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Picture of a musician: David Bowie
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Music
David Bowie

David Robert Jones (8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016), known professionally as David Bowie ( BOH-ee), was an English singer-songwriter and actor. A leading figure in the music industry, he is regarded as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Bowie was acclaimed by critics and musicians, particularly for his innovative work during the 1970s. His career was marked by reinvention and visual presentation, and his music and stagecraft had a significant impact on popular music.

Bowie developed an interest in music from an early age. He studied art, music and design before embarking on a professional career as a musician in 1963. "Space Oddity", released in 1969, was his first top-five entry on the UK Singles Chart. After a period of experimentation, he re-emerged in 1972 during the glam rock era with his flamboyant and androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust. The character was spearheaded by the success of Bowie's single "Starman" and album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which won him widespread popularity. In 1975, Bowie's style shifted towards a sound he characterised as "plastic soul", initially alienating many of his UK fans but garnering him his first major US crossover success with the number-one single "Fame" and the album Young Americans. In 1976, Bowie starred in the cult film The Man Who Fell to Earth and released Station to Station. In 1977, he again changed direction with the electronic-inflected album Low, the first of three collaborations with Brian Eno that came to be known as the "Berlin Trilogy". "Heroes" (1977) and Lodger (1979) followed; each album reached the UK top five and received lasting critical praise.

Picture of a musician: Guns N' Roses
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Music
Guns N' Roses

Guns N' Roses is an American hard rock band from Los Angeles, California, formed in 1985. When they signed to Geffen Records in 1986, the band comprised vocalist Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagan, and drummer Steven Adler. The current lineup consists of Rose, Slash, McKagan, guitarist Richard Fortus, drummer Frank Ferrer and keyboardists Dizzy Reed and Melissa Reese.

Guns N' Roses' debut album, Appetite for Destruction (1987), reached number one on the Billboard 200 a year after its release, on the strength of the top 10 singles "Welcome to the Jungle", "Paradise City", and "Sweet Child o' Mine", the band's only single to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The album has sold approximately 30 million copies worldwide, including 18 million units in the United States, making it the country's bestselling debut album and eleventh-bestselling album. Their next studio album, G N' R Lies (1988), reached number two on the Billboard 200, sold ten million copies worldwide (including five million in the U.S.), and included the top 5 hit "Patience". Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II, recorded simultaneously and released in 1991, debuted at number two and number one on the Billboard 200 respectively and have sold a combined 35 million copies worldwide (including 14 million units in the U.S.). The Illusion albums included the lead single "You Could Be Mine", covers of "Live and Let Die" and "Knockin' on Heaven's Door", and a trilogy of ballads ("Don't Cry", "November Rain", and "Estranged"), which featured notably high-budget music videos. The records were supported by the Use Your Illusion Tour, a world tour that lasted from 1991 to 1993. The covers album "The Spaghetti Incident?" (1993) was the last studio album to feature Slash and McKagan before their initial departure.

