Monday, May 31, 2010

Quote of the Week-Joe Strummer

We conclude our Quote of the Week series for May with yet another left-wing radical in Joe Strummer (1952-2002) who was the lead singer of The Clash and a character actor in such films as Jim Jarmusch's "Mystery Train" (1989).

The Clash's classic 1979 record "London Calling" was recently profiled on the NPR show "Sound Opinions."

Politically, Strummer was one of the leading radical figures of the punk rock movement and his songs always expressed social concerns, whether it concerned American involvement in Central America or the dark side of capitalism (ie. "Rock the Casbah" which deals with the oil business).

Before I quote Strummer, I should add that I am a bit more to the political center than he was, but we certainly aren't involved in the Tea Party movement either!

We have quoted Strummer before on both of our blogs (the other one is "The Daily Vampire") so I hope we haven't used this one before:

"Yeah, all those things, responsibility, pressure. It's a bit stressful. I try to come to terms with it by not thinking about it."

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day to everyone!

According to new textbooks being distributed to high school students in Plano, Tex., the nuclear bombs we dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, towards the end of World War Two did harm or injure any civilians.

In all seriousness, we wish all war veterans past and present a pleasant Memorial Day.

And, if you happen to be one of those folks who leans to the right and doesn't care for my political humor, don't worry---you can always rent out Chuck Norris films (as well all the Godzilla films ever made!) on Netflix! Ironically, I was thinking about adding "Delta Force" which I saw in the late '80s on cable because it is the last screen appearance of Lee Marvin who happened to serve in World War Two.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Shakespeare Over Soccer?!

Yesterday afternoon, I had an interesting situation as I got tickets for a production of William Shakespeare's play "All's Well That Ends Well" before knowing that Turkey, my late father's homeland, was going to be playing the American national men's soccer team in Philadelphia which was also broadcast on ESPN-2 at the same time!

But, since America won the game 2-1 and I essentially pulled a "Benedict Arnold" by rooting for Turkey (well at least I'm not playing for another country unlike Italian-American Guiseppe Rosa from New Jersey who not plays for Italy but he scored two goals for them in a game against The United States!), I guess I could say it was perhaps for the best.

So, I thought I would list my ten favorite Shakespeare plays. I am certainly no authority on The Bard, so if you are an English professor at my alma mater Radford University in Radford, Va., or anywhere else, please pick on your own kind!

1. "Othello" (pictured)

2. "Macbeth" (love the Polanski film version too!)

3. "Hamlet"

4. "12th Night"

5. "King Lear" (wasn't that a Kurosawa film too?!)

6. "The Merchant of Venice"

7. "Richard III"

8. "Romeo and Juliet" (what's this with unhappy endings?)

9. "Rosencrantz and Guilderstein Are Dead"...........oh wait, that's a Tom Stoppard play.....make that "Taming of the Shrew"

10. "All's Well That Ends Well" (what else?!)

For more info on the production schedule of the American Shakespeare Center, one can log on to or call 1-800-MUCH-ADO

Remembering Dennis Hopper (1936-2010)

Today, we want to remember Dennis Hopper who died yesterday in Venice, Calif., with some tidbits from some of his most famous films. We will not include his most famous work which was "Easy Rider" (1969), a film which he also directed. But, I did learn that Hopper and his co-stars Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson actually smoked real marijuana in the film.

Here are some trivial notes for some of his other films, including "Apocalypse Now!" (1979), which is pictured above:

"Apocalypse Now!:"

-Steve McQueen was the first to turn down the part of Captain Willard which initially went to Harvey Keitel who was in turn fired from the set and replaced by Martin Sheen.

"Rumble Fish:"

-Matt Dillon, who played the title role, told the original story's author S.E. Hinton that "Rumble Fish" was his favorite novel. She reportedly responded by telling him that those who like the book were usually in a reformatory!

-Tom Cruise was offered Dillon's role, but he turned it down for "Risky Business."

-Director Francis Ford Coppolla said the movie is among the top five favorites that he's directed himself.

"Straight to Hell:"

-This film featured several musicians including Joe Strummer, Elvis Costello, Grace Jones and Courtney Love as well as film director Jim Jarmusch in addition to Hopper.

-At the end of the credits, a title comes up which says: "COMING SOON: BACK TO HELL," yet this quirky 1987 spaghetti western rip-off never had a sequel.

"True Romance:"

-The film uses the f-word some 225 times.

-Hopper said the only lines he improvised with Christopher Walken were 'egg plant' and 'cantaloupe.'

-Quentin Tarantino, who partially wrote the screenplay, never came on director Tony Scott's set during the filming.

Lastly, we leave you with this tweet from Slash from the rock band Guns N Roses concerning Hopper:

"You take the great ones for granted until they're gone. RIP Dennis Hopper."

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Right-Wing Radicals Say the Darndest Things...

"You're Never to Old to Find God"*

*-Actual church sign I saw in Boones Mill, Va., on Route 220 near Roanoke in Franklin County.

We couldn't resist posting it with an image from the Boris Karloff classic "The Mummy" (1932).

Thursday, May 27, 2010

PSA- Don't Drink and Drive This Memorial Day Weekend

We hope everyone in 'our viewing area' (I guess that can even include Baku, Azerbaijan!) has a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend. But, we all need to remember that people have actually gotten hurt or killed by drunk drivers, especially during holiday periods.

