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What to do in the Triangle this weekend

17 Mar

I’ve got the Austin blues. After spending a week in Austin, Texas, for the SXSW Interactive conference, I’m back in the tamer Triangle. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to be home, but I definitely left a piece of my heart in Austin. To remind myself that the Triangle still has it going on, I looked up what was going on this weekend. Here’s what I found:


  • If you’re into beading/making jewelry, then stock up on beads at the Bead Mercantile Show in the Kerr Scott Building at the N.C. State Fairgrounds. No need to make your friends or lover suffer through a bead show. Set them loose on the flea market, which also takes place at the fairgrounds this weekend.


  • There are virtually no seats left to the Blue Man Group, or if there are, then I don’t know how to use the ticket chart on Durham Performing Art Center’s website. But a few single seats appear to be scattered throughout the theatre. One of my coworkers wouldn’t stop gushing about the show today, so I’m guessing it’s truly incredible. So if you don’t mind sitting by yourself, then look into getting tickets.
  • Learn about the role Christianity played in slavery during the Civil War. Dan Fountain, director of Public History at Meredith College, will talk about his recent bookSlavery, Civil War, and Salvation: African-American Slaves and Christianity, 1830-1870″ at 2 p.m. Sunday at Historic Stagville.

Chapel Hill:

Willard Doxey and Marilyn MarkeWillard Doxey and Marilyn Markel


  • DSI Comedy is donating 50 percent of proceeds from all of its shows this weekend to help aid those suffering in Japan. There’s a total of five shows on Friday and Saturday night that you can attend. Full schedule and details here.

I’m certain there’s more going on this weekend. If you know about something fun, interesting or unusual, leave it in the comments section.

Ignite Durham enlightens 650 people at the Carolina Theatre

10 Feb

The only problem with Ignite Durham is that organizers are going to have a hard time topping themselves next year. The two-hour event at the historic Carolina Theatre in downtown Durham featured 14 micro presentations ranging from the Lost Art of Political Cartooning to highlighting our year of the Camahueto. Cama what? Yes, Camahueto.

Five-minute, 20 slide presentations are happening in more than 100 cities around the world as part of global Ignite week. The takeaways will vary, but attendees at each Ignite event should leave with some new knowledge and possibly even a desire to right some wrongs in our world.

At Ignite Durham we learned:

* The importance of getting involved and volunteering to help our neighbors. Henry Kaestner told us about a survey by the organization Durham Cares that found 64 percent of Bull City residents did not volunteer last year. He urged us to find a way to get involved.

* You can make a difference with minimal commitment. Another inspiring speaker, Sara Rose, also has a passion for making a difference through volunteer work. In 2009, she founded Change the Triangle, which makes it easy as pie to find time to volunteer in the Triangle, even if you think there’s just no time in your schedule. Her organization arranges a monthly volunteer activity planned and organized ahead of time. All you have to do is show up.

* Honeybees are overworked and under loved. Bee lover Jimmy Chalmers, a powerful and passionate speaker, tells us that part of the reason the honeybee population is dwindling is because some beekeepers are overworking their precious bees. Did you know honeybees need a vacation just like the rest of us? Well, they do.

Honeybees are not created to work 12 months a year. But some beekeepers don’t care. When it’s too cold to keep their bees pollinating, they put them on trucks and ship them to warmer climates. So honeybees have a carbon footprint. WTF, America?! Lesson learned: I will be doing my research before buying anymore honey.

* Skepticism is greater than cynicism. Researcher Tom Webster urged us all to be skeptics, not cynics. My little journalist heart sang because as our world becomes increasingly messed up and information becomes increasingly easy to put our fingers on, I’ve found myself dipping my toe in the cynicism waters more and more lately. His presentation helped put both of my feet back on the land of the skeptics. If you don’t know the difference between skepticism and cynicism, take a moment to familiarize yourself. The world definitely needs more skeptics than cynics.

