Friday, December 31, 2010

DC Diary_ How I (Almost) Went to GWAR

Wednesday night, I almost went to see the speed metal band GWAR at the famed 9:30 Club on V Street in Washington, DC. It was something I considered as compensation for the fact that I would not be able to see the Russian-emigre punk band Gogol Bordello, a band I am actually familiar with and adore.

As for GWAR, I still don't know that much about them. On the Internet, they have been described as 'a Power Rangers cover band' and ' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on LSD' because of their over-the-top costumes which look like they came from the set of a "Hellraiser" sequel.

Their music is also quite distinctive as one can gahter by simply glancing at their song titles: "Bring Back the Bomb" (1994), "Sick of You" (2009) and "Meat Sandwich" (1998). Though they apparently have a conventional side, since they have covered Alice Cooper's vintage anthem "School's Out" (which I found on vinyl today!).

According to Wikipedia, GWAR has made songs which focus on both socially and politically taboo themes, and since they have made fun of both Al Gore and Sarah Palin, they seem to have no particular political agenda.

Amazingly enough, the band formed in the conservative city of Richmond, Va., which is about four hours east of my hometown of Roanoke, Va., in 1984. They are still going strong after 25 years of existence and their new release "Bloody Pit of Horror" is being sold on their web site for $9.99.

One person who was at the show last night at the 9:30 Club said: "'Expletive' bloody good show in DC last night....," which has to make the band feel good since a concert they were supposed to give over the weekend in Vermont was canceled due to heavy snow.

As for Gogol Bordello, they perform at Terminal 5 in New York. Like their DC shows, I would expect the show for the increasingly popular group is already a sell-out.

But, one can go half-way around the world and see them perform at The Barby Club in Tel Aviv, Israel, for two shows on Feb. 28 and March 1. Of course, an El Al Airlines official might think you are insane for flying to Tel Aviv just to see Gogol Bordello.

As for me, I opted not to go to GWAR, but instead, I saw the new Jim Carrey movie "I Love you Philip Morris," which has nothing to do with tobacco executives in Winston-Salem, NC, (the film is ironically now playing at the Apeture Cinema in Camel City as well), which was an ok flick. I was curious to see the film, which is also reportedly playing in Istanbul, Turkey, at the moment because it has been released in much of the world except here in America even though it's an American film. Surprisingly enough, according to NPR, it was a big hit in Estonia.

On the way back from the E-Street Cinema, I somehow managed to get lost on the way back to the place where we were staying. The reason for this was because I had written down the address for the 9:30 Club in my pocket along with the place where we were staying. I was talking obliviously to V Street when I realized something was wrong.

Thankfully, an Indian or Pakistani taxi driver found me and bailed me out. Amazingly enough, I had walked right by 'the correct address' without even realizing it. A Christmas tree-of all things- had thrown me off.

SIDEBAR: Like many of you, I am staying at home tonight on New Year's Eve, mainly due to fatigue though these blog entries I've been posting have caused me to neglect The Marx Brothers marathon on TCM tonight (I think I'll pick it up with "Duck Soup" at 12:30 a.m.). But, some folks are having fun tonight even in zip codes where one might not expect much to be going on.

Such was the case in the industrial city of Wheeling, W.Va., tonight where the hometown minor-league hockey team the Wheeling Nailers defeated the visiting Gwinnet Gladiators from the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnet, Ga., by a 4-1 margin. Of course, residents of that town who are Gogol Bordello fans will probably have to wait for the band to play in Pittsburgh, and then they will have to drive two hours to see them!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

DC Diary_ Welcome to Kandahar Province

We are continuing our look at a hectic Day Two of our family DC trip (see "The Daily Vampire" for additional misadventures) with a look at some of the more unusual things that occured on Tuesday.

After visiting a staggering three Smithsonian in one day, we stopped by the Freer Gallery where we saw an art exhibit from avant garde Dutch artist Fiona Tan, which included a video came up of black and white Japanese schoolgirls from the 1960s, as well as a glance into the life of a Turkish immigrant shopkeeper in Amsterdam.

While visiting the gift shop of the gallery, which included many expected things like a cd from Indian sitar master Ravi Shankar, I noticed much to my immediate shock that there was a Lonely Planet Guidebook to.......Afghanistan?!

Of course, like everyone from Dubai to Anchorage, I was wondering what kind of insane lunatic would risk their lives for a frivilous travel adventure, and this coming from someone who went to Baku, Azerbaijan, in 2008!