One such place where folks can enjoy themselves should they live near Chapel Hill, NC, is the most fabolous Turkish restaurant Talulla's on Franklin Street (downtown). Their shish kebab dishes are 'harika' (Turkish word for excellent). One day when I'm back in Tarheel Town, I hope to try manti, a Turkish noodle dish that I haven't had in years!

Incidentally, to my knowledge, I am not sure if Tallula's does or does NOT actually have a belly dancer, but we loved this image and we couldn't think of anything else to go with our entry.

On a more somber note, the anti-drunk driving group MADD reported on its blog ( that West Virginia State Patrol officer Andy Pringle was hit by a drunk driver during a traffic stop on April 24. As of May 12, he was in the ICU at a hospital in West Virginia.

WTAP-TV in Parkersburg, WVa., gave more details of the incident which I first read about on the MADD blog. They said the incident occured early in the morning near Cisco, W.Va.

The TV station in northern West Virginia also gave the address of a fund being used to assist the Pringle family, which consists of his wife and their three children:

Andrew Pringle Fund
c/o Tonja Pringle
Huntington National Bank
Star Route 80, Box 3
Harrisville, W.Va 26362

But, serious stuff aside, hope everyone has a good holiday weekend. Perhaps, you can take your family to Claytor Lake near Pulaski, Va. I would join you, but the last time I went there, it rained!

If I Read It on Twitter, It Must Be True!

We must profess that we weren't really sure what to post here since I came across many unique things through tweets on Twitter this evening.

Among them, was this one from EatBoston: "Finally found more Rattlesnake meat- should have it back on this weekend! Hey new guy- ever cooked a Rattlesnake before?"


Also, according to a tweet from "The Toronto Sun," Team Argentina's doctor has said it was ok for the team's soccer players to have sex during the upcoming World Cup in South Africa while in competition. Somehow, I doubt an Iranian team doctor (I don't believe they qualified this time around) would make that same recommendation.

On a more serious note, a tweet from the civic activist group Muslim Matters said that a right-wing nut radio talk show host named Mike Berry in Texas called 'for a bombing' of a proposed mosque that would be located near Ground Zero in New York. I guess the Tea Partiers are becoming terrorists. Patty Hearst would be proud (aren't these guys just hippies in reverse- well, David Brooks thinks so and he's a Republican!)

Lastly, Showtimers Theatre in my hometown of Roanoke, Va., is getting ready to pull the proverbial curtain up for their production of the farcical play "Right Bed, Wrong Husband" about a woman caught between two men. The play was written by playwrights Ned and Caroline Shaffner. The local production will be directed by Karen Moore. The performance will feature Spencer Meredith, Kelly Anglin and Tim Kennard. The shows opens on June 2 with performances through June 13. Call 540-774-2660 for showtimes, tickets and more information. I must profess that this would not want to be a situation I'd want to find myself in---well, I'm thinking about the guys!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Things We Learned on Twitter This PM- Drugstore Cowboy Author Arrested

We read this disturbing tweet from "The Seattle Times" this afternoon:

"Author of the book Drugstore Cowboy is one of two men arrested Tues. during Redmond pharmacy robbery."

Indeed, James Fogle whose novel "Drugstore Cowboy" about his experiences robbing pharmacies to get drugs to feed his addiction which inspired the excellent 1989 independent film of the same name (pictured here; it starred Matt Dillon and Kelly Lynch) was arrested by police in Redmond, Wash., near Seattle for robbing a drugstore.

Fogle allegedly tied up employees of the pharmacy and he was charged with first degree robbery. The author had spent much of his life in prison on charges of robbing such places in the past.

On a ligther note, model/actress Brooke Burke, who has some 1.8 million followers on Twitter, tweeted that she was: "Walking to the park with kids....haven't had a day like this in a long time....."

Isn't that exciting?!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Silly Picture to Fill Space- Love Those Old Cars!

Well, we would write more kids, but frankly we're very expletive tired! (I actually got up at 6:45 a.m.)........I know this might be a disappointment to our faithful readers in places like Bergen (Norway), Yozgat (Turkey) and Tashkent (Uzbekistan), but there will be a new, exciting blog entry tomorrow, presuming nothing unusual occurs between now and then.

Oh, we hope you like this picture of this very old car!

Program Alert- "The Dirty Dozen "on TCM, Sunday at Noon

As we have previously professed on our blogs, we are huge admirers of the late character actor Lee Marvin, who won a Best Actor Oscar for "Cat Ballou" in 1965. He is one of many great novelty screen legends in the epic action film "The Dirty Dozen" (1967. d-Robert Aldrich). Some of the other actors in the flick are Charles Bronson, Ernest Borgnine, Telly Savalas, John Cassavetes, Donald Sutherland, Jim Brown and George Kennedy. Of those actors, Borgnine (well at last report), Kennedy, Brown and Sutherland were still alive. We weren't sure about Kennedy until I saw on the IMDB that he is alive at age 85 though he has not supposedly made a film in a long time. Alas, the others are not.

