Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I have reluctantly decided to join the rest of the free world and start watching movies from Netflix on the internet, as of tonight.
The first film I'm watching this way is a cheesy early-80s 'classic.'
B) Superman II
C) Clash of the Titans
E) Heavy Metal
The answer to last week's True Confessions Quiz is that I never worked for a funeral home!
1/06/09 HINT: This movie was made into a Broadway Show just last year.
In today's edition of what seems to be (I hope!) one of more popular series, we ask you the blog reader if you had a tv with only two channels_ Fox News and PBS, and it was a boring Friday night in which both your girlfriend and your bowling partners were preoccupied with other things, would you choose between Bill O'Reilly or Bill Moyers.
These two actually have a connection as O'Reilly producer Porter Barry ambushed Moyers at the National Conference for Media Reform this past summer in Minnesota. A Youtube video of the incident has received a lot of views.
Moyers is 74, and he served as White House press secretary for Lyndon B. Johnson from 1965-67 before turning to journalism. He is best known for being a CBS News commentator, but in recent years he has moved back to PBS.
He is currently the host of "Bill Moyers Journal" and recent interviews have included Sarah Chaves, a reporter who spent a lot of time in Afghanistan, and Gov. David Paterson (D) of New York.
Moyers has been heavily criticized by conservatives for expressing his liberal views with his segments and interviews.
O'Reilly, 59, was once a semi-pro pitcher for the New York Monarchs. Today he is known for being an over-the-top talk show host who tilts to the right_to put it mildly, though he claims to be a fair and objective talk show host.
The web site for his Fox News show did not seem to list any up-coming guests, but his hostile rants during an interview with Cong. Barney Frank (D-Mass) in October have received about as many hits on Youtube as the latest Shakira video.
There are some interesting tid bits I found out both men. O'Reilly was once a reporter for the alternative weekly "The Boston Phoenix," which is known for its progressive perspective!
Similarly, Moyers was born in Oklahoma, the same state that former action movie star Chuck Norris was born in.
From my perspective, Norris arguably makes O'Reilly look like a Greenpeace activist.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
I don't live in New York or LA or even Bethesda, Md., and I definitely haven't seen enough films compared to most film critics, but since everyone else posts a top ten movies of the year list, my thinking is simply: "Well, gee, why can't I?"
To show this is not merely an exercise in narcissism, I will post the respective top 10 lists of my friends Phil Nugent (who lives in New York) and Joe Scott (who doesn't!) on my other blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time."
I will post my Official Top Ten List some time right before the Oscars on Feb. 22 on one of my two blogs. For right now, this is what I have. I regret to inform my sister Lale Lovell that "Kung-Fu Panda" didn't make the cut:
1. "Taxi to the Dark Side" (doc)
2. "Edge of Heaven" (Germany/Turkey)
4. "In Bruges"
6. "The Visitor"
8. "The Dark Knight"
9. "The Counterfeiters" (Austria)
*-Yes, I know it's an HBO movie, but it was great! And, this is a political year.
"Brideshead Revisited," "Gonzo (doc)," "Stanley Kubrick's Boxes(doc)," "The Last Mistress (France),"Tell No One (France)," and "Vicky Christina Barcelona."
Since I am a partisan Democrat who favors separation of church and state and opposes capital punishment, there aren't many people in this world who can make me feel as conservative as Dick "Down Boy" Cheney. Amazingly enough, my own cousin Shannon Sturgis is one of them!
She goes by the name Shannon Babaganoush Sturgis on Facebook. The middle name is actually a Turkish eggplant dish, which is ironic because Shannon is not from the Turkish side of my family.
Apparently, a young lady also named Shannon Sturgis is some kind of local celebrity in Little Rock, Ark.
But, my cousin Shannon, who grew up in North Carolina, lives mostly in St. Louis and is involved with theatrical productions, such as "Frost/Nixon." And, she told me once that she actually met Woody Allen.
Shannon, who is a gay/lesbian rights activist, claims to be married to Marci Franklin, but that is apparently some kind of in-joke.
