Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ending the Year with Willy Shakespeare

This month, we have been quoting the great English playwright William Shakespeare who penned a play called "All's Well that Ends Well," which was written in 1603 and published in 1623. The play will be performed at the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London on May 23, 2012.

Closer to home, the Playmakers Rep Theatre in Chapel Hill, NC, will be performing both "Henry IV" and "Henry V" on a rotating basis from Jan. 28 until March 4th. That production will be co-directed by Jospeh Haj and Mike Donahue.

Here is our quote, and Happy New Year to all of you, whether you be in Philadelphia, London, Budapest, Athens, Istanbul, Tokyo, Sydney or Buenos Aires:

"My crown is called content, a crown that seldom a king enjoys."

Friday, December 30, 2011

Quote of the Day/Week- Stefania Fernandez

And, we fully expect that this image of Stefania Fernandez, Miss Universe 2009, will boost out hits total for the day and week. Fernandez, 21, is one of many women from Venezeula who have won the coveted Miss Universe pageant, which we believe is one of Donald Trump's media entities.

Sadly, on Dec. 17, another former Miss Universe/Venezuela 2001 Eva Ekvall, died of breast cancer at age 28 in Houston.

Fernandez became the first woman crowned Miss Universe by a title-holder from her country as she recieved the crown from Dayana Mendoza, Miss Universe/Venezuela 2008.

Though she is perhaps not as politically active as many American celebrities like pop-star "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson who endorsed the libertarian-leaning Republican candidate Ron Paul today, it is widely believed that Fernandez opposes the policies of eccentric, far-left president Hugo Chavez.

Fernandes is actually of Ukrainian heritage.

Here is her quote:

"We've already reached the same level as men."

Quote of the Day/Week- Alberto Fujimori

Today, we are continuing our quotes from famous Latin Americans with the former criminally corrupt president of Peru; Alberto Fujimori (b. 1938) is of Japanese descent and feld to Japan though he was extradicted back to Peru to face criminal human rights violations.]

The right-wing leader is credited with creating fujimorism, an anti-terrorist free-market policy. Fujimori is also the subject of the excellent documentary film "The Fall of Fujimori," which has the following tagline: "He risked everything to win Peru's war on terror, but in doing so he became an international fugitive, wanted for corruption, kidnapping, and murder."

His daughter Keiko Fujimori (b. 1975) will be quoted in our sister blog; she ran for president with her father in a Peruvian jail this year. In 2009, the elder Fujimori was sentenced to 25 years in jail for human rights violations.

One of the prime challenges that he faced while in office was fighting the Shinning Path terrorist/separatist movement in the mountains of Peru. In 1992, when Fujimori was president, Abimael Guzman (b. 1934) the professor of philosophy who founded the Shinning Path movement was sentenced to life in prison.

Here is the quote from Alberto Fujimori: "Poverty doesn't imply neccesarrily violence."

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Rabbit Ear Test_ (5 out of 12) "The Partridge Family"

Today, we give out a new quiz on a tv show from our childhood years in the 1970s, and today the subject is "The Partridge Family." Unlike many tv shows, the sitcom about five children and their mother who sing together in a band, also featured many recordings with The Partridge Family name.

To my knowledge, I only saw the show one time as a kid and that was on a rerun which aired on a Hartford, Conn., tv channel (perhaps WFSB) in 1980 when my parents were visiting friends in the Nutmeg State.

Earlier this year, the show made news as David Cassidy, the teen heartthrob from the show, sued the producers of the show for bank royalties, some 37 years since the show, which ran for 96 episodes, originally aired.

Also this year, writer Allison Pearson wrote a book called "I Think I Love," in reference to a hit song from The Partridge Family, about her teenage crush on David Cassidy, and how it made her dream about America while watching the show on tv in Wales.

Amazingly enough, while researching this piece, we found out that '80s pop icon Rick Springfield was set to replace a burnt out Cassidy, but the show wasn't renewed for another season.

Other interesting facts about the show are that "The Partridge Family" was based on a real-life musical family called the Cowgills. The show's dog Simone only showed up in the program's first season.

Susan Dey, another member of the cast who would later star in "L.A. Law" had to live with a guardian on the set until she turned 18. The cast also included Shirley Jones and Danny Bonaduce. The show was also for its tour bus!

So, we are going to ask: "What is the original airdate of 'The Partridge Family?' (I guess I should inform our friends in Peru, thanks for checking us out today, that the show did air in Europe, but it is an American show, and we are going with the American broadcast here)

Is the answer:

A) Sept. 25, 1970

B) May 28, 1972

C) March 1, 1973

D) Jan. 17, 1974

For more information on The Partridge Family, one can check out the web sites or

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Casualties of Modern Technology (5 of 12)_View-Masters

Today, we are continue to feature two items which are still on the market, at least here in the United States, but it is a safe assumption that both View-Masters, which we are featuring here, and board games, such as Monopoly, are used less often than they were 30-35 years ago.

When I was a child in the 1970s, View-Masters were extremely popular, and there were 3-D slides for many popular tv shows and movies, such as "The Lone Ranger."

My mom, who is an antiques dealer, has also sold earlier versions of the View-Master that were sold at tourist destinations, including Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon. This form of the View-Master was introduced at the 1939 World's Fair in New York, according to Wikipedia.

In 1966, the products were merchandised with popular tv shows, including "Star Trek" and "Rowan and Martin's Laugh In."

Though they are found less often in the open market, Fisher Price still produces View-Masters, and there are slides with images from popular children's films, such as "Toy Story 3."

The used View-Masters we grew up with are available through sites like e-bay, and from what I noticed, they typically seem to sell for about $10 each.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays from Kermit the Frog

One of our favorite 'right wing media' moments this years was when Fox News host Eric Boiling actually proclaimed that the new children's musical/fantasy film "Muppets" was 'communist' liberal propaganda because it showed an oil tycoon in a negative light. His co-host Andrea Tantaras added that: "I just wish liberals would leave the kids alone."

So, we thought it would be nifty to wish everyone a Happy Holidays/Happy Hannukah/Merry Christmas from Kermit the Kommunist* Frog.

Aside from any Bolshevik leanings, Kermit is also known for being the only Muppet to appear on both "Sesame Street" and "The Muppet Show**." We learned while researching this that Kermit actually no longer appears on "Sesame Street" as of 2001, though he made an appearance in September 2009 to celebrate the show's 40th anniversary.

As everyone in the world, including Uzbekistan probably knows, Kermit was the central character in "The Muppet Show," which aired in the 1970s; his romantic interest was Miss Piggy.

Kermit, who is known as 'kurbagacik'/little frog in Turkey, was voiced by his creator Jim Henson up until Henson's untimely death in 1990.

I suppose since there are lots of bears in Russia, Fozzie the Bear would probably be the most subversive member of the Muppet family, if we were right-wing kooks that is. Interestingly enough, the Soviet Union formally ceased to exist on Dec. 25th, 1991, exactly 20 years ago.

*-kommunist is the Turkish word for communist; it seems to go better with Kermit

**- Alas, we spelled "The Muppet Show" incorrectly on our tags.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Festivus for the Rest of Us

Folks in Turkey, Bulgaria and Latvia may have no idea what we are talking about, but today is Festivus Day in the United States. Today also happens to be HumanLight Day, the human secularist equivalent to Christmas. Though the two occasions are similar, our researchers could not verify or deny that they are one in the same!

Festivus is described on Wikipedia as: 'a way to celebrate the holiday season without pressures or commercialism.' Festivus originates from an episode of "Seinfeld" entitled "The Strike," which aired on Dec. 18, 1997, a few months before the cast decided to call it quits so the long-running, popular sitcom could go out on a high note.

Ironically, "Seinfeld" was once pummeled by "Home Improvement" in the ratings, though now most people agree that "Seinfeld" was far and away the better show.

Festivus includes such ceremonies as gathering around an aluminum pole called 'The Festivus Pole' and airing out grievances. The catch phrase for the holiday/celebration is "Festivus for the rest of us." There are now even Festivus yarmalukes.

In 2007, a Wisconsin man actually requested permission to put up a Festivus Pole next to a nativity scene at Green Bay City Hall as a means to protest the inclusion of religion and state.

Today, there will be a Festivus celebration at The Shadowbox Cinema in Roanoke, Va., my hometown, at 8:00 p.m.

SIDEBAR ONE: While reading the latest issue of "The New Republic," we came across an ad for a book entitled "Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn't Buy Presents for the Holidays" by Joel Waldfogel, an economist at the Pennsylvania University.