After doing some web research, I did indeed confirm what everyone knew: there is a State Department advisory against travel to Afghanistan, hmmm....perhaps a war, the resurgence of the Taliban and armed warlords has something to do with that. Additionally, Wikitravel states that one should: Be aware of snakes and insects in Afghanistan, especially scorpions!

But, The Lonely Planet's tourguide for Afghanistan's web site says there are three places which are worth seeing presuming there is a ceasefire in the country for the day. These include the scared sites of Mazar e-Sharif, the caves of Samagan and the ruins of Bamiyan.

Additionally, I found much to my shock that there is an English pub in Kabul called Hare and Hounds (hmmm...I don't think that would be a good place to meet single women, irregradless if they are wearing a burqa or no burqa) and a German restaurant called Deutsche Hof. And, lastly, there is an outdoor cinema in Kabul called the Aina Media Centre where I expect "Brokeback Mountain," "Porky's" and "Debbie Does Dallas" never played.

One can also fly into Kabul from Frankfurt, Istanbul or Dubai, but your travel agent in Toledo, Ohio, might not be sure what to make of your mental state if you tell him your iteniary.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

DC Diary- I Ate a Whole Anchovy Pizza

Well, we were going to give our crew a long-needed and well-deserved vacation, but then I listened to a Newt Gingrich speech on C-SPAN and decided "Bah Humbug! These guys need to earn their $3.22 an hour."

We haven't run into the former house speaker here in Washington, DC, today, but there have been plenty of things to write about.

I've decided it's perhaps best to have a day of reflection, so I will focus on yesterday which was our first official day in the nation's capital.

Along with my mom, my sister Eva and her husband Sven from Goteborg, Sweden, we went out to dinner at Red Rocks, a Nepalese pizzaeira in DC, and after looking over the menu items carefully, I decided to make the most radical culinary decision I made since I ate goat kebab in Denizli, Turkey, some 25 years ago.

I decided to order an 11-inch anchovy pizza! My feeling was: "You know, I am on vacation, and this is one of the few times I've been able to get out of Virginia and North Carolina all year (I live between the two states), so why not get an anchovy pizza?"

It was surprisingly delicious. The pizza also had several cheeses and peppers. And, I drank it down with some tangy pineapple juice.

But, anyone who has gobbled up an entire 11-inch pizza, irregardless of topping choices, should know full well that he or she will pay the consequences for it later that night. Sure enough, I was stuffed and I felt like a walking Sumo wrestler as we walked back to our hotel in Bethesda, Md. (forgive the DC humor which may not go over well to our readers in Tajikistan!).

Incidentally, I saw a guidebook for the remote former Soviet Republic of Tajikistan today, but that's enough for tonight's entry.... I need to go watch some "Sanford and Son" reruns on TV Land, a network I don't get at home!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Things We Learned on Twitter- Greensboro Coffee Shop Closes for the Day

Today, we learned on Twitter that Greensboro Coffee, a coffee joint on State Street in Greensboro, NC, is closing for the day due to flooding from snow that grazed through the Gate City over the weekend. Here was their statement regarding the matter:

"Greensboro Coffee announces it's closing for the day because of flooding issues. We will have to close for the day. We will have it all cleaned up and be open on Tuesday at 7 a.m. Enjoy your snow."

The store's special features include a White Chocolate Frapp.

The image above is from the comic book "Too Much Coffee Man" by Shannon Wheeler, a Facebook friend of mine, that was an underground hit in the 1990s. Wheeler now lives in Portland, Oregon, at last report and his comic book was actually turned into an opera!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Quote of the Week- Pablo Picasso

You know an artist is a legend when he or she has two major exhibitions going on in two totally different parts of the globe simultaneously. And, that is the case for the late Spanish artist Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) who was the first artist I had ever heard of as a child (saw his name in a kid's book, textbook or magazine, I think). Currently, one can see his paintings at either the Kunsthaus in Zurich, Switzerland, until Jan. 30 or the Ben Brown Fine Arts Center in Hong Kong (China), until Jan. 28.

Here is the quote which folks at Project Plase, a homeless organization in Baltimore, Md., would definitely disagree with, especially since there could a ton of snow in Maryland starting tomorrow. But, though we disagree with Picasso's sentiment here- unless someone wants to bring their cousin Charles Manson home for Thanksgiving, it is certainly amusing:

"Is there anything more dangerous than sympathetic understanding?"

