Thursday, June 30, 2011

Things We Learned from NPR Last Week_ Problems with the Other Neighbor

It is well-known that the rivalry between Turkey and Greece is, perhaps after the rift between India and Pakistan, one of the most intense ones anywhere in the world. The two did almost go to war over an uninhabited goat island, relatively close to Bodrum, Turkey, and the Greek island of Kos, in 1996.

But, today, both countries seem to be both plagued with domestic problems as Greece has made international headlines because of the country's financial crisis, and Turkey is in the process of dealing with political gridlock as the conservative Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the opposition People's Republic Party do not get along. This fact was even mentioned by Suzy Hansen in a recent article in "The New Republic" about Erdogan's overbearing cult of personality.

And, perhaps most surprisingly, they are both dealing with 'other neighbors.'

On this blog, we will discuss Turkey's problems with Syria, and on our sister blog, we will examine the lesser-publicized rift between Greece and Macedonia.

Turkey and Greece have many overlapping culture entities, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the world of shadow puppet theatre. The Figures of Karagoz (the guy with the beard) and Hacivat (the one with the slight mustache) have represented Turkey's inner conflict between the village simpletons, represented by Karagoz, and the urban elites, illustrated through Hacivat.

The plays were reportedly first performed for Sultan Selim the Grim circa 1517. Karagoz remains a major cultural attraction in Bursa, Turkey, the fourth largest city in Turkey where many Karagoz performers and puppet-makers reside, including members of Celikkol family (Ugur Celikkol, who is a tour guide in Bursa, is a personal friend).

In Greece, there is a version of Karagoz called Karagiozis, and the fact that he is a rural dweller as well is made obvious by the fact that like Fred and Braney from "The Flintstones," he goes around barefooted.

As for the Turkish-Syrian problems, the excellent NPR series "The World" said last week that Syria is straining Turkey and Syria's joint 'no problems' foreign policy as refugees are fleeing Syria in droves since Damascus ordered crackdowns on anti-government activists. The domestic conflict in Syria has (as of last week) claimed an astonishing 13,000 lives, making it the second worse mess in the Arab World at the moment behind Libya (with Yemen being a close third).

The Arab Spring fall-out is also drawing Turkey into a Sunni-Shiaa entanglement according to Turkish political commentator Nihat Ali Ozcan of "Hurriyet," the country's most-read newspaper. In a column last week, Ozcan also said that a 'Turkey-Syria-Iran' triangle is forming. This week, Ozcan added that the incresing, though still perhaps a bit remote possibility of a Turkish invasion of northern Syria, could cause the same problems for Turkey that George W. Bush's war in Iraq caused America.

In his comments, Ozcan declared that military intervention in the Middle East may replace dubious politicians, but there is no guarantee that the repalcements will be Westernized democrats.

SIDEBAR: In the world of sport, as the BBC calls it, host country Germany beat Nigeria 1-0 today in the Women's World Cup. France also destroyed Canada 4-0. The ESPN networks will broadcast America's next match with Colombia on Saturday at noon.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Special Quote of the Week- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Today's quote comes from former Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who is now 64:

"I can do something else besides stuff a ball through a hoop. My biggest resource is my mind."

SIDEBAR_ This past weekend, I was actually on the NPR show "Studio 360." The show asked listeners to submit what they would want to be the first line of their obituaries.

The reason for this was their guest novelist Timothy Schaffert's new work of fiction is told from the perspective of an old woman who types obituaries for a small-town Nebraska newspaper, perhaps like "The North Platte Telegraph" in North Platte, Neb.

The first line of what I would my obit to say, as submitted to "Studio 360," was: "His dad died on his thirteenth birthday on March 4, 1983, but Tilly Gokbudak somehow managed to live a happy and productive life."

But, my personal favorite submission came from a fellow listener in Connecticut who said: "Rodger has spent his whole life working toward this moment."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Quote of the Week-Umberto Eco

Today our quote of the week comes from Italian novelist Umberto Eco (b.1932) who is best known here for his debut novel "The Name of the Rose," which was the basis for a Sean Connery film of the same name.

Since, we were unable to quote four Italians for our series within a series this month, we will quote one more Italian next month.

This year, Italy is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the country's unification.

Here is the quote from Eco:

"Better reality than a dream: if something is real, then it's real and you're not to blame."

