Inside the Newsroom

News, commentary, insight on local happenings and fun from the staff of The Saline Reporter and Milan News-Leader.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sports book recommendations

There's a reason the phrase "summer reading" has become a cliche--this is the season when even the best of active intentions can give way to sheer "Wow, it's hot" inactive responses. Despite what I wrote in that last blog post, I don't think it's really a problem to skip out on the occasional workout when the sun is high and the temperatures are punishing--particularly if said downtime is spent with a cold glass of iced tea and a good book.

Me being me, a "good book" in many cases means a book about sports. I wrote a column last summer recommending a few good sports book options, but I think it's time I offered a few more here:

1. The Miracle of Castel Di Sangro, by Joe McGinniss: McGinniss made his name as a true-crime author, and his eye for detail combined with the stunning twists and turns that befall the small-town Italian soccer team Castel Di Sangro over the course of the season McGinniss spends with the team create a supremely gripping read. There are many, many sports books that follow a team around for a season and end up straining to present run-of-the-mill results or everyday experiences as something profound or suspenseful because, hey, there's a book to write. The triumphs and tragedies that surround Castel Di Sangro during McGinniss's stay in Italy, however, need no such exaggeration--they are heartbreaking and uplifting in a way we wouldn't have expected them to be even if McGinniss had made them up.

One caveat: as terrific as the tale McGinniss has to tell is, it becomes clear over the course of the book that the author also has an ego big enough to encompass all of Italy. He repeatedly informs the (very successful) Castel Di Sangro coach of his mistakes and makes his own suggestions; he publicly abuses the Castel Di Sangro administration that has given him the unprecedented level of access that allowed him to write the book in the first place; and the book ends with McGinniss throwing a juvenile hissy-fit over what he perceives as wrongdoing on the part of the Castel Di Sangro players. The drama is so palpable you can't help but like the book; just don't expect to like the author.

2. To Hate Like This is To Be Happy Forever, by Will Blythe: Another account of one team's season, this time the North Carolina basketball team's title-winning campaign in 2004, though this time from the perspective of a fan--and with the added bonus of Blythe's examination of the bitter Duke-North Carolina basketball rivalry, which gives the book its excellent title.

As a whole, the book could maybe use a bit more focus: Blythe simultaneously covers the Tar Heels' season, offers in-depth portrayals of several of the UNC players, discusses the Duke rivalry at length, interviews several fans on either side of the divide, and also provides a series of family vignettes that show what the sport and the Tar Heels meant in to Blythe's relationship with his father and family. Occasionally, you might find yourself wishing Blythe had stuck with just two or three perspectives and/or topics rather than trying to juggle so many.

Though there's no question: Blythe juggles them extremely well. The intensity of his fandom comes in loud and clear off the page and makes for interesting reading no matter what subject he's strayed on to, and the family mmoir sections are particularly affecting. It might not be a book that's greater than the sum of its parts, but those parts are pretty doggone good.

3. Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer: Whether you want to consider mountain-climbing a sport or not--it certainly isn't as practiced by many of the vain and unprepared fools who journey up Mount Everest in Krakauer's bone-chilling account of a 1996 storm that saw eight people die on the slopes of the world's tallest mountain--there's no question Into Thin Air is the story of competition: Man vs. Nature, Caution vs. Stupidity, Life vs. Death. It remains perhaps the most suspenseful and terrifying book I've ever read, helped immensely by Krakauer's talents as a journalist and writer. We know from the start that Krakauer returns from the mountain, but you can't turn the pages fast enough to discover the fates of the rest of his party as they become trapped on the side of the slope. Read this ASAP.

4. College football preview magazines:
So these are a little bit different kind of summer reading, but I find myself splurging on at least a couple every year and pulling them out over lunch breaks, just before bedtime, with my morning coffee. If you're a hardcore college football fanatic, you have to get a copy of Phil Steele's annual, which packs more information per inch than government spreadsheets, even if it also occasionally reads like one. If you don't necessarily eat and breathe college football but still want a nice overview of the season, I'd recommend the straightforward-but-still-comprehensive book done by the Sporting News. And if you're a Michigan diehard who could really care less about those other 118 D-I teams, take a look at Hail to the Victors, which delves far deeper into the X's-and-O's of Wolverine football and the impact of the new coaching staff than you'd find elsewhere.

