Friday, December 31, 2010
Much of Day Three of our Christmas Family Trip to Washington, DC, which was on Wednesday, was spent at the fairly new Smithsonian Native American Museum.
Among the things we found out at this rather large museum was that rock pioneer Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970) of Seattle was of Native American heritage, in addition to being black and he wore fancy costumes (one of which was on display) to pay homage to his heritage.
But, before we went through the museum which also featured art exhibits and historical/cultural displays, we ate lunch....and, a very expensive lunch at that in the museum's cafeteria.
My sister and I both got tamales with two sides, and the dishes cost a staggering twenty dollars each! My mom got a vegetarian soup and a sweet potato tart while my brother-in-law had either a pizza or a burger with a Bohemia beer and a cheesecake. The meal cost a shocking $95!
I asked my brother-in-law (who is not actually named Sven, nor is he Swedish- see earlier entry) is Bohemia was a Czech beer, but it turned out to be Mexican. While researching this piece, I found out that Bohemia, like another Mexican beer Pacifico, is made in the Pilsner style which originated in a part of what is now the Czech Republic.
My brother-in-law had a slight dispute as we were dinning as I had recalled an article in "Esquire" that stated the best tamales in America were found in Mississippi. He countered that they were actually found in New Mexico.
As it turns out, both of us could very be right.
Tamales are a traditional Latin dish, that is even found in India, made of masa, a corn-based starch dough. Along with Mexico, the Latin form of tamales can be found in Cuba, Argentina, El Salvador, Belize and Guatemala among other countries.
Tamales came to the United States in 1893, and quickly became popular among African-Americans, hence the reason why they are popular in the Deep South, particularly Mississippi, as well as in western states like Arizona and New Mexico with large Hispanic populations.
One place where one can find tamales in the South is at Fat Mama Tamales in Natchez, Miss., while there is a restaurant called Leona's Taurante in the hamlet of Chimayo, N.Mex, which also specializes in the dish.
One can even order frozen tamales from santafetamales.com (phone: 505-471-4766), including red chile tamales, green chile tamales and vegan tamales.
SIDEBAR: We want to congratulate the town of Strasburg, Va., about one hour and 15 minutes south of Washington, DC, on their 250th anniversary which is being celebrated tonight. The town is home to The Strasburg High School Rams, The Hotel Strasburg and The Strasburg Emporium, which is among the most popular antiques malls in the northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
I meant to blog about Day Two of our 2010 Christmas Family Trip to Washington, DC, yesterday, but getting lost on my way back from a cinema curtailed that effort, so I am writing about it tonight.
Day Two was actually Tuesday. It was far and away the busiest day of the trip, which concludes tomorrow. We saw four Smithsonian museums in one day. One of the highlights was the American History Museums, which contains lots of pop culture and athletic memorabilia in addition to historic items like the counter from North Carolina A and T students sit-in in Greensboro, NC (the Gate City opened a Civil Rights Museum to honor the four men involved earlier this year).
Since the '70s sitcom "Happy Days" was considered subversive by my late father Mehmet Gokbudak at the time, I have always had a special place for The Fonz. My father really detested the phrase "Sit on It!" which Henry Winkler's character uttered quite frequently. To my Turkish father, this was a sign of how Americans had no respect for their parents or elders.
While researching this piece, we found out that The Fonz was meant to be a secondary character but much like George and Elaine on "Seinfeld," he simply took over. There is now a web site called "What Would the Fonz Do" which makes fun of the "What Would Jesus Do" adage that fundamentalist Christians have utilized to the point of redundancy.
Another item on display at the history museum which caught my eye was the leotard of Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin, since I am a gymnastics fan. The pink leotard had an American flag and an emblem from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, in which Liukin won an individual gold medal.
We discovered from researching this piece that according to her Twitter page Liukin was spending the holidays with her family in Vail, Colo. (we hope they weren't driving her crazy) and that she has apparently been dating another gold medalist, figure skater Evan Lysacek. I must profess that even though Liukin, 21, is 19 years younger than me that I am a tad bit jealous (must be my ethnicity!).
My family and I also saw the ice skates worn by another gold medalist Brian Boitano from the 1988 Calgary Olympics, but as the makers of "South Park" have suggested there is apparently some question about his sexual orientation, but irregardless of that he would be too old to date Liukin too!
My night with the family concluded with a dinner at the Commonwealth Gastro Pub where I had a $13 lamb burger. Other menu items included a $12 grass-feed burger and a $13 uncommon burger_ none of us could figure out what that was!
