fire then I think it's safe to conclude that Al Gore has a valid point.

I would write more but I have a class to teach at some real town in a real rural part of southern Virginia.

Sidebar_ Oooops! This was supposed to be on our sister blog "The Daily Vampire"

First Line of a Novel (9 of 11)

Today, we use the Edgar Rice Burroughs classic "Tarzan of the Apes" as the basis for our entry in this series:

"The man who told me this story really should not have done so."

For our image, we selected the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan though admitedly the Jay Ward cartoon "George of the Jungle" which seems to be somewhat based on Tarzan is more entertaining.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

True Confessions (8 of 11)_ Slamdancing Back in '88

We have changed the format of this series in that we are no longer going to present the info in the form of a quiz. Folks simply aren't playing along!

But, I did indeed participate in a men's bikini contest in Myrtle Beach, SC, some 15 years ago. I hope that info isn't read by a perspective future employer, but hey everyone is young and foolish at some point in life.

So, today I am freely admitting that once upon a time in the city of Roanoke, Va., I went slam dancing to a now defunct local heavy metal band called Nosferatu (undoubtedly named after the classic vampire film pictured here) at a now defunct place called the Iroqoius Club, which existed on Salem Avenue.

Ahh, those were the days!

I did start having back problems a few years after I participated in slam dancing, which was circa 1988- for all perspective future employers or FBI personnel who happen to be spying on me, but the chiropractor in Woodstock, Va., attributed that to moving and lifting heavy boxes........!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Know Your Mayors (6 of 12) Dwight Clinton Jones

Today, in our sixth entry on Know Your Mayors we feature Dwight Clinton Jones (b. 1948) who recently replaced former Virginia governor Doug Wilder to become the 79th mayor of Richmond, Va.

Jones (D) is a Baptist minister who was born in Philadelphia.

He became the mayor of Richmond on Dec. 31, 2008.

Jones was previously in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1994-2008.

It is interesting to note that one previous mayor of Richmond Tim Kaine (D) became the current governor of Virginia.

Whereas the last mayor of Richmond, Wilder was a previous governor of the state. Wilder broke a race barrier when he became the first black governor of Virginia in 1990.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Quote of the Week- Lord Byron

I suppose one of my joys in life is the fact that I have now outlived the famed English poet Lord Byron (1788-1824) who actually worked against my father's country Turkey when he volunteered to fight for the Greeks during their war for independence. While in Greece, he got a fever and...........oh well!

Here is a great quip from Byron, in honor of National Poetry Month:

"A celebrity is one who is known to many people he's glad he doesn't know."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Old Cinemas_ Carolina Theatre in Greensboro (11 of 21)

The historic Carolina Theatre in downtown Greensboro has undergone an interesting history.

It opened on Halloween night in 1927. Then, in 1981, the cinema suffered a major fire and it did not reopen again until 1991.

Today, the Carolina Theatre no longer shows movies on a nightly basis as it also focuse on concerts, theatre, and community events.

But, they will screen "Ben Hur" (April 14), "That's Entertainment" (May 5), "Jaws" (May 6) and "The Great Escape" (June 9).

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Silly Photo to Fill Space

My mother complains that the family cat Gizmo is getting a bit overweight these days.

But, fortunately, he is not quite as big as Princess Chunk, pictured here.

The New Jersey shelter cat weighs 44 pounds!

Since Today is Egg Day

Yes, we couldn't resist...........!

My Super Six Predictions

The NCAAs women's gymnastics championships will be held at the University of Nebraska next week.

Unless the last two years, I will not be in attendance this year, but like every college gymnastics fan, I thought I'd give my Super six predictions.

Utah gymnast Kristina Baskett, pictured here, will be among the showcase gymnasts in Nebraska.

Here they are, in order of where they might stand at the end of competition:

1. Georgia
2. Utah
3. Stanford
4. Florida
5. Arkansas

Alabama or LSU also might make into the Super Six.

