Monday, September 29, 2008

Can't Quite Make That out ....

I would have loaned Lucinda Williams MY glasses but then I couldn't see.

At the Performing Arts Center Saturday night, the singer and her band Buick 6 played a show that got better and better as her voice deepened and she relaxed a bit.

"You're a great audience..I like the shouted comments," she told the crowd.

She explained she had a book of lyrics on a stand in front of her so she could "just sing and not worry about remembering all the words." Then she flubbed a line.

"Oh, I meant to get more contact lenses before we started this 8-week tour for Little Honey, the new album, but I forgot to do that."

She was laughing at herself for a moment as members of the band kidded her and then a fan ran up to the edge of the stage and offered her a pair of glasses.

"Oh, I have glasses, I just didn't want to wear them tonight," she laughed and started the song over.

This time she got it right and the supportive crowd roared its approval.

We ARE nationally recognized as a polite city after all.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wanda's Going To China.

This time next week, Blues Singer Wanda Johnson - from the South Carolina upstate - will be on her way to perform in Macau, China.

That's what they mean when they say "Talent will take you a long way."

Caught her and Shrimp City Slim (Gary Erwin) last night at A Dough Re Mi in Mt. Pleasant for several excellent sets and it's no wonder she's in demand around the world. Her Blues chops are finely tuned.

Sitting in with Shrimp's band was Dr. Pickup from Paris, France so it was a really international Friday night. The whole band will travel with Miss Wanda so it should be quite a show.

Last night the room was packed and, on one side, a happy crowd helped a fellow celebrate his birthday and, on the other side, a group of ladies also were eating pizza and birthday cake.
Tonight I'll be sitting down front at the Performing Arts Center in North Charleston for the Lucinda Williams concert. Last time she was here, it was packed-shoulder-to-shoulder at the Music Farm.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Film..Digital..anything else?

Photography has been part of my life for more than 50 years and this blog has covered some of that ground.

At the Scottish Games last weekend I was reminded that during the transition from cranking a roll of film through a camera, and now, marveling at digital speed and clarity, there also was an intermediate step. It's called Polaroid.

While today's digital IS instant, Polaroid started with 60 second black and white. You waited for them to slowly, eerily appear on the piece of paper you tugged out of the camera and then waved in the air to make it dry faster.

In fact, my first time using it was in the 1950s and you actually spread a sticky, waxy coating over the picture to give it a "glossy" shiny look. Wow. Couldn't get any better than THAT!

The first ones I created even were trimmed with a deckle edge so they looked closer to what you picked up a week later after dropping your film off at Walgreen's.

You still can buy a Polaroid camera on e-bay but I believe they stopped making the "magic" film.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

He "Kilt" the audience....

Of course there was a McDonald's presence at the 37th annual Scottish Games & Highland Gathering at Boone Hall.

There was the sponsorship booth with the double arches but also the tale sung by internationally famed Scottish folk singer Alex Beaton about the Massacre of the McDonald Clan by the Campbell's at Glencoe.

My blog often involves local music so his rich baritone voice and guitar work needed to be noted.

Tossing of the Caber was another event that drew lots of interest.

And well it should.

The Caber looks like a 16' telephone pole - it takes 4 people to bring it to the thrower - and weighs between 80 and 130 pounds.

These burly fellows hefted it by the "small" end, got it balanced and then ran forward.

The "toss" was to make it bounce on the heavy end and then fall after flipping so the small end faced away from them. Yikes.

My cousin is part of the Ross Clan and comes down from Camden. She invited me to join her in their tent for the gathering.

I declined again to have some Haggis, which I tried in Scotland many years ago, but missed an opportunity to try a deep-fried Scottish Egg.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The PHOTO in Photography....

Just as I blog to be a "blogger" I take pictures to fulfill that part of my online identity.

When I go to a Blogger Meetup, I usually do both.

Even though sunlight streamed in and the small stage was empty, I'm glad I went to Home Team Bar-B-Q to see how it looked daytime as opposed to 10:30 at night when live music is playing.

I had some sweet pulled pork and met the Bike Taxi Guy.

Surprisingly, he arrived on his conventional two-wheeler and Heather introduced him all around.

That weekend I was just down the street at Tin Roof to enjoy Miss Tess & The Bon Ton Parade.

I had seen her before at the late Map Room and remembered this lady from Boston was very talented and put on a high-energy show. She said they had played in Savannah the night before so they were riding a southeastern-style circuit.

Speaking of photos, hopefully to the right is a link to my recent vacation shots.

I created an album each on London, Amsterdam and Bruges, Belgium. I have a lot to learn about setting a link.

If it's still there, click and check it out. (If it's NOT visible, click on one of the labels listed below. I don't know why it comes and goes?!)

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Post -Trip Diet

They say that "travel is broadening." If they mean all the food you sample, that's a TRUE statement.

