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The Greatest Show On Earth, Colonial Life Arena: 29 January 2017   2 comments

Posted at 12:44 am in closing

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Well, the shuttering of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus has already been well discussed in Have Your Say. I'm one of the majority who haven't been to a show in decades, and don't really have any strong memories of the few times I did go (which would have been in the Carolina Coliseum), but the news brought me, my sister, my nieces and apparently three quarters of Columbia (judging by traffic) out to the show last Sunday, and I have to say I certainly enjoyed myself.

Rather than the traditional three-ring hodge-podge, this years show was themed, and had a overall plot, so in a way I guess it was more like a Cirque du Soleil presentation than sawdust and tent poles. The loose plot framework was that two boyhood friends had both become stellar ringmasters, one working for a circus master whose magic telescope let him pick the brighest "circus stars" and the other to an evil Russian-esque Circus Queen, Tatiana, whose mission was to poach those brightest circus stars to build her show. The framework let the misguided ringmaster do physical comedy and lead his army of clowns against the "good" ringmaster while the good ringmaster travelled from planet to planet recovering his stolen stars, which of course gave them many chances to perform.

Another innovation was the fact that, when not covered by various panels, the arena floor was ice, so there was a lot of skating involved too. All of the usual feats of deering-do were there, tumblers, trapeze artists, bareback riders, lion (well mostly tiger) tamers, as well as dogs and clowns. Only the elephants were missing.

Of course in the end, the two friends were reconciled and even Tatiana joined the combined show which set off for Earth so it could make good the tagline of being the greatest there too. To me it seemed an appropriate send-off for the end of an American institution.

Written by ted on January 31st, 2017

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The Beach Boys, North Charleston Performing Arts Center: 27 January 2017   4 comments

Posted at 12:52 am in closing

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The last time I saw The Beach Boys was on the now legendary 2012 50th Anniversary Reunion Tour in Atlanta. Since then, Mike Love and Bruce Johnston have been leading the "Beach Boys" flagged tour with the permission if not the participation of the other members, and Friday they brought the show to the North Charleston Performing Arts Center, a fairly intimate venue with great sound (in marked contrast to some of the outdoor venues I've seen them in over the years).

I got there about 40 minutes early and decided to have a concession stand hot-pretzel and beer while waiting: $13.50. Talk about your captive customers!

The shows started before the band came on with a video presentation with bits of Beach Boys' history and footage of performances from the last 50 years. Then the band came out and started into a back-to-back presentation of the surfing songs including "Surfin' Safari", "Catch a Wave", "Hawaii", & "Surfin' USA". The touring band is (at least for this venue) eight people. Mike & Bruce, of course, Jeff Foskett who has been with various band permutations since the 80s on guitar and falsetto, John Cowsill (from the 60s group "The Cowsills") on drums, Scott Totten on guitar and vocals, a Brian (not Wilson, obviously) whose last name I did not catch on bass and an energetic sax player whose name I did not catch at all as well as a second keyboard player.

I thought the sound was a little thin at the beginning on "Surfin' Safari", but they either made adjustments or everyone warmed up because things were much more solid after that. Mike did the MC duties and seems to be slipping into the role of "Elder Statesman" fairly well, something you might not have expected from the younger Love. His speaking voice had a bit of quaver, and at times you could hear his age in the leads, but on the whole he came over very well, including a long segment of "Do It Again" where he was completely unsupported by any other vocals for whole verses.

One of the criticisms Mike has gotten over the years is of running a greatest hits show rather than displaying the breadth of the Beach Boys catalog. In fairness, I think he knows what a festival audience wants, but in this venue he definitely showcased some of the lesser known gems including "Farmer's Daughter", "Kiss Me Baby", "Good To My Baby", "Surf City" & "The Warmth Of The Sun".

Although surprisingly Mike did not mention his recent memoir, the weight of history was definitely part of the show. One device, used several times, was having historical footage play behind the band while they performed a song. It was somewhat eerie at times to see current Mike singing in front of young Mike, closely in sync and often making the same gestures. That had to have taken a lot of practice. The band also paid tribute to the late Carl & Dennis Wilson by singing backup to historical leads: Carl on "God Only Knows" and Dennis on "Do You Wanna Dance?". This led into a segment where Mike touched on his Eastern beliefs about what goes on and what remains and introduced a well received new song "Pisces Brothers" that was largely a tribute to his late friend George Harrison.

