Thursday, December 31, 2009
We had a hard time deciding which cartoon character to use for our annual Happy New Year's greeting, so after much reflection, we chose the Hanna Barbera 'toon character from the sixties, Quick Draw McGraw, who was perhaps influenced by the B-movie Westerns of the forties which starred the likes of Gene Autry and Hopalong Cassidy.
McGraw was voiced by the late, great Daws Butler, and some of his cartoons may appear on Bommerang! (which we can not completely verify).
'Course, there is always Youtube.........just make sure you don't click on a cartoon in Portuguese as I once did when viewing a Woody Woodpecker cartoon!
Oh, and in case you were wondering his side kick is named Baba Looey!
Given that I am an American of Turkish heritage, the choice of Turkish author Orhan Pamuk ("Snow," "My Name is Red," "The Black Book") is a relatively easy selection for Person of the Decade.
Along with Turkish film director/photographer Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Pamuk has helped Turkey achieve a significant boost in its cultural image abroad at a time when the country is facing political upheaval, due in part to the election of an Islamic political party into office.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul have pledged not to undermine Turkey's secularism countless times, but there is still constant fear that their election does indeed threaten not only Turkey's long-standing separation of mosque and state since 1923, but also the nation's acceptance in the West.
Figures such as Pamuk, who is quite controversial in Turkey, are thus more important than ever.
Pamuk, who grew up and still maintains a partial residence in Istanbul (he splits his time with New York) was featured on a Dec. 28 broadcast of "The Charlie Rose" on PBS, which is available for streaming at Rose's web site: www.charlierose.com
Rather than give an exhaustive biography of Pamuk and his many achievements, including winning the Nobel Prize for literature, I thought I would profile him using his own quotes.
Here is a sample of them:
"I see Turkey's future as being in Europe, as one of many prosperous, tolerant, democratic countries."
"The secularists in Turkey haven't underestimated religion, they just made the mistake of believing that they could control it with the army alone."
"I think perhaps it is a generational thing. I talk to younger people and they say, 'Where is this melancholy city you talk about? My Istanbul is a sunny place.'"
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
When I co-hosted a Turkish music radio show on 90.7 FM/WUVT in Blacksburg, Va., in 1994, my friend Bahadir and I would have to go over public service announcements that the station required us to mention.
It was a tedious and painful exercise at times, but I would like to think we helped get a kitten to a new home or made someone think about a homeless person in the streets.
With that in mind, I am going to ask folks not to drink and drive this holiday season. Yes, you've heard it before, and I don't mean to sound like an English nanny.
I tried to make this entry more interesting by featuring photos of taxi cabs in Hong Kong, China, and Istanbul, Turkey, but I am hoping this might make one person make a responsible decision tomorrow night.
On this blog and my sister blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Times," we are going to list taxi cab services from Maryland to South Carolina.
This list is of cabs in Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia. Interestingly enough, Mister T, subject of an entry on Monday, was in a dreadful comedy called "DC Cab" in the mid-1980s......well, maybe it's not as bad as I remember!
Baltimore Taxi Co.
Yellow Cab of DC
Diamond Cab of DC
Yellow Cab Services
Deb's Taxi Service
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Well, 2009 is almost winding down and this looks to be our last Silly Photo to Fill Space for the year. I had contemplated making this an all quote blog, but I'm not sure that would work.
I must profess that I got the idea to find silly Star Wars photos from "The Roanoke Times," in Roanoke, Va., which featured an amazing photograph of a man dressed like a Storm Trooper going through a hotel during a science-fiction convention. Alas, we couldn't find that photo, but it's probably just as well as I have friends who work there who could track me down for hotlinking. And since The Roanoke Gun Show is coming this weekend (not an endorsement or advertisement), they could perhaps purchase a firearm and shoot me.
One guy who might like this photo though is my friend Chris Knight of Reidsville, NC, who is an unabashed Star Wars fanatic. A few years ago, he ran for Rockingham County School Board and he made an ad with a Star Wars theme that was quite over-the-top. Knight did not win a seat on the board, but his ad became a Youtube sensation and it recently appeared on "The Jay Leno Show."
I would write more but I need find out what Paris Hilton is up to on Twitter. The last time I checked on her she was enjoying a weekend in Aspen, Col. There are a fair share of celebrities like Angelina Jolie who believe in humanitarian causes, but I don't see Ms. Hilton adopting a baby from an orphanage in Kandahar, Afghanistan, any time soon, but if she does, I'm sure she will tweet about it. And, we will post that info right here on this blog!
Monday, December 28, 2009
This is honor of Boxer's Day, which is either today (Monday) or it was Saturday. I've seen calendars marking both days. But, irregardless of that, Mister T- best known for his years as the star of the kitschy '80s action show "The A-Team," was a boxer for many years before he gave his Academy Award-winning performance in "Rocky 3" in 1982............oh right, he wasn't even nominated!
Anyway, all silliness aside, here is a quip from the man most known for saying "I pity the fool":
"I tell people I was born and raised in the ghetto, but the ghetto was not born and raised in me."
Sunday, December 27, 2009
1. Zhu Zhu Hamsters
2. Che Guevara t-shirt (pictured)
3. Glock 19 gun (pictured)
4. Mister Potato Head (pictured)
5. "The Wire" box set*
6. $50 Starbucks gift certificate (s)
7. Chuck Norris' "The Delta Force" on dvd
8. The Octagon Hot Dog Converter**
9. First issue of "Hot Stuff" (pictured)***
10. Subscription to "Mother Jones"
*- I have to thank comic strip artist Keith Knight ("The Knight Life") for that idea.
**- Yes, this is an actual product
***- If anyone can look its value up in "Wizard," I'd appreciate it.
PS_ If anyone in my late father's hometown Istanbul, Turkey, is stumbling upon this blog_ yes, us Americans are insane! But, not many are as over-the-top as me.....