Happy reading!

Side roads and tall corn

I had to drive out to Cone Road in Milan Township yesterday afternoon for a story and picture. It's a bit of hike from our offices in downtown Saline, but I was reminded what a wonderful time of year it is in Michigan to head out into the surrounding "farm country."

Maybe it's the cool clear light that really brings out the soft beauty of the countryside. The corn was tall on either side of me as I drove. The barns seemed to be a sharper rusty red, the farmhouses a brighter white. The sky was that wide open blue that makes you feel the world is domed by a pristine lake. I love the golden color of the rolled up hay and the way the rolls seem plopped down in the field.

The countryside around this area is a picture postcard this time of year. It was a beautiful drive.

And whenever the thought of the price of gas popped in my mind, I turned it away by turning back to admire the landscape of corn.

Any suggestions on more scenic drives nearby?

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Recognizing Local Businesses

Editor's Note: I wanted to share this news release with our faithful blog readers before it's published in the newspaper to offer an opportunity to you to nominate a local business before other entries come flooding in. I encourage you to join in the fun of honoring and supporting local business people.

Don’t miss an opportunity to reward your favorite business. Each year the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce honors two local businesses with the coveted Business Enterprise Award. This award represents the most prestigious mark of distinction given to any business in the Saline area market. The 13th annual Business Enterprise Awards program is now under way. One award will be presented to a business with 20 or fewer employees and one to a firm with more than 20 employees. The awards recognize established, successful companies that have exhibited exemplary business practices. Service to the community as well as a commitment to the health and productivity of the Saline area are also essential attributes.

Nominations are open to the entire community. Nomination forms with selection criteria are available at the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce, Saline City Hall, Saline District Library, Saline Community Education, and The Saline Reporter. Nominations must be received at the Chamber office, 141 East Michigan Avenue, by mail, fax, or in person by Sept. 3.

The following organizations have received this honor:

2007 Bemis Farms Preschool

JAC Products, Inc.

2006 American Aqua, Inc.

Evangelical Home-Saline & Brecon Village

2005 Carol’s Hallmark

Briarwood Ford

2004 Pack & Mail Plus

Bridgewater Lumber Company

2003 Quickprint, Inc.

Bank of Washtenaw

2002 Rhoades Doehrer & Associates, PLLC

Mac’s Acadian Seafood Shack

2001 Aero Corporation

Visteon Corporation

2000 Garry M. Deo, O.D.

The Saline Reporter

K & F Electric Company

1999 Tom Mac’s Photography

Saline Community Hospital

1998 Saline Picture Frame Company

McNaughton & Gunn

1997 Benny’s Bakery

Busch’s ValuLand

1996 Saline Flowerland

R & B Machine Tool Company

The two honorees for the 2008 Business Enterprise Awards will be announced on the Saline Chamber website,, and in local media. The entire community is invited to participate in the Gala Awards Dinner honoring this year’s awardees at Stonebridge Golf Club on Oct. 23. Call the chamber office at 429-4494 for more information.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Saline Mentioned in US Weekly

I have a confession to make. It's not easy to share. After all, it's something I am not very proud of. In fact, it's downright embarrassing.

I read celebrity gossip magazines.

I am only telling you this for one reason: Saline is mentioned in a caption next to a photo of Drew Barrymore in US Weekly's most recent edition. There's also a blurb about sightings of her in Ann Arbor. As you all know, she's filming "Whip It" in Saline.

I thought it was pretty cool to have our city mentioned in a national magazine as a place a celebrity has been sighted. I'll probably cut it out for my scrapbook just because it's so unusual.

Now, back to my obsession, I mean confession. It's embarrassing to admit because I am a journalist and should only be interested in newsy news, right? Well, it's an escape and I know it's gossip, with very little to no truth associated with it. And I think if you keep that in mind, it's OK.

