Tuesday, August 31, 2010

High School of the Week- Kalani High School (Hawa'ii)

We temporarily leave the continental United States as we select Kalani High School in Honolulu, Hawa'ii as our 'High School of the Week,' (an additional entry will be posted on Friday for another school).

The Falcon is the school mascot, hence the reason why we posted an image of a falcon though in hind sight maybe we should have gone with '70s cartoon dog Dyno-Mutt's sidekick The Blue Falcon, and red and white are the team colors.

Mitchell Otani has apparently replaced Gerlad Teramae, who was mentioned as the school principal on Wikipedia, as the new principal of the school from what we gahtered on the school's web site.

Kalani HS also happens to have a slam poetry club and a robotics club.

Lenn Sakata who was a member of the 1983 Baltimore Orioles team which won the World Series is an alumnus of Kalani HS.

We tried to find out what they were offering for their school lunch today. I was so hoping not only to find it, but to see if they were offering something with pineapple. But, such is the life of a blogger........

Monday, August 30, 2010

Silly Photo to Fill Space- Country Music DJ

The joke here is that obviously, aside from perhaps a college radio station show, no one actually plays vinyl for radio stations any more, but we love this photo!

Alas, I have decided to discontinue the Silly Picture to Fill Space series for at least a few months for the new High School of the Week series, which will now move to Tuesdays. We have posted perhaps close to or just over 100 silly photos on our two blogs for quite a while now, but we think the jokes are getting as stagnant as a Jay Leno monologue!

Our feature series within a series is Summer Jobs, which is in itself becoming as a joke as Labor Day is approaching, but we thought we'd suggest the field of country music djs for college students looking for a part-time job even though many radio stations have laid off djs because of the recession (I know of one incident that occured at an adult contemporary station in Greensboro, NC, earlier this year).

But, there are some country music stations that are thriving. Since our feature city for the month of August is Lynchburg, Va., we will cite 108-FM WYYD, a sponsor of the Lynchburg Hillcats, which is based in or around The Hill City (they cover the Roanoke market as well). WYYD has traditionally been a powerhouse station in the market (note: we don't have the latest Arbitron ratings) and as of this morning, they were playing "Pieces of My Heart" by Faith Hill, "All My Friends" by Luke Bryan and "The Life" by Kenny Chesney.

FROM THE OOPS! DEPARTMENT: No one cited us for it or complained about it, but we erred in Saturday's entry about the Durham Bulls game with the Gwinnett Braves. Though the Braves have one of the best minor league baseball records in the country, they did in fact lose that partcular game on Friday night by a 4-3 margin as we saw in a Greensboro newspaper. But, the Bulls beat the Charlotte Knights yesterday
8-5. Though we know absolutely no one with the Bulls, we regret the mistake!

Quote of the Week- Conway Twitty

So I was sitting at a Waffle House-type 24/7 diner in the Roanoke, Va., area at around 5:15 a.m. last Monday (not a time when I am normally awake) and I noticed an image of the late Conway Twitty (1933-1993) beside Brce Sprinsteen on the jukebox.

Coincidentally, since he is 60 (until Sept. 23), Springsteen is the same age that Twitty was when he abruptly died from a brain aneruism after performing in Branson, Missouri, 17 years ago.

We will quote Twitty and Springsteen on our two respective blogs. Twitty, the one who was a country crooner, got his stage name from the towns of Conway, Ark., and Twitty, Tex. Though he was born in Mississippi, Twitty grew up in Helena, Ark.

Twitty had 55 number one country hits. Some of the songs he is known for include "Hello Darlin" (1970), "You've Never Been This Far Before" (1973) and "Don't Call Him a Cowboy" (1985).

A fan of his work keeps a blog at conwaytwittymusic.blogspot.com (last updated in March of 2010), and he has an official web site at conwaytwitty.com

Here is his quote:

"A good country song takes a page out of somebody's life and puts it into music."

Saturday, August 28, 2010

50 Beers From Around the World- Peroni (Italia)

Our 50 Beers Around the World entry for the day is Peroni, a popular brand from Italy. It is widely available here in the United States, except for perhaps Provo, Utah (we couldn't resist)!

The brewery opened in 1846 and moved to Rome in 1864 when we were having a brewhaha in places like New Market, Gettysburgh and Vicksburg.

The English beer giant SABMiller brought Peroni in 2005.

SIDEBAR_ I wanted to wish milestone birthdays to my friend Bob in Woodstock, Va. (turned 80 on Aug. 10), Woody in Richmond, Va. (turned 40 on Aug. 20), actor
Ben Gazzara (turns 80 today) and my great aunt Jo in Rock Hill, SC, who turns 100 on Sunday!

Top Ten Favorite Minor League Baseball Teams -Slight Hometown Bias

The mascot here belongs to the Bowie Bay Sox from Bowie, Md., who play in the AA Eastern League, but the team that will top my list is The Salem Red Sox from Salem, Va. I was born and raised in Salem, Va. In fact, legendary baseball player Dave Parker played for the then-Salem Pirates in the '70s before going on to glory with the Pittsburgh, who haven't experienced a glory year in quite some time.

The famous Durham Bulls from Durham, NC, who were featured in the 1988 movie "Bull Durham" are our number two team. The Bulls won the coveted Minor League World Series last year.

While the Akron Aeros from Akron, Ohio, who play the Bay Sox in the Eastern League rank third. Their home stadium Canal Park is perhaps the nicest minor league stadium I've ever been to.

