Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Quote of the Week- Red Emma Goldman

Today, we conclude our series of quotes from left-wing radicals with a quip from Red Emma Goldman (1869-1940), who may even more lived a more interesting,well-travelled, and certainly less tragic life than her fellow Bolshevik Leon Trotsky.

Goldman is described by Wikipedia as being known for anarchism and giving fiery speeches.

She helped develop the anarchist philosophy of North America. Goldman was born in Lithunia, which became a republic of the Soviet Union (today it is an independent state). She moved to New York in 1885, where she would help create the anarchist journal "Mother Earth" (not to be confused with "Mother Earth News"). The publication lasted from 1906 to 1917.

Goldman was exiled back to the Soviet Union in 1917, but she was not impressed by what she saw. Though it did not change her political ideology, the experience lead to Goldman's penning "My Disillusionment in Russia" (1923), which was very critical of the violence that she witnessed there.

The anarchist leader eventually moved to Canada, where she died in Toronto at age 70.

We should add that while we find Goldman an interesting political figure, and we aren't certainly not in Newt Gingrich's corner (in fact, we think he and Goldman are more or less equally far apart from the political center), by any means, we think it is safe to say Goldman's views are startling to this day and we in now way endorse them. This quote by her illustrates that point quite vividly:

"We Americans claim to be a peace-loving people. We hate bloodshed; we are opposed to violence. Yet, we go into spasms of joy over the possibility of projecting dynamite bombs form flying machines upon helpless citizens."

SIDEBAR- It has been quite the scorcher in the states of Virginia and North Carolina since Sunday. Over the last two days, the following high temperatures were either reported or expected in Virginia: Richmond, 97; Roanoke, 92; Blacksburg, 90; and Appomattox, 100 (?!). Meanwhile in North Carolina, things are not any cooler: Raleigh, 98; Charlotte, 98, Greensboro, 97; Wilmington, 94----perhaps it is a good time to escape to Maine!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Amadeus in Bethesda- Entry 3 of 3

While we did not stay at an old motel in northern Virginia, the hotel stay with the other people in your party is perhaps the most challenging part of any trip.

For my mom and I this was particularly awkward because we have very different lifestyles and our own unique quirks. I like to read and listen to the radio or watch movies on dvd at home in North Carolina. I actually seldom watch regular tv unless there is a sporting event or a show on PBS that interests me. My mom however watches lots of network tv, and she was happy to find out that the CBS show "The Mentalist" was on tv.

Thursday night was the only night we spent at the hotel, and we arrived back around 9:20 p.m. We were both hoping to catch one of the local 11:00 newscasts to hear about President Barack Obama's surprise visit to DuPont Circle, an area of Washington, DC, where we had dined earlier in the evening, at the Turkish restaurant Ezme.

We got caught up along with everyone in watching his motorcade from the side of the road with yellow tape being placed to prevent anyone from getting to close. For the police officers, who I found myself surprisingly sympathizing with more than normal, the greatest challenge was actually communicating with passing joggers who were probably listening to Kenny G on their I-Pods.

The rumor was that Obama was dinning at a pizza place on P Street, just a few doors down from Ezme, and this was communicated to people through Twitter. As it turns, yesterday, at long last, I found out that the rumor was about sixty-percent accurate. Obama actually met with a big financial donor above the pizza place, and pizza was provided for them by the establishment.

But, none of this was mentioned on the 11:00 news, nor was in the express version of "The Washignton Post" which is a free paper mostly aimed at DC Metro commuters.

So, in the 90 minutes between the end of the CBS shows and the late local news, I had decided to barricade myself in the hotel room's bathroom while listening to the great classcial composer Gustav Mahler on WETA-FM, Washington, DC's excellent NPR station which is at least 90-percent classical music. I also took a copy of the current issue of "The Atlantic" with me into the bathroom.

My mother wondered what the heck I was doing. When I explained, she was even more confused. I simply wanted peace and quiet, and amazingly enough, for those 90 minutes, I actually got it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Amadeus in Bethesda- DC Metro People

One of the most unique aspects of traveling in Washignton, DC, is actually the people you see on the DC Metro system. The rail passage stretches from Vienna, Va., to New Carrollton, Md., and that's just the orange line!

One of the people who must stood was a Hispanic man in his early 20s with a huge afro and a blue sleeveless t-shirt. He honestly reminded me of a character you would see on the '70s sitcom "Chico and the Man," and I thought to myself if a man has traveled to the future from 1977, this is surely him. I think H.G. Wells would have agreed! The only think that would separate him from someone from the disco era is that he did have an I-Pod. We have to wonder if he was listening to The Bee Gees.

But, the DC Metro is most notorious for the annoying young couples who board the train. My personal favorite was a couple. Both the boy and girl had blonde hair. I'm guessing they were between 19-22. They sat right in front of us. And, if it weren't for the fact that they did actually communicate to each other (without ever looking at each other) I would have sworn they actually life-size Ken and Barbie dolls with batteries in the back of their necks. They did smile the whole time. And, they held hands. He had a rugby shirt. She had white tennis blouse, a large matching pocketbook and leather sandals. Yes, they were that stereotypical. It was really a stunning sight to behold.