Bruce got two notable leads during the show. One was, of course, his often covered and much loved "Disney Girls" while the other was "You're So Good To Me" during which he altered the original phrasing quite a bit, which was unexpected but largely worked, I thought. Speaking of which, I also noticed that Mike had written a number of new lyrics to "Getcha Back".

After a brief pro-forma walk-off, the band was back for an encore to close with two of their biggest crowd-pleasers Barbara Ann & Fun, Fun Fun (I can't put the version I recorded last night here, because it was very much a sing-along -- and I can't sing). I do have a few more videos to upload, so check this space again..

I got my ticket just after the North Charleston show was announced. Shortly after that, they also announced a show for 29 January 2017 at the Koger Center in Columbia. Folks, these guys are in their 70s: I highly recommend you go to the Columbia show if at all you can, because a) It's a great show & b) You may not have another chance.

Written by ted on January 29th, 2017

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Brookgreen Gardens Nights of 1000 Candles 2016, Brookgreen Gardens (grand strand): 2 December 2016   no comments

Posted at 12:47 am in closing

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This year the annual Brookgreen Gardens Nights of 1000 Candles festival is set up a little differently in that you need to buy your tickets online in advance. This was done to prevent overcrowding and expedite the often rather tedious entrance process. It worked well, but I think they may have perhaps shot themselves a bit in the foot income-wise because it did seem to to reduce the crowd a good bit from previous years. At any rate, I chose 2 December this year, and the night was quite comfortable, not as cold as some years where I could barely feel the camera buttons through the frostbite, nor as warm as one or two years when I didn't need a jacket at all.

There's always a bit that's different or new every year, but this year the changes were fairly modest: I think the only one that really comes to mind is a new field of staked candles on the green space in front of Pegasus. The vintage christmas display did have some new roller coasters on the Lionel display, and they really zipped along!

The festival is running weekends through 18 December, so if you have some spare time, and are in, or can get to, the area, I highly recommend it.

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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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South Carolina State Fair 2016, Fairgrounds: 23 October 2016   3 comments

Posted at 10:38 pm in closing

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I got back to town a bit late this year, and missed out on some of my State Fair usuals because the buildings closed early the final day, so no art, flowers, sand sculpture or baby ducks this year. I was able to have my annual Italian sausage sandwich, Fiske fries and ride the skyway, swings and bumper cars. Most of the regular rides were there, along with a couple of new, or at least re-painted wacky-house type walk-throughs. Apparently the rocket is no longer the "Time-Warner Rocket" and is just back to "The Rocket", though it does have a few new sponsorship plaques at the base. I still miss the Steel Building: That corner just does not feel right without it.

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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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Kendall's Katering / Hanlee Hall, 6230 Saint Andrews Road: 2014   6 comments

Posted at 12:47 am in closing

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I'm pretty sure this event venue has been mentioned in Have Your Say at some point, but I can't find the reference now. It may be another piece of information lost in this summer's crash.

At any rate, this place is on Saint Andrews Road just North of Seven Oaks Shopping Center and apparently closed in 2014. The real estate writeup says it's still turnkey ready and parks 50. This small image from an old Lake Murray Country promo shows that it lights up well at night too.

UPDATE 18 March 2016: Commenter Andrew notes that Kendall's Catering was co-located here, so I have added it to the post title.

Written by ted on March 17th, 2016

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Ameliacon 2016, Fernandina Beach: 7 February 2016   1 comment

Posted at 1:02 am in closing

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If this picture strikes you as hilarious, you would have been at the right place. If it doesn't mean anything to you, probably not:

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Written by ted on February 9th, 2016

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Holey Moley!   no comments

Posted at 3:43 am in commentary

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Now *that's* a Star Wars movie!

Brookgreen Gardens Nights of 1000 Candles 2015, Brookgreen Gardens: 4 December 2015   no comments

Posted at 12:49 am in closing

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4 December this year was one of the warmer iterations of Brookgreen Gardens Nights of 1000 Candles, and by that, I mean that I could feel the buttons on my camera without my hands going numb.

As usual, the Gardens were beautifully lit, and there were entertainment tents with jazz, vocal ensembles and rock sounds of the season and wandering bagpipers. My impression is that they are getting a little bolder in color choices for the lights though of course the hundreds of candles, floading candles and luminaries remain.

The festival runs for two more weekends, on 10-12 December and 17-20 December and if you have a chance, I highly reccommend you go.

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