Monday, October 31, 2011

Photo of the Day: 'I Want Candy. Now!'

They came by the dozen tonight, some in vans, others in cars, a few walking, not many from my neighborhood. Some were barely walking, others in middle school with cleavage. And they all wanted the same thing. Hint: it wasn't broccoli.

Quote of the Day II: Tax Cuts and Job Growth, the Myth

"Republicans favor tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, but these had no stimulative effect during the George W. Bush administration, and there is no reason to believe that more of them will have any today."

--Bruce Bartlett, an economist who worked in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. (He also says the notion that cutting regulations will lead to significant job growth is,"nonsense. It's just made up.")

(Quote from Huff Post Business.)

Photo of the Day: 'Can I Call You Back?'

Yes, this is exactly what it looks like. If you're wondering where the limits of texting are, you still don't know.  
(Photo via Huffington Post here.)

Quote of the Day: Off a Cliff With Rick

Rick Perry "represents the ultimate merger of nihilistic short-term corporate calculation and rightist apocalyptic extremism. He is a politician willing to do absolutely anything for a buck today, playing to a demographic of millions willing to walk off a cliff en masse tomorrow. In a Rick Perry White House, there will not be much planning for a rainy-day future." Perry's evangelical followers "are completely nuts, and quite obviously expect Perry to start filling the cattle cars for them as soon as he gets elected."

--Rolling Stone Magazine profile

Sunday, October 30, 2011

'The Ides of March': Ugly Topic, Ugly (But Good) Movie

At just about the moment you're lulled into believing "The Ides of March" is a slick remake of Robert Redford's 1960s "The Candidate," the bottom falls out and this fine political thriller gets real--and ugly.

The Ides of March has a lineup of front-line actors, director, producers and everything that assures its presence at the next Oscars and in a lineup like this you almost expect a character actor to steal the show. This time, two character actors--Paul Giamatti and Phillip Seymour Hoffman--seal that expectation with dead-on characterizations of front-rank political operatives in this take-no-prisoners presidential campaign game. There's also Marisa Tomei's New York Times reporter that is worth watching over and over. She's as soulless and vile as any of the candidates.

Politics is ugly and this movie shows the dirt. It begins with a second-banana political operative (Ryan Gosling), a naive newbie who truly believes George Clooney's Mike Morris is a candidate from heaven, sent to rescue us all. Clooney, who directs and is one of a list of producers, is much like Barack Obama in the early days and even the campaign posters mock 2008. The Republicans, whom we never see since this is a Democratic primary, are much like the field we're watching self-destruct right now--a group of certifiable nutcases.

But the move is much more of a statement about what we aren't than what we are as a political nation and what it says tells us exactly why we keep getting these losers in political office. The game simply is not for those who have any conscience, any morality, any thought at all of anything but winning office and staying there once it's won.

This is an interesting look at an ugly human activity right in-season. See it and weep for us all.

Photo(s) of the Day: Golfing With Maddie

Maddie gives Christina a running high five after a hole-in-one.
Maddie does her Tiger Woods imitation.
Maddie gives tips to poor ol' Pampa, who's lousy at this.
Maddy, Christina Koomen (who used to be my favorite wife and is now my favorite ex-wife) and I did a little golf outing today and Christina--as usual--put on a clinic, scorching the difficult course with all the animals, hills and concrete. Pampa finished last and maddy had a screaming last nine holes. Here are some views of the challenges.

Quote of the Day: 'A Forum for Legalized Bribery'

In the Ukraine, they know how to protest inequality.*
"Our Congress today is a forum for legalized bribery ... The financial services industry, including real estate, spent $2.3 billion on federal campaign contributions from 1990 to 2010, which was more than the health care, energy, defense, agriculture and transportation industries combined. Why are there 61 members on the House Committee on Financial Services? So many congressmen want to be in a position to sell votes to Wall Street."

--Thomas Friedman, New York Times

(Please note: This does not make exceptions of congressmen from the districts that serve our region. They're smack in the middle of this banana republic level of corruption. The U.S. Congress is likely the most corrupt institution in the United States and that includes legendarily corrupt local officials.)

