The WP Kitchen + Bar, formerly know as Wolfgang Puck Pizza Kitchen, is located at Phillips Place in Charlotte, NC. According to the Charlotte Agenda, a name change occurred because the restaurant wanted to pivot away from being known as a pizza joint. The restaurant offers an upscale casual dining experience containing a full bar and plenty of table seating. Lunch and dinner are served each day. Their operating hours are Monday through Thursday from 11:30 - 2:30 p.m. and 5 - 10 p.m. On Friday, they stay open until 11 p.m. As for Saturday and Sunday, WP Kitchen + Bar serves continuously throughout the day.
The dinner menu contains an assortment of starters, sandwiches, entrees, pastas, and pizzas. While many of the food options are Italian inspired, there is a large assortment of other offerings available. It is relatively easy to share items on the menu with others. When I eat at WP Kitchen + Bar, pizzas and pastas are shared around the table. The portion sizes are also small enough for one person to finish.
One thing that has not changed over time at WP Kitchen + Bar is the delicious pizzas. They are the go-to items on the menu for my friends and I. The Pepperoni and Fennel Sausage pizzas are my personal favorites. If you are not interested in ordering pizza, they do offer other great food options. My wife greatly enjoys the Turkey Bolognese. One of our friends also recommends the Rigatoni Alfredo.
The alcoholic beverage options are plentiful and reasonably priced. We have ordered multiple bottles of the Augustinos Reserva Malbec. You cannot go wrong with their specialty cocktails as well. Whether you are in the mood for pizza or a casual dining experience, WP Kitchen + Bar is a fine choice in SouthPark.
Ichibancon 10 was another great experience in Concord, NC. I attended the convention for most of Saturday. My panel on traveling to Japan kicked off the day at 10 a.m. I was impressed with the friendly and helpful volunteer staff that got the room ready. There was a dedicated technician for Events 2 all day. The room was huge and could hold up to 180 people. It was quite an upgrade from the previous year. Thank you to everyone who attended my panel and for asking great questions. My goal is to always have people walk away with the basic knowledge and information to plan their own amazing adventure.
I attended other panels throughout the day including Best Beatdowns in Boruto/Naruto! by cyberkaiser. It was a panel on the differences between fighting and action scenes, character development, and a little history about ninjutsu. He hosted an impressive 8 panels throughout the weekend. I recommend attending one of his panels at a future convention.
One of the most well-attended panels was Beyond Sushi: Japanese Recipes for the American Otaku. The host covered simple recipes for karaage, port cutlet, and udon dishes along with where to buy ingredients. She did a great job explaining each step and ingredient to the audience. Japanese cookbooks sometimes do a poor job showing what ingredients are called in English and where to purchase them.
The most audience engaging panel I attended was Japanese Class with Kohei. The panel was hosted by Kohei, an aspiring singer and composer living in New York City. He was very energetic and encouraged attendees to try pronouncing various phrases in Japanese. At the end of the panel, he did a small singing performance.
The Japanese arcade room had even more games and offerings this year. A few new notable games were present including Time Crisis 5. I never saw an arcade cabinet unattended throughout Saturday. The back of the room was full of console games. Most of the stations were fighting games available across multiple consoles. They held a number of fighting game tournaments over the weekend.
The convention had a fair amount of voice actors and other guests. The most notable voice actors in attendance were Steve Blum and Vic Mignoga. Blum is famous for his role as Spike Spiegel in Cowboy Bebop and Wolverine across multiple animated X-Men shows. Mignoga voice acted popular characters like Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist and Eld Gin in Attack on Titan.
While I did not attend the main event or the late night glow stick parties, I saw they very popular. There were some amazing costumes people wore on Saturday. One of my favorite outfits was a gentlemen dressed as Kefka from Final Fantasy VI. There were dozens of attendees dressed as characters from popular shows like Naruto and My Hero Academia. I encourage anyone in the Charlotte area with an interest in Japanese culture or anime to attend Ichibancon in 2020.
The 2018 Belk Bowl saw two college football teams play at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC. The stadium hosts home games for the Carolina Panthers NFL team. The University of Virginia defeated the University of South Carolina with a final score of 28-0. I was fortunate enough to win two tickets to the Gridiron Club for the Belk Bowl. The Gridiron Club luxury suite renovation was complete ahead of the 2008-2009 football season according to Turner Construction. Normally, season ticket prices for one of the 282 seats in the Gridiron Club run $4,900 plus a one time fee of $10,000 to $15,000 dollars.
