Monday, January 31, 2011
Today, we are starting our weekly series of quotes from previous Oscar winners. We start with Maggie Smith, who can currently be seen on PBS in "Downtown Abbey" and on the big screen (well in second-run theatres perhaps) in the latest Harry Potter flick.
Smith won her Best Actress Oscar for her title role in the film "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie," directed by Ronald Neame ("Tunes of Glory," "Hopscotch") who died in June at the age of 99.
Here is the quip from the ever-witty stage and screen legend:
"The performances you have in your head are always much better than the performances on stage."
Sunday, January 30, 2011
My six-year-old (soon to be seven-year-old) cat Gizmo is actually a tuxedo cat. But he is one with a naughty streak.
This morning, as I was feeding him no less, he scratched my hand and hissed. I suppose he doesn't tuna (he must be one of the very few cats in the old who would prefer something else.....moo goo gaipan?!)
So my Status Update for 1/30/11 is: "This morning, my crazy Gizmo scratched the hell out of me."
I suppose that is one of the nice things about living in Cucumber, W.Va*, it is that it brings pure delight to use the word hell on a Sunday morning. Of course, doing it publicly is perhaps not a good idea, definitely not in a small hamlet in southeastern West Virginia.
For those who wish to adopt a cat or dog in Greensboro, NC, they can reach the Guilford County Animal Shelter at 336-297-5020. And, for those in Richmond, Va., they can contact the Henrico County Animal Shelter at 804-652-3360.
And, to those in the Washington, DC metro area who want to ease my guilt for listening to Mozart via an Internet stream from WETA-FM (an NPR station that only plays classical music), they can go to http://weta.org/fm (.), but don't tell them I sent you!
Alas, we can not list every animal shelter in the country up here, but we can always make fun of West Virginia!
*- Yes, Cucumber, W.Va., does really exist. No, I don't actually live there. According to Wikipedia (don't tell them, I 'borrowed' info on them, the small mining community in McDowell County is the only Cucumber in America!
PS- Alas, my beloved Radford University Highlanders lost to Coastal Carolina yesterday, but we did found out that surprisingly enough the women's tennis team has four young ladies from Croatia, and one of them, Mia Drobnjak has a name that's very hard to spell (well, she has my sympathies actually!)
Saturday, January 29, 2011
I had a surreal last night/this morning, in which I was the late '60s cartoon hero Underdog and I was saving New York City from Palinzilla, a 90-foot fire breathing robot that looked exactly like Sarah Palin.
While I fully sympathize with "Washington Post" columnist Dana Milbank, who has said there should be a moratorium on mentioning Palinzilla's name, I could not resist sharing this story.
In the dream, I gave her one simple whack across the nose and her circuits exploded causing her to malfunction and retreat back to the Hudson Bay. It was ironically sort of like a version of 'David and Goliath.'
Of course, some feminists may argue that my Underdog engaged in domestic violence, but my response would be: "Hey, someone had to save the universe from Palinzilla." Obviously, I do not condone domestic violence in any form and as it is since Palinzilla was a robot, I could argue Underdog was not hitting a woman because androids don't have genders!
SIDEBAR: Everyone in the world seems to be talking about the riots in Egypt today. On the left, "The Nation" has articles titled like "Fire in the Streets of Cairo: Will the Army Hold?" and "Egypt's K-Street Connections."
While on the right, John McCormack has an analysis of President Barack Obama's statement on Egypt in "The Weekly Standard." While I did not have time to actually read the article, I would presume given the magazine's politics, which are actually more restrained than some of their counterparts, that it was critical of Obama.
And, for those of us on the center-left, there is always the ever-reliable "The New Republic" in which Heather Hurlburt has an article about the five things every American should know about the riots which threaten Hosni Mubarak's 30-year reign as the president of Egypt. I was a bit humored and horrified to see that the article actually featured a photograph from a riot in Turkey, which is my late father's country!
Friday, January 28, 2011
Status Update for 1/28: "For some very strange reason, I sure feel like a cooked goose today."
