Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ending the Year with Willy Shakespeare

If one is looking on ahead on this New Year's Eve/New Year's Day, then there will be at least two performances of the famed William Shakespeare play "The Twelfth Night" in two different parts of the United States this summer.

The Arkansas Shakespeare Company in Conway will be performing the play from June 1-July 12 and there will be a production of the same play along with "Richard III" this summer at Colorado Shakespeare Festival in Boulder.

On that note, we end 2011 with a quote from the Bard himself:

"Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage."

Friday, December 30, 2011

Quotes of the Day/Week- Hugo Chavez

Today, we conclude our quotes from famous Latin Americans with the always engaging, far-left leader Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. 2011 was a bad year for dictators as both Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, and more recently Kim Jong Il of North Korea (the later of natural causes) died. Others were deposed and imprisoned, and some like Chavez dealt with health issues.

Chavez is suffering from cancer, but exactly what kind of cancer and just how bad it is are not certain. But, Chavez, ever the headline-maker, proclaimed yesterday (according to "The Daily Beast") that the United States was deliberately spreading cancer across South America.

On the other extreme, the American far-right has been a bit paranoid about Chavez, with the whacko evangelist Pat Robertson actually going to the point of calling for the assasination of the Venezuelean leader.

Here is the quote from Chavez, who turned 57 this year:

"We must confront the privildged elite who have destryoed a large part of the world."

Quote of the Day/Week- Keiko Fujimori

Today, we continue our quips from famous Latin Americans with a quote from Keiko Fujimori (b. 1975) who ran a losing bid for the presidency of Peru this year as her father, the ousted, controversial right-wing former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori (b.1938) remains in jail after being convicted for human rights abuses in 2009. He is scheduled to serve 25 years, but his daughter has vowed to release him if she is elected president herself.

The younger Fujimori is also famous for being the youngest first lady in the Americas as he was promoted to the post in 1994 at age 19 following her parents' divroce. She is also an alumnus of Boston University.

Here is her quote:

"Now, they treat us with respect and flirt with us. But we take these advances with a grain of salt."

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Rabbit Ears Test (5 of 12)_ The Brady Bunch

Earlier this year, tv show pioneer Sherwood Schwartz, who created both "Gilligan's Island" and "The Brady Bunch" died at age 94. But, he will always be remembered for creating one of the first unusual sitcom families which broke away from the "Father Knows Best" forms of the '50s and '60.

"The Brady Bunch" starred the late Robert Reed (1932-1992) as Mike Brady. Reed came to the show with a Shakespearean actor background, and he would later teach Shakespearian acting at UCLA during the last years of his life which ended at age 59 from AIDS.

But, the other two adult cast members, Florence Henderson and Ann B. Davis, who played the housekeeper Alice, are alive and presumably well. Davis turned 85 this year.

The oldest Brady child was Greg Brady, played by Barry Williams, who is 57 today, a mere two younger than Reed was when he died 20 years ago. The other Brady Kids were played by the likes of Eve Plumb, Maureen McCormick, Chris Knight (not to be confused with my blogger friend of the same name), Mike Lookiland and Susan Olsen.

"The Brady Bunch" ran for 117 episodes, and Gene Hackman_ of all people_ was considered for the part of Mike Brady. The show was actually more popular after it initially aired, as it never got past number 34 in the ratings.

The dog Tiger disappeared after the second season because off-screen the dog was tragically run over by a car, though his dog house was around up until the show's conclusion.

I actually had the chance to meet Williams in person in 1996. He said he still got high volumes of fan letters every week.

So, today, we are asking when exactly did "The Brady Bunch" first air; is the answer?:

A) Sept. 26, 1969

B) Jan. 2, 1970

C) Sept. 25, 1970

D) Nov. 20, 1970

SIDEBAR: Alas, our beloved UNC Tarheels fell 41-24 to the Missouri Tigers in the Independence Bowl that was mentioned in an earlier entry.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Casulaties of Modern Technology_ Board Games

By no means is Monopoly a thing of the past, as one might infer from my heading. However, it is a safe assumption that most children of today prefer to play advanced video games with their friends as opposed to board games. Monopoly board games are still made today as our the likes of Trivial Pursuit and Clue.

According to Wikipedia, Monopoly was first played in 1904, and it was originally called The Landlord's Game. In 1934, Charles Darrow presented his own version of The Landlord's Game to various executives, and by the Christmas of 1935, Monopoly games were being sold throughout the United States.

Monopoly consists of three Chance spaces, four railroads, including the Reading Railroad, and a 'Get Out of Jail Free' card.

Traditional American versions of Monopoly are based on streets in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Since the '30s, the names of several streets have changed including Illinois Avenue which became Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in the 1980s.

There are also popular college versions of Monopoly, including ones for the University of Alabama (pictured), Virginia Tech and the University of North Carolina.

In addition, there are international versions in many countries including South Korea, Japan and Russia. In the Australian version of Monopoly, a koala bear is one of the silver pieces.

There is also a periodic World Championship of Monopoly, which was last played in Las Vegas in 2009. The tournament was won by Bjorn Halvard Knappska from Norway.

Many parodies, including some that are unauthorized by Hasboro, the company which now makes Monopoly games, have surfaced over the years. Of these, the most recognized and infamous is perhaps Ghettopoly, which was released in 2003.

In Ghettopoly, railroads are replaced by liquor stores and a handgun is among the silver pieces. Hasbro successfully sued to prevent the game from being sold on the open market on the grounds of copyright infringement. The NAACP also found the game to be highly offensive.

As a result, the limited editions of Ghettopoly fetch between $120-300 on the Internet.

