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CHANGEOUT SC RECIPE

Tastes of the Mediterranean HUMOR ME

AUGUST 2020

Magniloquent vernacular

Fanatic fun

Role-playing rules at a South Carolisn comic con


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1


THE MAGAZINE FOR COOPERATIVE MEMBERS VOLUME 74 • NUMBER 8 (ISSN 0047-486X, USPS 316-240) Read in more than 600,000 homes and businesses and published monthly except in December by The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, Inc. 808 Knox Abbott Drive Cayce, SC 29033 Tel: (803) 926‑3175 Fax: (803) 796‑6064 Email: letters@scliving.coop

2020 | aug 13 Holy superheroes,

Batman! During this surreal pandemic year, voyage back through time with us to a comic con multiverse, where fantasy worlds of graphic novels, science fiction movies, video games, anime and role-playing quests all happily collide. Superhero costume optional, but highly encouraged.

EDITOR

Keith Phillips Tel: (803) 739‑3040 Email: Keith.Phillips@ecsc.org FIELD EDITOR

Josh Crotzer PUBLICATION COORDINATOR

Travis Ward ART DIRECTOR

Sharri Harris Wolfgang DESIGNER

Susan Collins

Sarah Stevens, left, cosplays the character of Coraline, while her friend Jennifer Solarski portrays Lup from The Adventure Zone, at the 2019 Soda City Comic Con.

PRODUCTION

Andrew Chapman WEB EDITOR

Chase Toler

13

COPY EDITORS

Trevor Bauknight, Jennifer Jas, Jim Poindexter

4 CO-OP NEWS

Updates from your cooperative

CONTRIBUTORS

Mike Couick, Hastings Hensel, Jan A. Igoe, L.A. Jackson, Maria Kanevsky, Sydney Patterson, Lynn & Cele Seldon, Belinda Smith-Sullivan

6 AGENDA

Do you love your co-op? Tell us all about it in our latest reader poll.

PUBLISHER

Lou Green

8 DIALOGUE Left behind without broadband

Mary Watts Tel: (803) 739‑5074 Email: ads@scliving.coop

South Carolina’s electric cooperatives are ready and able to bring much-needed broadband service to rural communities.

NATIONAL REPRESENTATION

American MainStreet Publications Tel: (512) 441-5200 Paid advertisements are not endorsements by any electric cooperative or this publication. If you encounter a difficulty with an advertisement, inform the Editor.

10 RECIPE Tastes of the Mediterranean

local co-op. Postmaster: Send Form 3579 to Address Change, c/o the address above. Periodicals postage paid at Columbia, S.C., and additional mailing offices. © COPYRIGHT 2020. The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, Inc. No portion of South Carolina Living may be reproduced without permission of the Editor.

is brought to you by your member-owned, taxpaying, not-for-profit electric cooperative to inform you about your cooperative, wise energy use and the faces and places that identify the Palmetto State. Electric cooperatives are South Carolina’s — and America’s — largest utility network.

12 SC STORIES Hitting a home run Meet Josh Shea, the creative chef behind the gourmet ballpark food now available for takeout from Charleston’s Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park, home of the Charleston RiverDogs.

SOUTH CAROLINA LIVING

ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTIONS:

18 MARKETPLACE 20 GARDENER Spinach 101 Sure, it’s hot outside, but believe it or not, it is time to crank up the fall veggie garden, starting with Popeye’s favorite vegetable.

$5.72 members,

$8 nonmembers

22

Member of the AMP network reaching more than 9 million homes and businesses

10

Chef Belinda Smith-Sullivan shares Mediterranean recipes that are healthy, delicious and easy to make at home.

ADDRESS CHANGES: Please send to your

20

HUMOR ME

Wheel of serendipitous happenstance In search of chocolate chip cookies, our humor columnist unwittingly becomes the heroine of a bildungsroman spun by her vocabulary-obsessed mom. And yes, we had to look it up, too.

SC RECIPE

Tastes of the Mediterranean HUMOR ME

Magniloquent vernacular

AUGUST 2020

ADVERTISING

FRO M TO P: A N DRE W H AWO RTH; I U LI I A N EDRYGA I LOVA ; L . A . JACKSO N

Fanatic fun

Role-playing rules at a South Carolin comic cons

Con-goers pose with Batman, aka Lyn Powell of the charity-focused cosplay group known as The Signal, at the 2019 Soda City Comic Con. Photo by Andrew Haworth.


