Friday, April 30, 2010

ECHL Update- The Conference Finals are Underway

As many regulars on this blog now, we have been posting more entries about sports since last year simply because I evolved into a bit of a couch potato, but I have yet to watch a single game of the NBA or NHL playoffs so far.

Nevertheless, we thought we'd post an entry about the East Coast Hockey League, which is one of the leading minor leagues in pro hockey.

Today, the impressive Idaho Steelheads, lead by goalie Richard Bachman who is only giving up 1.75 goals in the playoffs, host the Stockton Thunder in Boise, Ida., at 7:10 local time. The Thunder are based in Stockton, Calif. And, Richard Bachman was also a pen name that Stephen King when writing such novels as "Thinner." We think the Steelheads will win this series in five games as they are the top seed with a
48-17-7 record. The Thunder are the sixth seed, and they have a 33-29-6 record.

In the east (the ECHL used to only consist of east coast teams including our beloved Roanoke Express from my hometown of Roanoke, Va. The Express alas no longer exist), the fifth seed Cincinnati Cyclones host the seventh seed Reading Royals from Reading, Pa. The drop of the proverbial puck will be at 7:30 p.m.

My favorite hockey movie happens to be "Slap Shot," a 1977 film about a minor league hockey team with the late Paul Newman which takes place in Johnstown, Pa. One could argue that minor league hockey players don't curse as much as Newman's character did in the film, but somehow we sense this stereotype might actually be fairly accurate!

Status Update_ Deliberating Over a Book to Check Out

Today, we are blogging from a public library in Fayetville, NC, or somewhere within 150 miles of there. So, it is perhaps fitting that this is my status update for 2:40 p.m. (EDT):

"I am deliberating whether to check out Oscar Wilde's classic novel 'The Picture of Dorian Gray,' but I'm wondering if it might be a bit too old-fashioned for me. But, then again, I have seen the movie."

I hope our friends at the Oscar Wilde Society in London don't take exception to this! Now, I feel obligated to check out the novel, but honestly I don't think I have the time (this is exam week after all, and I'm a teacher!).

Thursday, April 29, 2010

PSA- Do Your Homework Kids!

I am not just sending this out to students at Robert F. Kennedy Elementary School in Providence, RI (yes, there is such a place), but students of all stripes from pre-school to Stanford U.

"Do Your Homework."

As a teacher, I can assure it helps you more than it helps us, but there is nothing we dislike more than deadbeat students turning in homework two and a half weeks late...!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Last Ten Films I've Seen (As of Last Night)

I will do this a bit differently this time as I have in previous "Last Ten Films I've Seen" entries, by listing the films first and then commenting on (most of) them:

1. "Midnight Cowboy" (1969. d-John Schlesinger)
2. "My Best Girl (1927. d-Sam Taylor. Film starred Mary Pickford)
3. "To Be and To Have" (2002. doc. France. d-Nicolas Philibert)
4. "Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi" (2003. Israel. d-Shemi Zarhin)
5. "You Don't Know Jack" (2010. d-Barry Levinson. Film made for HBO).
6. "Greenberg" (2010. d-Noah Baumbach)
7. "Zatoichi: The Festival of Fire" (1970. Japan. d-Kenji Misumi).
8. "The Mouse on the Moon" (1963. d-Richard Lester).
9. "Panic in the Streets" (1950. d-Elia Kazan)
10. "His Girl Friday" (1940. d-Howard Hawks)

As one might have noticed, none of these films feature b-western star Hopalong Cassidy (pictured here), but I thought I would feature his image with this list because my friend Gary who runs a vintage small-town cinema near Greensboro, NC, once told me that folks came to the movie theatre to see "Midnight Cowboy" in 1969 thinking (by the title) that it was a western!

It is in fact a movie about a gay street hustler from Texas (played by Jon Voight) who comes to New York where he meets a city drifter (played by Dustin Hoffman) and befriends him. For many who have seen the iconic film, which is the only X-rated film to ever win a Best Picture Oscar, and were familiar with Voight's very left-of-center politics, it is indeed shocking that he is now a fringe right-winger who even speaks at Tea Party rallies.

But, what I found to be more startling while researching "Midnight Cowboy" for this piece was that the film's openly gay director John Schlesinger (1926-2003) himself reverted to political conservatism! He allegedly said that "Midnight Cowboy," which portrays homosexuality in a negative manner, would not get made today because of political correctness. Of course, one would also think that the rise of '80s Reagansim and the religious right in recent years would make it difficult for a major studio ("Midnight Cowboy" was made by MGM) to back such a film either.

"My Best Girl" is a delightful late-period silent film (by 1927, most films were incorporating sound) which is said to feature the best performance of screen darling Mary Pickford, once dubbed 'America's Sweetheart.' She won an Oscar the following year for "Coquette" and she lived into her eighties until her death in 1979.

"Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi" may sound like a French film from the title, but it is actually an Israeli film which has nothing to do with the Palestinian-Israeli political rift. It is actually a startling examanition of teenage sexuality which is surprisingly frank. The film comes across as a cross between John Hughes' "Sixteen Candles" and Larry Clark's highly controversial film "Kids."

"You Don't Know Jack" is about the famous (or infamous depending on your perspective) Armenian-American assisted suicide doctor Jack Kevorkian which features a stellar performance from Al Pacino in the lead role. The moving film is being shown just weeks after a controversial article about assisted suicide appeared in "The Atlantic."

