Thursday, April 28, 2011

Quote of the Day- George Brett

Today, I am quoting the two legendary third baseman who were the center-point of the 1980 World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Kansas City Royals.

Alas, Mike Schmidt's Phils beat George Brett's Royals, but the American League slugger got his own World Series ring in 1985 when the Royals beat the St. Louis Cardinals.

Brett, now 57, is originally from West Virginia, and he played his entire 20-year career (1973-93) with the Royals. Bret was also a 13-time All-Star and he was named American League MVP in 1980.

Here is his quote:

"If a tie is like kissing your sister, losing is like kissing your grandmother with her teeth out."

SIDEBAR_ I know magazines must be desperate for subsribers these days due to the increasingly annoying digitalization of everything. But, I was still VERY surprised to get a subsription request from the conservative magazine "The Weekly Standard." I am a liberal Democrat (but I live in a place that's more like Provo than Provincetown) and I subscribe to the center-left journal "The New Republic."

But, I did exchange a few pleasant emails with William Kristol, and as much as I disagree with him, especially about Sarah Palin, I can not say anything negative about him personally.

In the current issue, "Weekly Standard" contributor Jonathan V. Last has an article about how Superman will supposedly lose his American citizenship. I didn't get a chance to read the article, so it would be an assumption on my part that the article blames President Barack Obama. But, the right will probably blame him for yesterday's tornadoes in Alabama. As it turns out, Last, which would be a very bad last name for a politician, is an avid comic book fan. He apparently eulogized Captain America. This leads to wonder what he thinks about my personal favorite Marvel Comics character Howard the Duck. But, he probably doesn't have time to read this blog!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Quote of the Week- Walt Whitman

Today's quote of the day is Walt Whitman (1819-1892) as National Poetry Month comes to a close.

Like Robert Frost, whom we quoted on our other blog, Whitman has two museums dedicated to him. Whitman's birth place in West Hills, NY, is a museum that is open to the public. There is also the Walt Whitman House, his last place of residency, in Camden, NJ.

Both museums would make for a quite field trip for students at Belgrade High School in Belgrade, Montana (a real place!).

There are also several high schools named for Whitman in the United States, including Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland. The school where Alan Goodwin is principal and the Vikings are the school nickname is the alma mater of many famous people, including film director Spike Jonze ("Being John Malkovich" and "Where the Wild Things Are").

A different Whitman quote that the one used here is actually at the start of Joseph O'Neill's much-acclaimed 2008 novel "Netherland." I was surprised to find that the Irish writer is actually half-Turkish, as am I!

Here is the quote from Whitman:

"I find no sweeter fat than sticks to my bones."

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ten People with Long Names (Females)

Those of us with long names, such as my own (Gokbudak), always feel deep sympathy for those with even longer names. Imagine trying to get a table at Applebees, a pair of bowling shoes or medications at the pharmacy with these names!

1. Ludmilia Petrushevskaya- (pictured) This 72-year-old Russian playwright/author had her short story "A Withered Branch" recently published in "The New Yorker."

2. Antoaneta Stefanova. It is actually the first name of this 32-year-old world chess champion from Bulgaria which poses more issues!

3. Sebnem Kimyacioglu. She is a 27-year-old Turkish-American who now plays pro basketball in Istanbul, Turkey, with the team GalataSaray. She played for the Stanford Cardinal in college, and her sister Yasemin plays for Santa Clara University.

4. Nadia Comaneci- At first glance, the name of this 49-year-old Romanian gymnastics legend doesn't appear to be that difficult, but just try saying it!

5. Svetlana Boginskaya- This 38-year-old gymnast who was known as "The Belarusian Swan" was butchered many times by American tv announcers when she won gold at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. She also competed until her late-twenties, which is unusual for a gymnast.

6. Agusta Erlendsdottir- This 29-year-old Icelandic singer who is famous in her homeland probably wishes her name was more simple like Bjork, a rock singer who is perhaps the most famous person from Iceland in the world.

7. Gro Hammerseng- Sticking with Scandanavia, this 31-year-old Norwegian athlete helped her country win team gold in handball at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

8. Melina Kanakaredes- Greek-American actress, 44, who is best-known for her tv work on the shows "Providence" and "CSI: New York."

