Monday, January 31, 2011

Quote of the Week- John Wayne

Since the Oscars are a weeks away, we thought we'd quip some past winners. We'll start with John Wayne who won an Oscar for his 1969 performance as Rooster Cogburn in the original film version of "True Grit." Interestingly enough, Last year's Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges is nominated this year for his performance as the same part in the Coen Brothers' new film version of the Charles Portis novel of the same name.

Here is the quote from the Duke:

"Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway."

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Status Update_ Perhaps, God Meant for Us....

I must profess that those who know me well, and perhaps all too many of you reading this actually do, know that I'm really not a religious at all.

But, since I can't remember the over-the-top church sign I saw as I was driving past a fundamentalist church near Boones Mill, Va., on Route 220- not far from a radical, in-your-face pro-life billboard, I was thinking what I might say if I were to put something on a church sign (obviously, it would have to be a Unitarian church).

And, since I was a lot of problems trying to watch the 1970 film "The Landlord," from the late director Hal Ashby ("Harold and Maude") via Netflix streaming, I think it would have to be this:

"Perhaps, God Meant 4 Us to Watch Movies in a Cinema and No Place Else!"

That would assuredly get some passer-by's attention....well, we hope!

As for old cinemas, The Lyric Theatre in Balcksburg, Va, (pictured here) is showing "The Black Swan" with Natalie Portman, which could my choice for the best film of 2010 (don't worry kids, I'm making a list as we speak).

And, another one of my favorite college-town cinemas, The Varsity Theatre in Chapel Hill, NC, which is one of the few zip codes in The Tarheel State without a hell-fire Southern Baptist church (well, there probably is one there too) is screening "The Social Network," which is also a film that I might designate as my favorite of 2010?!

Speaking of radical, hell-fire churches, I wonder what the Rev. Johnny Robertson of Martinsville, Va., is up to these days. He happens to be a real person; and he does actually match the stereotype of an over-the-top preacher! If you don't believe me, then just ask my good friend Chris Knight.

Lastly, one does not have to see films at an old cinema to be a devout cinemaniac. My friend Jason Garnett will be screening "Heathers," the vintage late-80s teen comedy that is definitely darker than your typical John Hughes flick at 8:00 at The Shadowbox in downtown Roanoke (damn, wish I could be there!).

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Status Update_ Does Modern Technology Really Work....

Status Update 1/29: "Last night, I was watching the Stanford-Utah meet live from Salt Lake City when the feed gave out during the last five minutes. I didn't know who won the meet until almost an hour later!"

Hence, the reason why I am going with an image of iconic Soviet/Belarusian Olympic gymnast Olga Korbut who won gold at the 1972 Munich Olympics. She is now a gymnastics teacher in Scotsdale, Ariz.

Stanford (ranked #2) won the narrow meet over Utah (ranked #4) by 196.825-196.500 margin in front of an impressive 13,835 fans at the Huntsman Center.

Ashley Morgan, daughter of baseball great Joe Morgan, Shelley Alexander and team captain Danielle Ikoma helped Stanford by nailing the beam in the final rotation. Morgan scored a very good 9.9 on that event.

The win by the Stanford Cardinal (remember no 's') marked the end of a 20-meet home winning streak by the Utes.

But, for Utah, freshman gymnast Nancy Damianova from Montreal, Canada, was quite a standout. And, I expect she could well be the next Daria Bijak (well, perhaps). One has to be impressed by the loyal following that Coach Greg Marsden has developed for the Utah gymnastics program.

In other college gym news, top-ranked Florida won its home meet over Penn State and our beloved N.C. State Wolfpack by a score of 197.5-195.3-194.075 (yes, I know the sport's scoring system is confusing for those who don't follow the sport, hey, it's even that way for me!). The Wolfpack were missing gymnasts Brittany Vontz and Brooke Barr, but Jess Panza scored an overall 9.775 for the 'Pack. Alaina Johnson and Ashanee Dickerson lead the way for Florida.

SIDEBAR: I am starting to wonder if someone at Fox Searchlight Pictures is reading my blog. The film "127 Hours" did finally open in the Roanoke, Va., and Greensboro, NC, area yesterday (see earlier entry). For those in Winston-Salem, I highly recommend seeing the film at the A/Peture Cinema, a place I've heard lots of good things about.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Status Update_ I Suffer from Kiskanclik

Status Update for 1/28:"I must profess to suffering from major jealousy when I see a cute girl with a guy, even if she is 20 years younger than me and she lives half-a-world away!"