We will have more on the zany Day Two of the DC trip on our other blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time."
We conclude this portion of the DC Diary by congratulating my friend Turkish-German modern dancer Nejla Yatkin, who has resided in both Washington, DC, and New York in recent years, on the tenth anniversary of her dance company NY 2 Dance.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
So much for a hiatus!
This 'historic' blog entry marks our very first one from the nation's capital, Washington, DC, though we have blogged about this town and its suburb Bethesda, Md, many times over the years.
Even though I am now in DC for a second day, I will reflect on each preious day starting with yesterday, and our musings will continue on our other blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time."
Yesterday, we left Roanoke, Va., at almost exaclty 11 a.m. to make the four-hour drive to The District.
We stopped for lunch at Mug Shots, a coffee shop in downtown Staunton, Va., which some Christmas albums, including one by Jim Nabors (is he dead or alive), we need to ask our Honduran intern Javiet to look that up; as soon as we find out, we'll let you know).
There were some cute college-age girls behing the counter who were clogging in the kitchen as we eating our chicken sandwiches.
We then stopped in lovely Front Royal, Va., which has a small baseball stadium named after another Christmas-song legend Bing Crosby, but we just had time to stop there for gas. But, from living near the area, I can assure you it is a charming place with lots of horse farms and antique shops, though I have to ask: "Did they really need an Applebees?"
We finally arrived in DC a little before 5:00 p.m. And, then we briefly argued over what to watch on tv before settling on some cooking reality show on tv. Personally, I would have even chosen reruns of "Sanford and Son" on TV Land, but that's just me!
The funny moment during the drive came when we were in Fairfax, Va., a DC suburb. I told my sister and her husband, Sven and Eva Thomasson, who both live in Goteborg, Sweden, (they like me to take radical steps to assure their privacy, these are not their real names or where they actually live) that I was glad we were not going to the Vietnam Memorial again this year.
The reason is not because I am an unpatriotic far-left extremist who has every cd that Rage Against the Machine ever put out (though my zip code is so far right that all Democrats are considered Maoists), but simply because we went last year so my mom could find one of her students from the '60s who went to William Byrd High School in Vinton, Va. Since this student of her's alas died during the Vietnam War, his name was on the wall.
It was a very moving, but also a very somber experience.
As it turns out, Sven's stepfather in Vermont is a war veteran and he wants us to find the names of his fallen buddies on the wall. But, at least, we're not going back to The Holocaust Museum.
Monday, December 27, 2010
The case of Angel Diaz, who was 55 when executed on Dec. 13, 2006, made national headlines because the lethal injection process required a second dose that caused the execution to take a staggering 34 minutes. Jeb Bush was the governor of Florida at the time.
Diaz was sentenced to death for murdering Miami topless bar owner Jospeh Nasy in 1979, a crime which he denied up until his last moments of life.
The anti-death penalty site Last Words of the Executed tweeted a portion of Diaz's statement on that night.
We make no secret on this blog of our opposition to capital punishment, but without getting into the politics of the delicate matter, and we certainly sympathize for those who have lost loved ones due to homicide, here is that statement from Diaz:
"The state of Florida is killing an innocent person. The state of Florida is committing a crime, because I am innocent. The death penalty is not only a form of vengeance, but also a cowardly act by humans. I'm sorry for what is happening to me and my family because of this."
And, this will in all likelihood be our last blog entry of the year!
Sunday, December 26, 2010
There is a poster of one of the late Roy Lichtenstein's last paintings "Tintin Reading" from 1994 featuring Herge's legendary Belgian comic book adventurer and his dog Fluffy.
Lichtenstein (1923-1997) was among the pop artists of the 1960s which included the late Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns, who is still alive at 80. The American artist, who also completed complex sculptures, used comic strip panels for much of his visual art. Most of theses panels looked like ones from comic strips like "Flash Gordon," "Dick Tracy" and "Mary Worth" (which started in 1939, and is still in many newspapers today) that focused on dramatic elements and storylines rather than 'Charlie Brown, Lucy and the football" gags.
Among Lichtenstein's famous paintings (ranging from 1958-1996) are "Look Mickey," "Drowning Girl," "Whaam!," "Grrr" and "I Know....Brad."
This quote from the great artist, who is perhaps my personal favorite, ever since I saw an exhibit of his work in Montreal in 1994, is certainly one we would not expect from comic actors like Woody Allen or the late Andy Kaufman:
"I don't have anxieties. I wish I did. I'd be much more interesting."
