Friday, December 31, 2010

DC Diary- Some Very Expensive Tamales




Much of Day Three of our Christmas Family Trip to Washington, DC, which was on Wednesday, was spent at the fairly new Smithsonian Native American Museum.

Among the things we found out at this rather large museum was that rock pioneer Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970) of Seattle was of Native American heritage, in addition to being black and he wore fancy costumes (one of which was on display) to pay homage to his heritage.

But, before we went through the museum which also featured art exhibits and historical/cultural displays, we ate lunch....and, a very expensive lunch at that in the museum's cafeteria.

My sister and I both got tamales with two sides, and the dishes cost a staggering twenty dollars each! My mom got a vegetarian soup and a sweet potato tart while my brother-in-law had either a pizza or a burger with a Bohemia beer and a cheesecake. The meal cost a shocking $95!

I asked my brother-in-law (who is not actually named Sven, nor is he Swedish- see earlier entry) is Bohemia was a Czech beer, but it turned out to be Mexican. While researching this piece, I found out that Bohemia, like another Mexican beer Pacifico, is made in the Pilsner style which originated in a part of what is now the Czech Republic.

My brother-in-law had a slight dispute as we were dinning as I had recalled an article in "Esquire" that stated the best tamales in America were found in Mississippi. He countered that they were actually found in New Mexico.

As it turns out, both of us could very be right.

Tamales are a traditional Latin dish, that is even found in India, made of masa, a corn-based starch dough. Along with Mexico, the Latin form of tamales can be found in Cuba, Argentina, El Salvador, Belize and Guatemala among other countries.

Tamales came to the United States in 1893, and quickly became popular among African-Americans, hence the reason why they are popular in the Deep South, particularly Mississippi, as well as in western states like Arizona and New Mexico with large Hispanic populations.

One place where one can find tamales in the South is at Fat Mama Tamales in Natchez, Miss., while there is a restaurant called Leona's Taurante in the hamlet of Chimayo, N.Mex, which also specializes in the dish.

One can even order frozen tamales from santafetamales.com (phone: 505-471-4766), including red chile tamales, green chile tamales and vegan tamales.

SIDEBAR: We want to congratulate the town of Strasburg, Va., about one hour and 15 minutes south of Washington, DC, on their 250th anniversary which is being celebrated tonight. The town is home to The Strasburg High School Rams, The Hotel Strasburg and The Strasburg Emporium, which is among the most popular antiques malls in the northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

DC Diary- Fonzie's Jacket




I meant to blog about Day Two of our 2010 Christmas Family Trip to Washington, DC, yesterday, but getting lost on my way back from a cinema curtailed that effort, so I am writing about it tonight.

Day Two was actually Tuesday. It was far and away the busiest day of the trip, which concludes tomorrow. We saw four Smithsonian museums in one day. One of the highlights was the American History Museums, which contains lots of pop culture and athletic memorabilia in addition to historic items like the counter from North Carolina A and T students sit-in in Greensboro, NC (the Gate City opened a Civil Rights Museum to honor the four men involved earlier this year).

Since the '70s sitcom "Happy Days" was considered subversive by my late father Mehmet Gokbudak at the time, I have always had a special place for The Fonz. My father really detested the phrase "Sit on It!" which Henry Winkler's character uttered quite frequently. To my Turkish father, this was a sign of how Americans had no respect for their parents or elders.

While researching this piece, we found out that The Fonz was meant to be a secondary character but much like George and Elaine on "Seinfeld," he simply took over. There is now a web site called "What Would the Fonz Do" which makes fun of the "What Would Jesus Do" adage that fundamentalist Christians have utilized to the point of redundancy.

Another item on display at the history museum which caught my eye was the leotard of Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin, since I am a gymnastics fan. The pink leotard had an American flag and an emblem from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, in which Liukin won an individual gold medal.

We discovered from researching this piece that according to her Twitter page Liukin was spending the holidays with her family in Vail, Colo. (we hope they weren't driving her crazy) and that she has apparently been dating another gold medalist, figure skater Evan Lysacek. I must profess that even though Liukin, 21, is 19 years younger than me that I am a tad bit jealous (must be my ethnicity!).

My family and I also saw the ice skates worn by another gold medalist Brian Boitano from the 1988 Calgary Olympics, but as the makers of "South Park" have suggested there is apparently some question about his sexual orientation, but irregardless of that he would be too old to date Liukin too!

My night with the family concluded with a dinner at the Commonwealth Gastro Pub where I had a $13 lamb burger. Other menu items included a $12 grass-feed burger and a $13 uncommon burger_ none of us could figure out what that was!

We will have more on the zany Day Two of the DC trip on our other blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time."

We conclude this portion of the DC Diary by congratulating my friend Turkish-German modern dancer Nejla Yatkin, who has resided in both Washington, DC, and New York in recent years, on the tenth anniversary of her dance company NY 2 Dance.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

DC Diary- Back to Hamburger Hill




So much for a hiatus!

This 'historic' blog entry marks our very first one from the nation's capital, Washington, DC, though we have blogged about this town and its suburb Bethesda, Md, many times over the years.

Even though I am now in DC for a second day, I will reflect on each preious day starting with yesterday, and our musings will continue on our other blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time."

Yesterday, we left Roanoke, Va., at almost exaclty 11 a.m. to make the four-hour drive to The District.

We stopped for lunch at Mug Shots, a coffee shop in downtown Staunton, Va., which some Christmas albums, including one by Jim Nabors (is he dead or alive), we need to ask our Honduran intern Javiet to look that up; as soon as we find out, we'll let you know).

There were some cute college-age girls behing the counter who were clogging in the kitchen as we eating our chicken sandwiches.

We then stopped in lovely Front Royal, Va., which has a small baseball stadium named after another Christmas-song legend Bing Crosby, but we just had time to stop there for gas. But, from living near the area, I can assure you it is a charming place with lots of horse farms and antique shops, though I have to ask: "Did they really need an Applebees?"

We finally arrived in DC a little before 5:00 p.m. And, then we briefly argued over what to watch on tv before settling on some cooking reality show on tv. Personally, I would have even chosen reruns of "Sanford and Son" on TV Land, but that's just me!

The funny moment during the drive came when we were in Fairfax, Va., a DC suburb. I told my sister and her husband, Sven and Eva Thomasson, who both live in Goteborg, Sweden, (they like me to take radical steps to assure their privacy, these are not their real names or where they actually live) that I was glad we were not going to the Vietnam Memorial again this year.

The reason is not because I am an unpatriotic far-left extremist who has every cd that Rage Against the Machine ever put out (though my zip code is so far right that all Democrats are considered Maoists), but simply because we went last year so my mom could find one of her students from the '60s who went to William Byrd High School in Vinton, Va. Since this student of her's alas died during the Vietnam War, his name was on the wall.

It was a very moving, but also a very somber experience.

As it turns out, Sven's stepfather in Vermont is a war veteran and he wants us to find the names of his fallen buddies on the wall. But, at least, we're not going back to The Holocaust Museum.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Things We Learned on Twitter Today- The Last Words of Angel Diaz




The case of Angel Diaz, who was 55 when executed on Dec. 13, 2006, made national headlines because the lethal injection process required a second dose that caused the execution to take a staggering 34 minutes. Jeb Bush was the governor of Florida at the time.

Diaz was sentenced to death for murdering Miami topless bar owner Jospeh Nasy in 1979, a crime which he denied up until his last moments of life.

The anti-death penalty site Last Words of the Executed tweeted a portion of Diaz's statement on that night.

We make no secret on this blog of our opposition to capital punishment, but without getting into the politics of the delicate matter, and we certainly sympathize for those who have lost loved ones due to homicide, here is that statement from Diaz:

"The state of Florida is killing an innocent person. The state of Florida is committing a crime, because I am innocent. The death penalty is not only a form of vengeance, but also a cowardly act by humans. I'm sorry for what is happening to me and my family because of this."

And, this will in all likelihood be our last blog entry of the year!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Quote of the Week- Roy Lichtenstein




There is a poster of one of the late Roy Lichtenstein's last paintings "Tintin Reading" from 1994 featuring Herge's legendary Belgian comic book adventurer and his dog Fluffy.

Lichtenstein (1923-1997) was among the pop artists of the 1960s which included the late Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns, who is still alive at 80. The American artist, who also completed complex sculptures, used comic strip panels for much of his visual art. Most of theses panels looked like ones from comic strips like "Flash Gordon," "Dick Tracy" and "Mary Worth" (which started in 1939, and is still in many newspapers today) that focused on dramatic elements and storylines rather than 'Charlie Brown, Lucy and the football" gags.

