Friday, September 30, 2011

Quote of the Week- Jean Sibelius




Today's quote from the late, great Finnish composer Jean Sibelius; it concludes our series of quotes from Scandanavians:

"Pay no atteninon to a critic, no one has ever erected a statue of a critic."

Quote of the Day- Frederico Fellini




Here is our quote of the day which comes for the late, great Italian director of such films as "8 1/2" and "La Dolce Vita:"

"A good opening and a good ending make for a good film provided they come close together."

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Republican Humor- A Big Decision




Since I've decided to refrain from making political humor on Facebook in order to not trade barbs with life-long friends and Republicans, at least in the modern era, are such targets, I thought I would sock it to 'em here. And, there is my joke:


"Was thinking to myself today if I were on a desert island and all I was a 1970s black and white tv set with rabbitt ears and the only two channels I got were one with the Republican debate and one with a Three Stooges marathon, which one I would choose."

For the record, the next Republican debate will be held at Darthmouth College in Hanover, NH, on Oct. 11th at 8:00 p.m. The event will be televised and sponsored by Bloomberg News. Though I'm a fairly partisan Democrat, if I would choose from one of the 'Big Three' (Mitt Romney, who is pictured here, Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann), I would go with Romney. Though I agree with an assesment which I believe originated in "The Boston Phoenix" that he is about as authentic as a three-dollar bill!

As for The Three Stooges, the Independent Film Channel (IFC) has been showing their vintage 1950s shorts fairly often.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Virtual Postcard from South Carolina



At the moment, I am not actually in South Carolina, but I was over the weekend. This image, for those of you logging from Singapore today (and, yes, I saw someone from that city nation was checking us out!), this image is from the Peach water tower in Gaffney, SC, which motorists can see as they drive on the interstate.

There is an event called the South Carolina Peach Festival in Gaffney every year.

A strange thing happend when I was in Charlotte, NC, for a sidetrip. A panhandler with a walking stick who had just given me directions to a Starbucks (keep in mind, this was when the Carolina Panthers were playing a home football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a game which the Panthers won 16-10, and there were lots of folks flooding the downtown area) asked me for a dollar so 'he could buy a cup of coffee.'

Well, about five minutes later, I saw him at that same Starbucks with a cup of coffee. A part of me felt like I was scammed since coffee at Starbucks is more expensive than most places, but another part of me said: "Well, he said he wanted a cup of coffee."

SIDENOTE: I was actually going to take a week-long hiatus from the blog, but ultimately it is too much like going a long time without making fun of Republicans (especially Rick Perry, Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann) or some iced vanilla coffee from Starbucks. In short, all of us, to a degree, have our vices!

Speaking of Ron Paul, I gather the state of Montana has a substantially high number of UFO sightings, so perhaps he is on his way there as we speak to meet up with his fellow little green men.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Last Ten Films I've Seen





Before I discuss the last ten films I've seen (I actually drew the line at 10 p.m. on Monday and I've seen two other films since), I want to briefly make a few comments.

First of all, five of the films were made by acclaimed directors, including "Mother Kuster Goes to Heaven," "Sleeper" (pictured) and "Husbands.

And, I did see all five and a half hours of "Carlos" (image is of Carlos the Jackal) in virtually one sitting. It's an amzing film/mini-series about one of th emost reclusive terrorists the world has ever known.

George Butler who co-directed "Pumping Iron" (pictured) happens to share my alma mater, Hollins University in Roanoke, Va. (Yes, at the undergrad level it is a female school, but not at the grad school level).

Here is the list:

1. "The Omen" (1976. Dir-Richard Donner. w/Gregory Peck)

2. "Pumping Iron" (1977. documentary. Dirs-George Butler and Robert Fiore.

3. "One Day" (2011. Dir-Lone Scherfig. w/Anne Hathaway)

4. "The Savages" (2007. Dir-Tamara Jenkins. w/Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman)

5. "Husbands" (1970. Dir- John Casavetes. w/Casavetes, Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara)

6. "Sleeper" (1973. Dir- Woody Allen. w/Allen and Diane Keaton)

7. "Mother Kuster Goes to Heaven. (Germany. 1975. Dir- Rainer Werner Fassbinder)

8. "Electra, My Love" (Hungary. 1974. Dir-Miklos Jancso)

9. "The Upsetter" (documentary. 2008. Dirs-Ethan Higbee and Adar Bhula Lagh)

10. "Carlos" (France. 2010. Dir-Olivier Assayas)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

PSA- I Need a Job




For starters,I must profess huge admiration for my friend and fellow blogger Chris Knight who went public with a personal issue that was afflicting his life several months ago.

Though I have made scathing satirical indictments from people as politically diverse as Nancy Pelosi and Michele Bachmann (full disclosure: we have made more fun of Bachmann), I have been hesitant to discuss my own personal life too much on either of my two blogs.

