Monthly Archives: November 2013

Shop Small Saturday

The Saturday after Black Friday is reserved for small businesses.  The Shop Small Saturday tradition, amazingly enough, was started by American Express in 2010.  This year the credit card company has even set up a twitter feed where you can share your favorite local stores.  I will be adding three of my favorite businesses to the feed this morning.  With 52% of what you spend staying in your community, the act of purchasing from these type of stores is a no-brainer.  It’s a win for you, the local merchant and the community you love.

I am placing today’s post under Music Lines because two of the businesses I am highlighting are my go-to spots for music off the beaten path.  The third business offers a first class meal to go along with the music I enjoy.  Here are the three small businesses I will be celebrating today:

Ed McKay's Used Books and More     Edward McKay Greensboro NC

I can remember when Ed McKay’s was truly small.  My home town’s used book store was a hole in the wall that stacked books like a teetering Jenga puzzle.  I spent many teenage years finding books teachers did not want me to read and used CDs I could not afford to buy new.  Today, Ed McKay’s commitment to quality trade and customer service has led to a thriving business that now serves multiple locations (Greensboro, Fayetteville, Raleigh, Winston-Salem).   I still drive up to Greensboro on occasion to walk the store aisles looking for books by my favorite authors.   In addition to the best used book selection I have ever come across, Ed McKay trades/ sales used DVDs, music CDs, video games, video game consoles, eReaders and other electronics.

lunchbox records     Lunchbox Records Chralotte NC

It took me some time to find the last truly independent record store in Charlotte.  Growing up in Greensboro, I enjoyed shopping at the now long gone Record Exchange and School Kids Records and Tapes.  I thought that experience was lost forever.  Fortunately I was wrong.  The Lunchbox is the quintessential record store and offers a variety of music that is not available at big box retailers.  Last year, I went to the Lunchbox and bought my wife the new She & Him Christmas album.  To my surprise, the record came with its own wrapping paper, stickers and special Christmas pen.  From that point forward, I have tried to make the drive downtown anytime I was looking for a special CD and the packaging that comes with it.  My last purchase, Bob Dylan’s Another Self-Portrait, did not disappoint.

Fat Ninja Food Truck     Fat Ninja Truck Charleston SC

The last small business I would like to highlight belongs to a life long friend.  His food truck is approaching its first year anniversary and has become a popular destination for Charleston residents and tourists.  The Fat Ninja Food Truck focuses on modern Vietnamese food with a blend of Korean, Thai and Chinese.  Each dish’s presentation represents a modern interpretation of my best friend’s family recipes.   Needless to say, an ever-changing contrast of flavors, temperatures and textures is present in each delicious bite.  If you find yourself in Charleston, I urge you to check them out.  Our crew of Boone Goons (Appalachian State grads) will be doing just that when we travel down to celebrate the wedding of our fellow alum’s brother in December.  You can find the Fat Ninja Food Truck by checking their calendar on the Events page or by referring to a Charleston area map on their Driving Directions page.

Best Lines:  Small Business Saturday fosters mom-and-pop shopping (Jeff Ayers)

The Internet and J.D. Salinger

This morning I awoke to news that three J.D Salinger stories were leaked online.  Within three minutes I was able to find a torrent link and download a copy for myself.  Surely, Mr. Salinger never anticipated the power of the Internet to undermine his publishing wishes.  I felt strangely at odds with myself over the download.  On one hand I wanted to respect the wishes of the revered author.  Despite myself, I also wanted to read something new from the man whose writing had considerable influence over my teenage years.  With Black Friday being the ultimate impulse shopping day, I relented and secured a copy.

J.D. Salinger's Ocean Full of Bowling Balls Screen shot

I look forward to reading the works once my baby-boy settles down for a nap.  I am a bit weary, however, given the fact that so little is published by Salinger.   For this reason, the reading does risk disappointment.  I had a very similar feeling when Nirvana released “You Know You’re Right.”  Fortunately, the posthumously released single did not disappoint.

Too often the Internet’s commenting class ruin these type of releases because they overly criticize, judge and rehash the past.  Check out the YouTube comments that go with the Nirvana link above for proof of this trend.   In actuality, it’s just a song.   It’s just a story.  I think J.D. Salinger’s Buddhist sensibilities would appreciate this approach.  For this reason I will let you all decide if the works are worth reading.  There is, however, reason for intrigue.  According to the Guardian Newspaper:

The stories include An Ocean Full of Bowling Balls, which has only been available under lock and key to scholars at Princeton library.

The tale is an early version, originally written for Harper’s Bazaar magazine but withdrawn before publication, of The Catcher in the Rye. The narrator is the older brother of Holden Caulfield, the teenage narrator of the later book.

The other stories, entitled Paula, and Birthday Boy, were held by the University of Texas under similar conditions.


