Thursday, April 28, 2011

Quote of the Day- Mike Schmidt

Today, I thought I would go with two baseball legends who were stars when I was avidly watching baseball as a little boy (I actually rarely watch baseball now!).

Back in 1980, when I was ten years old, Mike Schmidt helped lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a World Series championship by defeating the Kansas City Royals, a team that was once a perenial power.

Schmidt, now 61, is from Dayton, Ohio, and he graduated from Fairview High School. He played for the Phillies his entire career from 1972 until 1989. The third-baseman was a 12-time All-Star, and he was named National League MVP in 1980, 1981 and 1986.

Here is his quote:

"I could ask the Phillies to keep me on to add to my statistics, but my love for the game won't let me do that."

SIDEBAR: I was able to name all 43 of the American presidents (Barack Obama is actually classified as the 44th president because Grover Cleveland served two separate terms) in 4:47 on

It was actually my seventh or eighth try at achieving this. The last president who came to mind was Chester Arthur, the 21 president who was also a Republican. In case you are wondering, the new movie "Arthur" nor the original 1981 Dudley Moore film it's based upon have anything to do with President Arthur!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Quote of the Week- Robert Frost

As National Poetry month comes to a gradual close, we are featuring a quip from Robert Frost (1874-1963) who is perhaps best known for his poem "Fire and Ice" that perhaps 93 percent of us were required to read in high school.

We learned that there are actually two Robert Frost museums in New England. The Robert Frost Stone Home Museum is in South Shaftsbury, Vt. And, the Robert Frost Place Home, which is also the house where the poet resided from 1915-1920, is in Franconia, New Hampshire. Obviously, this might be quite a field trip for students from Provo High School in Provo, Utah (a real place)!

Here is the quip from Frost:

"A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer."

Lastly, fans of Gary Shteyngart (whew, we almost didn't get it right!) who feel that the author of the great novel "Absurdistan" was snubbed from our "Difficult, Long Names" list yesterday should know that we are planning to post another such list in May.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Top Ten Lists- People with Long, Difficult Names (Males)

Here is an arbitrary list of famous or relatively famous people with long, difficult names. Since my name is Tilly Gokbudak, each of them has my full sympathy! A random top ten list of women with long names will be on our other blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time."

1. Apichatpong "Joe" Weerasethakul_ (pictured) Whew! We almost didn't spell this one right. But, I suspect many people would have this problem. The 40-year-old Thai director is known around the world by cineastes for his eccentric, off-beat 'small movies' like "Tropical Malady."

2. Siva Vaidyanathan_ This American author of Indian heritage (b.1966) is a media scholar and author. He teaches at the University of Virginia and his current book is "The Googlization of Everything." Yes, we are double-checking his name. It appears to be spelled right!

3. Eugeny Viktrorovich Pluashenko. This 28-year-old Russian figure skater won Olympic gold at the 2006 Turin Olympics.

4. Gebre Gebremariam. An Ethiopian long-distance runner who finished third in last week's Boston Marathon; he also won the 2010 New York Marathon.

5. Zach Galifianakis_ Famous Greek-American actor from Wikesboro, NC, who was in "The Hangover" and "Due Date." His father was a member of Congress.

6. Matti Hautamaki_ This 29-year-old Finnish ski-jumper won silver medals at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and at the 2006 Turin Olympics.

7. Naim Suleymanoglu_ This 44-year-old former Turkish weight-lifter actually defected from then-communist Bulgaria. He went on to win Olympic gold at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Also known as the 'Pocket Hercules,' Suleymanoglu has alas suffered major health problems in recent years.

8. Rod Blagojevich. This disgraced former Illinois governor is one of the very few Democrats I would never vote for.

9. Volker Schlondorff. He is a legendary German film director best known for cinematic version of "The Tin Drum" (Germany, 1979.)

10. Ross Bagdasarian Jr. This Armenian-American is continuing his late father's legacy as the voice of "Alvin and the Chipmunks."