Organizers Ryan Boyles and Jeff Cohen, Host Zach Ward and Volunteer Coordinator Lisa Sullivan made it all possible, along with other helpers and sponsors. Feel free to give those who deserve a shout out in the comments. I wanted to make this entire post a love fest for all the fantastic presenters, but my cup of tea is dry and I have to go to work.

Thank you, Ryan Boyles and Jeff Cohen for coordinating Ignite Durham. And thank you to everyone else who made it happen. It’s events like this that keep the Triangle cool.

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:


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.

Three ways to enjoy bluegrass in the Triangle

31 Jul

I’ve always enjoyed Bluegrass, but I’ve really been getting into this banjo picking, fiddle wielding music lately. It’s probably because my weekend at the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival was so lovely, that every time I hear Bluegrass now my mind wanders back to the music-filled campgrounds.

1. It’s easy to enjoy Bluegrass music in the Triangle. I recently discovered the Pinecone Bluegrass Show, which airs at 6 p.m. every Sunday on 94.7 WQDR. The three hour show is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and provides a relaxing soundtrack to Sunday chores.

Pinecone is a local nonprofit dedicated to preserving, presenting and promoting traditional music. From their website:

Traditional music includes fiddle tunes, ballads, bluegrass, blues, gospel, swing, folk, and all the variations and derivations that our culture has nurtured. It is the folk product of community heritage and spirit. it is the musical spice that gives North Carolina its own taste. It is music that increases the attractivenes of our community and contributes a cohesive cultural identity. Its performers learned from their families or community or deliberately sought teachers from a traditional musical heritage.

2. PineCone presents several concert series around the Triangle. The next concert is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday at Joyner Park in Wake Forest. Big Fat Gap, a back porch bluegrass band, will christen the new town park.

Joyner Park sounds like a pretty cool spot for Wake Forest residents. The 117-acre park includes a 1,000 lawn seat amphitheatre, three miles of walking trails, and more. Big Fat Gap’s show will be the first concert in the park.

3. And I’m also looking forward to the Hoppin’ John Old Time and Bluegrass Fiddlers’ Convention on Sept. 18 and 19 in Chatham County.

Let me know if you have any other suggestions of how I can get my Bluegrass on in the Triangle.

Nine things to do in the Triangle this weekend

24 Apr

This weekend is shaping up to be the most gorgeous one of the year so far. With temperatures forecasted to reach nearly 90 degrees this weekend (they’re calling for sunny and a high of 89 on Saturday and 87 on Sunday).

So with the wonderful weather and the stupid recession in mind … Here’s your list of weekend events that might be worth checking out in the Triangle:


* The 3d annual Bluesfest Benefit at Longview Center in downtown Raleigh sounds like a good deal. You’ll get to hear John Dee Holeman (who was one of the best performers at Shakori Hills last weekend. The 80-year-old Bluesman and Storyteller still has it.) and harmonica man Geroge Higgins. Tickets are $10. It starts at 7:30 p.m. and proceeds benefit the very deserving Music Maker Relief Foundation.

*Head to Golden Belt in Durham to see The Rosebuds, Midtown Dickens and Lost in Trees for $12! The money benefits the Durham Arts Council. (UPDATE — I accidentally posted this under Saturday, but the concert is tonight!).


* Put the finishing touches on your spring cleaning by dropping off all the documents you need shredded at the NBC17 Shred-It Event (what, you didn’t think you’d get through this list without any shameless self promotion in this post, did you?). So if you have a box (or boxes) of old documents you need shredding, come to Village Square Shopping Center in Cary or Indigo Corners Shopping Center in Durham between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., we’ll handle the rest.

* Go shopping for random props, vintage screen art, signage and scenery at the Valentine Design Group and Aardvark Printing yard sale. The Clean Out The Clutter Parking Lot “yard sale” is from 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.  Saturday 1019-1021 East Whitaker Mill Road in Raleigh. If you still have the yard sale bug after visiting this sale, head over to the N.C. State Fairgrounds for the flea market. It’s always fun and completely free to get in.

