Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Silly Picture to Fill Space- A Costa Rican Frog

Yes, since Costa Rica is one of my top countries to seek political asylum in should Mitt Romney become president of the United States, and today is Leap Day, I thought a photo of a Costa Rican frog was in order.

When I went on a cruise to The Bahamas last month, our version of "The Love Boat" captain told us when the sun would set each day.

So, with that it mind and given that the sun has already set in places like Eskisehir, Turkey, as of this posting (it is 1:00 p.m. on the U.S East coast, so I presume it is either 19:00 or 20:00 in Turkey), I will include sunset times for various American cities, some are suburbs while others are college towns, and we have included both Fairfax, Va., and Fairbanks, Alaska, to be cheeky.

Sorry to our Canadian followers, we are snubbing you today, but we hope to post the sunset for Calgary, Alberta, one day real soon.

Here are the sunset times for the following eight American towns, cities and 'burbs (all times are local times); the earliest sunset is for the Chicago suburb of Skokie, Ill., and the latest, as one might expect, is for Honolulu, Hawaii:

Fairfax, Va. 6:01 p.m.

Akron, Ohio 6:16 p.m.

Skokie, Ill. 5:40 p.m.

Boulder, Colo. 5:52 p.m.

Tempe, Ariz. 6:24 p.m.

Palo Alto, Calif. 6:02 p.m.

Fairbanks, Alaska 6:06 p.m.

Honolulu, Hawaii 6:35 p.m.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sports Desk- GalataSaray 3 Besiktash 2

The Swedish national player Johan Elmander is our poster boy for the day as he kicked in two goals in the 15th and 91st minutes respectively to help Istanbul powerhouse win a crucial home game over arch rival from the other side of the Bosporus with a 3-2 win over Besiktash on Sunday.

Felipe Melo, a Brazilian national, also scored for the yellow and red in the 52 minute.

For the Besiktash (BJK) side Turkish national Ibrahim Toraman scored in the 49th minute. BJK was also helped by an own-goal from GalataSaray's Semih Kaya in the 73rd minute which assuredly horrified the fans at Ali Sam Yen Stadium. Toraman's old team Sivasspor fared slightly better as they came away with a 3-3 over Ankara Genclerbirligi, one of two cities representing the capital city in the league. Their rival Ankaragucu fell to Karabukspor 3-2.

Even without the GS-BJK game, it was a huge weekend in Turkish Premiere League play as two major upsets occurred.

Eskisehir upset Fenerbahce, the third Istanbul powerhouse Fenerbahce 2-1 with goals from Bulent Ertugul (31st minute) and French-Senegalese player DiOmansy Kamara (55). Ironically, the Senegalese star player Moussa sow scored for FB in the team's lone goal during the 75th minute of play.

In spite of a goal from the star Turkish-German player Halil Altintop (his twin brother Hamid Altintop plays for Real Madrid, both players play for Turkey) in the 60th minute, Trabzonspor fell to Mersin Idmanyurdu 3-2. Olcan Aydin scored the other goal for Trabzonspor, while two goals from Mert Nobre and one goal from Hasan Ucuncu helped the team from Mersin pull the upset. Coming into the game, Trabzonspor, a team that is also competing in the UEFA Champions League, wasin fifth and Idmanyurdu was in 11th place in league standings.

Our beloved Crocodiles from BursaSpor won 3-0 over Samsunspor with goals from the popular Argentinian player Pablo Battalla (14th minute) as well as Musa Cagiran (68the min.) and Turgay Bahadir (88th min.).

Gaziantep scored a 2-0 win over Manisa with goals from Muhammet Demir and Cenk Tosun; while Orduspor beat Kayseri 1-0 on a goal from Yalcin Ayhan.

Here are the complete results:

Eskisehirspor 2 Fenerbahce 1
Orduspor 1 Kayseri 0
Karabukspor 3 Ankaragucu 2
Gaziantep 2 Manisa 0
Bursaspor 3 Samsunspor 0

Anakara Genclerbirligi 3 Sivasspor 3, tie
Istanbul BB 4 Antalyaspor 0
Idman Yurdu (Mersin) 3 Trabzonspor 2
GalataSaray 3 BJK 2

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Rabbit Ear Test_ (7 out of 12) "Ask Gemisi/The Love Boat""

Yes, as a supposedly high-brow film snob, I should probably be moaning over how unjust it is that "The Artist" won the Best Picture Oscar last night as opposed to the four much-better films, "The Tree of Life," "Midnight in Paris," "The Descendants" and "Hugo."

But, as it is, we are going to stay focused on "The Love Boat," which a silly, though at times entertaining hour-long comedy which would feature cameos of sitcom stars of the time, such as the late John Ritter ("Three's Company") and Sherman Hemsley ("The Jeffersons") though according to Google the kitschy Latin singer Charo had the most number of guest appearances.

Tonight, we are asking about a regular cast member though.

As Gopher, Fred Grandy who try to make for chuckles, but then Grandy decided to run for Congress as a Republican in Iowa, and he actually got elected in 1986, the same year that "The Love Boat" (1977-86) concluded a cruise trip that lasted way, way too long.

I first became aware of "The Love Boat" during the two years we lived in Turkey (1977-79) where it was known as "Ask Gemisi," which does in fact mean "The Love Boat."

