Inside the Newsroom

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

Thursday, July 30, 2009

What's so wrong with being a nerd anyway?

Hey all... you wonderfully dedicated but extremely silent and commentless readers you....

So in the past 24 hours I have done at least four really nerdy things. And sort of like how you have to divulge your darkest secrets in order to move past something disheartening, I'd like to treat this blog like a little group therapy session. Momentarily, of course, because if this ever comes up in casual conversation with me I might just destroy you publicly.

So where to begin? How about approximately 24 hours ago at 1 p.m. on a Wednesday (my day off). And what was I doing? I was playing Defense of the Ancients, aka DOTA. It's a game modification of World of Warcraft III. And I've discovered that anytime I say that, people give me the look. You know... that look you give someone who does something that completely annihilates your previous perceptions of them. Yeah. I'm that person. And every time I mention it, I find myself immediately defending myself with "but it's nothing like WoW" or "DOTA only takes, like, 30 minutes to play... so I'm not addicted or anything." No. There are no excuses for it. It is one of the nerdiest things I could play. Like dungeons and dragons or Oblivion.

Just around dinner time, my boyfriend, his father and myself started watching Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. I should preface this by saying that a week ago we had watched the Fellowship of the Ring and the Two Towers back to back. It was sweet. It was only natural to finish the series. This isn't in itself that nerdy, because they are really excellent movies. But keep in mind that I've read the series. Twice. And that during the viewing lull between Two Towers and Return of the King (obviously all three parties needed to be present for the climax), I watched all the extended version bonus materials. For every... single... movie... There are six DVDs dedicated solely to that. I watched cast interviews. I watched special effects. And I now know how WETA workshop created Gollum and how they dealt with the hobbits' size. In fact, it was probably nerdy enough just to say I know what WETA workshops are.

Several hours later (midnight, to be exact), I decided it would be fun to re-read one of the Harry Potter books. I had recently seen the movie and wanted to re-familiarize myself with the material. I'm sure they left stuff out, but wasn't sure what exactly, and I want to be well prepared to amp up for the next movie. I finished like a quarter of the book in a manor of a few hours. So there's that.

Now it is a new day... it is today on our little blog entry's timetable. Not even 24 hours later, at approximately 9 a.m., I decide to watch a movie in bed. I'll give you one guess as to what it is. There's really only one book-series-gone-movie left. Yup, I watched some of Twilight. I watched Twilight in bed on my iPod because my TV was too far away to see Edward's features clearly enough omg. Because he's dreamy obviously. And he dazzles people ENUFSAID. Then it was off to work for the office luncheon, where I would wait patiently at my desk. Oh, and I forgot to mention. I have a Twilight poster staring over me at the office desk. I'm a sports writer... in a room filled with other (male) sports writers with no cubicle walls... and I have a poster of Bella and Edward, caressing ever so gently for my viewing pleasure.

So, that's me on a good day. And it really was a glorious 24 hours. The thing that tipped me off was that at approximately 3 p.m., a coworker suggested that he Facebook friend me and send me an e-invite to join his own gamer group. He plays online games as well, and had heard of the legend of my nerdyness. But that doesn't count towards my 24-hour nerdy tally because technically it was two hours outside of the window.

Then I started to wonder why it embarrasses me sometimes. I mean sure, it's silly. But I like fantasy. I do. I can't help it. My friends, family, and boyfriend all know this about me and, frankly, find it endearing and cute. I mean who knows how cute it would be if I was an addict and could talk about nothing else? Thankfully I'm a sports writer and movie buff, not to mention very interested in lots of music. So there's some depth there.

But really, there's nothing wrong with being a nerd. Nerds are smart usually, because it means they read at a young age. They probably know a thing or two about computers too, and can not only perform the basics, but can configure computer properties to fit their gaming needs. That has to come in handy sometime. And what's even more important... they have imaginations. We could always use more people like that in this world.

And who knows... maybe this will all parlay into me writing nerdy fantasy fiction one day. Maybe instead of obsessing over Potter or Twilight or LOTR (we nerds know the shorthand for things obv imo), I'll write my own. Maybe I'm the next JK Rowling/Stephenie Meyer. Here's hoping it lends itself to something helpful in the future, but for now the ride sure is fun!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Local man's presence will be missed

Last week I wrote my first tribute story on a local resident, Earl Laughrey,who passed away. It wasn't the easiest thing to do to sit on the phone with his wife as she grieved over him a few days after he died. My heart went out to her for sure. I give her a lot of credit for sitting on the phone with me and telling me about him, I know it wasn't easy. As I talked to more sources, I began to realize the kind of guy Earl was. He was a man that did whatever he could to help out the community of Saline. He viewed the city more than just a place to sleep in at night. He made so many friends in the community through his involvement with organizations. From what I learned, I can see why people loved this man so dearly. He seemed like he had a heart of gold. I may not have met Earl, but I feel privileged to have wrote Earl's story. Your community will miss you dearly.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Where did all the kids go?