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Silly Photo to Fill Space- Che Guevara Plush Toy

A few weeks ago, I put the Che Guevara plush toy, which would probably more popular in San Francisco than Provo, Utah, on a mock Christmas gift list. I actually saw the item at a novelty shop in Greensboro, NC, along with similar plush toys for artist Frida Kahlo and scientist Albert Einstein.

Most of the plush toys retail for $16.95, and other figures that The Little Thinkers produce include Jesus Christ, Charlie Chaplin, William Shakespeare and Sigmund Freud.

I did not get the Che Guevara plush toy this year, but next Christmas is just around the corner, right?! Perhaps, there will be a socialist revolution by then (well, it couldn't be any worse than the Tea Party movement!)

Merry Christmas from Simon and Garfunkel

Yes, we know it is a bit ironic to feature a Merry Christmas from Simon and Garfunkel, as they are Jewish guys. But, singer Paul Simon has actually just released a holiday song called "Getting Ready for Christmas Day," which is available for free downloads.

Simon's web site says that the song will also be on the singer's next studio release "So Beautiful or So What" this spring.

As for Art Garfunkel, who also had a successful acting career in the late '60s and early '70s, has released "The Very Best of Art Garfunkel" this year.

I have two funny stories involving the musical duo, that peaked from 1964-70. The first is that I found Simon and Garfunkel's "Bookends" (1968) with a poster in it (the album featured "A Hazy Shade of Winter," covered in 1986 by The Bangles). I found this gem for a mere quarter at a Salvation Army Thrift Store in Pittsburg, Kansas, in the summer of 1986 when I was 16. And, of course, now it is nowhere to be found!

The second is that my mom, a part-time antique dealer, found an autograph of Art Garfunkel (without Paul Simon). She sold it for eight dollars at the Super Flea Market in Greensboro, NC, some two years ago- much to my surprise!

While researching this, we found out through "The Morning Sun," the newspaper for Pittsburg, Kan., that the town is hosting a lighting luminary for the holidays. And, the next Super Flea in Greensboro will be held from Jan. 29-30, 2011.

Friday, December 24, 2010

50 Beers from Around the World (#42 Pillsner Urgell from Czech Rep.)

Today we feature the very popular brew Pillsner Urgell from the Czech Republic, which is widely available in America. The brew is the original pillsner brand, which has spread all over the world to include the likes of the Turkish beer Efes Pilsen and the Mexican beer Pacifico.

Pillsner Urgell started in Pilsen (in Bohemia), and it is now also brewed in Poland and Russia. The beer has a heavier body, but it has less alcohol than most American beers.

According to the web site, one of the best bars in Prague, the Czech capital, is U Flecku.

Here is les etats unis, if one is in Dallas, Tex., The Libertine Bar, which has Tempura Asparagus for $8, is open tomorrow. We are not sure at what point!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Top 10 Favorite Christmas Movies_ A Controversial Choice

Yes, we are choosing the eight-minute $700 short film "The Spirit of Christmas" from 1995 by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, two Colorado college students who went on to make "South Park" as our top choice.

The film is known for it is essentially a mock kung fu fight between Jesus and Santa Claus which is laced with profanity, and makes fun of former Olympic ice skater Brian Boitano.

But, this short film which I saw as part of "Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Animation Festival" at the Lyric Theatre in Blacksburg, Va., still stands out as one of the most hysterical things I've ever seen. Ironically, I haven't watched "South Park" hardly at all since it's second season. I am amazed it is somehow still on the air (we need to get Javier, our Honduran intern to fact-check that).

Here is our top ten; the rest of the films are full-length features:

1. "The Spirit of Christmas" (1995)

2. "A Christmas Story" (1983)

3. "National Lampoon's Christmas" (1989)

4. "Gremlins" (1984)_ A film I chose to show for my 40th birthday celebration earlier this year at the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va. Many people forget that it takes place at Christmas time.

5. "Bad Santa" (2003)

6. "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946)_ A film which may be the only Christmas film they show in Tashkent, Uzbekistan

7. "The Muppet Christmas Carol" (1992)

8. "Scrooged" (1988)

9. "Miracle on 34th Street" (1946)

10. "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" (1964)_ Yes, the movie itself which features a very young Pia Zadora does actually suck, but the title is still vintage!

We should mention that John Waters has said that his favorite Christmas movie is "Christmas Evil," also known as "You Better Watch Out." The 1981 horror film predates the much more known and decidedly infamous 1984 slasher flick "Silent Night, Deadly Night" which features a Santa Claus who goes around killing folks.