This couple is incidentally somewhere in Japan. We presume they are in Tokyo, but perhaps they are in Osaka or Kobe.

Kiskanclik is the Turkish word for jealousy!

John Lennon had a hit song called "I'm a Jealous Guy," which ironically Yoko Ono reportedly loves!

SIDEBAR_ We wish the North Carolina State gymnastics well tonight as they face Penn State and host Florida in Gainesville, Fla, tonight. The Wolfpack are lead by Brooke Barr, Jess Panza and Brittany Vontz. They are currently ranked #10 in the country, while the host Gators are the #1 team in women's gymnastics.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Status Update_ I'm Getting Hungry Here

First of all, our apologies to our friends in Karachi and Islamabad for forgetting to put Pakistan in our links section yesterday as we mentioned a uniquely named coffee place in that country yesterday, but we forgot to link them. Of course, all of the blame goes to Javier the intern.

As for my status update for 1/27: "I am as hungry as Gustave the man-eating crocodile."

"Mental Floss" has a great story in the current article about the central African country of Burundi where one can find Gustave, a 65-year-old croc who has reportedly eaten 300 people. Perhaps, he now qualifies for the senior citizens discount at Denny's!

While researching this piece, we found out that the T-Bone Steak House in Phoenix offers up a 24-ounce t-bone for $27, while our vegan friends in New York (actually, we don't have any vegan friends in New York that we know of, according to Javier) can go to Blossom on 187 9th Avenue. The establishment was voted the best vegetarian place to eat in 2008 and 2009 by "Time Out New York."

I'm not sure if it's going to be a t-bone or a tofu burger, but I need to get some food!

NOTE: The crocodile in the photo is NOT Gustave, but I'd advise against taking his close-up.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Status Update_ Need Some Coffee

Status Update for 1/26: "I could really, really go 4 a double espresso or a vanilla mocha right now!"

For those with similar cravings, I recommend two great small town coffee shops. In Strasburg, Va., some 75 miles south of Washington, DC, there is Cristina's Cafe, where the Northern Virginia blues band Blues Condition will be performing on Saturday night.

In Reidsville, NC, east of Greensboro, there is a nifty place called The Backstreet Buzz, where the indie/folk/rock band Poverty Level from the hamlet of Stuart, Va., in Patrick County in southwest Va., plays on Saturday night as well.

We also found out there is a chain in the Pittsburgh-metro area called Crazy Mocha.

And, apparently, in Islamabad, Pakistan,-of all places, there is a coffee house called Addiction Cafe!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Status Update_ I've Seen All But One of the Films...

Status Update for 1/25/11: "I've seen all the films nominated for Best Picture Oscar except '127 Hours,' but no one around here is showing it!"

Towards the end of the family trip to Washington, DC, (see the DC Diary blog entries), I had a chance to see "127 Hours," the new Danny Boyle film with James Franco. I chose to see "I Love You, Philip Morris" at the Landmark E-Street Cinema instead on the false assumption that it would be the film less likely to be playing in Greensboro or Winston-Salem, NC. But, amazingly enough, the reverse happened!

In spite of much critical acclaim, "127 Hours" is not playing in a single movie theatre between the Washington, DC, and Charlotte, NC, metro areas. This includes cities like Charlottesville, Roanoke, Richmond and Norfolk in Virginia, as well as zip codes like Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Durham and Wilmington in North Carolina (in addition to the Greensboro area).

I know it briefly played in Asheville, NC, but for some odd reason, it has yet to come to a cinema here. This simply astonishes me.

My friend Chris Knight expressed similar exasperation when "The Road" wasn't showing anywhere between Atlanta and Washington, DC, in late 2009.

I guess everyone assumes we want to see "Green Hornet" in 3-D. Nothing against that film or its director Michel Gondry, who I have a lot of respect for, but I am puzzled how the movie distribution system works. If anyone knows someone at Fox Searchlight, who is distributing "127 Hours," I would love to find out the reasons for this. The company is also distributing the acclaimed film "The Black Swan" with Natalie Portman.

