Monday, October 27, 2014

Traditional Versus Alternative Halloween

It appears non traditional and alternative methods for celebrating Halloween have at least supplemented traditional trick or treating. This has been going on for about two decades now, slowly as I grew out of trick or treating.

There are many reasons why events such as parties and trunk or treating have become more common and normal.

1. It's safer

Going up to people's houses and homes simply isn't the same as it was in my era. My mom didn't take us to many houses even then for this reason. However she believed in quality over quantity and would take us to a few houses where we received plenty of treats. These other Halloween avenues are doing just that, but in a safer fashion.

2. One or two stops is more convenient.

Just think if you take children to two parties and a trunk or treat event, where they circle around different cars at a church and get candy from people opening their trunks. Kids actually receive more candy than the average trick or treater would in seemingly less time. Again quality over quantity.

3. It is simply different and more fun

Many houses and neighborhoods try to put a limit on how old a child should be to receive candy, and which snacks should be distributed. At these alternate venues, none of that seems to matter most. The main purpose is a fun, sugar rush induced Halloween.

4. More activities can be accomplished, especially on a school night.

Halloween is on a Friday this year, and the local children actually have a teacher workday. Therefore they have an entire day to enjoy Halloween festivities. However, by going to alternate Halloween venues and parties before and after or in lieu of trick or treating, children still receive plenty of treats, plus still have time to go to haunted houses and trails if they choose. It always seemed like we were rushing around during childhood to do everything in one night. Now things are more efficient.

The thrill of trick or treating may never fully go away, especially in the more elite communities. However, these various alternatives make it safer and more tempting for parents not to drive their children all over the neighborhood.

Do you still take your children trick or treating? If not, do you partake in the various alternative activities?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

No Man's Land Is Very Appropriately Named

I have visited and tried virtually every haunted house and trail in my hometown of Blacksburg, SC. Last night, I tried another one, No Man's Land.

And that it truely is. It is located off of US Highway 29 North, near Clingman Memorial Gardens and Eastside Baptist Church, on Craton Road. It is way out in the sticks, and the overall experience is one that will leave you scared and perplexed.

It is set up in a mobile home, with an accompanying trail. The trail is dimly lit for added effect. Your usual zombies, clowns, and other horror movie icons are featured. However the highlight of the trail is the multi-dimensional maze (the brainchild of JR and Patrick Johnson), which can be difficult to solve.

No Man's Land is a mom and pop operation, ran by Tommy and Migie Blackwell. They are open on Fridays and Saturdays 8pm-11pm leading up to Halloween. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children. There are motified versions of the trail for the children.

The best part about the whole deal is that 100% of the proceeds after taxes are going to Jeremy Gee, a local young man currently fighting cancer. So far many residents are seeing the benefits of going for a haunted adventure and funding a good cause.

So after you've visited the rest, give No Man's Land a shot. You will not be disappointed, unless you fail to solve the maze,...

Monday, October 20, 2014

Jason Farr: Coming Very Far In Comedy in 2014 And Beyond

Local comedian and frequent guest panelist on Scene on Seven Jason Farr has definitely come a far way (no pun intended) in his journey to become an elite comedian. He is making great strides towards this feat, winning South Carolina's funniest comic, and the second funniest comic in all of the Carolinas.

I have known Farr for seventeen years and he has always been original , quick witted and effortlessly funny. He simply knows how to make others laugh and enjoys doing so.

Jason was inspired to pursue comedy at only five years old because of Bill Murray. He saw him in Ghostbusters (this year is of course the 30th Anniversary of that cinematic classic). He said he wanted to be an actor, but more to the point, he wanted to be Bill Murray. Farr got into stand up because he wanted to get better at comedy writing and he read a book on his craft which suggested that doing stand up would sharpen his writing skills. Jason then looked up open mics in Greenville, SC and came across the only one, which was run by a great guy named Nick Shaheen. Farr started coming out to do stand up and didn't stop. The rest is history.

He later entered the "Carolina's Funniest Comic" competition ran by Alchemy Improv Comedy (out of Greenville, SC which he joined last year) and DSI (out of Chapel Hill, NC). There are two wings to the competition, one in South Carolina and another in North Carolina. Comics in each state competed to move on to the finals, which were held in Chapel Hill during the NC Arts Festival. Farr advanced to the finals and was runner up to a NC comic, making him SC's Funniest Comic. The rounds were judged by audience vote. Another competition Jason was a part of was to win a spot opening for the Most Races Show Ever, run by Neil Bansil. The competition was held in Charleston and the winner was decided by a panel of judges. He won that competition and got to open for MRSOE at the Charleston Music Hall, which was great as he connected with lots of awesome people.
Additionally, Farr was on Laugh Your Asheville off, a comedy festival held in Western North Carolina. He has had a  great year in comedy, and feels super blessed and encouraged.