I recently saw Marvin and Cassavetes in the second version of "The Killers" (1964, d-Don Siegel) which is best known as Ronald Reagan's last film role (he played a mob boss who slaps Angie Dickinson across the face.) Marvin also co-starred with Bronson in several films, including the early eighties novelty film "Death Hunt," which is still not available on Netflix!

"The Dirty Dozen" airs Sunday at noon on TCM, and it is one of several war films that the network is showing for Memorial Day weekend.

According to the IMDB, John Wayne was originally offered Marvin's role (Maj. John Reisman), but he turned it down to star and direct in his pro-Vietnam War film "The Green Berets."

Marvin himself liked "The Big Red One" (1980) which was directed by his good friend Sam Fuller as he said it better reflected his own war experiences, which he saw as both difficult and disturbing. Marvin, who was (perhaps surprisingly given his tough guy image) a political liberal, also publicly expressed reservations about how "The Dirty Dozen" glorified war.

Like Marvin, Savalas, Bronson and Borgnine all served in World War II.

Jack Palance actually turned down the Savalas role because of all the violence in "The Dirty Dozen."

Sutherland was a late addition to the cast, and his role in the film lead to him being cast in Robert Altman's vintage film "MASH" (1970) which was certainly not a pro-war film!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Quote of the Week- Bertolt Brecht

Today, we continue our series our quotes from left-wing radicals with one of our favorite left-wing radicals the poet/playwright/screenwriter Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) who lived a very interesting life in many different countries.

I had the opportunity to see a Roanoke College (Salem, Va.) production of his play "The Good Person of Szechuan" (written in 1943) some five years ago.

The German writer also penned the works "The Threepenny Opera" (written in 1928) and "The Caucassian Chalk Circle" (written in 1948).

Brecht lived in America for eight years after fleeing Nazi Germany, by way of Scandanavia, but he relocated to Eat Germany in 1949 during the notorious HUAC period (brought on in part by then-actor Ronald Reagan) which would have probably lead to his being blacklisted.

Here is our short, but poignant quote from Brecht:

"Don't tell me peace has broken out."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Kudos to the Cincy Cyclones!

The Cincinnati Cyclones (wow! We spelled Cincinnati right....!) won the Riley Cup* for the East Coast Hockey League championship with a 2-1 win over the visiting Idaho Steelheads from Boise. Alas, the Steelheads had to take the long Greyhound bus ride back home (we say that in jest---hopefully, they flew to Ohio on a private plane---hopefully!). But, their goalie Richard Bachman gave a stellar performance in the net throughout the minor league hockey season.

Honestly, I haven't watched an ECHL game since the now defunct Roanoke Express were playing in my hometown of Roanoke, Va., which was at least ten years ago, but thanks to Twitter, we have been following the sport fairly regularly.

We feature an image of the late Paul Newman's comedy "Slap Shot" (1977) not only because it was about minor league hockey, but also because the film is actually showing on the big screen at the recently reopened Varsity Theatre in Chapel Hll, NC!

According to the IMDB, Al Pacino expressed an early interest in playing Newman's role, and the Hanson Brothers who became cult figures after the film's release actually played minor league hockey for the now defunct Johnstown Jets. But, Johnstown, Pa. has a current team in the ECHL known as the Johnstown Chiefs (I hope we're right about that!) which was coincidentally the nickname of the fictitious team in the film.

Newman also said "Slap Shot" was among his favorite films, and he had a delightful time on the set.

*-Correction: It's the Kelly Cup!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Best Films of 2000- Kudos to Wong Kar Wai

This is the final entry in my series which looks at the Best Films from the starting year of each decade. We conclude with my choice for the Best Films of 2000. The Best Films of 1990 are listed on our sister blog "The Daily Vampire."

At the time, I considered Cameron Crowe's autobiographical film "Almost Famous" to be the best film of the year, but I have since seen Wong Kar Wai's (pictured here) masterpiece "In the Mood for Love," a film made in Hong Kong and I think it surpasses Crowe's film as it is a genuinely remarkable artistic achievement.

But, "Almost Famous" is still my choice for the best American film of 2000 which also saw solid films from directors like Steven Soderbergh, Christoper Nolan and Stephen Frears:

1. "In the Name of Love" (Hong Kong. Wong Kar Wai)

2. "Almost Famous" (Cameron Crowe)

3. "Traffic" (Steven Soderbergh)

4. "Best in Show" (Christopher Guest)

5. "Amores Perros" (Mexico. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)

6. "O Brother, Where Art Thou!" (Coen Bros.)

7. "High Fidelity" (Stephen Frears)

8. "Memento" (Christopher Nolan)

9. "Italian for Beginners" (Denmark. Lone Scherfig)

10. "Wonder Boys" (Curtis Hanson)

Other films of merit include "Nurse Betty," "Requiem for a Dream," and "Sexy Beast."

NOTE: We originally had an image of the film "In the Name for Love," but there appear to be tech glitches with that!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Radical Right-Wingers Say the Darndest Things

These comments, which clearly illustrate the banal nature of brain-dead Tea Partiers, were made in regard to Attorney General Eric Holder on a Youtube message board. My guess is this person might hail from a place like Pulaski, Tenn. (where the KKK is headquartered).

