Thursday, June 30, 2011
Greece is making international headlines due to its financial crisis which has caused riots on the streets. Though the events are not quite as violent or dramatic, as the fall-out from the Arab Spring in Syria, Yemen and Libya, the government in Athens is undoubtedly overwhelmed at the moment.
For centuries upon centuries, Greece's main rival has always been Turkey, my late father's country. I once wore a t-shirt from the Turkish resort of Kusadasi while visiting the Greek island of Rhodes as a teenager in 1985, and yes, the locals noticed!
But, at the moment, Greece seems to having even more of a rift with Macedonia, a former Yugoslav republic that is now its own independent, small nation.
As the always brilliant NPR show "The World" (which we should perhaps listen to more often) reported last week, Macedonia unveiled a towering 92-foot statue of Alexander the Great in the capital city of Skopje. The problem is that the Greeks consider Alexander the Great, who was ironically an inspiration to Sultan Suleyman the Magnificient, as their national hero.
The radio series also said in its report that there are already plenty of tensions between Skopje and Athens as Greece has repeatedly tried to block Macedonia's entrance into the European Union.
All of this brings us to the reason why we chose Karagiozis, a Greek version of the Turkish shadow puppet Karagoz, as our image to go with this entry.
As it turns out, both Turkey and Greece have many cultural overlaps. And, the Greek shadow-puppeteer Sotris Haridimos currently has a traveling Karagiozis roadshow in Greece, which an American travel writer saw in Athens and reported on for his travel blog.
Like Karagoz, his Greek counterpart represents the plight of the average person. And, given Greece's domestic turoil, and Turkey's struggles with an overwhelming influx of refugees from Syria, it seems that both countries are a bit overwhelmed these days. And, very few tourists visiting the resort town of Bodrum, Turkey, and the Greek island of Kos, a mere three miles off Bodrum's coast, are concerned about any of this.
SIDEBAR: It is official. The Wimbledon women's final will be between Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic and Russian superstar Maria Sharapova. If we had John McEnroe's email, we'd ask him who he likes on this one. But, then again, I may say something to tick him off, and that would be like an eruption of Mount Pinatubo.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Today's quote comes from Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell, and it is about love, of all things:
"Most people have a harder time letting themselves love than finding someone to love them."
SIDEBAR: We mentioned the Turkish music show on WUVT (90.7-FM), the student-run radio station of Virginia Tech two entries ago. There is also a Greek music show that airs right before it.
I must profess that I thought female Turkish pop singer Nil Karaibrahimgil's name was long enough, but Greece has two popular male pop singers with long names, including Notis Sfakianakis and Michalis Hatzigiannis.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Today, we continue quoting famous Italians this month (and, we will add one in July) by quipping playwright Dario Fo (b. 1926) who is best-known for his play "Accidental Death of an Anarchist" (1970). Interestingly enough, the play had its American debut at the famed Washington, D.C., playhouse Arena Stage. The theatre is now performing the Tennessee Williams classic "The Glass Menagerie."
Fo's plays deal with themes, such as Italy's dealings with organized crime, the Catholic church's political stance on abortion and the Middle East.
Here is the quote from the playwright who also penned "Trumpets and Rasberries" (1981):
"Comedy makes the subversion of the existing state of affairs possible."
We first heard about Fo through a Jeopardy question, of all things.
SIDEBAR: This will give us a good preparation for our upcoming People with Long Names List, Part Two, which we hope to post within the next few weeks.
We have recently become more interested in tennis after watching an HBO documentary on the rivalry between John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg between the years 1979-1982.
So, here are the results of today's women's quarterfinals tennis matches from Wimbledon.
For starters, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus beat the Austrian Tamira Paszek. The Russian tennis goddess Maria Sharapova destroyed Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova. In a close match, Sabine Lisicki of Germany won over Marion Bartoli.
And, finally, it a match between two eastern Europeans with long, difficult games, the Czech star Petra Kvitova edged Bulgarian Tsetana Pironkova.
We certainly hope we got the results right, and perhaps more importantly spelled all these names correctly!