Jason also does improv comedy, which has been a great learning experience. He loves the people involved and it has enhanced his growth as a performer.  It has encouraged him to write at least a joke a day on his Twitter account.

Farr has numerous comedy influences including Bill Murray. Saturday Night Live has been huge just as a show to watch and learn from, but also, so many of his favorites came from there. If it wasn't for SNL, he feels Ghostbusters might not have provided an opportunity for Murray and Dan Aykroyd to make the film that initially inspired Farr. The show helped him to develop a comedic identity. Other SNL alums such as Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Seth Meyers, Will Ferrell, and Amy Poehler have influenced him greatly as well. Jason's biggest stand up influences include Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Cosby, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Louis CK, and many more awesome comics.

Jason mostly performs at Coffee Underground in downtown Greenville. It's a great spot for food and drinks with friends, but it's also a wonderful place to enjoy live art.  Coffee Underground offers a few nights of live art ranging from poetry to music to comedy. Farr performs stand up there every Monday night for the No Expectations Comedy open mic, which he also help run with some really wonderful people. He does improv there every Friday night with Alchemy.
There are stand up shows every night of the week in the Upstate just about and you can catch Jason on some of them. These include the Upstairs Bar in Spartaburg on Tuesdays; and 2 other No Expectations open mics, one at IPA on Wednesdays and Habiba Mediterranean Restaurant on Thursdays.

Farr has been lucky enough to open for some amazing comics who came through Greenville; Rory Scovel, Jarrod Harris, Ryan Singer, Sara Schaefer, Joe Zimmerman, Baron Vaughn, Sean Patton, Brendon Walsh, and Trevor Noah just to name a few. They were all super awesome and encouraging.

Jason don't know what's next for him as far as anything bigger. He will keep on trucking and try to perform sometime in Atlanta. He has yet to do this and feels he shoud, as it is a superb comedic scene. Currently, Farr mostly just wants to improve and remain thankful with all the good fortune he has enjoyed in 2014,

Jason Farr can be reached through hia Facebook promotional page (, his Twitter account (@JasonFarrJokes), and his website,

I highly encourage all to check out this young rising star. He is very humble and realizes where he's at and where he has to imrprove and want to be as a comedian. Perhaps he could be in New York soon and land a spot on Saturday Night Live like his biggest hero, Bill Murray, did 40 years ago.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

This Year's Lawnmowing Season Didn't Cut It For Me

This year was my second full season of cutting grass for my mother, who can no longer do so on a pushmower following her ankle injury early last year. In 2013, the biggest problem I had was the constant rain, and often having to mow the lawn twice/week and even on into it got dark.

I had many more problems this year. I had counted on my mom to get the riding mower fixed. But her mechanic went MIA so around April I simply got gas and oil and began cutting her grass on a bi-weekly basis with the pushmower, weekly when my schedule allowed. And just so you all know, my mother has a huge yard, like half an acre, front yard and back. Cutting her grass, especially with a push mower, is almost like mowing a football or baseball field.

Everything seemed to proceed well until about the end of June when the lawnmower started stopping and stalling. I then put more oil into the mower and make two huge rookie mistakes: not draining the old oil and flooding the carbeuator with excess new oil. Therefore, the lawnmower continued to stall and such every five minutes. I kept having to recrank it by pulling the shaft towards me. Around the 4th of July, I threw out my shoulder and was hampered for a month. I eventually went to the chiropractor and got readjusted.

I then told Mom that I would not cut anymore grass until one or both of those mowers were fixed. We had a couple of people that were generous enough to cut the grass in the meantime. Mom still had no success finding an affordable mechanic. I then sought the assistance of my cousin's boyfriend in Clover who is a jack of all trades and he was affordable.

After he dealt with it on two occasions, once in a drizzle, he fixed it for us and we were so thankful. He took apart the mower and completely cleaned it, had me replace the spark plug and told me what else I needed to do moving forward. I could not allow the grass to get too long due to how sensitive the mower had become, or even wet. I would have to keep a check on the oil and keep fresh oil in there and keep it clean and drained. I would also have to baby and mow with care, not jerk or angle the lawnmower too often. All of his advice paid off and I had a working mower for the rest of the season.