For many reasons, personal and not-so-personal, this just hasn't been my week. But lots of folks seem to be in a seasonal late January funk these days. Somehow, I don't think going to the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va., to see "Rabbit Hole" with Nicole Kidman (she got an Oscar nomination for her performance in the film) which is reportedly a very depressing film, would help things. But, maybe I can see if there are reruns of "The Love Boat" at my local public library (on second thougt, no that would only make things worse too!).
SIDEBAR: I want to wish the Radford University men's basketball team bonne chance/good luck in their homecoming game with Coastal Carolina University who will be coming into Radford, Va., from the Myrtle Beach, SC area (Conway, SC, to be percise). My alma mater is lead by a Turkish player named Gorkem Sonmez. As a Turkish-American and an alum of RU, I'm very proud of him. Another Turkish player named Tolga Cerrah plays the Highlanders too.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Status Update: "I can apparently locate every country in Europe of size on the map, except Macedonia!"
I don't what it is, but I can seemingly never get all the questions right. It doesn't seem to matter if it's a Psychology 101 test or a pop culture quiz on the Internet.
Today, I took a geography quiz on mentalfloss.com and it appears that I can locate every country of size (yeah, Liechtenstein is a problem) except Macedonia, which I somehow mistook for Albania.
The key to not making this mistake again is apparently to remember that Albania has a coast with the Adriatic Sea while Macedonia, which was until a decade ago or so, a republic in the former Yugoslavia.
Greece is also angry with Macedonia for reasons we will not go into because I'm half-Turkish, and we've already talked about Cyprus! (see earlier entry). Macedonia is also famous for its folk dances.........
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Status Update for 1/26: "Wow! Someone from E-Harmony might actually be reading our blog because I was matched with an Asian girl today!"
Amazingly enough, after saying that I would like to see E-Harmony match me with an Asian girl, and a few hours later, that's exactly what happened.
Since local newspapers appear to be waging an uphill battle against new media, we thought we'd mention a couple of good small town newspapers.
For starters, there is "The Carrboro Citizen" in Carrboro, NC, which adjoins Chapel Hill at the Flying Pig at the Crook's Corner restaurant (if you've been to Chapel Hill, you'll get the joke).
Their headline story this week is that Benjamin Charis told a gathering at the First Baptist Church in Chapel Hill to be renew efforts to remember Martin Luther King, Jr., and his legacy. Personally, I consider "The Carrboro Citizen" to be the best community newspaper in the Tarheel State.
As for my alma mater "The Salem Times-Register" in Salem, Va. (I worked there as a reporter from 1996-97), one of the stories on their web sites is that Cynthia Munley (who happens to be a personal friend) got her husband Frank Munley, a professor at Roanoke College, a portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr., marching from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., as done by artist Adam Reinhard.
In international news, we learned (from the radio actually) that a 32-year-old woman in Buenos Aires, Argentina, attempted suicide by jumping from the 23rd floor of her hotel only to collide with an incoming taxi which broke her fall and ironically saved her life. Of course, she is now 'in hospital' (as the Brits say) recovering from her injuries.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Status Update for 1/25/11: "I wonder when E-Harmony will hook me up with an Asian girl. Perhaps, the reason why I have this desire stems from my infactuation with the David Bowie song 'China Girl.' Shhhhhhhhhhh...."
I have been an E-Harmony member for almost two years now; it has been a mostly frustating experience.
One chief reason for this, besides all the normal things that go a wry when one is dating someone they don't know, is that they never quite match me with the right woman for my interests.
I must profess that I absolutely adore Asian girls, irregardless if they are Japanes, Chinese, Korean or even Malaysian.
I have never actually dated one though I made a futile attempt at trying to arrange a coffee date with an Asian-American girl several years ago.
The reason for this mgiht well stem from the David Bowie video for his 1983 hit "China Girl." In his recent memoir "Talking with Girls About Duran Duran," Rob Sheffield, who also writes for "Rolling Stone" said that he once told REM member Peter Buck that he was jealous of how girls liked REM when he was in high school.
Buck replied that he once felt the same way about David Bowie in the '70s!
