Sunday, July 31, 2011

Things We Learned on Google Today- The Kid for Chivas

Since the Mexican team Chivas Guadalajara (not to be confused with the American MLS team Chivas in Los Angeles) played Italian powerhouse Juventus in Raleigh, NC_ of all places this week, we thought we'd mention Chivas in today's entry in our "Things We Learned on Google Today" series. Alas, Chivas lost the game 1-0 as Fabio Quagliarella, 28, who should qualify for our next "People with Long Names" list, score the lone goal of the match for the Italian team.

The turn-out at Carter-Finley Stadium was a disappointing 16,124 people, but it was the first time a game between two international clubs was played in the Raleigh-Durham area.

So, we actually asked Google two questions pertaining to Chivas. The first was 'how many first division soccer teams are there in Guadalajara?' (it is Mexico's second largest city). And, the answer is three with Atlas and Tecos, being the other two squads.

We then asked Google who the star player for Chivas is, and it appears to be Marco Jhonfai Fabian, 22, (pictured here) who scored his Mexican first division goal during a 6-0 route of the team Jaguaes (the Jaguars) on Nov. 10, 2007.

Fabian scored his first international goal for Mexico just a month ago in a 1-0 victory over Ecuador.

We expect he will have a great career, and perhaps he may end up playing for a European like....well, Juventus!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Playing Word Detective- Proofers

Perhaps it is because I watched the PBS series "History Detectives" and listened to a podcast of the NPR talk show "Way with Words," but I've tried to become a word detective today.

While I was reading the current issue of "Wired" magazine, which is not one of the eight or nine magazines I subscribe to (and that is not a joke!), at Bean Traders, a coffee shop on 9th street in Durham, NC, yesterday, I came across the term 'proofers' in a column called "Jargon Watch" by Jonathan Keats.

Apparently like birthers, proofers are people, most of whom we presume are on the right, who want to see the photographs taken just after Osama bin Laden's killing in Abbotabad, Pakistan, on May 2, which President Barack Obama steadfastly refused to release to the media. And, one doesn't need to be Hillary Clinton to realize that such a move could have lead to major uprisings in Kandahar, Afghanistan, among other places.

Proofers thus believe that because there is no 'real proof' that Obama has lied about bin Laden's death, and is using it to win over voters in places like Eau Claire, Wisconsin, during the 2012 presidential election.

We have to wonder if the proofers think that bin Laden is serving up slurpees at a
7-11 in Provo, Utah.

Among these people are a Cleveland talk show host Chuck Booms (pictured above), who has also been a stand-up comedian.

We can not verify the exact moment that the term 'proofers' came to be, but David Weigel, a reporter for ,said a man named Matthew Hurt, tweeted the term just days after the bin Laden killing (sorry proofers, we are not going to use the term allegedly). Weigel mentioned this in a May 5 article he was writing for from Greenville, SC, where most people on the street thought releasing the photos would indeed be an unwise thing to do.

Nevertheless, it is safe to assume that if proofers become as widespread as birthers, Obama could face the prospect of showing the photos just to shut crazy right-wing idiots up as he did when he released his birth certificate that proved he was born in Hawaii.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Quote of the Day- Edith Piaf

Today's quote is from the great French singer Edith Piaf (1915-1963):

"Death does not exist."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Last Ten Films I've Seen

Here are the last ten films I've seen, films I've seen before these viewings are marked with an asteriks (*) and films I saw in a movie theatre are marked with an exclamation point (!):

1) "Les Bonnes Femmes" (1960. France. dir-Claude Chabrol)

2) "The Baader Meinhof Complex" (2008. Germany. dir-Uli Edel)

3) "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" (2009. Sweden. dir-Daniel Alfredson)

4)*! "Time Bandits" (1981. dir-Terry Gilliam)

5) "A Psycho Love Story" (2008. Turkey. dir-Biray Dalkiran)

6) ! "Beginners" (2010. dir-Mike Mills)

7) * "Marie Antoinette" (2006. dir-Sofia Coppola)

8) "Sounds Like Teen Spirit" (2008. doc. dir-Jamie Jay Johnson)

9) "The Big Uneasy" (2010. doc. dir-Harry Shearer)

10) "A Tale of Springtime" (1990. France. dir-Eric Rohmer)

Notes on films on this list:

1) This early French New Wave film about attractive young Parisian women has a very surreal ending which has become a discussion board topic on the IMDB, and after seeing the film I certainly understand why.

2) Perhaps, the most interesting film on the list. The German film, which was nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, is about the radical left-wing terrorist group RFA, which started in then West Berlin in 1970. The group was responsible for political assasinations, kidnapping and an airplane hijacking that went across three continents, so this story is quite epic in tone and in my view, the film delivers. Interestingly enough, surviing RFA member Horst Mahler has now gone to the far-right, so much so that he was imprisoned (again) in Germany for being a Holocaust denier.

3) The Swedish film based on the last of the Millenium triology novels by Stieg Larsson seems quite timely given the heinous actions of the far-right, radical Christian terrorist suspect in Norway on Friday. Larsson researched far-right groups in Sweden and other Scandanavian countries before his own untimely death in 2004, and that is reflected in the novels he wrote as well as their filmed versions.

4) I forgot how dark the ending of this 'children's film' from Terry Gilliam was. I saw it at the Salem Valley-4 (now Salem Valley-8 back when the film was first released when I was a child).

5) Yes, as one might expect from the film's title (it was actually called "Heaven" in Turkey), it is a very strange movie, but the director's earlier effort "The Abortion" is even more over-the-top than this film.

6) Christopher Plummer will hopefully win an Oscar for his great performance in this film.

7) This Sofia Coppola film seems slightly better with the second viewing.

8) This doc follows teens in Cyprus, Georgia, Bulgaria and Belgium as they try to be the next European teen idol.

9) An interesting environmental doc from Harry Shearer, best-known for voicing Simpsons characters like Principal Seymour Skinner.

