Posts Tagged ‘Durham NC’

Return to outer space — recalling another not-so-terrific science-fiction adventure from the waning weeks of 1979

May 10, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 10, 2017

Occasionally, YouTube’s algorithms offer up something interesting. That happened the other week when I stumbled upon some video clips excerpted from The Black Hole, the poorly received 1979 film that was the first-ever Disney production to receive a PG rating.

When I looked up the film’s release date, I found that it came out on Dec. 21, 1979 — exactly two weeks after the premiere of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I went to see The Black Hole in the cinema during its initial theatrical run, which meant that that month was full of science fiction excitement and disappointment.

The nearest art-house cinema to my current home is the Carolina Theatre in downtown Durham, N.C. The Carolina regularly shows old science fiction, horror and fantasy movies, and a few years ago, they brought in The Black Hole for a showing. Naturally, I went.

The film that had disappointed young me also disappointed adult me, albeit for somewhat different reasons. But that hasn’t stopped me from returning to movies (and occasionally books) that my younger self enjoyed. Which, not at all coincidentally, will be the topic of my next post…

Crash bang pop! (In which nothing much happens)

March 11, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
March 11, 2017

So about that car crash…

North Buchanan Boulevard is a quiet street; even more so at night. And as previously noted, this particular moment on this particular Saturday evening, things were especially quiet. So I was quite surprised when, as I crossed the intersection of Buchanan and West Knox Street, I heard a loud POP! and glimpsed a shower of sparks in my rear-view mirror.

I wasn’t sure what had just happened; rather incongruously, it seemed like someone had set off a single pyrotechnic item. Had a street light or maybe a transformer exploded?

The good samaritan in me felt the need to report this. Was this a matter for 911, or should I call the power company, or perhaps the police department’s non-emergency number. I didn’t know, in part because I did not know what had just happened.

I turned left at the next intersection, parked on Englewood Avenue, exited my car and began walking briskly back toward the site of the…well, whatever had just gone pop.

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A short drive through downtown Durham

March 9, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
March 9, 2017

Author’s note: The day after this blog post was original published, I adjusted one paragraph after realizing that I’d driven through the Brightleaf District closer to 7:40 p.m. than 8 p.m. As usual, additions are marked with boldface text; deletions, with a strikethrough line. MEM

I inserted myself into the wake of a car crash on Saturday night. This is the story of how I maneuvered myself into falling just short of actually witnessing the collision.

I’d spent much of the afternoon participating in World Tavern Poker’s North Carolina Central East Regional Championships at a hotel in Southeast Durham County. I’d played decently for much of the tournament, but I was never able to recover after I misplayed a hand during the 4,000–8,000 level.

The event had started with around 225 players, of whom the top 10 percent, or 23 players, would qualify to play in the National Championship Finals this spring. When I was eliminated, there were four tables of players; they weren’t keeping track of the exact number, but I went out around 35th or 40th — not bad, but not as good as the finish I’d had in the previous regionals.

Anyway, I was feeling somewhat morose and contemplative as I drove home that evening. When I left the hotel, I headed north on North Carolina 55 until I reached North Carolina Central University. I haven’t written at all about NCCU on my blog, but it has the distinction of being the nation’s first public supported liberal arts institution for African-Americans. I don’t pass by Central much — it’s on Durham’s east side, as opposed to Duke University, which has its main campus on the west side of the city and is much closer to where I live.

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Psst! Want to read a brilliant, scintillating anecdote? In that case, this isn’t the best blog post for you to check out

October 31, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 31, 2016

On the most recent episode of MEMwrites.wordpress.com:

Hurricane Matthew was sweeping along the coast of the Carolinas; the Triangle got some rain — at times heavy rain — along with some flooding and a bit of wind. But otherwise, little weather-related drama took place in my part of the Old North State.

I arrived at the coffee shop without incident and settled in for some hot tea, a snack and a bit of computing.

When the shop closed, I reapplied all my clothing, packed up my computer and headed south toward Ninth Street. Night had more or less fallen, but the wind seemed to have died down a bit, and the rain was unremarkable.

It’s at this point, by the way, that something interesting — but not too interesting — happened. I’ll describe it in a separate post.

And now: The interesting-but-not-too-interesting thing that happened!

By way of context, Joe Van Gogh in Durham, N.C., is located on what I think of as being the ground level of a two-story building on Broad Street. As one moves west toward Broad Street, the earth rises and crests. The upshot of this is that the building’s other level is lower — that is, a basement space. The exterior wall of the lower level is exposed to open air on the east side but effectively buried beneath the sidewalk on the west side.