Assuredly, I am not the only one dismayed by the way they determine which markets get to see which films.

However, I did notice on the film's IMDB page, that is in fact now playing in Kuwait!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Status Update_ The End of An Era

Since I am actually trying to get things done and make blog entries more economical, in the time-spending sense, and use Facebook and Twitter less often, I have decided to start a new Status Update series on this blog.

Of course, in the end, it will probably meet none of my objectives, but at least we can't canned by the WB before our scheduled 13-episode run.

So, we start today with this Status Update:

"I have retired my George Costanza wallet after a good solid six and a half years of usage."

The character of George, as played by Jason Alexander, was based on the show's co-creator Larry David, who is now a household name because of "Curb Your Enthuiasm," but the character's name was taken from Jerry Seinfeld's real-life pal Mike Costanza.

The Urban Dictionary says that a George Costanza wallet refers to a wallet that is overstuffed with junk. In the sitcom, the wallet forced George to sit in a stilted position.

Reruns of the 1990s sitcom "Seinfeld" air on WGHP in the Greensboro, NC, market from 11:00-11:59 p.m. each night. Tonight, they will show "The Finale" episode in the 11:00-11:29 slot.

I must profess that I find the newscasts of WGHP, the local Fox affiliate, about as objective as Glenn Beck, who is coming to Greensboro on April 8. But, my hero and his nemesis Bill Maher will also be performing at the Greensboro Coliseum on April

Currently, Greensboro is getting a lot of media attention for hosting the U.S. National Figure Skating Championships, which will feature Brian Boitano, Kristi Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan.....yes, I know they are all (to our knowledge retired from skating) but I am not exactly hip to what's going on in the skating world, so I thought I would joke about it.

I actually had a crush on Yamaguchi, who is a year younger than me, but now she is married to some hockey player, raising a family and competing on "Dancing with the Stars," so of course I'll have to develop a crush on a female figure skater who is some 20 years younger than her!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Quotes from the Composers- Antonin Leopold Dvorak

We conclude our Quotes from the Composers series with a quip from the Czech master Antonin Leopold Dvorak (1841-1904). The Romantic-era composer is perhaps best-known for his "New World Symphony" which will be performed by the Colorado Symphony in Denver on Friday (

Dvorak's famous operas include "The Devil and Kate" (1899) and "Rusalka" (1900) and "The Slavonic Dances" is another one of his famous symphonies.

Dvorak was friends with fellow Czech composer Leos Janacek (1854-1928) who is known for his famous opera "Jenufa" (1904).

And, we learned that "Classical 24" which gives classical music to affiliated NPR stations around the country will be broadcasting Dvorak's piece "Humoresque" at 4:36 pm (a mere half hour from now).

Fellow night owls may be able to catch Jean Sibelius' piece "Pelleas and Melisande" at 11:06 p.m. tonight. We featured the Finnish composer here yesterday. "Classical
24" airs overnight on WVTF, 89.1 FM (Roanoke, Va.) and WFDD, 88.5 FM (Winston-Salem, NC).

This quote from Dvorak is a rather simple one:

"Mozart is sweet sunshine."

SIDEBAR: The term Turkish opera may indeed seem like quite the oxy moron, but composer Okan Demiris did bring many great Turkish operas, including his most famous work "Murad IV" a reality. I was fortunate enough to see a performance of "Murad IV" at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul way back in 1991. Alas, "Today's Zaman" reported in a June 19, 2010 article that Demiris died at age 68 from a heart attack this summer, leaving many musical treasures for generations to come behind.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Quotes from The Composers- Jean Sibelius

Today, we quote Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) who is Finland's best-known composer. His works include "Finlandia," "Valse tries" and "The Swan of Tvorela" (hope we spelled Tvorela right, if now we'll blame Javier the intern).

There is a statue of the composer in Helsinki, which makes this quote all the more amusing:

"Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic."

SIDEBAR: Speaking of another composer - Brahms, his works will be conducted by the Baltimore Symphony from Jan.27-29, which might be worth a field trip!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Quotes from The Composers- Sergei Prokofiev

Today, as promised, we are quoting two Russian composers on our two blogs. We start Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1936), the modern composer we've quipped so far. He is perhaps best known for his symphonic children's story "Peter and the Wolf," which was written in 1936. It was ironically made into a Disney short film just ten years later.