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Picture of a movie: The Hangover
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Movies
The Hangover
2009
Angelenos Doug Billings and Tracy Garner are about to get married. Two days before the wedding, the four men in the wedding party - Doug, Doug's two best buddies Phil Wenneck and Stu Price, and Tracy's brother Alan Garner - hop into Tracy's father's beloved Mercedes convertible for a 24-hour stag party to Las Vegas. Phil, a married high school teacher, has the same maturity level as his students when he's with his pals. Stu, a dentist, is worried about everything, especially what his controlling girlfriend Melissa thinks. Because she disapproves of traditional male bonding rituals, Stu has to lie to her about the stag, he telling her that they are going on a wine tasting tour in the Napa Valley. Regardless, he intends on eventually marrying her, against the advice and wishes of his friends. And Alan seems to be unaware of what are considered the social graces of the western world. The morning after their arrival in Las Vegas, they awaken in their hotel suite each with the worst hangover. None remembers what happened in the past twelve or so hours. The suite is in shambles. And certain things are in the suite that shouldn't be, and certain things that should be in the suite are missing. Probably the most important in the latter category is Doug. As Phil, Stu and Alan try to find Doug using only what little pieces of information they have at hand, they go on a journey of discovery of how certain things got into the suite and what happened to the missing items. However they are on a race for time as if they can't find Doug in the next few hours, they are going to have to explain to Tracy why they are not yet back in Los Angeles. And even worse, they may not find Doug at all before the wedding.
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Picture of a book: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
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Books
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Mark Twain
I was five and a half years old when my mother gave me The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as a New Year's gift (she is a literature teacher, and I have been reading novels since the tender age of four or so, and so it seemed appropriate).Being a diligent and serious¹ child (neither of those qualities have stuck with me, unfortunately), I opened it to page 1 and started reading. I even took it with me to kindergarten, where other kids were learning letters and I was mercifully allowed to read hefty tomes, having obviously achieved full literacy by that point.¹ \ Me (age 5) and Mom. The diligent seriousness is *all over* this picture. This book initially left me quite confused, but I was undeterred - after all, the world was a confusing place, full of adults and rules and great books - even those without pictures. (And I was very proud to own books without pictures, after all). But his one was just too strange - its beginning did not quite fit with the rest of the quite fun story - it was odd and dry and incomprehensible for the first 40 pages or so, and it even was about some other guy (Samuel Clemens?) who was not Tom Sawyer.A few years later I reread my early childhood favorite (I probably reached a ripe old age of eight or so, still diligent but a bit less serious already). It was then that I figured out what seemed strange about the beginning of this book when I was five.You see, I diligently slogged my way through the most boring academic foreword, assuming that was the first chapter. What amazes me that I managed to stay awake through it. Good job, five-year-old me! Excellent preparation for that painfully boring biochemistry course a couple of decades later!After that foreword, slogging through any classic was a comparative breeze. Yes, I'm looking at you, War and Peace! You know what you did, you endless tome.Also, as it turns out, when you include two characters named Joe in one book (Injun Joe and Tom's classmate Joe Harper) that can cause a certain amount of confusion to a five-year-old who assumes they have to be the same person and struggles really hard to reconcile their seemingly conflicting characters. And, as a side note, I have always been disappointed at Tom Sawyer tricking his friends to do the infamous fence whitewashing. A *real* kid knows after all that painting stuff is fun. Five-year-old me was a bit disapproving of the silliness. I have told bits and pieces of this book to my friends on the playground, while dangling from the monkey bars or building sandcastles (in a sandbox, that in retrospect I suspect was used by the neighborhood stray cats as a litterbox - but I guess you have to develop immunity to germs somehow). We may have planned an escape to an island in a true Tom Sawyer fashion, but the idea fizzled. After all, we did not have an island nearby, which was a problem. Also, we may have got distracted by the afternoon cartoons.Someday, I just may have to leave this book within a reach of my future hypothetical daughter - as long as I make sure it does not come with a long-winded boring introduction.
Picture of a book: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
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Books
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain
After reading Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I realized that I had absolutely nothing to say about it. And yet here, as you see, I have elected to say it anyway, and at great length. Reading this novel now, at the age of mumble-mumble, is a bit like arriving at the circus after the tents have been packed, the bearded lady has been depilated, and the funnel cake trailers have been hitched to pick-up trucks and captained, like a formidable vending armada, toward the auburn sunset. All the fun has already been used up, and I’m left behind circumnavigating the islands of elephant dung and getting drunk on Robitussin®. Same story, different day. How exactly did I make it through eight total years of high school and undergraduate studies in English without having read any Mark Twain but a brief (and forgotten) excerpt from Life on the Mississippi? Isn’t this illegal by now? I mean, isn’t there a clause in the Patriot Act... an eleventh commandment... a dictate from Xenu? Isn’t Huckleberry Finn, like Romeo and Juliet and To Kill a Mockingbird, now an unavoidable teenage road bump between rainbow parties and huffing spray paint? Isn’t it the role of tedious classic literature to add color and texture to the pettiness of an adolescence circumscribed by status updates, muff shaving, and shooting each other? Or am I old-fashioned? Let’s face it. In the greater social consciousness, there are two stars of this book: (1) the word 'nigger' and (2) the Sherwood Schwartz-style ending in which Tom Sawyer reappears and makes even the most casual reader wonder whether he might not be retarded. Huckleberry Finn, for all his white trash pedigree, is actually a pretty smart kid -- the kind of dirty-faced boy you see, in his younger years, in a shopping cart at Wal-Mart, being barked at by a monstrously obese mother in wedgied sweatpants and a stalagmite of a father who sweats tobacco juice and thinks the word 'coloreds' is too P.C. Orbiting the cart, filled with generic cigarette cartons, tabloids, and canned meats, are a half-dozen kids, glazed with spittle and howling like Helen Keller over the water pump, but your eyes return to the small, sad boy sitting in the cart. His gaze, imploring, suggestive of a caged intellect, breaks your heart, so you turn and comparison-shop for chewing gum or breath mints. He is condemned to a very dim horizon, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it, so you might as well buy some Altoids and forget about it... That boy is the spiritual descendant of Huckleberry Finn. The 'nigger' controversy -- is there still one? -- is terribly inconsequential. It almost seems too obvious to point out that this is (a) firstly a 'period novel,' meaning it that occurs at a very specific historical moment at a specific location and (b) secondly a first-person narrative, which is therefore saddled with the language, perspective, and nascent ideologies of its narrator. Should we expect a mostly uneducated, abused adolescent son of a racist alcoholic who is living in the South before the Civil War to have a respectful, intellectually-enlightened perspective toward black people? Should the character of Huck Finn, in other words, be ahistorical, anachronistic? Certainly not, if we expect any semblance of honesty from our national literature. Far more troubling to many critics is the ending of Huckleberry Finn, when -- by a freakishly literary coincidence -- Huck Finn is mistaken for Tom Sawyer by Tom’s relatives, who happen to be holding Jim (the slave on the run) in hopes of collecting a reward from his owners. There are all sorts of contrivances in this scenario -- the likes of which haven’t been seen since the golden age of Three’s Company -- which ends with Tom arriving and devising a ridiculously elaborate scheme for rescuing Jim. All in all, the ending didn’t bother me as much as it bothered some essayists I’ve read. That is, it didn’t strike me as especially conspicuous in a novel which relies a great deal on narrative implausibility and coincidence. Sure, Tom Sawyer is something of an idiot, as we discover, but in a novel that includes faked deaths and absurd con jobs, his idiocy seems well-placed. In the end, I suppose the greatest thing I can say about this novel is that it left me wondering what happened to Huck Finn. Would his intellect and compassion escape from his circumstances or would he become yet another bigoted, abusive father squiring another brood of dirty, doomed children around a fluorescently-lit Wal-Mart?
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