Monday, February 28, 2011

Happy Oscar Hangover Day

For starters, let me go ahead and congratulate Natalie Portman, Colin Firth, Melissa Leo, Christian Bale and David Fincher (just kidding, we know Tom Hooper won for directing "The King's Speech," but we couldn't resist, especially since most of us Gen-Xers were rooting for Fincher's film "The Social Network") for their Oscar wins last night.

Even if we disagree with the Academy's decisions (Fincher was robbed!), we respect the great work that went into what they did to win each of their respective Oscars.

Of course, for film fanatics, such as myself, there is nothing worse than the day after the Oscars.

I was up until 1:05 eastern time, USA, (also known as New York time), watching the Jimmy Kimmel special with Tom Hanks last night. Kimmel's show featured a hilarious spoof of "The King's Speech" with Mike Tyson (yes, it was really the former boxer himself) was coaching a George W. Bush impersonator who just couldn't help mess up verbally each and every time he came to the podium.

So, I felt like I did as a 19-year-old kid (my age in 1989) who had just drunk way too much raki in Istanbul, Turkey.

For those who don't know much about the alcoholic spirit, we will give a brief cultural and historical synopsis (with help from Wikipedia), especially for those of you in Eugene, Ore.

Since, those of you in that time zone might well still behind a computer as we are typing this (it's now about 6:30 p.m., New York time) and can't wait to go home to your wife, kid and orange goldfish:

"Raki pronounced rakuu is a non-sweet arise-flavored alcoholic drink popularly consumed in Turkey, Greece, Albania, Bosnia and Bulgaria alongside seafood and mezze. Raki is also known as 'the Lion's milk.' It became popular from 1839-1876 during the 'liberal' period of the Ottoman Empire."

So, if you were wondering how a strong alcoholic drink that can knock you out like a punch from Mike Tyson became hip in a Muslim country, there you have it (we changed some of the wording from raki's Wikipedia entry to make it easier to read and more humorous).

Friday, February 25, 2011

More Oscar Projections....

We literally looked all afternoon for a good image to go with this blog, and then (voila!) we found this one of the late, great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa getting a lifetime achievement Oscar.

Here are the rest of our projections (some will be listed on our other blog):

Best Director:

Will win: Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech)

Should win: Darren Aronofsky ("The Black Swan")

Would vote for: David Fincher ("The Social Network"). Fincher has a better chance of winning that Aronofsky, and I essentially like the two films almost the same with a just a slight preference for "The Black Swan."

Best Screenplay (Adapted):

Will/Should: "The Social Network"

Best Screenplay (Original):

Will: "The King's Speech"

Should: "The Fighter"

Cinematography (to be honest your guess is as good as mine here!):

Will: "The Social Network"

Should: "The Black Swan" (yes, I would vote for the film here!)

Visual Effects:

Will/should: "Inception"

Sound Editing:

Will/should "Inception"

Sound Mixing:

Will/should: "Inception"

Film Editing:

Will: "The King's Speech"

Should: "The Social Network"


Will: "Barney's Version" (hmm...yes, we are pulling this one from thin air)


Will/should: Inception (Hans Zimmer)


Projection: "The King's Speech"

Original Song:

"We Belong Together" by Randy Newman from "Toy Story 3"

For the short film categories, go to our other blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Oscar Predictions_ Best Picture (s)

Roger Ebert said that he thinks "True Grit" will win the Oscar for Best Picture because it got ten nominations. Peter Travers of "Rolling Stone" projects voters will choose "The Social Network" because last year's winner "The Hurt Locker" suggests Oscar-voters may be slightly more hip than the ones who chose "Driving Miss Daisy" just over ten years ago.

But, ultimately, even though I think it's only a moderately good film myself, I have to agree with David Thomson of "The New Republic" who feels the voters are going to pick "The King's Speech." Ironically, his magazine wrote an article questioning how historically accurate the film was. As Thomson states the film has picked up momentum, both critically and with the public, as it has surprisingly made over $100 million at the box office. And, it's later release date seems to make it a more likely choice than previous favorite "The Social Network."

So, here is a run-down of who I think will win/should win or in some cases who I would vote for (not always the same choice I think is the best).

This is the first of six entries of two blogs, so I will not overwhelm blog readers with all of the categories, including Best Sound Mixing here today.

