Thursday, March 31, 2011

Road Trips USA (4 of 20) New Hampshire to Oklahoma

Greetings to those of you enjoying your well-deserved lunch hours in Long Beach, Calif.

Today, we continue our either much-loved or much-disdained Road Trips USA series of entries as look at how far the women's gymnastics team from The University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH, will have to travel for their 'regional' meet at The University of Oklahoma in Norman, Ok.

But, rather than examining the exact distances between the two campuses which are quite far away, we are going to go with the distance between Ozzie's Diner on 1700 Lexington Ave. in Norman, Ok., and Young's Restaurant/Coffee Shop on 48 Main Street in Durham, NH.

We almost went with the Pink Cadillac Diner in Rochester, NH, since we love the Pink Cadillac Diner in Natural Bridge, Va. (we presume they have no other connections), but we decided it was only fair to stick to the zip codes in question.

Is the answer:

A) 28 hours even

B) 28 hours and 20 minutes

C) 28 hours and 50 minutes

D) 29 hours and 35 minutes

The UNH Wildcats are also very competive in men's hcokey as they got to the Final-8 before losing to Minnesota-Duluth over the weekend.

Of course, those of us here in ACC country are more familiar with Durham, NC, where Duke University is. The Blue Devils terminated their women's gymnastics program many years ago. If you want a precise answer, ask Google.

In our last entry in this series, we asked how far Durham, NC, was from Tucson, Az. The answer was A) 32 hours even!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Special Quote of the Day- Gabriel Byrne

We are wrapping our March quotes for famous people, alive or dead, from Ireland with a quip from actor Gabriel Byrne who is not only alive and well at age 60, but he is still getting critical raves for his role as the psychologist Dr. Paul Weston on the HBO series "In Treatment."

Byrne has also been in acclaimed featured films, such as "The Usual Suspects" and "Miller's Crossing."

Here is his quote, hopefully those of you enjoying your lunch hour in Eugene, Oregon, where it is noon now, have time to read this:

"I think there's a bit of the devil in everybody. There's a bit more of a priest in everybody too, but I enjoyed playing the devil more. He was more fun."

SIDEBAR: Yesterday, Turkey beat Austria 2-0 in Euro Cup 2012 qualifier play (hopefully, this will increase our blog hits from Istanbul, my late father's hometown where yesterday's game was played) with goals from Arda Turan (28th minute) and Gokhan Gonul (78th min.).

Turkey still trails Group-A leader Germany and second-place Belgium who defeated Azerbaijan 4-1 yesterday.

The Turkish side will play on the road against Belgium in Tintinland (our nickname for the Flemish country) for a crucial game on June 3.

Turkey suffered a shocking 1-0 upset loss to Azerbaijan in group play back in October in Baku in which Rashad Sadygov scored the only goal of the match.

We certainly wish Turkey the best, and hope they come away from Belgium with a 'buyuk zafer'/big victory.

For all things related to Turkish soccer, you can check out Ahmet Bob Turgut's blog at or his Twittre page which is (

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Quote of the Day- Noam Chomsky

Today's quote comes form one of America's leading liberal activist Noam Chomsky, 82, also a philosopher, who has (according to Wikipedia) described himself as a libertarian socialist.

Chomsky got considerable recognition during the 1960s for his vocal opposition to the Vietnam War which was articulated in his 1967 essay "The Responsibility of Intellectuals."

In 1988, Chomsky, along with fellow activist Edward S. Herman came out with the book "Manufacturing Consent..." which was highly critical of mass media and its Orwellian ability to influence people's decisions.

I have agreed with Chomsky on some issues and differed with him on others, especially the notion he proposed during the Iraq War, that America, Israel and Turkey (my late father's country) were the real 'axis of evil.' But, like him, I was very opposed to the Iraq War and the George W. Bush presidency.

Ironically a conservative friend of mine in North Carolina is an admirer of Chomsky! But, by the same token, I have a profound interest in Richard Nixon even though I would have probably voted for his opponent George McGovern had I not been two years old in 1972.

Recently, "The Nation" sold a Gnome Chomsky, a gnome shaped liked Noam chomsky, for a fund-raising item. And, Chomsky is prominently featured on shows that air on Link-TV.

Here is today's quip from Chomsky:

"Either you repeat the same conventional doctrines everybody is saying, or else you say something true, and it will sound like it's from Neptune."

Monday, March 28, 2011

Kudos to VCU

Since I went to a relatively small school in Virginia, Radford University, I want to personally congratulate the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams from Richmond, Va., the unlikeliest team to make it to the NCAA men's basketball Final Four in Houston next week.

The Rams pulled a huge 71-61 upset over top-seed Kansas yesterday, amazing everyone in the college basketball universe. The Rams are coached by Shaka Smart, who is only 33. They were helped by 26 points from Jamie Skeen, a senior Wake Forest transfer from Charlotte, NC.

VCU also has a player from my hometown of Roanoke, Va., in Troy Daniels who is an alumnus of William Fleming High School.

We were also hoping the University of North Carolina would join them, but the Tarheels fell to the University of Kentucky by a score of 76-69. The Wildcats won the game in large part because of 22 points from their star player Brandon Knight.

Ironically, the voice of the Tarheels is named Woody Durham (for those of you in Kazakhstan, Durham, NC, is where Duke University is located is UNC's main athletic rival). As it turns out, Woody Durham, 68, was also a childhood friend of Duke's announcer Bob Harris as both are from the Burlington, NC-area which is close to both campuses.

