Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Turkey Versus USA Women's Basketball Preview

Though we have not checked the Las Vegas odds, Team Turkey will face Team USA at the 2012 London Olympics as a decisive underdog in a game that is crucial for both teams; assuredly if Turkey pulls of the upset, it would likely be the greatest Olympic moment for the country since weightlifting legend Naim Suleymanoglu lifted for gold at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Ironically, viewers in Philadelphia, who can watch the game live at 5:00 p.m, will have advantages of television spectators in Istanbul as the game will air at midnight since the tip-off will be at the unusually late hour of 10:00 p.m. local time in England.

Team USA beat Team Turkey by 19 points in a pre-Olympic friendly in Istanbul earlier this summer. Many American players, including stand-out Diana Taurasi (pictured bottom), a star at the University of Connecticut and in the WNBA, have played professionally in Turkey.

Interestingly enough, there is actually one American Quanitra Hollingsworth* (pictured top), who played college basketball for the VCU Rams, who is playing center for Turkey. Hollingsworth obtained Turkish citizenship earlier this year to play for Turkey's national team.

Turkey has defeated Angola 72-50 and the Czech Republic 61-57, which means both teams head into the game undefeated at 2-0.

Hollingsworth is not the only Turkish team player who was born outside Turkey. Esmeral Tuncluer (pictured middle), reported to be the team's strongest shooter, was born in the Netherlands to Turkish parents. Neriye Yilmaz, one of Turkey's top forwards who has WNBA experience, was born in Bulgaria, which until 25 years ago had a significant Turkish minority.




*- Her name is not spelled correctly in the tags

Olympics Stories- Judo Athlete Wins First Medal for Uzbekistan

Rishod Sobirov, 25, won a bronze medal for the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan on Saturday in the 60-kg judo competition. It was the first medal of the 2012 London Olympics for Uzbekistan.

Many felt that Sobirov, the two-time defending world champion, would win gold, but he was upset in the semi-finals by Arsen Galstya,23, of Russia who dedicated his medal to the 171 people who died recently in massive floods that affected southern Russia.

Galstya also defeated Hiroaki Hiraoka of Japan, who had won silver at the last world championships for the sport, which were held in Paris.

Many psychologists have said that bronze medal winners are happier than those who go back to (in Sobirov's case) Tashkent because a bronze-winner feels he has gotten something out of the games while a silver-winner feels disappointed because he could have won gold.

This appears to be the case with the Japanese silver-medalist as he told journalists he was hoping to go back to his country with gold.




Olympic Stories_ Domination of Italian Fencers

Valentia Vezzali (pictured top), 38, who was actually born on Valentine's Day in 1974 and is Italy's flag-bearer, won yet another Olympic medal on Saturday. At the 2012 London Olympics, Vezzali won a bronze medal while her national teammates Elisa Di Francisca (pictured below), who is also a sex symbol in Italy, won gold. The Italian medal sweep in the individual foil competition was completed with Arianna Errigo winning the silver.

Di Francisca defeated Errigo 12-11 in overtime to win the gold; Vezzali beat out the number fencer Nan Hun-Hee of South Korea for the bronze.

At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Vezzali became the first woman to win three consecutive gold medals, starting with the 2000 Sydney Olympics, in the individual foil competition. She also won a silver at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Additionally, Vezzali has won 13 golds at World Fencing Championship events with the last one coming at the 2011 championships in Catania, Italy.

An Italian male fencer Diego Occhiuzzi, 31, won bronze in the sabre competiton.

Hungarian Aron Szilagyi won a gold medal in the sabre competition to win the first gold medal for his country at the summer games.

Since American fencer Mariel Zagunis, the flag-bearer for the United States Olympic delegation, is a sabre fencer, she does not compete with Vezzali.

In the women's foil competition, American Lee Kiefer, 18, an up and coming star for the United States, was defeated by Errigo.  

Monday, July 30, 2012

Parade of Nations (four of four)- Estonia-Sweden

This is the final of four entries listing arbitrary countries and their flag-bearers at the Olympics. Other lists of flag-bearers can be found on our sister blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time."

Estonia_Aleksander Tammert (track and field)

Pakistan_ Sohail Abbas (men's field hockey)

Polnad_ Agnieska Radwanska (pictured above, women's tennis)

Portugal_ Telma Monteiro (pictured below, women's judo)

Serbia_ Novak Djokovic (tennis)

Slovenia_ Peter Kauzer (canoeing)

South Africa_ Caster Sememya (men's track and field)

Sweden_ Rolf-Goran Bengtsson (pictured middle, equestrian)

Parade of Nations (three of four)_ Algeria-Ukraine

Today, we continue with the flag-bearers and their respective countries. Since there is a lot going on at one time at the 2012 London Olympics, we cannot verify if each athlete has started competing though all team-sports ranging from water polo to handball (the only sport without an American team/athlete) are under way.

