Friday, August 28, 2009

More beer love for N.C.

CNN has an article about the great "beer regions" of the United States. One expert gives North Carolina the nod in the South.

"Although other beer lovers often skip over the South because of restrictive brewing laws in some areas, [craft beer consultant Matt] Simpson insisted that some of the best brew can be found below the Mason-Dixon line," says the article.

" 'One of my top three is North Carolina, with Asheville being the center of that. Not only is it a really fun place to visit, they make amazing beers,' he said. 'There's Foothills, a brewpub that has a breakout hit called Sexual Chocolate, an imperial stout that put them on the map of craft beer.' ..."

Well done, North Carolina.

'Critical' rebate will help N.C. film industry

A new law, just signed by Gov. Bev Perdue, could go a long way in saving North Carolina's film industry.

Moviemakers will get a 25 percent rebate on many of their production expenses in North Carolina under a bill signed into law by Gov. Beverly Perdue on Thursday[ said the N&O].

The bill, which increases the previous 15 percent rebate, was described as critical to cultivating the state's film industry, which includes a Screen Gems studio in Wilmington. Various states have engaged in a bidding war as they fatten their handouts to Hollywood. Georgia, which recently snatched a Miley Cyrus movie from North Carolina, raised its rebate to 20 percent. ...

Under the rebate, filmmakers total up what they spent on salaries, hotel rooms, renting land and buildings, supplies, food and assorted other expenses. The following year, they submit those totals to the state and get a rebate worth 25 percent.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Quick hits: Ferry to Shackleford & a perfect storm hits MB park

Group wants input on sites for Shackleford Banks ferry
"Cape Lookout National Seashore is looking for a base of operations for ferry service to Shackleford Banks and wants the public’s input on potential sites in Beaufort and Morehead City," said the Daily News.

"The two towns offer the shortest ferry ride to Shackleford Banks, and the park service is studying potential departure sites for a single base of operations in the area, said Cape Lookout Management Assistant Wouter Ketel.

"A public meeting is set for Wednesday as part of an environmental assessment now under way.

"Ketel said the information will provide the public with information on possible sites already identified and also gather their input on those sites and any other ideas they may have. ..."

Myrtle Beach park hit by 'perfect storm'
"Freestyle Music Park, the successor of bankrupt Hard Rock Park, had a sub-par debut summer, but the park will survive, officials say.

" 'Overall, I’m real happy and proud of this summer,' said Steve Baker, president of FPI MB Entertainment, which bought the park out of bankruptcy in February.

" 'We got the park open. The park looks great, the employees are outstanding, and the guest reviews have been terrific. The results of the park are not what we wanted, but I don’t think we understood the economy like it was going to be,' " he told the Sun News.

"Unlike its predecessor, Freestyle is finishing its first summer without a threat of bankruptcy, but it wasn’t a financial home run. Several firms have filed lawsuits against the park to receive payment for services, and much of the summer was marked by deep discounting to attract thrill-seekers. ..."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Carowinds to build an $11 million ride -- in South Cackalacky

Technically it will be on the South Carolina side of the theme park, but Carowinds has announced that it will build an $11 million ride.

... Fort Mill attorney B. Bayles Mack, who represented Carowinds at Monday's York County Council meeting, confirmed his client plans to build a new ride but wouldn't give more details[ according to the Charlotte Observer].

“There will be some other facilities as well, I'm sure,” Mack said.

The original 2004 “fee-in-lieu-of-taxes” agreement between the county and then-Carowinds owner Paramount called for the park to invest $17 million on the York County end of the 112-acre park, which straddles the S.C.-N.C. state line. That pact was set to expire Dec. 31.

To date, Carowinds has spent about $14 million on the S.C. side of the park under the agreement.


This past year, Carowinds added its first new coaster in five years, the Carolina Cobra. The attraction is the second tallest at the park.

The coaster follows the $4 million Nighthawk, which was added in 2004.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Huntersville, Apex, Cary dubbed 'Relovilles'

Forbes has dubbed Huntersville, Apex and Cary as "Relovilles," meaning they are good places to which to move.

The folks who move to these places, dubbed "Reloss," look for places that "cater largely to them--young, mid- and upscale suburbs near their companies' plants and office parks outside Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Denver, Raleigh, Charlotte, Chicago, Washington, Indianapolis or Minneapolis. Today, Alpharetta, Ga., Huntersville, N.C., Apex, N.C., Parker, Col., and Castle Rock, Col. are among the country's top 'relovilles.'"

Also on the list is Cary.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mural pays tribute to North Carolina's varied musical heritage

The incomparable David Menconi recently wrote a feature on the mural at Chapel Hill's Pepper's Pizza that pays homage to the various musicians North Carolina has produced.

