Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Motivational magic: Hannibal performs in Charlotte for first time

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2011 at 5:24 PM


As a professional magician, Charlotte native Chris Hannibal does more than just pull a rabbit out of a hat. With over 20 years of performance experience, Hannibal has travelled all over the world, performing shows that have a unique motivational element for audiences. And with his upcoming show “Parlour Magic: An Evening of Intimate Astonishment” at CenterStage at NoDa, Hannibal hopes to make a personal impact on a hometown audience that he holds a little more dearly to his heart.

Creative Loafing: How would you describe your type of performance?

Hannibal: The magic that I do is more close-up and parlour style. It is a very intimate form of magic. It’s not big stage boxes and big bright lights and dancing girls and stuff like that; it’s a very old vaudeville style performance. It’s not just a magic show; it’s a one-man play about the storytelling aspect of what my grandpa taught me, and he taught me most of what I know. He was in the circus back in the 1930s and he learned sleight of hand from con artists and street hustlers, so he taught me basic sleight of hand and it kind of stuck. And I was good at it.

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Rapture at Spoleto

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2011 at 12:16 PM

Sue and I didn’t come down to Charleston until six days after The Rapture was scheduled, so we never suspected. But surely the End of Days has come to Spoleto Festival USA. The evidence is everywhere, and Charlotte banks are part of the grand design:

• Wells Fargo Jazz has gone to church. Yes, there are still outdoor concerts at Cistern Yard on the College of Charleston campus and, right across St. Philip Street, indoor gigs at C of C’s Simons Center Recital Hall. Dianne Reeves and Karrin Allyson are the big names so far, and Trombone Shorty is still to come. But for the first time, the series formerly known as Wachovia Jazz had a series of concerts by Norwegian pianist/composer Ketil Bjørnstad, making his U.S. debut at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul. One more Ketil concert today at 6 p.m.

• Spoleto and Gian Carlo Menotti are reconciled after death. The founder of both the Italian and American Spoleto Festivals had a rather messy divorce in an earlier decade with the younger Charleston sibling, but now she’s celebrating Menotti’s 100th birthday in with a production of the composer’s best opera, The Medium, with four more performances at Dock Street Theatre through June 10. Other music theater events worth checking out are The Gospel at Colonus and The Magic Flute.

• Spoleto Festival USA is reviving a production that closed off-Broadway two seasons ago after getting a four-star review in the Loaf from Perry Tannenbaum. Sue and I saw the Druid Theatre production of Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan when it played at the Atlantic Theatre Company in December 2008. It’s time-sharing with The Medium at Dock Street Theatre through June 12.

• If all these signs and portents aren’t enough, let it be known that the Bank of America Chamber Music series is publishing their programs in advance! Not only has the veil been lifted from the contents of each concert (though the traditional chalkboard remains in the Dock Street Theatre lobby), you can now find out who will be playing every piece in all 11 programs – 33 lunchtime concerts in all through June 12. The info is printed in the Festival’s comprehensive program book, and it’s also online ! The cloud list does omit the players, so that’s Beethoven’s Cello Sonata #5 today at 11am and 1pm.

All of these events are recommended. We’ll have a more detailed rundown on Spoleto 2011 next week.

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Sales for 'birther' book — Where Is The Birth Certificate? — soar, sane people weep

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2011 at 11:59 AM

Many words have been written about our country’s poor level of education in comparison with much of the civilized world. Nothing — and I mean nothing — offers more proof of that sad truism than these two simple facts, as reported by CNN:

  1. The new book by serial conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, Where Is The Birth Certificate? — which a reasonable person could conclude would not sell very well after Pres. Obama produced his “long form” birth certificate — is No. 6 on the New York Times bestseller list.
  2. Seventeen percent of Americans (that’s around 53 million people) still believe Obama was “definitely or probably” not born in the U.S.

Even worse news? These people vote, and have influence on lawmakers. Not to mention that they also reproduce.

"Can you believe these dopes?"
  • "Can you believe these dopes?"

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Kid stuff: The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2011 at 11:55 AM

It’s a touchy business messing around with our legends in America, where we cherish our villains as much as our heroes. Concocting alternate histories is a popular sport nevertheless, targeting with especial gusto those public figures who leave us sensationally: JFK, Elvis and Osama, for example. The speed at which people were saying Bin Laden lives – seemingly while the Prez was announcing his death – was particularly impressive.

Before he more famously messed with history in A Walk in the Woods (1988) and Cobb (1989), Lee Blessing wrote the play he now calls The Authentic Life of Billy The Kid, currently running at Tate Hall, upstairs from the Halton Theater on the CP campus. The playwright not only gives The Kid an afterlife, bringing him back to New Mexico 27 years after he was gunned down, he meticulously deconstructs the whole Wild Western mythmaking process. The title of Blessing’s play is exactly the same as the book Sheriff Pat Garrett wrote after killing Billy, partly to cash in on his celebrity and partly to refute the evidence that his adversary was unarmed.