Lisa Simpson, our receptionist at The Reporter, and I both have subscriptions. She gets People and I get US Weekly. We read them (not during business hours, of course) and then swap. Like I said, it's an escape to a fantasy world of more money and time to spend the day any way you desire, not tied to a desk editing copy and paginating newspaper pages all day. A place where you weigh 110 pounds, wear designer clothing, and have your hair and makeup done by professionals every day. A place in which you can decide to jet off to Hawaii (OK, I've been there four times, see picture at right) or France at a moment's notice with no worries because your housekeeper will care for your pet rabbits and your gardener will ensure your lawn and flowers don't die.

I usually get US Weekly on Fridays. What a great way to kick off the weekend. As soon as I walk in the door, I take off my shoes, put on something more comfortable than work attire, make a margarita and read the magazine on the swing on my deck. It only takes a couple minutes, of course, because there's no real content, but what a wonderful couple of minutes. Then I enjoy my weekend jetting around Saline and Ann Arbor, which, from what I read, is where other celebrities hang out, too. Pretty cool.

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A Return Engagement

From the Saline Downtown Merchants' Association

Terri Sibo-Koenig

c. 734.368.8297

On June 27, we held a marvelous “One Night Stand” Art Show & Sale in Downtown Saline. More than 20 artists from all over Washtenaw County brought their works to a temporary gallery set up in front of the Chamber of Commerce offices and hundreds of visitors enjoyed the show, sampled wine from the Spotted Dog Winery and listened to music performed by Becky & Paul Pazkowski (and Adam Nola). Such success certainly warrants a “Second Date” so we’re doing it again!

The “Second Date” Art Show & Saline will be held on Friday, August 15 from 7 to 10pm in Downtown Saline. This time, the show will be located on the second floor of Murphy’s Crossing (above Mac’s). This location puts the show right onto S. Ann Arbor Street where the Summer Music Series concert featuring Justine Blazer will be happening from 6:30pm to 8pm. The art show format will be the same: All artists are invited to bring 2-3 pieces to show and sell. Artwork will be hung on the day of the show from 1 to 5pm. Artists must attend the show and are responsible for their own sales. Spotted Dog Winery will again be offering free samples of their favorite wines and Becky & Paul Pazkowski will return to continue to the music into the evening. The event is hosted by artists from the Two Twelve Arts Center (944-2787) and the SDMA. Everyone is welcome!!!

Other Happenings in Saline (also check out…

July 25 – RATTLEBOX performs at the Summer Music Series from 6:30pm to 8pm; Downtown Saline on South Ann Arbor Street. Always free. Bring a lawn chair.

Aug 1 – DELTA HAZE performs at the Summer Music Series from 6:30pm to 8pm; Downtown Saline on South Ann Arbor Street; Always free. Bring lawn chair.

Aug 8 & 9 – SUMMERFEST! Two days of fun for all ages including music, art show, kids activities, casino night, beer tent and much, much more. Don’t miss this one!


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Stayin' active

One of the several reasons I listed in this week's column about the joys of summer in Michigan--as opposed to the hot, lazy, sweat-stained non-joys of summer in my native Alabama--was how much easier it is to get one's three-mile jog on when the high is 82 instead of 97.

Of course, what I left unspoken was that it's also much easier to get one's three-mile jog on when the high is 82 as opposed to 11, which is seemed to be for four months straight here last winter. So I imagine I'm not the only one who's taking the opportunity to get out and about a bit more and really stretch those glutes ... not that I actually know what a "glute" is.

If you're interested in doing the same--be it via running or any other form of summer exercise--here's a few quick ideas to help you out:

1. Check out what your local Parks and Rec departments have on offer. You can find Saline's P&R homepage here and Milan's here, with the key links from there being the "Summer Brochures."

Take a flip through Saline's and you can see that you can try, among other things, Jishukan Ryu Jujitsu or tennis lessons or a good old-fashioned spin class. Activities in Milan include softball, martial arts, and plenty of others.