Salem lost a road game to Kinston 2-1 last night. The two teams play each other again at 7:05 tonight. Their next home game is Aug. 31 against the Potomac Nationals.

Durham won its game over Gwinett 4-3 last night, and the next home game for the Bulls will be against the Charlotte Knights on Monday at 7:05 p.m.

Akron plays the Erie Sea Wolves tonight at home.

And, the Bay Sox play the Altoona Curve, another team on this list, at home starting Aug. 30.

One day, when we get a chance, we'll have to post a photo of the West Virginia Power's mascot......he is even more amusing than the Gumby-look alike who is the mascot of the Altoona Curve!

As a rule, I decided not to put more than one team from each state on the list, hence I am snubbing our hometown Greensboro Grasshoppers. But, they do host the Savannah Sand Gnats from Savannah, Ga., this week. They, in fact, made the list!

Here is the list!:

1. Salem Red Sox

2. Durham Bulls

3. Akron Aeros

4. West Virginia Power

5. Myrtle Beach Pelicans

6. Altoona Curve

7. Salt Lake City Bees

8. Savannah Sand Gnats

9. Bowie Bay Sox (pictured)

10. Louisville Bats

Friday, August 27, 2010

'Official' High School of the Week- Madison Central High (Ky)

Since women's college gymnastics season is right around the corner, well it doesn't start until January, we thought we'd go with an alma mater of a college gymnast.

We arbitrarily chose Madison Central High School from Richmond, Ky, where University of Kentucky gymnast Hillary Ferguson (pictured here) went to school.

Ferguson, who will is now a senior, has had an outstanding career as she scored a 9.825 on vault against Florida in 2009. She also got an impressive 9.875 on bars in a meet against Ohio State in 2008.

As for her alma mater, the team mascot for Madison Central High School is The Indian (not this particular Indian) which has been declared to be politically incorrect at the NCAA level. The team plays a war chant during football and basketball games.

The school principal is Elmer Thomas. And, the school's state champion baseball team went 40-0 during the 1982 season.

As for the Wildcats, the UKy football team plays at Louisville on Sept. 4. Ferguson and her teammates host Illinois on Jan. 8.

SIDE NOTE- Our next High School of the Week feature will be displayed on Tuesday. We are looking for a high school in Hawa'ii. If you have any suggestions, for a future segment, you can publish a comment here or email me at tango74@aol.com

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Things We Learned From the BBC Today- Islamic Facebook Comes to Egypt

Those who attend services at The Mohammed Ali Mosque in Cairo, Egypt, (pictured here) may now have a way to socially network in a way that is suitable to Islamic principles, according to a report from Jon Leyne of the BBC.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's main government opposition group which is at times known to be a bit strict and radical (not the BBC's word) though it consists of more moderate factions as well, has launched its very own Facebook-style social newtworking media called Ikhwanbook.

The aim of the group, which is headed by Fareed Abdelkhalek, who is now 95 years old, is to spread Islamic values. The look of the site is similar to Facebook, but it will show more respect to Muslim values.

The group has proclaimed that the government in Cairo has not allowed it many other avenues of free expression or media communication. They added that the group has no desire to compete with Facebook, which is surprisingly popular in Egypt (as well as Turkey and Greece).

The Muslim Brotherhood started in 1928 as a way to rid Egypt of British control.

The BBC airs in North Carolina from WUNC 91.5-FM at 10 p.m. every night.

SIDEBAR- We have decided to add a special "High School of the Week" segment on both Tuesdays and Fridays until we have gone through high schools from all 50 states. So far, we have collectively mentioned the names of high schools from 26 states on our two blogs. Tomorrow, we will start with an entry for Madison Central High School in Richmond, Ky.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Things We Learned from Twitter Today- Alaska Senator May Get Teabagged

Since this blog is known to be as objective as Fox New, Radio Havannah, "The National Review" and "Mother Jones," we should openly state that we think the Tea Bag movement is pretty much a rabid right-wing exercise in banality, or it is essentially a hippie movement in reverse.

Nevertheless, these delusional maniacs have made a considerable political impact on the American landscape (but then again so did Che Guevarra in Latin America).

Yesterday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) got a taste of this as she is now losing to Tea Party right-wing radical Joe Miller by about 2,500 votes according to a tweet from WashDCNews, which lead to a CNN article about the Alaska Republican primary, which was held yesterday.

Miller, who was backed by the demonic diva Sarah Palin, is winning the race with about 84 percent of the votes in Alaska accounted for. Murkowski is like 'the old John McCain' of the Senate as she has voted against the GOP 30 percent of the time. Interestinly enough, McCain beat the right-wing pit bull he was facing yesterday.

The winner will face Democrat Scott McAdams, who is the mayor of Sitka. Alas, for him, Alaska is about as progressive as Qom, Iran.

Speaking of Iran, the prime minister of their main nemesis Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu is an alumnus of Cheltenham High School in Philadelphia (actually in the 'burb of Wyncote, Pa.) as is former New York Yankees great Reggie Jackson.

Cheltenham is our "High School of the Week" along with schools from Connecticut and Rhode Island.

The school nickname is The Panthers. Abington Senior High School are their rivals. And, Dr. Elliot Lewis is the principal.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Silly Photo to Fill Space- Working at the County Fair

We are gradually winding our special Summer Jobs series of entries which concludes next week as we examine the possibility of high school or college students working at their local county fairs.

Alas, the city of Lyncbhburg, Va., has already their county fair (well the nearest jurisdction to them that has a county fair) when the Campbell County Fair was held in July.

