Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Quote of the Day/Week- John Elway

In honor of the upcoming Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and New York Giants, a rematch of a game which lead to the Giants stopping the Patriots from having the first perfect season since the Miami Dolphins accomplished the feat in the 1970s, we are quoting Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks.

Initially, John Elway and the Denver Broncos lost the Super Bowl in 1990 to Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers. But, Elway came up victorious over the Green Bay Packers and the Atlanta Falcons to win two Super Bowls. Elway retired after the Broncos' Super Bowl win over the Falcons.

Today, Elway is the executive vice president of the Broncos, and the current quarterback Tim Tebow has been a source of controversy as he has made a warrior-stance prayer which has become known as 'tebowing.' As Matt Taibbi pointed out in a column for "Rolling Stone," there was an ironic moment during the NFL season when a defensive player from another team sacked Tebow and made the same warrior-stance prayer, thus leading to term "tebowing Tebow."

Here is the quote from Elway, who played college football for Stanford:

"I don't know if I like being the sentimental favorite."

Quote of the Day/Week- Vaclav Havel

Today, we conclude our month-long series of quotes from famous people who died in 2011 with a quip from Vaclav Havel, a Czech playwright/essayist who also became the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic when they formally divorced from Slovakia. Havel was also a dedicated opposition human rights leader when Czechoslovakia was under communism.

There are seemingly few writers who go on to become political leaders. The only one we can think of at the moment is the late Bulent Ecevit, a poet and journalist who became prime minister and president of Turkey. Ecevit is most-known for being the Turkish prime minister in 1974 when Turkey and Greece fought a brief, but ugly war in Cyprus.

Havel died on Dec. 18, 2011, at the age of 75; here is his quote:

"Hope is a feeling that life and work have meaning. You either have it or you don't, regardless of the state of the world around you."

Monday, January 30, 2012

Silly Photo to Fill Space- Handsome Dan

Greetings to everyone in Moscow, Russia, where we are seemingly and surprisingly popular!

Today, we feature the Yale Bulldogs mascot Handsome Dan in our semi-weekly "Silly Photo to Fill Space" series. Yale University was the first university to have a mascot in the 1890s, and the current Handsome Dan, born in 2007 in Johnson City, Tenn.- of all places, is the 17th in the line.

On our sister blog, we dedicated an entry to John Harvard, who is the mascot for the Crimson.

Alas, this was not a very good weekend for Bulldogs fans as the school saw athletic losses in several sports. We mentioned the losses to rival Harvard (65-35), men's hockey (4-3) and women's hockey (8-0) on our sister blog.

But, the men's hockey team won a home game against Dartmouth 5-4 on a goal from Kenny Agostino, a junior from Flanders, NJ, that was scored with 38 seconds on the clock. We imagine the Big Green was not pleased to get on the bus back to New Hampshire afterwards.

Yale's women's hockey team had a particular rough weekend on the ice, but goalie Genny Lodgies, a junior from Canada, had 46 saves against Dartmouth's women's hockey team. The Big Green won that game over the Bulldogs by a 6-0 score.

Like the men's hockey team, Yale's men's basketball team got a victory by also beating Dartmouth by a 62-52 in a game that was played on Yale's home court in new Haven, Conn. Reggie Willhite scored 16 points for the Bulldogs in the win.

Unlike Harvard, Yale has a women's gymnastics team and they went to Philadelphia to face Penn-U over the weekend. The Bulldogs' gym team fell short as the Quakers won the meet 191.225-188.35 margin.

But, junior Tara Feld from Buffalo Grove, Ill., had strong vault and floor scores (both were 9.75) as well as a stellar score on beam (9.275).

Yale's gym team also has two sophomore sisters from Singapore in Nicole and Tabitha Tay. We think they might be twins, but we could not confirm that.

Quote of the Day/Week- Claude Monet

Greetings to everyone in Dubai, where we understand the local economy is very, very good.

Today we quote the great French artist Claude Monet (1840-1926). Five of Monet's lily masterpieces will be on display this summer at an exhibition at Tate Liverpool, which is an art museum on Tate Street, in Liverpool, England (United Kingdom). This might be our first mention of Liverpool which not about soccer or The Beatles.

Here is Monet's quip, which sounds rather negative:

"My life has been nothing but a failure."

Quote of the Day/Week_ Alexander Fleming

Hello to everyone in Nassau, The Bahamas. Hope everyone is enjoying their Coco Loco (one has to have been on a cruise ship to get the joke; well, we hope).