10) This is a typical Rohmer film, which means those of us who generally like his films will like it, everyone else might opt to watch infommercials, pro wrestling or radical televangelists praying for a new hot tub.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Quote of the Week- Cormac McCarthy

Today, we conclude our month-long series of quotes with famous people from New England with a quip from novelist Cormac McCarthy, who was born in Providence, Rhode Island, which checked in at 81 degrees today, considerably cooler than the northeast was over the week. (It was hot in the South as well as it reached 128 degrees in Washington, NC, on Saturday!).

McCarthy, who now resides in New Mexico, is best-known for "No Country for Old Men," "All the Pretty Horses" and "The Road" as well as the excellent play "Sunset Limited," which I saw a production of at Triad Stage in Greensboro, NC, earlier this year.

Here is the quote, which all of us aspiring writers can take to heart:

"Even if what you're work on doesn't go anywhere, it will help you with the next thing you're doing. Make yourself avaialable for something to happen. Give it a shot."

Today, We Are All Norwegians

Friday, July 22, 2011

Random Ten Contemporary Novels to Read for Summer

Today, we are finally getting to our random ten books to read for summer list, which seems appropriate given that I am in a public library in New Haven, Conn., where we have a heat index of 110 degrees today (I am actually in North Carolina, but it is really that hot up there, and down here as both Raleigh and Charlotte are 'code orange' in terms of heat index today).

We are also including a list of ten random classical novels worth reading on our other blog, and we thought we's include books on each list that were the basis for Tim Burton movies as is the case with "Big Fish" here.

Our apologies in advance to some of my favorite writers like Jay McInerney, Tom Perrotta and Barry Griffith who did not make the cut here.

I will put indicate which books I have actually read with an asterix (*).

Four of the books on this list had films based on them, including Cormac McCarthy's "No Country for Old Men" that became an Oscar-winning movie for the Coen Brothers.

Stephen King's "Misery," a book which came from a dream that King had on airplane flight to London has been made into both a play and a film.

"The Shipping News" by E. Annie Proulx is the other film that became a movie, and I was surprised to see it on a reading list of novels to read by King in the back of his book for would-be writers called simply enough "On Writing," which is quite brilliant.

Here is the list:

1. "Tell All" (2010) by Chuck Palahniuk. He is actually my favorite novelist, but I have to read his most current novel.

2. *"Imperial Bedrooms" (2010) by Bret Easton Ellis. This sequel to "Less Than Zero" is yet another quirky, witty book from Ellis who was a published writer by the time he was 25!

3. "Libra" by Don DeLillo (1988). This controversial novel about the John F. Kennedy assasination seems like it would be quite a unique read. It was criticized by many people, including conservative pundit George F. Will, who also thinks global warming is somehow not happening?!

4. *"The Big Fish" (1988) by Daniel Wallace. When I heard that novelist Daniel Foster Wallce had committed suicide a few years ago, I thought they were referring to this Daniel Wallace who is very much alive and teaching writing at The University of North Carolina. This is a nice feel-good story which can actually be read in one reading.

5. "The Museum of Innocence" (2008) by Orhan Pamuk-Amazingly enough, I have yet to read the latest offering from Turkey's most acclaimed novelist.

6. "Misery" by Stephen King (1987) by Stephen King. At 325 pages, this King novel will make for a quicker read than the new unedited version of "The Stand" which has cracked the best-seller list.

7. *("No Country for Old Men" (2005) by Cormac McCarthy. Along with "Trainspotting" by Irvine Welsh, this is an example where both the book and the film work well together.

8. * "Super Sad True Love Story" (2010) by Gary Shteyngart- The author made my long names list. This novel proved that his prior novel "Absurdistan" was no fluke.

9. "I Am Charlotte Simmons" (2004) by Tom Wolfe. This novel, which is set in the fictional DuPont University that is partly based on Duke University, is about the sexual practices of college students. Amazingly enough, Karen Owen, the infamous sex columnist who outed many, many BlueDevils she made love to, including at least one lacrosse player, may have proven the story to be unsettling true.

10. "The Shipping News" by E. Annie Proulx_ As we said earlier, Stephen King recommended this prize-winning novel, so it must be good!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Quote of the Week- Jules Verne

Today's quote is our third one this month from famous French people in honor of Bastille Day, which was one week ago today. It comes from the author Jules Verne
(1828-1905), who is best-known for his novel "Around the World in 80 Days."

Since I love cats, this quip is a vintage one to me:

"I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through."

SIDEBAR: We are saddened to hear of the departure of progressive talk-show and fellow Turkish-American Cenk Uygur (we were both also born in March of 1970, and we are both liberals) from MSNBC. Since I only have basic cable, I only got to see his show "MSNBC Live," which aired at 6:00 p.m., a few times.

Uygur told sources that the network brass approached him in April to tone down his rhetoric. Amazingly enough, his replacement appears to be the uber-controversial Rev. Al Sharpton. Uygur is expected to be a guest on Keith Olbermann's new show on Current-TV. Olbermann left MSNBC for similar reasons. This comes at a time when MSNBC's rival Fox News has been reeling from the scandal involving their owner Rupert Murdhoch who is embattled with a phone-hacking scandal at one of his English newspapers.

Ironically, we found out that one of the country's leading conservative activists and Armenian-American (our rival ethnic group) Mark Krikorian, who is an anti-immigration advocate was the editor of "The Winchester Star" in Winchester, Va., a few short years before I worked as a reported at "The Shenandoah Valley-Herald," a newspaper owned by the same company in Woodstock, Va.

I imagine given our ethnic and political differences, Krikorian would probably not have gotten along too put it mildly!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Choice for the Best Films of 1981

Since information for this entry took a while to compile, I will simply list the films in my order of preference without commentary.

On a personal note, I hope my friend Moviezzz who has or had a great blog called Moviezzz ( I really enjoyed his review of a concert from the Go-Gos in Northhampton, Mass., earlier this summer. Moviezzz has alas not posted a new entry since June! That girl band was actually very popular in 1981 due their hit record "Vacation," which featured the mega-hit of the same name.

