Thursday, April 30, 2009
As we gradually come to the end of this series, which seems to be more popular than "Know Your Congressman or Senator," we decided to dwelve into a deep philisophical question which has been pondered by the likes of Christopher Hitchens and Monty Python's Flying Circus.
But, beyond asking if God exists or not, we should think about which radical religious group would make us feel more uncomfortable.
If there is one thing I have noticed in life, it is that very conservative small towns like Rocky Mount, Va., have crazy, radical churches where people actually do things like speak in tongues.
And, in turn, very liberal college towns like Chapel Hill, NC, have their own brand of extremist kooks who borrow from aspects of Eastern religions.
This brings us to ask: "Who is more insane?"
Let us start with a Church of Christ minister named Johnny Robertson in Martinsville, Va., who was the target of a brilliant April Fool's Joke by my friend Chris Knight of Reidsville, NC, in which Knight claimed that Robertson flew to the Vatican in a botched effort to attack the Pope.
Robertson has made claims that the good lord hates homosexuals, and he is now currently fighting with the local natural history museum over (what else?!) evolution.
I have also heard that Robertson who not only thinks you are going straight to hell if you don't go to church, but you will in fact go upstairs if you don't go to his particular church.
Robertson hosts a show called "What Does the Bible Say" on WSGR-TV in Reidsville on Sunday nights from 8-10 p.m. It is opposite both "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy," and I must profess that the Rev. Johnny's show is funnier than either one of them!
But, not to be outdone there is a Hare Krishna congregation called the New Goloka Temple in Hillsborough, NC, just outside Chapel Hill, where the Lord Narashina will apparently be making an appearance on May 7.
Between these two extremes, I might well choose the Krishnas though I have no interest in walking barefoot, dressing in strange ritual clothing, eating tofu or bothering folks in airport lounges.
All of this made me think of Louis Theroux's book "Call of the Weird," where the author met with survivors of the Heaven's Gate cult. If you recall this was the group in San Diego which killed themselves by eating poisonous butterscotch pudding so they could get on board Haley's Comet. The 39 people who killed themselves (there were two more who did the same deed several months later) were all wearing brand-new Nike tennis shoes.
Amazingly enough, the group somehow maintains an active web site!
We have a link for it and these other crazy religious groups below. I hope no one actually joins any of these groups as a result of this!
And, as a disclaimer, I should also mention that I firmly against all forms of ritualistic suicide.
http://theknightshift.blogspot.com (Chris Knight's blog)
http://blog.whatdoesthebiblesaytv.org (Johnny Robertson's site)
http://newgoloka.com (New Goloka Temple)
http://www.heavensgate.com (Heaven's Gate)
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Today marks the second entry in our new series "Dead or Alive?"
We were initially going to go with former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, but we decided to go with another cultural icon of the 1980s in Dr. Ruth Westheimer, better known as the Sister Wendy of sexuality.
Westheimer helped usher in a new era of freer, franker discussion about sex on tv and radio and she did so when Ronald Reagan was president!
Dr. Ruth had a tragic upbringing as she was sent to Switzerland to escape the Nazis, but her parents were alas killed during the Holocaust.
She lost her virginity at age 17, and she came to America in 1956.
One of her books is titled (interestingly enough) "Sex for Dummies."
Now the big question: "Is she still alive and well?"...........
We will reveal that answer next week.
UPDATE: Alas the subject of our last entry, tv actor Ted Knight is indeed dead. If he were alive today, he would be 86 years old. Knight died in 1986 and the age of 63.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Since April is National Poetry Month, we thought we'd post a quote from Nikki Giovanni as we did in February.
Giovanni is both one of my favorite poets and favorite people.
I had a chance to meet the Virginia Tech professor of English when I was a reporter for "The News-Messenger" in Christiansburg, Va., over a decade ago.
Giovanni will give a talk at Busboys and Poets in Washington, DC, on Thursday at 6:30 p.m., regarding her new prose collection "Bicycles: Love Poems."