We hope we got all their names right!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Motto of the Week- Why Nothing Gets Done

"Dirty dishes. Laundry. Friends. Frenemies. Women. Platoinc relationships. Potential relationships. Cellular Phones. Blackberrys. E-Harmony. Facebook. Twitter. Read book of poems by Nikki Giovanni. Write an essay/blog entry/short novel/short play/screenplay/novel. Mom. Grade papers. Fix car. Call the doctor's/dentist's office. Volunteer for local animal shelter/NPR station. Give to Habitat for Humanity. Send birthday card to co-worker. See the new happening, current indy film.

Why Nothing Gets Done....."

If it's not obvious, I've ventured into some creative writing away from the blogosphere lately.

We dedicate this entry to the Spring Center Laundromat in Silver Spring, Md, a place we've never been to, but it seems like a cool place. Their business hours are from
8:00 a.m.-11 p.m., seven days of the week. They also offer free wi fi!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Weekend Road Trip (7 of 20)- Portland, Maine to Altoona, Pa.

You know you've been blogging way too long when you google a term like 'lobster van' on Google Images, and you get a link to your own blog! Such is the case with this image, which is from Myrtle Beach, SC. We have also previously used the Shell Gas Station in Winston-Salem, NC, first built in 1930 which no longer in operation, but has thankfully been preserved as a tourist attraction.

But, today we are actually asking you the devoted blog-reader who has assuredly been with me ever day since we start in September of 2005 how far apart the city of Portland, Maine, is from Altoona, Pa. Of course, since most of our fans are in Uzbekistan and Norway (well, we like to believe that though we were actually linked to an Uzbeki web site--not sure if it still exists!), they are probably confused!

Of course, everyone knows, well everyone outside of Tashkent and Oslo, knows that Maine is known for their lobsters and that is why we chose that image. But, even folks in les etats unis, may not know that Altoona, Pa., is the headquarters of Sheetz, which has like 3.4 million gas stations on the east coast. I have pumped gas at their stations in Ridgeway, Va., Greensboro, NC, Akron, Ohio, and well_Altoona, Pa., among many other places.

Both Portland, Maine, and Altoona, Pa., also have double-A minor league baseball teams in the Eastern League. Friday night, the Portland Sea Dogs lost 9-7 to the New Britain Rock Cats in Connecticut. They host the Binghamton Mets from New York state at 6:00 p.m. on Monday. We were curious to see what a sea dog looked like, and we saw this great image from, but this blog's managing editor Dennis Alexander* thought the lobster was more suitable.

As for the Altoona Curve, they lost to the Richmond Flying Squirrels (I guess they got permission from the Jay Ward estate as well as the copyright holders of "Rocky and Bullwinkle") in Virginia 3-2 on Saturday.

For this project, we looked at the distance between Longfellow Books, an independent bookstore in Portland, Maine, and Robert's Service Station in Altoona, Pa., which may be one of the three not-Sheetz gas stations in town.

Uh huh, it looks like our Honduran intern Javier**, who is on Spring Break from George Mason University, actually forgot to Mapquest this. Sorry, dear readers. We will have a talk with Javier.

But, we have the answer now; is it:

A) 9 hours

B) 10 hours

C) 11 hours

D) 12 hours

Speaking of indy bookstores, we just saw Sarah Vowell promote her new book "Unfamiliar Fishes" about the American colonization of Hawai'i on C-Span 2 (Book TV). Vowell's talk was recorded at Book People, an indy bookstore in Austin, Tex.

Catherynne M. Valente will talk at Longfellow Books in Portland, Maine, about her new book "Deatless" on Apr. 28 at 7:00 p.m. The book is apparently about the conflict between magical history and actual history.

The answer to last week's Weekend Road Trip Quiz was C) 41 hours, 57 minutes_ that's how far apart Las Vegas and Pawtucket, RI, are. See you back here soon....I hope!

*- Dennis Alexander is my psedonymn and in-joke; it is rarely used

**-Yeah, as you expected, there is no Javier the intern!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Children's Day in Turkey

With Earth Day and Easter being on this weekend here in the United States, few may realize that a very important holiday, Children's Day, is being celebrated on April 23rd in Turkey, my late father's home country.

The national holiday was started by the Republic of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and it was first officially recognized in 1927, when my father Mehmet Gokbudak was six years old.