SIDEBAR: One of my favorite sports, women's college gymnastics, will be starting again soon. The University of Alabama, which was mentioned earlier in this piece, has the reigning NCAA title-winning team this year. They open their 2012 season at home on January 13th against their arch rivals from the University of Georgia at 7:30 p.m local time (8:30 p.m., eastern time).

The University of Georgia's team, which are also known as the Gym Dawgs (Georgia's athletic teams are officially called Bulldogs), has also won numerous NCAA titles in women's gymnastics, and the meets between the two schools frequently sell out.

Among the standout gymnasts for the Alabama Crimson Tide are junior Marissa Guiterrez and senior Geralen Stack-Eaton, who were key components of the team's national championship effort. For the Gym Dawgs, top gymnasts include senior standouts Kat Ding and Gina Nuccio.

The preseason national rankings have Alabama ranked second behind UCLA; Georgia is ranked ninth. The other SEC team in the top ten is the University of Florida; the Gators are ranked third.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays from Barney the Dinosaur

Though I disagree with the politics of former "Washington Post" film critic and novelist Stephen Hunter, who is a conservative pro-guns proponent,I fully agree with his sentiment that he prefers dinosaur movies where the dinosaurs eat people.

Nevertheless, as harmless as Barney the Purple Dinosaur may seem, he was tagged by the Rev. Joseph Chambers, the evangelical extremist from Charlotte, NC, who is also believed to be the first person to proclaim that Bert and Ernie of "Sesame Street" were a gay couple, said that Barney was 'a tool of Satan and homosexuals' who was also attempting to teach children Marxist ideology.

The PBS dino first aired in 1992, some five years after he was created by Sheryl Leach of Dallas, Tex., and the show lasted an amazing 268 episodes. Though, Barney has been on hiatus since September 2009, ironically the same time when "Sesame Street" was celebrating its 40th anniversary.

The theme song from "Barney," which is "I Love You" was actually use by the very liberal filmmaker Michael Moore in a tv segment in the 1990s in which he tried to get Serbian and Croatian leaders to resolve their differences through the song.

But, in a more sinister effort, "I Love You," as reported in a recent issue of "Mental Floss," was actually used by Guantanamo Bay guards to torture alleged terrorists.

Nevertheless, we are using Barney here to wish everyone a Happy Holidays, even if you would rather be stuck on a desert island with Michele Bachmann.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Timeless Allure of the Grinch

The classic holiday special "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" will air at 8:00 p.m. on ABC on Christmas night. The program first aired just over 45 years ago on
Dec. 18, 1966, exactly 34 years before the "Seinfeld" episode "The Strike" which introduced the world to Festivus.

The tv version of the Dr. Seuss children's book of the same name was directed by two legendary "Looney Tunes" directors Chuck Jones and Ben Washam_ who was credited with giving Daffy Duck the catch phrase: "Thanks for the sour persimmons, cousin."

The cartoon features Boris Karloff, the great horror film actor who would die three years later in 1969 at age 81, as both the narrator and the voice of the Grinch. Thurl Ravenscroft, who would later be known as the voice of Tony the Tiger in cereal commercials, provided the voice for the theme song.

Dr. Seuss actually feared the use of Karloff because he thought the actor who first brought Frankenstein to life on the silver screen might scare away children.

But, the show has endured after all these years, even though it was made into a surprisingly awful feature film version with Jim Carrey in 2000.

SIDEBAR ONE: Anyone interested in helping starving children this Christmas might want to contemplate donating to CARE's Somalia famine relief fund. As of July 20, 2011, two regions of southern Somalia were declared famine zones. CARE estimates that some 3.7 million people are starving and in need of medical assistance in the famine, which has also struck parts of Ethiopia and Kenya. For more information go to or google the term 'Somalia famine.'

SIDEBAR TWO: On a lighter note, I was going to make the following joking posting on Facebook, but I thought it could be misunderstood, so I am posting it here on this blog, which we sometimes wonder that no one is reading, except for die-hard followers in El Salvador, of all places:

"Got a Tea Partier a Jesus Christ bobblehead doll and an Occupy Wall Street protester a Che Guevara bobblehead doll for Christmas. I sure hope I don't get the packages mixed up."

As I said earlier, this is a joke, but there are actually bobblehead dolls for both Jesus Christ and Che Guevara!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

From the Album Collection (3 of 8)_ Queen's "The Game"

Today's album feature of the day is Queen's "The Game" (1980), which features two number-one hit singles in "Another One Bites the Dust" and "Crazy Little Thing Called Love."

The British band consisted of the late Freddie Mercury (1946-1991; lead vocals and guitar), Brian May (quitar), Roger Taylor (drums) and John Deacon (bass).

Deacon wrote the lyrics for "Another One Bites the Dust," and though Queen is most well-known today for their earlier song "Bohemian Rhapsody," it was actually "Another One Bites the Dust" that became the band's biggest hit as it sold seven million copies.

Christian fundamentalists went on to accuse Queen of having a backwards message on "Another Bites the Dust," in which they allege the band is telling listeners to: 'decide to smoke marijuana.' Interestingly enough, Queen does have a PSA song on "The Game" which is called "Don't Try Suicide" (the song was not relased as a single).

"Crazy Little Thing Called Love," a rockabilly tune which differed Queen's other songs artistically, also became a huge chart-topper and the song was a regular part of the band's lineup up until the last days of the original lineup.

After this record, which also contained "Play the Game" and "Need Your Loving Tonight," Queen went on to record the soundtrack for "Flash Gordon" and the single "Under Pressure" with David Bowie.

Mercury died of complications from AIDS at age 45 in 1991. While researching this piece, we were surprised to find out that there is a statue of Mercury overlooking Lake Geneva in Montreaux, Switzerland.

