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You are a human rocket

13 Apr

We got a little crafty on Saturday night and painted a sign to cheer on the Raleigh Rock ‘N’ Roll marathon runners.

You are a human rocket
At first, it was just going to be this sign with the rocket flames coming out the back. Then Daniel had the idea of adding a nose to the rocket (really this entire sign was his idea, I just helped paint it). We punched a couple holes into each sign, connected them with zip ties, and woke up early Sunday morning to cheer on the runners.

Human Rocket

We set up somewhere around the 14.5 mile mark. We clapped and cheered for many of the runners. They had just  battled some brutal Raleigh hills and had more hills on the horizon. A few of the runners thanked us for the sign. One runner said the sign provided her with a “zen moment.” We also got to see the runners heading back toward downtown after finishing their run down Reedy Creek and back. I think those runners were at the ~18 mile mark. I can’t even imagine.

It was definitely inspiring to see these runners, all shapes and ages, taking on 26.2. I’ve never had an interest in training for a marathon, but cheering on these runners definitely planted a seed in the back of my mind. Maybe someday I’ll be a human rocket too.

Congrats to all the finishers.

Why bots make it nearly impossible to get affordable tickets to the Taylor Swift RED Tour

11 Dec

This is the story that makes me “RED” when it comes to one of my favorite performers – Taylor Swift. And I’m not alone. Thousands of Taylor’s fans are finding out what happens when scalpers use computer bots to snatch up the majority of tickets to her big arena shows and then resell them minutes later for an obscene amount of money on sites like StubHub.

Taylor is embarking on a tour that will take her to at least 45 cities in 29 states. But thousands of her fans in all of those cities will be disappointed to find out that, even if they sign up for her fan club to secure a link and special code to get pre-sale tickets, then log onto their computers at the precise moment tickets go on sale, they’re still probably going to get crappy seats. I know because I am one of them.

I signed up for Taylor Nation – Taylor’s fan club – last year after I tried to score seats to her show in Greensboro, NC, at the precise moment they went on sale. Despite being logged into Ticketmaster and refreshing my browser at the exact moment tickets became available, I still wound up with $100 tickets that were literally in the last row in the nosebleed section at the Greensboro Coliseum.

When I saw Taylor in 2011, we were able to move down to a closed off section to get closer to the stage. We were only able to get $100 seats in the back row of the nosebleed section, despite logging online to buy tickets the instant they want on sale.

I decided that next time I would be on top of my game. So I joined the fan club and waited for my exclusive fan club access to tickets.

On Monday, Taylor’s fan club emailed me the presale link/code for her upcoming show at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. Today, at precisely 10 a.m. when tickets went on sale, I clicked on the link in two separate browsers and searched for two “best available” seats. Moments later, I had two choices. Pay $99 to sit in row nosebleed section (no thank you) or pay $99 to sit on the complete opposite end of the stage in one of the lower levels (the lesser of two evils, I decided). I just tried searching again, a few moments ago, and there are now no tickets available. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday.

But if you go to StubHub.com, there are currently 1,970 tickets available, ranging in price from (BRACE YOURSELF) $169-$999 EACH.

Taylor puts on an incredible arena show. On the Speak Now tour, she rode in a gazebo-like structure (seen here under the spot light) across the entire floor and performed songs on an island at the back of the arena to give fans with mediocre seats an up-close view.

This problem isn’t unique to Taylor’s tour. Ticketmaster has blogged about the problem of bots snagging up all the tickets before. And if you Google the issue, you’ll find plenty of other performers who have faced the same problems, even the Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen. There’s even an entire thread about it on the forum on Taylor Swift’s website.

But here’s why I’m especially sore about Taylor fans having to endure this. When the PNC Arena put out a press release announcing the stop on Taylor’s tour, it included a paragraph touting that Taylor herself wanted there to be tickets available at under $50:

“The RED Tour will be produced and promoted by The Messina Group (TMG). At Taylor’s request every show will include tickets priced at under $50. TMG is a partner of AEG Live, one of the top live entertainment companies in the world, which produces world tours featuring internationally renowned artists and regional concerts and festivals.”