I checked Vikipedia, the Turkish-language version of Wikipedia to see when "Ask Gemisi" aired on the TRT (Turkish Radio Television), and I was unable to find out. But, Charlie's Angels, which has a "Love Boat" connection in that both shows were produced by the late Aaron Spelling, did first air in Turkey on Oct. 16, 1977, just a little over a year after its first airing on ABC in America on Sept. 22, 1976. In Turkey, that show was called "Charlie'nin Melekleri," which means (well) "Charlie's Angels."

For today's question, we are going to ask just how long Grandy,63, a native of Sioux City, represented the 5th and 6th districts of Iowa. According to Wikipedia, his office is now held by Cong. Steve King (R-Iowa), who is ironically just one year younger than Gopher.

Before we get to our question, here are some other nifty things we learned about Grandy, whom I saw perform on stage as Captain Heller in a production of "The Miracle Worker" by Arena Stage in Washington, DC, in 2000:

_ In 1982, Grandy suffered severe burns when a balloon filled with hydrogen exploded while visiting Turkey to film scenes for an episode of "The Love Boat.

_In recent years, Grandy decided to become a talk show host for 630 WMAL in Washington, DC, and while we assumed (since he was an actor, I guess) that he was a 'moderate Republican,' he apparently made statements that Muslims in America were going to implement Sharia law, and this ultimately lead to his resignation (there is a dispute between the two parties as to whether it was forced or voluntary) from the station.

But, right wing nuts still have the likes of Bill Cunnigham, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to listen to, while Democrats work to pay for their Medicade scooters (forgive the center-left political humor, admittedly Matt Taibbi of "Rolling Stone" who is more progressive than I am is better at this sort of thing!).

_ According to "Mother Jones," a very liberal magazine, Grandy endorsed Newt Gingrich ahead of the Iowa Caucus. Gingrich finished well behind Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney. Ironically, Gingrich soundly defeated another tv star turned member of Congress when he defeated the incumbent Democrat Ben Jones, who played Cooter on "The Dukes of Hazzard" during an election in Georgia.

Jones is the focus of our entry today on our sister blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time."

So, just how long was Gopher/Grandy in Congress?

A) 6 years

B) 8 years

C) 10 years

D) 12 years

The winner gets a free subscription to "The Daily Worker" (that is a now-defunct American socialist magazine, we couldn't resist).

Amazingly enough, the entire regular cast of "The Love Boat" is still alive, some 30 years after it has been off the air.

Ted Lange, who played Isaac the bartender, is now a successful playwright. Last year, he performed in "Four Queens_ No Trump," which he himself wrote, at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, NC.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Casualties of Modern Technology (7 of 12)_ Transistor Radio

When young folks today listen to the classic Van Morrison song "Brown Eyed Girl" (1967) and they hear the reference to a transistor radio, they may have no idea what the great Irish singer is talking about.

The transistor radio is defined by Wikipedia as a small portable signal receiver using transistor-based circuitry. Pocket-size forms of the transistor radio, which were developed in 1954, had a major impact around the world as they changed the radio-listening experience as these devices were portable as opposed to earlier radios.

In the 1970s, the transistor radios began to lose popularity and by the 1980s, people of our generation (the Gen Xers) were all into the boom-boxes, leaving everyone to screech when the mid-80s Wham (the band with George Michael) hit ballad "Careless Whisper" blasted away. Yes, we still get goosebumps thinking back on those days.

Though Bell Labs first developed the transistor radio in 1947, both Germany (well then West Germany) and Japan were major players in the development of the technology for the device.

SIDEBAR: Yes, as of this writing, there are new Big South scores and one game between the visiting Charleston Southern Buccaneers and the home team Radford University Highlanders of Radford, Va. (the author's alma mater) is at half-time, while another game between visiting Campbell and the home team Liberty gets underway tonight, but we are just going to focus on the conference games from Thursday night.

The VMI Keydets pulled off another huge home win over Charleston Southern in a high-scoring 90-81 affair. Keith Gabriel scored 31 points for the Lexington-Va. school as his teammate Stan Okoye scored 17 points.

For the visitors from Charleston, SC, Kelvin Martin, the reigning Big South Player of the Week had a career-high 31 points despite the loss.

Here are the scores from Thursday night's Big South action:

*- home team

*Liberty 61 Coastal Carolina 57
*VMI 90 Charleston Southern 81
*UNC-Asehville 71 Gardner-Webb 61
Presbyterian 77 *Radford 64

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Quote of the Day/Week-Clint Eastwood

One thing that is unique about America is that a liberal-leaning blog, such as our's, can post a photo of Clint Eastwood as "Dirty Harry" (1971), even though it runs contrary to our own personal politics.

But, perhaps in the process, we can lure in blog visitors who would normally listen to far-right radio talk show host Bill Cunnigham (I listened the other night; he is pretty radical) as opposed to our fellow liberal Turkish-American Cenk Uygur who hosts a talk show on Current TV (he is, of course, pretty rad!).

However, while Eastwood may be best-known around the world for playing cops and cowboys, he also won two well-deserved Best Director Oscars for "Unforgiven" (1992) and "Millon Dollar Baby" (2004).

Here is his quote:

"I have a strict gun control policy: if there's a gun around, I want control over it."

Quote of the Day/Week- Aretha Franklin

Today, in honor of Black History Month, we quote the Queen of Soul, who is Aretha Franklin, 69, who has been battling serious health problems as of late.

Franklin is perhaps best-known for her catchy r&b number one smash hit "Respect"
(1967). In recent years, she has performed at the 2009 Presidential Inaguration for Barack Obama.

