Thursday, September 30, 2010

Silly Picture to Fill Space- Cleveland Browns Fans

We normally post the Silly Picture to Fill Space on Tuesdays, but we were preoccupied with many, many other things two days ago.

So, today we are showcasing Cleveland Browns fans, who hang out in a place called The Dawg Pound. The original team scandolously left for Oriole Town and became the Baltimore Ravens in 1995.

But, the new Cleveland Browns resurfaced in 1999. The current team is 0-3 this season, but they play a home game against their arch rival the Cincy Bengals on Sunday. According to the Browns' official web site, there are three days and 45 minutes remaining until kick-off. Perhaps, someone will watch the game via satellite at the American embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan!

Famous Browns' players from the original team include quarterbacks Bernie Kosar and Brian Sipe.

SIDEBAR: One of our "High Schools of the Week" is East Side High School in Youngstown, Ohio. We have no idea if Browns legend Bernie Kosar actually played for the school, which closed in 1998, but reopened in 2007, but he is from the industrial city in northeast Ohio. The team mascot for East High School is the Panthers.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Things We Learned on Twitter Today- Heavy Rains to Hit Carolina Coast

According to a tweet from Eyewitness News-11 in Raleigh, NC, the coastal town of Wilmington, NC, is getting prepared for two days of nonstop rain as a tropical depression over the east coast will likely ram into rain system shifting west.

Simply put, this might mean if you live in that area, you may as well prepare to do your best Gene Kelly impersanation because, like it or not, you will be 'singing in the rain.'

Stephen Keebler of the National Weather Service in Wilmington told the news outlet that the next few days would be tough ones for the lower coastal regions of the Carolinas.

Heavy rains are also expected in Raleigh, Charlotte and Greensboro as well as cities like Danville, Va., and Fort Mill, SC, which both border the Tarheel State.

Officials in Wilmington recorded 10.33 inches of rain at the Wilmington Airport on Monday according to News 11, which is the most since 1999.

The report also said Charleston, SC, has been hit hard by the storms.

SIDEBAR: Well, our unofficial 'High School of Week' is back even though we have neglected it for some two and a half weeks. Our official 'High School of the Week' will hopefully be named on Friday.

For today, we are going with Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Mich.,known as The Purple Pride, which is the alma mater of historical documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and punk rock legend Iggy Pop. We imagine they have little else in common.

Monday, September 27, 2010

50 Beers Around the World- Mahou Clasica (Spain)

There isn't much available about this Spanish beer, which is reportedly found mostly in Madrid, except that a travel site about Spain highly recommends it while the blog says it's rather bland?!

Quote of the Week- Lillian Hellman

Today, we feature a quote from the dashing, very liberal late playwright Lillian Hellman (1907-1984) who was romantic partners with the late crime fiction writer Dashiel Hammett (he penned "The Maltese Falcon").

Hellman remains best-known for her early plays "The Children's Hour" (1934) and "The Little Foxes" (1939). She was also a victim of the HUAC witch-hunt.

I saw an excellent production of "The Children's Hour" at Hollins University in Roanoke, Va., a few years ago and an outstanding performance of "The Little Foxes" at Triad Stage in Greensboro, NC.

Here is her quote:

"Cynicism is an unpleasant way to say the truth."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Alma Mater GHS Wins Homecoming Game

We diligently tried to come up with game stats and find articles about how many touchdowns were thrown by the Glenvar High School (Salem, VA) quarterback, whose name I don't know. But, my GHS classmate Barry Hurley did the duties in the fall of 1987 when (I believe) we lost to the Covington High School Cougars.

But, the times have changed and Covington High School from Covington, Va., near the West Virginia border in the lower Shenandoah Valley (a town that really smells!) was a powerhouse then. Today, they are apparently a bit of a doormat.

So, in short, my alma mater The Glenvar Highlanders beat Covington 35-14 in their homecoming game. GHS is now undefeated at 4-0!

The other area team Salem High School, which is a football powerhouse (GHS has had good years and bad years), beat Northside High School from Roanoke County by a 17-13. The Spartans' victory ended the Vikings' 17 game winning streak.

Alas, our beloved Floyd County Buffaloes from Floyd, Va. (we love their mascot) lost a very close game to Forth Chiswell High School near Wytheville, Va., by a 22-21 margin. Ironically, Floyd County HS hosts GHS on Nov. 9.