So this leads me to wonder, does Taylor actually know what’s happening in the ticket market? Is she aware that her fans, many of whom are young and rely on their hard-working parents to buy them tickets, can’t even secure tickets? Does Taylor herself know that right now, tickets for her tour stops around the country are being bought by scalpers and resold at prices that make it next to impossible for her average fan to ever see her on stage?

I love Taylor. She’s an incredibly talented writer and performer. I just wish Ticketmaster would fix its system so that affordable tickets could get into the hands of real fans and not scalpers.

Certainly Taylor’s handlers know about this. Certainly her online community manager knows this, since fans are lamenting this on a forum on Taylor’s official website. So surely Taylor must know this, right? And if she does, then why does she even bother requesting that every show offer tickets under $50. It seems disingenuous. Instead, maybe she should help fight the system.

Yes, we know “everyone hates Ticketmaster and no one can take it down” because its system is oh so reliable. But perhaps if artists like Swift and Springsteen, for example, pooled their clout together, they could get Ticketmaster to employ the best engineers and developers in the world to help thwart the bots. If one of Ticketmaster’s biggest problems is that its “notoriously slow to innovate,” than artists like Swift, Springsteen and beyond owe it to their fans to flex their muscles to make it happen.

Because, I’m pretty sure when Taylor started writing music, she never wanted her fans to have to pay $999 to see her perform.

Raleigh R-Line turns into “Love Bus” to celebrate second anniversary

13 Feb

If you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day in downtown Raleigh, you may want to make plans to ditch your car and ride the R-Line. The free city circulator bus is celebrating its second anniversary by turning into a “Love Bus.” But don’t worry, it’s totally PG.

All riders will receive a Valentine’s Day gift bag and the option to have their honey serenaded from local singing groups. There will also be a raffle, and I’m guessing the prizes are going to come from one of these sponsors: Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, the IMAX theatre, McDonald’s on South and Peace Streets, Revive Massage Therapy, Tir Na Nog, Triangle Food Tour, Rocky Top Hospitality and The Hibernian.

The R-Line has been a helpful addition to downtown Raleigh. It’s hard to believe it’s already been operating for two years. Riding it is a cinch. Just stand by one of those signs with a big “R” in the red circle during operating hours and wait for it to pick you up (the buses run every 10 to 15 minutes). It’s completely free, and you don’t have to be familiar with downtown Raleigh to figure out how to find your stop. The bus drivers always seem helpful and so are other riders.

And if you’re a downtown Raleighite, the R-line provides great way to hear what people think of downtown. It’s fun eavesdropping on conference goers, out-of-towners and the North Raleigh residents who venture into the city for a night on the town. It’s probably one of the best ways to get unfiltered feedback on what people think of downtown Raleigh.


NHL All-Star game commercial changes Raleigh skyline, moves RBC Center

23 Jan

I saw a side of downtown Raleigh tonight that I’ve never seen before, and chances are you haven’t either. There’s a new commercial on TV advertising this weekend’s All-Star NHL game in Raleigh, NC that makes our downtown seem a lot bigger (and more snowy) than it really is. The commercial is by the VERSUS channel.

Here’s a screengrab of the clip:

rbc

Now, if you’ve never been here, and you saw this commercial you might think the RBC Center (where the All-Star game will go down) is smack dab in the center of downtown. You might also think there are a lot more skyscrapers downtown than there really are. Certainly our tallest building, the RBC Plaza, could look small depending on the perspective of the shot, but the fact that there are other unidentifiable buildings towering over it is pretty amusing.

rbc with text

In reality (as we Triangle residents know), the RBC Center  is about six miles away from downtown. And the 32-story RBC Plaza, the downtown skyscraper with the 130 foot spire on top, is the tallest building in downtown Raleigh. Some of the buildings in the commercial don’t even exist in downtown Raleigh (or if they do, the producer certainly has taken some liberties with them in the shot). Here’s what Raleigh’s skyline really looks like:

Flickr photo by twbuckner

Flickr photo by twbuckner

Watch the commercial for yourself (the Raleigh clip is at the 18-second mark):

VERSUS 2011 NHL All-Star Game ad from Greg Wyshynski on Vimeo.