SC | agenda READER POLL

BY THE NUMBERS

Renewable energy growth

I ♥ my co-op

According to the latest statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Agency, renewable sources of electricity have been growing steadily since 2010. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the progression, the agency predicts renewables will continue to grow in 2020.

South Carolina is blessed to be served by member-owned electric cooperatives that do more than maintain the state’s largest utility network and “keep the lights on” 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Notfor-profit electric cooperatives also support the communities they serve in a variety of ways, from providing scholarships and leadership programs for deserving teens to helping PITCHING IN TO HELP Employees of Pee Dee Electric neighbors in need through Cooperative, following proper COVID-19 protocols, helped WIRE programs and Operation deliver meals on wheels in partnership with Senior Citizens Association (SCA) in Florence County. Round Up initiatives. For this month’s reader poll, we’re asking you to tell us what you love co-op, a special way it supports your most about your local electric cooperacommunity, or the time a co-op employee tive and the people who work there. We’ll went above and beyond to serve. You can also mail your story to: review all submitted stories and publish our favorites in a future issue. If we I love my co-op use your story (and photos, if you have Attn: Lyssa Nelson them), we’ll send you a $25 Visa gift card. South Carolina Living Visit SCLiving.coop/love to tell us 808 Knox Abbott Drive Cayce, SC 29033 what you appreciate most about your

17.5%

COU RTESY O F PDEC

Volume of U.S. electricity generated from renewable sources in 2019. By source: • Wind 7.3% • Hydropower 6.6% • Solar 1.8% • Biomass + geothermal 1.8%

ONLY ON SCLiving.coop A sweet taste of summer M A RK BOUG HTO N

August is peak peach season in South Carolina, so why not make the most of it? We’ve got a bushel basket full of delicious peach dessert recipes from Chef Belinda Smith-Sullivan’s first cookbook, Just Peachy, ready and waiting for you at SCLiving.coop/food/chefbelinda.

11%

Projected growth rate of renewable energy sources in 2020 in spite of slower growth as a result of the pandemic.

5%

Predicted 2020 decline in total volume of U.S. electricity generated from all sources. —MARIA KANEVSKY

GONE FISHIN’ The Vektor Fish & Game Forecast provides feeding and ­migration times. Major periods can bracket the peak by an hour. Minor peaks, ½ hour before and after. Minor

AM Major

Minor

PM Major

AUGUST

Minor

AM Major

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SEPTEMBER

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Register to win an Upcountry getaway

22 9:22

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Enter our August Reader Reply Travel Sweepstakes for your chance to win a $100 Visa gift card and an Upcountry Getaway Package with two nights’ lodging for two people and an all-day white­water rafting trip on the Chattooga River. One lucky winner will be drawn from all entries received by Aug. 31. Register online at SCLiving.coop/reader-reply or mail in the coupon on Page 7.

23 10:22

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10%

Volume of U.S. electricity generated from renewable sources in 2010.

SOUTH CAROLINA LIVING  |  AUGUST 2020 | SCLIVING.COOP

5:07

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WIN A $100 GIFT CARD

We’re ready when you are! South Carolina Living and Upcountry South Carolina partners know you’re ready for a great in-state vacation—and we’re here to help make that happen!

Sign up today for our August Reader Reply Travel Sweepstakes and your chance to win a $100 Visa gift card from South Carolina Living and from Upcountry South Carolina, a Getaway Package with two nights’ lodging for two people at a Wildwater lakeside cottage and an all-day whitewater rafting trip on Section III of the National Wild and Scenic Chattooga River, compliments of Wildwater Rafting. One lucky winner will be drawn from all entries received by Aug. 31. Register online at SCLiving.coop/reader-reply or mail in the coupon at right.

By entering, you may receive information from these great travel and tourism sponsors: j Upcountry South Carolina j Edisto Chamber of Commerce j Experience Columbia S.C. j South Carolina Living magazine

R E A D E R R E P LY T R AV E L S W E E P S TA K E S

Register below, or online at SCLiving.coop/reader-reply YES! Enter me in the drawing for a $100 gift card and an Upcountry South Carolina getaway package. Name Address City State/ZIP Email* Phone*

South Carolina Living, RRTS, 808 Knox Abbott Drive, Cayce, SC 29033 or travel@SCLiving.coop. Entries must be received by August 31, 2020, to be eligible. *Winner will be contacted to verify mailing address.