Today, we have a quip from the Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) who is credited with inventing Penicillin. Fleming won the Nobel Prize for science in 1945.

All this month, we have been quoting famous scientists; here is the quote from Fleming:

"One sometimes finds what one is not looking for."

Sunday, January 22, 2012

In the News_ American Postage Stamps Increase

On Monday, domestic postage stamp rates for letters go up here in the United States. So, if you want to send a congratulations card to Newt Gingrich for winning yesterday's South Carolina Republican Primary, you are already too late. Of course, those of you who know us well, realize we will not be among those sending the former House Speaker greeting cards anytime soon.

The Humphrey Bogart stamp (1997) shown here was part of a Legends of Hollywood series, which also included a Marilyn Monroe stamp.

SIDEBAR: Kudos to the nationally ranked men's basketball team from Harvard as they beat Dartmouth yesterday on the road in Hanover, NH, by a 54-38 score. But, interestingly enough, the school's Athlete of the Week is Haley Mendez, who plays women's squash?!

Also our congrats go out to the North Carolina State women's gymnastics team as earlier in the week sophomore Stephanie Ouellette was named EAGL Conference Gymnast of the Week. The Wolfpack also received honors for junior Rachel Fincham who was named EAGL Specialist of the Week, and freshman Lane Jarred who was named EAGL Rookie of the Week.

Over the weekend, the Wolfpack continued their success with a road victory over the University of Illinois-Chicago, which is, of course, located in the Windy City.

Friday, January 20, 2012

PSA_ No Newts in 2012

It is possible that at this very moment as we are blogging to you live from the Salt Lake City Library on 210 East 400 South Street (not really where we are at, but I hear it is one of the best public libraries in the country), that Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is stumping at the Golden Corral in Rock Hill, SC, where Fred Thompson stumped four years ago (this part is actually true).

Hopefully, like Thompson, Gingrich will be defeated by a more moderate Republican. Though it seems like current front runner Mitt Romney may be too mainstream for the gunsGodncountry folks in the Palmetto State.

In the Sunday, Jan. 15th edition of the comic strip "Doonesbury," Garry Trudeau cited the following actual quote from Gingrich in reference to the Democratic Party: "As great a threat to America as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union."

At age 69, Gingrich is the second oldest candidate in the field of what is now four candidates behind Ron Paul, who is 76. Interestingly enough, Gingrich, who became House Speaker in 1994 when he was in the House of Representatives as a Congressman from Georgia, was also a House Minority Whip as was former Vice President Dick Cheney, who is also out of favor with 99.9 percent of us on the center-left.

Today's "Washington Post" reports that in response to a comment from a man who is or was a Marine at a rally in Florence, SC, which said that 'I would like to see someone bloody Obama's nose,' Gingrich had the gumption and indignity to respond something to effect of: 'I don't want to just bloody his nose, I want to knock him out.'

In the current issue of the liberal magazine "The Nation," Ben Adler, who is covering the GOP race for the publication from places like Charleston, SC, on the campaign trial, said that the pit-bull tactics of Gingrich actually seemed to be helping him appeal to arch conservatives who might well want to hit people in my political spectrum over the head with a bowling trophy (my words, not Adler's).

Stephen Colbert, who is originally from Charleston, has even gotten into the Republican race discussion as the late night tv political comic told residents from his native state to vote for Herman Cain to throw a curve-ball into the race.

South Carolina allows Democrats and independents to vote in the Republican primary. Conservative radio show host Rush Limbaugh pulled a similar stunt four years ago when he encouraged right wingers to vote for Hillary Clinton in the Indiana primary to help prevent Barack Obama from winning the nomination; an effort which 'worked' in the short run, but in the end, Obama still won the nomination and if, of course, now president.

The South Carolina Democratic Party has actually told its members not to vote in the Republican primary as by doing so they will get a steady stream of campaign literature and phone calls for Republican candidates.

As for the reason, why we are highly opposed to Gingrich getting the GOP nomination, it is just mere political differences, but the venom and vitriol that he would bring into the Oval Office.

Many people from both parties as well as independents complain that it is agonizing to watch Democrats and Republicans not get anything accomplished on The Hill. Though no one person is to blame entirely, the conquer and divide mentality that Gingrich brought to the forefront of American politics when he became House Speaker in 1994 still remains in effect to this very day.

