Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Quote of the Day/Week- David Cronenberg

We conclude our month-long series of quotes from famous Canadians with a quip from Toronto-based filmmaker David Cronenberg, who like Danish film director Lars von Trier, is known for making higly provacative, daring films.

Cronenberg's latest film is "A Dangerous Method" with Keira Knightley, and it was the subject of a cover story in a recent issue of "Film Comment."

Other films by Cronenberg include "The Fly" (1986), "Naked Lunch" (1991), "Crash"
(1996) and "A History of Violence" (2005); he also directed several horror films early in his career.

Here is his quote, which certainly grabs one's attention:

"All stereotypes turn out to be true. This is a horrifying thing about life. All those things you fought against as a youth: you begin to realize they're stereotypes because they're true."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Quote of the Day/Week- Werner Herzog

Today, we quip one of our favorite German film directors Werner Herzog as we conclude a month-long series-within-a-series dedicated to quotes from famous Germans.

While researching this, we found out that Herzog is the first film director to make a film on every continent, including Antartica!

The 69-year-old director has just completed work on a documentary called "Death Row" about death row inmates in America. The subject should be a unique one from Herzog's vantage point as many Europeans find the fact that America executes inmates extremely unsettling, while more than 50 percent of Americans seem to support capital punishment in spite of conclusive proof of wrongful executions.

(Full disclosure: I am highly opposed to capital punishment, and I am a long-time supporter of Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty).

We get today's quote from the Les Blank documentary "Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe," which was made in 1980 and originated from a bet that Herzog made with a then-unknown documentary filmmaker named Errol Morris, who has since become an Academy-Award winner. Morris's latest documentary "Tabloid" was an art-house hit earlier this year:

"If you want to do a film, then steal a camera, steal raw stock, sneak into a lab and just do it."

SIDEBAR ONE: We found out yesterday that actress Anne Hathaway, whom I have admired since she made the 2005 independent film "Havoc" and has since made box office successes, such as "The Devil Wears Prada," is getting engaged. We should wish the actress, who turned 29 earlier in the month well, but frankly we are as jealous as Daffy Duck! Assuredly, anyone wanting more info on Hathaway's personal life can watch "TMZ" as we are moving on to other things.

SIDEBAR TWO: This might seem like a headline from the fake news publication "The Onion," but it is in fact an actual headline from the current issue of "Seattle Weekly:" "The gay softball team that wasn't gay enough has reached a settlement."

Indeed, in 2008, the San Francisco-based gay softball team D2, which finished second at the Gay Softball World Series in Seattle, was disqualified because they allegedly had two or three bisexual or heterosexual players. We first heard about this from the same publication, and blogged about it last year (search our 'gay politics' tag to learn more).

Apparently, the matter went to court, and it has reached a binding resolution. We can imagine that this story may actually be a topic of discussion for both gay rights activist/sex advice columnist Dan Savage and a right-wing talking head,like Rush Limbaugh, who may use this as an example of extreme political correctness (but, I guess rebel-flag waving Confederate apologists in 2011 is ok?!),.......only in America!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sports Desk- Women's NCAA Volleyball Tourney Begins

The University of Hawaii Rainbow (picture; 29-1) will be among the 64 teams seeking the NCAA Women's national championship in volleyball. The team will start play in Honolulu against the University of Northern Colorado Bears. Among the standouts for Hawaii are Kanani Danielson, Emily Maeda and Jane Croson. The Rainbow have won 24 games in a row; the Bears have not played in Hawaii since 2003.

Eight teams from the Big 10 made the field as did five teams from the PAC 12, including Oregon, which will play against Colorado State in Honolulu.

The more familiar UNC, the school in Chapel Hill, NC, will head all the way out to Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., to face the University of California. Last week, the Cal Bears upset sixth-ranked Stanford thanks to Tarah Murray, who was named Pac 12 Player of the Week. But, the Bears will face a solid challenge from the Tarheels as the team features Cameron Von Noy, the ACC Freshman of the year. And, three All ACC players in Kaylie Gibson, Emily McGee and Chaniel Nelson. The two teams play at 5:00 p.m. (esatern time) on Dec. 1.

Two of the other three ACC schools in the field of 64 include both Florida State and Miami (Fl).

The Seminoles actually get to host their first round game against the University of Albany. The 'Noles have perhaps the most internationally diverse squad in the field as their roster includes the likes of Duygu Duzceler and Fatma Yildirim (both from Turkey), Rachael Morgan (New Zealand), Patricia Fiqueriedo (Brazil) as well as two players from Serbia and one from Latvia. Their opponents, the Great Danes, lead by senior Brooke Stanley also have a player from Croatia. That game will take place on Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m.

