Archive for the ‘entertainment’ Category
I'd heard the radio ads for the Carolina Renaissance Festival for years, but somehow never got around to going until the start of November. For one thing, I wasn't quite sure where Huntersville was (answer: just north of Charlotte), for another I didn't know if there would be enough there to be worth a weekend.
In the event, I was quite pleasantly surprised. The place is a couple of miles east of I-77 and has an interesting air of semi-permanence about it. The parking lot is obviously a pasture or some such non-graded space, and the buildings are all open to the air with porta-johns providing the facilities, but yet they are permanent structures, and the festival is now in its 20th year.
The crowd is an interesting mix. There are the standard parents-with-kids families out for a day of face painting and low-tech carnival rides, then there are the Society For Creative Anachronism types, the "healing crystals" and New Age crowd and the Celts and fairies crowd. One comic storyteller commented that there was a lot of crossover with engineering and science-fiction fandom types (and indeed SCA is strongly correlated with SF fandom..) such that he could tell Rene Descartes jokes ("Rene Descartes walks into a bar. The bartender asks him if he wants a beer. 'I think not', says Descartes and vanishes..")
The show people were great. Everyone had a line of patter to draw in a crowd (the fire eater: "I'm not that good. Come watch me, I might hurt myself!"), and kept up rapid fire comedy bits while swallowing swords ("You can only swallow a sharp sword once!"), walking the tightrope, abusing the peasants or juggling.
It was also a "something for all ages" event. As I mentioned there were plenty of kid friendly activities, but there was also a bit of a bawdy side for the grownups at events labeled LC ("loose cannon").
Here's a few videos.
From the sublime:
To the freaky:
To the dangerous:
To the NSFW:
And the even less SFW:
The Fair runs weekends through the rest of November.
Lots more after the jump.
Well, if you've been following Columbia Closings for a while, you won't find any real surprises here. I like what I like (mainly neon in the case of the State Fair) and you'll find a lot of what you found last year here this year again. I did try out the in-camera HDR setting of my LX7 some this year, and I think it works better for this kind of shot than it does for daylight ones where I've never really been happy with it.
I will say that for what should be an important anniversary year (150 years of the State Fair..) the Fair was a little sparse this year. It seemed to me that the artwork was fewer pieces spaced farther apart and the Steel Building (and the one to the right of it which name escapes me) had fewer booths this year, with some stalwarts missing. In particualr, I didn't notice the Hmong craft booth this year, and the Grey Market DVD booth was not there. There was also another surprising no-show which I'll mention tomorrow. And, granted it was Sunday evening, but still I didn't get to ride the bumper cars this year because I would have been the only car in the rink, and what's the fun of that?
Anyway, it was still fun to walk around, eat greasy food and watch the people and rides. Lots after the break!
(And check back in a few days when I finally have the skyride video uploaded..)
Back to Saint Andrews Road again today.
I like the quail logo on this Irmo strip mall...
From what I can tell, Truly Scrumptious Catering moved from here to 1937 Augusta Highway in Lexington around 2006, and are still there today in a much nicer building/banquet hall.
IMAX theaters are kind of an odd duck in the movie world. They have tremendous screens and potentially a lot of advantages over regular theaters, but all seem to be run on kind of an amateur basis. For a time, South Carolina had two IMAX screens, one at the Charleston Aquarium, and this one at Broadway At The Beach in Myrtle Beach.
I used to go down to the Charleston one fairly regularly for spectacles like Harry Potter and The Polar Express. I wasn't too surprised when it went under as the parking situation was rather fraught.
Given the amount of time I spend on the Grand Strand, it always surprised me how seldom I got to the Myrtle Beach IMAX. It just seemed that whenever I would check it out, it was all sharks & dinosaurs. From time to time there would be a a good second run movie there, like Beauty & The Beast, The Phantom Menace or The Dark Knight, but it was always six months or more after the fact, by which time I had usually seen them elsewhere. (Though for the record, the IMAX cut of The Phantom Menace was much better than the regular theatrical release because the hard running-time limit imposed on IMAX at the time, due to the huge weight of the reels, forced Lucasfilms to cut a lot of the dross..).