NOTE: We may be on a slight hiatus since we are going on a family vacation, but stay tuned for my Worst Person of the Year entry as well as a look at my top ten favorite films of 2010 before we get too much into 2011.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Yes, this was on our Silly Gifts Wish List, but I didn't get it! The Jesus Christ bobblehead doll retails for $9.95 from the bobbleheadstore.net and it is available at novelty stores nationwide, though it may be hard to find in Konya, Turkey (the most conservative city in the Muslim country).
There is some irony as my favorite religious-themed movie is "Monty Python's Life of Brian" (1979) which many Christian conservatives views as blasphemy!
Today's tradition of us finding some kitschy or unusual cultural entity wish everyone a happy holiday or birthday continues as we wish you a Christmas by way of The Beach Boys (if you like this idea, give me credit; if you don't, then send an email to Javier our Honduran college student intern who is on loan to us from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.)
We learned while researching this that The Beach Boys' 1965 album "Smile" was completely shelved and the inferior "Smiley Smile" was released instead. Though Brian Wilson, who was lead singer at the time, rerecorded "Smile" in 2004 as a solo venture.
There were more than 400,000 covers of the "Smile" album which were stored in a Pennsylvania warehouse that were destroyed in the 1980s.
Among the singles from the commercially unsuccessful "Smiley Smile" lp was "Good Vibrations."
So, with that being said: "Merry Christmas from The Beach Boys."
Friday, December 24, 2010
Though it might be hard to find an open bar tomorrow in Salt Lake City, Utah, one can be rest assured that finding a beer in Jerusalem should be a bit easier. And, a patron at that bar would probably find a Goldstar Beer, one of the most popular brands in Israel.
Goldstar Beer is a five percent pale lager which has been produced since the 1950s. It is also marked as a 'dark lager beer' though it is pale in appearance, according to Wikipedia.
Of course, it is also certified kosher!
And, the beer was mentioned in the 1981 Duran Duran song "Tel Aviv."
We could not find out if the beer is available in America, and if so how widely available it would be.
As for those of you looking for open bars tomorrow, we learned that The Blue Banana on Georgia Avenue in Washington, DC, will be serving up brew starting at 8:00 p.m.
Right now, I'm listening to a blues song that's about Santa Claus drinking beer from the legendary Lightin'Hopkins!
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Before I start this random survey, which alas snubs the strangest duet of all time David Bowie and Bing Crosby's rendition of "Little Drummer Boy," which came in at number 11, I want to credit cult filmmaker/author/entertainer John Waters for introducing me to our top choice. Waters put the 1973 song "Santa Claus is a Black Man" by Akim and the Teddy Vann Production on a 2004 cd compilation called "A John Waters Christmas," and of course the world being what it is Waters was apparently sued for that!
One can also check out the latest obscure Christmas song compilation from Chicago concert promoter Andy Cirzan through christmas.soundopinions.org
The songs aired on the NPR show (produced by WBEZ-Chicago) "Sound Opinions" and they include "Flying Machine for Christmas" by Jimmy McGriff, which is as surreal as it sounds!
Another song that just missed our cut was "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch," which was the theme to the Dr. Seuss Christmas special "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." The tune was sung by the late Thurl Ravenscroft, who was the voice of the cereal commercial icon Tony the Tiger. Ravenscroft died in 2005 at age 95.
But, we think you'll like most of this list which as long-term readers will notice contains a lot of songs from the '80s when I went to Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, MD, (actually Glenvar High School in Salem, Va., but I like schools named after famous cool people).
Here is the list:
1. "Santa Claus is a Black Man," Akim and the Teddy Vann Production
2. "The Chipmunk Song," The Chipmunks
3. "Christmas Wrapping," The Waitresses, a great two hit wonder band from Akron, Ohio. This song came out in 1981. "I Know What Boys Like" was the band's other hit single.
4. "Father Christmas," The Kinks- perhaps the darkest Christmas song ever recorded, and it's also awesome!
5. "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer," this could be the one Christmas song they play on fm stations in Qom, Iran (that is a song though there is a city in Iran named Qom!)
6. "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," Bruce Springsteen
7. "Felix Navidad" Jose Feliciano---wow, that's the second time we've mentioned Feliciano this week; we had never mentioned him in our five years of blogging!
8. "Do They Know It's Christmas...?," Band Aid_ a song that was actually kind of annoying when it first came out in 1985, but it mixes class and kitsch and where else are you going to hear Bono and Boy George on the same track!
