Blatant and Outrageous

It never ceases to amaze me how creative pornographers are insinuating their nasty selves into my online life. I am in the habit of viewing my emails in a drop down window before clicking on them. That way I can delete spam without having to compromise my system. One wily pornographer created a graphics backdrop with  an offensive image. Whether I wanted to or not, I had a glimpse of this sickening photo before I dropped it into my spam box.

What if I had been a child?

I maintain a Jane Austen blog, one that is popular with young women who have just discovered the author. One pornography site managed to get listed on my technorati blog reaction list. How they accomplished this, I don't know. They probably created a pingback on an old post of mine. Be that as it may, they sat prominently on this list for anyone to find and see. I had to ask Technorati to remove them, and this process took a week or so.

There are other instances. When I google information about Jane Austen, I will often find a porno site displayed prominently and high up on Google's search pages.  I believe in a free and open Internet. I believe in freedom of expression. BUT HOW DARE THESE SMUT PEDDLERS insinuate themselves into the lives of people who are clearly seeking something that is wholesome and good?

Creating laws to stop these sickos opens up another can of worms. And how can one regulate an entity that sits in a foreign country? It should be Google's and Technorati's and Dogpile's and Yahoo's responsibilities to police their search engines and protect us from this smut. How this is accomplished is beyond me, and I am sure the task is daunting, if not nearly impossible.

All I know is that too often I am forced to see and read about stuff that makes the hair on my neck stand on its ends.

Kudos to Moonlight and Magnolias, Now Playing at the Barksdale Theatre

Pleasantly entertained is a mild term for the fun our group had watching Moonlight and Magnolias at the Barksdale Theatre last Friday. The play is a comedy about David O. Selznick locking director Victor Fleming and writer Ben Hecht up in his office for five days to complete a workable script of Gone With the Wind. What ensues is an hour and a half of great fun, witty lines, and slapstick comedy. Joe Pabst and David Bridgewater as Selznick and Fleming took turns acting out the parts of Scarlett, Melanie, and Prissy. These enactments were made all the more hilarious by the age and size of both men, who were hefty, to say the least. The sight of Bridgewater lying on the coffee table, legs spread in the air, pretending to give birth as Melanie was sidesplittingly funny.

In light of the current writer's strike in Hollywood, Scott Wichmann's role as writer Ben Hecht took on a special meaning. Interspersed throughout the play were comments about the contributions writers make to the entertainment industry and the lack of respect they generally hold as a group, Jews in Hollywood, and GWTW as an anachronistic, racist movie.

If you are thinking of going, be aware that this play is about the making of Gone With the Wind. A group in the theatre walked out when they realized that they weren't going to see Rhett and Scarlett.

I enjoy going to the Barksdale Theatre for several reasons. First, parking is easy. Second, the theatre is small and one sits close to the action. Third, but not least, one can order and pay for one's drink and dessert before intermission. It is such a pleasure to walk into the refreshment area and to see a table reserved in your name, with drink and food waiting for you. As it was, the fifteen minute intermission gave me barely enough time to finish my glass of wine, so pre-ordering helped.

After the play ended, the small theatre emptied fast. Another bonus for going to the Barksdale,

Moonlight and Magnolias plays until January 20th. Enjoy.

Sticky Rice: My Favorite Restaurant Hang Out

If you told me a year ago that Sticky Rice would become my favorite hang out after work, I would have laughed in your face. But since January I've been going there once or twice a week to decompress and order an appetizer, usually two, and a glass of wine, usually two, before heading for home. Although I arrive by myself, the staff knows to seat me in the corner table in the rear, where I can sit facing the restaurant and Main Street. (Usually during busy times single persons are seated at the Sushi Bar.)

It's a delight to frequent a restaurant where one is recognized and receives friendly and customized service from the waitstaff. Before I've settled down and taken out my laptop to check on emails, Marti, my regular and favorite waitress, brings my glass of Butterfield Station Cabernet. Yeah, this is no specialty wine, but at only $5.50 a glass, I don't mind. I then order my first appetizer. Last night it was the Sticky Scallops appetizer ($8.00). Within minutes Marti served up six huge, succulent scallops that sat on a bed of lettuce. Covered with brown sauce and garnished with carrot slivers and pieces of cashews, they hit the spot. After I ate the scallops, I used the remaining sauce, carrots, and cashews on the lettuce to eat it as a salad. The sauce had a slight kick, enough to add heat but not enough to ruin the fresh flavor of the scallops.

My second appetizer was a single serving of tater tots. Tater tots? Yeah. You can order a bucket of traditional tater tots for $6.00. Warm and crispy on the outside, and served with tot sauce (which also has a hot kick), they hit the spot on a cold December evening.