According to Wikipedia, many people in Turkey feel that International Children's Day, which is June 1, was inspired by the Turkish Children's Day, which is known as Cocuklar Bayrami.

When we were living in Turkey when I was from 1977-79, I participated in a Children's Day parade in Eregli, which is near the western Black Sea port city of Zonguldak. I forget if I marched in 1978 or 1979, or both years. I was in my school uniform, which all Turkish children are still required to wear to school (I really missed wearing "Spiderman" t-shirts as I did back in Roanoke, Va.)

Alas, things are becoming quite unsettled in Turkey's neghbor Syria where the BBC reports that more than 70 protestors have been killed across the country with the highest casualties being cited in the Damascus suburb of Deraa.

AlJazeera, which is only available in the United States in few localities, like Toledo, Ohio, in addition to some coverage on Link TV, reports that there was a major student demostration at Damascus, Syria. The Quatar-based news agency also said there was a similar protest in Latakia, which is the main Syrian port.

"The Christian Science Monitor" said protests broke out in Homs, which is Syria's third largest city behind Damascus and Allepo. The Boston-based news agency said government officials used live bullets and tear gas to crack down on demonstrators.

Syria's dictator Bashar al-Assad, 45, has been power since his father's death in
2000; Syria has been in the family's hands for over 40 years.

There is not report yet as how this will affect Turkey, which is one of Syria's main trading partners though the two countries have at times had strained relationships and territorial spats.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Status Update_ Today, I Learned About Blue Lobsters

Of course, when one mentions the word lobster, you either think of an overrated American chain restaurant (Red Lobster), Maine or the '80s New Wave band from Athens, Ga., the B-52s (pictured here).

But, until I read a story in the current issue of "Mental Floss" by Adam K. Raymond, I was not fully aware of blue lobsters. According to Raymond, one in every four million lobsters are blue. They are this color because of a gentic defect.

We tried to get a picture of a blue lobster up here, but they were quite difficult to hotlink.

If one wants to learn more about lobsters in general, I highly recommend Trevor Corson's excellent 2004 book "The Secret Life of Lobsters." Corson also wrote "The Story of Sushi."

Within a few days, we are hoping to let you know how far apart Portland, Maine, is from Altoona, Pa., in case you really, really want to know!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Special Quote of the Day- Joe DiMaggio

Today, we quip the late slugger Joltin' Joe DiMaggio (1914-1999), who was also known as the Yankee Clipper. The New York Yankees great was a three-time MVP and a 13-time All-Star. DiMaggio had a 56-game hitting streak in 1941 which has yet to be broken.

Off the field, DiMaggio made headlines during his brief marriage to Marilyn Monroe. Playwright Arthur Miller ("Death of a Salesman") whom we've quote a lot here was her other husband.

DiMaggio was also the spokesperson for Mr. Coffee during the 1970s, and he is mentioned in the classic Simon and Garfunkel song "Mrs. Robinson."

Here is the quote:

"There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first time or the last time, I owe him my best."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Quote of the Day- Maya Angelou

There are many great poets here in North Carolina, but the one who is the most universally recognized has to be Maya Angelou who resides in Winston-Salem (she is originally from St. Louis). So, we sill quip her today:

"How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!"

Other unqiue figures in poetry here in the Tarheel State include Keith Flynn from Asheville. Alas, I missed a great opportunity to hear him speak publicly a few weeks ago, but I read an awesome poem he wrote honoring the jazz great Duke Ellington.

There is also Bruce Piephoff from Greensboro, who is better known as a folk singer, but his poetry about county fairs and blue collar jobs reasonates well, and it certainly reflects the dashed hopes and dreams of folks living in the shadows of closed textile mills. Of course, I would say this even if I didn't know Bruce personally! (Full disclosure: he is a good friend of mine, but his work is respected by folks who have never met him just as much as those of us who are fortunate enough to be friends with him).