But, I am going to focus on the four feature-length film categories in this particular entry: Those are Best Picture, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Animated Feature and Best Documentary Feature.

On our other blog "Politics, Culture and Wastes of Time," I will make projections regarding the four acting categories.


Who will win: "The King's Speech"
Who should win: "The Black Swan" (which was my overall pick for best film of the year.)
Who I would vote for: "The Social Network." David Fincher's film was a close second on my 20 best films of 2010 list, and it would be great to see a solid film win rather than a movie that is essentially, as well-acted as it might be, a royal family soap opera- and, one that is not quite as witty as "The Queen."

Best Animated Feature:

Projection: "Toy Story 3." I have not seen the other nominees, but this as of a guarantee as the fact that Duke University would assuredly beat Roanoke Catholic High School in a basketball game.

Best Documentary Feature:

Will win: "Restrepo"_ this is a gut feeling, but it seems like this apolitical documentary about American soliders figthing in Afghanistan is the kind of film that Oscar-voters will go for even though I thought the film was disappointing myself. It is more or less like "The Hurt Locker," but not nearly as well-done.

Should win: "Inside Job"- along with most film critics, I think this hard-hitting film about Wall Street insider trading is the best documentary of 2010.

Best Foreign Language Film:

Will win: "Bitiful" (Mexico). The film has a familiar actor in Javier Bardem who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for "No Country for Old Men" which gives it a major advantage.

Should win: "Dogtooth" (Greece). I have not seen the film, but it has garnered the best critical praise of the five films nominated.

For more Oscar projections, go to our other blog:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Oscar Predictions Teaser

Tomorrow, in case life returns to normalcy (well one can always hope, right?!), I am hoping to start posting my Oscar predictions. We intend to post them over six entries on our two collective blogs ("Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time" is our other blog. Check out the Oscar the Grouch t-shirt on our entry there today---presuming the hotlink goes through, ok!).

Walter Matthau played Oscar Madison in the film version of Neil Simon's hilarious play "The Odd Couple." I saw the play performed at The Wayside Theatre in Middletown, Va., near Winchester and Strasburg (an hour and a half south of Washington, DC), where Susan Sarandon once performed in a play before she became famous_ we presume it wasn't "The Odd Couple." The playhouse is now producing "Southern Crossroads: The New Orleans Adventure" with stage actor Robbie Limon in the lead.

Though I'm not one to make personal confessions on this blog, I must reluctantly profess to 'being a bit of an Oscar Madison myself.' As it turns out, there really is a group called Clutterers Anonymous, which I had first heard about the other day.

In fact, and perhaps one can insert the 'only in America' cliche here, they have a rival/complimentary group called Messies Anonymous!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Special Quote of the Week- Freddy Adu

We continue our special quotes from African-American athletes, past and present, with a quip from soccer star Freddy Adu, 21, who became the youngest person to play a soccer game in Major League Soccer as a member of DC United when he was just 13.

As of Feb. 1, Adu is now playing for the Turkish soccer team Rizespor in the Black Sea city of Rize, Turkey. This comes as an irony to me as my late father came from Turkey. And, though I try to follow Turkish soccer and I follow Adu on Twitter, this was knowledge I just learned today.

Over the weekend, Adu's Rizespor beat OrduSpor 3-0. RizeSpor also features Liberian soccer star Theo Weeks.

Adu, whose family immigrated from Ghana to Rockville, Md., when he was 8, played for DC United until 2006. After playing for Real Salt Lake, he jumped over the pond to play for the Portuguese team Benfica.

Here is the quote from Adu:

"You can't do anything to help your team when you don't play."

One can follow Adu on Twitter at:

You can keep up with Turkish soccer by following Ahmet Bob Turgut:

This weekend, traditional Istanbul powerhouse Fenerbahce defeated rival Besiktas 4-2 with three goals from Brazilian star Alex.

SIDEBAR: I have to salute my good friend Chris Knight, a fellow blogger, who is standing up for us. Yesterday, he tweeted that he disagreed with a "New York Times" article stating that blogs were decreasing in popularity due to Facebook and Twitter. Knight said that one simply can not say everything within Twitter's space limitations. With all due respect to Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, we couldn't agree more.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Quote of the Week- Kevin Spacey

Today, we are using quips from the Academy Award winners for Best Actor and Best Actress from 1999 on our two blogs (Hilary Swanks will be quoted on Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time).

