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Heroes Convention 2018, Charlotte Convention Center: 17 June 2018   2 comments

Posted at 11:51 pm in closing

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I made my annual trek to the Charlotte Heroes Convention last Saturday, and spent the whole four hours I was there on the convention floor, trying to see every booth. Certainly a far cry from a couple of rooms in the Woodlawn Holiday Inn as it was in the beginning!

Of course, Charlotte being Charlotte, I found that the parking lot I had used for the last 10+ years was just a (deep) hole in the ground now, so I had to find another, which was luckily close enough to not risk getting lost.

I know Chris Claremont was there, but I did not make it to his (or any) presentations though I did see SC's Roy Thomas at a booth on the floor. Stan Lee was not there this year, and news stories suggest he's not doing very well unfortunately.

I think Harley Quinn continues to be the most popular costume, and of course where there's Harley, there will be Ivy as well. I saw one Mera whom I don't recall seing before (and with a fork for a trident). I didn't see any Groots or Gamoras this year...

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Swag:

For the first time this year, I didn't see any booth with old pulp magazines (though I could have missed some), and very few with old paperbacks.

Anway..

Hartness was at a Columbia con a few years ago pushing his Black Knight Chronicles books, vampire action tales set in Charlotte. I found them entertaining, so I bit when he was there at Heroes Con with a new series about Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter, which is apparently also set in Charlotte and ties back into the original Dracula. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but it's on the list.

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Crockett Johnson is remembered mostly today (if at all) for his series of children's books about Harold and his magical purple crayon. But before that, he wrote this WWII era comic strip about the put-upon young boy Barnaby who is dragged into all types of unlikely situations by his well meaning but incompent fairy godfather Mr. O'Malley.

"Cushlamocree!"

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Don't know anything about these two, but one was pitched to me as Star Trek with funny animals, and the other was free.

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This was pitched by the author who was quite enthusiastic and loquacious. I came away a little unsure if it was a fantasy of some sort or a period murder mystery. I'll find out eventually.

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The pitch here was for "70s late nite drive-in vampire feature..".

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I'm a sucker for anything with "Doc" in the title.

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You will believe water can flow uphill..

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Pirate booty! (Yeah, I think I used that joke last year..)

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I'm a sucker for surrealism too, though the contents seem to be not quite what I expected.

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Written by ted on June 18th, 2018

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Heroes Convention 2017, Charlotte Convention Center: 17 June 2017   1 comment

Posted at 12:18 am in closing

I took my annual jaunt up to the Charlotte Heroes Convention last Saturday, and couldn't resist a few clouds shots.

Parking is pretty easy considering what you might expect, and it's just a short walk to the convention center.

As you might expect there was a predictable, though certainly not unwelcome theme to this year's costumes.

A bit of a palate cleanser..

Love the "what the hey?" on the guy..

Some steampunk (note the vacuum tubes..)

Whosoever holds this hammer...

By the all-seeing Eye of Agamotto!

I thought I thaw a puddy tat

These are not the cosplayers you are looking for..

The Huntress, and I'm drawing a blank. (UPDATE: Black Canary, I think)

No idea, but I wouldn't cross him.

Cassie Kane, Batwoman (the "Bombshells" continuity version)

Storm...

...and Stormette

Harley Quinn

Never count the classics out

Swag

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Walt Kelly's Fairy Tales

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"Invisible Monster" remains the scariest Saturday morning cartoon ever..

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Henry Kuttner, maybe best known for The Twonky

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Girl Power

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Planet Stories knew what covers would sell. (And published some decent "planetary adventure". Here's a Poul Anderson I haven't read)

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Jack Williamson headed west on a covered wagon as a child, and was writing until 2006.

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C. S. Forester better known for "Horatio Hornblower" and The African Queen (though, frankly, the movie is better).

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Never heard of Wilcox, but again, a great cover..

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Amy Chu, most recently writing Red Sonja.

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Looked like an interesting coming-of-age story

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No idea, but the guy was such a go-getter cold salesman that I said "Why not?"

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Really noticed Randall's art on "The Bitter Earth" back in the day. His first visit to Heroes Con.

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Pirate, um, booty.

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The TV series is one of the funniest cartoons on today. I highly recommend "Girls Night Out" & "Pyramid Scheme". You just have to basically forget that the characters are drawn from Wolfman & Perez's classic 80s run of "Teen Titans" and go with the stupidity. Thought maybe a signed comic of her favorite show would actually get my niece to read something. We'll see..

Written by ted on June 20th, 2017

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Carolina Renaissance Festival 2016, Huntersville NC: 20 November 2016   no comments

Posted at 12:18 am in closing

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Well, I made my now annual trip to the Carolina Renaissance Festival in Huntersville NC this last weekend. Unlike last year, when the weather was miserable, you could not have asked for more pleasant weather this year. In fact, it was actually verging onto too warm some of the time.