One film from the class of 1981, "Time Bandits" (dir. Terry Gilliam) will screen in a 35-mm print at the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro, NC, tomorrow night.

Last year, my friend Blake Lipscomb and I 'sweded' the film "My Dinner with Andre" which was shown at part of a sueded film festival at The Shadowbox Cinema in my hometown of Roanoke, Va., where we filmed our version of "Andre." Ironically, the actual film, which is set in New York, was filmed at an abonded hotel in Richmond, Va.

Here is the list:

1) "Atlantic City" (dir. Louis Malle)

2) "The Gods Must Be Crazy" (South Africa. dir. Jamie Uys)

3) "Das Boot" (Germany. dir. Wolfgang Petersen)

4) "An American Werewolf in London" (dir. John Landis)

5) "The Road Warrior" (Australia. dir. George Miller)

6) "Body Heat" (dir. Lawrene Kasdan)

7) "Prince of the City" (dir. Sidney Lumet)

8) "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (dir. Steven Spielberg)

9) "My Dinner with Andre" (dir. Louis Malle)

10) "Blow Out" (dir. Brian DePalma)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Road Trip USA (10 of 10)_ Tuscaloosa to Champaign

Well, hopefully, the images below of University of Alabama gymnast Kayla Hoffman and University of Illinois gymnast Melissa Fernandez, both of whom recently graduated from their respective schools (we presume) will hold up. The image we had of Borat at a rodeo in Salem, Va., my hometown, alas ran into technical difficulties.

Hoffman was named SEC Female Athlete of the year. Along with her teammates Geralen Stack-Eaton and Ashley Priess, she help the Crimson Tide win yet another NCAA title in women's gymnastics.

Fernandez was named the female athelete of the year for the University of Illinois; her counterpart for male athlete of the year for the school was NCAA track champion Andrew Riley.

Today, we are going to focus on the distance between Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Champaign, Illinois, where these two school are located.

For this, we chose two random places in both towns. For Tuscaloosa, we went with the Handstooth Sports Bar, which states on its web site that "Sports Illustrated" named it as the best sports bar in the country.

For Champaign, we are going with The Art Theatre, a cinema downtown that is now showing "Tree of Life" and the killer-tire movie "Rubber." (Having seen them both, I would definitely recommend "Tree of Life," but I think that is an obvious choice).

The school's also have two happening college radio stations. WVUA (90.7-FM/Tuscaloosa) is featuring the local band Calooh Callay in their spotlight. As we were working on this blog entry at 5:30 p.m., Connecticut time, DJ Natalie Wontorczyk was presumably playing a band like Arcade Fire for WPGU (107.1-FM/Champaign-Urbana).

So, is the distance between these two college towns:

A) 9 hours 15 minutes

B) 9 hours 45 minutes

C) 10 hrs 15 mins

D) 10 hrs 45 mins

For bonus points, you can guess which one of these two schools is the alma mater for my cousin Kurt Gokbudak (it's the one in the Big 10, which now has 12 schools?!).

SIDEBAR: We gave up on getting out of her on time about an hour and a half ago, but before we leave the office here in Bridgeport, Conn. (not really where I am at), I thought I would mention Crested Butte, Colo. A relative of mine went there last week for the annual Wild Flowers Festival that ended yesterday. But, one can still visit western Colorado and see wild flowers, such as the elephant flowers, columbine, blue flax flowers and Canadian thistle flowers. Alas, according to MapQuest, Crested Butte is a 31-hour-drive from where I am at the moment, and the commute would probably even more arduous if it started in Bridgeport, Conn.

PS: In the Whoops Department, this entry was meant for our other blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time." But, as it is, we will be 'taking a day off' here to go hiking in Zion National Park (yes, that is a joke!) The Borat image we mentioned was supposed to go with an entry on that blog about Kazakhstan.

Road Trip USA-(10 of 10) Jackson to St. Paul

Today, in our last regular entry for Road Trip USA (we will have about four bonus entries on each blog to cover all 50 states, including Hawaii_?!_ plus
Washington, DC and Canada), we look at the distance between two state capitals: Jackson, Mississippi, and St. Paul, Minnesota.

St. Paul, Minn., is known for being the home of Garrison Keillor's "Prarie Home Companion," the NPR equivalent of the Grand Ole Opry that was made into Robert Altman's last film.

Jackson, Miss., is blues country, and the Magnolia State is also known for hot tamales.

For this entry, we chose the Trattoria da Vinci, an Italian restaurant in St. Paul, and Fenian's Pub, a bar located in downtown Jackson.

So, today, we ask, what is the distance in driving time between these two cities. Is the answer:

A) 16 hours

B) 16 hours, 20 minutes

C) 16 hours, 40 minutes

D) 17 hours

The answer to yesterday's quiz was B). DC United has won four MLS Cups.

SIDEBAR: It may not be showing at the Eden Drive-in in Eden, NC, but Woody Allen's latest film "Midnight in Paris" is still screening up the road at the A/peture Theatre in Winston-Salem. And, apparently, it is still screening at lots of other cinemas too as it has now become Woody Allen's most financially succesful film as it has now made $40.1 million domestically in addition to strong profits overseas, especially in France. Over the weekend, "Midnight in Paris," which cost $30 million to make, surpassed "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986), which had been his most commercially succesful film before Allen's current film.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Things We Learned from Wikipedia This Week- How Many Titles DC United Has Won

We continue our examination of soccer clubs around the world by going to our own backyard today and focusing on the Major League Soccer team DC United(well, I do live outside the DC Metro area, but it is the closest MLS team to North Carolina).

I've decided to change the format of this entry series, by presenting information in the form of a trivia question, like one you might see on about who was on the cover of the classic Beatles record "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club" (Fred Astaire was on the cover?!).