9. Kim Kashkashian- This 58-year-old violonist and Armenian-American who has played with Yo Yo Ma should not be confused with the model/actress/reality tv show persona Kim Kardashian, who all of us are probably following on Twitter.

10. Deepika Padukone-This 25-year-old Bollywood actress was born in Copenhagen, Denmark- of all places!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Motto of the Week- Why Nothing Ever Gets Done

Here is our motto for the day, which may read like some kind of avant garde poem:

"Dirty dishes. Laundry. Friends. Frenemies. High School classmates. Women. Platonic relationships. Possible relationships. Possibly serious relationship. Bad relationships. Finding a relationship. E-Harmony. Facebook. Twitter. My Space. Read book of poems by Ted Kooser. Write an essay/blog entry/short story/short play/screenplay/novel. Mom. Grade papers. Prepare tests. Fix car. Wash car. Call the doctor's/dentist office. Volunteer for local animal shelter. Donate old coat to Goodwill. Give to Habitat for Humanity. Send birthday to co-worker. See the new hip, happening French film even if it's showing an hour away.

Why nothing ever gets done....."

This is slightly different than the version I posted on "The Daily Vampire." In this version, we mentioning washing the car in addition to fixing it. If you live in the Charlotte, NC, suburb of Fort Mill, SC, we recommend taking your car to Tega Cay Wash and Lube!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Weekend Road Trip (7 of 20)_ Lynchburg, Va. to Wilmington, Del.

Well, since our entry on our other blog "The Daily Vampire" took as long to do as writing a term paper on "War and Peace" or a Wikipedia entry on the life of its author Leo Tolstoy, we are going to try to streamline the designated time for this entry.

Today, we are looking at the distance between Wilmington, Del., and Lynchburg, Va. The two cities have teams in the Carolina League, which is a single-A minor league baseball division. They happen to play each other in Lynchburg on Monday night at 6:05 p.m.

The Lynchburg Hillcats won a double-header over the Frederick Keys in Maryland today by a 3-2 and 2-1 count. Down in North Carolina, the Wilmington Blue Rocks split their own double-header with the Winston-Salem Dash. The visitors won the first game 10-2, but fell 3-2 in the night-cap.

For this entry, we are going to examine the distance between Macado's, a Roanoke, Va-based regional restaurant chain, which has a location on Candlers Mountain Road in Lynchburg, and the Deep Blue Bar and Grill in Wilmington, Del.

Since Lynchburg is mostly known for being the home to Liberty University and the Mall of America-sized mega church that is Thomas Road Baptist Church where the late Rev. Jerry Falwell preached, we thought we would go against the city's stereotype as a beacon of fundamentalism and arch right-wing politics by featuring an image from the 1970's tv-show "The Waltons." *(Hmmm....maybe, since it is now officially Easter Sunday, we should refrain from making fun of fervent fundamentalists....nah!).

Of course, Delaware is known for being the home state of Vice President Joe Biden, who surreally looks like Rev. Falwell here!

We must profess that Mapquest's suggested time of travel for this trip is probably only doable at 4:00 a.m., which is almost what time it is now!, because the route would go through both Washington, DC, and Baltimore, but we are going with what they say here!

So, is the answer:

A) Five Hours

B) Five Hours, 30 minutes

C) Six Hours, 30 minutes

D) Seven Hours

The answer to last week's road trip quiz is C) as it takes about 12 hours and ten minutes to get from Hagerstown, Md., to Chatanooga, Tenn.

Also, we heard an interesting segment on the BBC World Service about why it might be unwise to give out to much info about yourself on the Internet as many employers around the world google applicants' names to see if there is a Youtube video of the applicant dancing with a lamp shade over his or her head while intoxicated.

Since I now have over 2,000 blog entries with my name, Dennis Alexander**, attached to it perhaps I am into deep. But, I've never danced with a lamp shade on my head. And, apparently, the government in Spain is trying to get Google to prevent such potentially embarrassing info from infringing upon the rights of its citizens. Hmmm....I wonder how Clarence Thomas would feel about this one!