The 2009 which is published by Princeton Press promotes itself as 'the book that Santa doesn't want you to read.' Among the claims that Waldfogel presents (we have not read the book ourselves) is that many gifts, particularly ones like rooster sweaters or Mister Potato Heads, are gifts we really don't need or want.

Waldfogel also argues that approximately $85 billion of waste occurs due to holiday shopping. He also stated that the Christmas shopping process disrupts regular shopping patterns and we are essentially forced to shoot in the dark to make relatives happy.

In a "Wall Street Journal" interview, the author admitted that his own wife was initially put off by his findings.

SIDEBAR TWO: Whether one agrees with Joel Waldfogel or not, one can agree with the sentiment that there is a dark side to Christmas shopping when it as it most extreme level. Today, "The Charlotte Observer" reported that three shopping malls in the Charlotte, NC- metro area had to be closed because fighting had broken out between customers who wanted the new Air Jordan XI Concord basketball shoes, that retail for around $180 a pair.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

From the Album Collection (3 of 8)_ David Bowie's "Young Americans"

Since David Bowie and Queen collaborated on the 1981 single "Under Pressure," which was astoningly not a big hit (only reached #29 on the Billboard charts), we though we'd write up entries for their records for this series.

I only have two vinyl records from each artist, but I play both "Young Americans"
(1975) and "Let's Dance" (1983) from David Bowie very often.

"Young Americans" features a title track of the same name, which refers to the political suppression of African-Americans, and features a jab at Richard Nixon (refered to as 'President Nixon' in the song) who resigned from the Oval Office just as the record was being put together.

The album was produced by Bowie and Tony Visconti, who had worked on several previous Bowie records. It was recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia and Electric Lady Studios in New York.

"Young Americans" also features Bowie's smash hit number one single "Fame," which features background vocals from John Lennon. Interestingly enough, Lennon also sang background vocals on Bowie's cover of "Across the Universe," which is another track on "Young Americans." That song was originally recorded by The Beatles.

Yet Another Shakespeare Quote_ (Entry 4 of 5)

Today, we post our fourth of five quips from the great William Shakespeare, whom we believe to be dead.

In all seriousness, the Shakespare Theatre in Washington, D.C., is currently staging the Bard's beloved comedy "Much Ado About Nothing," as directed by Ethan McSweeny, until Jan. 7th.

Here is the quote:

"Be great in act, as you have been in thought."

SIDEBAR: Happy Birthday, mom!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bonus Road Trip (7 of 10) Clemson, SC, to the Orange Bowl

On Jan. 4, 2012, the Clemson Tigers, who for some reason had the Virginia Tech Hokies' number this season in the Atlantic Coast Conference (the Tigers were the only team to beat the Hokies; they did it twice) will go down to Miami, Fla., for the Orange Bowl.

The opposing team will be the West Virginia Mountaineers, a former rival of the Hokies, representing the Big East Conference.

The trip from the West Virginia University campus to Miami is an extensive 17 hours, 45 minute-drive, but the commute is slightly less painful from Clemson, SC.

To see the mileage between the two destinations, we chose the Friends Cafe, a hookah gathering place, in Clemson, and the Rice House of Kabob, a Middle Eastern eatery in Miami.

So, how long is the drive between Clemson, SC, and Miami, Fla?; is the answer:

A) 10 hours

B) 11 hours

C) 12 hours

D) 13 hours

E) 14 hours

SIDEBAR ONE: The NPR radio show "Way with Words" recently had a segment on very, very long titles, and we saw that this book was recently promoted on Book TV (
C-SPAN 2): "Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich Off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison" by Peter Schweizer.

SIDEBAR TWO: Stephen King fans who have either read "Tommyknockers" or seen the TV moive version where a man gets killed by flying Coke cans from a vending machine will be happy to know that according to "Wired" magazine, the actual odds of dying from a vending machine accident are about 1 in 112 million.

Quote of the Day/Week- Pablo Escobar

We continue our series of quotes from famous Latin Americans, with a quip from the drug lord Pablo Escobar (1949-1993) who was gunned down by authorities in his native Colombia at age 44. We are pretty certain that Escobar is the most notorious person we've ever quoted here, but we are not 100-percent certain of that.

Escobar made a bundle selling cocaine (yes, the Coke can is a joke). He was also heavily involved in the Colombian soccer scene, and in 1986, he actually entered domestic politics?!

The kingpin extraordinaire was also known for assasinations, bombings and political corruption. Amazingly enough, his mansion in Medellin is now a museum and a top tourist destination (No, we are not making this up!).

Here is his quote, which definitely seems ironic now:

"I prefer to be in the grave in Colombia than in a jail cell in the United States."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quote of the Day/Week- Augusto Pinochet

We must profess that since we have quoted both Che Guevarra and Fidel Castro this month, we are fearful that Bill O'Reilly will make the subject of scorn and label us as a far-left blog.

So, in order to make things 'fair and balanced,' today we are featuring a quip from the notorious Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet (1915-2006), who suppressed and killed many of his own people.

There is a bit of personal connection here as my late uncle Ilhan Gokbudak was actually a Turkish diplomat in Santiago during Pinochet's reign. When I asked Ilhan Amca (amca is the Turkish word for uncle) what the man was like; he said something to the effect of: "Well, he was nice to me."

Here is the quote from Pinochet, who was, by the way, a far-right figure if there ever was one:

"I'm not a dictator. It's just that I have a grumpy face."

SIDEBAR: Today, the world is 'mourning' the loss of another brutal dictator as Kim Jung Il, who was made famous on "South Park" here in the United States, is no longer with us.

My favorite Kim Jung Il story is of how he kidnapped South Korean film director Sang-ok Shin, and forced her to make "Pulgasari" (1985), a Godzilla rip-off that was not shown outside the Korean pennisula until a 1998 screeening in Japan. Today, it is a Youtube sensation.

"Pulgasari" was also shown as part of the "Axis of Evil Film Festival" at Duke University in 2003; the festival, which was currated by Iranian ex-pat Negar Mottahedeh, did actually get targeted by Fox News for being 'liberal academic propaganda.' The festival also included films from Cuba, Libya and Syria.

The term 'axis of evil' is believed to have come from former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum, who has ironically become a voice and ration and reason within the Republican Party. I guess this means he is not endorsing Michele Bachmann.

Silly Picture to Fill Space- Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

First of all greetings to our blog visitors from Norway and Indonesia, we are glad you have found nothing better to do than check out our blog today; forgive the mean-spirited "South Park" sense of humor which has become the norm here in America today.

We looked all over the Internet for both lavish and kitschy Christmas trees, and we chose to go with a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree instead.

There is a place called the Rifton Farm and Nursery in Floyd County, Virginia, which supposedly has the real thing, for those of you who live in the Roanoke Valley or Southwest Virginia, or for those of you who want drive thousands of miles looking for the perfect Christmas tree.

As for the "Charlie Brown Christmas Special," the show originally aired on CBS on Dec. 9, 1965, and a snowball fight scene was editted from the show. But, dvd editions of the show now show the snowball fight in its entirety, well from what we gather!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Quote of the Day/Week- Fidel Castro

Because of the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and many older Cuban-Americans' desire to rid the world of him, many Cuban-Americans (yes, there are exceptions) lean right, but their vote will not matter in Sioux City, Iowa. And, perhaps, with the latest field of Republicans, which includes the ardent right-winger Newt Gingrinch, many Cuban-Americans might just go with President Barack Obama next year. Well, we can hope.

For our friends in Uzbekistan, it should be pointed out that most Cuban-Americans live around Miami, Florida.

In no way are we endorsing Fidel Castro or his view of the world, but he has been known to give great quotes:

"Men do not shape destiny; destiny produces the man for the hour."

IN THE WHOOPS DEPT- this was meant for the other blog; oh well.

Congrats to UCLA on Team's Women's Volleyball Championship

We were personally rooting for the Florida State Seminoles amongst the four women's college volleyball teams that made it to the semi-finals (apparently, the term Final Four can only be officially used for college basketball) in San Antonio because the team has two Turkish players in stand-out Duygu Duzceler and Fatma Yildirim.

But, the Seminoles were defeated in straight sets by a very talented UCLA Bruins team that went on to win a thrilling match over the University of Illinois by a score of 3-1 (25-23, 23-25, 26-24, 25-16) last night (Saturday).

The Illini, in spite of their loss in the title game, had a banner year which included a semi-final victory over UCLA's main rival, the USC Trojans, in a five-set nail-biter that finished with a 63-second back and forth between the two teams.

In last night's game, the Bruins were led by Rachael Kidder, a 6-3 junior who was also named NCAA Tournament MVP, who had 20 kills and eight digs. Her UCLA teammate Lauren Van Orden added 17 digs, and freshman Zoe Nightingale had 11 blocks and eight kills.