"Greenberg" shows a very different side of lead actor Ben Stiller. It is a surprisingly sexually overt film, even by indy standards. Stiller is great, though I felt this film which I saw at the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Va., lacked a satisfying resolution.

"Zatoichi: The Festival of Fire" is a Japanese samurai-themed b-movie which has a cult following. It came out about the same time as the countless Godzilla-Mothra sequels did.

"The Mouse on the Moon" may seem slightly dated, but it is a biting Cold War satire from Richard Lester, who is one of my favorite directors, though I think it is unfortunate that he is best-known for his two Beatles films ("A Hard Day's Night" and "Help") when he made many other vintage films- my personal favorite being the 1965 film "The Knack--Or How to Get It). Lester is still alive and in his late seventies, but he no longer makes films.

"Panic in the Streets" is unique for being a film noir directed by Elia Kazan (not a genre he is known for) and a great performance from a very young Jack Palace.

"His Girl Friday" is said to be Howard Hawks' best comedy, and it is amazing that Rosalind Russell's amazing performance alongside Cary Grant was completely overlooked by the Academy Awards (she wasn't even nominated!).

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Silly Photo to Fill Space- Antique Car (Our 500th Entry!)

Ahh, this would be a great day to go down to Chapel Hill, NC, to visit Chapel Hill Comics, but as it is they are giving free comic books on Saturday as May 1st is Free Comic Book Day. Acme Comics in Greensboro, NC, is also participating in the event.

Perhaps, someone at one of those two stores has the first issue of "Howard the Duck." Oh right! I almost forgot---I actually have that one (it came out in 1975). It's more economical (which means it's worth much, much less) than the first issue of "Batman." But, I don't have the first issue of the Harvey Comics' icon "Hot Stuff."

It is great to reach the 500-entry milestone. For that reason, we are posting an entry with an image of an antique race car (since many racetracks are 500 miles long). I've only been to one car race in my life and that was at the Franklin County Speedway near Rocky Mount, Va., when I was a teenager.

My Favorite Silly Photo to Fill Space Entry so far for this blog has been (if I can admit this publicly) Barney the Dinosaur, perhaps because a small part of me likes to get on folks' nerves!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Things We Learned on Twitter This PM---Politics in Swedish School Elections

We were only going to post one entry today, so I don't go overboard and post 14 entries per blog as I did this last week. We also normally post "What I Learned on Twitter This P.M." on Wednesday, but this was too good to pass up.

Imagine if you're school election, in a place like Georgetown, SC, were to be held with each candidate being backed by a certain political party!

I remember the school election my senior year at our high school in the Roanoke, Va., area in 1987. Cheryl (psedonym) was running against Mark (psedonym) as it turns I would later find that as adults one was a Democrat and one was a Republican, but we didn't know this at the time.

Mark beat out Cheryl who was the incumbent junior class president in what I believe was a close race.

Can you imagine if this were done with local political parties got involved?

Well, apparently, that seems to be what they are proposing in Sweden! According to Radio Sweden's Twitter page, the youth wings of Sweden's political parties and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions have issued a joint call for local councils to take on such a measure.

Many schools have decided to ban political parties for fears that it would include the far-right Sweden Democrat Party (no that is NOT a typo- the radical right-wingers in Sweden are a part of the Democratic Party, which for those of you in Uzbekistan is not the way it is here in America).

Anders Krape who heads one of the governmental organizations in favor of political parties in the classroom told Radio Sweden that his support for the motion was based on the fact that high school students couldn't be sheltered from xenophobia. He added that it was best for students to learn how to argue against such archaic ideals politically.

PS_This is the first story we're reported about concerning Sweden since the parliament in Stockholm passed a bill regarding the Armenian matter which angered the Turkish government earlier this year. I am a Turkish-American, but I generally refrain from getting into the highly toxic political dispute between most people of Turkish and Armenian persuasion over very violent events which occured in eastern Turkey in 1915 since my views have actually been disputed by virtually everyone (Turk and Armenian alike) though I have referred to the issue as a 'Rashomon Nightmare.' And, I stand by that.

SIDEBAR_ Joe Eskenazi of "The San Francisco Weekly" is reporting in an article I also found out about through Twitter that the City of San Francisco, lead by supervisor David Campos, is actually going to introduce legislation calling for a boycott of Arizona since state has passed a highly-controversial new immigration law.

I personally oppose the Arizona law myself as it will only lead to more paranoia and xenophobia towards Hispanics, but this seems to be a bit extreme as well. Does this mean we should all quit drinking Arizona Iced Tea?--- (well, it is actually brewed in Canada!).

Quote of the Week- Charles Bukowski

The late, great poet/novelist/screenwriter Charles Bukowski (19201-1994) whose life was the basis for the movie "Barfly," with Mickey Rourke appropriately playing the eccentric, alcoholic poet, is the subject of our quote today. He is also a favorite of my good friend Bruce Piephoff, who is a folk singer and poet in Greensboro, NC. Bukowski's novel "Post Office" is one of my ten favorites. This entry is in honor of National Poetry Month:

"Some people never go crazy, What truly horrible lives they must live," Bukoswski.

SIDEBAR: I was going to watch the popular Turkish Kemal Sunal comedy "Copculerin Krali/King of the Garbageman" on Youtube, but I am getting really hungry. Perhaps, I'll go for an egg biscuit at Bojangles (see earlier entry to get the joke).