*- "The Waltons" took place on Afton Mountain near Charlottesville, Va. It is about one hour, 15 minutes north of Lynchburg

**-Dennis Alexander is a pseudonymn and an in-joke. If Donald Trump is visiting our blog, we want him to know that Mr. Alexander did vote for John McCain (it was in the 2000 Republican primary in Virginia to make sure George W. Bush wouldn't become prez. Oh well!).

Friday, April 22, 2011

Hapy Children's Day in Turkey

Saturday, April 23rd, will be Children's Day in Turkey. It was officially started in 1927 as an idea by the Republic of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

For more info on the date and its origins, visit our sister blog "The Daily Vampire."

Here in America, many local Turkish-American associations, including the one in the Chicago metro area, have their own events for the occasion.

Dr. Mehmet Oz (known more commonly as Dr. Oz), Cenk Uygur of MSNBC, a fellow progressive Turkish-American and author/writer Elif Batuman whose work has appeared in "The New Yorker" are among the most notable of Turkish-Americans who were born in the United States. Uygur, who turned 41 last month, and I have birthdays that are two and a half weeks apart!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Status Update_ Today, I Learned What the Third Largest City in Uzbekistan Is

...And, the answer is Namangan. The city located in the northern edge of Uzbekistan in the Fergana Valley has a population of about 441,300 people according to Wikipedia.

In his new book "The Googlization of Everything," University of Virginia professor/author Sani Vaidhyanathan (and, I thought my last name Gokbudak was difficult!), we can effectively ask Google anything, and it will in 99 percent likelihood give us the answer. Of course, this has a dark side as well which the authro explains in great detail which would take a long time for us to go into (ok, it is actually a bit over our heads, but fascinating!).

Author Elif Batuman, a fellow Turkish-American whom I've never met, wrote about her adventures in Samarkand, Uzbekistan's second largest city behind the capital Tashkent, in her excellent memoir "The Possessed" which also talks about her affinity for Russian authors like Leo Tolstoy ("War and Peace.").

I would write more, but the line for hamburgers at the deli is growing! In a future entry, we are hoping to post about the geographical distance between Wilmington, Del., and Lynchburg, Va.

Last year, we tried to do our own version of GeoQuiz, a feature on the NPR show "The World," but few people really seemed interested in learning about things like major tourist attractions in Slovenia. But perhaps one day we may bring the series back from the dead!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Special Quote of the Day- Willie Mays

Today, we quote baseball legend Willie Mays, who is still alive and well at age 79. Mays played from 1951-1973 with the New York/San Francisco Giants and the New York Mets (at the end of his career).

He is considered to be one of the very, very best players to ever play the game along with Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and Hank Aaron.

Mays made 24 All-Star Game appearances and he hit 660 homeruns. But, surprsingly enough, he only won one World Series with the 1954 New York Giants. May is also known by his nicknmae "The Say Hey Kid" and he mentioned in the John Fogerty song "Centerfield."

Here is the quote:

"Every time I look at my pocketbook, I see Jackie Robinson."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Quote of the Day- Rita Dove

Originally, we were going to quip the late playwright/poet August Wilson ("Fences") with Maya Angelou (see our sister entry in the blog "The Daily Vampire"), but we are going with a living poet Rita Dove who lives in Charlottesville, Va.

Since Virginia is my home state, and I still spend quit a bit of time there, I thought Dove would be a good choice, and her poetry_ especially regarding Civil Rights issues_ is quite exemplarary. Nikki Giovanni, another highly regarded African-American female poet, resides just down the proverbial road from Dove in Blacksburg, Va.

Here is the quote from Dove:

"Being true to yourself means being true to all the complexities of the human spirit."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Congrats to Alabama Crimson Tide Gymnastics

The University of Alabama won their fifth women's gymnastics championship on Saturday in Cleveland thanks to the efforts of Kayla Hoffman (pictured here on floor) and Geralen Stack-Eaton (pictured here talking to Coach Sarah Patterson).

Kylee Botterman (whew!, we almost typed her name with one e!) of Michigan won all-around with a 39.525 as she edged out Hoffman from Alabama (39.5).

For the Crimson Tide, Stack-Eaton won the individual floor exercise event with a 9.937. Other individual winners included Marissa King of Florida who won vault with a 9.875; Kat Ding of Georgia who scored a 9.875 to win uneven bars and Sam Peszek of UCLA who won the balance beam with a 9.9 score.