(Photo: Kiev Ukraine News Blog. The women here are protesting discrimination, sex tourism, prostitution, and the lack of women in government. What does this have to do with bribery? I don't know, but it got your attention and my guess is that it got Ukranian attention far more than 100,000 clothed protesters would. Maybe there's a message here.)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Photo(s) of the Day: A Night at the (Gridiron) Opera

That's my son Evan  lower right getting soaked.
Golf umbrellas block the view of the game.
This lady just glowed.
My son Evan and I went over to the Patrick Henry vs. Franklin County district championship game tonight, got soaked, froze and watched PH get belted by a team that knows how to play in bad weather.

Fun night because it's one we'll remember, if only for the misery of the moment. Good bonding moment, though.

Expansion at the Rescue Mission in Roanoke

Joy Sylvester Johnson at Second Helpings.
Here's a little preview of our November FRONT issue with some inside info that isn't in the magazine and not on the FRONT website. I had lunch with Joy Sylvester Johnston of the Rescue Mission in Roanoke today at the Mission's Second Helpings restaurant and found out some interesting stuff.

The Mission is our Non-profit of the Year for 2011 (you can read about it in the November issue) and since I wrote that story about two weeks ago, a lot has happened to show just how good a selection that was. Here's some of it:

The mission, for the first time in 2011, will go through a year without ever dipping into the black, Joy told me. She says that a year ago the staff took a 10 percent pay cut (nobody has left), but half of that was restored a little while back and the rest will be restored in their next paychecks.

The Mission's board of directors voted yesterday to move its large Thrift Store to the old Foursquare Gospel Church on Elm Ave and call it The Station. The train motif will pervade. "We're hoping to open another version of Second Helping and name it The Whistle Stop," says Joy. The church is a wonderful old building that 25,000 cars pass every day and it has a large parking lot--which the current shop does not have. It was built in the 1930s by members using recycled bricks from Norfolk & Western Railway.

The Mission will invest about $1.5 million in this project and several adjustments at the main buildings, where there will be a few interior moves and renovations. All of the facilities the Mission will use are, as Joy calls them, "re-purposed buildings." The bottom floor of the church will be used for recycling and the second floor for the thirft store. There will be a drive-through for donations.

The old Thrift Store will become a food service facility, allowing the consolidation of several food service venues within the overall facility. The Rescue Mission can serve 300 meals a day now and that will increase to 500 "with all the dining rooms in one place," says Joy.

The basement of the main building will be used for food storage and the existing kitchen and dining room will be converted into a men's shelter, upping capacity from 118 to 160. The Project Wait & Respite space (wherein addicted and alcoholic men are housed--often for some time--until they can be processed) will grow to a capacity of 20. "That will get men out of the women's building," Joy says.

The chronically homeless women who are often at the shelter will be moved to the old Wait and Respite space. Overall, a women's facility that was built to house 130 women, but is often crowded, will expand to a space for 190.

All of this will be done for relatively little money and none of it from the government.

(By the way, here's a tip: Eat at Second Helpings. The food is marvelous and the prices reasonable. You can shop for art when you're finished. It's in the old--very old--Sears Building on Williamson Road.)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Photo of the Day: (X)po Is Underway in Roanoke

CityWorks (X)po kicked off today in the big new third-floor meeting facility at the Roanoke City Market Building before a full house that simply crackled with enthusiasm. I'm truly eager to see what comes out of this event and my gut feeling is that this is what Ed Walker--who organized it--has been wrangling for the last few years, without necessarily knowing it.

What Ed has assembled here are some of our best and brightest "creative types," which is to say people who will get things done and not simply sit around and hypothesize. This is the group that is increasingly showing the irrelevance of government in getting positive change instituted in a way and at a speed that is impressive.

Bob Lambert, who helped open the Xpo this afternoon was pretty blunt about how it works: "It's about making up as we go along sometimes. If we stop and meet for a few minutes every once in a while, it's because we've hit on something."

The Xpo runs for the next two days on City Market--day and night--and you might want to run down and sneak in. I'm told tickets are pretty well gone.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Quote of the Day: Sell Your Bank Stocks Now!