Among Lichtenstein's famous paintings (ranging from 1958-1996) are "Look Mickey," "Drowning Girl," "Whaam!," "Grrr" and "I Know....Brad."

This quote from the great artist, who is perhaps my personal favorite, ever since I saw an exhibit of his work in Montreal in 1994, is certainly one we would not expect from comic actors like Woody Allen or the late Andy Kaufman:

"I don't have anxieties. I wish I did. I'd be much more interesting."

NOTE: We may be on a slight hiatus since we are going on a family vacation, but stay tuned for my Worst Person of the Year entry as well as a look at my top ten favorite films of 2010 before we get too much into 2011.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Silly Photo to Fill Space- Jesus Christ Bobblehead Doll




Yes, this was on our Silly Gifts Wish List, but I didn't get it! The Jesus Christ bobblehead doll retails for $9.95 from the bobbleheadstore.net and it is available at novelty stores nationwide, though it may be hard to find in Konya, Turkey (the most conservative city in the Muslim country).

There is some irony as my favorite religious-themed movie is "Monty Python's Life of Brian" (1979) which many Christian conservatives views as blasphemy!

Merry Christmas from The Beach Boys




Today's tradition of us finding some kitschy or unusual cultural entity wish everyone a happy holiday or birthday continues as we wish you a Christmas by way of The Beach Boys (if you like this idea, give me credit; if you don't, then send an email to Javier our Honduran college student intern who is on loan to us from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.)

We learned while researching this that The Beach Boys' 1965 album "Smile" was completely shelved and the inferior "Smiley Smile" was released instead. Though Brian Wilson, who was lead singer at the time, rerecorded "Smile" in 2004 as a solo venture.

There were more than 400,000 covers of the "Smile" album which were stored in a Pennsylvania warehouse that were destroyed in the 1980s.

Among the singles from the commercially unsuccessful "Smiley Smile" lp was "Good Vibrations."

So, with that being said: "Merry Christmas from The Beach Boys."

Friday, December 24, 2010

50 Beers Around the World (#41- Goldstar from Israel)




Though it might be hard to find an open bar tomorrow in Salt Lake City, Utah, one can be rest assured that finding a beer in Jerusalem should be a bit easier. And, a patron at that bar would probably find a Goldstar Beer, one of the most popular brands in Israel.

Goldstar Beer is a five percent pale lager which has been produced since the 1950s. It is also marked as a 'dark lager beer' though it is pale in appearance, according to Wikipedia.

Of course, it is also certified kosher!

And, the beer was mentioned in the 1981 Duran Duran song "Tel Aviv."

We could not find out if the beer is available in America, and if so how widely available it would be.

As for those of you looking for open bars tomorrow, we learned that The Blue Banana on Georgia Avenue in Washington, DC, will be serving up brew starting at 8:00 p.m.

Right now, I'm listening to a blues song that's about Santa Claus drinking beer from the legendary Lightin'Hopkins!

Drink responsibly....!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Top 10 Favorite Christmas Songs- Black Santa




Before I start this random survey, which alas snubs the strangest duet of all time David Bowie and Bing Crosby's rendition of "Little Drummer Boy," which came in at number 11, I want to credit cult filmmaker/author/entertainer John Waters for introducing me to our top choice. Waters put the 1973 song "Santa Claus is a Black Man" by Akim and the Teddy Vann Production on a 2004 cd compilation called "A John Waters Christmas," and of course the world being what it is Waters was apparently sued for that!

One can also check out the latest obscure Christmas song compilation from Chicago concert promoter Andy Cirzan through christmas.soundopinions.org

The songs aired on the NPR show (produced by WBEZ-Chicago) "Sound Opinions" and they include "Flying Machine for Christmas" by Jimmy McGriff, which is as surreal as it sounds!

Another song that just missed our cut was "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch," which was the theme to the Dr. Seuss Christmas special "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." The tune was sung by the late Thurl Ravenscroft, who was the voice of the cereal commercial icon Tony the Tiger. Ravenscroft died in 2005 at age 95.

But, we think you'll like most of this list which as long-term readers will notice contains a lot of songs from the '80s when I went to Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, MD, (actually Glenvar High School in Salem, Va., but I like schools named after famous cool people).

Here is the list:

1. "Santa Claus is a Black Man," Akim and the Teddy Vann Production

2. "The Chipmunk Song," The Chipmunks

3. "Christmas Wrapping," The Waitresses, a great two hit wonder band from Akron, Ohio. This song came out in 1981. "I Know What Boys Like" was the band's other hit single.

4. "Father Christmas," The Kinks- perhaps the darkest Christmas song ever recorded, and it's also awesome!

5. "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer," this could be the one Christmas song they play on fm stations in Qom, Iran (that is a song though there is a city in Iran named Qom!)

6. "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," Bruce Springsteen

7. "Felix Navidad" Jose Feliciano---wow, that's the second time we've mentioned Feliciano this week; we had never mentioned him in our five years of blogging!

8. "Do They Know It's Christmas...?," Band Aid_ a song that was actually kind of annoying when it first came out in 1985, but it mixes class and kitsch and where else are you going to hear Bono and Boy George on the same track!

9. "Happy Christmas (War is Over)," John Lennon and Yoko Ono_ I hate to admit but I actually thought this was an old Beatles song once!

10. "Santa Baby," Eartha Kitt_ Hey, we want females to visit this blog. I have a feeling they are not out top demographic!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom, from Dolly Parton




Today, my mom Lila Sullivan turns 71. She was born on Dec. 22, 1939, in Florence, SC. Since my father Mehmet Gokbudak died in 1983, when I was 13, and my mom remarried our last names are different.

We thought we'd salute her with an image from one of her favorite singers, Dolly Parton, the pride of Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Mom also likes Bob Dylan, Jimmy Buffett and Tina Turner.

Parton will release her 43rd studio album next year, and she has a birthday herself on Jan. 19 when she turns 65.

I was curious to learn about those famous Dolly Parton pinball machines. As it turns out, collector Nibby Priest of Henderson, Ky., posted a Youtube video which revealed that the machines first came out in November of 1979 and there were 7,350 made.

We also found out that Parton made the cover of "Rolling Stone" (yes, we were surprised too!) for the magazine's Dec. 11, 1980 issue which also featured a story on a then-emerging band from Athens, Ga., called The B-52s. Another band from Athens, REM would, of course, soon follow.

So, Happy Birthday mom.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Things We Learned on Twitter Tonight- Right Wing Talking Head Whinning




According to a Lauren Smiley column in "San Francisco Weekly" that we saw via Twitter, ultra conservative radio talk show host Michael Savage who may well be the most extreme one of them all (and he ironically lives in the Bay area), is in a big spat with his employers Talk Radio Network.

Savage apparently wants a professional divorce, but it will cost him about $4 million.

The two parties appear to be heading to court.

And, speaking of court, we are going to refrain from going further into what Smiley talked about because we don't want to get sued! (We make zero dollars and zero cents for our work here, and that goes for our Honduran intern Javier too!).

According to a small article in the Greensboro, NC, alternative "Yes Weekly" from my friend Brian Clarey (who unlike Javier is a real person) the right-leaning blog Lowcountry912 in South Carolina was sued by Righthaven for apparently publishing a column from "The Denver Post" in its entirety.

The incident was also the subject of an entry in a local Denver blog (Broke in Denver).

So, with that in mind, we are going to read some old "Pogo" comic strips now....

Silly Photo to Fill Space- Chico and the Man




Before I post today's musings, I must profess that my good friend Moviezzz, and we do really know each other, is MUCH better at tv commentary than I am, and one can see that on his blog talkingmoviezzz.blogspot.com

I don't know much about what's going on with tv, except when I overhear people talking about how disappointed they are that "Lost" is over with or who sang what on "American Idol."

But, as a kid, I watched tv day and night, and one of my favorite shows was the sitcom "Chico and the Man" (1974-1978), which appeared on my Christmas gag list (referring to dvds of the show). Like many sitcoms of the era, such as "Sanford and Son," the show had an urban setting and dealt with inter-racial issues.

"Chico and the Man" took place in a rundown garage in east LA, and featured the late Freddie Prinze, who would be Sarah Michelle Gellar's father-in-law if he were alive today, and the late Jack Albertson.

Alas, Prinze comitted suicide at age 22 after a bout of drug addiction and depression in 1977. Amazingly enough, the show continued for one more season without him.