There was also an annoying Hispanic couple who were somehow making out while holding the pole in the center of the train. I forget what the guy looked like, but the girl had a green sundress and flip flops. They seemed to really, really like each other. I was so glad they got off the Metro before we did!

If you want to see some amazing photos of people on the DC Metro, we recommend the site dcmetropeople.com

I was thinking it would be great to write a book about people who ride the DC Metro, but the photographers who take mostly black and white photographs capture these people, their idiosyncracies (gosh, that is a hard word to spell) and their fashion splendidly well. Of course, I am jealous of them too!

Amadeus in Bethesda- Home and Away (Entry 1 of 3)

We are including an image of the late Austrian pop singer Falco ("Rock Me Amadeus") because the play "Amadeus" is currently being performed at the Roundhouse Theatre in Bethesda, Md., and it was one of the many things I would have liked to have done which we didn't get 'round to. The play runs through June 12. And, there were actually plenty of things we were able to get done.

One of the many complications that comes when one is traveling is that no matter if you are traveling to a nearby place or Tashkent, Uzbekistan, if it will involve at least one overnight stay then they are the issues of: "Is there enough food for Garfield?," "Will an annoying bill come in that might forget to pay?," and "Ahhh! When am I ever gonna get to clean up this house?!"

So, you have to decide if you want to stay home and perhaps settle for a vinyl quest at the Happy's Flea Market in Roanoke, Va. or a photo-taking outing to take Polaroids of the Paul Bunyan Muffler Man statue just down the road from Happy's on Williamson Road (yes, Happy's is a real place, the muffler man still stands and Roanoke, Va., is my hometown; I no longer reside there but you may see me there at some juncture...?!).

And, there is the problem of getting out of the darn house itself. I know when I travel I like to think what cds go well with the trip. Inevitably, I always choose Talking Heads or The Cars, though if I ever have to go to a funeral, I may go with The Cure (forgive the Gen X) humor.

On this particular trip, the family cat , who is not actually named Garfield (he's a tuxedo cat, actually), was a top priority. We made sure his liter box was fresh, and that he had food and water. But, alas, we underestimated the amount of time we would be in Washington, DC, so when we came home, we saw that the cat had eaten all six cans we had left him. He was hungry and he was mad. For a moment, I thought he was going to turn into a feline Linda Blair. But, of course, once he was fed, he was a happy camper. Until five minutes later, when he wanted out, but it was midnight. Luckily for us, he did not turn blue or start yelling expletives, nor was he possessed by a Satanic demon (that we know of).

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Special Quote of the Week- Ernest Hemingway

Today's quote of the day is from Ernest Hemingway (1835-1910), the great American novelist who penned such classics such as "The Sun Also Rises," "Old Man and the Sea," "A Farewell to Arms," and many other books we should read.

Hemingway's house, which is a museum in Key West, Fla, is apparently quite the tourist destination though it might be a bit of a haul from places like Wasilla, Alaska, Provo, Utah, Billings, Montana, and other places we like to make fun of (actually we hear Billings* is quite happening, and Hemingway did spend some time in Idaho though right now we don't have time to see exactly when that was and as it is, we've borrowed enough info from Wikipedia on this blog).

Here is his quote; I wonder if Dr. Seuss was ever made aware of Hemingway's sentiment:

"A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book."

*- Billings, Mont., is home to the historic Carlin Hotel built in 1910.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Quote of the Week- Frank Zappa

Along with the likes of John Waters, the late rock musician Frank Zappa (1940-1993) was one of Baltimore's favorite sons. Until we quoted John Lennon today on our sister blog, I did not realize that both singers were born in 1940, a year before Bob Dylan who turned 70 last week.

Frank Zappa's son Dweezil Zappa leads a tribute band called Zappa Plays Zappa. They will perform at The Klein in Bridgeport, Conn., on July 29. Zappa's other celebrity offspring include Moon Unit Zappa and Ahmet Zappa.

Here is a quote from Frank Zappa, which we may well have used the last and only time we quoted him before now, but it is such a good one that it bears repeating here:

"Stupidity is the basic building block of the universe."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Special Quote from Tom Stoppard

Since we were in Washington, DC, last week, we thought we'd share this quip from Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) as one of his earliest plays "The Real Inspector Hound" (1968) is being performing by Metro Stage of Alexandria, Va., until May 29 (which is Sunday).

The one-act murder mystery set in an English mansion, may sound like a Scooby-Doo episode (the animated cartoon which maintains a large following was coinceindentally written around the time o Stoppard's play) examines the roles of fate and free will, according to Wikipedia, and who are we to argue with them?!

Here is the quip:

"Eternity is a terrible thought. I mean where's it all going to end?"