2. Those same pages can point you to the area's collection of parks, where you could go for a nice run if that does happen to be what you're interested in. If you're looking for a full-fledged road race, a nice resource is the RunMichigan race calendar, where you can sort by distance, type of race, and date.

3. If you're me, one of the simplest and easiest ways to get a little exercise is just to find someone to toss a frisbee back and forth for a while. There's kind of a cool breakdown of different types and brands of frisbees here, but for yours truly the best frisbee to buy is the largest one you can find for the least amount of cash--the larger the yare the longer they stay up, but you probably don't need one of the superduper Ultimate-designed ones, either.

Here's to hoping you enjoy the rest of your summer, whether it'sfull of burned calories or not.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Saline Mayor's State of the City

Note: This is Saline Mayor Gretchen Driskell's State of the City, delivered at Monday's City Council meeting:

State of the City, July 2008

It is an honor to have the opportunity to report on the state of affairs of our fine city. Saline was recognized as one of the Top 100 small cities last year as well as in 2005 by Money magazine. While we have many reasons to be proud of our community we also have work to do, to sustain and improve our success as a community. In this address I will outline some of the reasons we have received recognition as a great place to live, work and play, and future areas of improvement.

To be competitive in the 21st century cities must have a strong sense of place and a community of engaged citizens. Research has shown that attracting the entrepreneurial knowledge worker in our global economy requires a vibrant downtown and an excellent quality of life. The history of our community has a strong track record in both areas.

Our built environment has great “bones”. Our central business district of 19th century buildings provides a unique backdrop for dining, shopping and entertainment. The streetscape work that was accomplished in the 1980’s was visionary and very much needed at the time. The city started creating ‘third places’ for people to loiter. We have more opportunities, as was shown in the ppt, to improve our downtown’s physical infrastructure.

Michigan Avenue continues to be somewhat of a barrier to walkability, a highly desirable trait of a successful city. However the activity that travels on this road is vital to our downtown. How do we take advantage of what many see as a liability? We have an updated downtown master plan which is available for viewing on our city website, . Improvements include medians, more landscaping and improved crossings that will be implemented with the reconstruction by MDOT in 2013. In the meantime, the city can focus on areas like pocket parks, public art, public gathering places, a pavilion area and additional cross walks. Wireless connectivity, comfortable gathering spots and opportunities to interact with your neighbors on a daily basis provide an important social net for today’s lifestyle.

In the future we will continue to develop off of the center of town, creating a more complete commercial district. To meet the needs of the changing downtown environment, recommended as a mixed use of retail, office and residential we will be studying the implementation of a form based code. This technique allows us to be prescriptive by using a regulating plan that designates appropriate form and scale (or character) for development. It defines shape, not use, and is recognized as an excellent tool for downtown redevelopment.

Another challenge that the city will be considering this next year is planning for future growth on the west side of our current city limits. We have been in discussion with Saline Township for several years relative to the Biltmore residential development and other properties on our common border. We have recognized the need for developing an urban growth area for our future. While it may seem paradoxical to be discussing future development in these economic times, we have a timeline established by court referendum regarding the Biltmore property. The impacts on our infrastructure need to be fully understood and our goal is to address long term future development at the same time. This will be challenging as demographics are changing significantly and only 25% of households are predicted to be families. While our community will probably have a higher percentage due to our excellent schools we need to recognize the needs of our aging population and the younger nontraditional households that have differing transportation and living requirements than we currently provide.

What else promotes a sense of place? A healthy park system. Somewhere you can recreate and relax with friends and family. Cultural resources like our museums, our library, and our art center. Historic homes that retain their architectural integrity over time. Community events where friends and neighbors come together to relax and restore their connectedness to one another.

This community is very fortunate to have all of these resources, and more, due to a supportive and engaged citizenry. Our city commissioners, all volunteers, are very active in planning and providing for our community.

Our parks commissioners plan for the future of our parks and greenways. Currently an interpretive trail (Max Adler) in Curtiss Park is being upgraded for accessibility. This trail already has markers identifying many of the horticultural assets along the trail. Additionally, the commissioners host an annual park clean up day in the spring. They also recently completed a study of Brecon Park, to determine the needed improvements to this neighborhood asset. Additionally, there are ongoing conversations regarding a Saline River greenway.

