Saturday, February 27, 2010

Autralian Women's Luger Displays Olympic Spirit

The Vancouver Winter Olympics will conclude tomorrow, but the games were marred by tragedy at the outset when Georgian men's luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, 21, died during a training run.

But, Australian women's luger Hannah Campbell-Pegg, 27, is stepping up to help his family by auctioning off her Olympic suit to help them pay for the funeral expenses.

I have been profiling 25 Winter Olympic athletes on my blog "The Daily Vampire,"

It has been quite the time-consuming venture, but it has also been rewarding to share their special stories on my blog.

RU Faces Winthrop This PM

There is a big game today my alma mater Radford University (Radford, Va.) and my cousin Mike's alma mater Winthrop University (Rock Hill, SC). The two teams will face off in Radford at 4 p.m. in a regionally televised game on MASN.

The RU Highlanders have won their last two home games thanks to Art Parakhouski (pictured here). They defeated Presbyterian University 75-58 earlier in the week, which included a 10-point effort from one of my favorite players Gorkem Sonmez (my dad came from Sonmez's native Turkey) and last Saturday the Highlanders defeated the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks in a game that was a part of Bracket-Busters weekend.

In the the UNCW game, Parakhouski scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. He has 23double-doubles, which leads the NCAA. Laz Trifunoic scored 19, and Blake Smith added 15 for the Highlanders in their 76-68 win over the Seahawks.

Winthrop has lost two of their last three games, including a 77-57 setback in Richmond, Ky., in their own Bracket Busters game with Eastern Kentucky. Matt Morgan scored 18 points for the Eagles in a losing cause.

In their home win over UNC-Asheville, Cahrles Corbin scored 19 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for the Eagles in a 68-65 overtime victory on Senior Night.

The Eagles also lost to High Point on the road this week, so today's game is crucial for both teams as they head into the Big South Tournament which starts on March 2.

Locally, the UNC-Greensboro Spartans prepare for their final home game before The Southern Conference Tourney when they face Georgia Southern on Monday night.

The Spartans lost to Davidson this week, but a week ago they were able to beat The Citadel on the road in Charleston, SC, by a 59-53 score thanks to 19 points from Ben Stywall and 18 points from Mikko Koivisto.

Parakhouski was recently named Big South Player of the Week for a fourth time this season.

UPDATE: We won the game 54-52, and Parakhouski got yet another double-double!

UPDATE TWO: Radford is actually replaying Winthrop today (Thurs., March 4th) in Conway, SC, on the campus of Coastal Carolina at 6 p.m. The game is scheduled for broadcast on ESPN-U. We will try to have the results posted on this blog.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Special Screenings- "Big Trouble in Little China"

My friend Joe Scott will be screening the John Carpenter-helmed film "Big Trouble in Little China" on March 4th (which happens to be my 40th birthday) at the Carousel Luxury Cinemas in Greensboro, NC. The showtimes for the film are 7:30 and 10:00 p.m.

"China" is part of the Mixed Tape Series, which started with "The Big Lebowski" last fall. Scott will show another Carpenter-Kurt Rusell collaboration the remake of "The Thing," (which I believe came out in 1987, and I think they are remaking that film yet again! The original film with James Arness of "Gunsmoke" fame came out in the fifties), on March 11th.

Carpenter and Russell also worked together on "Escape from New York" and its sequel "Escape from LA."

"China" also features the ever-sexy Kim Cattrall in one of her best post-'Porky's' films and cult actor James Hong as the evil David Lo Pa.

I must profess that it's been more than two decades since I've seen the film, but I found the following trivia about "China" on the Internet Movie Database:

-The body count is 46

-Russell was Carpenter's only choice, but the studio wanted Jack Nicholson or Clint Eastwood for the lead. Fortunately, both were involved with other projects.

-The post-production period was a mere four months!

-Carter Wong, who plays Thunder, actually worked as a martial arts instructor in Hong Kong.

-Cattrall wore green-eye contacts for the film.

Kudos to Fellow Blogger Chris Knight on Passing One Million Hits

Chris Knight of Reidsville, NC, achieved a loyal cult following in 2006 when he ran for Rockingham County School Board because of his radical Star-Wars themed ad which got shown on VH-1, and E! as well as the now defunct "The Jay Leno Show."

Knight now has his own Wikipedia entry, which is more extensive than several Olympic American gold medalists, and a blog ( which just surpassed the one million hit mark last week.

I must profess that a part of me admires my fellow North Carolina resident for reaching this milestone, but I actually enjoy being 'under the radar.' Especially, since I expected some sort of condemnation for jokes I made about the likes of Clarence Thomas, Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin and Pat Robertson, but I never got any though once I did get some flack from a man who may have been Cheney himself?! (And, since he's recovering from a recent heart attack, he may be glancing at this page yet again........well, we actually hope that's NOT the case).

Knight and I have political differences. He is a Libertarian who usually votes for third party candidates in national elections. While I have voted for every Democratic candidate for president since 1988 when I turned 18, and that included Michael Dukakis, which did not go over well with my Turkish relatives!

I also believe global warming is a real problem though I realize Al Gore is perhaps not the best delivery man for this serious situation because he is a partisan figure, but Knight basically thinks it's all a hoax (from what I gather).

Knight is also a devout follower of the cult ABC series "Lost," which I've only watched twice.

But, in spite of these nuanced differences, I really love his blog especially a recent entry on how a statue of Andy Griffith in Mount Airy, NC, was defaced by vandals?! And, he is always up on the latest video gizmos and science fiction films as well as some unique and strange stories that few of us seem to discover. And, there is his feud with the Rev. Johnny Robertson of Martinsville, Va., who is pretty much the Jim Jones of southside Virginia (you can quote me on that!).

So, we congratulate Knight and I expect he will be getting his 2,000,000th in the very near future or at least before that crazy preacher in Martinsville's prediction for Doomsday?!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Funny Tweet from US Speedskater Rebekah Bradford

We just love this quip from the Apple Valley, Minn., speedskater Rebekah Bradford who is performing quite well in Vancouver (at last report). Though I follow over 1,000 people on Twitter, Bradford is not one of them. But, we saw this in "USA Today," and we couldn't resist posting it here:

"Hmmmmmmmmmm.......the lawn is being mowed right now here in the Vancouver Village during the WINTER games."

NC State Women's Gymnastics Team Upsets Nebraska.

I was at the NCAA gymnastics meet held at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, NC, on the North Carolina State University campus where the home-team Wolfpack upset tenth ranked Nebraska. The University of North Carolina was also at the meet, and came in third though Christine Nguyen (pictured) won the all-around competition.

According to the Wolfpacks' gymnastics team web site, there were 3,721 fans on-hand to witness the most impressive win in the program's history (It should be noted that the Wolfpack gymnast pictured here who we believe to be Ashley Shepard was on last year's team).

The Wolfpacks' coach Mark Stevenson said he was very pleased with his team's performance.

"I'm really excited about how the meet turned out," Stevenson said. "We beat Nebraska for the first time ever and they are a top ten team."

The Wolfpack scored a seson best 9.875 as freshman Rachel Fincham posted that same score on the bars event. The 'Pack were also helped out with strong performances from Jess Panza, Brooke Barr and Becca Teich. Barr and Teich finished second and third respectively in the all-around competition behind Nguyen.