SIDEBAR: I saw that Mill Mountain Coffee, which has four locations in the Roanoke, Va.-area (my hometown) has a sign which says "No Soup for You" for Saturday and Sunday as they don't serve soup over the weekend. I thought it was an interesting way of borrowing a phrase that became hip in the 19990s, though I wonder if customers who are older than Bob Dylan (he turned 70 over the weekend) might this rude and obnoxious. But, Mill Mountain does serve lobster bisque soup at some point during the week. I imagine there are recipes in "Good Housekeeping" and perhaps even back issues of "Down East" (a Maine travel magazine).

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Quote of the Day- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

We are hoping to start a series of blog entries about my 36-hour trip to Washington, DC, and hopefully, when I can get around to it at some point next week, I will remember the annoying cute young couple who did look a real-life Ken and Barbie. Their mutual lack of communication made me also wonder if they had batteries in their necks.

I also saw this supposedly-Hispanic guy who looked like he journeyed forward in time from the set of the 1970s sitcom "Chico and the Man." I saw all three of these people on the DC Metro, and the supposedly-Hispanic guy in his early 20s had this huge Afro which might well be a nuisance at the Kennedy Center.

We are going to entitle our series "Amadeus in Bethesda" because the Roundhouse Theatre in Bethesda, Maryland, is performing the famed Peter Shaffer play. The production will be helmed by Mark Ramont, and the cast features Edward Gero, Sasha Olinick, Floyd King and Laura C. Harris. It runs through June 5.

Shaffer is still alive and well as he turned 85 on May 15.

WETA-FM, the Washington DC area's main classical music station is focusing on the music of another great composer Gustav Mahler until the end of the month, but we imagine they will play a fair share of Mozart music as well.

We leave you with this quip from the great Austrian composer Mozart (1756-1791) who alas died way too young:

"I thank god for graciously granting me the opportunity of learning that death is the key which unlocks the door to our true happiness."

Friday, May 20, 2011

Happy Apocalypse Not Day

Yeah, we don't think volcanic eruptions and nuclear warfare is going to be happening today, either and we would love to make more fun of Harold Camping, the radical extreme evangelists who started this 'the world is going to end on May 21, 2011,' campaign, but frnakly, we've got to start watching a Japanese horror film double-header on TCM Underground here in (yikes!) three minutes.

Unless, the world does start coming to an abrupt end tomorrow, we expect that the University of Virginia's NCAA quarter-final men's lacrosse game against Cornell, which will be played in Long Island at noon, will go on as scheduled. The game will be broadcast on ESPN-2, unless they have to break away to coverage of aliens invading Baltimore.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tweet of the Day- Courtney Kupets (Former Georgia Gymnast)

Well, the college gymnastics season has been over and Courtney Kupets ended her impressive career at the University of Georgia two years ago. But, we found this tweet from Kupets, who was also a member of the national Olympic team to be very intriguing:

"I'm learning how to keep my car lookin new! Car wash, vacuum, and buffer! Now, I just need to touch up paint. Thanks dad."

SIDEBAR: I know given that name is (mr) Tilly Gokbudak, I often feel like my long name causes me needless problems whether it is at the pharmacy or the bowling alley, but I found these five last names on the Internet which made me realize I really can't complain. Here they are:

1. Dzhamgerchinov (Russian)

2. Niratpattanasai (Thailand)

3. Kocakthugagullarindan (Turkey)

4. MacGhilleseathanich (Welsh)

5. Featherstonehaughwolfeschlegelsteinhausenerdorff (German)


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Quote of the Week: Leo Tolstoy

I may not share my fellow Turkish-American Elif Batuman's love for Russian literature. Batuman, whom I've never met, is a respected nonfiction writer who has published many articles in "The New Yorker" and she wrote a brilliant 2010 memoir "The Possessed." While much of that book talks about long, famous Russian novels, Batuman also talks about spending time in Uzbekistan where she spent a considerable long time engrossing the fascinating, yet very remote country.

Of course, one of the novels that Batuman was examining was the epic 1869 work "War and Peace" from Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) which is 1,225 pages.

Here is Tolstoy's quote:

"Historians are life deaf people who go on answering questions that no one asks them."

SIDEBAR: When I saw the headline in "The Huffington Post" that "Man Survives 96 Minutes Without a Pulse," I thought they might be refering to Dick Cheney, but the man is in fact an unmplyed chef named Howard Snitzer from Goodhue, Minnesota.

SIDEBAR TWO: Earlier tonight, we had a chance to listen to the show "Progressive Torch and Twang," an alternative country/folk/Americana music show from Impact89-FM, the college station from Michigan State via the Internet. The show is extremely entertaining and amusing. Among the highlights on tonight's show was a song from Eddie Spaghetti, an alt country singer from Seattle, who sang a tune called "Jesus Never Lived on Mars." We can't imagine that one would ever hear it on a country music station in Lynchburg, Va.!

Quote of the Week- Lillian Hellman

Today, we continue quoting figures who were either socialists or communists this month since May 1 is associated with Marxism. Though I'm not one myself, I consider Marxists to be a bit more intellectually sound than the radical Chicken Little evangelists who are forecasting mushroom clouds on Saturday.