Here are eight countries ranging from Algeria to Ukraine:

Algeria: Abdelhafid Benchabla (men's boxing)

India: (pictured top, Sushil Kumar, wrestling)

Israel: Shahar Tzuberi (men's wind-surfing)

Ireland: Katie Taylor (pictured middle, women's boxing- a new sport at the Olympics this year)

Qatar: Bahiya Al-Hamad (women's shooting)*

Romania: Horia Tecau (pictured bottom, tennis)

Switzerland: Stanislas Wawrinka (men's tennis)

Ukraine: Roman Hontiuk (men's judo)

*_ This is the first year that Qatar has had a female athlete competing at the Olympics, along with two other Muslim countries Saudi Arabia and Brunei. Bahiya Al-Hamad has also been getting a fair share of media attention because she wears a head scarf while competing,

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Parade of Nations (two of four)- Canada to Jamaica

With continue with the parade of nations and their respective flag-bearers, starting with our neighbors to the north Canada, and then continuing in alphabetical order; there are additional entries on our sister blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time" as well:

Canada: Simon Whitfield (pictured above, triathlon)

Armenia: Arma Yeremyan (men's taekwondo)

Brazil: Rodrigo Pessoa (men's equestrian)

Croatia: Venio Losert (pictured below, men's handball)

El Salvador: Evelyn Garcia (women's cycling)

Iceland: Asdis Hjalmsdottir (women's track and field/javelin)

Iraq: Dana Hussain (pictured middle, women's track and field)

Jamaica: Usain Bolt (men's track and field)




Parade of Nations (One of Four)- Greece to Kazakhstan

The Parade of Nations occurred during the 2012 London Olympics on Friday, and we have decided to post four entries each on two blogs (a total of eight entries) dedicated to the flag-bearers of each of the 64 countries we are showcasing.

Since Greece is traditionally the first country at the start of the parade, we are going to start with them here as well. For those of you who are visiting this blog from Turkey, please note that we mention Turkish flag-bearer Nesilhan Darnel (women's volleyball) on our sister blog "Politics, Culture and Other Wastes of Time."

Here are the first eight nations:

Greece- Alexandros Nikoladis (men's taekwondo)

USA- Mariel Zagunis (pictured above, women's fencing)

Afghanistan- Nesar Ahmad Bahawe (men's taekwondo)

Australia- Lauren Jackson (pictured below, women's basketball)

Bulgaria- Yordan Yovchev (pictured middle, men's gymnastics)

Denmark- Kim Waae Knudsen (women's canoeing)

Egypt- Hesham Nesbah (men's judo)

Kazakhstan- Nurmakhan Tinliyev (men's wrestling)






Reports from the Olympic Village Via Twitter


We have seen various tweets tonight about the Olympics: From folks watching the games on tv in Providence, Rhode Island, to some of the actual competitors at the 2012 London Olympics.

Here are eight tweets we have collected from Saturday night; Saturday was the first official day of Olympic competition:

1) Michael Ian Black @michaelianblack: Every gymnast who doesn't break their neck deserves a gold medal.

2) Hayva @havruss: Yes! Nurden Karagox cleared 85 kg!*

3) Jason Davis @davisjsn: NBC pays billions of dollars to give us coverage about the Olympics instead of actually showing, you know, the Olympics.

4) Meghan Kathleen @mbk51: "Dude doing gymnastics for us looks like Carlton from Fresh Prince. Awesome floor routine bro.

5) Miguel Ponce @migsy312: "gymnasts and swimmers have to be some of the most pristine category of athletes on the planet."

6) Joseph Birdsong: "Every time someone younger than me wins a gold medal, I look in the mirror and whisper to myself, "I hate you."

7) Adam Fogle @adam_fogle: "McDonald's sponsoring the Olympics is like Marlboro sponsoring the Olympics" **

8) Susan Francia @zfrancia: "So awesome waking up to all the messages of support! Thank You!"***

*-The Turkish women's weightlifter Nurdan Karagoz (pictured on top) lifted 83 kilograms in the snatch and 104 kilograms in the clutch in her division for a fifth place finish. Karagoz was the only non-Asian athlete in the top six. Wang Minguan of China won gold in the event.

**-The Big Mac is MacDonald's signature burger (pictured middle) though we are not fast food connoisseurs the  views expressed by Adam Fogle are not ones we share, but one has to doubt that the likes of Jordyn Wieber, a standout American women's gymnast, eats burgers and fries on a daily basis.