The Soviet-era composer died on the same day when dictator Joseph Stalin's death was announced.

Prokofiev is buried at the famed Novodevichy Cemetary in Moscow where one can also find the graves of Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet (1901-963) who left Turkey because of his communist views (today, he is ironically Turkey's national poet) and famed Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein (1898-1948) who directed "Battleship Potemkin."

Here is his quote:

"I play rather well- in any case, jauntily. My success was rather great and I should say no doubt unexpected."

SIDEBAR: For those who love all things Russian, Turkish-American writer and scholar Elif Batuman has a relatively new book (released in early 2010) entitled: "The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them." The book, as one would expect, discusses the likes of Anton Chekov and Leo Tolstoy. I will probably never read the rather lenghty "War and Peace" by Tolstoy myself, but Batuman's book is only (compared to Russian novels) 296 pages.

Even though I am also a Turkish-American, I have never met Batuman, though I've been told that her book, which was reviewed in "The New York Times" last year, is really good.

We learned through Wikipedia that Batuman also studied the Uzbek language as a grad student while studying in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Quote of the Day- Aretha Franklin (for MLK Jr. Day)

Today, we are taking a one-day break from quipping famous composers to focus on African-American musical artists who came of age, both socially and artistically, during the Civil Rights period in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

We thought since she is battling pancreatic cancer that we'd start with Aretha Franklin, 67, who has been called the greatest pop singer of all time by "Rolling Stone."

With this quote, Franklin illustrates that all of us to a varying degree have coping problems with life's various challenges:

"Trying to grow up is hurting, you know you make mistakes. you try to learn from them, and when you don't, it hurts even more."

Yeah, I certainly know what she means by that.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Quote from The Composers- Frederich Chopin

Frederich Chopin (1810-1849) is yet another iconic symbol who died all too young at age 39, which means as a 40-year-old I've already outlived him. But, despite his very short life, he left behind classic works like "The Revolutionary Etude," "The Minute Waltz" and "The Funeral March."

The cause of Chopin's death has been a source of controversy. At the time, it was believed to be tuberculosis, which Chopin believed he was dying from, but more recent research suggests it may have been cystic fibrosis which took him to an all too early grave.

Chopin was also a great master of Romantic music, and since he had parents who were Polish and French, both Poland and France claim him as one of their own.

Here is his quote, which we initially forgot to put in for the first draft of this entry:

"Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art."

SIDEBAR: As for some radically different kind of music, we reported on our other blog that we were actually contemplating going to a concert from the heavy metal band GWAR while we were in Washington, DC, at the fabled 9:30 Club in late December. As it turns out, the band will be performing at The Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh, NC, which is closer to home, on Feb. 17, but alas, I have to work that night. And, I'm not sure my soon-to-be-41-year-old ears could handle the noise!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Quote from The Composers- Richard Wagner

Ah, yes. Those of us who live between Smyrna, Ga., and Floyd, Va., were snowed in over the last two days due to a fluke snowstom which really hammered Spartanburg, SC, of all places, as well as the Atlanta and Charlotte metro areas.

This gave me a chance to catch up on reading as I somehow read the late Swedish author Steig Larsson's "The Girl Who Played with Fire" (the second book in the series) in its entirety, and it is a 750-page novel! I also watched all 13 episodes of the third and last season of "Arrested Development" which was on the air from 2003-05 (loved the part where they went to Mexico!).

So, this brings us to our quote of the day from a late, great composer. And, we are going with the ever-controversial Richard Wagner (1818-1883) who was admired by none other than Adolf Hitler because der fuhrer felt that Wagner's music embodied his imperial view of Germany. Thus, there have been misgivings about conducting Wagner's music live in Israel.

Wagner is also known for "The Ring Cycle," a series of four operas based on Germanic mythology. "Gotterdammerung/Twilight of the Gods" is the final opera in the series, and Wagner also composed the famous opera "Parsifal" in 1882.

Here is his quip:

"Achievements, seldom credited to their source, are the result of unspeakable drudgery and worries."

Classical music fans in the Greensboro/Winston-Salem area might be interested to know that violinst Yura Lee will be giving two performances in the Gate City with The Greensboro Symphony on Jan. 20 and Jan. 22.