Franklin was also the god-mother to the recently deceased pop singer Whitney Houston, who was found in a Los Angeles hotel room on Feb. 11. Houston was 48. To our knowledge, no conclusive report on her cause of death has been released to the media.

Here is the quote from Franklin:

"Don't say Aretha is making a comeback because I've never been gone."

SIDEBAR: We want to wish one of our favorite Olympic and college gymnasts Yvonne Tousek a happy 32nd birthday. Tousek competed for Canada in both the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

As a college gymnast at UCLA, Tousek earned the NCAA bars titles in 2001. Her Bruins teams won three of the school's six NCAA team titles in women's gymnastics.

Over the weekend, UCLA tied Oregon State with a 196.775 at Oregon State that also included the California Bears, which finished last in the three teams meet.

UCLA got strong results in the all-around competition from Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, who finished third with a 39.375, and from Vanessa Zamarripa, arguably the hardest college gymnast's name to spell (we think we got it right, hopefully) who finished fourth overall with a 39.325.

The Bruins host Arizona State on Sunday.

Quote of the Day/Week- Bart Starr

Today, we go 'old school' as we conclude our month-long quotes from Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks with a quip from Green Bay Packers great Bart Starr, 78, who guided his team to victories in Super Bowl I in 1967 (35-10 over Kansas City Chiefs) and Super Bowl II in 1968 (33-14 over Oakland Raiders).

Starr was also a star quarterback at the University of Alabama, and we are quoting his fellow Crimson Tide great Joe Namath on our other blog, "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time" today.

Here is Starr's quote:

"Athletic competition clearly defines the unique power of our attitude."

SIDEBAR: Yesterday, we mentioned how several Big South Conference schools fared in the annual college basketball bracket busters.

And, jut last night, High Point University Panthers guard Nick Barbour (senior, Danville, Va.) set the school's men's basketball scoring record by recording 44 points against the visitors from Campbell University, in eastern North Carolina.

The school which is conversely located in High Point, NC, won the game by a 98-60 margin. The Panthers finish the regular season (12-14, 8-10 Big South) and await their first-round opponent in the Big South Tournament.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sports Desk- Radford Wins Bracket Busters Game

In the world of journalism, objectivity is a key element of the profession. In blogging, however, we can show not-so-subtle favoritism. And, I am doing exactly that right now as I am promoting my alma mater Radford University (in Radford, Va).

The RU Highlanders (6-23) have had a tough season but they defeated the visitors from Bighamton University (Bighamton, NY) in a Bracket Busters match-up on Saturday afternoon by a score 64-59. The home team was paced by Blake Smith, a junior guard from Charlotte, NC, who came of the bench and scored 15 points. Javente Green and R.J. Price also had an outstanding game for RU. And, Tolga Cerrah, a personal friend of mine who hails from Ankara, Turkey, added a key dunk during RU's second-half 14-6 run.

But, in all fairness, the key victory on Staurday for the conference arguably came up the road in Lexington, Va., where the VMI Keydets pulled a mild upset by downing William and Mary, from Williamsburg, Va. VMI (13-14) was lead bu Stan Okoye, a junior guard from Raleigh, NC, in the Keydets' 73-65 win.

In another key regional matchup the Winthrop Eagles, a Big South school in Rock Hill, SC, (where my late grandfather Dudley 'Doc' Sturgis once taught economics) lost to Appalachian State, a team in the Southern Conference, in Boone, NC, on Saturday by a score of 79-64.

For the home team Mountaineers seniors Isaac Butts and Omar Carter scored 15 points each and for the visiting Eagles senior Matt Morgan scored 22 points.

Kevin Martin, a forward for Charleston Southern, was named Big South Conference Player of the Week as he averaged 21 points in wins over conference rival Gardner-Webb and bracket busters opponent Wofford.

Here is a list of how the bracket buster results from Saturday for teams in the Big South Conference. The schools from the conference are marked with #s and the home teams are marked with *s.

*Northwestern State 100 #Campbell 86
*# Radford 64 Binghamton 59
*Morgan State 81 *Liberty 69
*#VMI 73 W and M 65
*Ohio 81 UNC-Asheville 62

*App St. 79 # Winthrop 64
*Tenn. Tech 77 # Coastal Carolina 71
*Stephen Austin 69 # High Point 62

*# Gardner-Webb 57 Delaware St. 56
*# Char. So. 77 Wofford 59
* Jacksonville St. 67 # Presbyterian 48

NOTE: We should point out that the image here is of Rowdy Red, who was mascot when I was at Radford U. Ironically, the school might not be happy with me because I am not using the current mascot The Highlander, and if that is the case they should forward their complaint to Javier the intern, who deals with such matters. (This is a joke; there is no Javier the intern here).

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Top 10 List- Obscure World Capitals, Africa Edition

We learned from the ever-hip magazine "Mental Floss" last year, that apparently a man-eating crocodile named Gustave (not the one pictured here) resides in native habitiat somewhere in the central eastern country of Burundi.

That country shares a border with Rwanda, which we learned from the BBC, is trying to re-establish from its very dark recent history to bring tourists in for bird-watching. Apparently, Rwanda is indeed one of the best places for bird-watching in the world.

And, both Zambia and Gabon have been in the news as Zambia pulled a huge upset over Ivory Coast to win the African Cup of nations in Gabon. To make matters even more confusing, there is also an African country called Gambia which is pretty far from Zambia.