Monday, June 27, 2011
Status Update for June 27, 2011:
"Life is apparently, somehow/somewhat becoming normal again. Can I listen to Slipknot now?"
For those who don't get my sense of humor, and many people do not, there is actually an entry on my sister blog "The Daily Vampire" with an image of the great composer Franz Liszt, whose music will be on the PRI/NPR show "Performance Today" this evening in our market.
Somehow, when the opportunity permits, I also like to listen to "Chainsaw Rock" on 88.1-FM (Raleigh), which is the North Carolina State student radio station. It airs from midnight to 2:00 a.m. on Friday night/Saturday morning; the show is hosted by Hammerhead. And, it is responsible for introducing me to the speed metal band Slipknot, a band that originated in Iowa, of all places!
Orginally, we were going to use Guns N Roses as the band for this entry, but we think Slipknot makes it more offbeat and perhaps slightly funnier. My own personal favorite music genres are actually Turkish psychedelic music from the '70s and New Wave music from the '80s. I should add that I much prefer Talking Heads over Culture Club. And, Turkish psychedelic pioneer Erkin Koray turned 70 this month.
A Turkish music radio show airs on WUVT-FM (90.7, Blacksburg, Va.), the student station of Virginia Tech, on Saturdays from 1:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
It was 20 years ago this month when Mount Pinatubo in the Phillipines erupted. The volcanic eruption killed 800 people in spite of evacuation warnings.
Thankfully, in spite of a very stressful, hectic week, I am erupting like Mount Pinatubo. Actually, I am not sure I would want to go near that particular volcano, but I would love to see those cool buses that the Phillipines is famous for.
We are also hoping to get some blogging in next month, and I have not forgotten about posting another people with long names list as I did back in May.
One person who would have to qualify would be Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at UC-Riverside who was interviewed by "Psychology Today," which is (amazingly enough!) not one of the eight or nine magazines I now subscribe to, and this is not a joke!
The article where...hmm, we'll break the rules and just refer to her as Sonja or Dr. Sonja was interviewed was about the secrets to finding happiness. Apparently, thanking people who've done nice things for you as opposed to getting iritated with people who almost ran over your golden retriever is one way of getting at this.
So on that note, I thank all of you reading this blog, and if you don't like this blog, then go follow Newt Gingrich as he stumps through New Hampshire and Iowa.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
This is basically a complementary entry to my tribute to my father Methmet Gokbudak
(1921-1983) and my second stepfather Donald Sullivan (1918-2003), two men I always remember on Father's Day.
When my mom recently relocated, I came across two vinyl records that I will always associate with dad and Donald.
One is a collection called "German Beer Drinking Music" which was recorded in Germany by Hans Braun and his chorus. I tried to find information about the record on the Internet which was to no avail. Shockingly enough, Diplomat Records in Newark, NJ, which made the record happens to be the name of a rap music label that was founded in 2002! Though I can not confirm when the record was released (my guess is 1962), there was an image of the album and a web site was offering to sell the record for $9.99.
More information was available regarding "The Fading Giant," a recording of steam engines made for O. Winston Link Railway Productions. The record was made in 1958 in conjunction with Link's famous photographs of trains in places like Roanoke, Va. (my hometown), Bristol,Va/Tenn. (there are two Bristols in two neighboring state which border each other), Rural Retreat, Va. and Welch, WVa.
The photographs taken by Link (1914-2001) became quite famous, especially in Europe and there is now an O. Winston Link Museum, housing many of his famous photographs, in Roanoke.
Donald was very fascinated with both trains and airplanes whereas my father was more into bicycles and his Porche.
I suppose all of us are defined by our favorite modes of transportation. I find the old slow boats in Istanbul, Turkey, where my father grew up to be very fascinating though it always seems like the boat to the Princess Islands will NEVER reach Kinali Island, the small island that is the first stop on the way to Buyukada, the largest of the four Princess Islands.
But, ultimately, I most fascinated by buses. I recently saw an abandoned passenger bus marked Knoxville, Tenn., on Route 220 near Martinsville, Va. I wondered what its' journey was, and how the bus ended up being left along a road that is some five and a hours away from its origin.