Currently, American audiences are intrigued by the film "Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale" out of Finland which depicts a Santa Claus who is found frozen in the Arctic Circle. It is currently showing at the following cinemas (not listing every cinema where it's playing, but the film is not showing everywhere): Carousel Luxury Cinemas in Greensboro, NC, Landmark E Street Cinemas in Washington DC, Kendall Square Cinema in Cambridge, Mass. and lastly, Lyric Cinema Cafe in Fort Collins, Colo.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom, from Clint Eastwood

I wanted to wish my mom a Happy Birthday, and since we had a similar post with Dolly Parton on our other blog "The Daily Vampire," I thought I'd post a similar 'greeting' from another pinball icon Clint Eastwood.

Pinball machines with the famous Eastwood cinematic detective Dirty Harry (which originated with the 1971 film of the same name) were quite the rage some 25 years ago.

I saw one such machine at a restaurant in the hamlet of New Castle, Va., many years ago. They apparently go for between $2,000-2,300 on the Internet.

The film itself was the subject of considerable controversy. The late film critic Pauline Kael accused it of being a right-wing fascist exploitation piece which Eastwood has denied, citing that the film's director Don Siegel was liberal.

Interestingly enough, we learned from reading a Peter Biskind piece in his book "Gods and Monsters" that Kael also criticized the classic 1953 left-wing film "Salt of the Earth" about labor rights abuses for being mere Marxist propaganda.

Happy Birthday, mom, and thanks for getting me a Slinky for Christmas back in 1976 (when I was six years old). Alas, it is nowhere to be found today!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Things We Learned on Twitter Tonight- Raquel Loves Sade's Music

Here is an actual celebrity tweet from Raquel Welch, who is amazingly enough the same age as my mom!:

"Listening to Sade while I wrap presents. Better than XMas carols."

We agree there!

Sade is a Nigerian-Brit pop soul singer who is best-known for her mid-80s hit "Smooth Operator."

Silly Photo to Fill Space- the Tom and Jerry Necktie

One of the items on my Christmas wish list that we published back on Dec. 5 was a Tom and Jerry necktie. We mentioned the same time several months ago when we quipped that a guy can know he's in trouble on a first date if the girl asks: "Which one is the mouse?"

For those of you in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, who were born when Bill Clinton (another saxophone player) was president, Jerry is the mouse (did we really need to say that?! Yes, we probably did).

The Tom and Jerry necktie retails for circa $15 on most online sites, like

An interesting historical note about the characters is that a new incarnation of "Tom and Jerry" appeared on a series with Grape Ape (who looks like a purple King Kong with a baseball cap) cartoons in 1975.

The producers who perhaps later went on to advise George W. Bush (forgive the center-left political humor, kids! and Newt Gingrich if you are reading this) thought it would be a idea to make Tom and Jerry friends instead of the bitter rivals they had been for four decades before. By doing this, they thus ruined the basic plot premise that drove the storyline. A familiar gag that worked as well for kids in Dubai as it did kids in Topeka. And, of course, the new 'toons flopped.

Actually, a Grape Ape lunchbox would be a nifty item to have as well, but there are folks starving on the streets, especially in Detroit (read a depressing, but well-written article in "Mother Jones" about that), so wanting such things seem pointless and trivial.

You can probably find the Tom and Jerry cheaper than $15 if you look hard enough:)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Quote of the Week- Frida Kahlo

Since we are featuring quotes from famous artists this month, we thought we'd share a quip from the late Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) whose life was the subject of the acclaimed film "Frida."

An exhbit of Kahlo's work was shown in Berlin, Germany, earlier this year. And, one of the most popular restaurants in Guatemala is Frida's, located in Antigua, Guatemala's second largest city behind the capital Guatemala City. It is talked about on the web site and according to one Internet comment the palce has very good quesadillas.

Closer to home, there will be an exhibit of photographs of Kahlo by photographer Nickolas Muray at the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art in Brownsville, Tex., from Jan. 15-March 19, 2011. And, there is a Mexican restaurant in Chicago called La Cocina de Frida on North Clark Street.

Here is today's quote from Kahlo, which as a lone wolf person myself, I can sympathize and identify with:

"I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best."

Saturday, December 18, 2010

In Turkish, It's Called Tembellik

We could've looked up what's the Norwegian word for laziness too, but well we're too lazy!