The theme song was composed by Jose Feliciano, who is on the radio a lot this time of year for his yuletide song "Felix Navidad." Another singer Tony Orlando once appeared in an episode as Chico's look alike.

Scatman Crothers and Della Reese were also members of the regular cast.

Six episodes of the show, which has seldom been shown in reruns, are available on a compliation dvd through Netflix.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Quote of the Week- Georgia O'Keefe




Today, we continue our Quotes of the Week series for December with quips from famous artists. On our other blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time," we have a quote from the late Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, whose work was exhibited in Berlin, Germany, earlier this year.

For this entry, we quote the late American painter Georgia O'Keefe (1887-1986) whose work can be regularly at the Georgia O'Keefe Museum in Santa Fe, N. Mex. Currently, there is also an exhbit of her work at the Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus, Ohio.

Here is a quote from O'Keefe which makes me think of a Maureen Dowd book that makes fun of men which I almost got for a female friend today, before realizing it might be indict me (as well as other members of my tribe!):

"I feel there is something unexplored about a woman that only a woman can explore."

Saturday, December 18, 2010

In Turkish, It's Called Tembellik




I am suffering from laziness today.... (tembellik does mean laziness in Turkish)

Boy, this is really bad. I know this image doesn't suit the season, especially since it might snow in Cary, NC, (a suburb of Raleigh) tonight, where I was hoping to see a movie at the Galaxy Cinema, but we like it and that's all that matters. Right?

There happens to be a Lazy Dog Cafe chain in southern California, with locations in Irvine. Thousand Oaks and Torrance.

And, there is a Lazy Dog Vineyeard in Sonoma, Calif.

Ahh, it's time to take a nap.

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's Been a Messy Week




Things haven't quite been this bad, but snow, sleet and ice were reported throughout our Bethesda, Md.-Rock Hill, SC, viewing area (of course, this is a joke since even folks in Yerevan, Armenia, or Mumbai, India, can access this blog).

But, we are focusing on the important things in life for the time being. Once those pesky things are taken care of, we will post our usual shananigans once again!

In the meantime, you can go to Youtube and watch a chainsaw juggler in Amsterdam, Holland, (yes, there is actually such a video!) until we get a chance to post a legitimate blog posting either tomorrow or some time early next week.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas and Happy Festivus!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Quote of the Week- Edvard Munch




Dagnamit! Well, that's what my friend Susan Paige from Bethesda, Maryland,(pse) said when she missed the Edvard Munch exhibit at the National Gallery in Washington, DC, that ended on Halloween. But, the good news is that she can now go to Rotterdam, Holland, to see an exhibit of the classic Norwegian artist's work!

Munch, best know for the pictured image ("The Scream") is perhaps the most famous Norwegian of all time although theatre people like my friend Sal Edmunds of Boones Mill, Va., (also a pse-fake name and fake residency for a real person living in a real place) would argue for Henrik Ibsen.

But, we never take sides here unless we're pummeling Sarah Palin!

The National Gallery, for its part, is now showcasing early Victorian British photographs until Jan. 28, so there's no need to kick a fire hydrant (which I actually did after narrowly missing a Norman Rockwell exhibit at The Corcoran Gallery, which is also in DC, some ten years ago).

Here is today's quip from Munch:

"But, can they (great works) get rid of the worm that lies gnawing at the roots of my heart? No, never."

One has to wonder if those sentiments were also felt by Australian artist Lloyd Graham and fellow painter Sarah Irani when they completed their 'masterpieces' which are hanging from the walls of The Museum of Bad Art (yes, it is an actual place) in the Brookline, Mass., area.

Irani's "Mama and Babe" looks like a picture of Cher with an orphaned child, while Graham's "Artist as a Young Man" appears to be a bad portrait of Bob Dylan.

Both paintings are a part of the museum's blue people series, which you can see on the net (if we showed those pictures here, they'd assuredly shoot us!).

I also love "Worried Guy," an anynomous painting of a man who looks like Medusa after a sex change, which was rescued from something like a trash can in Seattle.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

50 Beers Around the World #39- Stella Artois (Belgium)




Today, we are featuring Stella Artois, a Belgian beer primarily brewed in England, which was considered a high end beer since they advertised in high-brown magazines, but now one can even find the brew at a Sheetz gas station in Lynchburg, Va.!

Of course, Belgium is known for other things besides beer, but we can only think of Tintin (just kidding!).

According to Wikipedia, Belgians apparently drink a lot of beer_ some 93 liters per person annually! Of course, Wikileaks could tell us if the Emir of Kuwait secretly drinks it at his hotel room in Paris. (just kidding, again!).

Belgium also produces some 800 different brands of beer, which is remarkable given it is a relatively small country which is the size of Maryland or Connecticut.

Tintinland also has many beer festivals, in cities like Antwerp, Bruges and Brussells.

Additionally, there is a Christmas beer festival in Essen, a northern Flemish town that borders Holland. Essen is also where a lot of international cyclists like Bart Aernouts and Tom Meeusen reside.

I was in Tintinland way back in 1993, and much to my surprise the first beer I had in Brussells was from Norway?!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bonus Silly Photo to Fill Space- Mr. Potato Head (Our 750th Entry)




I suppose if one gave a child in Eskisehir, Turkey, a Mr. Potato Head doll for Christmas (hopefully, you're smart enough to get the joke), you have the tell little Ali or Ayse that the toy's name would be translated to ' Mr.Patates Kafasi'

But, closer to home, one can presumingly find Mr. Potato Head who is now over 50 years old at an independent toy store like Building Blocks, which has two locations in Chicago.

This item was feautred on our Top 10 Silly Things to Buy Me for X-Mas list last week.

Today, happens to mark the 750th entry of "The Daily Vampire" and we are celebrating here at the famed Elmo's Diner in Durham, NC, (actually not where we're at, but I have driven by the place and it looks swell!). The establishment also has a location in Carrboro, NC (Chapel Hill).

We will post another silly image from that list on Tuesday (perhaps). So, there is a chance you may get to see what a Che Guevara plush-toy or a Jesus Christ bobblehead doll looks like! We have no idea if they sell those at Building Blocks (we needed to say that for legal reasons!).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Top 10 Favorite Songs from The Beatles




In a recent issue of "Rolling Stone" heavy metal icon Ozzy Osbourne chose "She Loves You" as his favorite tune from The Beatles while Brian Wilson, the former lead singer of The Beach Boys, chose "Hey Jude."

Since yesterday was the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's assasination, I thought I'd do my own list of my top 10 favorite songs from The Beatles.

Even though I loved The Beatles in my early teen years, I got more into the New and underground music that was popular of Album-Oriented rock radio stations as well as legendary bands from the '70s like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.

Nevertheless, the music from Lenon, Paul McCartney, the late George Harrison and Ringo Starr has left a cultural impression on every music fan from Anchorage to Dubai, and beyond.

I just recently found out that the title for Stephen King's novel (which was made into a Stanley Kubrick film that the author is not found of) "The Shinning" came from the line: "We all shine on" in Lennon's solo song "Instant Karma." King happens to be own a rock and roll radio station in Bangor, Maine (100.3 FM).

Here is my list, which I may well disagree with come tomorrow morning!:

1. "Strawberry Fields Forever"

2. "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"

3. "Norwegian Wood"

4. "Something"

5. "Ticket to Ride"

6. "Walrus Man"

7. "Helter Skelter"

8. "Nowhere Man"

9. "Yellow Submarine"

10. "Day Tripper"

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Things We Learned on Twitter Today: Snows-a-Coming to Northwest USA




According to a tweet from "The Seattle Times," there is a winter storm warning that has been issued for the Cascades region of central and eastern Washington state where they are expecting (double yikes!), one to three feet of freaking snow by Friday afternoon!

Comic strip artist/political cartoonist Keith Knight who pens "The Knight Life" will be protesting in front of "The Seattle Times" today as they newspaper dropped his comic strip. According to the comic strip's web site, Knight said he was ironically on his way to Seattle to give the editor a fruit basket for deciding to add "The Knight Life"!

And, "The Onion" also has a 'story' about the Northwest part of the United States today as they put together a mock article regarding people's opinions over the disclosure that the property which was once the location of the Unabomber's log cabin in a remote part of western Montana is up for sale. Kylie Laskin (since "The Onion" publishes fake stories, we have no idea if she is a real person) said: "That (the property) would be a perfect place for my Kevorkian van."