She is also the one who is closest to me in age as she will turn 38 on Jan. 19.
Shannon has 206 Facebook friends.
In addition to gay rights, she is interested in Jewish culture even though (to my knowledge) she is not Jewish herself. Shannon also considers herself a jazz diva and has watched "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" countless times.
She also voted for John McCain this past November......ok, that is a joke!
Saturday, December 27, 2008
This week's Cinema of the Week is the very trendy Tower Theatre in Salt Lake City, Utah, which shows a host of foreign films, documentaries and independent films.
I caught a midnight screening of "Swiss Robinson Family" (of all films!) there while I was visiting SLC in 2007. Recently, their midnight screening slate has included the Korean film "The Host" as well as "The Fly," "Carrie" and "Rocky Horror Picture Show."
The Tower is currently showing "JCVD," which is actually an independent film starring aging action star Jean Clause Van Damme who sort of plays himself in this film (which I have yet to see as it hasn't opened anywhere around my region).
The second feature being screened at The Tower is the Swedish horror film "Let the Right One In" which my friend Joe Scott of Greensboro, NC, has been heavily promoting in his area.
The Tower is located at 876 East 900 South in Salt Lake City next to a coffee shop where everyone in Utah beat me at chess. Their phone number is 801-321-0310.
Previous Entries in This Series:
Grandin Theatre- Roanoke, Va.
Galaxy Cinema- Cary, NC (Raleigh)
Friday, December 26, 2008
We remember the great playwright Harold Pinter (1930-2008) known for provocative plays like "The Homecoming" and "The Birthday Party" with one of his quotes:
"Apart from the known and the unknown what else is there?"
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Since my brother-in-law Matthew Lovell from Boulder, Col., is flying in tonight, I thought I'd add a quote of the week from one of his favorite entertainers, Weird Al Yankovic, who was once known for parodying Michael Jackson hits.
"I'm still a geek on the inside, and that's what counts."
Matt is also found of "Star Trek," so we are featuring a quote from Leonard Nimoy on our sister blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time." (see links section)
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tonight we offer a special edition of Six Degrees of Separation as we take a look at the number of films between Chevy Chase, star of "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" (1989),with Kevin Bacon, star of "Quicksilver" (1986)_forgive the movie geek humor).
According to the Oracle of Bacon (oracleofbacon.org), Chevy Chase was in "National Lampoon's Vacation" (1983) with Danna Barron who was in "Saving Angelo" (2007) with Bacon.
Check out the great entry about 'Christmas Vacation' on my friend Moviezzz's blog (http://talkingmoviezzz.blogspot.com)
According to the Oracle of Bacon web site, singing cowboy actor Gene Autry of "Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer" is three degrees of separation away from Kevin Bacon, for whom the site is named after.
Autry was in "Robin Hood of Texas" (1947) with Paul Bryar who was in "A Change of Season" (1980) with Steve Eastin who was in "Rails and Ties" (2007) with Bacon.
Tomorrow we will offer a special edition of this series with another actor known for a certain Christmas film.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
This Democratic congressman from the 3rd district of Virginia is known for opposing both capital punishment and the Patriot Act.
He grew up in Newport News, and he was the first African-American member of Congress from Virginia since reconstruction.
Right wing wonks from "The Free Republic" have also criticized him for opposing a Christmas resolution in Congress. With such whining, it's easy to see why the donkeys are in control now. (Hope this pleases my friend Cenk Uygur, a progressive talk show host who used to be an elephant!).
Is this member of The Hill:
A. Jim Moran
B. Brad Miller
C. Bobby Scott
D. Tom Davis
The answer to last week's quiz is one of my favorite people in Washington, DC_ Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind).
Until I meet my recent employer, I have had many problems in the workplace including some nightmare newspaper gigs with editors who made Dick Cheney look like Sigmund the Sea Monster!
So, today's question is "Of the following awful jobs, which is the one I never had?"
A) During my early college years, I was a human billboard for Domino's Pizza. I actually held up a sign promoting specials, and had friends from high school laugh at me!