And, lastly, kudos to the Strasburg High School Rams from Strasburg, Va., in the northern Shenandoah Valley for beating Page County High School 36-22. We imagine everyone in the stands was a Republican (it's a VERY conservative area where some folks are to the right of Pat Boone_, but we still hope they had a good time.

As for on-going games in college football this p.m. At last report from Twitter, Virginia Tech was winning 16-0 over Boston College and the North Carolina State Wolfpack were beating the favored Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets by a 31-14 margin.

We also fully expect that UVA is winning their home game over VMI, but then again JMU did beat Virginia Tech 21-16 in Blacksburg just two weeks ago!

SIDEBAR: My friend Ali Arikan of Istanbul, Turkey, tweeted that a Hooters is opening up there! As he put it so well in his tweet: "The joke makes itself!" Personally, I think that's a very bad least, we hope they don't serve pork!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Top 10 Reasons to Oppose the Death Penalty

This list was actually compiled by rather than myself even though I am a staunch death penalty opponent, and I have made no secret of views here on this blog or in other media outlets.

Last night, Virginia, my home state, carried out the lethal injection of Teresa Lewis, 41, from Danville, Va., who had a mental iq of 72. If a person has an iq of 70 or less, they can not be executed.

I will get to more details of this flagrant human rights violation in a bit, but first here is the list:

1. An Eye for An Eye Makes the Whole World Go Blind
2. Life in Prison is an Alternative
3. Racial bias
4. Ignores Possibility of Redemption
5. Punishment Doesn't Always Fit the Crime
6. Contrary to Constitution
7. Gender Bias
8. Possibility of Condemned Being Innocent
9. Financial Bias
10. Geographical Bias

I think the cost of a death penalty case, which is reportedly around $2 million is another strong factor capital punishment, and one of the reasons why there are those on the libertarian right oppose the measure.

The fact that Virginia has an arch conservative Governor in Bob McDonnell, a favorite among fringe right-wingers and evangelical radicals, and a similarly far-right of center Attorney General in Ken Cucinelli doomed Lewis as both officials would probably execute their 86-year-old grandmothers for jay-walking if it could advance their political standing in the Republican Party.

According to Channel 7 in Roanoke, Va., the last meal Lewis had was fried chicken, sweet peas and a Doctor Pepper. The execution was carried out at 9:13 p.m.

Lewis was given a death sentence conviction for her role in a murder-life insurance scheme, but defense attorneys argued that she was duped by the two men who actually pulled the trigger who were both substantially smarter than her.

The National Coalition Against the Death Penalty released the following statement from anti-death penalty activist Andrea Bible about the Lewis execution:

"I am grieving because we live in a country where politicians and the courts believe it is ok to sue the state's resources to kill someone who functions at the level of a 13-year-old girl."

One of the two victims' daughter supported the execution and attended the lethal injection process at Jarrat, Va., where the sentence was carried out. Lewis, who is also a grandmother, had a son who wanted to visit her before she was killed by the state. As of Wednesday, the Virginians for Alternatives to Death Penalty ( said that he was in need of a ride to Jarratt. Vigils sponsored by the VADP were held at Jarratt and throughout the state.

It was Virginia's first execution of a woman since 1912.

Lewis' execution received international media attention as it was one of the lead stories in last night's BBC World News broadcasts and was the subject of an article in "The Vancouver Sun" (a newspaper in Vancouver, Canada).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Things We Learned on Twitter Today- Female Justices Opposed Likely Execution

According to a tweet from NPRNews, both Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sonia Sotomayor were two of the three justices who were opposed to the highly likely execution of Danville, Va., resident Teresa Lewis, who would be the first Virginia woman to be executed since 1912. The execution is scheduled for tomorrow night.

I have made no secret of my vehement opposition to capital punishment which I firmly view as a human rights abuse that is unbecoming of American justice.

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) rejected clemency for Lewis on Friday, an earlier time frame that past governors, such as Tim Kaine (D) who opposed capital punishment morally but still allowed several to go through during his four years in office.

Lewis' attorney told NPR that: "A good and descent person is about to lose her life because of a system that is broken."

The controversial case has made international news as it was one of the BBC's top stories last night. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmandinejad has ever used Lewis' impending execution to justify his anti-Americanism and his own dubious political stance in support of an execution (which was originally intended to be from stoning) of Iranian woman Sajjad Mohammad Ashtiani who was found guilty of adultery.