If I'm in a South Beach diet frame of mind, I forego the tater tots for the lettuce wraps with chicken, shittake, and mixed vegetables. Sometimes I'll order one of their specialties, Sticky Balls (see photo). Sticky Balls are made with inari pockets that are stuffed with tuna, crab, and shirracha rice. They are then deep fried and topped with scallions and tobiko wasabi dressing and eel sauce. Yum. This appetizer tastes best when served crisp on the outside and still warm on the inside. (Sometimes they arrive cold inside, or with an uneven temperature.)  Depending on which chef creates this dish , it sometimes arrives with a kick so powerful it will clear your sinuses. At $6.50, Sticky Balls are a bargain.

In fact, I rarely spend more than $24.00 at Sticky Rice. There might be fancier and better Japanese restaurants in Richmond, but none have an atmosphere so suited to my taste, and none have a waitstaff that are more attentive. Click here to read Sticky Rice's blog.

Find Sticky Rice on Main Street and Shields Ave in the Fan.

Traveling Home for the Holidays

I'm dreading the drive north tomorrow to join my family for Thanksgiving dinner in Baltimore. There's no good route to take any more. If I take the I-95, I risk getting caught in traffic. Yesterday's accident left motorists at a complete standstill for 3 hours around the Washington beltway.

I use several ploys to drive north. First, I no longer leave on Wednesday. Instead, I leave first thing on Thanksgiving morning. The roads are relatively uncongested then, and I usually make it home within 2 3/4 to 3 hours. If the I-95 looks busy at all, I use 301 north as an alternate route. Yes, this is a stop and go road, but I arrive home consistently within 3 1/2 hours unless the Baltimore tunnels are backed up.

I love being with my family during this holiday. I just wish i didn't have to drive around Washington to do it.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all. And drive safely.

Michael Vick Got Off Easy

If you ask me, he should have experienced the same fate as the dogs. This quote from the BBC suggests a few fitting punishments:

Prosecutors said the dogs sometimes fought to the death and underperforming animals had been shot, drowned, hanged, electrocuted or killed by being slammed to the ground.

People who are cruel to animals have no soul. I feel no compassion for this man whatsoever.

The Sky Drops: Great New Band in Richmond

The Sky Drops are coming Thursday, November 8th at 8 PM! Cost: $ 5.00


At The Camel - - 1621 W Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia 23220

About the Camel: Since it's inception on March 3rd, 2007, this club has been featuring local, regional, national, and international acts, providing opportunities to not only those with huge followings, but to those who have great talent in their genre and play a great show. Combining premier local acts with touring bands The Camel has provided Richmond with many shows that would not have existed otherwise.

Debate Over Who's Responsible for Huguenot Bridge Repair

Someone posted a great comment on my remarks about the mayor and city council regarding Huguenot Bridge. Burying it in my archives would not do anyone any good, so here is the comment and my reply to it. Debate away, folks! It's a free society:

Anonymous Comment:

Blaming the city for the untimely replacement of the Huguenot Bridge is a waste of time because they have nothing to do with replacing it. This is a VDOT maintained bridge and VDOT is in charge of the replacement.

If you don't like the mayor or living in the city, that's fine... but it's unfair to blame either for the amount of time it has taken to replace the aging structure.

My Answer:

You make a good point about VDOT, but I still blame the mayor and city council. They are my representatives. One would presume that in the course of their duties these individuals interact with state agencies about matters of safety and importance.

To hide behind "That's VDOT's province," is cowardly of our city representatives. The Mayor was once Governor. He knows how the system works. One would presume he knows how to get a serious dialog started with VDOT. One would also assume that City Council would be alarmed at the poor, no horrendous, condition of the bridge, that the safety of all of Richmond's citizens would be of tantamount importance, and that the Council would do everything in its collective power to persuade VDOT to revisit its decision to hold off reconstruction of this bridge until 2010.

So, yeah. I blame the mayor and city council for not adequately representing me (and all of us who traverse that bridge daily) and explaining to us why this situation is allowed to just loll and loll. Let's not hide behind who's responsible, but work as a concerted unit for the safety of all.

Oh, and P.S. I love living in this city; I love my location on The Knob. Please, do not confuse my love for this city with my lack of respect for my city representatives.

(My original comment was edited.)

Oh, Wee! Let's Dilly Dally While Huguenot Bridge Collapses All Around Us!

Here's an interesting entry from Chesterfield Daily, an e-pub that I suppose has some sort of interest in the safety and health of Huguenot Bridge, seeing that many of the 28,000 vehicles that cross the bridge daily are going to and fro Chesterfield County.

Contractors will START bidding in 2010 to make improvements on this 58 year old bridge. Now, doesn't THAT make me feel safe as I cross this derelict bridge daily? Wasn't the original plan to begin repairs on this bridge like TWO YEARS AGO? Have you folks seen the patches in the pavement? Have you FELT the shift in seams in the pavement as you drive from point to point? Do you trust this rickety 60 year old infrastructure? Do you trust our ridiculous mayor and city council to look after our welfare? NOT!

