SAN DIEGO, CA – MARCH 18: Head coach Bob Huggins of the West Virginia Mountaineers reacts as they take on the Marshall Thundering Herd in the first half during the second round of the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Viejas Arena on March 18, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)TCU nearly landed a massive win in Morgantown against the No. 18 West Virginia Mountaineers, a game that would have given some legitimacy to TCU’s impressive early season record. Instead, the Horned Frogs will travel back to Fort Worth with a brutal loss. With under a second left in overtime, and his team up 85-84, TCU’s Kyan Anderson fouled West Virginia reserve guard Jevon Carter. Carter hit two clutch free throws to give West Virginia the late go-ahead lead. West Virginia goes to 16-3 with the win. The Mountaineers are definitely a factor in a very tough Big 12 this season.
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – SEPTEMBER 3: View of a Michigan Wolverines football helmet before their game against the Utah Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium on September 3, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)Apparently wide receiver Devin Funchess is not the only recent Michigan football player who can throw down. After seeing Funchess’ impressive dunk on Instagram on Sunday, quarterback Devin Gardner decided to make one of his own.Gardner’s dunks are definitely impressive, especially for someone who focuses on another sport, but we’ll have to award this impromptu Wolverine dunk contest to Funchess. That vertical leaping ability is sure to impress NFL scouts in the coming weeks during the combine and other draft preparation events.
Twitter/@derekjstevensCollege basketball fans will tell you to never bet against Tom Izzo in March. One Las Vegas casino owner, Derek Stevens, placed a $20,000 bet on Michigan State to win the title back after the team’s 79-78 overtime loss to Notre Dame on December 3. The 5-3 Spartans were at 50-1 to win it all at the time, giving Stevens a potential payout of $1 million.I’ll be @theDlasvegas #LONGBAR to #SpartyOn THX @GoldenNuggetLV & @Gollumlv for giving me the shot @darrenrovell pic.twitter.com/GjK1ueQfin— Derek Stevens (@DerekJStevens) March 31, 2015In an article by ESPN’s Darren Rovell, sportsbook director Tony Miller admits that this is a big risk for the casino.…Miller accepted Stevens’ $20,000 bet, never thinking he’d be sweating the possibility that the Spartans could pull it off. “In my nine years at this sportsbook, I never accepted a bet that could result in us paying $1 million,” Miller said. “The most I’ve ever seen won here was a $100,000 parlay.”…Miller and Stevens have become good friends over the years, which makes the fact that the Spartans have two games to win it all a bit awkward.“This would be a massive loss for us,” Miller said. “I see days where we lose $10,000 to $30,000, but nothing close to $1 million.”Michigan State is a five point underdog against Duke on Saturday, and would play either Kentucky or Wisconsin for the title on Monday night. Stevens still has a long way to go to cash in, but it is definitely impressive that his bet is still alive.[ESPN]
zoom Japanese shipping company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) has set sights on seizing the gains from the growth of transported goods via the Northern Sea Route.To that end, the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Far East Investment and Export Agency (FEIA) under the Ministry of the Russian Federation for the Development of the Far East to cooperate on the development of the Northern Sea Route and the Russian Far East.The Northern Sea Route, which is a much shorter alternative to the Suez Canal, is gaining on importance amid the reduction of ice in the Arctic and the design of new ice-breaking commercial vessels, which have made the transportation of abundant Arctic natural energy resources commercially viable.“The Russian Far East is located at the entrance of the Northern Sea Route, making it an important gateway once the anticipated increase in trade via the Northern Sea Route is realized. This is the key element behind the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding between MOL and FEIA,” MOL said.MOL is participating in the Yamal LNG Project, which is the world first large-scale energy project that exports cargoes through the Northern Sea Route, and MOL’s first ice-breaking LNG carrier, named Vladimir Rusanov, intended for the project is slated to go into service at the end of March, following ice-breaking sea trials in Arctic waters.Vladimir Rusanov is part of a batch of three ships ordered by MOL in 2014 together with COSCO Shipping Corporation from DSME. The ships will have independent ice-breaking capabilities enabling them to sail in seas with ice up to 2.1 m thick. The vessels will transport LNG from the Yamal LNG plant at Sabetta on Russia’s Yamal Peninsula to worldwide LNG markets throughout the year. The three ice-class LNG carriers are set for delivery in 2018 through 2019.MOL and China COSCO Shipping have split ownership in four more 174,000 cbm LNG carriers intended for delivery and deployment on Yamal LNG project in 2019 and 2020 onwards.In addition, MOL is carrying out a feasibility study aimed at establishing an LNG transshipment terminal and marketing complex in the Kamchatka area with PAO Novatek, who is the largest independent gas producer in Russian and the main shareholder of the Yamal LNG project.“We hope that MOL will be effectively using the Northern Sea Route for transporting cargos to Japan and other Asia-Pacific countries and jointly we will be able to attract significant investments into the Northern Sea Route infrastructure development. The agency is ready to help MOL in implementing all its current and future projects,” General Director of FEIA Leonid Petukhov said.“One of our key goals is to create a model for the development of the Northern Sea Route as a global transit corridor between Europe and Asia. It is undoubted that this work helps to reinforce Russian-Japanese economic relations,” Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East Alexander Galushka added.The memorandum is being signed in anticipation of new projects being developed in the Arctic area, following in the steps of the Yamal LNG Project.Asian countries, including Japan, who import energy resources, are eager to the tap into the potential of the trade growth in energy delivered through the Northern Sea Route, which is expected to boost further the utilization of the route.
Heirloom Fried Rabbit(Note: Must prepare 24 hours in advance)5 rabbit legs1 quart buttermilk1 tablespoon chopped garlic1 tablespoon chili powder1 tablespoon dried thyme2 quarts all-purpose flour1/2 cup Texas Pete hot sauceSalt and pepperMarinate rabbit legs in buttermilk with the garlic, ½ tablespoon of the chili powder, and thyme for 24 hours.Dredge rabbit in flour that has been seasoned with thyme, remaining ½ tablespoon chili powder, salt, and pepper. Fry rabbit until golden brown and remove from oil.Toss rabbit with Texas Pete and enjoy!Soup from chef Van Nolintha of Bida Manda in RaleighPork Belly SoupSoup Broth:1 cup shallot, finely chopped1 cup garlic, finely chopped1 pound ground pork1 1/2 gallons pork stock or water10 lime leaves, finely chopped3 tablespoons sugarSalt to taste3 eggs1 to 2 cans coconut milk1 cup peanuts, crushed1 small can red curry paste1/2 cup vegetable oil2 limes, in sectionsVegetables:3 cups purple cabbage, julienned1 cup cilantro, chopped1 cup mint leaves1/2 cup green onion, choppedNoodles:2 bags rice noodlesMake soup broth:In a big pot over medium heat, combine oil, red curry paste, shallot, and garlic. Stir a few minutes, until shallot and garlic turn golden at the edges. Add ground pork and stir until pork is fully cooked. Add pork stock, sugar, salt, coconut milk, and lime leaves, and cook until boiled. When the broth is fully boiled, whisk in eggs slowly. Add peanuts.Taste the soup: add more sugar, salt, or coconut milk if needed.Prepare noodles:Soak rice noodles in cold water bath for 2 hours, or in warm water bath for 45 minutes (noodles tend to break easily when soaked in warm water).Assemble the bowl:Boil a big pot of hot water. Cook pre-soaked noodles in boiled water for 4 minutes, only enough for one soup bowl at a time.Drain noodles and place in a large serving bowl. Add broth, cabbage, cilantro, mint, and green onion.Serve with chopsticks and lime sections.Bill Smith’s Tomato SandwichesMakes 10 sandwiches1 loaf of your favorite white sandwich bread (see text)2 or 3 large ripe, red summer tomatoesMayonnaise (see text)SaltThis recipe is not as simple as it seems at first glance. All sorts of things come into play. I am always in favor of newness and innovation, but there are times when well enough should be left alone. This may be one such case. First of all, it’s really better to buy cheap, house-brand, grocery store, sliced white bread. Resist the temptation to upgrade to the artisanal. Then there is the mayonnaise. People fight over mayonnaise brands here, just as they do over barbecue or basketball. Both the users of Hellmann’s and the users of Duke’s regard the other with disbelief. Neither can contain their derision of the users of Miracle Whip. Use what your grandmother used.You should be able to get at least four fairly thick slices from each tomato. Commercial sliced white bread generally has 20 slices per loaf. Spread mayonnaise thickly on two slices of bread. Place a slice of tomato on one of the slices of prepared bread. Sprinkle with salt. Top with the other slice of bread. Slice the sandwich in two, diagonally. Repeat until you have used up all of the bread.These sandwiches are better if they sit awhile before serving. Many people claim that they are best if eaten while you are leaning over the sink, because if they have been made right, they are very messy. Bill Smith, the Crook’s Corner chef famous for bringing Southern cooking to a national audience with his cuisine and his writing, is the author of