With two more entries, we will reach the 500 entry mark here at "The Daily Vampire!"

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Actual Bojangles Sign a Friend of Mine Saw

There is widespread speculation that the breakfast fast food chain Bojangles, based in Charlotte, NC, is run by evangelical Christians or at least partisan Republicans (many of the restaurants in the Roanoke, Va., and Martinsville, Va., area have promoted Republican candidates for local, state and national offices).

A friend of mine in the Roanoke Valley saw this actual sign at a Bojangles in Vinton, Va., on Easter Sunday. I think even if you are an evangelical you will find this amusing:

"He is Risen. Egg Biscuit 89 cents."

A bit much, isn't it?!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Status Update- (A Short Entry Because We Need Some zzzzzzzzzzzzs!)

My status update for 2:45 a.m. on this Saturday night/Sunday morning is as follows:

"I need to get some freakin zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzssss! Thankfully, I am not in an airport though I'd love to go to Hong Kong for some cheap silk shirts!"

Ahhhhhhhh! We Screwed Up!

Hmmmmmm.....yes, this entry was supposed to about my status update.......oh well, it is getting very late! I think this might be a character from "The Muppett Show." I need to ask my friend Moviezzz ( He could tell me when "Shaazam!" was on the air off the top of his head! (My guess is 1972-75).

Friday, April 23, 2010

April 23 was Children's Day in Turkey

Today was Children's Day in Turkey. The day is actually a federal holiday day and schools are closed throughout Turkey.

I once marched in a Children's Day parade when I was eight years old in 1978 in Black Sea Eregli, Turkey, and it may have been the only time I was ever in a parade in my life.

Nine years later, I was watching the Homecoming Day Parade for Glenvar High School in Salem, Va., which many of my friends participated in. It was fun to watch the float with the cheerleaders and have them wave at me:)

This footage is from Children's Day festivities in the resort town of Kushadasi, which is about one hour south of Izmir, which is Turkey's third largest city. The ruins of Ephesus are also in close proximity to Kushadasi as is the Greek island of Samos.

Congrats to 2010 NCAA Gymnastics Champ UCLA

Congratulations to the UCLA Bruins' women's gymnastics team as they won their sixth NCAA title earlier tonight in Gainesville, Fla.

The Bruins had stand-out performances from the likes of Anna Li (pictured), Vanessa Zamarripa, Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, Brittani McCullough, Aisha Gerber, Monique De La Torre and Tauny Fratone.

SIDEBAR- In other sports news, the Durham Bulls won their eighth straight game with a win over the Gwinett Braves (from Gwinett, Ga.) by a 5-4 margin.

In minor league hockey, the Idaho Steelheads swept the Utah Grizzlies with a 4-1 win in Salt Lake City tonight to advance to the Western conference finals in the ECHL. The Steelheads will start their next series in Boise, Ida., on April 30, against either Stockton or Bakersfield. The Steeleads were lead by star goalie Richard Bachman.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

NCAA Gymnastics Championships Underway in Florida

The NCAA Gymnastics Championships are underway at the University of Florida with UCLA, Utah and Oklahoma advancing to the Super Six. Three more teams competing right now will join them tomorrow night for the second and deciding round. According to reports, The University of Alabama is off to a stellar start tonight in the second round.

Alas, I could not be in Gainesville, Fla., for the finals which should be televised nationally sometime in May (traditionally CBS airs the championships though the coverage has been better some years than others).

I was deliberating what would be the best way to post an entry about the finals and for right now I will simply list my 24 favorite NCAA gymnasts who are competing in Gainesville in alphabetical order.

It should be pointed out that Nebraska, Oregon State and LSU's teams did not advance because those teams did not finish in the top three, but some gymnasts from those teams will likely compete in individual events which will be held on Saturday, the final day of the three-day meet with 12 teams.

The six teams competing tonight are the host Florida, Alabama, Michigan, Missouri, Arkansas and Stanford.

Here is the first part of my 24-gymnast list. The second part will be posted on my other blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time." The asteriks will denote gymnasts who competing individually without their teams.

The two pictured gymnasts here are Annie DiLuziou of Utah and Morgan Dennis of Alabama.

My four favorite overall gymnasts are Daria Bijak (Utah), Amanda Castillo (Florida), Sarah Shire (Missouri) and Vanessa Zamarripa (UCLA).

The first 12 gymnasts are:

Daria Bijak-Utah (senior)

Amanda Castillo-Florida (senior)

Jamie Deetscreek-Utah (senior)

Morgan Dennis- Alabama (senior)

Ashanee Dickerson- Florida (freshman)

Annie DiLuziou- Utah (senior)

Sabrina Franceschelli- LSU (senior)

Susan Jackson- LSU (senior)

Carly Janiga- Stanford (senior)

Jacquelyn Johnson- Utah (junior)

Kelly Knutson- Michigan (senior)

Earth Day Turns 40

Today Earth Day, which was started by a couple of men in their early twenties who had just finished college and protesting the Vietnam War in the Dupont Circle section of Washington, DC, turns 40 (which happens to be my age).

Events are planned all over America and the world this week. In Washington, DC, on April 24th, the National Zoo will have an Earth Day Clean-up Day in which area residents can help zoo employees tidy up the zoo by picking up aluminum cans.

In Durham, NC, there will be a Durham Earth Day celebration downtown with music and food in which area residents will learn about green projects they can conduct in their lives.