Put, at any rate, here are a list of ten African countries that most 11th graders at Franklin County High School in Rocky Mount, Va., (hey, we had to pick on some school) probably couldn't locate on the map. But we still wish the FCHS Eagles' basketball team bonne chance this year.

1. Banjul, Gambia (western Africa)

2. Libreville, Gabon (central Africa)

3. Lusaka, Zambia (east Africa)

4. Kigali, Rwanda (east Africa)

5. Lome, Togo (west Africa)

6. Maputo, Mozambique (east Africa)

7. Bujumbra, Burundi (east Africa)

8. Gaborone, Botswana (southern Africa)

9. Antananariuo, Madagascar (southern Africa)

10. Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (western Africa)

Yes, should numberrs 9 or 10 be asked as a Final Jeopardy question, our thoughts would be with the contestants.

And, on a more somber note, many countries in Africa, including Somalia and Burkina Faso, are currently expeirencing crippling famines.

CARE is one of many relief agencies working to resolve this horrific problem.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Silly Picture to Fill Space- A Vietnamese Pig

We noticed that some folks from Pakistan were checking out our blog today, which we really appreciate. Alas, this image might make them inclined to check the web page of "The Nation" (ironically a Pakistani nationalist publication called "The Nation" shares its' name with a very liberal magazine in America which features an always biting column from Eric Alterman).

I do actually sympathize with folks in Pakistan because my late Turkish father Mehmet Gokbudak forbade me to eat pork, but I was allowed to read "Green Eggs and Ham" by Dr. Seuss.

But, hopefully, they will still like us in Slovenia!

For those traveling through North Carolina, the town of Lexington, between Greensboro and Charlotte (well closer to Greensboro), is said to have some of the best barbecue in the South. And, Google recommends Speedy's Barbecue, which has a web site ( and their phone number is (336) 248-2410. We have never eaten there ourselves.

Quote of the Day/Week- Roman Polanski

For the second week in a row, we are quoting famous film directors with controversial personal lives. Last week, we quoted Woody Allen. But, the reason for this is not because we live controversy (ok,so we did say we would run to Costa Rica if Mitt Romney was elected president a few entries back), but because Roman Polanski, the subject of this week's quote, like Allen, is an Oscar-winning filmmaker. We are quoting Academy Award-winning film directors this month even though our personal favorite movie director Stanley Kubrick never won one! (Yes, not even for "2001:A Space Odyssey").

Currently, in some small-market art houses, Polanski's latest film "Carnage" with three Oscar winners (Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster and Christoph Waltz) and John C. Reilly is now screening. The film has already been screened in large markets.

The film director was born in Poland, and now resides in France.

Polanski won an Oscar for his film "The Pianist" (2002).

Here is Polanski's quote (the above image is of him acting in his own film "Chinatown" (1974)):

"Cinema should make you forget you are sitting in a theater."

SIDEBAR: The Film Forum in New York will be screening a very interesting film (well, we haven't seen it for ourselves) from Iranian director Jafar Panahi entitled "This Is Not a Film" starting on Feb. 29.

The film, co-directed with Mojtaba Miratahmasb, was entirely shot on a cell phone and a DV camera. Sine Panafi is under house arrest for his politics and not allowed to make films in Iran, he had the film hidden in a cake and sent to France for festival screenings. It became a huge sensation at the Cannes Film Festival.

Panafi is one of the most acclaimed filmmakers in Iran; his credits include "The White Balloon" (1995), "The Circle" (2000) and "Offside" (2006). His current film is an autobiographical documentary about isolation.

My friend Bilge Ebiri, a New York-based film critic proclaimed "Offside" to be the best film that was released in the United States in 2007. That film was about two girls in their late teens/early twenties try to sneak inside to see a soccer game. In Iran, women are forbidden to go to soccer games. Though we believe Irish women were allowed to see their national team play a game in Iran several years ago.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Quote of the Day/Week- Joe Frazier

Last month, we had hoped to quote the great boxer Joe Frazier (1944-2011) as one of the quips from famous people who died last year, but as it is, he also fits into our efforts this month to quote famous African-Americans in honor of Black History Month.

Next month, we are hoping to quote famous gold medalists. We learned while researching this piece that Frazier, who died at age 67 from cancer was a gold medalist at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. He defeated Hans Huber from West Germany.

Frazier, whose nickname was Smokin' Joe, was known for his bitter rivalry with Muhammad Ali. The two ironically became close friends even though they said terrible things about it each other at several junctures during their careers.

The two boxers met three times. Frazier won the first bout at Madison Square Garden in New York for what was dubbed 'the fight of the century' on March 8, 1971. Frazier would win that fight which saw the likes of Woody Allen in attendance.

Ali won the subsequent meetings between the two, including the 1975 'Thrilla in Manila," which did indeed take place in The Philippines.

Here is Frazier's quote:

"Life doesn't run away from nobody. Life runs at people."

SIDEBAR ONE: Since we are huge admirers of William Shakespeare, we thought we'd mention that in the hamlet of Hamlet, NC (some 75 miles east of Charlotte) it is 51 degrees and rainy today.

SIDEBAR TWO: As a fellow progressive Turkish-American, I want to salute Cenk Uygur, who coincidentally is a mere 17 days younger than me, for standing up to a right-wing electronic media outlet which said that Uygur looked like the notorious Pakistani terrorist Khalid Sheik Muhammed.