Other teams had gymnasts who fared well including the Utes who finished fifth overall, but the team had stand-out performances from veteran gymnasts Gael Mackie and Stephanie McAllister.

SIDEBAR: Today was a good day for Geoffrey Mutai as the Kenyan runner finished the Boston Marathon in record time with a score of 2:03:02. His fellow Kenyan Moses Mosop finished second. And, Ethiopian runner Gebregziabher Gebermariam, who will qualify for our top ten list of impossible names (which we hoping to post one week from today) finished in third. Of course, we fully realized that we probably will have to apologize for not spelling his name right!

Stack-Eaton also won the floor exercise event with a 9.937 score.

Motto of the Day- Just Do Nothing

It is perhaps slightly deviant of us to drag Kandula, the beloved nine-year-old Indian elephant at the National Zoo in Washington, DC, into politics, but..... (for those of our dear readers in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, the elpehant is the unofficial symbol of the Republican Party).

So, this is the first in what we hope we will be many Motto of the Day entries:

"Just do nothing_ it saves money, gas, and utilities."

Of course, it wastes a major resource which is time! Jonathan Chait of "The New Republic" brilliantly illustrated how the Republican Party has done nothing for America since the 1930s, and we couldn't agree more!

Interestingly enough, there is a non-partisan web site called "Do Nothing for Two Minutes" which urges everyone to just simply sit and stare at the screen for 120 seconds!

SIDEBAR: In a column that was reportedly published in "The Washington Post," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the most liberal member of the Senated, cited Valero Energy as the nation's sixth worst big corporate freeloader. The company made $68 billion last year, but they still got a $157 million TAX REFUND from the IRS.

I should hope this would raise the eyebrows of even the most conservative Democrat, arguably Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and/or progresive Republican, whom many believe to be Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), but they are perhaps concerned with other things. The rest of us, however, can pump gas some place else....and, I'm speaking as someone who catered to Valero!

Friday, April 15, 2011

We are Postponing Our Scheduled Entry, but.....

....In the meantime, we are going to recommend that you read Gunter Grass' classic German novel "The Tin Drum" over the weekend. The 1959 novel was made into a vintage 1978 German film that was banned in Oklahoma!

One might be able to find the novel at Malaprop's Bookstore in Asheville, NC. Should they NOT have it, you can ask for "Slaughterhouse Five" by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., instead of blaming us!

By the way, we are planning on posting an entry dedicated to the 10 Craziest People in America. The Rev. Terry Jones of Gainesville, Fla., who is apparently hoping to start World War III, and the Rev. Johnny Robertson of Martinsville, Va., who probably disdains Muslims, gays and people who don't go to his church just as much, are likely to make the cut!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Weekend Road Trip- Maryland to Tennessee (6 of 20)

Hi kids. Be sure to tell all your friends about out blog to make it worth our time. Hmmm, yes, we are beginning to sound like a PBS station.

Today, we focus on the distance between Hagerstown, Md, home of the Hagerstown Suns (if you left off the 's,' one might think it was the town newspaper!), and Chattanooga, Tenn., home of the Chattanooga Lookouts, which is a reference to nearby Lookout Mountain. But, yes, we were wondering what exactly a 'lookout' is too; is it like some kind of TSA agent? (We hope our friends at the ACLU like the joke, or that someone does!).

Currently, the Hagerstown Suns are in Lexington, Ky., where they will be play the Lexington Legends tonight. The team's next home game is against the reigning South Atlantic League champs the Lakewood Blueclaws, who play in Lakewood, NJ.

The Chattanooga Lookouts are also on the road in Alabama as they are playing the Birmingham Barons, a team that beat them 6-2 yesterday. The next home game for the Lookouts, who are in the Southern League (so they can't play the Suns) is on Monday against the Hunstville Stars from Huntsville, Ala., which should not confused with Huntsville, Tex., where they execute more people than they do in Saudi Arabia (I guess by now, it's obvious that I'm not exactly a right-wing Tea Partier).

To look at the distance between the two cities, we took the address of the Oasis Hookah Lounge in Hagerstown, Md., and the address of the City Cafe (Carter Street location) in Chattanooga, Tenn.

