Another Fun Night in Huntersville and Cornelius (So Lucky to Live Here!)

I had another great Saturday night close to home thanks to excellent friends and family and some outstanding local businesses.

Spent the day showing houses, having a fun time with an excellent client. Saw some cute homes and discovered a couple of nice areas neither of us had seen before. A good, fun day deserves a good, fun night, and Ashley and I had plans to make it happen.

We started at one of our favorite local restaurants, Kung Foo Noodle in Birkdale. The food there is always wonderful. Tommy, the owner, makes dining there a special event. We always leave feeling happier, not only because we get a delicious meal at a super value, but because Tommy fills our spirits too. He’s a true joy to be around. He’s also an incredible role model for anyone in business. Honestly, I endeavor to be as giving and joyous as him in my dealings with people.

Exceptional Singapore noodles and house special Si Fu fried rice devoured — as well as the extra-special mango/crab/sesame sushi roll — we set out for part two of the special night.

Bayne Brewing, one of our fantastic local breweries (and one of my favorite breweries anywhere) was hosting a comedy/improv night again. Last time we saw Now Are The Foxes there it was hilarious! This time around the Off The Cuff group from Charlotte was prepared to make everyone laugh.

Knowing it was likely to fill up, we got to Bayne a bit early. Gave us plenty of time to savor some of their Koko coffee porters (yum!) before having to spray any from laughing too hard.

Tell you what, Chris Bayne is another impressive local businessman. A super nice guy with some of the smartest marketing ideas around. Like Tommy at Kung Foo, he’s also extremely generous and just good to spend time with.

The improv show more than lived up to expectations. I think catching improv at a beer room is set up to be more fun than in most theaters. The performers were all on point, and the room stayed filled with laughter. Some of the folks who performed last night will also be with Now Are The Foxes during their shows this upcoming weekend. Highly recommended for a relatively low-cost night out and lots of fun.

6 Reasons My Open House Event is Better Than Record Store Day

  1. You (probably) won’t have to stand in a long, slow moving line just to get in the door.
  2. All the good stuff won’t get snatched up before you can get to it.
  3. We’ll have free, fresh-baked cookies!
  4. The Open House is from 2:00 – 4:00 PM, so you don’t have to get up super early just to hope you get a chance to see something cool.
  5. Tons of free parking!
  6. Although quantities of this particular house are limited (there’s, uh, only one), lots of similar properties are available, and you won’t have to deal with ebay to get to them.

Sure, Record Store Day is pretty cool, but so is this house. The GREAT news is you don’t even have to choose between the two! If you want to get out to Lunchbox Records or Repo for the RSD festivities, you’ll probably want to go early. Then get a good lunch, post online about your awesome RSD purchases, and come to Huntersville and see me!

There’s a Facebook event for the Open House for information at www.facebook.com/events/300537333711195/ 

Hope to see you there!

14765 Caldeford Open House Flyer

What I Don’t Know About My Shining Moment

This is a totally true story.

I was driving to band practice one day, thinking about our stage setup. We’d discussed wanting to add to our visuals onstage, and a backdrop had been mentioned specifically.

We were practicing at Mitch’s house, which was pretty remote in Union County, outside of Monroe. I was taking a slightly different route for a reason I can’t remember. Probably bad traffic on Highway 74. At any rate, I was on a road I hadn’t been on before, out in the country.

I was running through different ideas for a backdrop and stage set, everything from a banner with the band logo on it to assorted hardware and mechanical assemblages. We considered ourselves an “art rock” group, and kind of liked being weird. We also considered ourselves poor, and our resources were extremely limited.

Used to being crafty out of necessity, I suddenly had the idea that we could use a Twister mat — you know, from the game — as a banner hung behind the band. I hadn’t actually seen one in a few years, but my recollection was that it would be big enough and the simple design — big circles of different colors evenly spaced — would hit several aesthetic buttons, as well as some nostalgic ones. In my mind, it kind of fit with part of our band image, which was one of 70s sci-fi fans making android cowboy music in a basement.