One can go to the sympphony's web site for more information.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Quote of the Week- Gustav Mahler

Wow, a lot has happened since we lost blogged on Wednesday of last week. Our thoughts go out to Cong. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and her family. I will have more on that later. The incident was made all the more disturbing to me because I heard an interview on NPR during a broadcast of "All Things Considered" just last week.

Today, we are focusing on quotes from composers (we will have another quip from another composter tomorrow since we were not able to post a quote last week) which will be our focus throughout January.

We start with the Austrian-Bohemian composer Gustav Mahler (1860-1911). According to Steve Holtier of ',' Mahler was known for transforming the symphony into its more modern form. His famous works include "The Youth's Magic" and "Wunderhorn."

Here is today's quote from Mahler:

"A Symphony must be like the world. It must contain everything."

If you are in the DC area, be sure to check out WETA (90.9 FM), an NPR station which focuses on classical music. Oh, I forgot, it's not 1989. You can listen to them online too!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

DC Diary- Michelle Obama's Inauguration Gown

When we posted an entry with a quote from former president George H.W. Bush, aka Papa Smurf, we mentioned that there was an exhibit of first ladies gowns at his presidential library in College Station, Tex.

Thus, I was quite surprised when we stumbled a similar exhibit at the Smithsonian American History Museum during our family trip to Washington, DC, in the first phase of our excursion.

There were two gowns which stood out. One was surprisingly the purple inauguration gown worn by Laura Bush, Papa Smurf's daughter-in-law.

The other was the amazing white gown by our current First Lady Michelle Obama, which neither a Romanian gymnast nor a contestant on "The Biggest Loser" could possibly fit into. The dress illustrated just how tall Michelle Obama is as well as how tight her figure is. I am certainly no fashion expert, and as a heterosexual man my interest in such things is fairly limited. But, this gown, complete with the white Jimmy Choo high heel shoes, left quite an impression.

Later in the trip, we went to the Smithsonian National Science Museum where we saw an exhibit with ancient artifacts from the politically divided island nation of Cyprus, located between Greece, Turkey and Lebanon.

My sister and I were really intrigued by the digs especially since we had been to the Turkish/northern part of Cyprus back in 1993. We even saw a photo of a cathedral that had been converted into a mosque that we visited in the port city of Famagusta, where I almost got hit by a car since the Cypriots (Turks and Greeks alike) drive 'The British Way,' which is quite challenging for pedestrians!

A funny moment happened when I was looking at a female nude statue and a guard yelled. I thought it was Orwellian mind-reading at its best, but the culprit he was after turned out to be a Japanese tourist who was sneakingly taking a photograph of a bronze statue behind me.

This concludes my special series on our adventures and misadventures during our week in Washington, DC, which took place between Christmas and New Year's Eve.

There are more entries about the trip on my other blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time."

Just for the record, my brother-in-law and my sister are not named Sven and Eva Thomasson, nor do they reside in Goteborg, Sweden. This was meant to be a bit of an in-joke between my sister and I, but when my mother heard about my little prank, she pretty much threatened to sell the family cat on Craig's List (that is a joke too!).

Monday, January 3, 2011

DC Diary- Kamikaze Time

Today, we discuss Day Five of our National Lampoon's DC Vacation which was actually the last day of the trip, but we will have a final entry on both blogs tomorrow with some added reflections.

Day Five featured a very limited schedule because my sister and my brother-in-law had to make their British Airways flight back to London (not where they actually live) from Dulles, so we simply focused on the second part of the National Air and Space Museum which is located near Dulles International Airport.

For me, the most interesting plane on display was a Japanese kamikaze plane. Anyone who has regularly watched the Larry David Show "Curb Your Enthusiasm" assuredly remembers the episode where Larry yells "Banzai," which was what these suicidal pilots did when they crashed into American battleships.

While researching this piece, I found out that Ensign Kiyoski Ogawa, who was 22 or 23, killed himself on an attack of the USS Bunker Hill which also killed some 400 American troops. Some of the kamikaze pilots were as young as 17. The planes were quite devastating because they carried bombs, torpedoes and explosives on them.

The other displays on the site included the Enola Gay, which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, and certainly makes one ponder the devastation it caused. An Air France Concord plane which could take passengers from New York to Paris in about three hours (they have since been retired), Nazi German war planes, Soviet planes and a boat plane!