We also want to pass our condolences to the friends and family of Elizabeth Edwards who passed away at her home in Chapel Hill, NC, yesterday from a seven-year fight with cancer. But, I must profess I'm glad I backed out of volunteering for her estranged husband John Edwards for the South Carolina primary. We all know what happened there!

Top trending topics on Twitter today include: Grinch, Birthday Ian, Yoko Ono, Pearl Harbor, Rubin and Glee Christmas.





Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Silly Picture to Fill Space- Brady Bunch Lunchbox



Up until Christmas Day, we will be posting images from the items that were on my Christmas Wish List (satirical edition) that we posted last week.

We start with a Brady Bunch lunchbox. The sitcom series was popular circa 1974, and it has been in rerun heaven ever since.

For those of you who still prefer to buy gifts online (like your's truly), you might be able to find this or other novelty lunch boxes at Antiques and Beyond in Atlanta. If not, you can always buy your mom a quality lamp shade to make her happy!

Quote of the Week- Norman Rockwell




In Raleigh, NC, there is currently an exhbit of Norman Rockwell paintings, including some of his most famous works like "Day in the Life of a Little Girl" (1952). The painting pictured here is actually called "The Homecoming."

Rockwell (1894-1978) was an iconic portrait and sketch artist whose most notable work came out in the World War II and post-war years; he was also known for drawing many "Saturday Evening Post" covers.

The exhibit at the North Carolina Art Museum runs through Jan. 31, 2011.

There is also an exhbiti examing Rockwell's famous Civil Rights-era painting "Looking Back" at the Normal Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass., also through Jan. 31.

All of this reminds me of when I just barely missed a Rockwell exhbit at the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington, DC, some ten years ago, which lead me to kick a fire hydrant in disgust (don't try that at home). The Corcoran, for their part, has an exhibit of works from photographer/sculptor Spencer Finch.

Here is our quote from the famous New England painter, and it is one I can certainly relate to!:

"I learned to draw everything except glamorous women. No matter how much I tried to make them look sexy, they always ended up looking silly...or looking like somebody's mother."

Personally, we wonder if this means that he tried to paint Rita Hayworth?!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

50 Beers Around the World_ Baltika from Russia (#37 of 50)




Greetings from the Davie Street Parking Garage in downtown Greensboro, NC, where we have found a way to post an entry today on our laptop (eyes rolling!).

Our latest entry in our 50 Beers Around the World series takes up to Russia where a Canadian performing of mine is currently touring the country (must be nice, I would settle for Moscow, Idaho!); and, hopefully during her downtime she can send postcards to friends who are back home in Halifax, Nova Scotia (not actually where she is from, but we love to make fun of Nova Scotia).

Russia is also where one can take in a Baltika beer (you should drink responsibily of course even if Russians never do!). Even though beer will always be second to vodka in the good ole USSR (forgive the dated Cold War humor), Baltika somehow has the second largest brewery in Europe after the Dutch beer Heineken.

Baltika also competes for customers in Baku, Azerbaijan, with the Turkish beer Efes Pilsen, as the brand does have a brewery in the Caspian Sea nation that was also a part of the CCCP.

Founded in 1990, Baltika is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The beer is brewed in ten cities across Russia and it is available in some 60 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, China and Japan.

Of course, everyone knows Russia has been in the headlines for a positive reason (for a change) as the country is now set to host the 2018 World Cup.

As Americans (well, your's truly is half-Turkish and our intern Javier who does most of our research is from Ecuador.....sorry, Honduras!*), we are bemoaning the fact that we lost our World Cup 2022 bid to the tiny Arab emirate of Qatar. (I would insert a politically incorrect right wing nationalist put down of Muslims and/or Arabs here, but with all due respect to Glenn Beck and our friends at Fox News, we lean to the center-left!).

There are apparently two places in Doha, the Qatari capital where alcohol can be purchased. But, for the masses in not only Qatar, but other Arab emirates, there is always the non-alcoholic Baltika No. 0 (the beer in the green bottle). Of course, we have no idea if this brand is found in Qatar at all. Where is Javier, when we need him?

*-Javier is a fictional person; the joke is that is there is anything factually inaccurate in my posts, I will put the blame on him!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy Chanukah from Karagoz and Hacivat




It is possible that some arch conservative Jews may take exception to me posting an image of the beloved Turkish shadow puppet characters Karagoz and Hacivat (Karagoz is the one with the long beard), but Bursa, Turkey, the city where the Ottoman-era plays are a major tourist attraction once had a very large Jewish community. But, in recent years, the major Jewish communities in Turkey are prodominantly in Istanbul, which is four hours north of Bursa (mainly because of traffic rather than actual mileage).

The Greek version of Karagoz and Hacivat is Karagiozis and Hadjavatis. The main nuanced difference between Karagoz and his Greek counterpart is that Karagiozis is a hunchbacked figure.

Karagoz and Hacivat remained a popular form of entertainment up until the advent of modern technology, but they remain the most popular Turkish children's entertainment figures to this day. The plays were first performed for Sultan Selim the Grim (1512-1520 was his reign) in Egypt. Karagoz represents the Turkish peasant class and Hacivat symbolizes secularism and intellectualism. It is perhaps for those why it is NOT ironic that the two characters typically never get along.

The Turkish version of the shadow puppets are often made from camel leather, which probably doesn't go over too well with the Istanbul chapter of PETA (there may actually be such an organization, perhaps!).

As for Bursa, which is Turkey's fourth largest city, it is also known for Iskender Kebap, a dish made from lamb meat covered with tomato sauce and yogurt over pide bread.

Iskender kebap can be found at several restaurants in Bursa, including Kebapci Iskender as well as Turkish restaurants here in the United States, including (we believe) Carolina Kebap in Charlotte, NC.

As for Hannukah/Chanukah, there will be a candle-ligthing locally at Chabad Greensboro starting at 4:47 p.m. today.

And, though it's not holiday-related (our presumption) Ashmatic Kitty Records artist (singer Sufjan Stevens's label) Juliana Barwick will perform at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue in Washington, DC, on Dec. 6th and 7th.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Top 10-Christmas Wish List (Gag Gifts Edition)




I was joking with my cousin Bradley West who has just finished a year-long ice-fishing expedition in the North Pole where he developed a tragic alcholic dependency porblem, and he was wondering: "Attila, my dear cousin, blood brother and comrade, what the heck da ya want fer Christmas?" They then gave a sob story about how cold and lonely it is up there (this is a joke, of course as I don't know a single person who has been to the North Pole or North Pole, Ak., for that matter! Oh, and I don't have cousins named Bradley).

But, there are always people who want to know these things, so I have developed two separate lists: one for potential gag lists and one for actual gifts that I would love to have. There is, of course, a thin line between the two.

So, here are my top ten gag gift ideas:

1. The Bert and Ernie: Don't Ask, Don't Tell t-shirt ($18). We saw this advertised in "Rolling Stone." It's available from tshirtsthatsuck.com
Yes, I'm not sure if it will go over well in Martinsville, Va., or Kingsport, Tenn., either!

2. Marijuana Leaf Neckties- Well, we obviously could NEVER wear it to work (definitely not for a job interview) but an assortment of these 'products' are available from web sites like zazzle.com for between $5-31.

3. Brady Bunch Lunchbox- Well, we obviously could NEVER bring this to work, but that would be to save one's self from persistent ridicule throughout the work day. These were actually made in the '70s and prices on the net range from $20-45.

4. Mr. Potato Head- Yikes! The 2010 Toy Story 3 edition of Mr. Potato Head retails for $38 at places like Target. But, we did learn while researching this entry (yes, we did actually do that!) that Mr. Potato Head, which was first made in 1952, lost the pipe in 1986 as to not encourage kids to smoke.

5. Swedish Pop CDs_ Abba, Roxette, Robyn, Ace of Base and/or The Cardigans (they were on the original "Beverly Hills 90210" soundtrack) would be a great gag gift for those of who prefer the vastly superior Norwegian pop (ok, I can't think of any Norwegian bands besides A-ha either). We found out just today that Abba is performing in Istanbul, Turkey- of all places, on Dec. 13.

6. "Gulliver's Travels" (paperback edition; $5-14). Since I wrote a book report on this classic by Jonathan Swift 21 years ago, this gift would indeed be quite ironic and inexpensive. But, I probably won't get around to reading it!

7. "Chico and the Man" DVD Set- Can you imagine the look on someone's face if you actually get them all 88 episodes of the hit '70s sitcom (it ran from 1974-1978)? We were stunned to find out that the show continued after its star Freddie Prinze (father of Freddie Prinze Jr.) committed suicide by gunshot at age 22 in 1977. The things you learn from blogging are something else, aren't they!