And, speaking of Kazakhstan, they lost a road Euro Cup qualifying game to Germany by a 4-0 score over the weekend. The Germans got two goals each from Miroslav Klose and Thomas Mueller. But, Zhambyl Kukeyev almost scored for the Kazaks in the 71st minute of play.

I must profess that soccer geography is a bit strange as Kazakhstan is not one of the 47 countries in Europe. Nor are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Israel, yet all are competing for slots in the 2012 Euro Cup which will be held in France this summer.

According to NPR, only one of the 47 European countries executed people last year, and that was Belarus, which is run by a ruthless dictator named Alexander Lukashenko. Belarus executed two people last year.

As a life-long death penalty opponent, I regret that the United States of America ranks fifth in the world in executions.

Ironically, Turkey, my late father's home country, which has often been criticized for human rights abuses by Amnesty International outlawed capital punishment well over a decade ago.

The other two teams to reach the men's final four are Butler University, another underdog which also made the semis last year, and the University of Connecticut.

For those who feel politics and sports don't mix, we fully understand. But, the other side (well, right-wingers) seem to have no problems mixing up the two as one can plainly see an NRA billboard at Memorial Stadium where the minor league Salem Red Sox play home games in Salem, Va., and a similar billboard can be found at the Lynchburg Hillcats' stadium as well. So, there ya' go!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Last 10 Films I've Seen- It's a Strange List

We are using the image above as something that could go with "Rango" that the other 112, 316 bloggers who've mentioned the animated western with the voice of Johnny Depp haven't used. We had to insert the words "Big Green Lizard Costa Rica" in Google to come up with this!

I wasn't too keen on seeing "Rango" until a tweet from film director Sofia Coppola said that it was not only a good film, but it was like 'a kiddie version of Chinatown.'

The very last movie I've seen is the 2000 Iranian film "The Circle" by Jafar Panahi, whose later film "Offside" was championed by my good friend Bilge Ebiri. The late Susan Sontag was among those who praised "The Circle," an amazing, highly-political film about the plight of women in Iran.

The Iranian film brought to mind some of the controversial films made by the late Turkish actor/director Yilmaz Guney in the late '70s and early '80s. Although, I have the subjective opinion, which I think even people who aren't of Turkish heritage like myself would agree with, that Turkey is a far better place politically than Iran. Well, we certainly hope that is the case!

The most disappointing of the ten films listed was unquestionably "Bronson," a 2008 English film which is essentially a Stanley Kubrick rip-off orchestrated for the shock porn generation.....hmm....I am starting to sound too much like Jonathan Rosenbaum, forgive the film geek humor!

We must profess that we got this idea from the great magazine "Film Comment," which has an amazing article on the gradual death of film projection in the current issue.

Here is the the list, my rating (out of four stars) comes after each film:

1. "The Circle" (Iran, 2000) ****

2. "Rango" (2011) ***1/2

3. "The Lucky Ones" (2008) ***

4. "The Tall T" (1957) ***1/2

5. "The Devil-Doll" (1936) **1/2

6. "24 City" (China, 2008) ****

7. "Treeless Mountain" (So. Korea, 2008) ***1/2

8. "Bronson" (2008) **

9. "The Adjustment Bureau" (2011) **

10. "Youth in Revolt" (2009) **

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Road Trip (Entry 3 of 20)- Duke to Arizona

Hey, we are actually pressed for time today (yes, it does happen from time to time) so no time to give a quick tribute to Elizabeth Taylor (she was great in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf") or tell how you can give a donation to the tsunami earthquake victims in Japan (perhaps can help), so we will get to the heart of the matter.....

Today, we are asking you the blog reader, all 19 of you, how far it is from Elmo's Diner on 9th Street in Durham, NC, (there is also an Elmo's Diner in nearby Carrboro which is part of the two-restaurant chain) and Little Anthony's Diner on E. Broadway in Tucson, Ariz.

Duke University, which is located in Durham, plays the University of Arizona, which is in Tucson, tonight at 9:45 p.m. New York Time in Anaheim, Calif, in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.

It helps that one of the ten most annoying people in world is sitting in close proximity to me at a public library here in Skokie, Illinois*, (to help me get outta here quicker), so is the answer:

a) 32 hours
b) 34 hours
c) 35 hours
d) 36 hours

If you get the answer right, we might get you a cat toy or a yo-yo, but then again, maybe not!

*-We are not actually in Skokie, but my aunt and uncle lived there for many decades and it is where my cousins on my father's side grew up. Olympian Bart Conner supposedly was teammates with my cousin Brent on the high school gymnastics team!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Special Quote of the Week- Jonathan Swift

Today, we are continuing to quip famous people from Ireland with a quote from the great writer and essayist Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) who penned the famous novel "Gulliver's Travel" (1735) that was recently made into a Jack Black film that we haven't seen (I wonder if esteemed New York film critic Nathan Lee has seen it, but he probably doesn't want to be pestered about it).

According to Wikipedia and my tenth grade English teacher Mrs. Schultz* at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Md.**, "Gulliver's Travel" is meant to be a satirical view of European government, illustrate the petty differences among faiths, question man's inherent nature and show that specific individuals may be good even if their tribe is bad.

Now that we have that important stuff out of the way, here is the quote:

"A tavern is a place where madness is sold by the bottle."

SIDEBAR: For those of you residing in the Blacksburg, Va., area, one of our favorite college radio stations (well, the one in which I actually 'worked' at) WUVT/90.7-FM is on the verge of hosting their fund-raiser for the spring.

WUVT is one of the few radio stations where one can hear the '80s cult indie rock band The Replacements and the Turkish folk group Kardes Turkuler (means Songs of Fraternity in English) within a two-hour time span!

