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Bob Seger, The Bon Secours Wellness Arena Greenville: 20 December 2018   5 comments

Posted at 6:47 pm in closing

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Well, this was my week for seeing old guys.

I have to say the drive up to Greenville was fairly awful. I forgot that leaving Columbia on I-20/I-26 at 4:45 was not a good strategy and then it was rainy and misty the whole way and when I hit the road work near I-85, it was like they forgot to put lane markers on that stretch, or put them in with slate grey paint. Then I-385 ran out and the Greenville traffic jam started.

Anyway, it was a good thing that my ticket said 7:30 but the show didn't actually start until 8:30, or I would have missed the first hour..

Seger was in excellent voice, with no signs of the medical issues that postponed this concert from the start of the year. He has one of the best catalogs in rock, and he had the audience rapt from the first song ("Old Time Rock & Roll") through the last brauva performanc of "Rock & Roll Never Forgets" (which I missed capturing due to battery issues). This is his last tour, and if you can catch a show somewhere, you definitely should!

Written by ted on December 22nd, 2018

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Nights of 1000 Candles, Brookgreen Gardens: 15 December 2018   no comments

Posted at 12:34 am in closing

After not being able to go last year due to scheduling issues, I was afraid that this year would be a bust as well, since it had rained all day Friday, and was just starting to drizzle again as we pulled into the Gardens. Fortunately, that quickly petered out, and the rest of the night was rain free (though the ground was saturated as I found to my squishy discomfort a few times I steppted off the paths).

The basics of the festival stay the same year after year: Lights in a garden full of beautiful trees and sculpture, but they change it up a bit for each new edition. In particular, this year the boat full of glass balls was new as was the Hogwarts train setting.

I learned something interesting about taking pictures of LED Christmas lights: Even though these are not "blinking" lights, if you push your shutter speed high enough, you may well catch the instant when they are off. This did not happen with the old incandescent bulbs. I'm not sure exactly what the mechanism is. I would have said they go on and off 60 times a second with the AC frequency, but clearly in some pictures one strand is off and another is not.

One thing the preceding days of rain did do was keep the temperature at a comfortable level. There have been years where I could barely work the camera because my fingers were numb, but not this year!

There are two days of the lights left: Saturday 22 December & Sunday 23 December. If you are in the area, you definitely should go. Tickets are at https://www.brookgreen.org/.

(If I get the time, I may go back and add some videos of the train setups).

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Written by ted on December 22nd, 2018

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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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South Carolina State Fair 2017: 22 October 2017   2 comments

Posted at 11:00 pm in closing

Well, this is the 9th South Carolina State Fair post here, so you probably know the drill by now. I like what I like, and I take pictures of it. I moved some pictures around to provide an entrance sequence, but as you can tell, I actually ended up up at the fair on two different days this year. I still miss the Steel Building, which was a bit more down-market than the new commercial exhibits in the new art building annex. In particular, no grey market videos, and no handwriting computer. This year, the flowers were moved in with the art, and the agricultural exhibits moved across the way where the flowers used to be. I didn't get into the animal area, so I don't know if the baby duck slide was still running.

I think I was running the camera at ISO-800 this year, higher than previously, and I'm not entirely happy with the results as the frequent bright lights interspersed with the booths tended to drown out everything else.

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Eclipocalypse, Columbia: 22 August 2017   no comments

Posted at 1:05 am in closing

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Well, unsurprisingly, most of my pictures didn't turn out at all, and these are pretty poor, but it was an impressive, if brief, moment here in the capital city. As totality approached, the street lights turned on, evening birds took wing, and the one car on the road had headlights lit.

There was a very light sprinkle ahead of totality, but during that brief interval itself, the clouds actually parted, and we all got to ooh and ahh at the firey crona around the occluded disk. Somewhere in the distance, fireworks started..

Written by ted on August 22nd, 2017

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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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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   5 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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