Quote of the Day.Week- Gil Scott-Heron

We are featuring jazz singer and poet Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011) today as we continue to quote famous people who died in 2011. Scott-Heron died on May 27 at age 62.

The Chicago-native was best-known for his song/poem "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" (1970) which features many pop culture references, including ones to Richard Nixon, Johnny Cash, Steve McQueen, Natalie Wood and even the famed American cartoon character Bullwinkle, which was popular in the 1960s.

Here is his quote:

"All the dreams you show up in are not your own."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Quote of the Day/Week- Jean-Michel Basquiat

As we continue to quote famous artists this month, we turn our attention to someone who died all too young from AIDS at the age of 27. But, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) left behind an amazing legacy. He made this painting "Untitled" (Head) in 1981.

He was a protege of Andy Warhol who died just a year earlier in 1987, also from AIDS complications.

Basquiat was the subject of the film "Basquiat" (1996), which was interestingly enough directed by someone who knew him in real life, fellow artist Julian Schnabel. A very young Jeffrey Wright, who would end up portraying Secretary of State Colin Powell in Oliver Stone's film "W" many years later, plays the artist in the film which also features David Bowie playing Warhol.

Here is the quote from Basquiat:

"I don't think about art when I'm working, I try to think about life."

Quote of the Day/Week- Louis Pasteur

We continue our series of quotes from famous scientists this month with a quip from the French biologist and chemist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895); it would seem like a good complement to the Elvis Costello song "Accidents Will Happen," except that Pasteur lived in another century:

"Did you ever observe to whom accidents happen? Chance favors the prepared mind."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Cinematic Rant for the Films of 2011

We sent in a more verbose version of this rant to a film magazine. The film we are 'discussing' here "Bellflower" was quite a cult sensation. It was shown at the Shadowbox Cinema in Roanoke, Va., and at a/perture Cinema in Winston-Salem, NC, among other places. Originally, "Bellflower," which we gather was filmed in Wisconsin (don't quote us on that), made a splash at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

It also played somewhere in the Washington-DC metro area. We tried to find where by checking out a review of the film in "City Paper," but while we were unable to find out, the publication told us that the film only cost $17,000 to produce?! Of course, we could have found that out on the Internet Movie Database as well.

I thought "Bellflower" was a very interesting, hip film until the third act, and amazingly enough the reviewer for "City Paper" seemingly agreed with me. The film concerns a road trip as the apocalypse is looming.

I guess the best way to describe it is a "Mad Max/Easy Rider meets Left Behind" kind of film, except that "Bellflower" does not have an evangelical political agenda unlike the film series with born-again actor Kirk Cameron best-known for the '80s sitcom "Growing Pains," who is the exact same as I am!

And, we gather he has something like 14 children (that is a joke, but it is a ridicolous number that is slightly lower than that!).

Here is my revised rant:

"I must profess sincere admiration for film director Even Glodell and his film "Bellflower," even though I gave it a four out of ten on the IMDB. It is such a 'so bad it's good' film that I almost put it on my top 20 films of the year list.

Glodell made his own unique film in his own unique way. The fact that the screenplay's dreadful third act derails the film into a lurid mess shouldn't make each of us admire him profoundly.

He may well end up learning from his mistakes and end up out Tarantinoing QT himself!"

Silly Photo to Fill Space- Volkswagen Beetle

Since we couldn't make to the Volkswagen Beetle Show in Greensboro, NC, this weekend, we thought we'd compensate ourselves by showing this image of a 1970 Beetle; that is the year my doppelganger Current TV host Cenk Uygur was born.*

*- We are both politically liberal Turkish-Americans, and we were born a mere 16 days a part! His show airs nightly at 7:00 pm New York Time on Current TV.

Special Quote of the Day/Week- Martin Luther King Jr.

"A riot is the language of the unheard."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Quote of the Day/Week- Peter Falk

This month and perhaps next month as well, we will quoting famous people who died in 2011. Today, we quip Peter Falk, who died at age 83 on June 23, 2011. Falk is best known for his tv detective role Columbo in the series of the same name. But, he was also known for several outstanding film roles in addition to "Columbo," which ran from 1971-78 (we're not counting the tv movies with Columbo in more recent years).

Interestingly enough, the part of Columbo was originally offered to the late crooner/actor Bing Crosby.

Falk also appeared in many films with his friend, the late actor/director John Cassavetes, including "Husbands" (1970) and "A Woman Under the Influence" (1974), both film that Cassavetes also directed.

