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"Hamilton" a Dynamite Theatrical Experience at the Peace Center

By Paul Hyde/Anderson Observer

You can believe all the great things you’ve heard about “Hamilton.” The national tour of the Tony Award-winning musical at the Peace Center is dynamite, a brilliant theatrical experience that lives up to its hype.

The national tour of "Hamilton" continues through Sunday at the Peace Center.It’s a very American story of an impoverished immigrant from the Caribbean who makes good in the land opportunity.

It’s also a love story, and a love letter to our founding fathers and mothers.

And it’s the arts event of the year in the Upstate.

What you may not know is that Lin-Manuel Miranda’s remarkable, game-changing musical nicely balances revolution with tradition. The show tells the story of Alexander Hamilton – the fellow on the $10 bill and the creator of America’s economic system – through a virtuosic outburst of rap music.

Yet, the show also features traditional -- and highly appealing -- song and dance numbers in the styles of R&B, jazz, Britpop and good ol’ musical theater. Miranda, a dynamic wordsmith and theater pro, drops tasty references to Shakespeare, Gilbert and Sullivan and “South Pacific,” among many others.

At almost three hours with intermission, the show, which also won the Pulitzer Prize, is a lot more substantial – but also funnier – than the usual blockbuster musical. Washington, Hamilton and Jefferson conduct war, compose the Constitution and outline the economic structure of a new nation.

The show’s dialogue, conveyed in often briskly-paced rap, approaches Shakespearean lengths. The large principal cast also puts one in mind of the breadth of Shakespeare’s plays or a Wagnerian opera.

“Hamilton” is crammed with words and, yes, it’s fair to say the show makes demands on a modern audience’s attention span. 

At the center of the story is Hamilton himself, the fast-talking, fast-writing man with a mission and overwhelming ambition. His friend and murderous rival, Aaron Burr, serves as an embittered narrator with a front seat to Hamilton’s meteoric rise to become the first U.S. secretary of the Treasury.

“Hamilton” certainly qualifies as the musical of the modern resistance, with its emphasis on the central role played by immigrants in our great Nation of Immigrants. Today, when refugees and immigrants are often shunned in our nation, “Hamilton” is a keen reminder of our roots.

The show’s most famous line -- “Immigrants, we get the job done” – inspired enthusiastic applause on the night I attended, as it does most anywhere the musical is staged.

With black and Hispanic actors in period costumes portraying white historical figures, the cast looks like America today rather than the American of 1776. The show’s diversity and hip-hop music remind an audience that the ongoing American revolution – and its vision of a more inclusive nation – belongs to the young.

Our hero Alexander Hamilton speaks in contemporary rap, but he achieves fame and influence the old-fashioned way -- by earning it: “by working a lot harder, by being a lot smarter, by being a self-starter,” as the opening number makes clear.

I think history buffs will love the show, based on Ron Chernow’s sprawling 2004 biography of Hamilton. The musical gets the broad outlines of our nation’s story correct – particularly the shifting loyalties in an America founded on the sort of brutal factionalism that continues today. It’s a bit jarring, to say the least, to see Jefferson and Madison played as comic characters – but they’re certainly funny.

Miranda is not out to diminish the founding fathers. Quite the opposite: The musical is patriotic, awestruck by the achievements of the founders.

And it’s gratifying to see the revolutionary war hero John Laurens, who was born and died in South Carolina, occupying a prominent role in the story of “Hamilton.” Laurens was a good friend of Hamilton, maybe his lover. The city and county of Laurens in the Upstate is named after John Laurens’ father, Henry.

The electrifying, high-octane direction and choreography are by, respectively, Thomas Kail and Andy Blankenbuehler.

The cast is superb. Joseph Morales is sympathetic in the tour de force role of Hamilton, a mix of pluck and insecurity. Nik Walker, a commanding actor with tremendous charisma, plays Burr.

Jon Patrick Walker is a delight as King George III, who comments on the revolution with prissy petulance.

Shoba Narayan is beautiful in voice and presence as Eliza Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton’s wife. Ta’Rea Campbell, as Eliza’s sister Angelica Schuyler, soars in her numbers.