A recent issue of "Rolling Stone" ranked May, who has a doctorate in astrophysics, as the 26th best guitar player of all time. The magazine cited his work on the single "Keep Yourself Alive" (not on "The Game") as some of his best work.

Yet Another Quote from Shakespeare (Entry 4 of 5)

We must profess irony for posting this entry as yours truly (yes, I use 'we' on my blog entries even though I know it is grammatically incorrect, nor am I a male version of Sybil) because we don't really have any patience, especially not during this zanier than a Tom and Jerry cartoon time of the year:

"How poor are they who have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degree."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bonus Road Trip (7 of 10)- Columbia, Mo., to The Indepence Bowl

Since we originally started the Road Trip series back in the spring of this year, we set out to try and cover every state, including Alaska and Hawaii (for the Aloha State, we used a short drive on the island of Maui). And, we think got all the states except for possibly Missouri.

So, we are including the Show Me State here just to be 100-percent certain. Since we are sort of based in North Carolina, this may seem like high treason as the University of North Carolina Tarheels will face the Missouri Tigers for the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.

This is actually an early bowl as it will be played on Monday, Dec. 26, at 5:00 p.m./Chapel Hill, NC, time.

For this entry, we chose two Mexican restaurants as our points of destination. La Siesta on North 9th Street in Columbia, Missori, the city where the Tigers are based, is the Mexican restaurant for Mizzou. And, for Shreveport, we have chosen Superior Grill, which also has three other restaurants in Louisiana and one in Alabama. In Sheveport, the restaurant can be found on Lime Avenue.

If you are in Chapel Hill, NC, we saw that our friends at the Turkish restaurant Tallula's on Franklin Street about 15 hours and 30 minutes from the Superior Grill in Shreveport, La.

But, we are looking for the distance between Columbia and Shreveport; and the answer is:

A) 9 hours, 45 minutes

B) 10 hours

C) 10 hours, 15 minutes

D) 10 hours, 30 minutes

E) 10 hours, 45 minutes

SIDEBAR ONE: Lots of books with very long titles are out these days, including this one we saw mentioned in "Rolling Stone" and later at a book retailer in Washington, DC: "Free Ride: How Digital Media Parasites Are Destroying the Cultural Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back" by Robert Levine, who is also a contributing editor to "Rolling Stone."

SIDEBAR TWO: We love headlines from the satirical news publication "The Onion," and this header from today's edition was as always quite funny and very dark: "(Detroit) Tigers Sign Jim Leyland Through His Death in 2012."

It should be pointed out that the legendary baseball manager Jim Leyland is alive and well; in fact, he turned 67 on Dec. 15th.

Quote of the Day/Week- Shakira one seems to be reading this blog except a few people in El Salvador. Hopefully, colombian pop icon Shakira (b. 1977) can shake things up a bit.

Shakira hit it big with her 2001 English-language record "Laundry Service" (yes, that's the reason for the laundry basket) featuring the erotic ballad "Underneath Your Clothes" and the dance hit "Whenever, Whereever."

Ok, it's time to feed the family cat, so here is the quote from Shakira:

"Everyone can know what is in my heart because I find it hard to conceal myself."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quote of the Day/Week- Chilean Filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky

Hmmmm.....yeah, we kind of messed up on this a few days ago when we were posting an entry with a quote on Fidel Castro that ended up on our other blog "The Daily Vampire." For that incident and many others, we made an editorial decision to fire Javier the Intern. But, we quickly realized no one could replace him, so we hired Javier the Intern* back.

Today, we are quoting the Chilean experimental filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky (b. 1929) who is best known for midnight movie masterpiece "El Topo" (1970), which many musicians, including the late John Lennon and Peter Gabriel took a serious liking to.

Here is his quote, which we will credit to Javier:

"One day, someone showed me a glass of water that was half full. And, he said, 'is it half full or half empty?,' so I drank the water. No more problems."

*-There is no real Javier the Intern; it is a running gag on my two blogs.

Extra Bonus Photo to Fill Space- An Oil Lamp

Since we had two images of lamps, we thought it would be kind of neat to conclude the set with an oil lamp; we gather these are quite expensive.

Next week, there are two episodes of "Antiques Roadshow," on PBS (usually on Mondays), including one show from Phoenix, Arizona, where a collection of original art work from "Peanuts" cartoonist Charles Schultz, worth $350,000, will be featured.

"The Charlie Brown Christmas Special," which Schultz wrote himself, originally aired on Dec. 9, 1965.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bonus Silly Picture to Fill Space- An Old Lamp

Augghhhh! I am now definitely taking a break from blogging tomorrow as I realized I needed two entries on this blog to even it with the other one.......?!

Silly Picture to Fill Space_ Lava Lamp

We royally goofed by posting an entry with a quote from Fidel Castro on the other blog instead of this one, so we are filling space with a lava lamp!

Sports Desk- Updates on Turkish, Greek and English Futbol

Since we congratulated the UCLA Bruins for winning the NCAA women's volleyball title last night, we are putting together all the soccer info we've gathered from weekend action here in this one entry.

Let's start in the Turkish Premier League where two of the three Istanbul powerhouses sitting on top of the league standings once again Galatasaray and Fenerbahce won their matches. The third powerhouse team Besiktas drew a 1-1 tie.

For Galatasaray, in the team's 2-0 victory over Orduspor, the goals came from Milan Baros (22nd minute) and Kazim Kazim (67th min.).

In Fenerbahce's 1-0 win over Trabzonspor, the lone goal in the match came from Mehmet Topuz (pictured). He scored in the 24th minute of play, and it was yet another shut-out for Volkan Demirel, the star goalie for Fenerbahce who plays the same position for the Turkish national team.