As for the visiting Cornhuskers (we tried to find an image of a gymnast, but alas we had to settle for one of the team's mascots!), coach Dan Kendig told Brendan Carl of "The Daily Nebraskan" that he gave his team a pep talk going into the fourth rotation when they realized they were down to the Wolfpack by a considerable margin.

But, in the end, it simply wasn't enough to overcome.

"I wish we had a better showing, but we will live to see a better day," Kendig told "The Daily Nebraskan."

For the 'Huskers, senior Kylie Stone gave a good performance and she told the newspaper that her team stayed tough in spite of a poor balance beam performance.

As for the Tarheels, the loss featured many positives as Nguyen won her fourth all-around title which prompted her to being named EAGL (east coast collegiate gymnastics conference) Gymnast of the Week as she score an impressive 39.375 in Raleigh.

'Heels coach Derek Galvin told the UNC women's gymnastic's team's web site that he was delighted with ther performances from his team which included a 9.800 on the balance beam from stand-out gymnast Kara Wright.

"Going into this week our focus was on bringing our beam routines up to the level of the other events," Galvin said. "We did that and we surpassed them."

The Wolfpack stay in Raleigh to face the always tough Pitt Panthers on Saturday night. Fans who bring in two books can get in for free as part of a literacy program that the team is sponsoring.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Roanoke's Texas Tavern Turns 80!

Amazingly enough, even though Roanoke, Va., is my hometown, and I have walked by the Texas Tavern at least 120 times, I have never actually been inside the landmark establishment--- not even to try their famous chilli!

The restaurant, located on 114 Church Avenue in downtown Roanoke, celebrated its 80th anniversary on Feb. 13. The restaurant was founded on that day in 1930 by Isaac Newton Bullington, who once worked for Ringling Bros-Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Bullington took a chile recipe from a San Antonio hotel, and diners have been steadily coming in ever since.

According to the Texas Tavern's web site, celebrities who have stopped have included The Three Stooges and Glen Miller.

The Texas Tavern is known as "The Millionaires' Club" by locals which is a bit ironic since the food is quite inexpensive. Hamburgers and hot dogs both sell for $1.25 and a pint of chilli goes for $3.25 while a sausage sandwcih goes for $1.10.

There was another Texas Tavern in Lynchburg, Va., but it became difficult for the Bullington family to manage both of them.

Today, the restaurant is run by Matt Bullington, the fourth-generation owner of the diner.

His father and previous owner Jim Bullington told "The Roanoke Star-Sentinel" that as was the case in the 1930s, The Texas Tavern's cheap prices allow folks to eat out even during a bad recession.

Funny Tweet from American Skater Johnny Weir

Though I am following a lot of Olympic athletes on Twitter, including the flamboyant American men's figure skater Johnny Weir, I missed this particular tweet from him but I noticed it in "USA Today" and thought I would share it. Weir finished sixth in the men's figure skating competition.

He has his own show on The Sundance Channel called "Be Good, Johnny Weir."

Here is the quote, which might make wonder if Weir has some kind of obsessive-compulsive disorder:

"I'm very homesick today. Maybe I just miss my vacuum? That's probably it."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Turkish Soccer Update- Bursaspor Beats Fenerbahce in Istanbul!

One of my favorite Turkish soccer teams Bursaspor in Bursa, Turkey, the country's fourth largest city, upset traditional Istanbul powerhouse Fenerbahce on the road by a 3-2 margin. It was a come from behind victory.

Bursaspor trailed 2-0 when Andre Santos of Fenerbahce scored a goal in the 21st minute. But, two goals from Ozan Ipek of Bursaspor and another one from Argentian teammate Pablo Batalla (pictured here) allowed for the 'crocidilees' (Bursaspor's nickname) to triumph.

The team's win was a crucial one for Turkish Premiere League standings as it firmly moved Bursaspor into a tighter race with Fenerbahce and GalataSaray. Right now, Bursaspor is in third place in league standings with 43 points. Fenerbahce has 45 points, and GalataSaray is ahead of the pack with 47 points.

My friend Ugur Celikkol who contributes to the the Turkish-language site said: "Now is the right time for us to finally win a cup."

Another contributor to the site Levent Gencelli said: "Today is like a holiday for all Bursaspor fans."

In other important Turkish league games, GalataSaray tied another Istanbul power Beshiktash 1-1. The GalataSaray goal was scored by Adra Turan in the 68th minute. Tomas Sivok scored for the rival Eagles in the 82nd minute.

Here is a complete list of the scores from this weekend's play in the Turkish Premiere League:

Bursaspor 3 Fenerbahce 2

GalataSaray 1 Besiktash 1

Ankaragucu 2 Antalyaspor 2

Denizlispor 2 Diyarbakir 0

Trabzonspor 0 Istanbul BB O

Sivas 1 Manisa 0

Eskisehirspor 0 Ankara Genclerbirligi 0

Kayseri 3 Ankaraspor 0 (game was awarded due to Ankaraspor's league violations).

Turkish 'Classic' to be Shown in New York

There are many international film versions to the old "Arabian Nights" fable "Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves," but I have a feeling that the 1971 Turkish adaptation called "Ali Baba ve 40 Haramiler" might be the most interesting of them all!

The film, said to be an adventure/fantasy/comedy, stars the late Sadri Alisik (1925-1995) who was a popular Turkish film actor in his day.

Ali Baba will be shown publicly at 111 East 9th Street on Sunday, Feb. 28 @ 2:00 p.m.

Perhaps, I can get some of my movie buff friends in Virginia and North Carolina to show it closer to home.

It should be a hoot!

Special Screenings- Political Classic "Z" to be Shown in Raleigh

It will be interesting to see if the Israeli film "Ajami," which I've heard many good things about wins the best-foreign language film Oscar this year. But, the 1969 winner in the category, the ground-breaking progressive political thriller "Z" by Greek director Costa-Gravas, who also helmed another acclaimed political thriller "Missing" (1982) with the late Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek, will be screened as part of a special series in conjunction with the North Carolina Museum of Art at the the Galaxy Cinema in the Raleigh suburb of Cary, NC, on Thursday night.

"Z" follows the murder of a prominent leftist, and an invesigator tries to uncover the truth though government officials try to cover up the crime.

The film was a statement on Greek politics at the time when like many countries in the region Greece was facing political upheveal. Similar situations were also taking place in neighboring Turkey, where my late father immigrated from. I believe, as a result, "Z" was banned in both countries!

"Z" gets its title from the fact that Z means 'he is alive' in ancient Hellenic.

The film starred the late French Yves Montand who appeared in another highly political film "Tout Va Bien!" (directed by Jean Luc-Godard) in 1972. That film co-starred Jane Fonda who was making headlines at the time for her controversial trip to Vietnam.

"Z" is also known for its landmark musical score by composer Mikis Thodorakis.

In fact, I can't get it out of my head now!

For more information, the cinema's web site is

A Greek music show, hosted by my friend Maria Hatzios, runs on the Virginia Tech student station WUVT (90.7 FM) in Blacksburg, Va., on Saturday mornings.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Big Annoucement!!! My 40th Birthday Movie Party is On!

It indeed looks like plans for the screening of the 1984 cult classic "Gremlins" at the historic Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va., has a proverbial green light.