9. "Happy Christmas (War is Over)," John Lennon and Yoko Ono_ I hate to admit but I actually thought this was an old Beatles song once!
10. "Santa Baby," Eartha Kitt_ Hey, we want females to visit this blog. I have a feeling they are not out top demographic!
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Today, my mom Lila Sullivan turns 71. She was born on Dec. 22, 1939, in Florence, SC. Since my father Mehmet Gokbudak died in 1983, when I was 13, and my mom remarried our last names are different.
We thought we'd salute her with an image from one of her favorite singers, Dolly Parton, the pride of Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Mom also likes Bob Dylan, Jimmy Buffett and Tina Turner.
Parton will release her 43rd studio album next year, and she has a birthday herself on Jan. 19 when she turns 65.
I was curious to learn about those famous Dolly Parton pinball machines. As it turns out, collector Nibby Priest of Henderson, Ky., posted a Youtube video which revealed that the machines first came out in November of 1979 and there were 7,350 made.
We also found out that Parton made the cover of "Rolling Stone" (yes, we were surprised too!) for the magazine's Dec. 11, 1980 issue which also featured a story on a then-emerging band from Athens, Ga., called The B-52s. Another band from Athens, REM would, of course, soon follow.
So, Happy Birthday mom.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
According to a Lauren Smiley column in "San Francisco Weekly" that we saw via Twitter, ultra conservative radio talk show host Michael Savage who may well be the most extreme one of them all (and he ironically lives in the Bay area), is in a big spat with his employers Talk Radio Network.
Savage apparently wants a professional divorce, but it will cost him about $4 million.
The two parties appear to be heading to court.
And, speaking of court, we are going to refrain from going further into what Smiley talked about because we don't want to get sued! (We make zero dollars and zero cents for our work here, and that goes for our Honduran intern Javier too!).
According to a small article in the Greensboro, NC, alternative "Yes Weekly" from my friend Brian Clarey (who unlike Javier is a real person) the right-leaning blog Lowcountry912 in South Carolina was sued by Righthaven for apparently publishing a column from "The Denver Post" in its entirety.
The incident was also the subject of an entry in a local Denver blog (Broke in Denver).
So, with that in mind, we are going to read some old "Pogo" comic strips now....
Before I post today's musings, I must profess that my good friend Moviezzz, and we do really know each other, is MUCH better at tv commentary than I am, and one can see that on his blog talkingmoviezzz.blogspot.com
I don't know much about what's going on with tv, except when I overhear people talking about how disappointed they are that "Lost" is over with or who sang what on "American Idol."
But, as a kid, I watched tv day and night, and one of my favorite shows was the sitcom "Chico and the Man" (1974-1978), which appeared on my Christmas gag list (referring to dvds of the show). Like many sitcoms of the era, such as "Sanford and Son," the show had an urban setting and dealt with inter-racial issues.
"Chico and the Man" took place in a rundown garage in east LA, and featured the late Freddie Prinze, who would be Sarah Michelle Gellar's father-in-law if he were alive today, and the late Jack Albertson.
Alas, Prinze comitted suicide at age 22 after a bout of drug addiction and depression in 1977. Amazingly enough, the show continued for one more season without him.
The theme song was composed by Jose Feliciano, who is on the radio a lot this time of year for his yuletide song "Felix Navidad." Another singer Tony Orlando once appeared in an episode as Chico's look alike.
Scatman Crothers and Della Reese were also members of the regular cast.
Six episodes of the show, which has seldom been shown in reruns, are available on a compliation dvd through Netflix.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Today, we continue our Quotes of the Week series for December with quips from famous artists. On our other blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time," we have a quote from the late Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, whose work was exhibited in Berlin, Germany, earlier this year.
For this entry, we quote the late American painter Georgia O'Keefe (1887-1986) whose work can be regularly at the Georgia O'Keefe Museum in Santa Fe, N. Mex. Currently, there is also an exhbit of her work at the Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus, Ohio.
Here is a quote from O'Keefe which makes me think of a Maureen Dowd book that makes fun of men which I almost got for a female friend today, before realizing it might be indict me (as well as other members of my tribe!):
"I feel there is something unexplored about a woman that only a woman can explore."
Saturday, December 18, 2010
I am suffering from laziness today.... (tembellik does mean laziness in Turkish)
Boy, this is really bad. I know this image doesn't suit the season, especially since it might snow in Cary, NC, (a suburb of Raleigh) tonight, where I was hoping to see a movie at the Galaxy Cinema, but we like it and that's all that matters. Right?