In Sunday action in England, Russian player Roman Palychenko, who should make our next long and difficult names list, scored the lone in the 61st minute to lead Tottenham past Sunderland 1-0. The Russian came into the match as a substitute in the 22nd minute of the game.

Additionally, EPL-leading Manchester City scored a 1-0 win over Arsenal thanks to goal from Spanish superstar David Silva in the 53rd minute of play.

In the UEFA Champions League, two English teams will be in the knock-out round of
16, including Chelsea as they face Napoli. Arsenal, the other English team in that particular group, will play an Italian team as well in AC Milan.

Ironically, neither Turkey nor Greece has a team in the Champions League round of
16, but there will be two teams each from both countries in the UEFA Europa League, but Cyprus, a tiny island country that lead Turkey and Greece to fight a brief, but ugly war in 1974, has a team in the Champions round as APOEL will face the French power Lyon.

While researching this piece, we were also stunned to learn that there is a Turkish player named Erol Bulut (born in Germany) who plays for the Greek team OFI Crete.

Here are the results of weekend play;


Galatasaray 2 Orduspor 0
Ankaragucu 0 Gaziantepspor 0, tie
Idman Yurdu (Mersin) 5 Karabukspor 3
Eskisehir 1 Kayseri 0
Bursaspor 0 Antalyaspor 0, tie
Istanbul BB 1 Sivasspor 1, tie
Ankara GB 1 Manisa 0
Besiktas 1 Samsunspor 1, tie
Fenerbahce 1 Trabzonspor 0

Greece (partial list):

Panathinaikos (Athens) 3 Asteras 1
PAOK Salonika 2 Doxa Dramas 0
Atromitos 1 AEK Athens 0
Olympiacos 2 PAS Giannia 0
OFI Crete 0 Kerkyra 0, tie

England (Sunday games only):

Manchester United 2 Queens Park 0
Liverpool 2 Aston Villa 0
Tottenham 1 Sunderland 0
Manchester City 1 Arsenal 0

Turkish, Greek and English teams in the Europa League and their match-ups, with games starting in mid-February:

FC Porto (Portugal) vs. Manchester City

Machester United vs. Ajax Amsterdam (Holland)

Rubin Kazan (Russia) vs. Olympiacos

PAOK vs. Udinese (Italy)

Besiktas vs. Braga (Portugal)

Trabzonspor vs. PSV Eindhoven (Holland)

Anyone who has ridden an Amtrack train lately knows they leave right on time, which can cause problems if one is caught up in road contstruction on the way to the depot!

With that in mind, here is today's quote from Shakespeare; we are quipping the Bard throughout December:

"Better three hours too soon, than a minute too late."

Quote of the Day/Week- Sonia Braga

Perhaps it is a sign of the times, but the very attractive Brazilian actress Sonia
Braga, best-known in the USA for her role in the film "Kiss of the Spider Woman"
(2005), who is now 61 years old, has seen a shift in the the roles she is offered.

Braga was a sex goddess and she was romantically linked to Robert Redford. She was
also known for being in some of the most erotic movie scenes in the 1970s.

Here is her quote:

"And getting older, what's happening is, I play only mothers."

SIDEBAR: The answer to our Rabbit Ears Quiz on the animated version of "Godzilla" is A.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Things We Learned on Google Today_ All Things Azerbaijan

Today, we conclude our look at the 15 former Soviet Republics which are now independent nations (the early entries, including Uzbekistan, ran on our sister blog "The Daily Vampire") and we end it all with Azerbaijan, the only country of the 15 that we've actually been to.

From Google, we learned that Elin Suleymanov, an alumnus of The University of Toledo in Ohio, is the new Azeri ambassador to the United States, as of late October. Suleymanov speaks Russian, English, Turkish and Czech.

His counterpart in Baku, the Azeri capital, is Matthew J. Bryza, who was appointed as the American ambassador to Azerbaijan in January.

We also learned that Ganja, with a population of 313,000 in western Azerbaijan is the country's second largest city after Baku. It is sister cities with Newark, NJ, and Izmir, Turkey. When Ganja was in the Soviet Union, the city was called Kirovabad.

Ganja also has a significant Armenian population since it is relatively close to the border with Armenia. Azerbaijan and Armenia have had many ethnic clashes since both countries became independent 20 years ago.

Prior to our googling venture today, we learned many other things about Azerbaijan from an excellent article about the country in the Sept./Oct. issue of "Mental Floss, including the legend that the quaint city of Lerik, near the Iranian border has a high number of people who live to be 100 or more.

Apparently, and according to the article, a "New York Times" reporter came across one such resident in 1998 who claimed he was 121 years old. The man reportedly said that fresh air and easy living were why he had lived so long.

Virtual Postcard from Washington DC_ The National Zoo

Since we just got back from Washington, DC, we thought we'd share a Virtual Postcard with you of the National Zoo, even though we did not go to the esteemed zoo; in fact, we've never been there?!

To make this fun for you (thanks for those of you who are reading this in Bulgaria, we walked past your embassy), and quick for me, we thought we'd do a DC By the Numbers entry. We think most of these numbers are at least fairly accurate.

In addition, we threw in figures from some silly things we noticed, like the number of women wearing unseasonable shoes (one was even in flip flops?!), but we did not count the joggers or dog walkers, though a part of me wishes we had.

Here we go:

310- Number of miles between Politcs and Prose, an independant bookstore in Washington, DC, on Connecticut Avenue and The Regulator, an indy book outlet in Durham, NC.

61- Number of people we saw riding bicycles, motorcycles or vespas!