And, in Idaho Falls, Ida., on Saturday, there will be an Earth Day celebration at the Tautphas Park Zoo which will include music, arts and crafts and conservation education.

There are some folks like my good friend Chris Knight of Reidsville, NC, a political libertarian, who once dubbed Earth Day "Nerf Day," who think the resolutions to our environmental problems cause too much government regulation but the increasing scientific evidence does suggest that measures like Cap and Trade are vital even if coal exectuives from West Virginia will lobby firmly against them.

Today also brings to mind Knut, the polar bear cub raised in captivity at the Berlin Zoo in Berlin, Germany, after his mother's death in 2006. Apparently, Knut who remains a popular tourist attraction is all grown up now, which means that cuddly creature can now eat us!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Things We Learned On Twitter This PM- Bill O'Reilly Attacks Topless Gardener

Conservative talk show host Bill O'Reilly of Fox News fame called Catharine Pierce, a Boulder, Colo., woman who enjoys topless gardening a 'pinhead' on his show last night according to the Twitter page for "Colorado Daily."

Apparently, O'Reilly devoted an entire segment to Pierce instead of doing his usual lambasting of President Barack Obama, gays, Muslims and every African-American except Clarence Thomas.

In response to O'Reilly's verbal attack, the woman's husband Robert Pierce told "Colorado Daily" that his wife is not a pinhead (Bill Griffith's comic strip character Zippy the Pinhead is pictured here):

"Why would I respond to Bill O'Reilly," Robert Pierce said. "He is a pinhead. He is a true definition of a pinhead."

Actually, I have now entered 491 posts on this blog and I have yet to refer to anyone as a pinhead though I did compare current Virginia governor Bob McDonnell (R) to Darth Vader. But, that shouldn't count!

SIDEBAR: One might think that Cairo, Egypt, would not be affected by the eruptions from the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull (I'm glad I'm not a radio reporter), but the BBC reported last night that 17,000 stranded European tourist were still in Egypt due to the air restrictions that have been in place since last week.

There is some good news though as "Iceland News" is reporting that as of last night the volcano is cooling down and only one of its three craters are erupting.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Silly Photo to Fill Space- Minor League Mascots

Today in our Silly Photo to Fill Space series we feature the mascot of the Durham Bulls the triple-A farm team of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in Durham, NC, which was once featured in the Kevin Costner-Susan Sarandon film "Bull Durham" (1988).

The Bulls have a home day game with the Charlotte Knights at 1:05 p.m. on Wednesday. The two teams play each other again in Durham on Thursday night at 7:05 p.m.

Program Reminder- Food Inc. on PBS (Wed. @ 9 pm)

The controversial, Oscar-nominated full-length documentary "Food Inc" directed by Robert Keener will air as part of the award-wining "POV" series on most national PBS stations Wednesday night at 9 p.m.

The film has been criticized for its subjectivity regarding industrial farming, and it features shocking footage from places like a Smithfield pork-processing plant in North Carolina and a chicken farm in Tennessee where the chickens are so overfeed with anti-biotics that they can't even stand up.

In a statement on the web site for "POV," Keener said he simply wanted to make a documentary about how food gets to the dinner table. He added that the stonewalling from the food industry caused his film to move in a different direction than it was originally intended:

"I became intrigued by why the industry would not speak to me about something as seemingly innocuous as food," Keener said.

There has been speculation that Keener and the film's producers are vegetarians, but according to the Internet Movie Database that is not the case.

In North Carolina, the film will air on UNC-TV at 9 p.m. It will be followed by a discussion from local farmers at 10:35 p.m.

The 2009 film was shown in theatres last year, including the Galaxy Cinema in Cary, NC, outside Raleigh and the Carousel Luxury Cinemas in Greensboro.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Very Expensive Things to Buy Online.....A Private Island

I've been meaning to ask my cousin Mike in Tulsa, Okl. (not actually where he lives), what is the most expensive thing he is selling on E-bay.

While I have not gotten around to that or deciding if I want to see the "Death at a Funeral" remake with Chris Rock at the multi-plex at the White Flint Mall in Rockville, Md. (which is a good eight-hour drive from here), I did get a chance to see what expensive-as-can-be items are available for consumer pruchase online.

Apparently, for a 'mere' $12 million one can get their own private island somewhere in Brazil. This reminded me of the famed Kasikadasi (Spoon Island) off the coast of Istanbul, Turkey, (pictured here) which is in close proximity to Burgaz Island where one can ride a horse buggy (also pictured here).

I'm not sure how much it would cost a horse buggy driver to take one around Burgaz or the other three Princess Islands (Kinali, Heybeli and Buyukada) but I'm guessing it would be less than cab fare to JFK from Winston-Salem, NC.

The Last 10 CDs I've Listened To

Here are the last ten cds I've listened starting with Turkish pop diva Sezen Aksu's "Bahane." Aksu (pictured) was the subject of an NPR features piece entitled "The Voice of Istanbul," which aired last week on April 12. I happened to actually catch it before my sister in Nepal* told me about it.

Bruce Piephoff is a Greensboro, NC, folk singer and poet who performs in North Carolina regularly, and I caught him at the Grove Winery over the weekend. My favorite song of his is "I Remember Asheville." It is not actually on the cd from him that I listened to, but you can hear it on his web site:

Sonic Youth was a punk band from my the eighties and nineties that are miracolously still around and relesing albums.