SEND COUPON TO:

Register online at SCLiving.coop/reader-reply SCLIVING.COOP   | AUGUST 2020   |   SOUTH CAROLINA LIVING

7


|

SC   dialogue

Left behind without broadband the dual nature of our state is ­particularly noticeable. The eastern half of York County boasts one of the fastest-growing populations in the nation, and development is booming. In contrast, western York County—where my parents live and I often visit—offers a quiet pace and rural lifestyle, but no Wi-Fi or cell service. While that makes for a welcome technology break during my visits, it also presents significant challenges to the residents of this part of the county. The couple that lives near my parents are about 80 years old. Both suffer from health challenges, including a serious heart condition. Their special-needs adult daughter also lives with them, and so my dad checks in on their family regularly. Last year, a careless driver knocked over a telephone pole, resulting in a complete loss of phone service to the area. Since cell service isn’t an option, the loss of their landlines effectively transported the residents of this area back 100 years to a time of complete communication isolation. During their loss of service, they had no way to call for an ambulance or law enforcement, much less family and friends. Our friends either needed to venture outside their service area to notify their carrier of the outage or hope one of their neighbors soon could. The folks in western York County are stuck in the gap between new technology and the old ways of doing things. They’ve been left behind. The same can be said for rural citizens across the state who don’t have access to high-speed broadband— a fact made painfully obvious during the COVID-19 crisis. The disadvantages were clear to those trying to work from home or participate in distance learning. South Carolina’s electric cooperatives are especially attuned to these challenges. Every co-op in this state wants to have broadband coverage in their territory. Some are going to provide it themselves. Mid-Carolina and Newberry Electric Cooperatives have been getting high-speed internet to their members since 2017. Lynches River Electric has just begun, while Aiken Electric and Tri-County Electric will begin this summer. Others are still looking for adequate funding and partnerships that will help them reach their underserved communities. Still, others believe they can rely on existing carriers to provide it. In Horry and Georgetown Counties, for example, Horry Telephone Cooperative is already providing broadband cable internet, so Horry Electric Cooperative has no plans to get into the internet business. In their area, there is no need. But in the case of unserved or underserved areas of our state, electric coopera­ tives believe there are various ways to reach total internet coverage. Just like ­electricity, internet is now an essential service. Electric cooperatives can and should be able to help bring that service to communities in need. We hope to work with state and federal policymakers to achieve an all-of-theabove approach so that all of South Carolina can move forward together. IN MY CHILDHOOD HOME OF YORK COUNTY,

MIKE COUICK

President and CEO, The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina

8

SOUTH CAROLINA LIVING  |  AUGUST 2020 | SCLIVING.COOP

Rural citizens across the state who don’t have access to high-speed broadband have been left behind—a fact made painfully obvious during the COVID-19 crisis.


HARD WORK NEVER QUITS

YOUR SOURCE OF POWER. AND INFORMATION. Day or night, rain or shine, we’re here for you. We’re not your typical energy company, we’re a local, not-for-profit electric cooperative. We live in the communities we serve and work hard to improve quality of life for all. To learn more about the cooperative difference, visit TouchstoneEnergy.com


|

SC   recipe

Tastes of the Mediterranean BY BELINDA SMITH-SULLIVAN

ITALIAN SHRIMP LINGUINE PUTTANESCA 1 16-ounce box linguine 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided 1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined I teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, divided 1 medium yellow onion, chopped 3 cloves garlic, minced 2–3 anchovy fillets, chopped, optional 1 cup marinara sauce H cup dry white wine 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed G cup chopped Kalamata olives 1 cup chopped grape or cherry tomatoes 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

Cook the linguine according to package instructions, and keep it warm. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Saute shrimp with H teaspoon crushed pepper flakes until opaque, 2–3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. In the same skillet add remaining oil and saute onions until translucent. Add garlic, anchovies and remaining crushed pepper flakes; cook and stir for 1 minute. Stir in marinara, wine, capers, olives and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until sauce thickens and tomatoes are soft, 8–10 minutes. (If sauce gets too thick, add a little more wine.) Stir in shrimp and basil. To serve, spoon over linguine and garnish with parsley.

10

Mediterranean r cuisine is known fo ion at ar ep its simplicity of pr nts die re ing sh and seasonally fre s, ble ta ge d ve including fruits an d an s citrus, herbs, olive most important— olive oil.