But, alas, I did lose my teaching job recently, and I am eager to find new opportunities elsewhere. Though my three states of preference for work are North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland, I will consider looking into employment possibilities regardless if it is in Alaska or Brazil.

The three main areas where I am seeking employment are education, as I specialize in teaching developmental English and English as a Second Language (ESL), journalism and translation work as I am 90 percent fluent in Turkish.

If anyone knows of any such opportunites, then feel free to email me at
tango74@aol.com;I am also working to have my resume posted on LinkedIn as well as career-oriented sites, such as highered.com.

For those with a similar predicament, WUNC-FM (91.5 FM-Chapel Hill), the NPR station serving about 40-50 percent of North Carolina, has a show called "The State of Things" hosted by Frank Stasio. Though I was not able to listen to the show myself, yesterday Stasio interviewed state employment experts to discuss ways that people can find in the Tarheel State.

On a ligther note, I chose to go with an image of the classic Leo Tolstoy novel "War and Peace" because if I had time to read the massive circa 880-page epic, well it would be now!

We now resume our regular program schedule.

SIDEBAR: I wanted to update those of you who read the Spartak Moscow entry on here last week. In weekend play, Spartak Moscow defeated Samara 3-0 in what was a farewell game for Andrei Tikhonov, who has been an icon amongst the Spartak Moscow fandom. Samara, which sits on the Volga River, is the sixth largest city in Russia.

And, the Swedish team IFK Goteborg tied cross-town rivals BK Hacken 2-2 today with the two goals for IFK coming from Swedish player Stefan Selakovic. IFK Goteborg is the next team I hope to profile in this blog's on-going soccer team series.



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Top Ten Countries Which Have Viewed Us




Since Russia is one of the top ten countries that have viewed our blog (Yes, we were surprised as well) and I still love dated Cold War humor, I figured that we would use Misha or Misha the Bear with this entry. (In the whoops department, we did spell the bear's name Mishka in some earlier entries!)

For those of who grew up on "American Idol" and "The Gilmore Girls," Misha was the mascot of the 1980 Moscow Olympics, which were boycotted by the United States and many European countries, for the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan.

Here are the top ten countries in order of hits; it should be pointed out that Brazil, which also has over 1,000 hits was in our top ten until India past them a few days ago:

1. USA 77,595

2. UK 12,828

3. Canada 10,604

4. Germany 5,633

5. Australia 4,947

6. Italy 1,536

7. Turkey 1,470

8. Russia 1,197

9. Netherlands 1,097

10. India 1,023

SIDEBAR: We read this short piece in "Wired" magazine which really surprised us. Apparently, back in 1972, Jerry Lewis, made a film called "The Day the Clown Cried." There is a valid reason why few of you have heard of this film and why probably none of you have ever seen it. The film is about a clown is inadvertently recruited to gather Jewish children up in Nazi Germany. According to the IMDB, Lewis has the only copy of the film in a vault and he refuses to have the unreleased/uncompleted film seen by anyone.

Has It Been Six Years Already?



It was on Sept. 21, 2005, when I posted my first blog entry. It was a simple mini-bio talking about how I grew up in Roanoke,Va., my late father was an immigrant from Turkey, and that I had just seen "The Empire Strikes Back" for the 93rd (whoops! I got my blog mixed with good friend Chris Knight's blog "The Knight Shift;" I've only seen the second Star Wars film twice).

Alas, many of my blogger friends have either discontinued or gone on a long hiatus. But, since I saw that there have been people reading this blog and my other blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time" from places like Iran, Sri Lanka, the Czech Republic and Israel this week alone, it has certainly been a well worth-while experience.

Although, I am fully aware that I could have written a novel as long as Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace" in the amount of time I've spent composing nearly 3,000 entries on two blogs. But, then again, that classic Russian novel has not been checked out of my local library since 2003!

SIDEBAR: Playmakers Rep Theatre in Chapel Hill, NC, is on the verge of their latest stagest production "In the Next Room" by acclaimed playwright Sarah Ruhl, starting tonight. The production will end on Oct. 9. The 2010 Tony Award nominee has an interesting presmise: it is about a new medical device that was designed in the late 1800s to curb 'female hysteria.' That device was a vibrator. And, that will probably get us banned in Iran.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Quote of the Day- Henrik Ibsen




Today's Quote of the Day, not to be confused with our Quote of the Week (yes, they are basically the same thing) comes from the great Norwegian playwright of yesterday Henrik Ibsen; a production of one of his most-famous plays "A Doll's House" will be produced by Triad Stage in Greensboro, NC, in October:

"A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm."