WUVT did indeed air songs from both of these musical entities on Saturday. Their amazing lineup for that day includes "Hickory Dickory Dock," "The Greek Show," "The Turkish Show" and "Nathan and Jared."

"The Turkish Show" played several selections on Saturday from Kardes Turkuleri, a group conceived some 20 years ago which plays Anatolian folk songs in the languags of Turkish, Kurdish, Arabic and Armenian. Songs from Kardes Turkuleri were featured on the soundtrack to the 2001 comedy film "Vizontele," which was a huge domestic box office hit in Turkey.

Later in the afternoon, "Nathan and Jared" played the song "Bastards of the Young" from The Replacements of the band's acclaimed 1985 release "Tim," which makes for great listening if you are writing that long-winded book report on "Gulliver's Travels."

*-pseudonymn, well I have no idea who my tenth grade English teacher was actually

**- Yes, there is actually a Walt Whitman HS in Bethesda, Md. No, I did not actually go to school there.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Quote of the Week- Niccollo Machiavelli

Today's quote of the day comes from Italian philosopher Niccollo Machiavelli (1469-1527) who authored the ever-controversial book "The Prince," which was listed by "Mental Floss" magazine as one of the best books to read that can be read in one sitting. (Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace" alas did not qualify, though some inmate in Oklahoma has perhaps had the opportunity to read that Russian literary classic before the lights went out).

"The Prince" was intended to serve as a model for creating principalities and many scholars feel it has encouraged ruthless dictatorships and countless gangster movies. (A Virginia Tech student once told me a professor of his wanted him to compare "The Price" to the film version of "The Godfather.").

Perhaps, the book is also on Hosni Mubarak's wish list. We would go with the even more infamous Libyan el presidente, but the former Egyptian dictator's name is much easier to spell and don't like complaints from Princeton University English professors (actually no one from the Ivy League has ever complained about this blog; yes- we are surprised by that too!).

Incidentally, Italy is celebratings its 150th anniversary, and we are going to quip other Italians for that occasion at some point this year. In the mean time, the BBC has produced has several interesting pieces about how Italy, which is more culturally divided that many may realize, is celebrtaing the milestone.

Here is the quip from this most contrversial philosopher, we strongly recommend that you not use this on a sympathy card:

"A son can bear with equanimity the loss of his father, but the loss of his inheritance may drive him to despair."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Perhaps, it was fitting something royally screwed up during the first draft of this entry as we were going to talk about computer fiascos I was having this weekend. We had come to a community library here in Bethesda, Maryland*, in the hopes that it would help us and somehow the computers here went kablooowe as well.

In case you were wondering, this image above is of a TRT (Turkish Radio Television) test pattern. We would regularly watch test patterns (I was born in America, but I lived Turkey, my late father's home country, for two years as a child from 1977-1979) before watching reruns of American tv programs like "Flipper," "Uzay 1999" ("Space 1999") and "Zaman Tuneli" ("The Time Tunnel").

Back in those days in Turkey, television only aired at certain times of the day (it was also only in black and white), and all of us kids were excited when "Flipper" came on circa 1:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoons. So my father who had hoped that being in a country where tv was less a part of the culture would mean I would be less excited by watching tv actually found out that I got even more hooked to the boob tube.

Interestinly enough, my favorite show I watched on American tv before and after we lived in Turkey was "Star Trek," and it aired as "Uzay Yolu" (which actually means Space Trek) a few years after we left Turkey.

Speaking of Turkey, we found out that Fenerbahce beat our beloved GalataSaray in Turkish soccer, yesterday. And, we are also not happy that West Virginia, featuring Turkish player Deniz Kilicli, lost to Kentucky by an 81-73 score earlier today. But, we hope Dogus Balbay and his Texas Longhorns teammates fare better when they play the Arizona Wilcats tomorrow in the NCAA men's baskebtall tournament.

CORRECTION: Earlier when we were making fun of radical Christian extremists (we realize not all Christians are this way even if they reside in Lynchburg, Va.), we were mistaken. We had thought that they were predicting the End of the World would be on May 21, 2001.

Since I am not in the know when it comes to far-out views of the world, I had assumed Judgment Day and the End of the World were one in the same. But, as it turns out, Judgment Day is actually 'supposed to happen' on May 21 and the End of the World as we know it will come on October 21.

This whole campaign was started by Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping, and it has even made for discussion board topics on atheist web sites and blogs!

SIDEBAR: The answer to our question about the distance between Logan, Utah, and Manhattan, Kansas, is B; they are exactly 15 hours apart.

*-We are not actually in Bethesda, Maryland, at the moment, but it is my favorite suburb in the United States!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Conan O'Brien

We were initially going to try to figure out the distance between Notre Dame University in South Bend, Ind., and Akron University in Akron, Ohio, but yesterday's entry took almost as long as it would get from Duke University's campus in Durham, NC, to Hampton University's campus in Hampton, Va. That trip would take three and a half hours! But, the Blue Devils are playing the Pirates in 'neutral' Charlotte, NC.

Nevertheless, since it is Saint Patrick's Day, we though we'd mention the Notre Dame-Akron game even though it is actually going to be played tomorrow in Chicago at 1:40 p.m., New York time.

We also imagine that they will still be partying hard at Fiddlers Hearth, an Irish pub in South Bend, where the band Driving Irish will perform at 9:00 p.m. local time tonight.

As for the city of Akron, their hometown baseball team the Akron Aeros has their season opener against the Binghamton (NY) Mets at 7:05 p.m. on April 7th.

Tonight's Conan O'Brien Show is a rebroadcast from January that will feature retired talk show host Larry King and snowboarder Shaun White.