GREEK LEMON SALSA CHICKEN SERVES 4

CHICKEN

4 bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed Kosher salt Fresh ground black pepper 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 lemons, halved SALSA

1 cucumber, seeded and diced 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved H red onion, diced H cup Kalamata olives, halved or quartered 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley 2 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano Kosher salt Fresh ground black pepper 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or fresh-squeezed lemon juice 2 tablespoons olive oil H cup crumbled feta cheese

SOUTH CAROLINA LIVING  |  AUGUST 2020 | SCLIVING.COOP

K A REN H ERM A N N

I U LI I A N EDRYGA I LOVA

SERVES 4

Preheat oven to 400 F. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large oven-proof skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute chicken— meat side down—until brown, about 5 minutes. Flip and squeeze lemon over browned side and nestle lemon halves in pan. Place skillet in oven and bake until temperature reaches 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 30–40 minutes. Time may vary, depending on size of chicken breasts. In a medium bowl, combine cucumber, tomatoes, onion, olives, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, vinegar and oil. Gently stir in feta cheese. Set aside until ready to serve. Can be made ahead and refrigerated. To serve, individually plate chicken breasts and top with salsa and a lemon half.


G I N A MOOR E

MOROCCAN CHICKEN WITH BROCCOLI, MUSHROOMS AND ALMONDS 2–3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces 4 tablespoons Ras el hanout (Moroccan spice blend), divided. See recipe below. Zest of 1 lime 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided H red onion, cut in half and sliced 1 large garlic clove, minced

I cup chicken stock or water 1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets 1 cup halved baby bella mushrooms 1 tablespoon arrowroot or cornstarch G cup toasted slivered almonds G cup shredded fresh mint Cooked couscous or rice

Into a large bowl add chicken and cover with 2–3 tablespoons of seasoning, lime zest and 1 tablespoon oil. Let marinate for 30 minutes. In a large saute pan or skillet, heat remaining oil over medium-low heat. Saute onions until translucent and fragrant. Add garlic and remaining seasoning and cook for an additional 1 minute, stirring well. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, until the chicken is no longer pink, 5–7 minutes. Add chicken stock or water. Arrange the broccoli and mushrooms on top of the chicken; cover pan and reduce heat to low. After 3–5 minutes, stir broccoli and mushrooms into other ingredients and the sauce and cook for a few more minutes—depending on how crunchy you want the broccoli. Mix the arrowroot with 2 tablespoons cold water and stir into the sauce to thicken. Add the toasted almonds and mint leaves. Serve over couscous or rice. Garnish with additional almonds and mint. RAS EL HANOUT (MOROCCAN SPICE BLEND)

1 tablespoon cumin 1 tablespoon ground ginger 1 tablespoon kosher salt I tablespoon fresh ground black pepper

H tablespoon ground cinnamon H tablespoon ground coriander H tablespoon cayenne H tablespoon allspice

Combine all ingredients and store leftovers in a small jar. CHEF’S TIP Arrowroot versus cornstarch as a sauce thickener.

Arrowroot is naturally GMO-free and works very quickly to thicken sauces or soups—thus can be added near the end of the cooking process. Substitute for cornstarch in equal amounts.

What’s cooking at SCLiving.coop PEACH DESSERTS—August is peak peach season in South Carolina, so why not make the most of it? We’ve got a bushel basket full of delicious peach dessert recipes ready and waiting for you at

SCLiving.coop/food/chefbelinda

GW ÉN A Ë L LE VO T

SERVES 4

SICILIAN FISH CAPONATA SERVES 4

CAPONATA

3 tablespoons olive oil (more if needed) 2 small eggplants, cubed 1 small yellow onion, chopped H cup chopped fennel 1 clove garlic, minced G teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 1 28-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes, with juices H cup dry white wine

2 tablespoon capers, drained N cup halved Castelvetrano olives (or manzanilla) Kosher salt Fresh ground black pepper H cup thinly sliced fresh basil FISH

4 6-ounce thick white fish fillets (sea bass, cod, halibut or swordfish) Kosher salt Fresh ground black pepper 2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 F. Position racks in middle and upper third of oven. In a large skillet or saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add eggplant and saute until it starts to brown, about 5–7 minutes. Add additional oil if needed; add onions and fennel and continue cooking until onions are translucent. Add garlic and red pepper flakes; stir and cook an additional minute. Reduce heat to medium and add tomatoes and smash with back of wooden spoon; cook for 5 minutes. Add wine, capers, olives, salt, pepper and basil. Stir well, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes or until slightly thickened. Season fish with salt and pepper. In a large oven-proof skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add fillets (best side down) and cook for 2 minutes. Carefully flip fillets over and place skillet in the oven on medium rack. Bake until fillets are opaque and flaky, 8–10 minutes. Turn oven to broil setting. Place skillet on top rack and broil until golden brown on top, 2–4 minutes (watch carefully!). To serve, spoon caponata onto plates and top each with a fillet. Garnish with additional basil, if desired. CHEF’S TIPS What you need to know about cooking eggplant.