One place where I've seen Bruce perform over the years is the Green Bean, a coffeehouse in downtown Greensboro. This weekend, I had the chance to hear a young singer named Bess Rogers from Brooklyn, NY, sing there as well. One of her most unique qualities is that she has maanged to turn some '80s hair-band anthems into folk/country-sounding songs. If you can't imagine what this might be like, just contemplate a Whitesnake song being sung by Joni Mitchell!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Congrats to the Alabama Crimson Tide

Even though we were sort of rooting for Utah or UCLA, we want to congrdaulate the University of Alabama's women's gymnastics team on their fifth NCAA title. The NCAA championships were held over the weekend in Cleveland. Alabama won the title with a 197.65 score over UCLA (197.375) and the University of Oklahoma (197.25).

Nebraska, Utah and Michigan rounded out the Super Six. Surprisingly, the University of Florida which had been ranked number one at times this year did not make the Super 6 Finals. Shockingly, another strong gymnastics contender Stanford did not even get past regionals!

Crimson Tide coach Sarah Patterson said she was proud of her team for coming together as a team in Cleveland.

We will post all-around and individual results on our sister blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time." Geralen Stack-Eaton (pictured here) from Alabama was one of the event winners.

SIDEBAR: Kudos also to Caroline Kilel of Kenya who won the Boston Marathon earlier today. She beat out second-place finisher American Desiree Davila and her fellow Kenyan and third-place finisher Sharon Cherop.

Motto of the Day- Just Do Nothing

Here is our first entry in what we hope will be many "Mottos of the Day." We dedicate this one to 'our good friend' House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio):

"Do nothing_ it saves money, gas, and utilites."

(Of course, it also wastes time!)

While we want to take exclusive credit for suggesting that Republican is a 'do-nothing' organization, we must tip of hat to Jonathan Chait of "The New Republic" who illustrated how the GOP's idealism has pretty much held steady since the days of Herbert Hoover in a column he wrote a while back.

SIDEBAR: Not all things in Washington, DC, are political (well 98 percent of are) as one can see by "The Washington Post." Every week on Sundays, they have a Date Lab series in their magazine section, and this week they hooked up Ukrainian student Yuri Borovsky, 25, with Becky Strauss, 26. They met at the Persimmon restaurant in our favorite 'burb, Bethesda, Maryland. We wish them luck, but if things fall through for them Becky can always contact yours truly!

Friday, April 15, 2011

We Are Postponing the Top 10 Entry (for the moment)

We are going to post our Top Ten list of very long names, but we think Mon., April 25 will be the better time for that as opposed to today since our last entry took as long as reading "War and Peace" would.

Since we knew we would mention Leo Tolstoy's epic 1,225 page novel which perhaps an inmate at the Birmingham, Alabama, city jail on 425 6th Avenue, South, is reading to pass the time, we will point out a few things we learned about the work here.

__ It was originally published in 1869

___Novel begins in 1805 during the reign of Tsar Alexander I and it details the years in which Russia was invaded by Napoleon starting in 1812.

___Made into 1956 Hollywood film with Henry Fonda and Audrey Fonda, as well as the more critically-acclaimed very long (we think it lasts like ten hours) version made in Russia in 1968.

_ "War and Peace" has also been adopted into an opera and stage play.

Elif Batuman, a fellow Turkish-American (I don't know her personally) wrote about her love for Tolstoy and other Russian authors in her recent memoir "The Possessed."

And, in all likelihood University of Virginia professor and author Sina Vaidhyanathan will make our hardest names in the world list. In his latest book "The Googlization of Everything," he states that the small town of Eu, France, actually considered changing its name so that it would not be confused with the EU (European Union) on Google search engines.

As for "War and Peace," one can probably find it at PackBackers (a student bookstore at North Carolina State) and the Boulder Bookstore in Boulder, Colo.

This weekend is also Independent Record Store Weekend, and if one is in Athens, Georgia, they may want to visit Wuxtry Records where I found a rare cd from the late German New Wave pop artist Klaus Nomi when I was visited the town two weeks ago.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Weekend Road Trip- Rhode Island to Nevada (6 of 20)

Today, we continue our series Weekend Road Trips with a look at how far two cities with famous minor league baseball teams are from each other. The two cities are Pawtucket, RI, where the Pawtucket Red Sox play, (triple-A team for the Boston Red Sox) and Las Vegas, Nev., where one can see both a Las Vegas 51s game and an expensive-as-all-get-out show from Wayne Newton on the same night.