For the Illini, Michelle Bartsch had 22 kills, and Colleen Ward added 17 kills as well.

The Bruins, who were a powerhouse in women's volleyball, had not won a title in the sport since 1991. UCLA has now won four NCAA titles in the sport, and 108 titles in collegiate athletics, with a significant number of titles in men's basketball, women's softball and women's gymnastics.

Coach Michael Sealy of the Bruins, who was also named NCAA Coach of the Year, is also the first coach to win a title as coach and as a player, since he was on the 1993 men's volleyball team at UCLA which won a championship as well.

Yet Another Weekly Quote from William Shakespeare

During the month of December, we are quoting William Shakespeare, and since we are literary historians we are not getting into the 'did he write his plays or not' debate.

Here is our latest quip from the Bard:

"As he was valiant, I honour him. But as he was ambitious, I slew him."

Quote of the Day/Week_ Reinaldo Arenas

We are continuing our quotes from Latin Americans with a quip from the Cuban novelist and poet Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990) who left his island nation in part because of the country's political suppression of homosexuals, such as himself.

Arenas became the subject of the 2000 film "Before the Night Falls" featuring Spanish actor Javier Bardem in the starring role in a film that also included Johnny Depp and Sean Penn. The feature was filmed in Mexico instead of Cuba.

Here is the quote from Arenas:

"I have always considered it despicable to grovel your life as it were a favor. If you can not live the way you want, there is no point in living."

Quote of the Day/Week- Pele

Since we have been completely obsessed with soccer later (auggh! I forgot to check the scores in the Dutch League, but we think PSV Eindhoven won), and we are focusing on Latin America), I thought it would good to quip Pele for a second time.

The first time we quoted him was on one of these two blogs during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. For those of you from the planet Neptune, Pele is from Brazil, and here is his quote:

"A penalty is a cowardly way to score."

SIDEBAR: For those who were wondering what the answer is to our "Rabbit Ears Quiz" from earlier in the week regarding the cartoon version of "Star Trek," it is A) 57 episodes. That is the differential between the number of episodes in the original show and the cartoon, which ran for 22 episodes from 1973-74.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Things We Learned on Google Today- Maccabi Tel Aviv Plays in Large Stadium

Today, we conclude our series of looks at soccer teams from around the globe with a profile of the Israeli soccer team Maccabi Tel Aviv, which plays in Bloomfield Stadium which can house 14,700 fans.

Maccabi Tel Aviv has won 18 domestic championships, 22 national cups and two Asian Championship Cups. But, even though Israel is geographically in Asia, they now compete in the UEFA, the European Soccer Federation, as do teams from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

Today, Maccabi Tel Aviv traveled to Ukraine to face Dynamo Kiev and they came away with a 3-3 tie, but the team was already eliminated from Group E, which was won by the Istanbul soccer power Besiktas which defeated the English team Stoke City 3-1 today.

For Maccabi Tel Aviv, goals came from Omer Vereda (49th minute), Eliran Atar (62nd minute) and Moanes Dabour (75th minute), who is just 19.

Dabour is also one of several Israeli Premiere League teams with soccer players of Arab heritage, a list which also includes Ali Ottman.

The team's main rivals are Hapoel Tel Aviv, Beitar Jerusalem and Maccabi Haifa, which also played today in a 3-0 loss to German soccer team Schalke 04, which also won Group J. The Romanian team Steau Bucharest beat the Cypriot team AEK Larnaca 4-1 to ensure the other slot in the next round of the UEFA League.

There are 16 Israeli teams in the domestic premiere league where Maccabi Tel Aviv is struggling in eighth place. The team lost to Hapoel Haifa 2-0 on Dec. 4th and they tied Maccabi Netanya 1-1 on Dec. 12.

Virtual Postcard from Washington DC- Washington Monument

We have sent Virtual Postcards out from both South Carolina and Kentucky, either when we were in or shortly after we had left those two states. Today, we will send you a Virtual Postcard from the '51st State," which is our nation's capital, Washington, DC, a city that conservatives love because of pure nationalism, and liberals love because of vegeterarian Ethiopian restaurants. Hey, it's fun to make fun of everyone, sometimes, though I personally think Michael Moore is considerably less insane than Pat Robertson.

Today, we thought we'd make this fun and snappy by doing a DC By the Numbers piece.

Here we go (other DC by the numbers will be appearing on our sister blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time"):

6,228_ Number of homeless people in Washington, DC, according to 2009 statistics.

535_ Members of Congress

435_ Members of House of Representatives (not the same thing)

242_ Republican members in the House

192_ Democratic members in the House

40_Number of points that Georgetown University beat the New Jersey Institute of Technology by a few weeks ago; the final score was 84-44

32_ Members in the cast of the Ford's Theatre production of "A Christmas Carol," including veteran actor Edward Gero who returns as Scrooge.

31_ Number of protestors arrested during Occupy D.C. on Dec. 6th.

27_ Number of local newspapers (including college papers and weeklies) in Washington, DC.

4- Number of MLS Cups won by D.C. United, that's a soccer team, for my fellow Americans (maybe, they'll get the joke in Slovenia, maybe not!).

The Rabbit Ears Quiz (4 of 12)_ Star Trek the Cartoon

Tonight's entry in the Rabbit Ears Quiz series takes us back to September 8, 1973, when I was three years old. It was on this 'stardate' that the cartoon version of "Star Trek" debuted.

It would go on to last for 22 episodes, which were rerun frequently; the last original episode first aired on Oct. 12, 1974.

The cartoon edition retained the voices of virtually all cast members, including William Shatner (Captain Kirk), Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock) and Sulu (George Takei).
The lone exception was that of Walter Koening, now 75, who played Pavel Chekov. But, the producers of the show made it up to Koening by having write the show's seventh episode "The Infinite Vulcan."

According to Wikipedia, one of the key advantages of the animated version was that larger aliens were able to be depicted. One of the show's most popular episodes was "The Magicks of Megas-tu" (the show's eighth episode) involving a devil-like villain named Lucien.

The show was produced by Filmation which later produced the cartoon series "The New Adventures of Flash Gordon" (1979-81).

So, for our trivia question, we are going to ask what is the mathematical difference between the number of episodes of the original "Star Trek" and its animated version.

Is the answer?:

A) 57

B) 55

C) 53

D) 50

E) 48

Friday, December 9, 2011

Casualties of Modern Technology_ Polaroid 600s (4 of 12)

Amazingly enough, we actually learn things while researhing entries that we were completely unaware of. We had presumed that Polaroid cameras were completely off the shelves, as we say here in America, but there are actually at least two new Polaroid cameras: the Polaroid 300, which is more economical, and the Polaroid Z340, which is more cool.

But, it still seems like a safe assumption that the Polaroid 600s, the ones that most of are familiar with (pictured) have gone the way of the dinosaurs (well, except for Barney).

According to Wikipedia, the first Polaroid instant cameras (the model 103s), which were quite bulky, were developed by American scientist Edwin Land (1909-1991).

Polaroid, a camera that both Andy Warhol and David Byrne* used in their art, actually discontinued making instant cameras altogether in 2008, but in October 2009, they were reintroduced in their current forms.

The Polaroid Z360 goes for circa $300, while Polaroid 300s go for about $70. Used Polaroid 300s can still be found on e-bay or; prices vary.

*- The lead singer of Talking Heads, a band which has broken up, is also known for his art work and photography; he even directed a film!_ ("True Stories").

SIDEBAR ONE: While we intend for this blog to be an escape and refuge from everyday insanity, we did want to send our thoughts and condolences to the family of Deriek Crouse, the Virginia Tech campus police officer who was killed yesterday in Blacksburg, Va. So far, no motives for the homicide have been determined or reported to the media. The likely assailant was also killed or found dead on campus.

"The Collegiate Times," the student-run newspaper for Virginia Tech, has an article about the exam delays. Exams that were originally scheduled for today will now be made up on Saturday, and Monday exams will go on as scheduled. This has caused major inconveiences for some students. The source quoted a student from Iceland who said she had plane reservations to fly back home on Saturday, and she was working with her instructor to take the exam before her flight.

SIDEBAR TWO: Last week, we asked: "What do William Shakespeare, Che Guevara and Jesus Christ have in common?" Our answer at the time was they each had bobblehead dolls in their image. That is actually correct, but there is another thing these three seemingly radically different individuals have in common.

Yes, they all have active Twitter accounts?! For some reason, pretending to be a person who is no longer alive is trendy both on Facebook and on Twitter.