And, we turn our attention to the great playwright Lillian Hellman (1905-1984) who is best known for three plays in particular, "The Children's Hour" (1934), "The Little Foxes" (1939) and "Toys in the Attic" (1960).

According to Wikipedia, Hellman was blacklisted because her long-time lover the noir novelist Dashiel Hammett was a communist and because Hellman also refused to name names.

Here is her quote:

"Belief is a moral act for which the believer has to be held responsible."

SIDEBAR: I must profess that I could not agree with my friend Chris Knight in Reidsville, NC, who tweeted the following today: "Call me old-fashioned, but if a man can't be trustworthy with his wife, he can't be trusted with elected office." I think Knight was eluding to a certain actor/body-builder who became the governor of California, but it did remind me of current Republican presidential candidate newt Gingrich.

A former congressional rep from New York put in the former house speaker in his rightful place by saying: "Newt will be knocked off his message more times for his own actions than by others."

SIDEBAR TWO: Since there are times when I can be a bit overbearing around others, I was wondering if there was a term for a male diva. And, according to the Urban Dictionary, there is. We are divos. But, we should not be confused with people who can be called devo, though we love the '80s New Wave band Devo. That term refers to male divas are possibly homosexual or meterosexual!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Yes, We Have Experienced Distractions

Since I have used the test pattern image from TRT (Turkish Radio Television) in the 1970s when I lived there from 1977-79 (though my late father was Turkish, I was born in America) and watched American shows such as "Space 1999" and "Flipper" many times on this blog, I thought I would go with the test patter from Bulgarian-TV around that same time. But, I had to settle with this test patter from Swedish TV instead. Somehow, I don't expect there was all that much difference between test patterns back then. Curiously, I'm not sure how often the test pattern comes up in the modern age. It could yet be another Casualty of Modern Technology.

Speaking of which, I just had to get up and change sides on a vinyl record version of "Stop Making Sense," a 1984 concert album from Talking Heads. I am now listening to "Once in a Lifetime," which may have inspired the Coen Brothers to make their quirky, dark comedies where a man's leg goes through a wood chipper in Minnesota.

While vinyl is making a comeback these days, so are zealous extreme forms of the Christian faith here in America. I respect people's faith, but when they start saying the world will end on Saturday (and, yes, there is a pretty significant group out there which has made this gloomy forecast), I think the rest of us have a Constitutional right to say: "Hmmmm...yes, you are insane."

Additionally, more businesses have actually implemented religion into the names of their hotels and restaurants, in addition to those that put "He Lives," "The Tomb is Empty" or "He is Risen" on their store marquees assuredly driving any Egyptian gas station managers to decide they would rather have a Whopper at Burger King.

Amazingly enough, there is apparently a restaurant called Jesus Kitchen, in North Hollywood, Calif., of all places.

And, if you want to make sure 'God is spending the night with you," then the Christ the King Motel in Kingsport, Tenn., a place I have seen for myself, might be the place for you as long as there are no Jews, Buddhists, Muslims or Hindus in your party. There is another Christ the King Motel in Beckley, W.Va., but we could not find out if the two places with the same name had the same owners. Assuredly, they may kick you out of your room if you come to the front desk to ask where the Coke machine is as you are dressed in a Slayer t-shirt.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Status Update- I Really Need to Shave

I am actually a man, but when I stumbled upon this image, I knew it would fit in perfectly with the blog. Originally, I wanted to have an image of a man with a very long beard but they either looked like Charles Manson or Osama bin Laden, or on the other end of the spectrum Jesus Christ.

Though apparently it is hard to get one here in America, the Turkish shave seems to be somewhat popular in London. There is, in fact, a Youtube video of a man from England getting an authentic Efe Turkish shave.

I got one such shave, which involves a long straight razor, at a barbershop in Buyukada (an island near Istanbul) when I was in Turkey. My skin sure did burn! The Turkish shave was at its peak in Ottoman times, but it is relatively easy to get one today in Turkey too.

SIDEBAR: I heard the song "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" on the radio today. It dawned on me that even though I had heard the folksy pop ballad at least 250 times, I had no idea who really sang the song. From Google, I learned it was in fact from Mickey Thomas along with the Elvin Bishop Group, and that the song came out in 1976. Thomas went to become a member of Starship, and he helped to destroy one of the best rock bands of the '70s (the group was first called Jefferson Airplane, then Jefferson Starship). Oh, great, "We Built This City" is now ringing in my head as we speak!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Special Quote of the Week- Gunter Grass

We love Gunter Grass, and this like the fourth time we've dedicated a blog entry to the German novelist/playwirght (b. 1927) who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1999; his best-known work in America is the novel "The Tin Drum" (1959). It was made into an award-winning 1979 German film of the same name which was for some reason banned in Oklahoma (I guess you could check out the book at the public library in Tulsa; we assume the ban has been lifted. Yes, it is like something out of North Korea, isn't it?!).

Grass is also politically active, and he has made many enemies among German conservatives. In the 1980s, Grass also visited India for his months.

Here is his quote:

"The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open."