***-This is an official tweet from Susan Francia, an American rower who has had a remarkable career. But, she is perhaps best known for her risque quasi-nude photos which nay 14-year-old boy can find on the web; we chose not to post them here so we can remain popular in Dubai.



Saturday, July 28, 2012

Quote of the Day- Anthony Hopkins

We conclude our series of quotes from actors who have played real-life American presidents with a comment from the Welsh actor Anthony Hopkins, 74, who played Richard M. Nixon in the Oliver Stone film "Nixon" (1995).

Hopkins is not the only actor from the United Kingdom who has played Nixon on film as Robert Lisden played the president at the center of the Watergate scandal in the cinematic comic book adaptation "Watchmen" (2009).

American actor Frank Langella played Nixon in the exceptional film "Frost/Nixon" (2008); Philip Baker Hall also portrayed him in the Robert Altman film "Secret Honor" (1984).

Nixon has been played in an opera as James Maddalena played him in the opera "Nixon in China," which debuted in Houston, Tex., on Oct. 22, 1987, and the New York Metropolitan Opera debuted the opera last year with the actor reprising his role.

That opera is the subject of an excellent article in Sept. 2012 issue of "Mental Floss," which also said the best time for blogging is 9:30 a.m. Well, it is about that time in Dubai where we are presumably very popular?!

Here is the quote from Hopkins, who won an Oscar for his role as Hannibal Lecter, a serial killer, in the film "Silence of the Lambs" (1991), which made him the first actor to win the Academy Award for playing a murderer. Yes, we forgot about Marlon Brando who played a gangster in "The Godfather" (1972):

"I am able to play monsters well. I understand monsters. I understand mad men."

PS_ We will start blogging on the 2012 London Olympics tomorrow.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Quote of the Day- Gary Sinise

Today, we continue our series of quotes from actors who have played real-life presidents with a quip from Gary Sinise, 57, who has been on the CBS police drama "CSI:New York" since 2004.

Ironically, Sinise, a Republican, played President Harry S. Truman, a Democrat in the HBO film "Truman" (1995). Alas, this week's that film's director Frank Pierson, also an Oscar-winning screenwriter, died at age 87 this week.

Sinise was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor in the film "Forrest Gump" (1994) with Tom Hanks. in spite of political differences Sinise is reportedly a close friend with Hanks, a Democrat, and the two have appeared in six films together, including "Forrest Gump," which also won a Best Actor for Hanks and a Best Picture Oscar.

Recently, Sinise gave a benefit concert in Martinsville, Va., for area resident Marine J.B. Kerns, who lost both legs and his right arm resulting from an explosive device while he was serving in Afghanistan, with the actor's musical group The Lt. Dan Band, named after Sinise's character in "Forrest Gump."

The concert was a part of the Hope for Warriors project which Sinise is involved in.

The Harry S. Truman Museum and Library is located in Independence, Missouri.

Here is Sinise's quote:

"Sometimes you're in great demand. Then suddenly your career hits the brakes."






Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Quote of the Day- Henry Fonda

We continue our series of quotes from actors who have played real-life presidents on film or television or both, with a quip from late Henry Fonda (1905-1982) who finally won an Oscar for "On Golden Pond" (1981) which co-starred his daughter Jane Fonda.

Henry Fonda is one of 20 actors (or perhaps more) who have played President Abraham Lincoln, including most recently Benjamim Walker who played the 16th president in "Abarahm Lincoln, Vampire Hunter."

Fonda played Lincoln in "Young Mr. Lincoln" (dir. John Ford, 1939), which is available from the Criterion Collection. Two of Fonda's other films will air on TCM this month. They are "The Big Street" (1942) and "The Fugitive" (1947).

Fonda and the late Marlon Brando, also a native of Omaha, Neb., both made their stage debut at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

Here is Fonda's quote:

"I've been close to Bette Davis for 38 years, and I have the cigarette burns to prove it."



Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Quote of the Day- Nick Nolte

Today, we continue to quote actors who have played presidents with a quip from Nick Nolte, 71, who came to fame in the late-1970s thanks in part for his performance in the tv mini-series "Rich Man, Poor Man," which was a sensation at the time.

Notable films in Nolte's filmography include "48 Hours" (dir. Walter Hill, 1982), "Cape Fear" (dir. Martin Scorsese, 1990) and "The Prince of Tides" (dir. Barbara Streisand, 1991).

He played President Thomas Jefferson in the feature film "Jefferson in Paris" (dir. James Ivory, 1995) with Gwyneth Paltrow playing his daughter. Ironically, Paltrow's mom Blythe Danner played Martha Jefferson, the mother of Paltrow's character in real life, in the musical film "1776" (dir. Peter H. Hunt, 1972).