The irony is that they were posted on a page for the liberal talk show "The Young Turks," which my fellow Turkish-American progressive Cenk Uygur, who is actually just 17 days younger than me, hosts:

"Eric Holder wanting to defend the 9/11 radical muslim terrorists in civilian court near ground zero=hate crime against America."

At least, they knew that America needed to be capitalized!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

PSA- Read Your Local Newspaper!

Since I am a former journalist myself, I thought I would dedicate today's PSA to inform folks that many local newspapers around the country have lost readership, and they need your support (although I guess there a handful which don't actually deserve it!).

Even though I worked for their rival newspaper "The Salem Times-Register" in Salem, Va., (from 1997-98) I am going to focus on today's "Roanoke Times," the local daily newspaper which serves Roanoke, Va., and nearby communities like Blacksburg, Boones Mill and Buchanan as well as a good portion of southwest and southside Virginia.

Here are some of today's headlines, the asterisk denotes local stories:

"5 teens arrested in sexting incidents*" (This happened at Franklin County High School in Rocky Mount, Va.)

"Wal-Mart pulls Miley Cyrus jewelry."

"Taliban attacks carry symbolic weight."

"Man sentenced to 9 months in cross burning." (This happened near Bedford, Va."

"Roanoke's lacrosse season ends in overtime"* (This pertains to Roanoke College's loss to Stevenson in Owing Mills, Md., in the NCAA Div. 3 tournament)

There were also some right-wing letters to the editors, which included: "Day of Prayer is not a political endorsement," "The Bible has a clear message" and "America will become the next Greece." But, I do agree with a reader from Christiansburg, Va., who said: "Let's put Elena Kagan on the Supreme Court."

I would write more, but I need to check on my Twitter account.

Editorial Commentary........Good Republicans/Bad Republicans

Since we think she's a bit more attractive than Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (of course, a Republican!), we thought we'd go with this patriotic image of Raquel Welch from her 1970 film "Myra Breckinridge" which Leonard Maltin claims to be 'god-awful.'

Cuccinelli is a fringe, right-winger who somehow got elected and now in addition to threatening to sue the federal government over recent health care proposals, he actually moved to cover up a breast on Virginia's state flag!

Cucinelli, who represents my home state of Virginia and is a favorite of the Roanoke Tea Party (or as we call them the Yosemite Sam crowd), draped the breast of the goddess Virtus. Of course, along with Gov. Bob McDonnell, who is also to the right of Chuck Norris, Cucinelli was in favor of Virginia's now infamous 'April is Confederacy Heritage Month" proclamation. And, we thought former Virginia governor George Allen had flown the proverbial cuckoo's nest!

But, there are some Republicans who express views I actually agree with. On his Twitter page, Cong. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) who represents the Provo, Utah, area said: "Let's start recognizing true heroes--military, teachers, scientists, students who triumph in something other than sports."

Of course, if Cong. Chaffetz were to recognize the University of Utah gymnast Daria Bijak, who I have a bit of a crush on, I would not protest. But, the fact that she is a native of Germany may pose a bit of a problem.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Things We Learned on Twitter This PM-College Volleyball Team Looking for Facebook Fans.

According to a tweet from the University of Michigan's women's volleyball team, the lady Wolverines are looking for Facebook fans.

The team, which is in their off-season, put up a Facebook site over the weekend and they got 100 fans in less than a week. Michigan finished second in the Big Ten to Penn State, which is currently dominating the sport.

In other collegiate sports news, The University of North Carolina Tarheels are hosting Virginia Tech in baseball in Chapel Hill this afternoon, even though both schools are in recess.

Author John Grisham ("The Pelican Brief") gave the commencement at UNC, while Virginia's new very conservative governor Bob McDonnell did the honors at Virginia Tech.

Just down the road, right-wing nut Glenn Beck spoke at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. Yes, I wouldn't want to go to school there either!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Silly Photo to Fill Space- School Lunch Menu

For school children living in Orange County, NC, which includes Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough, here are the school lunch items that will be served on Thursday (5/20).

When I was a kid at East Salem Elementary School in Salem, Va. (near Roanoke) our school lunches were a mere 65 cents. Of course, I was a third-grader in 1979. My Turkish father was very adamant that I not eat corn dogs because they (of course) had pork.

Hmmm........maybe I will have to have a ham and cheese omelet at the Omelette Shop in Princeton, WVa (not actually where I am at the moment--but there is such a place there and it's open 24/7), but there really is no fun in agitating someone who alas has been dead for some 25 years! But, agitating people who are alive and well is a different matter.....though I could NEVER eat turtle soup! Well, could you?!

Here is what is on the menu, (this material was originally listed in "The Carrboro Citizen," but I assume they can't sue me since this is in the public record):

Mozzarella Cheese Sticks w/Marinara Dipping Sauce (pictured) or Baked Potato w/Chilli and Cheese; w/Wheat Roll, "Fun on the Run" (what in the world is that?!); Traditional Mixed Vegetables; Chilled Fruit Cocktail or Chocolate Pudding.

Next week, we will list the school lunch menu items for students attending grade school in Karachi, Pakistan (that is a joke!).