several acclaimed cookbooks, including Seasoned in the South. He has twice been a finalist for the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southeast, and has helped earn a James Beard America’s Classics award for Crook’s. photographs by Jim McGuireIt was a hot July morning in Raleigh when strategist Nation Hahn, nonprofit executive Alexis Trost, and restaurant owners Van Nolintha, Angela Salamanca, and Matt Kelly packed their cars for a weekend adventure. The friends, united by a love of food and community, were headed to the mountains of Ashe County to cook, eat, and raise money for a cause close to their hearts: the Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation.As the group made their way to the blueberry farm where they’d spend three days, they talked about the people they’d meet there: their mutual friend Eliza Olander, who’d put the wheels in motion when she and her friend Jackie Locklear became high bidders for a foodie mountain weekend to support the foundation at a Triangle Wine Experience auction; the revered Crook’s Corner chef Bill Smith; the two Raleighites who own the farm, Johnny Burleson and Walter Clark; and 10 other friends. “Jamie believed in the power of good food and strong cocktails to bring people together to party with a purpose,” says Hahn, whose late wife Jamie inspired the creation of a foundation that nurtures leaders to work on issues like poverty, hunger, and public education. Ashe County Weekend Itinerary FridayThe group arrived and unpacked as chef Clark Barlowe of Heirloom Restaurant in Charlotte chopped tomatoes and chorizo.7 p.m.: Clark pulled out the tapas: clams, oysters, heirloom fried rabbit, and more for people to munch on as Matt Kelly of Mateo Bar de Tapas in Durham made paella over an open fire. Wine from Eliza Olander’s collection rounded out the meal.SaturdayThe group was slow to wake up on Saturday, but accelerated their pace when they smelled the pork belly soup being made in the farmhouse kitchen by Van Nolintha of Bida Manda.12:00 p.m.: Soup was served in the blueberry shed.Afternoon: The group whiled away a lazy afternoon around the farm.5:30 p.m.: Sonny Wong, bartender at Lantern Restaurant in Chapel Hill, mixed cocktails with bourbon and blueberries in a historic millhouse on the property.8 p.m.: Chefs Bill Smith of Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill and Angela Salamanca of Centro in Raleigh made dinner. It began with a stack of Smith’s classic tomato sandwiches. They followed with seafood gazpacho, tamales, and, finally, roasted pork shoulder. For dessert, the duo made bread pudding with bread from the local farmers’ market and blueberries and apples picked from the farm.SundayBrunch: Salamanaca and Nolintha made brunch with the leftovers. Pork went into breakfast casserole; scrambled eggs were put together with peppers and arugula; and freshly picked berries made for flavorful french toast.Angela Salamanca serves up tamalesBill Smith and Angela Salamanca at work in the kitchenJohn Cooper, Angela Salamanca, Bill Smith, Vansana NolinthaPatrick Woodson, Nation HahnEliza Olander, Alexis Trost Seasonal cocktail from bartender Sarah Vickery of Chapel Hill’s Lantern RestaurantWalk Right In10-15 blueberries, muddled1/2 ounce simple syrup1/2 ounce lemon juice2 ounces bourbonCombine all ingredients and stir. Serve over rocks.Small plates from chef Clark Barlowe of Charlotte’s Heirloom restaurantChilled Clams Casino20 clams1 link fresh chorizo, diced2 shallots, minced2 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped1 cup Champagne vinegar1 cup blended oil (a combination typically of olive, canola, and other cooking oils)1 teaspoon Dijon mustardSautée chorizo slowly over medium heat until fat is rendered. Soak minced shallots and chopped thyme in Champagne vinegar for 20 minutes. Add Dijon mustard to vinegar mixture and slowly drizzle in blended oil, stirring as you go to emulsify. Add chopped chorizo and its rendered fat to the vinaigrette.Shuck the clams, top with chorizo vinaigrette, and enjoy. The farm that would host them was well-suited to a weekend of purposeful partying. Its 1880 farmhouse has been painstakingly refurbished by Burleson and Clark, who bought the place in 2003 after a memorable day picking berries there a few years earlier. “We felt an instant connection” on that fateful afternoon, Clark says. The two learned the farm was an Ashe County landmark, a spot where folks had come to pick apples and blueberries for generations. “We were stewards,” Clark says, “of a very special place.”In its current, beautifully restored state, it is still that. Old Orchard Creek Farm, as they call it, continues as a working blueberry farm and “a place where visitors find solace,” Clark says. And so it made sense to them to donate the haven to the foundation for the weekend. “What better way to celebrate and support the foundation than with a weekend of fine food and drink prepared by some of North Carolina’s best chefs from local products, including lots of blueberries?”
by Kevin Barrett, cocktail director at Foundationphotograph by Nick PironioA few months back, when spring and summer were meeting, I took a trip to Central America to visit my friend Lazlo and climb some volcanoes.He would prefer I not mention which country. He has high demands for anonymity. We’ve known each other a while. Lazlo’s gotten me into and out of more trouble then I’ll ever admit, and he had been pestering me to come see him in Guatemala — whoops! Oh, well, he’s already relocated.Lazlo and I met up in Guatemala City, because that’s where my plane landed. It’s a mostly charmless city with few redeeming qualities. But at the time – with the promise of travel and adventure in front of me – it held a certain allure.After salutations, we checked into a hotel and went about the town eating and drinking and catching up. Lazlo’s not much for the phone, and I’m not much for heartfelt emails, so we had a lot to catch up on. We ended up at the hotel balcony drinking Gallo beer and Ron Zacapa rum into the wee hours.Our original plan to scale several volcanoes got sidetracked immediately because the rainy season started early. Lazlo’s alternative plan seemed reasonable to me at the time: After we spent the night in the capital city, we would do something epic. We decided we weren’t just going to get drunk together in yet another country. Or maybe he let me think we decided that.First thing the next morning, we caught a chicken bus to Antigua. Yes, a chicken bus, just like on TV, but with an elaborate paint job, and without the animals. The driver whipped around skinny mountain roads while another guy hung out the door yelling, “Antigua, Antigua, Antigua…”After a few days in Antigua, we took a 12-person shuttle van – basically an express chicken bus – to San Pedro and got a room at a hostel. One of the many endearing things about Guatemala, besides the people, the food, the culture, the climate, and the volcanoes – is the hammocks. They’re everywhere, and it just feels right.We bounced around San Pedro for a few wet nights, drank Ron Botran rum, and smoked Guatemalan cigarettes. I told Lazlo that this might not be the best way to prepare for our epic feat.“It’s part of your training,” he told me.From there, we chicken bussed it to Quetzaltenango, or Xela, 7,500 feet above sea level and Lazlo’s home base. This is where we were going to do something epic.That turned out to be hiking to Lake Chicabal in the crater of Chicabal volcano. It’s a sacred place to Mam Mayans, surrounded by ceremonial altars. It’s also 9,000 feet above sea level.Lazlo has a good set of lungs, a long gait, and doesn’t sweat much. I have a hard time keeping up with him on a flat surface at sea level. The steady, gradual climb destroyed my will. Every once in a while, Lazlo would look back and say, “You doing all right?”Around every corner I suspected we would reach the top. I was disappointed many, many times. None so much as when I dragged my feet past a woman of 80 who wasn’t breaking a sweat.When we reached the top, I let him know his training regimen wasn’t working for me.“Doesn’t it, though?” he said.I asked him how he climbed so steadily.“It’s the way down that gets you,” he said. “Bad on your knees.”I couldn’t believe him. The way down was going to be cake. Maybe I’d be ahead of him on the way down. That was my gift, going downhill. I was going to excel at that.I didn’t. Lazlo was ahead of me the whole way down.The next day, we made the awful decision to climb Santa Maria, 12,250 feet above sea level. Three and a half hours into the climb, when my hands and feet started tingling, I finally asked how much further. I was pretty sure my body was sending all my blood away from my limbs and to my organs to try to keep me alive a bit longer, thus the tingling. I was drowning in the clouds.The last stretch was done on my hands and knees. The incline was so steep even Lazlo had to get his hands dirty. The moment it was over, and we had reached the top, and I was sure there was no more climbing, I wondered why I’d done this to myself. Maybe I did it so I could write a story about it. When I finally saw where we were, above the cloud line, I knew. How many people got to see this?The climb down went a bit faster, but left the soles of my feet bruised and my left big toe swollen and bleeding. I wanted to tell Lazlo that he was right – the climb down really does get you – but he was too far ahead to hear. Lazlo’s ClimbThis drink commemorates Guatemala and all of Central America, not to mention Lazlo’s epic climb of the Santa Maria volcano. This is a drink you can easily make at home during an Indian summer in Raleigh. I recommend using crushed ice.2 ounces Ron Zacapa rum1 ounce pineapple or mango juice½ ounce fresh lime juice½ ounce OJ5 to 7 dashes Peychaud’s bitters or½ ounce grenadineMix all ingredients, except bitters, in a shaking tin and dry shake (no ice). Pour mixture over crushed ice into a tall Collins or swizzle/pilsner glass. Top with Peychaud’s bitters or ½ ounce float of grenadine for a sweeter October.