Ironically, Turkey, my late father's country which is also predominantly Muslim, does not allow the death penalty any more as capital punishment became a political mechanism there as late as the early 1980s.

Author John Grisham also wrote a letter to the editor to "The Roanoke Times" expressing his opposition to Lewis' execution.

The murder incident is a complicated one in nature as Lewis, now 41, hired Matthew Shallenberger (the trigger man) and Rodney Fuller to kill her husband Julian Lewis and her stepson C.J. Lewis.

Rocap also told NPR that one of the gunmen manipulated Lewis, who is borderline retarded (according to the BBC, she was just barely eligible for the death penalty by a 72 score--inmates with a 70 IQ can only get life imprisonment.).

Additionally, there is the fact that the co-conspirators/fellow culprits got lesser sentences in Pittsylvania County. Shallenberger committed suicide in jail. Fuller is serving life.

The incident happened on Oct. 30, 2002.

Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty ( is sponsoring state-wide vigils in Charlottesville, Fairfax, Harrisonburg, Lynchburg, Roanoke, Richmond and Norfolk among many other places, including one in the gas station town of Jarratt, Va., on I-95, due north of the North Carolina border, where the execution would take place, at 8:00 p.m.

I have done my part by calling, emailing and snail mailing McDonnell's office as well as contacting Pittsylvania County Commonwealth's Attorney David Grimes, in regards to my moral opposition of this impending execution.

You can call Gov. McDonnell's office at 804-786-2211. Even though, he has made up his mind, it is very important that he is challenged on this matter both politically and morally.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Silly Picture to Fill Space- Tired Cat

It has been one of those weeks, but we will leave you with a short message from a fundamentalist church from Willis, Va., (near Floyd) whose views we fundamentally disagree with (I am a fervent human secularist):

"All Christians work for the same employer."

But, we do ask that you look into getting a homeless cat or dog a proper home. For those of you living in Woodstock, Va., in the Shenandoah Valley where I used to reside, adoption info for the county animal shelter can be found at:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Quote of the Week- August Wilson

Since Playmakers Theatre in Chapel Hill, NC, will be presenting the late African-American playwright August Wilson's 1987 Pulitzer-Prize winning play "Fences" starting on Oct. 20, we thought we'd quip Wilson (1945-2005) here.

The play was presented at Syracuse Stage in Syracuse, NY, earlier this year. Their current production is a one-woman play called "No Child" by Nilaja Sun.

Deep Dish Theatre, another Chapel Hill theatre, performed another Wilson play "Fences" last year and they will be presenting the Mark Twain play "Is He Dead?" starting on Oct. 22.

Here is our quote from Wilson, who came up of age in The Hill distric of Pittsburgh where many of his places, including "Fences" and "Jitney" take place:

"Style ain't got nothing but keeping the same idea from beginning to end. Everybody got it."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

50 Beers Around the World- Efes Pilsen (Turkey)

We have gotten slightly behind in our 50 Beers Around the World series, but we resume it today by featuring Efes Pilsen which was previously posted here under an entry about Beers of the Islamic World.

Efes Pilsen, founded in 1969, is actually now the eighth most popular-selling beer in Europe. And, perhaps even more surprising is that it has breweries in Serbia, Russia, Georgia and Kazakhstan!

The beer company is headquartered in Istanbul and is frequently advertised throughout Turkey. We have heard that it can at times actually be hard to find the beer or any alcohol products in Konya, Turkey, which is the country's most conservative city, but we have not been there is 23 years so that would hard to verify!

Top 10 Most Controversial Songs of All-Time

Guns N Roses seems to be a band that gets put on a lot of controversial Top Ten lists when it comes to music though the politically-minded progressive rock legends The Clash appear to be forgotten/neglected by those folks putting such lists together though their 1979 song "London Calling" caused quite a stir in the UK.

Today, we feature a Top Ten Most Controersial Songs list compiled by

The late '80s song "Dear God" by XTC is a personal favorite. The lead singer of the band whose name I should know said that some radical evangelical Christian threatened to resort to violent measures if a radio station in his hometown of Jacksonville, Fla., didn't quit playing the song. I imagine today that guy is head of the Florida Tea Party.