"If the Occupy Wall Street hates the banks so much why not organize their followers nationally and globally to express their outrage by short selling the stocks of these banks.  An organized strategy of selling bank stocks would define their enemy. If the banks come under pressure due to selling they will be exposed as weak. If they are weak and need another handout, the administration will then have to choose between the 99 percenters and once again bailing out the 1 percent.  If the protesters were to make a significant push to sell stocks of banks, the government officials who publicly express support for the Occupy Wall Street movement would be between a rock and hard place. Then the Occupy Wall Street would have accomplished a smart cohesive strategic plan, would have exposed vulnerability in the Banking system, and will clearly be able to see if the Government stands with the 99 percent or will just continue to engage in same old same old bailouts of the Big Banks."

--Stock expert John Tobacco

(Photo: Alpha Profit Investments)

New York Times Poll: A Sign of the Apocolypse?

A New York Times Poll released today shows that Congress has the trust of nine percent of us and the sad truth is that there's no news in that.

Congress has been run in a Bananna Republic-like fashion for years and is roaring downward in a spiral that has taken our jobs, our economy, our self-respect and our belief that our form of government--which long ago stopped even pretending to be a democracy. Our system, as my mother might have suggested, is in dire need of an enema.

While Barack Obama's numbers are heading toward dizzying lows, Congress has lapped him and the Republican Party's ratings are even more dismal. While 56 percent of Americans polled think Obama has no clear or workable jobs plan, 70 percent give the Repubs no chance and that leaves all of us without an alternative.

A good friend of mine, a woman of considerable intelligence, told me the other day that she was going to sit out the next national election. "I just don't have the stomach to vote for somebody who can't do anything in favor of somebody who won't," she said, putting the whole thing in a nutshell.

I finally broke down the other night and watched the shocking and saddening movie "Inside Job," the documentary about the Wall Street mess. It is as good a documentary as I've ever seen on any topic (far, far better than Michael Moore's heavy-handed indictments), but I came away with the sense of deep despair that we have reached this point of helplessness against the one percent power structure. We're watching people blatantly spit in the eye of government regulation (and the American people), demand that government bail it out when its excesses bring it down, then use the money from the bailout to--first and formost--pay itself bonuses in gaudy amounts that most of us can't even imagine.

The blame here is systemic, not party. Bill Clinton deserves as much blame for Wall Street as does either George Bush or Ronald Reagan (who got it all started). Obama is fast approaching high levels of culpability by installing Clinton's financial people--all Wall Street insiders--to the positions of influence in this. The whole cartel of Wall Street investors and bankers is inbred and operates outside party politics, though the power brokers play politicians like air hockey.

Our own Congressional representatives--Goodlatte, Griffith, Hurt, etc.--are smack in the middle of the game, playing fast and loose with a system that is--right now--as delicate and ready to collapse as it has been at any time since 1929. The regulation of Wall Street that is so sorely needed has been laughed off as an unnecessary burden on these earnest people who only want what's best for America. That's bullshit at the highest levels of the concept and it is criminal, but there's nobody who can or will prosecute and even if there were, the Republican Supreme Court would overturn the result.

Dysfunctional? Yes, that's the word. Do we recognize it? Sure, we do. Are we going to do anything about it? I see no evidence of that.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Quote of the Day: Rick Perry Just Don't Care, Y'all

"But I don’t care about that. What I care about is them [the wealthy] having the dollars to invest in their companies ... If that's what comes, I'll take that criticism."

--Rick Perry on inequality resulting from his new tax plan, which would shift taxes from upper incomes to middle incomes in a New York Times interview.

Photo(s) of the Day: Tinker Day at Hollins

Tinker Day at Hollins University in Roanoke is a century-old tradition that I ran into this morning on my morning walk--which I occasionally take around the campus. My lucky day.

On Tinker Day, teachers and students celebrate fall by walking up Tinker Mountain, which overlooks the campus and is no stroll in the woods. About a third of it is a climb and the rest is a knee-crunching uphill push. Once on top, the walkers eat lunch and put on skits.

Of course everybody is dressed as wildly as she can be, including Hollins President Nancy Gray (right) who has the look of a leprechaun.

I did notice four vans full of students heading out the front entrance of the school. My guess is that those who have difficulty walking for one reason or another (and I can certainly sympathize with them) get to go anyway and I like that.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Photo of the Day: A Southern Staple-Chicken 'n' Dumplins

A chill in the air sent Mother Smith to the kitchen to stir up a childhood memory: chicken and dumplings ... with a twist.