Here is the quote:
"Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to the error that counts."
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Since I happen to have the misfortune of being an agnostic who lives in the Bible Belt (a small town in North Carolina- God help me!), I tend to get agitated with radical church signs. In one instance, I actually drove by a church in Eden, NC, which I had (I kid you not!) a fire truck parked in front of it!
But, today, I've decided to turn the tables and post some amusing church signs. Since there are times when I wonder if where I live and Kandahar, Afghanistan, are in fact similar places, this sign seems most appropriate!
Saturday, April 25, 2009
The town of Princeton, W.Va., sits near the Virginia border and it's main claim-to-fame is that it is the hometown of the late tv actor Bob Denver, known for playing Gilligan on "Gilligan's Island."
Princeton, population 6,347, does not have a major university like Princeton, NJ, but it is home to the minor league baseball team the Princeton Rays in the Appalachian League.
Coal and railroad are the main industries in the area, which includes the larger town of Bluefield (there is a Bluefield, Va., and a Bluefield, WVa). The town is near Pipestem State Park.
Princeton is 92 percent white and the medium income per household is $21, 736. The town is also the birthplace of the western actor Sam Elliot.
Previous entries in this series include:
1) Burlington, Vermont
2) Bethlehem, Penn.
3) Bethesda, Md.
4) Provincetown, Mass.
5) Provo, Utah
6) Moscow, Idaho
Friday, April 24, 2009
Today, we feature Sen. Ricahrd Shelby (R-Al) in our series which is devoted to various members of both political parties from both houses of Congress.
Interestingly enough, Shelby is one of three senators we've featured who have switched parties. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and James Webb (D-Va) are the other two switcherios though neither of those senators defected while in office.
Shelby was elected to the senate when he was a Democrat in 1986. He was always considered to be one of the most conservative Democrats in Washington, DC, as he was pro-life, anti-gun control and an advocate for a flat tax.
The senior Alabama senator also worked with Ronald Reagan on defense issues.
Shelby is considered to be more independent-minded than fellow Republican Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.
Even though a falling out with Bill Clinton lead to his departure from the Democratic Party, Shelby voted to acquit the president of impeachment charges in 1999.
More recently, Shelby has worked on the AIG bail out, and he even called into question Barack Obama's citizenship!?
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Today happens to be Children's Day in Turkey, my late father Mehmet Gokbudak's country.
The occasion has recieved international recognition, and the children we are featuring here are indeed from Turkey.
The day was started by the Republic of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in
I actually marched in a Children's Day Parade in Zonguldak Eregli, Turkey, back in 1978 when I was eight years old.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Tomorrow is indeed Shakespeare's 445th birthday. The American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Va., is currently performing "Hamlet" along with other favorites from The Bard.
We salute the man behind "Hamlet," "Romeo and Juliet," "Macbeth," "Othello" and "King Lear" with two quotes on our two respective blogs:
"A fool thinks of himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool."
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
My sister who resides with her husband and their two cats in a suburb of Anchorage, Alaska, (in-joke) was kind enough to get me "Stephen Colbert's Christmas Special" for the holidays and I was really taken in by the unlikely duet between independent darling Feist and country singer Toby Keith, who has been known to make provocative statements regarding the use of military force.
The two are extremely different from each other as (Leslie) Feist, who some times performs with the band Broken Social Scene, is a laid-back starlett who hit it big with her release "The Reminder" that featured the hit single "1....2.....3....4." She is also Canadian, and I presume she does not eat beef.
Keith, on the other hand, is a vocal militant country singer from Clinton, Okl.,
who hit it big with the song "How Do You Like Me Now?" in 1999. Keith played a hunter on Colbert's Christmas special, which seems very appropriate given his politics.