We start Kevin Spacey who Oscared for his role as the anquished 40-something man who was burned out from his life and his awful marriage in "American Beauty."

Spacey, 51, is now in select theatres as sleazy lobbyist/convited felon Jack Abramoff, who is only a year older than Spacey, in "Casino Jack." His story is also the subject of an acclaimed documentary film now out on dvd.

Spacey also won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for "The Usual Suspects" (1999).

Here is our quote from Spacey, who has played arch comic book villain Lex Luthor on film (so has fellow Oscar-winner Gene Hackman):

"Am I now supposed to go on Oprah and cry and tell you my deepest, darkest secrets because you want to know?"

SIDEBAR: Today, the progressive bookstore Internationalist Books in Chapel Hill, NC, is commemorating the 20th anniversary of the murder of their founder Bob Sheldon. Friends will remember the liberal activist and his work towards social justice. Due to Bob Sheldon Day, the bookstore will hold Board Game Night next Monday instead. According to their web site, folks in the community are invited to come by and play traditional games like Scrabble, Boggle and Risk. We can't imagine that Robin Hayes, the chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, will come by for a friendly game of Monopoly.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Beers from Around the World (#49) Kingfisher from India

We are concluding our Beers Around the World segments on our two respective blogs today, and we start with Kingfisher Beer, an Indian beer known by its motto: "The King of Good Times."

Kingfisher is indeed India's most popular beer, and according to its web site, it boasts that it is available from Norway to New Zealand.

Kingfisher can also be found widely in America, though I'm not 100 percent certain they serve in The Chefs of India restaurant in Cary, NC, (a Raleigh suburb) even though I've heard it's a great place to dine.

The beer has a 4.8 percent alcoholic content, but for Gen Y Bollywood movie-goer types Kingfisher does have the Kingfisher Blue which has an eight percent alcoholic content. And, the brand also offers the seasonal Kingfisher Red.

This reminds me that it's been a while since I've seen a Bollywood film, though we gather (and we could be wrong about this) that many are being shown at the Glasgow Film Festival currently underway in Glasgow, Scotland. Some Bollywood films have been known to last close to four hours in running time!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Beers from Around the World (#47)- KEO from Cyprus

Yes, I am a Turkish-American which of course makes it a bit ironic that the feature beer today is from the Republic of Cyprus (a country Turkish people refer to as Greek Cyprus), but we love irony. Cyprus was incidentally the only EU member nation I couldn't name in a quiz from, and of course I realized why that was.

The island-nation has a long, unique history and it is virtually impossible to talk about Cyprus without discussing the shish kebab political spats between Turkey and Greece that have gone on since the days when David threw a rock at Goliath.

But, we will somehow try to avoid that here. However, in full disclosure, I did visit the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in 1991 when I was 21. The TRNC is only recognized by Turkey. Greece and Turkey went to war over Cyprus in 1974. The TRNC formed in 1983. Rauf Dentas became the country's first president, and he did not finally step down until 1983, which is pretty typical of Turkish and Greek politicians (forgive the ethnic humor).

As for KEO Beer, it has its own unique story. It is the only domestic brand served in Greek Cyprus. The brew, which is made in the port city of Limassol, has a colored lager appearance with a pilsner taste according to Wikipedia (yes, we're not sure what means either).

A controversy with KEO, which is ironically 20 percent owned by the Greek Orthodox Church (?!), occured when the beer was featured in a 2010 American adult film set in a Greek taverna in New York.

According to "Cyprus Mail," a KEO rep said: "We are always searching for ways to promote our products and Cyprus throughout the world, but this is certainly not a path we would have chosen."

"The Cyprus News-Mail" said that the scene in question happens when a woman pours a KEO into the mouth of her boyfriend as they are.....

We imagine that for political reasons it would be very difficult to find KEA at the Fez, a pub in the Northern Cypriot city of Kyrenia (Girne) or anywhere else above the green line which divides the island-nation.

The president for the Republic of Cyprus is the progressive politician Dimitris Christofias; his counterpart is Dervis Eroglu, who was elected president of the TRNC last year.