SIDEBAR: Interestingly enough, Italy and Argentina, two countries which are traditional powerhouses in men's soccer are not among the 16 countries at the 2011 Women's World Cup, which is currently underway in Germany.

Today, Team USA won a 2-0 victory over North Korea, one of George W. Bush's 'Axis of Evil' nations (which amazingly enough did not include Syria!). For Team USA, both goals came in the second half from Lauren Cheney and Rachel Buehler. Goal-tender Hope Solo, who is known for being outspoken, delivered the shut-out in Dresden.

In other Group C action, Sweden beat Colombia 1-0. Both Sweden and Norway are considered to be stellar teams when it comes to women's soccer.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Status Update_ Life Might Be Turning Back to Normal

Status Update for June 27, 2011:

"Life is apparently somewhat back to normal. Can I get back to Franz Liszt now?"

Ahh...I did not forget the silent 'z.' I may be one of the very few people who listens to both "Performance Today," a show dedicated to classical music on PRI/NPR (It airs nightly at 8:00 p.m. in my area), and the WKNC show Chainsaw Rock with Hammerhead on 88.1-FM (Raleigh), which is the student-run radio station for North Carolina State University.

Thanks to both shows, I now know more about Hungarian composers and Greek speed metal. What would I do without them?!

The music of Liszt will actually be on today's edition of "Performance Today." My original choice for the Status Update was actually Gustav Mahler.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Status Update_ I am NOT Erupting Like Mt. St. Helens

It has been a crazy, hectic time here in Mudville, Va. (fictional town), but we are hoping to get back to blogging in the hopes that it might connect to the current Miss Turkey, Miss Brazil or well, maybe even Miss West Virginia.

But, in spite of all the zaniness, I have not erupted like Mount St. Helen's in Washington state. The famous volcano, which is now a national park (?!), had its famous eruption on May 18, 1980. It killed 57 people.

While researhing this, we found out that there is a minor league team in Oregon called the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. They are in the Northwest League and a farm team for the San Francisco Giants. They lost their last game to the Eugene Emeralds by a 4-3 score.

Oregon and Washington are two of seven states that I've never been to. I'm not sure if I should count Michigan among the other 43 because I've only been to the Detroit Airport.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day Kitsch

For me, Father's Day is about remembering my father Mehmet Gokbudak (1921-1983) and my second stepfather Donald Sullivan (1918-2003).

The two men had some similarities as my father liked to collect knives and he frequently wore orange Elmer Fudd hunters caps even though to my knowledge baba (the Turkish word for father) never hunted himself. He also had a fascinated with gun shops.

Donald really, really liked guns, and our political differences on gun control could at times be a sensitive matter. Although we both loved western films, I remember a time when we sat down together to watch a Hopalong Cassidy movie on tv. And, on Father's Day one year, Donald almost cried when he stood up as a 'father' on my behalf during a Salem Avalanche game (now the team is the Salem Red Sox). Since Donald had no children of his own, he cherished being a father figure for my sister and I.

My father had other interests which remain a bit pecuilar to this day. Though he rarely drank beer, though I believe he drank a few Efes Pilsen brews when he was back in Turkey, he loved German beer drinking songs and he had many lp records of those songs, some of which we recently rediscovered. Donald, on the other hand, had little use for Germany as he was a World War II veteran who had seen action in countries like Germany, Belgium and France.

My father's game of choice was soccer, and he rooted for GalataSaray though we didn't have the advantage of watching Turkish soccer games on tv via satellite in the 1970s and early 1980s as many Turkish families can today.

Baba was also not to found of the tv sitcom "Happy Days," which I watched regularly. He considered The Fonz to be subversive because he defied authority, and at times, there was actually a de facto ban on "Happy Days." For me, this simply meant, that I would simply watch the show whenever I was at a friend's house. And, reruns of the show also aired in the afternoon when he wasn't home.

My father also enjoyed classical music, especially accordian tunes, leather belts,
'70s floppy hats, playing the Turkish saz, riiding his bicycle all over town and the Laurel and Hardy short films that he saw at cinemas in Istanbul when he was a teenager.

Besides guns, Donald also liked trains, hot dogs, yard sales, watching airplanes take off and land as well as fishing.

Donald was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but his family moved to Columbus, Ohio, where he resided on Minnesota Street. He was honorably discharged from the Army in 1948.

Though I am very different from both of them in oh so many ways, I miss them both every day. And, on Father's Day, I prefer to think of how fortunate I was to have them in my life rather than mourn the fact that they are no longer around.