Then Mother Nature interfered.

Fire ants ran rampant near the end of summer. Up to eight hills had surfaced. We had to buy fire ant killer and eventually made our own when all the stores had sold out. Around the beginning of October in the South, the leaves fall more often and the ground starts getting colder. Typically only one more cutting is required at that time. This year I had gotten a touch of the flu the first weekend of October. Last weekend it rained the entire time. During this time, it had also gotten warmer and we even had tornado watches, which made more of the grass grow up again. This past Thursday, despite having to go out and buy more gas and oil, I FINALLY got around to cutting the grass. Hopefully this will be it until next Spring.

I am currently taking all measures to improve the next lawn mowing season. First of all, the riding mower must be fixed. My mother's yard never was meant to be cut with a pushmower. Also, I want to keep the pushmower functional.

Did you have a lot of trouble with your lawn this season or last? Have you gotten in your final cutting of the year yet?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Raven Symone: From Comeback To Coming Out

Raven Symone has undergone numerous transformations since she first appeared as Olivia on The Cosby Show nearly 30 years ago. She had a hit children's television series on Disney "That's So Raven", then retransformed her physique after a couple of movie, television cameos and voiceovers. She then starred on a short lived series on ABC Family called "State Of Georgia."  Outside of her infamous Olivia memes, Raven had seemed to fade off.

That is, until Oprah Winfrey had an exclusive interview with her.

I wrote just a few weeks back about the powerful effect Oprah has on society. She was the one that not only pulled Raven's true sexuality out of her, she also had Miss Symone denouncing being an African American and hating to be called that. Needless to say, many were and are shocked and angry.

I am not angry or shocked with Raven completely and here's why

1. Raven did not say she didn't want to be called black, just not African American. That's a loaded topic in itself. Yes Raven is clearly of African descent. But she wasn't born in Africa, and most likely cannot trace a relative that was in the past four centuries.

2. I had suspected Raven to be same sex on the "That's So Raven" series. Let's just say my intuition kicked in. I almost dismissed when she claimed to be a born again Christian and she spoke several times of saving herself, even after she lost weight and had several more suitors of both genders. That being said,...

3. I do realize that being gay is very unacceptable in both the Christian and the black community. However we are supposed to do as Jesus did: love the sinner and hate the sin. I'm not happy at how Raven hid behind her so-called faith for years. Nonetheless, Raven has made a life choice as a grown woman and has shown courage in coming forward. She could not be chastised but loved, even if you do not support her lifestyle.

4. I could be totally left field on this, but Raven may be saying what she's saying, at least about not being African American, to become relevant again. And what bigger platform to do that than an Oprah interview. Time will tell here.

So everyone please relax. This could truly be a phase for Raven Symone. She is still a human being first and should not be treated as any less. Think of her as your sister, daughter, cousin or friend and the tables could be turned.

Were you shocked at Raven's comments? Do you agree or disagree with her abrupt lifestyle changes?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Best Pizza Buffet In Town: The New Pizza Inn?

Nearly three years ago to the date, the infamous Pizza Inn in Gaffney, SC mysteriously and suddenly closed its doors. I wrote a piece about that immediately.

Fast forward to the present day. Lee Whitesides, who opened Fuji Expressuns a few months prior to Pizza Inn folding, has moved his Japanese eatery to the nearby the Gaffney Premium Outlets (i.e., The Yellow Mall) and has opened up a pizza buffet. He is calling it The Best Pizza Buffet In Town. Thus far, people are flooding the restaurant in droves, anxious to see the hype.

I decided to visit the place this past Friday evening. I thoroughly enjoyed the pizza, the staff, and the overall atmosphere. They were quick with your beverages and kept pizza circulating on the buffet. I give it a A grading and a 9 ranking. The pizza, including the infamous chocolate chip pizza, were all reminiscent of the old Pizza Inn. The salad, pasta, and even tater tots were also top notch. Currently it is the best pizza buffet in Gaffney.

Now the food itself may taste like Pizza Inn and give locals that renewal that was taken from them in 2011. However, Best Pizza Buffet lacks the space, character and history that the old Pizza Inn had. Perhaps Whitesides should consider a larger building if business continues to improve in the coming months. He is not competing with other pizza buffets franchises such as CiCis Pizza, plus the buffet is all day long unlike Pizza Hut which only has a lunch buffet.

The location and price itself are hard to beat.  Around $8 for lunch, $9 for dinner, which includes your drink. It is right off of I-85, exit 92, close to the Big Peach and the aforementioned outlets. I would definitely recommend it to all and also to arrive early to avoid a long wait.