Small eggplants are more tender, have fewer seeds and do not need to be peeled. Large eggplants should be peeled before cooking, as the skin is tougher. Eggplants soak up a lot of oil; watch carefully and add additional oil as needed.

SCLIVING.COOP   | AUGUST 2020   |   SOUTH CAROLINA LIVING

11


|

SC   stories

Hitting a home run

Josh Shea AGE:

37.

HOME TURF:

Charleston.

Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park,

He’s the chef behind the gourmet food and beverage offerings fans enjoy at Charleston RiverDogs home games. LITTLE-KNOWN FACT: Like RiverDogs part-owner Bill Murray, Shea is also known for his comedy routines. WHAT BILL MURRAY EATS: “I recently fixed lunch for Bill and one of his sons, and he requested our brisket melt with fries, but he truly enjoys trying all the different food we serve.” CLAIM TO FAME:

To say that Josh Shea can cook and talk baseball is like saying Julia Child could sure roast a chicken. Shea is Vice President, Food and Beverage, of the Charleston RiverDogs, Class A affiliate of the New York Yankees at beloved Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park (aka “The Joe”), overlooking the Ashley River in Charleston. “There is just something special about working at The Joe for the RiverDogs that keeps me inspired to better myself and to better the experience that all fans will have,” says the lifelong baseball fan. “The opportunities to create incredible food, but also great memories, are endless for me here.” The Abbeville native, a graduate of Clemson University and Culinary Institute of Charleston, takes pride in a creative, gourmet menu with items ranging from a brisket ramen bowl to “beer shakes” in multiple flavors. But it was the huge footlong hot dog he calls The Homewrecker (it’s topped with a quarter-pound of pimento cheese, another quarter pound of coleslaw, pickled okra, bacon and more) that RiverDogs co-owner Bill Murray raved about on a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live. When the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 Minor League Baseball season, Shea and his staff launched To Go at The Joe, offering takeout meals and meal kits, but he can’t wait for the 2021 season when fans can once again enjoy his menu at the historic park. “2021 is going to be an explosion of fun, excitement and craziness,” he says with a smile. “It’s going to be one for the history books.” —LYNN AND CELE SELDON | PHOTO BY MIC SMITH

GET MORE Order up! Learn more about To Go at The Joe at milb.com/charleston/ballpark/drive-thru. 12

SOUTH CAROLINA LIVING  |  AUGUST 2020 | SCLIVING.COOP


Voyaging through the pop culture multiverse of Soda City Comic Con

BY HASTINGS HENSEL | PHOTOS BY ANDREW HAWORTH

W

hen a Weird Al Yankovic song suddenly blasts through the loudspeakers in the ballroom of the Columbia Convention Center, an impromptu dance party breaks out. Deadpool is grooving, Catwoman is boogying. Even Master Chief Petty Officer John‑117, from the video game Halo, is getting down. Cinderella, Fat Thor, The Falcon—everybody is cutting a rug or singing along. For a moment, you might think this is an all-star Halloween party. But it’s August, and the crowd here is simply killing time. They’re waiting to learn who will win the cosplay contest of the 2019 Soda City Comic Con. For the uninitiated, comic conventions (“cons” for short) are festival-like gatherings where organizers make room for everybody’s pop cultural interests. As in, literally there is a room for the autograph-seekers, a room for the video gamers, a room for the board gamers, a room for the comic book collectors, a room for the celebrity panels, and—perhaps most important—in the hallways between the rooms, elaborately costumed cosplayers posing for

AVENGERS FOREVER Tim Smith, right, of Greenville and Hunter Sease of Lexington each channel their inner Captain America for the camera.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Soda City Comic Con 2020, originally scheduled to take place this month at the Columbia Convention Center, has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But have no fear, says managing partner Donald Brock Jr. Like a classic superhero, the celebration of pop culture, comic books, sci-fi movies, video games and anime is scheduled for a triumphant return in 2021. Until then, enjoy these stories and photos of the people we met at the 2019 event. For more information, visit sodacitycomiccon.com.