The comments were made in response to Uygur's interview with right-wing commentator Andrew Breitbart, on the Feb. 14th broadcast of Uygur's Current TV show, which airs at 7:00 p.m., New York time. Breitbart apparently disclosed that his 'stop raping people' jeers that he made at Occupy DC protestors was a publicity stunt.

Uygur confronted the haters by juxtaposing his face over that of the terrorist's through computer animation, a technique made famous by comic talk show host Conan O'Brien, who is seemingly and surprisingly popular in Turkey. O'Brien's own show airs at 11:00 p.m., New York time, on TBS. Steve Martin is scheduled to appear on that show tonight.

SIDEBAR THREE: Lastly, kudos to the UNC-Greensboro men's basketball team as they upset College of Charleston (from Charleston, SC) 78-63 on the UNCG Spartans' home court last night. Derrell Armstrong paved the way for the home team with 30 points.

The UNCG Spartans (12-15) were profiled by North Carolina Public Radio (WUNC-FM, Chapel Hill) since the team's coach Wes Miller, 29, is the youngest head coach in Division One basketball. Miller has been serving as a temporary coach since then-coach Mike Dement resigned in December.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Quote of the Day/Week- Peyton Manning

Since it is highly possible that current Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who turns 36 on March 24th, could be playing for another team, perhaps the Washington Redskins, we will just use the image of the team's helmet. The Colts originally played in Baltimore, so technically Manning lead the team to its second Super Bowl win back in 2007 (the team won its first Super Bowl as the Baltimore Colts in the early 1970s).

For those who have not paid attention to the American sports media, which at times seems as heated as political talk (and this is an election year), there are many reports suggesting that there is tension between Manning and Colts' owner Jim Irsay.

Manning has a large salary and the Colts are likely to draft star quarterback Andrew Luck from Stanford, who finished second for the Heisman Trophy.

To make things more annoying for Manning, who played college football for Tennessee, is that his younger brother Eli Manning just won a second Super Bowl for the New York Giants some ten days ago.

But, nevertheless, Peyton Manning, who lost out a chance to win a second Super Bowl for himself when the Colts lost Super Bowl XLIV on Feb. 7, 2010, to the New Orleans Saints, remains a fixture in the sports world domestically.

And, here is one of his most quipped quotes:

"Pressure is something you feel when you have no idea what the hell you are doing."

SIDEBAR: A blogger running for president? Well, it is not happening here in the United States though Republican libertarian candidate Ron Paul, a sitting member of Congress representing his district in Texas, is arguably the most successful American fringe political candidate of all time. In fact, he even has the endorsement of kitsch music superstar Barry Manilow.

But, in Russia, where Vladamir Putin, is the odds on favorite to win back the presidency in Moscow, he faces a challenge from the right (?!) as the BBC is reporting that Alexie Navalny is trying to become a 'conservative populist.'

We suggest that he not ask current American Republican candidate Newt Gingrich, currently running a distant third in the polls (just ahead of Ron Paul), for advice.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day from Popeye

Greetings from the Pyongyang Public Library here in Pyongyang, North Korea, (not really where I am at), where I wish everyone a Happy Valentine's Day even though I personally despise this day with a passion.

Today, we thought we'd send Happy Valentine's Day greetings from Popeye who won over his love Olive Oyl the old-fashioned way by beating up his rival Bluto after taking in several cans of spinach. Obviously, doing such things in the real world can lead one to spend a night at the Mecklenberg County jail in Charlotte, NC.

There are at least two statues of Popeye in the United States: one is in Crystal City, Texas, and the other is in Chester, Illinois.

We actually have a vinyl copy of the above-pictured record which was originally released in the 1960s, though we got our particular copy as kids in the 1970s.

The cast of the record includes Jack Mercer as Popeye, Mae Questel as Olive Oyl and Jackson Beck as Bluto.

The original Popeye comic strips were released in 1919. The first cartoons came out in 1933. And, a film version directed by the late, great Robert Altman came out in 1980 with Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall in the title roles. Alas, the film did not get good reviews.

But, reportedly, a merry-do-round from the set of that film is a tourist destination in Malta, where the movie was filmed!

SIDEBAR: Tonight, in honor of Valentine's Day, Turner Classic Movies is showing the vintage Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musical "Top Hat" at 8:00 p.m., New York time.

Sidebar Two: The answer to our Rabbit Ears Quiz is D) 66, that is the age of Burt Ward who played Robin in the original "Batman" tv show in the 1960s.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sports Desk- Zambia is Feeling the Joy of Victory

In what may well be one of the greatest sports stories in recent years, the southern African nation of Zambia won soccer's African Cup of Nations with a 0-0 (8-7) victory over heavily favored Ivory Coast in Libreville, Gabon, yesterday.

The Gabonese capital was the site of a great soccer tragedy for Zambia some 20 years ago in 1993 when a military plane carrying 30 people, including 18 Zambian soccer players for the national team, crashed killing everyone on the plane.

But, yesterday, Stopira Sunzu, 22, killed the game-winning penalty kick to prople Zambia to vicotry. Goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene, 27, (pictured) was the other hero of the game for Zambia as he stopped a penalty kick from Ivory Coast superstar Didier Drogba (who also plays for Chelsea) during the penalty shoot-out phase of the game.

To put into terms of how incredible Zambia's road to victory, which also included a 1-0 victory over Cup favorite Ghana in the semi-finals, it essentially would be something akin to an Ivy League school winning the Final Four here in America.

Ivory Coast has many soccer icons, including English Premiere League players in Droba, Gervinho (Arsenal) and Yaya Toure (Manchester City).