But, in nearby Danville, Va., the Danville-Pittsylvania County Fair gets underway in the community of Ringgold on Sept. 17. The fair lasts until Sept. 25, and this year, it will feature performances from Colt Ford and Clarence Carter.

Additionally, there will be a demolotion derby on the first Friday and Saturday (as well as Sunday) of the fair, and there will be a monster truck rally on the Wednesday and Thursday of fair week.

The Shenandoah County Fair in Woodstock, Va., which is about three hours north of Lynchburg (and two hours south of Washington, DC) in the Shenandoah Valley gets underway on Aug. 27. Country singer Josh Turner is the feature act of the fair in Woodstock.

We would also like to take a moment to dedicate this entry to students at North Providence High School in Providence, RI, where Joseph B. Goho is the principal. They play their first football game of the season in a road game with crosstown rivals Moses Brown.

While we could not find out the school's nickname in spite of 'hours of research,' we were able to discover that the mascot for Hope High School, another Providence school, is indeed the Blue Wave!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Quote of the Week- Joan Baez

Today, we profile right-wing blow-fish Glenn Beck's favorite singer Joan Baez (that is a joke for those of you in Tashkent, Uzbekistan!) with a quip from her.

Baez who was recently in North Carolina for a concert in Raleigh will be resuming her tour shortly.

Among her fall dates are a performance at The Unity Temple in Kansas City, Mo., on Oct. 5 along with concerts at The Englet Theatre in Iowa City on Oct. 6 and The Wisconsin Union Theatre in Madison (where The University of Wisconsin is) on Oct. 8.

Here is the quote from this '60s icon and folk-singing legend:

"Hypothetical questions get hypothetical answers."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Program Reminder- Hostel 2 on IFC This Week

For those of you who may be either sick and demented people or normal people interested in sick and demented films, there is good news for you!

IFC will be airing the 2007 shock horror/torture porn film "Hostel 2," helmed by Eli Roth, the director of the original "Hostel."

The basic plot line is that three American college girls study art in Rome and they are drawn into the world of suffering and torture.

The films airs at midnight.

Have your microwave popcorn handy!

On Fridays, IFC is also airing reruns of the wonderful 1999 series "Freaks and Geeks" about high school life around 1980 which featured a very young Seth Rogen and James Franco, among many other future stars in its cast. I just watched an episode, which reairs Sunday night at 10:00 pm tonight, and it was great. The show only lasted 18 episodes. I was among those who missed out on it the first time around.

And, this is a good moment to segue-way to our upteenth High School of the Week, which is........Hamden High School from Hamden, Conn., where the school motto is 'to everyone there openth a way.' The school mascot is The Green Dragon?! And, the school's principal is Gary Highsmith.

Of course, every student there is too young to watch "Hostel 2," but alas most of them have probably seen it five or six times anyway!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

50 Beers From Around the Globe- OB Beer (South Korea)

One may not expect a brew to have a rice flavor, but OB Beer from South Korea (OB stands for Oriental Brewery) is indeed made from rice as opposed to barley!

OB Beer, which started in 1952, has a Facebook page which promotes itself as "The True Korean Beer."

A guy from New York was asking how to find the brew on the Internet. One recommendation was a Korean grocer in the city. Another person said he should try Pioneer Supermarket on 74th Street. We have no idea if he found the beer or not, but it is apparently available in some markets in America.

While koamart.com does NOT offer OB Beer (at least it was not listed on their web site), they do have an Orange Bon Bon soda for 89 cents which looks like an Orange Crush.

Interestingly enough, there is a Korean grocery store in Salem, NH, called The Uhen Heh Grocery Store. We were not able to tell from their site if they offered OB Beer, but anyone here who is from New Hampshire can let us know!

SIDEBAR: My friend Jason Garnett is continuing an impressive list of screenings at The Shadowbox Cinema in downtown Roanoke, Va., this month. On Wednesday, the venue shows the vintage 1966 French New Wave classic "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg." The 1931 Charlie Chaplin film "City Lights" will be screened on Friday. "Caddyshack," which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, will be shown on Saturday. And, lastly, on Monday, Aug. 30 the Japanese shock horror film "Audition" will fill the screen. In case you weren't aware of this, it is not 'exactly Mary Poppins.'

More info is available at the web site theshadowboxcinema.com

Top 10 Worst Ways to Break-Up

We are being tres lazy today, so we are going to use this Top 10 Worst Ways to Break-Up with Someone list from shine.yahoo.com

I would say from personal experience that one shouldn't take someone out to The Olive Garden and then tell them: "It's Over." Yeah, that sorta sucks.

1. By Cheating- Amazingly enough, Warren Beatty has not done this to Anette Benning!

2. By Doing Nothing- Whatever that means.

3. On Valentine's Day- Ouuuuch!

4. In Bed- Hmmm....we'll skip the commentary on this one.

5. At Your 'Special Place'- which is hopefully NOT the Olive Garden or that truck stop restaurant off I-81 in Toms Brook, Va. (two hours south of Washington, DC)

6. At a Wedding- Yeah, that would be bad and rude!

7. Around the Family- especially if it's a mafia family!

8. On Facebook- I left you for a guy in Mumbai....hmm, yeah I would really hate that. Amazingly enough, it hasn't happened to me....yet!

9. In a Text Message- I know someone in Greensboro, NC, who had this actually happen to them!

10. On Vacation- Hope the hurricane hits you while you're in Cancun!

SIDEBAR: Meredith Fineman, 23, of Washington, DC, recently told "The Washington Post" about her more pleasant experiences dating. Before taking a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina, she decided to sign up for the Jewish dating service JDate.