O'Brien posted this hilarious tweet on Twitter today:

"St.Patrick's Day is named for St. Patrick, the first guy to feed Guiness to a snake."

Before I head to Bethesda, Md.*, for a pet-sitting trip (I assume the locals are disappointed the Maryland Terps didn't get in, but two area teams the Georgetown Hoyas and the George Mason Patriots did!), I want to wish my dear sister Eva Svensson from Goteborg, Sweden**, a happy 37th birthday. Yes, she is a St.Patty's baby.

We also want to wish the NPR station 88.5 WFDD (Winston-Salem, NC) success with their on-going fund-drive which will hopefully off-seat any draconian measures that Tea Partiers might be able to push through Congress to cut federal funds for NPR.

Many people have projected that mostly small NPR stations in rural areas, like WETS-FM in Johnson City, Tenn., would be affected the most if such measures went into effect.

As I have told my friends to the right of me: "Mozart is not a Maoist." And, NPR should not be caught up in this culture war at all.

*- I am not actually going to Bethesda, but we love mentioning that DC-suburb.

**-My sister is not named Eva Svensson, nor does she reside in Sweden. But, today is her 37th birthday.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Road Trip (2 of 20)- March Madness Journey from Kansas to Utah

We have not had an entry to this blog series since we started it on Feb. 16, 2011, but in our second installment here we will let you guess the driving distance between Kansas State's hometown of Manhattan, Kan., and Utah State's campus in Logan, Utah.

Now to make this EVEN more confusing, we are not going with the distance between the schools themselves. Instead, we have chosen to go with Hamilton Steakhouse in Logan and Kite's Bar in Manhattan (Kan.)instead.

As for the schools, Utah State is nicknamed the Aggies (as is another NCAA tourney-bound school Texas A & M), and they are one of 18 schools in the men's basketball tournament with women's gymnastics programs.

Lyndsie Boone (pictured above), a senior from Winthrop Hills, Ill., was recently named Aggies' student-athlete of the week. Boone, who has a 3.7 GPA, will join her teammates in the last regular season meet which is the WAC Championships in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday.

As for the men's basketball team, which had a 30-3 record this year, Brockeith Pane, a junior from Dallas, Tex., was (like Boone) recently named Aggies' athlete of the week as well.

Utah State also offers a dairy-processing degree program, and one can find the Aggie Ice Cream Shop, which offers ice cream in 26 different flavors, according to a story that was posted on today.

As for Kansas State, the school is mostly known athletically for its men's basketball program, which has been to the Final Four four times. The Wildcats are known for their fiery basketball coach Frank Martin (pictured here, we don't know what the story here is either!) and the team features several stand-out players. including Freddy Aspirilla who is from Colombia.

But, there are only two Wildcats' players who are actually from Kansas, including Victor Ojeleye from Ottawa, Kan., and Alex Potuzak from Clyde, Kan.

Kansas State is one of the very few schools in the NCAA with just one official color that is purple. And, they are one of 12 teams in the 2011 men's basketball tournament which feature some of sort of feline nickname (others include the Clemson Tigers and the Penn State Nittany Lions).

So, here is our question:

Just how long does it take to get from Logan, Utah, to Manhattan, Kan.?

Is the answer:

A) 14 hours even
B) 15 hours even
C) 16 hours even
D) 18 hours even

The answer to our last road trip quiz was B) as it takes 85 hours and 20 minutes to get from North Pole, Alaska, to Key West, Florida. Now, that is one long trip!

As for the game between Kansas State and Utah State, it will tip off on Thursday night at 9:57 p.m. New York time from Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats are a 5-seed and the Aggies are a 12-seed.

I sense personally that this will be a close game, in which the Wildcats will prevail by six points.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Special Quote of the Week- Bono

We continue our series of quips from famous people from Ireland, in honor of Saint Patrick's Day on Thursday, with a quote from Bono who everyone knows as the lead singer of U2. Bono is also known for his civic activities, including helping third world countries like Ethiopia with their debt crisis problems.

My favorite U2 song is "A Sort of Homecoming" from the 1984 album "An Unforgettable Fire," which followed their classic album "War" (1983, pictured here). I did not know until researching this piece that another one of the songs on 'Fire' which is titled "Bad" (has the memorable lyrics: I'm wiiiiiiiddde awake") is about heroin addiction.

Apparently, Bono is also into reading as we gather from this quote:

"Books! I dunno if I ever told you this, but books are the greatest gifts one person can give another."

Speaking of books, I just finished Elif Batuman's excellent memoir "The Possessed" about her love of Russian literature (assuredly, she loves Leo Tolstoy) and the summer she spent in Uzbekistan as a Stanford student in 2002(she was either getting her graduate or doctoral degree at the time; Batuman was born in 1977)

Batuman, a fellow Turkish-American whom I've never met, also has a story in the March 7 issue of "New Yorker" about young fans for the Istanbul soccer power Besiktash. She will be in Ireland for an international book festival on April 14.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Quote of the Week- Leon Trotsky

Today, we quote the Russian, Marxist philosopher/revolutionary figure Leon Trotsky
(1879-1940) who lived a life that would be worth of a 985-page biography that we have no time to read.

Instead, we can tell you a few things we already or learned from Wikipedia about this major figure of the October Revolution and Russian Civil War:

-Lead opposition to Joseph Stalin

-Ideas formed the basis for Trotskyism

-Exiled to Turkey in 1929, he spent four years of his life on Buyukada, the largest of the four Prince's Islands off the coast of Istanbul. This period of his life was the subject of a documentary film called "Exile in Buyukada" (2000, Turkey), which might still be available in America from Facets in Chicago.