So, here is the question: DC United has won more MLS titles than any other team in the league; how many titles have they won?

Is the answer:

A) 3

B) 4

C) 5

D) 6

DC United hosts the New England Revolution on July 20, which will be college night, so if you go to Georgetown, George Mason University or the University of Maryland, you can take in a soccer game for $15.

Talon the Eagle is the team's mascot; Josh Wolff is new captain for United. And, the team that started with the league in 1995 features a player from Zimbabwe named Joseph Ngwenya, 30.

SIDEBAR: Yes, assuredly 9,000 other bloggers are mentioning that Japan beat the United States team in a penalty shoot-out to win the 2011 Women's World Cup in Frankfurt, Germany.

The official score of the game is 2-2. On the American side, Alex Morgan and Abby Wombach contributed the two goals. For Japan, which trailed much of the game, the goals came from Aya Miyama and Homore Sawa, who also got the tournament's golden boot.

We will miss U.S. goalie Hope Solo, 30, but hopefully she will make it back for the next World Cup.

Incidentally, psychologists say those who win bronze medals tend to be happier than those who win silver since the silver-medal winners are likely to think about the gold they could have gotten. So, perhaps, it bears mentioning that Sweden won the third place game over France by a 2-1 score.

Quote of the Moment- Jay McInerney

Today, we continue our series of quotes from famous people from New England with a quip by Jay McInerney (b.1955, Hartford, Conn.) who is best-known for his break-through novel "Bright Ligths, Big City," a contemporary literary classic which was published when he was only 29 years old in 1984. The film became the basis for a Michael J. Fox movie of the same name is 1988, which wasn't successful partly because Fox was miscast as Robert Redford has been for the 1974 film version of "The Great Gatsby."

Other McInerney novels include "The Story of My Life" (1988) and "The Good Life"
(2006). "The Story of Life" is noteable because it features the character of Alison Poole, who is based on Rielle Hunter, the John Edwards mistress who once dated McInerney.

McInerney is also a contemporary of fellow novelist Bret Easton Ellis ("Less Than Zero," "American Psycho") and Tama Janowitz ("Slaves of New York"), who happens to be an alumnus of Hollins University, which is one of my two collegiate alma maters.

While researching this, we learned that McInerney is now on his fourth marriage, and he is a wine columnist for "The Wall Street Journal," which is having a very bad week due to Rupert Murdoch phone-hacking scandal.

Here is the quote from McInerney; we imagine it is in reference to "The Good Life" which is about the effects of 9/11 on America, ironically the Twin Towers were on the cover of "Bright Ligths, Big City":

"I've always written about the larger social events of the moment. It just seemed like I had to confront this one."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Status Update_ It's Been a Fairly Rotten Day

We were hoping to post a more interesting entry, but well even though at times, it looked like today might be an okay day, things just sort of fell apart. But, the highlight of the day was perhaps seeing an old Huckleberry Hound cartoon from 1961 on Boomerang where the blue dog with a Southern accent was in drag! He was trying to be Little Red Riding Hood in a cartoon that followed the plot of the age-old fairly tale which is supposedly about a girl coming to terms with her sexuality. But, we'll leave that up to English majors at Yale.

As for apples, the United States of America is the world's second leading producer of apples behind China. American apples account for 7.5 percent of the world market, according to Wikipedia.

While Michigan and Washington are known for apple production, there is quite an abundance of apples in my home state of Virginia, and my state of residency, which is North Carolina.

In Virginia, many apples can be found in the Shenandoah Valley, particularly around Winchester, which is the hometown of the late country-singing icon Patsy Cline. Each April, Winchester hosts the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, which according to its web site brings in 250,000 visitors to the area each year. I remember one year when I attended, the crooner Pat Boone was one of the guests of honor, but I didn't get around to asking him why he was a right-wing nut (forgive the political humor).

In North Carolina, the town of Hendersonville, near Asheville in western North Carolina, is known for its apple farms.

The other leading producers of apples are Iran, Turkey and Russia.

Turkey is my late father's country, and I knew that the country produced many apples, but I did not realize Turkey was fourth in the world in apple production.

Many Turkish apples are produced around Amasya, which is in the central Black Sea region of Turkey, relatively close to the port city of Samsun.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day. In the worst case scenario, I can always play with the family cat.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Things We Learned from Twitter- Arianna's Take on Rupert Murdoch

With only 14 characters to spare, it may seem hard to take a good shot at a political nemesis, but that is what the liberal Arianna Huffington, founder of "The Huffington Post" did on Twitter earlier tonight.

In her tweet, Huffington said the following: Now trending on Twitter: names of Harry Potter villains and NOTW villains.

NOTW stands for "News of the World;" it is the now-infamous Rupert Murdoch newspaper in England which completely closed down due to a major phone-hacking scandal. The breech of public trust is being felt here in the United States as well as Les Hinton, who was the managing editor of "The Wall Street Journal" until this morning abruptly resigned. Hinton had previously overseen the NOTW.

SIDEBAR: It seems to be a problem with all Mediterranean countries (I prefer the Turkish term Ak Deniz, which means White Sea, which is much easier to spell than Mediterranean), irregardless if the country is westernized and an EU member, like Italy or Greece, or a Muslim country like Turkey, my late father's homeland, Tunisia or Egypt, or even Israel.

All of these countries seem to be male-dominated countries which greatly emphasize machismoism. One might be inclined to think France, the country of sophisticated intellectualism and a high regard for the arts, might be a noteable exception.

But, in an interview with the NPR show "The World" today, Elaine Sciolino, a Paris correspondent for "The New York Times," said that is not the case at all.

Sciolino, who was just written a book called "La Seduction," said that sexual harrassment is a major problem in France. And, she faults the country's tradition of chivalry, which could well date back to the days of Rene Descartes (a French philosopher who lived in the early 17th century) as part of the problem. Sciolino said men think prefusely flirting is always ok, and women are not sure how to stand up and say 'noi means noi,' well that wasn't exactly the way she put it!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Special Quote of the Day- Marcel Proust

First of all, we want to wish everyone in France a Happy Bastille Day. Secondly, we want to arbitrarily mention Rupert Murdoch, Casey Anthony and fringe right-wing nutcase Michele Bachmann so we can use three trending topics and increase our hit count for the day.