Their conference and in-state rivals Miami (Fl) travel to Ames, Iowa (Iowa State University), to face Northern Illinois. The Hurricanes team includes ACC Player of the Year Lane Carico.

The top four teams in the field are Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa State and Texas. The national championship game will be played on Dec. 17th in San Antonio, Texas.

In the whoops department, we misinformed the public by saying that my alma mater Radford University had won the Big South Tournament in Charleston, SC, several days ago. It was in fact our arch rivals, the Liberty Flames, that won the tournament. But, the team from Lynchburg, Va., now has the challenge of facing defending four-time NCAA champion Penn State on the Nittany Lions' home floor.

SIDEBAR: Since we have many blog readers in Turkey, at least as of late (I am a Turkish-American), I thought it would be good to run a list of scores from this weekend's soccer action. In what was arguably the game of the week, Istanbul powerhouse Besiktas beat Trabzonspor 1-0. A feat that is made more impressive because Trabzonspor is playing Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League at the moment.

Here is a partial list of other scores from the Turkish Premiere League:

Samsunspor 1 Antalyaspor 0
GalataSaray 2 Sivasspor 1
Ankara GB 0 Fenerbahce (Istanbul) 0
Karabukspor 2 Bursaspor 0

The Rabbitts Ears Quiz- Entering the Land of the Lost

Today, we focus on a children's tv show and cult classics, which lasted 43 episodes from 1974-76, before being remade into a tv show of the same name in 1991, and then a royal box office cinematic flop of the same name in 2009 with Will Farrell. The film, amazingly enough, somehow ballooned up to $100,000,000 in costs and it only regained $50,000,000 back. But, perhaps, if it got people in Sofia, Bulgaria, interested in a tv show from our childhood then it was all worth it!

All three incarnations of "Land of the Lost," which was yet another Sid and Marty Krofft venture, revolve around the Marshall family from Indiana. The father Rick, his son Will, and his daughter Holly all managed to get trapped in an alternative universe filled with dinosaurs and evil lizard people. So, I guess it's sort of like "Jurassic Park Meets Swiss Family Robinson" (I actually came up with that, excuse the temporary narcissism).

The agrresive lizard people were called Sleestak, in case it comes up at a Jeopardy game at a science-fiction convention. Of course, you will still get decked by a man from New Jersey who has read "A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe" at least 30 times.

Our question today is a relatively simple one. As I was browsing through a buyers guide on lunch boxes from tv shows of our vanishing youth, I was stunned by how much ones from the Krofftt series, which also included "H.R. Pufnstuf*" and "Sigmund and the Sea Monster" were going for. Sure enough, if you have the thermos with your "Land of the Lost" lunch box and you don't live in Malibu, Calif., you might make a down payment on your condo!

What is the (most expensive) "Land of the Lost" lunch box on e-bay worth; is the answer?:

A) $149

B) $179

C) $199

D) $224

*-The spelling for H.R. Pufnstuf (not Puffnstuff) on our tags is wrong; forgive us for the error!

PS_ The answer to last week's Bonus Road Trip, which asked how far Mount Airy, NC, is from Milwaukee, is B) 14 hours.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Casualties of Modern Technology- CliffsNotes (3 of 12)

Today, students have more creative, easy ways to cheat, or they just use Wikipedia. (Ironically, we used Wikiepedia for research on CliffsNotes*).

But, back when I was in high school in the mid-1980s, everyone who was too lazy to read titles like "The Red Badge of Courage" by Stephen Crane, sought the CliffsNotes version. Other CliffsNotes, including everything from William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" to contemporary novels, such as "Less Than Zero" by Bret Easton Ellis.

While looking for images for this entry, we also came across a hilarious satire: "CliffsNotes for The Karate Kid."

The CliffsNotes were started by the late Cliff Hileglass (1918-2001) of Lincoln, Neb., who got the idea from a Canadian. The series started with 16 Shakespeare titles.

But, today, Wikipedia can usually provide info for even the most obscure of titles with the exception of this great 2010 novel called "The H-Bomb and Jesus Rock" by John Manderino about growing up in the 1960s, which I read a few months ago. Perhaps, if Manderino is reading this, he can fill me in!

*- Don't forget the 's!' Yes, many of us used to call them CliffNotes, but it is actually Cliffsnotes and to make matters even more confusing, they used to be called Cliff's Notes. The company is still in business, and published many titles, by the way.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving from Lucy van Pelt

As is our custom, we are wishing everyone a Happy holiday from a cartoon character, though at times, we've used obscure celebrities or politicians (I think we said "Merry Christmas from Bob Dole" once).