-In 1935, Trotsky moved to Mexico where he befriended the famous artist couple of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Trotsky went on to have an affair with Frida, but amazingly enough Diego was not the one who tried to kill him.

-Trotsky was however succefully killed by a Spanish man named Ramon Mercader, who was working as a Soviet agent, at his home in the village of Coyocan, Mexico, in

-On film, Trotsky was played by Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush in the film "Frida."

Here is our quote from Trotsky, which pretty much indicates why supposedly smart people, like John McCain (note: I am not a Republican, but McCain is a lot smarter than many in his party) chose Sarah Palin as a running mate:

"If we had more time for discussion we should probably have made a great many more mistakes."

MONDAY LEFTOVERS-In our last entry, we talked about the Duke-UNC game for the ACC tourney championship. As everyone in Durham and Chapel Hill knows, Duke won the game 78-58, but that might be news for those of you in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia.

In my hometown of Roanoke, Va., many people are unhappy today because the Virginia Tech Hokies were snubbed by the NCAA selction committee. "The Roanoke Times" quotes Hokies' coach Seth Greenberg as saying that 'there might be someone with a strong personality who views the Hokies as a fungus.'

We noted in another previous entry that Sofia Coppola's new film "Somewhere" is playing at the Galaxy Cinema in Cary, NC; the film is also playing up the road at the Carolina Theatre in Durham, NC. "Marie Antoinette," the film she directed before "Somewhere," will be shown on IFC on March 30 at 5:00 p.m.

Lastly and obviously, when we posted an entry which mentioned the devastating tsunami in Japan there were only 60 confirmed casualties. Tragically, that number now appears headed to top the 10,000 mark in the city of Miaygi alone. Anyone who wished to help can go

Media outlets, such as MSNBC, are warning people to be fully aware of scams trying to take advantage of the tragedy.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Things We Learned on Twitter Today- Clash of the Titans

I fully expected that UNC and Duke would meet today in the ACC Tournament final in Greensboro, NC, but I didn't realize until I checked Twitter that it would for the eleventh time.

UNC holds a 6-4 advantage over Duke in the ACC final, but the Blue Devils have won the last two ACC finals over the Tarheels.

A Duke basketball tweet said that Kyle Irving, one of Duke's star players who has been injured, was practicing before the game.

Ian Williams, a columnist for "The Daily Tarheel," the UNC student-run newspaper has a humorous column called "Why I Hate Duke," and as one might expect the Town Hall Grill in Chapel Hill tweeted that they were supporting the 'Heels.

Duke beat Virginia Tech 77-63 yesterday to reach the final, and Hokies' coach Set Greenberg tweeted last night that he is anxiously awaiting the NCAA tournament selection committee's decision regarding his team, which has narrowly missed getting into the Big Dance several times before.

In other North Carolina news, WXII-TV in Winston-Salem tweeted that a dog's life have been saved through CPR. There were details. I guess we will have to wait for 'the film at 11.'

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Things We Learned on Twitter Today- Sofia Coppola Likes Rango

Since I have longed though that film director Sofia Coppola was a private person, I was surprised when I heard her give an interview to Terry Gross for the NPR show "Fresh Air." And, I was even more stunned to see that she has a Twitter account.

And, apparently, the director of "Lost in Translation" who turns 40 in May likes the new animated film "Rango" that stars Johnny Depp (well his voice any way):

"Rango is such an amazing film, has anyone seen it? It's like Chinatown for kids, even the old turtle resembled John Huston."

I thought the tweet was a bit ironic since in a book about the Oscars writer Danny Peary said that "Chinatown" should have been chosen as the Best Film of 1974 instead of "The Godfather, Part 2," which Sofia's father directed. (We're not getting into this debate, as fighting and arguing with radical rapture-seeking right-wing extremists like the Rev. Johnny Robertson of Martinsville, Va.*, is our top priority around here!).

As for Sofia Coppola's new film "Somewhere" is showing at one of our favorite cinemas, the Galaxy Cinema in Cary, NC (Raleigh). They are not showing "Rango," but they are also screening "Barney's Version" which a friend of mine in Bethesda, Maryland, really enjoyed!

*- Yes, this is a real person and (of course!) he has his own tv show!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Things We Learned on Twitter Today- It Might Be Hard to Get to Honolulu

Many of us woke up this morning to hear that a major tsunami and earthquake struck northern Japan while most of us were sleeping. At least, 60 people are reported dead and one presumes that number is going to jump significantly. This somehow made Godzilla a trending topic on Twitter today!

The same tsunami is expected to hit Hawaii and possibly Alaska within a short period of time.

So, this tweet from Hawaiian Airlines came as no surprise:

"Anyone flying Friday on Hawaiian Airlines should check Hawaiian's web on flight status before going to the airport."

Egyptian journalist Nadia El-Awady also tweeted about the possibility of massive political protests in Saudi Arabia which could possibly resemble the early stages of similar demonstrations that occurred in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

This was her tweet:

"Twitter reports of tight security in several Saudi cities. Can't wait to see developments. Lived there 3 yrs. Country truly needs change."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Things We Learned on Twitter Today- Bullying the White House

As a center-left blog, which gets no federal funding by the way, I am not sure the original image of William Shakespeare we had (where he was looking like Chuck Norris, we removed the image due to a major tech glitch, not for political reasons) reflects the sentiments of our blog, but then again the liberal bookstore The Internationalist Bookstore in Chapel Hill, NC, does actually sell the ultra right-wing magazine "Guns and Ammo" (true story!).