Special Quote of the Week- Michael Jordan

Today's quote comes from His Airness Michael Jordan who won six NBA titles for the Chicago Bulls (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997 and 1998). Curiously, much like Bjorn Borg got burned out with tennis, Jordan shocked the world by retiring at a young age to try baseball. So, he played mostly minor league baseball with teams like the Birmingham Barons where he hit three homeruns.

But, he came back in a veyr big way perhaps to the nausea of other NBA stars like Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz who went to Jordan in the 1998 NBA Finals.

Jordan is the pride and joy of my state of residence, which is North Carolina (I'm from Roanoke, Va.), and he has arguably replaced NASCAR legend Richard Petty (who hails from Randleman, NC) as the Tarheel State's favorite son.

His Airness went to Emsley A. Laney High School in Wilmington, NC, and he later played and won a NCAA title with the University of North Carolina Tarheels, a team that then coached by Dean Smith.

Here is Jordan's quote:

"Even when I'm old and grey, I won't be able to play it, but I'll still love the game."

Incidentally, the Birmingham Barons lost to the Huntsville Stars 6-2 in Huntsville, Alabama, last night. The two plays play each other again this evening.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Quote of the Week- Sophia Loren

Tonight, we continue with our quips from famous Italians since Italy is celebrating its 150th anniversary as a republic. Ironically, even though Sophia Loren is Italy's most recognized screen star around the world, she resides abroad in Geneva, Switzerland.

Loren, who will turn 77 on September 20, provided the voice for Maria Topolino in the upcoming animated film "Cars 2." She was the very first woman to win a Best Actress Oscar for a foreign-language when she won the award for the 1962 Italian film "Two Women." The French actress Marion Cottilard would be the second actress to achieve that rarity when she Oscared for her role as the iconic French singer Edith Piaf in the 2007 French film "La Vie en Rose."

Loren is also said to be an inspiration for the Spanish actress, superstar Penelope Cruz whose title role in Pedro Almodovar's film "Volver" (which recieved an Oscar nomination) is said to be inspired by the Italian legend.

Here is the quote from Loren:

"A woman's dress should be like a barbed-wired fence: serving its purpose without obstructing the view."

Status Update_ I Have Not Been Kidnapped by Aliens

It has been eight days since my last entry, which is probably my longest period between entries since I took a trip to Maine in the summer of 2007, and I simply couldn't figure out a way to post. Amazingly enough, the following year, I was able to find an Internet cafe in Baku, Azerbaijan, which is a very long story.

OOOpps! The original draft of this entry was kidnapped by Marvin the Martian!

I will just summarize the main points of that effort:

1) Newt Gingrich may end up looking like a far left pot-smoking hippie if the Republican field moves any father to the right. Of course, a farmer in Sioux City, Iowa, who no one knows will decide the fate of the GOP.

2) There was a UFO report in Jerusalem, Israel, over the famous Temple Mount landmark, as if the country doesn't have enough problems. The political unrest in Syria will affect Israel and other neighboring countries though right now Turkey, my late father's country which also borders Syria, appears to be the most affected nation in the region due to refugee spill-over.

3) In Istanbul, Turkey, there is a UFO Museum. It is one of only four in the world. Not Surprisingly, one of the other museums is in Roswell, New Mexico.

4) New Mexico also happens to be one of the four American states with the most UFO reports. The other three are Colorado, Montana and Utah. The Beehive State (Utah) also has an active UFO hunters organization headed by one Alien Dave. May the force be with them!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Roanoke vs. Greensboro (Entry 1 of 6)_ The Shadowbox or The Idiot Box

Today, we begin our first in a once-a-week (or perhaps once-a-month series) pitting my birthplace and hometown of Roanoke, Va., against my adopted city of Greensboro, NC. The cities' have interesting nicknames as Roanoke is called The Star City and Grensboro is called The Gate City.

The two zip codes are about 110 miles from each other, and in addition to the stateline, the cities are separated from Route 220, which is known for its radical church signs, pro-life billboards and even billboards proclaiming the world is going to come to an end on May 21, 2011 (oops!). There are also billboards with guns and strippers (hmmmm...), and the legaendary speedtrap of Boones Mill, Va., 15 miles outh of Roanoke, where I have somehow never been ticketed.

This week, there are two major events in both cities, and if I lived in Martinsville, Va., which is half-way between the two zip codes, I might need to flip a coin on this one.