Today in New York, an estimated 3.5 million people watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from the streets alone. Among the balloons were Snoopy, who debuted at the parade in 1968.

As for Lucy van Pelt, we found out while researching that not only is Linus her younger brother, but so is Rerun, an infrequent "Peanuts" character. Lucy is a nemesis to Charlie Brown, and we're not sure if Snoopy and Woodstock like her either.

Lucy, who is known for pulling the football and her five cents psychiatry booths, actually made her "Peanuts" debut a year and a half after Charlie Brown and Snoopy on March 3, 1952. But, she joined them in the final original strip for "Peanuts" on Feb. 13, 2000, which was published right away the series' cretor Charles Schultz
(1922-2000) had died.

Amazingly enough, Lucy actually liked Charlie Brown at first!

SIDEDISH: I wanted to wish a special congratulations to the Radford University women's volleyball team. The squad, which represents my alma mater, won the Big South tournament over top-seed Liberty University in Charleston, SC, on Sunday. the Highlanders scored the victory in straight sets (25-20, 25-23, 25-22). They will now head to the NCAA tournament. Seedings will be announced this Sunday.

SIDEDISH TWO: We are happy to report that my friend Chris Knight in North Carolina did not get injured when deep-frying his turkeys today, as is his annual Thanksgiving tradition. Because of the high potential risk for deep-frying turkeys, many celebrities, including William Shatner, have spoken out against it. But, that didn't prevented Knight from engaging in his holiday ritual.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Quote of the Week- Elizabeth Manley

As we continue to quote famous Canadians this month, we turn our focus to women's figure skating legend Elizabeth Manley, 46, who won silver at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

Manley, who hails from Trenton, Ontario, is the Canadian spokesperson for Ovarian Cancer Awareness as the illness claimed her mother's life.

Here is her quote, despite efforts to find out who 'she' is, we were unable to pinpoint it, but this seems like a nifty quote as it is:

"If she keeps her nerves under control....she could easily be the one to upset the apple cart."

SIDEBAR: My friend Chris Knight in North Carolina has promised to once again take part in his annual Thanksgiving tradition of deep-frying, which he will almost certainly discuss on his blog "The Knight Shift" (; while I am very interested how things turn out for Knight, I would not try this myself.

I recall reading a story from a Kansas City news source via Twitter that many people in the metro area were injured from turkey deep-frying efforts over Thanksgiving last year. But, we wish Chris well!

SIDEBAR 2: We were surprised to find out that the Greek Cypriot team APOEL Nicosia became the first team from their country to qualify for the knock-out round of the UEFA Cup tournament by tying the Russian team Zenit St.Petersburg 0-0. Though, we try to avoid putting ethnic politics into sports, I was amused to read (I am a Turkish-American) that APOEL was suspended from UEFA play back in 1986 because the government in Nicosia refused to let the team play the Turkish soccer power Besiktas (Istanbul) in UEFA play. Turkey and Greece tragically went to war over Cyprus in July of 1974.

It was also a good day for the Greek team Olympiakos FC from Piraeus as they defeated the French team Marseilles 1-0 thanks to a goal in the 81st minute from Ioannis Fetfazidis, aka 'the Greek Messi' in the 81st minute of play.

In other soccer games today, the Spanish team Valencia decked the Belgian squad Genk 7-0, and the Portuguese team FC Porto beat out the Ukrainian champs Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Quote of the Week- Steffi Graf

Today, we are quoting two German tennis legends on our two blogs (Boris Becker is the other). Here, we are quoting women's tennis great Steffi Graf, now 42 and married to famed American tennis player Andre Agassi, who is a year younger than his wife (Agassi and I are the same age).

Graf, a 22 grand slam event winner, literally made a splash when she sported a bathing suit for the swimsuit issue of "Sports Illustrated," which put her alongside the likes of swimsuit models, such as Vendela and Elle MacPherson.

Those lines for female athletes between sporting talent and sexual appeal has been even more blurred in recent years as partial nude photographs of gymnast Alicia Sacramone and women's soccer goalie Hope Solo were featured an recent issue of "ESPN" magazine.

Here is Graff's quote:

"It's so difficult to find times besides the tennis."

SIDEBAR: One of the downsides of having two blogs is that I often don't get to read the blogs of my own friends, so I heartily recommend my friend Chris Knight's blog "The Knight Shift," which is, which has well over a million hits!