Monday, May 17, 2010

Quote of the Week- Mao Tse Tung

Since we made the decision in jest to quote radical left-wing folks this month on our blog (perhaps, not the wisest decision considering I live in a town just slightly to the left of Provo, Utah), we are continuing on with a quip from the brutal Chinese dictator Mao Tse Tung (1893-1976), who apparently never got to see Scooby Doo at Carowinds (an amusement part in Charlotte, NC):

"There is a serious tendency toward capitalism among the well-to-do peasants."

Twitter Updates- Lucky the Wonder Dog Retires

We came across a few tidbits on Twitter today that I thought we'd share.

For starters, WRAL, a tv station in Raleigh, NC, is reporting that Lucky the Wonder Dog (pictured here) is retiring. The current/former Durham Bulls mascot, last year's minor championship baseball team, is nine years old. Perhaps, he will take in some shuffle-boarding in Sarasota, Fla.

'Course, fellow movie people know da Bulls were the focus of the hilarious 1988 film "Bull Durham" with Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon--(the mere mention of her name will probably lure a fervent, right-wing death penalty advocate to our blog, but oh well!).

We also want to congratulate the University of Minnesota gymnast Alexis Russell on her graduation as was announced through a tweet from the school's women's gymnastics team. Since college women's gymnasts, with a few exceptions, don't generally make a living at their sport, we imagine Alexis will go on to other ventures. Somehow, I don't think she will blog for a living (no, this is not my day job though some wonder about that--in fact, I've never made any money doing this!).

We also learned that the Trenton Devils (minor league hockey team in Trenton, NJ) is offering a "Buy one replica jersey, get one free deal." Alas, the team's season is over, but it looks like the Cincinnati Cyclones, who are up two games to none over the Idaho Steelheads, will hoist the Riley Cup soon.

And, Cincy residents who have no interest in minor league hockey can take their kids to the Cincinnati Zoo as they are offering discount tickets (two dollars off for adults, one dollar for kids) to visitors. So, perhaps your six-year-old boy can get his first whiff of elephant 'bok.' (I suppose it's ok to use the Turkish word for........well, never mind!).

Sunday, May 16, 2010

My Ten Favorite Films of Henry Fonda

Henry Fonda (1905-1982) would have turned 105 on Sunday. One might assume he was the most famous actor to ever hail from Omaha, Nebraska, but so did (surprisingly!) Marlon Brando.

Brando never co-starred with the elder Fonda in any films, but he was in "Apocalypse Now" with Dennis Hopper, who is the subject of a similar entry on our sister blog "The Daily Vampire."

We are also hoping to have a similar entry for Jane Fonda soon.

Here are our ten favorite (not in order of how good they are cinematically) films featuring Henry Fonda:

1. "Once Upon a Time in the West" (Pictured.Italy. 1968, Dir-Sergio Leone)
2. "The Ox-Bow Incident" (1943. Dir-William Wellman)
3. "The Grapes of Wrath" (1940. Dir-John Ford)
4. "The Wrong Man" (1956. Dir-Alfred Hitchcock)
5. "My Darling Clementine" (1946. Dir-John Ford)
6. "Young Mr. Lincoln" (1939. Dir- John Ford)
7. "Drums Along the Mohawk" (1939. Dir- John Ford)
8. "12 Angry Men" (1957. Dir-Sidney Lumet)
9. "The Tin Star" (1957. Dir- Anthony Mann)
10. "Madigan" (1967. Dir- Don Siegel)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Tweet of the Moment-False Bomb Scare

Love this tweet from "LA Weekly:"

"Whoops. Bomb squad Rushes to College Campus. Finds Red Bull Cans."

The incident happened at UC-Davis. I wonder if it disrupted exams?

Ahmet Zappa, son of the late cult rock figure Frank Zappa, tweeted that he got married today as did a cousin of mine in South Carolina. For the record, my cousin Stella did not marry Ahmet Zappa.

And, we read in the Charlotte, NC, alternative weekly "Creative Weekly," in an article by Tricia Childress that Rasim Ozbay has opened up a Turkish cafe called 'Carolina Kebap' in downtown Charlotte. As a Turkish-American, I wish him well.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My 10 Favorite Films of 1980

Many people know 1980 as the year that Ronald Reagan and the Ayatollah Khomeini both came to power- forgive the political humor (well, actually the former was inagurated in 1981 and the later overthrew the Shah in 1979).

But, it was also a year when many outstanding films came out. We are categorizing films according to their dates listed on the IMDB. "Atlantic City" actually came out in America in 1981 and "The Gods Must Be Crazy" didn't hit movie theatres in New York in 1984 (I think it actually came to my hometown of Roanoke, Va., in 1985!).

My favorite film of 1980 is Martin Scorsese's "Raging Bull." Some film connosieurs prefer his earlier film "Taxi Driver," but I think this is the stronger film overall. Both films starred Robert DeNiro.

As a Sam Fuller fan, I also love "The Big Red One" which also features one of Lee Marvin's best screen performances (he was actually Reagan's co-star in "The Killers" which came out in 1964). "Atlantic City" is also an extraordinary film, and I think it is Louis Malle's most complete film (apologies to "My Dinner with Andre" fans).

"Kagemusha" which was an Akira Kurosawa epic is my favorite foreign-language film from 1980 though for some reason it is not usually mentioned as one of the Japanese master's best films. While I would certainly that films like "Rashomon" and "Ikiru" are better, this is still a great film.