Tonight at The Internationalist, there will be a screening of the documentary film "Infamy" about graffiti artists at 7:00 p.m. Those artists who many view as criminals (and, there is definitely a thin line between vandalism and art) have become more news-worthy lately because the street artist/vandal Banksy was actually nominated for an Oscar for his own documentary "Exit Through the Gift Shop."

But, today's main agenda item for our blog has to do with this brilliant tweet from the Reduced Shakespeare Company, which now touring Holland as they perform in the Dutch city of Eindhoven tonight.

It is in regards to a talk/forum that President Barack Obama is reportedly giving at the White House today:

"The Obamas are holding discussions today on bullying. Have they invited the Republicans?"

SIDEBAR: We also want to express our outrage that the likes of Cong. Eric Cantor (R-Va) are moving to cut federal funding for NPR because of some underground manuevering done by a GOP supporter who seems like a right-wing Banksy revealed that an NPR executive has negative views regarding Tea Partiers.

But, many support NPR for its content, including a Republican blogger who today said that he listens to NPR even though he feels their news is biased (which is not our view) because it goes into more detail than typical evening news stories on tv.

And, it should be pointed out that irregardless if some people in places like Harlan, Kentucky,which may well have intellectuals who appreciate the arts like anywhere else, think NPR has a strong liberal bias, many NPR stations, including WETA (90.9-FM) in the District of Columbia itself (well, they are technically based in Arlington, Va.) plays mostly classical music throughout the day. And, we all know that Mozart is not a Maoist!

PS- Whether you are a Republican or a Marxist, neither of which I am, please feel free to tell your friends about this entry. For reasons I am not completely sure of, it was very difficult to post.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Things We Learned on Twitter Today- Hoorary for Tacos

A short while ago, we learned on Twitter that the Border Grill Truck, a mobile vendor that provides gourmet tacos and Too Hot Tamales in the Los Angeles area now has 10,000 followers on Twitter as of today.

On Thursday, the Border Grill Truck will be set up at the Pointe in Burbank, a Planned Parenthood Food Fare in Santa Monica (I imagine many Mormons and Southern Baptists will be in attendance- nudge, nudge, wink, wink) and at the Downtown Artwalk at 541 South Spring Street from 5-11 p.m.

Today, I watched three episodes of the new show on Current TV called "Kill It, Cook It, Eat It," which probably won't change my eating habits as I will still probably eat hamburgers (cattle was the focus of one episode) but still refrain from eating rabbits and ducks. Somehow, it's hard for me to eat animals associated with Looney Tunes characters, though I think Foghorn Leghorn might be the notable exception (oh I forgot about Porky Pig, but my later father was Turkish and we don't want to lose readers in Bursa, Turkey or Karachi, Pakistan, as we might well get a lot of hits in those places).

But, for those of you can't eat any animal, irregardless if it resembles Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck, and you live in Richmond, Va., you can head over to the Ipanema Cafe on West Grace Street.

The establishment is open from 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. for lunch from Monday to Friday. And, they serve dinner seven nights a week from 5:30-11:00 p.m.

Among their menu items are a vegan caesar salad with grilled tofu for $8.50.

Somehow, I doubt that Virginia's attorney general Ken Cuccinelli will treat me to that or a hummus with overdried tomatoes, cucumbers and sprouts sandwich ($7.95) because we did after all 'rightfully' name him as our Worst Person of the Year for 2010.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Special Quote of the Day- Oscar Wilde

I suppose since today is International Woman's Day, it may have been more appropriate to quip rock singer Sinead O'Connor, but instead we are sticking with our original plan which was to quote the late, great author/playwright Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) for our feature quote series on famous people from Ireland.

We found this Wilde quote from a program for the Triad Stage (Greensboro, NC, stage company) production of Cormac McCarthy's play "The Sunset Limited" which concluded on Sunday. But, their upstairs cabaret production of "Billy Bishop Goes to War" about a Canadian World War II flying ace continues until March 19.

Here it is:

"Nowadays, people know the price of everything, and the value of nothing."

SIDEBAR: Are you curious about where your food comes from? Well, Current-TV, the station co-founded by Al Gore, is airing the eighth episode of a series we just found about called "Kill It, Cook It, Eat." Tonight's new episode, which airs at 10 p.m. (reruns of the series come before and after the new episode) focuses on rabbits. I am sure your inner Elmer Fudd will be fascinated by how ferrets are used to hunt and kill these wascally wabbits or perhaps maybe not.

SIDEBAR TWO: Your morbid side may also be intrigued to see which celebrity you have recently outlived, and you can find out at (, in my case, I have literally just passed Falco by 17 days. The Austrian pop star known for "Rock Me Amadeus" died in a car accident just a few days before he would have turned 41, which is my age now. You can also find out that the likes of Phyllis Diller (age 93) and Jim Nabors (age 80) are still alive, but country singer Porter Wagoner died at age 8o in 2007.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Quote of the Week- Slavoj Zizek (this is a great one...)

Today, we begin our series of quotes from famous philosophers, which might well seem like an oxy moron, with a quip from the great Slovenian thinker Slavoj Zizek (b. 1949).

We are not normally fans of 'bathroom humor,' but we love this image of Zizek on the throne, and we like this quote even more.

Some background for those of you unfamiliar with Zizek, and I am not a philosophy major myself though the few I've met always seem to be smarter than I am, he is described by Wikipedia as: "A Slovenian continental philosopher and critical theorist working in traditions of Hegelianism and Marxism who is known for his political theory and film theory."

Yes, I'm sure that cleared things up for you. Zizek was also the subject of the quirky documentary film "Zizek!" (2005). His books include "Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle" and "The Pervert's Guide to Cinema."