32- Number of museums in Washington, DC, this includes the National Zoo, the National Cathedral and Ford's Theatre

31_ Number of women wearing unseasonable shoes. In addition to the woman in flip flops, there was another woman in sandals.

27- Ah, yes, the annoying cute young couples, one can see them everywhere in DC. One couple who smooched as we were approaching Farragut North on the Red Line really took the cake. The girl looked like a fashion model, the guy looked like a chemistry lab geek. Go figure!

13_ Number of players on the Georgetown Hoyas' men's basketball roster.

10_ Number of Starbucks in Washington, DC, alone

7_Number of Starbucks in the DC suburb of Fairfax, Va.

5-Number of Starbucks in another DC 'burb of Bethesda, Md.

3- Number of animal shelters in DC, according to the search engine we used (ok, so it was Google). We certainly hope Helga, a gorgeous, spayed female black cat who is 5 years and two months old, finds a home soon. It has been reported that many pets, like people, are now homeless in DC. Go to to find out more Helga and other cats and dogs in the city.

2- The number of hours I expect to actually sleep tonight.

The Rabbit Ears Quiz- (Entry 4 of 12) Godzilla the Cartoon

The Japanes monster Godzilla first started out as well a giant, mean man-eating reptile of gigantic proportions who terrified the citizens of Tokyo. But, since kids thought he was cool that almost 25 years after he first set Japan on fire, he was a more mild-mannered good lizard in his animated form.

The animated cartoon version of "Godzilla" was a joint Japanese and American venture, which aired on Saturday mornings here in the United States, from 1978-1981. The show ran for 26 episodes.

It was produced by Toho, the Japanese company that brought the world Godzilla in film form, and produced many off-shots, featuring other popular characters, such as Mothra.

According to Wikipedia, there were many tech glitches on the cartoon version of "Godzilla," including a variation in his size. To make Godzilla more kid-friendly, there was also the character of Godzuki, Godzilla's slightly mischievous, but friendly son_ kind of a Scrappy Doo in lizard form.

The show also featured a great roar by a tv character actor named Ted Cassidy (1932-1979) who died while "Godzilla" was on the air from complications due to Acromegaly, at age 46. The disease which triggers excessive groth hormones in adults also claimed the life of pro wrestler Andre the Giant, when he was also 46.

Cassidy became a known figure for being on a tv show with a large cult following.

So, today, we are simply asking what that particular show was; is the answer:

A) The Addams Family

B) The Munsters

C) Lost in Space

D) Star Trek

E) The Six Million Dollar Man

Friday, December 9, 2011

Casualties of Modern Technology_ The Clothes Line (4 of 12)

While recently driving through West Virginia, I noticed that many residents of a small town near the state capital of Charleston (I think it was Cabin Creek, WVa., also the hometown of NBA legend Jerry West of the Los Angeles Lakers) were actually still using clothes lines. This is not something you see very often here in America. But, some environmentalists are encouraging a comeback for the clothes line since it doesn't consume any energy, unlike dryers.

Wikipedia describes a clothes line, not to be confused with the same term in the fashion industry, as 'any type of rope, cord, or twine stretched above the level of a ground. In earlier times, and still perhaps in cities like Venice, Istanbul and Cairo, one may well see clothes lines hovering over balconies as well.

There ia actually a company in Maine called The Clothesline Shop ( which specializing in selling clothes line accesories, including pegs and pins to hold the clothes together.

Another advantage of the clothes line is that it allows clothing to be dried without chemicals. But, the process of using a clothes line is time-consuming and it comes with the risk of vandalism and theft, not to be mention Mother Nature. Yes, we imagine that rain and wind can totally screw the process up!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

UEFA Madness- Our 2,000th Entry

Perhaps, of all the millions of blog entries posted from Denver to Diyarbakir to Dubai to Pyonyang, this is the very first one to feature both Ciao, the mascot of the 1990 World Cup in Italy and Nasreddin Hoca, the famed Turkish folk figure, who is known for riding a donkey backwards.

We are using Ciao because yesterday proved to be a very good one for the Italian soccer team Napoli (more on that later), and we are utilizing the Hoca because this is our 2,000th entry. We were trying to think of a person who could represent longevity and it came down to the Hoca and Noah, of Noah's Ark fame. Ironically, Noah's Ark landed on Mount Ararat which is in modern Turkey.

Getting back to futbol, Napoli beat the Spanish team Villareal 2-0 yesterday with goals from Gokhan Inler (65th min.) a Swiss national of Turkish heritage, and Marek Hamsik, the Slovakian superstar, who is co-captain of Napoli and captain of the Slovakian national team (we almost mistook him for a Czech!).

With the victory, Napoli was able to advance to the round of 16 along with Bayern Munich who won Group A in spite of losing to Manchester City 2-0.

But, the strangest game of the day occured in Zagreb, Croatia, where the home team Dinamo Zagreb shockingly got savagely beaten by a Hungry Lyon as the French poured it on in a 7-1 victory. Though Lyon was expected to win, only the most partisan Lyon fans could have expected such an outcome. The game was a particularly glorious one for Bafetimbi Gomis, as the French player of Senegalese heritage scored an amazing four goals (45th min; 48th min; 52nd min; and 70th min.). With the lopsided win, Lyon was thus able to pass Ajax Amsterdam and get the second slot in Group D behind Real Madrid.

Despite resting many superstar starters, Real Madrid went to the Netherlands and came out with a 3-0 win over Ajax Amsterdam. The star of the day for Real Madrid, a team that won its league with a perfect 18 points (each team gets three points for a win, and one point for a tie), was the Spanish player Jose Callejon, who scored in the 14th minute and in the 92nd minute (extra time) of play.

