I could say, "the time has finally come" but it's more like, "man that got here quick" -- the grand opening of Charlotte Premium Outlets.

Nelly was asked what it's like to be a part of Michael Jordan's inner circle as a part-owner of the Hornets, as well as his thoughts on Lance Stephenson.

The online comments quickly took an unexpected turn. Many said that DeAngelo had been duped by a faker because the so-called Marine's uniform display broke protocol.

Ashby has begun filming in Charlotte, with Mickey Rourke, Nat Wolff, Emma Roberts, and Sarah Silverman among the cast.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Gatorade released a series of commercials online yesterday for its "Sweat It. Get It" campaign, starring quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Cam Newton. The two NFL stars appear separately in the ads, which range from one minute to two minutes long. They make it difficult for unsuspecting customers to buy Gatorade at a convenience store because the men and women who attempt to purchase the sports drinks haven't sweated, which means they haven't earned it.

Cam appears in two of the commercials, while Peyton is in six--he's the consummate pitch man, isn't he? Even though there are so-called hidden cameras capturing this and it seems to be a real convenience store, like the Jeff Gordon test-drive-prank Pepsi commercial last year, my suspicions are that these are all actors; though one (and only one) of Peyton's seems real. (Jeff Gordon's commercial has gone on to get more than 40 million views, by the way.)

Watch the two commercials with the Carolina Panthers QB below, and you can view all of them at gatorade.com/sweat-it-get-it.

You'll also find Cam and Peyton alongside Eli Manning, Robert Griffin III, and J.J. Watt as Gatorade's The League of Captains. Each player is a comic book character, with actual written and illustrated stories--Cam is "The Blender"--and you can purchase specially designed Gatorade bottles of the characters for a limited time.

Credits: Gatorade

Friday, August 15, 2014

At 6 p.m. yesterday (Thursday, August 14), the highly anticipated SEC Network launched. The Southeastern Conference and ESPN partnered to create this new national television network, which will provide 24/7 coverage of SEC college sports--specifically during the first year: 45 football games, 100 men's basketball games, 60 women's basketball games, 75 baseball games, 50 softball games; plus, live events, classic games, and original studio programming, they say.

Credit: Facebook

But let's keep it real. This channel has been created because college football's popularity is at an all-time high, bringing in billions of dollars a year in revenue, and the SEC has been the perennial football conference for the last decade. I'm excited that I'll get more comprehensive coverage of my South Carolina Gamecocks--we kick off the 2014 football season, on the new network, Thursday, August 28, at home against Texas A&M--but how many of us will be tuned into the channel come mid-January once football season is over? Furthermore, a lot of the big SEC football games, like Alabama vs. Auburn, Florida vs. Georgia, and LSU vs. Alabama, will continue to be shown on the major networks like CBS and ABC.

But for now, the SEC Network is making an historic debut, reportedly available in 75 million households. And in terms of projected revenue, it's the fifth-largest sports network in the country, behind ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN2, and FS1; and far ahead of its rivals, so to speak, the PAC 12 Network and Big Ten Network, which launched before it. Out the gate, the SEC Network is available on most of the major cable TV and satellite providers: AT&T U-verse, Charter Communications, Cox, DirecTV, Dish, Time Warner Cable, and Xfinity (click here to find your channel).

The network is based in Charlotte, located at ESPN's offices and studios in Ballantyne, which also produce ESPNU (the Southeastern Conference itself is headquartered in Birmingham). There's a newly assembled staff working in Ballantyne, but a lot of the broadcast coverage will also come from on-site at each of the 14 SEC schools. And the network scored a major victory when it lured legendary college football analyst Paul Finebaum to Charlotte.

Get everything you want to know about the SEC Network:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Since debuting three weeks ago, the August issue of Charlotte magazine has been a popular topic around the city, led by its cover story on "50 Things Every Charlottean Should Do." The large feature package--encompassing 20 pages in the print issue--is a must-read whether you're a native or a newcomer or you fall somewhere in between. If you're someone who used to live in Charlotte or periodically visits the area, you'll enjoy reading this story as well.

A lot of people have shared the link to the story on social media, often commenting on how many of the 50 things they've done. Personally, I've done 46 of the things on the list during the nine years I've lived in Charlotte (today actually marks nine years ago that I moved to Charlotte from Augusta, Georgia).

Most of the activities, like "Wait in line for Price's Chicken," "Spend a day at the U.S. National Whitewater Center," and "Gain perspective at 1,625 feet," which is about hiking Crowders Mountain, illustrate just how robust and varied the list of activities are that this area has to offer. Others are more anecdotal, like "Be friendly" and "Don't assume everyone works for a bank," providing a little insight into Charlotte's culture and history, the latter of which people tend to not know much about, as this is a city filled with transplants.