This time, with all the "I can't eat this and that" swirling about, I went to whole wheat dumplings and even thickened the broth with whole wheat flour. No difference--at all--in taste, but the texture was a little courser. And I can eat it without so much guilt (chicken 'n' dumplins is not guilt free; can't get there from here).

Here's the closest I get to a recipe:

Boil about a pound of chicken (you pick the body parts), trimmed of fat and skin. Sprinkle in about half a teaspoon of cinnamon, a teaspoon of curry powder, half a teaspoon of oregano, and finish off with some sea salt and pepper. Take the chicken out of the water after about 10 minutes of boiling and grate into the broth a carrot. Chop in a medium onion and about two stalks of celery. Let the chicken cool and then dice it back into the broth.

Meanwhile, you've made your own biscuit recipe dough, substituting whole wheat flour for the bleached variety and you've rolled it out and sliced it long and thin. (If you don't want to go through all that, get some canned biscuits and roll them out. Cover them with flour and they roll easier.) Drop them into the slowly boiling broth and they'll plump up in about five minutes.

My experience with C 'n' D is that it never has enough salt and I don't even like salt, so go a bit overboard if you dare.

Roanoke Theater: An Embarrassment of Riches

I eaves dropped on a conversation at a restaurant the other night, wherein a woman pronounced that she couldn't wait for Mill Mountain Theatre to re-open in downtown Roanoke "so we can go to live theater again. I just really miss the opportunity to see people on stage in good plays."

This, obviously, was not a knowledgeable Roanoke theater supporter because she has more theater than she can attend if she'll look around and generally the theater here is affordable, competent, thoughtful, sometimes edgy and always creative. MMT will--actually, may--be back with productions in a few months. It closed down about a year ago and theater people have had to fill the gap since. They have done it in spectacular fashion and I hope it all remains in place if/when MMT does re-emerge.

A marvelous example was yesterday's performance of the Chad Henry adaptation of Margaret Wise Brown's classic children's story "Goodnight Moon" at Hollins University. Margaret Brown graduated from Hollins in 1932 and hers is the lead production in the legacy series featuring five Hollins Writers, "Five Stars and a Moon." The kickoff gave Ernie Zulia an opportunity again to show that he is a genius ... no less, no more.

Ernie could easily be working elsewhere, but he loves Hollins (obviously from his productions, if nothing else), his freedom to create and the kids he molds to levels of competence they could only imagine. "Goodnight Moon" is a lovely story of a little rabbit girl at bedtime and is peopled with nursery rhyme characters and, in this production, a talking set that is simply astonishing. This is a freakin' college production and it's as good as anything you'll see anywhere--as is everything Ernie touches.

"Goodnight Moon" will be followed in the coming months by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey's (class of 1960) "A Woman of Independent Means" (Nov. 15-18); Natasha Thetheway's (1991) Pulitzer-winning "Bellocq's Ophelia" (Feb. 15, 16 and 19); Lee Smith's (1967) and Jill McCorkle's (1981) "Good Ol' Girls" (April 13-15) and Annie Dillard's (1967) "The Annie Dillard Project" (October 2012).

Let me strongly suggest that you see "Good Ol' Girls." This one came through with its travelling troupe a few years ago and it was as good as anything I've ever seen on stage. A real howl with great music and Lee Smith's marvelous mountain voice.

But back to the point: we live in a city with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to theater. Studio Roanoke's productions--which don't always resonate with wide audiences--are what theater is all about: experimentation, thoughtful production, taking chances, giving opportunities.

The Gamut, which has a new home at Community High School, performs some of the most thought-provoking of Broadway's plays; Showtimers is true community theater; Roanoke Children's Theatre does that genre about as well as is possible; and Star City Playhouse, when it's up and running, is always thoughtful and worth seeing. Throw in Ferrum's Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre and occasional productions at Radford University (especially) and Virginia Tech (recently) and what else do you need?

When MMT returns, it will be welcome, but it will be far behind these other theaters in creating a theatrical atmosphere that covers a wide range of people who enjoy theater. MMT has traditionally appealed to wealthy older people--those who give it a lot of money--and I hope that will change with the new emphasis. We'll have to see. If it doesn't, we haven't lost anything.

Did Butch Church Undermine Jobs Recruitment?