There happens to be a Lazy Dog Cafe chain in southern California, with locations in Irvine. Thousand Oaks and Torrance.
And, there is a Lazy Dog Vineyeard in Sonoma, Calif.
Ahh, it's time to take a nap.
Friday, December 17, 2010
Things haven't quite been this bad, but snow, sleet and ice were reported throughout our Bethesda, Md.-Rock Hill, SC, viewing area (of course, this is a joke since even folks in Yerevan, Armenia, or Mumbai, India, can access this blog).
But, we are focusing on the important things in life for the time being. Once those pesky things are taken care of, we will post our usual shananigans once again!
In the meantime, you can go to Youtube and watch a chainsaw juggler in Amsterdam, Holland, (yes, there is actually such a video!) until we get a chance to post a legitimate blog posting either tomorrow or some time early next week.
In the meantime, Merry Christmas and Happy Festivus!
Monday, December 13, 2010
Dagnamit! Well, that's what my friend Susan Paige from Bethesda, Maryland,(pse) said when she missed the Edvard Munch exhibit at the National Gallery in Washington, DC, that ended on Halloween. But, the good news is that she can now go to Rotterdam, Holland, to see an exhibit of the classic Norwegian artist's work!
Munch, best know for the pictured image ("The Scream") is perhaps the most famous Norwegian of all time although theatre people like my friend Sal Edmunds of Boones Mill, Va., (also a pse-fake name and fake residency for a real person living in a real place) would argue for Henrik Ibsen.
But, we never take sides here unless we're pummeling Sarah Palin!
The National Gallery, for its part, is now showcasing early Victorian British photographs until Jan. 28, so there's no need to kick a fire hydrant (which I actually did after narrowly missing a Norman Rockwell exhibit at The Corcoran Gallery, which is also in DC, some ten years ago).
Here is today's quip from Munch:
"But, can they (great works) get rid of the worm that lies gnawing at the roots of my heart? No, never."
One has to wonder if those sentiments were also felt by Australian artist Lloyd Graham and fellow painter Sarah Irani when they completed their 'masterpieces' which are hanging from the walls of The Museum of Bad Art (yes, it is an actual place) in the Brookline, Mass., area.
Irani's "Mama and Babe" looks like a picture of Cher with an orphaned child, while Graham's "Artist as a Young Man" appears to be a bad portrait of Bob Dylan.
Both paintings are a part of the museum's blue people series, which you can see on the net (if we showed those pictures here, they'd assuredly shoot us!).
I also love "Worried Guy," an anynomous painting of a man who looks like Medusa after a sex change, which was rescued from something like a trash can in Seattle.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Today, we are featuring Stella Artois, a Belgian beer primarily brewed in England, which was considered a high end beer since they advertised in high-brown magazines, but now one can even find the brew at a Sheetz gas station in Lynchburg, Va.!
Of course, Belgium is known for other things besides beer, but we can only think of Tintin (just kidding!).
According to Wikipedia, Belgians apparently drink a lot of beer_ some 93 liters per person annually! Of course, Wikileaks could tell us if the Emir of Kuwait secretly drinks it at his hotel room in Paris. (just kidding, again!).
Belgium also produces some 800 different brands of beer, which is remarkable given it is a relatively small country which is the size of Maryland or Connecticut.
Tintinland also has many beer festivals, in cities like Antwerp, Bruges and Brussells.
Additionally, there is a Christmas beer festival in Essen, a northern Flemish town that borders Holland. Essen is also where a lot of international cyclists like Bart Aernouts and Tom Meeusen reside.
I was in Tintinland way back in 1993, and much to my surprise the first beer I had in Brussells was from Norway?!
Friday, December 10, 2010
I suppose if one gave a child in Eskisehir, Turkey, a Mr. Potato Head doll for Christmas (hopefully, you're smart enough to get the joke), you have the tell little Ali or Ayse that the toy's name would be translated to ' Mr.Patates Kafasi'
But, closer to home, one can presumingly find Mr. Potato Head who is now over 50 years old at an independent toy store like Building Blocks, which has two locations in Chicago.
This item was feautred on our Top 10 Silly Things to Buy Me for X-Mas list last week.
Today, happens to mark the 750th entry of "The Daily Vampire" and we are celebrating here at the famed Elmo's Diner in Durham, NC, (actually not where we're at, but I have driven by the place and it looks swell!). The establishment also has a location in Carrboro, NC (Chapel Hill).