I must profess that putting something like this together is not as easy as going out for pizza and beer as one of my friends sugggested, but it looks like it will be all be worthwhile in the end.

"Gremlins" will screen at midnight on March 6 at the Grandin. My 40th birthday is actually on March 4, but that date does not fall on a Saturday night.

Interestingly enough, "Gremlins" is also showing this week at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, Calif.

I got the idea to screen "Gremlins" in particular from my friend Joe Scott who showed the film as part of his Mixed Tape Series in Greensboro, NC, in December.

The 1984 film features Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates and Corey Feldman. It was directed by Joe Dante.

Here are some interesting tid-bits I learned from the film through the Internet Movie Database:

-Like the Wicked Witch in "The Wizard of Oz," Mrs. Deagle has little tolerance for young people and dogs.

-The movie that Lynn Peltzer is watching in her kitchen is "It's a Wonderful Life."

-Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez (both were in "The Breakfast Club") were considered for the role of Billy played by Galligan.

-Several references to Dante's earlier film "The Howling" (1981) are in "Gremlins."

-The original cut of the film ran for two hours and 40 minutes!

PS_ The film's central character Gizmo is also the name of my tuxedo cat who just bit and scratched me this morning, but he also licked my hand (I think he could be schizo!). We profiled the no-kill cat shelter Safe Haven for Cats in Raleigh, NC, a short time ago.

Happy 30th Birthday (in advance) to Yvonne Tousek

As I prepare for my own milestone birthday next week (I'll be turning 40), I thought I would wish former Canadian Olympic gymnast Yvonne Tousek a happy 30th birthday. She turns 30 on Tuesday.

Tousek competed at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

She also won three NCAA team titles as a member of the UCLA Bruins (from 2001-04), a team which also featured American Olympians Jamie Dantzcher, Kristen Maloney and Mohini Bhardwaj in addition to Tousek's Canadian Olympic teammate Kate Richardson.

Tousek was also a member the 1999 Canadian gymnastics team which upset the United States during the Pan-Am Games in Winnipeg, Canada, where she won gold in the floor exercise competition.

The Ontario-native is one of my favorite college gymnasts of all-time, and I have been following college gymnastics since I was in college! Her sister Chantelle Tousek competed for the University of Florida, which has its own highly regarded program.

According to the gymnastics fans web site, the elder Tousek was known for her quirky and fun floor exercise routines.

In more recent years, Tousek performed in the Cirque de Soleil show Corteo.

We wish her a very happy birthday!

Silly Picture to Fill Space- Big Southern Breakfast

For those of you who have the fortune or misfortune (well, those radical street preachers are a bit annoying) to live in the South like me, there is nothing like a Big Southern Breakfast. In fact, I understand there is a restaurant devouted to just that cuisine alone in Boulder, Colo.- of all places!

While researching this piece on the web, I came across a place where I will have to dine even if I have the chance to get back to the ultra-hip college town of Athens, Ga., which also happens to be the home of Eat At Mama's Boy Restaurant.

The establishment is located at 197 Oak Street (phone: 706-548-6249). and they feature the Mill Town Breakfast Plate for $6.95, which includes two eggs, cheese grits, a thick slice of bacon and a buttermilk biscuit. Mama's Boy also offers Georgia Peach French Toast?!

Mama's Boy was voted the best place to have breakfast in town by "The Athens Banner-Herald." Kids can eat free there on Sunday nights.

Bonus Quote of the Week- Malcolm X

Since yesterday was the 45th anniversary of Malcolm X's assasination, we thought we would post a quote from him regarding education.

As we mentioned in an earlier Quote of the Week by Clarence Thomas, surprisingly enough, the arch conservative Supreme Court justice does proclaim to be an admirer of the vocal civil rights activist, who was also the subject of a highly-praised film from Spike Lee.

Here is the quote in honor of Black History Month and the anniversary of Malcolm X's death:

"Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare it today."

Quote of the Week- Gordon Parks Sr.

Movie buffs might actually know Gordon Parks Sr. (1912-2006) best as the director of the original '70s film version of "Shaft," but he was also one of America's greatest photographers.

Here is a quote from him in honor of Black History Month:

"I suffered evils, but without allowing them to rob me of the freedom to expand."

Friday, February 19, 2010

Silly Picture to Fill Space- Beer-Serving Girl

Since today is Friday, a holy day to Muslims, I don't expect there are women serving Petra Beers at bars in Amman, Jordan, today (Petra is a Jordanian brew). And, if they do, they probably would be a bit less revealing. But, of course, this is purely a presumption on my part!

In fact, having been to Istanbul, Turkey, many times, I know there are lots of guys who can chug an Efes Pilsen (the national beer of Turkey) quicker than a visiting college kid from Madison, Wisc.!

I also expect flamboyant American snowboarder Shaun White, aka "The Animal," is having some Canadian Molsons to celebrate his gold medal win at the Vancouver Olympics.

For more Olympic coverage, go to our sister blog

UPDATE: The Toledo Walleye won the midnight hockey game against the Charlotte Checkers in Charlotte, NC, that we reported on earlier by a 7-o margin.

Special Quote of the Week- Jackie Robinson

Since this is Black History Month, and we are tied up on other blog "The Daily Vampire" with Winter Olympic coverage, we thought we post an additional Quote of the Week here. We normally post these quotes on Mondays.

Our subject today is the great baseball player Jackie Robinson (1919-1972) who broke a color barrier when he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Robinson was a member of six Dodgers' teams that went to the World Series, including the 1955 World Champion team.

Robinson is also the subject of an excellent theatrical play "Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting," which is in the L.A. Theatre Works' audio collection. The production features Ed Asner and David Dawning.

The L.A. Dodgers begin spring training in Glendale, Ariz., soon. Their first home game in spring training is against the Chicago White Sox on March 6.

Here is the quote from Robinson:

"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Henry Louis Gates Jr.on Life After the 'Beer Summit'

Since there are many things going in Washington, DC, these days both politically and weather-wise, focus on the aftermath of the intriguing 'Beer Summit' has been all but ignored.

But, since Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. is now promoting his new PBS series "Faces of America," which is airing soon, in the media, questions are being answered as to how he and Cambridge, Mass., police officer James Crowley are getting along.

For those you don't remember or reside in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in July of 2009, Gates was arrested by Crowley who suspected him of breaking into what turned out to be his own house as he was fumbling with the front door. Crowley suspected that Gates might be an intruder.

President Barack Obama commented on the incident, which sparked a discussion about race in America. Obama spoke on Gates' behalf which lead to a media brew-ha-ha which were resolved with brews when Obama, Gates and Crowley met at the White House for a Beer Summit. The surprise guest at the brewsky-sharing was Vice President Joe Biden.

Gates told "The New York Times Magazine" that he and Crowley are actually getting along well, and have even met socially:

"We had a drink at my favorite pub in Cambridge. We met at the River Gods cafe several months ago, and he gave me the handcuffs," Gates said refering to the handcuffs which were used during his arrest.

He added that he gave the hand-cuffs to the National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian.

Gates told the NPR show "Talk of the Nation" that he now gets along with Crowley quite well, and that the Cambridge police officer is a 'very nice man.'