Today, on our other blog "Poltics, Cultures and Other Wastes of Time," we are quoting Charlton Heston who played Jefferson in a tv movie entitled "The Patriots," as Heston played another president Andrew Jackson in the feature film "The Buccaneer" (dir. Anothony Quinn, 1958).

Here is Nolte's quote:

"If you have a film that's valid, you stick your ass on the line."

SIDELINE: In a quick sports note, in minor league action in the Carolina League, the hometown Lynchburg Hillcats (Lynchburg, Va.) fell to the Potomac Nationals (Woodbridge, Va., near Washington, DC), a farm team of the Washington Nationals, by a score of 10-1. The Nationals scored on nine runs in the fourth inning of the game. For the visitors, Matt Grace, 23, a UCLA alumni (6-10), was the winning pitcher over Cody Martin, 22 (10-7) for the Hillcats. The same two teams play tomorrow.





Monday, July 23, 2012

Quote of the Day- Jeff Daniels

The always provocative center-left magazine "The New Republic" tweeted the following question tonight (paraphrase): "Will partisan presidential campaign rhetoric still continue during the Olympics?," which does keenly illustrate that right now The United States of America is perhaps as politically divided as our southern neighbors Mexico, where we gather they are still tallying the votes.

So, since this is an election year, and we have already quoted presidents, vice presidents and even candidates who lost the election and never became 'el presidente' (ie. John McCain and John Kerry), we thought we'd quote actors who have played American president on film and for television.

We start with Jeff Daniels, 57, who I saw in concert (yes, he sings too and he is quite good at it) at the Carolina Theatre in Durham, NC, last year. Daniels is known for films like "The Purple Rose of Cairo" (dir. Woody Allen, 1984) and "Squid and the Whale" (dir. Noah Bambach, 2005), but he played Gen. George Washington in the tv movie "The Crossing" (2000). The actor/singer is currently starring the hit HBO series "The Newsroom" and he is on the cover of this month's "Cigar Aficionado" magazine.

Interestingly, Oscar-winning, liberal-turned Tea Partier actor Jon Voight played Washington in the right-wing comedy "An American Carol" (2008) which spoofed Michael Moore, but the film did not perform well at the box office nor did it help get McCain elected. Voight also played Franklin D. Roosevelt" in the film "Pearl Harbor," so he will be quoted here at some point this week.

For the moment, here is the quote from Daniels:

"And the actors tend to want to watch themselves very often. I'm one of those guys."








Sunday, July 22, 2012

Teaser- Here Come the Olympics

The 2012 London Olympics get underway with the opening ceremonies on Friday. Those of us in the United States will once again be relying on the voice of Bob Costas, the NBC sports announcer who broke through as a baseball announcer, to help guide up through an event with 10,500 athletes from 204 countries.

Jordyn Wieber, 17, (pictured above) will likely be one of the American athletes which Costas and company will focus on the most as she is the 2011 all-around champion in women's gymnastics.. Since Mary Lou Retton, 44, gave a break-through performance at the 1984 Olympics, the sport has been among the most popular ones for tv spectators in this country on a continuous basis.

Guor Marial, 28, an Iowa State alum who is a marathon runner, will be one of the very few athletes not representing one of the 204 countries at the summer games as his country South Sudan which broke away from Sudan is not yet recognized in the international sports community. Similary, Marial has not lived in the United States long enough to qualify for citizenship. So, he will be walking in the opening ceremonies under the Olympic flag.

For those of us of Turkish heritage, there is also excitement because for the first time since 1960 Turkey will have teams competing in The Olympics. There are actually two teams from Turkey that will be at the games in both women's basketball and women's volleyball.

Nevriye Yilmaz, 32, the first Turkish woman to play in the WNBA, with her last stint being with the San Antonio Silver Stars in 2004, is one of the most-recognized members of the squad. Yilmaz was actually born in Bulgaria, but her family of Turkish ethnicity emigrated to Turkey when she was nine.

Amazingly enough, one of Yilmaz's teammates for Team Turkey is an African-American basketball player Quanita Hollingsworth, 23, a Virginia Commonwealth Univeristy alum who now plays for the New York Liberty. She obtained Turkish citizenship to play for Turkey's national team.

Hollingsworth said she will have mixed emotions when Turkey plays the United States in group play; the two countries also face each other in women's volleyball (see earlier entries about Turkey and the Olympics..





Sunday Funnies- A Quote from Zippy the Pinhead

Since we 'got into trouble' for hotlinking an image of the Bill Griffith comic strip "Zippy the Pinhead," we thought we'd go with this image of The Coneheads, characters that first appeared on "Saturday Night Live" in the 1970s. Some believe The Coneheads was influenced by the cult comic strip, which was also mentioned in an episode of "Seinfeld."