Butch Church
Got a call first thing this morning--while I was out walking--from somebody who would know, insisting that Roanoke County Board of Supervisors Chairman Butch Church recently told Roanoke County Administrator Clay Goodman to call off the recruitment of

The reason given by the person talking to me was that Church didn't want anything controversial happening in his district (Catawba) before the November elections. He  is in a vigorous campaign fight for his seat with, among others, the popular Carter Turner.

Goodman said this morning, "It is not true."

Church was the subject of a front page story in a local daily Sunday accusing him, in effect, of using his influence to get a county employee fired because he didn't like working with her.'s fulfillment center went to Montgomery (which was delighted to get the 200 jobs). Montgomery likely would have won it with or without Roanoke County's efforts, from what I understand.

I'm told that Roanoke County recruiters talked to officials at a trade show some time back and established a relationship which led to recruiting efforts. My guess is that the reason might be considered controversial is that it is a fulfillment center with relatively low wage jobs and the site being discussed for its building was near Lock Haven Country Club in a distinctly residential area.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Photo of the Day III: A Perfect Fall Afternoon

Football on Saturday has been a family tradition for us for as long as I can remember and today's trip to Lexington was a perfect example why. My son, a nine-year-old neighbor and I drove up to Lexington to see Division III Washington & Lee play Bridgewater College on a day that could not have been better or more defining.

W&L won a 52-42 victory in a game that was designed for the fans, not for the coaches. Just a marvelous afternoon in a setting where the athletes play because they want to and aren't paid a nickle. You won't see a more entertaining game than this was anywhere. Love it.

Photo of the Day II: What Are We Watering Here?

OK, so you get it that this is a watering system laying down hundreds of gallons of water on a field hockey surface at Washington & Lee University today, right? Exactly. But there's more to it than that: the surface is artificial. Not a blade of grass in sight.

My son and I went up to W&L for a football game today and couldn't resist passing this along to you.

Another Heavy-Handed Move from NPR Executive

Dana Davis Rehm
NPR Senior VP of Marketing Dana Davis Rehm has done it again: managed to fire somebody for acting like a U.S. Citizen.

This example--the firing of a woman who was host of an opera show--is a good bit more egregious than the first: axing NPR commentator Juan Williams for opinions expressed over on rival Fox. NPR commentators have no business appearing on Fox.

In the latest travesty, however, Rehm (who apparently is not related to talk show host Diane Rehm) managed to get freelance opera show host Lisa Simeone canned for a while, then got her whole "Opera World" show cancelled from NPR distribution because Simeone participated in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Simeone, who is not a news correspondent at any level, was fired for being a citizen in her off hours. That is immoral if it is not illegal--and my guess is that it is both. Rehm told the AP, "Our view is it's a potential conflict of interest for any journalist or any individual who plays a public role on behalf of NPR to take an active part in a political movement or advocacy campaign. Doing so has the potential to compromise our reputation as an organization that strives to be impartial and unbiased."

The conflict of interest comes into play when NPR correspondents participate in right-wing shout fests over on Fox, which is to news what a fly is to a five-star meal. When I hear an NPR correspondent on that waste of air time, it reflects badly on my view of NPR and I don't trust that correspondent any longer.

But if an opera host participates in a political demonstration, that act has nothing to do with her music show. They are entirely separate. If she were to participate in the GOPAC (the right-wing slobber-fest each year in Washington), I would have the same feeling about it. It's her business and not NPR's or mine.

The outcome of this is that Simeone kept her job, but the distribution of the show was dropped by NPR. The show will be circulated by the producing station in North Carolina (and my guess is it won't lose any of its 60 outlets). At least I hope not. Rehm's heavy hand needs a lighter touch and a lot more thought.

Quote of the Day II: The Ralph Smith Facebook Page

So now we have the new Ralph Smith Don't Live Hear Facebook page. It's right here.

Go there and comment. Lots of fun.

Quote of the Day: How Much $ Is Too Much $$$$$?

A friend sent me this telling example of pay disparity today:

"Viacom employs 10,900 people (2010), with a median income of $33,840, while the CEO Philippe P. Dauman’s compensation package was $84,515,308 ... the median hourly wage at Viacom in 2010 was $17.27, but Dauman received $40,632.36 per hour (more in an hour than the median worker got in a year.)
"In contrast, the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation has 83,000 employees and the top paid executive receives merely eight times what the lowest paid worker receives; not the median pay, the lowest." 


