Monday, July 07, 2014

Hey, it's White Lake on the big screen!

North Carolina has been the filming location for its fair share of Hollywood movies over the years. Just off the top of my head I can think of the following:
Last of the Mohicans
Dirty Dancing
Nights in Rodanthe

And this barely scratches the surface.

The latest Melissa McCarthy film, Tammy, was filmed almost exclusively in the Old North State, with good old White Lake as the setting for the Jet ski scene that has made it into the trailer.

I haven't seen Tammy, so I can't speak to WHERE the movie actually takes place (aside from the fact that the protagonist is apparently en route to Niagara Falls). Maybe the movie takes place in North Carolina. But, as Brendan Szulik recently pointed out at Raleigh & Company, probably not. Very few movies filmed in North Carolina actually take place in North Carolina -- unless you count (egads) some of Bad Grandpa. And maybe that's for the best. Otherwise we'd probably come off looking like hicks and hillbillies.

The one movie that I feel like truly captured the essence of N.C. -- particularly RURAL N.C. -- was Junebug. I can remember watching scenes and thinking, "I know those people!" or, "I've been in a house just like that!" But even that film featured a crazy, perverted artist out in the sticks.

I guess you win some and you lose some.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Here's to the land of the long leaf pine ...

On the way to work recently, I drove past a small patch of woods and I noticed the long leaf pines that dotted the landscape. It made me realize how beautiful those trees are. And it also reminded me of the State Toast.

A couple of months ago, to earn a feather for Y Guides, my daughter memorized and recited the State Toast in front of her tribe. (Well, the first stanza, that is.)  She learned it quickly and with gusto; I was extremely proud of her.

Here, as a reminder of this great state, is the toast. Enjoy!

Here's to the land of the long leaf pine,
The summer land where the sun doth shine,
Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great,
Here's to "Down Home," the Old North State!

Here's to the land of the cotton bloom white,
Where the scuppernong perfumes the breeze at night,
Where the soft southern moss and jessamine mate,
'Neath the murmuring pines of the Old North State!

Here's to the land where the galax grows,
Where the rhododendron's rosette glows,
Where soars Mount Mitchell's summit great,
In the "Land of the Sky," in the Old North State!

Here's to the land where maidens are fair,
Where friends are true and cold hearts rare,
The near land, the dear land, whatever fate,
The blest land, the best land, the Old North State!

Friday, March 14, 2014

The ACC Tournament still holds sway in N.C. classrooms

Media reports are saying that the Atlantic Coast Conference is on the brink of playing its marquee event, the men's basketball tournament, at the Barclay's Center in New York, as early as in 2017. It's an inevitability of massive conference expansion that will -- not unlike NASCAR's major boom of the past 20 years -- leave some long-timers feeling passed by while the powers that be hope the move will broaden the event's appeal. (I'm not a NASCAR fan, so I can't speak as to how that actually worked out or not.)

And while this move is likely to rub some Big Four fans the wrong way, take heart: it appears that even today, after years of expansion moves and enlarging the ACC's footprint to the point that it's almost unrecognizable, the good people of North Carolina still give a flip about the ACC tourney.

Case in point: yesterday, my first grader told me that they "studied" the ACC tournament in school.

It made me smile.

"When I was a kid," I said, sounding like the old man I've become, "we actually watched the games in class."

"We did watch it!" she said.

I smiled even larger.

Yes, I know in these days of budget cuts and Common Core and EOGs, watching basketball is probably not the most efficient use of time. But the fact that this is still done, even in some parts of North Carolina, makes me proud. The ACC tourney is a big part of who we are; it's a major part of our identity. Heck, I remember teachers using the tournament as a way to enhance teaching. One teacher -- in the days before Google Maps -- had her students determine how far it was from College Park, Md., to Tallahassee, Fla. (Ah, the old, "new" ACC.) And I may be reaching here, but if for a couple of days each March, some students in some rural N.C. schools actually got interested in the idea of going to college, then what is wrong with that?

Yes, this probably honestly nothing more than nostalgia that warms my heart. But so be it. As my buddy James Curle said over at Riddick & Reynolds a few years ago, "If you're a teacher in one of these pockets who insists on still watching the tournament in class. God bless."


Thursday, February 06, 2014


To quote Charles Barkley, this is just "turrble."

Dump trucks and backhoes filed into Duke Energy’s Dan River power plant Tuesday as officials worked to plug a leaking storage pond that dumped enough coal ash into the river to fill 20 Olympic swimming pools [according to the Charlotte Observer]. 
Pond water continued to leak from a 48-inch stormwater pipe that broke Sunday, washing at least 50,000 tons of ash carried by 24 million gallons of water into the Dan. Coal ash contains metals that can be toxic at high concentrations.
It’s not clear why the reinforced concrete pipeline broke. Built in the 1960s, it runs beneath the unlined ash pond – the only one of Duke’s 14 North Carolina ash ponds with such a pipe beneath it. A power plant in Indiana also has a pipe under its ash pond. 
While Duke has said no downstream problems have been reported, at least one water customer of the Dan River watershed took immediate steps to protect its water supply from any contamination. 
Virginia Beach, Va., cut off all pumping from Lake Gaston, a massive downstream reservoir that straddles the state line. The lake also supplies water to the Virginia cities of Norfolk and Chesapeake.