The man pretending to be Che Guevara (well, there are actually several others on Twitter) is a man in Turkey, which now means we can all jokingly say: "Che Guevara Turkce konustugunu hic bilmiyordum," which translates to 'I didn't know Che spoke Turkish,' which sounds much funnier in Turkish.

All three have considerably more followers on Twitter than the average person or entity. Of course, as one might expect, Jesus leads the pack with an astonishing 379,976 followers, that is as of yesterday. William Shakespeare has 7,582, and the Turkish Che Guevara has 2,236 people digging his tweets.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

UEFA Madness: Those Darn Ruskies

Since I'm a Turkish-American, I was hoping that Black Sea power Trabzonspor, the lone Turkish team in the UEFA Champions League, would pull through as they were expected to. But, CSKA Moscow went to Milan, Italy, and pulled a stunning 2-1 upset over Group B leader Inter Milan. This eliminated not only Trabzonspor, but the French team Lille. Trabzonspor and Lille played to a 0-0 tie yesterday.

Hence, we are posting an image of Misha the Bear from the 1980 Moscow Olympics, and in what is simply a ploy to arbitrarily get more hits on this blog, we are also featuring the famed 1993 "Sports Illustrated" switsuit issue with the Swedish supermodel Vendela, who is now 43 and reportedly newly single.

The goals for CSKA Moscow were scored by Seydou Doumbia, an Ivory Coast national, in the 50th minute of play, and Valli Berztutzki in the 86th minute. The Argentinian player Esteban Cambiasso score for Inter Milan in the 51st minute.

In Group C, there were some stunning developments as well as traditional English powerhouse and reigning UEFA runner-up Manchester United failed to qualify for the round of 16 as they fell to the Swiss team FC Basel 2-1. The Swiss side's goals came from Marco Streller (9th min.) and Fabian Frei (84th min.), both Swiss nationals while the lone Manchester United goal came from 19-year-old wunderkid Alex Jones late in the game.

FC Basel is also the team with Pak Kwang Ryong, the lone North Korean player in the UEFA Champions League and the first ever North Korean player to play in the tournament. He made his debut in a match at Manchester United on Sept. 14th.

The other team to advance from Group C was Benefica (Portugal) as they beat Otelul Galati (Romania) 1-0 on the road. Oscar Cardoza scored for the winning side a mere seven minutes into match play.

Here is a complete list of the scores from Wednesday's UEFA action, rundowns on the other four games will be on our sister blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time:"

*- Teams which advanced

y- Teams which won their groups

Group A

Napoli (Italy) 2 Villareal (Spain) 0

Manchester City 2 *y Bayern Munich 0

Group B

*CSKA Moscow 2 *y Inter Milan 1

Trabzonspor 0 Lille 0, tie

Group C

*y Benefica 1 Otelul Galati 0

* FC Basel 2 Manchester United 1

Group D

*y Real Madrid 3 Ajax Amsterdam 0

* Lyon (France) 7 Dinamo Zagred (Croatia) 1

SIDEBAR: There was also a major domestic game in Turkish soccer yesterday as two of the three main Istanbul rivals Galatasaray and Fenerbahce met (the third Istanbul power team is Besiktash), and it was Galatasaray which prevailed 3-1. The goals for the winning yellow and reds came from Emmanuel Eboue, yet another Ivory Coast player who is shinning in European soccer, John Elmanders, a Swedish national and Felipe Melo of Brazil. It was another Brazilian national Alex de Souza, who is also the Fenerbahce captain, who scored the lone goal for the yellow and blues.

Quote from Shakespeare: Keeping It Short

Alas, we tried to find a real stage scene from "Romeo and Juliet," but we had to settle for this image of a very young Claire Danes playing the ill-fated Juliet on film (whatever happened to her co-star; yes that is a joke!).

The Folger Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, DC, will be performing another William Shakespeare classic "The Taming of the Shrew" starting on May. 7, 2012.

Here is the quote:

"Brevity is the soul of wit."

Wow, we were able to keep this one short!

SIDEBAR: Our thoughts go out to the Virginia Tech campus and community in the wake of a fatal shooting of a campus police officer earlier today. For more updates on the school where I once hosted a Turkish music show from WUVT-FM, I suggest another student-run media, "The Collegiate Times," which is Virginia Tech's newspaper ( This is obviously a chilling reminder of many fairly recent campus tragedies at Virginia, including the April 2007 mass shooting.

Also, we want to send our kudos to the Lyric Theatre in Blacksburg, Va., which decided to screen "Anonymous" tonight in spite of the tragedy. Of course, I should point out, that I may very well disagree with the point that someone besides Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare, which is the thesis of the film "Anonymous." Starting tomorrow, the Lyric will screen the acclaimed film "Narrow Margin."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Quote of the Week/Day- Frida Kahlo

We continue our month-long series of quips from famous Latin Americans with a quote from the legendary Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), who died a mere week after her 47th birthday, but she had been ill for a very long time before that.

When I was in Antigua, Guatemala, back in 2005, I noticed there was a trendy place called Frida's, which had like a two-hour wait. I've gathered from other people who have visited Guatemala that essentially it is easier to get a bar stool at 419 West, a popular gathering place in my hometown of Roanoke, Va., during happy hour on Fridays.

Here is the quote from Frida:

"Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly."

SIDEBAR: It's that time of the year again. Actually, I was not thinking about Christmas, but rather that the popular funky Chapel Hill, NC-based band Southern Culture on the Skids will be performing their annual hometown charity show on Saturday night at Cat's Cradle in Carrboro (a suburb of Chapel Hill); the band also plays on Friday night at Ziggy's in Winston-Salem, NC.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Quote of the Week/Day- Che Guevara

For the record: "No, I'm not a socialist, but I would be one if I lived in Provo, Utah."

Nevertheless, the Argentinian radical revolutionary figure Che Guevara (1928-1967) who was executed in Bolivia at age 38, has been good for massive hit totals on our two blogs. And, personally, I'd love to have this puppet for Christmas, if not to see the shocked look on a conservative friend's face.

By the way, we are dedicating to one Paul Doss of Roanoke, Va., who wrote in a letter-to-editor to "The Roanoke Times" in which he defended folks like Donald Trump and Uncle Scrooge. He added that 'anyone who wants socialism should move to Europe.' Of course, my response to that is that if Newt Gingrich becomes president, many of us may actually opt for Cuba.

And, while researching this piece, we found that many actors have played Che Guevara on film, including Antonio Banderas (in "Evita," 1996), Benicio Del Toro, Gael Garcia Bernali and most astonishingly Omar Sharif (?!). Yes, the Egyptian actor who is still alive played the title role in "Che!" (the dubious 1969 version, not the one which got a Criterion Edition release). Of course, in this same version of Che, the late Jack Palance (1919-2006) played Fidel Castro.

So, irregradless if your political legions are with Ron Paul or Noam Chomsky, here is the quote from Che:

"In a revolution one wins or dies, if it is a real one."

This our first in a month-long series of quotes from famous Latin Americans.

SIDEBAR ONE: The road trip between the two Charleston takes C) 8 hours, 30 minutes (see Saturday's entry).

SIDEBAR TWO: Didier Drogba, the Ivory Coast national, who is the main star for English soccer power Chelsea, scored two goals in UEFA Champions play for a 3-0 victory over Spanish team Valencia. This helped Chelsea win Group E.

Here is a partial rundown of the eight games played today in Europe; the stars indicate the teams that advance:

Shankhtar Donetsk (Ukraine) 2 *APOEL (Cyprus) 0

Porto (Portugal) 0 *Zenit (Russia) 0, tie

*Barcelona 4 BATE (Bulgaria) 0

*AC Milan 2, Plzen (Czech Rep.) 2, tie

SIDEBAR THREE: Last night, my fellow Turkish-American progressive Cenk Uygur made an impressive debut with Current TV on his show "The Young Turks" as he took great digs at Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann. But, my favorite segment was when he uncovered footage from Fox News of some right-wing nut pundit saying that the new Muppets movie "The Muppets" is encouraging children to become communists. And, the reason for this is because the film suggests big oil companies don't have our best interests at heart; uh huh! Tonight, Uygur welcomes Al Gore as his guest.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sports Desk- Istanbul Powerhouses Have Solid Weekend in Soccer

Back in the '70s and '80s, "Monday Night Football" was a regular American sports spectacular. It seems that Europeans have taken their own liking to "Monday Night Futbol" as major games were played today in Turkey, England, Spain and Italy_ and those are just the ones we are aware of.

In Turkey, it was a great weekend for the three traditional powerhouses. Today (Monday), one of those three titans Besiktas scored a 2-1 win over Orduspor, a team from Ordu in the far-eastern Black Sea, in the neutral Mediterranean tourism mecca of Antalya.