We imagine if the two ever have a 'beer summit' they may have to settle for a Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Beers of the World (#45)- Chang Beer from Thailand

Today, we are featuring world beers that we learned about through a Beer Geography Quiz that we took on on both of our blogs; I got a 100 on the quiz---when I took for a second time!

Chang Beer (chang is the Thai word for elephnat) is a relatively new beer from Thailand which has quickly displaced rival beer Singha, the oldest beer in the country, as the popular brand domestically. Chang Beer not only maintains 60 percent of the Thai market, it has also been available in the USA since 2007.

SIDEBAR: We want to congratulate WKNC (88.1 FM-Raleigh), the student-run college radio station for North Carolina State University for qualifying for the top 10 in the MTVu College Radio Woodie Awards contest, which are given to the best college radio stations in the country. The station has a real cool speed metal show on Friday nights between 10 p.m.-midnight, which has helped introduce me to bands like Slipknot, which are admitedly not going to be on any NPR station I regularly listen to anytime soon!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Beers from Around the World- Stella from Egypt (#43 of 50)

With the air of revolution in the air, today we are going to revive our Beers Around the World Series (the last entry was on Dec. 24, 2010, featuring Gold Star, which is ironically an Isreali beer), with Stella, the most popular home-made brew in Egypt.

Along with Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Tunisia, among others, Egypt is a Muslim country where men, especially those who might not regularly go to the mosque, drink beer.

In our Beers of the Muslim World series last year, we featured Sakara Gold, but as it turns out that Egyptian beer is not quite as popular as Stella, which can be found throughout the bars of Cairo and Alexandria. Stella Beer comes in three varieties, and the brand is known as 'the taste of Egypt.' It can also be purchased in cans or bottles, and the beer has a 4.5% alcoholic content.

As far as the political situation in Egypt, which at least one family friend was surprisingly unaware of (yes, we asked if they were in a cave for three weeks), it appears to be at least somewhat stabilized. Now the health of the recently deposed leader/dictator Hosni Mubarak has become a question.

And, riots and protests are continuing throughout the Arab World from Algeria to Yemen with Libya and Bahrain (a tiny country) seeing people take to the streets within the last 48 hours. The turmoil has also spilled into Iran (not an Arab country), where crackdowns by the government are fully expected.

SIDEBAR_ Just a few minutes ago, we had a chance to take an online quiz on where we correctly guessed that Arbitrager is the name of a London pub as opposed to a Charles Dickens story. I hope my good friend Tom Angleberger, a children's book author who happens to love Dickens, is proud of me!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Special Quote of the Week- Joe Morgan (Our 800th Entry)

Today we feature a quote from legendary second base player Joe Morgan who played for several major league baseball teams, including the Reds, Phillies, Astros and Giants.

I remember watching him on tv with the Houston Astros in the summer of 1981, when I was 11 years old with a team that challenged the Los Angeles Dodgers, a team that was a significant baseball power at the time that had players like all-star first baseman Steve Garvey.

His daugther Ashley Morgan, a sophomore at Stanford University, is a stand-out collegiate gymnast with the second-ranked Cardinal. During her first meet at the University of Georgia, Ashley Morgan scored a 9.83.

The Cardinal won their meet over Michigan and Nebraska in a dual-meet in Ann Arbor over the weekend. On Friday, Stanford has a road meet with Arizona.

Here is the quote from Morgan who has also been prolific as a baseball announcer:

"I take my vote as a salute to the little guy, the one who doesn't hit 500 homeruns.."

Monday, February 14, 2011

Quote of the Week- Daniel Day-Lewis

Today, we continue our quotes from past Oscar winners with a quip from 1989 Best Actor Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis, who later won a second Oscar for his lead role as the horrifying Daniel Plainview in "There Will Be Blood" (2007).

But, the Irish actor born in 1957 first won an Oscar in his mid-thirties for "My Left Foot" in 1989, a film which I still haven't seen after all these years.

Here is the quote from Day-Lewis whose next role is going to be as Abraham Lincoln:

"Making a film, setting it up and getting it cast and getting it together, is not an easy thing."

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Road Trip USA (1 of 20)- Take the Long Way Home

Today, we start our first of many outings right here from the comfort of our desk in the hamlet of Toms Brook, Va. (a real place, but not where we really are at the moment), with a look at just how long it would take a driver to get from the Coffee Plantation in Key West, Fla., to Mayor Douglas Issacson's office at the North Pole, Alaska, City Pole.