There was the usual assortment of vendors and entertainment as well as some acts I don't recall seeing there before. I'll try to get a few videos up later in an update, but right now it is just still from Saturday & Sunday. I did not spend as much time weeding down the shots as I could have, so it's a bit verbose, or, 'pixose', perhaps. You can also see some shots I was trying to get but never captured fully to my satisfaction.

The faire continues on through Sunday 20 November, and Huntersville is not that far (though admittedly I-77, as always, is a dice-roll..) so if you've got a free day this fall, go for it!

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Written by ted on November 1st, 2016

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Heroes Convention, Charlotte Convention Center: 18 June 2016   no comments

Posted at 12:26 am in closing

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I made my annual trip to the Charlotte Heroes Convention Saturday. I got there kind of late, and it took me all of my time just to walk the floor (and I'm fairly sure I missed a few things), so I didn't take in any panels this year.

As always, there were lots of costumers in attendance. If there was one trend I notiecd this year, it was Harley Quinn, there were lots of Harleys in attendance. I'm not sure if her visibility is high because of the upcoming Suicide Squad movie, or it is just her time. (Her actual comics have been quite funny lately, if you like gonzo adventures).

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Written by ted on June 20th, 2016

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Thunder Road, Carowinds: 26 July 2015   4 comments

Posted at 12:52 pm in closing

UPDATE 21 March 2016 Wow, who would have thought this photo and letter would turn up at my house at this late date, but there we are: David Pearson's first ride crew on Thunder Road. See the text below for details.

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Grit Your Teeth
Bear The Load
Enjoy Your Ride
On Thunder Road
-- Burma Shave

I was on the first run of Thunder Road on 3 April 1976.

As it happened, I had won a phone-in contest on WIS Radio. I suppose there were similar contests on stations all over the Carolinas to fill both cars. It was not the first time I had been to Carowinds, I remember a school trip in particular, but it was not the quick jaunt from Columbia it is nowdays, as I-77 between Columbia & Charlotte was not yet finished and it was a longish two lane drive on US-21.

In its initial configuration, the two track coaster was promoted as a "race" between moonshiners and police with the trams on each track having automobile body front ends. For the initial ride, we contest winners were divided into two teams, one per car, and in the front seat of each car was a then prominent NASCAR driver. I'm afraid I didn't (and don't) really follow NASCAR so the names of our team leaders has totally slipped my mind. I have the feeling that our team was on the right hand track, and that we were the law, but I couldn't swear that to you. What I do remember in particular is the set of four Burma Shave signs, quoted above, which were between the two tracks as the cars were chain pulled to the top of the first hill. They gave you something to laugh about just before cresting the hill and that first precipitous descent.

At the time, my experience with roller coasters was pretty limited. My father did not trust the travelling coasters at the State Fair, so the only coasters I had ridden were the Swamp Fox in Myrtle Beach, and the mining themed Goldrusher also at Carowinds. There was really no comparison, and Thunder Road was a thrill ride far and above either (though I still love both the others). There was just something about that initial jerk and the clank of the chains as you went up that first hill, then teetered on top of the world for a second before the bottom dropped out..

I rode Thunder Road many other times over the years, though probably not any after the early 1980s. I totaly missed the era when they ran one of the trains facing backwards.

When I heard that Thunder Road was to be retired, I wanted to try and be on the last ride, but in the event I was on vacation that day, and while I seriously considered making the ten hour round trip drive, in the end I didn't. It would make a better story, but that's life.

I did go out last weekend though and get what pictures I could of the attraction before it is all torn down. The entrance is in what is now the Snoopy section of Carowinds while the main body parallels the water park area.

It's kind of sad how little of the original Carowinds remains. Really, I think the only two remaining original rides are the Eastern Airlines Skytower and the aforementioned Goldrusher. While I was googling some Thunder Road facts for this post, I ran across a teriffic site Carowinds The Early Years where most of the links above come from, and which you should definitely visit. Who could forget The Oaken Bucket, The Hillbilly Jalopies, The Powder Keg Flume, the awful food at The Grubsteak (You expect grubs to be good steak? we asked..), The Paddle Wheel Steamer, The Skyway and The Monorail?

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UPDATE 14 August 2015: My sister (who was also there the first day of Thunder Road though she did not have a first ride ticket) says she remembers that the NASCAR teamleaders were Cale Yarborough and David Pearson and that I was on Pearson's team. She has also found online sources saying it was Bobby Allison & David Pearson though that's not the way she remembers it (and all it takes is for one source to get it wrong and then be quoted by everyone else..)