The Beer Summit became such a sensation that even Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) initiated one of his own while running in his senatorial campaign that would prove to be a huge political upset.

I was curious as to which beers were drunk by whom at the Beer Summit, and it took me a long time to discover that information, but thankfully I found it on a blog for "The Chicago Sun-Times."

Obama had a Bud Light. Gates drank a Sam Adams Light. Crowley went for a Blue Moon. While Biden had the non-alcoholic Bucklers beer. I may have asked for a Petra Beer, but I suspect the White House would have difficulty finding the Jordanian beer (which I've never drank).

When asked by the "NYT Magazine" what he thought America might evolve into as we become a more mixed-race society. Gates responded by saying:

"I'm looking forward to the time when we all look like Polynesians."

Colorado Congressman Comgratulates Lindsay Vonn Before the Games Were Aired

Cong. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) congratulated American skier Lindsay Vonn on winning a gold medal in women's donwhill shortly after she won the race through Twitter. But, he did so before the race was televised on NBC. Of course, either the way the Colorado Republican Party was probably going to criticize him!

Polis made news when he became the first openly gay man elected to Congress as a freshman during the 2008 election cycle.

Vonn, who is from Boulder, Colo., represents Polis' district.

Here is the complete tweet which was retweeted by several media outlets in Colorado:

"Congrats to our Congressional District's first Vancouver Gold Medal Winner: Vail's own Lindsay Vonn! Go Lindsay! Go Team USA!"

Polis also said in a later tweet that he had learned that he would be featured on this week's episode of MTV's "Real World."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Turkish Soccer Update- Gaziantepspor Upsets Besiktash

In Gaziantep, Turkey, the home team Gaziantepspor scored an upset over traditional Istanbul powerhouse Besiktash by a 2-0 margin thanks to goals by Brazilian Julio Silva Cesar in the 11th minute and Cameroonian Armand Deumi (pictured) in the 50th minute of the match.

Gaziantepspor also features Argentinian team captain Christian Zurita, Brazilian star Joringho and Turkish player Mehmet Yozgatli who was a member of the Istanbul powerhouse squad GalataSaray's 2000 UEFA League championship team.

In other Turkish soccer games over the weekend, Bursaspor, one of my personal favorite teams, tied Trabzonspor 1-1 in a home game at Ataturk Stadium in Bursa. Argentinian Pablo Battalla scored for Bursa, a city three hours south of Istanbul, while Turkish forward Umut Bulut, known for being a fast and physical player, scored Trabzon's goal.

Another Istanbul powerhouse team Fenerbahce was the current league leader until their rival GalataSaray edged them by a mere one point in the standings. GalataSaray was awarded a 3-0 victory over Ankaraspor, which has been kicked out of the league for administrative violations.

GalataSaray will face the Spanish team Atletico Madrid at 3 p.m. (east coast American time) today, while Fenerbahce plays the French squad Lille Metropole. Both are games in the UEFA European League.

Among returning to Istanbul, Galatasaray will need to get ready for Sunday's game with rival Besiktash. Bursaspor also plays Fenerbahce over the weekend.

Bursapor is in fourth place with 40 points while Besiktash is fifth place with 38 points.

The nickname of Gaziantepspor, currently in eighth place, is the Falcons.

Here is a complete list of scores from this past weekend. The home teams are marked with an asteriks.

*Gaziantepspor 2 Besiktash 0
*Istanbul BB 1 Ankaragucu 1
GalataSaray 3 Ankaraspor 0 (game was not actually played)
Kasimpasha 2 *Ankara Genclerbirligi 0
*Bursaspor 1 Trabzonspor 1
*Diyarbakirspor 1 Sivasspor 1
Eskisehirspot 2 *Antalyaspor 1
*Denizlispor 1 Kayserispor 0
*Manisaspor 2 Fenerbahce 2

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Silly Photo to Fill Space- Minor League Hockey Mascot

Anyone want to see a minor league hockey game at midnight?

Well, on Thursday, Feb. 18 at 11:59 p.m., the puck will drop in Charlotte, NC, as the home team Charlotte Checkers face the visiting Toledo Walleye.

The Checkers are also hosting an "Icing Autism Night" when they play the Trenton Devils on March 19. Procedes from that game will go to Autism Speaks (

While researching this piece, it was interesting to learn that the league in which the Checkers belong the East Coast Hockey League now has teams like The Alaska Aces, The Idaho Steelheads, The Las Vegas Wranglers and the Utah Grizzlies. The ECHL even has a team in Victoria, British Columbia (Canada), called the Victoria Salmon Kings!

In fact, Mark Derlago of the Steelheads was named ECHL Player of the Week.

The ECHL used to include my hometown team The Roanoke Express (1993-2004) from Roanoke, Va., and their rival The Richmond Renegades from Richmond, Va. The Express failed to reach the league's playoffs in the team's later years and they had management turmoil which lead to their abrupt folding.

The Renegades started a new franchise with the same team name in the Southern Pro Hockey League in 2006, but that team folded as well in 2009.

The future is not much brighter for the Checkers as they face the chance of relocating or discontuning after this season.

The Checkers' web site ( said that the contributions of newcomers Matt Stefanshion and Ryan Crane have helped the team beat their southern rivals, The South Carolins Stingray (based in Charleston, SC) and the Gwinett Gladiators from Gwinett, Ga.

The team also features players like Mike Taylor (forward), Trevor Glass (defense) and Ryan Munce (goalie).

There are some active NHL players from both the old Express team and the Checkers franchise.

Jason Jaffray (Vancouver Canucks) and Vernon Fiddler (Nashville Predators) both played in Roanoke.

Eric Boulton (Atlanta Thrashers) and goalie Chris Holt (Ottawa Senators) once skated for the Skaters.

Those of you who are hockey fans may also want to check out my extensive profile of Washington Capitals' star player Alex Ovechkin, who will be competing for Russia at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. One could not have imagined in 1984 that two Russian players (also Alex Semin) would be playing pro hockey in the capital of the United States! I guess the question is: "Do we credit Reagan?" or "Do we credit Gorbie?" Since this is not meant to be a political entry, I will simply let you decide!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Quote of the Week- Nikki Giovanni

Today's Quote of the Week is once again one which we are devouting to Black History Month. It comes from poet Nikki Giovanni, also an English professor at Virginia Tech. We chose her as our "Person of the Year" in 2007. One of my foundest memories of being a newspaper reporter was having the chance to interview Giovanni when I worked for "The News-Messenger" in Christiansburg, Va.

Here is her quote:

"If you don't understand yourself you don't understand anyone else."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

There's a Safe Haven for Cats in Raleigh, NC

My adorable little sister and I at times seem like two people who grew up in different sectors of the solar system. When we were in high school (I am four years older), she always studiously did her homework usually on the day it was assigned as soon as she was through watching the NBC soap opera "Santa Barbara" (which starred a then unknown Robin Wright, who later became Robin Wright-Penn).

I, on the other hand, actually thought I could finish some ninth grade earth science homework WHILE watching Villanova's historic upset of Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA men's basketball final. The game really irked me because I was a 'Hoyas fan (as I am today though they aren't my very favorite team) and I loved Georgetown's star player Patrick Ewing. Ironically, earlier today, Georgetown was shockingly upset by Rutgers 71-68! Oh, I don't think I ever completed the earth science homework as I did not perform well in that class.