Saturday, December 26, 2009
The photo here is actually of Bob, a tuxedo cat in South Carolina, but Gizmo looks almost exactly like him! Apparently, Bob is a cat who needs a home, so......
We are using our entries today to focus people's attention on animal adoption. We found Gizmo at a gas station in Ironto, Va., as we were coming back from Virginia Tech in October of 2004. But, many cats and dogs aren't so lucky (Uh oh! I am getting on a soap box!).
We named Gizmo after the title character in "Gremlins," which surprisingly has a very long wait on NetFlix!
We have company from Johnson City, Tenn., so I need to get off the computer and be polite. It's not something I'm always good at unless I'm at Chamber of Commerce mixers.
But, before I do that, I want to mention that the city I live in, Reidsville, NC, near Greensboro, has one of the highest kill rates for its local animal shelter so if you live in the area and you need a pet please don't go to the pet store at Friendly Center in Greensboro (unless you want hamsters! They do have a great selection of hamsters,actually! But, Gizmo would probably eat them).
In all seriousness, the animal shelter in Reidsville can be reached at (336) 342-4022. My friends at the Backstreet Buzz Coffee House in Reidsville have also been helping to get the word out about the animal shelter, and I really appreciate that. I just wish my apartments allowed pets!
Similarly, the animal shelter in my hometown of Salem, Va., (www.salempets.org) can be reached at (540) 375-3038. I also really wish we could get another cat for Gizmo who lives with mom in Roanoke, Va., but she hates taking out the cat litter as it is and I'm not to sure Gizmo, who is perhaps the wildest domestic cat in town, would care for another Garfield!
Friday, December 25, 2009
The most famous man to come out of Flint, Mich., formally wished all his followers on Twitter a Merry Christmas. To be fair, so did John McCain's daughter. Here was the message Moore tweeted last night (actually X-mas Eve):
"Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you're having a wonderful Christmas Eve. Let's hope 2010 is a more peaceful and just year."
Moore's latest doc "Capitalism: A Love Story" is now on dvd. It's not Moore's best film, but it was a fairly good effort. I find Moore a bit idealist as I am a supporter of the war in Afghanistan and he is not. Though I do agree with him MUCH more than the likes of Glenn Beck.
"An American Carol," a very bad right-wing slapstick comedy featuring Kelsey Grammer and Jon Voight in showing on Showtime throughout December. I must say I love the Turkish actor who played an Afghani terrorist in that movie, but he should be waterboarded for taking the part (I am a Turkish-American).
Coincidentally, Pat Boone the subject of an entry on this blog on Dec. 23 was featured in Moore's first film "Roger and Me."
Moore also said that he liked the new epic mess "Avatar." I did not, and neither did my good friend Moviezzz (http://www.moviezzz.blogspot.com) though as I said on Facebook last night I somehow hate James Cameron's most famous film "Titanic" even more!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
For those of you who are not sports fans (I really wasn't one either until I get struck with chronic exhaustion/fatigue this fall), there are an unholy amount of NBA basketball games airing on ESPN and ABC tomorrow.
Of the five games that will be played, the most watched is likely to be the Los Angeles Lakers' home game with the Cleveland Cavaliers at 5:00, eastern time.
My cat Gizmo likes the Lakers. Since he bit me the other night, I'll go with the Cavs though I am amazed the Lakers' star player Kobe Bryant hasn't gotten more mention with regards to 'Athlete of the Decade.' The man has won four NBA titles. Has Tiger Woods done that?! (ok, I am a bit biased against golf-LOL!).
PS- If you're not a sports fan, TNT will be showing "A Christmas Story" all night and there will be a marathon of the adult-themed cartoon "SuperNews" on Curent TV starting at 11 pm tonight.
UPDATE: The visitors from Cleveland won the game, which I didn't get to watch. Danny DeVito mentioned on Twitter that he was sad to see his team lose, but he did enjoy the hot dogs he was getting while watching the game!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Today, we focus on country/gospel singer Pat Boone whom I saw in person about ten years ago at the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester, Va. Like Tony Bennett and Andy Williams, Boone is one of those singers who comes to mind this time of year and if you go to Boone's web site (http://www.patboone.com), you can hear a rendition of "Christmas in LA."
But, we are asking the question is Boone alive or dead?
He was born on June 1, 1934, and he reached the height of his fame as a young man in the 1950s. He would sell more record than just about any artist of his time with notable exceptions like Elvis Presley and The Beatles.
Boone was also an actor and because of his religious/conservative view of the world, he would refuse a part with Marilyn Monroe?! He would also become very active in Ronald Reagan's run for governor. And, of course, he supported Ronnie when ran for president and made this country a mess (excuse the political bias).
Politics remains a passion for Boone as he went on Fox News to support the War in Iraq, where his record sales are probably still fairly minimal.
Conservative commentator P.J. O'Rourke, who know contributes to "The Weekly Standard" said Boone's music was one of the things he began to embrace when he went from becoming a liberal to a conservative (hmmm....I may have settled for Lawrence Welk, but since I voted for Obama, I guess I can still listen to The Clash).
Personally, I prefer "The Weekly Standard"'s rival publication "The New Republic" for those of us on the center-left. Jonathan Chait's piece on Republican nihilism (do-nothingism) is a classic!
Boone also sang along '70s cartoon character Dynomutt in a Christmas Carol for a tv special circa 1978. A hysterical Youtube video of that was available as of last Christmas. 'Ralph,' a friend of mine, who is also 39, and I discussed the possible sexual orientation of Dynomutt's sidekick The Blue Falcon. I think in retrospect he may have been gay. Ralph begs to differ.
But, Boone did surprise the record industry with a compilation of heavy metal covers, including a version of Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train"! Amazingly, Osbourne and Boone were also once neighbors which must have made for one very interesting block party.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
On this date in 2002, Joe Strummer, the lead singer of The Clash who was also an accomplished actor passed away at age 50. He will never be forgotten and neither will his music. Check out a live performance of "Clash Radio" which was taped for "The Tom Sydner Show" in 1981 if you get the chance.