A good deal of the trek would actually go through western Canadian cities like Winnipeg and Edmonton, and assuredly, it would take a very, very long time.

So, we are giving you a chance to guess just how long it would take if you drove directly without taking photographs of horses as you drove through Kentucky.

The answer is either:

a) 87 hours and 25 minutes
b) 85 hours and 20 minutes
c) 83 hours and 15 minutes
d) 81 hours and 50 minutes

While researching this entry, we found out that Jimmy Buffett (don't forget the second 't') who is the famous resident of Key West will be performing in Raleigh on April 19 and in Charlotte on April 21.

SIDEBAR: Speaking of road trips, the Roanoke, Va., carpooling group Ride Solutions is sponsoring a screening of the 1986 good/bad movie "Maximum Overdrive" that was based on something Stephen King wrote. In the film, which was among the first major studio films to be shot in Wilmington, NC, Emilio Estevez battles an 18-wheeler that comes to life because of a comet. The film will be shown at The Shadowbox Cinema in Roanoke on Feb. 21 at 8:00 p.m. Admission is five dollars.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Quoting Romeo and Juliet for V-Day

Yes, there is considerable irony here dear reader as I hate and despise Valentine's Day pretty much as much as you do, but I couldn't help think that this was a good opportunity to shamelessly quip the one Shakespeare play that may have influenced those hot Mexican soap operas one might come across on Telemundo_ that is of course "Romeo and Juliet."

So, here is a quote from the story who's ending has been given out via spoiler alerts since I was in the eighth grade in 1985:

"Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow."

The American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Va., is not currently performing "Romeo and Juliet," but they are staging another Shakespeare play "The Comedy of Errors," with one the impressive Sarah Fallon as Adriana.

SIDEBAR: Though there initially appeared to be a major conflict, it looks like if (and that's a big if) I'm willing and able, I might just be able to head down the road to Raleigh, NC, to see speed metal band GWAR perform at the Lincoln theatre on Thurs., Feb. 17. Alas, my soon-to-be 41-year-old ears have been pretty messed up ever since I listened to a concert by The Kinks on the now-defunct "King Biscuit Flour Hour" on the also now-defunct Rock 105 out of Blacksburg, Va., in 1987 (I think singing "Lola" at the top of my lungs that very same night almost made me a homeless teenager).

GWAR will also perform in Alletown, Pa., on Feb. 18 and in Brooklyn, NY, on Feb. 20

But, don't presume one can not enjoy both speed metal and the works of history's greatest composers (I should host a "Mozart and Metallica Hour" on some indy or college radio station, but there may only be three listeners even if you pick up the live stream in Kuwait), as we will also mention here that the Louisville Symphony is performing the works of Haydn, Ravel and Stravinsky on Feb. 24 at 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 24. The concert will feature a Paris-theme. We take it that wearing Van Halen t-shirts to the event might be a very bad idea.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Beer Week Promo

No, we are not encouraging drinking alcohol, but rather our focus on the world's most unique and fascinating brews. It is actually the continuation of a series that we've been putting together for a while, but we haven't featured any new entries since December.

To be timely, we may choose Sakara Gold, an Egyptian beer we featured on one of these blogs in our Beers of the Muslim World series, or if there is another revolution in let's say Amman, we may go with the Jordanian beer Petra to be more timely and hip.

Of course, we could also go with Bohemia Beer from Mexico, but since there are reportedly beers with that same name in Brazil and the Czech Republic, it could be confusing!

We will leave with this post that I put up on Facebook yesterday:

"Things we learned from Twitter today- Mubarak will step down; Mubarak will NOT step down; the College Inn in Boulder, Colo., reportedly has the best Happy Hour in the Denver-metro area."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Status Update- The Flip Side of Being Single..

Here is a comment that I actually posted on Facebook a short time ago:

"If there is one good thing about being a single guy on Valentine's Day it is that I don't have to shell out lots of money for a big purple teddy bear."

Incidentally, we checked on and for those of you in love who are financially willing and able, a Love Bandit teddy bear (he is alas not purple) with red roses retails for $76.98 (perhaps the box set of "The Love Boat" might be cheaper!).