While the Republicans like Newt Gingrich are having their brewhaha this weekend in New Orleans, we thought we'd quip the NBA legend and former Democratic New Jersey senator Bill Bradley, who was among the first to endorse Barack Obama in his party nomination bid (I actually backed Hillary Clinton!).
While researching this piece, we learned that Bradley has a new book called "The New American Story" and he hosts a Sirius Satellite Radio show called "American Voices." Bradley is also the corporate director of Starbucks; we wonder if he has dropped into the Starbucks in Front Royal, Va., but he is probably a bit too busy for that.
Though he grew up in Missouri, Bradley came to prominence in New Jersey early in life as a member of the Princeton University Tigers. He won a team gold medal for the United States at the 1964 Olympics, and he was named NCAA player of the year in 1965.
Bradley then went on to play for the New York Knicks where he helped win NBA titles in 1970 and 1973, with teammates such as Walt Frazier and Willis Reed. Bradley's number 24 was also retired by the Knicks.
He was a senator for New Jersey from 1979 to 1997, and he unsuccessfully sought the 2000 Democratic nomination which went to Al Gore. Bradley was endorsed by none other than Michael Jordan, who is featured on our other blog "The Daily Vampire" today.
Here is the quote from Bradley who will turn 68 on July 28th:
"Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in."
Saturday, June 18, 2011
It is not often that a man will admit that they can see why a woman might like another man, but we can certainly see why women around the world were charmed by the late Marcello Mastroianni (1924-1996) who was once married to and fathered a child with legendary French actress Catherine Denevue.
We are quoting Italians this month as Italy is celebrating its 150th year as a republic. Mastroianni won a Golden Globe Award for his performance in "Divorce, Italian Style" (1962).
He is also known for his work with Italian director Frederico Fellini, including "La Dolce Vita" (1960) and 8 1/2 (1963).
Here is his quote; we really, really like this one:
"With whom do you argue? With a woman, of course. Not with a friend, because he accepted all your defects the moment he found you."
Many people have been wondering if I was kidnapped or if I had flown to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, to get away from it all as it has been eight days since our last blog entry here.
But, I am alive and well.....hmm, well for the most part. (We try to avoid personal details here though I did almost start a blog about my bout with prostatitis in
2008; it is a prostate problem involving frequent urination).
There is apparently an Australian play called "Tom Stoppard is Dead." It is refering to the famous playwright Tom Stoppard, who is originally from what is now the Czech Republic but he resides in England. Stoppard, who was also born in 1937, is in fact alive, but the play is a take on his famous early 1967 play "Rosencrantz and Guilderstern Are Dead." Nevertheless, one has to wonder what Stoppard made of the title.
Another person who is alive and well is the actor George Segal who I recently saw in the 1965 film "Ship of Fools," which is sort of like a serious version of "The Love Boat" and featured a lot of famous actors, including the late Lee Marvin, who is one of my favorite screen stars. Segal turned 76 in February.
Segal, like Steve Martin, is also an accomplished banjo player. And, we learned that he was the actor who was originally in mind to play Dudley Moore's character in the movie "10," which made Bo Derek famous (it should not be confused with the acclaimed Iranian film of the same name for well obvious reasons!). Alas, Dudley Moore is no longer with us.
Another actor who is alive who was seemingly disappeared is Emilio Estevez. While his brother Charlie Sheen has made a public ass of himself, Estevez has been living a quiet life. In 2010, he starred and directed in the low budget film "The Way" which also featured his dad Martin Sheen. Estevez, who is perhaps best known for his role in "The Breakfast Club" is now almost 50 years old! (He was born in 1961).
Friday, June 10, 2011
First of all, I want to express my sincerest apologies to (mr) Shannon Wheeler for using an image of his most creation Too Much Coffee Man without his expressed written permission. We are actually Faebook friends, but since times are hard for comic strip artists, he could very well sue us for ten million dollars even though we don't make one cent from this blog!