SIDEBAR 2: Since we had an entry about Turkish soccer yesterday, we wanted to mention that Trabzonspor scored a 1-1 tie with Italian powerhouse Inter Milan at home in Trabzon, Turkey, today. The home team's goal came from Halil Altintop.

Halil's twin brother Hamit Altintop as his team Real Madrid decked the Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb 6-2 with goals from Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain, Jose Callejon and Mesut Ozil, who like the Altintop twins is a Turkish player who grew up in Germany (Ozil plays for Germany; the Altintop twins play for Turkey).

In other games, Bayern Munich beat the Spanish team Villarreal 3-1, and the Swiss team FC Basel triumphed over the Romanian team Otelul Galati in a high-scoring 3-2 affair.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sports Desk- Disappointing Big Game in Turkish Soccer

The major Turkish soccer game of the week was yesterday's clash between two Istanbul powerhouse rivals, Galatasaray and Besiktas, but in spite of all the hype, the game ended in 0-0 tie.

But, some teams in the league scored major victories. This included Bursaspor (pictured here) which scored a 1-0 home win in Bursa over Samsunspor today with a goal from Moroccan national player Michael Chretien, who previously played for the French team Nancy, in the 72nd minute.

In other games, Liberian national Tonia Tisdell scored the game-winner in the 74th minute for Ankara Gucu in the team's 2-1 win over Karabukspor.

For traditional soccer power Fenerbahce (Istanbul) Cameroonian national player Henri Bienvenu scored the game-winner early in the 14th minute over Eskisehirspor in the team's 1-0 win.

And, second place Trabzonspor, which is also competing in the UEFA Cup, tied the port city of Mersin's Idmanyurdu team 1-1. Turkish national player Giray Kacar scored for Trabzonspor and Brazilian Andre Moritz scored for Idmanyurdu.

Here are the complete results:

Trabzonspor 1 Idman Yurdu (Mersin) 1

Bursaspor 1 Samsunspor 0

Galatasaray 0 Besiktas 0

Fenerbahce 1 Eskisehirspor 0

Ankara Gucu 2 Karabukspor 1

Kayserispor 1 Orduspor 0

Gaziantepspor 1 Manisaspor 1

Antalyaspor 2 Istanbul BB 1

Sivasspor 1 Ankara Genclerbirligi 1

Friday, November 18, 2011

From the LP Collection_ "A Momentary Lapse of Reason" by Pink Floyd (1 of 8)

Today, we start a new feature series on albums from my personal record collection with "A Momentary Lapse of Reason," the 1987 record from the legendary rock band Pink Floyd.

This is also the record which somehow hypnotizes the family tuxedo cat, or at least makes him less neurotic than normal.

"Reason" was the 13th and next to last studio album for Pink Floyd. "The Final Cut"
(1983) and "The Division Bell" (1994) came before and after it.

The album was a highly controversial one, not so much for content, as much as it lead to a very open public feud between Roger Waters, one of the leaders of Pink Floyd, who left the group leaving David Gilmour as lead singer/guitarist. Waters even tried to sue Gilmour over the use of the name Pink Floyd.

The two remaining members of the lineup drummer Nick Mason and the late keyboardist Richard Wright (1943-2008) were also brought on board to record the album in England.

The album is also noted for having the first inserted sleeve photograph of the band since 1971's "Meedle." The record features the psychedlic single "Learning to Fly" which is said to be a metaphor for starting a new chapter in life.

"Reason" also contains "The Dogs of War," "One Slip" and "On the Turning Away," which seems to be our cat's personal favorite, or at least it mellows him considerably.

I won the record from a contest from the now defunct Rock 105 (104.9 FM_Blacksburg, Va.), though the station no longer exists, there is a cool college radio station serving the New River Valley of Virginia in 90.7 FM-Blacksburg, the student-run radio station of Virginia Tech.

Roger Waters will be performing the band's legendary album "The Wall" in concert at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC, on July 12, 2012.

NOTE: This blog will be on brief hiatus until Tuesday.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bonus Road Trip (5 of 10)_ Mayberry to Milwaukee

Today, we look at the distance between Mount Airy, NC, which is the real-life Mayberry as it is where Andy Griffith originally hails from (he is now retired in the North Carolina coastal village of Manteo, a bit far from Mount Airy), and Milwaukee.

Ron Howard, now a film director, was on both "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Happy Days," and hopefully, anyone logging in from somewhere like Karachi, Pakistan, has some familiarity with iconic American tv sitcoms from yesteryear. If not; oh well!

For this, we took the distance between Snappy Lunch in downtown Mount Airy, a town that borders Virginia, and WTMJ (Channel-4, Milwaukee).