Tarkan is Turkey's other pop-singing superstar. (Well, there is also Mustafa Sandal, but I'm really not a fan of his music!).

The Clash cd I listened to "Super Black Market Clash" is really a compilation of the bands songs from 1977-82. The band only released five or six records, but the NPR show "Sound Opinions" recently profiled the band's "London Calling" record which has been considered a rock classic.

The Replacements were a rock band from the eighties which was deeply inspired by the recently-deceased Alex Chilton.

I imagine everyone is probably familiar with the rest of the bands on this list, which includes Talking Heads, Guns N Roses, The Cure and Rush. If not, perhaps we are on the brink of societal collapse as the late Joe Strummer (lead singer of The Clash) once suggested........more or less!

1. Sezen Aksu "Bahane" (2003)
2. Bruce Piephoff "Fools Get Away with the Impossible" (2006)
3. Sonic Youth "Goo" (1990)
4. Rush "Grace Under Pressure" (1984)
5. Tarkan "Karma" (2001)
6. The Cure "Disintegration" (1989)
7. The Replacements "Don't Tell a Soul" (1989)
8. Guns N Roses "The Spaghetti Incident" (1993)
9. The Clash "Super Black Market Clash" (1993)
10. Talking Heads "More Songs About Buildings and Food" (1978)

Quote of the Week- Allen Gingsberg (1926-1997)

Today we honor National Poetry Month with a quip from the late '60s poet and activist Allen Gingsberg, who in spite of being no longer with us has his own blog! (

Ginsberg was also the subject of an acclaimed 1993 documentary "The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg" which is in my Netflix que.

Here is the quote from Ginsberg:

"Follow your inner moonlight; don't hide your madness."

Status Update for Monday, April 19th

"Je suis tres fatigue/Ben cok yorgunum/I'm very tired..........and, it's only Monday!"

(The image is from Shannon Wheeler's cult classic comic book series "Too Much Coffee Man."_)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's Netflix Que

Virginia's governor Bob McDonnell (R) embarrassed all of us who are either from or live in Virginia by infamously declaring April 'Confederate Heritage Month' last week though he sure made me glad I am not a Republican.

Of course, while McDonnell professed that this was a way to help increase tourism in Virginia it was really a payback to the NASCAR Republicans in hamlets like Boones Mill, Ridgeway and New Market who voted for this right-wing extremist.

But, we have 'obtained' a list of the ten movies in the governor's Netflix que. We couldn't resist a chance to publish them here:

1. The Dukes of Hazzard (film version)
2. Deliverance
3. Gone With the Wind
4. The Birth of a Nation
5. Watermelon Man
6. The Passion of The Christ
7. Beneath the Planet of the Apes*
8. Soul Man
9. Invasion USA
10. Malcolm X**

*-because it has Charlton Heston

**-this one got in by mistake.
(This is a work of satire. Of course, we have not really found the governor's Netflix list but I wouldn't be surprised if it actually looked like this, without "Malcolm X"!)

We dedicate this entry to Pat Mullins who is the head of the Virginia Republican Party. He is working diligently to replace Cong. Tom Perriello with a NASCAR Republican...yeehaw!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

North Carolina Turkish Festival This Weekend

As Turkish people, we might be inclined to fight with each other like the shadow puppett characters Karagoz and Hacivat over politics or soccer teams (forgive the ethnic in-jokes), but there are times when we can actually put aside our differences and celebrate a festive occasion.

Hopefully, that will happen this weekend when the fifth annual North Carolina Turkish Festival gets underway in Cary, NC, (a Raleigh suburb).

The event, which is in part organized by my friend Volkan Ozdemir, will be held on Saturday, April 17 from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and again on Sunday, April 18 from noon until 7 p.m.

The festival will feature folk dancing, a one-man circus, water marbling, a bazaar and Turkish food,including perhaps doner kebab which is 100 times better than a Greek gyro (we couldn't resist even though I personally love our traditional ethnic rivals).

Things We Learned From Twitter This PM- The Counter Tea Party!

We were working on an earlier edition of this piece this pm when Whamo!, everything went amuck.

But, we are back and we will once again fix a pitcher of Kool-Aid for our fringe, right-wing lunatic friends in the Tea Party movement.

As I was driving along Battleground Avenue in Greensboro, NC, yesterday, I noticed that there was a red sign for a Tea Party rally sponsored by the Greensboro Tea Party tomorrow (April 15).

Since I will be teaching a class 40 miles away and I am not a Tea Partier or an unemployed dirt farmer residing in a trailer park in the tiny hamlet of Stokesdale, NC, (we aren't really trying to imply anything here- nudge, nidge, wink, wink!) right outside the Gate City, I will not be at the rally which will take place at 5:30 tomorrow afternoon in front of the Government Plaza downtown. After all, my job is funded through tax-payer money, and yes I have to pay them as well!

But, hopefully Jordan Green will cover the festivities for "Yes Weekly!," which can actually be found in Stokesdale!

This lunacy is not isolated to North Carolina or even red or purple states as the Peoria Tea Party will be holding a (gazooks!) three-hour rally at Riverfront in Peoria, Ill., tomorrow morning.

But, as it turns out, there are other people than me who think Tea Partiers have flown over the proverbial cuckoo's nest (apologies to the late Ken Kesey). Enter Jason Levin, founder of the Crash Tea Party movement.