We'd also love to make fun of the Mormon missionary from Utah who made the very unwise decision to climb a concrete wall to pose with a pair of lions at the Guatemala City Zoo (I've actually been there), but since the lions attacked the 20-year-old missionary and he is hurting (to put it mildly), we will alas have to play nice.

Oh, we almost forgot to talk about Harry Potter! Is there anyone out there who is actually going to dress like a wizard for a midnight screening tonight?

They are showing a midnight screening premiere for the latest installment of the eight film series at the Grandin Theatre in my hometown of Roanoke, Va., tonight.

For Bastille Day, we are going to quote the great novelist/essayist Marcel Proust
(1871-1922), who is frequently quoted in "Zippy the Pinhead" comic strips:

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Last Ten Film I've Seen- Some Controversial Films

Here are the last ten films I've seen as of 5:00 p.m., Hartford, Connecticut time (not where I reside) on Wednesday.

They are:

1. "Hidden" (2009. Norway. dir-Pal Oie)_ This is a bad Norwegian horror film.

2. "Irreversible" (2002. France. dir- Gaspar Noe). Along "Antichrist," this is perhaps the most controversial made within the last ten years. Except for the opening sequence, this is a relatively well-made film though.

3. "13 Assasins." (2010. Japan. dir- Takashi Miike). This is my favorite film from Miike who directed "Audition," which I should have mentioned along with "Irreverseible" and "Antichrist."

4. "Puppetmaster II" (1991. dir-Dave Allen). The sequel is actually better than the original! But, these aren't exactly exceptional films, by any means.

5. "Puppetmaster" (1989.dir-David Schmoeller). We featued an image of Klaus Kinski in this entry because the evil puppet Blade in this series is based on him!

6. "No One Killed Jessica." (2001. India. dir-Raj Kumar Gupta)_ This is like a Bollywood version of "All the President's Men."

7. "Angel's Fall" (2005. Turkey. dir- Semih Kaplanoglu) An earlier film from the director of "Bal/Honey," that is fairly similar in tone to his more recent film which has been a film festival hit.

8. "C.R.A.Z.Y" (2005. Canada. dir-Jean Mar Vallee). This is an exceptional French-language Canadian film with a very expensive soundtrack with songs by Pink Floyd, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, and Hot Chocolate.

9. "Midnight in Paris" (2011. dir- Woody Allen). Yes, I thought it was good.

10. Rubber (2010. France. dir-Quentin Dupieux). This is actually an English-language film shot in California about a killer tire. We're still not sure what to make of it!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Status Update- I am Vowing to Give Up French Fries

Ironically, I have decided to give up french fries starting on August 1st, even though I have nothing against France, a day before Bastille Day. Some believe that french fries actually originated in Belgium, which is celebrating its Independence Day on July 15th (Friday). And, there was the 'freedom fries' during the outset of the war in Iraq, which was started in part by Cong. Walter Jones (R-NC) who ironically would later question the George W. Bush administration's results with the Mesopatamian Mess.

According to "The Urban Dictionary," the French responded by calling American cheese, idiot cheese. Hopefully, this is all behind us now!

But, irregardless, for the sake of my own health, I am hoping that the fries I had today at a Burger King in Danville, Va., are the last ones I eat for quite a while!

I am reminded of how Morgan Spurlock, the documentary filmmaker who is my age and is from Beckely, West Virginia, about 80 miles from Roanoke, Va., where I grew up, when he went on his fast food odyseey for the film "Supersize Me." Spurlock's latest film "The Greatest Movie Ever Sold" has just been released on dvd.

SIDEBAR: Dave Zirin, the sportswriter, for the liberal publication "The Nation" has written a column posted today which states that he will refuse to watch tonight's All-Star Baseball Game from Arizona because of the state's draconian SB-1070 bill, which takes radical, draconian measures to try to curb illegal immigration. As Zirin pointed out, many of today's top major league baseball players are from Latin America.

I am actually not big on boycotts for the simple reason that if you are a political conservative boycotting Citgo because it has petrol from Venezuela or if you are a liberal boycotting BP because of the notorious oil spill in Louisiana last year, you may well end up sitting on the side of the road.

But, I sympathize with Zirin's sentiments. As it is, due to time constraints, I have not watched a major or minor league baseball game all year. How are those Toledo Mudhens doing?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Quote of the Week- John F. Kennedy

Today, we continue with quips from famous New Englanders with a quote from the legendary Democratic President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963). The 'forever young' president who was 46 when he was assasinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Tex., would be 94 today.

Here is his quote:

"A man may die, nations may rise, but an idea lives on."

Kennedy was born in Brookline, Mass., on May 29, 1917, and the JFK Library is located in Boston.

SIDEBAR ONE: Gazooks! It was 107 degrees today in Little Rock, Ark., today where the Bill Clinton Library is located.

SIDEBAR TWO: PBS will air the first episode of "Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided" tonight, local times may vary.

SIDEBAR THREE: Michelle Goldberg of "The Daily Beast" is reporting that far, far-right Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, who is currently a congresswoman from Minnesota, is the first GOP candidate to sign a pledge to fight pornography and 'find a cure' for homosexuality!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Road Trip- Vermont to Montana

Usually when we have an entry about coffee, we go with an image of Too Much Coffee Man, the beloved cult comic strip icon created by (mr) Shannon Wheeler in 1988. Wheeler, who now lives in Portland, Oregon, is actually a Facebook friend of mine, and I figured at some point he might get irked with me for using his beloved creation, that was turned into an opera!, without his permission. Wheeler's comic strips also included Too Much Coffee's beloved friend Too Much Espresso Man, who was a man with a little coffee cup over his head.