Surprisingly enough, the host school Nebraska, usually a national power, did not qualify for nationals nor did Michigan, which is also known for its outstanding program.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

First Line of a Novel- Entry 8 of 11 "The Lottery"

Today's first line of a novel comes from "The Lottery," which is actually a very dark short story by Shirley Jackson. And, it is NOT about someone who wins a jackpot.

But, the opening line contradicts the startling events which gradually unfold.

This story, published in 1948, is one of my favorite pieces of fiction.

Here is the first line:

"The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green."

It's hard to believe, but my last entry in this series was on March 6th when we went with the first line of "Moby Dick."

And, our kudos go out to James Hendricks of Greenville, NC, and Michelle Henderson of Lumberton, NC.

They were among the $1,000 winners yesterday in the North Carolina Education Lottery.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

True Confession Quiz (7 of 11)

Today's True Confessions Quiz comes in a True/False form as I ask my esteemed blog visitors (both of you) if I once participated in a men's bikini contest in Myrtle Beach, SC, when I was about 25 years old circa 1995?

Immediate family members who live in places like Provo, Utah, and Twin Falls, Idaho, are disqualified from participating as they know the answer to this question.

Lastly, the Lobster Van pictured here in not from Portland, Maine, but Myrtle Beach.

I imagine lobster dinners are one casualty of the recession, but then again shark attacks are down as well!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bruce Piephoff Releases New CD

My good friend Greensboro, NC, folk singer Bruce Piephoff, who is undoubtedly celebrating UNC's national championship, will be releasing a new cd entitled "Clockwork" soon. It will be his 17th release.

Piephoff will hold a cd release party at the Lindley Park Filling Station on the corner of Walker Ave. and S. Elam Street in Greensboro on April 24 from 6 to 10 p.m. Phone: 336-274-2144

He will also be peforming at the Backstreet Buzz Coffee House in nearby Reidsville, NC, on April 18, at 7 p.m. The establishment is located at 234 SW Market Street in downtown Reidsville. Phone: 336-348-2899.

Useful Links:

Monday, April 6, 2009

Quotes of the Week- from Billionaires.....

We have an quip from Donald Trump on our other blog "The Daily Vampire." The idea for quotes from two respective billionaires came to me since April 15 is just around the corner.

I have often if I would become a Republican if I made lots of money. Mark Cuban, who is actually to the left of me (I'm a centrist Democrat) is proof that there's no worry.

For those who don't know, Cuban is the eccentric owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks. He seemingly never misses a game.

"As always, I hope the (San Antonio) Spurs lose 82 games," Mark Cuban.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Quotes of the Week_ Famous Agnostics

Since some kooky Christian group tried to infiltrate my blog (long story), I've decided to seek a modest revenge by posting quotes on my two respective blogs from two famous agnostics.

Today, we shall quote the always quotable Mark Twain whose home/museum in Hartford, Conn. (well, are there any other Hartfords?) is well worth the trek.

Here is the quote:

"Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society."

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Guess Who Got April Fooled???!

Yes, friends, I got a proverbial taste of my very own medicine as my sister Lale Lovell zinged me for April Fool's Day.

Yesterday, she sent me an email that she was going to join her husband Matt Lovell in manning the NRA booth at the Boulder Farmer's Market this weekend in Boulder, Col.

For starters, there is no NRA booth at the Boulder Farmer's Market. Secondly, my sister is Democrat and to my knowledge she doesn't own a Glock or watch "America's Most Wanted."

But, yesterday, was not an entirely futile day for me as about half-a-dozen folks 'fell' for my annual sky-diving prank, including a femal cousin of mine from South Carolina who said that I: 'desperately need therapy.'

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Back from Sky-Diving.......What a Rush!

Yes, I am back from a sky-diving trip to Jonesville, NC. I want to thank my good friend Haywood Graves for joining me on this adventure of a lifetime. Our good friend Walter Easley was going to join us, but he had to attend an Employee of the Year luncheon in his honor.

Walter- you have no idea what ya' missed, buddy!

I will be posting pictures of the dives here on this blog and at our sister blog The Daily Vampire over the next few days.

You'll want to check those out!