Here Comes The New Year

Tonight is a big night for many. Instead of doing a poor job of covering it all, I’ll just point to a few great resources for everything going on tonight:

  • First Night Raleigh
  • Carolina Hurricanes vs. NYR, and After-Party

DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE. Hopefully this list will make yours and everyone else’s lives easier:


Happy New Year!


Annuals Need Their $%^& Back!

Hey, wimp out there who stole instruments from Annuals, GIVE THEM BACK. According to a story on WRAL, some ASSHOLE took about $6000 worth of equipment from the band last night, but the band will still be able to perform at First Night tomorrow night with borrowed equipment.

There is a place in Hell for people who steal, you know. I was in a band and we rehearsed in a quiet, medical office building one Saturday. We returned Sunday to find the drummer’s kit gone. Very infuriating.

I’d like to insult the wuss’ musical ability, but to be honest, they may be good musicians. Speaking of that, I wonder if The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne ever returned that drum set he “allegedly” stole from, of all things, a church!

A person who steals is a sorry person, indeed. Shame! Go out and earn it like the rest of us do.


Nickelodeon Storytime Coming to Memorial Auditorium

storytime Broadway Series South is bringing Nickelodeon’s Storytime Live tour to Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium. There will be shows at 11, 2, and 5 on both May 15 and 16. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.

While this show will be very entertaining for children, I doubt it will be worthy of “amazing” (


TWC Adds More Channels

Tomorrow is the day for a new batch of channels on Time Warner Cable:

  • History International HD (227)
  • RFD HD (229)
  • Showtime Showcase HD (445) 
  • Showtime Extreme HD (456) 
  • MoreMax HD (435) 
  • ThrillerMax HD (437) 
  • Blue Highways (134)

A couple of weeks ago, on December 16, TWC added three channels:

  • Logo (128)
  • NBA-TV HD (335)
  • HD Movies on Demand Titles in the Guide (1002-1009)

Raleigh Ain’t As Literit As Before

TBJ is reporting that a new ranking of America’s 20 most literate cities, conducted by Central Connecticut State University is out. Raleigh ranks #19. This is a 5-spot slip since the 2008 survey. At least we ranked higher than Charlotte, which was #27!

The survey is based on six categories: newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment, and Internet resources. Raleigh took its biggest blow in the library resources category, which raises some questions, because it is a big source of error.

While “number of bookstores” is a nice factor to include, it doesn’t actually account for the number of books consumed or the number of books available in the market; more accurate numbers. Furthermore, sales of online digital books are likely to be higher in this area than others, too, and those figures would not be included in the survey.

There was a survey a few months ago which credited the Raleigh area for its high consumption of non-fiction book sales. With our high internet usage and high book sales, is a top-notch library system actually needed? Certainly a good system is needed, but does every book published really need to be available for a population that is already consuming these books through other means? Would we be more literate if our local governments forced the population to buy every book ever published, so that most can sit on the shelf unread?

Should we be penalized for low newspaper circulation when we are getting our news already from the internet from great sites like this one? Seriously, the N&O content is available online for free. Does my use of a free access point make the area less literate?

We ranked third in the most important of the factors: educational attainment. If we are doing well with that parameter, then the rest will take care of itself in most cases.

This survey is conducted with good intentions, however its criteria are not indicative enough of the tested parameter to be taken seriously.


Merry Christmas!

I hope your holidays have been gogo-good! (more relaxing and good than simply gogo, of course). So far there have been many highlights, but keeping to our subject here, I have to say that my lunch at Ruth’s Chris in North Hills on Wednesday looms large. The blue cheese dressing was fantastic, and the steak was incredible. The 8000-degree plate (or whatever it is) keeps the steak hot through the meal, so it is a meal that keeps on giving. My last bite was every bit has hot as my first bite eventually is when I cook steaks at home. Only two complaints: cold air blasting through the front door sends an arctic wave through the dining room with every door opening. Second, the restaurant needs to have some kind of impressive bread (as opposed to… none). There are ways in which the Angus Barn far exceeds Ruth’s Chris, and the bread category is the first that comes to mind.

Children may have visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads, but I have visions of the 12oz NY Strip at Ruth’s Chris in mine.


Steve Winwood Coming to DPAC


Durham’s Performing Arts Center welcomes one of rock’s biggest figures, Steve Winwood, on February 9. Tickets go on sale thru Ticketmaster outlets at 10am on December 28.


Renderings for Public Safety Center on N&O

The N&O has an article today about the proposed 17-story public safety center that will replace the current police headquarters at Nash Square. The article explains today’s vote by the city council for the $205 million (haha – bet it ends up being more than $275M) facility, but more importantly shows some renderings by KlingStubbins.

Also note in the right hand margin a section with more renderings. The massing in the image also portrays the current city hall, which will be replaced in phase II of the project.

The renderings look fantastic above the first two floors (if you like modernist, glass, asymmetry). Of major concern, however, is the blank wall that will face AT&T’s blank wall on McDowell Street. With Campbell Law School just one block to the north, the project will lie in a straight line between the school and the courthouse. Thus, foot traffic in this area will be very high, so this project would not only miss a large retail opportunity, but it also would contribute to a negative pedestrian experience.

I urge the council to vote “NO” on this project until it can incorporate more to the pedestrian experience vital in this part of downtown.