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Weathering the storm: Rain and wind and walking and football

October 27, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 27, 2016

As I mentioned briefly during my writeup of the Stanford-Notre Dame game, the Fighting Irish’s 10-3 loss to North Carolina State in Raleigh on Oct. 8 took place in waterlogged conditions. That day, Hurricane Matthew was sweeping along the coast of the Carolinas; the Triangle got some rain — at times heavy rain — along with some flooding and a bit of wind. But otherwise, little weather-related drama took place in my part of the Old North State.

I spent much of the morning and early afternoon sleeping in, as that was when the rain seemed to be heaviest. But after a while, I got cabin fever, and since the rain seemed to have diminished, I stuffed my laptop into my backpack and donned weather-resistant clothing and headed out.

With one caveat: I’d intended to put on my water-resistant boots but forgot to do so, lacing up my regular sneakers instead. By the time I realized my mistake, I was all set to go, so I just decided to let things ride.

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Cheeps and Chirps for Aug. 16, 2016

August 16, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Aug. 16, 2016

There will be Twitter!

• Comedy!

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Cheeps and Chirps for July 2, 2016

July 2, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 2, 2016

Please enjoy some more recent odds and ends from my Twitter feed.

• Comedy!

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Must hustle, can’t slow: Chronicle of a second-place finisher

April 20, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 20, 2016

I did a bunch of walking last week, thanks in no small part to wearable technology.

My niece, A—, issued a Workweek Hustle challenge through Fitbit, marking the second time she, my Parental Unit and I had engaged in a competition since my niece got a Fitbit this year. Once again, the metric was simple: The winner would be the person who got the most steps over the course of five days. Because of time-zone issues, the challenge began at 2 a.m. Eastern Time on Monday and ended at 2 a.m. E.T. on Saturday of this past week.

I fell behind both of my rivals relatively early. This was, alas, not terribly surprising. My niece averages about 12,000 steps a day; my parent, 16,000. My own daily step count is much more modest — about 9,000 or 10,000 entering the challenge.

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That was the championship that was

April 8, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 8, 2016

Going into Monday night, it had been an entire year since a team from the Research Triangle — the cities and surroundings of Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh — had won an NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship game. The top-seeded University of North Carolina Tar Heels hoped to end our region’s long title drought when it took on underdog Villanova, a No. 2 seed that had upset No. 1 Kansas in the Elite Eight and steamrolled fellow No. 2 Oklahoma in the Final Four with a 95-51 win Saturday evening.

Because I’ve been suffering from a low-level cold and/or mid- to high-level allergy attack for much of the past two weeks, I considered not watching any of the title game. (I don’t have a television at home, and I forgot that the game was available online.)

After some hemming and hawing, I decided that I would watch the game at a local bar. At that point, the contest had already started. Since I didn’t want to watch the end of the first half, I noodled around on my phone on a bench at one edge of Durham Central Park before strolling over to my destination: Motorco, which was showing the game for free in its main hall and which has a late-night restaurant that it calls Parts & Labor. (The building housed a car dealership for nearly two decades.)

I ordered some food and set myself up at a high table on the patio where I could watch one of the projection-screen televisions. I ate a couple of chicken sliders while the second half got under way; once that was done, I grabbed my glass of water and the remnants of my bottle of Miller High Life and walked over to the music hall. I picked out a seat on one of the tables that had been arrayed there.

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Condition: Grounded (or, How I deciphered one of life’s little mysteries)

March 31, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
March 31, 2016

On Monday evening, I went to a local coffee shop and spent some time finishing up my post about Lewis Shiner’s debut novel, Frontera. When I left, I walked south on Foster Street toward my car. I passed the new building that’s going up on the former site of the historic Liberty Warehouse. It’s opposite a vacant building (once occupied by a Minor League Baseball office, I’m given to understand) that’s apparently destined to be home to another multipurpose building.

These sites are next to Durham Central Park, which is split roughly in half by Foster. I’d left my car on Hunt Street, which forms the park’s southern boundary, steps from the site of yet another multipurpose building that is only just beginning to be constructed on the hill above the southwest corner of Durham Central Park.

I’d gotten most of the way down to Hunt Street when something lying on the ground caught my eye. I turned my head to the left and tried to puzzle out just what I was seeing.

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