This pattern continued even when IMAX hit its peak nationally with big hits. Given the lackluster record of the Myrtle Beach site, I wasn't too surprised when it closed in November of 2011. As it turns out though, there was a reason the place was so far below its potential. According to The Sun News the IMAX actually had a non-compete agreement with the Carmike 16 adjoining it at Broadway At The Beach. The fact that they would ever have agreed to such a thing kind of confirms my opinion of the amateur nature of IMAX management, but does explain why they never had the hit first-run movies. The ampitheatre re-opened this summer as a Carmike property, using a different big-screen technology called BIGD. I have not had a chance to check it out, but presumably there is no longer an issue of Carmike competing with itself.
Currently South Carolina has no IMAX locations. I believe that Charlotte is the closest outlet, but I have incorporated an IMAX stop into my Florida vacations for the last few years of big releases. Tampa had two, one at the port Canalside complex in Ybor City, and one at the big science museum. The Canalside location closed a year or so ago, and the last two years, I have hit the World Golf Hall of Fame location in St. Augustine for Dark Knight offerings. I'm pretty sure that this summer they had switched to digital projection, and it was much less impressive. In fact, I'm pretty sure I could see pixels at times. IMAX seems to be floundering at the corporate level as well as at the local. In recent years, they have diluted their brand by revamping mall-type multiplexes and labeling them IMAX. This, of course, leads Internet wags to label these outlets as "Liemax" locations, and there is no easy way to tell from their publicity which locations are true IMAX and which are not. In the meantime, Hollywood seems to be betting that High Frame Rate rather than huge screens is the next big thing. I guess time will tell, but in the meantime, even sharks and dinosaurs are gone from Myrtle Beach.
Well, as always, the South Carolina State Fair was a good time, with lots of beautiful art, greasy food, neon in motion and oddball retail. If you've read one of these posts before, don't expect anything particularly new this year; it's pretty much the same sights I usually enjoy capturing. I didn't submit anything for the art exhibition this year, so no pictures of the pre-Fair ceremony.
I've got a couple of videos I'll add later as soon as I can get them uploaded to youtube. In the meantime, enjoy!
UPDATE 27 October: First video (cablecars) is uploaded above.
This site for the current owners of the building (note the clever URL) says it was built originally as a grocery. It was still operating as a billiard hall in the February 1997 phonebook, but by the time of the next one I have here at home (February 2007), the listing was gone. Since then it appears to have been a thrift store, and now houses a number of operations as detailed at the previous link.
I'm not entirely sure when the store closed, but as the last mention I can find on the Sandhill website is for 30 April 2012, I'm putting it as "Spring 2012".
As I've mentioned, there was a time in my life when I saw three or four movies a week. After I left college, that dropped way off (though I still did manage to see both The Little Mermaid & The Incredibles upwards of 20 times each).
I think if I had stayed in Columbia, I might have stayed more in the habit -- I would look at the Nickelodeon calendars and see a lot that looked interesting, but having limited time in town rarely got around to it. As it is, I remember seeing two movies in particular here. The first was Gunga Din with Cary Grant. This was a splendid old light-hearted adventure film, and I saw it with my father, who had also seen it when it was first released in 1939. The second was completely different, in fact it was And Now for Something Completely Different, the first Monty Python film (which Wikipedia says is a reshooting of some of their classic sketches, which I did not realize at the time). I'm sure I saw a few other films at The Nick, but I'm a bit blurry on the details now.
Anyway, The Nickelodeon has now moved to the other side of the State House at 1607 Main Street. This is the site of the old Fox theater. I am pretty sure that the last time I was in the Fox was in 1977 to see Ralph Bakshi's Wizards. In fact, I had somehow convinced my mother and sister to go with me, and the film was so awful that they both walked out and shopped what was left of Main Street while I toughed it out to the end. I wonder if The Nick will do a Bakshi retrospective some day..