photo courtesy North Carolina State Archivesby Ernest DollarThis season, as you’re making your list and checking it twice, our area retailers would be grateful if you remember to “shop local.” That didn’t used to be a matter of choice. Local was the only option, and in Raleigh, it was often a colorful one. Ernest Dollar, director of the City of Raleigh Museum, found this fascinating photo of one of Fayetteville Street’s early sellers of wine, oysters, cigars, and groceries.Bananas and other fruits hang in the windows of Antonio Leo Dughi’s store at 235 Fayetteville Street, around 1900.Dughi stands in front of his store with his son, John (far right), and a young Dughi child. Customers and store clerks stand to the left, as does as an oyster wagon pulled by horse named Nancy. The ice cream wagon on the right was pulled by horse named John.Dughi and his wife were forerunners of the great wave of Italian immigration to the United States in the late 19th century. Dughi arrived in 1875 and eventually settled in Raleigh, where he established a store in a cramped downtown building.Dughi’s wagons helped his store become wildly popular by delivering fresh seafood, produce, ice creams, and novelty items to families across Raleigh. The Junaluska sign on top of the building refers to a wine company by that name.
A scene from The Happiest Millionaire. Courtesy Walt Disney Studios.by Cameron HowardThe red Netflix envelope arrived in my mailbox on Duke’s East Campus, and I opened it back in my dorm room, which still bore the signs of recent, frenzied moving-in. The DVD was The Happiest Millionaire, a 1967 Disney musical starring Fred MacMurray as Anthony Drexel Biddle, the Philadelphia scion of a banking fortune. He’s an eccentric but very “happy millionaire” who runs a Bible and boxing school out of the stable, keeps alligators in the conservatory, and adores his eldest daughter Cordelia, played by Lesley Ann Warren.It’s a fun film marked by that peculiarly joyful but slightly sideways quality of Disney’s family films from that era, and it’s interesting to watch legends like MacMurray and Greer Garson, who plays Biddle’s wife, still dominating the screen decades after their careers began.As I sat there in my clunky wooden chair and matching desk in my tiny room, the experience took a surreal turn when Cordelia’s suitor, a young man by the name of Angier Buchanan Duke, and his mother, Sarah, entered the picture. Yes, those Dukes! Angier Duke was Benjamin Duke’s son and Washington Duke’s grandson, and he really did marry Cordelia Drexel Biddle. (In an odd turn of events, one of Cordelia’s brothers married Angier’s sister Mary, who was Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans’ mother, hence the various arrangements of Biddle/Duke names scattered around campus.)A scene from The Happiest Millionaire. Courtesy Walt Disney Studios.I thus had the strange experience of watching a (highly) fictionalized film based on the Duke family on Duke University’s campus in a dorm room three minutes away from the Biddle Music Building. To make it even weirder, I had visited the Sarah P. Duke Gardens just that afternoon. I hadn’t intended to start my college career with a classic movie about the Duke family, but it could not have been a more perfect choice.After all, I’d been a Duke fan years before I became a student. I was one of those toddlers decked out in Duke gear babbling cheers and flinging pom-poms at what I felt was “my” stadium long before I understood why. My love for old Hollywood goes back just as far; I grew up watching Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Bringing Up Baby instead of Full House and Saved by the Bell, and have adored classic movies for as long as I can remember.And I’m still utterly enthralled. It’s the glamour, the cleverness, the glorious style, and the subtlety (often due to a production code that kept things “clean”). It’s the virtuosic dancing, the rapid-fire dialogue, the amazing almost-but-not-quite British accents, the gorgeous costumes intended to astound, and that red lipstick that somehow never smudges. And it’s the stars, those idols of a nostalgic glamour preserved on glossy strips of celluloid. I love it all: the dreamlike musicals, timeless dramas, unsettling noirs, topsy-turvy screwballs, and tear-jerking melodramas – and how each one, whether it’s included in the canon or not, holds its own secrets and its own seedy and marvelous history.Sometimes films from the Golden Age can seem like slower, tamer, even painfully old-fashioned versions of today’s movies. But classic film is an art form with its own conventions, techniques, and aesthetics. The films are deceptively dense; each frame is packed with layer upon layer of choices, innovations, deliberate decisions, and miraculous mistakes that contribute to the fantastic shadows flashing by at 24 frames per second.But if the art of the films doesn’t grab you, the history might. Just like any artifact of a past age, these films are veritable time capsules inadvertently exposed to light. Old movies reproduce a certain moment in time, often without meaning to, though of course the “reality” they present is usually more beautiful, simpler, and far less chaotic than the real world has ever been.Courtesy Walt Disney Studios.It’s a cliché to bemoan “they don’t make ’em the way they used to!” but it’s entirely true. Hollywood functioned very differently then: The studios owned most of the theaters, almost everything was filmed on enormous backlots, and everyone, from the biggest stars to the carpenters and electricians, were under contract to a particular studio. The “dream factories” churned out movies from the teens to the fifties, and only began to crumble after the Supreme Court declared the massive studios in violation of anti-trust laws in 1948. It was this unbridled power that made classic Hollywood so extraordinary.Take Esther Williams. She was a national champion swimmer who was a favorite for the Olympics, but her life took an improbable turn when the 1940 Games were cancelled. MGM scouts were looking for an answer to Fox’s ice-skating sensation Sonja Henie, and decided a shapely swimmer would be just the thing. Williams was offered a contract (most actors had seven-year contracts with the studios) and MGM poured money into creating the “swimming musical,” building a massive pool complex inside a 32,000-square-foot soundstage, and turning a pretty nineteen-year-old into a glamorous movie star who captivated millions of moviegoers. For almost ten years, Williams topped the box office with her bright, sparkling movies featuring massive water extravaganzas that inspired the modern sport of synchronized swimming. The story of MGM’s mermaid verges on the absurd, but it could only have happened in the studio era during Hollywood’s Golden Age.Fortunately, these movies are undergoing something of a renaissance today. The DVD market, Turner Classic Movies, and companies like Netflix and ClassicFlix have made classic films available again. And theaters like Raleigh’s The Colony and The Cinema, Inc. and Durham’s Carolina Theatre turn screenings into events and recapture the magic of seeing these movies in their rightful place.As for me, I will always remember watching The Happiest Millionaire in my dorm room at Duke. I think of it every time I encounter the names Angier Duke or Biddle, and I smile at that weird, magical moment when Duke and classic Hollywood collided.