B) I taught English as a Second Language for mostly Hispanic inmates at a minimum security prison in North Carolina. The job was so awful that I actually felt suicidally depressed and even contemplated becoming a Republican!
C) After losing my job as a newspaper reporter, I temporarily became a receptionist at a funeral home in New Market, Va. It was such an awful experience that I began to envy the clients!
D) Even though I am not a religious person, I took an internship at a Christian tv station in Roanoke, Va. I actually got in trouble for inadvertently saying 'god daminit.'
One of these is NOT true.
The answer to last week's quiz is choice D. Even though I am a life-long film fanatic, I have never been an extra in a movie. Though I'm sure being in a Charles Cullen film would be very interesting!
But, indeed, I was a far right Turkish nationalist child, a far-left college student who thought about going to Cuba (today, I am a centrist/liberal Democrat who would make Sen. Evan Bayh proud), and I did lose a chess match to an 8-year-old girl who could well be the next Bobby Fisher!
Monday, December 22, 2008
Today, we simply our readers if one would rather spend a Saturday night at a revival with the Rev. Jimmy Swaggart (he's back!), who has said that having sex with a man is like having sex with a pig (perhaps, he speaks from experience!) or a reunion concert for the ultra-left rock band Rage Against the Machine who could somehow make me look like George F. Will.
I must profess this is a tough one as I do enjoy the rants from the likes of RATM's Zach de la Rocha and Tom Moriello, but Swaggart's over-the-top sermons are also quite entertaining.
Hmmm....yeah, I must profess that one is more likely to meet 19-year-old girls at a RATM concert. But, perhaps one could meet a very attractive Louisiana babe of the pro-life persuasion at a Swaggart revival. Perhaps!
Friday, December 19, 2008
This week's cinema of the week is the trendy Cine in Athens, GA.
The art house is currently showing "Synedoche, New York," "Azur and Asmar" and "Ashes of Time Redux."
On New Year's Eve, there will be a dance party at the cinema with Krush Girl.
I had a chance to see the documentary "Taxi to the Dark Side" at Cine earlier this year. If you are in Athens, I highly recommend taking in a film there.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
This is NOT Leigh-Anne in the Hokie bird suit, but she does attend school at Virginia Tech.
Unlike most of my Facebook friends, Leigh-Anne is actually someone I know.
We choose her this week because she just got finished with a lot of stressful exams. I suppose knowing her as well as I do, she will spend the holidays studying textbooks at Starbucks even though there are no tests to study for!
Leigh-Anne is hoping to go to grad school in the fall. Southern Cal, the University of Illinois and UNC are among her choices.
Let's just hope she doesn't end up a professional street juggler!
UPDATE: We somehow managed to overlook mentioning Leigh Anne's favorite rock group, which is Rush...........I believe she knows the lyrics to just about every song, which is cool because to this day I frankly have no idea what "Tom Sawyer" is all about!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
For our quotes of the week, we turn to the two guys who found a way to sing the unlikely, trans-generational duet "Little Drummer Boy."
The first quote is from David Bowie. The other is from Bing Crosby, and it will be appear on our sister blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time."
Here is the quote from the man who sang "Let's Dance" back in '83:
"I'm an instant star. Just add water and stir."
In case, you want to impress anyone during an office Christmas party:
3. Hauskaa Toulua- Finnish
4.Mele Kalikimaka- Hawaiian
5.Natale Hilare- Latin
6.Glaedelig Jul- Danish
7.Shinen Omedoto- Japanese
8.Joyeux Noel- French
9.Lystig Jul- Norwegian
10. Noelin Kutlu Olsun- Turkish
11. Frochiche Weihnachten- German
12. Buone Feste Natalizie- Italian
13. God Jul- Swedish
14. Wesolych Swiat Narodzenia- Polish
15. Felix Natal- Portuguese
16. Kala Christouyenna- Greek
17. Nollag Shona Dhuit- Gaelic
18. Wrolijk Krestfest- Dutch
19. Sung Tan Chuk Ha- Korean
20. Gojan Kristmaskon-Esperanto
21. Gleig jol gott og fars- Icelandic
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Since we are still in the holiday season, I thought I'd go with the late crooner Bing Crosby, who has a baseball stadium named after him in Front Royal, Va., for my second entry in the Six Degrees series, in which we see how many films separate a given star from Kevin Bacon (oracleofbacon.org)
Bing Crosby was in "Say One for Me" (1959) with
Robert Wagner who was in "Wild Things" (1998) with
Yes, we go from Frank Zappa to Bing Crosby. I loved their duet version** of "Little Drummer Boy" way back when..........