Afterward, we took my sister and her husband to the airport and waved "Arivederci," or however, it's spelled in Italian. I jokingly asked my sister back at the museum gift shop if she wanted a pilot Barbie. She said no.

As for the kamikaze drink (we couldn't find a good image to use of a kamikaze plane), you might be able to find one at Jack's Restaurant in DuPont Circle. No promises! And, of course, don't drink and drive....

Sunday, January 2, 2011

DC Diary- The Map Art of Guillermo Kuitca

Argentinian artist Guillermo Kuitca, 49, took up much of our attention on the fourth day of our family excursion to Washington, DC, which was Thursday. His works, which include two striking paintings of airport baggage merry-go-rounds, are on display at the Smithsonian Hirshorn Museum of Art until Jan. 16.

I was most awe-struck by Kuitca's paintings of maps, one of which was for the entire state of North Dakota (the image is a standard map of the state). Like the baggage carousel, one would think such a subject might be way too mundane to make an elaborate painting out of, but Kuitca managed to pull it off by illustrating how arbitrary lines that divide states, counties and even international borders can be.

Kuitca did something similar with a grander map painting that made Fargo seem close to Chicago and Philadelphia seem close to Kansas City, which made one realize that our lives are indeed shaped by these lines and they can be rearranged without any logical sense of geography, especially in a world where we can now get emails from Karachi, Pakistan, as well as our friend who might live in the next town over from us in a place like Welch, W. Va.

According to Wikipedia, Kuitca has said that he believes our notions of place are always evolving.

As for North Dakota, which is quite far from Washington, DC, it is the 19th largest state in size, but it also has the third lowest population. North Dakota also has the highest density per capita of any state for churches, which makes it all the more amazing that Barack Obama almost captured the vote for the state against the McCain-Palin ticket (or should we say the Palin-McCain ticket).

There were 920 Muslims and 730 Jews in North Dakota according to the 2000 Census (as stated in Wikipedia) and assuredly those numbers might well have radically changed. Interestingly enough, there are many famous Jews from neighboring Minnesota, including Sen. Al Franken and Bob Dylan.

Perhaps, the famous person ever from North Dakota was the late band leader Lawrence Welk, born in the hamlet of Strasburg, N.Dak. His tv specials still air on PBS stations around the country.

SIDEBAR: A great tweet that we read tonight from The Kansan, who we presume is a progressive college student in Lawrence, Kan., was the following: "That doesn't make sense. Where does the bible say you're free to let your neighbor die so the super rich profit?"

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year from Tintin

Happy New Year from all of us here at The Daily Vampire and our beloved Belgian comic book reporter Tintin. Though we hate fessing up to mistakes here, we must admit that we wrongly identified Tintin's white fox terrier dog earlier this week. For the record, the mutt's name is Snowy, not Fluffy.

But, since Tintin's creator Herge (1907-1983) we may not get yelled out for making this blunder. Titin debuted in 1929, and it has been translated into 80 languages.

I discovered Tintin back in 1978 when I was eight years old and we were living near Zonguldak, Turkey, and I came across "Tintin Tibet'te" which was a Turkish translation of Herge's 1960 book "Tintin in Tibet, a book that remains a favorite among Titin fans.

While researching this, we found out that The Tintin Shop in London (there are other Tintin stores in Belgium and France) will be closed in May of this year, but it will be replaced by a coffee house called Haddock's, which will pay homage to the Tintin character Captain Archibald Haddock.

The New Zealand '80s New Wave band Thompson Twins ("Hold Me Now") also took their name from Tintin characters.

A museum devoted to Herge was opened up near Brussels, Belgium, in 2009.

SIDEBAR: One can still see photos of deep-fried turkeys, a specialty of my friend and fellow blogger Chris Knight of Reidsville, NC, on his blog "The Knight Shift" (

Today is also the birthday of my friend Devrim Kale in Edirne, Turkey.

And, we wish to congratulate Jocelyn Skye Jimenez of Elizabeth, NJ, Keegan Lee Kinzel of Huntington, WVa, and Roxana Santos of Rockville, Md. Each of these New Year's babies were among the first babies born after midnight in their respective localities today.