I suppose if I were married to Katie Holmes, I might have to cough it up. But, at least, I wouldn't force her into practicing Scientology. But, hey Tom, we think you are a good actor, or at least you gave a great performance in "Magnolia."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My 20 Best Films of 2010 List

Here it is; I have made my choices....let me the controversy begin:

1. The Black Swan

2. The Social Network

3. The Fighter

4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Sweden)

5. Soul Kitchen (Germany/Turkey)

6. Fish Tank

7. Inside Job (doc)

8. True Grit

9. The Green Zone

10. Cyrus

11. Exit Through the Gift Shop (doc.)

12. Never Let Me Go

13. Toy Story 3

14. Life During Wartime

15. The Rabbit Hole

16. Inception

17. 127 Hours

18. Ghost Writer

19. Shutter Island

20. Greenberg

"Film Comment" named "Carlos," a five and a half hour miniseries/film about Carlos the Jackal that originally aired on French tv and has recently appeared on the Sundance Channel as its film of the year. Like me, they chose "The Social Network" as the second best film of 2010.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Special Quote of the Week- Magic Johnson

Today's special Quote of the Week in honor of Black History Month, in which we are focusing on famous African-American athletes, continues with a quip from Earvin "Magic" Johnson, the Los Angeles Lakers great known for his '80s showdowns with Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics.

We forgot to mention yesterday that Dustin Hoffman, himself an avid NBA fan (though not as much as Lakers fanatic and fellow film legend Jack Nicholson), won a second Oscar for "Rain Man" (1988).

Here is our quote from Johnson, which shows he is not slowing down even though he is now 51 years old:

"If you're a competitive person, that stays with you. You don't stop. You always look over your shoulder."

Monday, February 7, 2011

Oscar Quote of the Week- Dustin Hoffman

Since we are against capital punishment, this quote is quite poignant. Dustin Hoffman, who is now obviously a much older man (I think he is around 70) finally won a Best Actor Oscar for his performance (many people think he should have won earlier for "Midnight Cowboy" or "The Graduate) in the 1979 divorce drama "Kramer vs. Kramer."

Here is the quip:

"A good review from the critics is just another stay of execution."

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Special Quote for the Birthday of Charles Dickens

It is actually Mon. Feb. 7, which is the birthday of Charles Dickens who is of course known for "Oliver Twist," "A Tale of Two Cities," "David Copperfield," "Great Expectations" and "A Christmas Carol" among many others.

The Bundange Park Palyhouse in Randolph, NJ, is currently performed the stage rendition of "Oliver Twist" that is "Oliver!" this month. A film version of the musical play won the Oscar for the Best Film of 1968.

Of course, since he is no longer around, Dickens is about the only person who has not said who he is rooting for in the Super Bowl. We know that the very liberal filmmaker Michael Moore is professing allegiance to the Green Bay Packers, so perhaps right-wing nut Glenn Beck is rooting for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

And, one can only imagine who terrorist leader Osama bin Laden might be rooting for from his apartment in Karachi, Pakistan, or his cave in Kandahar, Afghanistan, but assuredly if he put out a videotape saying who he was rooting for it would cause tremendous upheveal, which they have seen enough of lately in Cairo, Egypt. (forgive our cheeky sense of humor, yes we know bin Laden is a dangerous man, and the riots in Egypt are a delicate matter).

Here is our quip from Dickens:

"An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to little before it will explain itself."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Top 10 Countries to Visit in Next 10 Years...

I have a feeling some folks are going to scratch their heads over this list, which I initially made on New Year's Eve.

Egypt was actually on the original list at number ten, but do to riots, looting and political unrest, we have replaced Egypt with Burundi, even though that is where one can find the man-eating crocodile Gustave, who has had some 300 people for breakfast!

The images above are from Costa Rica, Honduras and Bolivia respectively. And, as it will seem quite obvious to most folks, I really, really want to go to a Scandanavian country.

Here is the list:

1. Bolivia

2. Honduras (yes, we know they had a coup in 2009)

3. Costa Rica

4. Finland

5. Sweden

6. Norway

7. Iceland

8. Denmark

9. Uzbekistan

10. Burundi

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Our Worst Person of the Year for 2010 Is....

.........Ken Cuccinelli, the arch conservative far-right Republican attorney general of Virginia.