On our other blog, we used this Ibsen quote last month, which seems appropriate given that the state of Georgia may very well execute Troy Davis, a man who may well be not guilty of murder by week's end, especially for those of us who are ardent, vocal opponents of the death penalty:

"A minority may be right, and a majority is always wrong."

Quote of the Week- Werner Herzog




Today, we quip the legendary German film director Werner Herzog, who has directed such features as "Aguirre: The Wrath of God" (1972) and "Fitzcarraldo" (1982) with his late collaborator and frenemy Klaus Kinksi. Documentary film director Les Blank, whom I am a huge fan of, captured the tension between the two in his film "Burden of Dreams." Herzog's own latest film "Cave of Forgotten Dreams," which happens to be a documentary," is now presumably available on dvd in the USA.

This quote comes from Herzog's earlier doc "Grizzly Man" (2005) which was in the top ten of contemporary docs to see 'before you die' in a recent Current TV show hosted by documentarian and social commentator Morgan Spurlock of "Supersize Me" fame.

Here is the quote:

"I believe the common denominator of the Universe is not harmony, but chaos, hostility, and murder."

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sports Desk- North Carolina High School Game Goes Bonkers




While we were watching WFMY-2 (CBS-Greensboro,NC) the other night, my eyeballs literally popped out of my sockets as if I were a Tex Avery cartoon character as Mount Tabor High School from Winston-Salem, NC, defeated Carver High School by an 87-52 score in high school football. Yes, initially, I thought it had a be abasketball score too. To put in perspective, that means the two schools combined for 19 touchdowns and three field goals!

Two of our other favorite schools in the Greensboro region won easily as Ragsdale High School (Jamestown, NC) beat Parkland 56-7. Conversely, Rockingham County School (Wentworth,NC) trumped McMichaal 44-6 in a home game.

Here are some other scores from the Greensboro/Winston-Salem region:

Western Alamance 48 Morehead 13
Chapel Hill 17 Cedar Ridge 0
Dudley 30 Ben L. Smith 23
Reynolds 18 Northern Forsyth 15
Page 28 Western Guilford 0
High Point-Andrews 25 Southwestern Guilford 0
Eastern Forsyth 21 High Point Central 20
Western Stokes 17 Mount Airy 0
Reidsville 22 Barton Yancey 0

SIDEBAR: Since there are five women's volleyball players from Turkey, my late father's country, in the ACC this year, we plan on keeping tabs on the sport.

Those young women include Cagla Sen from Boston College, Serenat Yaz and Cansu Ozdemir of Clemson, and Duygu Duzceler and Fatma Yildirim for Florida State.

It was a very succesful weekend for both the Clemson Tigers and the Florida State Seminoles.

The Tigers swept two matches from Georgia Tech, while the FSU Seminoles won a straight-set victory over Miami (Fla) which puts them back in the top 25 at number
23.

Here in North Carolina, Wake Forest pulled off a home upset over visiting Duke 3 sets to 1. For Wake Forest, Kadja Fornah and Carlin Salmon hit 23 kills while Amanda Robertson of Duke, a senior from Roxboro, NC, scored a season-high 17 kills.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Things We Learned on Google Today- Polish Goalie Ruled in Russian Soccer





We first asked Google what was the most popular soccer team in Moscow, and we realized there were two popular teams in the Russian capital: Dynamo Moscow and Spartak Moscow. And, we have been confused ever since.

But, we decided to focus on Spartak Moscow, a team that plays a road game against PFK Kryliya Sovetov in Samara, Russia, tomorrow.

We then asked Google who was the best player in the team's history, and we are not entirely sure this is the right answer, but we got "Wojciech Kowaleski." I was thinking: "Hey, this guy is Polish. Russians and Poles hate each other's guts, don't they?"

Kowaleski, 34, know plays for the Greek Cypriot soccer team Anorthosis Famagusta, which actually plays in Larnaca since Famagusta is in Turkish Cyprus (I went there in 1991). If you want to know why the island is split, you will need to ask Google about what exactly happened in 1974, but we aren't getting into that here (especially since I'm half-Turkish).

The Polish goalie played for Spartak Moscow from 2003-07, and he has been the goalie of the Polish national team.

As for the team, Spartak Moscow won 12 Soviet Championships, second only to the Ukrainian team Dyanmo Kiev, which now plays in the Ukrainian Premiere League. Spartak Moscow last won the Russian Cup in 2003. And, the team reached to the 1990 UEFA semi-finals before losing to Marseille (France) 2-1.

We were surprised to see that Aiden McGeady, an Irish soccer star, plays for Spartak Moscow. Conversely, Luke Wilshire, from New Zealand, plays for Dynamo Moscow.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bonus Road Trip- Hawaii (2 of 10)





Today, in our latest installment of road trips around the United States, we head to the island of Oahu in Hawaii for what is likely to be our shortest road trip.