Have you been to Best Pizza Buffet yet? Did you enjoy it? Why or why not?

Monday, October 6, 2014

Ebola: The Newest Danger And How To Combat It

The newest epidemic and outbreak to hit the U.S. is of course the deadly ebola virus. It is taking lives left and right and is scary, plain and simple. It has existed in Africa for decades but has made its way across our borders and waters.

Now while this is nothing to play around with, I want you all to think of some things such as facts, statistics and basic knowledge.

1. Ebola is harder to contract than AIDS or HIV. Therefore, while more knowledge and information is being gathered, take the proper precautions such as washing your hands frequently, wearing oxygen masks whenever possible and cleaning and covering scrapes and bruises.

2. When AIDS came out over 30 years ago, not only did people not know much about the disease, resources were limited. There was no Internet, social media, or advanced news and print media. More information now is available, especially since the disease has already been in existence in another country.

3. It has been 60 years since the last time a disease was completely cured and that was polio. Therefore, don't expect a miracle cure overnight or in our lifetime. There will be advanced medications and treatments available. There is too much money in this epidemic and too many sick people. It will eventually be controlled like AIDS, cancer and other deadly diseases so rest easy there.

4. The Affordable Health Care Act is set to be passed soon. Ebola could be just the disease to convince voters and lawmakers to get it approved. Everyone would have affordable, quality healthcare to deal with such ailments and such. So you can leave the home remedies and voodoo to the side.

I may do a follow up as more information becomes available. The main point here is not to get all bent out of shape over ebola. Protect yourself the best way you know how, don't be afraid or paranoid and educate yourselves. The local media wants you all up in arms. However, be proactive, not reactive.

How deadly do you think ebola will become in America? What are you currently doing to educate and prevent the disease from afflicting you?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Internet Marketing Tips Part One

We're near the end of yet another calendar year. The weather is cooling down, the grass is dying and the leaves are changing. There are still plenty of Fall festivals, Halloween parties, and later on Christmas parties to be had.

Now how do you expect to get the word out in this digital age?

Over the past few weeks, I have been posting marketing tips that have proved successful for me on the web and on social media. I will share these now.

1. Utilize every outlet and medium appropriate for the occasion.

Social media is basically a must in this era. Facebook, Instagram, and even Evites are what's in. Good old fashioned mass texting and messaging is also good. You want to get the word out and stay in people's ears. These are some of your better mediums for accomplishing this.

2. Include all pertinent information.

This includes the date, time, location, what the event entails, dress code (if any), whether or not to bring a gift, contact info, admission price, and even directions to the venue.

3. Use a picture of the event promo/flyer as your picture on social media.

This is one of the best ways to stay in people's faces. They know all the details regarding the event the minute they see you on Facebook, Instagram, etc.

4. Post frequently about the event, but remember all of your updates may not be seen.

This includes even if you're posting in a group or within an event invite. Some stuff gets missed so post away, but remember that there is not a 100% guarantee that everyone will see your posts.

5. Tag folks to certain posts and pics.

This way, the audience you are reaching is sure to see it. It is almost as effective as an event invite. Even if the person chooses to turn the tag off in their privacy, they will still see the post.

6. Strike a medium within your medium

You do not want to be the annoying promoter that is flooding everyone's timelines with your events. So post on certain days, mix up your times and types of posts, and use moderation. In short, do not make others tired of your event before it arrives, even if it's the event of the year.

7. Do your heavy marketing during peak social media hours.

This is usually primetime, after 7pm on Sundays-Thursdays, and even heavier during a big television show or sporting event that everyone is talking about. You know they are on, so your posts will have higher visibility. Also, the tagging feature works to the max here.

8. Advertise no later than 1-2 weeks prior to an event, and even a month in advance.

You must give people time to plan and schedule. Therefore, don't call anyone late for a meal. Promote early and often.

9. Require RSVPs so you can get some sort of a headcount.

This works the best when food is involved. One needs to be able to plan for the crowd they are entertaining.

10. Be creative, catchy and clever

Go outside of the box and use clever headlines and posts. Use pop cultural and news references. This goes for the name of your event also.  For example, my family reunion is always held on the second Saturday in September. Therefore, I may frequently say SSS Dover/Bradley and friends. I also like to utilize the song in my promos "See You In September" by The Happenings. The key here is to catch and capture their attention.

Well this is all for now, happy promoting!

Do you have any marketing tips you care to share? Have any of these worked better than others?