During regulation time, Drogba also missed a penalty kick in the 70th minute of play and a header in extra-time. Toure also missed a key goal-scoring opportunity in the 30th minute of play.

For Zambia, Emmanuel Mayuka, who scored the game-winning goal over Ghana, missed a key chance to win the game in regulation.

The BBC reported this morning, that people were puring onto the streets of Lusaka, Zambia's capital and celebrating well into the night.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Top 10 Countries to Run To If GOP Whacko Becomes Prez

Yes, we did essentially the same sort of list when it looked like Sarah Palin might somehow become an American president, which would probably assure the impending apocalypse that many fervent evangelists who would support her are calling for.

Since there are essentially three players left in the Republican nomination race: Mitt Romney (pictured), Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, we thought we'd mention that IFC is running two hours worth of Three Stooges shorts on Saturday starting at 10:45 a.m. The first of these films will be "The Mummy's Dummies" (1948), which was made when Gingrich was five and Romney (born 1947) was still in diapers.

Here are some possible escapes we might consider:

1) Costa Rica (pictured)

2) Russia (this blog is popular there, so why not?!)

3) Iceland (the country that was number one on the Palin escape list)

4) Brazil

5) New Zealand

6) Slovenia_ this former Yugoslavia is now a top destination

7) Finland

8) Cuba (yeah, we partly did this for shock value, but many American travel magazines have written about traveling to Cuba lately)

9) Turkey (my late father's country, and I also speak the language)

10) Sweden

SIDEBAR: The BBC is now airing a radio segment about The World Ice Fishing Championship in Kazakhstan, otherwise known as the land of Borat. As one might imagine, it is freezing in the former Soviet Republic!

Quote of the Day/Week- Woody Allen

We continue our month-long series of quips from Oscar-winning film directors with a great quote from Woody Allen, who along with fellow filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, is perhaps the person we have quipped the most on our two blogs.

Allen won his Best Director Oscar for "Annie Hall" in 1977. The comedy film with his then-girlfriend Diane Keaton also won Best Picture, beating out "Star Wars." This year, Allen is nominated yet again for his most recent film "Midnight in Paris," which is also his biggest box office success.

Just this week, Allen's skit segmented film "Everything You Always Wanted to Know Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask" (1973) became the 6,000th film I voted for on the IMDB (I had first seen the film many years ago, but I didn't realize I had never voted on the film).

Since Valentine's Day is around the corner (yes, I hate it with a passion too), we thought we'd get an Allen quip on relationships:

"A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark."

SIDEBAR: We have been reporting on the very impressive Harvard University men's basketball team which remains nationally ranked this week (we believe they are ranked 24th) as they stand a plausible chance of being the first Ivy League team to play in the Final Four since Pennsylvania did it in 1978.

Last weekend, Harvard won back-to-back home games (on Friday and Saturday nights) over Cornell then Columbia.

In Friday's win over the Big Red, Harvard's Canadian sophomore Laurent Rivard scored 16 points. The Crimson won the game 72-60.

On Saturday night, Harvard bested Columbia in a narrow 57-52 win thanks to 20 points from Rivard.

Harvard will play Penn-U in Philadelphia on Friday night, and then on Saturday the Crimson's road game against Princeton will be nationally televised on ESPN-U at 7:00 p.m.

Quote of the Day/Week- Lorraine Hansberry

In honor of Black History Month, we continue to quote famous African-Americans and today we share a quip from playwright/activist Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965) who died all too young at age 34 from pancreatic cancer.

Hansberry is best-known for her 1959 play "A Raisin in the Sun," about a struggling family residing in the south side of Chicago. Both the original Broadway stage production and the 1961 film version starred Sindey Poitier.

This month, Stained Glass Playhouse in Winston-Salem, NC, is staging "A Raisin in the Sun" (until Feb. 19th).

In the Los Angeles area, the play is also being produced by Center Theatre Group which is performing "A Raisin in the Sun" at the Kirk Douglas theatre in Culver City.

Here is her quote:

"Children see things well sometimes_ and idealists even better."

SIDEBAR: In Durham, NC, Duke University men's basketball player Austin Rivers is assuredly the Big Man on Campus as he hit a three-point shot to help the Blue Devils prevail over their man arch rival, the University of North Carolina Tarheels.

But, half a world away, the nation of Zambia is celebrating as another young athlete, soccer player Emmanuel Mayoka, a substitute, scored the game-winning goal in that country's 1-0 upset win over Ghana in the Africa Cup.

Thus, Zambia, which lost its entire soccer team due to an airplane accident in 1993, will face Ivory Coast for the continental title. Ivory Coast scored its own 1-0 victory over Mali thanks to a goal from Arsenal star Gervinha.

The Africa Cup final will be played in Liberville, Gabon, the same city where that fatal airplane crash took place.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Quote of the Day/Week- Terry Bradshaw

As many cyber-experts have told us if you ask Google: "Where is the best place to get a bison burger in Denver?" you may well stump Mr. Know It All. But, if you ask: "Who is the mayor of Yozgat, Turkey"? (a medium-sized city in central Turkey), it will tell (well via Wikipedia) that the answer is Yusuf Baser.

Google will also tell you that the Pittsburgh Steelers have won six Super Bowls, with only two losses, and that quarterback Terry Bradshaw was responsible for four of those over a six year period. The last one coming against the then-Los Angeles Rams, which later won a Super Bowl many years later as the Saint Louis Rams, by a 31-19 score in 1979.