So, we are going with an image we saw on a poster at the late, great Backstreet Buzz coffeehouse in Reidsville, NC, instead.

And, our focus today is actually the distance between two coffeeshops which are very, very far apart.

The first of the two destinations is the Radio Bean, a coffeehouse in Burlington, Vermont, a city that is said to be one of the very best places to have coffee here in les etats unis.

The other coffee joint is Liquid Planet is Missoula, Montana, located in one of the eight states I have not physically visited (well, I did go to the Detroit Airport once to change planes so I'm not sure if Michigan should count as one of the eight, but I've definitely never been to Montana).

According to Mapquest, road construction around the Chicago suburb of Gary, Indiana, may pose problems for anyone who is actually traveling this route which would also go through southern Minnesota and South Dakota.

So, just how long would it take to get from Burlington, Vt., to Missoula, Mont.?

Here are your choices:

A) 40 hours, 45 minutes

B) 43 hours even

C) 45 hours, 15 minutes

D) 48 hours even

By the way, that is a bobblehead doll of a newlywed couple on a motorcycle heading on for a honeymoon. I imagine they would choose a trip that took considerably less time!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

People with Long Names List, Part 2

It took an act of Congress to get this image above, and it is not because the Anglo-French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg (b. 1971), who I have a huge crush though she is married with children, is smoking. There are various versions of this photograph on the web, and most of them were too big for our purposes.

On the first list of People with Long Names we featured men with difficult surnames, including Finnish ski-jumper Matti Hautmaki. This time we are posting women with long names here, and featuring a new men's with long names list on our other blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time."

Here is the list (apologies in advance to anyone whose name we don't spell correctly!!!)which features women from all over the world:

1. Charlotte Gainsbourg_ The actress who starred in everything from French romcoms like "My Wife is an Actress" to shocking art films like "Antichrist" is also quite a good singer. Her late father Sergei Gainsbourg was one of the most admired singers in France during the '60s and '70s.

2. Nil Karaibrahimgil_ This Turkish singer who is somewhere near 30 years old is heard quite often on radio stations in Istanbul, and she prefers to simply call herself 'Nil.' We understand why.

3. Johana Sigurdordottir- This Icelandic prime minister is among the few world leaders who has publicly acknowledged that they are gay or lesbian. Charlotte Gainsbourg may have problems if she chose to reside in Iceland since the country is reportedly in the process of passing a de facto ban on smoking!

4. Simona Peycheva- Bulgarian rhythmic gymnast; we always try to include at least one eastern European on these lists.

5. Dominika Cibulkova- Yes, there are other tennis players from the Czech Republic or Slovakia with long, difficult names who are more famous (such as the one named Martina), but since this young Slovak tennis star reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals a few weeks ago, we thought we'd put her on the list so we could look hip.

6. Kalliopi Sarasopoulou- She is a Greek pop singer; we also try to include a person with a Greek name on these lists as they can tend to even longer than Turkish names!

7. Lilia Podkopayeva- This Ukrainian Olympian was quite impressive during her years as an impressive international gymnast, especially on the floor exercise. At 32, she would be still young enough to compete for just about any sport besides gymnastics.

8. Severa Nazarkhan- She is a singer from Uzbekistan who wowed the world with her 2003 record "Yol Bolsin," which was released through the English record lable Real World.

9. Tricia Olszewski- This film critic for "City Paper" in Washington, DC, really hated the Rutger Hauer film "Hobo with a Shotgun," but I saw it any way. It was 'ineteresting.'

10. Deepa Ranganathan- She is a leading researcher in sleep/wake patterns...need I say more!

Quote of the Day- Jean-Luc Godard

Today, we start our series of quotes from famous French people with Jean-Luc Godard, one of our favorite people to quip.

Initially, we were hoping to feature an image of a poster from his 1965 film "Alphaville" as opposed to his 1960 film "Breathless," which is shown here.

"Alphaville" is quite a unique film because it is the only Godard film that features elements of of futurist cinema stories and American detective films of the 1940s. The 1965 film starred the late Eddie Constantine and Anna Karina.

Alphaville is also the name of the 1980s German synthpop band which spawned the hit singles "Forever Young" and "Big in Japan," which became a big hit in Japan! "Forever Young" was immortalized 20 years after its release in 1984 when it was featured in the memorable prom dance sequence in the 2004 film "Napoleon Dynamite."

"Breathless" turned 50 last year and it is still considered to be among the best Godard films and the best New Wave films. It also includes a great performance from the actress Jean Seberg who died at age 40 in 1979.

Here is the quote from Godard:

"I don't think you should feel about a film. You should feel about a woman, not a movie. You can't kiss a movie."

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Best Films of 1961

Since I looked at the best films from the years 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990 and 2000last year, I am going to list my favorite films for the years following those years this year.

On my other blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time," I listed the best films from 1951. Here, I list my favorite films from 1961:

1. "Cleo from 5 to 7" (France. dir. Agnes Varda)

2. "Last Year of Marienbad" (France. dir. Alain Resnais)

3. "Divorce Italian Style" (Italy. dir. Pietro Germi)

4. "Viridiana" (Spain. dir. Luis Bunuel)

5. "West Side Story"* (dir. Robert Wise and Jerome Robins)

6. "A Woman is a Woman" (France. dir. Jean-Luc Godard)

7. "Splendor in the Grass" (dir. Elia Kazan)

8. "Accattone (Italy. dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini)

9. "Il Posto" (Italy. dir. Ermamo Olmi)

10. "Yojimbo" (Japan. dir. Akira Kurosawa)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Special Quote of the Week- Frederico Fellini

We wrap our series of quotes from famous Italians in honor of the 150th anniversary of Italy's unification with a quip from the great Italian film director Frederico Fellini (1920-1993).

Among his famous films are "La Strada" (1954), "La Dolce Vita" (1960) and "8 1/2"
(1963). Fellini was a surrealist and this side of him was illustrated quite strakly with his later films, including "Satryicon" (1969) and "Amarcord" (1974).