Ah, but Blessing knows that Garrett wasn’t the true author of his book, so the Sheriff’s ghostwriter, Ash Upson, becomes the engine that drives his non-authenticated plot. Upson finds Garrett in bad financial straits – for he truly did squander his chances for fame, wealth and glory in his later years – and proposes that the old Sheriff go on tour and re-enact his famous showdown with The Kid. To make it all the more believable, Ash has The Kid – or a brash imposter – waiting outside Garrett’s shambling ranch house.

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Judge Howard Manning to lawmakers: N.C. constitution mandates decent education

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2011 at 11:19 AM

We're happy that Judge Howard Manning has ordered a court hearing to determine whether proposed state education cuts would violate kids' constitutional right to a quality education. We’re also pleased to see that Manning has been reading our blog posts, as we brought up the same question last week (N.C.’s constitution specifically mandates a public school system, including the UNC system). OK, maybe Manning came to the same conclusion without seeing our blog post, but it doesn’t matter.

What really matters is that Manning's hearing could come just in time, as the New Bosses from the GOP are threatening to cut their way beyond “the fat” in the statewide education budget, move on past “the meat,” and start sawing away at the bones. As we wrote earlier, one of the basic assumptions of civilization is this: Education and knowledge are the most critical elements for having a thriving nation and culture. The state’s New Bosses, however, either don’t know about that or just couldn’t care less. Considering the mix of Bible-thumpers, grasping business interests, militia wannabes and cultural retards now running the General Assembly, my guess is that both are true.

Maybe the lawmakers will listen to Manning, and uphold their constitutional duty. And maybe, soon afterward, pigs will fly out of House Speaker Thom Tillis’ butt (and to think the guy is a former PTA leader). At the very least, however, Manning’s hearing will open the door to constitutional challenges to Tillis & Co.’s destructive, drastic education cuts. Again, as we said last week, it doesn’t take a genius to see that the New Bosses’ cuts are in 180-degree opposition to both the letter and the spirit of the state’s constitution. Maybe the Tea Party faithful who took over the state legislature should respect the state’s “Founding Fathers” as much as they claim to respect the nation’s founders.

Soon to be seen coming out of the House Speaker's nether regions?
  • Soon to be seen coming out of the House Speaker's nether regions?

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Best bets in Charlotte comedy, May 31-June 5

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2011 at 10:50 AM

As the headline suggests, here are a few of the best places to find comedy events in Charlotte — from stand-up to improv to sketch comedy and more. For a complete listing of all comedy visit www.CharlotteComedyLIVE.com.

Tuesday, May 31

Taboo Tuesday Open Mic @ 9:30 p.m. (Comedians sign-up at 9 p.m.)

The way open mic was meant to be with no language or content restrictions. Every comedian who signs up goes up for 5 minutes. This week hosted by Johnny Millwater.

Crown Station Pub ~ Formerly the SK Net Cafe ~ 1425 Elizabeth St. Charlotte, NC ~ $2

Wednesday, June 1

Cans4Comedy benefiting the Mens Homeless Shelter at 10 p.m.

Host Ty Longworth brings you this special showcase featuring Katie Malik, Justin Thompson, Kyle Field and Andy Perez.   Plus free appetizers.

Jackalope Jacks ~ 1936 E. 7th St., Charlotte, NC, 28204 ~ Canned goods & cash donations

Thursday, June 2

Carolina Comedy Cavalcade at 8 p.m.

Host William Spann introduces you to some of the most hilarious rising stars including Noah Lemmons and Steve Price.  Also Derek Blackmon.  Then stay for open mic at 9:30 p.m.

The Comedy Zone Fort Mill ~ 900 Crossroads Plaza, Fort Mill, SC 29708 ~ $10

Friday and Saturday, June 3-4

Kenny Smith at The Comedy Zone Fort Mill at 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m.

Young, fresh, loaded with energy, and just a lot of fun to be around, Kenny Smith is a guy who knows how to stir things up and keep audiences roaring with laughter.

Madison's On The Corner ~ 900 Crossroads Plaza, Fort Mill, SC 29708 ~ $10

Friday, June 3

Improv Comedy by Improv Charlotte at 7 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30 p.m.)

Wine-Up in NoDa ~ 3306C N. Davidson St. Charlotte, NC ~ $5 (proceeds to charity)

Saturday, June 4

"I'm SINGLE in Charlotte" Improv Show #3 by Funny Bone Improv at 8 p.m.

Young, fresh, loaded with energy, and just a lot of fun to be around, Kenny Smith is a guy who knows how to stir things up and keep audiences roaring with laughter.  Meet the cast at 7:15 p.m.