--Steve Kube, Healing Energy Arts (

Friday, October 21, 2011

Photo(s) of the Day II: Tamea's New Digs

Tamea Franco and her photographer granddaughter Leilani Pickens.
Tamea's work shoes on the grate.
After nearly two years of fussing and fighting with various regulatory agencies and government bodies, Global Metalfinishing owner Tamea Woodward has finally opened the new shop in Roanoke--without inviting Roanoke officials to the celebration.

Woodward invested between $1.2 million and $1.3 million in the building and equipment and has added a number of employees. She started the project--which is an offshoot of her other business, East West DyeCom--with seven employees and now had 18. She hopes to have 26 in the next 24 months.

These pictures show Tamea with eight-year-old granddaughter Leilani Pickens, an impressive young photographer, at the opening a little while ago. And they show that Tamea will dress up in heels for any occasion, including the opening of a factory.

Photo of the Day: Ralph Smith's Lavish New Home

Former Roanoke Mayor and State Senator Ralph Smith, who was gerrymandered out of his senatorial district recently, has established residence in this house in order to run for the Virginia Senate again in another district. My pal Sean Kelley, who lives near this cabin, and who shot the photo from his truck, says, "Ralph Smith's primary residence. Looks like about 550 sq. ft. And never a car in the drive! I drive by every day. This place is uninhabited!"

Smith rents the cabin from a friend. He has been known in recent years for moving from district to district trying to find a governmental seat of some kind. His houses have not been modest. When he was Roanoke mayor (winning the seat with 34 percent of the vote in a three-way field) he lived in the mansion on the side of Mill Mountain, then moved to Botetourt County into another huge house in order to face Brandon Bell, who was running for re-election. Bell is his competitor again, this time running as an Independent.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

WVTF Expands Audience Base Again With Purchase

That's your favorite editor with News Director Connie Stevens cutting an essay.
WVTF Public Radio in Roanoke is continuing its dramatic expansion, this time with an acquisition that will allow it to serve Spotsylvania County and Fredericksburg. WVTF has received permission from the Federal Communications Commission to acquire WHMM, following a purchase agreement with Mariamante Academy in Northern Virginia to buy the construction permit for a 2,500 watt full-power station at 88.3 FM. It will be the only NPR service available in those communities.

The new station will broadcast the same RADIO IQ programming heard in Charlottesville and Richmond. RADIO IQ was introduced in 2003 as an addition to the WVTF Public Radio offerings and was first broadcast in Blacksburg on 1260 AM.

Right here I'll mention that though I get no money from WVTF, I have been a regular essay contributor to the station for 20 years and am an unabashed supporter. I especially approve of the way the station is moving hard at solidifying its economic base with these expansions as government money dries up. I have rarely heard WVTF complain about declining government dollars. It has generally adjusted well by increasing fund-raising activity and expanding its base, as it is doing here.

According to a WVTF press release: 

This will be the ninth full-power station owned by WVTF and will expand coverage beyond Charlottesville to serve an important and growing region of the commonwealth. Fredericksburg is halfway between Richmond and Washington, D.C., giving RADIO IQ the opportunity to serve communities along portions of the Interstate 95 corridor as well as throughout the entire Spotsylvania County region.

“Along with many commuters, the new signal will cover approximately 150,000 more residents than RADIO IQ serves and will be an important component of the RADIO IQ mission to serve Virginians with intelligent, significant, and valuable radio program content," says WVTF General Manager Glenn Gleixner. "It will take a few months to build the new signal, but we plan to have the station on the air before the end of the year. We will offer the same program schedule heard on 88.5 FM in Charlottesville and 92.5 FM in Richmond.”

News of the acquisition comes on the heels of the announcement of the new RADIO IQ 88.7 FM in Lexington which went on the air on July 12, 2011. RADIO IQ 88.7 FM serves Buena Vista, Craigsville, Glasgow, Lexington, and the Interstate 81 corridor in Rockbridge County and northern Botetourt County of Virginia with the region's only all news public radio service. In late summer 2010, RADIO IQ also went on the air in Richmond on 92.5 FM.