Today, I am putting myself 'in the bedroom' as I make comparisons between my beloved hometown of Roanoke, Va., and my wonderful adopted city of Greensboro, NC. Of course, using these adjectives will not change the fact that I have mortal enemies in both zip codes!
Like most communities, these two cities are very proud of their respective independent coffee shops. We should point out that while there is only one Green Bean, which is located in downtown Greensboro, there are actually six Mill Mountain coffee shops, four of which are in the Roanoke area. To make matters more confusing, apparently the Mill Mountain store in Blacksburg pulled a Kosovo and became a separate outfit though they still have the same name as the other five coffee-shops.
The coffee and specialty drinks at both places are quite good, and if there was a blind taste test between one's cappucino or latte and the other's, I could not honestly say which one was better.
However, I must profess the fact the Green Bean features live music while Mill Mountain does not makes me like the independent Greensboro coffeeshop more.
This year alone The Green Bean has featured local legend folk singer Bruce Piephoff (a personal friend) in addition to Miss Lana Rebel (pictured here), a folk singer who literally travels across America with her bandmates in a schoolbus purchased in Vancouver, Wash., through Craig's List, and Bess Rogers from Brooklyn, NY, who actually performs acoustic covers of 1980s hair band songs. (Yeah, something like "Is This Love" by Whitesnake though I don't think that's one of the songs she covers!).
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Like Bela Lugosi, our Road Trip series has returned from the dead!
Today, we ask you the faithful blog-reader, and if you are one of the 13 people reading this blog you are quite faithful!, to guess how far it is from Trenton, NJ, to Seattle, Wash. (well, there is only one Seattle, right?).
To do this, we Mapquested the mileage between two Turkish restaurants in each zip code. Our choices were the Trenton Kebab House in Trenton and the Bistro Turkuaz in Seattle.
Here are the choices:
A) 48 hours, 40 minutes
B) 46 hours, 30 minutes
C) 45 hours, 10 minutes
D) 43 hours, 20 minutes
SIDEBAR: It seems like Burlington, Vermont, where it is 70 degrees as we speak would be a nice place to me especially since it is scorching in my part of the world. Today, it was 98 degrees in Norfolk, Va., 97 degrees in Baltimore and 93 degreees in Philadelphia!
SIDEBAR TWO: Though we haven't listened to the music of Los Straitjackets as much as we should, we want to wish the band's guitar player Danny Amis success in his battle with cancer. The Nashville-based band plays Spanish-language versions of rock and roll favorites and they are known for sporting Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestling) masks on stage. A benefit concert for Amis will be taking place soon according to the NPR show "Fresh Air."
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
It has been a long time since we posted a Things We Learned on Google Today entry. May 5th was the last date to be exact. But, we continue with our look at the 13 former republics in the Soviet Union with a look at Kyrgyzstan. It was the only republic I forgot in a "Mental Floss" quiz on the magazine's web site, and it might very well be the hardest country to spell in the world: K-Y-R-G-Y-Z-STAN.
Bishkek is indeed the capital city of...here we go again...., and the city has a population of 762,308, which means that it is a lot larger than the hamlet of War, West Virginia.
The capital city is located in the Chuy Province and the city's name is also the name of the country's national drink, which is a milk beverage.
Bishkek is surrounded by rivers and mountains and the city is relatively close to the border with Kazakhstan, the country that Borat made famous/infamous in the film "Borat." Incidentally, the hilarious rodeo scene in "Borat" was filmed in my hometown of Salem, Va. (near Roanoke).
Amazingly enough, there is actually a Catholic church in Bishkek, though the country is predominantly Muslim.
Both liberals and conservatives in America has criticized this country with a long name for various reasons, including human rights abuses and religious intolerance, but we are not here to be political (did I just say that?!).
The country has also had considerable ethnic strife which makes international headlines quite frequently, though much of that unrest has lost media attention due to the uprisings in places like Libya and Syria. And, to be honest, we are not sure how well the former Soviet republic is managing right now, but we certainly wish them well. We also forgot to check is there was a McDonald's in Bishkek.
