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Amelia Con 2014, Fernandina Beach Florida: 6 September 2014   2 comments

Posted at 7:23 pm in events,out-of-area

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Well, I don't really need much of an excuse to visit Fernandina Beach, one of my favorite places, so when my sister noticed that there was an Amelia Island comics, steampunk, gaming and anime convention, , I decided to check it out.

Compared to the Charlotte Heroes Convention, Ameliacon was quite small. There was one exhibit hall, in the park on Atlantic Avenue which houses the municipal swimming pool, with gaming and presentation events in the town womens' center behind the park. It seemed to me also that the convention focus was definitely more on gaming, costuming and cosplay than on comic books, though there were some authors and artists there.

I certainly felt out of the loop on some issues! Magna/Anime character design generally hurts my eyes, so I was pretty clueless about one of the properties that seemed to be a very big thing Attack on Titan. There were a number of costumers basing their characters on that. I was also completely in the dark about what is apparently a very popular podcast Welcome to Night Vale, something the contest winning cosplayers based their presentation on.

I missed the morning presentation on Steampunk, having somehow convinced myself that it was in the afternoon, but did catch an interesting presentation by Joshua Johnson on doing video special effects on, basically, zero budget.

The audio for the presentations was the most problematic facet of the convention. I got the impression from listening to one of the organizers talk during the costume contest that someone had promised the convention a PA system and then left them totally in the lurch. I could follow ok during the effects presentaion, and parts of the Marvel/DC artist's presentation, but I gave up during the Homestruck panel where the panel were all using their indoor voices, and where I was only sitting in to try to figure out what Homestruck actually was anyway.

The costumers were out full force in the exhibit hall, and then at the closing costume/cosplay contest.

During the costume contest, it was announced that the convention would be shifting out of the fall and into February, so there will be no Ameliacon 2015. The next will be Ameliacon 2016 though they did announce a sequence of local get-togethers in advance of that. I certainly enjoyed myself -- I don't know that I would have driven that far for a convention of that size in a place I didn't have other motives to visit, but in the event, it was a nice trip.

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Written by ted on September 9th, 2014

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Family Dollar #7457,10000 U.S. 521, Greeleyville: July 2014   6 comments

Posted at 10:44 pm in out-of-area,stores

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What with the recent talk here about Family Dollar closings and the ongoing buyout war over the chain, this store in Greelyville caught my eye as I was going to the beach back in July, and then again with the building vacant as I was going for Labor Day.

I don't know a lot about Greelyville except that one of my childhood babysitters was from there and that I have been driving through it for years. From the 60 through the 80s, the local high school always had some sort of clever message on their roadside marquee-board, but they seem to have gone generic lately. During the same time period, one of the local gas stations had cylindrical above ground gas storage tanks painted to resemble soft drink cans. The place was also home to one of the unfortunate sailors who lost his life in the huge gun explosion on the USS Stark in 1987, and is memorialized on a roadside plaque. There is also the marvelously named "Pearl Whack Park" on US-521 just before the tracks.

And on 29 August 2014, I saw one of the best rainbows ever driving through the area, unfortunately with nowhere to pull off and get a really scenic framing for a shot.

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Written by ted on September 2nd, 2014

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Carolina Wings & Rib House, 139 Willbrook Boulevard (Litchfield Beach): July 2014   no comments

Posted at 1:14 am in grand-strand,out-of-area,restaurants

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I have had my eye on this location of Carolina Wings & Rib House because the chain has been cutting its Columbia operations to the bone, and I figured this peripheral coastal location wouldn't last much longer. In fact, the place was open for the Memorial Day weekend, but by the time I went by again in late July it had apparently (from the state of things inside) just closed.

This location was in Litchfield Beach, in an outparcel of what was the Litchfield Piggly Wiggly shopping center (but which is now the Bi-Lo shopping center. Although I suspect that the general troubles for the chain were the biggest problem for this location, I also note that it is not visible from US-17 which can't have helped either.

Written by ted on August 11th, 2014

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Maze Mania, 3013 US 17 Business Garden City: 2013   16 comments

Posted at 10:59 pm in attraction,grand-strand,out-of-area

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The concept of Maze Mania was simple: You go into the maze, find the cheese, and get out of the maze. Best time wins.

It was a little more complicated in execution. The "cheese" was actually a box size wooden mock-up wedge with an electric rubber stamp device embedded inside it. Every day, the cheese would be moved to a different part of the maze, where it would be put on a special stand near an outlet. When you started the maze, you would be given a timecard with your start time, and when you found the cheese, you would stick the timecard into the block, which would stamp a picture of a piece of cheese on the card (proving that you completed the task), then you would try to find the exit, where your final time would be recorded. Assuming you were a kid, your parents would probably be on the observation deck overlooking the maze shouting down more (or less) helpful hints. Presumably, if you were a college student, it would be a bunch of drunk friends instead.

I only ran the maze, officially, once, probably about 20 years ago. I thought it was a lot of fun, and always wanted to take some younger cousins or other relatives there, but somehow never made it happen. I noticed earlier in the year that the place didn't seem to be open in what should be a viable, if not peak, time, and so made a point of looking in on it this summer as I would drive by at various times which led me to the conclusion that it was closed.

I finally made the time to stop and have a look at it. The big mouse billboard was in obvious need of cleaning, and the door sign said "closed for the season" without specifying what season that was. I have concluded it was probably fall 2013.

Finding my way back into the maze itself, I saw lots of signs of neglect and general decrepitude. The worse bit was a whole section of maze wall that had fallen down (or been knocked over) but overall there were a number of loose boards, and vegetation encroachment. Still, I think a good handyman with some lumber and paint could make the place runnable again with no more than one or two days work.