The first goal of the game, according to Besiktas' web site, came from Turkish-Austrian player Veli Kavlak in the 36th minute of play. Argentinian national Culio scored the equalizer for Orduspor in the 66th minute. But, it was a solid header from German star Fabian Ernst (pictured here) which clinched the game for Besiktas.

Another Istanbul power Fenerbahce drubbed last place Ankara Gucu 4-2 with goals from Slovakian star and former Chelsea player Miroslav Stoch (18th and 58th mins.), Brazilian player Cristian (51st min.) and Senegal national Issia Dia (88th min.).

For the third traditional giant, Galatasaray's Emmanuel Eboue, an Ivory Coast national and former Arsenal player, scored the team's lone goal in the 71st minute for a 1-0 victory over Ankara Genclerbirligi.

Eskisehirspor beat our beloved Bursaspor Crocs 1-0 on a goal from Brazilian player Dede in 87th minute of play. And, Trabzonspor, a team that is also playing in the UEFA Champions League, tied Sivasspor 2-2 with a goal from former Bursapor star Volkan Sen in the 69th minute of play. Erman Kilic, a wingback, scored a late goal for Sivasspor in the 75th minute for the tie.

Fenerbahce is currently first in league play with 28 points; followed by Galatasaray with 25 points and the very surprising Manisaspor with 23 points.

Here are the scores for the entire Turkish Premiere League from this week; Galatasaray and Fenerbahce are reportedly going to play on Wednesday as Trabzonspor, which is in fourth place domestically, faces French power Lille in the UEFA Champions League on that same day:

Sivasspor 2 Trabzonspor 2, tie

Gaziantepspor 1 Samsunspor 0

Galatasaray 1 Ankara Genclerbirligi 0

Fenerbahce 4 Ankara Gucu 2

Antalyaspor 2 Karabukspor 1

Kayersispor 1 Istanbul BB 0

Idman Yurdu (Mersin) 0 Manisaspor 0, tie

Eskisehirspor 1 Bursaspor 0

Besiktas 2 Orduspor 1

For more info on the latest developments on Turkish soccer, we highly recommend following Ahmet Bob Turgut on Twitter ( or on his blog at (

As for the Greek soccer game we mentioned earlier in the week, Olympiacos previaled over Panatlikos 2-0; they now have the daunting dask of playing Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League tomorrow. Another Greek soccer power AEK Athens won its game over Kekrya 1-0.

CORRECTION: In our last entry, ee incorrecly stated that the previous record from The Cars came out in 1985; it came out in 1987 and the current release is the seventh one from the band (it's already been corrected!).

UPDATE: West Virginia University did indeed win their 'free mustache giveaway' home game over Boston University by a 78-53 score, which we mentioned on Saturday. Asya Bussie had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the winning Mountaineers. Turkish player Deniz Kilicli plays for WVU's men's basketball team.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

From the Record Collection (2 of 8)- "Heartbreak City" by The Cars

We continue our series with records from my own modest collection with a look at the vintage "Heartbreak City" from The Cars (1984). The album which contains the hit singles "You Might Think," "Magic" and "Drive" was produced by Mutt Lange, who has produced everything from heavy metal to country music.

The record was released at a time when videos were the only thing that pre-Beavis and Butthead MTV was dedicated to, and "You Might Think" with its nifty special effects for the time brought in a new younger audience to The Cars which had depended on Album Oriented Rock (AOR) stations with their first four records.

The other catchy videos for songs from "Heartbreak City," included one for the song "Magic" which feautres the lead singer Ric Ocasek walking on water over a swimming pool. This was followed by a video directed by actor Timothy Hutton for the ballad "Drive," which would become the biggest hit single for The Cars as it sky-rocketed to number three on the Billboard charts. The song's lead vocals actually came from the late Ben Orr (1947-2000) who was the band's bass player.

"Heartbreak City" was recorded at Battery Studios in London, and the front cover was a painting entitled "Art-o-Matic-Loop-di-Loop" by English artist Peter Phillips.

A fouth video for "Hello Again," another song on the record, was directed by another artist, Andy Warhol, who like Ocasek was of Czech heritage.

Orr died from pancreatic cancer at age 53 in 2000, but the remaining four members of the band, which also includes Elliot Easton (guitar), Greg Hawkes (keyboards) and David Robinson (drums) recorded the band's first record since 1987 and seventh overall "Move Like This" earlier this year.

The new album is dedicated to Orr's memory. For the record, The Cars put on a brief tour from Seattle to Boston, during the spring.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Bonus Road Trip- (6 of 10) Charleston, WV, to Charleston, SC

As we are posting this the West Virginia University's women's basketball team is beating Boston University 63-46 late in the second half at home in Morgantown. We mention this, even though the school is a good two and half hours north of the West Virginia state capital, because the team was giving away free mustaches to the first 1,000 fans in attendance. And, our image is of one of the home team Mountaineer's stand-out players Natalie Burton, a senior from Australia.

We also wish to extend our greetings to those of you who are reading this blog in Armenia and Mongolia today (yes, we are not making this up!). Of course, this means people in my own backyard are likely ignoring us.

Since we went with an image of the Mountaineers, we thought it was only fair to go with the mascot of the University of South Carolina Gamecocks, even though the school is in Columbia, which is about two hours from Charleston, SC.

If you are confused, you are not the only one. We believe that the Southern Atlantic League, a single-A minor league in baseball, decided two teams couldn't be called Charleston; so there is now the Charleston River Dogs, the team in South Carolina, and the West Virginia Power, for the team in West Virginia (obviously), which is perhaps one of the oddest names in all of sports. Assuredly, someone probably thinks it's also the name of a utilities industry.

Charleston, SC, was recently (and reportedly) named the best city to visit in North America by "Travel and Leisure," beating out the likes of San Francisco, New York, New Orleans and Montreal. Dinning is one of those main reasons, so we are chooing Magnolia's as our point of destination for the caostal town. Charleston, SC, is also the hometown of political comic/actor Stephen Colbert.

For the other Charleston, the one in West Virginia, we are simply going with Main Kwan Chinese Restaurant. Charleston, West Virginia, is also known for its music scene and the documentary film director Morgan Spurlock ("Supersize Me!") is from Beckley, W.Va., which is 45 miles south of West Virginia's capital.

So, is the distance between the two Charlestons?:

A) 8 hours even

B) 8 hours, 15 minutes

C) 8 hours, 30 minutes

D) 8 hours, 45 minutes

E) 9 hours even

SIDEBAR: We loved this tweet from Lorna Appleby, a resident of Vancouver, Canada, that was posted yesterday: "The main problem with hunting your own turkey is that the gun shots scare the other shoppers."

SIDEBAR TWO: We imagine that University of North Carolina men's basketball fans are bemoaning the Tarheels' 73-72 loss to the University of Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington, Ky. But, it was a much worse day for the men's basketball team from the New Jersey Institute of Technology; they lost to the Georgetown Hoyas 84-44 today.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Things We Learned on Google Today- Olympiacos Has Won 38 Greek Soccer Titles

Today's soccer team of the week on this blog is Olympiacos (or Olympiakos), a Greek soccer powerhouse based in the port city of Piraeus, near Athens.

The image above is sort of a joke as Priest Christos, who is really a Greek Orthodox priest, is a fan for one of Olympiacos' main rivals, PAOK FC (Thessaloniki) and apparently the priest's devoution to soccer madness has caused him legal problems.

Ironically, the colors of PAOK FC are identical to those worn by the Turkish team Besiktas (Istanbul), and I suppose this is a good time to mention that I am a Turkish-American, though I prefer Galatasaray over Besiktas.

Of course, what this means to those of you born after 1974 when Turkey and Greece went to war over Cyprus, is that I will really have to spell all these long and difficult Greek names correctly!

Olympiacos is also in the UEFA Champions League, and they are in Group F, a group of death, featuring such traditional Euro powers as Arsenal (England), Dortmund (Germany) and Marseille (France). Their next game is against Arsenal on Dec. 11. The English premiere league power has several international greats, including Robin van Persie from the Netherlands and Andrei Arshavin from Russia.

But, the Greek team has its own impressive roster, with the likes of Ioannis Fetfatzidis (whew, hope I spelled his name right!) who has been called 'the Greek Messi' in reference to Argentinian soccer superstar Lionel Messi. The Greek Messi scored the lone goal in the team's 1-0 win over Marseilles on Nov. 23.

Domestically, things are looking better for the team with 38 Greek titles, as they bounced back from a 2-0 loss to astera Tripoli with a 6-0 drubbing of Doxa Dramas. We believe the team is slated to play rival Panaitokolis (Athens) over the weekend. The third major rival for Olympiacos is AEK Athens.

