Saturday, January 28, 2012

Taking Liberty With A Meeting.....

I retired from The Post and Courier newspaper about 71/2 years ago.

Shortly after my last days working down on Columbus Street, I was invited to join a group of other retirees at a quarterly luncheon. They had been doing this for years.

My first time was at Ryan's in West Ashley and there was a nice group of men, many of whom I recognized. Lots of food. Good company.

Looking around, I asked if no ladies had ever retired from the paper and was told they had a "ladies only" group.

About a year later, I was informed the quarterly gathering had moved to East Cooper to the The Point Sports Bar & Grill next to the Shrine on Patriot's Point.

Somehow during the next several years I must have missed a meeting. Now I was in charge of setting them up every three months.

Rule of thumb: don't ever miss a meeting.

At last October's lunch, we were told the restaurant would be closing so we started looking around for a new site. We had several months to check for a good one.

The Liberty Tap Room (formerly TBonz) in Mt. Pleasant was the choice and looks like we'll be happy there.

I worked with Kelly to book the space and she said we'd have the downstairs Raw Bar as a private room.

Didn't really know how many would show up (I taped a note with directions to the front door of the closed restaurant we had been using).

The General Manager James Romano was kind enough to have tables moved around so we would be clustered together for easier conversation. Our server was Chris who did a fine job.

That's really why we gather reminisce and find out what's been going on with each other. And to enjoy a great lunch.

It was a beautiful sunny Friday and the turnout was above average. Several wives came along and sat together for lunch in the main restaurant.

I had e-mailed the meeting announcement - with directions to the new site - to about 25 members and sent postcards to the other 60 members.

Computer usage is not common across the board.

A few years ago we changed the name to THE 134 GANG.

That was the street address for the paper when it was on Meeting Street for many years and the number selected when it moved to Columbus Street.

The Gang has a new hangout.

(Click on the photos - twice - for more detail.)

This is the 498th posting on my blog and I'm starting to focus on the 500th.

The first posting was March 2006.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Double Your Fun ....

So, I'm running classified ads in my paper and they produce lots of responses.

For example, I'm offering my older computer monitor for sale after I moved up in size.

But I'm hearing ridiculously LOW offers. Yikes.

Wait a minute, isn't there a way to connect TWO monitors to my computer? How hard could that be?

Then I could slide all those pesky (but necessary) icons over to the smaller screen and leave the BIG screen free for BIG images.

Be easier to read text too.

And, speaking of enjoying more screen time, the new 60-inch television makes watching football more exciting.

Looks like one of us is missing a helmet??

Actually only the cat sits this close to the screen.

And, usually only for football.

The picture is so big and so crisp, you pick up your camera to capture a moment.

Digital and High Definition were made for each other.

Craig Ferguson of the CBS Late, Late Show went to Paris a while back and did a low budget week of segments.

This week's reruns gave me a chance to snap a shot of his robot skeleton side-kick in a suit.

Geoff Peterson has on a beret. And wearing pants.

The usually austere show pulled out all the stops with music, dancers and hand puppets to promote the series of overseas shows.

The hoopla is appropriate for the Peabody Award-winning late night talk show hosted by the Scottish-American comedian.

He debuted 7 years ago and it was announced that when David Letterman retired, Craig would move into that earlier slot.

We'll see.

The white bunny's comment was "Ooh La La."

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Up On The Roof.....

The concept was simple: get up high and look around.

Bring your camera and join up with some fellow photographers.

Shoot pictures from the top of a downtown parking garage.

There are several so we announced we would start down by the harbor on the Cumberland at Concord parkade.


We learned there are TWO garages by Waterfront Park.

After a while, all the Photo Group members found each other.

Rain was predicted but the dramatic clouds enhanced the photo walk.

Eventually 23 camera-toters were part of the evening program.

This outing will no doubt be repeated because not all the "high spots" were sampled this time.

Once you get up high and enjoy the change of angle, you look toward other rooftops to explore.

We could see the gas space heaters blazing away at GRILL 225 Rooftop Bar, so some roamed over there.

Three of us - with cameras and tripods - tried to blend in as we casually sauntered through the lobby and rode up in the elevator. We peeled off our blue name badges.