Marcus Choi is the formidable George Washington. Several actors do double duty, embracing their roles with gusto: Kyle Scatliffe (Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson), Fergie L. Philippe (Hercules Mulligan/James Madison), Elijah Malcomb (John Laurens/Philip Hamilton) and Nyla Sostre (Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds).

Wonza Johnson, a graduate of the S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, offers a solid contribution in three roles (Philip Schuyler, James Reynolds, the Doctor) – and substitutes for Hamilton in some shows.

The entire cast sounds magnificent in big ensemble numbers like “Yorktown.”

David Korins’ economical, rough-hewn set of planks, stairs and ropes suggests an 18th century port which, to the refugee and immigrant, must have been the symbolic equivalent of a Statue of Liberty in colonial America.

This dazzling touring production of “Hamilton” continues through Sunday. Some tickets may remain. Call the Peace Center at 864-467-3000 or see the website

Paul Hyde, a veteran Upstate journalist, writes about the arts for the Anderson Observer. Write to him at Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7.


Help AIM This Christmas


Study: Most Overdose Deaths Involve Multiple Drugs

Huffington Post - A new report analyzing the drugs involved in fatal overdoses once again emphasized fentanyl’s role in the United States’ opioid crisis and highlighted a point frequently made by public health experts: Most people who fatally overdose have more than one drug in their system.

In 2016, about 70 percent of fatal overdoses involving fentanyl or heroin involved another drug as well, and roughly 74 percent of fatal overdoses involving cocaine also involved one or more other drugs.

“We’ve had a tendency to think of these drugs in isolation. It’s not really what’s happening,” said Dr. Holly Hedegaard, lead author of the report and injury epidemiologist at the National Center for Health Statistics.

More than 72,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2017, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most reports on drug overdose deaths only determine what class of drugs were involved. The new report, published Wednesday by the National Center for Health Statistics, analyzed the text of death certificates and compared it with National Vital Statistics System data, drilling down to determine the specific drug ― not just the class of drugs ― involved in overdose deaths from 2011 to 2016.

What researchers found mirrored news reports in recent years. Oxycodone, which was the most common drug cited in fatal overdoses in 2011, was eclipsed by heroin from 2012 to 2015, and then fentanyl in 2016. On average, the U.S. death rate involving fentanyl increased about 113 percent per year from 2013 to 2016.

In most of these cases, the researchers found that more than one drug was used, and from those data they were able to identify the most common combinations of drugs that led to fatal overdoses.

Though it’s impossible to tease out what specific effect one drug had versus another used at the same time (or what other medical factors may have contributed to the deaths), better understanding these drug combinations “helps us identify potential areas of risk,” Hedegaard said. For instance, about 40 percent of cocaine deaths also involved fentanyl.

Hedegaard and her co-authors used the same death certificates that the CDC typically uses for overdose reports but went deeper in their analysis, scouring the records for drug misspellings, chemical names, brand names and street names recorded by coroners and medical examiners.

The amount and quality of information on the reports varied widely. Death investigations, resources and reporting requirements differ from county to county and state to state, and medical examiners and coroners are a patchwork of officials and an unregulated group. In some municipalities, coroner is an elected or appointed position, not necessarily a medical doctor.

Though reporting by medical examiners and coroners improved over the course of the report, Hedegaard noted, in 2016, 15 percent of drug overdose death certificates still didn’t include any specific drug.

After an in-depth analysis of the information, the researchers also found that certain drugs were more likely to be the cause of death in unintentional overdoses, while others were more likely to be implicated in death by suicide. In 2016, the street drugs fentanyl, heroin and cocaine were most frequently recorded in unintentional fatal overdoses, while prescription and over-the-counter medicines, including oxycodone, diphenhydramine, hydrocodone and alprazolam, were most frequently recorded in deaths by suicide.

Better understanding those patterns could help experts and policymakers who are working to end the nation’s suicide and overdose crises.

“For folks who work in prevention, having information helps them think about what prevention tactics to use or approaches that might be effective,” Hedegaard said.