SIDEBAR: Germany was one of the four choices in a fun Internet quiz which asked which European country would you go to; the choices were A) Sweden, B) Germany, C) Spain and D) Greece. I am indeed the one in 100 person who chose Sweden! According to visitsweden.com, there is now an art exhibit in Stockholm of the illustrations by the English children's author Beatrix Potter (1866-1943). She is best known for "Peter Rabbit," which many of us read often when we were children.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Quote of the Week- Jean Paul Sartre

While putting this piece together, I was struck by the irony that my late Turkish father and the late French Marxist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980) both enjoyed smoking pipes even though my father was a bit of a right-wing Turkish nationalist!

Sartre, who was also among the leading atheist intellectuals in France, is known for his widely-read short story collection "Le Mur/The Road" (1938) and his philosophy collection "Being and Nothingness" (1943).

I found a copy of a book called "Sartre for Beginners" (1998), written by Philip Thordy and Howard Reed and published by Icon Books, at the Internationalist Bookstore in Chapel Hill, NC.

Icon Books recently published a book by English author Kate Munro called "The First Time" about modern sexuality, which also sounds like an interesting read.

Due to time constraints are quote today is going to be extremely short; we are planning to have quotes from many French people past and present in July. This entry is part of our month-long series on quotes from left-wing, radical figures. Here is the quip from Sartre:

"Hell is other people."

SIDEBAR: While I was trying to put this entry together at the Wilson, NC, public library (not really where I am at!), a group of children came through the doors and they really annoyed me. As the late American comic actor W.C. Fields once said: "No one qho hate dogs and children can be all that bad."

I don't dislike children as individuals, but when there are large groups of them, they get on my last nerve, which is perhaps why it is a good thing that I am not a father.

But, I found this interesting disclosure from someone who did not give their name or hometown on myworstsecret.com who professes an even more profound distaste for children than I do. This person and I are probably very different in other aspects of life, which I will go into after showing what he or she said:

"I hate children. I really do. Oddly enough, I'm pro-life and have a 2 year old. I don't want kids to DIE, I just can't stand them."

Personally, I am a moderate liberal (though I love to quote socialists; it must come from being surrounded by Yosemite Sam Republicans) and I am pro-choice. Also, I would not use the word hate for how I feel about children, but in groups of two or more, they do tend to profoundly annoy me!

Ironically, I had a post on this blog for Children's Day in Turkey, which is on April 23rd....

Monday, May 9, 2011

Turkish Soccer Results....

It has been a busy hectic week, and it's only Monday?!

Anyway, it is for this very reason, that we are putting off some other blog entry projects until a day when life is as slow as it on a Sunday afternoon in War, West Virginia, in the far southwestern part of the state which is perhaps a good place to go (aside from an asylum or a prison) if you want to read all 1,225 pages of Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace" in its entirety!

So, with that in mind, let's turn to sport as they say on the BBC, and here are the results from weekend action in the Turkish Premiere League. I should note that my late father came from Turkey, and since his favorite team was GalataSaray, I know he would want me to jeer those who root for their arch rival Fenerbahce, but alas those fill-in-the-blank Yellow Canaries** won as well!:

Kayseri 1 Eskisehir 1

Istanbul BB 1 Antalya 1

Gaziantep 1 Manisa 0

Ankara Genclerbrligi 2 Konya 1

Trabzon 2 Bucaspor 1

GalataSaray 3 Kasimpasha 1

Fenerbahce 1 Karabukspor 0

Sivas 1 Ankaragucu 1

It should be noted that the game between the BursaSpor Crocodiles* (yes, we don't think there are any crocs in Turkey, not even at the Ankara Zoo!) and the Besiktash Black Eagles was cancelled. We presume, given the fervent passion of the fans on both sides, it was for security reasons. Elif Batuman, a fellow Turkish-American I've never met, wrote an excellent, haunting piece about Besiktash fans for "The New Yorker" several issues ago. Amazingly enough, Che Guevara is one of the fans' icons! Since many of the most fervent soccer fans in Turkey are a bit right-wing, this came as quite a surprise to me!

And, as a gesture of ethnic political goodwill, which will of course do absolutely nothing to ease tensions between us Turks and our Armenian friends, I will mention that the three teams atop the Armenian Premiere League are Ulisses, Gandzasar and Pyunik.

As I jokingly tell my friends who have neither ethnic background, if a Turk and an Armenian happen to come across each other at a Buddhist temple during a mutual tourist visit to Bhutan, yes they would probably go at it!

But, as far as the dispute we have with our Greek comrades over who has the better yogurt and feta cheese, well, of course, it is us Turks! Of course, I'm overlooking the fact that an Egyptian friend of mine said that Bulgarians were actually better at making these products than either of us.

*-There is actually a notorious man-eating crocodile named Gustave in the central African country of Burundi; I wonder how that country's tourism department gets around that!

**- Yes, Turkish soccer teams have nickanmes which are almost as strange as some minor league baseball teams--my favorite nickname is the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers who are based in Appleton, Wisc., where there might be six people of Turkish and Armenian heritage combined!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Strange, but True Things We Learned This Week...