I hardly think any first-time Raleigh visitors traveling here for the game even noticed this clip. And even if they did, I’m sure it probably won’t alter their perception of our city. Still, it’s interesting to see how the Versus network reshaped our skyline.

Blast from the Past: What a Rock and Roll show was like in Raleigh nearly 50 years ago

14 Oct

The year is 1961. The venue is Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. The music is Rock and Roll.

Raleigh historian and blogger Mike Legeros published a formal memo to the Raleigh Police Chief dated Dec. 13, 1961. It details the directions Raleigh police were to follow for the “Rock and Roll Shows at the Memorial Auditorium.”

Here are some of the dated excerpts:

7. The Auditorium Manager shall display whatever signs he feels are necessary in notifying the public that no intoxicating beverages will be permitted in the Auditorium and that no smoking in the main Auditorium will be permitted.

8. It is requested that the Promoters, along with the Auditorium Manager, and any members of the special police, shall use all efforts and knowledge available to screen out and prevent person or persons from being permitted to an event who have a known reputation of trouble making.

9. The City Council has indicated it feels this type of recreation should be continued so long as it is done in a law abiding and sensible manner. It is urged that everyone interested in these events do everything possible to see that no trouble or difficulties are encountered as far as it is physically possible.

Read the full memo on Mike’s blog.

PostSecret founder Frank Warren chats with me about his popular website

15 Sep

Last week I met PostSecret founder Frank Warren. He was in Raleigh to speak at Meredith College, and I seized the chance to interview him for 30THREADS. PostSecret is a project where people send decorated postcards to Frank’s home declaring their secrets. Some are sad, some are scary and some are strange. But they’re all anonymous and mostly unique. Frank shares a selection of them on his blog PostSecret.com.

I first discovered PostSecret in book form about three years ago. I was browsing at Barnes & Noble on Hilton Head Island and spotted the book’s cool cover (hey, let’s be honest, we judge books by their covers). I sat on the floor and thumbed through the entire book. Later, my best friend told me about the website and confessed that she has even sent in some secrets. Frank tells me it receives between six to seven million hits a month.

Flash forward to Wednesday night. I walk up to the green room and stand outside awkwardly while Frank finishes a conversation. He waves me in and greets me with a firm handshake and a big smile … introduces me to his friends and then is eager to start our interview. I’m posting excerpts from our interview here:

Frank is exactly the type of person journalists love to interview. He speaks in digestable, interesting sound bytes and he actually answers your questions. He’s perceptive, down-to-earth and friendly. During the interview, I mentioned that I asked my Twitter followers if they had any questions for him and that several responded. He took the time to answer each of their questions while I recorded him on my iPhone so that I could tweet the video out back to them.

Then Frank asked if I would take his iPhone with me during the event and record him taking stage. He asked that I post the resulting video directly to his Twitter account. How cool that Frank trusted me with his phone and full access to his 199,000+ followers?! Here’s the clip, which has been viewed 3,155 times as of this writing.

The postcards, e-mails and anecdotes he shared were powerful. I found myself crying several times, and I wasn’t even premenstrual. At the end of the event, I left feeling inspired. I would definitely recommend seeing Frank speak if he ever makes it back to the Triangle again (I believe he spoke at Duke last year).

Two hours on the Boylan Street Bridge proves I’m not alone

3 Aug

When I drive across the Boylan Street Bridge, I brake a little so I can take in the downtown Raleigh skyline. The bridge offers one of the best views of the capital city’s growing skyline, and I never get tired of it.