Travel Style Tryon Palace
Green Tomato-Mozzarella AranciniThese are best eaten hot, straight from the fryer. After all, I’ve never been one for patience.1½ cups Arborio riceKosher salt4 green tomatoes, cored and cut into quarters2 tablespoons unsalted butter2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided1 cup whole milk1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano1 teaspoon chopped oregano2 garlic cloves, finely minced3 eggs, divided12 ounces whole milk mozzarella, cut into ½-inch cubes2 cups fresh breadcrumbsCanola oil, for fryingIn a medium saucepan, bring 6 cups salted water to a boil. Add the rice, lower to a simmer, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the rice and spread on a baking sheet in an even layer to cool. Place the tomato quarters and 1 teaspoon salt in a food processor and pulse until chopped, but not completely pureed. Transfer the tomatoes to a fine-mesh sieve to drain; let drain for at least 20 minutes. Then, press down on the tomato mixture to drain any more excess juices. Meanwhile, make the roux: In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add 2 tablespoons flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture begins to turn golden in color. Whisk in the milk, whisking until completely smooth. Cook, whisking, until the sauce begins to bubble gently (it will be quite thick). Remove from heat. In a large bowl, combine the rice, sauce, reserved green tomatoes, Parmigiano, oregano, garlic, 1 egg, and 2 teaspoons salt. Mix well. To form the mixture into balls, place about 2 tablespoons of the rice batter in the palm of your hand and flatten into an even layer. Place 1 cube of the mozzarella in the center, then cup the rice batter around the cheese so that it’s completely covered and mold it into a golf-ball size round. Place on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining batter and cheese. (You should have about 24 balls.) Place the remaining 2 cups flour in a shallow dish and season with 1 teaspoon salt. Beat the remaining 2 eggs in another shallow dish. In a third shallow dish, combine the breadcrumbs and 1 teaspoon salt. Working one at a time, roll a rice ball in the flour, shaking off any excess, then roll it in the egg, letting any excess drip off. Finally, roll it in the breadcrumbs, making sure to get an even crust. Set the ball on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining rice batter. (You can make the balls up to this point and freeze them. Place them on a baking sheet in an even layer in the freezer for 1 hour, then transfer to a resealable plastic bag and freeze for up to 6 months. Do not thaw when ready to fry; just increase the frying time by 3 minutes or so.) In a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat 3 inches of oil until it reaches 330 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer. Add the rice balls in batches, taking care not to overcrowd the pan, and fry for 3 to 4 minutes, flipping the balls with tongs throughout, until they are deep golden brown on all sides. Transfer the rice balls to a paper-towel-lined plate and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt. Serve hot. by Kaitlyn Goalenphotographs by Jillian ClarkThey say patience is a virtue, but it’s never been one that I can claim. Nowhere is my shortcoming more apparent than in the kitchen. I’m always going to be one of those cooks that paces in front of the stove while something is cooking, daring to take a peek before it’s done. I’m always going to dread the wait between spring and summer, when the weather is warm but my favorite produce is still unripe on the vine. Thankfully, it’s become something of a trend to cook with unripe, or “green” produce. It might seem like a head-scratcher: What, from a culinary perspective, would make unripe fruit attractive? It turns out that its tart flavor, when harnessed intentionally, can be a delicious boon to a cook. Unripe ingredients also have less moisture, which is ideal for things like pies or pickles. Unripe strawberries are a good example: They make excellent pickles, a fact which well-known chefs across the country have taken advantage of. Of course here in the South, we’ve been ahead of the game as far as cooking with unripe fruit goes. Green tomatoes have long been a staple, even an icon, of Southern cuisine. While I can’t be sure, I like to think that fried green tomatoes are a holdover from our agrarian roots, a farmer’s way to use the tomatoes that fell from his vines too early. I like fried green tomatoes as much as the next person, but green tomatoes have endless potential that deserves to be explored beyond that familiar dish. Green tomato pies are another old-school use for the fruit, and I’ve also experimented with green tomatoes as a base of a green gazpacho, capitalizing on their tart vegetal flavor. But I’m particularly enamored with using them to stud Sicilian-style arancini, a type of cheesy, deep-fried rice ball that makes an amazing snack. It capitalizes on the green tomatoes’ adeptness for being fried, and pairs it with plenty of gooey mozzarella.
Nick Donaldsonby Liza RobertsHundreds of art and garden lovers came from all over the Triangle to Frances Alvarino Norwood’s lush North Raleigh gardens for her 21st and final Larkspur Party June 4 and 5. Garden lovers will still have a chance to see her flowery showplace, she says, on Aug. 7 and Sept. 4, but without the art that has drawn huge crowds to her residential neighborhood.The Larkspur party was created by Alvarino Norwoood to showcase the work of fellow artists to the public. It began as a free, three-artist show in her front yard in 1995; this year featured 38 artists across her expanded three acres of flower and vegetable beds. The blooming sanctuary is itself a work of art, and a reflection of her other profession: gardener. “At some point,” she says, “we had to decide if we wanted more artists or more garden beds, and the garden beds won.” Still, she says, it’s been a good run, “an opportunity to share my mother’s love of gardening, and has allowed me to get to know some incredible artists and meet many other enthusiast gardeners.” Longtime fans thronged for one last hurrah. Tucked between Alvarino Norwood’s massive hydrangea, delicate poppies, and airy Queen Anne’s Lace were paintings, pots, wind chimes, and sculptures. Botanical illustrations by Preston Montague and silver jewelry by Dan Dye were standouts. In the larkspur itself stood Alvarino Norwood’s own elegant, elongated figurative ceramic sculptures, which sold out within the first hour. The Alvarino Norwood family will open their garden to the public without charge from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 7 and Sept. 24.
Aly Khalifa, owner and director of innovation, at Lyf Shoes at Designbox in RaleighTrailblazing shoe designerby Tina Haver Currinphotographs by Travis LongLast year at SPARKcon, downtown Raleigh’s annual festival of innovation and creativity, Aly and Beth Khalifa, local designers and entrepreneurs, had to apply to participate. The couple had that in common with 30 other hopeful applicants, but none of those folks also had “SPARKcon co-founders” on their resumes.“We weren’t sure we would get in,” Khalifa says, with a hearty laugh. “SPARKcon is all open-source and run by the people who organize it, so I had no say whatsoever.”Which is how the couple designed it in 2006, when they began the festival to celebrate Raleigh’s fashion week. After the first five hectic, successful years of running it – inventing and designing all the while – the pair relinquished management to the Visual Art Exchange, but not before expanding SPARKcon far beyond fashion to encompass film and technology, food and music, art and commerce. These days, the once-modest event transforms downtown Raleigh into a weekend-long hive of creative expression, with a pop-up bazaar, runway show with a sprawling City Plaza catwalk, improv comedians, and chalk art that stretches for as far as the eye can see.Aly Khalifa, owner and director of innovation, left, and Mingyn Lin, product designer and developer, work at Designbox in RaleighMaterials and patterns for Lyf shoesMeanwhile, the Khalifas are fully focused on launching Lyf, their own 3-D printed, custom-made, eco-shoe company in the heart of downtown Raleigh. Their status as festival founders gave them no free ride into the event’s Wear What You Are fashion show. But the couple needn’t have worried. Lyf was selected to become the first footwear company to debut in the Triangle’s largest annual fashion exhibition, which has emerged as a showcase for the area’s best up-and-coming jewelry, clothing, and accessories. Alumni include Raleigh Denim Workshop, Holly Aiken, and Lumina Clothing, putting Lyf in good company.Finding himself on the other side of the planning equation for the first time, Khalifa had to ask himself new quesions: What would Lyf’s models look like? How should they represent themselves as a company? “It was the first time we got to present the real package,” he says, “and it was great for us. It made us confront the brand.”That was nearly a year ago. This year, as the 11th annual festival gears up for its run from September 15 through 18, Lyf is poised for larger-scale production.Designbox beginningsIt all began at Designbox, the Khalifas’ creative incubator that, until this year, was located in the Warehouse District. Since 2003, Designbox has supported local startups with a collaborative workspace and small retail store. These days, Designbox rests atop Cafe Helios, and it’s where the Khalifas refine their newest endeavor: a line of custom 3-D-printed shoes.“For more than a decade we’ve had a 3-D printer working for clients. It’s amazing what we paid for the first one, and what a pain it was compared to new technology, which has become a lot simpler,” Khalifa says. “For the shoes, we’re using a lot of 3-D printing to do sustainable footwear.”That original ZPrinter allowed the team to go from design to prototype in three days. The team at Lyf now has five printers, and hopes to add seven more in the coming year. They’ve taken to naming the printers to quickly diagnose their quirks and variations (“Beethoven” is a particularly loud printer; “Mad Jack” is “rock solid.”)A 3-D printer prints Lyf shoe components at DesignboxFor now, the printers stack on top of each other, and if all goes to plan, the entire operation will eventually be mobile, like a food truck for shoes. Customers will get fitted in a standard pair of kicks, and then add their own customized art or design to the cotton canvas or leather. The shoes will then be assembled and ready for pickup in an hour. It’s a unique approach – but nothing new for the innovative couple.“In many ways, we talk about Lyf like we talk about SPARKcon,” says Khalifa. “If we put SPARKcon into a pair of shoes, what would that look like? Sensitivity to the environment, trying to stimulate the local economy, celebrating creativity, being a good product with good craft, all those principles are now in Lyf shoes.”One of the most intriguing prospects of Lyf is that sizes can be created and assembled without mass production, which means that someone with unusally sized feet, or feet of different sizes – one a size bigger than the other, for instance – could order a pair of Lyfs to fit them exactly. Khalifa estimates he has over 4,000 different size files available, and the number is growing.Finding a new wayThe impetus to design footwear evolved naturally for Khalifa, who worked at Performance Bicycle after earning dual engineering and product design degrees from N.C. State University. When he began designing footwear for cycling, Khalifa became “the guy who always had to be on the factory floor.” He didn’t expect an unintended side effect from his visits: an immediate, splitting headache from the toxic chemicals used in shoe manufacturing.Operations manager Joey Fralin preps 3-D printersKhalifa lays out the components of a Lyf shoeThe traditional system is inherently broken, he says: “We’re moving our footwear production with a level of ignorance, from the U.S. to Mexico to Taiwan to China to Vietnam to Burma. Each time, after one generation, people have a hard time recruiting because the toxic chemicals in shoe production can cause birth defects,” Khalifa says. “But that’s just one part of it. There are also 50 materials in an average pair of shoes.” That makes disassembling and recycling shoes nearly impossible, he says, because the cost of processing such a complex product is so high.Khalifa began to think about ways to do things differently.At Lyf, each of the shoe’s components are made of a single-source material, and the shoes are intentionally designed to come apart. Lyf also offers a 15 percent discount to customers who return their shoes after they’ve been worn. That results in a 15 percent return from its own supply chain, too, due to their materials’ infinitely recyclable nature. Khalifa points out the system is called a circular economy, where products are intentionally designed from the beginning with their entire lifecycle in mind.A Lyf shoe prototype made of 3-D printed components and recycled airplane seat material“By taking the material back, (manufacturers) don’t have to return all the way to petroleum or to the cottonseed, so it’s a really good deal for everyone,” Khalifa explains. “The trick is, the designer has to attach value after that first use. But, I think if you wouldn’t take it back, you shouldn’t put it out there. We’re designing so that when you buy a pair of Lyf shoes, the world gets better.”