But, amazingly enough, Keith who was a hard-core supporter of George W. Bush during the 2004 presidential election considers himself a 'conservative Democrat' even though at times times he makes Sen. Joe Lieberman look like Hugo Chavez. Keith is also good friends with Cong. Dan Boren (D-Okl)....what a minute, there's actually a Democratic congressman from Oklahoma?!
NOTE: The last entry in this series is actually posted on my other blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time:" http://politicscultureandotherwastesoft.blogspot.com
For the record, my sister does not actually live in Alaska.
You know we are all getting older when punk/garage rock pioneer Iggy Pop is inching closer to qualifying for a senior citizen's discount at Denny's.
Pop who was born on this date in Muskegon, Mich., is 62 today. He is known as "The Godfather of Punk" and "The Rock Iguana."
The punk singer got his name because he was the lead singer of a band called The Iguanas when he was in high school. Pop later became the lead singer of The Stooges.
His hit songs include "Lust for Life" and "Real Wild Child." And, Pop recorded the original version of David Bowie's hit song "China Girl," a personal favorite of mine.
Pop's music was featured in the soundtrack for the film "Trainspotting."
A few years ago, Pop appeared in the Jim Jarmusch arthouse hit "Coffee and Cigarettes" where he appeared in a sequence with legendary singer Tom Waits.
I must profess that we had a hard time finding a suitable photo to go with Pop. There was actually one of him performing necade! We decided that might cause this blog to be banned in Provo, Utah, so we opted for this shot of him wearing a crown instead.
Monday, April 20, 2009
A female calico cat named Galaxy, similar to the one pictured here, is among the homeless animals available at the makeshift Rockingham County (NC) Animal Shelter in Reidsville, NC.
This has been a major focus in my area as the number of animals that come in is far more than the number of adoptions going on, and I suspect that is true in a lot of low-income areas like rural North Carolina.
Similar problems have been reported in the nearby community of Danville, Va.
If anyone is interested in Calico or other animals at the shelter, they can contact the Animal Protesction Society of Rockingham County PO Box 13 Wentworth, NC 27375
Web site: apsrc.org
This should probably an entry for 'True Confessions,' a series which runs on my other blog (yes, I have two!) 'Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time,' but I have a crush on actress Jennifer Love Hewitt, who just recently turned 30.
Though I must admit that I rarely watch her show "Ghost Whispherer" which seemingly gets enough good ratings on Friday nights to stay on the air year after year.
I happen to be the recipient of a free subscription to "Maxim," which is more fun to read than I would care to admit publicly.
In addition to an article/photo shoot with Hewitt, there is a cool retrospective article about "National Lampoon's Vacation" which came out when I was 13 years old in 1983 in which Anthony Michael Hall admitted that having Beverly D'Angelo (who has very large breasts) play his mother was a bit awkward.
I really liked this quip from Hewitt which might make me watch "Ghost Whispherer" - well, we'll see about that!:
"I always take my bubble baths wearing a tiara. Because I am a grown-up."
PS_ We have another quote from the same issue of "Maxim" from actor John Cho aka Harold of 'Harold and Kumar' fame on the other blog 'Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time'
Friday, April 17, 2009
Since the University of Georgia women's gymnastics team, the heavy favorite to win it all again this year, was one of the six teams to advance to the Super Six finals in Lincoln, Neb., we thought we'd go with this silly photo (they are the bulldogs after all!).
Kudos to Megan Ferguson of Oklahoma University and Melissa Fernandez of the University of Illinois for advancing to the event finals on beam.
The other five teams to advance to the team finals were Florida, LSU, Arkansas, Alabama and Utah, which barely qualified.
I picked UCLA and Stanford to make it to the Super Six instead of Alabama and Arkansas.
The event will be televised on CBS at 2 p.m., EDT.
UPDATE: Georgia indeed won their fifth consecutive title as was expected.
Call it "The Abe Vigoda Question" but there are times when all of us see someone in a tv show or a movie and ask: "Is that person still alive?"