8. Che Guevara Little Thinker Plush Toy ($15) and Jesus Christ Bobblehead ($10)_ Yes, for a mere $25, you can show a family member that you have a very surreal sense of humor. This would be perfect for an off-the-wall cousin of mine who lives somewhere in rural Missouri who has made sure that there is no possible way I can be the black sheep of the family even though I would be the black sheep of 99 percent of all American/Canadian families.

9. "Conscience of a Conservative" by Barry Goldwater (Sr.)_ If you really want me to look at you as if I was a character in a vintage Tex Avery cartoon (he was the one who came up with the idea of sockets popping out though we need to ask our Honduran intern Javier to verify that), you can get me this 1960 booklet that is 84 pages long (I am a partisan Democrat).

10. Another subscription to a 'get connected' web site_ Judging from their ads, you would think sites like E-Harmony, Ok Cupid, Match.com, Plentyoffish.com, Connectsingles.com and lavalife.com could actually connect with a woman who likes Anne Hathaway who happens to think the fact that you have every issue of "Hot Stuff" and "Daredevil" is so cool. Think again! (I speak from experience....)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Things We Learned on Twitter Today_ Rosa Parks Never Paid 'The Fine'




Of course, we know Rosa Parks was not fined for sitting on a school bus in High Point, NC, (we are rushed for time, so this is the only image we could find!), but according to a tweet from the ultra-hip magazine "Mental Floss," which I should ask my mom to get me a subscription for over the holidays, the Civil Rights activist never 'paid up' for her 'transgression' in Montgomery, Ala., 55 years ago today:

Here is the exact tweet:

"Rosa Parks was fine $14 for refusing to give up her seat on that bus ride of Dec.
1, 1955. She never paid it."

SIDEBAR: We have also learned that thankfully actor Morgan Freeman, 73, did not die today. Many were wondering why he was a hot trending topic today. It turns out he made a gaffe while on a tele-prompter in Zurich, Switzerland, while lobbying for the 2022 World Cup alongside former president Bill Clinton, who was in Greensboro last night. The jet lag must be tourturing our beloved former prez!

Silly Photo to Fill Space- Laundry Time




We dedicate this entry to our good friends at The Wishy Wash Laundromat in Silver Spring, Md., (actually we don't know a single person who works there at all!). They are open from Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. And, on weekends, they are operating from 6:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m.

I got this idea while doing a ton of laundry at my mom's over Thanksgiving. Of course, Gizmo the cat made sure to sit on top of my clothes after they were all folded up!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Quote of the Week- Jimmy Carter




He is undoubtedly Rush Limbaugh's 'favorite president' (which is reason to love the guy) and tomorrow night former president Jimmy Carter will sign copies of his latest book at Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, DC.

An interview with Carter will also air this weekend on C-Span 2 (Book TV), and an exhibit called "The Working White House" is currently on display at the Carter Museum and Library in Atlanta where Rosalynn Carter will hold her own book-signing in December.

Here is our quote from the president, one of only four living ex-presidents, who came in between Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan:

"America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense human rights invented America."

Another ex-president Bill Clinton speaks at the Greensboro Coliseum tomorrow night as part of Guilford College's Bryan Series. Clinton will reportedly head to Switzerland on Wednesday to start lobbying for an American bid to host the 2022 World Cup.

SIDEBAR: Speaking of Carter's home state of Georgia, we learned that there is a happening vegeteranian restaurant in the college town of Athens, Ga., called The Grit, which serves brunch from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

50 Beers Around the World- Natty Greene's (Greensboro, NC's Local Brew)




Today, we take a short break from focusing on beers from all parts of the globe to examine the most popular local brew for Greensboro, NC, that is Natty Greene's.

The brewery also serves as a happening restaurant in downtown Greensboro and a few months ago, they opened up a second joint in Raleigh.

Currently, one can have the seasonal Red Nose White Ale, and other brands of Natty Greene's include The Guilford Golden Ale, Southern Pale Ale and Buckshot Amber Ale.

The Triad's brew can be found at many places in the Tarheel State, including the Backstreet Buzz Coffee House in nearby Reidsville, where the popular Greensboro band A Cup of Blues will be performing on Saturday night.

SIDEBAR: With today being Cyber Monday, I was looking around my mom's house over the weekend and wondering what we could hawk on E-Bay, which has turned out to quite profitable for my cousin Michael is South Carolina. I came across a box that had some old paperbacks, including the book version of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," the Elmore Leonard novel "Bandits" and "Dave Barry's Greatest Hits," which since it was published 20 years ago seems a bit out of date.

But, Cyber Monday is a bit of a concern for local retailers. "The Charleston City Paper" in Charleston, SC, has a cover story this week focusing on the 'buy local' trend which aims to keep dollars in the community with the support of local businesses. Among the local businesses in the historic city that were featured in the article by Stephanie Barna were Wonder Works, a Charleston toy store, Remedy Market, a grocer focusing on local goods and Croghan's Jewel Box.

SIDEBAR TWO: We were saddened to hear of the death of comic actor Leslie Nielsen, who started as a dramatic actor in his long film career. But, his death, reminded me of a surreal incident which actually caused diplomatic tensions between Turkey and Iran in 1990. Iranian government officials were actually outraged that Nielsen's hit comedy film "The Naked Gun," which makes fun of the Ayatollah Khomeini, was being screened in Turkey, which neighbors Iran. This lead to an actual government investigation by authorities in Ankara, but the film continued to play in Turkey, and we gather it did fairly well there.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

50 Beers Around the World- Sagres (Portugal)




New reports are surfacing that actually drinking two beers a day may help prevent a person from getting a heart attack, but I would check with my fellow Turkish-American Dr. Oz (Mehmet Oz) before heading over to Corn Beef and Company, a famous downtown bar in my hometown of Roanoke, Va.

As for our latest entry in the 50 Beers Around the World, Sagres Beer is the most popular brew in Portugal. It has a clever ad campaign, which Gloria Steinem and Pat Robertson may not care for, that features a black bikini-clad girl in her twenties coming out of the ocean to hover over an illuminating golden glass of Sarges. Surely, this must give the local chapter of AA in Lisbon something else they don't need to deal with!

Sagres started in 1940, and it is named after the town of Sagres, Portugal. It was first exported to mostly Portuguese colonies, including Mozambique which is now independent.

Popular types of Sagres include Sagres Preta, a Munich-type beer, Sagres Limalight which has a natural lemon flavor and Sagres Bohemia which is an auburn brew with a fruity aroma.

SIDEBAR: Just across the Straits of Gibraltar from Spain and Portugal is Morocco, where according to Sara Tucker of "Conde Nest Traveler," it is polite to knock on the door with the tips of your fingers, and you may only knock three times!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Quote of the Week: Harry Truman




Hello and Welcome to our listeners in Hilo, Hawaii; War, West Virginia; Calgary, Canada; Anqtigua, Guatemala; Quito, Ecuador; Lisbon, Portugal; Accra, Ghana; Eskisehir, Turkey; Qom, Iran; Tora Bora, Afghanistan; and Pyongyang, North Korea.

Forgive the BBC World Service satire as we focus on tonight's entry dedicated to our great American president Harry Truman. One can visit the Harry Truman Library in Independence, Mo, where there is a current timely exhibit on "Memories of Korea" until Dec. 31.

Here is our Truman quote, which is part of our focus on the last 12 presidents before Barack Obama (FDR-GWB):

"A president needs political understanding to run the government, but he may be elected without it."

SIDEBAR: Former president Jimmy Carter will be at Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, but there are many other guests of interest this week, including author Noah Feldman who has a new book on FDR's battles with The Supreme Court on Monday. And, on Wednesday, one of favorite unapologetics liberal journalists Matt Taibbi of "Roling Stone" who coined the term: "Medicare-motor-scooter conservatives" in article about the big Tea Party convention in Louisville, Ky., a few months ago will be talking at Politics and Prose about his new book "Griftopia."

Today, the bookstore had this very amusing tweet: Overheard_ "This bookstore is like my outlet mall," we take that as a compliment.

SIDEBAR TWO: Today's trending topics on Twitter and AOL are Obama Busted Lip, Willie Nelson, Wal-Mart, Kim Kardashian, Hallee Berry, Signs of a Drinking Problem, File for unemployment.

We will add Noam the Gnom and Zinn the Mink which are gnomes in homage of Noam chomskey and the late Howard Zinn that the liberal "The Nation" magazine are trying to sell to help them compensate for a half-million deficit. We imagine this will work better than trying to get subscriptions from folks in places like Provo, Utah, Lynchburg, Va. and Paducah, Ky.