Here is the list:

1. "Louie Louie" by The Kingsmen

2. "Used to Love Her" by Guns N Roses (pictured)

3. "Kim" by Eminem

4. "Cop Killer" by Blood Count

5. "F*** the Police" by NWA

6. "God Save the Queen" by The Sex Pistols

7. "Darling Nikki" by Prince

8. "If U Seek Amy" by Britney Spears

9. "Dear God" by XTC

10. "Suicide Solution" by Ozzy Osbourne

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Today, We Celebrate Five Years of Blogging!

It was on Sept. 18, 2005, when we started with the original version of "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time," a blog which is still active ( time is beginning to become much like Kuwaiti oil, a thing which once seemed plentiful, but now much less so!).

Today, I run both the new version of that blog and this crazy thing called "The Daily Vampire," which is actually an in-joke about my twisted sleep cycle, but perhaps because of the "Twiligt" film and book series as well as "True Blood," this blog gets about 12 times as many hits per day as "Politics...," yet we seldom post anything about vampires here!

I want to take a moment to recognize my alma mater Glenvar High School's remarkable 3-0 start to their high school football season. Last night, the Highlanders won a home game over the Grayson County Blue Devils by a 27-7 score.

My other favorite high school in Virginia, Floyd County High School, which ironically hosts Glenvar on Nov. 9, won a road game against George Wythe High School by a 17-7 score.

And, of course, I'm equally proud of both the American and Turkish men's basketball teams. The U.S. Team, which featured NBA phenom Kevin Durant and was coached by Coach K from Duke University, won the final game over a very impressive Turkish team which was lead by standout Hedo Turkoglu, who will now play for the Phoenix Suns, in Istanbul last week.

My late father Mehmet Gokbudak hailed from Turkey, and if he were alive today (he would actually be 89 years old!), I'm sure he'd still be telling me to do my math homework even though it's been 22 since I graduated from high school!

PS- I also want to extend my kudos to the NC St. football team. Though I sort of made fun of them earlier in the week, they did win their home game over the Cincy Bearcats on Thursday night by a 30-19 score.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Things We Learned from the BBC Today- Big Spider Web Found in Madagascar

Alas, we couldn't find the impressive image of the some 50-foot long spider's web found by scientists on a riverbed in the southest African nation of Madagascar, but we did find this image which we can also use as an homage to Stan Lee (the creator of the comic book character "Spiderman").

The web was found by a team of scientists, according to the BBC, which included Ingi Agnarsson who told the media outlet the following after seeing the spectacle of nature for himself:

"Some of the webs qualify, to be to the best of our knowledge, as the largest spider webs ever documented."

The scientists have also indicated that the web is the product of a Darwin's bark spider, which is a recently discovered spider species.

The largest spider web found in the United States was in Texas in 2007. I imagine it did nothing to help cure anyone's arachnophobia.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Things We Learned From Twitter Today- Good News for College Football Fanatics...

There is a completely meaningless college football game tomorrow night which might actually be a fairly interesting contest.

Now, this post may not go over well here in The Tarheel State since we are a mere 108kilometers away from the state capital, but we do love the North Carolina State Wolfpack's women's gymnastics team with senior Brittany Vontz (who is a great vaulter, we believe) but they don't start their season until a home meet on Jan. 14 against Oklahoma.

As for the 'Pack football team, they have a home game tomorrow night at home againt the Cincinnati Bearcats which were an up and coming powerhouse in the Big East until their coach left for Notre Dame.

But, through a tweet from ACC Sports, we learned that 'Pack coach Tom O'Brien actually is a Cincy Reds fan as he grew up in Ohio and he is looking forward to the game. His team is 2-0, while the 'Cats are 1-1.

The 'Pack were one of the few ACC teams that won last week as they beat Central Florida 28-21. Among the most recent debacles for ACC football is Virginia Tech's 21-16 home loss to James Madison University.

Quote of the Week- Arthur Miller

Those of you who just read my last entry about my Facebook page being hijacked by a cyber-pirate might be wondering if this is really Spacely Sprocket from Dayton, Ohio, and I want to assure that is indeed me and I have a memo to fire George Jetson.

In all seriousness, we are going to blog a bit to take our mind off things even though the girl I like is probably meeting a guy from Slovenia through an E-Harmony rip-of site as we speak.

Our Quote of the Week is the late, great playwright Arthur Miller (1915-2005) who left us with some great quips.

His most famous play "Death of a Salesman" will be in production at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre in Milwaukee,Wisconsin, from April 12-May 8, 2011. The theatre is now performing "Cabaret," and, of course, Miller never wrote musicals!