Since I have the vintage '80s comedy film "Caddyshack" in my Netflix que in the hopes of actually inviting people over to see the film with me for a house pary (the last time I did this one person showed up), I thought I would go with Ted Knight.
I am actually going to show four films over two weeks with Rodney Dangerfield in them. FYI, Rodney is alas no longer with us.
Yes, you may know if Knight is dead or alive, but I will not reveal that until our next entry.
But, here are some fun facts about the beloved comedic actor:
-He was born on Dec. 7, 1923, in Terryville, Conn.
-Knight was decorated five times for bravery during World War II
-Played the antagonist Ted Baxter on the '70s sitcom "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"
-Looks exactly like one of my all-time favorite Republicans Barry Goldwater (it should be noted I am a Democrat, and I probably would have voted for LBJ if I had been alive in 1964, but you still got to love that Arizona senator....who is dead by the way).
-Knight plays a cell guard in "Psycho" (1960). He got a mere $150 for the part.
-Spokesperson for Southgate Shopping Center near Cleveland in the 1970s.
-Wore college sweat shirts sent in by real college students for his '80s sitcom "Too Close for Comfort." (pictured here). I wonder if he ever wore a sweat-shirt from Radford University (my alma mater).
-Was voice of The Flash and Superman for those silly '70s cartoon that all of us Gen X boys vegged out on during our Saturday mornings. 'Course, today most of us have grown up and started our own blogs!
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Today happens to be the 44th birthday for both Jon Cryer and Martin Lawrence.
My mother Lila Duckworth (fictional name) who lives in Rome, Virginia (fictional place) happens to be a big fan of "Two and a Half Men."
But, since I come of age during the presidency of Ronald McDonald (fictional variation on real person), I will, of course, see Mr. Cryer as Ducky from "Pretty in Pink," which is pictured here.
I also want to wish my good friend Bilge Ebiri (real person) a happy birthday as well. I am not sure if he watches "Two and a Half Men."
We apologize to Mr. Lawrence for not writing more about him......but I will try to add "Bad Boys" to my Netflix que to make it up to him.
SIDEBAR: This entry was originally meant to be posted on my sister blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time" which has the latest entry in our ever popular political confusion series:
Many of my friends and family have either attended Virginia Tech, or they are currently going to school there.
It is hard to believe that it's been two years since the shooting massacre which claimed the lives of 32 people.
At first, I was debating if this image was appropriate, but then I came to the conclusion that we should all focus on the good things in life, and in that sense, there is certainly more to Virginia Tech than the memories of that awful day.
UPDATE: By my own admission, the use of this photo for this entry is perhaps not the best choice- it was posted in a hurry, but my heart goes out to the family members of those who lost their lives in Blacksburg two years ago.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
April 15 is day when folks like to moan and groan about paying their taxes, but today is also the day when Seth Rogen, one of our favorite young comic actors, turns 27.
Rogen is currently starring in "Observe and Report," which my friend Moviezzz has a review on at his blog: talkingmoviezzz.blogspot.com
I saw the movie in Greensboro over the weekend, and as I told my friend Pelin, a fellow film buff who lives in Turkey, it is basically a comedic remake of "Taxi Driver."
I had a chance to meet Paul Schrader who penned "Taxi Driver" at a Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville a few years ago. One has to wonder what he will make of "Observe and Report."
Perhaps, the film can be a commentary on our world today in which even the comedies have become dark and disturbing.
"Observe and Report" has some good chuckles though. I especially liked the scene in which he goes out with the bimbo blonde, which goes to prove if you go out on a date with high expectations, you will be very disappointed.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Today, we focus on Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) as he was a vocal supporter for his friend John McCain even before he became the GOP nominee and he is known for being more cooperative than some of his Republican counterparts, including Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) from his own state.
Graham was born in 1955 in Central, SC, and his father owned a liquor store!
His parents died within a year of each other when Graham was in his twenties. He joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps and attended the University of South Carolina.