Our parks and environmental commission held a joint planning session to address collaborative opportunities. One outcome is the award of a Clean Michigan grant in the amount of $75,000. There will be significant reconstruction of the waterfront along Mill Pond park that will help with erosion issues and also improve wear and tear at the dog park.

Our environmental commission has developed a website,, to assist our citizenry in becoming more environmentally aware and active. With the Youth Council’s assistance, storm drains were labeled to prevent dumping of toxic materials in our rivers. The commission also worked with the engineering department to develop storm gardens like the one on Old Creek Drive.

The historic district commission is responsible for approving design and improvements in three historic districts, W Henry St., S. Ann Arbor St, & N Ann Arbor St. Walk through these districts and you will see homes that have been beautifully renovated and several that are works in progress. These districts provide an opportunity to access state tax credits to offset renovation costs. The commissioners are also gearing up for special workshops to assist commercial and residential property owners with maintenance and preservation of their historic property.

The youth council is a 13 member body responsible for making Saline a better place for teens. They have been very active group coordinating fundraising activities, doing local volunteer work and providing opportunities for teens. This past year they have developed a monthly mentoring program at the Rec Center for middle schoolers and are currently focusing their energies on creating a Teen Center. Both of these ideas address a significant need in our community and we are fortunate to have such an active visionary youth council.

Our economic development boards have been addressing how we market our city and what makes us unique. We have developed a marketing committee to focus on German businesses since we have a core of highly successful German owned businesses, Liebherr, Thyssen Krupp and Scherer Trier. We plan to leverage this resource to bring in additional business.

The downtown development board (BDA) is in the process of receiving proposals for a marketing/branding program for our downtown. Many of our storefronts are vacant and we need to identify our assets and bring them to the forefront. Additionally, the summer concert series has been expanded to present regional talent and hometown favorites almost every Friday night. In conjunction with the concerts, the 212 Arts Center will be hosting the second One Night Art Stand on August 15th. Partnering with the Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Merchants Association has enabled this unique area of our city to provide monthly events of significance. Look for the Saline Summerfest, Aug 9 & 10, and Harvest of the Arts/Oktoberfest on Sept 27.

Our own Celtic Festival, celebrated this past weekend, had many different venues for music, dance, and historic reenactments. The media attention on this event was outstanding, including Fox2 news spending Friday morning in town, promoting not just the festival, but the community as a whole. Thousands of people came to Saline to participate in the array of entertainment alternatives.

All these activities would not be possible without the support of our citizenry. The time and talent that is contributed to our community is phenomenal. Volunteering builds relationships and contributes significantly to the success of our community.

Saline is fortunate to be in a relatively healthy financial position in this economy. We have $2.5M (approximately 25% of annual expenditures) in our fund balance and we were able to maintain our millage rate. Several businesses in our business parks are expanding significantly. The offer for purchase of the ACH plant by Johnson Controls is progressing, which would address a significant source of revenue.

We have institutions in this town that are ranked nationally. Our local hospital received an award for being a Top 100 hospital and the emergency room consistently ranks in the 99th percentile on customer satisfaction. Our school system is ranked nationally in the top 5% of high schools and we are 30th in the state. We have a newly expanded library with more opportunities for lifelong learning. We have the regional assets of Ann Arbor and Detroit.

We have core strengths to build on. This is why Money magazine ranked us in the Top 100 small cities two of the last three years. But now we are competing globally for talent, for entrepreneurs, and innovative businesses; we need to raise the bar. To this end the city will be convening a town hall meeting in the fall. We want to hear from our citizens of all ages, our business owners and our community volunteers. What are your ideas for creating a successful Saline in the 21st century? I challenge each of you to ponder this over the next few months. Ask your friends in other states and other countries, ask your neighbors. Most importantly, find a way to participate in the process.

In summary, Saline continues to thrive as a great place to live, work and play because of you. City council and our city employees are dedicated to serving and improving our community. Thank you for your contributions, from the past and for the future.