The Hampton Inn of Matthews ~ 9615 Independence Pointe Pky, Matthews, NC 28105 ~ $10

Sunday, June 5

Funny First Sunday at 9 p.m.  (Doors open at 7 p.m.)

Funny comedy hosted by Nick Lewis & DS.

House of Jazz ~ 8630 University Exec Park Dr, Charlotte, NC 28262 ~ $15 at door

To join Debbie’s mailing list (just one e-mail a week, I promise), e-mail DebbieMillwater@gmail.com with the Subject Line “Subscribe.”

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Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2011 at 10:28 AM

Air Quality Notifications

It's that time of year again: The thermostat has risen, you sweat standing still ... in the shade, and the air is dense with water, ozone and who knows what else.

And, you know what that means: We've got ourselves a week full of air quality alerts. This week's color is orange.

You can keep up with air quality alerts in several ways. First, and maybe easiest, is to sign up for the air quality alert e-mails from the state's Division of Air Quality through a website called EnviroFlash. Here's the link. As far as I can tell (I've been on this e-mail list for a couple years now), the organization doesn't sell or share e-mail addresses.

The site also offers helpful tips on how you can help reduce air pollution:

Care for the Air

--- Drive less: carpool, vanpool, take the bus, telecommute.

--- Conserve electricity.

--- Pack a lunch or walk to lunch.

--- Avoid idling your vehicle.

--- Refuel and mow after 6:00pm.

And, it explains what the color codes mean:

Air Quality Index (AQI)

Green...........0- 50 AQI........Good air quality. No health risks are expected. Enjoy outdoor activities!

Yellow.......51-100 AQI........Moderate air quality. Air quality is okay, but unusually sensitive people may be affected, especially when the AQI nears 100.

Orange....101-150 AQI........Air quality is Unhealthy For Sensitive Groups. Children, active adults, and those with heart or respiratory disease, including asthma, should limit outdoor activity.

Red..........151-200 AQI........Unhealthy air quality. Everyone should avoid prolonged outdoor activity.

Purple......201-300 AQI........Very Unhealthy air quality. Everyone should avoid outdoor activity.

You can also keep up with alerts on the state's Division of Air Quality website, though it's a little less intuitive. Here's the link.

And, there's always Twitter. This account, @CharlotteAQF, is, well, focused on Charlotte's air quality. If you're not from 'round these parts, simply go to search.Twitter.com and search for your city plus "air quality" and see what pops up. You do not have to be a Twitter user to see the @CharlotteAQF Tweets.

You might also want to find out if these air quality alerts -- this week we've got orange alerts for ozone and yellow for particle pollution -- will bug your lungs. You can do that by reading up on what ozone and particle pollution is, why it's important to monitor and how it can reach alert status.

Here are a few links that you may find helpful to that end from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:

What is Air Pollution?

What is Ozone?

What is Particle Pollution?

And, AirNow.gov, which also offers color coded alert information.

Also, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some links about how air pollution affects your health. Most of them can be found from their "Air Pollution and Respiratory Health" landing page, which is here.

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Today's Top 5: Tuesday

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2011 at 8:00 AM

Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, May 31, 2011 — as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

Panic at the Disco at The Fillmore


Rich Guzzi at The Comedy Zone Lake Norman

College Night at Whisky River

Tornado Alley at Discovery Place's IMAX

Touch One Tuesdays at Wine Up

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Today's Top 5: Monday

Posted By on Mon, May 30, 2011 at 8:00 AM

Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, May 30, 2011 — as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

The Patriot Festival at Symphony Park


Monday Night Allstars at The Double Door Inn

Chubby's Karaoke at Dixie's Tavern

Mic Night at The Flying Saucer

Photography by Taylor Florio at Julia's Coffee

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Friday, May 27, 2011

The Hangover Part II: Buzz kill

Posted By on Fri, May 27, 2011 at 2:59 PM

The Hangover Part II

By Matt Brunson


DIRECTED BY Todd Phillips

STARS Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms

Over the course of the countless years that I've faithfully served this newspaper as its film critic, never I have received such an outpouring of venomous reader feedback as when I dared to pan 2009's smash hit The Hangover. Doubtless unaware of my love for such raunchy and decidedly non-P.C. titles as There's Something About Mary, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and pretty much anything by Mel Brooks, I was quickly tagged a "pretentious snob" and a "wannabe intellectual" (oh, and let's not forget the all-purpose "tool") for not busting a gut when, say, Zach Galifianakis's bare ass filled the screen or during any of the film's other desperate jabs at meaningful vulgarity. (My favorite G-rated reader putdown: "Am I to assume that you sit in mod-style coffee houses listening to beat poets silently musing how you can knock down the mainstream movie viewers down another notch?" To answer: It depends. Is someone else springing for my coffee?)

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