Tennessee Earthquake Felt in Parts of S.C.

Some East Tennesseans got an early start to their Wednesday when an earthquake centered in Decatur rattled through the area. 

A magnitude 4.4 earthquake began at 4:17 a.m., the strongest reported in the area in 45 years, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Reports indicate the earthquake was felt in parts of Upstate South Carolina and in Atlanta.

About 13 minutes after the first earthquake, a 3.3 magnitude aftershock struck the same area of Meigs County and radiated through East Tennessee.

The USGS said a 4.4. earthquake can usually be felt indoors — and sometimes outdoors — and awaken many in the area. It said dishes, windows and doors may break and unstable objects may overturn during a sensation described "like a heavy truck striking a building."

There are no immediate reports of damage or injuries, but some East Tennesseans awoken by the quake are offering their own descriptions of what the earthquake felt like. 

Judy Day, a University of Tennessee professor, took to Twitter to say she felt the earthquake this morning, but thought her washing machine had just started a vigorous spin cycle. 


AU to Award 287 Degrees Friday; Francis Crowder to Be Honored

Anderson University will award 287 degrees as part of Friday's graduation ceremonies at the Callie Stringer Rainey Fine Arts Auditorium. The 128 graduate degrees will be awarded beginning at 2 p.m., while the 159 undergraduate degrees will be awareded beginning at 5 p.m.

David A. Taylor, chief executive officer and president of the University Center of Greenville (UCG) will provide a keynote address for the graduate ceremony, and Dr. Bryan H. Cribb, Associate Professor of Christian Studies and Associate Dean of Christian Studies for the College of Christian Studies at Anderson University will speak at the undergraduate ceremony. 

Former Anderson County Councilman Francis M. Crowder, Sr., a long-serving member of the Anderson University Board of Trust, is receiving an honorary Doctorate of Humanities for his enduring commitment to the Anderson University family and service to the community. 

Crowder is the founder and former chief executive officer of Q.S. Inc., a software development, support and training firm based in Greenville, from which he retired in 1997. He earned a bachelor of arts in chemistry from Lander College and a master of public health from the University of Michigan, along with additional studies in business administration from both Clemson University and Furman University. A veteran of the United States Navy, Crowder served on the Anderson University Board of Trustees from 1997 until 2010, and again in 2017 and 2018. He held committee appointments that included finance and institutional advancement. Crowder was recently named a Lifetime Trusteeby members of the Board of Trust for his commitment and service to the University. Crowder is a Board of Visitors Emeritus at AU, as well as a member of the AnMed Board of Ambassadors and the Anderson Rotary Club.


AU Deal Offers Anderson Teachers New Advanced Degree Options

Pursuing a graduate degree just got easier for teachers throughout Anderson County due to a new partnership between Anderson University and Anderson County’s five school districts. 

AU officials and representatives of Anderson School Districts 1-5 signed agreement Tuesday that creates new pathways for professional educators who want to further their education and training by earning an advanced degree. Anderson University is providing tuition grants worth up to $550 per semester to Anderson School District teachers who qualify. Under terms of the agreement, Anderson University is now a preferred partner for higher educational services for the districts.

“This strategic partnership is great news for district employees, working professionals who’ve always wanted to continue their educational journey but could not find the time or resources to make it happen,” said Dr. Ryan Neal, Anderson University’s provost. “It’s an exciting development for AU as well; we are eager to include the unparalleled educators from Anderson County’s school districts as members of our university family.”

A total of 29 degree programs are available to grant recipients, including the graduate degrees in Anderson University’s College of Education: the Master of Education; the Master of Science in Instructional Design and Learning Technology; and Master of Arts in Teaching. Degree programs for the AU Partnership Grant are not limited to those within the College of Education, and include master’s degrees across a range of disciplines: the Master of Business Administration (MBA); the Master of Organizational Leadership; the Master of Criminal Justice; the Master of Divinity; Master of Ministry; and Master of Music in Music Education, among others. Employees who have not completed their undergraduate degree or educators seeking a second bachelor’s degree are also eligible for the grant. 