Falk fans can see him the movie "Pressure Point" (1962) with Sidney Poitier at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 16 on TCM.

Here is Falk's quote which alludes to Cassavetes:

"I never understood a word John Cassavetes said. And, I think he did that deliberately."

SIDEBAR: The answer to our last Bonus Road Trip was C.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Quote of the Day/Week- Andy Warhol

Since the late artist Andy Warhol (1927-1987) was known for his famous Velvet Underground (you know, the band with Lou Reed) cover art featuring a banana, we thought we'd use an image of Chiquita bananas here with our quote from Warhol:

"An artist is somebody who produces things that people don't need to have."

Speaking of another fruit (well fruit product), NPR is reporting that the price of orange juice is going up. We think this goes for both orange juice produced in Florida as well as California, but don't quote us on that!

SIDEBAR: When we posted this an hour ago, we were completely oblivious to the fact that the Velvet Underground is actually suing the Andy Warhol Foundation over the banana that Warhol made for the band. We learned of this from a tweet from "Rolling Stone."

Quote of the Day/Week- Galileo Galileli

Since we had problems finding a quote from the Danish bishop and scientist Nicolas Steno, who is the subject of today's 'google doodle' as it is his 374th birthday, we are opting to go with the Italian astronomer Galileo Galileli (1564-1642) who would also be very, very old 'if he were alive today.'

In all seriousness, Galileo was responsible for the telescope. His name came up in September when Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, who got one percent of the vote in yesterday's New Hampshire primary, dropped his name when trying to figure out a scientist he could use to justify his denial of global warming....ok.

Here is the quip from the renown Italian physicist:

"By denying scientific principles, one may maintain any paradox."

SIDEBAR: Kudos to North Carolina State University; as we learned from Twitter today, that the school is sponsoring a book drive before tonight's men's basketball game with Georgia Tech, which tips off at 9:00 p.m. The Wolfpack women's gymnastics team has also sponsored book drives, and we imagine many other athletic teams on campus have as well.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Last 10 CDs I've Listened To....

Since Greensboro, NC, folk singer Bruce Piephoff is a personal friend, I thought it would be safer to go with an image of him, which I took from a Belgian web site_ of all places, than one for either David Bowie or Turkish psychedelic singer Erkin Koray, who turned 70 last year. All of these artists, along many bands that most of you will recognize, were in the last group of cds that I have listened to. Here they are in order:

1) Erkin Koray. "Erkin Koray" (1973) Key Tracks: "Kizlar Da Alin Askere" /("Let the Girls in the Army Too")

2. Bruce Piephoff. "The Chestnut Tree" (2008) Key Tracks: "Notes from Knoxville," "The Chestnut Tree," "The Ballad of Charlie Poole," "Jesse" and ""Jasper's World of no Return."

3. Coldplay. "A Rush of Blood to the Head" (2002). Key Tracks: "In My Place," "The Scientist" and "Clocks."

4. David Bowie. "Heroes." (1977) Key Tracks: "Beauty and the Beast," "Joe the Lion" and "Heroes."

5. The Rolling Stones. "Let It Bleed" (1969) Key Tracks: "Gimme Shelter" and "You Can't Always Get What You Want."

6. U2. "Boy" (1980; debut album) Key Tracks: "A Day Without Me" and "I Will Follow."

7. The Pretenders. "Learning to Crawl" (1983). Key Tracks: "Back on the Chain Gang," "Middle of the Road" and "Show Me."

8. The Police. "Synchronicity." (1983). Key Tracks: "Every Breath You Take," "King of Pain," and "Wrapped Around Your Finger."

9. The Cars. "Candy-O." (1979) Key Tracks: "Let's Go," "It's All I Can Do" and "Double Life."

10. Rush. "2112" (1976, considered to be the band's best record). Key Tracks: "A Passage to Bangkok" and "The Twilight Zone."

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bonus Road Trips (10 of 10) Provo to Raleigh...beware of the traffic

We wish to warn not only incomers from Provo, Utah, but also anyone coming into Raleigh, NC, via I-40 or I-85, that this seemingly small city is quite overgrown and congested! So, I will wager that at least one angry Pittsburgh Penguins fan missed a game against the Carolina Hurricanes as I'm sure at least one angry college gymnastics missed an North Carolina State Wolfpack meet (hmm...we aren't naming names).