It certainly sounds like it could be much worse; however, you never want to hear of a river being described as "ugly gray," as Tiffany Haworth, the executive director of the Dan River Basin Association, told the Observer

“It is a very, very sad day,” Haworth said.

Read more here:

Read more here:

Read more here:

Monday, January 06, 2014

Heavenly North Carolina

Back before Halloween, we piggy-backed on the work of Jonathan Hull, who compiled an interesting map that showcases "devilish" or "hellish"  places through the United States.  Here in North Carolina, we can chuckle at place names such as Kill Devil Hills or Seven Devils or even Hell Swamp.

Well, Hull is at it again. He put together a map (aimed at the Christmas holiday season) to capture the "Heavenly" or even "Christmasy" places throughout the country. Again, N.C. shows up strong, according to The Atlantic Cities.

Hull has now release a map "of place names inspired by all things heavenly -- from New York's Christmas Knob to Illinois's Christian County to North Carolina's Holy Ghost Drive."

A quick zoom in of Hull's map shows the following in our fair state:
  • Eden
  • Edenton
  • Edenhouse Point
  • Santa Claus Lane
  • St Clair Creek
  • Angel Ridge
  • Temple Terrace Lake
  • God's Blue Bird Lane
  • Heaven's Door
  • St Pauls
  • St Andrew's College Lake
  • And several more, I'm sure.

BTW, here is a shot (via The Atlantic Cities) of Holy Ghost Drive, right here in North Carolina.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Rock HOF passes on Dunn's Wray

In the end, it was probably a long shot. Still, we hoped that Link Wray would find a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the 2014 class. We promoted it, and others did as well.

Wray, a Dunn native and the father of the power chord, had an uphill battle going against the likes of Kiss, Nirvana and Cat Stevens (among others).

From Rolling Stone:

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has officially announced next year's inductees: Nirvana, Kiss, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, Cat Stevens and Linda Ronstadt will all join the class of 2014. The E Street Band will be given the Award for Musical Excellence and Beatles manager Brian Epstein and original Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham will both receive the Ahmet Ertegun Award for non-performers. 

Artists are eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25 years after the release of their first album or single. Nirvana, whose first single "Love Buzz" came out in 1988, are entering the institution their first year of eligibility. "That's really no surprise to me," says Rock and Roll Hall of Fame President and CEO Joel Peresman. "People see the relevancy of that band. We're just getting into the creative of the show, so I don't know what's going to happen with that performance. They have to figure it out."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Come up with a better name, Colorado


Voters in some northeast Colorado counties recently cast their votes to secede from the state and form a new state: "Northern Colorado."

"The nation's newest state, if rural Colorado residents had their way, would be about the size of Vermont but with the population of a small town spread across miles of farmland," wrote the Associated Press. "There wouldn't be civil unions for gay couples, legal recreational marijuana, new renewable energy standards, or limits on ammunition magazines.

"After all, those were some of the reasons five counties on the state's Eastern Plains voted on Election Day to approve the creation of a 51st state in the first place."

As the AP article goes on to say, the vote doesn't officially mean a whole heck of a lot; it was more of a symbolic gesture than anything, spurred by a population that feels like the leaders in the capital have lost touch with their needs.

This is not a new concept; not by a long stretch. In fact, here in North Carolina (well, in an area that USED to be part of North Carolina), we have seen a new state rise up out of frustration, only to dissolve into the annals of history. And though it was never officially recognized by Washington, the short-lived State of Franklin did, in fact, live. (And it still kinda-sorta lives today, thanks to entities like the State of Franklin Bank, based in Johnson City, Tennessee.)

In fact, Franklin (or "Frankland") was a pioneer (pun intended) in the whole "let's secede out of frustration" thing. When it was founded in 1784, Franklin leaders had hopes that it would become the 14th state. It even had a capital (Jonesborough) and a Congress. From Wikipedia:

Franklin was never admitted into the union. The extra-legal state existed for only about four and a half years, ostensibly as a republic, after which North Carolina re-assumed full control of the area.
The creation of Franklin is novel, in that it resulted from both a cession (an offering from North Carolina to Congress) and a secession (seceding from North Carolina, when its offer to Congress was not acted upon, and the original cession was rescinded).

In fact, if any new state ever had a chance to make it, it was probably Franklin. But, alas, it wasn't meant to be, and the territory of Franklin became part of a real, honest-to-God new state: Tennessee.

File:Map of Tennessee highlighting Former State of Franklin.png

So sorry to dash your hopes, Colorado -- excuse me, NORTHERN Colorado. Speaking of ... couldn't you have come up with a better name? I understand a lot of the good names (Franklin, Jefferson) are taken, but you can do better than that.

After all, as Will Truman recently wrote, this new state "wouldn’t, however, have any good postal initials, since NC is taken."

Darn tootin.'

(Click here to read our sister blog's take on the idea of North Carolina counties seceding.)

Images from Wikipedia.