And, the answer is:

A) 13 hours

B) 14 hours

C) 15 hours

D) 16 hours

SIDEBAR: We jokingly said that the winner of our "Rabbit Ears Quiz" grand prize was Aysegul Denizli, from Izmir, Turkey. This was a name we had conjured up off the top of our heads. But, there does indeed happen to be a real Aysegul Denizli. She is a marketing executive in Istanbul. What a coincidence?! We certainly hope she doesn't ask for her cat toy (that was the grand prize).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Quote of the Week- Mario Lemieux

Mario Lemieux, 46, is a Canada hockey legend who originally hails from Montreal. He is the only NHL player who has won Stanley Cups as a player and as an owner. Lemieux led the Pittsburg Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992. As owner, he saw his Penguins win the Stanley Cup in 2009 thanks to hockey star Sidney Crosby.

Last night, the Penguins defeated the Colorado Avalanche 6-3.

Lemieux had to retire from the game prematurely due to cancer in 1997. But, he came back to the ice in 2000 before finally retiring for good in 2006.

Here is his quote:

"I didn't speak English until I came to Pittsburgh."

Quote of the Day- Jurgen Klinsmann

Today, we continue to quote famous Germans as we quote German soccer legend Jurgen Klinsmann, who is now the head coach of the United States national team which beat Slovenia 3-2 in a foggy, messy game in Slovenia with goals from Edson Buddle, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore.

Like Franz Beckenbauer before him, Klinsmann is among the German soccer great who have played for Bayern Munich as he was with the team from 1995-97. While playing for Bayern Munich, Klinsmann and his teammates won the UEFA Cup in 1996.

Klinsmann also helped a new united Germany win a World Cup in 1990. He also played soccer for VB Stuggart (Germany), Inter Milan (Italy), Monaco (France) and Tottenham (England).

Here is his quote:

"If the national coach lets decisions be made from the outside, he's lost the team."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Things We Learned on Google Today- Kutaisi is Georgia's Second City

In case you are wondering, the image above is of Kazbegi Beer (well we ran into a tech glitch so the image is of Georgian folk dancing instead, but all beer bottles look similar, don't they?!), which is the most popular brew in Georgia, as in Tblisi not Atlanta.

The former Soviet republic of Georgia is now an independent nation though it has been dealing with ethnic unrest as Abhazia and South Ossetia, two states within Georgia, want independent nationhood status for themselves, much as Chechnya wants a divorce from Russia. If all of this is confusing, then just ask Condi Rice to clarify it for you (not that we are Republicans here).

Kutaisi has a population of 186,000, and it has Georgia's second highest population behind the capital Tblisi. Kutaisi, which is some 150 miles west of Tblisi, is relatively close to the geographic center of Georgia.

The city also sits along both banks of the Rioni River (yes, we got all this info from Wikipedia), and it is bounded by the northern Imereti foothills. Much like neighboring Azerbaijan, Georgia has hot summers and cold winters.

FC Torpedo Kutaisi is the local soccer team, and the landmark attraction in Kutaisi is the Bagrati Cathedral, which is now in ruins.

As for the Georgia where former president Jimmy Carter grew up and still resides, Augusta is the state's second largest city. We wrongly assumed it was Savannah, which is actually the Peach State's fourth largest city.

THE WHOOPS DEPARTMENT: In Saturday's entry, I did not spell liberal reporter Suzy Khimm's name correctly; we did in fact spell it as Suzy Khim. She has an excellent Twitter page, which I highly recommend, even if the person reading this happens to be Condi Rice. Khimm wrote an excellent article in the December 2010 issue of "Mother Jones," which is actually to the left of me, about Virginia's militant far right wing Republican attorney general whose name I can't spell any way.

PS_ The answer to our "Rabbit Ears Quiz" from last week was c) 31. "Star Trek" had 79episodes whereas "Space 1999" had 48 episodes. Thus, 31 is the mathematical difference between them. Aysegul Denizli* of Izmir, Turkey, won our grand prize for guessing the correct answer. Our grand prize is indeed an 8-track tape from the
'70s of American honky tonk truck-driving songs.

*- Fake name, though there might very well be a woman somewhere in the world with that name! And, there were no prizes for guessing correctly.....

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Things We Learned on Twitter Today- GOP Scare Tactics Not Accurate

We saw this interesting tweet from Virginia state Senator Creigh Deeds (D-Hot Springs) who was easily re-elected over Charlottesville attorney T.J. Aldous on Tuesday, though since Republicans were able to brand conservative, pro-life Democrat state senate incumbent Roscoe Reynolds as a 'liberal,' his opponent Bill Stanley won the highly-contested seat in the Martinsville area and gave the state senate to Republicans by an extremely narrow margin.