Seeing as how I live in the annexed portion of Richmond, and how I DO NOT HAVE A CHOICE except to cross the bridge to go to work, this news sucks. Oh yeah, I could pay a daily toll and go 7 miles out of my way and drive down Chippenham Parkway and cross over the Powhite Expressway, and I often do. But why should I? I already pay the second highest tax rates in the city even though I live in a modest 1950's rancher and enjoy none of the amenities that were promised our area when the city grabbed our land. (Over thirty years later there's not  a hint of a sidewalk and not a single traffic light.)

Do I sound angry? You betcha! I live in the city. I work in the city. I pay city taxes. I get NO BREAKS. And now the bridge that I must cross daily will not be fixed until I AM SO OLD AND DECREPIT I WILL HAVE LOST ALL MY TEETH.

Ok, so I exaggerate. My point is this: While our ridiculous mayor is fighting with city council and the school board over some stupid office space dispute so he can build his million dollar television studio, construction on rickety Huguenot Bridge has been put on hold. How irresponsible and stupid is that decision?

By the way, most of these vehicles that head for the bridge or that have crossed it do not honor the 45 mph speed limit along Huguenot Road: they hog me if I dare to drive under 50 or 55 mph. Parents who live in our neighborhood beware for your children! Kathy Grazziano, do you hear me?

Addendum: According to Hills and Heights construction on the bridge will be moved up a few years. But I could swear on my grandma's non existent bible that a number of years ago the powers that be decided that plans to rebuild Huguenot Bridge would be moved back a few years.

Does this mean we would be returning to the original schedule?

Dangerous Dogs? No, Irresponsible Owners

My pooch and I went to the dog park near the Byrd Park Carillon today, and he ran his tiny legs out. There were at least 30 other dogs of various breeds and sizes running or playing with him, all well behaved, all knowing the rules of canine  engagement.

I knew my pooch was safe among this group, and that each owner  was a responsible dog lover. Even the so called dangerous breeds, like pit bulls, run with joy and abandon in this dog friendly environment. The new Virginia law forcing "dangerous" breed owners to register their dogs and take out expensive insurance is laughable, since responsible owners will register their dogs and irresponsible owners will not. In fact, the chances of our being bitten by strange dogs is rather negligible, especially if we use common sense.

According to the Dog Bite Law website, 50% of dog bites occur on the owner's property and 77% of dogs that bite attack family members or friends. My parents' neighbor was bitten by a dog. He had strayed into the dog's territory and received a severe bite on his thumb. The dog, Wiley, has been successfully restrained by an electric fence for over four years. All Wiley knew as he attacked the neighbor was that someone had entered his exclusive territory. Wiley's owners are distraught. They plan on putting up an additional fence and no trespassing signs, and they've been taking Wiley (a normally sweet and lovable mutt) to obedience classes. But who will train the neighbor?

The Humane Society suggests ways to avoid being bitten:
Never approach a strange dog, especially one who's tied or confined behind a fence or in a car. Don't pet a dog—even your own—without letting him see and sniff you first. Never turn your back to a dog and run away. A dog's natural instinct will be to chase and catch you. Don't disturb a dog while she's sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy, or caring for puppies. Be cautious around strange dogs. Always assume that a dog who doesn't know you may see you as an intruder or a threat.

Wise words, and advice that the neighbor who was bitten by Wiley should have followed. As for the dangerous dog registry, Hah! I'm willing to bet that 99.9% of irresponsible owners haven't bothered to list their dogs and never will. 

Proceed With Caution

Ok, so I fooled you with those sweet posts about living along the river. If you are speeding along Riverside Drive and you see a lady with her terrier shaking her fist at you and cursing you out, know that it's me. I am sick and tired of you commuters taking a short cut from Cherokee road to Huguenot Bridge and ignoring the speed limit of

15 MPH.

Let me repeat that.

15 MPH!!

People walk along the river with their dogs and children, or jog, or ride bikes. This is our neighborhood, a place where we should  feel safe. Commuters just don't get it. They want to get from point A to point B as fast as they can along a narrow, winding road. They want to avoid the intersection of Cherokee and Huguenot Road, which is dangerous and which has been ignored by the city for over 35 years.

Some people have actually sassed back at me as I gesture them to slow down. A*Holes! I've shamed a few people into slowing down as they speed dangerously close to me and my dog, but mostly they barrel along our short stretch, unmindful of the pedestrian traffic. The city failed to lay down the sidewalks they promised us when they annexed our part of the city, or put in speed bumps, which would make sense, or establish a police presence, which would slow down traffic for the time being. I'm sure they think our tiny community isn't worth the money. Well, folks, next to Windsor Farms, we pay the second highest tax rates in the city and most of us on The Knob are widows, divorcees, or college professors and school teachers.

If my dog gets hit by one of you speeding commuters, or if I get injured, well, I've never sued any one in my life. But I will.