It should be pointed that we are using the Turkish shadow puppets of Karagoz and Hacivat, which are proudly from the city of Bursa, Turkey, instead of the image of a hookah pipe to be kid-friendly and because images of the pipes are surprisingly difficult to hot-link.

And, of course, the choo choo is because Chattanooga is famous for (I think everyone outisde of Tajikistan knows this) The Chattanooga Choo Choo.

So, what is the answer? If you know, I will give you either an eight-track tape of the Oak Ridge Boys' Greatest Hits or a vinyl record from Captain Tanille unless you are related to me, which disqualifies any siblings residing in Goteborg, Sweden (in-joke...hmmm...they may not get it either).

Is the answer:

A) 11 hours and 50 minutes

B) 12 hours even

C) 12 hours and 10 minutes

D) 12 hours and 20 minutes

The answer to last week's question was A) 12 hours and ten minutes. We have no idea which PBS station serves Chattanooga, and we are too lazy/tired to look it up. But, we do know that Maryland Public Television serves Hagerstown, and we wonder if they still show "Dr. Who" reruns on Saturday night!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Special Quote of the Day- Johnny Bench

"I can throw out any man alive," Johnny Bench.

For those too young to remember, Bench, a catcher with the Cincinnati Reds, who is now 63, was a vital part of the Big Red Machine. Alas, the Reds who had won 102 games during the regular season were upset in the 1970 World Series by the Baltimore Orioles.

FYI- In case, you are wondering who is Terry Gross (yikes, we almost spelled her name with an 'i'!) going to interview on NPR's "Fresh Air" today, the answer is former "SNL" star/current "30 Rock" star/wonderful Sarah Palin impersonator Tina Fey. For those of you in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where we think at least one person reads this blog, we're pretty sure you will have to go the "Fresh Air" web site ( to listen to show since public radio is probably not otherwise available in the former Soviet republics.

PS- In case, I seemed a bit too harsh or critical of Barracuda yesterday, I just want to say I have seen the light: "I Love You, Big Brother" (reference to George Orwell's novel "1984").

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Quote of the Week- e.e. cummings

While researching this piece, we were surprised that e.e. cummings (also known as E.E. Cummings, though he never capitalized the letters of his name for his poems)
(1894-1962) went from being a bohemian liberal to a Republican.

But, we like his poetry anyway, especially "Buffalo Bill's" and "Little Tree." So, we decided to quote him today in honor of National Poetry Month:

"I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing than to teach ten thousand others how to dance."

SIDEBAR: Is anyone else besides me iritated with the Barracuda Networks, an entity that many public instutions, such as libraries, use to 'filter' inappropriate sites, here in the United States and perhaps other parts of the world?

We certainly understand why such institutions would not want patrons looking up pornographic sites as web site dedicated to serial killers and Adolf Hitler as well ones which tell you the best ways to commit suicide.

But, it is ironic that Barracuda will actually block most social networking sites, like Twitter, Facebook and E-Harmony (and, hey we wonder why fewer people are in relationships than ever!), but they will allow access to terrorist organizations, such as the web site for the PKK. This is a Kurdish separatist group, formed in 1978 by Abdullah Ocalan, which has killed thousands of innocent people in Turkey. We presume that even in post-9/11 America that the PKK is apparently not a concern for this network that some may view as a censoring body which happens to share its name with a Portland, Ore., nightclub as well as a famous song by Heart.

How's that for irony?!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Announcing a Very Big Sale

My mom is having a HUGE moving sale at her former residence, located at 456 Ingal Blvd., Salem, Va. 24153 (we are using the zip code in case you want to Mapquest it; I think Bethesda, Maryland, is about five hours away as is Fayetville, NC---we really want people to come out in droves for this thing, seriously!).

Among the low-end items for sale are a pennant with King Kong hovering over the World Trade Center, a Captain Tennile vinyl record with their hit song "Love Will Keep Us Together" (it didn't belong to me) and a children's wind-up toy of a monkey playing a drum that might actually be older than I am.

The high-end items include an exotic Indonesian puppet, several antique lamps (we think), depression glass (hmmm....I should have asked mom to confirm all this), a nice couch and a huge big-screen tv.