But, Lale, who is now married and residing out west, and I have many similar interests, including Turkish pop music, wine, coffee, comic strips and cats!

As many of you frequent this blog (all four of you) know I love cats and I am particularly found of my tuxedo cat Gizmo even though he scratched me last night!

I was thus delighted to come across an ad for Safe Haven, a no-kill shelter for cats, in "Independent Weekly," a Raleigh, NC, alternative weekly while I was Christmas shopping in Chapel Hill, NC, in early December.

While researching for this entry, I found out that the shelter is located in the northern part of Raleigh and the organization is celebrating its 16th anniversary this year.

The agency also provides what they call an E-Harmony type service for would-be cat owners by trying to match a cat with the traits that someone might be looking for.

There are in fact three categories for cats, and this is not based on the actual color of the cat as you will notice as you continue reading. These include green cats, which are savvy and adventurous, orange cats which make perfect companions and purple cats which are quiet and seek affection. Gizmo, who is actually a black and white cat, actually fits the orange cat mode as he can't still and he loves going after birds in the front yard, much to our neighbor's shock and horror.

Safe Haven also provides adoption services for cats and kittens as well as foster program. They also have a feline spay and neuter service.

On April 16, Safe Haven will hold its annual fundraiser at the Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh on East Harnett Street.

If you live in the Tri-Cities area and would like to adopt a cat or make a donation, Safe Haven ( can be reached at 919-872-1128

Radford University Loses Heart-Breaker to Coastal Carolina

During a home game in Radford, Va., just prior to Valentine's Day on Saturday night, my alma mater The Radford University Highlanders dropped a heart-breaking game to visiting Coastal Carolina by a score of 52-51.

The game was decided by a last second free-throw from Coastal's freshman Danny Niemans from Concord, NC.

RU trailed by 16 at the half, but the Highlanders went on a 17-3 spurt to start the second half. According to the RU men's basketball web site, the home team trimmed the lead to 40-38 with 11:39 left in the game.

The win puts Coastal Carolina, a school in Conway, SC, (near Myrtle Beach) with a commanding two game lead in the Big South Conference.

For the visiting Chanticleers (which to me has always seemed like a very unusual school nickname), Mario Edwards lead the way with 13 points. Chad Gray added 12 points to the team's total.

There were some positive things for the Highlanders though, including the fact that guard Amir Johnson of Pittsburgh, Pa., broke the conference assist total with 568.

The Highlanders actually took the lead for the first time in the game at 50-49 with 1:46 remaining thanks to a dunk by standout center Art Parakhouski of Belarus (pictured here).

RU coach Brad Greenberg said he was pleased with the team's efforts in spite of the loss:

"I'm extremely proud of our team. We had an extraordinary second half, holding one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country to just three field goals."

Parakhouski lead RU in scoring with 16 points. Laz Trifunoivc of Serbia added 13 points for the Highlanders.

RU will next head to hostile Lynchburg, Va., for a game with conference arch rival Liberty University on Tuesday night in a game that will be televised regionally on MASN starting at 7 p.m.

The Highlanders also have a home game against UNC-Wilmington during ESPN's Bracket Busters on Sat., Feb. 20, which is also when the school will be hosting its rescheduled Homecoming Weekend.

Coastal Carolina next heads to Durham, NC, for a non-conference game with North Carolina Central. The team's next home game is against conference foe Charleston Southern in a game that will also be played on Feb. 20.

The Big South Tournament starts at various locations on March 2.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dr. Oz Competes in Celebrity NBA All-Star Game

Dr. Oz (Mehmet Oz) was among the competitors in last night's NBA All-Star celebrity game in Arlington, Tex. The game featured Dallas Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban, actor-comedian Chris Tucker, actor Anthony Anderson ("Law and Order") as well as the musicians Common and Pitbull.

The East won the game over the West by a 41-37. I had a hard time finding the score of the game which I partially watched at a restaurant in Roanoke, Va., where Dr. Oz's show airs at 3:00 p.m. on WSLS/Channel 10 on weekday afternoons.

Thankfully, my friend Jeff in North Carolina found the score for me! (I almost gave up several times!).

We are posting an entry about the game because Dr. Oz is now the most famous Turkish-American in history. Though other Turkish-Americans, like the late, great record producer Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records, progressive talk-show Cenk Uygur (love his show, and his politics!) and Washington, DC, hairstylist Nuri Yurt (the personal hairstylist for Hillary Clinton) not to mention pro female wrestler Lisa Marie Varon/Victoria (who is also half-Vietnamese) have made a prominent name for themselves in their fields.

There are also two highly regarded NBA players from Turkey, including Mehmet Okur of the Utah Jazz, who has previously played in an All-Star game, and Hidayet (Hedo) Turkoglu of the Toronto Raptors.

A blog for the Utah Jazz said that anyone who actually watched this game likely had no social life and too much time on their hands, and from what I could tell there were a lot of missed shots, especially by Cuban, but it looked like all the 'players' had a good time. The game was coached by Magic Johnson (pictured here) for the losing West team and Alonzo Mourning for the East team, which I believe Dr. Oz played for.

Dr. Oz is the son of Mustafa Oz, who was also a doctor in Cleveland, Ohio, where the Oz family resided. Dr. Oz actually maintains dual citizenship with the United States and Turkey, according to Wikipedia and he served in the Turkish army.

The more famous Dr. Oz came to prominence for becoming one of America's leading heart surgeons. I actually got an email from him after I talked to him about an appearance on "The Charlie Rose Show." But, he was soon 'discovered' by Oprah Winfrey and the rest is (pardon the cliche) history. I doubt he would answer my emails now as he probably gets thousands a day!

Dr. Oz, who performed an actual prostate exam on his nationally syndicated show last week, actually does not (reportedly) treat patients who smoke which is ironic because Turkey has a large segment of the population which smokes though anti-smoking have recently been passed throughout the country!

The celebrity doctor also has a Twitter page in which he jokingly said that he looked forward to slamming the backboard on Friday night!

Interesting Programming Choice for Valentine's Day

The Independent Film Channel (IFC) is actually going to broadcast the ground-breaking, controversial 1970 film "The Honeymoon Killers" about a real-life couple who went on a spree-killing rampage in the 1950s (didn't have time to Wiki that, so I could be off on the decade!) at 10:05 a.m. on Valentine's Day.

The documentary-style black and white film is also available on dvd through the Criterion Collection.

"The Honeymoon Killers" was initially supposed to be directed by a young Martin Scorsese but creative differences with the producer lead to Leonard Kastle directing the film which is his best known film.

The story involves Martha Beck and Ray Fernandez, both of whom were executed by an electric chair at Sing Sing Prison in New York (I have publicly disclosed that I am opposed to capital punishment, but this is not a political entry, but there might very well be one on this subject here soon!).

It has actually been re-filmed twice since 1970, including an odd Mexican remake entitled "Deep Crimson" (1996) which is the most graphic of the three films as it features an on-screen murder of a child- something that is considered to be a virtual taboo in American cinema.

There is also the more widely-known, fairly recent American film "Lonely Hearts" (2006) with Jared Leto and Salma Hayek playing the killers. The lead actor though is John Travolta who plays a detective in the case, which makes the film considerably different in pov than "The Honeymoon Killers."