Jose Callejon's twin brother plays for Hercules, another Spanish League team. His club teammate Hamid Altintop, a German-born Turkish national, also has a twin brother Halil Altintop, who plays soccer. Alas, for Halil Altintop, Wednesday was not much of a celebratory day as his team Trabzonspor (Turkey) tied Lille (France) by a score of 0-0 in Group B, which knocked both teams out.

Here is a complete list of scores from Wednesday's UEFA action; the other games not mentioned in this entry are covered in our sister blog "The Daily Vampire:"

*-Denotes team which advanced

y- Denotes team that won its group

z-Denotes that winner won an upset

Group A

*Napoli 2 Villareal 0

Manchester City 2 *y Bayern Munich 0

Group B

*z CSKA Moscow 2 *y Inter Milan 1

Trabzonspor 0 Lille 0, tie

Group C

*y Benefica (Portugal) 1 Otelul Galati (Romania) 0

*z FC Basel (Swit.) 2 Manchester United 1

Group D

*y Real Madrid 3 Ajax Amsterdam 0

* Lyon 7 Dinamo Zagreb 1

Quote from Shakespeare_We'll Keep it Short

Hmmm... quoting William Shakespeare a collective ten times on two blogs during this month of December was not a very bright idea, but we like to finish things we have started; the image above is from an early film version of "Hamlet."

Here is our latest quip from the Bard:

"Absence from those we love is self from self-banishment."

While researching this post, we learned that the Georgia Shakespeare theatre company in Atlanta is seeking funds to keep operations up. On Dec. 16th and 17th, they will host a holiday cabarte entitled "Cocoa and Cards." Both performances start at 7:00 p.m., and we wish them well.

SIDEBAR: Amazingly enough, we had no idea that today would have been Mexican artist Diego Garcia's 125th birthday when we quoted him yesterday. Today, a painting by Rivera, who was Frida Kahlo's romantic partner, was used as Google's doodle.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Quote of the Day/Week- Diego Rivera

Today's quote of the day comes from Mexican artist Diego Rivera (1886-1957) who was the companion of fellow artist Frida Kahlo:

"Through her paintings, she breaks all taboos of the woman's body and female sexuality."

SIDEBAR: One of our favorite punk bands Gogol Bordello is playing Rome, Italy on Friday night before heading to Paris, France, for a Dec. 13 gig. But, they will be coming back to their hometown of New York for a series of 'traditional' New Year's Eve shows on Dec. 30th and 31st at Terminal Five.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Quote of the Day/Week- Evita Peron

If my dear sister Sibel Isley (not her real name) who lives in Provo, Utah (not her actual place of residence), actually reads this and she is contemplating getting me a very expensive gag gift for my 42nd birthday in March, she may think about getting me tickets for the broadway revival of the 1976 musical "Evita!" in which Ricky Martin will play Argentinian revolutionst Che Guevara (this is NOT a joke).

The show is scheduled to open in March, and Elena Roger, 37, who is actually Argentinian, will play the title role of Evita Peron (1919-1952).

All of this brings us to the subject of our quip today which is from the feminist icon Evita Peron, and ironically the actress who will play her on broadway has already outlived her as Evita died from cancer at age 33.

"Evita" was turned into a 1996 film with Madonna playing the title role. As a Turkish-American, I was amused to see that Oliver Stone worked with Alan Parker, who also directed the film version of "Evita." They had worked together on a film called "Midnight Express," which for obvious reasons (note to the cinematically clueless: the 1978 film does not show Turkey in the best light, and I have called the film blatant, racist trash) is not in my dvd collection.

So, here is the quote from Evita; this month we are featuring quotes from famous Latin Americans on both blogs:

"Answer violence with violence. If one of us falls today, five of them must fall tomorrow."

SIDEBAR ONE: The answer to our Road Quiz entry on Saturday is C) 1 hour, 40 minutes.

SIDEBAR TWO: As an American who is getting into European soccer, I must profess the UEFA Champions League Cup seems a bit confusing. Case in point, the Greek team Olympiacos upset English power Arsenal 3-1 in a game that was played in Greece today, but Arsenal is the team that goes on to the next round, and conversely Olympiacos does not. But, then again, the American college football bowl system even has us wondering what is going on!

Here is a partial list of scores from today's UEFA action; Chelsea, Marseille and Zenit also advance:

Porto (Portugal) 0 Zenit (Russia) 0, tie

Marseille (France) 3 Dortmund (Germany) 2

Olympiacos 3 Arsenal 1

Genk (Belgium) 1 Bayer Leverkhusen (Germany) 1, tie

SIDEBAR THREE: Various media reports that came out today said that Cory Smoot (Flattus Maximus), the guitarist for the head-banging heavy metal band GWAR known for their wild costumes, died of natural causes at age 34 from a coronary artery. Smoot's death occured in early November. The band, which is originally from Richmond, Va., said that profits from their next record "When Worlds Collide" that comes out next year will go to the Smoot Family Fund.

GWAR has also announced through their web site that the scheduled 2012 European tour will continue as scheduled; they first play Antwerp, Belgium, on Jan. 11th; the band will also play Oslo, Norway, which is a surprising hot spot for heavy metal on Jan. 29th.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sports Desk- American Comes Through for Fulham

Even though there are seven American players in the English Premiere League and American teams have generally played competitively in World Cup play, the term American soccer star may still seem like a bit of an oxy moron in Europe.

But, today one American soccer star Clint Dempsey (pictured here) scored the lone goal in the late stages of the match to ensure a huge 1-0 upset for Fulham over visting Liverpool; Dempsey's goal came in the 84th minute of play as Liverpool was down a player due to a red card. The match was televised in America in the late afternoon (New York time) on ESPN-2.