Here is his quote:

"Censorship is advertising paid by the government."

SIDEBAR: We were wondering about the origins of the term 'gazooks,' also spelled 'gadzooks.' It turns out that it means several things. Two of them are: 1) an expression of alarm and 2) a term of surprise. I knew I had first heard the term on a cartoon or children's show as a child, but I forgot which one it was.

Well, it turns out, according to the Urban Dictionary, that the term was used very frequently on the now-campy "Batman" tv series with Adam West (as Batman) and Burt Ward (as Robin), which ran from 1966-68. Amazingly enough, there are 120 episodes of the show because it aired twice a week. Today, Adam West is 82 years old.

UPDATE: And, in the gazooks! department, this entry was actually meant for our other blog "Politics, Culture and Wastes of Time." Oh well....

Special Quote of the Week_ Giuseppe Verdi

Today, we conclude our quips from famous Italians in honor of the 150th anniversary of Italy's unification with a quote from opera composer Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) who wrote many of my favorite operas, including "Rigoletto" (1851), "La traviata"
(1853) and "Aida" (1871).

But, since my name is actually Attila Gokbudak (I go by Tilly Gokbudak) and I was in fact named after Attila the Hun, I have to quote Verdi since he penned the opera "Attila" (1846). My late father Mehmet Gokbudak was, in fact, a serious history buff and yes, he actually admired Attila the Hun. He also admired Suleyman the Magnificient, but I'm thankful he didn't choose that option (going through school being named Magilla Gorilla Attila after the famous cartoon character Magilla Gorilla was torture enough).

Earlier this year, the Utah Symphony produced Verdi's last opera "Falstaff" (1893) earlier this year. Verdi also composed two operas that were based on William Shakespeare plays, including his version of "Macbeth" (1847) and "Otello" (1887), based on "Othello."

An interesting thing I found out regarding Attila the Hun and pop culture is that he was played by two different actors, Anthony Quinn and Jack Palance, in two different films in 1954.

And, ironically enough my first name is often misspelled whenever I'm in Turkey as it is spelled Atilla over there, but it is spelled Attila in Hungary where Attila the Hun reigned.

In other opera news, NPR's "The World" reported yesterday that Antonio Vivaldi's 'lost opera' "L'Unione della Pace e di Marte" will be performed this week in the Czech Republic for the first time in 284 years.

Here is the quote from Verdi:

"You may have the universe if I have Italy."

SIDEBAR: The NPR show "Marketplace" which was broadcasting from the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colo., reported that the local newspaper "The Aspen Times" mentioned that the city's tap water won a blind taste test over Dasani and Fiji.

There is also an annual International Bottle Water Tasting Festival in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, each year. In February, the winner of the contest was the Canadian bottle water Muskoka Springs.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Roanoke vs. Greensboro_ Ode to Gluttony (Entry 2 of 6)

You know American patriotism has gone to extremes lately when one ESPN commentator bragged about how nationally significant it was for Joey chestnut to beat out his Japanese rival Takeru Kobayashi at the 4th of July hot dog eating contest, which is apparently going on as we speak. Both guys can reportedly eat six hot dogs per hour. Hmmmmm....yeah, I don't think that victory was exactly like Team USA beating the Soviet Union in ice hockey at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics.

But, today our focus is actually on another great American favorite, the hamburger. Amazingly enough, as places like Boulder, Colorado, and Chapel Hill, NC, are emphasizing fitness and healthy eating, there has also been an influx of over-indulgence across the country.

This brings us to our entry today on which burger joint is better: the famed Texas Tavern on Church Avenue in my hometown of Roanoke, Va., which was established in 1930 and is open 24/7 or the much newer Fincastle's located on Elm Street in downtown Greensboro, NC, my current adopted city. Interestingly enough, Fincastle's is named for Fincastle, Va., a small town that is some 20 miles north of Roanoke.

Let's start with the Texas Tavern where travelers have reportedly come from as far away as Pittsburgh to sample the Roanoke Millionaires Club's offerings. Texas Tavern is arguably most known for its cheesy western (pictured here) which describes as a plain burger with a fried egg mixed with onions, pickles, and chesse. It sells for a very economical $2.20.

As for Fincastle's, they are open less often (see hours on the diner's web site ( and they are considerably more expensive than the astonishingly underpriced Texas Tavern. But, they do offer french fries, which the Church Avenue establishment curiously does not. Fincastle's also has onion rings, milkshakes, and hot dogs (something that the Texas Tavern also offers).

Food blogger Charlie Brinsin really liked the Delta Burger at Fincastle's. Brinsin raved that the burger which consists of a burger patty with apple smoked bacon, pimento cheese, a fried green tomato and remoulade sauce was one of the best burgers he ever had in Greensboro.

Fincastle's also offers the Magnolia Burger, which includes Muenster cheese, onion straws and apple smoked bacon, as well as fried pickled that one can have with or without a burger.

If I had to choose between the two, I would go with Fincastle's even though I love the athmospher at the Texas Tavern. I personally would avoid the high calorie items at both places as I need to lose weight as it is, so the deciding factor is an intangible. Fincastle's has a jukebox, which at one point included music from my friend, folk singer Bruce Piephoff. Alas, the Texas Tavern which can only seat ten people at a time would not have room for a jukebox so it's hard to hold it against them.

SIDE BURGERS ONE: If one heads 45 miles east down I-40, they can eat The Garbage Burger at Wimpy's Diner on 617 Hicks Street in Durham, NC. According to "Our State" magazine, the menu item which might jump off the menu consists of two quarter-pound beef patties, chilli, bacon, cole slaw, pickles, onions and cheese. The article by Josh Shaffer also said that Travel Channel host Adam Richman, a nationally known extreme-food connosieur, had five Garbage Burgers when he stopped in at Wimpy's?!