On Saturday, the visiting Brigham Young Cougars start their season at North Carolina State, and it is quite a trek. Assuredly, the visiting women's gymnastics team from Provo, Utah, will be flying in for the meet. But, today, we look at how long that journey would take if one came to Raleigh from Provo in a Hyundai Accent.

For our points of destination, we are going with the famous restaurant, The Pit Authentic Barbecue, which was featured on the reality/cooking show "Ludo Bites America," with the ever-passionate five-star French chef Ludo Lefebrve, on the Sundance Channel. It is still showing in reruns.

As for Provo, Utah, where those of us who voted for Barack Obama may feel like Chomskyite hippies wearing Che Guevara t-shirts and Birkenstocks, (for those of you in Gyumri, Armenia, Provo, Utah, is considered the most conservative city in the land) we are selecting the Sensous Sandwich Shop on West Center Street.

Despite solid performances from Wolfpack gymnasts Diahanna Ham, Lane Jarred and Brooke Barr, the team fell to the third-ranked Florida Gators 196.025-194.675, who probably were fortunate enough not to deal with I-40.

So, just how far is Provo from Raleigh, assuming traffic is not backed up to Greensboro on I-40 (45 miles west of Raleigh); is the answer?

A) 31 hours even

B) 32 hours even

C) 33 hours even

D) 34 hours even

SIDEBAR: We want to take a moment to congratulate Radford University Highlanders' freshman R.J. Price for being named Big South Freshman of the Week in men's basketball. My alma has been on hard times as of late as the team lost its 13th basketball game in a row on Thursday night in Rock Hill, SC, to Winthrop University by a score of 70-54. But, in spite of the team loss, Price scored 19 points in the game. The Highlanders next face arch rival Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., on Thursday night.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Bonus Road Trip (9 of 10)_ Should-Be Ivy League Schools

Today, we are asking blog readers how long this very long road trip between Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC, and Stanford University, in Palo Alto, California, would be.

We are saying these are Should-Be Ivy Leagues because they both have high academic standards, and here in the United States, major conference expansion because of major revenues sports is getting so absurd that soon San Diego State will be playing football in the Big East Conference against the likes of the University of Connecticut. For those of you Europe, this would be like Manchester United playing soccer games against teams from Dubai!

For our comparison, we are selecting two coffeeshops: Brew Nerds located in the heart of downtown Winston-Salem and California Cafe which is in Palo Alto.

Both schools lost their respective football bowl games as Wake Forest fell to Mississippi State in the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn., on Dec. 30 by a score of 23-17. And, the Stanford Cardinal, which had a very succesful season, lost to Oklahoma State 41-38 at the Fiesta Bowl near Phoenix, Arizona, on Jan. 2.

Wake Forest will be playing Virginia Tech at home in men's basketball within the hour. The team's next home game in the sport will be against North Carolina State on Jan. 14 at 1:00 p.m., local time.

As for Stanford, the school has a highly competitive women's gymnastics team which has its home opener on Jan. 22 against Washington.

So, just how far apart are these two schools?

Is the answer?:

A) 39 hours

B) 40 hours

C) 41 hours

D) 42 hours

Yes, we think it would be better to fly too!

SIDEBAR: The answer to yesterday's Bonus Road Trip was C) 6 hours, 45 minutes. We forgot to mention that we used Blake's Tavern in Providence, RI, and the Ithaca Ale House in Ithaca, NY, as our points of destination.

Also, former Brown gymnast Alicia Sacramone actually posed completely nude for the ESPN Magazine photo shoot in which she was standing unclothed on a balance beam, but only the rear portion of her body was visibile to the camera.

We also wanted to clarify that Brady Quinn, the Denver Broncos quarterback she was dating (editorial comment: lucky guy!) is still on the team roster. Though we don't follow pro football very closely, we gather that the team is now starting Tim Tebow instead. The Broncos have a playoff game this weekend, but we are more likely to know how the Russian soccer CSKA Moscow is fairing!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Bonus Road Trip (8 of 10)_ In the Ivy League

Today, we ask you the blog reader how far apart two Ivy League towns are. We are going with Providence, Rhode Island, the home of Brown University (the school nickname is the Brown Bears) and Ithaca, New York, home of Cornell University (the Big Red).

Among Brown's most famous recent alumnus is Olympic gymnast Alicia Sacramone, who made headlines by posing partially nude for "ESPN Magazine" last year. Sacramone who was captain of the 2008 Olympics team also dated current Denver Broncos quarterback Brady Quinn who got replaced by Tim Tebow, who has headlines for 'Tebowing,' a religious ritual which has made him popular with evangelicals.