As you can tell from the pictures, it was a rather gray day, and started raining when I was out in the maze, and yes, I did get lost. (You can always find your way out of a maze by following the right wall if all else fails, but it may not be the shortest route by any means!)

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Written by ted on August 4th, 2014

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Orange You Glad It's Summer   8 comments

Posted at 10:47 pm in commentary,out-of-area

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How do they even tell?

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Church's Chicken, 455 York Street Aiken: mid 2000s   7 comments

Posted at 10:26 pm in out-of-area,restaurants

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Well, there was some chatter on Have Your Say the other day about Church's Chicken, so I thought I would bring out these Church's pictures from Aiken. They were taken on a fairly recent visit this March, but I believe the restaurant has been vacant since before I left Aiken around 2005 or so. The place is on the stretch of US-1 (York Street) between I-20 exit 22 and downtown proper. Or perhaps you can consider Hampton Avenue to be the start of downtown (and Aiken's weird double streets). LoopNet says the building is in the city limits proper. (They also seem to be saying it can be reused, but the current state is a good bit more decrepit than the picture they use, and I have my doubts).

Written by ted on June 19th, 2014

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T-Bones Steakhouse & Saloon, 715 Pendergrass Avenue: 25 August 2013   2 comments

Posted at 1:41 am in grand-strand,out-of-area,restaurants

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T-Bones (no relation to Tbonz) was in Murrells Inlet on the US-17 bypass almost directly across the street from the old Rosa Linda's South.

I only ate at T-Bones once that I can recall, and that would have been not too many years after they opened in 1988. I had a burger, and it was pretty good.

I'm not sure why I never went back -- perhaps because there were closer options for burgers, and because I have a general list of favorites I try to hit when I'm at the beach. At any rate, though I didn't stop again, I often admired the best slogan on the beach as I was driving by, though I would have used a colon instead of a comma.

I noticed this weekend that the place was closed, and the realty sign suggested it was not an entirely voluntary state, which the article linked above confirms. Of course it would seem so far that closing it didn't actually help the bank that much..

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Written by ted on March 24th, 2014

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Blockbuster Video, 399 Silver Bluff Road (Aiken) : March 2012   28 comments

Posted at 11:20 pm in business,out-of-area

12 March 2012:

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11 March 2013:

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11 March 2014:

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I took an annual trip to Aiken last week, and was amazed at the amount of storm damage over there. I had though all the "worst tree kills since Hugo" headlines were a bit of hyperbole since I didn't see anything like that here in Columbia.

Not that that has anything to do with this post. While I was there I also noticed that the Blockbuster in the Bi-Lo parking lot on Silver Bluff Road is finally getting a new tenant. Given how many Blockbuster closings I've done here, I figured I might as well add this one too. (Eventually, I'll get the Litchfield Beach store as well).

Written by ted on March 16th, 2014

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Latte Litchfield, 13088 Ocean Highway: 14 December 2013   4 comments

Posted at 11:52 pm in grand-strand,out-of-area,restaurants

As I headed for my morning coffee fix at the beach last December, I found myself rudely surprised as my go-to location, Latte Litchfield was closed.

The building itself has been there forever, but I cannot recall the last tenant. When I first became aware of the place, it was a Christian coffee shop. As far as I could tell, the only practical effect of this from a customer point of view (unless you opted to attend the gatherings listed on the bulletin board) was really pleasant baristas.

I'm not sure if the place changed hands or what, but gradually that aspect was dropped, and the Internet Cafe aspect came forward. During that period, I would often stop by to get my network fix, or to print work documents I had to deal with. As DSL and cable penetrated the area, I did less of that, and I think the same applied to others and the orientation shifted once again. Though the computers and wireless were still there, the place sort of shifted to being a working art gallery with various pieces on display and an artist occasionaly working on new ones.

For a long time, the cafe was connected through an interior archway to Eggs Up Grill and though they were run as separate businesses, you could drift out of breakfast at the one and into coffee and pastries at the other. When Eggs Up moved to the Litchfield Piggly Wiggly plaza, the archway was drywalled, and access to the new restaurant there was cut off. I suspect the Eggs Up move hurt business a good bit. Likewise (as is, I believe, gently hinted at in the closing notice), the plaza started bringing in other businesses that directly competed with Latte Litchfield. For instance, they served froyo as a sideline at one time, and the plaza brought in a separate froyo business right next door to them. Likewise for lunch items and a new restaurant two doors down.

I guess now I never will get the final punch on my free-cup card.

Written by ted on February 5th, 2014

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O'Kane's Irish Pub And Eatery, 318 Centre Street (Fernandina Beach): November 2013   6 comments

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Well, Happy New Year folks!

When I don't spend the New Year in SC, I like to ring it in in Fernandina Beach, my father's hometown. My own little mini-tradition dating back a decade or so was to hit O'Kane's Irish Pub on Centre Street for the live music and champagne toast at midnight. So, I was rudely surprised when I ambled down from the hotel New Years Eve, and found the storefront dark. The next day, I asked another merchant on Centre Street what had happened, and she indicated that she had heard the owners divorced then couldn't agree on handling the lease. Whatever happened, the place seems to have closed in November.

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Here is the place on New Years Eve/New Years Day 2012/2013:

In the event, I ended up next door at The Courtyard which was a smaller, a more sedate venue with an older crowd (ie: my age). I was quite impressed with the music though. Local artist Nora Ricci was performing, and she is quite good, with entertaining stage patter (very important for a small venue) as well as solid singing and playing:

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Written by ted on January 3rd, 2014

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