SIDEBAR: I found a new copy of The Clash's release "Combat Rock" at CD Alley in Chapel Hill, NC, for a reasonable price a few weeks back. It's the one with "Rock the Casbah" and "Should I Stay or Should I Go," which reminds me I need to go to my mom's 70th birthday party!
After deliberating of which cartoon character should wish my mother Lila Sullivan a happy 70th birthday, we came up with Casper the Friendly Ghost. It was more or less a completely random choice!
SIDEBAR: Actor Ben Stiller became the 500th person I'm now following on Twitter. I highly recommend him for other tweeters. His Twitter home page is: http://twitter.com/RedHourBen
I'm not sure if he's in any movies this holiday season, but I know he's not in "Avatar."
UPDATE: I'm sure my Facebook friend Andrew Neal would want to tell everyone that Casper and other comic books are available for the holidays at his comic book store on Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill, NC, which is called Chapel Hill Comics. I would say unless you live in North Pole, Alaska, it's worth the drive!
Monday, December 21, 2009
To celebrate my mother Lila Sullivan's 70th birthday, which is tomorrow, I am going to quote the late Judy Garland since her most famous film "The Wizard of Oz" came out in 1939, the same year my mom was born in Florence, SC.
While researching this piece, I found out there is a Judy Garland Museum which is located at her birth home in Grand Rapids, Minn. We hope the weather there is nice than it is here in Roanoke, Va., as we are not used to two feet of snow! And, we can only imagine what it's like in Judy Garland's hometown.
Here's the quote which seems fitting since "Guiding Light" and "As the World Turns" have been canceled this year (much to my surprise):
"If you have to be in a soap opera try not to get the worst part."
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is the second U.S. Senator we're profiling who is also a published novelist. Our very first entry featured Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va) who also like Boxer has a journalism background. Boxer's two novels include "A Time to Run" (2005) and her most current work "Blind Trust" (2009).
Boxer, 69, is one of several senators from both parties that I'm following on Twitter along with the likes of Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). Along with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Boxer is one of two female Jewish senators.
In one of her recent tweets, Boxer said she is determined to prove Karl Rove wrong as the former George W. Bush aid wrote in the conservative-leaning "Wall Street Journal" that Boxer's seat is one of six that Republicans could pickup in the 2010 mid-term elections. Rove predicted that the seat could be grabbed by former Hewitt-Packard chair Carly Fiorina, even though she has no political experience.
On her personal blog, Boxer said that each time GOP insiders predict her demise she pulls through because California residents support her stands on job creation, health care and the environment.
Comedian/actor/talk show host Dennis Miller, who became a Republican after Sept. 11th, told politico.com that he was actually recruited by then Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), who was unseated by Webb, to run against Boxer. Another former stand-up comedian/actor/talk show Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), whom we've also written about in this series, later wound up getting a senate seat himself.
Boxer's official senate web site advocates her work helping small businesses and working to prevent violence against women in conflict zones. Boxer, who was previously a member of Congress, replaced Sen. Alan Cranston (R) (who retired from the senate) in 1993. Boxer beat conservative commentator Bruce Herschensohn by five points in part because of her opponent's revelation that he had gone to a strip club. Recently, Boxer became the first female chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee replacing Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD). She also chairs the Select Committe on Ethics, and Boxer is the only senator chairing two committees.
Boxer became known as a member of congress when she insisted that Anita Hill's sexual harassment allegations against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas (now the most conservative justice on the court) be taken seriously.
According to wikipedia.org, her current approval ratings are hovering in the mid-forties. And, she is a target of right-wing activists for her stances on a woman's right to choose abortion, carbon emissions caps, stem cell research and gun control. Boxer also supports a moratorium on the death penalty.
Boxer is also known as an advocate for health care and education, and she has worked aggressively in addressing the rise in autism rates among children.
Besides being a novelist, Boxer has made cameo appearances in tv shows ("Curb your Enthusiasm" and "Gilmore Girls) and films ("Traffic"). She was also featured in a 2007 documentary about female senators from both parties called "14 Women." The film may actually seem a bit dated now since two of the featured senators, Hillary Clinton (D) and Elizabeth Dole (R) are no longer in the Senate. Dole was defeated by Kay Hagan (D) in the 2008 elections, and Clinton stepped down to become Secretary of State.
UPDATE- The California Republican Party is now following me on Twitter. I wonder if that was the result of this entry!
Saturday, December 19, 2009
I have not heard if my good friend Jason Garnett, manager of the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va., was able to show "Home Alone" at midnight last night. But, I do know that those of us living in Virginia, North Carolina, Washington, DC, Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania have had to deal with an epic snowstorm.
The historic Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC, canceled two performances of the Charles Dickens' classic "A Christmas Carol" this weekend. Similarly, the Community Theatre of Greensboro in Greensboro, NC, postponed a performance of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" until Sunday at 5 p.m.
Governors Tim Kaine of Virginia,Martin O'Malley of Maryland and Joe Manchen of West Virginia declared their states in a state of emergency because of the storm which starting hitting the region on Friday afternoon. Roanoke got 18.5 inches of snow which was The Star City's highest accumulation in years.
"This is an intense winter storm, the likes of which we have not seen in a decade," said "Roanoke Times" weather columnist Kevin Myatt.
Salem, Va., resident Bob May who owns Countryside Classics on Main Street in Salem told "The Roanoke Times" that he opened his store around 10:45 a.m. on Saturday morning but he didn't have any customers.
Similar problems with merchants were expressed to other media outlets in the region. Debbie Stoll who owns Kiss 'N' Make-up, a cosmetic store in Hampden, Md., told "The Baltimore Sun" that she was not pleased with the inclement weather:
"We're all nauseous," Stoll said. "These two days could have at least made a bad year a little bit better."