We first heard about Zizek through "Film Comment" which listed some of his guilty pleasures. I don't have the list in front of me, but I am 99 percent "Troll 2," a film we mentioned in our entry two days ago, was not on that list (it probably wouldn't be on mine either!).

Ah, yes, here is the quote:

"Love feels like a great misfortune, a monstrous parasite, a permanent state of emergency that ruins all pleasures."

We told it was a good one, didn't we!

It's too bad today is not Valentine's Day as this would have been perfect for that one day when Air Supply sells more cds than Arcade Fire!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday Leftovers

Yes, it is a lazy Sunday afternoon here in Stuart, Va., in rural Patrick County where one has nothing to do except stare at the bambis and thumpers in the backwoods and shot them (ok, not really where I'm at, and I don't hunt!).

But, we have made some mistakes with this blog, and our sister 'Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time" in recent weeks and we wanted to set the record straight even though no one is whining to us personally.

For starters, I am not a fan of arch right-wing Republican nuts, teenage heartthrob singers or radical North African dictators. But, we have at times incorrectly spelled the names of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, our Worst Person of the Year for 2010, singing sensation Justin Bieber and trickiest of all Libyan el presidente Muammar Gaddafi.

In addition, I noticed that a label for Cong. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va) was posted as Bon Goodlatte, so even though I would gives millions of dollars to his Democratic opponent if I were as rich as George Soros, I do regret that error as well.

Cuccinelli was the subject of a great article in the Dec. 2010 issue of "Mother Jones" where Suzy Khimm 'rightfully' illustrated him as a lunatic who cares more about satisfying political wonks, affluent conservative lobbyists (ie. the NRA) and media wackos like Glenn Beck than the folks back in Patrick County (as well as the rest of Virginia).

James Parker of "The Atlantic" (March 2011) wrote an excellent piece about how Justin Bieber, 16, used the Internet and social media to woo his (we presume mostly female) fans in ways that "The Partridge Family" could have never dreamed of.

And, lastly Dirk Vandewelle, an expert on Libya, wrote a disturbing article in the March 7, 2011, issue of "Newsweek" about how the country will have a hard with or without Gaddafi for reasons that are way too complicated to explain here.

That same issue of "Newsweek" also features a great cover story by Sharon Begley on how the Twitter-age is essentially making us all idiots or zombies incapable of making good decisions (idiots and zombies are my words, not Ms. Begley's-- we can't afford to be sued by "Newsweek!").

All of this reminds me of how I was going to try to spend my Spring Break, which is this very week, going to either Honduras or Costa Rica, but instead I am doing this.

Well, it does beat shooting poor, defenseless animals with an uzi!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Last 10 Films I've Seen-- A Lot of Docs

Greetings from the Spring Center Laundromat in silver Spring, Maryland, where we are blogging from live tonight....actually, they closed about three hours ago as their operating hours are from 8:00 a.m.-11 p.m. daily, but there is really such a place. We're not actually even in Maryland, but we thought it would be quirky to mention them.

Most of the last few films I've seen have been quite good, with the exception of "Troll 2" (1990) which I saw tonight at the Shadowbox Cinema in Roanoke, Va., which is about four and half hours south of suburban Maryland, but hey---it would be worth the drive!

"Troll 2" is truly a god awful film, but we knew that going in. In fact, a 2009 documentary about that film called "Best Worst Movie," directed by Michael Stephenson, who is the kid in "Troll 2" (he was born in 1978, so he is either 32 or 33 now), is also on this list.

Arta Doboraghi, age 31, an actress who is originally from Kosovo, left quite an impression in her portrayal as an Albanian immigrant in the 2008 Belgian film "Lorna's Silence," which features one of the most surreal sex scenes (involving Doboraghi) I've seen on film in a while. In fact, it occurs after the troubled couple has just broken up?!

"I Need that Record!" is a timely documentary about how modern technology and big box stores (Wally's World) have destroyed unique places like record stores and comic book shops across America. I was just thinking about that when I saw that a great video in Carrboro, NC, (next to the famed Cat's Cradle music club) which may have actually carried every Ingmar Bergman film ever made has, as of this year, closed its doors.

"Beeswax," which was filmed on location in Austin, Tex., is yet another unique slice of life film from Andrew Bujalski, who is arguably the Orson Welles of 'mumblecore' indy films, which feature lots of talking but great, realistic dialogue. And, amazingly enough, he makes indy films which are not as depressing as Bergman's films (seriously, I think "Fanny and Alexander" was even more depressing than "Schindler's List;" even though it's a great film, I refuse to watch it- ever again!).

Here are the last ten films I've seen, and yes we should add that we got this idea from "Film Comment." I hope this doesn't result in a nasty email from Gavin Smith, the excellent editor of that magazine that I've subscribed to for nine years now:

1. "Troll 2" (1990, dir. Claudio Fragasso)

2. "Beeswax" (2009, dir. Andrew Bujalski)

3. "The Beaches of Agnes" (2008, dir. Agnes Varda. doc. France)

4. "Lorna's Silence" (2008, dir. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardene. Belgium)

5. "The Killer Inside Me" (2010, d. Michael Winterbottom.)

6. "35 Shots of Rum" (2008, d. Claire Denis, France).

7. "I Need That Record!" (2008, d. Brendan Toller. doc.)

8. "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work" (2010, dirs. Rick Stern and Anne Sundberg. doc.)

9. "Best Worst Movie" (2009. dir. Michael Stephenson, doc.)