Ironically, my mom is apparently in the process of trying to get her Vietnamese hair-stylist to set me up with a girl from Ho Chi Minh City; we'll see how that goes. Perhaps, I can stop in Hong Kong or Shanghai while I'm at it.
And, hopefully, it will be a more positive experience than the ones I've had with E-Harmony so far!
Monday, January 24, 2011
Today, we are starting Status Updates as our new blog series. Hopefully, it will last longer than the animated tv version of Kevin Smith's "Clerks" (there is also a more famous film version and a comic book version; we don't think there is a Clerks opera though!). Not that anyone cares, but I actually follow Smith on Twitter. I wonder if he actually still resides in New Jersey.
Here is our first Status Update:
"I really should NOT have slept an extra two hours this a.m. because I can never get them back."
I do blame to excessive zzzzzzzs on staying up too late and sinus mediation, but I know that sounds like whinning.
While putting this piece together, we were curious as to learn what was going on with the Boulder Atomic Clock in Boulder, Col., which has the most accurate time in the country.
According to the clock, which one can now find on the net, it was 15:28:30 eastern time, 13:30:50 in Colorado and it was 11:29:10 in Anchorage, Alaska, where perhaps one person looking at this entry actually resides!
Thursday, January 20, 2011
We conclude our Quotes from The Composers series with a quip from Hungarian master Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967) who was also an educator, linguist and philosopher. Kodaly is perhaps best-known for his orchestral/opera "Hary Janos" (1926) which Wikipedia describes as 'a Hungarian folk opera.' It was first performed by the Royal Hungarian Opera House in Budapest that same year.
We love this quote, and in case, you were wondering the image above is of Hungarian goulash, which they might serve at the Mirabell Restaurant in Chicago, which is actually a German restaurant:
"The laws of morals and the laws of music are the same."
Classical music fans in Pittsburgh, Pa., can hear a performance of "Mozart's Symphony, Number 4" on Jan. 28 at 8:00 p.m., followed by another performance on Jan. 30 at 2:30 p.m.
SIDEBAR: Since I am a Turkish-American, it may surprise a few folks that I am a huge fan of the Greek film composer Mikis Theodakris, who is alive and well (we hope!) at age 85. Theodakris is known for his legendary compostions to "Z" and "Zorba the Greek" and he also scored the 1973 Al Pacino drama "Serpico."
One can listen to WUVT-FM (90.7 Blacksburg, Va), the student-run college radio station of Virginia Tech, for Greek music from 11 a.m.-1:00 p.m. on Saturdays. A Turkish music show follows on the same station from 1:00-2:30 p.m. I co-hosted a Turkish music show on WUVT in 1994 and I was told that I played too much music from the late pop singer Baris Manco which proves it's impossible to make people happy!
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Since we really like kitsch and all things Scandanavian (though I've never been to Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden or Finland), we thought we'd quip the great Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) for our entry in the series today.
Grieg is known piano miniatures "Lyric Pieces" and his piano concertos in A-minor; he was born in Bergen. The composer also drew inspiration from Norwegian folk music.
Earlier today, we learned that Norway is NOT one of the 27 European Union member nations (neither is Iceland) from our friends at "Mental Floss" (actually, we don't know a single person who works for that ultra-hip magazine, based in Birmingham, Alabama- of all places). I was able to name every member state except one: Cyprus. The irony here is quite well ironic because I have been to Cyprus (well, the northern Turkish part) and Greece and Turkey, the country of my late father, fought over the island nation in a short, but bloody war in 1974.
Getting back to Grieg, whose music is of course more relevant than silly ethnic squabbles (note to my friends in Athens: our yogurt is better than your yogurt!), here is a quip from the Norwegian master who perhaps just couldn't stand Swedes:
"Suddenly a mist fell from my eyes and I knew the way I had to take."
SIDEBAR: For those interested in classic music who live in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Utah Symphony will be conducting Stravinsky's Pulcinetta from Jan. 27-29, which we perhaps should have mentioned yesterday when we were quoting Russian composers!