Similar frustrations were told to "The Richmond-Times Dispatch" by Amber Hott, of American Eagle Outfitters located inside a mall in the suburbs of Richmond, Va:
"We've probably had two (customers) or three, two maybe," Hott said.
Children, of course, saw things differently. Though Chapel Hill, NC, only got three inches of snow, area resident Brian Nichols told "The News-Observer" in Raleigh that his son was very happy:
"We were visiting his grandmother and looking out her window when the snow started falling, and he got excited," Nichols said.
Western North Carolina was not spared though as thousands of residents lost power for the day in the Asheville, NC, region, including David Metcalf who told his ordeal to the local newspaper "The Citizen-Times" that he had to get his brother-in-law to rescue him from his own home where the thermostat had dropped to 51 degrees.
70,000 customers were reported without power in Virginia.
Transportation was also a major issue through the region. "The News-Record" in Greensboro reported that four vehicles collided with each other on I-40 near the Gate City.
Near Charlottesville, Va., a local weekly paper "The Hook" reported that area back roads like Route 20 had many accidents and hundreds of cars being stuck.
"The News-Leader" in Staunton, Va., said that area resident Timmy Simmons was checking the snow plows on his trucks to see if they were ready for action.
Motorists were also stranded on highways 81, 64 and 77 in western Virginia, with a 60-mile stretch of I-81 being closed because of road conditions around Lexington, Va.
A number of sporting events were canceled or postponed, including Radford University's men's basketball game with James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., and UVA's home basketball game against UNC-Wilmington was also postponed. In Morgantown, W.Va., officials decided not to go through with West Virginia University's women's basketball game against visiting Fresno State.
But, Virginia Tech played a home game in Blacksburg, Va., in which the Hokies beat Charleston Southern from Charleston, SC, by a 73-50 margin. And, Georgetown University in the nation's capital hosted Old Dominion which pulled a surprising 61-57 upset.
Both the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals were on west coast road swings, but the area's two NFL teams have home games within the next 48 hours. A flight carrying the Chicago Bears into Maryland to play the Baltimore Ravens was delayed. The Washington Redskins are expected to have an easier time when they host the New York Giants on Monday night.
Some people went through with weekend plans anyway, including football fans from Ohio and Wisconsin who game to Salem for the Div. 3 championship game which was won by the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, which will mean that Mount Union fans who drove in from Alliance, Oh., will be even more unhappy.
"The Washington Post" reported that Rebecca Bloch and Jorge Diaz, who met while skiing, got married in downtown Washington, DC, on Saturday night.
And, my friends David Glick and Linda Cook opened up the Backstreet Buzz Coffeehouse in Reidsville, NC, on Saturday. They will be closed on Sunday, but that would have been the case under normal circumstances as well.
UPDATE_ The Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va., had to cancel the "Home Alone" screening, but they are now open for business. The Idiot Box comedy club in Greensboro, NC, had to reschedule an out-of-town comedian from the weekend for tomorrow night. The National Zoo is Washington, DC, remains closed today. But, the West Virginia's women's basketball team was able to play their game in Morgantown, W.Va. yesterday. They beat Fresno State 73-52.
Friday, December 18, 2009
One of the most fascinating things about being a devout Twitter person is that you find out things you might not be aware of. For instance, last night I saw that uber-obnoxious film director James Cameron would be on "The Tavis Smiley Show." I follow Smiley on Twitter, and I was eager to see his interview with a man whose ego seems to be as large as the budgets of his films, but amazingly enough I was on the phone with a friend when the show aired in North Carolina at 12:30 a.m.
But, I also saw this bit about Tiger Woods on Twitter yesterday.
According to everyone's favorite 'neocon in reverse' Arianna Huffington the Facebook group "I Have Also Slept With Tiger Woods" had 171,000 members yesterday up from 139,000 members on Wednesday.
I looked and there is indeed such a group on Facebook. Today the group has 200,211 members as of 5:00 p.m. (east coast time!).
I also saw that Matthew DeBard, a contributor to the liberal-leaning Huffington Post blog (which is certainly better than The Drudge Report on the other side), has a column entitled "Tiger Woods Is So, So, So Much Bigger Than Golf."
The fact that The Huffington Post also includes articles from my fellow Turkish-American progressive Cenk Uygur (who has a liberal talk radio program) might lead one to think I look at the site daily, but there are so many places to go on the web, including Facebook, Twitter and this freaking blog! All of which reminds me that it's been three long weeks since I looked at my E-Harmony account!
WINTER STORM WARNING: For those reading this in Virginia, Maryland or North Carolina, you may have already noticed a lot of snow outside your window. Flights out of Dulles International Airport near Washington, DC, have been canceled as has a Christmas party for the Augusta County Eagles in Staunton, Va.
Similarly, Studio Roanoke in Roanoke, Va., has scrapped No Shame Theatre tonight. And, lastly there will no college night at the Lucky City bookstore in Reidsville, NC.
I guess we'll all have to stay home and watch tv movies on Lifetime tonight.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
It is hard enough to choose the best films of the year, but it always even more daunting to proclaim a film to be 'the best movie of the decade.' I am still deliberting if Robert Altman's "The Player" was a better film than Mike Figgis' "Leaving Las Vegas," which gave Nicholas Cage an Oscar. Those are my two top choices for the best of the nineties.
This decade saw the emergence of international film. It was the decade of cinema globalization as now good films can come from Mexico, Brazil, Iran or Turkey as easily as they can come from The United States, France, Germany or Japan.
There are also many great films which did not make this list including "Elephant," "Lost in Translation," "21 Grams" and "There Will Be Blood."
All lists by their nature subjective and if mine reflects a bias it comes that reflected by a British film critic who when listing his ten best films ever made said he was choosing a Turkish and an Iranian film because those films were always overlooked. Perhaps, because Turkey is my late father's country, I fully sympathize with that view. And, perhaps for that reason, a Turkish and an Iranian film made my list, but I assure you both "Distant" and "Ten" are outstanding films, irrespective of my own bias.