In his tweet this evening, Deeds, whom I volunteered for when he ran for state attorney general in 2005 and endorsed in 2009 against his opponent Bob McDonnell, a fervent right-winger who is now governor, said the following: "Does government regulation really kill jobs? Economists say overall effect is minimal-Washington Post."

His tweet comes at a time when I saw several militant anti-Obama billboards, including two in Beckley, WVa, the heart of coal country, which said that every state from Indiana to South Carolina was in Obama's 'job-killing zones.' Interestingly, all these states, which included Virginia, were highlighted in red, the color used by the electoral college when it has voted Republican in the presidential election.

Though West Virginia was one of the eight states that selected Michael Dukakis in 1988, it has gone Republican for the last three presidential races. But, Obama won four 'Bush states' in Ohio, Indiana, Virginia and North Carolina during the last cycle.

There have been a number of dubious anti-Obama billboards paid for by far-right groups. One near Orlando, Fla., actually said "Please Don't Vote Democrat" which an image of the Twin Towers from 9-11. Another one in Grand Junction, Colo., which was eventually removed, compared our president to a terrrorist. Others have shown Obama wearing a turban while another one put a Soviet Union flag beside the president. And, these shameless people assuredly call themselves patriots.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Highlights from My 24 Things to Improve My Life List

It seems to be a slow Saturday night, and I can tell that from Twitter where I saw that people as diverse as right-wing evangelical acivist Nathan Tabor, from Winston-Salem, NC, moderate conservative pundit David Frum and liberal journalist Suzy Khimm were all watching the Republican debate from Michigan tonight.

So, perhaps this will mean more blog traffic than normal.

A funny thing happened the other day as my mom and I were browsing through an independent bookstore in Roanoke, Va. I stumbled across a copy of a self-help book entitled "Clean Like a Man" by Tom McNulty. I saw on the back jacket that comic/actor Richard Lewis ("Curb Your Enthuiasm") had strongly endorsed it as he confessed to being an Oscar Madison-type.

My mom looked when I showed her the book, which I should probably read_twice, and said (paraphrase): "Oh come on. You know you'll never read the thing; sorry son, but you are a hopeless cause."

So, with that, here are highlights from a list I made today on ways I could improve my life:

1. Lose weight

2. Get a good-paying job

3. Write a short story or even a short, short story

4. Clean house (hence, the reason for the vacuum cleaner image)

5. Try to get more hits on the two blogs; surely there is someone in a hut in the jungles of Burundi who cares about what I have to say.

6. Develop more confidence around attractive women; some guy found a way to ask Anne Hathaway out on a date.

7. Go on more long walks

8. Read Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace" or at least the first chapter.

9. Watch more Jean-Luc Godard films (we would've gone with Ingmar Bergman, but his films make me feel very depressed, especially "Fanny and Alexander," it's more gut-wrenching than "Schindler's List").

10. Listen to more Turkish psychedlic music from the 1970s.

11. Save up money to buy a $500 antique Swiss cuckoo clock.

12. Drink more Counter Culture* coffee instead of Starbucks.

*-Company based in Durham, NC. Reportedly, they use beans from farms in Rwanda and/or Uganda.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Virtual Postcard from Kentucky- Churchill Downs

Today was one in which I spent much of it on the road as we traveled throughout West Viginia and Kentucky, and we will visit Ohio tomorrow.

I was actually a bit east of Louisville, but Churchill Downs, along with the Kentucky Horse Farm in nearby Lexington, as arguably the most iconic placees in the Bluegrass State.

The next Kentucky Derby, the popular horse race which takes place at Churchill Downs, will be on May 4th and 5th,, 2012.

Animal Kingdom, the current winner of the last Kentucky Derby, is a Brazilian bred stallion. The horse has so far earned 2.37 million dollars in earnings.

Currently, Animal Kingdom has just recovered from surgery and he is scheduled to compete at the 2012 Dubai World Cup.

We certainly wish Animal Kingdom well.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Quote of the Week- Ludwig van Beethoven

In the Whoops Department, we meant to quote Ludwig van Betthoven (1770-1827) first, and then quote Bryan Adams in the next entry. But, the phone was ringing and we are listening to the Virginia Tech- Georgia Tech football from Atlanta which have the Hokies beating the home team Yellow Jackets 21-13 at half-time. Ok, yes, that was a cop-out!