The cat is in Japan (in the original image; this black cat might be from Mexico), well not my cat Gizmo, who is somewhere near Floyd, Va., but this cat in particular.

One knows laziness is very bad when you don't even want to post a blog entry!

But, for those of you with more stamina, we recommend "Garfield without Garfield," a satiric take on the comic strip with the World's Laziest Cat (and, the world's oldest cat as Garfield has been around for 32 years now!). The web site for that is

It's time to take a nap....!

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's Been a Messy Week

The weather may have actually been nice in Fargo, N.Dak., than it was in Greensboro, NC, yesterday. Snow, sleet, ice and freezing rain left much of Virginia and North Carolina in a mess in a storm which also went through parts of South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and Maryland.

There were fatal highway accidents near Lexington, Va., and Fayetville, NC, which are about six hours away from each other.

As a result, we are behind with lots and lots of things, folks!

So, until things get back to normal, I highly recommend a Youtube video of my friend Bruce Piephoff singing "I Remember Asheville" or you can always settle for Ukrainian folk dancing or Hungarian klezmer clarinet music!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Quote of the Week- Salvador Dali

This quote of the week seems appropriate given that NPR did a story on narcissicism (ie. Me Syndrome) today in which apparently scientists and psychologists (or the other way around) or trying to determine if it is a psychological disorder of some sort. Wow, this tie is really awesome. Too bad you can't see it!

Our quip is from the iconic Spanish artist Salvador Dali:

"Each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme joy---that of being Salvador Dali."

Dali was apparently a major influence on artist Jeff Koons, who some see as a Warholian genius and some see as a kitschy rip-off artists.

Of course, since this is not an art blog per se, and we don't judge people by their art but only their politics (insert Glenn Beck put down here), we will refrain from our views on Koons's works.

But, we can say that after wiki'ing him, we saw that one of his works, "Puppy," a 43-foot topiary sculpture in Bilboa, Spain, is quite towering.

Koons is also known for balloon animals, such as ones involving inflatable flowers. And, one of his pieces apparently sold at auction for over $5 million, which means that the artist is now presumably rich enough to buy his own work!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

50 Beers Around the World #40- Guinness (Ireland)

Today's beer is one of the most popular exports here in les etats unis. Guinness Beer is also still the king of beers (oops, that is Budweiser's trademark, oh well!) in Ireland.

Guinness Beer was started by Arthur Guinness (1725-1803) in Dublin, accoding to Wikipedia. The info site also states that studies have shown that drinking Guinness is good for the heart. You may want to check with my fellow Turkish-American Dr. Oz before you head to the beer section of the Food Lion in Mount Airy, NC.

I must profess that if I had to share a beer with someone besides Uma Thurman, who would assuredly shun me as all gorgeous women seemingly do (nudge, nudge, wink, wink!), it would have to be Chevy Chase. As we stated in our last entry about the Turkish yogurt drink ayran, Chase once starred in a Turkish tv ad for Cola Turka, which people all over the globe can now see on Youtube, well with the exception of Pyongyang, North Korea, and Qom, Iran, perhaps.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bonus Silly Photo to Fill Space- Ayran

Today, we feature ayran, the yogurt milk beverage that is very popular in my late father's country Turkey. An Istanbul taxi driver named Atilla Kalkan gave me the recipe back in 2008. Alas, efforts to find him on Facebook failed (though there are a lot of Atilla Kalkans out there!).

One can find ayran at Harmony Market in Cary, NC (Raleigh, Phone: 1-919-380-0077) along with other Turkish food items with the noteable exception of raki (the Turkish version of the greek spirit ouzo) as they do not have an ABC license.

For our friends in Georgia, ayran should be available at Bereket Turkish Grocery in Atlanta (phone: 770-613-9950), where one can also get a Cola Turka...a Turkish cola beverage which once featured commercials with Chevy Chase! (Yes, that is true).

One can not find ayran at Texas Tavern in my hometown of Roanoke, Va., though it can be found (if you ask) at Arzu International, which is also downtown. So, if you are inclined to have a cheesy western at Texas Tavern for breakfast (a scarmbled egg sandwich with a hamburger pattie and cheese, ask your doctor before eating!) and Izmir kofte (lamb dish which unlike cheesy westerns does NOT cause heart attacks) for lunch at Arzu then the Star City is the place to be!