That same year The Pittsburgh Pirates won a World Series (the team has not won one since), which gave Pittsburgh the nickname of The City of Champions, a mantra which was reiterated when hockey superstar Mario Lemieux lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cup titles in 1991 and 1992.

Bradshaw, now 63, can also been seen singing the Hank Williams Sr. standard "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" on Youtube (from many years ago) and he recently became the spokesperson for Nutrisystem.

Bradshaw is one of two famous athletes who graduated from Louisiana Tech; the other one is Karl Malone who played with the Utah Jazz in the NBA.

Here is Bradshaw's famous quote:

"I may be dumb, but I'm not stupid."

SIDEBAR: Though we consider ourselves to be slightly too uppity for gossip, we can't help but comment on the outrageous profanity-laced statements that Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen, 31, said of the wide receivers for her quarterback husband Tom Brady's New England Patriots. For those of you in Yozgat, Turkey, the Pats lost 21-17 to the New Giants in Sunday's Super Bowl game.

Apparently, this caught on camera escapade forced Brady to defend those very same wide receivers who will in all likelihood have to play with Brady next year. One thus has to assume that Brady wasn't "Thanks, honey" when he heard of this, unless he was speaking in jest or sarcasm.

From the Record Collection (5 of 8)_ U2 "The Unforgettable Fire"

Since we are discussing U2's album "The Unforgettable Fire" (1984) today, we send out special greetings to everyone in Dublin, Ireland, where the band originally formed in 1976 when lead singer Bono was just 16 years old. The band's first album "Boy" (1980) was released four years later.

This record is my personal favorite from U2, though fans of the band said on Twitter that the recently re-released "Achtung Baby" (1991) was the best album from the band. For many years, that distinction also belonged to U2's major commercial break-through record "The Joshua Tree" (1987).

But, for me, the fourth studio album from U2 will also be the most special one. It was released in October of 1984, which is a bit ironic because U2's second record (released in 1981) was called "October."

With a running time of 42:38, "The Unforgettable Fire" refers to an art exhibit about the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945.

There are two songs dedicated to African-American Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., including the landmark song "Pride (in the Name of Love" and "MLK."

The record was produced by Brian Eno, who is also known for producing many exceptional Talking Heads records, and Daniel Lanois, who worked with Peter Gabriel. In more recent years, Lanois has also worked with Willie Nelson, Neil Young and Bob Dylan.

"The Unforgettable Fire," which also includes my personal favorite U2 song "A Sort of Homecoming" a song about the contradiction between rock and roll and spiritual life, was partially recorded at Shane Castle in Ireland, and footage of the album's recording is included in the video for "Pride (in the Name of Love)."

The title track, which was the record's second single, features a stirring use of a guitar solo from The Edge.

In a recent documentary about U2's recording of "Achtung Baby," it was revealed that for that album's popular song "One" that The Edge came up with music for the song first and then Bono figured out some lyrics that would match it.

The band is widely considered to be the most prolific active band behind The Rolling Stones, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary as a band this year. But, unlike The Rolling Stones, U2 has maintained its lineup which also includes Adam Clayton (bass) and Larry Mullen Jr. (drums) since the band was founded.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Rabbit Ear Test_ (6 out of 12) "Batman"

Greetings to all our blog-readers, irregardless if you are in Winnipeg, Canada, the hometown of cult filmmaker Guy Maddin, or Atlanta, Georgia, where the Winnipeg Jets were playing hockey last year (they were then called the Atlanta Thrashers).

Many people born when Bill Clinton was president may not be aware that there was a "Batman" tv series, based on the hit DC Comics series, in the 1960s, which us Gen X'ers saw in reruns circa 1976 as kids. The show ran for 120 half-hour episodes, most of which aired multiple times during the week, from 1966-1968.

Though many of the actors who played the bad guys, including the pianist Liberace (he played the evil pianist Chandell, no we are not making this up), Frank Gorshin (The Riddler), Cesar Romero (The Joker), Vincent Price (Egghead) and Burgess Meredith (The Penguin) have passed away, the two main actors of that original "Batman" series are still alive.

Adam West, who played the Caped Crusader, is alive and well at 83.

But, are not going to reveal the age of Burt Ward who played Robin (pictured) because that is today's question for our quiz. So, how old is Ward; is the answer?

A) 63 B) 64 C) 65 D) 66

While, we can not disclose Ward's age until a later time (yes, I know you kids will google it), we can say that according to the IMDB, Ward was paid $350/week during the show's first season.

SIDEBAR: Italy has just passed Russia for fifth place on our top ten lists for countries where we are getting hits from. So, thanks to all you Juventus fans out there....and, oh yes, thanks to all you AC Milan fans as well (forgive the soccer humor).

Monday, February 6, 2012

Casulaties of Modern Technology (6 of 12)_ The Typewriter

First of all hello to those of you in Davos, Switzerland, and Montego Bay, Jamaica, who have somehow found time to check us out today. We also wish to congratulate teh citizens of Mali, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Zambia for reaching the finals of the African Cup in world soccer play over the weekend. Lastly, kudos to Eli Manning and the New York Giants for winning the Super Bowl over the New England Patriots 21-17.

And, you thought Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich were the only ones kissing babies left and right!

Today's Casualty of Modern Technology is the typewriter. Since I am a big fan of the Tom Robbins novel "Still Life with Woodpecker" (1980) and the novelist typed the whole work on Remington SL3, that is the image we are going with today.