On Saturday, ESPN-2 also televised Chelsea's 3-0 drubbing of New Castle. The game was much more competitive than the final score indicates. Didier Drogba, the sensational Ivory Coast national, hit an amazing header to give Chelsea the 1-0 lead in the 38th minute. His countrymen and Chelsea teammate Solomon Kalou scored in the 89th minute followed shortly thereafter by an extra-time goal from Daniel Sturridge.

Chelsea will play Spanish power Valencia in the UEFA Champions League tomorrow.

Tottenham continued their hot streak with their own 3-0 win over Bolton. Goals came from the young Welsh emerging superstar Gareth Bale. English players Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe added one goal each.

Tottenham feautres American goalie icon Brad Friedel, who is still playing at age
40. He has also played for Galatasaray (Turkey), the Columbus Crew (MLS) and Liverpool, among many other teams. The last part of his long career has been in the English Premiere League.

As for Bolton, the team features the EPL's only active Turkish player Tuncay Sanli, formerly of Fenerbahce, Galatasaray's main rival, and American player Stuart Holderly, formerly of the Houston Dynamo (MLS), so we wish them well.

In a low-scoring affair, Phil Jones, a 19-year-old English player, scored the lone goal in Manchester United's vital 1-0 win over Aston Villa.

Arsenal, a team that plays Greek powerhouse Olympiacos in the UEFA Champions League tomorrow, had no challenge from the struggling Wigan squad as they decimated them
4-0. Arsenal's goals came from Spanish national Mikhel Arteta, German player Thomas Vermoelen, Ivory Coast national Yao Gervinho and the Dutch superstar Robin van Persie, who has been scoring many goals all season in both domestic and UEFA play.

With a 5-1 win over Norwich, Manchester City remained on top of the English Premiere League standings, which currently stand this way:

1. Manchester City 38

2. Manchester United 22

3. Tottenham 31

4. Chelsea 28

5. Arsenal 26

Here is a complete list of the scores from domestic play in England:

Chelsea 3 New Castle 0

Tottenham 3 Bolton 0

Arsenal 4 Wigan 0

Stoke City 1 Everton 0

Wolverton 2 Sunderland 1

Manchester United 1 Aston Villa 0

Queen Park 1 West Brom. 1, tie

Machster City 5 Norwich 1

Blackburn 4 Swansea 2

Fulham 1 Liverpool 0

CLARIFCATION: Though we had the correct title for German filmmaker Werner Herzog's documentary in our entry last Tuesday, which is called "Death Row" in Europe, the title here in America, where the film about American death row inmates is called "Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life." It is now playing at theatres in major American cities.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

From the Record Collection (2 of 8)_ The Pretenders II

It may come as a shock to folks who were born "The Smurfs" were no longer on tv that Akron, Ohio, was actually the hotbed of emerging New Wave punk scene in the late
'70s, thanks to band like Devo, The Dead Boys and The Waitresses, a band which is popular this time of the year because their song "Christmas Wrapping" gets played a lot around Christmas time on fm radio stations.

Though technically not a part of the Akron scene, The Pretenders have a definitive link with the northwest Ohio city because it's the hometown of lead singer Chrissie Hynde, who opened up a vegan restaurant called The Vegiterranean, which alas folded in October because of the bad American economy.

Recorded in 1981, an amazing year for rock and pop music with acclaimed records coming out from bands as diverse as Rush and The Go-Gos, "The Pretenders II" would be very last time that the four original members recorded together. Sadly, between the release of the band's second and third record "Learning to Crawl" two members would die, including Peter Farndon (1952-1983) and James Honeymoon Scott (1956-1982).

This just left Hynde and drummer Martin Chambers in the band, which has stayed together since they formed in 1978, with various lineup changes over the years.

"The Pretenders II" was produced by veteran Chris Thomas, who had worked with The Beatles and Pink Floyd. It the follow-up from their highly succesful first record and expectations were very high.

This is perhaps why the second record is not as highly regarded as it should be. Among the noted tracks on "Pretenders II" are two covers of songs by The Kinks in "Stop Your Sobbing" and "I Go to Sleep." Hynde would become romantically involved with Ray Davies, the lead singer of The Kinks in later years.

Sexual themes figure prominently in this record with suggestive tracks like "Baby Gets Spanked" in the mix; the record also features the following stellar songs: "Message of Love," "Talk of the Town" and "Day After Day."

20 years after its initial release, "Pretenders II" was finally certified gold.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Bonus Road Trip- (6 of 10) Springfield, Vt., to Springfield, Mass.

First of all, our apologies to Stephen Colbert and Morgan Spurlock. We were unable to put Colbert's, a political humorist/actor, and Spurlock's names into the tags from our last blog, so we will just simply, arbitrarly mention them here.

Today, we compare the relatively short distance between Springfield, Mass., home to the Basketball Hall of Fame, to Springfield, Vermont, which actually beat out all Springfields to host the premiere of "The Simpsons Movie" in 2007. Since many believe that the Springfield in "The Simpsons" is modeled after Springfield, Mass. (though that is never mentioned), many in basketball town were disappointed.

But, the premiere screening of the film took place in a historic old cinema in Springfied, Vt., which was pleasantly pleased with the publicity.

There are also Springfields in Illinois, Missouri, Virginia, Kentucky and...ahhh, I'm getting a headache!

Of course, if one were to take this short drive, they would probably want to go in a school bus, but they may not want a person like Otto Mann, (hmmm, I wonder if this is a joke about the Ottoman Empire; I am a Turkish-American, so I suppose I should be humored or annoyed by this. Ironically, Principal Skinner is an Armenian-American!), who is voiced by the great Harry Shearer.