Friday, November 26, 2010

High School of the Week- Glenvar High School (Salem, Va)



Today, as a farewell to the High School of the Week series, I am profiling Glenvar High School in Salem, Va., which is my own alma mater!

We are also profiling Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, DC, since we realize that by mentioning high schools from all 50 states, we snubbed our very own nation's capital!

The actual school I mentioned the first time around for Virginia was William Byrd High School in Vinton, which like Glenvar is a Roanoke County school.

As for Woodrow Wilson High School, their famous alumni include Warren Buffet and former Washington DC mayor Adrian Fenty (just lost reelection in November; he graduated in 1988 the same year as me!).

But, for Glenvar High School, aka Highlander High, which had 637 students in 2009, well there aren't many famous alumni. In fact, I was probably the first person of Middle Eastern heritage to graduate until my little sister did in 1992. I suspect no other Turkish-Americans or Arab-Americans have joined us which is certainly not the case at Woodrow Wilson HS which has students from 85 different countries!

However, there is Rick Huddle, a story-teller/entertainer in Portland, Ore., who graduated from GHS in 1987. In fact, we were on the same soccer team in which Rick actually got to play while I sat on the misreable bench.

Huddle has been acclaimed by "The Oregonian" for his 'rubbery face and expressive body language.' And, on his web site rickhuddle.com, the entertainer has this quip from author Marc Acito: "Rick Huddle is the Hoover vacuum of storytellers- he just sucks you right in."

As for my school, the current GHS principal is Joe Hafey. The Wikipedia page for GHS cites Coach Dickie Myers, who taught me earth science in the ninth grade, for his 30 years of teaching and coaching. Among the sports that Myers coached were wrestling, cross country and track.

As for more recent alumni, I heard that Evan DeHart has returned home from a tour of duty (in presumably Afghanistan) with the Marines. We are glad he is back, even if Salem, Va., is only just slightly more hip and happening than Kandahar province. Well, we do have a Starbucks now, oh, I forgot---there are two of them in fact!

SIDEBAR: NPR tweeted today that the community of Hacker Valley, WVa, zip code 2622, is reeling from the loss of their post office as the next closest one is in the town of Diana, which makes for a 40-minute round trip!

SIDEBAR TWO: As I was driving past the Greyhound bus station in Burlington, NC, a few weeks ago, I thought about what would be the longest continental bu strip one could take from there. And, we found out that if the city's mayor Ronnie K. Hall wanted to visit his counterpart Doug Issacson of North Pole, Alaska (whom we profiled a long time ago), it would take 74 hours and four minutes for a total of 4,326.22 miles. Much of the trip would go through western Canada, including Saskatoon and Edmonton. The same trek is a mere 72 hours and 30 minutes from my hometown of Salem, Va.

SIDEBAR THREE: The main Twitter trending words today are Roll Tide, Thanksgiving Dinner, Gobble Gobble, Friday Shopping, Wal-Mart and Leftovers. We hope the mere mention of these words inflates our hit total for today!

Things We Learned on Twitter This Week- Chicago Sports Fans Are Loyal




Whether it is a liberal Hollywood actor like Jon Cusack or a right-wing political commentator with no sense of humor like George F. Will, Chicagoans seem to love their sports team irregardless if they are winning or not.

And, that was Reason #28 why "Chicago Magazine" said Windy City residents should love Chicago, according to a tweet posted by them on Wednesday.

The exact wording of the post was: "Reason #28 to love Chicago: Sports fans who stick with their teams (sometimes the devotion pays off).

They then linked to a photograph with several college-age Chicago Blackhawks fans painted in red (as if they were draped in blood) including Wes Zielinski and Nixon Flores.

The Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup after many, many years last season.

Well, I would write more put I've got to play the piano at Chic's Antiques in Floyd, Va., this afternoon to entertain Black Friday customers (that is a joke actually as I don't play the piano, and if I did I would certainly not be as great as Liberache!).

Besides, last night while putting the finishing touching on an entry for our other blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time," the computer crashed which almost made me curse like "Rolling Stone" writer Matt Taibbi who has been known to say some mean things about George F. Will, which we won't repeat here as most Republicans in the South tend to carry glocks with them to the Piggly Wiggly!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving/Black Friday from Roy Rogers




Yes, of course, we are aware that cowboy singer/actor Roy Rogers (1911-1998) is no longer with us, but why should that stop him from wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving, or Black Friday, as it is now in Mumbai!

It is still only 6:08 p.m. in San Francisco where author/blogger Christian Lander who hit it big with his first book "Stuff White People Like" will appear at Books Inc on Chestnut Street on Dec. 2. Lander then travels to nearby Berkeley, Calif., on Dec. 3 to visit Pegasus Books.

Lander is also going to visit two of my favorite bookstores in les etats unis early next year when he stops at The Boulder Bookstore in Boulder, Colo., on Wed., Jan. 12 at 7:30 p.m. He then ventures just outside the 303 area code (whoops! We stand corrected Denver IS in the 303 area code) to visit the Tattered Bookstore in Denver on Jan. 13, also at 7:30 p.m.

But, for you red state folks who obviously stumbled upon the wrong blog, fear not, my dear mom's home state of South Carolina which just elected one of Sarah Palin's crazed mama grizzly cubs for governor in Nikki Haley is having tax-free buy as many guns as you like day for the gun wacko Yosemite Sam-types who are eagerly going to sneak across the border from the Charlotte-metro area and stack up on some ammo.

One such place is Aim Right Guns and Ammo in the border town of Fort Mill, SC, (yes, we wondering if the name suggests a political message too) which features photos of a local kid who took out a Bambi Quentiin Tarantino-style.

If that doesn't satisfy one's gun lust, there is Nichol's Store just down the road in Rock Hill, SC, which will open on Black Friday, which is also Tax Free Day for all your glock and magnum needs, at 8:00 a.m. sharp.

However, if you're a conservative guy who prefers a night of good music to a deer-hunting trip to West Virginia, you can enjoy Roy Rogers Jr. himself (well, there are some liberals who like country and western shows, I suppose, but I imagine they have to keep wery, wery quite around their Elmer Fudd buddies) will be performing at the Mickey Gilley Theatre in Branson, Missouri, until mid-December.

But, irregardless if you're a fellow booky liberal intellectual type or if you're a right-wing maniac who likes to get his ass up at 3:30 a.m. to shoot woodpeckers, we hope you have a fun and safe Thanksgiving/Black Friday....just be sure to wear blaze orange if you're going to walk in the woods in South Carolina!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Day Blog-a-Thon Starts with Shakespeare Quote




Since there is not too much going on during Thanksgiving Day here at my mom's house in gorgeous Galax, Va. (not really where I am, nor is it where mom lives), I thought I would have Thanksgiving Day Blog-a-Thon, which means that in the next 24 hours, I will attempt to have three posts up on both of my blogs.

We start with The Bard, aka William Shakespeare, because a newly remodeled version of the original Shakespeare Theatre is supposedly getting set to open in Stratford-on-Avon, England, but our intern Javier went home to Honduras for Thanksgiving so we don't have time to actually verify this.

However, we can somewhat confirm that the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Va., which has been renamed at least 14 times (well, not really, but at least three times for certain) is staging the last performances of three Shakespeare plays this weekend, including "Henry IV, Part 2" (ends Nov. 26), "Taming of the Shrew" (ends Nov. 28) and "Othello" (ends Nov. 27).

The ever-gorgeous and very talented Shakespearean actress Ginna Hoben from the company is getting set to perform her one-woman show called "The Twelve Dates of Christmas," starting on Nov. 30. Hobben wrote the play as well, and it supposedly makes fun of my gender (which is male), dating and Christmas.

Due north of Staunton, in Washington, DC, The Folger Library will be performing Shakespeare's "The Comedy of Errors" starting on Jan.25, 2011. It will run through March 6.

And, my Facebook friend Andrew Neal may well have a comic book version of "Hamlet" or "Romeo and Juliet" at Chapel Hill Comics in Chapel Hill, NC, which is having a Black Friday sale on Black Friday. Featured items will include Scott Pilgrim t-shirts, Giant Microbes and Pokemon cards. They also have plenty of Archie's Comics (the above cover is an obvious satire of "Macbeth" with Jughead) on-hand. As it turns out, there is an English company called Shakespeare Comics which actually puts Shakespeare's works into comic book versions for young readers.