We are taking this quip from the relatively-new collection "Lost and Found," which not only features Zippy the Pinhead, but many tales involving Griffith's other signature character Mister Toad. Parents should perhaps be warned that some pieces in the book from Griffith's early years of cartooning originally appeared in comic strip characters. Gosh, I just sounded like Nancy Reagan there...and, I'm not a Republican!

Here is the quote:

"Mr. Ed is the illegitimate offspring of Captain Kangaroo and Donna Reed." 


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Things We Learned on Web Today: What is a Mittconception?

Since it's a Saturday night, and all us here at "The Daily Vampire" are suffering from some sort of brain parasite that one can only get from cats (this is a joke; though there was an article this year in "The Atlantic" about a Czech scientist who thinks he's discovered such a parasite), we thought we'd try to have some fun.

For starters, we learned the following term from The Urban Dictionary: Mittconception. This a fundamental belief of Mitt Romney, based on mistaken understanding of an issue (one of many).

And, we read some of the following tweets on Twitter. Many are related to yesterday's tragic gun shooting at a cinema in Aurora, Colo. Some are somber; some are serious.

Here they are:

@MaryLowyr1: "Possible solution to gun controversy: Assault weapons stay legal, but only women can buy any of them."

@WSOC_TV (tv station in Charlotte, NC): "Trooper: Alcohol, drugs a factor in 3-vehicle crash."

@MichealIdato: "People killed in one year by guns: Australia: 35, Germany: 194, Canada: 200, USA
9,484. #theatreshooting"

@DenverPost: "UPDATE:  "Friend of #theatreshooting victim Alex Teres says he was 'one of the best men I ever knew.'

@JapanTimes (in reference to North Korea's new dictator, the son of the late Kim Jong II): "Kim Juny Un invites dad's chef back."







@Current: "We have to stand up and demand this from our elected officials, if not now, then when? Colin Goddard* on gun laws."

*-Goddard is a survivor of the Virginia Tech shooting massacre which happened in April of 2007.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Olympics Host Cities Distance Quiz (6 of 6) London to Rio de Janeiro

We conclude our six-entry series on the distances between Olympic cities as we look at how London, England, United Kingdom, the city that will host the Olympics next week, is from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the city that is scheduled to hold the summer games in 2016. Rio de Janeiro will be the first South American city to host the games, and the first Latin American city since Mexico City hosted the Olympics in 1968.

One of the most interesting questions that many Olympic spectators have is which country will be most competitive with the American men's basketball team. Joining Team America in Pool A are Argentina, France, Lithuania, Nigeria and Tunisia; the first game for the American squad will be against France on July 29th.

For those of us who are Turkish-Americans, we will be in a bit of a delicate situation as far national loyalties as the United States faces Turkey in both women's basketball (on August 1st) and women's volleyball (on August 5th). But, shockingly, Turkey's men's national basketball team with NBA players Hedo Turkoglu and Mehmet Okur apparently did not qualify for London.

For American travelers, it should be pointed out that I read in a magazine article recently that an American tourist who had traveled all the way to Brazil had to return home because he did not get a visa beforehand! 

So, how far are these two cities?

A) 5,567 miles

B) 5, 667 miles

C) 5, 767 miles

D) 5, 867 miles

SIDEBAR: Of course, our sincerest condolences go out to to family members and surviving victims of the shooting at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado, which killed at least 14 people, during the midnight premiere of "Batman: The Dark Knight Rises." We are planning a possible blog entry to explore how the tragic event was discussed in various social media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter.

UPDATE: The answer is C....yeah, it's a very long flight!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Olympics Cities Destination Quiz (5 of 6) Atlanta to Seoul

We could perhaps call this entry "Beauty and the Beast," since we are featuring images of American gymnast Dominique Dawes, 36, and Turkish weightlifter Naim Suleymanoglu, 45, as we look at the distance between Atlanta, where the 1996 Olympics were held, and Seoul, where the 1988 Olympics took place.

Dawes and six other American gymnasts nicknamed "The Magnificent Seven," perhaps in reference to the western movie with Charles Bronson of that same name (well, we don't have time to research and verify everything), won team in front of home spectators at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics .

In recent years, Dawes has become a highly touted public speaker and physical fitness advocate. Her teammate Dominique Moceau, 30, has recently published a memoir called "Off Balance" about her trials and tribulations as an elite gymnast. And, another member of that team, Shannon Miller, 35, has survived a serious battle with cancer.