Just inside the restaurant's front door, a painted outline of the state with portraits of native North Carolina musicians takes up a large expanse of wall. Seventeen notable natives are there -- from Carrboro roots-rock madman Dexter Romweber to Tryon R&B singer Nina Simone, Kannapolis funk giant George Clinton to Newland jazz drummer Max Roach.

Scott Nurkin, who paints murals when he isn't playing drums for the band Birds of Avalon, has been working on the art piece since before Pepper's opened in its current Franklin Street location in 2007.

It remains a work in progress, with at least a dozen portraits to come. Nurkin has partly finished portraits of Dunn guitarist Link Wray and Chapel Hill blues woman Elizabeth Cotten in his studio. Ryan Adams, Kay Kyser, Charlie Poole and Shirley Caesar are also on the way. ...

Click here to see some photos of the mural.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Quick hits: Visits to N.C. attractions up and House passes film incentives bill

Visits as some N.C. tourist attractions up
"At a time when people are spending less, some well known attractions across the state are seeing an increase in visitors. The numbers are in for July and some of North Carolina's top attractions did well," said News14 Carolina.

"The North Carolina Zoo, state aquariums and the Battleship North Carolina all beat last year's numbers for the month. ...

"Most attractions that saw the bump are only a day trip for most in the state, and they’re affordable. ...

"Tourism experts said that's a winning combination in this economy. ..."

House passes film incentive bill

"Some last-minute work Thursday night to save the film industry in the state resulted in a new tax incentive for production companies to make motion pictures in the Tar Heel State," said the Star-News.

"The House approved a bill that would give production companies a 25 percent tax break against qualifying expenses beginning Jan. 1. Present law allows production companies to receive a 15 percent tax credit against their qualifying expenses incurred in the state. ..."

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Hooray, (N.C.) beer!

"Welcome to the revolution. North Carolina is the craft beer state of the South."

Those are the opening sentences to this News & Record article about the rising reputation of North Carolina brewmasters.

To wit:

Right now, as you read this, there are 42 breweries operating across the state with at least a half-dozen expecting to open by year’s end. In the big cities of Tobacco Road. And in far-flung places such as Farmville and Holly Springs and Jarvisburg, a pinprick of a place in northeast North Carolina where the idea of a craft beer pub was born.

Why? Well, that’s anybody’s guess.

Hang on any bar stool and you’ll hear a dozen reasons: the changing laws, the increasing interest, the supportive retailers, the growing number of festivals, and the natural tie-in to the homegrown food movement.

And of course, the brewers themselves. They’re making good beer here.

You’ll also hear barroom proclamations about North Carolina becoming more hip and hear how Beer Advocate magazine picked Asheville over Portland, Ore., earlier this year as the No. 1 beer destination in the country. ...

It ain’t just Miller Time in North Carolina anymore.

Monday, August 03, 2009

The quintessential N.C. snapshot

I know there are some folks who have no qualms about reading a book time and time and time again. I tend to be very accomplishment oriented when it comes to reading; I take great pride in "checking a book off" my imaginary list.

However, there are two books that I will periodically pull off the shelf and dive right into. (Well, three, if you count The Good Book.) I consider these two books to be my all-time favorites; they never get old.

One is Pat Conroy's The Lords of Discipline. I first read it in college, which is the perfect time for a book that explores a young man's experiences at that same age. (It's also nice to be reading it while not in college at a military academy.) I could relate to the protagonist, despite the many differences between my life and his. But there is just something magical about this book; it doesn't hurt that Charleston is a quite magical place in and of itself.

I also have very little in common with the protagonist of my other favorite book, the late Tim McLaurin's Keeper of the Moon. Actually, the protagonist is McLaurin himself, as Keeper is a memoir, a look at "A Southern Boyhood." I'm sure I'm biased about this book; McLaurin was a teacher of mine at State. (I can't call him a "professor" as that sounds a bit too pretentious for a guy who was a soda truck driver; a Marine; a Peace Corps volunteer; a snake handler; and a carnie.)

Still, I've yet to find a book that paints the perfect Eastern North Carolina picture as Keeper does. I may not have lived the hardscrabble life that the McLaurin clan did, but I can sure feel the hard dirt beneath my feet, or smell the honeysuckle, or taste the raw milk straight from the cow while reading this fantastic story.

One passage, in particular, always stands out to me. It's from the beginning of the book, as McLaurin is describing a typical Southern summer. The page is marked in my copy of Keeper of the Moon so that I can always return; returning to this page, in some strange way, returns me to my own childhood.

If indeed there exists a physical heaven, I hope it is patterned after North Carolina between the summer hours of six and eight a.m. The haunting call of doves, leaves jeweled with dew, the glint of sun in oak branches, robins and roosters in duet, fog -- something eternal exists in those minutes that a person carries in memory for life.

(Photo of McLaurin from the Independent Weekly)