Here is our quote from Willy himself:

"Everyone ought to bear patiently the kindness of his own conduct."

Lastly, for those keeping track today's trending topics include Cookie Monster, Freddie Mercury, North Korea and Ugly Betty. Please, don't bother asking us why!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Being Deliberately Trendy




Since Trending Topics are the new trend in cyberspace these days, we thought we'd use some Trending Topics from yahoo.com to arbitrarily inflate our daily hits (Mondays are surprsingly good days for hits; I assume this is because of all the Dilberts stuck in their office jobs from hell).

So, here we go.....

It was reported by some tabloid gossip fodder that Nicole Kidman and Teri Hatcher met for a frappucino at an unidentified Starbucks in High Point, NC. The dynamic duo then made their way over to a nearby shopping mall where they looked at minature Jesus statues at some kitsch shop. As they were looking for some high heel shoes at the same fictional shopping mall, the two movie stars gabbed about Kim Zolchiak and Scarlett Johanssen, who turned 26 today. During this exchange, Teri shocked Nicole by revealing that she has a crush on Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy. Nicole confided that she takes a liking to Blink 182 music. While shopping at the imaginary mall in High Point, Nicole and Teri ran into Tiger Woods who was at a sporting goods store and checking out some clubs. One of the two starletts told Tiger that he 'should burn in hell,' but no one could confirm who uttered those words.

Of course, I made all of this up to merely get hits!

I am a bit surprised that terms like 'body scanners,' 'TSA' and 'pat-downs' are NOT among the trending topics of the day.

One of the early victims of the new security measures was none other than newspaper humorist Dave Barry who was told by TSA officials in Miami that he had a 'blurry groin,' a story that he shared with NPR.

I went through a full body scan at Heyder Aliyev International Airport in Baku, Azerbaijan, back in the summer of 2008, and I had a gut feeling we would soon be seeing them here in les etats unis.

Some may assume that it is only airports in major cities where air travelers have to undergo such discomforts, but the list of airports where the new measures are in place includes Omaha (Neb.), Fort Wayne (Ind.), Albany (NY), Grand Rapids (Mich.), and Albequerque (N. Mex).

There are at least four aiports in Virginia and North Carolina using the full body scanners, including Richmond, Dulles (Wash. DC), Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Silly Photo to Fill Space: Tofu Turkey




I sure hope my mom in Mount Airy, NC (not where she actually lives) does NOT opt to put tofu turkey on our table, but irregardless if you're a vegan or a right-wing nut or both, or if you live in Provo, Utah, or Provincetown, Mass., we wish you a pleasant Thanksgiving

Quote of the Week- Dwight D. Eisenhower




For those wishing to visit the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library and Museum, it is located in Abilene, Kansas, and my mother visited in last year during a lengthy road trip excursion that ended somewhere in Colorado.

The Newseum in Washington, DC, is also commemorating the 50th anniversary of Eisenhower's farewell address in January with guests like James Fallows from "The Atlantic" and Dana Priest from "The Washington Post."

Here is our quote from Ike, which is appropriate since lots of college football games are being played today (as we speak in fact):

"An atheist is a man who watches a Notre Dame-Southern Methodist University game and doesn't care who wins."

SIDEBAR_ Our High School of the Week entries are in recess, but we should congratulate Cave Spring High School of Roanoke, Va., as the Knights are the only school from my hometown left in the Virginia state playoffs thanks to their win over Grundy High School last night.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

50 Beers Around the World- Taedonggang from North Korea




Today's entry in the long-running 50 Beers Around the World Series (today we are posting entries number 31 and 32 on our two blogs) is perhaps the longest beer name in the world, Taedonggang Beer from North Korea.

The isolationist nation's brew has only been operational since 2000 when Kim Jong-il decided it was time for a Pyongyang version of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

A commercial for the beer, which has become fairly popular on YouTube, aired on North Korean tv in June of 2009.

The brew is named for the Taedong River that runs through Pyongyang.

And, in case you are wondering what the trendy topics are on Twitter today, they include Playing God (a video game), Green Lantern, and (of course) Prince William and Kate Middletown.

Other trending topics include Oden, which we learned does NOT refer to a Japanese winter dish named Oden but rather Portland Trailblazers star Greg Oden who has apparently suffered a major injury, and Joly, which is an apparent reference to British tv comedian Dom Joly, who is very popular on Twitter.

Top Ten Popular Words for 2010- Don't Refudiate This





According to Oxford Press and my friend Debbie Collins, a public librarian in Bethesda, Maryland, (pse), Refudiate is the most popular new word in the English language for 2010. The word was first used by Sarah Palin (we believe!) in one of her debates with Joe Biden (liberal bias: we think the current veep kicked ass!).

We also heard on NPR, that vuvuzela was a popular word of the moment. The term refers to those annoying/amusing horns that were popular at the World Cup in South Africa. Other popular terms include 'spillcam,' in reference to footage of the British Petroleum gulf leak and 'guidos' and 'guidettes,' which refers to 'guys' and 'gals,' which came from the annoying/amusing MTV show "Jersey Shore."

While researching this piece, we found that the liberal magazine "The Nation" has recently published two articles on Sarah Palin, including one called 'Sarah Palin's America' by Betsy Reed about her new reality tv show "Sarah Palin's Alaska" which airs on TLC, and a feature by Gary Younge on The Tea Party.

On the other side of the fence, we read in the web edition of "The American Rifleman" (we are NOT subscribers) about the most popular guns used in movies over the years. Mark A. Keefe IV, editor of that publication, recently wrote a review of C.J. Chivers's book "The Gun," about the Ak-47. A similar article about that same book is in the current edition of "Esquire."

We also noticed that these were the popular trending topics among right-wing gun people (we didn't use the word whackos, but of course, most people with my political views see them that way) include 'Armed Citizen,' 'I Have This Old Gun' and 'Ruger LCR.'

As for the popular words of 2010, we don't expect readers of "The American Rifleman" to be using the term 'Obamamania!' Here is an arbitrary list of those popular words:

1. Refudiate

2. vuvuzela

3. grass-roots

4. spillcam

5. Chilean Coal Miners

6. Lady Gaga

7. guidos/guidettes

8. ObamaMania

9. GTL (gym, tan, laundry)

10. 3-D

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Things We Learned on Twitter Today- Turkey Fryer House Fire in Kansas




A few years ago around Thanksgiving, my friend and blogger Chris Knight of Reidsville, NC, jokingly said he was going to deep fry puppies in a turkey frier. Of course, those of us who know Chris, who once ran for a local school board office with an over-the-top Star Wars-themed campaign ad, knew he was kidding.

That was the first time I had heard about turkey fryers, but apparently they are a major source for potential house fires as a family in Olathe, Kansas, found out last night.

According to a tweet from KCTV-5, a Kansas City tv station, a turkey fryer caused a blaze that did $1,000 in damage. The fire started in the house garage. A caller to 911 reported flames and a short time later local firefighters discovered smoke coming from the garage. No one was hurt by the fire.

The Olathe Fire Department is urging folks to take precaution when using turkey fryers over Thanksgiving.

We must profess that when we usually use the term Turkey, we are referring to my late father's country. But, this leads us to one of today's leading trending topics on Twitter today, which is Eid Mubarak in honor of a Muslim holiday. So, we will say Eid Mubarak to our friends in Istanbul, Karachi, Tashkent, Baghdad, Damascus, Cairo and Boones Mill, Va.----I think those folks in rural Franklin County are really gonna hate our guts now!

Since Nancy Pelosi retained her leadership position among House Democrats over Cong. Heath Schuler of North Carolina (a conservative Democrat), she is also trending well in Washington, DC, according to Twitter.

And, of course, the same can be said for the new royal couple of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Is it just me, or are they becoming even more annoying than the Palin family?!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Silly Photo to Fill Space- Santo the Wrestler Toy




If there is one 'good' thing about globalization, it is that one can find an action for beloved Mexican wrestler Santo that is Made in China!

This figure above was not among the toys featured in a recent "Independent Weekly" expose/satire as the Raleigh, NC-based alt weekly went into a Roses discount store, one of many owned by millionaire businessman Art Pope, who is from Raleigh.

Pope is one of the leading contributors to the Republican Party and the Tea Party in North Carolina, and he has complained that it is 'almost extortion' that state Democrats want to boycott his stores.

On the right-leaning radio station 680-AM WPTF, Pope apparently said (according to "Indy Weekly") that his free-market, anti-government approach allows him to give more money to charity. (inserted editorial comment here: uh-huh).