Last Thursday, I spent the majority of my afternoon in Milan working on stories for this week. I had been looking through the Milan Parks and Recreation brochure and noticed there were many summer programs being offered. I decided I would go to a summer mini camp and cover it. Then I would focus on the summer programs as a whole. Well, as it turns out my plan turned out to be unsuccessful. The camp that I was planning on covering was canceled, but as I soon found out from Milan's Parks and Rec program coordinator, Ellen Bell, many of the summer programs were canceled. My immediate thought was "now what do I do?" I was amazed to hear that there was such a low turn out, that classes couldn't be offered. One can only assume, the low turn out may have to do with this economy, but you never know. I mean it's the middle of summer, kids like to have something to do, otherwise they will more than likely get bored. As I started asking more questions I realized I already had my story. Obviously, my story wasn't an upbeat one but I felt it would be a good idea to get the word out on what the parks and rec department has to offer. Hopefully they will get more community interest.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

HP Mania: Countdown complete!

For those who know me at all, you know there was a very important event taking place Tuesday evening that I have been looking forward to for about a year now. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince came to theatres at midnight Tuesday evening, and I attended with my friend Beth in tow.

There are a few shocking observations I want to make first before getting into movie comments and/or happiness level. The first major observation is that the mania is actually continuing to grow even larger (Oh my gosh but how is that possible but I'm about to tell you IMO). I chose Quality 16 this year because I figured Showcase would be a rat pack. But when I got there, three things were made immediately clear to me...

First, the group of people attending the midnight showing were much, much younger than me. It was borderline uncomfortable at times. I'm not sure if this is because Quality 16 draws younger crowds than Showcase, or if it's because a full year has gone by since the last movie came out.

Second, I fiercely underestimated how long people were going to stake out. I figured showing up an hour beforehand would be PLENTY of time to secure a decent seat in at least one of the 6-7 theatres they'd be using. I was wrong. When we got there (already with our pre-purchased tickets in hand), the hallways were completely packed with people... and in the way that you know they've been packing in for a really, really long time because they were sitting and playing with their wands if you know what i mean omg.

Third, the numbers were exponentially increased and waiting in line wasn't going to happen. So our strategy was simple... there was no way we were going to find a seat in the upper decks... so we might as well just pick the theatre that starts seating next and find the best floor seat possible. So that's exactly what we did. We were dead center in the rows on the floor, but the row furthest from the screen of that section, to be sure.

What happened next will both shock and intimidate you. Once we were seated, two very large and distinct groups of friends started making their way to the 7ish seats to my left. One group came from one direction and the other came, you know, from the other direction. Then what do you know they figure it out and start walking fasterrrrrr... until the two front runners are in a full-on sprint for the open row. Now, let me preface the next bit of the story by saying that one front-runner was a guy, and one was a girl. So it was somewhat shocking to me when they literally tackled each other and started fighting. Which is the say that the boy essentially close lined the girl, threw her on the floor, and dove head first onto all the seats, covering them with his body. The girl stood up, disappointed, dusted off some dust balls and old popcorn kernels, and went on her way to the row immediately in front of the winner. Boo hoo so sad. The only thing that would have made this scene even funnier is if the guy had chanted a spell while tackling her and leaping onto the seats. Something like 'Stupify!' or 'Expelliarmus!'

So once everyone settled down I started taking in the craziness of the wardrobes. Truth be told, it wasn't that bad. I saw the typical Harry Potter look-a-likes... you know, the ones that only look like him by accident because they just have that legitimate nerd LOOK. And also saw the Harry Potter fake look-a-likes that took the time and effort to make the dorkiness look real. There were some token Hermoine slutties sitting behind me in their Britney Spearsesque school girl outfits with breasts popping out and a cute little Griffindor tie. You know, to make the look CLEARLY a Harry Potter tribute. But other than that people were fairly tame. I think for the most part, since the series is growing older with the fans who originally read it, most people are growing out of the dressing up. I say most because my friend wanted to wear a cape, tie, slacks, the whole geddup. I refused. And I do know a girl who dressed up like a Hermoine ho and attended an all-day Harry Potter movie marathon that began at 8 and included "butter beer." People take this very seriously.

