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The Swimming Pool Qs, Jake's: 8 November 2013   1 comment

Posted at 11:25 pm in entertainment,events

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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.

Written by ted on November 17th, 2013

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Carolina Renaissance Festival, Huntersville North Carolina: 2 & 3 November 2013   5 comments

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.

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Written by ted on November 13th, 2013

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South Carolina State Fair 2013, Fairgrounds: 20 October 2013   6 comments

Posted at 11:03 pm in attraction,entertainment,events,venue

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..)

Also: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

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Written by ted on October 20th, 2013

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Truly Scrumptious Catering, 6801 Saint Andrews Road: mid-2000s (moved)   1 comment

Posted at 11:12 pm in business,entertainment,events

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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.

Written by ted on June 5th, 2013

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E Z Bingo, 655 Saint Andrews Road: 2012   6 comments

Posted at 1:25 am in business,entertainment

Written by ted on May 7th, 2013

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Myrtle Beach IMAX, 1325 Celebrity Circle: November 2011   11 comments

Posted at 12:20 am in attraction,entertainment,grand-strand

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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.

Written by ted on February 18th, 2013

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Vocal Edition Christmas Medley, Brookgreen Gardens: 22 December 2012   no comments

Posted at 2:36 am in entertainment,events

Written by ted on December 24th, 2012

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South Carolina State Fair 2012, Fairgrounds: 21 October 2012   16 comments

Posted at 11:33 pm in attraction,entertainment,events,venue

(Folks coming in from the link at the CarnivalWarehouse.com forum, you may be interested in my pictures from previous South Carolina State Fairs -- Ted)

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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.

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WECO Billiards, 750 Meeting Street: 2000s   4 comments

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I really like the sign here at the former WECO Billiards. It has a similar aesthetic to Varsity Billiards and Red Wing Rollerway.

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.

Written by ted on October 16th, 2012

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Teddy Mountain, 461 Town Center Place Suite 3: Spring 2012   15 comments

Posted at 1:21 am in entertainment,stores

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Teddy Mountain is a stuff-your-own-teddy-bear franchaise. The Columbia store was at The Village At Sandhill next to the Nestle cookie store, and just down from Bluefin.

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".

Written by ted on September 17th, 2012

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