Last night, the BF and I packed our video camera and a tripod and headed to the bridge. We plopped ourselves down near the center and recorded the sunset for nearly two hours to use for an upcoming project.

While sitting on the bridge, several cars slowed down to take in the view. At least two drivers stopped on the bridge (one to snap a photo with his cell phone, another to let a woman in the back seat take some photos). I was glad to see that I’m not the only one who brakes for the view.

What are your favorite spots to view the Raleigh or Durham skyline? Feel free to share some of your secrets.

Ignite Raleigh promises to be a cool event because of time limits and featured presenters

16 Jul

You know what I hate about conferences? I hate when presenters come up with creative titles for their sessions, but when you get there they just drone on and on. It’s dullsville and you’re not learning a thing. You sit there discreetly checking your watch and kicking yourself for not checking out a different session.

But there’s a free upcoming conference-esque event that promises not to fall into that trap: Ignite Raleigh.

Ignite Raleigh is billed as a “technology variety show” because it’s a two-hour event packed with quick, engaging presentations. The goal is to educate and spread ideas.

How quick? Each presenter will get five minutes to go through 20 slides.

I know what you’re thinking: “If there are 20 slides, there is NO WAY these presenters are going to stick to the five minutes they’re allotted.”

Not true. One of the coolest things about the event is the slides will change automatically, whether the presenter is ready or not. Five minutes and your time is up, get off the stage, it was nice listening to you. Buh-Bye!

How engaging? You decide. The presentations are being decided by votes. You have until July 20 to vote, and you don’t have to attend the event to cast a vote.

The topics range from “19 Reasons Why the Triangle is Better than Silicon Valley” (I’m biased on picking this one b/c my dear friend Wayne Sutton is pitching it) to “When is Green not so Green? How sustainable is your coffee?

There are a variety of topics to choose from (not all tech related). You can see and vote on all the topics here, and you can vote on them even if you don’t plan to attend.

Ignite Raleigh is from 7 to 9 p.m., Wed. Aug. 5 at Lincoln Theatre in downtown Raleigh. As of this writing, registration is still open. It’s free, but reserve your seat soon because I’ve been told 350 have already registered.

Need more reasons to sign up? Here are a few:

  • Rhett and Link will provide entertainment. They’re the self-billed “Internetainers” who recently gained national media attention for their viral video “Black and White People Furniture.”
  • 30THREADS is a blog media sponsor. And since 30THREADS is run by me and is part of my day job, it would be so cool if you supported me by supporting 30THREADS by supporting IgniteRaleigh.

OK. Enough already. Now you know more about what promises to be a kickass event in a few weeks. Questions, comments, suggestions? Leave them below and I’ll get them answered.

Raleigh makes its debut in a five-dollar footlong Subway commercial

13 Jul

You might remember that Subway was in Raleigh back in March to film one of its annoyingly catchy “$5 footlong” commercials. Anyone could audition for the commercial.

The commercial recently hit the airwaves and I just so happened to catch it the other night. I recorded it with my iPhone, and you can hear my cat meow at the end of it. Even so, I thought some of you might like to see it:

Fans gather at Raleigh Convention Center for Michael Jackson Memorial

7 Jul

About 400 people went to the Raleigh Convention Center this afternoon to celebrate Michael Jackson’s life and watch his memorial service on TV.

Women seemed to dominate the the crowd. Some wore pins they purchased for $5 at the convention center, one woman was rocking a white glove (you can see her at the end of this video). I was tweeting my observations from the @MyNC Twitter account. Several of our tweeps told me CNN was streaming footage from the Raleigh Convention Center. Not sure if they meant on TV or online. Did any of you see it?

Anyway, the beginning of the local memorial featured several local acts performing songs, prompting one man behind me to say “This isn’t a talent show.”