But then right before the trailers starting running, a Quality 16 manager came in to hush us all up and say a few words. He needed to say a few words because apparently this was a momentous occasion. It was momentous because, as it turns out, the midnight showing was the largest ever that they've had at the place... that includes all past Harry Potter screenings, Twilight, Lord of the Rings, Watchmen and Transformers. They sold out 11 theatres that night and had almost 2,000 people there to see the movie. That's a lot of people. Which makes me wonder what the numbers were like at Showcase and if I made a mistake changing venues.

But it was a really great time and I sincerely enjoyed myself during the movie. I do have comments about the movie itself, but that will require an additional post. But I wholeheartedly recommend this flick to all who have or HAVEN'T read the book, because it really does deliver on both fronts in an entertaining way. Well directed. Good acting. I have some qualms about pacing and the writing, but that's neither here nor there for the moment. So check it out!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Celtic Festival a pleasant surprise

So to be completely honest, I had no idea what to expect when attending last weekend's Celtic Festival. When I had my internship in Saline a couple summers ago, I had heard about the festival but never had the chance to experience it first hand. This year, I decided I would do a feature on Bob Grosshans, the Grand Marshall of the Celtic parade. Even though the parade was canceled due to the rain showers, I enjoyed walking the grounds of the festival while Bob told me what his week had been like with all the setting up involved. Bob is in charge of the facilities and grounds at the festival. I have to say I was very impressed with how organized it was from the set up to the bus transportation. The community support behind this festival truly is amazing and I can definitely see why this event has continued over the years. My only complaint would be the humidity that day, but that's neither here nor there. I guess I should expect that with it being summer and all.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Celtics Have Arrived

The rain may have canceled the Saline Celtic Parade this morning, but the skies had cleared in time for the Opening Ceremonies, one of my favorite aspects of the annual festival. Mayor Gretchen Driskell was carried in, following tradition. Festival Chairman Patrick Little also spoke as the pipe and drum bands performed. Among the amazing bands were the Michigan Scottish, Flint Scottish, Grand Rapids, Glen Erin, Shrine Highlanders, Caber Feidh and Ann Arbor, who performed throughout the day.

The day's events included a Maypole Dance, Kids' Celtic Games, Rubber Ducky Races, Sheep dog demonstration, jousting demonstration, and an array of entertainment acts, including Saline's own Fiddlers ReStrung, Tartanic, Rant Maggie Rant, Fior, Blue Caledonia and Eh?

It was another great day in Saline that cast Saline in a positive light for the world to see.

Check out our photos and video will be up soon on our Web site.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Saline Celtic Festival sports schedule

Hello all of you old age sports fans out there. It's your lucky day. The Saline Celtic Festival is here, and with that comes some pretty old sports that you wouldn't typically see or hear about on your average day. Below is a bit of an itinerary for sports spectacles you might want to check out.

5:30 p.m.--Washtenaw Rugby Football Club match at Saline Middle School
6:30 p.m.--Women's Detroit Rugby Football match at SMS
7:30 p.m.--Men's Detroit Rugby Football match at SMS

7:30 p.m.--Gaelic Football game at Mill Pond Park
Evening--Jousting of knights

Afternoon/evening--Jousting of knights
Noon to 7 p.m.--Tossing of cabers, shot put, heavy lifting and throwing... in kilts, no less!

There will also be Irish dancing and participatory dancing on Friday evening, as well as at various times all day on Saturday.

Check it out!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Lodi Township Celebrates 175 Years

Scenes from Lodi Township's 175th Jubilee at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds.

Audrey Tuttle, who is almost 2, eating a hot dog.
She and her sister Kiera Tuttle, 4, and her brother Logan Tuttle, 6, were at the festivities with their mom, Karen Tuttle and dad, Dan Tuttle. They have lived in the township for three years.

Peg Canham, the chairman of the event, takes a breather from the three-day celebration to have her photo taken.

Dave Goodrich of Manchester, showed the crowd how to make S-hooks.

Displays of the township's history were crowd favorites and lines snaked around the building as township residents waited to eat free hot dogs and hamburgers Saturday.

Proceeds from a 50-50 and a silent auction will go to the renovation of the old Township Hall. About $60,000 is needed and about $15,000 has been raised, so far.

Friday night, about 100 people played bingo with celebrity callers Lucy Ann Lance, Ginny Patton Moss and Thayrone from WAAM radio.


Friday, July 3, 2009

Ceremony celebrates history, you decide

York Township held a ceremony honoring Lt. Dan Throop, a Revolutionary War veteran, today at Judd Road Cemetery despite arguments by Martha Churchill, a historian from Milan, that her research shows that there are no Revolutionary War heroes buried in Judd cemetery. In a story we published last week, York Township Supervisor Joe Zurawski said reputable researchers with ties to the military have verified that the unmarked grave contains Throop, a soldier who fought in the Battle of Lexington.