The current Brown University gymnastics roster features gymnast Kasey Haas, who is from right here in the Tarheel state as she hails from Charlotte, NC.

Cornell also has a gymnastics team, which features the likes of Tiffany Chen on their roster; she is from California. The Big Red's gymnastics team will take part in the George Washington University Invitational in Washington, DC, on Jan. 15. Their first home meet will be against fellow Ivy Leaguers Pennsylvania University on Jan. 25.

Brown and Cornell face each other in gymnastics in Providence on March 11. So how far will that trek be?

Is the answer:

A) 4 hours, 45 minutes

B) 5 hours, 45 minutes

C) 6 hours, 45 minutes

D) 7 hours, 45 minutes

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Quote of the Day/Week- Christopher Hitchens

On Dec. 15, 2011, the world lost a very vocal person who everyone likely either agreed or disagreed with at one point or another irregardless of where one stands in the political landscape. That was very vocal person was renown essayist/intellectual/pundit/culture critic Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011).

This month, we are quoting famous people who died in 2011. And, we start with a controversial figure as we did with Dr. Jack Kevorkian (1928-2011) on our sister blog "The Daily Vampire."

Hitchens was perhaps most known for being one of the world's leading atheists, and in the process, he outraged Christians, Muslims, Jews and even Hindus and Buddhists alike. Other atheists and many secularists were also uneasy about Hitchens' outright disdain for religion which he articulated in his book "God is not Great" (2007).

Though Hitchens was not only liberal, but even a Marxist in his younger years where he gained prominence for covering the war between Turkey and Greece over the island nation of Cyprus as a young journalist in 1974, he did end up supporting many neo-conservative causes, most notably the War in Iraq.

But, where exactly Hitchens stood politically or philosophically at the time of his death age 62 may still be a source of debate. Interestingly enough, he supported Ralph Nader (2000), George W. Bush (2004) and Barack Obama (2008) in the last three American presidential elections. Many perceive that Hitchens went from left to right, but there is some dispute to that because he was an ironic supporter of British conservative Prime Minster Margaret Thatcher, also known as "The Iron Lady," in many areas, including the UK's highly controversial war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands.

Hitchens would disagree with liberal atheist Bill Maher, whom he was reportedly close friends with, over the War in Iraq, yet he would also argue with the likes of Sean Hannity on the right about the existence of God. He was also critical of both the late Rev. Jerry Falwell and Noam Chomsky. In his lifetime, Hitchens' work took him to 60 countries, including North Korea.

Here is his quote from "God is not Great," these are the views of the late essayist, and they do not necessarily reflect the views of this blog:

"Religion is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Quote of the Day/Week- Salvador Dali

Since he is as quotable as the Irish playwright/novelist Oscar Wilde, we are once again quipping the great Spanish surreal master Salvador Dali (1904-1989) who is considered, along with Pablo Picasso, to be Spain's most popular artist.

His famous works include "The Persistence of Memory" (1934) also known as 'The clock painting,' you have probably seen it merchandized in some form or another. There is a Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. Dali was also portrayed by Adrien Brody in Woody Allen's latest film "Midnight in Paris."

Here is the quote, which one could certainly share with guys who might seem like 'real-life Charlie Browns:'

"Have no fear of perfection_ you'll never reach it."

Quote of the Day/Week- Marie Curie

Today, we start our series of quotes from artists and scientists this month with a quip from the Polish chemist Marie Curie (1867-1934) who went to university in Paris, France in 1891, and remained there until her death though she frequently visited her native land.

Curie was known for her ground-breaking research in the area of radioactivity, which is a term she originated. She also won the Nobel Pace Prize in 1911.

Here is her quote:

"Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas."

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

From the Record Collection (4 of 8) "Zenyatta Mandatta" from The Police

Our choice for today's album collection entry is "Zenyatta Mandatta," the third of five studio albums from the English band The Police, one of the earliest New Wave to achieve Billboard chart success.

"Zenyatta Mandatta" only consists of two singles: "Don't Stand So Close to Me," a tale about a female student overtly flirting with a male teacher. The song, written by lead singer Sting, is likely the first and only top 40 hit which makes a reference to Russian literature with the line: 'Just like the old man in that book by Nabakov,' referring to Vladamir Nabakov's classic novel "Lolita."