Compromise Farm Bill Expected to Pass

Dec. 11 (UPI) -- After months of negotiations, federal lawmakers have compromised on a new farm bill, putting the legislation on track to be passed by both the House and Senate this week.

The compromise bill, unveiled Monday night, leaves out controversial work requirements for food stamp recipients that were part of the House version of the bill -- a key sticking point during negotiations. It also maintains conservation programs the House bill proposed eliminating.

"It seems to generally, with a few exceptions, maintain programs as they have been in the past," said Erika Dunyak, a clinical fellow at the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic.

The previous Farm Bill expired Sept. 30, after a joint House and Senate committee failed to compromise on the legislation. The House and Senate had passed strikingly different bills. After its expiration, dozens of programs went on hold.

Farmers and groups who rely on the programs feared they would languish another year if lawmakers didn't compromise during this year's lame duck session, before a new House and Senate start over in 2019.

Both chambers plan to vote on the $867 billion bill this week. If it passes, the bill will go to President Donald Trump for approval.

"There are some really great things in this bill," said Ferd Hoefner, a senior adviser for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

The bill gives greater support for the struggling dairy industry. It also legalizes industrial hemp production by removing it from the federal government's list of controlled substances, something sought by many Midwestern farmers looking for alternatives to increasingly volatile commodity crops.

A group of programs that support beginning and small farmers, local foods and organic research -- among other things -- receive permanent funding in the bill, Hoefner said. Previously, those programs had to find new money to operate every five years when the farm bill renewed.

"We've been beating this drum for a long time," Hoefner said. "It's still a tiny slice of the overall farm bill pie, but it's a permanent slice now, and it will probably grow over time."

On the conservation side, the bill directs more money toward soil health initiatives that will improve water quality and fight global climate change. However, funding for the conservation title as a whole was cut.


Jimmy Dean Recalls 29,000 Pounds of Heat 'n Server Sausage

Dec. 11 (UPI) -- CTI Foods has voluntarily recalled more than 29,000 pounds of Jimmy Dean Heat 'n Serve Original Sausage Links, over concerns about contamination by metal fragments.

CTI said the recall involves more than 2,800 cases and sausage packages produced at one plant on Aug. 4.

Officials said the affected packages have an establishment code of M19085 or P19085, a "use by" date of Jan. 31, 2019, and UPC number of 0-77900-36519-5. The cases were marked with lot number A638216800 or A638216801.

Concern over metal fragments turning up in some of the packages prompted the recall.

"A few consumers contacted the company to say they had found small, string-like fragments of metal in the product," Jimmy Dean said in a statement. "Though the fragments have been found in a very limited number of packages, out of an abundance of caution, CTI is recalling 29,028 pounds of product."

There were five complaints made to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service. No injuries have been reported.

People who bought the recalled sausage are asked to cut the UPC and date code from the package and call 1-855-382-3101. The company said the sausage should be thrown away or returned to the store.



1,700 to Get Degrees at Clemson December Graduation

CLEMSON – Clemson University will award more than 1,700 degrees in Littlejohn Coliseum on Thursday, Dec. 20. For those unable to attend, the ceremonies will be streamed live online.

Undergraduates, master’s and doctoral graduates from each college will receive their degrees during one of two ceremonies:

9:30 a.m.

  • College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences
  • College of Education
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences

1:30 p.m.

  • College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences
  • College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities
  • College of Business
  • College of Science

A separate hooding ceremony will take place for doctoral students at 3 p.m. Dec. 19 at the Brooks Center for Performing Arts. The Doctoral Hooding Ceremony also will be available to view online.


The university’s clear bag policy, which was first implemented during this year’s summer graduation, is still in effect and will be for all ceremonies moving forward.