Here is the list, with a compilation of titles I thought about selecting listed under 'honrable mention:'
1. Cache (Hidden)- France, 2005. dir. Michael Haneke
2. Sideways- USA, 2004. dir. Alexander Payne
3. Distant- Turkey, 2002. dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan
4.Lilya 4-ever- Sweden. 2002. dir, Lukas Moodysson
5. A History of Violence- USA/Canada. 2005. dir, David Cronenberg
6. Little Children- USA, 2006. USA. dir, Todd Field
7. AI- USA, 2001. dir, Steven Spielberg
8. The Darjeeling Limited- USA, 2007. dir, Wes Anderson
9. Talk to Her- Spain, 2002. dir, Pedro Almodovar
10. Ten- Iran, 2002. dir. Abbas Kiarostami
"Y Tu Mama, Tambien?"
"4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days"
"In the Bedroom"
"You Can Count on Me"
"The Fantastic Mr. Fox"
"The Royal Teenbaums"
"City of God"
"The Road to Perdition"
"I'm Not There"
"Little Miss Sunshine"
"Lost in Translation"
"Fog of War"
"Best of Show"
"There Will Be Blood"
"No Country for Old Men"
"Million Dollar Baby"
"The Magdalene Sisters"
And, I'm sure there was at least one film I overlooked!
Monday, December 14, 2009
Today, in honor of Second City's 50th anniversary, we are posting comments from two of their respective alumni on our respective blogs. We will quip the late John Belushi's "Blues Brothers" co-star Dan Aykroyd on our sister blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time."
As mentioned in a recent NPR piece, Second City has historically had venues in Chicago and Toronto, though they now have a third 'Second City' in Los Angeles.
Second City has produced an amazing amount of stars ranging from the late John Candy to Steve Carrell to Bill Murray. Mnay alumnus went on to perform for "Saturday Night Live" including Aykroyd, Belushi, Murray and the late Gilda Radner.
Along with Candy, many members of Second City's Toronto troupe went on to produce the tv series "SCTV," which became a comedy sensation which boasted the talents of Martin Short, Andrea Martin, Eugene Levy, Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas and Catherine O'Hara among others (oh, I almost forgot Joe Flaherty).
Second City also tours around North America. Currently, they will be performing in Pittsburgh, Pa., and in Arlington Heights, Ill., on Dec. 17 (Thurs.).
In our region (we split our time between Virginia and North Carolina), the troupe will be performing at The Warehouse Theatre in Lynchburg, Va., on March 12, 2010, and at Wolftrap in Vienna, Va. (Washington DC suburb) on March 13, 2010.
Here is a quote from Belushi, an alumnus of the Chicago Second City, who tragically died at age 33 in 1982 after starring in "National Lampoon's Animal House," "The Blues Brothers" and "Neighbors" (well everyone makes at least one bomb!):
"I give so much pleasre to so many people. Why can't I not get some pleasure for myself?"
Sunday, December 13, 2009
The NFL season is gradually winding down as the Indianapolis Colts (13-0) and the New Orleans Saints both remained undefeated today.
To be honest, I haven't watched much pro football in YEARS, but as it is the national obsession here in the United States (and perhaps Canada) and there is nothing open in my zip code in North Carolina on Sundays except some fast food joints and gas stations, it was perhaps inevitable that I would lay on the couch hours after "Meet the Press" aired and watch some meaningless game as I did last week when I watched the Carolina Panthers beat the Tamp Bay Buccaneers 16-6.
Here is a rundown of some of the games that were played today:
New Orleans 26
Green Bay 21
New York Jets 26
Tampa Bay 3
New England 20
And, here are my top ten favorite teams. The Chicago Bears were my favorite team as a kid starting at the age of nine. Before that, when I was seven, I rooted for the Dallas Cowboys but I quickly got sick of them and they are not even on my top ten favorite teams list here. And, given their QB's relationship with pop singers, I am not about to jump on their bandwagon right now.
But, in recent years, I have taken a liking to the Baltimore Ravens which perhaps because I am an English teacher (the team's nickname is a reference to the Edgar A. Poe poem "The Raven") that is most appropriate.
Here are ten favorite teams in the NFL:
1. Baltimore Ravens (pictured)
2. Chicago Bears
3. Carolina Panthers (pictured)
4. New York Jets
5. Cincy Bengals
6. New York Giants
7. New Orleans Saints
8. Minnesota Vikings
9. Denver Broncos (pictured)
10. Washington Redskins
The next nationally televised game will be on ESPN Monday night. The game is between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco '49ers. I take it Joe Montana is no longer the niners' starting QB!
Saturday, December 12, 2009
If it seems surreal that a conventional American soap opera like "The Young and the Restless" is popular in Turkey (my late father's country), it may seem even stranger that the 1950s American claymation cartoon "Gumby" which featured Pokey the Horse is popular in Venezuela!
According to the NPR series "The World," which airs at 3:00 p.m. daily on 90.7 WUNC-FM (Chapel Hill, NC) , Gumby toys are among those which are most sought for at The Socialist Toy Fair that is currently happening in that country's capital of Caracas.
The report from Anahi Aradas indicated that the cartoon is one that Hugo Chavez admires a great deal.
I did not get acquainted with Gumby until Eddie Murphy made fun of Gumby on "Saturday Night Live" when I was a kid. He had the trademark line: "I am Gumby, damnit."
"Gumby" was created by Art Clokey, who is still alive in his late 80s. Clokey also produced the Biblical-themed cartoon "Davey and Goliath," which was funded by the Lutheran Church.
A great documentary about the landmark animation series called "Gumby Dharma," whichhas aired on The Sundance Channel, explored the Buddhist philosophy behind the show.