The Eclipse Theatre Company in Chicago is currently performing a much lesser-known Miller drama "A Memory of Two Mondays." Tickets can be purcahsed by calling 773-325-9655.

Here is the quote from Miller:

"I think it's a mistake to ever look for hope outside one's self."

Here is

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Pirate Took Over My Facebook Page...

Well, folks, we have a big huge mess on our hands as someone posing as a cute girl from Istanbul, Turkey, managed to cyber-flirt with me and get me to reveal my favorite restaurant (which isn't Burger King) and hence he/she got into my Facebook account and I can not get back in.

Facebook hacking is increasing, and it is quite complicated to resolve.

A woman in Kansas whose son is or was serving in Iraq had to deal with a hacker getting into her Facebook account and finding out sensitive information like where her son was located.

Make sure this does not happen to you, and there are alas many, many ways it can happen.

I will be taking a break from blogging for a week to get this mess resolved, and take care of more pressing matters. Of course, if I do find the person or persons who did this, I will break their legs!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Entry 666.........

Since we are blogging from a public library in Mount Airy, NC, (well, somewhere within a days drive from there), we thought it might be wise not to have too much fun with this, particularly after the Koran-burning brewhaha that the whacko Rev. Terry Jones of Gainesville, Fla. stirred up. If I have learned one thing over the years, it is that very religious people, regardless if they are Baptist, Catholic, Jewish, Mormon or Muslim can get offended quite easily.........!!! However, this indeed our 666th entry.

And, should one be interested in "Hot Stuff" (well the Harvey Comics series was popular circa 1975, so they probably don't have any back issues in stock) or any other comic book title and you live in The Tarheel State, I highly recommend a stop at Chapel Hill Comics in Chapel Hill, NC, particularly if UNC's football team is playing in College Park, Md. (well, the logical assumption is that there would be better parking availability).

Chapel Hill Comics is now offering eight different styles Scott Pilgrim t-shirts which would be perfect for a job interview at Bank of America. (For those of you in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, or Provo, Utah, that is a joke)

Top Ten Most Controversial Books of All Times

I must profess that the Top 10 Most Controversial Books of all time list that I found on actually cited "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" as the most controversial book on American library shelves, but I thought this image of Huckleberry Hound, the '60s cartoon that one can watch on Boomerang, would be more hip.

The idea, of course, stems from the proposed Koran book-burning crusade that the radical Rev. Terry Jones considered carrying out until virtually the last minute. He supposedly got a sign from God, or his doctor gave him a perscription to Prozac.

Alas, arch conservative Virginia governor Bob McDonnell (R), who is perhaps just 'slightly to the left' of Rev. Jones, will probably go through with the execution of a mentally ill woman from Pittsylvania County (near Danville) on Sept. 23. Perhaps, he will get a sign from God too.

"Huck Finn: was, of course, written by the great American writer Mark Twain. On Sept. 24, The Mark Twain House, which is in Hartford, Conn., (this surprises from Europeans since much of Twain's novels take place around his native Missouri), will be hosting a lecture from ghost-investigating legend Lorraine Warren. Yes, I know the "Ghostbusters" theme is probably going through your mind right now too!

It should be mentioned that the frequent use of the 'n' word is the prime reason for concerns about Twain's novel even though it illustrated the evils of slavery.

Here is the complete Top Ten List of controversial books:

1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

2. The Cathcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

3. To Kill a Mockinghbird by Harper Lee

4. Bridge to Terabithia by Katerine Paterson (this was a surprise!)

5. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

7. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

8. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

9. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

10. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Things We Learned on the BBC Today- Turkish People to Make Important Decision

Turkey, my late father's homeland, should be a united country, at least for the next 24 hours. Thanks to a 19-point effort from Ersan Ilyasova, Team Turkey defeated Slovenia 95-68 to reach the semi-finals of the World Basketball Championships in Istanbul.

But, as the team faces Serbia on Saturday, the Turkish people will be getting ready to make a potentially historic decision at the ballot regarding the country's constitution.

According to the BBC, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is pushing the referendum, is in a virtual war of words with his political opponents, such as CHP (Republic People's Party) head Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

The CHP leader effectively says that Erdogan wants to take even more control of the central government in Ankara and the passage of the weekend referendum would allow him to appoint high-ranking federal judges and potentially trespass Turkey's long-standing policy which separates 'mosque and state.'