SCLIVING.COOP   | AUGUST 2020   |   SOUTH CAROLINA LIVING

13


SODA CITY COMIC CON

STAR STRUCK Breanna Orr, above left, and Kimberly Orr show off items signed by Guardians of the Galaxy star Michael Rooker. Kathy Najimy (Sister Act, WALL-E, King of the Hill), right, greets fans in the Hall of Fame.

photos with attendees and each other. Whether you’re into Marvel, or D.C., or anime, or video games, or Dungeons & Dragons, or Star Trek, or Star Wars, or steampunk, or Game of Thrones, or any of the other infinite galaxies of pop culture entertainment, to step into a comic con is to enter a phantasmagorical universe where all worlds happily collide.

The autograph room Chris Westbury of Orangeburg waits in line for the doors to open while clutching a DVD set of Batman: The Animated Series. He’s here today to meet the voice of Batman—the actor Kevin Conroy—and for $40 he can get the DVD set signed. Other fans in line have similar goals for varying prices—it’s $70 for a professional photo with actor Michael Rooker (Yondu Udonta in Guardians of the Galaxy), $40 for a selfie with John Glover (Lionel Luthor on Smallville) and $30 for an autograph and chance to mingle briefly with Kathy Najimy (Sister Act, Hocus Pocus). Judging from how the lines in the autograph room snake between velvet ropes, the fans have no problem with the prices. The stars seem to enjoy it, too. “The only time you get to interact with the audience, especially for voice actors, is at these conventions,” Conroy says. “That’s it. So, in terms of feedback, to find out the effect you’re having on these people, it’s here.” He notes that he’s had people break down in tears and tell him that their 14

SOUTH CAROLINA LIVING  |  AUGUST

A WAY WITH WORDS AND PICTURES Marvel comics writer Chad Bowers, top inset, and artist Sanford Greene, both based in Columbia, speak with fans at Soda City Comic Con. Greene is known for his work with Marvel, Dark Horse and Image Comics.

troubled childhood was basically rescued by the animated show. He’s had people tell him that the greatest lessons they’ve learned in life came from Batman. “The Greeks had Orestes and Achilles, Elektra, Agamemnon. But we have Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash. It’s the same thing. Comic characters are our mythology,” he says. “The ancients used those stories to teach their children the difference between right and wrong, good and evil. There were morality stories, and that’s what animation is now.”

The vendors room Sitting at a table in a room full of things for sale—stuffed animals, figurines, video game consoles, T-shirts, bumper stickers, backpacks, costumes, books, comics (an element of pop culture is, after all, stuff)—is local comic book creator Chad Bowers. The writer of such issues as Sleepwalker, Darkhawk, X-Men ’92, Deadpool, Youngblood, and Kiss Army of Darkness, Bowers is something of a Soda City legend. Interested in the form since middle school, he self-published comics before landing a job with Marvel. He sees comic cons as the ultimate fan experience. “If you’re a person who likes NASCAR, it always means more to actually go to the race,” he says. “If you’re a person who loves baseball, you go to a baseA REAL GEM Paige Higgins of Hartsville portrays Blue Diamond from Steven Universe.


READY FOR THE SPOTLIGHT p Contestants for the Saturday evening cosplay contest head backstage, including Sophie Smith, in blue, dressed as Cinderella. u Alexander Hibbs of Lexington cosplays as a Star Wars scout trooper, complete with Ewok attacker, as seen in the film Return of the Jedi. q Anthony Andress of Spartanburg as Master Chief Petty Officer John-117 from the video game Halo shows off his dance skills as he “flosses” his way across the stage during the Saturday evening cosplay contest.

WINGING IT WACH FOX 57 morning news anchor and cosplay contest emcee Fraendy Clervaud portrays Marvel's Falcon.

WHO YA GONNA CALL? James Williams of Columbia is a proud Ghostbuster.

AUGUST 2020   |   SOUTH CAROLINA LIVING

15


SODA CITY COMIC CON

GAME ON Isaac Childress, above, of Columbia teaches Braylen Manigault and his mother, Brittany, of Charleston how to play the game King of Tokyo in the game room while Faye Kelley, 14, of Columbia acts as the dungeon master for a game of Dungeons & Dragons. INTO THE COMICVERSE Banks Robinson offers an impressive selection of vintage comic books to shoppers. SEE YOU NEXT YEAR Organizer Steve Powell and his wife, Rebecca, shown at the 2019 Soda City Comic Con, are looking forward to post-pandemic life and the August 2021 con.