* The Durham Earth Day Festival is probably your best bet if you want to be outside doing something different on Saturday. The growing festival features music, plenty of vendors and educational booths, and it gives you a chance to hang out in downtown Durham. It’s from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday in CCB Plaza.

* If you’re already in Durham for the Earth Day Festival, steer over to Duke Gardens for the Plant and Craft Festival, which runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

* Springfest at Chavis Park in Raleigh sounds like it could be fun for families. The free event will supposedly feature rides, vendors, entertainment and food. It’s from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.

* If you’re an aspiring photographer, but can’t afford to take an intense class. You can drop $12 on the Introduction to Digital Photography Workshop that the Raleigh City Museum is hosting. The class is perfect for those of you who haven’t dived into digital photography yet. It’s at 2 p.m. Saturday.

* Go to a drag show. Legends in downtown Raleigh is featuring a 9:30 matinee, a midnight show and another at 1 a.m. for you night owls. Be sure to get a Shish-Kabob afterward from the man who sets up his cart near the club’s entrance. They are delicious! (See my pic on the right … mmmm).

Please ADD YOUR EVENTS to the comments section so us Triangle dwellers don’t miss out on something cool!

What restaurant has the best biscuits in the Triangle?

12 Mar

Trips to Biscuitville have become a staple in my Sunday brunch routine. I’m hardly a biscuit connoisseur, but I’ve got to admit that the North Carolina biscuit chain has got it going on. They’ve got Texas Pete, awesome sausage patties, strong coffee, and — of course — tasty biscuits. And the Honey Buns deserve their own fan page on facebook. Breakfast for two costs about $10.

On Sundays, I take my copy of the News & Observer with me and sprawl out in a booth with my biscuits and boyfriend. Sometimes we’ll go on Saturdays too. Another huge Biscuitville brunch perk is there’s rarely a wait. I get impatient waiting for a table for Sunday brunch (unless you give me coffee like Elmo’s does).

But I know there are better biscuits out there. Somewhere in the Triangle, there’s a fluffy, golden biscuit that’s waiting to woo me. Help me find that place.

Tell me what restaurants you think have incredible biscuits (or biscuits not worth wasting my time on). I’ve had the biscuits at Elmo’s and Flying Biscuit, and I like them both. But certainly there are other locally-owned places that I’ve got to try.

Does the local media provide well-rounded Durham coverage?

9 Feb

I love journalism. So I defend the craft as often as I can, particularly local journalism. As a former reporter for the Durham Herald-Sun, however, I’ve heard countless times that local media only focuses on crime stories in Durham. This, of course, isn’t entirely true.

Still, the Bull City doesn’t seem to get as much positive press as its Triangle siblings. That’s just an observation, of course. I’ve never charted out all the local media coverage. If someone wants to take the time to do that and share the results, I’d love to publish that on my blog.

Meanwhile, here’s a screenshot from today’s News & Observer’s Durham news section. This is probably why Durham residents feel cheated out of positive local coverage. There are six crime stories, and one story about a proposed bill that could help reduce crime:

By no means am I saying the media should ignore crime news. And I’m sure if you dig around on the N&O’s website you can find some happier Durham stories. But this caught my eye this morning and I had to share it with you all.

Do you think the local media provides well-rounded Durham coverage?

Highlights of the first Triangle Tweetup of 2009

30 Jan

You can no longer doubt the power of Twitter to build meaningful communities (there weren’t any naysayers were there?). Last night, I was in a room filled with more than 100 Triangle residents who use Twitter, and so many sincere connections were quickly created. It was the first Triangle Tweetup (a meetup for people who use Twitter) of 2009 and the first Tweetup since “Twitter” has truly started to go mainstream. Triangle Tweetups have come a long way since the first one organized by @waynesutton in December 2007, when only five people showed up.

photo by @Dgtlpapercuts

Sincere Connections

It’s a fun rush to spy someone across a room and sort of recognize them from their Twitter avatar. If you’ve been following them for a while, you probably know a lot more about them than some of their close acquaintances and coworkers. When you approach your “tweep” (and you steal a glance at their nametag to confirm it’s the person whose life you’ve been digesting in 140-character bytes) and shake their hand it’s not like connecting with a stranger. Instead, it’s like meeting a pen pal or, in some cases, an old friend.