This sort of reminds me of how the Polish cartoon "Lolek and Bolek" (now available on dvd in America) was the only cartoon allowed to be shown on television in the Islamic Republic of Iran!
And, you can check out the blog for "The Partridge Family" on our link. Even though I have not put the series from the 1970s on my Netflix que, it is one of my favorite guilty pleasures.
I did not actually watch it until I saw a rerun on a local station out of Hartford, Conn., when we were visiting some family friends in the Nutmeg State.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Here is a complete list of the ten films that "Rolling Stone" film critic Peter Travers chose for the best ten films of the 2000s. I am working on my own list, and there are three films which I am deciding upon for my own choice for 'film of the decade.'
Travers also chose his ten favorite films of 2009, which we will list on our sister blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time."
1. There Will Be Blood
2. Children of Men
3. Mullholland Drive
4. A History of Violence
5. No Country for Old Men
6. The Incredibles
7. Brokeback Mountain
8. The Departed
9. Mystic River
10. The Lord of the Rings: The Trilogy*
*-Travers admitted to cheating for this pick.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
The liberal blogger Arianna Huffington maintains that bloggers are ones who suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. She may have a point as this is the fourth quote I've used this week?!
Today, we go with Joe Strummer, who was the subject of our last "Dead or Alive" entry. Alas, the frontman for the punk band The Clash is no longer with us as Strummer died on Dec. 22, 2002.
But, there are apparently efforts to recognize Dec. 22 of this year as "International Joe Strummer Day," which happens to be my mother's 70th birthday.
I'm not sure if she is familiar with The Clash, which "Rolling Stone" called the 30th best music artist of all time, but perhaps we can play "London Calling" at her birthday party though I'm not sure her friends from church would approve!
Here is the quip we selected from Strummer, who was also a great actor who appeared in the 1989 Jim Jarmusch film "Mystery Train," which was filmed in Memphis, Tenn.:
"What I like most about playing America is you be sure you're not going to get hit with a full can of beer when you're singing and I really enjoy that."
'Tis the season, and there are several theatres around the country performing the David Sedaris stage play (a one-man show, actually) "The Santaland Diaries," including Triad Stage in Greensboro, NC, and the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Va.
Here is today's quip from Sedaris, who became famous by appearing at the NPR show "This American Life:"
"Seven beers followed by two Scotches and a thimble of marijuana and it's funny how sleep comes on its own."
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
The following quip is ironic for three reasons: 1) I am a centrist liberal Democrat, so I generally differ with the conservative columnist George F. Will's views though I do have a lot of respect for him, which I can't say for the likes of Glenn Beck and Chuck Norris (both are extreme far right!) 2) I am an even more partisan cat person and I am baffled that people will spend up to $700 on dogs like Scottish terriers and 3) we are quoting another 'bowtie guy' Louis Farakkhan on our sister blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time." I can't imagine Will and Farrakkhan have ever met in real life!
We are also posting an image of this tuxedo cat here to remind folks that there are lots of cats in animal shelters across the country, including The Rockingham County Animal Shelter in Reidsville, NC, which I am told is in dire need of adoptions.
I have my own tuxedo cat in Gizmo........I named him after the title character in "Gremlins".......he is a bit on the wild side, actually?!
Here is the quote:
"The phrase 'domestic cat' is an oxymoron."
Sidebar: I actually think George F. Will and Katrina vanden Heuvel, the editor of the very liberal publication "The Nation" would have made a great couple. But, I believe Will lives with his wife and dog (I presume) in Chevy Chase, Md.
Sidebar Two: The irony of this kills me. The community college I work at in Wytheville, Va., (not the city where I actually work) cancelled a subsription to Will's former publication "The National Review" because of budget constraints!
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Since yesterday was Pearl Harbor Day, I thought it might be quirky to quote film directing legends John Ford and Akira Kurosawa on our respective blogs.
This might not be the best idea, but for now, it works!
Here is the quote from Ford who is best known for directing John Wayne westerns like "Stagecoach," "The Searchers" and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance:"
"It's easier to get an actor to be a cowboy than to get a cowboy to be an actor."
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Since I stayed up until 3:30 a.m. to watch the entire sixth season of the HBO comedy "Curb Your Enthuiasm" a few nights ago, we thought we'd go with some actual tweets from the 'real Cheryl Hines.'
The Ben Affleck cameo was mentioned on an entry from my friend Moviezzz on his blog.
Anyway, we need to make this quick so I can have lunch at the Green Bean Coffee House in Greensboro, NC, well actually that's an hour and a half from where I am at the moment!:
"Did anyone notice Ben Affleck in the background on "Curb Your Enthusiasm?" He happened to be in Banana Republic that day." (posted Nov. 12)
"'Serious Moonlight' won Best Film in the Orlando Film Fest! YAY!!!! My family partied like rock stars."
"I'm on Letterman tonight. love him. his blue eyes were sparkling," posted Oct. 26.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I could have alternatively titled this entry: "Why I'm Glad I Don't Have Kids!"
Though liberal-turned-conservative P.J. O'Rourke, now a contributor to the neo-conservative journal "The Weekly Standard" (which I actually read from time to time) maintains that somehow having a daughter made him go from being Michael Moore to Dick Cheney overnight....I suppose as I've gotten older I've gone from Michael Moore to Bill Clinton, and that seems conservative enough!
I don't know how it is in your part of the country, but here in Dixie, the conservative coalition seems to be made up of religious zealots, Yosemite Sam gun nuts and radical Ayn Rand anti-government types. I know moderate conservative columnist David Brooks was in North Carolina last year, but I wonder if he got a chance to talk to people at the Waffle House in Greensboro to see how far, far right they are........?!
Hmm.......this was NOT supposed to be a political entry.....oh well!
Monday, November 30, 2009
I must admit that film fans love making lists, and nowhere is that more apparent than "Film Comment" magazine, which features several lists in his front pages these days.
