Outside the Novahood


Does anyone remember 2004? They’re baaaaaack–or soon will be. Just awakening from their 17-year nap, billions of screaming Brood X cicadas are set to invade a 14-state area that includes Virginia. You will know them by their thick black bodies, orange-veined wings, bulging red eyes, and striking orange legs–but most of all by their loud singing. And by the crunch you hear when you step on their recently-shed skin.

After spending 17 years developing underground while feeding on plant roots, cicadas emerge when the soil temperature 8 inches under the surface reaches 64 degrees. Brood X will emerge from the earth en masse, in early- to mid-May, peak in early June, and be gone by the end of June. How many? From hundreds to 1.5 million per acre.


After they emerge, cicadas will immediately be drawn to treetops, where choirs of males sing to attract females. They can be shockingly loud. Other than minor tree damage, cicadas pose few threats to people, animals, or the environment.

So it’s best to attempt to enjoy our army of little space invaders while they last! 


Danville, VA, is about 230 miles southwest of Fairfax. An All-America city since 1977, its motto is Reimagine That. Well, the town has certainly reimagined its baseball team. Formerly the Braves, it will now to be known as the Otterbots. Yup, you heard corretly..  

With the reorganization of Danville baseball, the team’s general manager solicited suggestions for a new name over 600 suggestions were submitted during a two week period. But in their wisdom, rather than choosing a name from those submitted, the manager and his colleagues decided to gather comment concepts and themes to make Danville’s identity singular and crown the team itself. Ergo, the Otterbots. Here is the team logo:


The primary blue in the logo represents the Dan River, as it spotlights the tobacco and textile industries. Danville’s secondary color, orange, featured in the eyes of the otter, resembles the color of the “HOME” sign that is formally displayed on the Dan River Fabrics atop the city’s iconic White Mill building. The logo is also meant to symbolize the playfulness of the river otters while “bot” relates to the future of STEM education and the upcoming industry along the southside. The Otterbots font features a bright neon color typeface, paying homage to cars racing at tracks that are located near Danville—the South Boston Speedway and Virginia International Raceway—and to the incoming casino.

Not all are impressed. The one comment received in relation to a story about this in the Danville Register and Bee said, Love the team; the name, well, not so much. Have we simply lost our creative imagination? What is a bot? Who has seen an Otter in Danville? I will be in the stands, pretending it´s the Braves, or the Leafs, or the Tabs, or the Gamblers, or the Millers…or even the Otters. But Otterbots?

No information has yet been announced concerning a team mascot or mascot-disguised cheerleader.  Stay tuned. . .


A genuine Whistler sketch was tossed into a donation box. A Yale student bought it for $4 in Williamsburg. That black and white sketch of a dark-haired woman—5-by-7 inches or so in a nothing-special frame—was a for-real piece of work by one of the great masters, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, a 19th-century American most famous for his iconic “Whistler’s Mother.” 

The buyer earned her appraiser’s certificate for fine and decorative arts, and can only reveal that she sold it on eBay to a doctor in Texas, who paid somewhere between $250 and $2,500. 

The etching found by Molly Martien at a thrift store in Williamsburg, called "Fumette," is one of 74 known impressions made of a portrait etched by James Abbott McNeill Whistler in 1859.


The find is among 74 known impressions of “Fumette,” a portrait etched by Whistler in 1859 of a woman who was his mistress for a while in Paris. Other “Fumette” impressions are known to hang in museums.

A “Fumette” with similar wear and tear sold at Christie’s in 2007 for $3,000. A larger Whistler etching called “The Palaces” was valued at $20,000 to $30,000 by experts on “Antiques Roadshow” in 2015. His one-of-a-kind paintings sell for millions.

It is not known whether Whistler whistled while working. 


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