Here is the list:

1. "Raging Bull" (pictured. d-Martin Scorsese)
2. "The Big Red One" (d-Sam Fuller)
3. "Atlantic City" (Canada/France. d-Louis Malle)
4. "Kagemusha" (Japan. d-Akira Kurosawa)
5. "The Elephant Man" (d-David Lynch)
6. "Tess" (d-Roman Polanski)
7. "The Shinning" (d-Stanley Kubrick)
8. "The Gods Must be Crazy" (South Africa. d-Jamie Uys)
9. "The Long Riders" (d-Walter Hill)
10. "Gloria" (d-John Cassavettes)

NOTE: Yeah, I would agree "Gloria" has its flaws, but Gena Rowlands is just amazing in it!

Honorable Mention: "Ordinary People," "Airplane!," "Breaker Morant," "The Long Good Friday," "Dressed to Kill," "Hopscotch," "Flash Gordon" and "Mad Max."

PSA- Return Your Library Books!

Today's Public Service Announcement is a relatively straight forward one: Be sure to return your darn library books!

I actually saw a copy of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s anti-war classic novel "Slaughterhouse Five" at the Shenandoah County Prison Library in Woodstock, Va., a few years ago. I should add I was NOT an inmate there, but merely visiting the institution as a newspaper reporter.

To this day, I wonder how often that book is 'checked out' there.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Things We Learned on Twitter This PM- Governor Meets Old Flame

According to tweets from both "The Charlotte Observer" and "The Huffington Post," Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) met up with Argentinian girlfriend---yes, the one who caused the scandal, in Florida yesterday.

We wonder if they rode the tilt-a-whirl at Disney World (hence, the Mickey Mouse image) but with tweets, it's hard to get too much detail.

In other tweets, I saw that the Rev. Ted Haggard, who was caught with a gay prostitute in Denver, is opening up a new church in Colorado Springs, Colo.?!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Silly Picture to Fill Space- Japanese Steak Knives

In case anyone was wondering what the three main types of Japanese steak knives are, they include: the deba bocho, the santo ku hocho and the nakin bocho.

Alas, we never cook!

Status Update_ Facebook Thinks I'm a Socialist and a Muslim!

Yesterday, I noticed that Facebook sent me an ad to join The National Socialist Party, which really surprised me since anyone close to a socialist that I know accuses me of being a 'closet conservative.' But, not to disappoint anyone, I am hardly Noam Chomsky or Rush Limbaugh as I am a Democrat.

Then, a few minutes later, Facebook sent me a similar ad to join a Muslim singles group. They even had a woman with a head-scarf! I guess they made the assumption since I am half-Turkish, but I really don't think God exists so how can I be a Muslim or a Christian?

So, this got me thinking are there any Muslim socialists out there? I was thinking that it's possible that since he was a former hippie folk singer who sang "Peace Train" that Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens (pictured here) could have been a socialist (or close to it) in the early '70s. He is certainly a Muslim now, but I seriously doubt he is or ever was both at the same time.

But, I had heard that there was an actual Islamic socialist movement in the 1950s and 1960s and it turns out I was right!

In both Pakistan and (ironically) Iran, there was a thriving left-wing intellectual socialist movement which featured the likes of Iranian social philosopher Jalal Al-e-Ahmad (1923-1969) and Parkistani poet Habib Jalib (1928-1993).

So, the term is not the oxy moron that it appears to be!

Of course, a tea bagger friend of mine from Virginia said in effect that Barack Obama was a Muslim socialist. Maybe, he thinks of himself as a 'compassionate conservative'- now there's an oxy moron!

As for the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens, he is apparently getting set to tour New Zealand, but I don't how many of our visitors are anywhere close to Auckland?!

There were also two interesting stories about Facebook yesterday on NPR's "All Things Considered," but I always forget about things I hear on the radio.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I Made My Standup Comedy Debut

The place was The Idiot Box, a comedy club in downtown Greensboro, NC. It was this past Friday night, and it was Amatuer Night. I was reluctant. I was hesitant. But, hey I had performed karaoke to Talking Heads songs, so why should stand-up comedy be any different?

Of course, five minutes on stage felt like the length of "Ben Hur," but I did manage to pull though it. I made jokes about Warren Beatty's love-life, being a Turkish-American in small-town North Carolina, my agnosticism--which always causes me problems and religious fundamentalism.

I made the Woody Allenesque observation that if heaven and hell existed as the world's fundamentalists think they do, then I could see myself in a line where a serial killer who had just raped and murdered 40 women would get into heaven because he accepted Jesus Christ right before his lethal injection. But, I would get sent to hell for once going to a strip club in Bluefield, WVa., when I was 23 years old.

And, the kicker was that the receptionist at the Pearly Gate would tell me: "Hey life isn't fair, so why should the after-life be any different?"

I was not exactly Lenny Bruce (pictured- yikes, I just found out he died when he was my age---40!, in 1966), but I was bit funnier than a "Gomer Pyle" rerun (I hope!).

