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Blogs and Such

Filtering by Category: Blog

Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground

Brandon Joyner

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As a parent have you ever had to sign a consent form for your child so he or she could go on a field trip or participate in something? Well, that's how it all started with a children's production that my husband and I were directing at a downtown Church!

Simple, huh?

You'd think so.

This particular production was an amazing opportunity for children who love to sing and act and... Fly. That's right. I said, “fly.”

We rehearsed our productions for three months in advance because they were usually pretty involved and we had a variety of ages... toddlers, right on up too early teens. And my assistants (and we needed plenty) were wonderful-- some of them were parents, some not-- but, my oh my, the talent we had in those assistants.

One particular fellow was a “jack-of-all-trades" and I do mean he could do anything. So we brought up the subject of flying a couple of kids...

“No problem,” he said.

“Great,” I said.

We had never done this and so it was a new adventure for all of us. We had our production meetings, discussed the possibilities, and drew up all the plans for the rigging. All the guys wanted to be in on this process ‘cause, let's face it, how often does an opportunity like this come around? They were like kids in a candy shop, each throwing out ideas of how this could or should work! But in the end, it all rested on the shoulders of the man we knew who could really handle it!

Weeks went by, rehearsals continued, music was memorized, costumes were made and fitted, scenery was painted, and hardware was gathered for the assembly of the rigging for this “heavenly production. “

Getting back to the story... we decided that we would fly at least two kids in our production so instead of sending forms home for parents to sign with permission to fly their kids -- and we pretty much decided that most parents would not give us consent for this -- we decided (an assistant and myself) that we would fly our sons so if we killed them, that would be okay... ‘Cause they belong to us.

Now don't get all stirred up. Would you have given your consent?

We had asked our sons and they both jumped at the chance. So, we were on for the “Big Show.”

Everything was ready.

Last rehearsal before show time...

The kids were excited and so were we. What a production this was going to be. The BIG announcement had been made in the morning church service (we were on TV) about the grand surprise for the production that night.

Excitement was in the air!

The rigging was completed and tested. Our angels were ready to fly.

Everyone had been instructed after the testing that there were certain steps that we had to follow in order for everything to work properly without a hitch.

Except-- one of the volunteer crew members decided that he wanted to try out this mechanism one more time before the evening performance.  So, without permission and without proper setup, he decided to go ahead and run through the scene where the Angels would be flying through the air.

Remember-- I said, “without proper set up! “ So...

Crash.

Crunch.

Clunk.

Crack.

“Oh, my goodness! You are kidding me? “

The whole set... dragging on the floor. The others who helped construct all of the set came in to see this mass of a mess and the thought of murder crossed their minds.

But remember... they were in church and that sort of thing is frowned upon in church.

We were so close to performance time that we didn’t have enough time to reset anything. We had to make the announcement to the cast that there would be no flying.

Such long faces!

Frowns!

Sadness!

Disappointment!

All that work down the drain. The adults were just as disappointed as the children!

But never sell the children short, for once the initial shock was over, they all went on in their precious angel costumes and behaved just like angels. They made us all proud. Disappointed, yes. But so excited to share their talents with their parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers, and the entire congregation. And, as we watched those little smiling faces, you could never tell that anything was missing from this production.

Maybe the crack...

Crash...

Crunch...

Clunk... was a sign that we shouldn't be flying our precious children. We didn't need to have that to have a successful production. The kids were absolutely wonderful.

Even though they didn’t get to fly that evening, they truly were angels!

Baby’s Day Out

Brandon Joyner

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Ahhhh…... those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. 

And I do mean CRAZY!

As I've told all of you before, summer is my favorite season.  Folly Beach is my favorite place to be and relaxing on the beach is my favorite thing to do.

“FORGET YOUR TROUBLES, COME ON GET HAPPY, YOU BETTER CHASE ALL YOUR CARES AWAY. SHOUT HALLELUJAH, COME ON GET HAPPY, GET READY FOR THE JUDGEMENT DAY.”

This particular July day, with our family of four, I thought I could forget all my troubles and be happy...... NOT SO!!! Because it felt like judgement day to me.

It was a day filled with blue skies. It was a fluffy white "name-that cloud" day with the most wonderful, warm tropical breezes.

We always carried numerous "toys" to keep us occupied... not that we needed anything, but we liked to "do" things at the beach, not just bake in the sun. Playing handball, shelling, playing frizby, body surfing, talking, listening to music, and let's not forget the best part... eating.

This particular day, I think all of Charleston had decided to go to the beach... not just any beach... Folly was the beach of choice.