THE PAYOFF Lamont Artybridge of Columbia put in 500 hours creating the costume of “Nightmare” from the video game Soulcalibur. He would later be announced the winner of the 2019 cosplay contest.

ball game. You can participate with comics in the same way.” Across the room, comic bookstores and ­independent dealers offer colorful, enticing shelf displays of rare (read: pricey) comics intended to lure buyers. “You have to really want to find a comic book any­ more,” says dealer Banks Robinson. “When we were growing up, comics were everywhere. They were in the drugstore. They were in the doctor’s office. Barber shops. Every store was just inundated with them.” One of his regular customers and clients, Ted Gunderson of Charleston, agrees. An eclectic collector of comics, vintage toys, and military objects, Gunderson says comics remind him of his childhood. “It was a better time,” he says. “Back then we escaped into a different world, a different universe.” Such nostalgia is why he’s always on the hunt for something new and special. He nods at Robinson and says, “He might shoot me an email saying, ‘Hey, I got a Spidey #1.’ I’d have to take a second mortgage out, but …”—he laughs—“but I’d do it.”

The gaming room Down the hall, in the Firefly Toys & Games Arcade room, a group of explorers sit at a table, plotting a quest. Durnan The Wanderer, the Masked Lord of Waterdeep, has gone missing in the dungeons below the Growling Groghouse. Their job, according to the dungeon master, is to find him. So begins “Last Orders of the Yawning Portal,” a part of the Dungeons & Dragons Adventurer League Series, a major attraction at Soda City Comic Con. Part role-play, part 16

SOUTH CAROLINA LIVING  |  AUGUST 2020 | SCLIVING.COOP


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PALMETTO STATE   marketplace

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19


|

SC   gardener

Spinach 101

AUGUST IN THE GARDEN

BY L.A. JACKSON

n Nandinas, hollies and pyracanthas will benefit from supplemental waterings during extended arid times this summer because, if stressed by hot, dry conditions, they could drop their immature berries.

n One garden chore NOT to do this month is prune any shrubs or trees. Cutting healthy branches back stimulates new growth, which probably won’t have time to harden off before the serious, killing freezes of winter arrive. For the same reason, fertilizing your woodies now is a no-no as well.

L . A . JACKSO N

Steady as she goes is a good ground rule for watering tomato plans.

TIP OF THE MONTH The pursuit of perfectly shaped home-grown tomatoes can be spoiled at this time of the gardening season by a problem known as cracking. This condition is marked by concentric, unappetizing rings circling the stems or vertical splits along the sides of ripening fruits. The problem usually occurs when a big rain falls after an extended dry spell. So much ground moisture suddenly available to tomato plants causes the fruits to expand quickly and literally crack out of their skins. Mulching the plants will help steady the moisture supply, and a regular watering schedule during extended stretches of rainless skies will also prevent this disorder.

20

Soil temperatures in the mid-80s can really put the brakes on seed germination, so wait until at least the middle of this month to begin sowing spinach seeds. until at least the middle of this month to begin sowing spinach seeds, or, if you prefer, set in starter plants. Not in a hurry? For South Carolina, anytime in September is ideal for a planting party. Spinach grows best in soil with a neutral pH, so, if your garden’s grounds tend to lean toward the acidic side, early this month, incorporate a dusting of lime into the planting area. And while you are working the dirt over, mix in gobs of compost or commercial soil conditioner to develop a fertile, loamy base that will support strong growth from spinach plants. Fertilizer, of course, also fuels fast spinach growth, and since this is a vegetable grown for its leaves, high-nitrogen plant food is welcome. I don’t overthink this requirement myself because, for years, I have scratched in scatterings

SOUTH CAROLINA LIVING  |  AUGUST 2020 | SCLIVING.COOP

L . A . JACKSO N

n Like weird bulbs? Sternbergias, colchicums and autumn-flowering crocuses will scratch that itch. Planted now—yep, even in the sizzle of the summer—these bulbous beauties will quickly emerge, mature and flower in the cool of the coming fall.

but believe it or not, it is time to crank up the fall veggie garden. One of my favorite cool-season edibles to raise is spinach—it is not only easy to grow, but is also a healthy treat low in calories while high in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron and calcium. And did I mention tasty, too? Spinach is a snap to start from seed in the garden, but don’t be so quick to get ’em in the ground. Soil temperatures in the mid-80s can really put the brakes on seed germination, so wait SURE, IT’S HOT OUTSIDE,

Save space for Space spinach in your fall veggie garden. The tasty flat leaves are easy to clean and serve.