Erdogan has used arguments that the likes of Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, who both ironically oppose the building of a mosque near Ground Zero in New York, have used in stating the religion is a vital part of political life in Turkey as it is in any country.

The vote also comes as the month-long Ramadan holiday is coming to a close, the ninth anniversary of September 11th, the 28th anniversary of the last Turkish coup in 1982 and the likely prospects of a crazy Florida preacher burning copies of the Koran.

The referendum has some secularist support since it would address concerns that the Turkish military has too much political control of government affairs, but for the most, this is essentially a vote that religious people in Turkey support and secularists strongly oppose.

Eda Utku, a woman who works for a Turkish fashion magazine, stated on a BBC message board that she is voting 'hayir/no' because she think the government has a hidden agenda.

I fully sympathize with her view.

SIDEBAR: While the whacko Rev. Terry Jones is getting ready for his Koran bonfire in Gainesville, Fal., that will assuredly assist radical jihadists in places like Yemen and Afghanistan, the liberal blog Jesus' General ( is reporting that Sept. 12 is supposedly Burn the Confederate Flag Day. Though we sympathize with that political viewpoint and one's constitutional right to take up such matters, we also don't recommend that one does that in Fort Mill, SC, or anywhere else south of Frederick, Md.!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Things We Learned on Twitter Today- Angelina Condemns Koran Burning Project

It may not be often that a liberal movie star like Angelina Jolie would agree with a leading member of the U.S. military brass like Gen. David Patraeus, but they are on the same page when it comes to being against the Rev. Terry Jones' dubious plans to burn copies of the Koran at his radical church in Gainesville, Fla., this weekend.

Jones has said that he is going to burn the Korans to protest Sept. 11th even though virtually the entire Muslim world, including an imam from Iznik, Turkey, who I spoke while visiting his historic village just days after the terrorist attacks, condemned the events of 9-11.

"The Gainesville Sun" ( tweeted that the star of "Salt" was agast with the news of Jones' proposition.

Jolie, 35, said the following to members of the media about the Koran burning project in Islamabad, Pakistan, where she is visiting after a trip to nothwest Pakistan where the movie star talked to refugees of the recent horrific flooding that occured in that region:

"I have hardly the words that somebody would do that to somebody's religious book."

Jolie's trip is part of her mission as a goodwill ambassador for The United Nations' refugee agency. The U.N. has issued a $460 million pledge to help the flood victims.

The Koran burning project, which has also been condemned by Vatican officials, has been the buzz of Twitter and other chatrooms/discussion boards.

On Twitter, Nathan Tabor, a Christian conservative activist in Winston-Salem, NC, asked his followers on Twitter if they thought the Koran burning project was a good idea or not.

The film critic Roger Ebert, also on Twitter, compared Rev. Jones to Satan for his actions.

I will simply add my two cents and say that as the son of a Muslim immigrant, I think Rev. Jones is a 'budala,' that's the Turkish word for idiot.

Rev. Jones is with the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, which contrary to its name is not a progressive religious organization. His efforts also come as Muslims around the world are concluding the month-long Ramadan holiday.

Ironically, the actor Terry Jones, as a member of Monty Python, appeared in the highly controversial 1979 satire film "Life of Brian," which was considered to be blasphemous by many Christian groups at the time.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bill Murray Birthday Bash in Roanoke, Va., on Sept 21

We don't know if the Bill Murray movie that will be screened will in fact be Wes Anderson's "Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" or not, but on Sept. 21, The Shadowbox Cinema in Roanoke, Va., will screen a Murray film in honor of his 60th birthday.

Murray has been in all kinds of films, ranging from art house dramas like "Broken Flowers" (2005) and "Lost in Translation" (2003) to cult comedies like "Groundhog Day" (1993) and "Kingpin" (1996).

Murray made a name for himself on "Saturday Night Life" before starring or co-starring in big screen blockbusters like "Caddyshack" (1980), "Stripes" (1981) and "Ghost Busters" (1984).

He is currently in the film "Get Low" with Robert Duvall and Sissy Spacek, all three of whom were part-time or full-time residents of Virginia (Spacek still lives on a farm near Charlottesville). "Get Low" is playing at cinemas around the country, including the Carolina Theatre in Durham, NC.