Mayor Gretchen Driskell
July 14, 2008


Monday, July 14, 2008

Tribute to the Tulls Touching

Sunday's tribute to the late Jackie and Paul Tull, founders of The Saline Reporter and The Milan News, was truly a touching experience. Although I only met the couple once, I felt like I knew them after it was over.

Don Shelton, a former Saline official and longtime judge, was the emcee, encouraging friends and relatives to step up to a microphone to share their memories of the Tulls. This came after their son-in-law, Walt Byers, recited a prayer. View video on our Web site of the event.

Some of the stories that touched me personally related to the newspapers because those stories gave me a historic perspective. A couple of people, including cartoonist and former advertising representative Bill Mangold, talked about how Paul Tull gave him his start in publishing editorial cartoons.

Rebecca Groeb-Driskill also related a story about an internship she had there while in college and how she thought she wanted to go into newspaper publishing. After the experience, she realized it wasn't for her, but Paul Tull shared some words of wisdom. He said, "Whatever you decide to do, be sure that you love it and that you enjoy doing it. And if it's not the newspaper business, that's OK. But it's really important to find something. That's how I feel about my newspaper." Groeb-Driskill said she eventually became a teacher and is involved with theater, and has found her niche.

Also speaking were Carl Weller, Woodie Merchant and other longtime friends. Daughter Nancy Byers shared some limericks written by Paul Tull and the stories behind them.

The tribute also included the Tulls' daughter, Jody, on piano, leading Carl Weller, Lizzie Bourque, Rupert deSalis and Groeb-Driskill in song. Later, those in attendance were invited to join in a sing-a-long, one of the Tulls' favorite pastimes. They sang "That old gang of mine," "Let me call you sweetheart," "Never wait a minute" and "I'll be loving you ... always," among other songs.

I wrapped up the nine-minute video with a few words by Mangold that I thought were fitting. He said, "To me, it's the end of an era and it was the greatest era that I can recall."

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Celtic Festival sports a must-see

I'm posting this a few minutes after 5 on Thursday afternoon, just a few minutes away from the official kickoff of the Saline Celtic Festival's 2008 program of athletic events.

Michelle posted a bit about some of the musical and cultural events below, but believe me, the athletic events are more than worth your time as well. Tonight is Rugby Night at Henne Field, and if you've never watched a match of rugby (or, like me up until last year's event, watched it and thought it made about as much organized sense as the demolition derby) you're in luck. I doubt there's any better way of understanding what on earth's going on than getting an up-close look at the sport and an announcer who knows his audience and is willing to explain what's happening. Not to mention the sport itself is plenty exciting, with lots of tough tackles and sharp passing and impressive athleticism. Plus, the price is pretty nice, what with admission being free. If you don't make it this year, go next.

Tomorrow night is Gaelic football, also at Henne Field. I've never seen a single second of Gaelic football, but a) it's a kind of football, so no compaints there b) I wasn't too familiar with rubgy heading into last year either, and now I'm stoked for tonight's performance c) it should be a nice night outdoors and, again, admission is free ... so why wouldn't you want to give it a shot?

Then on Saturday, it's the main event as Saline hosts the Masters World Championships of Highland Athletics. You can read a ton of reasons why the Highland Games are worth checking out in this week's Reporter's preview of the Championships, but suffice it to say you're going to see some athletic feats you won't see anywhere else done by people who you'd never expect to do the sorts of things they do. It's impossible to watch and not come away impressed. There's more information on the Championships at the official Scottish Masters page here.

See you there!


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Celtic festival a community highlight

I am getting excited about the Saline Celtic Festival. I attended my first Celtic festival last year and was reminded how much fun it was while working on a special supplement we published in the July 3 Saline Reporter. I also reviewed video from last year that I took and created a video teaser for our Web site. Check it out by clicking on the link.

While Jerry Hinnen, our sports reporter, will be previewing the athletic events in our July 10 edition, my interest is in the entertainment and cultural aspects. I plan to be at Mill Pond Park again Saturday to capture some of the biggest moments, including the opening ceremonies at 11:30 a.m. and the parade at 10 a.m., on video and photos. You'll be able to view both online and photos may be purchased, as well.