Here is a random list I made of the five most depressing films I've ever seen. Since I wrote it up in a mere five minutes, there are assuredly some downers I have overlooked....."Sounder" comes to mind.
All of these films are either foreign films or documentaries and "Night and Fog," a 1955 French documentary on The Holocaust is actually both!
I made the mistake of watching "The Bridge," a documentary about people who killed themselves by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco the same week I went to The Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. (I don't recommend doing that). One of the people who committed suicide actually flew in from Houston to jump off the bridge.
"Pixote" is a 1981 Brazilian film about a boy whose mother is a prostitute (it will make the Apu triology seem uplifting!). It was so depressing that I literally could not get out of bed the day after I watched it.
The film's young star Fernando Ramos da Silva (1967-1987) would die from gun violence when police shot him to death at the age of 19. "Pixote" was his only film. the film's director Hector Babenco went on to make "Kiss of the Spiderwoman" and other critically-praised films.
"Streetwise" is a documentary about homeless people in Seattle. The plight of the children in the film make it especially difficult to watch.
And, "At/The Horse," a film which came out some 20 years ago from acclaimed director Ali Ozgenturk, is about a destitute Turkish villager who moves from the country to Istanbul with his son.
Amazingly enough, no German or Russian films made this list!:
1. "The Bridge" (doc)
2. "Streetwise" (doc)
4. "Night and Fog"
5. "At/The Horse."
PS_ After publishing this post, I decided to look to see if there was a group involved with preventing suicides from the Golden Gate Bridge. And, there is indeed a Golden Gate Suicide Barrier Coalition. Their web site is www.goldengatecitizens.com/suicide
I must confess to profound irony as I just gave my students at a community college in Mount Airy, NC, (not where I really work!) a spelling test and I could not spell Jimmy Buffett's name right (it has two 'f's and two 't's).
Nevertheless, the mayor of Margaritaville and long-time Key West, Fla., resident will be releasing a new cd called "Hotel Buffett" on Dec. 8. I am sure Parrottheads are all excited abou this one!
According to his web site, the track titles will include "Summerzcool," "A Lot To Drink About" and "Surfing In a Hurricane." (hmmm...that sounds like a VERY bad idea).
Here is today's quote from Buffett, whose name I am finally spelling correctly!:
"Let me remind you: We are party people, and things will get better."
Sunday, November 29, 2009
For the first time since listening to NPR's sports show "Only a Game" some ten years ago, I am regularly watching NBA basketball and sports in general.
My favorite team is the Orlando Magic because they have a player named J.J. Reddick, a former Duke star from my hometown of Roanoke, Va., and a Turkish player named Hedo Turkoglu, who was named the NBA's sixth man of the year a few seasons ago.
There was a piece in the liberal journal "The Nation" which appeared while the Magic were playing the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA finals last year which did cause me reason for concern. The article mentioned that the Magic were run by an arch conservative named Rich DeVos, the founder of Amway (coincidentally I found out we share a common birthday, though since he was born on March 4, 1926, DeVos is quite older than me), but nonetheless the Magic remain my favorite team. The Orlando Magic also feature stars Dwight Howard (pictured) and Vince Carter.
In NBA action today (Sunday), Orlando beat the New York Knicks 114-102. The Minnesota Timberwolves upset the Denver Nuggets 106-100. The Sacramento Kings defeated the New Orleans Hornets 112-96. And, the Boston Celtics won out over the Miami Heat 92-85.
Here is a complete list of my ten favorite NBA teams
1. Orlando Magic
2. Denver Nuggets
3. Washington Wizards
4. Utah Jazz
5. Charlotte Bobcats
6. Chicago Bulls (mascot is pictured)
7. Dallas Mavericks
8. New York Knicks
9. Boston Celtics
10. Sacramento Kings
PS_ I found out that Hedo Turkoglu is apparently now with The Toronto Raptors; I did not hear about the trade!
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Today's entry is devoted to Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) who gave then presidential candidate Barack Obama a coveted endorsement. But, rather than do our usual blog entry giving background on the senator, I thought I would just go with some of her recent tweets on Twitter, which include mentions of the White House dinner which made headlines this week when a DC couple managed to somehow sneak past the Secret Service without an invitation!
The first of Sen. McCaskill's tweets is in reference to today's college football game between rivals Missouri and Kansas:
"Woooooohoo! What a game nothing better than beating the Jayhawks."
"Sat by David Axelrod last night, one of the truly good guys. Talked about family....and health care."
"Prime Minister Singh seemed genuinely moved by the warm welcome. Our alliance with India is very important I think tonight strengthened it."
Friday, November 27, 2009
Today's 'Dead or Alive' segment focuses on Joe Strummer, the lead singer of the punk rock band The Clash which lasted for a surprisingly short time (1977-86), yet their impact is undeniable. "Rolling Stone" proclaimed that The Clash was the 30th greatest rock artist of all time.
Strummer was born in Ankara, Turkey- of all places on Aug. 21, 1952. He was the son of a British diplomat.
I first became familiar with the band when I was 13 in 1983 when their music video "Rock the Casbah" was in high rotation on MTV.
The band's great hits include "Rudie Can't Fail," "Lost in the Supermarket," "Train in Vain (Stand By Me), "Should I Stay or I Should I Go," and their political anthem "London Calling," the title track of their 1979 smash album.
"Train in Vain (Stand By Me)" was recently featured in the soundtrack of the summer's indie hit film "500 Days of Summer."
The Clash was known for being 'a bit left of center,' and the band is credited with making punk music more political. Though the band sold lots of records, they never quite managed to become a political band which merged well with the mainstream that U2 has turned into though they were played on the radio more often than the 1990s left-wing American band Rage Against the Machine.
Strummer was joined by the likes of Mick Jones, Keith Levene and Terry Chices in creating the band's unique sound which featured a range of musical influences, including reggae!