SIDEBAR: Maine is the apparently the place to be here on the east coast as it is a cool 76 degrees in the state's capital city of Augusta. In comparison, the weather in the mid-Atlantic region was periliously hot as my hometown of Roanoke, Va., was at 93 degrees. Greensboro, NC, was almost as hot at 91 degrees. And, to top it off, Bethesda, Maryland, our favorite suburb, was 96 degrees. Thsi reminds me, I really need to get my air-conditioner fixed!
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Today's quote of the day comes from German NBA superstar Dirk Nowitzki. The Dallas Mavericks, the team that Nowitzki captains, is currently tied 2-2 with the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
Though we try to be somewhat neutral here with sports (but certainly not politics...if Mitt Romney wants my vote he better start break-dancing to "Word Up" by Cameo), we are rooting for the Mavericks, a team which has yet to win an NBA title.
Here is the quote from Nowitzki; we presume this was made after a heart-breaking defeat earlier in his career:
"We weren't good enough in the fourth quarter. You have to play for 48 minutes against a team like Phoenix. They made shots off of our mistakes. We turned the ball over and you can't do that."
Monday, June 6, 2011
Since 2011 is the 150th year of Italy as a republic, we thought we'd quote famous Italians this month. After ice cream and pizza, the country is arguably best known for soccer and opera. Hence, the reason why we are quoting Francesco Totti (b.1976) here and the late opera megastar Luciano Pavorotti (1935-2007) on our sister blog "The Daily Vampire."
Totti is the captain of the Italian Serie A team Roma, and he has scored more goals than any in the league with 207 career goals.
But, he was only six years old when Paolo Rossi scored the game-winning goal against Germany to the 1982 World Cup in Spain. I watched that game as a 12-year-kid in the resort of Fethiye, Turkey, where many German fans were drinking beer and looking, well, pretty disgusted really.
Here is the quote from Totti:
"We will work as a group, we need to be a real team, that is the only way to go far."
Hmmmm....yeah, athletes, aside from Muhammad Ali or Mike Tyson, aren't as good quote source materials as well people like opera singers!
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Since I was in high school, I have been a partisan Democrat, so much so that I wanted to vote for Walter Mondale against Ronald Reagan in 1984 even though I was 14 years old at the time.
But, four years later, my opportunity came, and despite pressure from my Turkish relatives in Istanbul not to 'vote for the Greek,' I did indeed vote for Michael Dukakis over George H.W. Bush, even though Reagan's veep carried Virginia and won the election easily.
The field for the 1988 Democratic nomination seemed rather flat at the time, which lead to them being dubbed 'The Seven Dwarfs,' which Eric Alterman of "The Nation" would say proves that there is really no such thing as a liberal media. Of course, Bill O'Reilly would beg to differ, but we don't really care about what he thinks.
Yesterday, I had a chance to take a quiz for the web site for "Mental Floss" magazine which usually has all sorts of interesting quizzes. I had just talked about "snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" with a friend of mine, so the chance to name the 'seven dwarfs' as in the seven Democratic candidates from 1988 seemed rather nifty to me.
But, much to my suprise, I had a lot of trouble with it. After Dukakis, I remembered that Paul Simon (not the singer) and Bruce Babbitt, both of whom have since died, were candidates. I then remembered Al Gore, who as everyone knows became Bill Clinton's veep, but I had somehow forgotten about our current vice-president Joe Biden who was also in that field! This does beg the question, if I run into him someday at a political rally, do I mention this to him or not?!
I did get a chance to see one of the other 1988 Democratic candidates Richard Gephardt speak during a rally in Georgetown, SC, as he was trying to win the 2004 nomination which went to John Kerry. In fact, I rediscovered photographs I took of that event just a few weeks ago.
Speaking of political campaigns, I was just thinking when Mitt Romney, who we can't wait to make fun of again (we called him The Republican Dukakis during the last go around), that during his kick-off speech in New Hampshire that he did sound like Clark Kent and he was trying to convince Republican voters that he would be Superman when it came to reversing the American economic downfall.