High School of the Week- Bluefield HS (West Virginia)

Initially, we were going to choose Big Creek High School in War, W.Va., which is where former NASA researcher Homer Hickam (whose memoir 'Rocket Boys' was turned into the film 'October Sky') went to school. But, we found out that the school whose nickname was The Owls closed earlier this year!

So, as a result, our High School of the Week is Bluefield High School in the bordertown of Bluefield, W.Va., which happens to be where the famous mathematician John Nash (subject of the film "A Beautiful Mind") went to school. Bluefield is about an hour away from War in the southern part of West Virginia.

BHS was founded in 1953. The school nickname is The Beavers (note: the image about is not the school's logo). There are about 650 students attending school at BHS, where the principal is Joe Turner.

BHS won the state high school football championship last year. This past weekend, they defeated rival school Princeton HS 17-0.

The school newspaper is "The Beaver Voice," and it is published online.

SIDEBAR: Our kudos go out to Floyd County High School in Floyd, Va., as The Buffaloes beat Rural Retreat High School 48-20 in football on Friday night. The Buffs' are division rivals with my alma mater Glenvar High School (Salem, Va.) which came from behind in a home win over James River High School from Buchanan.

SIDEBAR TWO: It appears that Idaho will not be a favored vacation destination for clients of travel agents in Roanoke, Va., since nearby Virginia Tech lost their season opener in college football by a 33-30 margin against Boise State, in a game that was played on the Washington Redskins' home field in Maryland.

But, for those of you who are now Hokies alum (I went to nearby Radford University), you may want to check out The Idaho Potato Museum in the town of Blackfoot. Conversely, those of you visiting Virginia may want to check out another nifty roadside attraction in The Natural Bridge Zoo, which is near Lexington, Va. Interestingly enough, there is a Virginia Tech alumni chapter in Idaho!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Quote of the Week- Tennesee Williams

Today, we continue our long-running Quotes of the Week series with a quip from the late Southern playwright Tennessee Williams (1911-1983).

One of his more famous plays "The Glass Menagerie" is currently in production at Triad Sage in Greensboro, NC, which in my view continuously performs excellent shows-- even musicals! It will run there until Sept. 26.

From Sept. 23-26, there is a Tennessee Williams Theatre Festival in Provincetown, Mass., where another Williams play "Suddenly Last Summer" will be performed with actress Dana Ivey.

Lastly, the 18th Annual Mississippi Delta Tennessee Williams Festival gets underway in Clarksdale, Mississippi- Williams' hometown from Oct. 15-16.

Here is the quote from the playwright who also wrote "A Streetcar Named Desire" and (my favorite of his plays) "Night of the Iguana" among many others:

"All of us are guinea pigs in the laboratory of God. Humanity is a work in progress."

Sunday, September 5, 2010

50 Beers Around the World- Zlaty Bazant (Slovakia)

We aren't sure if we've been to Slovakia or not though I did go through Czechoslovakia as a kid in the 1970s. But, Slovakia wanted a divorce so now there is the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

And, Zlaty Banat, which means Golden Pheasant, has been dubbed the best beer in Slovakia. The brewery was founded in the city of Hurbanova in 1969 and a travel site for Bratislva, the Slovakian capital proclaims that Slovaks are tenth in beer consumption around the world.

We imagine that the Germans and Canadians are ahead of them, though there is no research to back this up!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Top 10 Most Controversial Films of All Time?

After contemplating many different options for this week's Top Ten List, including a list from the old "Late Night with David Letterman" from 1991, I've chosen to go with a Top Ten List which deals with the supposed most controversial films ever made.

I did not make this list myself, and it was posted on three years ago today and hence it does not feature the fairly recent Lars Von Trier film "Anti-Christ."

But, since many of the films mentioned on this particular list and the one I will post on my other blog deal with religion, we thought we'd go with an image of Jesus Christ who is apparently going to be visiting a fundamentalist church in Madison, NC, soon (we couldn't resist!)*.

Interestingly enough, this film does not include German Nazi films like "Triumph of the Will" nor any Vietnam War films from either the left or the right, including the documentary "Hearts and Minds" from the left or the John Wayne film "The Green Berets" from the right.

The Sundance Channel will be broadcasting the early '70s documentary "FTA," featuring Jane Fonda making anti-Vietnam War rallies outside American military bases in Hawaii, The Philippines and Okinawa (Japan) on Monday. This film by the late Francine Parker which was effectively banned upon its initial release will show at 8:40 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. on Monday. To this date, it is the subject of great debate.