What a GREAT place to view down the entire length of the renovated Market.

The fiery flaming gas heaters were complemented by tall plexiglass panels
that made it comfortable for outdoor dining.

The food aromas were very enticing as we pressed close to the panels to avoid reflections.

We were far down at the end, away from the diners, and I doubt if we were even noticed.

I glanced down and saw the former Seaman's Chapel that now is Mad River.

We agreed it was time to take a break and have some food.

Through the use of cell phones, word was spread.

We pulled several tables together as other photographers joined us.

I left after a cold beer and a super Reuben sandwich with fries. A darned good guitarist was playing.

I learned we had missed a quick rain that had passed through while we were munching and sharing digital photos.
The group continued on to another parkade and have posted some beautiful pictures.

(Click on the photos to see more details.)

Eugene, co-coordinator of the Photo Group, said the idea of shooting from the parkades "just popped into my head."

I told him that the year I lived in Minnesota, I had heard the Twin Cities call their parking structures "Ramps."

Next time you're parking downtown, take your camera and head up to the top and look around.

It's quite a view.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Order a Moosehead?

Does anyone remember the reference to the Bull Moose Party?

Don't know why I happened to think of that as I sipped a beer last night in the "neck" area of peninsula Charleston.

I was in the Tattooed Moose, a place that's becoming a Must Stop bar on my way home from downtown.I ordered a 400 Pound Monkey, brewed by Left Hand.

They have a loyalty program that sounds interesting: win prizes by drinking 100 beers there.

A fellow next to me was jotting something on an official looking card.

"Only 67 more to go," he answered when I asked if this was the 100 Club or whatever it's called.

I commented a person could take a few days off from work and run through a hundred and be awarded a brass plaque on the wall.

Right now there were only five top prizes.

As I looked around I noticed the well-worn wooden beer cooler.

Man, if that thing could talk!

Several people walked into the picture while I was taking a 15-second exposure.

None would register though unless they stopped and stood still for a few seconds.

It was a busy, crowded Friday evening so no staffer was standing still that long.

I had skipped the recent celebration when Guy Fieri of the Food network showed a 8-minute segment of the Moose on his DDD (Diners, Drive-ins & Dives) tv show.

Of course, I tuned in at home and raised a beer toast.

Jen and Mike Kulicks, the owners, said it was a gala evening.

They have a souvenir of Guy's visit spray-painted above the wooden beer cooler.

(Click twice on the pictures to see more detail.)

To take a 15-second photo, the camera MUST be sitting on a flat surface and kept still. You can NOT hand hold it.

If I had joined the Beer Club, I would have only 99 to go.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Should I Save This For Halloween?

I had just read something online about making pictures called "Horse Maning."

You know, a horse's mane?

Online that's what they called it and I looked up the term a bit more.

It refers to the Headless Horseman and actually was a popular photo theme in the 1920s.

That was about 100 years after Washington Irving wrote the Legend of Sleepy Hollow tale.

This setup was posed at the end of our January Photo Group meeting.

I had mentioned the term earlier and received only quizzical looks in response.

The other term we bantered around was "Planking."

I don't think we got that one right, according to the official rules of how to plank.

Kevin did it properly. He had his arms pinned to his side and his entire body was stiff as a board.

I was thinking of it more as a levitation picture and my Photoshop work needs more work.

My intent was making what he was lying on disappear. Not quite.

No sense trying it again though.

Online it says that photo fad has come and gone.

(Click twice on the photo to make them appear larger.)

This shows how we arranged one body to be holding aloft the head of another person.

No one was injured in the making of this photo.

No heads were lopped off.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Remember Candy Cigarettes?

Here's a sight you don't see too often nowadays.

Well, maybe in North Charleston.

A diner with a cigarette in his/her mouth is fading from the scene.

A person with a CANDY cigarette is even more rare.

Yes, I added the "glowing" red tip at the end.

It's how I remember them when I was growing up.

This friend, and member of my photo group. was surprised on his 50th birthday with a dinner at the Texas Roadhouse across from the K Mart at Otranto.

I had not been there before.

It was a delightful, raucous, noisy, fun-filled evening with some good steaks.

The "Gag Gift" bag had the candy smokes, candy dots on strips of paper, vintage candy bars, a bottled soft drink and other items from the 1960s.