SIDE BURGERS TWO: Since today is the Fourth of July, we will squeeze in a mention of Washington, DC, and what "The Washingtonian" describes as 'the best hagover cure' in the DC-metro area. This would be a bison meat burger at Cashion's Eat Place on Columbia Road NW which includes a fried egg and the comeback sauce, which is reportedly similar to Thousand Island dressing. The menu item is very popular circa 2:00 a.m.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Quote of the Day- Stephen King

As is the case with every July, we will be quoting both famous Americans in honor of the Fourth of July and famous people from France for Bastille Day, which will be on July 14th.

Initially, we were going to start the series with quotes from famous Americans tomorrow, but we have some great Fourth of July kitsch lined up for the occasion. This year, we are going to focus on quips from famous people from the six New England states.

We start with Stephen King from Bangor, Maine. The horror novelist known for dozens of award-winners and best-sellers ranging from his early novels like "Salem's Lot" and "Carrie" to "It," "Insomnia," "The Shinning" and "Night Shift" since the 1970s also owns the rock n roll station 100.3-FM/Bangor, which goes by the nickname The Zone, perhaps in homage to King's novel "The Dead Zone."

Recently, King wrote an exceptional short story for "The Atlantic" called "Herman wouk is Still Alive," which should fit into your schedule better his full-length works. I must profess that I have seen Coke machines the same way since one killed a person by hurling Coke cans at the victim in King's novel "The Tommyknockers."

Here is his quote, which people who have tried to do remarkable things for the world, such as Barack Obama, can perhaps relate to all too well:

"It's better to be good than evil, but one achieves goodness at a terrific cost."

UPDATE (6:00 p.m., Sunday): While we are at it, I thought I would mention two Fourth of July performances happening tomorrow. My good friend and Greensboro, NC, folk-singer Bruce Piephoff will be performing at Center City Park in downtown Greensboro with a 12-year-old prodigy named Ranford Almond starting at circa 3:45 p.m.

And, comedian/actor/musician Steve Martin, who has recorded bluegrass music at a studio in Asheville, NC, tweeted just now that he will performing as part of the annual Fourth of July gala in front of the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, tomorrow.

Things We Learned on Google Today-Galatasaray Founded in 1905

I wasn't sure if the year was 1905 or 1907, but Google told me that the famed Turkish soccer powerhouse club Galatasaray (they play in Istanbul) was founded in (what year was it again) 1905.

While researching this piece, I found out some other interesting things about the team I root for in Turkish soccer, along with Bursaspor in Bursa, Turkey.

Apparently, the current GS captain Arda Turan, 24, is on his way to play for Chelsea in the English Premiere League in exchange for the Ivory Coast legend Didier Drogba, who captained his country's national team at the 2010 World Cup. This was reported in the English newspaper "The Daily Mail," though Turan is still listed as a member of GS on his Wikipedia page.

This would be quiet ironic for two reasons. The first is that there was an ugly incident involving soccer fans from another English team Leeds when they played in Istanbul in 2000. An argument broke out between fans for both teams and two Leeds fans were murdered. The fact that Turkish authorities were not able to convict anyone until just last year was actually given as a reason why Turkey shouldn't join the European Union, which ironically many Greek citizens now want out of. (Irony is perhaps my favorite word in the English language, so perhaps I allowed to overuse it!).

The other surprising item I came across is that former GS captain and legendary soccer player Hakan Sukur (b. 1971) who scored a record 228 goals in Turkish Premiere League is now a member of the Turkish Parliament in Ankara. Alas, he represents President Abdullah Gul's and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's conservative AK Party. I would have actually preferred to see him play for Fenerbahce (the main GS rival).

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Last 10 Films I've Seen

In order, and without commentary (it was hard enough to download the images, and it is getting veyr, very late here, but I will add a five-star scale with the films), the films are:

1. Tree of Life (2011. Dir. Terence Malick. With Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. *****)

2. Power and the Passion (1957. Dir. Stanley Kramer. With Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant and Sophia Loren. **1/2)

3. Advise and Consent (1962. Dir- Otto Preminger. With Henry Fonda. ***1/2).

4. The Third Page (1999. Turkey. Dir- Zeki Demirkubuz. ****).

5. 11 Harrowhouse (1974, Dir- Aram Avakian. W/Charles Grodin and Candace Bergen. **1/2).

6. Of Time and the City (2008. doc. Dir- Terence Davies. ***1/2).

7. The Beyond (1981. Italy. Dir- Lucio Fulci ***).

8. Masculine/Feminine (1966. France. Dir- Jean-Luc Godard. *****).

9. The Phatom Carriage (1921. Sweden. Dir- Victor Sjostrom. ****).

10. Eraserhead (1977. Dir-David Lynch. ***1/2).

Friday, July 1, 2011

Things We Learned on Twitter Today- Bush 'Executes' 253 People

Perhaps "The Onion" decided to tweet this faux story they ran back in 2000 because Illinois officially abolished the death penalty today, but we just loved the headline even though 'the story' is almost 11 years old:

"Bush executes 253 New Mexico Democrats"

"The Onion" is a satire newspaper/magazine which now has its own show on IFC. In the 2001 fake news article, the publication said George W. Bush ordered the execution of 253 Democrats in Las Cruces, N. Mex., so he could get the state's five electoral points away from Al Gore.

They even had this great faux quote from the ever-diabolical Karl Rove: "We express great sorrow for the families of the condemned."

We must admit that as much as we love "The Onion," they have gone over the line at times. I do think the 2009 faux story proclaiming that female Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson from Iowa had died after a fall from the uneven bars was in remarkable bad taste. And, the then-17-year-old gymnast said she strongly disapproved what "The Onion" did.

But, the 2000 classic faux story about the 'actions' of Bush is vintage "Onion" material. And, of course, Fox News runs stories which are just as ridicilous, but they pass them off as genuine news!

COMING ATTRACTIONS: Tommorow, I am hoping to finally post the last ten films I've seen. It is going to be quite a strange list indeed!