We are actually going to measure the distance between Modern Diner in Pawtucket, which has been featured in the great "Zippy the Pinhead" comic strip, and Ibo Turkish Restaurant, which we assume serves our favorite meat dish Adana kebab, on West Flamingo Road in Las Vegas. According to the "Providence Phoenix," the Modern Diner serves very good pumpkin pancakes!

The Pawsox are currently on the road in Syracuse, NY, today, where they are playing the Syracuse Chiefs. The team's web site reported that they were winning 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Pawsox are playing the Chiefs on a double-bill as we speak. They return to Rhode Island on Saturday to host the Buffalo Bisons. On April 30, the Pawsox will have a special fireworks display after their game with the Toledo Mudhens.

While we were looking at the PawSox's web site, we saw that Yamaico Navarro, a shortstop from the Dominican Republican, was at bat for the road team. The team also consists of his countrymen Tony Pena Jr., a 30-year-old pitcher for the PawSox whose father Tony Pena was a major-league all-star who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and five other teams.

As for the Las Vegas 51s, they are named for Area 51 which is a military base that is 80 miles north of town; it is also where UFO believers feel that ETs have passed by so perhaps it serves as their Atlanta (forgive the airline passenger humor).

Actor Billy Bob Thornton once wore a 51s team hat on a late-night talk show. The next home game for the team will be against the Fresno Grizzlies tommorow night at 7:05 p.m. local time.

Brad Mills, a pitcher who is almost exactly 15 years younger than me (he is 26, his birthday March 5 is a day after mine), was pitching for the 51s today in a road game at Sacramento. Mills played college baseball for the University of Arizona.

Though the two teams are in different Triple-A leagues and could only play each other in the Minor League World Series, today we are asking how far from each other these two zip codes are.

Is the answer:

A) 39 hours, 57 minutes

B) 40 hours, 57 minutes

C) 41 hours, 57 minutes

D) 42 hours, 57 minutes

PS_ The answer to last week's road quiz was A) 26 hours is the distance between New Haven, Conn., and Colorado Springs, Colo.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Special Quote of the Week- Jim Palmer

Today, I am featuring respective quotes from two baseball players associated with the 1970 World Series. Since I was only a few months old at the time, I didn't see any of the games, but the Baltimore Orioles stunned the Cincinnati Reds, known as the Big Red Machine, four games to one.

Brooks Robinson of the Orioles was named MVP of that series, but our quote comes from O's pitcher Jim Palmer who won a game during the series. who is now 65 years old. Thus, thankfully, we will no longer have to see him in underwear commercials!

Here is our quote from Palmer:

"Most pitchers are too smart to manage."

We want to give a shout out to our friend Corrine Ready, well I don't actually know her, but she does apparently read our blog (!), so below is a link to her site about the ten best films dealing with suburban life. Perhaps, one of these films takes place in Bethesda, Maryland.....I wonder if residents there still root for the O's or do they root for the Washington Nationals?!:


In the next few days, we are hoping to blog about another very long road trip and write a top ten list about folks with very, very long lastnames!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Quote of the Day- James Baldwin

Today's quote of the day comes from the late poet and writer James Baldwin (1924-1987) who was also a Civil Rights activist. Since he was black, gay and an atheist, Baldwin felt alienated from society and spent some time abroad as a writer, primarily in Paris, France, (starting in 1948) as well as Switzerland and Turkey.

Among his famous works are his second novel "Giovanni's Room," which was quite provocative when it was released in 1956.

Here is Baldwin's quip:

"Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced."

SIDEBAR: Many radical fundamentalist Christians in the United States, and perhaps elsewhere, are predicting that Judgment Day will come on May 21 of this year (wow!, they have an exact) and the end of the world as we know it will come on Oct. 21,
2011. And, they claim to spread optimism?!

Meanwhile, so we may be 'objective,' it should be pointed out that the heavy metal band Slayer is apparently not concerned with Judgment Day (even though we are not radical Satan-worshippers, I am inclined to agree with them here) as they play on performing in Santiago, Chile, on June 2, 2011. Closer to home, Slayer will be in Pittsburg, Pa., on July 23.