The Shadowbox Cinema in Roanoke will be hosting a Donkey Kong tournament before screening the dcoumentary gem "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters" (2007). The movie features a video game fanatic named Billy Mitchell, who actually made a fortune selling his own brand of b-b-q sauce. Mitchell always sports an American flag tie, much like the one we had in an entry earlier this week, and he seems very patriotic. The problem with Donkey Kong though is that he has no Boris Spassky (evil Soviet counterpart) as the late Bobby Fischer did when he faced Spassky in that famous Cold War chess showdown.

The tournament satarts at 7:00 p.m. and the film begins at 8:00 p.m., tommorow night.

In Greensboro, The Idiot Box, which is known for its improv troupe featuring Jennie Stencel, Steve Lesser and Bob Bob Beshere among others, will actually be foregoing their usual 10:00 p.m. performance on Saturday night to host the Found Footage Festival. The event will feature rare and supposedly hilarious vhs treasures.

After leaving Greensboro, the Found Footage Festival Tour heads to the Boulder Theatre in Boulder, Colo., one of our favorite cities--though it is very far from here, on June 16.

We discovered some interesting things about the Idiot Box while researching this piece. As it turns, Stencel, a blonde-haired woman who is a local celebrity from her years as a morning traffic reporter on a local tv station, has her own Wikipedia page. From what we gathered, she is also married to Lesser. We did not know that!

I should add that Jason Garnett, the manager of the Shadowbox Cinema, is a personal friend of mine, so while I enjoy the Idiot Box, I must profess a bias towards the Star City venue. Having said that, I would assuredly get my deriere kicked in any video game tournament! In addition, the Unknown Comic is not coming to the Idiot Box, but since he was popular in the 1970s, he is probably well past his prime, which of course means he should open a show in Las Vegas!

Lastly, we don't want to create false impressions as to our knowledge The Shadowbox is not showing a Bruce Lee film this month, but if Jason chooses to show "Enter the Dragon" I am so there....well, unless it's a school night.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Road Trip- Cambridge, Mass, to Eugene, Ore.

We have been meaning to post this entry for quite a long time as we ask you the blog-reader to guess how long it would take a bus driver to get from Cambridge, Mass., to Eugene, Oregon.

Both of these college towns boast hip, popular independent record stores. In Cambridge, where Harvard University is located, there is Cheapo Records, that was profiled on the NPR show "The World." And, in Eugene, Ore., which is known for both the University of Oregon and for being the residence of the late author Ken Kesey ("One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest), there is Skip's Record and CD World.

Of course, the whole world knows that Harvard is the alma mater of President Barack Obama and Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (ooops!, we forgot that Zuckerberg is actually a college drop-out).

We are also featuring the cover of the 1978 debut album of The Pretenders (which is called "The Pretenders") because we are huge fans of the band and their lead singer Chrissie Hynde.

So, here are the choices:

A)43 hours, 20 minutes

B) 44 hours, 50 minutes

C) 47 hours, 10 minutes

D) 48 hours, 40 minutes

SIDEBAR: There are lots of celebrity birhtdays today as one of our favorite actresses Natalie Portman turns 30, Johnny Depp turns 48, Michael J. Fox turns 50 and Bollywood star Sonam Kapoor turns 25.

SIDEBAR TWO: I had the chance to see Miss Lana Rebel, an experimental/folk singer perform recently at the Green Bean in Greensboro, NC. Now the band that was originally based in Portland, Ore., then Tucson, Ariz., then Athens, Ga., is now play in and around Austin, Tex. Amazingly enough, Miss Rebel and her bandmates live out of a school bus in Vancouver, Wash., they bought via Craig's List.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Things We Learned on Google Today- Ryan Giggs is Simply the Best

We are continuing with yet another entry in our Things We Learned on Google Today series even though we have not posted any entries in the series since back on May 5!

Today, we learned that Manchester United fans chose Welsh soccer player Ryan Giggs, 37, as the best player in the team's history over the likes of Eric Cantona, George Best and David Beckham, who along with Brazilian legend Pele is one of three futbol players that Americans have heard of. (Actually, we aren't sure who that third person might be).

Giggs, who is still active with Manchester United though he retired from international play in 2007 (he was captain of the Welsh national team; yes we know Wales is not a country too but one day when we figure out why the United Kingdom has four separate national soccer teams, we will let you know), is the most decorated player in English soccer history as he has won 12 English Premiere League medals. Astonishingly, Giggs scored 17 goals in the 1993-94 season for MU.