There will also be lots of tools, but I'm not sure if those should be classified as high-end or low-end items. And, there is a cute, antique "Pinocchio" children's book as well as some novels which I actually found time to read, like "American Psycho" by Bret Easton Ellis.

Should you reside in Provo, Utah, which is 30 hours and 21 minutes from Salem, Va. (we did confirm this!), you can always fly. I think Delta Airlines would have the best route.

But, we know you will probably settle for watching "Antiques Roadshow." The episode which is reportedly airing in most markets tonight was taped in Billings, Montana. Assuredly, that town is even farther away from Salem than the folks in 84601 (zip code for Provo, Utah).

For more information, you can go which will hopefully have an update on the Big Sale during the week.

My mom also sells antiques and collectibles at Duke's Antiques Mall in historic Lexington, Va.

I guess now mom will have to take me out to eat at Applebee's for doing all this!

PS: We forgot to mention that the times for the Big Huge Sale are Friday from 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and from noon to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Perhaps, It's a Good Thing I'm Not a Sportscaster

When it comes to predicting the outcomes of collegiate sports, my forecasting would assuredly have me fired from ESPN. Not only, did I miss every single game of the men's Final Four in basketball, I did the same for the women's Final Four in basketball and the Frozen Four in men's hockey over the weekend.

I had also only picked two games right in the men's and women's college basketball quaterfinals respectively as I missed all four games in the men's final eight!

As for the Frozen Four, which took place in St. Paul, Minn., from Thursday to Saturday, local favorite, the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, won the team's first NCAA title in the sport.

Kyle Schmidt, a senior left winger, scored with 3:22 left in overtime to score the game-winning goal over the University of Michigan Wolverines. Max Tardy, a freshman who is actually from Duluth, Minn., and Travis Oleksuk, a junior from Canada, also scored for the 'dogs in their victory.

In the first two games of the Frozen Four, the Bulldogs beat Notre Dame 4-3 and Michigan stunned North Dakota, the favorite to win the championship, by shutting down the Fighting Sioux 2-0.

My predictions in women's college gymnastics, my favorite sport, has been equally futile as I projected the Stanford Cardinal to win their first NCAA title in that sport this year.

But, the Cardinal came in fourth place at regionals in Ann Arbor, Mich., as the host Michigan Wolverines qualifed for the finals this weekend in Cleveland along with second place Kent State.

Nevertheless, both Ashley Morgan, daughter of baseball great Joe Morgan, Shelley Alexander and Danielle Ikoma, the team captain, had outstanding years for the Cardinal. Ikoma was also cited by Pac-10 for her outstanding academic accomplishments along with five other Stanford gymnasts.

So, if I take a resume up to Bristol, Conn., where ESPN's main offices are, I have a feeling the elevator person won't let me past the second floor.

NOTE: The image above is from the original 1977 version of the film "The Bad News Bears" about a losing baseball team that eventually somehow gets its act together.

PS_ We forgot to mention that the University of Connecticut beat out Butler for the men's basketball title. Ironically, it was the school's women's team that was favored. But, the Lady Huskies fell to Notre Dame in the Final Four. Then, the Lady Figthing Irish met with Texas A & M since the Aggies had upset Stanford. The Aggies then pulled another upset as they beat the Fighting Irish to capture the women's basketball title. Of course, I saw none of this happening!

Remembering Sidney Lumet (1924-2011)

Since Sidney Lumet, one of the best film directors of the 1970s, died over the weekend (he made many great films before and after that decade as well), I thought I would simply tell this one story about how I saw "Serpico" (1973) at an outdoor Turkish cinema in the resort Kushadasi in 1985, some 12 years after the film was released in America.

In Turkey, the film was actually "Serpiko," and it was dubbed in Turkish! Today, virtually all foreign films are shown in their language of origin with subtitles in Turkey. I had assumed that was now the practice in every country except India until I went to Azerbaijan in 2008 where I saw a Russian-dubbed version of the Will Smith action comedy "Hancock" that I could not understand.

Thankfully, I can speak Turkish so even as awkward as it was to see Al Pacino, who is very popular in Turkey perhaps because he is in a lot of violent/gangster films, I could undertand the film about the plight of a New York police officer Frank Serpico (b.1936) ok. Though several years later, I was happy to see the film again on video, and it is among the films I have wanted to rewatch again (this was even before Lumet's passing).