Some of Thursday's activities include the Washtenaw Rugby Football Club at 5:30 p.m., with additional rugby matches at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m., all at Henne Field. Admission is free.

Friday's highlights include a dinner at 5 p.m. with the Celtic festival athletes at Saline American Legion, followed by Gaelic football 7 p.m. at Henne Field. Pub Night in the Park starts 7:30 p.m. in the Red Dragon Tent and will include a limerick contest and "Mr. Pretty Legs" competition.

Saturday is when the major fun breaks out, with the Masters World Championship and Competitive Highland Dance at 9 a.m., parade at 10 a.m. from Liberty School to Bennett St. and Mill Road. The welcoming ceremony is set for 11:30 a.m.,with musical entertainment starting at noon on the Red Dragon State, Brecon Stage and Dance Stage.

Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul is the headlining act. Local performers include Fiddlers ReStrung. Visit the Saline Celtic Web site for a detailed schedule or view a pdf of our special supplement online.

The Saline Celtic Festival attracts thousands of visitors to Saline, boosting the local economy and community profile. In fact, FOX 2 Detroit will be broadcasting live from the festival 11 a.m. Saturday.

The Saline Celtic Festival is something to be proud of and there are many volunteers to thank. Pat Little has been an instrumental player. If you see him at Mill Pond Park or any of the other venues, pat him on the back and have him point out some of his helpers to salute, as well.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Extras being hired for Barrymore's film locally

Well film fans, now is your chance to be in a movie. Even if it's only for a few seconds as a part of a raging crowd!

The casting company of Real Style in Birmingham has the task of hiring around 300 extras to be in the film directed by Drew Barrymore, "Whip It." Barrymore's production company, Flower Films, has set up shop here in Saline and crew are living around town, enjoying small-town living. One crew member told me he loved the "commute," driving five minutes from his rented apt to the offices where Flower Films is temporarily based for production. "It beats L.A.'s traffic, and everyone is so nice." Good to hear!

I talked to Kathy at the casting company and here's what you need to do if you want to be considered as an extra:

- 18-35 years old or so (the location will be wild and raucous, she said, there might be beer so people need to be at least 18. She double checked because she thought it might be 21, but no)

- email a small digital photo of yourself, your e-mail, phone numbers, date of birth to:

-they will most likely start shooting around July 30. Be available for a few days or up to 12 straight days for shooting.

- they are looking for unique and expressive individuals. Color your hair funky. Think 80's punk.

I am reading "Derby Girls," by Shauna Cross, the book from which the screenplay for "Whip It" was adapated. Here's what's going on so far:

Bliss Cavendar is a high school student in a small town in Texas where you need to be, "a football-throwing, truck-worshipping, country-music listening hick." Bliss is an "indie-rock-loving, tghrift-store-prowling, homemade t-shirt-wearing, blue-hair-dying misfit girl who thinks life is a 60's movie."

She and her best friend, Pash, work at the Oink Joint, a bbq place famous for the two-story pig sculpture that sits in the parking lot. Anyone who eats the Squaler Sandwich (10 pounds of pulled pork) in ten minutes gets a free t-shirt and their picture placed on the "Squeal of Fame."

Her over-coiffed mother thinks Bliss has a future in beauty pageants. As a former Miss Bluebonnet, her pushy and hopeful (and might I say dopey and clueless) mother buys Bliss a pink suit to wear to a mother/daughter brunch which she quickly trades for a "micro minidress made from a vintage t-shirt and held together with nothing but a million strategicalloy placed safety pins," worn over tights to "undercut the would-be slut factor."

Bliss tries out for a roller derby league in the nearby big city of Austin, makes it and discovers her kin. Her peeps.

"Look at them with their casual bada**ness, decked out in shredded band t-shirs and cut-off Dickies...

That's you, extra wannabe. Add a temp tattoo, toss in some pink or blue hair dye and go for it! Email your photo and details today. Good luck and let us know if you make it!

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