SIDEBAR: I just found out that not only is the long-forgotten 1980 comedy film "Soggy Bottom USA" with Don Johnson and P.J. Soles, which has been hard to find for years, is not only available on DVD, you can download it for free on Netflix! I've wanted to see the film ever since I missed it at the Buchanan Theatre in Buchanan, Va., (which reopened in 2003 after being closed for close to 20 years) but I have heard it's a bit of an awful film.

The Rialto Theatre in Raleigh, NC, is also showing another film from that era as they will present Walter Hill's film "Southern Comfort" (1981) in 35-mm at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday. Tickets are five dollars.

Quote of the Week- Jean Luc Godard

During the month of May, we are quoting left-wing radicals. And, one of our favorite people to quote has always been Jean Luc Godard whom Japanese film director Nagisha Oshima, who has been called 'The Japanese Godard,' said 'he should be called the French Oshima.'

An excellent article about the 50th anniversary of Godard's landmark film "Breathless" is in the current issue of "Film Comment." They did not mention the '80s remake with Richard Gere, but we think we know why (it's a bit of a clunker).

Here is our quote from the 79-year-old legendary French film director who has made no secret of his left-wing views:

"One of the most striking signs of decay of art is when we see its separate forms jumbled together."

Though I am more to the political center than Godard, I was struck by how his 1972 film "Tout Va Bien!" with Jane Fonda which I recently saw for the first time predicted how mass commercial conglomerates like Wal-Mart would take over the world!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tweet of the Moment_ For Our Friends in Georgia

This tweet was posted last night by 'Zippy the Pinhead' (or perhaps his creator, cartoonist Bill Griffith):

"I'm gliding over a NUCLEAR WASTEDUMP near Atlanta, Georgia!"

I also saw on Twitter last night that the Denver Food Guy had posted a recipe for Greek octopus dishes, which reminds me that given the current economic crisis this may (or may not) be a good time to go to Samos---that is a Greek island 35 miles off the coast of Kushadasi, Turkey.

And, we saw that some fringe right-wing lunatic in Marshall, Tex., posted a billboard asking if those of us who voted for President Barack Obama were 'embarrased yet?'

I was amused by this for several reasons: 1) Obama is a good president--certainly 10 times better than George W. Bush 2) Sarah Palin has become even more of a diva nightmare since the presidential campaign, and let's face it if John McCain had won the election she would be the one actually running the country?! and 3) Texas was not even a swing state, so essentially any votes cast for Obama in the Lonestar State really didn't matter much.

Interestingly enough, The Republican Party has decided to follow me?! on Twitter.

Happy Joan Crawford Day (In Advance)

Cult film director John Waters ("Pink Flamingos") who directed the film "Serial Mom" about a mother (played by Kathleen Turner) who turns out to be a serial killer in suburban Maryland is a huge fan of "Mommie Dearest," the 1980 film based on the memoir of Christine Crawford about the alleged abuses of her famous movie star mom Joan Crawford (1906-1977).

The movie is perhaps best known for the line: "No more wire hangers ever!"

Faye Dunaway played Crawford in the film, and she has openly ciriticized it. The IMDB says that Dunaway despises the film (image shown here) so much that she actually lists it as a topic that is taboo for reporters to bring up during interviews!

Dunaway is also known for her outstanding performances in films like "Bonnie and Clyde," "Chinatown" and "Network."

Just found out this week, that Dunaway's "Bonnie and Clyde" co-star Warren Beatty was romantically involved with Crawford. I had to pause for a moment and ask "Do they mean Joan Collins?," since the former "Dynasty" star is much closer in age to Crawford who was 29 years older than Beatty.

We traditionally quote Crawford on both of our blogs for Mother's Day Weekend, but this year, we though we'd use a quip from Dunaway:

"Years are not important my dear."

We couldn't agree more!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Happy Star Wars Day! (with Kudos to Tom Angleberger)

Since I found out through Twitter that today is Star Wars Day, which I'm sure my friend Chris Knight of Reidsville, NC, is recognizing (he once dressed like a Jedi knight to a local school board meeting to protest a proposed dress code ordinance), I thought I would plug my friend Tom Angleberger's new book (Tom and Chris are actually my only two friends-nudge, nudge, wink, wink) "The Strange Case of Origami Yoda."

Angleberger, who previously wrote another children's book under the pen name Sam Riddleberger, is also a coulmnist for "The Roanoke Times" in Roanoke, Va. He was interviewed by that paper's reporter Ralph Berrier Jr. about how he got permission from George Lucas to use Yoda in his book. Angleberger replied that he actually dealt with the Star Wars licensing department instead. And, a woman who works for Lucas took the book home to her ten-year-old boy. He loved it, and thus the force was with Tom (we couldn't resist).

Ironically, Angleberger once interviewed me about a midnight screening of the famous/infamous film "Turkish Star Wars" (1982) with legendary cult action star Cuneyt Arkin, who is now 72 years old (a year younger than Warren Beatty!) that I was hosting at the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va., in May of 2005 on the eve of my graduation from grad school.

Out of curiosity, I just looked the film's Wikipedia page, and I found that in addition to "Flash Gordon" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark," the science-fiction film had 'borrowed' music from the likes of "Moonraker," "Ben Hur" and "Planet of the Apes" (that's two Charlton Heston movies!).

Those who live in DC metro area can meet Angleberger at Hooray for Books in Alexandria, Va., on May 14.