WINnovation speakers: Maura Horton, Cindy Whitehead, Isa Watson, Jamie Meares, and Tashni-Ann Dubroy.by Mimi Montgomeryphotographs by Joseph RaffertyAn enthusiastic group of 210 Triangle area women (and three men) gathered at the Umstead Hotel and Spa Sept. 9 for Walter’s second-annual WINnovation event, sponsored by Bank of America and the Umstead. Celebrating women and entrepreneurism in the Triangle, the sold-out luncheon featured TED-talk-inspired “WIN” talks by five local female innovators: Cindy Whitehead, co-founder of Sprout Pharmaceuticals and founder and CEO of The Pink Ceiling; Tashni-Ann Dubroy, president of Shaw University and co-owner of Tea and Honey Blends; Maura Horton, founder of MagnaReady; Isa Watson, founder and CEO of Envested; and Jamie Meares, blogger and founder and creative director of Furbish Studio.“Don’t run from the word no. This is where mere innovation is born.”–Maura Horton, founder of MagnaReadyEach woman shared stories from her own entrepreneurial journey, covering everything from resilience to ingenuity; how to overcome boundaries; the importance of confidence; and how to lean into change and move past failure.Isa Watson, founder and CEO of Envested, speaks to the audience.Cindy Whitehead, co-founder of Sprout and CEO of the Pink Ceiling, gives her WIN talk.“There’s always something significant that you’ve achieved time and time again when the odds were stacked against you – when you’re looking to do something bold, I think it’s really important to just block out all the noise.”–Isa Watson, founder and CEO of EnvestedBekay King, Shaw University studentKelly GuessFollowing the talks, the group gathered together on the stage to answer questions from the audience. Then, guests separated into groups to participate in breakout conversations focused on how to execute ideas, how to leverage local resources, how to return to work after a career break, and how to work entrepreneurially in any setting. These discussions were led by Gab Smith, executive director of CAM Raleigh, Teresa Monteiro, founder and CEO of Her Leap, Jenny Hwa, executive director of Innovate Raleigh, and Robin Costello, corporate relations director of the Council for Entrepreneurial Development.Bank of America executive Kathryn Black“You can’t be your biggest hater. There are tons of people in the world to do that for you. You’ve got to be your biggest promoter … be sure you maintain a level of confidence that will take you beyond the stars.”–Tashni-Ann Dubroy, president of Shaw University and co-owner of Tea and Honey BlendsEntrepreneur Andrea HoytBreakout session moderator Teresa Monteiro“(Be) daring enough to not be afraid of change, and to not even give the word failure any meaning to you. I dare you to fail – try it.” –Jamie Meares, blogger and founderand creative director of Furbish StudioDonna Preiss, founder and CEO of The Preiss Co.Holly HammerThroughout the day, a networking area sponsored by e51 and HQ Raleigh allowed attendees to create connections and exchange ideas, propelling the power of WINnovation beyond the day itself. This forward momentum was further evidenced in an invitation from Gab Smith for all attendees to reconvene in six months at CAM. A cocktail hour closed the day. Guests mingled with new contacts and the event speakers, reflecting the camaraderie and community spirit that makes Triangle entrepreneurship flourish.Speakers Maura Horton, Cindy Whitehead, Isa Watson, Jamie Meares, and Tashni-Ann Dubroy during the Q&A session.“Put the women at the center of any conversation, walk a mile in their shoes, and you can make pretty remarkable change.”–Cindy Whitehead, co-founder of Sprout Pharmaceuticalsand founder and CEO of The Pink Ceiling
Sam McDonald, Matt Thomas, Billy Warden, and Jeff Holshouser of The Floating Children, photo by Jonathan Drakeby Billy WardenNot even the makers of Viagra have pitched the restorative powers of their product as insistently as proponents of rock ’n’ roll.From Bruce Springsteen to Joey Ramone to Pink, billions of decibels have gone into claiming for the music the mantle of all-purpose elixir, mender of broken hearts, guardian of the faithful’s most delirious dreams.Truth? Hokum? This summer, I got my chance to find out.On the evening of April 20, while playing catch-up with another blown tax deadline, an email arrived from the organizers of the Be Loud! Sophie Foundation. Would my old band reunite for the foundation’s annual August fundraising extravaganza at the Triangle’s venerated mecca of indie rock, The Cat’s Cradle?The tax sheets melted away along with the political argument in the kitchen. The email swept me back to the riotous late-’80s heyday of The Connells, The Pressure Boys, The Veldt, Three Hits, and my baby, The Floating Children.Of course, a reunion was out of the question. Completely impractical. What with family obligations and business responsibilities. Naturally, I replied: “Oh HELLZ YES.”Now, a quick word on how ill-advised this may have looked to an outsider. The Floating Children were not a stand-and-strum band. A writer of the era described us as “the New York Dolls run amok in Pee-Wee’s playhouse.” We were an anarchic, confetti-spewing mayhem machine.So as I lay in bed that night, troubling questions commingled with chronic back pain: “How could a middle-aged reunion NOT fall flat?” “If my wife leaves me in shame, which car will she take?” And, “how to make a reunion count for something beyond nostalgia?” The answer to the last question, counterintuitively, was to up the ante, heighten the risk. The next day’s proposition to the rest of The Floating Children included the reunion performance – plus, “how about we write new songs?”New tunes would mean stretching beyond old tricks. They would require creativity and commitment. They would be a more profound test: Did we still, somewhere inside, carry that spark of inspiration?The band didn’t balk. We went to work emailing lyrics and texting demos – me, Jeff Holshouser, Jody Maxwell, James Olin Oden, Steve Eisenstadt, and Larry Burlison in the Triangle; Sam McDonald and new guy Matt Thomas in Norfolk.Craggy reserves of creativitySure, everyone had jobs and workaday duties. But everyone also had craggy reserves of creativity to uncork. Two new tunes came together fast – and with considerably more melodic hooks than 25 years ago. I couldn’t vouch for each band member’s bodily fitness, but creatively we were in fine form.Soon, the rehearsals revealed our physical and emotional conditions. Physically, the eight of us looked to be a collective 90 pounds or so overweight – not exactly Olympian, but certainly respectable by middle-aged standards.Emotionally, we were a ragged parade of humanity straight out of a Bob Seger double album. Divorce, money woes, exhaustingly complicated bachelorhood, kid concerns – they were all in the mix. But none of it slowed us down. When we played, energy and optimism gushed.We recorded the new tunes in a daylong blizzard of missed notes, surging solos, profane pep talks, and tequila shots. Then came the show. Creating new music had limbered us up. We were rock ’n’ roll acrobats again. And when our original background singer and “dance diva,” Tracey Brown, entered the dressing room, confetti bucket in hand, we were beyond inspired.Backed by an overzealous fog machine operated by my first-pumping teenage son, The Floating Children ’16 put on what some longtime fans called our best show – period. And, by the grace of the rock gods, we picked up new fans. They included 17-year-old guest saxophone player Lee Sullivan, who noted approvingly, “Putting on weird clothes and playing freaky music. The Floating Children go hard.”Indeed, we did – and not just musically. There were ridiculous twirls and foolish shimmies and other moves that away from the adrenaline rush of the stage would land me in intensive care.I hugged each Floating Child at least 120 times that night. While every embrace was an expression of genuine affection, maybe I was also trying to get a firm hold of something more ethereal. The magic that generations of stars and nobodies had promised was real. I wasn’t 22 again; but nor was I the same harried businessman/dad I had been on the night the reunion offer arrived.As The Floating Children prepare to share those new tunes with the world via technologies that we couldn’t imagine a quarter century ago, I am – we are – back to square one. Hoping that a few folks out there get it and groove along. The gamble is electrifying. The secret, then, of rock ’n’ roll’s restorative power is simply, beautifully this: The risk is the reward. Billy Warden is the co-founder of the marketing agency, GBW Strategies, and an incorrigible song-and-dance man. The Floating Children’s new songs are available on Facebook, SoundCloud, and YouTube.