All of these things have been verified through various sources, but if you don't believe me, you can spend hours and hours on Google, and leave a post on here saying: "Ahhh, but you are wrong." Let's get started, and we will get to the African pygmy goat when we can:

1. Osama bin Laden (1957-2011) actually liked many American western tv shows as a kid, including his favorite "Bonanza!" I first read about this in "The Week" magazine some eight years ago. But, this week, I also learned that the sinister terrorist leader also like Bruce Lee kung-fu films. But, none of these things are as disturbing as a report I heard from the TRT (Turkish Radio Television) right after September 11th, when I happened to be in Istanbul. A Turkish man who was a classmate of bin Laden's at a school in Switzerland when they were both children said that this future kingpin of terror was 'a quiet unasuming kid who usually sat in the back.'

2. And speaking of Turkey, as "Mental Floss" reported in a recent issue, one never wants to confuse a Greek with a Turk or vice versa. Since the hip magazine didn't mention the man's name, I had to check the BBC's web site for additional details. As it turns out, Athanasios Varzanakos, 77, who would have definitely qualified for our long, difficult names list, a Greek villager, had been mistaken for a Turk. The Swedish yogurt company Lindahl had put the image of Varzanakos on its Turkish yogurt products. So, the Greek man sued the Swedish company for $7 million; he 'only' got $270,000 in return. This leads us to the goat because if one wants to find Greek yogurt or goat milk yogurt, they can go to the Harvest Moon in Floyd, Va. Alas, they don't sell Turkish yogurt which is very hard to find in America except in New Jersey (where there are a lot of Turks and Turkish-Americans).

3. The BBC reported last night that there is a hip hop craze spreading through Yemen, of all places. There have been similar stories in the international media about this curious pop cultural trend. In 2010, Laura Kasinoff of "The Christian Science Monitor" reported that she had seen 'turbaned men dancing with daggers and rappers donning New York Yankees caps' taking the stage in the capital city of Sana for a hip hop fest. Hagage Masead, an American of Yemeni heritage who should not/never be confused with a radical terrorist in Yemen who grew up in New York state, has been at the heart of this movement.

4. "This American Life," a popular weekly NPR show, featured a story about a "Tuscaloosa News" reporter in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, who was fooled into publishing a local story that proved to be false in the wake of last week's deadly tornado rampage in the area. Apparently, the story was that a local man from Tuscaloosa, which is also home to the University of Alabama, was killed at a local tobacco store and people walked all over him to get cigarettes. But, one can hardly fault the reporter as this story was verified by local government officials in Tuscaloosa! As a former newspaper reporter myself, I can see how this can happen all too easily for reasons which are far too complicated to explain here. Besides, the militant librarian here in Mount Airy, NC, (not really where I am) has warned that the Internet goes down in 22 minutes and 35 seconds!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy Mother's Day in Advance from Joan Crawford

Much to our shock and amazement, we found out that the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, which is one of the most famous cinemas in America, is presented a special 30th anniversary screening of "Mommie Dearest." The 1981 film starring Faye Dunaway about allegations that legendary actress Joan Crawford (1905-1977) will be shown at 7:00 p.m. A local transvestite named Peaches Christ, who is apparently popular in the communtiy, will present the film. Ticket prices are (and, we are not making this up) from $20-40.....wow, an opera in Roanoke, Va., might actually be cheaper.

Crawford won an Oscar for "Mildred Pierce" (1945) and her last screen appearance was in the horror film "Trog" (1970). Her daughter Christina Crawford wrote the 1978 memoir "Mommie Dearest" which became the basis for the film version which was badly recieved, yet it did become a camp film with a large cult following; John Waters even provides commentary on the dvd of the film though he had nothing to do with its production.

Dunaway has publicly stated that she disdains the film, and we assume she will not be in San Francisco for the screening on Saturday night (that might actually be worth the price of admission!).

Ironically, both Christina Crawford, now 71, and Dunaway, now 70, are close to the age that Joan Crawford was when she died which was 72.

SIDEBAR: We forgot to mention my fellow Turkish-American Mehmet Oz (Dr. Oz) in our last entry. Your mom might like his book "You: Being Beatiful" over his other book "You:On a Diet," which might be an even bigger mistake than buying a Syrian friend a weiner from Trolley Stop Hot Dogs in Boone, NC (a real place).

And, of course, since we have a strong center-left bias, we have to poke fun of our far-right friends. The right-wing blog "I Hate the Media" which is criticizing us liberals for making Barack Obama out to be The Mighty Thor for his killing of Osama bin Laden reported earlier in the week that the San Diego Padres were giving free admission to veterans, past and present; the team also wore camoflage. Since my stepfather the late Donald Sullivan was a WW-2 vet, we think that is very noble of the Padres. Though, the camoflage seems a wee bit over-the-top.