Even though Hawaii is not one of the eight states I've never been to (not sure if this includes Michigan as I have been to the Detroit Airport to change planes), it is not a state that comes up very often. Though, Sarah Vowell, one of our favorite authors, has a relatively new book about how the Aloha State came to be one of the
50 states, even though Athens, Greece, is actually closer to Washington, DC, than Honolulu.

And, we go to Honolulu, which is home to the Pyramid Restaurant, an establishment serving Middle Eastern food, for our first destination. The Pyramid is located on Kapahulu Avenue.

For our next city on Oahu, we go to the KOA Pancake House (one of seven in the island-wide chain) on California Avenue in Wahiawa, which has a population of 16,000 folks.

Hawaii is, of course, known for other things besides the music of lounge singer Don Ho (1930-2007) whose biggest hit was "Tiny Bubble" in 1966 and pineapple, but we only have so much time!

So, our question today is just far apart are Honolulu and Wahiawa_ yes, you can get there from car!

Is the answer:

A) 32 minutes

B) 35 minutes

C) 38 minutes

D) 41 minutes

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Greensboro vs. Roanoke- Battle of the Sandwiches (5 of 6)





For starters, I want to thank everyone in Russia, where we are surprisingly popular, for coming to this blog. I was also pleased to see that we have had hits from Poland, Iraq and Germany today.

Of course, my hometown of Roanoke, Va., and my adopted city of Greensboro, NC, which are about 110 miles from each other are a long way from Baghdad, Moscow and Warsaw. Nevertheless, we continue with this 'highly controversial' series (there are people in both zip codes who may see my as a double agent) with a look at two famous beer and sandwich joints.

Natty Greene's Pub and Brewing Company, with locations in downtown Greensboro and Raleigh, was started by two former UNC-Greensboro classmates as Chris Lester and Kayne Fisher wanted to start their own brewing company. In 1996, they established the brewing business. And, in 2004, they opened the first of the two restaurants in the Hamburger Square section of Greensboro.

Last year, a second restaurant in Raleigh was opened.

The establishment offers burgers, such as The Ole Standby, The Cali and (of course) The Carolina while they have sandwiches, such as the Big Dawg and the Elm Street Philly. But, they are best known for their beer!

Macado's, not to be confused with Macadoo's Grille in Valdosta, Ga.,(with an extra O in their name) has 17 locations, including restaurants in Charlotte, NC, Beckley, WVa, and Bristol, Tenn. But, 10 of the 17 currently open restaurants (a new one is opening in Harrisonburg soon) are in Virginia. And, six of those establishments are in the Roanoke/New River Valley area.

Macado's is known for their great sandwiches with catchy pop culture names like The Honeymooners, The Bonnie and Clyde, The Hidenberger and the Boo Boo Boomer.

One of the problem with choosing which one is my preferance is that it will inevitably make the other one mad. And, it just so happens that Macado's is reportedly owned by an Armenian-American family (I am half-Turkish!), which really puts me in the pickle jar, no pun intended.

But, I will go with what my friend Ginger (pse) who has eaten at the Natty Greene's in Greensboro and several of the Macado's in Roanoke, and she prefers Natty Greene's!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Quote of the Day- Bjork





As we are quoting famous Scandanavians this month, we head to Iceland which congures up images of volcanoes, lakes and geysers. And, their famous export, besides bottled water, in the modern era has to be the iconic, irreverant pop/rock/experimental singer, performer and actress Bjork who started off with the band The Sugarcubes.

So, naturally, her quote here is going to illustrate her outspokenness-I am that is a word in the Webster's dictionary:

"Compared to American or Europe, God isn't a big part of lives here. I don't know anyone who goes to church when he's had a rough divorce or going through depression. We go into nature instead."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Quote of the Week-Woody Allen



For the first time in the six years that I've been blogging (it seems like some of my pals have given up, and I fully understand why!), I checked my stats. And, it seems like more people are reading this blog than ever.

Though, my most succesful entry, in terms of hits, came from my "Happy Mother's Day from Godzilla" entry back in May. It had 174 hits! Hmmm....perhaps, we need to mention Godzilla more often.

Today's quote of the week comes from Woody Allen. The focus for this month's quotes are from film directors, and it seems given that the tenth anniversary of Sept. 11th has just passed to go with a New Yorker, though many of his most recent films, including the latest "Midnight in Paris," have been filmed in Europe.

Here is Woody Allen's quip:

"His lack of education is more than comepnsated for by his keenly developed moral bankruptcy."

SIDEBAR: Is possum stew, skunk and potatoes or baked racoon with apples your idea of good cuisine? Well, it isn't mine either. But, if it is, then you may want to head up Marlinton, WV, where they are hosting the "West Virginia Roadkill and Autumn Harvest Festival," which learned about through "Mental Floss" magazine.