Best Block:  JD Salinger’s unpublished stories leaked online (Maev Kennedy)

John Lennon: The Bermuda Tapes

John Lennon's Bermuda Tapes

The app I am sharing today is one of the best examples of why I believe the iPad is still the greatest tablet ever made.  Nowhere is the superior experience of the iPad more clear than in interactive album apps like John Lennon: The Bermuda Tapes.  The app itself is gorgeous and it sheds light on the last productive period of John Lennon’s life.  The experience is immersive as the user learns about the key inspirations behind Lennon’s last album, Double Fantasy.

App highlights include:

• Intimate demo recordings from John and Yoko
• Audio explorations that reveal John’s songwriting process
• A new interactive storytelling experience where users take the helm of the Megan Jaye, visit locations on Bermuda special to John, and listen to John and Yoko as they write the music of Double Fantasy.
• Newly discovered photos of John aboard the Megan Jaye
• Interviews of John and Yoko
• John’s hand written lyric sheets

This type of app would not be possible on another platform.  While Angry Birds can pretty much be downloaded from anywhere, users will only find unique content like The Bermuda Tapes on the iPad.  If you want to learn about the app’s creation check out the link at the bottom of today’s post.  If you need added incentive to buy the app, all proceeds go to  With 1 in 6 Americans food insecure, I could not think of a better way to give 5 dollars to a worthy cause.

Another cool download for the holidays is the interactive children’s book  A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  The app is a lot of fun and brings back plenty of childhood memories.  If you enjoyed last year’s standout, A Charlie Brown Christmas, you will love the Thanksgiving app because it brings an interactive touch to an already classic story.  In addition to these two great children apps, the iPad product line is now even more compelling because Pages, Keynote, Numbers, Garage Band, iMovie and iPhoto are all free to those who buy new Apple devices.  This is a huge win for the Black Friday crowd and the Christmas shopping public.  No matter how you look at it, no tablet on the market can compete with such a sweet deal and cool user experience.

Best Core: John Lennon: The Bermuda Tapes – An interactive Album App by Design I/O

Gotta Love Those Baby Heels!

Tarheel Marcus Paige
Tarheel Marcus Paige

North Carolina’s victory over third ranked Louisville Sunday was extra special because I was able to enjoy it with my new baby Tarheel and his Uncle B.   It’s amazing the difference a week can make.  The day baby-boy was born all of Heels Nation had the Belmont blues.  On the following Sunday the Heels looked mature beyond their years.  Needless to say, the outstanding performance bodes well for the team’s prospects and it’s fans for the next two seasons.

As my brother and I labored to hang pictures in the baby’s nursery, we took our own series of timeouts to run down the hall to check the score.  Not wanting to jinx the Heels or our marriages, we kept this ritual up throughout the second half.  Once I reviewed the box score I realized the size of the win.  Marcus Paige (ACC Player of the Week) reminded the Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parkers of the world that college basketball has some great players that are not freshmen-phenoms.  Paige’s 32 points on just 12 shots delivered a message that the Heels have their own stars that can hold their own against this year’s elite teams.  Speaking of stars, Kennedy Meeks put on an outlet passing clinic.  It was a great effort by a player that was less than stellar against previous opponent, Richmond.  I have attached the video for your viewing pleasure.

The only thing left to say is “Welcome to the ACC Cardinals!”  Starting next year Louisville will have to win on Tobacco Road if they want to hang an ACC or National Championship banner.  By then my Baby Heel and the Baby Heels that dominated Saturday night will be older.  I for one cannot wait to see how this team develops and what the next two seasons will bring.  I hope Rick Pitino and his team are ready the next time we meet.  After Sunday’s contest, I know this North Carolina team and my little Baby Heel will be game.

Best Score:  A Team Win (Adam Lucas)

Nirvana in the Delivery Room

This past week has been intense.  The birth of my first son has brought my wife and I so much joy.  There were many emotional decision points.  Luckily, I married one of the most resilient women God ever created.  From Saturday’s all night labor to Thursday’s triumphant homecoming, it has been a once in a lifetime experience.  I will never forget it.

With that said, I wanted to share an article I read during our extend hospital stay.  My brother linked Remembering Nirvana’s ‘Unplugged’ to me via text.  I am so thankful that he did.  It came at a time when our nerves were on edge.  In addition to calming those nerves, the article also connected me back to this blog and why I started it in the first place.

Nirvana’s unplugged performance took place on Nov. 18, 1993.  My son was born on the 17th, one day shy of the show’s 20th anniversary.  It may just be a coincidence but I think it’s a pretty cool one.  There is something about that performance that connects all my musical tastes together.  The show transformed Nirvana’s heavy sound and opened me up to other acoustic acts like Bob Dylan and Neil Young.  After unplugged, the soundtrack to my life became fuller, more rich.

This change was profound because one of the great bonds in life is music.  It is something that connects us all.  Some of my greatest life moments center around jamming at live shows flanked by my Dad and my brother.  From Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen concerts to homegrown music at our family reunions, I cannot think of two other men in this world I would rather have at my side.  For this reason, I hope to have the same musical connection with my son.  While there are no guarantees in life, surely having Nirvana in the delivery room was a good omen.

Best Lines:  Remembering Nirvana’s ‘Unplugged’: Cobain’s Battles Nearly Pulled Plug on Classic Appearance (Chris Willman)