The Blog Squad

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Rich Mag on the scene: Vick's court appearance

A couple hundred protesters, a few fans, a bunch of downtown office workers and, oh yeah, every media outlet from here to Kalamazoo showed up downtown on Bank Street to see Atlanta Falcons QB Michael Vick make his appearance at federal court this afternoon to face arraignment on animal cruelty charges related to a dogfighting ring in Surry County. A few pictures from the street:

PETA signs depicting wounded pit bulls were on heavy display, while others came up with clever slogans for their banners.

Allison Drezek (left), mother Dee Drezek and Allison's pit Nemo (wearing a "Stop Killing My Family" T-shirt) showed up to protest Vick.

Fewer people protested Vick's innocence.

"Bad Newz" is the name of the dogfighting ring, which came from a nickname for Vick's hometown, Newport News.

TV camera operators and other photographers made up a large part of the crowd.

Y101 radio personalities "Sludge" (Brian Haddad, in plaid shirt) and Abe Kanan, wearing costumes from Premiere, were barking up the right tree to publicize their station.

No. 1131938 ("That's what they call me by," said this Vick protester, who wouldn't give his name) says the former Virginia Tech standout might have to trade his football for a ball and chain.

The man arrives (second from right), to both boos and cheers. Presumably it was a little quieter in the courthouse.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bad Newz Sports

For crying out loud, what’s going on in sports? Michael Vick. Barry Bonds. Gambling referee. Has there ever been a worse time in American sports history? (And, yes, that's hypothetical. No doubt that those with longer memories could recount other scandalous eras.)

I’m sure you all have read the stories and know most of the details, but I’d like to bring up a few points that left me crosseyed.

Michael Vick: How did this mess become public? If you remember, Vick’s cousin, Davon Boddie, was busted for distribution of marijuana and possession with intent to distribute. A search warrant was issued based on suspicion after the arrest.

Now we all know Boddie lived in the Surry County house Vick owned and what authorities found there.

But the eyebrow-raising thing to me is that in the federal indictment for dogfighting, Boddie was not listed. Why?

He lived there, after all. That’s where the activity took place. Why was Boddie not named with Vick and the other three who were indicted? What sound does a canary make?

Barry Bonds: Word is that Patrick Arnold, inventor of “the clear,” told HBO Sports' Bob Costas that Bonds knew he was taking steroids. But at the same time, the chemist says he never met Bonds.

Man, I just wish someone would tell the truth. Maybe it would be better when Bonds breaks the record and then goes away.

Gambling referee. His name is Tim Donaghy, and he could go down as the most notorious sports figure in history. Even worse than Shoeless Joe Jackson or Pete Rose.

The stunning thing about this sickening situation is that Donaghy earned a good salary. The Associated Press reported he made $260,000 last year. I’m sure it’s a different world than the one I live in, but how can you get in deep with the mob making that kind of coin? Plus he’s a referee who works less than 200 hours a year! You gotta be some kind of stupid to screw up a gig like that.

In light of all the filth, there is something that reminds me that sports still can be good. Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this weekend. They are two of the classiest athletes of my generation.

OUT AT HOME: I visited my father and brother in Northern Virginia last weekend, and the three of us moved seven logs that were six feet long and about two feet (my dad claims they are only a foot) thick. How we moved them, I don’t have any clue. But we did He-Man the logs several feet out of the way.

So a few hours later, as we filled ourselves with white rice and five-spice beef at our favorite Szechuan restaurant, I felt a paralyzing pain. My back. My aching back.
“That’s why I told you to use your legs more,” my dad said, offering me jasmine tea but no sympathy.

I left the restaurant stiff, walking like if I sneezed, I might have an accident. Arriving costumers must have wondered, "What the hell did he eat?"
It’s been several days now, and my back is no better. I really should go see a doctor. My lawn needs mowing, and other chores are piling up.

This latest incident just reminds me that I’m getting old. Because nothing says “old man” more than me scrunched over, holding my lower back with both hands and asking my wife and daughter to wait up.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: You’ve heard of the Rain Man, now meet Stephen Wilshire. He’s perhaps the most amazing of all savants. His nickname is “The Living Camera.” This demonstration is truly remarkable. —Gage Harter

Conference on Immigrant Rights

There’s no doubt that immigration and immigrant rights are hot topics. But many worry that much gets lost in a wave of political jargon and that all sides are not equally heard, which is why the National Immigrant Solidarity Network is hosting a three-day conference of workshops at the University of Richmond beginning Friday.

Workshop topics will include congressional legislation, multi-ethnic organizing and militarization of the border. The film Reel Bad Arabs, which examines stereotypical “evil” Arabs in Hollywood blockbusters, will also be shown. Registration is $20 or $15 for students. For more information, call (202) 595-8990 or visit

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Luxuriate at Le Visage

Newly opened makeup boutique Le Visage, which we first told you about in the July Carytown Guide, and Carytown bath and body mainstay Soak! are hosting an open house pampering party on Aug. 2 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Le Visage (3007 W. Cary St.). Guests can stop in to receive a discount on Le Visage’s makeup, pick up coupons to use at Soak!, enjoy refreshments, and enter to win a private makeup party at Le Visage or a month’s supply of Soak! fizzy bath bombs. Or, if you’re looking to make an evening of it, call ahead to RSVP and schedule a time for a free makeover, hand-acial (a series of treatments similar to a facial that condition hands) and massage. Also make sure to swing by other boutiques around town since that evening is also Fashion First — lots of shops will be open late hosting fun events.