Didn't see if there were any tiny wax bottles with a sweet liquid inside.

There was a presentation of a small Sock Monkey puppet to the birthday boy.

Several others appeared and Sock Monkey Business ensued, each trying to outdo the others in outrageous poses.

Oh my.

As I looked around the table, almost everybody was snapping pictures.

That's expected from a group of photographers.

But there were only three cameras.

The rest were "cell phones" that also took pictures.

I held my camera up to my ear and said "Can you hear me now?"

On the way out I stopped to take a picture of a colorful restored jukebox.

Nice touch, and very appropriate for a 50th birthday celebration.

(Click - twice - on the photos to see more detail.)

Didn't use any Photoshop this time, except for adding the "fire" on the end of the Candy Camel.

At this place, they call the bread just "toast."

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

One (Semi) Giant Leap....

To travel in space is to leave Earth. Blasting off on a Shuttle Mission would require trained Astronauts and a huge support team. Those fellows who landed - and walked - on the moon rightfully claimed a "giant leap for mankind." The flag and the Lunar Rover they drove are still sitting up there on the lunar surface. They left the keys in the ignition, I understand. That pesky GRAVITY makes it extremely hard to jump high enough to "leave" earth. My photo group recently was on a downtown Photo Walk and I suggested we experiment with levitation. Several of us would pose, crouch and count down "3-2-1" and then jump as high as we could. The others in the group - with cameras set at a fast shutter speed - clicked rapidly to record our momentary elevation above the ground. It was a fun experience and created some interesting digital results. None of us made it very far up into the sky. On my way to dinner the other night, I saw an old picnic table next to a brick wall. I handed my camera to a friend and showed him the area I wanted to include. We waited until several passersby had passed by and then I stood on the bench seat of the table. I posed as if I were airborne and he snapped the shutter. Later, using Photoshop, I "removed" the outdoor bench and table by covering it over with a clone of the bricks. I am keeping an eye out for something much, much higher for my next launch into space. (Click - twice- on the photos to see more details. Look closely at the bricks beneath me. The next "leap" will have to be spectacular!

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In China, It's Called Just "Food."

New to Charleston - and Mt. Pleasant - P.F. Chang's opened a few months ago in Towne Centre.

Not Chinese food. It's called a "China Bistro."

There's been one in Myrtle Beach for quite a while.

One of their two trademark guard horses overlooks Highway 17 and the other, the parking lot.

The bartender I talked to said the use of brick and wood was done to reflect the Lowcountry feeling.

"Each Bistro has a distinctive mural," she added.

The main dining room has a 5-panel mural that looked to me sort of like an oak tree.

That certainly would work here.

But, instead of having leaves, it appears to bear cherry blossoms?

Then I noticed that the bar is a pass-through design. There are stools for service outside as well as tables.

A nice covered open air patio is equipped with gas heaters and shades that pull down when it's bright and sunny.

> Somebody obviously studied our weather before they built this place.

I didn't try the food this time. I had bought some in a grocery and had it in my freezer at home.

Just stopped in for a beer and saw they had a nice tasty stout on tap.

(Click - twice - on the photos to see more detail.)

I saw ours listed on their web page as a recent opening along with a new Bistro in
Grand Rapids, MI, Providence, RI and Dulles, VA.

Bet none of them has a year 'round open air bar and patio.

Gotta love our Lowcountry!

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Saturday, January 07, 2012

Now I Need A Coffee Table...

I just created a 30-page Coffee Table book.

The 9" x 12" hard cover book is filled with colorful photos I've taken with my small digital camera - a Canon S90 - at concerts, music venues and Blues Festivals.I don't own a SLR (Single Lens Reflex).

This is really slick looking!

An online company called MyPublisher makes it easy and simple to do.

I was able to self-publish it in just a few days so you KNOW it can't be too complicated.
I was surprised that it wasn't very expensive either.

One of the members of my local photography group brought a beautiful one to a meeting a few years ago.

We passed it around and were impressed with the quality of his book.

His wife had tapped into his photo files and blew him away with the surprise Christmas present.

In fact, he told us, she did a 2 for the price of 1 deal and he sent the other one to his son.