And, The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a group that makes fun of Christian doomsdayists and other radicals of this genre, had a cake made in their honor in Argentina recently. We wish we could share that image here with you, but we hate to agitate folks we actually agree with!

Monday, April 11, 2011

It's Time to Go Home and Chill

Yes, it's only Monday and it's still one hour and forty minutes away from 5:00 p.m. here at the office in Smyrna, Georgia (not actually where I am at, but the same time zone), but I am very beat.

So, we leave you with this image of Ally Sheedy from the 1985 film "The Breakfast Club." Those of you wondering what has happened to her should check out the independent film "Life During Wartime" from the always brilliant dark comedy director Todd Solodnz. The film came out last year. It is great!

Alas, it didn't exactly beat out "Avatar" at the box office.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Apparently, We're NOT Back on the Air...

Achtung! I knew things were too good to be true. After 15 or 16 tries, we have decided to post this entry meant for our other blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time" here instead.

If/when we get the chance, we will simply post 'silly photos' on that blog so it can catch up with this one, and hopefully that will happen soon.

While we are at it, we wanted to mention four college radio stations and their unique programs.

First of, I wanted to start with WUVT/90.7-FM, the student-run station at Virginia Tech where I co-hosted a Turkish music show in 1994. Today, DJ Cigdem is one of the show's hosts. And, this afternoon, she played an interesting mix on her show "The Turkish Music Hour" which runs from 1:00-2:30 p.m. (local time) including a song by the late Turkish rocker Baris Manco (1943-1999).

Amazingly enough, Manco had a following in Japan of all places! He was also known as 'the man who sang about vegetables" as one of his songs, the mid-80s pop hit "Domates, Biber, Patlican," means "Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplants." It wound much better in Turkish!

Down the road, in Raleigh, NC, WKNC/88.1-FM, the student-run station at North Carolina State, which was playing one of my favorite songs "Nothing But Flowers" by Talking Heads when we last checked in, features "Chainsaw Rock." The heavy metal show runs on Wednesday and Thursday nights starting at midnight, and on Friday nights from 8:00 p.m.-midnight. They were the ones who introduced me to Greek Heavy Metal (?!) which was made popular by a band called Rotting Christ. I imagine they will probably not be playing in Tulsa, Okl., anytime soon.

When we were in Athens, Ga., last week, we checked out the local University of Georgia student-run station WUOG-FM.; they were playing jazz great Chuck Mangione- of all people- when were listening. While researching this piece, we were happy to discover that the '70s soft jazz icon who was born in 1940 is alive and well. On Sundays, the station has a show called "Bluegrass Junction" which plays a combination of bluegrass and folk music. It airs at 4 p.m.

Lastly, for Asian music fans, Michigan State's student run station Impact 89 features a show called "Asian Invasion," airing at 8:00 p.m., which will undoubtedly educate you about the world of Japanese and Korean pop (presumably!).

The image above is from the late comedian Soupy Sales who died at age 83 in 2009. Whenever I have a tech glitch with a computer, I feel as if someone is throwing a pie in my face too!

We're Back on the Air- I Hope....

For the last three weeks, there have been many-a-snafus with my mom's personal home computer, and I have summoned to Milton, West Virginia*, to help assist her with it for more or less the last three weekends in a row. It looks they might perhaps very well be fixed. But, like the possibility of yesterday's federal government shutdown (which thankfully didn't go through) anything bad can happen even if you are optomistic as Cheech and Chong when they are high!

So, tonight I could sit back and watch "The Lawrence Welk Show" which airs on most PBS stations around the nation at 7:00 p.m., including North Carolina Public Television (, Blue Ridge PBS in Roanoke, Va., ( and Oklahoma Public Television, which syndicates the show.

(*-my mom does not actually reside in Milton, West Virginia).

Lawrence Welk (1903-1992) was born in Strasburg, N.Dak., which is not to be confused with Strasburg, Va., a little town some 75 miles south of Washington, DC, that we mention a lot on this blog.

While researching this entry, we found that American honky tonk singer Danni Leigh, who is my age (we're both a year older than Scooby Doo), resides in Strasburg, Va. On April 22 and 23, Leigh returns to her home state to perform at The Circle T Arena in Hamilton, Tex.