Marlinton is in Pocahontas County, which borders Highland County in Virginia, which is known for its annual maple festival.

If you happen to attend the road kill fest, let me know what the food is like. This reminds that it is perhaps possible to eat every kind of animal that can be asociated with a Looney Tunes character as Pepe Le Pew is a skunk. But, I surely hope Speedy Gonzales is the exception!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sports Desk_ More Info on Tennis and Futbol




While the ceremonies at Ground Zero, The Pentagon, and Pennsylvania were making headlines this weekend, there were also lots of things going on in the sports world.
Alas, due to space constriants, we can only talk about tennis and soccer.

Let's begin with the U.S. Open women's tennis final where Samantha Stosur, 27, from Gold Coast, Australia, (pictured above) became the first Aussie woman to win the tournament since 1973: 6-2; 6-3.

In the process, she was able to win over favorite and crowd favorite Serena Williams, 29, who has 27 grand slam titles, including doubles, to her credit.

In the quarterfinals, Williams had defeated one of my favorite players, Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (I love people with long, difficult surnames since I have one myself). But, the 20-year-old should be moving up from her current number 16 ranking after her stellar play in New York.

In the soccer universe, we start in Italy where Juventus beat Parma 4-1 at home in a game that was mentioned a few entries ago. Two of the four Juventus goals game from Italian stars Simon Pepe and Claudio Marchisio.

In England, in a game that was nationally televised in America, Chelsea beat Sunderland 2-1 with goals from John Terry and Daniel Sturridge.

I was under the impression that play in the Turkish Premiere League would be delayed due to a match-fixing scandal, but the league started action over the weekend. Yesterday, my favorite Turkish team (well along with GalataSaray) Bursaspor won a home game over Kayserispor 3-0, in Bursa, with goals from Turkish star Ozan Ipek as well as Gokcek Vederson (who is half-Turkish and half-Brazilian!) and Argentine Pablo Battalla.

Here in the United States, in MLS play, D.C. United traveled from the nation's capital to Los Angeles over the weekend where they beat Chivas USA 3-0. All three goals were scored by Charlie Davies (pictured here).

Now, back to the regular news....

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Later- September 11th (Part 2 of 2)




The scope of what happened ten years ago is quite garganutuan in nature, and there is no conceivable way to cover all the victims of Sept. 11th, not in "The New York Times," not in "The Washington Post," and certainly not on this blog.

One story I wanted to cover was one of the El Salvadoran immigrants who were working at The Window of the Worlds Cafe in the North Tower. By percentage of its population, El Salvador had the highest casualty rate from the September 11th attacks.

At the time, I also read a moving story about a Pakistani immigrant firefigther who was working for the FCDY, who went into the remnants of the Twin Towers to help save lives. He talked about how he was so unsettled at the thought a member of his Muslim faith had performed this heinous action as an act of faith that he was almost unable to concentrate effectively and do his job. In total, 343 firefighters died on Sept. 11th, and many more died from lung disease in the ensuing years due to the smoke inhalation at Ground Zero.

But, in addition to the story of Mari-Rae Soppard, who was going to be the women's gymnastics coach at UC-Santa Barbara which we covered on Friday on our other blog (www.politicscultureandotherwastesoft.blogspot.com), we are going to discuss three of the victims of 9-11 here.

Donald Greene was 52 when he died on September 11th. He was traveling on Flight 97 which crashed in Shanksille, Pa., and later became the basis for a critically-accalimed film "Uinted 97." Greene was a resident of Grenwich, Conn., and he left behind a wife and two children.

According to one memorial site, Greene emphaisized eating together as a family every night, and he coached children's soccer in his spare time.

His sister Terry Anne Greene of Massachussetts is an active member of the group September 11th Families for a Peaceful Tomorrow, and he spoke against a state bill in 2007 that would have reinstated the death penalty in Massachussetts.

Zuhtu Ibis, of Clifton, NJ, was 25 when he died as a result of the attacks on the Twin Towers. Ibis, an immigrant from the Turkish village of Sari Yaprak (which means yellow leaf) near the central Anatolian city of Yozgat, was working on the 103rd floor that day. His death was widely covered in the Turkish media.

His brother Mehmet Ibis was also a New Jersey resident and he tried desperately to find his brother. As a result of feeling overwhelmed from the day's events, Mehmet parked his car outside the Hoboken train station which stood in clear view of Ground Zero. In the process, Mehmet fell asleep. Some police officers knocked on his window as they questioned what he was doing. When it was realized that he was a Turkish person, the FBI and search dogs came in, and Mehmet was even arrested. The police officers, to their credit, apologized for the incident, but in a 2006 interview Mehmet Ibis said he was still angry about the way he had been treated.