In the original film, Beck is played Shirley Stoler who resembles the actual killer who weighed over 200 pounds at the time of her execution. Due to her excessive weight, Beck could not fit into the electric chair so she was secured on the arm rests when the fatal shock was delivered.

The story unfolds as Beck takes care of her invalid mother in Mobile, Ala. As she craves affection, Beck decides to place an ad in a lonely hearts column which is responded to by Fernandez (Tony LoBianco).

They become a couple and run off to New York, leaving Beck's mom to be tended to in a nursing home. Gradually, they begin to fleece vulnerable women. This causes Beck to become jealous, so she starts killing each of the women and in one instance she murders a victim's child by drowning him in a washing machine.

"The Honeymoon Killers" was actually released almost exactly 40 years as it premiered on American screens on Feb. 4, 1970- a full month before I was born!

The film will re-air on IFC (their web site is on Friday, Feb. 26 at 9:05 a.m. and 2:15 p.m.

I consider the film to be a vintage classic and it would probably be on my Top Ten list for the best films of 1970- a year which also saw the release of the film version of "MASH," "Five Easy Pieces" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Actual Church Sign I Saw Today....


I spotted it along Route 220 between Greensboro, NC, and Roanoke, Va. The sign was at a church near the town of Rock Mount, Va. Of course, we had to put a little political spin on it! To my knowledge, Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) remains in Congress in spite of his gay scandal.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Know Your Mayors (18 of 21) - Tom Leppert of Dallas, Texas

We are continuing our public service series "Know Your Mayors," which seems as popular as classroom biology films from the '70s, with a profile of Tom Lepppert, the mayor of Dallas, Texas, the city hosting this weekend's NBA All-Star Game (the game is actually being played in the Dallas suburb of Arlington, TX). The Dallas Mavericks have been struggling, but they remain in playoff contention.

Leppert, born on June 15, 1954, was elected mayor in June, 2007. He won a run-off election with city councilman Ed Oakley. Leppert condemned anti-gay robocalls aimed at the openly gay Oakley which were run by the the Heritage Alliance PAC. Leppert got 58 percent of the vote in the election.

Even though the mayor's office is non-paritsan, Leppert is believed to be a Republican, according to Wikipedia, but he has emphasized a growth in city government and supported indoor smoking ordinances which have been opposed by traditional conservatives in Dallas. Leppert is also considered moderate to liberal in the areas of education and homelessness.

In the web site for the mayor's office, Leppert said that he has worked to improve the quality of life in Dallas by reducing the crime rate and luring big companies, like AT & T, to the downtown area.

Leppert has also lead trade delegations to China, Taiwan and Mexico.

Before entering civic life, Leppert was the CEO of Turner Construction where he helped the company earn more profits in seven years than it had in the previous 97 years combined.

During his tenure, Dallas has made friendship city pacts with two Chinese cities.

He was preceded in office by former mayor Laura Miller.

Leppert also has college degrees from Claremont McKenna College and Harvard University.

SIDEBAR_ The Washington, DC, area was hit with yet another major snowstorm yesterday. As a result, the City of Rockville, Md., has postponed its Town Hall meeting scheduled for 8:00 p.m. tonight. The city is also asking residents to stay home while road crews clean up the freaking mess....well, that wasn't exactly how they worded it on their web page!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My Ten Worst Films of 2009

This is meant to be a bit of a provacative list as I must profess that it is a stretch to proclaim that both "Avatar" and "District 9," as god-awful as they are, are WORSE than films like "The Final Destination" and "The Fourth Kind," particularly since both films made efforts to be good films and perhaps even more so because I am in a vast minority when it comes to people who despise those two films.

But, like all my lists, I chose this one carefully. It should be pointed out that "Paranormal Activity" was actually first made in 2007, but it did not get any real distribution until last year. At any rate, it really sucked!

It was also agonizing to see the basterdization of the wonderful "Pink Panther" cartoon, not to mention the films of the late great Peter Sellars. And, it is painful to see the once-great Steve Martin reduce himself to such lower depths.

Cameron Diaz (pictured here) gave the worst performance of the year in the horrific, sappy melodrama "My Sister's Keeper." But, she did redeem herself in "The Box," and thankfully she wasn't nominated for an Oscar for this part! (which I thought might actually happen, especially since Sandra Bullock got one for "The Blind Side.")

Here is the sure-to-controversial Worst Films of 2009 list. Alas, "Sherlock Holmes" just missed the cut!:

1. Avatar
2. District 9
3. The Final Destination
4. New Moon
5. My Sister's Keeper
6. The Fourth Kind
7. Paranomral Activity
8. The Pink Panther 2
9. The Unborn
10. Obsessed

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Civil War Reenactment in Chapel Hill on Wednesday Night

For everyone in the state of North Carolina, except Wake Forest and North Carolina State fans, tomorrow night will see yet another installment of the backward brawl between the University of North Carolina Tarheels and the Duke BlueDevils' men's basketball teams.

The game will be played in Chapel Hill, NC, at 9 pm (eastern time) and it will air nationally on ESPN. We expect vocal commentator Dick Vitale will be coming in with the camera crews from Bristol, Conn.

Duke, which features star players Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith, is having the significantly better year as they are ranked in the top ten in both college basketball polls.

But, UNC, which is now 2-6 in ACC conference play desperately wants a win especially after a disastorous loss to the Univeristy of Maryland on the road by a 92-71 margin on Super Bowl Sunday.

The Tarheels, which feature star players Ed Davis and Larry Drew II, hope to also recover from an off-the-court fiasco in which their team bus was stuck for several hours in their hotel room just outside College Park, Md., as they were trying to get to the gym to practice for their game with the home-team 'Terps.

As far as I can tell the weather crew at WRAL-TV in nearby Raleigh is not calling for any snow in the Triangle, so the game should tipoff on time. We presume it will be a good time for all, especially BlueDevil fans as many of us who watch college hoops expect Duke to win. My guess is that the final score will be in the vicinity of 84-69, but I'm not placing a wager on that as anything can happen in ACC play!

Tomorrow night, the Virginia Tech Hokies' men's baskebtall team will also try to top the home-team North Carolina State Wolfpack for the first time in Raleigh since 1917!

UPDATE: Both Duke and Virginia Tech won their respective games last night.

Things Not to Say on Twitter.....

My mother recently got back from a vacation trip to Dublin, Ireland, and she brought back a copy of the Irish newspaper "Irish Independent" with her which had this interesting, yet disturbing story from that side of the pond.

The controversial British food critic/journalist Giles Coren (pictured here), 40, who once wrote a column defending the use of profanity in the English journal "The Spectator" posted what was actually a joking entry on Twitter about how he was going to get even with a 12-year-old kid living next door to him who got a drum set for Christmas, and was bothering him with the noise.

The tweet, posted on Jan. 14, said regarding the kid and his drum set: "For f***s sake. Do I kill him then burn it?"

According to the Irish Independent, Coren followed that with a tweet which said: "Child for sale. Partially chared. Has his own drum kit."

After getting considerable flack for these posts in the UK, Coren said: "Can I just say that I didn't kill the kid or (we won't go there, here!). Anyway, he's not real. And, I live in Vienna."