So, we wanted to inform the folks at "I Hate the Media" that the Padres were also the first team to play in Mexico when they faced the New York Mets for three games between Aug. 16-18, 1996. I'm they 'appreciate' us digging up that fact for them.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Things We Leaarned on Google Today_ It Was 20 Years Ago Today...

Actually, it was slightly longer than 20 years ago today, but the first McDonald's opened in Moscow in February of 1990 pre-dating both the end of the USSR as we know it and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The McDonald's at Pushkin Square in Moscow is the world's busiest as it serves up 30,000 customers a day! The fast food giant now operates in 37 cities across Russia.

I also saw a McDonald's in Baku, Azerbaijan, when I was there in 2008. Ironically, I actually liked the food at Misha's Cafe a lot better. The cafe which served Russian food is named after the 1980 Olympic mascot bear, pictured above.

Also, I must profess that I thought I was going to have heart attack (I am only 41 years old, but Dick Cheney* had his first heart attack at age 37), after I dined on a Quarter Pounder combo at a McDonald's in Virginia (yeah, we're not mentioning the town, sorry!). The incident in which my blood pressure went up 35-40 points reminded of the documentary film "Supersize Me" by Morgan Spurlock, who is only a few months younger than me (we were both born in 1970). And, Spurlock is originally from Beckley, West Virginia, which is relatively close to Roanoke, Va., where I am from. His new film "The Greatest Movie Ever Sold" about product placement should be in theatres soon.

I should mention that I am craving Milk Duds right now, those things are great for sore throats!

Incidentally, we were originally hoping to ask Google how many McDonald's there were in Moscow, Russia, and we never got an exact answer. However, we did go on the company's web site, and find that there were apparently two McD's in Moscow, Idaho!

*-This does not mean I liked him as veep/president.

Special Quote of the Week- Ayn Rand

Yes, since we love being ironic here, we thought we'd quote Ayn Rand just 48 hours after we quoted Che Guevara. One is a libertarian, far-right icon and the other is a socialist, far-left icon. Guess which one is which?

Even though the Russian-American author Rand (1905-1982) has been dead for almost 30 years,(she ironically died the same year that Warren Beatty won an Oscar for director for his 1981 film "Reds;" it was about the American left-wing figure John Reed who made Rand's journey in reverse), due to the emergence of Tea Party lunatics and the filmazation of her 1957 novel "Atlas Shrugged," she is making waves again. Wow, that last sentence was way too long alas Javier the Intern, who does all the editing for us is having lunch with his frat brothers at Burger King. (Ok, this is a no joke, there is no Javier, but I could use a personal assistant!).

The movie version of "Atlas Shrugged" has a 6.1 user average on the Internet Movie Database, and it is currently showing at the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va., among other places.

Here is the quote from Rand:

"The creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others."

SIDEBAR_ Those who like Ayn Rand probably read "Reason" magazine as well. Along with "Weekly Standard," the publication happens to be one of the few conservative magazines ("Reason" is known for its libertarian perspectives) I don't despise. Ironically, an article from that magazine was republished in the left-leaning "Utne Reader."

According to reason.com and its perceived political bias, the government's 'war on speculators' won't lower gas prices. I guess those of us who are liberal can agree with conservatives than paying circa $50 at the tank is ludicrious. The only thing that has inflated as much in recent years has to be concert ticket prices. Why do some people shell out $60 for REO Speedwagon tickets? I saw them with Cheap Trick as a teenager in 1985 for like $17. I don't know....

Also, we wanted to share something about Osama bin Laden, who as everyone except maybe a Buddhist monk in a village in Bhutan, knows was killed over the weekend (there are of course conspiracy theories out there as insane as one that would suggest Joe Biden and him are hanging out Firebrick Pizza*; we assume Osama wouldn't want pork on his pizza or beer with his meal**).

That is his age; he was 57. For some reason, no one mentions this, not even the BBC! Interestingly enough, television viewers in America that year could watch the following shows, "Leave it to Beaver," "Maverick," "Perry Mason" and "The Howdy Doody Show."

*-Firebrick Pizza is real place in Washignton, DC

**- Yes, we know there is nothing funny about mass murder and terrorism, but we have to make fun of people who think he's still alive (?!), and of course as a Turkish-American (my late father was a Muslim), I can make subtle fun of certain aspects of Islamic life. Fortunately, very few are actually terrorists, but alas the few who are cause great, unjustified damage to the faith's followers. Hopefully, one day this will be corrected and I certainly hope that day comes sooner than later.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Quote of the Week- Che Guevara

Today, we start our month-long series of quotes from fringe, far left-wing radicals, both past and present. Since we quipped Malcolm X (1925-1965) on our other blog "The Daily Vampire," we thought we'd go with another man who was shot to death at age 39, the Marxist Argentinian revoluntist Che Guevara (1928-1967). Che was killed in Bolivia, and his remains were only discovered in recent years.