10. "Harlan: In the Shadow of Jew Seuss," dir. Felix Moeller. doc. Germany)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Today is My 41st Freakin' Birthday

You are assuredly asking why this image of the Bath Covered Bridge in Bath, New Hampshire, is the chosen image for this blog entry.

Well, I've learned over the years that finding a good birthday to post with a blog is nearly impossible as for some reason more birthday cake photographs seem to be copyrighted or blocked that anything else.

As it turns out, covered bridges are not easy to hotlink either mainly due to their sizes. We tried to get images of the Humpback Covered Bridge in Covington, Va., the Meems Bottom Bridge in Mount Jackson, Va. (near Edingburg, Va., where I once lived in the Shenandoah Valley) and the Mud River Covered Bridge in Milton, WVa., before settling with this one.

And, I also chose this image because we found out, just today, that Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge over Troubled Water" was actually the number one song in America when I was born, not "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" by B.J. Thomas, as I had long assumed.

So, I have Wikipedia to thank for making me realize I had been spreading misinformation over the years.

As it turns out, the theme song from "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" ('Raindrops') was the number one song in January of 1970.I guess if I had been born prematurely, then I would have been accurate!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Status Update- Thank God, It's Spring Break

It may be ironic that as someone who is not quite a religious person, such as myself, is praising an almighty deity which may or may not exist (we will let Bill Maher and Glenn Beck debate this, both of whom are coming here to Greensboro, NC, for lavish ticket prices soon, but we are much more inclined to agree with Maher).

But, as a teacher, I am glad that spring break has arrived. I would never share this with my students (who hopefully never read my blog) but I actually have Alice Cooper's original 1975 version of "School's Out," which has been covered by the heavy metal band GWAR, on vinyl!

While I was in Chapel Hill, NC, a few weeks ago, I noticed that evangelicals and fundamentalists were meeting each other (nicer word for confronting) on the campus of The University of North Carolina.

According to "The Daily Tarheel," UNC student Nick Sienerth, a freshman from Burlington, NC, held up a sign for the Church of the Spaghetti Monster, a group formed in Oregon to make fun of fundamentalists, while the Rev. Gary Birdsong, who is seemingly as radical as his counterpart the Rev. Johnny Robertson of Martinsville(who we believe has publicly said some not very nice things about gays), was 'visiting' campus.

During that sojourner, I also visited the Internationalist Bookstore on Franklin Street, where I found a nifty book about the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche who said that 'God is dead.' Assuredly, those sentiments are not too popular in Eden, NC, which is 'considerably' more conservative than Chapel Hill.

Incidentally, we chose Richard Pryor for this photo because we thought he provided the 'voice of God' in the early '80s Biblical satire "Wholly Moses." Through modern technology (well Wikipedia and the IMDB) we were proven wrong! Pryor was a pharaoh instead.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Special Silly Image to Fill Space- Horror Film Poster

Since we feel like screaming at the very top of our lungs today, and such behavior is not allowed publicly (well, we haven't checked the Virginia state laws to be sure about that, but since we named the state attorney general as our worst person we are not going to ask him and we also can't spell his last name- it's either Cucinelli or or Cuccinelli---but, in all honesty, we really don't care!), we are going to post an entry about screaming.

We are very close to the state line with North Carolina, and Roy Cooper, that state's attorney general, is probably too tied up to help us know if screaming is allowed in the Tarheel State, outside Chapel Hill and Durham during UNC-Duke basketball games.

So, anyway, here we go:


Yes, that feels much, much better.

The movie in the image we are using is "Death Screams" (1982) directed by David Nelson, who was the son of Ozzie and Harriet. He died earlier this year at age 74. The horror film also featured lots of B-list actors and actresses, including Jennifer Chase. "Death Scream" was also filmed in Lake Lure, NC, where "Dirty Dancing" and "Firestarter" were both partially filmed.

Of course, in the early 1980s the main scream queen of the day was Jamie Lee Curtis who starred in the original "Halloween" (1978) as well as horror or thriller films like "The Fog," "Prom Night" (the original) and "Terror Train."

Interestingly enough, Curtis's mom Janet Leigh made the famous shower scene scream in "Psycho" (1960).

There is an urban legend that Curtis was born a Hermaphrodite, which is a person with gender traits of both males and females, but according to the urban legend web site snopes. com it has never been proven true.

But, we did learn from the same web site that one of the (James) Bond girls in "For Your Eyes Only" (1981), one of the Roger Moore films, was once a man!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Quote of the Week- James Joyce

During the month of March, we will be quoting both philosophers and famous people from Ireland. Today, we start with famous people from Ireland, and when one mentions Ireland and they are an English teacher, they are most likely perhaps to think of the great novelist James Joyce (1882-1941). (Ok, or maybe Oscar Wilde too).

Joyce's 1922 novel "Ulysses" is considered to be one of the very best in the English language, which reminds that I should look for the Cliff Notes the next time I'm in a used bookstore (well, it is reportedly a hard novel to read).

There is also The James Joyce Pub in Baltimore, Md., which is already taking reservations for their St. Patrick's Day celebration at 410-727-5107. Alas, since we live pretty far from Balto and that time of year is busy for us teachers, I can not make the celebration myself!

This weekend, the band James Gallagher and Off the Boat, a group that specializes in Irish music plays at the Baltimore pub on both Friday and Saturday nights.

Here is our quote from Joyce who was also known for his wit:

"A man of genius makes no mistakes; his errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery," James Joyce.

We gather that according to "The Washington Post," today's trending topics are 'government shutdown' and 'Donald Rumsfeld memoir." We have nothing to say about either topic, but hopefully the mere mention of those terms will have folks flocking to the blog! Insallah, Joyce himself would have approved!