Inside the Newsroom

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

Friday, June 26, 2009

Well, that was weird.

Dude. Michael Jackson died. He friggin' died. And right before he was about to go on a 50-event tour, too. Dang.

I feel like this was probably the weirdest and most shocking celebrity death that could have happened. Mostly because he's had so much plastic surgery and been on so many drugs that I intrinsically assumed he would magically last forever. Sort of like Keith Richards. He's one of those celebs that you can just picture living forever on the fringe and outliving even the cockroaches. I mean no disrespect; he just seemed well preserved.

This whole thing made me come to several realizations, however, most of which pertain to technology. First observation, it's sort of sad when TMZ is your fastest and most accurate news reporting source. They knew what went down WAY before the real news stations even bothered to collect details. It was hours and hours. Perhaps it's because the methodology TMZ uses to collect their news is so disgusting that there's no way it isn't true. They're like the town gossip, who you don't really like, but when they do speak up about an event it tends to be right on. CNN drug its heels and eventually got up to speed. But you have to wonder how this sort of pecking order will continue to mold the news industry. In the days of twitter and camera phones and facebook, news just isn't that hard to transmit to others. TMZ has way more weapons in its arsenal than legit reporting stations who have their so-called hoops to jump through first. And while I appreciate a news source that bothers to confirm details BEFORE broadcasting, there's something to be said about breaking a story.

The second technology-based observation is how our age of technology has transformed what people perceive as real relationships. When I got home from the bar last night, I decided to get on facebook. Well lo and behold, nearly every facebook status in my news feed was either "Michael Jackson R.I.P." or "you will be missed" or "omg my life is over bc MJ died." The obsession with celebrities never ceases to surprise me, especially how attached people can get to them and how they begin to feel like they genuinely know them. People are behaving as if he was never a creeper with psychological issues. Or perhaps they're pretending to ignore that little tidbit in order to respect his better years.

As far as I'm concerned, the real Michael Jackson died a long time ago... right around the time he officially made the race change to become a new person. The only remembrance we've had of his old and true self since the new millennium is his older albums. I love Michael Jackson's music as much as the next person, but let's leave fanaticism at the door and simply be appreciative of a good artist. Which most of the bars did because pretty much no matter where you went in Ann Arbor last night, the venues were hopping with MJ's hits. I heard Thriller three times at Babs Underground. (Side note: I did NOT hear Dirty Diana, which happens to be a personal favorite.. and I was quite angry.)

The only thing that could possibly result from all of this that might legitimately effect everyone is that (and I'd bet quite a bit of money on this) a record label will now re-release some sort of greatest hits album. Or perhaps we'll now be offered some never-before-heard tracks that hit the cutting room floor. Sort of like what happened with 2Pac.

On a related note, how much does it stink to be Farrah Fawcett? I mean, the one thing celebrities always have in common is that when they die, they become immortalized and have a day dedicated to remembering their careers and whatnot. This was Fawcett's chance to be remembered and to earn a tiny shrivel of "oh yeah. I remember her. She totally rocked." Instead, her fame and glory was completely overshadowed by the MJ stuff. Too bad...

Monday, June 22, 2009

The old English way

Wimbledon is here, my dearest ladies and gentlemen. It's very exciting. Of the four grand slam tennis tournaments, the English and proper grass court games are exceedingly exciting to watch. It is the only major on grass and it is the third installment in the four-major tour. The series began in Australia in the Australian Open, then took place in Paris only weeks ago for Roland Garros (the French Open). Now Wimbledon is up and the U.S. Open will follow in New York in several months.

There are two important things to know about this year's tournament. First, a majority of the matches will take place in the morning and afternoon Eastern Standard Time, because of the 6-hour time difference with the European overseas site. Related to this is the fact that one can listen to Wimbledon radio online or follow an online scoreboard in real time. Both can be found at and are incredibly entertaining sidekicks to have open while at work. Nothing like listening to the proper commentating of a Brit while at working, discussing "lovely volleys," "the grand Queen of England" and the "antics and excitement of the British crowd which always loves a good challenge and underdog." Things are always so official with a British accent.

The second thing to know for this year's tournament is the absence of the No. 1 player in the world. Rafael Nadal pulled out of this year's draw only a week or two ahead of the first schedule match, citing continued tendinitis in his knees. The Spanaird is the rival of No. 2 player and Roland Garros champion Roger Federer from Switzerland. Nadal lost to Robin Soderling in an early round of the French Open several weeks ago and also struggled in a minor grass court tournament that took place in the weeks leading up to Wimbledon. He's definitely struggling with injuries.