The excellent article by Bob Geary, Samiha Shanna and Lisa Sorg featured many toys sold at Pope's stores, which were ironically Made in China.

Sofia Coppola Likes John Hughes Movies




According to the current issue of "Film Comment," our favorite film magazine/journal (but, like "Cineaste" too), film director Sofia Coppola, best known for her film "Lost Translation" with Bill Murray (see image above), recently watched the 'classic' John Hughes' film "Sixteen Candles" (1984).

The comedy film starring Molly Ringwald was number nine on her "The Last 10 Films I've Seen" list, which we are not printing in its entirety to avoid a potential federal cease and desist lawsuit from Gavin Smith (the editor of "Film Comment). But, we will mention that other films on the list included "The Social Network," Never Let Me Go," "Greenberg," and "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," which surprised us too!

SIDEBAR: There are a whole host of special screenings going on in Virginia and North Carolina. My good friend Jason Garnett will be screening the vintage 2003 good/bad movie "The Room" on Nov. 22 and 24 at 7:00 at the Shadowbox Cinema in Roanoke, Va.

Closer to home, my friend Joe Scott will be screening the vintage 1984 Prince film "Purple Rain" this Thursday at the Carousel Luxury Cinemas in Greensboro, NC, at 7:30 and 10:00 p.m.

Lastly, the classic 1969 Oscar-winning film "Midnight Cowboy" with Dustin Hoffman and hippie turned tea bagger Jon Voight will be shown at the Varsity Theatre in Chapel Hill, NC, for a week-long run starting on Friday.

SIDEBAR TWO: George W. Bush's new memoir, a book I will not be reading (I'm a hippie turned coffee partier), is apparently a tough book to sell in San Francisco, so Green Apple Books, a San Fran book shop, will be giving all funds from the sale of the book to veterans, according to "San Francisco Weekly."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quote of the Week- Ronald Reagan




As I was reading a biography of Che Guevara at one of the Mill Mountain Coffee Shops in the Roanoke, Va., area, I was wondering if anyone might mistake for a socialist.

And, since I am posting an entry with a quip from Ronald Reagan, someone with my own center-left political views may mistake me for a Republican.

Of course, I'd rather be mistaken for a socialist!

But, in all seriousness, we honor the man who came to the presidency in 1981 when I was in the fourth grade and finished his two terms by the time I had just graduated high school in 1989 with one of our favorite quotes from him:

"All the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant can be stored under a desk."

The Ronald Reagan Library is located in Simi Valley, Calif. They are currently holding an American Christmas exhibit there until Jan. 2, 2011.

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (I bet you thought we were going to say Bill Clinton!) will be hosting a book-signing at the library on Nov. 29. We have no idea if his 'sidekick' Chuck Norris, who was reportedly filming a beer commercial in the Czech Republic this week, will be with him or not.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

High School of the Week- Valley High School in West Des Mones, Iowa




Today we close out the High School of the Week feature (we've covered all 50 states between our two blogs!) with Valley High School from West Des Moines, Iowa, which is the alma mater of Olympic gold medalist gymnast Shawn Johnson (pictured here).

We got this idea after seeing a Milk campaign ad with Johnson in a magazine while buying groceries at a supermarket last week (where we also got undocumented status updates on Michael Douglas' battle with cancer that we could have done without). Johnson was posed with a glass of milk on the sole of her bare foot on a balance beam, the event she won individual gold for at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Johnson, who is now 18, also got national attention when she won on "Dancing with the Stars" last year. Of course, being a celebrity can bring unwelcome attention which Johnson found out when "The Onion," a usually hilarious journal published a satirical article that Johnson had 'to be put to sleep after falling off the balance beam.' Johnson was not amused, particularly since the term "Shawn Johnson is dead" became a hot search topic after "The Onion" wrote the article in June of last year.

Johnson is not only alive and well, she mentions on her official web site that she is training for the 2012 Olympics in London.

As for Valley High School, it is also the alma mater of another Olympian Karlos Kirby, a bobsledder.

SIDEBAR: The Coffeeparty USA, which is meant to counter the far right Tea Party, tweeted the following words from Burmese human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi (Burma is officially known as Myanmar) who was freed from house arrest today: "We have to choose between dialogue and utter devastation."

SIDEBAR TWO: Though we highly disagree with "The Onion" for publishing a fake story/satire piece in June 2009 proclaiming that Shawn Johnson died from a balance beam fall, we do love their story today which states: "Oprah invites hundreds of lucky fans to buried with her in a massive tomb."

Friday, November 12, 2010

Things We Learned on Twitter Tonight- Pot Arrests in Colorado




According to the Twitter site DenverNews (from an article originally published in "The Denver Post") six men and a woman were busted in Fountain, Colo., on felony marijuana charges today.

Police arrested the suspects, ages 18-23, after finding more than $150,000 worth of marijuana in a motor-home.

The suspects told the fuzz (Fountain Police Dept.) that trying to refine the pot into hash at the time of their arrest.

As for Cheech and Chong, the American poster-boys for cannabis, the '70s comedy duo are going to be performing in Tulsa, Houston and San Antonio next week.

SIDEBAR: Speaking of another highly addictive substance (coffee), Howard Behar, the former president of Starbucks will be speaking at Hollins University in Roanoke, Va., on Monday at 7:00 at dupont Chapel.

Silly Photo to Fill Space- The Hokie Bird




Initially, we were hoping to post a photograph of former Virginia Tech cheerleader Nichole Howarth from Chesterfield, Va. (near Richmond), who was named "Sports Illustrated" Cheerleader of the Week in October of last year.

Howarth posed for a series of photographs, which were made more interesting by the fact that she actually posed for them while barefoot which would make more sense if she was from a rural area like Boones Mill (we love tormenting folks from that Franklin County hamlet, some 15 miles south of Roanoke).

Though Howarth will not be with the Hokies, the team heads from Blacksburg to Chapel Hill, NC, (where Chapel Hill Comics happens to be hosting a free rap concert tomorrow night!) to face the UNC Tarheels in football tomorrow. The game will be broadcast by ABC and ESPN, and kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.

I suppose this will mean bragging rights for either Gov. Beverly Perdue (D-NC) who reportedly has a 25 percent approval rating according to "Yes Weekly" in Greensboro or Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-Va) a right-wing Christian conservative extremist who is undoubtedly polling well in places like Boones Mill. But, assuredly those of us who are Democrats realize that Howard Dean had a point when he said we need to recruit more barefoot rebel flag-waving hillbillies (not his exact words) and perhaps by doing that we can somehow get some Congressional seats back!

As for the game, I expect Virginia Tech will win 24-17.

SIDEBAR: Our beloved Floyd County (HS) Buffaloes lost to Fort Chiswell by a 28-13 margin according to Channel 7 (WDBJ) in Roanoke. But, the Franklin County Eagles (their alumnus assuredly hate me for my swipes at Boones Mill) beat Woodbridge HS 17-14 tonight. In other Virginia scores, Stonewall Jackson High School from Quicksburg (Mount Jackson) beat fellow Shenandoah Valley school Page County 41-18.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veteran's Day; I'm Hitting the Road




As I am getting ready for an overnight trip I thought I would post a quick entry in honor of Veteran's Day. If not anything else, it can help squelch right-wing notions that those of us on the center-left, who would undoubtedly still be classified as socialists in Provo, Utah, do care about the men and women who serve our country overseas.

In addition to those who are presently stationed in Afghanistan, I want to remember my late stepfather Donald Sullivan (1918-2003) of Salem, Va., who was a World War II veteran as was my grandfather Dudley C. "Doc" Sturgis (1915-1993) of Rock Hill, SC. While my Turkish grandfather Fuat Gokbudak (1892-1957) did not serve in the American forces, he was a member of the Turkish army in World War One before becoming a member of the Turkish Parliament under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

One of the ironies that I uncovered while researching this entry was that there was a man named Donald Sullivan in Salem, Ind. (near New Albany, Ind.) who like my stepfather was a World War II veteran. But, what was strange was that this Donald who died in 2007 was also 85 years old. And, my stepfather was coincidentally residing in Fort Wayne, Ind., before he moved to the Roanoke, Va., area.

Fortunately, my stepfather was able to visit the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va., which is only 30 miles from Roanoke, before his death which was fitting since Donald saw action on Omaha Beach in France.

Of course, I couldn't resist posting an image from the film "Easy Rider" to go along with this entry. Alas, the film's star Dennis Hopper died earlier this year at age 76---I have no idea if my stepdad saw the film, but I know Donald 'never inhaled!'