Shearer, who is not only known for voicing Otto and Principal Skinner, but his great acting in the 1985 cult classic "This is Spinal Tap!," recently showed his serious side with a documentary called "The Big Uneasy" about the Hurricane Katrina fiasco. Shearer is a part-time resident of New Orleans.

So, is the distance between these two zip codes?:

A) 1 hour, 20 minutes

B) 1 hour, 30 minutes

C) 1 hour, 40 minutes

D) 1 hour, 55 minutes

E) 2 hours, 10 minutes

SIDEBAR: Alas, the University of North Carolina Tarheels women's volleyball team fell to Pepperdine University on the host school's home floor in Malibu, Calif., late last night (eastern time). The score for the Waves was 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-22), but junior Emily McGee of the 'Heels scared 18 kills; for her career, she now has 1,0004 kills in NCAA play.

SIDEBAR 2: Yes, it does appear that presidential campaign of fringe, far-right Republican candidate Herman Cain is now over with. But, we saw a tweet from "The Huffington Post" which said the former Godfather's Pizza baron, who has not admitted to infedelity or sexual harrassments charges, allegedly did fess up to quoting Pokemon in various campaign speeches.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Things We Learned on Google Today- Gyumri is Armenia's Second City

Today, we continue our look at former republics of the Soviet Union that are now independent countries with a look at Armenia. By the way, we think this sheep is from Scotland. Armenia is a predominantly rural country that overlooks Mount Ararat, with lots of hills, and therefore, lots and lots of sheep.

As it is, since I am a Turkish-American (Turkey and Armenia are traditional rivals, and yes there is a controversial, dark chapter of history between the two sides which we are not going into), there are plenty of other things I will need to do here, including making sure that I have spelled Armenia's prime minister Tigran Sargsyan's name correctly. Sargsyan is relatively close to age to President Barack Obama, as he is 51, which makes him a year older than Obama.

Gyumri is actually the answer to what is Armenia's second largest city behind the capital Yerevan. It is in fairly close proximity to Kars, Turkey.

In May of 2010, Gyumri was the site of major political demonstrations organized by the Armenian National Congress. During these protests, former prime minister Hrant Bagratian criticized the government in Yerevan, according to Radio Free Europe.

Gyumri has a population of 168, 918, roughly the same size as the American city of Greenville, South Carolina. Gyrumi has many historic Orthodox churches, including Saint Jacob and Holy Mother of God.

The city is also home to a large domestic brewery and the Armenian League soccer team FC Shirak, a team that has a player named Hovhannes Tahmazyan, who turns 42 in January (wow!).

Gyumri is also the hometown of Soviet Olympic weight-lifting great Yurik Vardanian who won gold at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

This is the next-to-last profile of former Soviet states in our series. The final entry will be dedicated to Azerbaijan.

SIDEBAR: We wanted to give a quick update from yesterday's first round NCAA women's volleyball games. The University of North Carolina Tarheels prevailed over the tenth ranked California Bears in a game that was played in 'neutral' Malibu, Calif., which is considerably closer to Berkeley than Chapel Hill.

The 'Heels won the match 3-2 (25-17, 16-25, 23-25, 25-17, 15-9). Junior Emily McGee lead the way with 23 kills and 18 digs for UNC. The 'Heels now face Pepperdine on the California school's home court.

But, the 'other UNC' the University of Northern Colorado was swept by Hawaii in a game that didn't finish until the wee hours of the morning on the east coast as it was played in Honolulu. The final score of that match was 3-0 (25-21, 25-15, 25-15). Hawaii had a 29-1 record coming into the match, and were highly favored; they will next play Colorado State.

It was also a bad day for UNC's traditional rival Duke University (the two teams only played each other once this year in Durham, NC, a game that Duke won) as they fell to Tennessee 3-1 in a game that was played on the Lady Vols' home court; the Vols next face Ohio State.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Quoting William Shakespeare (1 of 5)

For those of you who have actually read both of my blogs today (people in Slovenia are actually reading this?!; ok!) if you look closely this is not the same William Shakespeare bobblehead doll that I used on "The Daily Vampire."

As it is, we are quoting the Bard on Thursdays this month. Interestingly enough, the last time we referenced Shakespeare on this blog was regarding CliffsNotes. Hopefully, young people will go that route rather than merely digging up stuff from Wikipedia. It's ironic that modern technology has made some previous classroom taboos, such as reading CliffsNotes, more acceptable in this modern age.

And, with that said here is our quote from Shakespeare, and for the record, I think he really wrote his plays:

"An overflow of good converts to bad."

Currently, a stage production of the Charles Dickens' classic "A Christmas Carol" is being performed by the North Carolina Shakespeare Company at the High Point Theatre, which is in (of course) High Point, NC.

A production of the same play is being performed by Triad Stage in nearby Greensboro; the two companies are separate from each other.

SIDEBAR: Since today is World AIDS Day, well it is late at night now everywhere except perhaps Hawaii and the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, I thought I would post an appreciation to the late Freddie Mercury, who was the lead singer of the pioneering
'70s and '80s rock band Queen. Mercury died 20 years ago of AIDS complications at age 45 on November 24th, 1991.

The band's most famous song (well, arguably) "Bohemian Rhapsody" become a popular hit again shortly after Mercury's death as it was used in the movie "Wayne's World."

Domestically, AIDS has hit many cities hard, especially Washington, DC, and New Orleans. And, many countries in Africa, including South Africa and Tanzania have dealt with AIDS epidemics.

SIDEBAR 2: The answer to our Rabbit Ears Quiz question from earlier in the week is
C) $199. Yes, this is what a "Land of the Lost" lunchbox from the early '70s is reportedly worth!