NOTE: Ayran was one of the items listed on my Christmas wish list. Of course, this is ironic because Turkey is a Muslim country and I actually prefer Festivus over all religious holidays. The beverage can also be purchased online in the United States (and perhaps Canada) from in New York.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Top 10 Favorite Songs from John Lennon

Since yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the murder of John Lennon, we thought it would be neat to list our ten favorite songs by him. The fact that our intern Javier from Honduras* is inept at remembering song titles made this a bit challenging, but I'd like to think we pulled it off.

We wonder if some of these songs are played on Oldies KVID in Russellville, Ark., but Javier had to arrange an interview with Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson in her hometown of West Des Moines, Iowa, so he is not able to confirm that and we are too busy (or lazy) to fool with, really.

Amazingly enough, Yoko Ono--- of all people, follows us on Twitter (this true!). Ono herself chose "Oh My Love" as her favorite Lennon song for a 'lists' issue in "Rolling Stone."

*-Javier is not an actual person. The joke is that if something is factually wrong in the contents of this blog, we blame him! BTW, since he is fictional, he is not interviewing any Olympic gymnasts.

Here are our favorite Lennon tunes (either solo or with The Plastic Ono Band):

1. "Instant Karma"

2. "No. 9 Dream"

3. "Watching the Wheels"

4. "Imagine"

5. "Nobody Told Me"

6. "Jealous Guy"

7. "Woman is the N of the World"

8. "Oh Yoko"

9. "Mind Games"

10. "Cold Turkey"

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Things We Learned on Twitter Today: Japanese Man Builds Tiny House

According to a tweet from "The Huffington Post," Fuychito Moriya of Tokyo, Japan,(we hope we spelled his name right) has built a house the size of a parking plae that is just adjacent to his mother's home. The house pictured here is actually in Arkansas.

We wish Moriya well, and hope his mom doesn't drive him zany.

There is also buzz on Twitter today concerning Julian Assange, the infamous Australian man who founded Wikileaks who is also wanted in Sweden on sex charges. Apparently, backers of Assange have hacked into the Swedish prosecutor's web site.

"The Onion" is having fun with the whole Wikileaks mess as they 'reported' today that: "Julian Assange has been fired from his IT job at The Pentagon." (this is a fake news story).

Another thing which caught my eye on Twitter was that apparently Christine O'Donnell, the 'I'm not a witch' political candidate who was not able to gain a U.S. Senate seat in Delaware is reportedly starting her own political action committee! Maybe, she will be a lobbyist for residents of Salem, Mass.

And, Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of "Eat, Pray, Love," will be stopping at Malaprops Bookstore in Asheville, NC, on Feb. 4.

Trending topics on Twitter for the day include Elizabeth Edwards, Grinch, Rubin, Yoko Ono, Birthday Ian and Pearl Harbor. We were surprised that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the most progressive member in the Senate who is planning to filibuster in the Senate over a dispute regarding tax cuts for the rich, was not among the trendy ones!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Silly Picture to Fill Space- George McGovern T-Shirt

Today we are featuring items from our Christmas Wish List, posted here last week.

For those of who weren't around in 1972 (well, I was only two years old myself), George McGovern ran an unsuccesful presidential campaign against Richard Nixon. Though McGovern, who was a senator from South Dakota, only won Massachuessetts, Nixon went on to become an infamous, though very unique, president (Nixon is my favorite Republican president; of course, I am a fairly partisan Democrat!).

McGovern, who is considered the most liberal presidential candidate in modern times, is still alive at age 88 and according to Wikipedia, he still resides in Mitchell, S.Dak. McGovern was also known for his vehement opposition to the Vietnam War.

We learned while researching this that Sargent Shriver, Ahnuld's father-in-law, was actually McGovern's running mate; he replaced Thomas Eagleton after it was revealed that he had suffered mental illness. Of course, nowadays, we have Zoloft, so things like this would not be political liabilities (eyes rolling).

The McGovern '72 t-shirt is available from

They also offer t-shirts from winning campaigns and from Republican (as well as other Democratic) presidential losers, like Barry Goldwater '64. But, we didn't see any t-shirts with Bob Dole or John McCain on their web site! Perhaps, that is not retro enough....?!

Quote of the Week- Andy Warhol

Today we feature a quote from Andy Warhol (1927-1987) who was known for soup cans and for funky painting of folks ranging from Elvis Presley to Che Guevara.

There is currently a special exhibit dedicated to one of Warhol's other favorite subjects, Marilyn Monroe at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.

Similarly, The Baltimore Museum of Art is featuring Warhol's later works in an exhbit that is named: Andy Warhol, the Last Decade. It runs through Jan. 9, 2011.