Guess you had to be there.

Holster-nessie-sticker-blac
Our Nessie-fied logo

So I’m thinking about this idea, figuring I could pick up a Twister game at Target or, even better, a thrift store or yard sale, driving on this country road all alone, when I notice something in the road a half mile or so ahead. Closer I get, it looks like maybe some roadkill. Kind of big though.

I get closer… closer… pull in the opposite lane to avoid it (there wasn’t any other traffic out there), and just as I drive get next to the lump I realize what it is.

Right. A loose, kinda balled up Twister mat.

In the middle of the road. The remote, unoccupied, no houses anywhere nearby country road.

I drove about a mile farther. Came to a stop sign where the road I had been on ended. I thought about it for a second, then turned around, went back to the Twister mat, and stopped. Still no other cars.

Swear to God, it felt like I was in a Stephen King movie.

Got out, looked all around the area, then walked over to the mat.Afraid maybe there was something wrapped up in it, a puppy or kitten or human head someone no longer wanted, I cautiously picked it up.

There wasn’t anything else in it or around it. Just the playmat. I shook it out, let it flap in the breeze for a sec, looked around again for anyone it might belong to. Folded up the vinyl, put it in my trunk, and continued on my way to band practice.

I’ve experienced some weird shit before, but this is still one of the weirdest.

I don’t know if I had a premonition about the Twister mat or if I somehow willed it into existence. Might have thought I’d imagined or hallucinated the whole thing if I didn’t actually have a slightly dirty Twister mat in the trunk of my car. Had God for some reason chosen THAT silent wish for a Milton Bradley game accessory as my prayer to answer? I’ve heard He does move in mysterious ways. Never reckoned it was that kind of mysterious.

We never did utilize the mat on stage. I think the other guys weren’t into the idea so much. Although we didn’t create anything to set up behind us, I did get to smash and throw a couple dozen marshmallow Peeps at the audience a little while later. Maybe I’ll tell you about that one sometime too.

IMG_2376
It exists. Still. Picture taken today, May 27, 2016, of my (dirty) car trunk.

 

Good Times at a Few Special Local Spots

Ashley and I had the weekend off together and spent some time enjoying some excellent local businesses. Offering some brief reviews in hopes you’ll also support your locally owned shops and restaurants.

Actually, a real highlight of the week came at the beginning of it. The anxiously awaited Kung Foo Noodle opened last Monday in the Birkdale Shopping Center in Huntersville. This is Tommy Tong’s new restaurant, and it is even more fantastic than his previous spot, Noodletasia. Noodletasia was our favorite Asian fusion restaurant, but I believe Tommy’s outdone his prior accomplishment now, giving us a new favorite. We didn’t go opening night, but did have dinner there the next evening. Every single thing about the experience was great.

The food was delicious, excellently prepared and presented. We shared a Lemongrass Hopper, then Ashley had the Budae Jjigae (fiesty, fiery, rich and complex broth, served with kimchi, kielbasa, bacon and shrimp) and I had the Curry Kick noodle soup (packed with chicken, herbs and string beans in a coconut curry broth).  Every bite was outstanding.

The service was also terrific, and the atmosphere and decor were exciting and comfortable.

Next to the food, though, Tommy is the star attraction, making every guest feel appreciated. He really knows what he’s doing, and I expect he will have incredible success with any and all of his projects.

Thursday we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in what has become out tradition, meeting up with friends at Sir Edmund Halley’s at the Park Road Shopping Center in Charlotte. It was a good time, of course. Sir Ed’s is a treasure and has some of the best bar staff in the area. You know they’re extraordinary when they can keep up with everything on a crazy busy day like St. Pat’s and still let you know they’re glad you came. They’re well known for pouring a perfect Guinness, and the food has won several awards. They have a wonderful corned beef and cabbage dinner on St. Patrick’s Day, which Ashley had for lunch. Believe it or not, I forewent tradition and tried the blackened salmon wrap for dinner. Very tasty.