According to the Twitter site for "The Huffington Post," Levin, as quoted by Jason Linkins, thinks anoyone to the left of Conan the Barbarian should hold these whacko dittoheads accountable with an assortment of counter-punches and pranks:

"Every time we have someone on camera saying Obama isn't an American citizen, we want someone sitting next to him saying: 'That's right- he's an alien from outer space.'"

I think my good friend Chris Kingt of Reidsville, NC, will love the photo of '80s sitcom icon Alf even though he is a libertarian who doesn't care for either Democrats or Republicans.

SIDEBAR: Happy 42nd birthday to Anthony Michael Hall who is probably best known for playing the blonde-headed geek in John Hughes' coming of age dark comedy "The Breakfast Club" (1985). That film is among the features that Joe Scott of Greensboro, NC, will be presenting in his 2010-2011 edition of the Mixed Tape Series at the Carousel Luxury Cinemas in the Gate City later this year.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Silly Picture to Fill Space- Woodsy the Owl

We were initially going to go with minor league baseball teams mascots (our apologies to the Altoona Curve), but we have time constraints today. Yes, even those of who waste amounts of time blogging and watching old Mighty Mouse cartoons on Youtube, have these problems. I can only imagine what it would be like to adopt a Guatemalan orphan or tending to an $850 Abyssian cat (yes, that is how much they cost!).

For those of you who were born during or after the years when Max Headroom (Ronald Reagan- sorry for the poltiical bias, but he is the reason I'm a Democrat) was president, Woodsy the Owl was a '70s icon who told the world: "Give a hoot, don't pollute" through his PSAs which generally featured lots of singing and dancing.

We have no idea what his sexual orientation is?!

Monday, April 12, 2010

NCAA Women's Gymnastics Regionals Surprise...?!

The NCAA Women's Gymnastics Regional Meets were held across the country on Saturday at six different campuses. The astonighing result came from Columbia, Mo., on the University of Missouri's floor where five-time defending national Georgia failed to qualify for the NCAA championships to be held in two weeks in Gainesville, Fla.

The home-team Tigers (mascot pictured here) pulled off the upset and won the meet thanks to a very impressive performance from their standout gymnast Sarah Shire who scored a 39.625 and won the all around competition. Oregon State won a tie-breaker over Georgia to join Missouri at nationals.

In Morgantown, WVa, Stanford won the regionals with a score of 196.775 thanks to Carly Juniga (pictured here on beam) who was the team's top scorer. Kylee Botterman from the University of Michigan won the all-around in West Virginia with a 39.55 and she helped the Wolverines advance as well.

Taylor Seaman of North Carolina State qualified as an all-around gymnast for Gainesville at the West Virginia meet even though her team will not advance with her.

In Lexington, Ky., Alabama edged out Nebraska with a score of 197.4-195.975. Both teams advance. Geralen Stack-Eaton won the all-around for the Crimson Tide and her teammate Ashley Priess finished second.

The other six teams to advance to Florida were first-place finishers University of Florida, University of Oklahoma and UCLA as well as second-place finishers Utah, LSU and Arkansas.

Quote of the Week- August Wilson

While he is known primarily for his playwrighting, August Wilson (1945-2005) was also an accomplished poet. He is best known for his 'Pittsburgh plays," including "Jitney," "The Piano Lesson" and "Fences." The later two were Pulitzer Prize winners.

Syracuse Stage in Syracuse, NY, will be performing "Fences" from May 5-30 (phone 315-443-3275). There is also an August Wilson Center, which is a performing arts venue, in Pittsburgh. Though he lived in Seattle during the last years of his life, Wilson remained devoted to his home city of Pittsburgh throughout his career.

Another poet who is better known for being a folk singer Bruce Piephoff, my good friend here in the Triad, will be performing at the Grove Winery in Gibsonville, Nc, just outside Greensboro on Friday.

Here is our quote from Wilson in honor of National Poetry Month:

"All art is political in the sense that it serves someone's politics."

Items for Sale at Duke's Antique Center in Lexington, Va.

If I were still a newspaper reporter, this entry would be called a 'conflict of interest' because my mom is one of the antiques merchants at Duke's Antique Center in Lexington, Va. (one hour north of Roanoke, two and a half hours south of Washington, DC). The antiques mall is actually open 365 days a year- even Christmas Day! Duke's is located at 30 Pinnacle Lane, Lexington, Va. 24450. Phone: 540.463.9511

Here are some of the items you will find there, and I will use an * to indicate the one item which can be found in my mom's booth.

$8- John Denver's "Prayers, Poems and Promises" lp featuring West Virginia's unofficial national anthem "Country Roads" (pictured here).

$28- Vintage framed poster of President Gerald Ford (we're not making this up!)

$20 Zorro comic book

$28 Woody Woodpecker story book from the 1970s

$5 "Saturday Night Fever" dvd

*$20- Roy Rogers lunchbox- it's really not that old, but we'd sure like to get rid of it!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Late Night PSA..........

Our Public Service Announcement tonight is a fairly straightforward one:

"Friends Don't Friends Vote Republican."

Hey, those of us who are fairly uber-partisan Democrats can use Cold War scare tactics too right? Perhaps, we should tell the kids- the image is of the Russian duo Boris and Natasha (from the '60s Jay Ward cartoon "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle).

I dedicate this entry to our 'good friend' Russell Peck, who is the executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party in Raleigh (I don't actually know him). His counterpart is David Young at the North Carolina Democratic Party. I wonder if these two ever meet up at an Indian restaurant in Cary?-(a Raleigh suburb).