Jason Cooper and Jason McGuigan of Horizon Productions.by Henry Garganphotographs by Tim LytvinenkoEveryone in the Triangle’s burgeoning virtual reality industry seems to have a story that drives home the same point: No amount of artfully worded description can adequately convey what it’s like to enter virtual reality for the first time, they say, but once the headset’s on, there’s no going back. The region is full of these recent converts, many of whom have parlayed their revelations into start-up companies that produce virtual reality experiences – and yes, they are called “experiences” – within a thriving local industry. Virtual reality’s arrival in the region has been decades in the making, a long arc in a uniquely challenging industry. It’s a business that requires a complex, interdisciplinary process involving the coordinated talents of computer programmers, graphic designers, audio engineers, videographers, writers, and directors. Then there’s the challenge of marketing a product few people fully understand, if they know it exists at all.Horizon tests projects in the works using a HTC Vive headset that transforms a room into 3-D space. Thanks to the Triangle’s three major research universities and large population of technology professionals, the region is one of few in the country with the volume and variety of talent readily available to make virtual reality work. The UNC-Chapel Hill computer science department developed some of the technology’s cornerstones, like head-tracking and latency experiments, in the 1990s. Many of the scientists who did the groundbreaking work were still in the area when VR began making inroads into the consumer market a few years ago, and local VR professionals today say the legacy of that pioneering work partially explains why so many industry players are setting up shop in the Triangle. Cary-based Epic Games, the maker of real-time rendering software crucial to the production of virtual reality experiences, also gets a good deal of credit for its beginnings. To gain a sense of where the industry is headed, it helps to talk with someone who knows better than most where it has come from. Before Mike Capps was president of Epic, he was an undergraduate in UNC’s computer science department. This was in the 1990s, when his professors were just beginning to fulfill the dreams sci-fi buffs had about what virtual reality could and should eventually become. So where did that first push go wrong? And what’s different now? “There was a giant consumer expectation bubble that came from the movies and TV that told you what VR was going to be like,” Capps says. “And the reality was nothing close to it. That led to a crash in the business.” The first consumer products were decent, Capps says, but there was no Matrix-like sense of total sensory replacement, which is what consumers were primed for. And until relatively recently, Capps says he was afraid something similar would happen with the bubble that’s been building over the past few years – that the promise of virtual reality would, perhaps inevitably, always outstrip what was available to the average hobbyist. “I was like, please don’t overpromise,” Capps says. But when he saw Facebook purchase vitual reality start-up Oculus in 2014, “I told the guys at Oculus: Please don’t screw this up.” He allowed himself to believe that they wouldn’t. Google’s recent release of its own mobile virtual reality technology with its Pixel phone and Daydream VR platform is just one of several steps forward in the consumer sector that appears to be proving Capps right. Capps says the virtual reality industry’s success here in particular is owed, at least in part, to something he’s uniquely positioned to have witnessed. “About five years ago, we lost some big gaming companies that had some unfortunate failures,” Capps says. “Even some successful companies lost some staff, so there’s a lot of talent here that knows how to create these compelling experiences. You have all these developers that never saw their home in making things like free-to-play mobile games, and VR is perfect for them.” Capps, for his part, is tight-lipped about what he’s up to these days, but he still lives in the area and keeps a careful eye on things. His role is often that of a mentor, bridging the gap between the old guard and the new so the leading edge of this most recent wave doesn’t have to reinvent what his professors labored over so many years ago – ensuring this is the time everyone gets it right. The biggest remaining social obstacle to the success of the technology, Capps believes, is its demand that users isolate themselves. It is both fitting and ironic that he would worry about this, knowing that he and others like him have made virtual reality successful here by remaining anything but isolated, by sharing and teaching one another in ways that suggest the Triangle remains a place where any vision for the world can be made reality. Indeed, all of these local players have managed to prioritize the success of their medium above competition between themselves, weaving together a collaborative, interdisciplinary business ecosystem in the process.There are simply too many moving parts and too few experts for any one company to handle every project alone, local industry experts say. And the technology is also advancing too quickly for companies to eschew collaboration and risk missing out on a game-changing new piece of equipment, or fail to adapt to evolving standards.“If the medium doesn’t succeed, it doesn’t matter who gets a job,” says Jason McGuigan, creative director with Raleigh-based Horizon Productions. “We need the entirety of this to become a thing before we can realize our fullest potential. If we can all help each other out, the industry succeeds.”RTPVR If the area’s surplus of tech geeks and media professionals was the industry’s kindling and tinder, it was the spark of RTP Virtual Reality that set the whole thing ablaze. RTPVR began in 2014 as a meet-up among hobbyists and was accelerated by the 2015 arrival of Alex Grau, a virtual reality whiz who had worked on 360-degree video technology for a company called Total Cinema 360 in Manhattan. For a while, RTPVR was little more than a group of enthusiasts who met up every so often to geek out about the latest technology. But Grau’s experience and knowledge about the business side of things helped inspire a wide variety of companies and hobbyists to dive into the market. Eventually, a core group of VR professionals and their start-ups – about 11 of them, so far – emerged. Once that happened, RTPVR realized that its role as a clearinghouse for Triangle virtual reality start-ups was a business opportunity in itself. Beginning in January of this year, RTPVR transitioned from its role as a networking collective to an incorporated business.RTPVR’s Alex Grau and Nate Hoffmeier. “Right now, we’re describing ourselves as a consulting group,” says Nate Hoffmeier, who works with Grau at RTPVR. “We’re functioning as an incubator, but also trying to give start-ups access to these businesses coming to us for help.” Say, for instance, a university wants to develop a VR tour of its campus. RTPVR leverages its connections and knowledge of the Triangle start-ups in the industry to help the university find the company that best suits its needs and budget. Start-ups with complementary areas of expertise will often team up on larger projects. In addition to sharing technology and best practices among VR companies, the kind of networking RTPVR facilitates is doubly valuable for marketing to potential clients. Because one of the industry’s chief challenges is explaining what the technology can do and how it works, Hoffmeier says, word-of-mouth is critical. So are decidedly old-fashioned, in-person sales techniques. “People can’t advertise this stuff through a traditional 2-D screen,” Hoffmeier says. “We need people saying, ‘No, you need to try this. This isn’t a fad; this isn’t a gimmick.’”Horizon Unlike many of its peers, Horizon Productions is about three decades removed from “start-up” status. It has long been an industry leader among old-fashioned video production companies in the Triangle. But the company took a turn to the future about a year-and-a-half ago – “quite some time” in the VR world, according to creative director Jason McGuigan – when a few employees began playing around with a gadget called the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset born on Kickstarter but later bought by Facebook. Oculus is widely known as a pioneering force behind market-ready virtual reality. Because Horizon already employed people with the graphic design, audio, and videography expertise required to produce solid VR experiences, the company realized it only needed a few key additional hires to become a viable player in the industry. And unlike most start-ups trying to get a foot in the door, Horizon had the capital and client base to support that ambition. “Looking at the core technology, we recognized that a lot of its aspects we already do, we have in house,” McGuigan says. “Once you discover the power of the medium, it’s very difficult to say, ‘This isn’t going to be a big deal.’” Since then, Horizon has begun offering 360-degree video products to its clients alongside more traditional services. As Horizon’s multimedia director Jason Cooper notes, they’re often educators as much as salespeople in those cases.Jason Cooper and Jason McGuigan of Horizon Productions pose with their Google VR/GoPro Odyssey camera, one of the only 360-degree VR cameras of its kind on the East Coast. “We’ve made it a focus to be evangelists and do demos and take VR to our clients and the community,” Cooper says. “We‘ve actually introduced VR to maybe more people than anybody else, than someone like Epic (Games), in the Triangle.” Horizon’s success in the field led to its becoming one of a handful of VR-involved firms chosen to participate in Google’s VR Jump program, which is both a product and a service. Companies like Horizon get to use a GoPro-designed 16-camera rig to capture stereoscopic 3-D video, the production of which has been, until now, an incredibly labor- and computing-intensive process. VR Jump, however, allows participants to send Google their raw footage, where it’s processed within a day or two and sent back