A new craft brewery, Cabarrus Brewing Company, opened in Concord Friday. Personally, I believe this area has enough (maybe too many) craft breweries already, and I’ve dramatically cut back on drinking, almost to the point of quitting completely. However, since we hadn’t visited a brewer in a while other than a short trip to Bayne Brewing a couple weeks back, and we had time off, checking out the new place, in a town we don’t often visit together, sounded like a fun change of pace. Well…

We expected the grand opening to draw a big crowd, but didn’t count on the entire county population being there trying to cram in the warehouse sized place. It was totally packed, extremely noisy, and, we figured, not worth trying to wait and squeeze in. The trip wasn’t a waste, though. We had also been interested in visiting High Branch Brewing for a while, and it conveniently shares a parking lot with Cabarrus Brewing.

A friend and coworker, Sandy, has been talking up High Branch since they opened last November. Ashley had their Late Addition stout at Lil’ Robert’s Place a week ago and raved about how good it was. I have to say, she was right!

High Branch is a smaller operation than Cabarrus Brewing, but for me smaller has always been my preference. They were packed Friday night too, benefiting from the overflow and excitement of their neighbor’s opening night, but we could at least get in and move around. Service was good and quick. I ordered the Southern Sour Blonde and Ashley got the stout. The sour was all right (I gave it 3.5 bottle caps on Untappd), tasting somewhat like a cross between a sour and a lager. Guess I didn’t read enough into the ‘blonde’ part of the name before ordering. Still very tasty, and exceptionally fresh.

Ashley let me try the stout, though, and it blew me away! Totally delicious, I believe it is my new favorite, edging out Bayne’s, which is also fabulous. We only had the one beer each there, the crowd and noise being what it was, but I sure look forward to getting back and having the Late Addition again.

We went to the Thai House in the University area for dinner after that. Great experience, as always. Curry for both of us, Ashley with the Panang and me with the trusty green curry. They were prepared a little spicier than expected, but so very yummy!

After working out Saturday (I’m so proud of us!) we picked up salads from Pinky’s. I think Pinky’s is well-known, but I’ll mention it to people sometimes and they’ve never heard of the restaurant. We go to the one in Huntersville most often, since it’s closer to home, but both locations are good, and the menu is the same.

I think Pinky’s is thought of as a burger and hot dog joint, and known for things like their fried pickles, Pimp’n Fries (covered with pimento cheese), and the outstanding Ding Dong Chicken sandwich (Thai inspired marinated chicken breast topped with crunchy peanut butter, sriracha, and honey-cilantro slaw), but they have THE BEST salads I’ve ever had. I’ve been trying to improve my diet, going for more salads than meat, and Pinky’s makes it easy to crave your greens and veggies.

My three favorites are the Tahini Salad (traditional falafel cakes on a bed of mixed greens, topped with red onion, cucumber, feta cheese, tomato, pepperoncini & toasted sesame seeds – served with a zesty tahini dressing), which is what I had Saturday; the Kinda Fried Turkey Salad (herb coated poached turkey on bed of mixed greens, topped with shredded provolone, red onion, tomato and arugula), which Ashley introduced me to, a very filling, tasty delight which she ordered; and the Spinach Salad (fresh spinach, roasted red pepper, feta cheese, artichokes, red onion & sunflower seeds). Pinky’s is generous with the ingredients and the salads are big and filling. If you haven’t tried them, I recommend you do!

We had a terrific experience at a place we hadn’t been before later that evening. I’d spotted Waterbean Coffee a month or two ago, and while we were on our way to Lowe’s for some things for the house casually pointed it out to Ashley. We decided to drop in once we got what we needed at Lowe’s, and I’m glad we did.

I loved the atmosphere at Waterbean. Spacious, quiet, and well-decorated, it was very inviting and calm. There weren’t many people there at the time; maybe it is busier and louder during the days. I can’t imagine it being too bustling, though.