I must profess, as I admitted publicly in a letter to the Greensboro alternative newspaper "Yes Weekly," that I am perhaps the only Turkish-American in North Carolina who is not a supporter of Cong. Virginia Foxx (R-NC). She has been very partial to Turkish-American political needs in Congress which I appreciate, but nevertheless Foxx is a bit far too the right for me. She did publicly say that Barack Obama's health care plan was more dangerous to America than terrorism?!

Foxx actually represents a portion of the county I live in, but thankfully my rep is Cong. Brad Miller (D-NC), who received death threats from Tea Parties for supporting health care reform!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Last Ten Films I've Seen.....Vietnam/Nixon Kick

I got this idea from the always hip intellectual cinema journal "Film Comment," edited by our good friend Gavin Smith (well, I don't know him personally, but I did meet him in Park City, Utah, in 2002).

A lot of these films deal with the sixties though none of them actually came out then. Surprisingly enough, none of these are foreign films and none of these movies are actually currently playing in cinemas aside from retro-screenings:

1. The Camden 28 (doc-2007)
2. The Foutain (2006)
3. The Private Life of a Cat (doc-1944)
4. Hearts and Minds (doc-1974)
5. You Kill Me (2007)
6. Taking Woodstock (2009)
7. JCVD (2008)
8. Goodbye Solo (2008)
9. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (pictured-1975)
10. The Big Lebowski (1998)*

Just some random notes on some of these films:

"The Camden 28" is a documentary about 28 anti-war activists who took part in a draft office break-in in their hometown of Camden, NJ, in 1973 while the Vietnam War was in its waning stages.

"The Private Life of a Cat" is a silent/experimental documentary I saw on Youtube. It was made by Alexander Hammond and Maya Deren (1917-1961). Though she died at a young age, Deren who was born in Kiev, Ukraine, before immigrating to the West was a pioneer in experimental film-making.

"Taking Woodstock" was released in theatres last year, and I think it's a relatively good film though not among the best films of director Ang Lee ("Brokeback Mountain," "The Ice Storm"). The film, of course as the title implies, takes place around the famous Woodstock Music Festival which was held in New York State. I once lived in a town called Woodstock, Va., in the Shenandoah Valley where I worked as a newspaper reporter. I checked on the town's web site, and they are having a "Spring Clean-Up" there this week!

"JCVD" is a strange Belgian film starring Jean Claude Van Damme. I'm not sure if it should be described as an arthouse film or a thriller. I first heard about it because it played at the Tower Theatre in Salt Lake City, Utah, which is one of my favorite cinemas in the country.

"Goodbye Solo" is an exceptional independent film which was shot just down the road in Winston-Salem, NC.

"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" really stands the proverbial test of time. After seeing the film again for the first time in 20 years, I checked out the original novel by the late Ken Kesey from a local library and I read in one night!

And, I saw "The Big Lebowski" at a special grand opening screening for my good friend Jason Garnett's new moviehouse The Shadowbox Cinema in Roanoke, Va. I actually ran into a very attractive young woman there. We were talking but then the movie started. Yes, cinemas are not a good place to pick up babes, but the Shadowbox is simply

NOTE: This was quite to my shock and horror one of the harder blog entries I've had to post in a while and it was supposed to be a relatively simple one. The print was not meant to appear in blue, but considering all the other fiascoes I've had with this post, it's time to move on!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Kudos to Christine Nguyen of UNC

One of our favorite sports to blog about both here and on "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Times" is women's collegiate gymnastics. And, since we are based in the Tarheel State, we frequently cover both the gymnastic squdas for the University of North Carolina Tarheels' team as well as the North Carolina State Wolfpacks.

The two teams are part of the EAGL Gymnastics Conference which is mostly made up of Big East and ACC schools (the Univeristy of Maryland is the only other ACC school with a women's gymnastics team). Other schools in the EAGL Conference include West Virginia University, the University of Pittsburgh and Rutgers University.

This year the University of New Hampshire, also an EAGL member, hosted the conference meet in Durham, NH, which is a bit ironic since Durham, NC, the town where Duke University is located, is the place where most Tarheels sports teams play out their most-aniticipated matchups of the year. But, since Duke has not had a women's gymnastics team in several decades, the 'Heels simply have to look forward to their meets with NC State.

The Tarheels (ranked 36th nationally) not only won this year's EAGL meet, but at a banquet held prior to the gymnastics event, UNC's senior gymnast Christine Nguyen of Plano, Tex., was named EAGL Gymnast of the Year for a third consecutive year.

Her fellow senior teammate Kara Wright was also honored as EAGL SCholar-Athlete of the Year. To top it off, Wright won the all-around competition at the conference championships as well.

Senior Tina Jacobs was named team MVP for the Tarheels.

Nguyen's 9.767 average on the balance beam was the highest in the EAGL this year. She also averaged a 39.028 in all-arounds throughout the season. Nguyen was the only gymnast in the EAGL to perform such a feat. The Tarheel gymnast also earned all-EAGL honors for her performances on the uneven bars, the balance beam and the floor exercise.

Wright was first-team EAGL on vault with a 9.803 average throught the year.

Coach Derek Galvin said he was extremely happy for both Nguyen and Wright, according to the team's official web site.

The Tarheels travel to The University of Missouri this weekend for a regional meet, which surprised Galvin since that is quite a distance from Chapel Hill, NC.