In England, the personal life of this superstar is apparently quite scandolous, but we are too busy to find out the sordid details.

SIDEBAR: It appears that one of the few places to get away from the here in les etats unis is Fargo, North Dakota, a city that the Coen Brothers made famous with the film "Fargo" even though they are from Minnesota. According to, it was a mere 64 degrees in North Dakota's largest city today.

This seems exceptionally cool given that in our corner of the globe, it was 94 degrees in both Raleigh, NC, and Lynchburg, Va, and a staggering 97 degreees in Washington, DC. Hopefully, House Speaker Cong. John Boehner (R-Ohio) was not hanging out by the Washington Monument and working on his tan.

(For those of you from England, here in les etats unis, those of us who are Democrats love making fun of Republicans!).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Quote of the Day- LeBron James

Today, we are going to start a month-long series of quotes from professional basketball players from the NBA, past and present.

Since we featured an Italian flag in our last blog entry, we thought we'd feature an American flag neck-tie to go with this entry which will feature a quote from LeBron James so we are not accused of being Soviet sympathizers by right-wing Tea Party nuts from rural Idaho and their Kool-Aid cult leader Glenn Beck merely because we are Democrats here.

The man besides James here is Shaquille O'Neal, who recently retired at age 39. Ironically, both James and O'Neal left the Cleveland Cavaliers after last season.

James is with the Miami Heat and they are currently tied 2-2 with the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA finals; O'Neal finished his career with the Boston Celtics.

Here is the quote from the most famous person from Akron, Ohio, with Chrissie Hyne, the lead singer of The Pretenders, being the second-most famous (she actually reportedly moved back there in recent years):

"With that locker room I could sleep there after games."

Monday, June 6, 2011

Quote of the Week- Luciano Pavorotti

Today, since Italy is celebrating its 150th anniversary as a republic, we are going to quote famous Italians during the month of June.

Perhaps, the Motorhead and Slipknot fans who come through have no idea who Luciano Pavorotti (1935-2007) was and conversely those who listen to opera are probably not really into speed metal, which is a true shame really.

But, we're going to make it quick and just quip the great tenor:

"Am I afraid of high notes? Of course I am. What sane man is not?

SIDEBAR: Whew! It is really hot in the area near Greensboro, NC, today as the current outdoor temperature is 80 degrees. One may think it might be cooler in Montana, but the state's largest city of Billings is actually three degrees hotter at 83. Hmmmm.....yep, like Alcatraz in its heyday, it looks like there is no escape!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

This and That- Dr. Oz Makes the Cover of Time Magazine

Yesterday, while browsing magazines at a local Barnes and Noble, I noticed that Dr. Mehmet Oz, who the world simply knows as Dr. Oz, was on the cover of "Time" magazine.

A tweet from Namik Tan, Turkey's ambassador to the United States, said that Dr. Oz was the eighth Turkish citizen to grace the cover of the magazine. I presume Dr. Oz has dual citizenship, and that one of the other seven people was Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey.

And, a report from the English-language version of "Hurriyet," one of Turkey's most-read newspapers, confirmed that Dr. Oz was the eighth person to be on the cover of "Time" though no mention was made of the other seven. I am curious to know if Mehmet Ali Agca, arguably one of the most infamous people from Turkey in the last fifty years, was on the cover of "Time." 30 years ago, Agca attempted to assasinate Pope John Paul in Vatican City, and I'm wondering if this is the reason why no mention is made of who the other people are.

Though I am a "Newsweek" subscriber, as a fellow Turkish-American, I am very happy for Dr. Oz. The cover story deals with his own colon cancer scare. Dr. Oz, who was born in Cleveland, will turn 51 on June 11.

Speaking of Turkey, a tweet from Marc Guillet, who I presume is an international reporter, said the following which made me home-sick for my father's country, even though like Dr. Oz, I was born in America.

The tweet reads as follows:

"I'm at Kadikoy ferry where young people from the Black Sea region are dancing traditional music. I love it."

Kadikoy is arguably the most populated section of Istanbul on the Asian side of the megalopolis. The Trabzon-Rize region in the eastern Black Sea is indeed very well-known for folk dancing as well as tea farms.

While I was at Barnes and Noble yesterday, I also saw a book entitled "The Invisible Gorilla" by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simmons. The book is meant to show that our instincts are not always the most logical ways of resolving problems.