perfectly stitched together and compiled into 3-D, 360-degree video. “Our focus right off the bat was on the non-gaming applications of this technology, but we’ve actually moved into that realm as well,” Cooper says. “We’re one of the few players in the area that has done projects for major corporate clients.” Among those clients are local LED producers Cree and hardware retailer Home Depot. Horizon has also recently produced 360-degree video packages for the UNC football team – Cooper’s a UNC grad – as well as the Carolina RailHawks. Duke’s VR therapy Cynthia Jones’ Virtual Reality Therapy for Phobias clinic isn’t the only place on Duke’s campus using virtual reality; the technology you’ll find there, compared to what media and gaming production companies are working with, isn’t necessarily cutting edge. But that’s not what’s important, says Jones, a counselor with the Duke Faculty Practice whose clinical work using virtual reality to treat phobias has expanded the technology’s reach into places even the most interdisciplinary development teams might never have considered. Virtual reality’s application as a phobia treatment makes a lot of sense once you learn a little about how phobia treatment has traditionally been approached. People like Jones often use what’s known as “immersion therapy” to help patients understand and control their psychosomatic responses to their phobic triggers – flying in an airplane, for instance.Cynthia Jones uses VR to help treat phobias at Duke. Here she demonstrates a simulation for public speaking. But traditionally, immersion therapy hasn’t actually been all that immersive. Patients with a fear of flying might have been asked to imagine themselves in an airplane. They would then evaluate their responses to that imagined input and practice controlling them. Even that can be surprisingly successful, Jones says, but the power of suggestion that comes with a 360-degree video experience – combined with physical cues like a rumbling seat – adds a new dimension to the treatment. “VR allows me to take that in-between step of what you imagine in your mind and kind of having a virtual world to play with before you go into the real world,” Jones says. Duke’s clinic started using the technology in the early 2000s as a result of the hospital’s partnership with Emory University, where it was pioneered. The modules Duke has adopted, each crafted to address a specific condition, are developed by a company called Virtually Better. Virtual reality’s clinical uses have also expanded to addiction treatment, post-traumatic stress, and motor skill rehabilitation in patients who have suffered traumatic brain injury. Jones says VR helps some patients overcome the stigma associated with certain phobias by making the process of overcoming them feel more like a discrete task. The modules she uses recommend between eight and 20 45-minute practice sessions, but Jones says most patients only need a handful. “They can think, ‘I’m going to go in and practice with this set of equipment instead of going in and feeling like a crazy person,’” she says. “People will use VR, particularly men, because they want to come in, get the job done, and get out of there.”LEVR Studios As creative director of online education at N.C. State University, Mike Cuales has worked for the past 14 years to find and develop tools that transcend the limitations of remote learning. Once he discovered virtual reality, he knew it represented a total shift away from – and a vast improvement upon – everything that had come before it, including classroom learning itself. “From an educational standpoint, the ability to immerse somebody in an environment and put them in the scene holds immense promise for almost anything I’ve been working in for the last decade,” Cuales says. In 2015, Cuales began LEVR Studios. For now, it’s a low-budget, boutique operation that Cuales and his business partner Arthur Earnest find time for when they’re not at their day jobs. Cuales 3-D-prints his 360-degree camera rigs himself and uses his background in education to his advantage.Mike Cuales sets up gear provided by Lenovo for a 360-degree immersive experience at N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences’ BugFest. “With a small company, I can do the projects for a school, for example, or a nonprofit,” Cuales says. “Someone who can’t foot the bill for a Hollywood production.” That suits him just fine. Cuales says he’s not in virtual reality to become an industry tycoon. As an educator and researcher, his passion lies more in finding out what happens when artists and documentarians get their hands on the technology he’s grown to love. Cuales also understands better than many in his field the challenges virtual reality will face if it hopes to become more than a futuristic novelty. His job requires him to think about what will capture students’ attention, and unlike the bulk of technological innovation that’s come along in the last decade or so, virtual reality’s immersive premise demands that attention in an undivided form. That kind of focus is wonderful for learning, Cuales says, but it’s no mean feat to get students and consumers to commit to it.LEVR Studios’ Mike Cuales believes in the immersive power of VR for remote education. “It’s a big ask for our audience to sit down, put on this headset, and make sure you have enough space around you to move around and really check out to some degree,” Cuales says. “We’re not doing a tremendous job of preparing users for that.” As exciting as it is to don the headset for the first time, it’s also hard to completely let go and forget how goofy it must look to the outside world to be flailing about and remarking on things no one else can see. Cuales says he’s noticed that sense of vulnerability in demonstrations he’s been a part of, and he worries that could be an even more pernicious barrier. The solution to these problems, he thinks, is two-fold: Start people out with short experiences, and be conscious of the environment you create when introducing people to the technology. “That’s why I’m so passionate about its application in education,” Cuales says. “It’s a captive audience. If I say you need to take the next five minutes to step into this manufactured environment, that’s exciting because they’ve already made the commitment to be here.” Lucid Dream The founders of this Durham-based start-up are eager to discuss virtual reality’s big-picture future, but for now, they’re content to meet the market where it is. “What we’re not doing is games; I’ll start with that,” says Joshua Setzer, one of Lucid Dream’s co-founders. “Games are going to be a huge market in VR, and there’s going to be a lot of interesting possibilities, but we’re interested in VR mainly as a sales and marketing tool.” But even within that focused mandate, Lucid Dream has chosen to grapple with virtual reality at the conceptual level, partly because of the shared responsibility industry members feel to advance the technology, but also because a fundamental understanding of what makes virtual reality work promises to make their products more effective. “We’re hacking the conscious mind,” Setzer says. “We’re trying to hit the minimum threshold so that the human brain says ‘yes, this is reality.’” Mike McArdle, another Lucid Dream co-founder, is a former Apple Store employee who used to specialize in helping neophytes navigate Apple products. He has also dabbled in bringing the technology into the classroom through a separate initiative called the Virtual Reality Learning Experience. McArdle says virtual reality holds the promise of unprecedented accessibility in a way that takes away the abstraction of user interfaces, making tech-based tasks easier for even true tech novices by mimicking their real-life equivalents. “If you think about it, we’ve gotten used to abstractions with mouse and keyboard,” McArdle says. “(Virtual reality) is this crazy flat circle where we’re using the most insane, cutting-edge technology to make interaction with technology a lot more human, a lot more intuitive. VR could, ironically, bring a whole generation of people back into computing.”Lucid Dream co-founders Joshua Setzer and Mike McArdle say virtual reality has the ability to be the “greatest empathy machine that man has ever known.”McArdle’s skills are complemented by Setzer’s. The Duke graduate used to work in architectural rendering designing yachts, and he has a strong familiarity with 3-D modeling and the types of clients in the market for Lucid Dream’s work. So far, those include real estate developers, car and boat manufacturers, and product designers, all of which can benefit from the ability to give potential customers a tour of products that are either not present or don’t yet exist. In addition to possessing a near-complete virtual reality skill-set in a three-man team – RTPVR’s Alex Grau completes the trio – Lucid Dream’s co-founders are willing to discuss the cultural and philosophical implications of the medium, both the value and danger that awaits a society that places a premium on augmenting and replacing sensory input with something other than one’s immediate physical surroundings. “We have different mental constructs because of how we interact with different technologies due to the spread between the wealth of the world and the poorest of the poor,” McArdle warns. “This could accelerate that. It might be the great equalizer if enough of this technology gets around, but it might be the great divide where some people are able to start living in a virtual world.” Setzer chimes in with a more optimistic perspective. “It also has the potential to be the greatest empathy machine that man has ever known,” he says. “There are all these really interesting immersive journalism pieces that take an audience into another person’s world and life in pretty haunting ways. There are so many opportunities to build understanding.” The two agree that virtual reality, like the internet, is simply another media tool that expands access to both the real world and to refuges from it. What becomes of this tool will depend on how those who pioneer virtual reality define its place. “It’s business, but it’s much more than just business,” Setzer says. “It’s society-changing technology. There are a lot of important conversations to be had.”