But given Nadal's absence, this could very well be the year that Federer breaks Pete Sampras' record of 14 major tournament wins. Federer tied the record of 14 two weeks ago in Paris and will be going for a new record at 15 this week and next. It will be history in the making for the Swiss player, who also finally completed his grand slam in Paris. He's playing really well.

I do advise watching some of the tennis. Local American players Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Andy Roddick will all make appearance with relatively decent seeds. The Williams sisters are seeded No. 2 and No. 3, and Roddick is No. 6 this year. Serena is poised to potentially win at Wimbledon again, but will be challenged by several Russians who are battling for majors. Roddick has only won one major in his career, so I doubt he'll progress past the quarterfinals. James Blake is fun to watch, too, but has struggled to break through to any notable level of greatness. He has a fun peanut gallery, though...

So check it out. There should be plenty of television coverage in the coming weeks, so check your local listings. And check out Wimbledon Radio at, as well. The finals are usually on Sunday (June 28), I believe.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sparklepires and their ruckus

Most people in the newsroom are aware of the fact that I'm a Twilight nerd. If it wasn't already plainly obvious by my quoting the book and daydreaming about a fanged hero named Edward, it was made ever the more clearer by the Twilight Bella and Edward poster that hangs over my computer. It's an addiction, what can I say.

But in Twilight-related news, I thought I should report a local crime beat in relation to a recent screening of said movie. To be frank, some Twilight freak fans got into it at a Top of the Park Twilight screening over whether or not the actors and movie writing were up to snuff. It was sort of like watching an ABC Family horror movie in which there's an awful lot of name calling and buildup but very little action. It fizzled, and I was disappointed. And I'm fairly aggressive and protective of my series, so it's a good thing my roommate and her boyfriend were there to hold me back.

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that I was involved, but only as a peanut gallery commentator.... who incidentally was making peanut gallery comments about a peanut gallery. But it was exciting, nonetheless.

The thing that made all of this funny is that only two days prior a friend had emailed me a link to a newspaper article written by some southern softy who felt that Twilight is destroying today's youth. (Man Stephanie Meyer would roll over in her Mormon, Arizona bed if she knew people were going to make that accusation.) The article basically accused Twilight and other vampire-related literature and pop culture shows of giving today's youngins an inappropriate picture of life and what vampirism is really about. He feared that middle schoolers would go around sucking each other's necks more than usual (hickeys galore!) and perhaps drawing blood for fun. They also might experiment with sex more, and wooden stakes and brooding would most likely be involved.

I smirk at the author, because although there are certain sexual fetishes out there that have to do with vampirism (I think this was actually featured on an episode of "Nip Tuck", in fact), the likelihood that Twilight can be blamed for middle schoolers and their premarital hand holding is questionable. (Note: there is also an amazing amount of hand holding and giggling at Top of the Park) The series is written by a Mormon and vampirism is arguably a metaphor for abstinence. The couple does not engage in sex; they can barely even kiss each other before he gets omg TOO EXCITED about premarital touching or he might kill her.

And yet, here I was, on Ann Arbor's Ingalls Mall watching Twilight against Rackham Auditorium... and these middle schoolers are about to come out swinging over a MOVIE. And not even a particularly amazing movie. So now I've decided that Twilight might not be the sexual apocalypse that the article's author suggests, but it just MIGHT be the newest and most dangerous obsession gone terribly wrong that I've seen in years, or ever. Not to mention these girls are setting expectations for their love lives that are completely and utterly ridiculous.

Example #1: In the movie, Edward says "You are my life now." and "I couldn't live with myself" if anything ever happened to you. First of all, boys don't do that. It is very rare that a male will claim to love you forever wholeheartedly and in such an intense way by the age of 16. Just isn't going to happen, so I do wish they wouldn't get so swept up in this idea.

Example #2: Edward is a stalker, and a creepy one at that. It perplexes me that no one seems to notice the fact that Edward watching her sleep or sneaking in to her bedroom window or threatening to kill people for her doesn't make anyone's skin crawl. Even for just a second. In the real world, people like that are axe murderers. You know, the super polite types who freak out and shoot someone. This is not a personality type to strive for. Parents, please advise your daughters about overly passionate and potentially abusive men.

Now I love Edward as much as the next average Twilight reader. He protects her, he's intelligent, etc. etc. But he has his flaws, too. They just aren't made immediately obvious to you because it's written from Bella's perspective. And when you're in love you don't necessarily see that person's flaws. So while Edward is AH-MAZE-ING to look at, let's make sure we can keep some sanity about it all. Appreciate and love the series, but don't pick fights with each other in public screening venues over whether or not Kristen Stewart "deserves to kiss Rob Pattinson." And don't swarm the actors like a group of locusts. They are people, too. And Fox News reported yesterday that the actor was clipped by a cab on the street in New York amid a flurry of overzealous fans who, coincidentally, could not reel in their sexual obsession with the actor.