In addition to the team gold, Miller won gold on balance beam, Dawes won bronze on the floor and another American team gymnast Amy Chow, 34, won silver on bars, an event which was won by Russian gymnast Svetlana Khorkina, 33, a feat she repeated at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

The 1988 Seoul Olympics were the first ones to have the United States and the Soviet Union since the 1976 Montreal Olympics, and coincidentally they were the last Olympics between the two countries as the U.S.S.R. abruptly dissolved in 1991.

For those games, which were boycotted by neighboring North Korea, Suleymanoglu, 45, won gold  and set new world records in weightlifter. The athlete nicknamed "the Pocket Hercules," sought political asylum from Turkey's neighbor Bulgaria via Australia due to the fact that Bulgarian citizens of Turkish heritage were being oppressed by the communist regime in Sofia. He would go on to win two more gold medals in the sport at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, then in Atlanta.

The 1988 Seoul Olympics were also noted for American diver Greg Louganis, 52, successful efforts, which garnered him another two gold medals. And, Soviet gymnast Svetlana Boginskaya, 39, who would later represent Belarus, won two gold meals in women's gymnastics in South Korea.

So, today's quiz is just far these two cities are from one another? Is the answer:

A) 7,003 miles

B) 7,123 niles

C) 7,223 miles

D) 7,563 miles





UPDATE: The answer is B) 7,123 miles, upon further research, we have come to the unofficial conclusion that Dominique Dawes, who is 5 feet, 3 inches tall, is about two inches taller than Naim Suleymanoglu!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Olympic Cities Destination Quiz (4 of 6)- Amsterdam to St. Louis

If one takes the quiz on the online version of "Mental Floss" asking which cities have hosted the Olympics, there is a  distinct possibility that Amsterdam, which hosted the games in 1928, and St. Louis, which hosted the Olympics in 1904, might be the ones which one might well forget.

The 1904 St. Louis Olympics were only the third Olympics; the first two were held in Athens, Greece, and Paris, France, respectively. Those games are perhaps best remembered for the story of Cuban marathon runner/postal carrier Andarin Caruajal (1875-1949) who begged on the streets to raise funds to travel to Missouri. He ended up finishing fourth!

The Netherlands hosted the games 24 years later with 46 countries participating, which was up considerably from the mere 12 countries who competed in St. Louis. Among the notable events of those games was American swimmer Johnny Weissmuller (1904-1984), who was later cinema's Tarzan, winning two gold medals in men's swimming. The 1928 Amsterdam Olympics were also the first ones sponsored by Cocal Cola.

In case you were wondering, that is a map of St. Louis (there were way too many photos of the Arch to choose from) above. The below image is of KLM, the main airline for The Netherlands/Holland.

So, we are asking just how far these two destinations are from each other, my apologies to folks in Turku, Finland, who use the Metric system, but we are going with miles here; is the answer?:

A) 4,374 miles

B) 4,474 miles

C) 4,574 miles

D) 4, 774 miles






UPDATE: Since it has been more than 24 hours since we posted this, we'll go ahead and tell you the answer; it is A) 4,374 miles.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Turkish Earthquake Survivor Heads to Olympics

For the first time in the history of women's Olympic gymnastics, there will be a competitor from Turkey as Goksu Uctas, 22, will be representing Turkey at the 2012 London Olympics, which start in two weeks on July 27th.

Uctas, who was born in the southeastern province of Gazinantep,  grew up in the Bolu province (some three hours east of Istanbul ) when her and her family had to come to terms with the 1999 earthquake which killed between 17,000 and 18,000 people. That quake had struck some of the most populated regions of Turkeys, including Istanbul and Bursa.

Uctas, who idolized Russian gymnast Svetlana Khorkina, trained outdoors as a nine-year-old child during that period in her young life.

For the first time ever, Turkey will send more female athletes than male athletes to the summer games, as three other Muslim countries, Saudi Arabia, Brunei and Qatar will send female athletes to the Olympics for the first time.

Uctas won a silver medal on vault at the 2009 Mediterranean Games in Italy; this year at two separate world events, the gymnast won gold in floor, silver on the vault and silver on the game (Czech Republic) and a bronze in floor (Qatar).

She has apparently become a media sensation in Turkey, and stories about her have been written in media outlets around the world.

Quote of the Night-Lillian Hellman

Today, we continue our series of quotes from American writers with a quip from the great playwright and screenwriter Lillian Hellman (1905-1984) who penned the plays "The Children's Hour" (1934), "The Little Foxes" (1939) and "The Autumn Garden" (1951).

Here are some quick facts about Hellman:

-She was born to a Jewish family in New Orleans

_Close friends with fellow writer Dorothy Parker

_Had 30-year romantic relationship with mystery writer Dashiell Hammett*

_Was blacklisted by HUAC in the early '50s for her left-wing views (as was Hammett), but her career survived the witch hunt.