Crabtree Tavern: Good Grub at a Snail’s Pace

Tucked behind Crabtree Valley Mall is a free-standing restaurant site which almost clicked in two previous incarnations. Owners of the former Tavola Rossa converted the restaurant to the Crabtree Tavern hoping that the third would be the charm. The Crabtree Tavern is a sports-themed restaurant with an upscale tavern menu.

Diners who frequented the belated Cactus Flower and Tavola Rossa restaurants will be surprised at the amount of renovation that went into the Crabtree Tavern. Gone are the numerous level changes throughout the restaurant, as is the carpet (replaced with a black and white tile floor). The bar area now sits in the former dining room, opening the P-shaped restaurant as one large cohesive room. A plethora of TVs hang throughout the restaurant, and offer diners (especially on Sunday) a chance to get a view of all of the televised games. Excellent music from a satellite service creates a nice noise foundation. However all of that is destroyed when an internet jukebox goes to work, overwhelming the experience at stomach-churning volumes.

The Tavern’s dinner menu (.pdf) selection is excellent. There are numerous appetizers that are perfect for community feeding, including the excellent beef brisket nachos. Higher quality tortilla chips would take this dish to the forefront of the Raleigh "nacho scene". To be avoided is the chili, which pales to Wendy’s and Sweet Tomatoes’ average offerings.

A popular item in the bar is the Beer Tower, a 3’ tall test tube holding almost two pitchers of draft beer. To keep the tower cold the bartender drops in a frozen, non-melting ice torpedo. The towers are priced in the $20-$25 range.

There is a fascinating selection of burgers, all offered on homemade buns. We tried the excellent Mountaineer which creatively marries a smoked tomato slice with barbecue sauce and goat cheese on a solid hamburger patty. Also good, but not as interesting as it sounds, is the Down Home Southern Burger. It features fried green tomato, county ham, pimento cheese, and mustard aioli. For some reason, though, the interesting ingredients get dominated by the beef flavor. We had good buns on one night, but on two other occasions the bread was noticeably firm.

The Entrees section of the menu is where the tavern has a real chance to make some noise in West Raleigh. I tried both the Shepherd’s Pie and the Chicken Pot Pie, and both were outstanding. The Shepherd’s Pie has a nice kick of ground lamb flavor, while the pot pie is extremely well blended, and stands as the best item on the menu.

We also tried the BBQ Brisket sandwich which was very good, but probably not better than the Q-Shack’s.

Where the Crabtree Tavern gets a failing grade is with the kitchen’s efficiency. I have dined in the restaurant three times now and it took 30, 40, and 45 minutes for our entrees to reach our table. With dining times climbing to one and a half hours for fairly simple food, I have to wonder how many diners are eager to return.

Crabtree Tavern has a very good chance to finally bring West Raleigh what it misses most: a reasonably priced, fairly quick restaurant that appeals to a broad range of palates. Ever since General Mills began screwing up Darryl’s, there has been a tremendous void. With the tavern’s location near the RBC Center and on Crabtree’s doorstep, a little bit of efficiency can take this restaurant where it wants to go. The question is whether or not they can step up to the plate.

map it


Picture This: Organize A Large Library of Digital Photos

pics_MC7 Excuse me while I go completely off-topic. Oh, the joy of the holidays, a special time of year where we take tons of photos and actually have some downtime afterward to get organized. With that in mind I thought it might help someone to offer my system for handling my digital photos. We have over 15,000 digital photos, which is great, but only as great as our ability to go back and access them easily.

There are dozens and dozens of tools out there designed to help people organize and display photos, so there are many organization schemes, some excellent. When I was inventing my wheel, I defined two high priorities: quick access and cheap price. I’ve been extremely happy with this system after over a year, and hopefully others can integrate it and enjoy it as much as I have.

read more [link to Dana’s Mixed Bag]


Golden Corral To Replace Glenwood Store

goldencorral Golden Corral is currently working out plans to raze and replace their store on Glenwood Avenue (across from Pleasant Valley Promenade). The Raleigh-based chain with around 500 stores nationally will replace the building with a new Golden Corral concept design they call “The Pavilion”. The concept features home-style cooking. Unlike the current open-a-can approach, though, the Pavilion concept puts a heavy emphasis on freshly-cooked, labor-intensive food. There will be “food stations, display cooking, and fresh food preparation” according to The restaurant has rolled out about six of these stores nationally. However if the concept is successful, the sites in Mini City and Garner are penciled in for replacement.

The location will continue to be a training site, with the company headquarters located at the base of the Glenwood Avenue hill, in the shadows of Crabtree Valley Mall.

map it


Raleigh On Growing Wealth List

Yesterday Forbes published their list of American cities where people are “getting richer”. Raleigh-Cary placed 16th on the list. Factors such as median income and unemployment were considered. The survey lists Raleigh-Cary’s median household income at $60,500, and unemployment at 8.6%.


McKinney’s Battle of the Bands Coming This Spring

McKinney Advertising in Durham is once again sponsoring a battle of the bands for the Triangle. The event will occur on May 15. Here is their press release:

McKinney says it’s time to rock ‘n’ roll! For the fourth year, the agency is challenging Triangle corporations and businesses to a duel—rock ‘n’ roll style.

On Saturday evening, May 15, the 2010 Triangle Battle of Bands will take to the stage of the American Tobacco campus amphitheatre. All proceeds from the event will benefit Operation Literacy powered by The Hill Center. This unique partnership with Durham County Public Schools will help elementary and middle school students in need of extra learning assistance to receive individualized after-school tutoring using the highly successful HillRAP (Reading Achievement Program) curriculum.

read more…

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