After taking in the food and drink offerings, Ashley and I chose a couple coffee drinks. She got a cappuccino with toasted coconut and caramel flavorings and I had a regular drip coffee. My coffee was above par, but Ashley’s drink was really something special. After this experience and our time at High Branch, I think I should just let Ashley order for me for now on.

I thoroughly enjoyed our time sipping our drinks. It was one of the more relaxing times we’ve shared outside of home. I very much liked that our drinks were served in ceramic cups with saucers — Ashley’s even garnished with a chocolate covered espresso bean — rather than paper cups with our names misspelled on them, and brought to our table rather than someone yelling our name out. I love my rowdy hangouts, but for a nice, peaceful time with my honey, the environment at Waterbean felt a little special, even if it was just a coffee place in a shopping center. I expect we’ll be giving them more business.

A Synthpop, Talk Singing, Industrial Night of Love and PBR Draft

Wednesday’s show at the Milestone was terrific! I’m not the best at concert reviews. I go to shows for edification and entertainment, not as a reporter. I like to stay present in the moment, to give as much attention I can to the performers, so I don’t do well keeping track of details. When I see something great, though, I want to let people know.

Crunk Witch were fantastic, as always. I think I’ve told everyone I know over and over already, but if you get the chance to see them live, DO  IT. Few groups come close to the all-out fun and genuine showmanship they continually bring. They are super nice and exceptionally charming and gracious, too.

During their set, frontman Brandon Miles started a monologue about telling the people in your life how you feel. He wound up passing the mic to David Kinsel in the crowd. David told everyone how he and his girlfriend were big Crunk Witch fans… and then he asked his girlfriend, Krys, to marry him. She said yes. Actually, she said, “fuck yeah.” It was a really sweet moment. 

Height Keech was a surprise. I wasn’t very familiar with him, but he totally won me over. He’s sort of a rapper, but more a “talk singer.” I found his set full of real emotion and inspiration. Songs like “Mind Moves the Mountain” and “Bring Your Soul to the Function” gives you an idea what he’s about.

 
Gavin Riley played percussion with Height, adding to the raw sound of their performance. Before that, he had his own set as Gavin Riley Smoke Machine. I was curious how he’d do a live show, as I’d checked him out online and watched a few videos from his somewhat trippy “interactive rap app” Space Needle Mystery, a “choose your own adventure” type musical game. Using a projector, he showed a video while rapping, then let the audience choose the course of action, leading to the next video. It was a decidedly different kind of act. Very engaging.

Human Pippi Armstrong is a favorite local performer of mine, a real spectacle. DJ Michael Price described him as kind of a cross between Wesley Willis and Devo. He’s not far off. Last time Ashley and I saw him, he had some equipment issues (and STILL put on a great show). Everything was working well this night.  

 
It heard it was IIOIOIOII’s first live show, but it wasn’t exactly evident. He might have appeared a little unsure of himself on stage — something he’ll likely overcome with more live experience — but the music was well produced and impressive. Nice lights, too. IIOIOIOII drew a good crowd of folks from Charlotte’s industrial scene.

  
The whole night was an extraordinary experience. Not unusual for a night at the Milestone. I’m amazed we can see acts like this — 5 on one bill! — for a low $7.00 cover. Add to that being in the company of some of the nicest, most positive people you could ever hope to be around, like sound man Dane Abernathy and Milestone owner Jonathan Hughes. It’s a lucky life I have, and Charlotte’s lucky to have places like the Milestone Club to bring such fine art and entertainment here. Get over and support them. 

What I Might Know About Being Productive. Also Crunk Witch and Brendon Burchard.

It’s 10:00 in the morning already, my day off from work, and I haven’t got much done yet. That’s not totally true. I prepared Ashley’s lunch, played with our dog Milton, made a second pot of coffee, did some bookkeeping, and watched the most recent episode of Supergirl. I’m surprised how much I enjoy that show. This episode was particularly good.

Being productive is kind of a big thing for me. Relaxing and enjoying time is too, but getting things accomplished makes me happy, and with limited time to do stuff, I am somewhat driven to try and make the most of it.