It started innocently enough - an English Breakfast. In London. However, I was NOT expecting pork & beans on the plate!?

At least the "Fish & Chips" looked like I thought it should. I once had had it served wrapped in a newspaper but that was years ago. I don't remember small green peas with that one.

Looking over a menu for an English dinner, I naturally chose the
Bubble & Squeak" with my Shepherd's Pie.

I am pretty sure I would remember if I had ever had "Squeak" before.
A Belgian waffle, I discovered at breakfast, is light and airy and really is eaten as a snack throughout the day. Colorful but not very filling.

In Bruges, Belgium, seated on the Market below the looming bell tower, the waiter amused himself by bringing us EACH a bucket of Mussels from Brussels. Looking around, we quickly realized diners usually shared a single bucket.

We did share a plate of "frits" as we pried out the tasty mussels using one of the shells as a tweezer tool.

The Amsterdam pancake was a thin crepe covered with fruit, whipped cream and even a scoop of ice cream.

You certainly did NOT have to add maple syrup even though each table had a large vat with a ladle at hand.

One night, after wandering in and out various "coffee shops" and mushroom bars, we had a sudden urge to eat some Mideastern fare and a pita bread stuffed with lamb looked - and tasted - great.

This was after a huge slice of pepperoni pizza

Wonder why the sudden munchies attack?

(Click on pictures for make-you-hungry details)

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bicycles Rule ..... Over In Europe

I have read the bike blog by E. David Moulton for several years.(Enjoy the fine novel he wrote "Prodigal Child.")

Dave's from England so, a few weeks ago, when I saw this giant bicycle wheel monument on the banks of the Thames in London , I thought "Wow. They REALLY like bikes here!"
No. Turns out that is The London Eye, a Ferris wheel-type ride built by British Airways to offer tourists a soaring high up view from individual "flight" modules that hold 20-25 people each.

It costs 15 pounds sterling a head - about $30 US - and, of course, I rode it. I'm a tourist.

Another fellow blogger Geoff Marshall - also from Britain - will not be surprised to know I sampled many, many tasty pints of cask ales. Extensive research followed by "Mind The Gap."

But, the sad fact is, both the bike and beer seems to be treasured more on "the continent."

Closest I got to being astride a bike was on an Amsterdam Museum exhibit where I pedaled and learned that more than half the population uses bikes for transportation.

It didn't take me long to find that more than 700 different beers are made in The Netherlands and Belgium and each requires its own special glass. Holy dishwasher.

We are starting to catch up with the rest of the beer-drinking world now that we have high gravity beers available here in Charleston, but a glass or two of 10% alcohol content beer - made by Trappist monks - gets your attention as you sit quietly in a 14th century courtyard.

Oh, and the food overseas is great too.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Europe: Easy Flight/ Tough Drive

Sharing the costs for a trip to London and Europe is a great way to travel.

Sure, the airfare price has soared and the seats are cramped sitting in steerage for 7 hours, but the beauty once you arrive is unsurpassed.

Did I mention the huge variety of tasty beer?

Splitting hotel costs was a big factor in deciding to go.

London was a natural first choice destination and roaming through the Netherlands and Belgium was a photographer's dream.

The real surprise was parked in front of our hotel one afternoon in Bruges, Belgium.

A car with Russian license plates. Yikes.

And it was a Mercedes "Viano." A gas-guzzling SUV.

Some quick Google research shows a drive across Europe from Russia would be about 3,489 miles - one way - and gas would average $7.62 a gallon.

In Belgium, gas was selling for $10.38 a gallon but it's cheaper in Russia.

In US Dollars, a pint of cask ale costs about $6.50.

That would be $44 a gallon. But, if you're trying to save money, just stay at home.

Hope the Russians had a few beers on the way back.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Travel note: August 26....

Well, yes, it WAS a Tuesday. And I was climbing up and down hundreds of steps in churches, bell towers and museums in Brugge. In Belgium.

After leaving Amsterdam I had gotten adventuresome and hopped off the train in Antwerp - instead of the planned route through Brussels - and then realized the Dutch conductor had mentioned several possible track numbers.

Ended up on a "local" that stopped at MANY picturesque and possibly even charming small towns along the way. The sun had set and it was very dark out.

Arrived in Brugge (in Flemish) or Bruges (in English) where a rail station person showed me the "let your fingers do the walking" gesture with his hand when I asked how I might get downtown. Eventually found a cab driven by a NASCAR wannabe.

I had already been in Amsterdam for a few days before and a return trip was scheduled back there. Might have missed a museum. No, not likely. Had even found and explored a 4-story church hidden inside a canal-side private home.

I intend to get a copy of the 1969 movie and see if any of the sights look familiar.

Hey, they should, they date back to at least the 1400s.

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