of common 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 at planting time, added additional light dustings every three to four weeks while the plants are growing, and have always had a bumper crop. An inch of water weekly is another requirement for quick-growing spinach, so, if the autumn rains don’t come, have the garden hose ready to go. And just what cultivar should you choose? Bloomsdale Long Standing has been a garden standard for years, but it is a Savoy selection, meaning it has deep curls, nooks and crannies that make thoroughly cleaning dirt, dust and the occasional six-legged critter off a bit of a bear. The popular Melody, although wrinkled, is less crinkled than Bloomsdale Long Standing. Space, another growers’ favorite, has even smoother leaves, making for easier prep in the kitchen. Don’t be in a hurry to harvest all your spinach before the first frosts because these hardy plants can stand temps into the 20s. Actually, a little bit of frost helps to sweeten the taste. As for picking spinach, pick often, and go for the outer, older leaves first. L.A. JACKSON is the former editor of Carolina Gardener magazine. Contact him at lajackson1@gmail.com.


|

SC   humor me

Wheel of serendipitous happenstance BY JAN A. IGOE

ON A RAINY JUNE NIGHT

somewhere in Oregon, a naked stranger climbed up on a railroad crossing sign and remained there for 12 hours, ignoring police invitations to come down. He had previously been running around throwing rocks at strangers, so the police were very interested in meeting him, according to news reports. Somehow, considering the first half of 2020, a naked guy perched on a railroad sign barely qualifies as somewhat unusual on the world weird-o-meter. Weird is when I find myself inexplicably clicking on the latest news about Chrissy Teigen ditching her breast implants. Or Snooki leaving Jersey Shore. Nothing about Chrissy’s boobs or Snooki’s feuds interests me. It’s the virus. Stranded in my living room, I’ve been totally hug-deprived and lonely, despite the best efforts of several slobbering canine love machines. I understand why Tom Hanks was so happy to find a volleyball for company on that island. Everybody needs a Wilson. Meanwhile, I amuse myself with dumb and dumber internet antics. You know what the latest selfie craze is? Women showing off their armpit hair, which makes me wonder if the hippies are mounting a comeback. I grew up waiting a month to see what dad captured with his 24-shot roll of Kodak film, so there were no hairy pit portraits. Family photos were largely devoted to Christmas, birthdays or Mom’s meltdowns. My poor mom was very intelligent, but she never went to college or had a job besides raising ungrateful kids. She would have made an excellent employee, 22

Mom would have made an excellent employee, assuming she could start as CEO, four-star general, or queen. assuming she could start as CEO, fourstar general, or queen. Suitable positions were hard to come by, so Mom had no outlet for the encyclopedias she inhaled or her “sesquipedalian” vocabulary—a Mom word—except her kids. She loved digging up obscure nouns and pompous adjectives that made everyday English seem like a foreign language. The more syllables, the better. Then she’d lie in wait, often baiting her trap with warm chocolate chip cookies, ready to spring an unrecognizable sentence on the first kid home from school. Mom’s cookies always had consequences. I checked the hallway to see if she was lurking nearby. No one there. No one behind the refrigerator or under the table. The coast was clear. But as

SOUTH CAROLINA LIVING  |  AUGUST 2020 | SCLIVING.COOP

I tiptoed toward the cookies, her voice found me. “Who’s your favorite rumbustious protagonist in a bildungsroman?” Mom was very pleased to have caught a hungry child in her vocabulary net, confident that her selection of words nobody had uttered in 100 years would stump us. She was right. “Are you asking for yourself or a friend?” I queried, stalling for time while my fourth-grade brain tried to reason it out. Something about Roman buildings, maybe. “Rumbustious” sounded too much like “rambunctious,” so that was probably a trick. I knew a protagonist was a hero. So she wanted a rowdy Roman who owned a building? “Nero,” I said confidently, but Mom was already celebrating her victory and making that bad-answer-buzzer noise. No cookies until I researched “bildungsroman.” (And this was before Google.) Turns out it’s a novel about the growth of the main character, who presumably was not Nero. If Mom had been job hunting at the same time as Vanna White, things might have been different. She would have liked turning letters over and watching contestants struggle. But Mom could only go so long before strutting over to swat any dummies upside the head. Even so, with Mom you got a free buzzer. But no cookies. Raised by the Queen of Wordsmiths, JAN A. IGOE was being force-fed vocabulary words while other kids were spitting out strained peas. Please send cookies or write her at HumorMe@SCLiving.coop. Stay well!


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South Carolina Living August 2020  

During this surreal pandemic year, voyage back through time with us to a comic con multiverse, where fantasy worlds of graphic novels, scien...

South Carolina Living August 2020  

During this surreal pandemic year, voyage back through time with us to a comic con multiverse, where fantasy worlds of graphic novels, scien...

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