I generally make a to-do list of sorts for each day. Got a few things on a list for today. Here I am sort of doing one of them: blogging. Not about anything important, really, but doing it anyway. After this I’ll work on a section of Brendon Burchard‘s OCourse, Your Next Bold Move. Then there’s housework and errands. I expect I’ll find some time for reading and resting a little.

I’ve found the Next Bold Move course to be extremely helpful. If you feel you need clarity or some extra motivation to move to a higher level of personal performance, I recommend it. Looks like it’s still available if you want to sign up. I know I hype Brendon Burchard a lot, but I really have grown from things he’s taught in his books and videos, and I want to share good things in case anyone else can benefit the same way.

One of my favorite musical groups, especially live, is playing at the World Famous Milestone tonight, so I’ll be going out later. Crunk Witch put on a terrific show. They really give their all at every performance. Totally fun. If you’re in the Charlotte area, I can’t recommend going to see them tonight enough. If you aren’t in the area, maybe you can catch them at one of their other tour stops.

Crunk Witch Heartbeats

The show tonight is packed with other good acts, too. No doubt it’s the work of Wyley Buck Boswell, who always does an incredible job booking fantastic shows. Human Pippi, IIOIOIOII, Height, and Gavin Riley Smoke Machine — each act worth the price of admission alone — are all playing. Amazing. I am so frequently in awe of and very grateful for the number of great shows available to us here.

Okay, time to get active addressing that to-do list. I hope you have a good day, whether that means being productive or not. There is productivity in being still and in enjoying rest, too, of course. Either way, have a good one.

My Recent Geeky Activities

I tried to credit these cosplayers. Anyone know who they are?
I tried to credit these cosplayers. Anyone know who they are?
Here’s an attempt at a quick blog post. One of the reasons I don’t manage to get more stuff on here is I take too long to compose and then edit posts. That is apparently contrary to what the medium expects, but I have believed whatever goes up stays around the webverse forever. I want all my posts to be brilliant, to be a reflection of talent worthy of reading. But then I take so long, I don’t finish articles, so there’s nothing to read, and it doesn’t matter anyway.

So, that was an already long introduction for what I announced as a quick topic.

Lately I’ve been re-embracing my nerdism. Been catching up on Doctor Who after decades of disinterest. Not every episode is great, but that 50th Anniversary thing was terrific. I stayed up til 3 in the morning Christmas Eve watching old Christmas episodes, and I understand this year’s was very good. Planning to watch it in a few hours.

I’ve been reading a lot more comics lately than I have in the last few years too. I had to give up comic collecting years back mainly due to the expense, but I gave myself a Christmas gift of a Marvel Unlimited subscription, so I’m catching up on a lot of things I’ve missed. Thanks to Adam Warrock I’ve been reading Avengers Arena. He tweeted the title was one of the best he’d read recently, and while it has its merits, I’m not sure I’m a fan. I am intrigued, though, and definitely want to see how things end up. Because I wasn’t familiar with all the characters in the book, I went back to check out the different Runaways miniseries, and I am so glad I did. I’m in the middle of the second run now. What an enjoyable surprise! The first miniseries, from 2003, was fun, with likeable characters (and some despicable ones, too) and some nice story twists. While there is danger and darkness to the story, Brian K. Vaughan masterfully balances that with humor and a light tone. It’s really exactly the way I like my comics.

Thanks to Netflix, I also watched most of the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes second season. Pretty good translations of some of the stories from the printed comics in that season. The kid in me loved seeing all the guest characters and recognizing storylines.

Last to mention, I have somehow become a huge cosplay fan. I am blown away by what people are doing these days, making amazing costumes. From what I can tell, Atlanta is the cosplay capital of the world, but closer to home we have some fantastic artists. If you’re into it at all, you should see what DJ Spider and Contagious Costuming have done. I’m not sure if I’ll ever dive in to dressing up myself, but I have started a list of costume possibilities already. Who knows?