The cinema was quite packed that humid night in Kushadasi where mostly men were watching the film, and few of them seemed to have any dates. As is custom whenever someone in Tukey sees an American film with a lot of violence or grit, the spectators asked me 'Amerika hakikaten, oyle mi?/Is American really like that?"

Of course, many people here have asked me if Turkey is like "Midnight Express."
(1978, d. Alan Parker), I respond to the later by saying: "I've never been to a Turkish prison." And, I tell people who see American films like "Serpico" that New York is a lot different than Roanoke, Va.- my hometown.

I learned from the IMDB, that "Serpico" was shot in 104 different locations in New York. And, the film was shot in reverse order with Pacino starting off with a beard and long hair, and then ending up clean shaven.

The director and tandem would team up again in "Dog Day Afternoon" (1975), and then Lumet directed "Network" (1977) with actors like Robert Duvall and William Holden. Some have suggested that "Network" predicted the rise of televanglism and the Tea Party movement.

Hmmmm.....if we get a chance, we'll ask Noam Chomsky what he thinks!

But, in all seriousness, virtually film buff except the somewhat notorious David Thomson (who I recall disdaining Lumet for some reason or another), will assuredly miss Lumet, but we have many films to remember him and his exceptional work.

Friday, April 8, 2011

To Be or Not To Be.....Ask the Republicans

The great comic/author Sarah Vowell said: "No one goes to the Ford's Theatre to see the play." The joke is that many are curious to be watching a theatrical performance in a place where the assasination of President Abraham Lincoln took place. But, as great as that quip is, the reality is that the Ford's Theatre is apparently a great place to see a play.

But, right now, there is uncertainty if 'the show will go' or not, due to the looming possibility of a federal government shutdown, which earlier today seemed to have reached a miracolous conclusion, but now we aren't so certain.

The Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC, is not actually performing "Hamlet," but rather a musical/comedy romp called "Liberty Smith," which "The Washington Post" described as an '18th centry Zelig.'

The fictional character Liberty Smith was, according to the theatre's web site, a childhood pal of George Washington, an aide to Benjamin Franklin and he was linked to Paul Revere's historic ride.

The we site for the theatre has a warning about the possibility of a shutdown, which would also affect national parks from The Everglades in Florida to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. For further info about Ford's Theatre, one can call 202-347-4833.

We would recommend going to the Berlin Zoo in Berlin, Germany, as an alternative (yes, that would have been a joke) but sadly both Knut the polar bear, who died at age four, and Shaina Pali the elephant from India, who died at age six, have passed away very recently. They were major attractions at the zoo, and Knut made global headlines as he was the first polar bear born in captivity.

Earlier in the year, Paul the Octopus, died at age two. He garnered world fame by accurately predicting World Cup games. But, the aquarium that housed him in the German city of Oberhausen has erected a six-foot memorial of him with the octopus hovering over a soccer ball with the flags of all 32 countries that competed at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Lastly, we should mention that we are dedicating to our friends in South Bend, Indiana, and Grand Forks, North Dakota, who will soon be having their lunch hours.

Alas, both Notre Dame and the University of North Dakota (well, I was personally rooting for Michigan, one of my late father's alma maters) lost in the Frozen Four in St. Paul, Minn., yesterday.

Notre Dame lost by a 4-3 score to Minn-Duluth, and the Fighting Sioux fell to the Wolverines by a 2-0 margin. It was only the third time all year that North Dakota had been shut out.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Weekend Road Trip- North Dakota to Notre Dame (5 of 20)

Today, in St.Paul, Minn., a city we've never been to that is perhaps best known as being the place where most "Prarie Home Companion" broadcasts originate on NPR, is hosting the Frozen Four. Though they will not play each other unless both teams win, we thought we'd make South Bend, Ind., and Grand Forks, ND, where both Notre Dame and the University of North Dakota are respectively located the subject of our distance quiz today.

For the Fighting Irish, Calle Ridderwall, a senior from Sweden, has been among the team's top players. On the other side of the ice, the Fighting Sioux have been lead by the likes of Canadian Matt Fratin and Brett Hextall, who is the son of former Philadelphia Flyers' goalie Ron Hextall. The younger Hextall is the first player from California ever to play for North Dakota.