She then decided after having some strange and unique experiences to post them on a blog called FiftyFirst-JDates.com (site was down at press time).

Fineman told the WP that she simply wanted other Jewish singles to know what might be in store for them:

"There are just so many little awkward intricacies of the site and the way it works," Fineman said in the story.

The last time I checked her blog, she said she was getting responses from as far away as Israel. And, Fineman told the WP that she isn't sure if she will actually get to 50 Dates or not. But, at least, she does not live in Welch, West Virginia, where we assume it would be a bit hard to find a 20-something Jewish single.

Alas, I am not Jewish (though as a Turkish-American, I'm most certainly ethnic!) and I am 17 years younger than Fineman. And, unfortunately, I do live in a place like Welch, West Virginia!

Perhaps, we should start a Turkish-American dating site, but then again, the pool would be rather slim....

NOTE: Since there was a glitch with a post on my other blog, today is "No Tag" day, but you can file this entry under Jewish, dating, Turkish-Americans, The Olive Garden, and.....?! Well, maybe we'll see if this works after all....

UPDATE: Hey, the tags did work after all!

Friday, August 20, 2010

At the 9:30 Club in Washington DC- Cowboy Mouth

Since we periodically like to keep folks in the know as to who is playing at the hippest concert venues (we know of) within 200 miles of the swank hamlet of Boones Mill, Va., in rural Franklin County where we are blogging from on this very late Friday night (he's lying!), we thought we'd mention that the New Orleans rock band Cowboy Mouth will be at the famed 9:30 Club in Washington, DC, on Sept. 4.

The band, which took its name from a '70s Sam Shepard and Patti Smith stage play of the same name, are perhaps best known for their 1997 hit song "Jenny Says," but fans also like "Love of My Life" and "Everybody Loves Jill," in which audiences throw red spoons on stage.

The doors for the concert open at 8:00 p.m., and tickets are $25. The venue is located at 815 V. St. in the nation's capital and it seats up to 1,200 people.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.930.com or by calling 1-877-9849.

The web site urbandictionary.com is offering 9:30 Club trucker's hats for $19.95!

The club also hosts Big Head Todd and the Monsters on Sept. 23 and Teenage Fan Club on Oct. 2.

SIDEBAR: One of our favorite west coast bands Mates of State, based in San Francisco, is performing at The University of Utah on Sept. 17 before heading to New England for shows at The Paradise Rock Club in Boston on Sept. 26 and The Met in Pawtucket, RI, on Sept. 27.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Things We Learned From the BBC This Week- Beloved Gorilla Dies

Some sad news was reported on the BBC this week as the beloved lowlands gorilla Samantha (not the gorilla pictured here) died after suffering a stroke at The Toronto zoo. She was 37, and was one of the first gorillas housed in the Canadian zoo.

Samantha, a native of the African country of Gabon, was put to sleep after suffering a second stroke in two months. She had lived in the zoo since 1974 when she was two years old.

The gorilla produced five offspring, two of which remain at The Toronto Zoo, with her mate Charles, a silverback gorilla.

Matt Stephenson, the zoo's gorilla keeper said he would deeply miss Samantha, especially her singing at breakfast and dinner time.

The lowland gorillas are an endangered species.

The Toronto Zoo is dedicating its home page with a header that says Samantha (1972-2010) and the zoo is asking for donations to make a memorial in her honor.

SIDEBAR: It has now admittedly become a running joke on this blog, but I am going to name Springfield High School of Springfield, Vermont, as our 'High School of the Week." Currently, I have been naming three American high schools as my "High School of the Week" on both of my blogs.

As silly as this may seem to those of you visiting this blog, especially from places like Eskisehir, Turkey, or Antigua, Guatemala, but I have learned quite a bit from doing this.

Springfield, Vt., made international news in 2007 when it was picked as the town to host the world premiere of "The Simpsons Movie."

As for the school, it is nicknamed The Springfield High School Cosmos, which makes it only the second time I've ever heard 'Cosmos' used for a nickname. The other time was for the New York Cosmos, a professional soccer team from the long-defunct NASL, which went under in the 1980s. The NY Cosmos were famous for bringing Pele to America.

Springfield High School also has some 500 students. "The Green Horn" is the school newspaper. The school web site states that much of the school lunch comes from local farms.

Bob Thibault is the new school principal, and The Cosmos host The Poultney BlueDevils in football on Sept. 3.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Things We Learned on Twitter Today- Blue Shark Found in a River!

Zut alors! Wow! We are actually ahead in our blog entries as generally don't post this entry until Wednesday, which of course means we are neglecting vital aspects of our professional, social and personal lives, but we shall catch up even if it means hanging out at the Waffle House in Burlington, NC, (not where I actually am at the moment) until hmm.......4:35 a.m.!

Today, we learned from a tweet from "The Montreal Gazette" that a blue shark, a species which can grow up to 13-feet long, was captured in the St. Lawrence River in the Quebec province of Canada.

Fisherman who were trolling the river in the Gaspe region of Quebec found the blue shark sometime during daylight hours on Sunday.

The shark has been sent to the Exploramer Museum for further study.

Canadian blue sharks are more commonly found off the Atlantic Ocean of Nova Scotia.

Perhaps, the next time the San Jose Sharks of the NHL come to play the Montreal Canadiens, they can ask if the fish can become their mascot....?!