So cool it chicks. Do the right thing. Buy a poster. Drool a little. But leave the obsession at the door. You're scaring people.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Fun Weekend in Saline

This weekend in Saline is rockin'. Jesse Palter kicked off the weekend and the Saline Summer Music Series Friday. Two Twelve Arts Center's Family Fun Day this afternoon was a highlight and I am looking forward to Old Vehicle Day at Saline Depot Museum Sunday, followed by Grillin' for the Hungry in the late afternoon at the Farm Council Grounds near Saline. Check out video of all of these events at You'll find the link in the left-hand corner of the home page. In the meantime, enjoy some photos from yesterday's concert (above and Family Fun Day.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Milan Graduation festivities

I have to say when I attended Milan High School's class night and graduation last week it definitely brought back memories. It also made me realize that I've been out of high school for 7 years now. Talk about a wake up call. Time sure does fly by. I definitely felt like I could relate to those students, considering at one point I was in their shoes. I guess what I'm trying to say is by covering all the graduation festivities it made me appreciate the path that I chose to take, from my choice of school to the career path I have followed. All I would say to the class of 2009 is, once you leave high school and head off into the real world take in every minute and enjoy it. Time sure does fly by.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Milan High School Graduation in Pictures

It has been a busy week in Milan, with the Milan Community Fair from Wednesday through Saturday and high school graduation today. The graduation ceremony featured the Milan High School Band performing "Pomp and Circumstance," the concert choir singing the "Star Spangled Banner" and welcoming remarks from Principal Ron Reed. Class President Emily Hendricks got teary-eyed during her speech as some 177 graduates and their families looked on. Valedictorian Joseph Cadagin also spoke and Milan High School teacher Jeff Davis delivered the commencement address. The class of 2009 featured 17 summa cum laude graduates, four magna cum laude and 26 cum laude graduates. Below are some photos from the ceremony. A video should be up on our Web site,, by Monday morning and there will be full coverage in Thursday's print edition.

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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Milan Fair in Pictures

I spent about an hour at the Milan Community Fair taking photos and capturing video for our Web site. While traffic seemed light, it was the last day and many people probably had paid a visit already. In our video, the treasurer of the Milan Community Fair said this year's event is considered a success and the fireworks last night brought out about 15,000 spectators. Enjoy some of our photos below and be sure to check out our Web site for a video soon. Next Thursday's Milan News-Leader will include photos and a story, as well.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

10 ways to make your car greener

We all know I'm a huge fan of listicles... the whitty, yet informative, little posts and articles that draw out countdowns from various things and inform the reader how best to proceed in an area of interest. Well this time the listicle will feature the top 5 ways to make your car greener.

First of all, I didn't come up with this listicle. I sort of stole it from info released at the auto show. BUT, it's still pertinent information and now I'm safe because I've officially tipped my hat to the international auto show creators and managers. Cheers, auto thinkers.

Step 1: Try a hybrid (obvious)
Up and coming in popularity, with obviously also means the quality of hybrids are bound to improve exponentially. At this late stage in their creation, several kinks have been worked out to make your driving experience ever so pleasurable.

Step 2: Pick a vehicle with a lean engine. You don't always have to have a hybrid to have good gas mileage, so do your research.

Step 3: Reserve those cylinders! You actually have the option in some cars to shut off essentially some of your cylinders to improve fuel economy. A V8 can become a V4 or a V6 can be a V3. And let's be frank, in most city driving you don't need the added oomph anyway.

Step 4: Use a different fuel
There are various oils in use today other than the standard. Vegetable oil, ethanol, biodiesels or natural gas have all been experimented with. Give it a shot.

Step 5: Take care of your tires
Tire pressure is important. If they are under inflated, they produce excessive resistance and burn off more fuel. Not only does this create a danger by increasing the chances of a tire failure, but it reduces gas mileage. So head to the pump and check your tire pressure. Each tire has the optimum pressure written on it in tiny writing along the rim, and public air machines come equip with a pressure gauge.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Milan Loves A Parade

The saying goes, "Everyone loves a parade," and that certainly holds true in Milan, where just nine days after the Memorial Day Parade and a few weeks after the Little League Parade, the Milan Community Fair Parade was held today. I am looking forward to the Milan Fair, which kicked off tonight. I plan to go Thursday or Friday and plan to be at the fireworks capturing images for video and this blog. Below are some photos captured of the procession as it made its way down Marvin Street.

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