Notre Dame plays Minn-Duluth in about five minutes at 5:00 p.m., New York time, while the other UND plays Michigan, ironically Notre Dame's main rival in football, at 7:30 p.m.

For this crazy series, we looked at the exact distance between the Trio's Restaurant and Jazz Club in South Bend, where the Tony Mhoon Jazz Quartet performs on Friday night, and Sanders 1907, a fine dinning establishment in Grand Forks.

And, concluded that the places are this far apart:

A) 12 hours, 10 minutes

B) 12 hours 40 minutes

C) 13 hours, 20 minutes

D) 14 hours, 30 minutes

Either way, it is a longer time spent on the road than the amount of time Calle Ridderwall will spend in the air as he flies Scandanavian Airlines (or whicherver airline he chooses) to go back home to Stockholm!

The answer to last week's question was A) as Athens, Georgia, and Morgantown, West Virginia, are nine hours apart when driving.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Special Quote of the Week- Jackie Robinson

Today's quote of the day comes from the baseball great Jackie Robinson (1919-1972) who was born in Cairo, Georgia, and went on to become Major League Baseball's first African-American player when he joined the then-Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

Ironically, Robinson died at 53 as did Babe Ruth, who is featured on our other blog "The Daily Vampire," and the Bambino also passed away a year after Robinson's historic entrance into baseball.

Here is the quote from Robinson:

"Baseball is like a poker game. Nobody wants to quit when he's losing; nobody wants to quit when's ahead."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Quotes of the Week- Langston Hughes

We are always looking for new people to quote from all the time. But, ultimately, there are always some people we come back to time and time again which means risking the possibility that we have posted the same quote at some juncture before (this particular blog has been around for almost four years now).

One of those people is the great poet Langston Hughes (1902-1967). Today, we found out that he was born just two weeks after another one of my favorite poets Nazim Hikmet (1902-1963) of Turkey who lived much of his later life in exile for political reasons. Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri, and he died in New York. February 1st is his birthday.

We learned this week that he originally went to Columbia University to study engineering, but outraged his family by pursuing writing poetry instead.

Hughes was a political figure himself as he often wrote about the many injustices that African-Americans dealt with during his lifetime. His work also inspired other literary figures, and he deservedly had his image on a postage stamp several years ago.

Here is our quote from this poetic genius:

"Hold fast to your dreams, for without them life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly."

Monday, April 4, 2011

Status Update: I Am Alive and Well and Not in Rural Mongolia

Over the weekend an interesting thing happened as due to surreal circumstances, I was not able to communicate with friends or family simply because the charger for my cellphone had been misplaced.

After making a series of collect calls to answering machines which no one got, my family actually became somewhat worried about me. In the process, I also discovered that pay phones are officially a casualty of modern technology.

But, I am alive and well and I am not in a Mongolian village where thanks to modern technology, an American visitor could ignore all the local culture and unique cuisine around them and find a watch to watch tonight's NCAA men's basketball championship between U-Conn and Butler. Or, at least, they could probably find a way to follow the game's happenings through Twitter.

Friday, April 1, 2011

No April Fools Joke This Year

We are postponing our annual prank for a variety of reasons, perhaps the main one being that everyone, even my naiive as a missionary working with cannibals in the Amazon River basin of Brazil friend Sal Jackovich* in Scranton, Pa., gets the gag.

Normally, we have said that we were going on a sky-diving trip at either Carolina Skydiving in Jonesville, NC (near Winston-Salem) or Sky Dive Orange in Orange, Va (near Charlottesville).

However, my friend Chris Knight from Reidsville, NC, normally has great gags on his blog ( The April Fools Joke in which he said the radical Rev. Johnny Robertson of Martinsville, Va.** had attacked the Pope in Vatican City remains one of the best cyber-pranks I've ever seen. Knight said that reportedly even the FBI called him to ask where he got 'the information.'

*- Not a real person, but I do have a friend like Sal though he does not reside in Scranton, Pa.

**-Yes, he is a real person and he does fit the stereotype of an over-the-top Southern preacher.

PS_ The answer to our road trip question last week was A, as Lexington, Ky., and Columbus, Ohio, are just over three hours away from each other.