I downloaded the free software and then gathered together the pictures I wanted to include in my first book.

There are many page layouts just a click away.

You can easily change your mind, enlarge or shrink the photos and choose to use captions or not.

I decided to have text only on the cover and on the spine.

My photos include a 2-page spread of a Paul McCartney concert in Charlotte.

There's a shot of me holding a ticket to a 1965 Beatles concert in San Diego.

Other music venues include the Pour House in West Ashley, the Music Farm, North Charleston Performing Arts Center, the Tin Roof, Home Team BBQ, Windjammer, the old Dough Re Mi and the Charleston Music Hall.

Trombone Shorty is on the cover, joyfully performing at the College of Charleston Cistern.

John Mellencamp is onstage in Columbia, as is Billy Joel and James three separate shows.

I was front row center for a ZZ TOP show and have an extreme close up of one of the two long-bearded guitar players.

The trio's drummer is clean shaved but his name is Frank Beard.

(Click on the photos - twice - for more details.)

Take a moment to see what kind of book you can make with MyPublisher.

They have various special offers and I think you'll be pleased with the possibilities to be creative.

I'm planning a sequel.

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Friday, January 06, 2012

A REVOLUTIONARY kinda town....

Remember! This is a sea port so a "typical" breakfast here should contain seafood.

This is no Grand Slam that you can get anywhere.

This is a cheese and crab (lump and claw) omelet.

With a side of creamy grits.

I skipped the biscuit at the Marina Restaurant for an English muffin. It seemed tasty and appropriate.

My morning had started down in the historic district at
The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon where I gave a photo presentation.

The owners of the building are the South Carolina Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Better known as the D.A.R.

The Fort Sullivan Chapter started their meeting after some socializing and inducted several new members before I was introduced as the morning guest speaker.

My topic was CHUCKOGRAPHY and how taking pictures has been entwined through all my life. Well, so far.

I mean, I'm still living it.

Grew up about 10 blocks away on Society Street in Ansonborough and my first picture shows my dad and his older brother, holding a bike.

It was probably taken in the 1920s.

The next shot is my grandmother standing on the Cooper River bridge when it was still under construction.

I have good photo files.

Early Kodak Box Brownie photos of me in grade school, as a high school photographer and a Marine Corps Combat Photographer 1957-1960 followed.

That led to a photography scholarship at the University of San Diego and becoming a staff photographer for the Union-Tribune newspapers there. And so on.

My folks always told us were related (six "grands") to Charles Cotesworth Pinckney.

I felt right at home with this group.

We might even be related.

(Click -twice- on the photo for more details.)

If you have not taken a tour yet of The Old Exchange, please do so.

It's a direct link to Charleston's roots way, way before the Civil War.

Thanks for stopping by. Please come again and join me on making an historic tour.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Light Up The Sky.

Be sure to click on the link to enjoy the London New Year's Eve fireworks show. WOW!

It's like having a spectacular finale all the way through the booming, flashing and intricate 11-minute aerial celebration.

Last time I saw something that memorable was an indoor display at the Paul McCartney concert up in Charlotte. Indoors!

The Chinese really started something with that gunpowder thing didn't they?

I stood for several minutes on my front porch Saturday at midnight, watching MUCH smaller explosive displays in my portion of the sky.

I know that fireworks are banned in my little town of Hanahan yet, scant yards away, over the boundary into North Charleston, sale and use of such dangerous - but beautiful sights - are legal.

My older daughter is a police officer in northern California and says her real worry is people firing guns into the air.

A falling bullet coming back down is moving as fast as when it was fired.

One particular nearby celebrant had apparently paid big bucks for big booms. He/she set off a steady barrage of chest-thumping aerial bursts.

One after another, a long, long light show tore into the sky, sending colorful fragments screaming through the night.

As we remarked on the fiery display, a Hanahan police car - with its lights turned off - quietly coasted by and made the turn at the corner, heading up to the source of the rockets.

The loud and bright shots continued to soar skyward so I assume the yard of the launching pad was across the city limits line and my local lawmen had to sit and watch the show.

(Click on the photo - twice - for more details.)

Indoor pyrotechnics are startling. In the 5th row, I heard the booms, saw the flash and felt the heat. Yikes.

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