I have also found a number of Youtube videos of Thunder Road. Here are a tribute video and then a front car POV video:

Charlotte Heroes Convention 2015, Charlotte Convention Center: 20 June 2015   1 comment

Posted at 12:57 am in closing

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Coming off of I-77 and heading downtown on Saturday gave a really stunning view of Charlotte's downtown. The sky was dotted with puffy clouds and the skyscrapers were laid out almost artistically. I really wish I could have pulled over and gotten a shot.

I was headed to the Convention Center for this years iteration of Charlotte's Heroes Convention which I have been checking out out over the years as often as I could since the days when it was a few meeting rooms at the old Holiday Inn on Woodlawn.

This year, I didn't attend any of the panels as it took all of my time just to completely canvas the main show floor. My impression is that Guardians Of The Galaxy is a new hit with costumers, though there was no single theme for the majority of costumes. I think I did notice a bit of fall-off in the Frozen costumes since Amelia Con. Stan Lee was there for photo-shoots, but the line was so long that I didn't attempt to see him. There were plenty of other creators there as well, and I bought a number of indie books for myself and my nieces, more than I've scanned below.

Anyway, it's not a bad drive (I-77 seemed a little less pot-holed this time) and there's a reasonable nearby lot, so if you get the chance next year, I recommend you check it out.

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Written by ted on June 22nd, 2015

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Fleetwood Mac, Time Warner Cable Arena Charlotte NC: 7 March 2015   1 comment

Posted at 1:18 am in closing

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Falling, falling, falling..

It may seem strange to the under 50 crowd at this remove, but it's pretty much impossible to overstate what an incredible influence Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album had when I was in the last years of high school. Almost every track was on the radio at one time or another, and everybody had a copy. I would have had one, but I was dead broke at the time, so I somehow convinced my sister to spring for it. I taped her copy to cassette and it was in constant rotation with my Beach Boys albums in my jury rigged car player (which would reverse the tape and start playing the other "side" every time we hit a bump).

Rumours was the followup to the also very successful eponymous album Fleetwood Mac which established the band's "classic lineup". It was also the lead-in to the rather experimental Tusk which no doubt confused their legions of fans.

Over the years the band went through a lot of acrimony and romantic imbroglioes, with the fact that it was coed giving even more scope for feuding than even the Beach Boys "enjoyed".

Still, after all the dust settled, and after a sixteen year absence for Christine McVie, the classic lineup is back together and making music again.

I took the opportunity to see them in Charlotte, and everybody was in fine form, and looking and sounding pretty good for a bunch of 60 and 70 year olds. They played everything you would expect, and added a few new songs that, if not instant classics, were pretty good. As you can tell from the video and pix, I was *way* up in the nosebleed section, something I did not appreciate in the least while inching towards my seat like an action movie hero sidling along a window ledge over a twenty story drop. It was somewhat better once I actually had a seat, though as you can hear in the video, I fell in with a bunch of Chatty Cathys..

Anyway, it was a great show, and you should definitely catch them if you can.

As just a few random observations: It's amazing how bad a shape I-77 is in. It seemed like I was dodging huge ruts all the way to Charlotte. I don't remember that from my last trip in June, but it can't have gotten that bad that quick. Also, the parking garage at EpiCenter is the worst I've ever been in, like the old text based computer game "You are in a maze of twisty little passage all alike": It was amazingly hard to find the level changes rather than just driving by the same packed spaces again and again. Maybe I was "Over My Head"...

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Written by ted on March 9th, 2015

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Carolina Renaissance Festival 2014, Huntersville NC   no comments

Posted at 12:14 am in Uncategorized

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Celtic band Cu Dubh.

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So, I thought at first I had made a big mistake heading up to the Carolina Renaissance Festival last weekend. It was a cold and rainy Halloween when I hit the road, and I awoke Saturday to find out that Snowpocalypse had hit the Midlands while I was gone and that it was cold, rainy, wet and miserable in Huntersville.

Fortunately, although I had to use the wipers driving out to the festival grounds, but the time I got there, it had stopped raining and was just cold and miserable. Obviously the crowds were thin, but the performers gave it a good go and the sun finally did peek out during the late afternoon giving them (and me) some relief. Sunday, however was gorgeous, and all these pictures date from then.

It seemed to me that a good portion of the performers were back from last year, but there were some new faces as well. As before, everybody had a very polished and entertaining line of patter and were quick to improv as circumstances demanded. There are plenty of kid centric and family friendly shows as well as more ribald "loose cannon" performances for those of us a bit longer in the tooth.

The festival continues on weekends through 23 November and it's a great way to spend a (hopefully sunny!) Fall afternoon.

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

Posted at 12:44 am in Uncategorized

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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30th Anniversary Heroes Convention, Charlotte Convention Center: 24 June 2012   1 comment

Posted at 12:28 am in Uncategorized
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