_Was played on film by Jane Fonda in the film "Julia" (1977).

Here is her quote:

"If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don't listen to writers talking about writing or themselves."

*_In previous posts, we had not spelled Dashiell Hammett's first name correctly

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Quote of the Night-William S. Burroughs

Tonight, we continue quoting famous American authors with a quip from my personal favorite William S. Burroughs (1914-1997). His best-known work is the novel "Naked Lunch" (1953) which was made into a film of the same name in 1991 by Canadian director David Cronenberg. Other famous novels by Burroughs include "Junky" (1953) and "The Soft Machine" (1961, pictured here).

Here are some brief facts about his life:

_Lived much of his abroad including time spent in London, Paris, Mexico City and Tangier (Morocco), and he lived most of his senior years in Lawrence, Kansas.

_He had a son named William Burroughs Jr. (1947-1981) who wrote the novel "Speedy." Tragically, the younger Burroughs died at age 33 from liver disease.

Here is the quote from the author of "The Soft Machine:"

"A cat's rage is beautiful, burning with pure cat flame, and its hair standing up and crackling blue sparks, eyes blazing and sputtering."

Quote of the Day/Week- Gertrude Stein

We continue our series of quotes from American writers with a quip from Gertrude Stein (1874-1976) who was played in the Woody Allen movie "Midnight in Paris" by Oscar-winner Kathy Bates (pictured). "The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas" is among her famous works:

"I write for myself and strangers. This is the only way that I can do it."

SIDEBAR: Arielle Martin, 26, a BMX women's biker from Cedar Hills, Utah, who will compete at the 2012 London Olympics is the subject of an excellent feature in "The Deseret Morning News" (Salt Lake City newspaper) by Amy Donaldson. Martin crashed during the world championships for the sport in China  in 2008 (not during the Olympics). But, she has not only made a full recovery; she will also compete for the United States at the 2012 London Olympics.



Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Quote of the Day/Week- F. Scott Fitzgerald

Today's quote of the day is from F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1944), the famed Minnesota novelist who died age 44. Last year, a characterization of him was in the Woody Allen movie "Midnight in Paris." He was played by Tom Hiddleston.

In a tragic irony, his wife Zelda Sayre (known as Zelda Fitzgerald) also died young at age 48 in 1948. She was played in the same Allen film by Alison Pill.

Here are some other quick facts about F. Scott Fitzgerald:

_ Best-known for his novel "The Great Gatsby" (1925), which was made into a theatrical film in 1974 with Robert Redford playing the lead. I found a paperback copy of it at a nifty used bookstore in Wilmington, NC.

_Wrote the novel "Tender is the Night" (1934), which is the same title of a catchy Jackson Browne ballad, released in 1983.

_ A theatre named after him in St. Paul, Minn., was featured in Robert Altman's last film "A Prairie Home Companion"

Here is the quote:

"Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Quote of the Day- Carson McCullers

Today, we start a week-long series of quotes from famous American writers since the 4th of July, or Independence Day, was celebrated here last week.

We start with the distinguished Southern writer Carson McCullers (1917-1997), who died at age 50. She had suffered considerable health and personal problems during her short life. Two of her most famous novels "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" (1940) and "Member of the Wedding" (1946) were written before she turned 30. Her work has also been adapted to stage plays and film.

McCullers was born in Georgia, and wrote most of her famous novels while residing in Charlotte, NC.

Here is her quote:

"I live with the people I create and it has always made my essential loneliness less keen."

Monday, July 9, 2012

Things We Learned on the Internet Today-Banksy Got Banksied

This happened back in 2011, which was like 11 years ago in cyber-time, but the mystic, unknown street artist/vandal/cult icon Banksy's famous/infamous painting "Charlie Brown Arsonist" was stolen from its Hollywood Boulevard location in Los Angeles, and rumors have it that it got sold on e-bay. We are fairly certain that the Charles Schultz estate got none of the proceeds.

Incidentally, we learned from the web site for "Mental Floss" magazine that Schulz's "Peanuts" comic strip debuted back when Harry S. Truman was president!

Also, the following are trending on Bing: Natalie Wood, Anderson Silva, Afghan woman executed, Denise Rich, Adrien Peterson and Tom Cruise Divorce. Apparently, Katie Holmes didn't make the cut, but she will apparently reap lots of loot from the divorce and never have to go a Scientology gathering again.

The case of how the actress Natalie Wood ("Splendor in the Grass," "Rebel without a Cause") mysteriously died at age 43 in 1981 from an apparent drowning incident has been reopened as a file case.