One part of the book deals with what chess masters and criminals have in common, and while one may think it is that both plan ahead, the answer, according to a member of the South Dakota Chess Association, is that both groups have high degreees of confidence. We wonder what Boris Spassky, the great Russian chess player, would make of this?!

Lastly, we have more details about the attack on the Paul Gauguin* painting "Two Tahitian Women" (1899) that goes for 1899 and is worth $80 million. The painting is on the display until today at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

I saw the exhibit several weeks ago, and I had blogged about the early April incident, which occured long before I went to the National Gallery, here. But, I realized that I had overlooked how the painting was attacked.

Apparently, Susan Burns, 53, from Alexandria, Va., a suburb of Washington, DC, did not attack the painting with a fork or a knife as I had presumed. I was wondering how she would have gotten past the tight security at the museum. As it turns, while yelling: "This is evil!," she tried to take the painting down before the guards restrained her. It has been reported that Burns felt the painting of two topless Tahitian women carrying mangos, which is one of Gauguin's most famous painting, was 'too homosexual.'

*-Alas, we also learned that we did not spell Paul Gauguin's name correctly in that entry!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Status Update_ Je Suis Tres Burned Out

If folks are wondering why a seemingly compulsive blogger like myself has not blogged in a full 48 hours, the reason is very simple. I am toast!

Recently, my friend Chris Knight made a highly confessional series about his a serious health condition that he was dealing with, and I thought to myself: "Hmmmm.....I'm not sure I could do that!" And, as a general rule, I've tried to avoid personal matters, except my political beliefs (memo to Newt Gingrich: Bring It On!).

But, the strains of teaching summer school are quite challenging, and it never seem to end. However, we are hoping to have some new entries up again as soon as tomorrow. Of course, grading mountains of papers will have to be the priority.

Interestingly enough, an image of burnt toast was used for the web site of Valley Bible Fellowship, a seemingly quite evangelical outfit in Boonville, Calif. (hey, I thought California was a blue state?). I read the post on the assumption that they were implying if one did not come to their church, they might find themselves in Hot Stuff's lair. But, upon reading the passage that went along with the entry, I could not quite figure out what they were saying at all.

That does remind me, all the "World is Coming to an End" billboards put up Harold Camping to promote May 21, 2011, as doomsday, have come down. There were about four on Route 220 between Roanoke, Va., and Greensboro, NC. I suppose we'll see them again with a new date some time next year!

SIDEBAR: The "If you gotta go, you gotta go" sentiment apparently does not apply to residents of Zimbabwe. While dictators in Syria, Yemen and Libya are making headlines due to their violent reactions towards political protests against their Orwellian leadership, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has gone under the radar.

But, on May 7th, Alois Mabhunu, a police sergeant in (we presume) the capital city of Harare, made the mistake of using Mugabe's own personal throne. So for using the designated toilet, Mabhunu got a ten-day jail sentence for invading the dictator's privacy.

I actually heard this on the BBC_ of all places!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Special Quote of the Week- George Orwell

Today, we conclude our month-long series (yes, we know today is actually June 1, 2011) from novelists with a quip from the great English writer/essayist/novelist George Orwell (1903-1950) who died young at age 46.

On our sister blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time," we are quoting Albert Camus (1913-1960) who also died at age 46. Both men were also born in colonized territory as Orwell was born in India and Camus was born in Algeria. And, both writers, of course, are still well-known around the world for their highly political works.

Orwell has the distinction of being admired by both the right and the left. This is emphasized by the fact that his staunchest supporter in the modern day is the atheist intellectual Christopher Hitchens, who has drfited from the left to the right to the middle, or wherever he is/may be at the moment. Hitchens wrote a book entitled "Why Orwell Matters" in 2002, and Hitchens also has the distinction of having spats with both left-wing philosopher Noam Chomsky and the late evangelical extremist Jerry Falwell.

According to Wikipedia, Orwell's works were written with regard to an awareness of social injustice and a concern for totalitarism. The terms Orwellian and Big Brother derive from his works. Due to his short life, Orwell is most regarded for just two novels, "Animal Farm" (1945) and his last and most famous work "1984" (1949).

Orwell's works also inspired the film director Terry Gilliam with his famous critically acclaimed film "Brazil" (1985) which is also about totalitarianism.

Here is Orwell's quote:

"All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who not fighting."