Carr McLamb, left, and Henry Neese coach youth basketball at Halifax Community Centerby Settle Monroephotographs by Robert WillettAround these parts, basketball is serious business. As November arrives, a charged wave of excitement runs through our state that lasts through March Madness. Tides shift as alliances are formed and enemy lines are drawn. Weeknights are spent glued to the television, and mornings are spent perusing the sports page to learn late game results. It is no secret that North Carolinians, particularly Raleighites, feel great pride for their hoops. But basketball pride is not limited to highly publicized teams or games. Walk into any of one of Raleigh’s public gymnasiums during the season and take a quick look at the boisterous fans, the demonstrative referees, and the enthusiastic players diving for loose balls: It is immediately clear that passion for the sport starts young. Each year the City of Raleigh, through its Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources department, registers hundreds of boys and girls eager to play on one of the league’s numerous basketball teams. Each team is led by a pair of volunteer coaches. This season, two of these coaches, Carr McLamb and Henry Neese, will embark on their 10th year coaching boys’ basketball (ages 13-15) for the league. The longtime friends met in 2001 when Neese played for McLamb, then a student at N.C. State in his first year of coaching. Years later, in 2007, they ran into each other at a N.C. State football game and agreed to return to the court, this time to coach together. McLamb took the helm as the head coach, and Neese served as the assistant. It was the beginning of what has become a City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources coaching establishment. For McLamb and Neese, coaching middle school boys is about more than teaching basketball skills. Both men well understand their positions as positive role models for their players. At the first practice of the season, McLamb and Neese explain their three guiding principles: One, have fun; two, improve as an individual; three, improve as a team. They also work tirelessly to instill in their players a sense of accountability and responsibility, insisting that each player show up on time prepared for practices and games. If a player has to miss a practice or game, he must call in advance to let them know. Coach McLamb is unwavering: “We want to hear from the players, not their parents, if they have to miss. They all have cell phones. So they have no excuses. We expect for each player to come to practice ready to give it all he’s got. Our team depends on it.” While basketball is serious business, for McLamb and Neese, having fun is the main priority. McLamb says, “We’ve had teams that have won championships, and we’ve had teams that really struggled. But we have never had a team that didn’t have fun.” Kirkland Caison, now a student at UNC-Chapel Hill, knows this well. Caison played for McLamb and Neese for two years in middle school and still keeps in touch with them today. “The real impact they have had is off the court,” Caison says. “Whether it be college applications or job inquiries, I have come to them many times seeking advice. They are great older brother figures, able to share honestly about their life experiences and offer suggestions to different problems I have dealt with.” At the same time, McLamb and Neese make no bones about it – they want to win basketball games, and they are strategic in their efforts. They spend nights in the gym watching other teams play to develop scouting reports. They have mastered the art of the pre-season draft. And they can recite statistics and figures from every team they’ve coached. With two practices and a game each week, coaching is a major commitment for these two Raleigh lawyers. When asked how many hours a week they spend on coaching, Neese laughs, “That depends. If you count all of the conversations we have during the week about the team, it really adds up.” McLamb and Neese both point to George Deloache, their former coach at the Jaycee Center, as their coaching inspiration. McLamb explains, “Most of what we do, we learned from George. We run the same sets he taught us as young players. He was such an important figure for us during our youth. We hope to be the same for our players.” Deloache, a longtime City of Raleigh coach and a legend in his own right, understands the deep impact that coaches can have on their players. “Middle-school-aged guys in particular are still trying to figure everything out,” he says. “For example, where does being competitive cross the line into bad sportsmanship? So, they are looking for role models.” So far, McLamb and Neese have won one city league championship, been the regular season champions twice, and made four semifinal appearances. And this coaching duo has no plans of hanging up its whistles anytime soon. “We’re not married. We don’t have kids. We have time to do it. And we love it. For the foreseeable future, we’ll be coaching.”
courtesy Paderewski Festivalby Mimi MontgomeryIgnacy Jan Paderewski was a man of many roles – pianist and composer, politician and patriot, spokesman and humanitarian. This month, his life and accomplishments will be celebrated in Raleigh at the third annual Paderewski Festival Nov. 5 – 13.“Few musicians have been accorded such fame and honor,” says Mark Fountain, the festival’s president and treasurer. A renowned classical pianist and the Prime Minister of Poland, Paderewski was an avid supporter of Polish independence post-World War I. His music, charisma, and popularity around the world sparked conversations about diplomacy, the expansion of the arts, and the intersection between the two.His ties extended to Raleigh as well. Paderewski performed in the Triangle on several occasions, including in Raleigh in 1917 and 1923 at the Raleigh Municipal Auditorium (no longer in existence), and at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in 1939. He performed in Durham, too, appearing at Duke University’s Page Auditorium in 1931. In addition, Raleighite Mary Lee McMillan was Paderewski’s wife’s secretary in New York during World War I. When the Paderewskis moved to Poland to organize war-time relief efforts, McMillan moved to Raleigh, where Paderewski sent her an inscribed piano. Today that piano, which Fountain purchased directly from the McMillan family, resides in his Raleigh home.Paderewski’s ties extended all the way to Raleigh. He performed at the Raleigh Municipal Auditorium (no longer in existence) in 1917 and 1923.In 2016, Paderewski returns to the area once more in spirit with the week-long festival honoring his music and his life. “We now enter the third year with four pianists, some young, some mature, all accomplished,” says Fountain.On Nov. 5, St. Mary’s School hosts prizewinning Ukrainian pianist Artem Yasynskyy. French concert pianist Jean Dubé will play at the N.C. Museum of History Nov. 6. The N.C. Museum of Art on Nov. 12 will feature Greek-Venezuelan pianist Alexia Mouza, who participated in the Chopin Competition in Warsaw last year; on Nov. 13, the museum will host Polish pianist Janusz Olejniczak, a renowned Chopin interpreter who also appears on the soundtrack of the Oscar-winning film The Pianist, showing at The Cary Theater Nov. 11.Nov. 5-13; locations and times vary; paderewski-festival.org
Photograph by Elizabeth Galecke
A Piece of the PieA sweet way to support the communityby Katherine Poolephotograph courtesy of Share the PieThis month, Step Up Ministry and Alliance Medical Ministry want to put a pie in your face.With a joint mission known as Share the Pie, the nonprofits aim to raise funds and awareness for the work they do to build stable families through access to employment and healthcare.The Share the Pie project sells Thanksgiving pies baked voluntarily by some of the region’s top restaurants. A major success since it began two years ago, Share the Pie has experienced a groundswell of support through its viral social media campaign of pie-in-the-face challenges as well as the enthusiastic participation of local businesses, churches, and individuals.Last year, Share the Pie raised $33,000. This year, with the help from volunteer bakers at Angus Barn, 18 Seaboard, Ashley Christensen Restaurants, K&W Cafeterias, Irregardless Cafe, Lucettegrace, Standard Foods, Winston’s Grille, StepUp, Alliance Medical Ministry, and many other restaurants and organizations, Share the Pie’s fundraising goal is $50,000.How can you share the pie? Buy the pie! There are also numerous volunteer opportunities (sign-ups are available online) for individuals and groups interested in supporting this community-driven effort. Pie boxes need to be assembled, labeled, and delivered. Pies must be picked up from bakers, quality-checked and delivered to pick-up sites.During this season of thoughtful giving, Step Up and Alliance Medical Ministry walk the talk: when we come together to support every person in our community, these groups attest, we can create enough pie for all.sharethepie.org
Dwane PowellPeter HoffmanZang ToiJillian ClarkWonder WomenRaleigh’s own buzzworthy wonder woman, and style inspired by the filmAlice Hinman’s bee city Peter HoffmanWonderful WomanTim LytvinenkoIn the fieldThis scenic fox hunt is an annual traditionGeoff Wood A close-up of the Sir Walter Raleigh upcycled mosaic by Denise Hughes featured on the May 2017 cover. Photograph by Christer Berg Saint Augustine’s UniversityChristopher T. Martin At home Two Stories of a House shattered our social media records for most-liked postsKelly ShatatCatherine NguyenCharlotte Smith Catherine Nguyen A tip of the hat to 10 standout stories from 2017 … Local milestonesA Raleigh university at 150, and opening the doors of the state’s largest cathedral Holy Name of Jesus Cathedralrenderings by O’Brien & Keane Architecture At the tableMeet the folks behind now-world-renowned Brewery BhavanaKeith IsaacsAt the studioRaleigh’s hometown cartooning hero, and a visit from a celebrated fashion designer