For fans of the Stanley Kubrick cinematic classic "A Clockwork Orange" (1971), the ninth symphony from 'Ludwig van' which is featured in the film always conjurs up sadistic notions (that film wasn't exactly "Bambi").

If you want to hear Bethooven on the Internet, both WETA-FM in Washington, DC, which is an NPR station, and WCPE in Raleigh, NC, which is an independent, non-profit station play the likes of Bethooven, Mozart and Metallica (ok, they don't play Metallica!) 24 hours a day.

Here is the quote:

"A great poet is the most precious jewel of a nation."

Quote of the Week- Bryan Adams

We go from classical music to contemporary pop/rock as we quip Canadian singer Bryan Adams who turned 52 on Nov. 5. I had always assumed that Adams, who I saw in concert threee times in the '80s and '90s when he came to my hometown of Roanoke, Va., was from British Columbia. But, Adams is actually a native of Kingston, Ontario.

This month, we are quoting famous Canadians, and there are many more of them than one might realize! (Frogive me for making fun of our neighbors to the north).

Though he recorded three solid album in the mid-to-late 1980s, Adams will probably be best remembered for singing the ballad ("Everything I Do"), I Do It for You." Like most people of my generation, I have come to despise this tune that was number one for an astonishing seven weeks in 1991, when I was 21.

Here is the quote from Adams, who last released an album (simply called "11") in

"I only write songs for myself, I don't try to appeal to anyone else."

SIDEBAR: On a more serious note, I wanted to pay my respects and appreciation to Atsushi Miyazaki, a Japanese aid worker, who was killed by the 5.7 aftershock to the devastating Oct. 23rd earthquake in Van, Turkey. The aftershock also occured in Van on Wednesday. Miyazaki was killed when the Bayram Hotel in Van collapsed. 604 people have officially died as a result of the original quake. In addition, to Miyazaki, some ten people were killed on Wednesday. For info on how you can help, go the main Turkish-American web site (

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Rabbit Ears Quiz- Space 1999 (2 of 12)

It just dawned on me that two future Academy Award-winners for Best Supporting Actor came to prominence thanks to two science-fiction oriented tv show. The two actors I'm thinking of are Robin Williams ("Mork and Mindy" is one of the few sci-fi sitcoms one can think of) and Martin Landau, who starred in the British tv cult classic "Space 1999," who won an Oscar for playing Bela Lugosi in "Ed Wood."

I first came across "Space 1999," which ran for two seasons from 1975 until 1978, in a very unusual way. When I saw the show, it was actually called "Uzay 1999" and it aired on the TRT, Turkish Radio and Television. When I saw the show in the fall of 1977, there was only one channel of tv in Turkey and it only came on at certain hours of the day. Plus, virtually all of the tvs were in black and white. Of course, now one can watch hundreds of channels of tv in Turkey, which I would presume has posed challenged for the TRT, which was a state-run media monopoly at the time.

For its time, "Space 1999" was the most expensive television ever made. It drew inspiration from Stanley Kubrick's cinematic masterpiece "2001: A Space Odyssey"
(1968). In addition to Landau, the show featured his then-wife Barabara Bain.

So, for today's quiz, since it's a safe assumption that most science fiction fans are good at math (well, I'm certainly not!), we are going to ask what is mathematical difference between the number of episodes for "Space 1999" and "Star Trek," which was called "Uzay Yolu" in Turkey.

Is the answer:

A) 28
B) 29
C) 31
D) 33

SIDEBAR: While researching this piece, we learned that German television will air a 1968 episode of the original "Star Trek" series entitled "The Patterns of Force" for the very first time. The reason why the episode is being aired in Germany only now is fairly obvious: Captain Kirk and Mister Spock dress like Nazis to breech the third reich.

SIDEBAR TWO: Ironically, we found out today that this blog is apparently more popular in Greece as of late than Turkey (I happen to be a Turkish-American). Hmmmmm.....In all seriousness, we wish our followers in Greece good luck during this trying economic time. Of course, this doesn't mean that we recognize Kardak as being 'your island.'*

*- Kardak, which is called Imia in Greek, is an uninhabited goat island which actually caused a foreign relations fiasco between Turkey and Greece some years ago. It does in fact belong to Greece, and I hope this is ok with the goats!

Casualties of Modern Technology- Newspapers (2 of 12)

Since I was once a newspaper reporter, declaring my old profession to be a 'casualty of modern technology' may not go over well, but it has been a full decade since I was covering Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors meetings in Woodstock, Va.