Corporate underwriting support and individual contributions have increased along with the addition of RADIO IQ and its growing number of broadcast signals, says Gleixner.

“We added an additional underwriting specialist position working from our Charlottesville office to serve the growing number of companies who are attracted to our extended reach throughout Virginia and portions of North Carolina and West Virginia,” says Gleixner.

Once the Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania station signs on, WVTF Public Radio and RADIO IQ will reach an estimated population of 1.4 million.The new Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania station can expect to attract corporate support from as far north as Washington and Maryland.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Photo(s) of the Day: Pretty Pictures at a Place of Death

Flags front the memorial and a defining brass statue of a soldier.
This is the iconic view of the memorial.
Soldiers coming over the wall at Normandy.
Soldiers on the beach with 'bullets' hitting the water (right of the front statue).
This is the underside of the memorial with visitors reflected walking beneath.
Soldiers ascend the wall.
As one not given to the glorification of war, I make a concentrated effort to avoid memorials and have done so with the D-Day Memorial in Bedford for 10 years ... until today.

It is truly a lovely and peaceful place, one photographers have to appreciate, but it remains a place of death, of destruction, of war and of human misery commemorated. I'll stick by my original revulsion and place it alongside these very pretty photos. Strange world.

The layers of symbolism in this photo are impressive.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Morgan Griffith: Hey, Let's Murder Some More Horses

Drunk driving lawyer and 9th District Congressman Morgan Griffith--the very symbol of just about everything that is wrong with Congress--simply can't open his mouth without putting a size 22 shoe in it.

Today in a little love pat of a profile on this bumbling wingnut from the local daily, Griffith, like colleague Bob Goodlatte of the 6th District before him, has come out in favor of murdering helpless animals. At issue is $69 million in upkeep for horses and burros who are kept in protected areas and fed, rather than simply killed outright. He says, "There ought to be a way to humanely euthanize wild horses and burros instead of having the taxpayers of the United States of America paying $69 million a year."

There are people in Goodlatte's district who--about 10 years after the fact--can't bring themselves to say his name without gagging because his stance on basically the same issue: the life and death of wild horses. He wants to kill them, too.

Of course, an oaf like Griffith would never understand that "humanely euthanize" is an oxymoron in league with "ethical congressman." If you kill something, you are being inhumane by the very nature of the deed, especially when it is totally unnecessary.

Griffith, who likes hanging out in graveyards so much that he got married in one, will probably get more overall grief for his stance in favor of pollution, in opposition to tax credits for alternative energy (he prefers good old filthy coal), for his almost romantic relationship with the Koch brothers, for his tendency to worship at the throne of lobbyists (who throw money at him) and for god knows how many other bone-headed stances, but let me suggest that animal lovers have very long memories and they tend to get even.


Photo(s) of the Day: The Peaks at Peak

The island in the middle of the lake at the peaks tells you all you need to know.
The Peaks of Otter Lodge and Restaurant.
View from the Parkway on the drive up to the Peaks.
Cattails on the lake.
The path around the lake is great for a brief hike after lunch.
It was peak color on the Peaks of Otter today and my friend Christine Ward and I slipped up for lunch at the Peaks of Otter Lodge.

The color on the way up and the vistas were all you'd expect on the third Sunday of October and the light, especially this morning, was something photographers dream about.

The lunch, itself, is hardly worth the drive. It is a big, expensive ($20 a head) buffet full of mundane, unhealthy selections (and a few healthy ones), ready-made for stuffing yourself silly and seriously regretting it about 30 minutes later.

Go up, forget the lunch and take the hike. It's lovely.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Roanoke College Grad does '31 Dates in 31 Days'; Finds a Keeper

Tamara Duricka Johnson
A 1998 Roanoke College graduate named Tamara Duricka Johnson appears to have hit paydirt with her first book, 31 Dates in 31 Days (Seal Press, $17).

The book looks at a one-month dating project that led to her marriage to Evan Johnson, the first guy from the crowded field she dated for a second time.

Johnson, who worked in TV for 12 years (most recently as a writer at “Good Morning America”) finished in three years at Roanoke College with two majors and earned her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia.

Johnson had a number of bad dating experiences and those led to the experiment. Egged on by her family and friends, she went on a date a day for 31 days, none costing more than $31. Johnson’s second date with Evan, fell on the 31st day of the project and a year later they got married.