The album cover to "London Calling" is now going to be on a British postage stamp.
Strummer was also a good actor, though he has appeared in only a few films, including "The King of Comedy," "Straight to Hell" and "Mystery Train," which is my favorite Jim Jarmusch film.
The band has many admirers, including my friend Todd Ristau who oversees a stage company in Roanoke, Va., called Studio Roanoke.
And, The Clash has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
Though it does not include The Clash (I believe), the documentary "Kill Your Idols" about the New York punk scene in the 1980s is airing on The Sundance Channel this month.
I will conclude this entry with a great quote from Strummer who perhaps saw where the future of rock and roll was headed long before he left the stage:
"I think we're going to have to forget radio and just go by word of mouth."
Thursday, November 26, 2009
I am blogging today from a computer in Rock Hill, SC, which might be the new home of the world's largest Wal-Mart............I'd rather watch the last few minutes of the Detroit Lions-Green Bay Packers football game!
Incidentally, Weird Al Yankovic has a new two-disc greatest hits cd out, and he recently performed on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon."
And, my friend Chris Knight who has a blog called "The Knight Shift" is claiming that he will deep-fry a kitten every time he hears a Christmas song before Thanksgiving...........does "Father Christmas" by The Kinks count?
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
I joined Twitter a few months ago, and ever since I have followed political figures ranging from Al Gore to John McCain as well as some celebrities who have less sway on Capitol Hill. Among those is reality tv star/rich girl Kim Kardashian who shared what she was doing for the holidays with those of us who are following her (should I publicly admit this?!):
"How is everyone spending their Thanksgiving tomorrow? I am cooking! Any good recipes?"
I suppose since tomorrow is Thanksgiving we should be quoting Arlo Guthrie since he has that famous Turkey Day ballad "Alice's Restaurant," be we have opted to quip Bob Dylan as we are posting several special entries to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Rock and Roll Hame of Fame's opening in Cleveland.
There is also a lovely $750 painting of Dylan at the Back Street Buzz Coffee House in Reidsville, NC, which would make a perfect gift for your aunt in Ocala, Fla. (I actually have an aunt in another part of Florida, but alas I will not be seeing her for Thanksgiving and Ocala is easier to spell).
Ok...enough of our nonsense, here is the quote. It's a good one!:
"A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom."
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
If you want to board a Greyhound bus from Burlington, NC, or which ever town you might reside to get to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, you may want to book your tickets now.
..............or you can watch it on NBC Thursday morning
Monday, November 23, 2009
For the first since losing to the University of North Carolina in the opening round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament in Greensboro, NC, this spring, my alma mater Radford University, located in Radford, Va., came to Durham, NC, to play the Duke Blue Devils.
The result was alas more or less the same as Duke beat RU 104-67. Though more Duke alumni were probably focused on the Blue Devils' football game with the University of Miami (Fl) on the same afternoon, which Duke lost.
But, I expect good things from the Radford University men's basketball team, which I wrote about in the Greensboro alt weekly "Yes Weekly!" earlier this year (when RU was playing UNC).
The RU Highlanders, a team which is the defending Big South Conference champion, plays their conference opener at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC, on Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m.
The team's next home game will be against Roanoke College from Salem, Va., on Dec.
13. The Highlanders will be in the Triad on Jan. 19. 2010, to face High Point University.
Meanwhile, the next home game for the Blue Devils men's basketball team will be against St. John's on Sat., Dec. 5, and their ACC home opener will be against Clemson on Sat., Jan 3., 2010. I'm sure Coach K will have the team ready for both games.
I have to think if the Highlanders were to have played the Blue Devils at the Dedmon Center, RU's home gym, that the outcome would have probably different....we may have lost by just 36 points!
PS_ One team that Radford University fared better than was the English soccer team Wigan Athletic- they lost to Tottenham by a score of 9-1 yesterday! I also want to applaud my favorite Turkish soccer team Bursaspor for winning 1-0 over Gaziantep. In the MLS (the USA's main soccer league), Real Salt Lake edged out the Los Anglese Galaxy to win the MLS Cup.
I am sick and tired of being called a 'socialist' by people on the far-right and being called a closet conservative by folks on the far-left, so I am quoting both Jane Fonda and Barry Goldwater today on my respective blogs to show irony!
First, a quip from Jane, who I am NOT accusing of being a socialist but she is to the left of me:
"A good many dramatic situations begin with screaming."
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I don't know if Gavin Smith and Chris Chang, editors at "Film Comment," will sue me for millions of dollars for this but the New York-based film magazine has published a great list of the most memorable instances of people playing themselves. I couldn't resist sharing it with you here. Interestingly enough, while putting this together, I found out that Fred Dalton Thompson's 2008 campaign web site is still up even though he didn't even get the GOP nod!
1. The Beatles "A Hard Day's Night"
2. Fred Dalton Thompson (the bobble-head doll here) "Marie"
3. Edward McDonald "Goodfellas"
4. John Malkovich "Being John Malkovich"
5. Fritz Lang "Contempt"
6. Samuel Fuller "Pierrot le fou"
7. Marshall McLuhan "Annie Hall"
8. Babe Ruth "Speedy"
9. Muhamad Ali "The Greatest"
10. Steve Coogan "A Cock and Bull Story"
11. Evel Knievel "Viva Knievel!"
12. Kareem Abdul-Jaabar "Airplane!"
13. Howard Stern "Private Parts"
14. Tom Jones "Mars Attacks!"
15. Bill Murray "Zombieland"
16. Cecil B. DeMille "Sunset Boulevard"
17. Arlo Guthrie "Alice's Restaurant"
18. Mike Tyson "Black and White"
19. Burt Reynolds "Silent Movie"
20. Roger Moore "Canonball Run II"
To see more articles in the current issue of "Film Comment," go to www.filmlinc.com
We wish Kareem Abdul-Jabbar his best with his cancer battle.