**(yeah, I know it's Crosby and David Bowie)
Monday, December 15, 2008
Jordan Green of "Yes Weekly!" in Greensboro, NC, recently reported that a band which performs covers of songs by Frank Zappa, who died of cancer at a young age, was coming to The Gate City. The problem was that Zappa's wife is not pleased with the band, so there might be no show!
I was a bit curious to hear some Zappa, which I have not listened to in a while. There was a video by his band Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention called "In the Sky," which was performed for a BBC show in 1968, on Youtube.
It is now the 1,000th Youtube video that I've watched since watching a Woody Woodpecker cartoon on the night of Oct. 22, 2006!
Alas, this appears to be one of our least popular series, but since I am NOT a tv network executive, it shall continue.
Today, I ask which one of these Midwestern Democratic Senators won his seat with 64 percent of the vote in 1998? He is pictured at the top of the entry.
A) Tom Harkin (Iowa)
B) Russ Feingold (Wisc.)
C) Evan Bayh (Ind.)
D) Dick Durbin (Ill.)
The answer to last week's quiz was Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah)
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Readers of this blog who might be curious about sometimes mundane existence now have a chance to learn a little bit more about me.......hmm, legal experts might say this is a very bad idea.
But, now is your chance to guess which one of these statements about me is NOT true.
A) I was a far right wing child who looked up to the now deceased Alpastan Turkesh, the founder of the Grey Wolves, a man who made Pat Buchanan look like Jane Fonda in the sixties. I once went so far as to write Turkesh slogans on a sidewalk next to our apartment.
B) As a very liberal college student who thought Bill Clinton should have been a Republican, I almost went on a trip to Cuba with a group of young socialists.
C) I lost a chess game to an eight-year-old girl and have since played the game very rarely.
D) I was an extra in Charles Cullen's "The Day the Whole *&%king World Blew Up." Cullen is a local filmmaker in my hometown of Roanoke, Va., who actually has an international cult following.
Good luck with this one.........it's hard to believe three of these statements are actually true.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Today's question is a rather simple one. Which one of these people would you feed to a hungry polar bear? If the answer is Sarah Palin, you're a Democrat. If the answer is Michael Moore, you are more likely to be with the GOP.
When I told my friend Alan Taylor of South Boston, Va., about my proposal for this entry, he replied: "Why can't someone feed both of them to a polar bear?"
Of course, polar bears have been in the news lately because President George W. Bush is reportedly lifting protection measures taken for them. Only one more month of this guy, right?
Friday, December 12, 2008
I must profess that I am not a Christmas person. I think the holiday is celebrated way too early, and it always seems to be perennially exploited by both commercial merchants and religious fanatics who want us to take sides between Santa Claus and Jesus.
There is also a lot of forced togetherness during this time of the year which can be very painful for people (ie. egg nog with the step uncle from hell who lives in a trailer park in Bluefield, West Virginia).
The best example of this did not happen to me but to a friend of mine from Reading, Pa., who once told me that a fist fight broke out between her two brothers on the front lawn of her home on Christmas Day.
And, my favorite Christmas song is not "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby, but the dark rock anthem "Father Christmas" by The Kinks. I think the honest pain in Ray Davies' voice is more indicative of a real life experience which we can all relate to.
Having said that, it may shock some of you to learn that I seem to somehow send out more Christmas cards than almost anyone I know, and that includes Sunday school teachers!