Stephen Mulderry, 33, an equity trader, worked 14 floors beneath Zuhtu Ibis on the
89th floor of the World Trade Center. He would say goodbye to his family along with 30 co-workers in a conference call. One friend left the following message regarding Mulderry on a victims memorial page: "Will be thinking about you on Sunday. The world misses your smile."

Anne Mulderry told the public program "Interfaith Voices" that her Catholic faith has help guide her through the loss of her son. His mother also told his hometown newspaper "The Times-Union" in Albany, NY, that Stephen had just completed a deck over Labor Day where the whole family had gathered to spend the holiday weekend together.

Mulderry, who had since become a resident of New York City, was also the co-captain of his college basketball team at The University of Albany.

PERSONAL NOTE: Both part of this series and the conclusion of my two-part series on Amanda Rigg, a 22-year-old Australian tourist, who was killed during the Sept. 10, 2001, bombing in Istanbul, Tukey, by far-left militants that killed three people, are on my sister blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time" (www.politicscultureandotherwastesoft.blogspot.com).


Friday, September 9, 2011

Ten Years Later- Remembering the Australian Tourist (Part One of Two)



"She died alone and all her family got was a letter" was the headline of a story that ran in the Aug. 7, 2007, edition of "The Brisbane Times," which had published a "Sydney Morning News" story from that day about Amanda Rigg.

I had never met Rigg, who was a 22-year-old Australian tourist traveling in Istanbul. But, we walked down the same street in the busy Taksim district of Istanbul near a Chinese restaurant on Sept. 10, 2001, some 10-15 minutes apart.

I was in my since-deceased aunt's apartment that we heard the blast around 5:00 p.m. At the time, we were packing to go Buyukada, an island off the coast of Istanbul. The blast would turn out to be from a suicide bomber, though we weren't entirely positive of that at the time. In fact, I had read in a Turkish newspaper the next day, a mere 20 minutes before I found out about the Twin Towers, that the suicide bomber was a woman. While researching this piece, I found out that the bomber was actually a man named Ugur Bumbul.

Bumbul died in the blast as did two Turkish police officers whom I had seen alive just a quarter-hour before their untimely, unexpected deaths.

Rigg turned out to be the third victim of the blast, but she did not die on the moment of impact. She had lost one of her arms, and she went to a hospital. I would not know of Rigg's death which happened a few days after Sept. 10th until a shopkeeper in ther resort town of Kusadasi, some seven hours south of Istanbul, informed me of the tragic news.

Long before arriving in Turkey, we had planned to go to Kusadasi. And even in the nice tranquil Aegean beaches of Kusadasi, it was hard not to think about what happened and then what happened next.

PERSONAL NOTE: This is the end of Part One. For the sake of the privacy of my family members and brevity, some personal details, such as the fact that we were at a bank before going to my aunt's apartment, were not included.

Tomorrow, I hope to post information about the struggles that Rigg's family faced in Australia in the aftermath of the Sept. 10th Istanbul bomb blast through Internet research.

Initially, this was planned to be a three-part series, but I've decided to shorten it to two simpler entries.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Things We Learned on Google Today- Juventus FC's Star Player Is...





While researching this piece which is continuing to look at famous soccer teams from around the globe, we learned that current Juventus FC star Alessandro Del Piero, 36, holds the team record for most appearances in a team uniform at 635 and team goals scored at 281. Del Pietro is also the team's captain. Juventus FC will face rival Parma on Sept. 11th.

The Italian powerhouse Juventus FC plays its home games in Turin, and the team has a new stadium which is one of the main subjects of discussion amongst European soccer fans.

Del Pietro's teammates include fellow Italians Simone Pepe and Fabio Grosso as well as Serbian star soccer player Milos Krasic.

But, Del Pietro will have to continue playing for five more years to be the oldest player ever to wear a Juventus FC uniform. That distinction belongs to goalie legend Dina Zoff who played until age 41 when he retired from soccer in 1983. Zoff was also the oldest player ever to captain a World Cup-winning team. When he was 40, he tended goal for the 1982 Italian team which won it all in Spain.

Juventus FC won the UEFA Champions League by defeating Ajax Amsterdam in 1996.

SIDEBAR: Starting tomorrow, I will start a three part series on an Australian tourist named Amanda Rigg, who was killed as a result of a suicide bombing by far-left terrorists in Istanbul, Turkey, on Sept. 10, 2001. I happened to walk on the exact same street that she did on that fateful afternoon, which was alas sadly forgotten because of the even more horrific events of the next day.

The series will also discuss my feelings about being so close to one terrorist act as another one happened in my home country the very next day.

SIDEBAR TWO: They were finally able to play tennis today at the U.S. Open in New York. We had mentioned Russian up and comer Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who has perhaps the longest surname in the tennis world. Today, she lost to Serena Williams. But, we wish her well in her seemingly very promising career.



Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Last 10 Films I've Seen_ Project Nim Stands Out




Here are the last ten films I've seen; I will write a brief commentary on some of the films after they have been listed:

1. "The Tillman Story (doc. 2010. Dir-Amir Bar-Lev)

2. *Project Nim (doc. 2011. Dir- James Marsh)

3. *The Guard (Ireland. 2011. Dir-John Michael McDonagh)

4. Man Push Cart (2005. Dir- Ramin Bahrani)

5. The Stoning of Soraya M. (2008. With Farsi subtitles. Dir-Cyrus Nowrasteh)

6. Days and Nights (Egypt. 1955. Dir-Henry Barakat)

7. Benny's Video (Austria. 1992. Dir- Michael Haneke)

8. * Another Earth (2011. Dir- Mike Cahill)

9. #% Summer Love/O Da Beni Seviyor (Turkey. 2001. Dir- Baris Pirhasan)

10. Bhutto (doc. 2010. Dir-Duane Baughman)

*-Films I saw at a cinema

#-Previously viewed film

%- Not released in the United States

Many of the films I saw dealt with the Middle East or Central Asia in one form or another.

One of the exceptions is film number two "Project Nim," yet another amazing documentary from the director of "Man on Wire." Like his last film, this one also deals with radical risks and the obstacles they pose for those who undertake them. In this case, those risk-takers are a group of people, as opposed to one man in particular, as the film examines the reasons why many people tried to humanize a chimp named Nim and the results which ensued.

The fifth film "The Stoning of Soraya M." is an American movie by a right-wing director who had helmed the highly controversial "Path to 9-11" tv docudrama. This time he surprisngly takes on human rights and female oppression, two subjects that have been usually involved liberal filmmakers. Though no one would argue that the stoning executions of women in Iran for alleged infidelities are ever justified irregardless if the woman engaged in such affairs or not, the film felt very much like a '70s Turkish melodrama with a forced script and considerable over-acting. Nonetheless, since the film has a 7.9 rating on the IMDB, it apparently has its fans.

"Benny's Video" is yet another wonderful and disturbing film by Michael Haneke, which was the director's second film. Like both versions of "Funny Games," this film explores how fake violence on tv and in film can influence young people towards dasterdly deeds.

"Summer Love" has its production flaws, as is common in Turkish cinema, but it is a moving coming of age story with brilliant cinematography and tremendous acting by its young cast. And, unlike most films from my late father's country, this one actually has a happy ending!

Quote of the Day- Ingmar Bergman




This month, we are featuring quotes from famous film directors and Scandanavians, and perhaps it is fitting that we begin wtih the late, iconic Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman ("The Seventh Seal, "Persona," "Fanny and Alexander").

Here is the quote:

"I am so 100 percent Swedish....Someone has said a Swede is like a bottle of ketchup_ nothing and nothing and then everything at once_splat! I think I'm like that."

For more information on the famed director, we suggest that you read about Bergman in the Australian web journal "Senses of Cinema" (sensesofcinema.org). I was going to try to write a selection on the American film director Stanley Kramer ("Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?") for them, but I never got around to it.

SIDEBAR: We love people with long, difficult names, so we were delighted to watch Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova,20, (we checked the spelling of her name four times!) advance in the U.S Open tennis tournament by defeating Francesca Schiavone, another person with a tricky name, over the Labor Day weekend.

Alas, for the young Russian tennis star mother nature is preventing her next match with American superstar Serena Williams as rain forced postponements of matches in New York for a second misreable day in a row.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Backpackers Are Beside BestBuy (entry 6 of 6)




NOTE: This is the final entry in the series. The odd-numbered ones can be found at Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time (www.politicscultureandotherwastesoft.com)

Tuesday, August 16, had been a dreadful day though it was less hot than it had been in the days and weeks prior to it, if my recollection is accurate on that.

But, as evening struck, I was ready to take a photograph of the seventh and final sculpture in the public art displays as part of Art in Roanoke's civic campaign.

That seventh sculpture was "The Happy Wanderers" (pictured here, but obviously not in its present location) by Floyd County artist Charlie Brouwer, who was an art professor at my alma mater Radford University for 21 years. The sculpture was located near BestBuy at Valley View Mall. It consists of two backpackers, one is a man and the other is a young child (yes, it is the reason for the name of this series).

According to the Art in Roanoke web site, Brouwer was inspired by a hike he took with his 3-year-old grandson. He has made similar sculptures, including "The Pursuit of Happiness" that depicts a man carrying what appears to be a birdhouse. Brouwer has also made "Together," conveying what appears to be a mother holding her infant daughter.

"The Happy Wanderers" is made from locust wood, screws and preservative staining.