Hooliganism is a problem in Greek soccer, as is the case in England and Turkey as well, as figths between fans of rival clubs have become violent and even deadly in some instances.

The captain of the current squad is Vasilis Toosidis and the co-captain is Avroam Papadopoulos (whew, again!). But, the team has a highly diverse international roster inclusing Swedish soccer star Olef Mellberg and French player Francois Modesto.

In addition, Olympiacos features five Spanish nationals, two Algerian players and two Serbian futbolers.

The team is currently in third place in both the domestic league and the UEFA Champions League.

The two teams on top of the Greek Premiere League are as of right now first-place Panathinaikos and second-place AEK Athens.

SIDEBAR: Interestingly enough as we were putting this piece together, we heard through a Terry Gross interview with Jeffrey Rosen from "The New Republic" yesterday on NPR's "Fresh Air," that in 2007, Youtube was blocked in Turkey. I was always aware of what happened, but I didn't realize the infamous Youtube videos which hurled insults at Mustafa Kemal Ataturk were, at least in part, posted by Greek soccer militants.

This incident put Nicole Wong of Google, which owns Youtube, in a very awkward disposition. As it is, Youtube was banned in Turkey as a result of the videos. We are not sure if the ban is still in place or not.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Quoting William Shakespeare (1 of 5)

What do Che Guevara, Jesus Christ and William Shakespeare all have in common?

Well, they've all had bobblehead dolls made after them, of course!

Here is our quip from the Bard:

"Ambition should be made of sterner stuff."

If you are looking for a refuge from Christmas play season, we highly recommend a production of the American Shakespeare Center's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" if you happen to be in the Staunton, Va., area where the stage company is based.

SIDEBAR: I happy to report that my doppelganger, and yes we checked Google to make sure this term was spelled correctly, Cenk Uygur will be back on television with a new daily show airing on Current TV at 7:00 p.m.

Uygur and I have many things in common. We are both politically progressive. We are both Turkish-Americans. And, amazingly enough we were born on a mere 16 days a part in March of 1970 (I was the one who was born first, not that that matters really).

Up until George W. Bush's now dubious decision to go to war over Iraq, Uygur was actually a Republican so I presume he did not vote for Michael Dukakis, a Greek-American, as I did, which did NOT quite go over well with the relatives in Istanbul.

And, I supported Hillary Clinton at the primary stage though Uygur endorsed Barack Obama. Ironically, it seems that I am considerably less critical of Obama than Uygur. But, all things considered, I agree with Uygur about 90 percent of the time, and I know he will be a great counter to the dittoheads on Fox News, and a strong complement to Keith Olbermann's show which airs at 8:00 p.m. on Current.

Both Olbermann and Uygur were previously talk show hosts on MSNBC.

SIDEBAR TWO: The answer to our Rabbit Ears Quiz on "H.R. Pufnstuf" (not spelled correctly on our tags) was C) $325. Yes, that is how much someone on e-bay is offering for an H.R. Pufnstuf lunch box. The products were made in limited quantity in 1971. We sure hope it has the thermos.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Quote of the Day/Week- Atom Egoyan

Today, we conclude our month series of quips from famous Canadians with a quote from Toronto-based film director Atom Egoyan, 51, who is of Armenian heritage and was born in Cairo, Egypt- of all places.

Egoyan is known for a wide range of independent films, including his most highly-regarded film "The Sweet Hereafter" (1997) which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Director. Other works of his include "Calendar" (1993), which was partially filmed in Armenia, "Exotica" (1994), "Felicia's Journey" (1999) and "Ararat" (2002).

Egoyan is reportedly very influenced by the work of German director Wim Wenders, whom we quoted yesterday.

Here is Egoyan's quote:

"I think ultimately if you have a very high expectation of your audience and you know exactly what is it you're trying to express through the medium of film, there will always be an audience for you."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Quote of the Day/Week- Wim Wenders

We continue quoting famous Germans with a quip from my personal favorite German film director Wim Wenders, who is known for working with many unique artistic people, including the late actor Dennis Hopper ("The American Friend") in 1977; musician Ry Cooder ("Paris, Texas") in 1984; and rock icon Bono from U2 ("The Million Dollar Hotel") in 2000. Wenders in turn directed several of the legendary Irish band's videos.

Currently, audiences in large market American cities like Seattle, Chicago and New York can see his latest film, the documentary "Pina."

Here is his quote:

"Any film that supports the idea that things can be changed is a great film in my eyes."

Wenders is perhaps best-known for his amazing 1987 German-language film (several of the director's films have been in English, including "Paris, Texas") "Wings of Desire."

SIDEBAR ONE: Wow! As a subscriber to "The Washingtonian" magazine, I am wondering who the very attractive nude girl on the cover of the December 2011 issue is. In the photo taken by Erika McConnell, one can't actually see anything besides her hair, face, legs and feet, which looked so polished that one has to wonder if she got a pedicure at the supposedly upscale salon Joy Spa in the Adams Morgan part of Washington, D.C.

The magazine did not identify the woman in the credits insert, but one has to imagine she is a highly sought-after local model.

Of course, since I am a man, I am not inclined to get pedicures, and hence I have no idea how much they would cost, but I did get an expensive $45 haircut over the summer. (Not at Joy Spa, as I don't live in DC).

SIDEBAR TWO: Going back to cinema, the Circle Cinema in Tulsa, Oklahoma, put forth the following question via Twitter this afternoon: "What is your favorite Lars von Trier film?," in reference to the eccentric, controversial Danish director, known for "Dogville" and "Anti-Christ." My choice would be "Manderlay" as it is so over-the-top in every way.

The director's latest film "Melancholia" with Kirsten Dunst (wow, I actually had to google her name to make sure her first name was spelled right!) is showing at the A/perture Cinema in Winston-Salem, NC. We are not sure if Circle Cinema is actually showing the film, but we don't live in Oklahoma either!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sports Desk- Women's NCAA Volleyball Tourney Begins

The Liberty University Flames will have its hands full as the team from Lynchburg, Va., heads up to University Park, Pa., to face four-time defending NCAA champion Penn State on the Nittany Lions' home floor in the women's volleyball match-up on Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. For the team, one of the players to watch will be Micha Hancock, the Big 10 Freshman of the Year.

The seedings were announced on Sunday; Liberty is the only Virginia team which made the field of 64. But, the ACC was represented well as four teams made the field, including the Duke BlueDevils, a team that will face the University of Tennessee in Knoxville on Dec. 1st at 7:00 p.m. The game could be the most anticipated one of the first round.

The BlueDevils' team features Ali McCurdy, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, and her high school teamate from Tampa, Kellie Catanach as well as blocker Chritiana Gray. While the 'Vols have SEC Player of the Year Kelsey Robinson on their team roster.

Other games of interest in the first round include the University of Arizona's game with Michigan State. The Wildcats have libero Emily Helm and Czech hitter Marketa Hanzlova on its roster.

Both the PAC-12 and the Big 10 got many teams in the tournament. Arizona joins UCLA, Stanford, Oregon and California in the field. While the Big 10 has a staggering eight teams, including two top seeds in Illinois and Nebraska.

Among those teams will be the University of Michigan; they play Baylor in Palo Alto, Calif., on Dec. 2 at 4:30 p.m. (eastern time). The Wolverines feature outstanding players in Claire McElheny and Lexi Erwin (we believe she is the player featured in the above image). While the Bears' team includes stand-out Briana Tolbert, a senior from Houston.

Another potentially competitive first-round game appears to be the University of Florida's match with the University of Missouri in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (at Northern Iowa University). One of the Gators' top players Chloe Mann is actually from Gainesville, where the school is located.

Many games are expected to be televised on ESPNU.

SIDEBAR: Since we presume folks in England are mad about soccer, and the United Kingdom is one country where we get many hits, I thought would give a brief run-down of weekend soccer scores from the English Premiere League. The Tottenham Spurs continue to be on a roll as they beat West Bromwich 3-1.

Here is a partial list of the weekend games with their final scores; Manchester City remains five points ahead of cross-town rival Manchester United in the league standings:

Liverpool 1 Manchester City 1
Stoke City 3 Blackburn 1
Chelsea 3 Wolverhampton 0
Manchester United 1 Newcastle 1
Arsenal 1 Fulham 1

The Rabbitt Ears Quiz (3 of 12) How Much for That H.R. Pufnstuf Lunch Box

Witchiepoo, the villain from the Sid and Marty Kroftt cult tv classic "H.R. Pufnstuf," is the image you should be seeing if everything is going according to plan.