The reason for this is that I like to keep track of people and appreciate gratitude towards folks who have been generous to me in some way. And, I figure I should get something out of the season for myself which can not be undermined by the chaos that comes as soon as the Best Buy shopping spree gets underway at 3 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving.
This year I sent out 55 Christmas cards which has either equaled or topped my previous output.
I never get anywhere close to the number of cards I send out back, but I learned that is ok a long time ago. Though assuredly some people must be stunned to see me- of all people- sending them a Christmas card!
There are always inevitably surprises as some people I don't expect to hear from do respond. As of right now, I've received three cards but I realize that number will likely increase substantially.
I can not list everyone I sent a card to here, but here are ten random people I sent or gave ones too in no particular order. Some of them are friends, some are co-workers, and others are family members:
1. Lale and Matt Lovell- Boulder, Col.
2. Maria Hatzios- Blacksburg, Va.
3. Bruce Piephoff- Greensboro, NC
4. Kurt Gokbudak- Laguna Nigel, Calif.
5. Steve Franco- Salem, Va.
6. Michael Dawkins- Rock Hill, SC
7. Royce Richardson- Madison, NC
8. Haywood Graves- Danville, Va.
9. Alena Lachanglachang- Pittsburg, Calif.
10. Sheriff Tim Carter- Woodstock, Va.
If you want to be added to that list, sorry.........I am now a bit burned out from Christmas cards at the moment though some time next week, I hope to send out some e-Christmas cards. I just have to figure out the cut-off point, which can be challenging.
And, of course, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to each of you even if you are in prison for starving for your pet poodle!
This week's Facebook Friend of the Week is children's author CeCe Bell from Christiansburg, Va. CeCe is married to my good friend children's book author Tom Angleberger, who will be the subject of an upcoming interview here on this blog.
CeCe's new book is "Bee-Wigged." She is also the author of "Sock Monkey Boogie Woogie" (pictured here).
CeCe turns 38 on Dec. 26, and she has 105 friends on Facebook.
Tom is also a juggler and a newspaper columnist with "The Roanoke Times."
The couple reportedly have a pet iguana named Harvey who could eat my cat Gizmo in one swoop.......that is a joke!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
While most of the cinemas we focus on in this series will be historic movie theatres like the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va., or the Tower Theatre in Salt Lake City, Utah, there will be some which are cool even though they may have built after "Melrose Place" was on the air.
One such place is the Galaxy Cinema in Cary, NC (a suburb of Raleigh), which always showcases at least one Bollywood film since the Raleigh metro area has a fairly large Indian population.
This week, the Galaxy is showing "Gumaam_ The Mystery Hindi" (not an image from the film) along with regular features like Mike Leigh's new film "Happy_Go_Lucky."
The Galaxy is also showing the Swedish horror film "Let the Right One In" as well as "Rachel Getting Married," "W," "The Boy in Stripped Pajamas" and "Nobel Son." My friend Moviezzz has a very interesting story about "Nobel Son" on his blog "Talking Moviezzz" (see our links section).
And, since I am half-Turkish, I should also plug the Harmony Market, which sits in an outdoor shopping mall across the street from the Galaxy. The Harmony Market has a variety of Turkish foods, including feta cheese, yogurt, halva and (mmmm!) apricot juice.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
"I know not everyone will like me, but this is who I am, so if you don't like it tough."
We highly recommend the cover story on Britney in the current issue of "Rolling Stone." I think even Republicans will like it.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Actor Peter Billingsley, who is a producer for the current Vince Vaughn/Reese Whitherspoon comedy "The Four Christmases," was the chubby star of "A Christmas Story" (1983), a delightful comedy which has stood the test of time.
He is also two degrees away from Kevin Bacon, according to The Oracle of Bacon (oracleofbacon.org):
Peter Billingsley was in "Iron Man" (2008) with Clark Gregg who was in "The Air That I Breathe" with Bacon.
If you have any ideas for the next entry in this series, feel free to leave a comment here!
This entry is from a series that we started on our sister blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time."
Cong. Ilena Ros-Lehman (R-Fla) was the answer to the last quiz.