SIDEBAR: The Internationalist Book Store in Chapel Hill, NC, has a unique project which continues on Aug. 25 as they invite area residents and customers to gather in the store from 6:30-8:00 p.m. to send books to prisoners who are serving time in Alabama and Mississippi. Perhaps, "The Count of Monte Crisco" will be one of the titles! The establishment is also featuring the book "Resisting Reagan" by UNC sociology professor Christian Smith. The book details how some 100,000 Americans marched in the streets to protest Ronald Reagan's involvement in the wars which afflicted El Salvador and Nicaragua during his time in office.

Silly Photo to Fill Space- Coffee Shop Employee

Today we once again focus on Lynchburg, Va, for the 12th (of 13) installment in our series within a series examining summer jobs. In the Hill City, students who have the summer off (yes, we know it's coming to an abrupt end) from E.C. Glass High School could potentially seek employment at The Muse and Roastery Coffee Company on Enterprise Drive.

I must say that I was impressed that a coffee shop located in Lynchburg, where Jerry Falwell started the Moral Majority, is open on Sunday from noon-7:00 p.m.

We should also mention that while we love E.C. Glass HS, the actual High School of the Week for this blog (well, ok, there will other high schools of the week) is the Belfast Area High School in Belfast, Maine, a place I've actually been to! (We took a trip there in the summer of 2007; it's quite a lovely place).

The Belfast Area HS' nickname is The Lions. School will begin very shortly there on Aug. 30. Butch Arthers is the school principal, and school lunch for high school students is $2.50. (That meat loaf better be worth it!).

There are of course other coffee shops within the Lynchburg region, and we don't mean Starbucks (but, yes there are several of those in Lynchburg).

Mill Mountain Coffee and Tea has four locations within the Roanoke, Va., area-which is my hometown. And, for those of you in Hokieville (Blacksburg, Va) there is The Easy Chair Coffee Shop which promotes itself on its web site as being a 'zombie free zone,' whatever that means!

Assuredly, if my Facebook friend, Shannon Wheeler, the creator of the off-beat comic book character "Too Much Coffee Man" comes to Virginia, he will now know where to get his cappuccinos now!

SIDEBAR_We want to wish a speedy recovery to Michael Poythres, 24, a soldier from Caswell County, North Carolina, near Danville, Va., who was injured by an explosion in Iraq last week. Angela Evans of "The Caswell Messenger" in Yanceyville, NC, reports that surgeries were performed to save Poythres' arm. He was flown to Germany after leaving a field hospital in Basra, Iraq. Once he is stabilized, he will be relocated to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Eid Mubarak (Happy Ramadan) To All Our Muslim Friends

Since there has been a lot of bickering about a Muslim group trying to build a mosque in central Manhattan in the shadow of where the Sept. 11th tragedy took place, I thought I would voice my support for the greater Muslim community in the United States.

Though I haven't talked much about this, I was a Muslim as a child. My late father Mehmet Gokbudak was from Turkey, and this was simply the way I was raised.

After his death on my 13th birthday from a heart attack, I began to openly question and sincerely doubt God's existence. My views have more or less remained the same since that awful personal event in 1983 as I now see myself as a human secularist.

And, while I equally disdain all forms of radical or fervent fundamentalism, whether they originate in a church, synagogue or mosque, I have respect for those Muslims who merely wish to practice their faith and try to make the world a better place for themselves and those around them.

Thus, I wish the Muslim community a Happy Ramadan season. The holiday lasts for 10 days, and it is approaching its final stages this week.

The image I have chosen is that of the beloved Turkish shadow pupetts Karagoz (the one with the beard) and Hacivat. Though the characters are secular in nature, they symbolically represent the cultural divide in Turkey between the intellectual urban-dwellers (Hacivat) and the rural common man who generally tends to be more religious than secular (Karagoz).

The divide has remained in tact since the characters were developed centuries ago during the Ottoman Empire. Greece has a similar shadow puppet named Karagoisi, which has actually recently caused a mild cultural/political rift between the two countries who almost went to war over an uninhabited goat island in The Aegean Sea in the 1990s.

My friend Ugur Celikkol of Bursa, Turkey, and his family run a semi-annual Karagoz festival in Bursa which has attracted tourists from other parts of Turkey and around the world. It is generally held around November.

Closer to home, The Divan Cultural Center in Cary, NC (Raleigh), is sponsoring many Iftar meals which are given when the sun goes down during the Ramadan season. We imagine there will be plenty of good lamb and rice at the table for those in attendance!

UPDATE- According to "The Hill," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) is opposing President Barack Obama's support of the mosque project in New York. Many political insiders suspect that this is for political reasons as Reid faces an election this November. His opponent Sharon Angle has been dubbed a right-wing quack even from non-partisan observers.

Quote of the Week- Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam

Since this week is the final week of the Muslim Ramadan holiday, we thought we'd quip the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens. Of course, we are referring to Yusuf Islam who transformed himself from a legendary hippie folk/rock/pop singer to a devout Muslim who refused to record music for years.

Stevens/Islam courted controversy when he made highly controversial and dubious comments about author Salman Rushdie when the novelist's book "The Satanic Verses" came out some 20 years ago.

But, Stevens/Islam has lately made news by going on a world tour which has taken him to places as remote as New Zealand.

Interestingly the artist formerly known as Prince who is now known as Prince again underwent his own spiritual metamorphosis by becoming a Jehovah's Witness. He has even been known to go door-to-door and proselytize in a disguise in his native Minneapolis area!