Wikipedia described Welk, whose originally ran from 1955 to 1982, as 'a musician, accordionist, bandleader and tv impresario.'

It should also be pointed out that all the people who watch Lawrence Welk's show tonight in places like Mount Airy, NC, can stay tuned to the British comedy series "As Time Goes By" afterwards. We can't imagine that the college students in Chapel Hill will be watching either of these shows, but then again I listen to Mozart and Metallica!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Government Shutdown Update_ We Aren't Sure...

If anyone thinks showing a toilet is in bad taste, then they should know that our original intention was to have a Paul Gaugin painting for this entry. But, since many of those paintings feature necade native women from and Tahiti and they might offend the delicate sensibilities of Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, we thought this might be more 'appropriate.' Incidentally, Cuccinelli was named our "Worst Person of the Year" for 2010. Actually, we did not spell his name right one, but since he is a Republican we refuse to apologize for that!

But, ironically, Cuccinelli, a far-right winger, himself is not responsible for the possibility of a federal government shutdown in Washington, DC. His 'brothers in arms,' like House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) are.

According to the "Huffington Post," Boehner told reporters that his side was close to a resolution, but as noon eastern time that appeared not to be the case, according to what we gathered from articles in "The Hill" and "The Washington Post."

But, if there is no government shutdown, and we are not exactly sure how it will affect the National Gallery in Washington, DC, one can freely go to the current Paul Gaugin (1848-1903) exhibit which runs through June 5.

According to the NGA's web site, 120 of Gaugin's works will be on display and they will presumably cover all the periods of the artist's relatively short life. Gaugin, at one time or another, lived in Peru, France, Martinique and Tahiti. We could not conclude one way or another if he ever made it to Istanbul, Turkey.

However, if there is a federal govenment shutdown, it will not affect the status of the Topkapi Palace, The Blue Mosque and Saint Sophia, all of which are major tourist attractions in Istanbul, my late father's hometown.

For more info on the National Gallery, one can go to or call their main info line at 202-737-4215.

And, if you are heading to Turkey, three web sites I recommend are, and; we would comment on the fact that Miss Turkey is promoting the new 'turkey burger' at Hardee's (an American fast food chain that originated in Rocky Mount, NC), but truthfully we aren't sure what to make of the promotion!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Weekend Road Trip- Connecticut to Colorado (5 of 20)

Today, we continue our time-consuming series on road trips across les etats unis (French for USA) by looking at the time it would take one to get from New Haven, Conn., 06510 to Colorado Spring, Colo. 80903. As one might expect, it is a long drive.

We chose these two zip codes because both Yale University in New Haven and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs have outstanding men's hockey programs (we know Yale has a women's hockey program too, alas we didn't get to see if that sport was offered at AFU).

Yale actually defeated Air Force in a NCAA tournament game that went to overtime. But, the Bulldogs fell in the final eight. Tonight, Minn-Duluth and Notre Dame face off in the Frozen Four, followed by the University of North Dakota's game with Michigan. The event is taking place today in St. Paul, Minn.

Both schools also have women's gymnastics teams, a sport that I am a huge fan of. We found out that for the Bulldogs' gym team, captain Sherry Yang from Maryland had a 9.3 on vault at a meet at Towson University in here home state on March 11. The team also has two (we presume twin) sisters from Singapoer in Nicole and Tabitha Tay, both of whom are freshman.

As for the Falcons' women's gym team, senior Brittany Dutton, a 5-1 gymnast from Georgia, has been among the stand-out gymnasts as she competed in NCAA regionals in Denver. Her teammate Linnaea Hance has a pet cornsnake! And, her fellow Falcon Jen Larsen likes "Scooby Doo," a cartoon which is a year older than me (we believe in debuted in 1969).

As for the hockey teams, Jimmy Martin, a senior from St. Louis who was captain for the Bulldogs had an outstanding year as did Falcons' stand-out Jacques Lamoureux from North Dakota who amazingly enough cites the Edmonton Oilers as his favorite team (a member of the U.S. military roots for a Canadian hockey team!).