Denise Rich is apparently a rich socialite who made millions producing records. Apparently, she was renounced her American citizenship to avoid paying taxes. Now, we see why this made headlines on Fox News (we saw it at a gas station; yes, it's normally a network we don't watch).

And, alas, a woman was apparently executed for adultery in Afghanistan. What is murky to us is whether this was an official execution carried out by the state, or if it was carried out by a civilian on his own accord. Either way, it is a travesty.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Remembering Ernest Borgnine

Two years ago I watched the film "The Vikings" (1958), as it was one of the only movies I could think of with three living actors from the golden age of Hollywood: Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis and Ernest Borgnine. As of today, Douglas is the only actor from the film who is still alive as Borgnine died at the age of 95.

Borgnine's contemporaries from that era also included the likes Burt Lancaster, Charlton Heston, Paul Newman, Lee Marvin, Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon.

Borgnine was also the oldest living Best Actor Oscar winner as he won the award for his title role in the film "Marty" (1955); Borgnine also appeared in the films "The Dirty Dozen" (1967), "The Wild Bunch" (1969) and "Escape from New York" (1981).

On his quotes was: "I don't care whether a part is 10 minutes long, or two hours long, and I don't care whether my name is up there on top, either."

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Image to Fill Space- The Pocket Hercules

Since I have just recently started working out, for the first time in six years, and on the occasion of the up-coming 2012 London Olympics, I thought it would be ironic (as I will never achieve his kind of muscular build) to feature an image of Turkish weight-lifting legend Naim Suleymanoglu.

Suleymanoglu, now age 45, won Olympic gold in three successive summer games: 1988 Seoul Olympics, 1992 Barcelona Olympics and 1996 Atlanta Olympics. The weight-lifter whose name caused problems for American tv announcers is also perhaps the most high-profile athlete to defect from one country to another. Though there have been some athletes like the barefoot runner Zola Budd who was from South Africa, during apartheid, who moved to England to compete for the United Kingdom during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Suleymanoglu left Bulgaria in a much more defiant manner.

His defection from Bulgaria to Turkey, two countries that neighbor each other, came in Australia, of all places. Suleymanoglu left Bulgaria because ethnic Turks, such as himself, were persecuted by the then-communist regime in Sofia. But, now Bulgaria and Turkey actually get along quite well, the same cannot be said for Turkey and Syria. Suleymanoglu reportedly had a heart attack in 2009, at an incredibly young age, but we were unable to find detailed information on the web about his predicament.

We had wondered what happened to the Soviet weightlifter who was featured in the opening montage of the now-defunct "ABC's Wide World of Sports," and while we researching this piece, we thought we'd dig up that info.

We had assumed the weightlifter was Armenian, but Vasily Aleskseyev (1942-2011), who died last year at the age of 69, is listed as being Russian according to Wikipedia.

But, there is an Armenian weight-lifter Tigran Martiosian who won a world championship in 2010 in Antalya, Turkey, a country which Armenia has complicated relations with.

As for the other famous figure in the opening montage, the Slovenian (which was then a part of Yugoslavia) ski-jumper Vino Bogataj is alive and well; in fact, in recent years, he has been a ski instructor.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Ten People Who Will Choose Our President (3 of 10)_ Taxi Driver in Charlotte

Name: John Baily

Job: Taxi Driver

Age: 34

Race: White

Residency: Charlotte, NC

Will Likely Vote for: Mitt Romney

 Yes, the Volkswagen taxi above is in Mexico City, and the row of taxis on the bottom are in Istanbul, but it is taxi drivers in cities in swing states, such as Charlotte, NC, who will decide if Barack Obama remains president of if Mitt Romney moves into the Oval Office.

In 2008, President Obama won Mecklenburg County (Charlotte) as well as other urban areas, including Guilford County (Greensboro) and Wake County (Raleigh) as well as college town communities, such as Orange County (Chapel Hill).

One of the surprised in the North Carolina vote in 2008 was that rural Caswell County, near the Virginia border and the city of Danville, Va., voted for Obama. But, mostly rural areas went for McCain, including Alamance County (Burlington) and Iredell County (Statesville).

The Democratic Convention will take place from Sept. 3-6th in Charlotte, and the city's mayor Anthony Foxx (D) says that he expects the Queen City to reap $160 million in benefits.

In the '08 election, Obama narrowly won the Tarheel State by a 0.3%, but the non-partisan private media company Rasmussen Reports shows Romney winning by a thin 47-44 margin. North Carolina overwhelmingly voted for the highly controversial gay marriage ban earlier this year. The Republicans also took over both houses in state government in 2012, and went to extreme measures to get right wing legislation passed on July 3rd.