Zurawski said that the Michigan Society of the Sons of the American Revolution and the National Sons of the American Revolution have assisted in certifying the validity of Throop's war record and a polished granite monument has been donated for both Throop and his son. But Churchill says representatives from the Sons of the American Revolution told her that they do not verify or check historical facts. They leave this up to the applicants.

A Milan attorney and member of the Washtenaw County Historical Society, Churchill checked with a military researcher and learned that a Revolutionary War veteran by the name Throop died in New York in 1824. He is the real one, she says, and is known to the Daughters of the American Revolution. However, DAR will add additional soldiers at the request of applicants, she says, without verifying through additional research. Churchill said that's what's happened here.

Zurawski said when someone applies for membership in the DAR of SAR, what the group cares about is lineage. "These ladies had nothing to gain by making a false claim" back in the 1880s, he said in our story.

The Dan Throop buried in the Judd Road Cemetery is said to have been born in 1748 and died in 1833 in York Township. But Churchill said she couldn't find any record of it in "History of Washtenaw County," published by Chapman and Company and dated 1881. He and his son are missing from the Register of Deeds office, as well and didn't own any land in the township, she said.

Included in the ceremony was Revolutionary War re-enactors, as well as a bagpiper. There also was a flag ceremony and reading of the famous Ralph Waldo Emerson poem "Concord Hymn," which contains the famous line "The shot heard round the world."

From Reporter Lisa Allmendinger, who covered the event:

As I listened to the historical renditions of the start of the Revolutionary War at a ceremony for Capt. Daniel Throop in Judd Cemetery this morning, I tried to imagine what it might have been like to be there as the shot heard round the world went off.

I closed my eyes and looked for lamps in windows signaling “one if by land and two if by sea.”

I looked at the horses standing in the back of the cemetery and listened for the clip-clop of Paul Revere’s horse as word spread that “The British Are Coming.”

The Revolutionary War re-enactors marched into the ceremony, carrying flags with 13 stars and one that read “Don’t Tread on Me,” it took me back to the many Revolutionary War sites I visited with my mother as a child.

Because of her love for the Revolution, I, too, became interested in Colonial Times. I cannot count the number of times I’ve been to Williamsburg, Va.

Some of my favorite books involve stories about the men who helped create this great nation.

So, it was an honor to meet the family of this Revolutionary War hero and take their photo.

I was given an opportunity to look at the thick red book that chronicled the Throop family back to England, where they were known as the Scroope family.

Happy Fourth of July Throop family and Americans everywhere.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Holy Fourth of July

There are three things I really love about the Fourth of July.

Thing #1 is that television producers replay the old Saved by the Bell 4th of July episode where Kelly beats Lisa, Jessi and the little country club witch in the holiday beauty pageant because she is OBVIOUSLY way prettier and knows more about what the purpose of the holiday is supposed to be. It's a really great episode in which Zack Morris has outstanding, quaffed hair.

Thing #2 is fireworks. You aren't American if you don't like explosions, and fireworks are perfectly "safe" explosions that celebrate our heritage in the best way we know how. Fire!!!! Blast!!!! Lights!!! Check your local newspapers for firework shows near you. I know Comerica Park always does some, which is where I was on the 4th last year. This year I will be doing something slightly different and more hippie-like.

Which brings me to Thing #3, the ability to plan getaways. Sure, traveling might stink over the next few days and there are bound to be some road ragers out there... but I think we could all really, really use a vacation. Time to see some friends, eat some pasta salad, and celebrate some weekend freedom. It's particularly exciting for me because A) I usually work on the weekends, and this is one of my few outs for that, and B) I will be attending the Rothbury Music Festival in Rothbury Michigan with a bunch of yuppies and hippies and other -ies. I might stand out just a bit, given my wardrobe and general outlook on life, but I expect it to be a dang good time.

So whatever you decide to do this Independence Day weekend, do it with a smile and don't forget what we're celebrating. Sometimes it's easy to forget, but we really are incredibly blessed to live in the country that we do... even if things seem not so hot right now. Cheers, America!

For those of you who do NOT have plans and are in need of some 4th of July weekend ideas... here are a few.

1. Watch Independence Day for Will Smith's one-liners ("Now that's what I call a close encounter.")

2. Go to the pool. Don't forget sunscreen though. I hear that spending time around water is therapeutic, and if I wasn't attending the music fest I would be in Irish Hills with my boyfriend and his friends... drinking beer, sitting on pontoons, wake boarding, riding jet skis and tubing.

3. Attend a BBQ. The very best pulled pork and ribs recipes always come out of the woodwork on this very special long weekend. Find some family or friends hosting one such BBQ and RSVP ASAP.

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