The policy, consistent with the one put in place for basketball games in Littlejohn Coliseum, prohibits backpacks, artificial noisemakers, bags larger than 12 by 6 by 12 inches and non-clear bags. Attending students, faculty, staff and visitors are encouraged not to bring bags, but outlined below is what is permissible to carry in the coliseum:

  • Bags that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 12 by 6 by 12 inches (Official Clemson Tigers logo clear plastic tote bags are available at local retail stores) or 1-gallon clear plastic storage bags, such as Ziploc brand.
  • Small clutch bags, approximately the size of a hand (no larger than 4.5 by 6.5 inches), with or without a handle or strap can be taken into the coliseum but will be subject to inspection.
  • An exception will be made for medically necessary items after inspection.
  • Guests will be able to carry cameras and smart phones, but carrying cases will NOT be allowed.
  • Strollers will need to be checked upon entry.
  • Working media will be able to bring in items needed to perform their job duties, however they will be subject to screening and bag inspections.

Prohibited items include, but are not limited to: artificial noisemakers, backpacks, non-clear bags or purses, banners/flags/flag poles, coolers, outside food or beverages and weapons of any kind.

In addition to security teams searching bags at Littlejohn entrances, metal detectors will be stationed at every entrance. University venues across campus are implementing this policy to ensure the safety and security for all faculty, staff, students and visitors.


Highway 93 will be open during the ceremonies, but drivers attending should still plan to use Perimeter Road, which can be accessed from U.S. 76 (Clemson Boulevard) or the recently opened Newman Road extension, and follow that around the south side of campus to get to Littlejohn Coliseum.

More information about graduation is available online.


Environmental Groups to Sue Trump Over Offshore Drilling Tests

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Environmental groups plan to sue the Trump administration over offshore drilling tests, launching a legal fight against a proposal that has drawn bipartisan opposition along the Atlantic Coast, two people with direct knowledge of the pending litigation told The Associated Press on Monday.

The lawsuit, which aims to stop the issuance of permits for the use of seismic air guns, will be filed by a coalition of environmental groups in federal court in South Carolina on Tuesday, according to the individuals. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly before the suit is filed.

 The Trump administration has authorized five such permits, which aim to find oil and gas formations deeply below the Atlantic Ocean floor, from Delaware to central Florida, an area where seismic surveys haven't been conducted in decades.

The blasts are conducted in preparation for potential offshore drilling, which the administration has proposed to expand from the Atlantic to the Arctic and Pacific oceans. The five-year plan would open 90 percent of the nation's offshore reserves to private development.

Survey vessels will be required to have observers on board to listen and watch for marine life and alert operators if a protected species comes within a certain distance, officials have said, and acoustic monitoring will be used to detect those animals swimming beneath the ocean surface. Surveys would be shut down when certain sensitive species or groups are observed and penalties could be imposed for vessels that strike marine animals.

The precautions aren't enough for environmental groups, who have said the blasts can disturb marine mammals. Industry groups say the surveys have been conducted around the world for decades, with little adverse impact.

The drilling issue has created strange political bedfellows along the East Coast, with Democrats and Republicans in some areas united over the issue. In South Carolina's 1st Congressional District, Republican Katie Arrington — a supporter of President Donald Trump who initially said she stood by his plans to open up Atlantic Coast drilling — later backed off that support amid a growing wave of drilling opposition in the coastal district she aimed to represent.


Study: Sleep More Important than Cramming for Good Exam Grades

MONDAY, Dec. 10, 2018 -- It's a college tradition to pull "all-nighters" during final exams. But students may get better grades if they simply go to bed early, two new studies suggest.

Researchers found that students who met an "8-hour sleep challenge" during finals week did better on their exams than those who slept less.

The results prove that the college ritual of "cramming" is not necessary for success -- and may actually be counterproductive, the study authors said.

"The findings aren't shocking, on one hand -- but they are shocking relative to our culture," said Michael Scullin, a researcher at Baylor University who conducted both studies.

In general, he said, college students expect that finals week will involve staying up until 3 a.m., downing caffeine and poring over notes. It's all part of a wider societal attitude that values all-nighters over a good night's sleep, according to Scullin, an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at the Texas-based university.

Scullin pointed to a recent survey by the National Sleep Foundation, where only 10 percent of Americans said they make adequate sleep a priority.

"We are widely underappreciating the importance of sleep," he said.

College students are particularly bad sleepers. They average around five or six hours of shut-eye per night, according to Dr. Charles Czeisler, chief of the sleep and circadian disorders division at Brigham and Women's Hospital, in Boston.