The record, which runs for 38:16, was produced by the band and Nigel Gray, who would later produce albums for Siouxsie and the Banshees. It was recorded at the Wiseloord Studio in the Netherlands. On the day after the record's completion, The Police headed to Belgium for the start of a large world tour. In the late '70s and early '80s, bands were forced by record companies to tour, which lead to the spectacular burn-out of popular bands, such as Men at Work (the Australian band only recorded three albums, with their final one being a complete dud).

"Zenyatta Mandatta" is also known for having two instrumental tracks, including the Grammy-winning "Behind My Camel," which was the brainchild of guitarist Andy Summers, who just recently ranked number 85 in a list by "Rolling Stone" of the top 100 guitar players in rock and roll history.

The band also consisted of drummer Stewart Copeland, who is now known for recording music for soundtracks to tv shows and films.

The album had mixed reviews, but it sold well, reaching number five in the United States and number one in the United Kingdom. The Police split up in 1984, but reunited for a massive tour in 2007, which sold out proving the band's popular allure remains even though the band is highly unlikely to record another album.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Best Person of the Year for 2011- Gigi Ibrahim

"Time" magazine declared 'the protestor' to be the person of the year, but long before that, we had decided to name Egyptian Gigi Ibrahim, 23, as our Person of the Year. Ibrahim was one of the main organizers of the protests in Egypt during the Arab Spring.

While she was protesting on Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was trying to stay in power. But, his reign ended this year. Political protests also occurred in Libya, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen, Algeria and Syria this year with political change resulting in three north African countries: Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

Ibrahim was influenced by Hasan el-Hamalawy, an early leader in the protest movement who had been tortured by Egyptian secret police in 2000. Ibrahim was also featured in a PBS/Frontline documentary about the protests in Egypt and she has even appeared on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

But, there have been political divisions amongst members of the movement as Ibrahim has openly criticized fellow activist Wael Ghonim who said that the protests needed to discontinue after Mubarak's resignation.

Today, Egypt remains in a state of political uncertainty, and many intellectuals, both liberal and conservative in the West, are concerned that the vacuum could be filled by Islamic fundamentalists, not only in Egypt, but in Tunisia and Libya as well.

Several Egyptian activists, including Ahmed Maher, have come to America to take part in both the Occupy WallStreet protests and the OccupyDC rallies, saying that 'America needs to ally itself with the Egyptian people as opposed to the Egyptian military."

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year from Karagoz and Hacivat

For complicated reasons that we went into greater deal with on our other blog "The Daily Vampire," Turkey and France are not getting along well these days. For the entry on our sister blog, we sent New Year's greetings from the beloved French comic book character Asterix the Gaul. Here, we shall go with a much older entity in the Turkish shadow puppet figures of Karagoz and Hacivat, whom we believe may actually be in the public domain as Turkey has traditionally had more lax copyright laws than Europe and America.

Karagoz, the one with the beard, and Hacivat, the one with the mustache, are the lead characters in Turkish shadow puppet theatre. There is considerable dispute as to when the plays were first performed. According to Wikipedia, it was long believed that Karagoz and Hacivat first appeared during the reign of Sultan Selim (1512-1520), but there is historical evidence to suggest they go back even further in time than the 16th century.

Karagoz represents the semi-literate village dwellers while Hacivat symbolizes educated intellectuals. The plays remain very timely to this day because children can be entertained by them while adults can observe how these two characters represent the deep divides in Turkey, which exist to this very day. Conversely, Karagoz and Hacivat are the best of friends, yet they also can't stand each other.

Secondary characters in the plays, which usually run about ten minutes each, include the Drunkard, Zeybek and the old woman. The plays always conclude with Karagoz and Hacivat having a major argument. There is a similar Greek shadow puppet character named Karagiozis. In both Turkey and Greece, there has always been a concern that each passing generation will be less interested in traditional shadow puppet theatre than the previous one. And, tourists have been known to take a greater interest in shadow puppet theatre than the natives.

In Turkey, Karagoz and Hacivat have long been associated with Bursa, Turkey's fourth largest city and former Ottoman capital, before Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror came to the Bosporus shores of Constantinople/Istanbul in 1453.

Happy New Year to everyone, and we hope you keep reading this blog in 2012.

SIDEBAR: The answer to our Road Trip Quiz from last week was "C" and the answer to the Rabbit Ears Quiz question about "The Brady Bunch" was "A."