Archive for the ‘entertainment’ Category
After a bit of a kerfuffle with Richland County, the Palmetto Table Tennis Club ended up opening a ping pong plaza at Richland Mall, just behind the old TGI Friday's and in-between the elevator column and the entrance of the old Blacklion.
It seemed a nice use for an empty space, and there were perhaps half a dozen or more ping pong tables there at one time. When I went through in early December however, the plaza was completely bereft of tables (though all the posters and signage were still there).
UPDATE 19 December 2013: Well, I don't know what was going on, but the tables are back!
Well, of course I never thought to get a picture of them, but every year since the 1980s, the main elevator court at Richland Mall hosted a full orchestra of animitronic bears playing Christmas music. The signage proudly announced that the conductor bear who stood with his back to the audience benches (which were in front of Barns & Noble facing the elevator) was 'Leonard Bearstein'.
Because, you know: Richland Mall, there was never a crowd for the bears, but generally there would be a couple of kids and parents, perhaps heading to or from Gymboree sitting on (or running around) the benches.
I don't know if there was too much wear-and-tear on the bears, or it's just that nobody cares anymore, or the last guy who knew how to put them together retired, but this year, the bandstand is not in evidence, Leonard Bearstein is not tapping his baton, and the holiday decor is Christmas trees only.
Since we were talking about radio today, I thought I'd note the passing of Son Of Steve.
When TV went digital a few years back, it was almost like having cable-lite: Each channel was now split into two or three subchannels, and along with the all-weather-all-the-time air filler, we also got fairly nice content like Me TV.
I finally got a digital radio for my car after the first replacement radio gave out and found that the same thing was true for it. Of course, in Columbia, that is not saying a great deal as the only digital channels I can think of here are WUSC and 967 Steve FM. While WUSC does run a secondary channel, it always seems to be some sort of world music that I don't care for when I hit it.
Steve, on the other hand, ran a secondary channel dubbed Son Of Steve which was, in theory, a 90s jukebox. I always got the feeling that it was someone's pet project and didn't get a lot of attention from management. For one thing, there were never any commercials, so, while that was nice, it can't have been a money-maker. For another thing nobody ever went through and equalized the levels on the promos and inserts -- they were always much louder than the music, to the extent that you had to hit the volume knob sometimes. And finally, it really wasn't a 90s channel. In fact, it seemed to skew 80s more often than not. Still, I like the 80s, and it was always a sure bet to find an actual song while commercial hopping amongst all the other local stations.
The way my car radio works is when you hit the primary channel for a digital station, the next time you hit the seek button, it hops to the secondary channels in order. So, I was used to punching the Steve button, and then hitting seek to hop to Son Of Steve. I was somewhat surprised last month when doing that tuned in a sermon. It turns out that if there is no secondary channel on Steve, the next hop is 97.1 which seems to be a religious station.
Interestingly, I can't find anything on the web to prove that Son Of Steve ever existed. If it was ever anywhere on the WLTY web site or any promo material, it's gone now, and it seems nobody else ever mentioned it online.
UPDATE 21 April 2014: Gone again.
I think I last saw The Swimming Pool Qs on this stage about 1989. I guess they were touring in support of World War Two Point Five, the club was Rockafellas' and Ann Richmond Boston was on temporary hiatus.
Of course, by that time I had seen them several times, first, I think, at a Fourth of July concert at Bell Camp. Over the years they have always put on a great show, and Jake's was no exception. The mix could have been a bit better at times, but the performance was topnotch. I was a bit tentative about going into Five Points on a weekend night given all the recent events, but if anything was going on down the hill, it didn't make it up to Jake's and the crowd was, as you might expect, a bit older than the club norm.
I think this was the first time I've been to a show in Columbia proper since the smoking ban was passed, and while the libertarian in me chafes at it, it was great not to have to shed all my clothes into the washer and jump into the shower the moment I got home. (And great to be able to actually breathe the next day..).
Given that I don't think the Qs are the band's "day job" anymore, it's not too surprising that it takes a long time to get new music out, but I spoke a little with Jeff Calder and he said work is ongoing on the next album (after 2003's Royal Academy of Reality and that in fact a new EP will be out sometime this month. You should check Qs' web site for "The System Of Love".
In the meantime, you should definitely have the (long awaited) re-issue of their two A&M albums:
And the evening's most surprising event? I got a wet sloppy kiss from a drunk girl who was apparently under the impression I was a Q. I still can't figure that one out.
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.