She blogged about the adventure and that led to the book. She calls it “the book I needed as a single person to keep myself in check.”

Attacking Kids in Jesus' Name

Matthew Staver
The latest legal tactic from Liberty Council, which has been affiliated with Liberty University since 2004, is to subject a school child to potential abuse in the Giles County legal case about the display of the Ten Commandments at Narrows High School.

A student and his parent have been given fictitious names to protect them from verbal and possible physical abuse in this inflammatory First Amendment case. Giles is a heavily Christian county and those asking that the Ten Commandments not be posted because it infringes upon their freedom from religion need protection from people who have already threatened them.

The ACLU and Freedom From Religion Foundation—two liberal groups despised by the right—are defending the student and parent.

Liberty Counsel has been on the right side (meaning “proper” side, in this case; it’s always on the political right side) of a number of First Amendment cases where distribution of literature, free speech and the right to build a church in a single-religion non-Christian community were defended.

It also, in a couple of instances, won rulings (one in Virginia) exempting churches from paying taxes on an unlimited amount of property for the first time since 1777 and opened public schools for religious groups’ meetings. It has been on the repressive side of a number of other cases, including a Ten Commandments case in Kentucky. Most of its religious cases have had to with children distributing literature or holding pre- or post-school meetings, which they certainly should be allowed to do.

Mathew D. Staver is a Liberty University graduate, Dean of Liberty University School of Law, director of the Liberty Center for Law and policy founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. He has built an impressive school in a short while. The School of Law at Liberty has an avowed purpose of impressing its view of the constitution on all of us with lawsuits and threats of lawsuits, which can have a chilling effect on cash-strapped school systems.

Quote of the Day: Let's Occupy Everything, 'Til It Changes

“Happily, the right is unhappy. Herman ‘Get a Job’ Cain calls Occupy Wall Street ‘un-American,’ which is just stupid. Mitt ‘Put the Dog on the Roof’ Romney calls it ‘class warfare,’ but that’s as American as the struggle for justice; it’s just that the wrong class is winning. In fact, there’s no more American action than this one; its roots are in the populist, suffragist, labor, civil rights, women’s, anti-war, environmental and even food movements. Unlike the Tea Party, funded as it is by wealthy reactionaries like the Koch brothers, 'Occupy' is sustained by energy, frustration, anger, perception, pizza and apples paid for by supporters or donated by farmers and, ultimately, by its daily growth.”

—Mark Bittman on Occupy Wall Street, NYTimes today

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

April Marcell Back With Another Play in November

April Marcell
April Marcell is back at it, this time with her play “God’s Eye,” which will be presented at the Roanoke Civic Center, Saturday, Nov. 26 at 8 p.m.

April says, “This play is about the ugly reality of Christian leaders who are not living what they preach, but are finding themselves in a position to make a decision to get it right or to continue doing wrong. 'God’s Eye’ reveals the face of hypocrisy and the effects it has on everyone, and how important it is to be true to yourself, regardless of the cost.”

April is CEO and founder of Gaga Productions, producer, director, playwright, filmmaker with over 50 productions of plays, musicals, concerts, film and staged readings, They include “Black Cathy,” a film officially selected for the San Diego Black Film Festival, “When Life Knocks You Down” and “The Way To A Man’s Heart.”

April has received The Nicole Kohn Film Award; the Evelyn Bradshaw Award for Excellence and the Pinnacle Award.

She has conducted workshops and classes for theater and film, one being for the Roanoke Regional Writer’s Conference for a class on Structuring Your Play.

“God’s Eye” will feature guest star VirLinda Stanton from Disney’s “Lion King” and Oprah Winfrey’s “Color Purple” as Judge Elizabeth Barnes. April will play Mother Straightway, Michael LeMelle is Minister Jones and Farrah Johnson is Hope Evans. Several of April’s seven children will be in the production.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Photo of the Day: It Has Started

The annual color spectacular has begun for the Blue Ridge Mountains. While color is in full depth about 100 miles north of Roanoke, some of it has made the change in Roanoke County if you get high enough up into the mountains. This shot was taken a little while ago across the vinyards at AmRheins. Treat yourself to a drive up there. It is glorious.