But the problem goes beyond sleep duration, said Czeisler, who was not involved in the new research.

To fully benefit from the "restorative" effects of sleep, he explained, people need a regular sleep schedule -- going to bed and rising around the same time every day. But college students generally have schedules that are all over the map.

"One of the most critical aspects of sleep is its regularity," Czeisler said, "and that's a problem for many students."

In a recent study of Harvard undergrads, his team found that those with regular sleep schedules had better grades, on average, than those with irregular sleep patterns.

And when the researchers measured the students' levels of the "sleep hormone" melatonin, they found a biological effect: In students with irregular sleep schedules, the "body clock" was shifted nearly three hours later, versus students with consistent sleep habits.

According to Czeisler, that means an exam at 9 a.m. would feel, to the body clock, like 6 a.m. -- a time when performance is relatively dulled.

The latest findings are based on two studies that tested the same "sleep challenge." One, reported recently in the Teaching of Psychology journal, included 34 undergrads in a psychology course.

The students were offered the chance to take or decline the sleep challenge -- where they could earn extra credit if they averaged 8 hours of sleep per night during finals week. To keep them honest, the students wore wrist devices that recorded their activity levels.

Overall, Scullin's team found, students who met the challenge fared better than those who either declined to participate, or tried and failed: Successful sleepers typically scored 5 points higher on their exams (not counting the extra credit).

The other study, published recently in the Journal of Interior Design, involved 22 interior design students who attempted the challenge, and 22 who did not.

As a whole, students who took the sleep challenge did just as well on their final projects as the comparison group -- even though they allowed themselves to get more rest. They slept for an average of 98 minutes more per night.

In addition, students who managed consistent sleep schedules performed better than those with irregular sleep habits during finals, the findings showed.

"You don't have to stay up until 3 a.m.," Scullin said. "You need to get better at prioritizing, and consolidating your study time during the day."

That advice is not just for college students, though. "We should all take an honest look at how we spend our time during the day, and see if we can manage it a little better," Scullin said. "Ask yourself, 'How much garbage time is there in my day?'"

Not surprisingly, that includes assessing your device time. According to Scullin, research shows that when college students are studying, they are typically interrupted by social media notifications every few minutes or so.

His advice is to put the phone away and go to bed earlier. "You'll probably find that it actually feels good to get more sleep," Scullin said.


Anderson School Dist. 5 to Run on 2-Hour Delay Tuesday 

Anderson School Dist. 5 will run on a two-hour delay Tuesday.

Other districts have yet to announce delays or closings.


PAWS Offering $10 Dog Adoptions, Cat Adoptions Free

ANDERSON COUNTY – Imagine being alone, without loved ones during the holiday season. Hundreds of homeless animals will know that fate unless YOU help them find a forever-home. In order to remedy this situation, the Pets are Worth Saving (PAWS - Anderson County Animal Shelter) wants as many of their animals in loving, forever homes this Christmas as possible (and for years to come). Please consider adopting a shelter pet this year and giving them a home for the holidays.

Dog adoptions are $10 and cat adoptions are free from Dec. 10-31.
If you can’t adopt a pet this season, you can still help buyt dropping off  donations by the Animal Shelter during regular business hours.

HOURS TO ADOPT: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday Friday, noon - 6:00 pm

Closed Wednesday

Saturday. noon - 4:00 pm 

The Anderson County Animal Shelter is located at 615 Hwy 28 Bypass. If you have any questions, please contact the Shelter at 260-4151.

What can you donate to the Animal Shelter?
In order to properly care for its “four legged friends” ACAS is in need of the following donations:

• Pedigree Dog/Puppy Food (canned & dry)
• Blankets
• Towels
• Newspapers/Shredded paper
• Bleach
• Dish Detergent
• Laundry Detergent
• Cat Litter
• Whiskas Cat/Kitten Food (canned & dry)
Many items will help care for animals housed at the shelter. ACAS also accepts monetary donations to help purchase products to care and provide clean quarters for the animals housed at the shelter.