According to the University of Missouri's gymnastics web site, the 15th ranked Tigers will also host five-time defending champion Georgia (currently ranked fifth), Oregon State (ranked eighth), Minnesota (ranked 25th) and Iowa (ranked 30th).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Things We Learned on Twitter This Afternoon....

I suppose this is a sign of the times as even my life is getting so hectic that our blog entries from now until mid-May are likely to be considerly shorter than those I have posted within the last few months.

Today, through "The Baltimore Sun" newspaper's Twitter page we learned that College Park, Md., home of the University of Maryland Terps, is the nation's hot spot today as they check in at 95 degrees.

One has to feel for the student athletes at UMD on the men's and women's lacrosse teams as this would seemingly be one of the worst conditions to practice in!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Kudos to the Duke Blue Devils!

The Duke University Blue Devils are the new NCAA national champion in men's basketball following their dramatic 61-59 victory over underdog Butler, a small school with just over 4,000 students in Indianapolis, which almost made a sports fairy tale come true--- and, in their hometown no less!

"We knew it was going to be a 40-minute war," Duke player Nolan Smith said. "Everybody played a great game."

Since we are based here in North Carolina, we are happy for the Blue Devils, a team that earned a coveted fourth national championship. Their arch rival, the University of North Carolina Tarheels won the 2009 men's basketball championship.

The Blue Devils were also helped out by standouts Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler and Brain Zoubek.

The Butler Bulldogs, a team that my cousin Mike from Rock Hill, SC, had in his Final Four (though he thought they would lose to Kansas; they lost to Northern Iowa in the second round of the tourney) were helped out by Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard. Hayward narrowly missed a half-court last second shot which would have won the game for Butler.

The game reminded of the sports documentary "Harvard Beats Yale 29-29" which profiled a famous football game in the late '60s that saw Harvard come back from being far behind in the waining minutes of the game.

Duke also has a competitive women's lacrosse team, which is ranked third nationally. The Lady Blue Devils host Boston College at Koskinen Stadium on the Duke campus in Durham, NC, on 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Silly Picture to Fill Space- A Certain Purple Dinosaur

When I saw a promo for the new NBC series "Parenthood" (based on the 1989 Steve Martin film), which airs tonight at 10 pm here on the east coast, I was actually thinking of making a list of ten reasons why I'm happy that I do NOT have children, but then I thought it might anguish some high school friends of mine who have their proverbial hands full!

But, the fact that I don't have to put up with Barney would have certainly made that list.

Interestingly enough, a regular Barney stuffed animal goes for $25 on the internet, but a life-size man-eating Barney will cost you $249.99!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Quote of the Week- Nazim Hikmet

"Of course you'll live, red-haired lady of my heart in the 20th century lasts at most a year," Nazim Hikmet.

We posted this entry from the late Turkish poet in honor of National Poetry Month. Hikmet (1902-1963) was a controversial figure in Turkey during his lifetime and his poems, many of which had socialist themes, even lead to prison sentences, so he left in exile to Russia. He is buried in Moscow, and many Turkish tourists seek it out.

Ironically, in recent years, he has been named The State Poet of Turkey!

POSTSCRIPT_ Alas, the great Turkish actor Kemal Sunal (1944-2000) is no longer with us as well. Sunal was the subject of the last entry in my Dead or Alive series. Though, Sunal was not a controversial figure like Hikmet, he did make fun of Turkish bureaucracy as effectively as anyone could in the 1970s (a period of political turbulence in Turkey) wihtout being thrown in jail. Amazingly enough, Sunal was praised by Turkish politicians for exemplifying the Turkish spirit upon his untimely death.

Zing! Zing! Zing!

Well, in case you were wondering, there was no wild water rafting trip to West Virginia this weekend as I had posted an April Fool's Day prank as I did last year when I said I was sky-diving. But, no one seemed to fall for the joke this year, which is a bit of a bummer.

As it was, I got really sick over the weekend, so even if I had planned to go to West Virginia, the trip would have been scrapped. And, the Pakistani geology teacher from Wytheville Community College, Nishan Shakazi is really a play on the term Nishan Shakasi which means April Fool's Day in Turkish.

But, my friend Chris Knight of Reidsville, NC, played a slightly more effective prank as he told the world that George Lucas, the man behind "Star Wars" was remaking the late Bob Clark's teen sex hit "Porky's" (1982).

Knight said that "Geek Tyrant" broken the news and he added that Lucas was perhaps remaking Clark's film to return to his "American Graffitti" roots and show the dark side of the '50s.

But, since "Clash of the Titans" (1981) has been remade and is apparently the new box office champ then perhaps anything is indeed possible!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Getting Ready for West Virginia White Water Rafting!

This weekend, I will be taking part in a White Water Rafting trip to Wild, Wonderful West Virginia!

My friend Nishan Shakazi, a Pakistani geology instructor at Wytheville Community College in Wytheville, Va., invited me on this trip to the Ace Craft Restort near Fayetville, W.Va., where the famous New River Bridge is located.

At first, I turned down Shakazi because I thought the trip would be too much like something out of "Deliverance," but I had a chance of heart when my friend told me of the low rates offered to large groups of 20 or more people.

In the interest of being neutral, I should mention there is also a Rivermen Resort in the same area which Shakazi said his group will try out later in the spring.

But, for right now, I want to prepare for this trip which should be the adventure of a lifetime!