I was one of eight writers to contribute to 50 Things Every Charlottean Should Do (and I'm profiled on the contributors page, pg. 14). The feature is also filled with beautiful photography.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

One of Charlotte's best restaurants is getting the national attention it deserves. The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar is featured on this week's episode of Travel Channel's Food Paradise, which premiered Tuesday night. The hour-long episode, titled Hamburger Paradise 3, showcases great burgers from restaurants around the country, from Seattle and Chicago to Philadelphia and Charlotte. Among the Cowfish burgers highlighted is the burgushi, which I once raved about.

One of the Cowfish's burgers featured on Food Paradise. Served with sweet potato fries!

The segment on Cowfish opens with the narrator proclaiming: "Fewer burger spots have a bigger buzz than Cowfish in Charlotte. It's the most popular North Carolina mash-up since tar met heels." You can watch the entire episode online by clicking here (Cowfish debuts around the 13:30 mark). You can also catch it when it re-airs on Travel Channel over the coming days by checking the channel's schedule.

In addition to the original Cowfish location in SouthPark, there's also one in Raleigh, and a location is scheduled to open this year at Universal Studios in Orlando.

Ryan Lochte ate in one sitting what you probably ate total the last three days.

The 11-time Olympic medal-winning swimmer (including five golds) shared a photo on Twitter Monday afternoon, showcasing what he was about to eat for, what I presume was, lunch. He offered the caption: "#Streamlining in preparation for my 10,000 calories. Let’s see your best pose. @swimtoday #funnestsport." It was talked about today on ESPN's Pardon The Interruption (near the end of the show, which is how I found out about it; h/t).

As most of you in Charlotte probably know, Lochte moved to the Queen City last October to train with the renowned SwimMAC Carolina and its Team Elite, which is filled with several past Olympic champions and current and future contenders.

You're wondering how far above the recommended daily caloric intake Lochte is, right? Well, according to websites like WebMD and CalorieKing, someone of Lochte's demographic (male, 6 feet, 2 inches tall, 195 pounds, age 29--he turns 30 on August 3) who lives an active lifestyle, should consume about 3,000 calories a day to maintain his weight. Of course, he's extremely active as a world-class swimmer, so it should be expected that his caloric intake would be off the charts. Professional swimmers (i.e. Michael Phelps) are known to consume high amounts of calories to keep up with the extreme amounts they burn when rigorously training.

Lochte's rather active on the social scene as well. Two Saturdays ago I spotted him, and his good friend and fellow Olympic swimmer and Charlottean Cullen Jones, at Vault nightclub at the EpiCentre. He's also a regular at Oak Room in South End. That's why back in December, on my Dusk Till Dawn blog, I included him in my year-end list of "Biggest Moments in Charlotte’s Nightlife and Social Scene in 2013."

Play hard, work hard... or as Lochte would say, jeah!

I could say, "the time has finally come" but it's more like, "man that got here quick" -- the grand opening of Charlotte Premium Outlets. The dates for the four-day grand opening celebration were announced months ago, but it's still astonishing to see this 100-store outlet mall come to fruition after only breaking ground last September. I've driven past it each of the last two weekends, where you can see it clearly from Interstate 485 (Exit 4 NC 160/Steele Creek Road). I blogged in March about how Charlotte Premium Outlets will greatly transform that part of town.

Photos credit: Facebook

The grand opening events kick off this Thursday at 10 a.m., and there'll be live bands performing over three days in the commons areas--Charlotte favorites like 5 on Sundays, Early Ray, and Hot Sauce. There will also be two prizes given away every hour between noon and 5 p.m. Plus, there will be in-store events and entertainment taking place at several of the stores, such as DJs inside the Converse, Puma, and Hilfiger stores; and gift card giveaways at Aeropostale, Eddie Bauer, J.Crew, Lane Bryant, Nike, and many others. Reality TV star, author, and entrepreneur Bethenny Frankel is scheduled to appear Saturday at the VIP Shopper Club Lounge. It's also possible that other celebrities and special guests could appear throughout the weekend.

Click here for the full schedule of grand opening events.

Charlotte Premium Outlets now has social media accounts: facebook.com/charlottepremiumoutlets and twitter.com/CharPremOutlets; the hashtag for the grand opening is #CPOGO (stands for Charlotte Premium Outlets Grand Opening, FYI). Charlotte Premium Outlets, 5404 New Fashion Way, 704-523-8865, charlotte@premiumoutlets.com, premiumoutlets.com/charlotte.

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