Graham is the only senator who served as a reservist in both Iraq and Afghanistan where he helped with legalities.
He was elected to Congress in 1994 in the third district, and he was elected to the Senate in 2002 as he filled Sen. Strom Thurmond's vacated seat.
Graham became The Palmetto State's senior senator when Sen. Fritz Hollings (D) retired in 2005.
Before being elected to the Senate, Graham got recognition for his efforts during the impeachment hearings for Bill Clinton, which allowed him to help McCain when the Arizona senator first ran for the presidency in 1999.
Graham is also one of the few members of the Senate (well, perhaps the only one) who is a confirmed bachelor.
Monday, April 13, 2009
The late poet Nazim Hikmet (1901-1963) was born in what is today Greece (the city of Thessaloniki) and he died in Moscow at the age of 61, but he is considered to be the greatest Turkish poet.
Since my late father Mehmet Gokbudak hailed from Turkey and since April is National Poetry Month, I thought I would quote Hikmet who lived both an interesting and oppressed life.
His communist views made him a political exile in Russia, but today, ironically he is now the State Poet of Turkey and some of his poems are even revered by nationalists!
Here is today's quote from Hikmet:
"And, don't forget, a prisoner's wife must think good thoughts."
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Idaho is one of eight or nine American states that I've never been to, but I've been fascinated with the college town of Moscow, Idaho, since it was featured on NBC's "Real People" when I was a child circa 1980.
Moscow is the home of The University of Idaho, and it is located in the northern tip of the state.
Moscow, Idaho, has a city population of 23,223 and it actually sits in the Pacific Time Zone.
83843 is also the birth place of the singer Josh Ritter.
Nancy Chaney is the mayor of Moscow, Idaho.
And, there is no proof that the city was named after Moscow, Russia.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
I came across an article in "People" magazine, which is actually NOT one of the six magazines I subscribe to and I found out that the Taco Bell chihuahua Gidget is now 15 years old.
I must profess that the dog is adorable, but I still refuse to eat that *%$#!
Gidget was also the name of my late stepfather Donald's dog. She was not a chihuahua.
A belated congratulations to the University of North Carolina Tarheels for winning the NCAA men's basketball championship over Michigan State earlier in the week.
Those who've visited this blog know that the 'Heels beat my alma mater Radford University during a game in Greensboro, NC, in the first round.
President Barack Obama picked the 'Heels (even though I live in NC, I did not!). He was actually in my father's country, Turkey earlier in the week. I was glad to see someone besides Bush as our president. Now, I just hope someone can replace the Turkish president and prime minister!
Thursday, April 9, 2009
The man behind "Playboy" magazine turns 83 today. I guess it's a bit too late to see if I'm invited to the b-day party at the 'mansion.'
Oh well, here's to the hopes that I get invited next year........
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Boycotts seem to be the rage these days. Once upon a time, boycotts were synonomous with fringe groups like PETA who urged folks not to eat at KFC or McD's.
But, today people of all political persuasions have called for boycotts. Fringe right-wing talk show host Bill O'Reilly, who was the subject of an earlier Political Confusion entry, told David Letterman that he is boycotting all Sean Penn films since the actor who recently Oscared for "Milk" has visited Venezuelan El Presidente Hugo Chavez.
While I agree that Penn is going a bit too far, I am not inclined to remove "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" from Netflix que anytime soon.
But, I was wondering who Keith Olbermann, O'Reilly's counterpart on the left, could tell folks to boycott.
I came up with Kirk Cameron, who is unquestionably as far from the political center as Penn. Cameron, who was a teen idol in the 1980s when he starred on the sitcom "Growing Pains," is now a Christian fundamentalist whacko who has appeared in propaganda films like "Fireproof" and "Left Behind."
Interestingly enough, while researching this, I found that Cameron and I were both born in 1970 though I'm a few months older than him.
Whichever one of these stars you are more inclined to boycott might just indicate who you should vote for in 2012.