The book has been published internationally though we aren't sure if one can buy it in Oslo or Istanbul, but it should be available at the Boulder Bookstore in Boulder, Colo., which happens to be our favorite indy bookstore on planet Earth!

PSA- Just Say No

A few weeks ago, by chance, I came across a mid-80s PSA which featured Pee Wee Herman urging folks to "Say No to Crack." It features Pee Wee in an unusually dark and somber mood, and both the visuals and tone (very dark music) of the ad are extremely effective. Clint Eastwood made a similar PSA for the same anti-drug organization.

Strangely enough, a few days after that, I saw that Pee Wee (according to his tweet) was actually watching himself in "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" (1985).

And, yes folks, this does mean that in spite of the fact that we have many cultural and political differences in this country, Nancy Reagan and I do actually agree on something. Of course, if you were born after 1989, you probably don't get the joke:)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Things We Learned on Twitter This P.M.-Lumberjack for Congress?!

Many political media outlets reported on Twitter today that hill veteran Cong. Dave Obey (D-Wisc.) is vacating a seat he has held since 1969.

Enter Sean Duffy, 38, a Republican congressman-wannabe who initially became famous for being on "Real World Boston" which aired on MTV in 1997. But, Duffy's biggest claim-to-fame might be that he is a three-time-world champion lumberjack! (I must credit for reporting this tidbit).

Duffy is also the district attorney for Ashland County, Wisc.

This could be an interesting race?! After all, the Republicans have a former "Cosmo" coverboy in the Congress with Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.). Would this be any more ridicilous?

SIDEBAR: "The Vancouver Sun" is (yikes!) reporting that those of who suffer from a lack of sleep may in fact be headed to an early grave. Does this just affect Canadians? (Of course, we are kidding).

My Ten Favorite Films from 1960

This piece was inspired by an excellent article in "Film Comment" about the great French film "Breathless," which is one of the fabled films of 1960. It is Number Two on my list behind a familiar picture which features a 'shower scene.'

Here is my list:

1. "Psycho" (d-Alfred Hitchcock)
2. "Breathless" (France. d-Jean Luc-Godard)
3. "L'avventura" (Italy. d-Michangelo Antonioni)
4. "Peeping Tom" (d-Michael Powell)
5. "Eyes Without a Face" (France. d-Georges Franju)
6. "Shoot the Piano Player" (France. d-Francois Truffaut)
7. "The Apartment" (d-Billy Wilder)
8."Late Autumn" (Japan. d-Yasujiro Ozu)
9. "Spartacus" (d-Stanley Kubrick)
10. "La Dolce Vita" (Italy. d-Frederico Fellini)

The Italian cult film "Black Sunday" (d-Mario Bava) doesn't quite make the cut!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Silly Picture to Fill Space- An Alarm Clock

If there is one thing all of us hate more than politicians who get away with infidelity that Warren Beatty would raise an eyebrow at (and, this is coming from someone who almost volunteered for John Edwards. But I should remind our Republican/Tea Party friends that Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho is still 'not gay.') it would have to be the ever-annoying morning alarm clock.

Supposedly, there is an Atomic Clock in Boulder, Colo., which keeps track of the exact time of day down to the nano-second, but we don't have time to actually verify this!

But, a friend of mine from Provo, Utah, told me they have great microbrews in Boulder (can never not make enough fun of people from Utah--nudge, nudge, wink, wink!)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tweet of the Day- What Does Keith Olbermann Wear?

We started following "The Kansan" thinking it was the student newspaper of the same name for Kansas University in Lawrence, Kan. Now, I think it may just happen to be a left-of-center young lady who resides in Kansas, which must make her feel like a Pakistani student at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. (we love to take digs at Jerry Falwell even though he's no longer with us!).

The Kansan posted this interesting tweet last week in regards to MSNBC talk show host Keith Olbermann who apparently isn't romantically linked to Anne Coulter:

"I wonder if Keith Olbermann wears suit pants during his show, or pjs on the bottom with a suit jacket on top?-LOL! I'd wear pjs on the bottom."

It's your show Keith. We'd never tell you what to do........?

Quote of the Week- Jane Fonda

Since this past Saturday was May Day, the annual recognized by socialists around the world to recognize worker's rights, we thought we'd post some quotes from either current or former left-wing radicals.

We aren't sure that Jane Fonda is quite as militant as she was in 1968, but thank God she has not turned into a Republican like her "Coming Home" co-star Jon Voight (actually, he has moved farther to the right since we started posting this entry).

As it turns out, by random coincidence, we have learned that Jane Fonda has told the world on her blog that she is moving from Atlanta to Los Angeles as of today.

We think this particular quote will work well for patrons of The Thirsty Parrot in Colorado Springs, Colo. (yes, there is really such a place, but we've never been to Colorado Springs, yet along The Thirsty Parrot):

"If you're ever in situation where you're not getting served or you can't get what you need, just cry."

Incidentally, Fonda's first-Oscar winning performance in the film "Klute" (1971) can be streamed for free with a Netflix membership. She won her second Oscar for "Coming Home" in 1978. We think this is an image of her from "Barbarella." She was not nominated for that particular role (it is perhaps her kitschiest film, though it's been a long since we've seen "Cat Ballou.")