The aim of this series is to better inform you about the men and women from both parties and the work they do for all of on "The Hill."
Today we ask who the Republican senator pictured here is.
Here are three hints.......he is a good friend of vice president-elect Joe Biden, his birthdate is Sept. 18, 1933, and his middle name is Foster.
A) Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah)
B) Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho).....yes, we all know who he is!
C) Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
D) Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)
Hmm.......I'm afraid I made this too easy. Oh well!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
So much for the hiatus. Simple Explanation: the lunch date cancelled. I suppose my mother will never have grandchildren.
At any rate, here is today's Political Confusion Test which could also qualify for the Sexual Confusion Test.
The question is:
Which celebrity would you rather have in your hot tub?
Sorry, but to in order to be a true partisan Republican, you must choose Chuck Norris!
If George F. Will happens to come across this, he has my permission to complain about this entry in his next column
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
"In time we hate the things we fear," William Shakespeare.
A performance of "Hamlet" gets underway at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Va., Dec. 26 @ 7:30 p.m.
Look for the presence of one John Pasha who was quite splendid in the troupe's production of "King Lear."
SIDEBAR: We're offering a quote from Charles Dickens on our sister blog Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time.
PERSONAL NOTE: I am going on hiatus (I hope!) until Dec. 9. Among other things I need to plan classes, write short plays and of course take care of all the holiday stuff. Email any entry ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org
And, for those who are wondering, the man in this political cartoon is the son of George HW Bush, who was the subject of a recent quiz here. Along with Jimmy Carter, the elder Bush is 84 years old. Though we love to tease Dubya (when is that Greyhound leaving for Crawford, Tex.), we are glad Barbara Bush is recovering from a recent illness.
Country singer Loretta Lynn, aka "The Coal Miner's Daughter" will be at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC- of all places (this is a place where one would see a band like Cold War Kids) on Sat. And, the legendary singer has been known to perform at county fairs in places like Front Royal, Va., in recent years.
She will be performing with The Lynns and Justin Jones. Doors open @ 6:00 p.m. The show is $55. 202-393-0930.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Today we start a new series in which we will profile a historic cinema in the United States every week or so. I hope to profile at least one cinema from every state plus Washington, DC.
I begin with the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va. The only reason I have not been going to movies there since the 1930s* when it initially opened is because I was not around in the 1930s.
The first movie I saw there was a revival of Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" in 1984 when I was 14 years old, which means that Jason Garnett, the current manager of the Grandin and a good friend of mine, was 8 years old at the time!
On Dec. 20, The Grandin will screen John Waters' 1981 cult film "Polyester" in smell-o-vision. There will NOT be a seance to bring Waters' frequent star Divine back to life, but the first 200** folks who come in will get smell-o-vision cards.
The Grandin is also one of the six or seven reasons why my hometown is more socially progressive and hip than Provo, Utah, though I've heard arch conservatives Republicans go there just to eat the popcorn.
Perhaps, they will come by on Dec. 20 expecting to see "It's a Wonderful Life."
Hmmm.........in that case, a seance, even one for Jimmy Stewart, would be a very bad idea.
*-I believe that is the right decade the theatre opened
**-I believe 200 is the right number
See our entry about the North Theatre in Danville, Va. on our sister blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time."
Monday, December 1, 2008
Initially, we were going to this series in alphabetical order, and this week, we were going to have someone whose name starts with the letter 'b.'
But, I abruptly decided to change that when I saw that my high school friend Rick Huddle, from Salem, Va., was on Facebook.
Rick is now a storyteller in Portland, Ore.
He will be performing Theater! Theatre! located on 3430 Belmont Ave. in Portland from Dec. 4-20. Ticket info is available at 503-720-0397.
This marks the second event we've promoted in Portland, which is about as close as Istanbul is given that we are in Greensboro, NC. The first event was an opera based on Shannon Wheeler's comic book "Too Much Coffee Man."
SIDEBAR: Kudos to my friend Haywood Graves of Danville, Va. He now has more than 2,000 friends on Facebook. I wonder how many he knows personally.