Could it Barack Obama against Sarah Palin?
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
I must profess that I dearly miss my tuxedo cat Gizmo who is staying with my mom in Virginia because my apartment in North Carolina doesn't allow cats.
But, thankfully he has it better than so many other cats across the country.
While I'm not a militant animal rights person, I fully support any efforts to provide good animal shelters in the community because unfortunately some people do awful things like dump cats and dogs on the side of the road or leave them at a gas station, which is where I found Gizmo five years ago.
In Raleigh, NC, on Friday, April 17, they will be hosting the Fifth Annual Tuxedo Cat Ball for the benefit of a Safe Haven for Cats.
The event, which was advertised in "Indy Weekly," will be held at Sister's Garden. Tickets are $80 per person, or $150 per couple.
Entertainment will be provided by Deep Magic and Joshua Lozoff.
For more information, one can call (919) 872-1128.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Since April 15th, the day of paying taxes here in les etats unis is just 'round the corner, we thought we'd dedicate our weekly series to famous (or infamous) quotes to some very, very rich people.
I must admit I had this idea before last night's 'Simpsons' episode, which featured Mr. Burns going to a billionaire's retreat, but I did decide to use eccentric Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban as the quote for the entry on our sister blog 'Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time' (see our links section).
Today, on this blog, we are going with a quip from Donald Trump, aka The Donald, who is known to be a bit of an ego-maniac, and if there was any doubt, this line should illustrate that proverbial point:
"All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me- consciously or unconsciously. That's to be expected," Donald Trump.
I wonder if that also includes lesbians.
SIDEBAR: My good friend Christopher Knight of Reidsville, NC, pulled off a brilliant April Fool's Day prank when he suggested that radical minister Johnny Robertson of Martinsville, Va., who is a bit of a small-town Jim Jones, tried to attack the Pope at the Vatican. He actually got an email from the State Department saying that his prank caused some concern! He used an actual layout from The New York Post, and an imaginary BBC headline with an actual footage of some other lunatic trying to go after the Pope.
Check out his blog 'The Knight Shift' on our links page to see this for yourself!
Friday, April 3, 2009
The late English playwright/author George Bernard Shaw once compared religious fanatics to drunks. As much as I fully sympathize with that assesment, I will avoid controvery by going with a more subtle quote:
"I often quote myself. It adds spice to the conversation."
Thursday, April 2, 2009
I have to hand it to my sister Lale Lovell and her husband Matt. They got me this year for April Fool's Day. Not only did they NOT believe me when I told them I was going to go sky-diving, they pulled their own prank.
Lale informed me that her friend Denise and her husband needed someone to work the NRA booth at the Boulder's Farmer Market in Boulder, Col.
Since my sister voted for Barack Obama, and seems hardly inclined towards becoming a Second Amendment Sister, this was quite a shock though she did vote for Bob Dole in 1996 (My mother and I have since forgiven her).
I am still recovering though I take comfort in the fact that about seven folks 'fell' for my prank, including my friend Bahadir Acuner of Seattle who hurled an expletive my way.......!
For the record, I did not act that way towards my sister. I suppose next year she'll tell me that she went to a Gogol Bordello concert!
The group plays in her area at the Fox Theatre in Boulder on May 28.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
My friend Haywood Graves of Danville, Va., and I just got back from a sky-diving trip to Jonesville, NC, where we performed a tandem jump.
I must say this was the first time I ever did such a thing, and it was quite thrilling!
I just can't conver into the words the sensation you get when you first jump off that airplane and look down at the ground beneath before realizing you are suspended in mid-air.
It was something else!
I must say that the staff at Carolina Skydiving was very professional. They are conviently located between Greensboro, Raleigh and Charlotte. And, they are only 114 miles from my hometown of Roanoke, Va.
Now, it's your turn to jump out of an airplane!
UPDATE: Sorry, true believers, this was an April Fool's prank.......thanks for playing along!