Coren apparently added the whole thing was much fuss about nothing. But, if I can make an editorial comment here, I'm glad Coren doesn't have kids.

I'm not sure I would make Father of the Year either since I would probably let my four-year-old boy (I don't have kids, thankfully!) watch "The Godfather" so he could absorb Gordon Willis' brilliant cinematography.

Incidentally, "The Godfather" airs at 4 p.m. on AMC on Valentine's Day. It will probably be the censored version, so you and your kids can watch it together!:)

Silly Photo to Fill Space- Kissing Kids

Yes, of course, we are doing this for Valentine's Day. I am particularly looking foward to this year's Valentine's Day as I plan to have dinner with Uma Thurman at an Applebee's in Niagara Falls, Ontario (Canada). I just hope the paparazzi doesn't intrude on us:)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Quote of the Week- Clarence Thomas

Today's Quote of the Week actually complements our other Quote of the Week by filmmaker Spike Lee, whose politics is 'slightly' to the left of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who is considered to be the most conservative member of the Supremes. He has admitted that he has libertarian, anti-government leanings, so perhaps he's a subscriber to "Reason" magazine.

This quote from Thomas (yes, it is his quote!) almost made me fall out of my chair, and you might fall out of your's too:

"I've been partial to Malcolm X, particularly his self-help teachings."

Lee made a well-regarded biopic about Malcolm X called......."Malcolm X." I was the only white person in attendance when I saw the film in Roanoke, Va., at a now-closed movie theatre in 1992.

I have to wonder if Lee and Thomas have ever met in person. Perhaps, they've sat beside each other at a New York Knicks or Washington Wizards game. Perhaps, not!

The Washignton Capitals Win 14th Game in a Row!

Yesterday, the sports world was justifiably focused on the Super Bowl game in which the New Orleans Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts 31-17.

But, in the nation's capital, under some 30 inches of snow, just a short while after former Bill Clinton administration spokesperson Dee Dee Myers spoke in a roundtable discussion on "Meet the Press," the Washington Capitals won their 14th game in a row with a come-from-behind victory over the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins by a 5-4 margin in an overtime game at the Verizon Center in downtown DC.

The Capitals were helped by their star player Alex Ovechkin who scored a hat trick for the Caps. Ovechkin will be playing for Team Russia during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, which start on Friday.

Mike Knuble added the game-winning goal in overtime to complete the comeback.

The Caps now head on a three-game road trip starting with a game on Wednesday night against the Montreal Canadiens, which will be televised on the CSN-DC cable network in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia.

The team's next home game is against the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 4 (my 40th birthday). The last time that the Lightning were in town, it took them two hours to get to their team hotel in downtown DC from Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Va., (a trip that would normally take a half hour) due to the first winter blast that struck the nation's capital.

In a CSN poll, 69 percent of Caps' fans indicated that the team will sweep their three game road trip which concludes in St. Louis. But, that is kind of like asking Newt Gingrich what he thinks of President Barack Obama's performance in the White House so far. I think the most challenging game for the team will be the second road game against the Ottawa Senators.

SIDENOTE: My alma mater, Radford University, won its home game with High Point University at the Dedmon Center in Radford, Va., yesterday by a 77-63 margin. The game was originally scheduled for Sat., but it was postponed due to snow. The final score of the game was not reported by ESPN on its scroll last night, so I had to look it up at
We presume this was because the game was rescheduled. For the Highlanders, Blake Smith of Charlotte, NC, lead the team with 15 points, followed by star center Art Parakhowski's (of Belarus) 12 points. Joey Lynch-Flor from Fairfax, Va., scored 10 points as did my favorite Highlander Gorkem Sonmez from Turkey (my late father's country).
Two other Turkish NCAA men's basketball players Deniz Kilicli of West Virginia University, and Dogus Balbay from the University of Texas will play on ESPN tonight. The WVU Moutaineers face the Villanova Wildcats and Texas faces.......aaah, we forgot the other team....whoops! The double-header starts at 7:00 pm, eatern time.
But, I know the Radford Highlanders will next face Charleston Southern from Charleston, SC, in Radford on Thursday night. The game tips at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Happy Birthday to the Backstreet Buzz Coffee House!

I want to wish a happy second birthday to the Backstreet Buzz Coffeehouse in Reidsville, NC, which is going to go on with scheduled activities celebrating the occasion tonight in spite of earlier concerns of inclement weather which has greatly affected communities like Rocky Mount, Va., a mere hour and a half away.

I always enjoy driving down Route 29 from Greensboro to visit Dave and Linda and their establishment which has got considerable regional recognition in the Greensboro/High Point area.

The establishment has featured musical performances from the likes of Greensboro's acclaimed folk singer Bruce Piephoff, who performed at the Backstreet Buzz in April.

Their food specialties include the white bean soup and their California Wrap. Of course, they also have plenty of coffee and tea beverages which lead to go with this image of Too Much Coffee Man from Portland, Oregon-cartoonist Shannon Wheeler (actually a man).

Though they are not celebrating an anniversary this weekend, the Chapel Hill Comics store in Chapel Hill, NC, offers a great selection of off-beat comics and graphic novels like Too Much Coffee Man.

On Feb. 21, Chapel Hill Comics will host graphic novelist Ben Towle who will sign copies of his new book "Amelia Earhardt: This Broad Ocean" from 2-4 p.m. And, they will feature a signing from Ursula Vermon who will sign copies of her latest book "Dragonbreath Attack of the Ninja Turtles."

If one is driving through Reidsville or Chapel Hill, two communities which are about 75 miles apart, they may wish to look at their web sites to see what's going on:

Friday, February 5, 2010

Know Your Mayors- Greg Ballard of Indianapolis (Entry 17 of 21)

Since the Indianapolis Colts are facing the New Orleans Saints for the Super Bowl game in Miami, Fla, on Sunday, we thought we'd profiled Indianapolis, Ind., mayor Greg Ballard. Since I posted an entry last week professing that I am rooting for the Saints, it only seems objective that I profile Mayor Ballard.

Ballard is the second Republican (we know of) who we have profiled. A few entries ago in this series, we profiled Charlotte, NC, mayor Pat McCrory, who is also a Republican. He stepped down, and was replaced by Anthony Foxx (D).

The Indy mayor was born in 1954, and he was elected to office on Nov. 6, 2007, in a huge upset victory over previous mayor Bart Peterson (D) by a 51-47 percent margin. According to Wikipedia, Ballard's victory was considered one of the greatest political upset in the Hoosier State's modern history.

Ballard served with the Marines Corps in the Persian Gulf War before returning to Indianapolis to work for the Bayer Corporation. He went on to write the management book: "The Ballard Rules: Small Unit Leadership."

As mayor, Ballard favored a substantial tax increase in April of 2009 to help bail the city's interests out. The move was criticized by political opponents as corporate welfare for the Colts and the city's pro basketball team the Indiana Pacers.

In October of 2009, Ballard contributed to the political defeat of a civic initiative to ban smoking in the workplace.

Ballard, an avid golfer, is the city's 48th mayor. He is also an alumnus of Indiana University. Ballard also founded the Indianapolis Writer's Group.

Recently, he declared the Jan. 31-Feb. 6 to be 'Devour Downtown Indianapolis Week.'