The children's tv show made its debut on Sept. 6, 1969, and it lasted until NBC decided to abruptly can the production after 17 episodes in August of 1972. Today, one can presumably watch the show for free on; well, hopefully, we haven't misguided anyone.

There are many unqiue things about this show which could easily make this entry as long as a chapter in Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace."

For starters, the show had the proverbial fairy tale/"Wizard of Oz" plot of good versus evil, and the adventures revolved around a shipwrecked youngster named Jimmy, played by the late Jack Wild (1952-2006). While on the isle, Jack ran into Mayor H.R. Pufnstuf. Tragically enough, both Wild and Lennie Winrid (1935-2006) who was the voice of H.R. Pufnstuf (along with Scrappy Doo and Bigmouth on "The Smurfs") died in the same year.

The show also featured unique supporting characters, including Freddy the Flute, Dr. Blinky (the owl) and Judy the Frog.

Now, for the dirt....yes, the show has been accused of making many drug references to marijuana, and the matter was profiled in a 2003 issue of "Cannibis Culture." Both Sid and Marty Krofft, who created the show, are still alive. Marty has denied any efforts to link his children's show to a Cheech and Chong movie. But, of the many instances that the journal cited were: 1) the fact that H.F. Pufnstuf is a green figure with red hair. 2) the term 'black bart' which is code for marijuana is mentioned in one episode, and 3) Witchipoo's laughing gas. Oh, there are also magic mushrooms (we believe) in one episode.

"H.R. Pufnstuf" is also unique because it was both the defendant in a lawsuit against it (not for pot) and a plantiff in a suit the producers brought forth.

Paul Simon succesfully sued the producers on the grounds that the theme song, which contains lyrics that some find suggestive towards marijuana, was too much like his popular song "59th Street Bridge (Feeling Groovy)."

Conversely, the producers in turn successfully sued McD's because Mayor McCheese looked a bit too much like H.R. Pufnstuf.

But, our question today pertains to the worth of the show's limited edition lunch boxes, which are worth an astonishing amount of money, epsecially if it comes with the thermos!

On e-bay, we noticed that the following dollar amount was going out for the box, is the answer?:

A) $225

B) $275

C) $325

D) $375

SIDEBAR: In case, you were wondering, the answer to last week's Bonus Road Trip between Cincinnati and Boulder, Colo., is B) 19 hours.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Casulaties of Modern Technology- 8-Track Tapes (3 of 12)

Wow! I actually got the image of exactly what I wanted: an 8-track of "Neil Diamond's Greatest Hits;" that rarely happens! Perhaps, now I can finally get a date with Uma Thurman, who is my version of the Little Red Head Girl.

The 8-track tapes were magnetic tapes that usually held about eight tracks worth of music. They were popular, mainly in the United States, from the 1960s to the
late '70s, and included everything from country to disco.

I recall actually getting 8-track tapes for bands like Rush and Yes, when I was in high school circa 1986, but I never found an 8-track player for them. According to Wikipedia, some 8-track tapes like Pink Floyd's "Animals" used piano solos to fill the voids in the 8-tracks. Recently, I saw an 8-track of "Neil Diamond's Greatest Hits" at an antique store in rural Virginia.

"Fleetwood Mac's Greatest Hits" (1988) is believed to be the last recording released on 8-track tape. 8-tracks were done in by cassette tapes, which were done in by cds, which have been done in by MP-3 players, but hey, at least albums are making a comeback!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving from Charlie Brown

As is our tradition whenever there is a holiday, we like to wish it from a cartoon character, kitschy celebrity (such as Barry Manilow) or whacko politician (ie. Michele Bachmann). And, today we go with the legendary comic strip character Charlie Brown, the brainchild of Charles Schultz (1922-2000).

When I was tutoring a student taking an English class, I actually compared Charlie Brown to Willy Loman, the character at the center of Arthur Miller's stage play "Death of a Salesman," in order to get the student to grasp the play's themes and simplify them.

Charlie Brown made his debut in "Peanuts" on Oct. 2, 1950. Snoopy came into the picture two days later. The beloved pooch also made its Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade debut as a float in 1968, a full 16 years before a float for Garfield, the comic strip cat created by Jim Davis that debuted in 1978, made his way down lower Manhattan in 1986.

Today's parade also feature a reincarnation of a float for the video game character Sonic the Hedgehog and a float created by filmmaker Tim Buron, called Character B.

Charlie Brown is noted for his rivalry with Lucy van Pelt, who pulls the football away from him as she did in the very last original "Peanuts" strip on Feb. 13, 2000.

The Little Red Head Girl is the figure of Charlie Brown's infactuation, but since he represents futility across the board, he never gets to meet her_ not even for a date at Starbucks (yes, we are aware there were no Starbucks around in 1950; it was a joke). She never actually physically appears in any of the comic strips, but her face has been shown on tv specials for "Peanuts." The character usually appears in strips that were written by Schultz around Valentine's Day.

Charlie Brown is also associated with the holidays because of both the Thanksgiving special, which first aired on Nov. 20, 1973, and the Christmas special, which premiered on Dec. 9, 1965, before folks in the United States started celebrating Christmas in September!

SIDE DISH: As we reported yesterday, my alma mater Radford University played the Univeristy of Kentucky, the #2-ranked men's basketball team, in Lexington, Ky., last night. And, like Charlie Brown trying to kick the dreaded football, the Highlanders came up very short in an 88-40 loss to the Wildcats. Terrence Jones scored 17 points for the home team; Jonathan Edwards scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds for RU.

SIDE DISH TWO: Yes, folks started lining some time ago for the Black Friday Sale at Target which gets underway at midnight here on the East. According to a tweet from "The Charlotte Observer," some 15 customers had started lining up at the main Charlotte, NC, Target store circa 8:00 p.m., a full hours before the madness begins.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Quote of the Week- Brian Orser

Today, we continue to quote famous Canadians we quip men's figure skater Brian Orser, who turns 50 on Dec. 18. Orser won silver medals at both the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo (which was in Yugoslavia at the time, now it's the capital of Bosnia) and the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, in front of Orser's home fans.

Orser lost his quest for gold to American ice skater Brian Boitano, in what became known as "The Battle of the Brians."

Today, Orser is known for coaching young figure skaters. Among his proteges is Yuna Kim (or Kim yu-Na), 21, a South Korean women's figure skater who won gold at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

Here is Orser's quote:

"It's not who does the most tricks, but the total package."

SIDEBAR: Tonight, my alma mater Radford University faces the University of Kentucky, a team ranked second in the nation, in NCAA men's basketball. The game will be in Lexington, Ky. I wish the Highlanders well as they face the Wildcats. Assuredly, if the team wins I may have a chance of a date with Vendela.

SIDEBAR 2: As of late, I have become very interested in European soccer, especially regarding English teams. Today, in UEFA action, Arsenal beat German team Dortmund 2-0 on two goals from their star Robin Van Persie.

But, Chelsea did not fare well against another German team Bayer Leverkusen by a 2-1 margin. Chelsea star and Ivory Coast national Didier Drogba scored the first goal of the away match in the 48th minute of play. However, Eren Derdiyok, a Swiss national of Kurdish descent who also has Turkish citizenship, scored the equalizer for the home squad in the 73rd minute. And, then German national team star Manuel Friedrich scored the game winner for Bayer in extra time. Thus, Chelsea fell 2-1.

In other games, Bracelona beat AC Milan 3-2, and the Czech team Viktoria Pizen scored a 1-0 victory over BATE Borisev, a team from Belarus.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Quote of the Day- Boris Becker

Today, we continue our quotes from famous Germans with a quip from the tennis great Boris Becker, who won Wimbledon when he was just 17. Today, Becker turns 44, and here is his quote:

"Does anyone ask their parents how they are conceived?"

SIDBAR: I want to congratulate my good friend Chris Tilley, who is highly regarded as a local playwright in Greensboro, NC, for the second anniversary of his blog:

SIDEBAR 2: Since we discussed English soccer yesterday, I thought I would relay from scores from today's UEFA Cup games played across Europe. It was not a particularly good day for English teams as Manchester United tied the Portuguese team Benefica 2-2 and their cross-town rival Manchester City, a team that currently leads the English Premiere League, feel to Italian power Napoli 2-1.

But, arguably the most misreable soccer player in Europe is Vasili Berezutzky who headed a ball into his own net, paving the way for the French team Lille's 2-0 win over CSKA Moscow. For the French club team, Senegal national Moussa Sow scored the other goal.