Perhaps, Suzy Khimm in a December 2010 article from "Mother Jones" (a magazine that is more to the left than I am) summed it up best when she said:

"Cuccinelli has relished his role as a political lightning rod who has used elected office for ideological warfare.

Jeff Goodell, an environmental writer for "Rolling Stone" said in the magazine's current issue that Cuccinelli has been using his office to deliberately rattle state institutions, such as The University of Virginia, from performing scientific research projects he personally and politically opposes.

Cuccinelli handily defeated a moderate, well-qualified candidate in Steve Shannon (both men are ironically from Fairfax County) by a shocking 58-42 margin in the state election that gave him the attorney general's office.

In a mere two years, Cuccinelli, who is only 42, has used his elected office in Richmond to cater to a variety of right wing and even extreme conservative causes: the death penalty, guns, pro-life, anti-gay, immigration, taxes, spending and property rights.

He was supported by the NRA and far right figures like Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson and Ron Paul during his run against Shannon.

Many gunsGodncountry folks in places like Boones Mill, Tazewell, New Market and Farmville saw Cuccinelli as their kind of anti-government extremist. But, not everyone was fooled by his traveling medicine man show, which was also how Gov. Bob McDonnell won his race that same year over state Creigh Deeds.

"The Washington Post" in an editorial for Shannon said that Cuccinelli would be 'an embarrassment to Virginia.' Alas, they were right.

Cuccinelli's main cause celebre has been using his far right 'fishing buddies' in federal courts like Judge Henry Hudson to block President Barack Obama's federal health care iniatives and he defends himself by saying that 'this is his Constitutional duty.'

As Goodell indicated in his article on global warming's main political culprits, Cuccinelli did indeed waste considerable state funds fighting former UVA professor Michael Mann's efforts to research global climate change (Mann is now at Penn State).

Cuccinelli also supported the dubious exectuion of Teresa Lewis, a rural woman who resided near Danville, who was found to be barely mentally eligible for capital punishment. The execution, which took place last September, drew protests from across America and around the world.

In short, Cuccinelli is everything that the far right (and the Tea Party of course loves this guy) represents: genuine hypocricy. Alas, Cuccinelli is up for reelection at the end of his term. But, perhaps his selfish ego will convince him to run for a more prestigious office like the Governor's mansion where he might run against a qualified Democrat who give him a good ole fashion quarterback sack. There are very few people who deserve it more.

PS- Apparently, when I mentioned him in an earlier entry, I didn't spell Ken Cuccinelli's name correctly. But, if we've learned one thing from the GOP it is to never apologize if you have erred!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Special Quote of the Week- Muhammad Ali

For Black History Month, we are going to be quipping famous African-American athletes, both past and present, on Tuesdays.

We will start off with a quote from the great boxing legend Muhammad Ali. I recall as a child in 1978, during the years we were living in Turkey, that I got up at 5:30 a.m. to see Ali fight Leon Spinks on the TRT (Turkish Radio and Television).

Initially, we had contemplated a quote from another boxer Mike Tyson, who made a hilarious cameo in the film "The Hangover." But, Tyson's somewhat infamous image made us go with Ali instead.

Interestingly enough, I came across a 1981 Topps baseball card I have from a Mike Tyson, who was a white guy originally from Rocky Mount, NC, who played second base for the Chicago Cubs back in the day. That Tyson turns 61 on Jan. 13.

I must profess that there is a politically perverse side of me which would love to see the Chicago Cubs, the favorite team of conservative pundit George F. Will (my favorite team too though I am to the left of the columnist), play the Detroit Tigers in a World Series on the off-chance that it might lead to Will running into the very liberal filmmaker Michael Moore, who is from Flint, Mich.

On his web site, Moore is wearing a cheesehead so we can confirm that he is rooting for the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl (for those in Uzbekistan, they are playing the Pittsburgh Steelers) as am I, even though I am not quite as to the left as Moore is. He is also promoting the fact that a Wikileaked document revealed George W. Bush's feelings about his films (apparently, there was no White House screening of "Bowling for Columbine").

We have no idea who Will is rooting for in the Super Bowl, but it would be ironic if it were the Packers.

Oh, before we forget (and we did this on a Salvador Dali quote), here is the quip from Ali:

"I'm so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and I was in bed before the room was dark."