Charlottesville Breaking News

Dog days (and nights) in Orange County

By Hilary Holladay

The Virginia countryside has its own sounds and rhythms. In Orange County, where I’ve recently moved after five years in Charlottesville, I’m used to the cicadas, the cry of the foxes, the tap-tap of rain on the tin roof. The other evening, though, I heard something that made me pause: light footsteps on the porch, snuffling, a bit of exploring. I wasn’t scared, but since I had seen a bear up in the mountains the week before, I wasn’t going to take any chances.

The porch light revealed a sturdy black Labrador. Sleek, muscular, and irresistibly friendly, she padded around the porch as if she owned the place. We visited for a while and then I brought her a bowl of water. She was a guest, and it was the least I could do. I had reason to believe she belonged to a family several fields away, though she wore no collar. Surely she would go home on her own.

Later that night, I sat reading in my favorite chair. The cats had retreated upstairs and I was alone, or so I thought. On the other side of the screen window I noticed the faint glint of the dog’s brown eyes. Her fur was so dark that she was all of a piece with the summer night, except for those eyes. Unselfconscious, affectionate, they floated in space.

In moments such as those, time stops: the day’s small miseries slip away. I was watching an invisible dog watch me. Through such a looking glass I would gladly step more often.

The next morning...

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Last picture show

Sunday, Aug. 4, 2100 hrs. Moviegoers approach Vinegar Hill Theatre, one last time. A very different experience than the multi-screen, acres of asphalt Movieplex.

Commentator Bill Emory puts up a new photo nearly every day at


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Foster disbelief: Elysium soars despite Oscar winner's failure

By Richard Roper

Jodie Foster delivers an unbelievably terrible performance in Elysium.    

Maybe the worst acting ever done by a two-time Oscar winner.    

A performance so awful I found myself keenly anticipating Foster's next scene to see if she would keep on bringing the dreadful.    

I say this as a HUGE fan of Jodie Foster. I'm telling you, it's amazing how bad she is in this movie.    

And how little it mattered in the grand, rabidly schizoid scheme of things.    

The Summer of Futuristic Doom continues with Elysium, written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, who showed such great promise with the claptrap minor classic District 9 and announces himself here as an "event" filmmaker— that rare breed whose very name preceding a title should inspire smiles of anticipation.    

Set in a predictably dystopian future (for most of the film, the year is 2154), Elysium tells us Earth has become a vast wasteland of pollution and corruption, with the .001 percent having fled to a utopian space station that hovers above the planet like a second, heavenly, taunting moon.    

Elysium is like a giant high-class suburban enclave, with the added benefit of nifty machines that can cure just about anything that ails you. (Lost opportunity: Blomkamp gives us only glimpses of...

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Crank it up: Could a car start like a lawnmower?

 Dear Tom and Ray:       

OK, I know this is a pretty ridiculous question, but I've done a little research and can't find anything written on the subject. I was wondering if it's possible to implement a sort of pull-start system (like a lawnmower has) on my truck. The reason I would want this is for a situation such as a dead battery with no one to give me a jump-start. I just figured that it would be nice to have a system like this for occasional use. Now, I know I can just buy a portable jump-starter and keep that in my truck, but is a modification such as this possible? I appreciate your time and help.— Harvey       

RAY: Sure. On almost every car, there's a big, fat nut on the crankshaft pulley that bolts to the front of the crankshaft. That's the pulley with the serpentine belt running around it. If you were to turn that nut, you'd be turning the crankshaft and thereby "cranking the car."       
TOM: In fact, on old cars like the Model T Fords, that's exactly what people did. They went to the front of the car, fit a wrench on that nut and "cranked it" until the engine started.       
RAY: But it's not so easy with modern cars. First of all, you don't have easy access to it. Most modern engines are mounted transversely (aka installed sideways). So you'd have to smash a hole in one of your front fenders to get at the cra...

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The August 1 Annual Manual incorrectly identified who put the Vinegar Hill Theatre building up for sale. It was owner Ann Porotti. In that same section, the Hook inadvertently ran an old review of the Carmike Six. We regret the error. 

We can't believe we forgot to include one of the newest and most popular restaurants around in the Food Finder section of our August 1 Annual Manual. Shout out to Burton's Grill located in the Shops at Stonefield for providing an upscale atmosphere and fresh, contemporary American cuisine. 

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