I knew the piece was near Valley View Mall, which is arguably the most congested part of Roanoke, Va., a city that has somehow not changed population in fifty years. In fact, an article in "The Roanoker" magazine said the city had just gained 68 people from the 1960 U.S. Census Report. Those 68 people are probably all working at Valley View Mall, which was built circa 1985.

At first, I expected that I would see the sculpture from the road. After all, it seemed improbable that one could not see a wooden sculpture, even if SUVS or Humvees were tail-gating one's bumper. But, that wasn't the case.

So, I went into Dick's Sporting Goods Store, and an employee said these words: "The backpackers are beside BestBuy." In all actuality, they are between Target and BestBuy, but it was those directions which eventually lead me to the sculpture. Though I had to circle the parking lot of the adjoining mega-stores to find it.

"The Happy Wanderers" is a nice sculpture, but of the seven, it seems to be the one that is the most misplaced. But, I can imagine the folks at Art in Roanoke had a difficult time finding a place suitable for it given that it seems to be a piece that would go better with a rural landscape.

Amazingly enough, even though Roanoke has not grown much in population, there seem to be very few open spaes left in the city. But, there are several eye-sores and vacant buildings as is seemingly the case just about everywhere else in the region.

SIDEBAR: The answer to last week's quiz about the distance between Murphy and Manteo, NC, two cities in the same state which are actually worlds apart is
d) 9 hours, 25 minutes.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Backpackers Are Beside BestBuy (entry 4 of 6)





We had great difficulties finding an image of "In Flux" by All Creations, which consists of two Wyoming artists Matt Rink and Bland Hoke, so we also went with this image of a big black dog, since the public art display is located behind Black Dog Salvage off Memorial Avenue in Roanoke, Va.

The fourth image of Art in Roanoke that I photographed is also the hardest one to find as there is a sharp curve behind the Black Dog Salvage antiques store which leads to Vic Thomas Park where "In Flux" is located. The turn comes right after one passes Memorial Bridge, and if you literally blink you will miss it.

The artists state that their mission is to: "Try to make constantly evolving work that adapts to a landscape."

"In Flux" is perhaps the most complicated of the seven sculptures, and it is one that makes the passerby study and scrutinize it more closely than some of the other pieces.

SIDEBAR: We are happy to report that DJ Cigdem Arca is returning to WUVT (90.7 FM-Blacksburg, Va.) with "The Turkish Music Hour," from 1:00-2:30 p.m. on Saturdays this fall. WUVT-FM is the student-run college radio station of Virginia Tech. The station also airs "The Greek Show" from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturdays.

Thanks to "The Turkish Music Hour," I have become more aware of contemporary pop singers like Nil Karaibrahimgil which is quite refreshing given that the likes of Sezen Aksu ( who has been called The Turkish Madonna) and Tarkan, the internationally-known singer who has dominated Turkish pop for well over a decade.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Backpackers Are Beside BestBuy- Entry 2




Actually, this entry was supposed to be on "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time," our sister blog, but we got mixed up. Perhaps because we are posting this blog from a local library where there are all sorts of distractions; I'm sooooo glad I don't have kids! (Entry One in this series is on that other blog)

At any rate, I left off the first entry in downtown Roanoke where I had taken several snapshots of "Connect," the second of the seven art pieces from Art in Roanoke, that I had photographed.

My next destination was to go to Williamson Road to rediscover "Starburst" by Greeley, Pa., artist Tom Holmes. The piece is one of the easiest to find around town as it is located beside the Williamson Road Library.

There was a bit of annoying traffic on Williamson Road, which is known for being a place where teenage boys and girls cruise in search of potential members of the opposite gender. It is sort of like the Discovery Channel in that aspect, I suppose.

According to the "Art in Roanoke" web site, Holmes likes to make his work unique to its environment, and the sculpture is made out of wood.

I noticed that the landromat across the street from the library was filled with patrons. If I were an intrusive professional photographer, I would've seized the opportunity as if I were a crocodile pursuing a zebra in the jungles of Zimbabwe. But, I simply had other things to do.


SIDEBAR: Only in America, will one see a liberal blogger plugging a gun show, and that is the case here. The VFW 115 Flea Market and Gun Show in Hillsville, Va., is somehow the largest event taking place in Virginia on Labor Day weekend even though Hillsville is in southwest Virginia, far away from the DC and Richmond-metro areas.

But, the event draws 500,000 visitors into Carroll County from Friday until Monday. The Town of Hillsville is strongly advising those interested to come early.

I should add that there are many great antiques (full dsclosure: it is the family business) at the flea market.

Those coming in from Roanoke and points east should know there is also a Virginia Tech football game against Appalachian State in Blacksburg, which will likely bottleknock traffic from Salem to Christiansburg en route to Hillsville. The game starts at 12:30 p.m.