I happen to follow many municipal mayors from both political parties on Twitter, including Ballard and previous entry subject Sam Adams of Portland, Ore. Ballard's Twitter page is

Indianapolis is America's 14th largest city.

We take it that Ballard is rooting for the Colts!

SIDENOTE: We made a mistake by identifying our previous entry on Salt Lake City, Utah's mayor as our 17th entry. This entry is in fact the 17th entry. In addition to McCrory, Yvonne Johnson (Greensboro, NC) and our very first entry Kevin Foy (Chapel Hill, NC) are no longer in office. There may also be other changes that we are not aware of.

Here are the other 16 cities we have profiled:

Chapel Hill, NC
Greensboro, NC
Durham, NC
Charlotte, NC
Roanoke, Va.
Richmond, Va.
Washington, DC.
Philadelphia, Pa.
Newark, NJ.
Boston, Mass.
Minneapolis, Minn.
Charleston, SC.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Portland, Ore.
North Pole, Alaska
Denver, Colo.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Women's College Gym Shakeup (Take Two)

Ouch! My whole first attempt at posting this entry went up in smoke and it was quite a long one too!

Let's get to the chase. Last week, Auburn University (pictured here) pulled off a major upset by beating five-time NCAA champion the University of Georgia.

Some of the major college gym meets for this weekend, most of which are scheduled for Friday, include Georgia's home meet with Kentucky, a team which is having a banner year.

I was hoping to see third-ranked Florida come to Raleigh, NC, for a meet with North Carolina State and George Washington University. But, a nasty winter storm is going to affect virtually every place in Virginia and North Carolina, except those lucky Wolfpack fans in Raleigh (but they do get rain!). The NC ST team features two outstanding gymnasts in sophomore Brooke Barr and freshman Jess Panza this year. Hopefully, we will get to see them some time soon (I hope!).

Top-ranked Alabama heads to snow-free Baton Rouge, La., to face 12th ranked LSU. UNC heads to Maryland, but College Park, Md., is in the storm zone! Out west, Denver goes to Provo, Utah, to face Brigham Young U, Utah visits the Arizona State and UCLA heads to the University of Arizona.

Lastly, the Illinois State RedBirds host Ball State. Emily Matko, from my hometown of Roanoke, Va., is a gymnast for the RedBirds and her mom is a friend of mine. I guess everyone knows who I'm pulling for in this one!

Here is a run-down of the Top Ten teams this week. NC St is ranked 22nd.

1. Alabama
2. Oklahoma
3. Florida
4. Utah
5. Oregon State
7. Arkansas
8. Stanford
9. Georgia
10. Nebraska

UPDATE_ A few minutes after posting this, we learned that George Washington University was not going to compete in Raleigh. For the info on that meet which was between Florida and North Carolina State tonight and other weekend gym meets, go to

I'll be there myself after I check out my Twitter page!

Radford U Alum Starring in TV's "Glee"

Jayma Mays, who graduate from my alma mater Radford University in Radford, Va., in 2000 is one of the stars of Fox TV's hit musical comedy series "Glee," which airs on Wednesdays.

"Glee" is one of my friend Moviezzz's favorite shows on tv, and he has written many features about the show on his blog:

Mays (this photo is apparently an older one of her) is originally from the coal-mining town of Grundy, Va (in far southwest Virginia, near the Kentucky border). She plays the role of Emma Pillsbury, a high school guidance counselor who is really into hand-washing.

Radford University is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and the school was supposed to have its annual Homecoming Festival this weekend, but the Blacksburg-Radford area is projected to get (yikes!) a foot of snow at last report.

RU's men's basketball team is also scheduled to host UNC-Wilmington for college basketball'a Bracket Busters, televised on the ESPN networks, on Feb. 20.

Of course, the way things are going, it may well snow then too!

Iranian Version of Salinger?!

I have to credit my good friend Bilge Ebiri for letting me know there is indeed an Iranian film version of J.D. Salinger's classic novel "Franny and Zooey".

The film "Pari," made in 1995, by director Dariush Mehrjui (we couldn't find an image of that film, so we are using the poster for "Gabbeh," which is one of my favorite Persian films) was adapted from the novel and it was screened internationally until it was set to be shown at an Iranian film festival at the Lincoln Center in New York in 1998.

It was then that the reclusive author's lawyers said showing the film was a copyright violation (one of the reasons the film was able to be made in Iran is because the country has no formal copyright laws).

Richard Pena, the programming director of the festival, told "The New York Times" in 1998 that Salinger's intervention caught him off-guard:

"It was assumed there was no prohibition on the film," Pena told reporter Jesse McKinley of the "NYT," "It's been around for a while."

Mehrjui said he was also stunned by what happened:

"This reaction is really quite bewildering." the director said. "I don't want to distribute the film commercially. It's a kind of cultural exchange. I just want to let the film be seen for critics and the people that follow my work."

Mehrjui is best known for his 1969 film "The Cow," which is considered to be a landmark film in Iran. His most recent film is "Santoori" (2007). Like "Pari," it is not available in the United States, but we presume that's for different reasons.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Silly Picture to Fill Space- Groundhog Day

Whatever Mr. Groundhog says today, yet another %$#&*@ winter storm is headed for North Carolina and Virginia. This would mark the third time we get slammed. The last storm for those of you living in sunny Fargo, ND, was last weekend.

Although I shouldn't complain because a few years ago, I was offered a job in Rockville, Md., a Washington, DC suburb, but it didn't pay well enough to live in the area. I've always whinned that I would have been happier there (I live in rural NC, and I'm a city boy who likes his Woody Allen movies!), but hey, well they get the same snow we get- in fact, even more of it!

So, for the second weekend in a row, my major plans might be thwarted.

I was hoping to either see the North Carolina State women's gymnastics team, which is off to a good start this season and ranked #22 in the country, host SEC power Florida (ranked #3) in Raleigh, or see the experimental band Toubab Krewe from Asheville, NC, perform at the Cat's Cradled in Carrboro, NC, or go to my alma mater Radford University's homecoming festival in Radford, Va. The school is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and we have a pretty good men's basketball team which is supposed to host High Point University on Saturday.

Instead, I may have to watch talking heads discuss political issues which will resolve themselves when I'm old enough to collect social security on PBS' "Washington Weekin Review" (but, I love host Gwen Ifill!) or the Sunday talk shows (I guess one can always see if George F. Will is wearing a bow-tie or a regular neck tie).

And, of course, there should be an unholy amount of college basketball games to watch on ESPN and the networks. But, by time the Super Bowl comes on, I might have fallen asleep from watching the infommercials between "Meet the Press" and the pre-game show.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Quote of the Week- Michael Jordan

We are posting a comment from UNC and Chicago Bulls great Michael Jordan because he hails from Wilmington, NC. He is both an African-American and perhaps the most familiar person, living or dead, to ever hail from the Tarheel State.

Today here in Greensboro, NC, the International Civil Rights Museum opened.

For full coverage, go to

Here is the quote from MJ:

"My body could stand the crutches but my mind couldn't stand the side line."

UPDATE: Yes, I'm working on the missing Michael Jordan image which I just noticed!

NOTE: We posted this entry very, very late last night. But, I did want to mention that the civil rights museum is a historic moment for those of us in Greensboro, NC, and I am sure it will bring many tourists to the Gate City.