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Today, as promised, we are featuring quotes from legendary Russian composers and today we quip Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) who the Romanitc era composer who composed symphonies, operas and chamber music. But, he is arguably best known for his ballets, which include "The Nutcracker" and "Swan Lake."
Since "The Black Swan" is in cinemas now, and we FINALLY saw it last week (I was actually going to post an entry called The Curse of the Black Swan because every time I wanted to see the film something went wrong; it is definitely one of the best films from 2010), the image of an actual black swan seemed nifty. At least, it did to Javier the intern*. The image (according to Javier) is from Perth, Australia.
Natalie Portman also won a Golden Globe Award for her cinematic performance as a ballet dancer in "Black Swan." But, since we were not able to watch the broadcast (though I saw on Twitter that foul-mouthed comedian Sarah Silverman did!), we could not see if Portman was wearing her trademark vegan sandals.
But, getting back to Tchaikovsky, here is today's quote from the Russian master:
"Truly there would be more reason to go mad were it not for music."
SIDEBAR: As we have mentioned before, there is a sequel to the hit book "Stuff White People Like" based on the ever-popular blog of the same name (they get thousands more hits than we do even though there are only periodic entries?!). The new book by Christian Lander is called "Whiter Shades of Pale." He will be promoting it at Book Cellar in Chicago on Thursday.
According to the blog's last entry from December, these days white people seem to enjoy Christopher Guest films on dvd (like "Waiting for Guffman"), cd compilations of Bolivian music (he has me there!) and single-malt scotch.
*-Javier is a fictional person!
Monday, January 17, 2011
Since his hit song "Happy Birthday" (1981) from his stellar "Hotter Than July" album was in part politically responsible for bringing recognition to the honoring of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday as a national holiday, we thought we would quip Stevie Wonder today.
Other songs of his that we really like include (to name a few): "Superstition" (1972), "Living in the City" (1973) and "Boogie on Reggae Woman" (1973).
We also think this quote is very ironic since Wonder is blind:
"Eyes lie if you ever look into them for the character of the person."
Tomorrow, we are going to hopefully resume quoting composers; we're even thinking of going 'with the Russians!'
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Yes, we do have an odd sense of humor, hence we are posting an image of a '70s disco ball with our entry with a quip from the great Baroque period German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).
Bach has been more in the news lately as New York musician Simone Dinnerstein (daughter of painter Simon Dinnerstein) has just released "Bach: A Strange Beauty" which is the combination of two keyboard concertos to Bach. The recording and Dinnerstein's album were recently featured on NPR.
Dinnerstein will be performing close to home at Duke University in Durham, NC, with Tift Merrit on Jan. 21 and 22.
Among Bach's great works are "The Brandenberg Concerts," "The Goldberg Variations," "The St. Matthew Passion" and "The St. John Passion."
Here is the quote from Bach, which I personally adore:
"If I decide to be an idiot, I'll be an idiot on my own accord."
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Yes, we decided to use an image of the late '80s Austrian pop singer Falco (1957-1998), who alas like John Lennon and Lenny Bruce died when he was 40 (which is yikes my age!). Of course, all of us who grew up in the '80s or saw the movie "Adventureland" know that Falco (who was actually more like a two-hit wonder) was best known for the 1986 smash hit single "Rock Me Amadeus," which I think all of us got sick and tired of. But, today, much like the Swedish pop group Abba, it has grown on us like kudzu!
(If memory serves me right, Falco died in a car accident on some island near Jamaica. We need our Honduran intern Javier to verify that once he gets back from Chucky Cheese!).
As for the Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), who also died quite young, he is of course known as 'the genius of Salzburg' as he composed many musical classics, including the operas "The Magic Flute," "The Marriage of Figaro" and "The Shephard King"- to name a few.
And, more importantly, he was the subject of Milos Forman's 1985 Oscar-winning film "Amadeus" which is based on a play of the same name by Peter Shaffer.
Here is our quote from Mozart, which is one I sincerely agree with:
"I pay no attention to anybody's praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings."
For classical music lovers in Roanoke, Va., the Roanoke Symphony will be giving a performance called "Movie Masterworks" on Jan. 24. More details are available at their web site (rso.com).