We will post another silly image from that list on Tuesday (perhaps). So, there is a chance you may get to see what a Che Guevara plush-toy or a Jesus Christ bobblehead doll looks like! We have no idea if they sell those at Building Blocks (we needed to say that for legal reasons!).
Thursday, December 9, 2010
In a recent issue of "Rolling Stone" heavy metal icon Ozzy Osbourne chose "She Loves You" as his favorite tune from The Beatles while Brian Wilson, the former lead singer of The Beach Boys, chose "Hey Jude."
Since yesterday was the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's assasination, I thought I'd do my own list of my top 10 favorite songs from The Beatles.
Even though I loved The Beatles in my early teen years, I got more into the New and underground music that was popular of Album-Oriented rock radio stations as well as legendary bands from the '70s like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.
Nevertheless, the music from Lenon, Paul McCartney, the late George Harrison and Ringo Starr has left a cultural impression on every music fan from Anchorage to Dubai, and beyond.
I just recently found out that the title for Stephen King's novel (which was made into a Stanley Kubrick film that the author is not found of) "The Shinning" came from the line: "We all shine on" in Lennon's solo song "Instant Karma." King happens to be own a rock and roll radio station in Bangor, Maine (100.3 FM).
Here is my list, which I may well disagree with come tomorrow morning!:
1. "Strawberry Fields Forever"
2. "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"
3. "Norwegian Wood"
5. "Ticket to Ride"
6. "Walrus Man"
7. "Helter Skelter"
8. "Nowhere Man"
9. "Yellow Submarine"
10. "Day Tripper"
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
According to a tweet from "The Seattle Times," there is a winter storm warning that has been issued for the Cascades region of central and eastern Washington state where they are expecting (double yikes!), one to three feet of freaking snow by Friday afternoon!
Comic strip artist/political cartoonist Keith Knight who pens "The Knight Life" will be protesting in front of "The Seattle Times" today as they newspaper dropped his comic strip. According to the comic strip's web site, Knight said he was ironically on his way to Seattle to give the editor a fruit basket for deciding to add "The Knight Life"!
And, "The Onion" also has a 'story' about the Northwest part of the United States today as they put together a mock article regarding people's opinions over the disclosure that the property which was once the location of the Unabomber's log cabin in a remote part of western Montana is up for sale. Kylie Laskin (since "The Onion" publishes fake stories, we have no idea if she is a real person) said: "That (the property) would be a perfect place for my Kevorkian van."
We also want to pass our condolences to the friends and family of Elizabeth Edwards who passed away at her home in Chapel Hill, NC, yesterday from a seven-year fight with cancer. But, I must profess I'm glad I backed out of volunteering for her estranged husband John Edwards for the South Carolina primary. We all know what happened there!
Top trending topics on Twitter today include: Grinch, Birthday Ian, Yoko Ono, Pearl Harbor, Rubin and Glee Christmas.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Up until Christmas Day, we will be posting images from the items that were on my Christmas Wish List (satirical edition) that we posted last week.
We start with a Brady Bunch lunchbox. The sitcom series was popular circa 1974, and it has been in rerun heaven ever since.
For those of you who still prefer to buy gifts online (like your's truly), you might be able to find this or other novelty lunch boxes at Antiques and Beyond in Atlanta. If not, you can always buy your mom a quality lamp shade to make her happy!
In Raleigh, NC, there is currently an exhbit of Norman Rockwell paintings, including some of his most famous works like "Day in the Life of a Little Girl" (1952). The painting pictured here is actually called "The Homecoming."
Rockwell (1894-1978) was an iconic portrait and sketch artist whose most notable work came out in the World War II and post-war years; he was also known for drawing many "Saturday Evening Post" covers.
The exhibit at the North Carolina Art Museum runs through Jan. 31, 2011.
There is also an exhbiti examing Rockwell's famous Civil Rights-era painting "Looking Back" at the Normal Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass., also through Jan. 31.
All of this reminds me of when I just barely missed a Rockwell exhbit at the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington, DC, some ten years ago, which lead me to kick a fire hydrant in disgust (don't try that at home). The Corcoran, for their part, has an exhibit of works from photographer/sculptor Spencer Finch.
Here is our quote from the famous New England painter, and it is one I can certainly relate to!:
"I learned to draw everything except glamorous women. No matter how much I tried to make them look sexy, they always ended up looking silly...or looking like somebody's mother."