Many right-wingers in America hate the fact that there are supposedly vast numbers of very liberal people wearing Che t-shirts, though I've only seen two people wear them in the last two years. One was at a coffeeshop in Boulder, Colo, and the other was at a nightclub in Chapel Hill, NC. However, last week, I did see a twenty-something guy at a Waffle House somewhere in North Carolina wearing a t-shirt with the slogan "We Shall Overcome." It was actually a white kid and his shirt showed the rebel-flag hovering over the Capitol Building. I guess he will never appreciate the sacrifices that Martin Luther King, Jr., made for our country. But, of course, extremists on our side of the fence are much worse for America than racist bigots (sarcasm intended!).

I do sympathize with the point expressed by the ultra-conservative magazine News Max and the right-wing blog ihatethemedia.com (I suppose they love Fox News though, which is part of the media, right?!) that Che did needlessly kill lots of innocent people, a point which has been well-documented.

But, the man himself is quite a fascinating figure, and no matter what one thinks of the Cuban Revolution, it remains astonishing that Che met with Fidel Castro in a hotel in Mexico City, and they successfully organized a rebellion and took over the central government of Cuba. Actually, this ironically sounds like what the Tea Partiers would like to do to President Barack Obama as I'm sure the political good-will for killing Osama bin Laden expired at 11:45 p.m., Sunday night, a mere 15 minutes after our president announced the success of the mission in Pakistan. Am I right, Bill O'Reilly?

So, here is this quote from Che; for the record I am not a Marxist though I would classified as one in rural Idaho:

"Let me say, at the risk of seeming ridicilous, that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love."

As for the answer to last week's road quiz, Lynchburg, Va., and Wilmington, Del., are five hours and 30 minutes apart though we suspect traffic between Washington, DC, and Baltimore would substantially add to that commute.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Perhaps If You're in the Area and Have Time

If you live in North Carolina, and you know a Pakistani student from North Carolina State or an Egyptian student from Duke, and you are wondering what to do or where you can take them, well the Ham and Yam Festival in Smithfield, NC, is a very bad idea.

As the son of a Turkish immigrant and a woman from South Carolina, I have been to village weddings in Turkey and a similar pig-themed festival in another part of the Tarheel State. I'm not sure which one made me feel more out of place, or like "E.T."

But, if you have no moral objections to eating pork, and you will yams than Smithfield is indeed the place for you this weekend, unless you live in Portland, Maine, or Miami! (Both trips would be quite a long drive, although the Smithfield-area Chamber of Commerce would perhaps prefer that I didn't state the obvious).

The Ham and Yam Festival also features pig races, but I suspect that prizes for guessing which pig wins the race will offer substantially less earnings than predicting the winner of the Kentucky Derby.

Smithfield, NC, is also known for being the hometown of the late screen queen Ava Gardner. Her amazing performance in "Night of the Iguana" may be one of the most underrated in Hollywood motion picture history.

What We Are Working On.....

Since a lot has happened in the world since I last blogged on Thursday and I am now done looking at emails from L.L. Bean (apologies to the Maine-based company, but nice white shorts are not my priority right now!), I will give you the reader a glance of what to expect on this blog this week.

1. Since May 1st is a day associated with radical socialists, we will start quoting famous people from the far-left starting on Tuesdays this month. Though I'm not one myself, I love agitating Republicans, well except my good friends attorney Johann Hallbjorn in Bethesda, Maryland (the Icelandic name is a fake name, and Johann doesn't live in the DC Metro area), and journalist Aarne Eerikainen in Knoxville, Tenn.,(the Finnish name is also a fake name as well and Aarne doesn't have anything to do with the Volunteer State---that we are aware of).

2. On Wednesday, we will have a quote from a famous novelist. Perhaps, you've already read his book on Kindle?! Other quips from other authors will follow on Wednesdays in May.

3. On Thursday, we are planning to actually write a serious entry (?!) on how I came close to being at the scene of a terrorist bombing, not involving the now deceased eshol eshek (Turkish word for son of a donkey; it is a high insult there) Osama bin Laden, on strangely enough Sept. 10, 2001, in Istanbul, Turkey. The blast, which was a suicide bombing, killed two Istanbul police officers whom I had physically seen some 20 minutes prior to their untimely deaths. The bombing also killed an Australian tourist named Amanda Rigg, who was only 22.

Rigg's story was the feature of a 2007 "Sydney Morning Herald" I found on the web. Her death unfortunately became a bureaucratic nightmare for her family in Australia as the government would not let them recieve monetary compensation for her death as they had with terrorism victims in more universally recognized incidents, such as the bombing at a resort on the island of Bali in Indonesia. My interest in writing about my own experience again is due to the death of bin Laden, and the impact that terrorism leaves on all of us, irregardless of how large or small such incidents are in scale.

4) On a lighter note, this Friday, we hope to officially start a new series called "Things We Learned on Google Today." It will begin with a look at a country that was a republic in the former Soviet Union. We may not start with Kyrgystan since it was the only country from the old USSR that I could not name on a mentalfloss.com quiz! I did manage to get the other 12 right though.

Incidentally, we've included The Smurfs and their villain Gargamel here because they have been invading my dreams lately. We learned about them in research for this entry, but alas due to time constraints, we will share those unique little things some other time!