Monday, January 10, 2011
Gazooks! It has been almost a full week since we last posted a blog entry, but I am still here.
We continue with a quip from German composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) whom we all know from "A Clockwork Orange" (I know classical music people will hate me for saying that!).
For those interested, the Beethoven music in Stanley Kubrick's classic 1971 film is "Beethoven's ninth symphony, fourth movement."
Beethoven was also portrayed by actor Gary Oldman in "Immortal Beloved" (1994).
Here is our quote from Ludwig:
"Anyone who tells a lie has not a pure heart, and cannot make good soup."
One can listen to classical music 24/7 on WCPE (89.7-FM) in Raleigh, NC.
"A Clockwork Orange" will be screened at the Bardavan Opera House (ironically enough) in Poughkeepsie, NY, on Jan. 28.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
We conclude our diary of the family trip to Washington, DC, with some tips on how to get your voice heard when traveling to any part of the United States, the world or The Milky Way, with members of your family or even your friends.
When traveling with groups, one of the main disadvantages is getting your voice heard, especially if you make considerably less money than anyone in your party. (I would not advise taking a trip with the Kardashians, and I'm not saying that because I'm Turkish and they're Armenian!).
Reverse psychology is one possibly effective method which could work though I did not try it myself.
A few trips back, I actually went to The Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, to see an exhibit about the infamous 1936 Berlin Olympics, which turned into a propaganda outlet for Adolf Hitler (this was before the museum guard was tragically murdered at the museum some two years ago). The museum itself is very fascinating, but of course, it is quite depressing. As much sympathy as I have for the Jewish people and what they went through, I realized I could never go back to the museum again.
So, of course, it is a place that I would say I wanted to go to if in a group of more than four people. You will inevitably have one person say: "I want to go to the Smithsonian," or The Textile Museum or The National Zoo, so if you tell the Kim Kardashian of the group that you must, absolutely, positively must go to The Holocaust Museum.
Then, everyone will say: "Hmmm...that's too depressing, can we go somewhere else?" That's when you say The National Building Museum or the Folger's Shakespeare Library (yeah, I may be the only person in a group of 20 who would choose those places). And, amazingly enough, you might just get your way.
Since, Washington, DC, has quite a lot going on, there were indeed several places, we didn't get to visit and a few places that I hope to visit some time in the near future.
They include the 9:30 Club where a band called The Virginia Coalition performs on Jan. 15 (yes, I think it sounds like a lobbying group that should be on K-Street too), the Politics and Prose bookstore where "Washington Post" music critic Anne Midgette talks tomorrow night, the Studio Theatre which is getting set to perform "Marcus, or The Secret of Sweet" and two Turkish restaurants: Cafe Divan and Meze.
I must profess that I was very intrigued when I glanced over at Meze's web site (mezedc.com) and saw that they offer Saturday and Sunday brunches with beef sausage. I can imagine this might be confusing to some Anatolian villagers from a place like Yozgat, Turkey, who would seemingly paranoid that all sausage products must come from Porky Pig!
PS_ The image above is from the acclaimed 1985 documentary "Shoah" about the Holocaust. It lasts nine hours long, but it is said to be one of the best films about the subject ever made.
Monday, January 3, 2011
Yes, we see them everywhere, even in small towns like Bluefield, W.Va., or Mount Airy, NC, but they are really abundant in major metro areas, especially in Washington, DC. We are, of course, talking about Annoying Young Couples.
Of course, DC has one of America's most infamous annoying couples in Tareq and Michaele Salahi, but both of them are not spring chickens. There are also annoying celeb couples like Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag from "The Hills" who made a trip to DC themselves (not while we were there) where they posed with American flags in front of the Washington Monument.
But, there was one annoying young couple which really stood out (and there were several others that were almost as awful) when I went on the DC Metro to get to the E-Street movie theatre in Northwest DC to see "I Love You Philip Morris" on Wednesday night.