Personally, we wonder if this means that he tried to paint Rita Hayworth?!
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Greetings from the Davie Street Parking Garage in downtown Greensboro, NC, where we have found a way to post an entry today on our laptop (eyes rolling!).
Our latest entry in our 50 Beers Around the World series takes up to Russia where a Canadian performing of mine is currently touring the country (must be nice, I would settle for Moscow, Idaho!); and, hopefully during her downtime she can send postcards to friends who are back home in Halifax, Nova Scotia (not actually where she is from, but we love to make fun of Nova Scotia).
Russia is also where one can take in a Baltika beer (you should drink responsibily of course even if Russians never do!). Even though beer will always be second to vodka in the good ole USSR (forgive the dated Cold War humor), Baltika somehow has the second largest brewery in Europe after the Dutch beer Heineken.
Baltika also competes for customers in Baku, Azerbaijan, with the Turkish beer Efes Pilsen, as the brand does have a brewery in the Caspian Sea nation that was also a part of the CCCP.
Founded in 1990, Baltika is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The beer is brewed in ten cities across Russia and it is available in some 60 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, China and Japan.
Of course, everyone knows Russia has been in the headlines for a positive reason (for a change) as the country is now set to host the 2018 World Cup.
As Americans (well, your's truly is half-Turkish and our intern Javier who does most of our research is from Ecuador.....sorry, Honduras!*), we are bemoaning the fact that we lost our World Cup 2022 bid to the tiny Arab emirate of Qatar. (I would insert a politically incorrect right wing nationalist put down of Muslims and/or Arabs here, but with all due respect to Glenn Beck and our friends at Fox News, we lean to the center-left!).
There are apparently two places in Doha, the Qatari capital where alcohol can be purchased. But, for the masses in not only Qatar, but other Arab emirates, there is always the non-alcoholic Baltika No. 0 (the beer in the green bottle). Of course, we have no idea if this brand is found in Qatar at all. Where is Javier, when we need him?
*-Javier is a fictional person; the joke is that is there is anything factually inaccurate in my posts, I will put the blame on him!
Friday, December 3, 2010
It is possible that some arch conservative Jews may take exception to me posting an image of the beloved Turkish shadow puppet characters Karagoz and Hacivat (Karagoz is the one with the long beard), but Bursa, Turkey, the city where the Ottoman-era plays are a major tourist attraction once had a very large Jewish community. But, in recent years, the major Jewish communities in Turkey are prodominantly in Istanbul, which is four hours north of Bursa (mainly because of traffic rather than actual mileage).
The Greek version of Karagoz and Hacivat is Karagiozis and Hadjavatis. The main nuanced difference between Karagoz and his Greek counterpart is that Karagiozis is a hunchbacked figure.
Karagoz and Hacivat remained a popular form of entertainment up until the advent of modern technology, but they remain the most popular Turkish children's entertainment figures to this day. The plays were first performed for Sultan Selim the Grim (1512-1520 was his reign) in Egypt. Karagoz represents the Turkish peasant class and Hacivat symbolizes secularism and intellectualism. It is perhaps for those why it is NOT ironic that the two characters typically never get along.
The Turkish version of the shadow puppets are often made from camel leather, which probably doesn't go over too well with the Istanbul chapter of PETA (there may actually be such an organization, perhaps!).
As for Bursa, which is Turkey's fourth largest city, it is also known for Iskender Kebap, a dish made from lamb meat covered with tomato sauce and yogurt over pide bread.
Iskender kebap can be found at several restaurants in Bursa, including Kebapci Iskender as well as Turkish restaurants here in the United States, including (we believe) Carolina Kebap in Charlotte, NC.
As for Hannukah/Chanukah, there will be a candle-ligthing locally at Chabad Greensboro starting at 4:47 p.m. today.
And, though it's not holiday-related (our presumption) Ashmatic Kitty Records artist (singer Sufjan Stevens's label) Juliana Barwick will perform at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue in Washington, DC, on Dec. 6th and 7th.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
I was joking with my cousin Bradley West who has just finished a year-long ice-fishing expedition in the North Pole where he developed a tragic alcholic dependency porblem, and he was wondering: "Attila, my dear cousin, blood brother and comrade, what the heck da ya want fer Christmas?" They then gave a sob story about how cold and lonely it is up there (this is a joke, of course as I don't know a single person who has been to the North Pole or North Pole, Ak., for that matter! Oh, and I don't have cousins named Bradley).