Meanwhile, Ajax Amsterdam and Lyon played to a 0-0 tie.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sports Desk- English Soccer Winners

Interesting week for English soccer as many rivals met each other. Yesterday, English soccer star Glen Johnson (pictured here) kicked in the game-winng goal for Liverpool against his former team Chelsea, giving his new team a 2-1 win. Argentinian Maxi Rodriguez scored for Liverpool earlier in the 33rd minute. And, Englishman Daniel Sturridge scored the lone goal for Chelsea in the 55th minute.

I was able to watch that game on American television yesterday, but I overslept Arsenal's 2-1 win over Norwich City, which aired at 7:30 a.m. here in les etats unis SAturday morning. Dutch star Robin ven Persie game through for Arsenal with goals in the 27th and 59th minute. Welsh player Steve Morison scored for Norwich in the 16th minute.

League leader Manchester City also won on Saturday by pummeling Newcastle 3-1. The goals for Manchester City came from Italian Mario Balotelli (41st minute); English player M. Richards (44th minute) and Argentinian Kun Aguero (72nd minute). English player Dan Gosling scored the lone goal late in the game for Newcastle.

And, today, Tottenham climbed to a third place tie with Newcastle after the team's 2-0 win over Aston Villa. Both goals for Tottenham came from Togo national player Emmanuel Adebayor.

Manchester United is second behind Manchester City in the English League thanks to the team's 1-0 win over Swansea on Saturday.

Here are the complete results of weekend play:

Fulham 0 Sunderland 0

Manchester City 3 Newcastle 1

Tottenham 2 Aston Villa 0

Queens Park 3 Stoke City 2

Everton 2 Wolverton 1

Manchester United 1 Swansea 0

Liverpool 2 Chelsea 1

Arsenal 2 Norwich City 1

Blackburn 3 Wigan Athletic 1

W. Bromal 2 Bolton 1

SIDEBAR: I read a funny tweet from Turkish soccer authority Ahmet Bob Turgut, who lives here in America. The tweet was in Turkish, but it simply asked "Is Anyone in Turkey watching the MLS Cup?"

For those who missed it, irregardless if you are in Boston or Istanbul, was:
L.A. Galaxy 1 Houston 0. The lone goal for the Galaxy was scored by American soccer star Landon Donovan in the 72nd minute.

Friday, November 18, 2011

From the LP Collection_ "Goats Head Soup" by The Rolling Stones (1 of 8)

Today, we start a feature about a few of the records in my own personal lp collection, which I have become increasingly interested in within the last six months.

The first one of these records we'll be profiling is "Goats Head Soup," the 13th studio record by The Rollins Stones. Released in 1973, the album fatures what is arguably the band's most popular ballad "Angie." It also contains the the track "Doo Doo Doo Doo Dooo (Heartbreaker)," which according to Wkipedia is about the NYPD's accidental shooting of a ten-year-old.

The album was recorded at Dynamic Sound Studio in Kingston, Jamaica, at a time when lead singer Mick Jagger was becoming influenced by the reggae music of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh.

The album came after "Exile on Main St." (1972) and before "It's Only Rock n Roll"
(1974). It was one of five albums from the band that were produced by the late Jimmy Miller (1942-1998).

Coincidentally, Miller was not the only person involved with "Goats Head Soup" who died at a relative young age or relative young age as that fate also bestowed the musicians Billy Preston (1946-2006), Ian Stewart (1938-1985) and Nicky Hopkins (1944-1994) who each played on the record.

"Goats Head Soup" runs for 46:56, and it also contains the songs "100 Years Ago," "Silver Train" and "Star Star."

The album brings back humorous memories for me as I jokingly sang the song "Angie" while on a group of Belize, which proved I was not quite ready for the karaoke scene.

I found this record at either a yard sale, an antique shop or the now defunct regional record chain "The Record Exchange," but if you are looking for vinyl to your own collection and you reside in North Carolina, I highly recommend All Day Records in Carrboro (Chapel Hill).

NOTE: Since there any things we need to do (carving turkey is actually not one of them) during this upcoming Thanksgiving week, we will be on temporary hiatus until Tuesday.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bonus Road Trip- Cincy to Boulder (5 of 10)

Today, we look at the distance between the settings of two iconic late '70s sitcoms as we survey the distance between Boulder, Colo., the setting of "Mork and Mindy," and "WKRP in Cincinnati," which was, of course, set in Cincinnati, Ohio.

For this, we chose the addresses of WKRQ (101.9-FM) in Cincinnati and The West End Tavern in Boulder, Colo. If anyone travels to Cincy, we highly recommend the American Sign Museum, which is ever the fascinating place.

Is the answer:

A) 18 hours

B) 19 hours

C) 20 hours

D) 21 hours

SIDEBAR: Back in January, we posted an entry on either this blog or my other one (we don't have archivists) about the heavy metal band GWAR. Alas, Cory Smoot aka "Flattus Maximus" of the band died on Nov. 3. But, the band went on with its scheduled performance in Tempe, Az., earlier in the week and paid tribute tribute to their fallen guitarist by dousing the crowd with blood. Hmmm.....

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Quote of the Day- Wayne Gretzky

We continue to quote famous Canadians today with a quip from Wayne Gretzky, who is considered to be the great hockey player of all time. Gretzky, 50, is an Ontario native who won four Stanley Cups for the Edmonton Oilers.

Gretzky was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in 1988 in what became the most controversial trade in North American sports history. Gretzky later played for the St. Louis Blues and the New York Rangers. He retired while playing for the Rangers in 1999. The Oilers won an additional Stanley Cup after Gretzky's trade.

Here is his quote:

"A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey plays where the puck is going to be."

Quote of the Day- Franz Beckenbauer

Today, in our series of quotes from famous Germans, we quip the great German soccer player Franz Beckenbauer, 66, who was credited with inventing the modern sweeper/libero position and who is one of many legendary soccer players who played for Bayern Munich.

Beckenbauer helped then West Germany win the World Cup in 1974, and he helped Bayern Munich win three straight European soccer titles from 1974-76. The German soccer great also played in the first incarnation of pro soccer in America with the New York Cosmos from 1977-80, '83 (Today's MLS team in New York is called the Red Bulls).

Here is his quoteL

"Certainly, it is a different world for players nowadays. But, it depends on the individual."

SIDEBAR: Many of today's top German soccer players are of Turkish origin. These players often get caught up in the politics of whether to play for Germany or Turkey. Interstingly enough, the current roster of Real Madrid, believed to be the best team in Europe, consists of three such players in superstar Mesut Ozil, Hamit Altintop and Nuri Sahin.

Ozil chose to play for Germany, while Altintop and Sahin chose to play for Turkey. In a 3-0 defeat to Croatia on Friday, Altintop reportedly made an amazing dive which has become popular on Youtube. Hamit Altintop's twin brother Halil Altintop plays for the Turkish team Trabzonspor, which is also competing in the UEFA Cup.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Things We Learned on Google Today- Lyon Has Won 7 French Titles

In our 13th profile of 15 world soccer teams, we turn our attention to the French soccer power Olympique Lyonnais, which is known simply as Lyon, the same name as the city they play for.

Lyon did not win its first domestic title until the 2001-02 season, but they made up for it by winning a staggering seven French premiere league titles in a row.

During the 2009-10 season, Lyon also reached the semi-finals of the coveted UEFA Cup, before bowing out to German power Bayern Munich.

Lyon is playing for the current UEFA Cup as well, but their hopes of advancing to the next round seem given their home loss Spanish power Real Madrid 2-0, both goals in the match were scored by Portuguese superstar Christiano Ronaldo, earlier this month.

Thus, Lyon is in third place behind the Dutch team Ajax Amsterdam (the last team we profiled), in Group D. Lyon visits Amsterdam on Nov. 22 when Real Madrid will face the Crotian team Dynamo Zagreb, which is in last place.

In domestic play, Lyon last played arch rival St. Etienne and the team prevailed
2-0. Lyon is reportedly in second place in the French league behind Paris St. Germain which tied Bordeaux 1-1.

The captain for Lyon is Brazilian player Cris (Cristiano Gomes), 34, and the team's goalie is French player Hugo Lloris, 24, (pictured), who is vying to become the French national goal keeper.

On Friday, the French national team beat the United States 1-0 in a friendly. Since I carry an American passport, I could gripe about this, but hey the French gave us Asterix the Gaul. Having said that, I hope we beat the living daylights out of them next time (that is a joke; I'm not a Republican).

SIDEBAR: Closer to home, Martinsburg High School (Martinsburg, West Virginia) decked Woodrow Wilson High School from Beckley, West Virginia, in a home game played on Friday by a score of 49-13.

PS-The answer to our Rabbitt Ears quiz was C) Boulder, Colorado, which is where "Mork and Mindy" took place.