Here is the quip, which I can relate to since having a girlfriend these days seems harder than planning a trip to Tashkent, Uzbekistan:

"When I got my first television set, I stopped caring so much about personal relationships."

One has to wonder what Warhol would have made of Facebook!

We also want to wish another renegade and legend, French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard a belated happy 80th birthday (it was on Friday).

Saturday, December 4, 2010

50 Beers Around the World- Dos Equis (Mexico- #38 of 50)

Greetings from the Church Avenue parking lot here in downtown Roanoke, Va. (Ok, not really where I am at, but I gave up on having this blog being a sincere source of news and info a long time ago!).

Today's entry in our 50 Beers Around the World series is the Mexican beer Dos Equis, which in 2007 launched "The Most Interesting Man in the World" ad campaign with a James Bond type cultured adventurer with no name. And, like the original 'man with no name' (Clint Eastwood) in the spaghetti western "A Fistful of Dollars," the actor who plays this man with a distinct Latino accent is actually an Americano named Jonathan Goldsmith!

In the ads, Goldsmith, who is 72, catches marlins, wins arm-wrestling contests and swoons women who are as young and gorgeous as Jessica Biel. Some of the catchy lines in the ads include: "He speaks French in Russian" and "Sharks have a week dedicated to him."

The commercials are also voiced by another actor Will Lyman, who is also known as the voice of the PBS series "Frontline." Lyman's distinct voice was also featured in one of my favorite films in recent years "Little Children," with Kate Winslet.

As for Dos Equis itself, the beer was originally brewed by German-Mexican Wilhelm Hasse in 1897. It is brewed in Monterrey, and owned by Heineken.

Dos Equis can presumably be found at El Maguey Mexican Restaurant in Fort Mill, SC, (near Charlotte, NC), and they are featuring a $49.95 dinner for two special on New Year's Eve with live entertainment from The Little Zippers. Since my mom is originally from Rock Hill, SC, and in all honesty, it is a fairly boring suburban area, I will surmize this will probably the most happening thing to do in the area on that night. (I guess I can now kiss that opening for a reporter to cover the York County Board of Supervisors at "The Fort Mill Times" goodbye!*)

*- This is a joke as I left the reporting business several years ago, but if the paper does have an actual opening, go for it! As for the area being boring, well, we can say there is both a Denny's and a Starbucks in Rock Hill, SC!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy Chanukah from Lolek and Bolek

We're not sure how popular the Polish cartoon characters Lolek and Bolek were in Israel, but they were the only cartoon that was allowed on Iranian television after the infamous Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Like the Belgian comic book character Tintin, the boys frequently traveled around the world in their mischievious adventures, including voyages to the Amazon, the Orient and the American Wild West (ironic considering the cartoon was made during the Iron Curtain years).

I happen to be a big fan of Lolek and Bolek (which I used to mistakenly call Olek and Bolek) because I watched the cartoon quite frequently when our family lived in Czestochowa, Poland, (pronounced Chestahova) when we lived there as my father was working at a steel mill as part of a joint effort with General Electric in 1976.

Czestochowa is a city of 240,000 that is best known for being featured in the religious iconic painting "The Black Madonna of Czestochowa."

Lolek and Bolek were created by animator Wladyslaw Nehrbecki (1923-1978) and the characters were based on his two sons. It is available through Netflix in the United States.

SIDEBAR: Not every theatre in the country is performing Christmas plays, as Playmakers Rep in Chapel Hill, NC, is currently performing the Donald Margulies play "Shipwrecked," an adventure story that takes place in Victorian England from now until Dec. 19.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Top 10-Christmas Wish List (Cool Gifts Edition)

I know there is this fundamentalist church in the hamlet of Riner, Va., which put out these signs in the neighborhood saying "Putting Christ Back in Christmas."

While I fully respect people's religion and their right to worship as they choose, I do wonder if the folks who have those signs in their yard will sell out and go the New River Valley Mall in nearby Christiansburg, Va., just as us liberals would pump gas at a BP station to avoid running out of gas in rural Arkansas, where we would assuredly be shot on sight!

But, irregardless if you view Christmas as a sacred holiday or as an opportunity to shop and drink lots and lots of egg nog, we all like gifts, and these are the 10 gifts I would love to have more than any other.

Now, for this list, I only focused on things which are realistically affordable so the $3,499 Hottie 454 Guitar that is featured in the gift guide edition of "Rolling Stone" isn't on the list. Besides, I can't play guitar anyway!