But, there are always people who want to know these things, so I have developed two separate lists: one for potential gag lists and one for actual gifts that I would love to have. There is, of course, a thin line between the two.
So, here are my top ten gag gift ideas:
1. The Bert and Ernie: Don't Ask, Don't Tell t-shirt ($18). We saw this advertised in "Rolling Stone." It's available from tshirtsthatsuck.com
Yes, I'm not sure if it will go over well in Martinsville, Va., or Kingsport, Tenn., either!
2. Marijuana Leaf Neckties- Well, we obviously could NEVER wear it to work (definitely not for a job interview) but an assortment of these 'products' are available from web sites like zazzle.com for between $5-31.
3. Brady Bunch Lunchbox- Well, we obviously could NEVER bring this to work, but that would be to save one's self from persistent ridicule throughout the work day. These were actually made in the '70s and prices on the net range from $20-45.
4. Mr. Potato Head- Yikes! The 2010 Toy Story 3 edition of Mr. Potato Head retails for $38 at places like Target. But, we did learn while researching this entry (yes, we did actually do that!) that Mr. Potato Head, which was first made in 1952, lost the pipe in 1986 as to not encourage kids to smoke.
5. Swedish Pop CDs_ Abba, Roxette, Robyn, Ace of Base and/or The Cardigans (they were on the original "Beverly Hills 90210" soundtrack) would be a great gag gift for those of who prefer the vastly superior Norwegian pop (ok, I can't think of any Norwegian bands besides A-ha either). We found out just today that Abba is performing in Istanbul, Turkey- of all places, on Dec. 13.
6. "Gulliver's Travels" (paperback edition; $5-14). Since I wrote a book report on this classic by Jonathan Swift 21 years ago, this gift would indeed be quite ironic and inexpensive. But, I probably won't get around to reading it!
7. "Chico and the Man" DVD Set- Can you imagine the look on someone's face if you actually get them all 88 episodes of the hit '70s sitcom (it ran from 1974-1978)? We were stunned to find out that the show continued after its star Freddie Prinze (father of Freddie Prinze Jr.) committed suicide by gunshot at age 22 in 1977. The things you learn from blogging are something else, aren't they!
8. Che Guevara Little Thinker Plush Toy ($15) and Jesus Christ Bobblehead ($10)_ Yes, for a mere $25, you can show a family member that you have a very surreal sense of humor. This would be perfect for an off-the-wall cousin of mine who lives somewhere in rural Missouri who has made sure that there is no possible way I can be the black sheep of the family even though I would be the black sheep of 99 percent of all American/Canadian families.
9. "Conscience of a Conservative" by Barry Goldwater (Sr.)_ If you really want me to look at you as if I was a character in a vintage Tex Avery cartoon (he was the one who came up with the idea of sockets popping out though we need to ask our Honduran intern Javier to verify that), you can get me this 1960 booklet that is 84 pages long (I am a partisan Democrat).
10. Another subscription to a 'get connected' web site_ Judging from their ads, you would think sites like E-Harmony, Ok Cupid, Match.com, Plentyoffish.com, Connectsingles.com and lavalife.com could actually connect with a woman who likes Anne Hathaway who happens to think the fact that you have every issue of "Hot Stuff" and "Daredevil" is so cool. Think again! (I speak from experience....)
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Of course, we know Rosa Parks was not fined for sitting on a school bus in High Point, NC, (we are rushed for time, so this is the only image we could find!), but according to a tweet from the ultra-hip magazine "Mental Floss," which I should ask my mom to get me a subscription for over the holidays, the Civil Rights activist never 'paid up' for her 'transgression' in Montgomery, Ala., 55 years ago today:
Here is the exact tweet:
"Rosa Parks was fine $14 for refusing to give up her seat on that bus ride of Dec.
1, 1955. She never paid it."
SIDEBAR: We have also learned that thankfully actor Morgan Freeman, 73, did not die today. Many were wondering why he was a hot trending topic today. It turns out he made a gaffe while on a tele-prompter in Zurich, Switzerland, while lobbying for the 2022 World Cup alongside former president Bill Clinton, who was in Greensboro last night. The jet lag must be tourturing our beloved former prez!
We dedicate this entry to our good friends at The Wishy Wash Laundromat in Silver Spring, Md., (actually we don't know a single person who works there at all!). They are open from Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. And, on weekends, they are operating from 6:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m.
I got this idea while doing a ton of laundry at my mom's over Thanksgiving. Of course, Gizmo the cat made sure to sit on top of my clothes after they were all folded up!