Sure enough, some artists at "The Week" magazine had the same idea as they have Romney front and center under the caption "Waiting for Superman," in reference to an accalimed documentary that came out last year. Interestingly enough, Romney said yesterday that he differs with other Republicans in that he thinks global warming is partially man-made. Ironically, Paul Guggenheim, the director of Al Gore's documentary on global warming "An Inconvenient Truth," also directed "Waiting for Superman," which is a film about education.
Lastly, we had a chance to listen to the Turkish psychedelic compilation "Turkish Freak-Out" on vinyl yesterday afternoon just after listening to a streaming of "The Turkish Music Hour" on WUVT-FM (90.7-Blacksburg, Va.), and the recording from Bouzouki Joe Records is very good.
It includes 18 tracks from the likes of Erkin Koray (who turns 70 this month), Ajda Pekkan and the late Baris Manco. I found it at All Day Records in Carrboro, NC, just outside Chapel Hill.
Also, on yesterday's WUVT broadcast, I heard a song called "Sarhos" ("Drunk") by a singer named Dario Moreno (1921-1968). I had never heard of Moreno, and I presumed he was an Italian man who happened to sing a Turkish song, but he was in fact actually from Turkey!
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Under 'normal' circumstances, I may have been tempted to stay up from 2:00 a.m-3:30 a.m., Hartford, Connecticut Time, and watched "Grizzly," a '70s crazy horror film about a bear who really, really goes wild and presumably eats people on TCM Underground.
But, I have been very overwhelmed---to put it mildly, in fact, right now, even though I am not a serial killer or sociopath, I am reminded of that Bret Easton Ellis novel "American Psycho" (1991), a book which I'm not sure what to make of even though Ellis is one of my favorite contemporary novelists, in which the title character Patrick Bateman states the haunting line 'this is not an exit,' meaning there is no escape!
SIDEBAR_One of the entries that I am working on, is another installment of our famous people with long, difficult names list. Nil Karaibrahimgil (perhaps I've mentioned this before?!), a female Turkish pop singer, is among the candidates for the list. They just played one of her songs today on "The Turkish Music Hour," which actually lasts 90 minutes. The show from WUVT-FM (90.7-FM, Blacksburg, Va.) airs and streams online from 1:00-2:30 p.m. on Saturdays.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Today, we conclude with a spillover entry from the month of May, in which we posted quotes from famous novelists, with a quip from the late French writer Albert Camus
(1913-1950). Like the subject of our other entry on our other blog who was George Orwell (1905-1950), both writers were born abroad and died at age 46. While Orwell was born in India, Camus was born in Algeria. He often wrote about the plight of the north African country which remains an area of concern today given the political upheveal in neighboring Libya. Prior to the Libyan mess, there were earlier uprisings in neighboring Tunisia, which lead to the 'Arab Spring."
In addition to his criticism of colonialism, Camus was an outspoken critic of the death penalty, saying that it would never deter perspective murderers because 'the instincts that are warring in man are not, as the law claims, constant forces in the state of equilibrium.'
Alas, the likes of Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-Va) and Gov. Rick Perry (R-Tex.) and others on the anti-intelllectual right will assuredly always find a way to dismiss any logic that challenges their self-righteous Christian hypocricy.
McDonnell will be speaking at the Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center in Blackstone, Va. on June 11th, according to Eskii Kebede of "The Collegiate Times," the Virginia Tech student-run newspaper in Blacksburg, Va. The topic will be the faith of the founding fathers. Assuredly, any arguments about how a man who sees himself as an upstanding Christian can support the morally inconsistent pro-death penalty argument will not be brought forth.
Camus, who recieved the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957, is known for three novels "The Stranger" (1942), "The Plague" (1947) and "The Fall" (1956).
Surreally enough, the much-heralded Turkish film director Zeki Demirkubuz loosely adapted "The Stranger" into his well-recieved 1999 film "Yazgi" ("Fate). I'm sure Camus would have been proud; here is his quote:
"An intellectual is someone who mind watches itself."