*- We mention Madison, NC, 20 miles north of Greensboro, in particular because there is a church there which has erected some 14 white crosses along Rte. 220!

Here is the list:

10. "Last Tango in Paris" (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1972)

9. "Natural Born Killers" (Oliver Stone, 1994)

8. Birth of a Nation (D.W. Griffith, 1915)

7. "The Last Temptation of Christ" (Martin Scorsese, 1988)**

6. "JFK" (Oliver Stone, 1991)

5. "Deep Throat" (Gerard Damiano, 1972)***

4. "Fahrenheit 9-1-1" (doc. Michael Moore, 2004).

3. "Salo" (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1975)

2. "A Clockwork Orange" (Stanley Kubrick, 1971)

1. "The Passion of the Christ" (Mel Gibson, 2004)

**- Scorsese's film is actually banned from Bulgarian public television.

***-"Deep Throat" is the only film on the list which is considered an adult film.

Friday, September 3, 2010

It Was a VERY Bad Day...

Yes, things did not go according to plan at all today. Though I am thankful that I made a two-hour trip from North Carolina to Virginia in Labor Day traffic without running into a tree or a right-wing fanatic with pro-life and Sarah Palin '08 bumper stickers.

In short, it was to be a day in which I wanted to get a lot accomplished, the end, only two things on my 40 Things To Do List got taken care of, and one of those was to check my Twitter account!

I also want to congratulate my friend Moviezzz on the fifth anniversary of his Movies blog

Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day and one in which we can find a chance to post our Weekly Top 10 list.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Program Reminder- Turkish Music Show on WUVT-FM

Thanks to modern technology, one does not actually need to physically be in Blackburg, Va., or the surrounding communities like Newport and Christiansburg to listen to WUVT 90.7-FM, the college radio station for Virginia Tech.

In fact, by logging on to, a person in Bergen, Norway, or Tashkent, Uzbekistan, can listen to the show just as well as someone in Montgomery County, presuming the links are working adequately!

WUVT is known for having a nifty lineup on Saturdays, which includes "The Turkish Show" with my friend DJ Onur from 1:00-2:30 p.m. (The image above is that of a simit vendor. We have no idea if he is in Istanbul, Edirne, Eskisehir or Yozgat, but the photo was definitely taken somewhere in Turkey). Last week, Onur played selections from pop diva Sezen Aksu, renown instrumentalist Okay Temiz, the late 'Turkish hippie' Baris Manco (he had very long hair, which is very unusual in Turkey) and the folk group Kardes Turkuler.

The Virginia Tech station also has a Greek show hosted by friend Maria which runs from 11 a.m.-1:00 p.m., on Saturdays. Last week, she played tracks from Eleni Vitali, Poli Pano and Nikos Grapsas. The show has been a mainstay of the WUVT lineup since it was started by her late husband Kriton (we believe) some 20-plus years ago.

WUVT also has a bluegrass show hosted by Peter French from 7-9 a.m. (set your alarm clocks!), the children's music and entertainment show "Hickory Dickory Dock" from 9-11 am and an Iranian music show from 2:30-4:00 p.m. (All of these are Saturday shows).

Music from area musicians can be heard on the station's program "The Local Zone" which airs on Wednesday nights from 7-9.

We checked what the station was playing today, and one of the last 15 tracks was the song "Tennessee" from the band Silver Jews (?!) off their album "Bright Fright."

I've never heard of this band....perhaps, I'm getting too old!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Things We Learned on the BBC Today

The BBC reported yesterday that southern Sudan is pledging to end their highly controversial child soldier program. The United Nations' children's agency estimates that there are 900 child soldiers right now in the region.

Southern Sudan is holding an independence referendum in January. The territory wants to separate from the rest of Sudan,

Sudan's civil war ended in 2005, but tensions between the two sides remain high.

The genocide in Darfur has also been an issue of global concern in Sudan.

Things We Learned on Twitter Today- Koalas Coming to Arizona

We hope they won't have to show immigration papers to an Arizona state police officer (forgive the center-left political humor), but two cute and cuddly Koala bears, which are native to Australia, will be coming to The Phoenix Zoo via a loan from the San Diego Zoo, according to a tweet from The Phoenix Zoo. The bears will be arriving in Phoenix on Oct. 3.