In his novel, Robbins even alluded to the machinery with the line: "I sense that the novel of my dreams is the Remington SL3_ although it writes much faster than I can spell."

The typewriter was also an external force in the excellent William Burroughs novel "Naked Lunch" (1959), a surreal masterpiece that was turned into a David Cronenberg film many years later in 1991.

There are many serious collectors of typewriters, including actor Tom Hanks and politcian/business leader Steven Soboroff, who has typewriters from Jack London and Ernest Hemingway in his collection.

The legacy of the typewriter, which was first invented circa 1868 remains today as the QWERTY keyboard is found on all personal computer keyboards.

Typewriters became more standard around 1910, and they were gradually implemented into newspaper journalism. The IBM selectic typewriter was developed in 1961 as a replacement for the originals. The newer typewriters were less noisy and printed more effectively.

But, by the 1980s, the world processor evolved, and typewriters were soon allegedly sent off to former Soviet republics, such as Azerbaijan, where even today, the computer is highly preferred.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Quote of the Day/Week- Elia Kazan

Since the Oscars will be televised at the month, we have decided to quote Academy-Award film directors throughout February. Keep in mind that the number of acclaimed film directors who never won an Oscar is a bit shocking, as it includes the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and Orson Welles.

But, one film director who is a worth Oscar-winner is Elia "Gadge" Kazan (1909-2003) who won Best Director Oscars for "Gentleman's Agreement" (1948) and "On the Waterfront" (1955). His direction of the screen version of "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1951), written by Tennessee Williams, is frequently cited as one of best screen adaptations of a stage play.

Kazan also won three Tony Awards for Best Director, including two Arthur Miller plays "All My Sons" (1947) and "Death of a Salesman" (1949) as well as "J.B.," a 1958 play by Archibald Macleish based on the Biblical story of Job. Cult actor John Cazale, who died at age 42 in 1978, starred in a 1962 off-Broadway production of "J.B.," which was not directed by Kazan.

The son of Anatolian Greek immigrants also directed "Viva Zapata!" (1952) with his frequent collaborator Marlon Brando; a film which us Netflix users are eagerly awaiting for. Interestingly enough, in a editorial by William Kristol in the conservative magazine "The Weekly Standard," this film was cited by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) as his personal favorite. The editorial was written when McCain was running as the Republic nominee for president in 2008.

Kazan also helmed a screen version of "America! America!" (1963) based on his own novel. The movie was partially filmed in Istanbul, Turkey, the city of Kazan's birth. Kazan recieved an Oscar nomination for directing that film as well.

Here is our quote from Gadge:

"A good director's not sure when he gets on the set what he's going to do."

SIDEBAR: Having just returned from The Bahamas, we wanted to recommend other potential tourists to be sure to visit the Ardasta Zoo in the capital of Nassau where one can watch a dancing pink flamingo show at 10:30, 2:10 and 4:10. It would be quite ironic if film director John Waters was at one of these shows (forgive the movie people humor).

In Baltimore, which is the hometown of the eccentric filmmaker, the Maryland Zoo is hosting an adults only Sex in the Zoo talk about the mating habits of animals. Our collective jaws recently dropped when we read about how porcupines mated in the last issue of "Mental Floss."

SIDEBAR 2: For some reason, Godzilla and Quick Draw McDraw are two of the hot links on our blog this week!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Quote of the Day/Week- Halle Berry

Today, in honor of Black History Month, we are quoting actress Halle Berry, 45, who was a model before she became an actress. Berry won an Oscar for "Monster's Ball" (2001), becoming the first African-American to win a Best Actress Oscar.

Amazingly enough, three years later, she won a Golden Raspberry for Worst Actress for her performance in "Catwoman" (2004), a film where she actually injured herself and was briefly hospitalized, and then surprised the world by accepting the dubious award in person.

We were about to say she was the only person to have won both 'honors,' but we remembered (ok, we asked Google) that Sandra Bullock actually won both in the same year!

Here is Berry's quote:

"Beauty is not just skin deep."

SIDEBAR ONE: Tilly Gokbudak, the managing editor of this blog (ok, I just referred to myself in the second person) jokingly tweeted that he would put in the words Yerevan, Liberace and Newt Gingrich (who lost to Mitt Romney in Florida Republican Primary yesterday) so that Google would think he was a 'gay Armenian Republican.'

Well, he actually took this upon himself and in the process he found out through "Yerevan" magazine (a publication actually based in Los Angeles as opposed to the Armenian capital) that Armenian-American playwright Vahe Berberian's** new play "Gyank" opens at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood, Calif., on March 16th.

SIDEBAR TWO: Since Tilly Gokbudak is a Turkish-American*, he thought it would also be good to mention that his two favorite Turkish soccer teams Bursaspor, from Bursa, Turkey's fourth largest city, and GalataSaray, a traditional Istanbul powerhouse, played over the weekend.

Surprisingly, the underdog Crocodiles (yes, that is BursaSpor's nickname even though we are fairly certain that if there are any crocs in Turkey, they would be in the Ankara Zoo) beat GalataSaray 1-0 on a goal in the 50th from the team's star Argentinian player Pablo Battalla.

*- For those of you living in a desert island near The Bahamas, Turkey and Armenia have bad relations; we would explain more, but Tilly Gokbudak has an urgent dentist appointment.

**- We almost didn't spell the playwright's last name correctly, but alas we don't expect any friendly emails from ANCA, the main Armenian-American lobbying group because we caught it!