I am also not asking for a trip to see my favorite current rock band Gogol Bordello perform in Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki this weekend---though that would have been so cool! (Closer to home, they will be at the Jefferson Theatre in Charlottesville, Va., on Dec. 28).

So, here is the list, feel free to get everything on this list for me if you are so inclined, and of course, if you do, I will make a generous donation to an orphanage in Cambodia:

1. DeadMau5 Mini and/or the DeadMau5 CD "4X4=12"_ For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, DeadMau5(pictured here, pronounced Dead Mouse) is a hip, happening dj from Toronto (real name is Joel Zimmerman) who Wikipedia describes as "a progressive, electro and house dj." If you choose not to get this for me, I'm sure my 70-year-old mom will like it just as well:)

2. New CDs from Ra Ra Riot, Queen and/or The Grateful Dead_ I saw the band Ra Ra Riot in Chapel Hill, NC, a few weeks ago, and I would love to have their ne cd "The Orchard" (retail $16.99)

3. McGovern '72 t-shirt- Believe it or not, there is a web site called which has t-shirts from virtually all succesful and failed campaigns since FDR, including a t-shirt for George McGovern's 1972 unsuccesful White House run and Barry Goldwater's futile 1964 campaign.

4. Tom and Jerry necktie ($15)_ Hey, the one I saw of them playing saxophones is really cool. And, besides if Ok Cupid hooks me up with a girl who asks: "Which one is the mouse?" then I'll know I'm in trouble!

5. Six bottles of Turkish ayran (yogurt/milk beverage which retails for $11.99 from An Istanbul taxi driver named Atilla Kalkan (the guy's actual name, still have his business card) gave me the recipe. I tried to find him on Facebook, but apparently I found a different Atilla Kalkan who was not happy that I wanted 'to be his friend.'

6. "How I Learned to Drive," "Art" or "Blue/Orange" from LA Theatre Works ($15-20)_ Like my cousin in rural Missouri (family in-joke), I happen to love the theatre. But, if we have a nightmarish winter, it might be nice to stay in and listen to one of these three plays. My friend Todd Ristau, a playwright/stage director, in Roanoke, Va., actually played the lead male role in "How I Learned to Drive" several years ago.

7. A Subscription to "Mental Floss" ($27.95)_ It is one of the few magazines I don't subsribe to, but unlike "Soldier of Fortune," this magazine is one I'd definitely want to read!

8. New books from Rob Sheffield ("Talking to Girls About Duran Duran, $26) or "Griftopia" by Matt Taibbi ($25). Both of these "Rolling Stone" writers have new books out, and they both seem like great reads.

9. Fedora ($17-40). This should really be number one! Apparently, they are trying to hawk them on Hats on the Belfry (an Alexandria, Va., hat shop) and cyber malls on the Internet. Johnny Depp has made the black fedoras quite hip.

10. A Starbucks or Chevron gift card- Hey, like any other 40-year-old guy, I can always use free gas or free coffee!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Things We Learned on Twitter Today- Dick Durbin Talks

According to NPR, the most boring day in the 20th century was April 11, 1954. I am not sure if today was one of those days even though assuredly everyone from Hilo, Hawaii, to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, is talking about the infamous Wikileaks fiasco, but not much was going on today, at least on Twitter.

But, we did find out that Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill) will talk to progressive-leaning PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley. The shows airs at 12:30 a.m. in Mount Airy, NC, but hopefully ultra-right wing Cong. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) will suffer from insomnia and tune in.

Here is the actual tweet from "The Tavis Smiley Show:"

"Also tonight @ PBS, Sen. Dick Durbin shares his thoughts on deficit reduction, unemployment benefits and tax cuts."

SIDEBAR: Are you wondering how the heck you spell Chanukah/Hannukah/Hanuka. Well, the hip magazine "Mental Floss" has an article on it. Assuredly, it will be more popular in Tel Aviv, Israel, than Aleppo, Syria, but we are sure it's a fascinating topic.

Silly Photo to Fill Space- Laundry Time

Yes, in case you were wondering that is Safir, a Turkish laundry detergent, which is undoubtedly used in every laundry place in Bakirkoy (forgive the ethnic humor; Bakirkoy is a large suburban section of Istanbul).

For those not in Bakirkoy, there is always Phoenix Laundry in Gainesville, Fla., which is open 24/7. I suppose those college students from Gator U have lots of dirty boxer shorts!