@jennafleur and @cammicam hang out with the Twitter bird. Photo by @dgtlpapercuts.

New Followers and Friends

Everyone who attends a tweetup is pretty much in agreement that Twitter is more awesome than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the crusts cut off made by your mom. So it’s easy to strike up a conversation with anyone you’re standing next to. All you have to say is: “Dude, what’s your Twitter name?” and follow-up with “Dude, when did you join Twitter?” or a “Dude, why did you join Twitter?” (You can omit the word Dude if it’s not part of your lingo). And from there it’s easy.

Here’s a roundup of the Tweetup that I made for 30THREADS.

Reconnecting with Tweeps

I love my tweeps, but we all lead busy lives, so we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like. Luckily we have Twitter to keep up with each other, but there’s nothing like a hug, handshake or a knowing smile from an old Tweep. Tweetups are full of these.

Making a Difference

We decided to use our Twitter powers for good last night and turn the Tweetup into a food drive. We filled three boxes, a large Rubbermaid container and about a dozen plastic bags with cans and boxed goods. I’m going to drop the donations off next week at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, and hope to get a tally on how many pounds we donated. (Photo to the right by @jreesnc).

Silliness Ensues

The clever and creative @ToastySnacks thought it would be fun to turn the Tweetup into a mock prom. She asked @InstantTaylor to be her date and then made gorgeous, detailed sashes declaring them the Tweetup King and Queen. And they decided to start their very own Triangle Tweetup Tradition and pass the sashes on, giving them to me and my boyfriend, @mammalpants. It’s now our responsibility to make them proud and select the King and Queen at the next Tweetup.

Photos by @Waynesutton and @abbyladybug, respectively.

Hopefully, Twitter won’t disapper anytime soon. I’m going to at least relish it as long as it’s around (or until it becomes the MySpace of the social web, whichever happens first). If you were at the Tweetup last night, fill me in on your favorite moment/connection.

And a special thank you to @waynesutton for doing an outstanding job of bringing us all together. It’s always a pleasure.

Gloria Jean’s coffee opens in Crabtree Valley Mall

16 Jan

I was walking through Crabtree Valley Mall last night and spotted a Gloria Jean’s coffee shop, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I’m all about local coffee shops, but the franchised Gloria Jean’s holds a special place in my heart. I worked at one in college for extra money during holidays and summers. It was my only mall job, and I loved it.

Truly, their coffee (paricularly the frozen drinks) are so delicious. They have this stuff called cappuccino chiller that is basically like Starbucks’ bottled Frappuccino, only so much more delicious. There was a time in my life when I probably consumed more of that than water (and I gained a few pounds to prove it).

Anyway, there’s already a Gloria Jean’s at the mall in Cary, but I never go there. But Crabtree Valley Mall and I are like BFFs, so with the addition of a GJ’s, I might just have to marry it.

For the record, I was not paid by anyone to say this. And I usually shy away from promoting specific corporate places, but I had so much fun working at GJ’s in college and truly love their coffee, so I feel I must spread the love.

If you visit the GJ’s in the mall, order one of my favorites:

*Cappuccino chiller (ask them to mix it with chocolate milk for optimal results).

*Malted Mocha Chiller (this is what I had last night).

*Hot White Chocolate Chai (so good).

Kay Hagan’s campaign signs are waiting for a ride

22 Dec

It’s been nearly seven weeks since Election Day, and it looks like Newly-elected North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan still can’t hitch a ride on a bus. These signs have been hanging out for quite some time behind this bench at the bus stop on Glenwood Avenue near Anderson Drive.

At least the signs have been removed from the roadside. Still, hasn’t enough time passed for all of the Triangle’s campaign signs to be removed?