According to Stevens/Islam's web site, he announced on July 21 that his daughter Hasana gave birth to a son named Muhammad Sulaiman which makes the singer a grandfather (presuming it is his first grandchild). The singer is known for such classics as "Peace Train" and "Moon Shadow."

Here is our quote today from Stevens/Islam:

"A person who steals bread during a famine is not a thief."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

50 Beers Around the World- NewCastle (England/UK)

We continue our series 50 Beers Around the World with NewCastle, a beer that one can find just anywhere especially in England and The United States.

One of the most popular breweries and bars in our local Greensboro/Winston-Salem area is Natty Greene's (don't forget the 'e') located at 345 South Elm Street in downtown Greensboro.

While researching this piece, we discovered that Natty Greene's has opened up a second locale in Raleigh on 505 West Jones Street.

The brewery offers many specialty beers including the Guilford Golden Ale and the Buckshot Amber Ale. Many of these beers can be found throughout North Carolina and in other areas.

There also happens to be a bar in Dallas, Texas, called Lee Harvey's, located at 1807 Gould Street. It is open until 2 a.m. from Fridays-Sundays. One has to love their sense of humor!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Top 10- Best Countries I've Been To (Besides Turkey and the USA)

We are dedicating today's entry to students at Berlin Senior High School in Berlin, NH, where the principal is Gary Brisson, the school nickname is The Mountaineers and the school newspaper is "Mountaineer Today."

While school at UNC starts on Monday and at my alma mater Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke, Va., begins on Aug. 23, students at BSHS have summer vacation until Sept. 1 when school starts (must be nice!).

Berlin, NH, is incidentally where John Irving's famed novel "The Hotel New Hampshire" takes place. It was made into a film with Rob Lowe and Jodie Foster in 1984. I found a copy at an antique store in Fairfield, Va. (between Lexington and Staunton) which I read during a trip to Myrtle Beach, SC. It was actually better than the movie (and I'm not someone who always says that!).

I thought it would be quite subjective to put the USA, the country of my birth and residency, and Turkey, where my late my father was from and a place I have been to many times on the list since that would be blatantly subjective and we are not working for Fox News!

So, here is the list:

1. Holland
3. France
4. Guatemala
5. Greece (I know this will not go well with my friends in Ankara!)
6. Italy
7. Hungary
8. Germany
9. Belgium
10. England/UK

It should be pointed out that while I have been to both Germany and New Hampshire, I haven't been to either Berlin!

And, there are many countries on this list, including England, Hungary and Italy that I have not been to in a very, very long time (since I was a child in the '70s).

Cyprus and Luxembourg both just missed the cut.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Things We Learned on Twitter Last Night- Heat Wave in Japan

The Japan Times tweeted that a heat wave has crippled the land of the rising sun, but merchants around the country have reaped the benefits of the dog days of summer.

The tweet linked to a story in the newspaper by Hiroko Nakahata which stated that beer and air-conditioners were selling quite well in the nation. In addition, some other gizmos like high-tech cooling scarves and chilly air sprays are also (pardon the cliche) flying off the shelves.

The heat wave has killed 118 in Japan since May.

New products like Maji cool high-tech strip cloths worn around the neck to take heat away from the skin is also very popular.

Ikuko Shimazakija, a 49-year-old housewife, told "The Japan Times" that she wears the strip cloth while riding her bike during the day and it helps her tremendously.

Closer to home, I learned from Twitter that it would be 95 degrees in Charlotte, NC, this afternoon, so assuredly folks in Japan are not the only ones trying to get through this sweltering summer.

SIDEBAR: Tom Sietsema of "The Washington Post" recently reported a new French restaurant called Bistro Provence has opened up in Bethesda, Md., which is perhaps our favorite suburb in the country. The food critic gave the restaurant a generally favorable review stating that chef Yannick Cam makes an excellent duck confit as well as scrumptious scallops and shrimp appetizers. Sietsema did state that the restaurant can be a bit pricey and noisy, but it was still one of the best places to eat in suburban Maryland.

And, if you are a Muslim who is currently celebrating Ramadan in the Washington DC-metro area there may be no better way to break the day-long fast than heading to the Syrian-Lebanese restaurant Layalina in Arlington, Va. (we don't know the religion of the owners who could well be Christians), which features hommos- a chickpea puree with tahini sauce, garlic and lemon juice.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Things We Learned From the BBC Today- UFOs Over Rio?!

The BBC has reported today that the Brazilian government is actually going to start recording UFO sightings. The decree has stated that all military and civilian pilots as well as air traffic controllers should register UFO sightings with the national aerospace defense command.

There have apparently been a number of UFO sightings in Brazil that have caused concern.

In 1986, Brazilian air force jets scrambled to investigate a UFO over the country's largest city Sao Paolo.

And, way back in 1977 when "Space 1999" was on the air and I was in the first grade, citizens of the Amazonian town of Vigia said they were attacked by aliens!

We dedicate today's entry to students at Glendale High School in Glendale, Calif., (for our bonus high school of the week) which has the largest Armenian-American populations per capita in the country. The mayor of this city where comic actor legend W.C. Fields is buried happens to be an Armenian-American named Ara Narajarian. We imagine his ninth grade geometry teacher couldn't spell his name right, either!

The school where I would probably be hard-pressed to get a prom date since I'm a Turkish-American (we have a spat--long story!) if I were in high school.... But, I didn't get a prom date at my high school in Virginia back in 1987 either! Glendale High is nicknamed the Dynamite or Nitro. The school's principal is Deb Rinder.

John Wayne (yes, the guy who was in "Stagecoach" and "The Searchers"), who was actually born in Winterset, Iowa, is Glendale High's most famous alum.