According to Wikipedia, there were 6,580 newspapers in the world which sold 395 million copies a day. But, a steep decline has occured since then. As Gene Weingarten, a humor columnist from "The Washington Post" stated a few years ago (this is a paraphrase): 'how can you exist as a business when you give away your product for free on the Internet?'

And, many newspapers across the United States have been hit hard, including "The Herald-Sun" in Durham, NC. The daily newspaper owned by the Paxton Group in Paducah, Ky., had over 50,000 daily subcribers in 2003. As of 2010, it has just over 25,000. As a result, the newspaper fired 81 of its 350 employeees, including prize-winning cartoonist John Cole, in 2008. There have been even more layoffs at the newspaper since then.

The newspaper traditionally consists of features, such as comic strips, classified ads, advice columns, obituaries, recipes, horoscopes and editorial cartoons.

But, newspapers have not lost their value when it comes to informing the public, especially on local issues. This is particularly true today, which is Election Day here in the United States.

Both "The News and Record" in Greensboro, NC, and its alt weekly competitor "Yes Weekly!" will have major stories tomorrow regarding the outcome of a highly contested local mayoral race between the incumbent Republican mayor of Greensboro Bill Knight and his challenger Robbie Perkins, a candidate endorsed by "Yes Weekly!."

According to the PRI show "The World," a radio program that airs on many NPR stations in America, Chinese-language newspapers, including the Hong Kong-based "Sing Tao Daily," are playing a vital role in the likely election of Ed Lee, who would become the first person of Chinese heritage to become the mayor of San Francisco.

But, as to the future of newspapers, that is an open question. In fact, as I was typing this, someone was asking if this household would be interested in getting the local paper in the zip code I am presently at (it was not "The News and Record" or "The Herald Sun).

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Quote of the Week- Michael J. Fox

Aside from the conservative columnist George F. Will, who we have made fun from time to time, it's hard to think of many clebrities who use an initial with his or her time. If I were to do that, I'd have to refer to myself as Tilly F. Gokbudak, and that might be pretty annoying.

But, Michael J. Fox is one person who has made using his initial seem kinda cool. And, given his ordeal with Parkinson's Disease, the star of the "Back to the Future" movie franchise, who turned 50 this year, seems like a person who has earned this unique quirk.

This month, we are quoting famous Canadians, and though it's been a while perhaps since Fox was back home in Winnipeg (actually, we have no idea where he's from in Canada, and we don't have time to wiki it right now), he is indeed a famous Canadian.

And, here is his quote, from Fox who was also in the popular '80s sitcom "Family Ties," as he refers to his early fame.

"Everybody in the world knew who I was before I knew who I was."

SIDEBAR: We've had an occasional series on both of our blogs with the Tweet of the Day. For various reasons, we've been neglecting that lately, but I loved this one from Arsalan Iftikhar, better known as "The Muslim Guy," and it is great pie in the fae for someone who truly deserves it: "Anne Coulter said, 'our black guys are better than their blacks. This proves the devil wears prada.' The black guy that Coulter, a real-life right-wing Looney Tunes character, is Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, who is embroiled in a sexual harrasment controversy. Personally, I think there are at least 125 other reasons why he is not qualifies for president.

SIDEBAR TWO: Have you been in a bit of a funk, lately? Well, I will admit I have. Perhaps, it comes with being an adult on Halloween and realizing that you can't dress up like Underdog and go trick-or-treating like you did in 1976 (that was actually my costume 35 years ago).

But, apparently, there is someone who has made their inner demons public as the blog "" which has great cartoons starts off like this:

"Some people have a legitimate reason to feel depressed, but not me. I just woke up one day feeling sad and hapless for no reason. It's disapppointing to feel sad for no reason."

And, on that note, when I last checked the earthquake which occured on Oct. 23rd in Van, Turkey, had reached a death toll of 596. Since I heard that two days ago, I imagine the number has risen up to 600*. Perhaps, now is a good time for a "Seinfeld" rerun!

*-For more info on how you can help, go to which is the web page for ATAA, the main Turkish-American association in North America, based in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Quote of the Day- Conrad Veidt

Today's quote of the day comes from the legendary German actor Conrad Veidt (1893-1943) who made over 100 films even though he died at age 50 from a heart attack while playing gold.

Some of his most significant films included "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari"
(1919), "The Man Who Laughed" (1928) and "Casablanca" (1942).

Veidt was an ardent political opponent of the Nazi movement and since his wife was Jewish he felt no need to stick around in Germany, but his broken English made it hard for him to get quality roles in Hollywood.

Here is his quote:

"An actor remembers his first piece of published praise. It is written on his heart."