The Gridiron Club offers a unique fan experience not found in other luxury suites at Bank of America Stadium. As you walk in the Gridiron Club, everything is to the right except for bathrooms and a coat rack. Before you reach the large bar area, you will pass by private lockers and a viewing area with theater seating. For a typical Panthers football game, the bar is fully stocked with beer, wine, liquor, mixers, coffee, and bottled water. Everything but liquor was offered for the Belk Bowl. The large area past the bar contains food stations with various options. There are a number tables and seats around the bar area for people to eat or watch a plethora of televisions.
In addition to enjoying the indoor amenities, each game ticket includes an assigned outdoor seat. The outdoor seats are cushioned and larger than the average stadium seat. Televisions and heaters hang overhead to make the experience even more enjoyable. There is ample legroom and a shelf to hold food and beverages. I have never had a more comfortable experience watching a football game. While end zone corner seating is considered a less desirable view of the field, the amenities more than make up for the location. My friend and I had an amazing day at the Belk Bowl. I highly recommend attending any football game if you are given the chance to experience it inside the Gridiron Club.
The start of a new year is a great opportunity to reflect on the past and look forward to the future. Many people create New Year’s resolutions after the holiday season ends. One of the most common resolutions is improving one’s health through exercising. A resolution can be anything you want to accomplish, whether it is health related or trying something new. I have read many self-help articles on achieving goals to improve my performance with graduate school, relationships, and hobbies. I would like to share a few general tips that were very helpful in reaching my own goals.
Set Realistic Expectations and Goals
You should be honest with yourself and set realistic goals that are achievable. The motivation to reach a goal will die fast when it seems impossible to reach. If your true goal feels like a stretch than a reality, try setting milestones along the way. It is more important to see continuous improvement over time than to set time limits or become fixated on a specific outcome.
Positive Mentality is Critical to Success
A re-occurring theme in self-help articles is having the right mentality to accomplish a goal. You are more likely to improve and succeed in reaching a goal if you believe you can do it. Positive mental energy goes a long way to help you stay motivated. In addition, believing in yourself improves your overall happiness during the process of achieving a goal.
A Results-Oriented Focus is Wrong
A common trap in reaching goals is justifying your efforts specifically by the results. This can lead to negative feelings and emotion rather than positive motivation to continue working harder. Learning and improving through dedicated practice will produce results over time. The amount of time it can take to reach a goal can vary. A good example is when someone starts lifting weights for the first time. It is common to see quick strength improvements from lifting weights when you have never worked out before. However, at some point your performance gains slow down and it becomes much harder to notice improvements. Maintaining a results-oriented approach to lifting can cause negative feelings that your efforts are not working. You should expect to hit plateaus and speed bumps along the way to reaching any goal.
Practice Makes Perfect
You do not become a professional athlete without hours and hours of practice. Some people have innate talent that gives them an advantage, but mastering that talent still requires practice. To accomplish a goal, you must put forth effort over time. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, he suggests that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practicing to master a task. While your goal may not require 10,000 hours to accomplish, the underlying theme is practice makes perfect.
Time is Precious
There are 168 hours in a given week. If you work a full-time job and sleep eight hours a day, then your remaining free time is 72 hours. Assuming you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner; you can narrow the 72 hours down to around 58 hours. Fitting in time to go to the gym, write a blog post, or read a book can become a challenge. Sometimes you must give up one thing to add something else to your busy schedule. Making your goal a priority in your life will help you find the time to reach it.
This past year was full of joyous memories, countless hours of graduate school, and celebrating many weddings (including my own). I accomplished my goal of continuing to write each week, even when life was very busy. While I did not win an invitation to another regional Magic: The Gathering tournament, I did place second and fourth in competitive constructed tournaments. Time is precious and I had to cut back time on my personal hobbies to make time for more important things. Practice makes perfect as I focused on playing two specific deck strategies in Magic: The Gathering that led to winning cash prizes. Even when I did not have time to play, I read helpful articles and wrote out strategies to implement against other decks. The only results I expected from my blog, school work, and hobbies were doing my best at any given time. I was realistic with expectations and prioritized time with my wife and friends when necessary. Thank you as well for reading and supporting my website throughout 2018. One of my goals for 2019 is to continue creating new and interesting content. Happy New Year to you and your family.