And, the school has both boys and girls water polo teams. Definitely, not something that my alma mater in southwest Virginia will likely have any time soon!

But, we did have a soccer team........I have still have the benchmarks on my rear end to prove it!

Silly Photo to Fill Space- Let's Go Bowling?!

We are continuing our look at summer jobs with the profession of bowling teacher. We were initially going to use the famous 'Nixon Bowling' poster which was featured in the film "The Big Lebowski," but we thought this might be more hip/clever. Well, you decide!

Our feature city with this series this month is Lynchburg, Va., where one can find the Fort Hill Bowling Center on 6015 Fort Ave. (Phone: 434-239-9261). The bowling alley has college nights from Monday-Wednesday for those of who attend Lyncburg College or Liberty University which was founded by Pat Robertson (no, that's not right? Well, we doubt members of the Falwell family read this blog!).

Quote of the Week- Lou Reed

Today we continue to quote famous singers with a quip from New York artsy rocker legend Lou Reed, who is also well-known for his work in the '60s as the lead singer of Velvet Underground.

Since we are way behind in our High Schools of the Week, we will dedicate this entry to students at Provo High School in Provo, Utah, where Reed's landmark album "Transformer" with the suggestive hit song "Walk on the Wild Side" is probably banned (this is just a joke!).

But, we do know that Provo High School returns to class on Aug. 24 (yay! well, maybe not??!). The school's nickname is The Bulldogs. Sam Ray is the principal at Bulldog High, which is also where famed chemist Paul Boyer went to school.

Here is our quote from Reed:

"How can anybody learn anything from an artwork when the piece of art reflects the vanity of the artist and not reality."

SIDEBAR_ Fellow fans of the Russian-emigre rock band The Red Elvises who happen to live near Bethlehem, Pa., will be happy to know they are performing there tonight. The band will also be at The Gogol Club in Moscow, Russia (not Moscow, Idaho!) on Sept. 10. While many bands, like Los Lobos, are boycotting Arizona because of their highly-controversial immigration bill, which we here highly oppose (but I'm not a fan of boycotts unless there is a very valid reason for them), The Red Elvises are performing in Phoenix at The Rhythm Room, which we understand to be quite a jazzy place, on Sept. 23. The Red Elvises, which became popular in the late 1990s, are based in Santa Monica, Calif.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

50 Beers From Around the Globe- Mythos (Greece)

It may seem a bit ironic (since I am a Turkish-American) that today's entry features Mythos Beer from Greece, which is bottled in both green and red bottles, but hey we like Greeks except those fervent nationalists who claim every city in Turkey except the western, industrial Black Sea port city of Zonguldak (Turkish people will get the joke; I hope!).

Mythos is apparently available in the USA.

While thinking of Greek restaurants in the USA, I found two unique-looking ones in Philadelphia, which has a large Greek-American population. They include Byblos Restaurant and Bar and Karnella Restaurant, which appears to be run by a Greek Cypriot family.

Closer to home, there is The Acropolis Restaurant in Greensboro.

Top 10 Lists- To-do List During My Day Off

Amazingly enough even though I have time off from my teaching gig and I haven't taken an exotic trip to Thailand or anything, I have fallen well behind on my blogs! But, I have finally read J.D. Salinger's classic novel "The Catcher and the Rye" and I watched Akira Kurosawa's vintage samurai flick "Ran" on The Sundance Channel (which should perhaps be seen on the big screen) last night.

Nevertheless, there are things to do......and here is my list for today!

1. Call the vet for Gizmo's shots

2. Decide on whether or not to see the play "Dead Man's Cell Phone"

3. Plan 'Writing the Novel' this fall

4. Catch up on blog posts!

5. Possibly watch 1980s Charles Bronson-Lee Marvin movie "Death Hunt" on FMC tonight at midnight.....?!

6. Check Greyhound's web page to see how much bus tickets to DC would be even though you don't have any expletive time to go to DC right now

7. Be sure to send email to that guy in Istanbul

8. Read Scott Pilgrim comic book at Starbucks or some place like that

9. Start those exercises!!! (Most procrastinated item on list)

10. Learn a phrase in Farsi....

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Things We Learned on Twitter This PM- Armageddon Still Sucks!

We have no idea if the programmers at F/X decided to rerun the epic mess "Armageddon" (you know the movie with Bruce Willis and Ben Afflect that came out in the late '90s) with the commemoration of the Hiroshima tragedy this week in Japan, but the timing does seem a bit surreal.

On a personal note, I have endured a zany last couple of days which involved two days in which I virtually slept away the whole day, one day in which I was up for 24 hours and then some and an unfortunate accident with scissors (still $%&*# hurts!).

So, while I was not watching "Armageddon" or anything else for matter this afternoon, my good pal Chris Knight of Reidsville, NC, was indulging in the film which he himself says 'makes The Black Hole look like 2001.' (He is referencing a Disney science-fiction film with Tony Perkins that came out in 1979 when I was nine years old!).

Knight said he has great admiration for actor Steve Buscemi who is in "Armageddon" since the indie film icon is a volunteer fire-fighter in his spare time.

But, Knight had no use for the rest of the film which he also called 'a dumb popcorn movie.' He added that "Armageddon" was 'not an Oscar-worthy magnum opus.' Whatever that means!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Thing We Learned on the BBC Today- Iranian Lawyer Trying to Defect to Turkey

The Iranian lawyer Mohammed Mostafaei is seeking political asylum Turkey, where he is now residing. Mostafaie has been a diligent human rights activists, and he has recently been defending Sakineh Mohammed Ashtiani, 43, (pictured here) who was initially sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery.