We found out the mileage by checking out the distance from Ibiza Restaurant in New Haven, a Spanish diner that offers chipirones, baby squid braised on its own ink, and Jack Quinn's Irish Ale House and Pub in Colorado Springs which offers Irish strout beef crostini.

We concluded that the distance was:

A) 26 hours

B) 28 hours

C) 30 hours

D) 32 hours

The answer to last week's question was A). Durham, NH, and Norman, Okl., would amount to a 28 hour drive presuming one does not stop at a Burger King in Kentucky along the way.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Special Quote of the Week- Babe Ruth

This month, we are going to feature quips from some famous baseball players. We srart with Babe Ruth (1895-1948) who was born in Baltimore, but made his fame playing for the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. Ruth hit 714 homeruns in his career, which was later eclipsed by Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds.

Ironically, Ruth and Jackie Robinson (1919-1972) the subject of the entry on our other blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time" both died young at age 53.

Here is the quote from The Bambino:

"Don't let the fear of striking out hold you back."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Quote of the Week- Nazim Hikmet

Today, we have two quotes from perhaps my two favorite poets on our two respective blogs. Amazingly enough, the Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet (1902-1963) and the great African-American poet Langston Hughes (1902-1967) were born a mere two weeks apart.

Hikmet was born on Jan. 17, 1902, in what is now Salonika, Greece. Due to his communist beliefs, he lived much of his later life in Russia and he is buried in Moscow's famous Novodevichy Cemetery, where one can also see the tombstone of Boris Yeltsin.

Hughes was born on Feb. 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri. He passed away in New York where he had resided for much of his adult life.

Hikmet's life is amazing for many reasons, and it would substantially more time than we have here to go into all the details. But, we can show the following ironies about his life:

-Though he is Turkey's best-known poet, Hikmet was not only born in what is now Greece and he died in Russia, but he also had Polish ancestery.

-Since, he is now amazingly enough considered Turkey's National Poet, he was posthumously given back his Turkish citizenship in 2009 which had been revoked during the time of his political activies.

-Joan Baez, of all people, sang a song version of his poem "Nazim Turkusu" in Turkish!

-Hikmet's poem "The Epic War of Independence" is considered to be a patriotic masterpiece which is even revered by right-wing Turkish nationalists today!

Here is his quote:

"Living is no laughing matter: you must live with great seriousness like a squirel for example_ I mean without looking for something beyond and above living, I mean you must be your whole occupation."

Monday, April 4, 2011

Status Update: I Am Alive and Well and Not in Rural Uzbekistan

Normally, we post Quotes of the Day on Mondays. And, hopefully, we will have a cool quip from a very hip person, either living or dead, at some juncture very, very soon.

But, for now, I leave with this image and the assurance that even though I was not able to communicate with the outside world for 72 hours simply because I went out of town without a cellphone or a laptop that I am doing well and I have not disappeared into a remote Uzbeki village where this gentleman presumably resides.

To think, he may very well go through life without ever having a Big Mac or a Starbucks vanilla latte.

Friday, April 1, 2011

No April Fools Joke This Year

For several weeks, I had contemplated saying that my screenplay for "My Dinner with Andre 2" which was also co-written by Dennis Alexander (my alias) and Nishan Shakashi (the Turkish word for April Fools) was green-lighted by IFC Films. I was going to add that it had full approval from the original stars and screenwriters Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory. And, that this 'sequel' to the 1981 film about two men in a a restaurant talking was going to be directed by Quentin Tarantino.

Ultimately, since both Shawn and Gregory are alive and well, and we really need to get out of Graham, NC* for a weekend getaway, that this was not in our best interest.

I was in sueded version of "My Dinner with Andre" which we made for the Shadowbox Cinema in Roanoke, Va. The cinema's manager, my friend Jason Garnett, announced that they will host a screening of the doc "King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters," complete with a Donkey Kong competition.

The real version of "Andre" is available from Criterion classics.

*-We are not really in Graham, NC, but a town similar to it.

PS- We goofed in yesterday's entry as the UNH Wildcats lost to Notre Dame in the men's college quarterfinals. Yale was the team that lost to Minn-Duluth.