Barry Bonds: You Make the Call

Barry Bonds steps in. AND the windup. The pitch. Here’s a high fly ball, deep to right. It’s gone. Bighead Bonds is now the home-run chump. Boo, America! The most hallowed of all sports records has been spit on.

Now that’s how I would call the Cheater’s historic home run. I know, I know, he hasn’t been caught using steroids and even if he did use performance-enhancing drugs, it was during an era when they were not so illegal.

Spare me any defense of Bonds. I don’t want to be asked how steroids help a batter hit the ball. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people, right? Give me a break. We will never agree.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of this chase is how broadcasters will call No. 756, particularly San Francisco Giants play-by-play men Jon Miller and Dave Flemming.

The two have had months — more than that, a couple of years — to think of how they would call the historic shot.

I spoke with Richmond Braves’ radio broadcaster Robert Fish and asked him how he would approach the call. This is his answer: “Here's the pitch ... Bonds swings, and there's a high fly ball, deep to right field. Back it goes … IT’S GONE! There it is! Number 756 for Bonds. One of baseball’s most hallowed records is broken, and Barry Bonds is now the new all-time home-run champion.”

Notice the similarities? Except Fish does not believe steroids should be an issue at that moment.

“I think the game and the event is separate from the steroid allegations and the cloud of suspicion that Bonds is under,” Fish says. “So the call of the actual event has to focus on just that, in my opinion.”

Now, don’t think for a minute Fish is a Bonds fan. He’s just a professional.

“I’m not rooting for Bonds to break the record, personally,” Fish says. “I was a huge (Hammerin’ Hank) Aaron fan growing up, and had no problems with him breaking Babe Ruth’s record, but Bonds is a different subject. As I said, we don’t know really what he’s done, but he’s done something to gain an edge. It’s too bad really, because early in his career he was a very talented player who didn’t need to ‘cheat.’ ”

Here are a couple of links to other opinions of play-by-play guys. Pay close attention to what Cincinnati Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman says. I love it!

And for those of you who forgot or never heard it. Here’s a call by Milo Hamilton that will make you appreciate a true home-run champion: “Henry Aaron, in the second inning walked and scored. He’s sittin’ on 714. Here’s the pitch by Downing. Swinging. There’s a drive into left-center field. That ball is gonna beeeee outta here! It’s gone! It’s 715! There is a new home-run champion of all-time … and it’s Henry Aaron!”

Brings chills to my spine.

My 21-month-old daughter has a biting problem. She’s been written up at school twice and has left her mark on my wife’s arm. I’ve tried to teach her biting is bad by giving her a timeout whenever it happens.

“Do you bite your friends?” I ask.

“No,” she replies.

But just to be sure she understands, I ask her a follow-up question.

“Do you love Daddy?”


Hmmmm. I wonder if she is telling the truth or has no idea what I’m talking about.

If anyone wants to offer advice, I’ll take it.

Since we’re talking steroids, maybe Bonds should use this dog as an excuse for his inflated body. The slugger could say it’s a genetic disorder. —Gage Harter

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Book Snob No More

On Saturday while I was waiting to have my car inspected, I headed over to Willow Lawn and passed by Book Market, the shop in the former home of Tower Records. I have to admit, I generally turn my nose up at discount bookstores: They are often full of books with damaged covers and leftover titles crammed on shelves. I don’t care to dig through a disorganized mess to find one good deal.

As I passed by Book Market, though, a book on making jewelry with items from a hardware store in the window caught my eye. It was priced at only $4.99 so I decided to head inside and flip through it. As I stepped inside, I was amazed by the selection and organization of the store. My hardware jewelry book was located in the "craft and hobby" section. I stayed there for a while perusing titles on remaking T-shirts and transforming old baskets into gifts and creative storage pieces.

Once I pulled myself out of that section, I took a look around the store. All of the books were neatly stacked on spacious tables with clear category labels. Each book was easy to see, and I didn’t feel overwhelmed by shelves and shelves filled with titles.

The “home” section housed books on throwing home parties and on decorating. I decided to leave one book completely devoted to color schemes with historical data on how they were used in the past behind. Over in “coffee table books” I spent a while reading up on makeup throughout history. In cookbooks, I excitedly picked up two South Beach Diet books ($6.99 and $7.99) that I’d been meaning to head to a full-price bookstore and purchase. I also gave into my love of reading diet books in the “self improvement” section, where there were current titles galore. A “humor” table was full of cute books that would make great gifts and notecards, which I especially don’t expect to find at book discounters. I almost bought one set of “Are You My Boyfriend?” cards ($3.99) with pictures of different dating stereotypes and amusing descriptions.

When I checked out, I told the manager how much I liked the store and he said they were getting in another shipment this Wednesday (today). Needless to say, I will definitely be adding Book Market to my normal rotation.

--Megan Marconyak

Monday, July 09, 2007

Richard Kelly Shoots in Richmond

We told you back in August 2006 that Donnie Darko director (and Midlothian High grad) Richard Kelly was in town scouting locations for his next film (and he was kind enough to swing by Velocity Comics for a signing while he was here). Well, according to the director's MySpace blog, it's now official: Production on The Box will begin in November, starring Cameron Diaz and filming in Richmond. As for Kelly's long-aborning and much-anticipated second film, Southland Tales, the director notes that a release date will be announced soon.

If you can't wait, don't forget that three graphic-novel prequels to Southland Tales, by Kelly and artist Brett Weldele, are now available for your reading pleasure.