Ashtiani, a mother of two, still faces the possibility of execution by hanging. Her case has provoked international outrage which has even involved the president of Brazil, one of Iran's diplomatic allies. Protesters in Sweden have also petitioned for Ashtiani's release. The woman has already recieved 99 lashes from Iranian authorities.

Mostafei's asylum appears to be held up by Turkish bureacracy though human rights activists in Turkey are trying to expeditate the process.

SIDEBAR: (Editorial Comment) Personally, I think the Muslim group trying to build a controversial mosque at Ground Zero in New York should move the building thousands of miles away---to Wasilla, Alaska. Along with Newt Gingrich, former vice presidential candidate and Alaskan governor Sarah Palin has been the most vocal opponent of the move saying it would be a 'stab in the heart to all victims of
9-11.' The most irritating part of this bally-hoo is that people like Palin always seem to forget is that many 9-11 victims were in fact Muslims. And, though my late Turkish father was a Muslim, I say his as somehow who is a human secularist.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Silly Photo to Fill Space- Lynchburg Hillcats' Mascot

We continue our series within a series that focuses on summer jobs with Southpaw, the mascot of the Lynchburg Hillcats. They are a minor league baseball team in Lynchburg, Va., where the late Rev. Jerry Falwell (one of the main reasons I became a Democrat) once preached his morality and imposed his judgment from the pulpit (we couldn't resist).

The Falwell family has actually been closely linked with minor league teams in Lynchburg- in fact they play at Calvin Falwell Field, but since we love SouthPaw we won't hold that against them!

The Hillcats are currently in the middle of a homestand against the Potomac Nationals who play in the DC suburbs of Virginia. The Nationals won last night's game 6-4, and the two teams play again tonight at 7:00 p.m.

The 'Cats have several promotions coming up, including a fireworks display on Aug. 14when they host to the Kinston Indians from Kinston, NC, and on Aug. 16, there will be a 50-Cent Hot Dog Night when the team plays The Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

As for our local team, The Greensboro Grasshoppers lost a road game to The Kannapolis Intimidators 7-4 in the South Atlantic League. The Intimidators' pitcher Cameron Bayne retired 14 'Hoppers in a row.

SIDEBAR: In Danville, Va., an hour and a half south of Lynchburg down Route 29 a maricahi band will play at Los Tres Magueyes Mexican Restaurant during dinner time on Monday, Aug. 9.

SIDEBAR TWO: I recently 'lost my virginity' (term they give first-time diners) at The Texas Tavern in my hometown of Roanoke, Va. There used to be a Texas Tavern in Lynchburg as well. I had the establishment's speciality which is a bowl of chilli for a mere $1.60. It was definitely worth the proverbial price of admission.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Quote of the Week- Jerry Garcia

Yesterday (Aug. 1) would have been Grateful Dead lead singer Jerry Garcia's 68th birthday (he died in 1995), so today we quote him for our weekly Quote of the Week segment.

I had the opportunity to see Cosmic Charlie, a Dead tribute band from Athens, Ga., at The Cat's Cradle in Carrboro (Chapel Hill), NC, on Friday night. They were quite good. The band next performs at The Pour House in Charleston, SC, on Friday night (Aug. 6th).

As for The Cat's Cradle, they host the '80s New Wave band The English Beat ("Mirror in the Bathroom") on Tues., Aug. 24. As the Raleigh newspaper "Indy Weekly" said: "It's time to go to the closet, and get the fedora." I was unsure what they meant until I saw a Youtube video from the band last night. Sure enough, they were wearing the hat that Humphrey Bogart made famous!

Here is Garcia's quote:

"What we do is as American as lynch mobs. America has always been a complex place."

Sunday, August 1, 2010

50 Beers Around the World- Carlsberg (Denmark)

We continue our 50 Beers of the World series today with an entry for Carlsberg, a popular beer from Denmark which is found in much of the world, including Canada and The United States though it's not as widely available as some imports, such as the German beer Beck's.

Carlsberg was founded in 1847 by J.C. Jacobsen, and it is based in Copenhagen. The beer, which is very popular in Kazakhstan- of all places (the former Soviet Republic where Borat was from) even has breweries in China. Carlsberg also offers an off-shoot known as Elephant Beer.

SIDEBAR- Though they don't offer Carlsberg, my good friends Dave and Linda at the Backstreet Buzz in Reidsville, NC, now offer beer and wine, including the trendy Sierra Nevada brew from Chico, Calif. The coffeehouse also offers sandwiches, soups, salads and wraps as well as coffee beverages such as the espresso, cafe au lait and macchiato.

SIDEBAR TWO- Not to be confused with the Backstreet Buzz, Backstreets, a popular restaurant in Blacksburg, Va., home of the Virginia Tech Hokies (yes, it does share its name with a Bruce Springsteen song) is celebrating their 25th anniversary. They offer a wide range of appetizers, including fried mushrooms and steamed mussels. Though they are best known for their pizzas, Backstreets also has gourmet dishes such as jambalaya and chicken napoli.

SIDEBAR THREE-Want to see a blog which features virtually nothing except cool drawings? Then log on to www.melikesyou.blogspot.com from the comic zine artist Lauren Barnett, who is based in Brooklyn. I found one of her latest works "I'd Like Some 'Expletive' Pancakes" at Chapel Hill Comics in Chapel Hill, NC.