This couple consisted of an Asian-American girl, who was about 23, and her beau, who was about the same age. Both were dressed very eloquently. She was wearing a brown wool coat and designer shoes of some sort and he was wearing a green sweater and fancy pants. His hairy wasn't curly, but he did sort of look like Spencer Pratt (don't all the guys who go out with cute girls).
They were quite lovey dovey as they kissed passionately and rubbed each others shoulders and backs; I think he even kissed on her nose without any objections from her.
I was very delighted to see the guy leave his girlfriend/fiance/wife and they beamed at each other so hard I thought he was going to forget to get off the train.
After leaving DC on Thursday, I thought I would at least get away from the sight of all those annoying young couples. But, sure enough, there was one sitting beside a window at Cristina's Cafe in the small town of Strasburg, Va., about an hour south of DC.
She had on some fancy shoes and a nice dress, and I think he had an English accent. They had their legs curled around each other, and they were gazing at each other profoundly. It was quite disgusting, actually.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Since I managed to seriously lost and meander around aimlessly through Northwest DC on Wednesday night, my family who was eagerly awaiting my impending arrival on Thursday night (day four of our excursion) was delighted to see me arrive at our home away from home at 10:04 p.m. that evening.
If things had gone exactly according to my sincerest desires, I would've been dancing at the Gogol Bordello concert that night at the 9:30 Club. But, the show was sold out, and assuredly if I had gone, I would have not come back to the temporary residency until circa 2:00 a.m.
So, I opted to see the Finnish film "Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale," which is about how an archaeological expedition to Antarctica yields the discovery of a Santa Claus who has been frozen stiff for eons.
When I first heard about the film, I thought it might be a bit of a subversive take on Christmas, which I would not have objected to (I am a Festivus kind of a guy). But, in actuality, it is merely a quirky comedy that is perhaps just slightly more "A Christmas Story" than "Bad Santa" though the distinctive Scandinavian sense of humor which one can see in films like "The Kitchen Stories" (Norway) and "Together" (Sweden) would probably be lost on most American audiences.
So, as it was, since I got home in time, there was no need for the friendly Indian or Pakistani taxi driver who had bailed me out the night before!
SIDEBAR: We love this tweet from comic book artist/cartoonist Chris Eliopoulos, who is always a hoot: "My wife made lobster mac and cheese ensuring that I will die of a heart attack b4 I'm 50."
Saturday, January 1, 2011
Today, we are taking a brief hiatus from blogging about our family trip to Washington, DC, which had elements of both "National Lampoon's Vacation" and "Taxi Driver" to send holiday greetings via our favorite French cowboy Lucky Luke, whom I still refer to as Red Kit since that was his name in the Turkish translations of his adventures.
Surprisingly enough, even though Lucky Luke's stories all took place in the American west, and featured such real-life figures as Billy the Kid, who Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico did not pardon yesterday, the comic book was never popular in America. Though, Lucky Luke did develop a loyal following in Canada, Turkey, Italy, Germany, the former Yugoslavia and even Vietnam.
The first Lucky Luke comic books arrived in 1946, and his rivals were the Dalton Brothers, a Keystone Kopsesque bunch of numb-skulls who were based loosely on the real-life Dalton Gang.
The books were drawn by the Morris (1923-2001) and the stories were written by the late French icon Rene Goscinny, who also worked on the adventures of Asterix the Gaul.
Red Kit rode a white horse named Jolly Jumper and he was accompanied by a stupid dog Rantanplan, who was a satire of Rin Tin Tin. In fact, the dog was called Rin Tin Tin in the Turkish versions.
Lucky Luke was criticized for using cigarettes, and Morris defended the character using the tobacco product in the children books up until 1988 when he decided it was time for the French cowboy to go cold turkey.
New English-language versions made by Cinebooks can be found at considerably more retailers here in les etats unis than in years past. One of them is my personal favorite comic book shop Chapel Hill Comics in Chapel Hill, NC, where one can also see a Tom Waits octopus!
SIDEBAR: Kudos to the following New Years Day babies who were among the first born in their areas: Colton Jackson Rodenhauer of Richmond, Va., Sean-John Arruda of Fall River, Mass. and Jasmine Bessou of Winston-Salem, NC.