It was difficult to find a vacant spot to sit on the sand much less room to put a blanket down. And I didn't carry a dinky towel. We travelled with a huge blanket. One that all four of us could get comfortable on. 

A place was spotted and we proceeded to set up for the whole day. As far as the eye could see... PEOPLE… hundreds of PEOPLE... and they all had the same idea... with all of their paraphernalia; people surfing, people jogging, people building sand castles.

John was on the blanket with us and Brandon decided he would play in the sand next to us. That was OK with us ‘cause I could see him out the corner of my eye... or so I thought.  Besides, there were lifeguards on duty that day to make sure everyone was safe and we never let our children go in the water without an adult. So, as we sat talking, I was sure Brandon was still playing in the sand next to me. But, when I turned to check on him, he was gone... GONE!

My head did a 360 like Linda Blair in "The Exorcist"... this COULD NOT be happening! "He was right there!!!," I screeched, "David, where is he? He was right there just a second ago!!!"

Panic set in. We jumped up and started scanning the beach with our eyes... NOTHING!

Besides, how could I possibly spot him amongst hundreds of people?

We split up, David going to the left, me to the right. I was running down the beach headed for the lifeguard stand when my eye spotted a little figure in a bright red bathing suit, his head of blonde hair just glistening in the sun, running in the opposite direction. Do you know how fast a five year old can run?

"Oh my goodness! When I catch him, I'm gonna kill him!" I thought.  (Well, as a parent you know how panicky we feel if our children get away from us for 5 seconds in a grocery store or a mall. And it happens to ALL of us—no exceptions. You can think of those stories now as you’re reading about mine!)

What a relief I felt when I spotted him. Happiness... anger; anger...happiness. But I have to remember, he's the child, I'm the adult. We should have been more attentive, and he should have never wandered off...but he did.

Anyway, I finally caught up to him and I grabbed him and squeezed him so tight I thought I'd broken him. Scolding would happen... not then... but later on in the day when my body stopped shaking and my heart stopped pounding (so hard that I'm sure everyone on the beach must have thought they were listening to a boombox). We had a "Come-To-Jesus" meeting about NEVER LEAVING US without letting us know first.

I really don't know what he learned from all that, but I learned, as a parent, there ain't no relaxing with kids. Sit up, stay alert, keep your eyes ON your children and enjoy your day... maybe. And as far as judgement... we are always so much harder on ourselves than anyone else could ever be. At times we can't let ourselves be human.

We all make mistakes, we just hope and pray that we don't make them with our children.

Friendship: The Perfect Blendship

Brandon Joyner

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Since[our family had been involved in many movies that were being filmed in Charleston, it was no surprise to us that the casting director called to offer a part in an upcoming movie to our youngest son, Brandon, who was around 6 years old at the time. So, I asked him if he would like to participate. Knowing how long it takes to shoot a scene, he was a little hesitant but finally agreed.

The day came to film and we were instructed to meet at The Aiken-Rhett House in the historic district of downtown Charleston. When we arrived, we were asked to sign in and wait for further instructions. To our surprise, there sat a very good friend of ours along with her 6-year-old son, Ryan.

Within minutes the wrangler came out and whisked the two boys away. And, thirty minutes later they were back in full “Civil War” era costumes. The boys, very happy to see each other, were having a grand ole time playing, running and laughing, waiting for the shoot to begin.

The wrangler came to collect the boys at which time she told us that the scene they would be shooting was a birthday party for Jefferson Davis’ son-- and, that she was not sure how long it would take. She said, “Just make yourselves comfortable, have a water and relax for a while.”

 I knew what that meant. We were in for a long day... And it was hot outside.

Well, they were back in the blink of an eye, already out of costume and in their own clothes. “My goodness,” I said, “That didn't take long at all.” The Wrangler said, “They did such a great job that the director shot the scene in one take!”

“Excellent,” I said.

Months went by, the “made-for-TV” movie was released. Time for the big day! Each family gathered around their respective television sets for the “viewing.” We were all so excited to see how the boys had handled themselves. The movie started, the big scene comes up and the boys are playing a version of “blind man’s bluff.”

Ryan, the one who was “it” and trying to get the targets—all of the other children playing the game—was spun around, feeling his way around the room, finally catches one of the other boys. The camera immediately pans away to another room but we continue to hear Brandon’s laughter coming from the party as the boys continued to play.

Not being able to see Ryan's face or even tell that it is him, his mother said, “How did you end up wearing the burlap blindfold in that scene?”

 Ryan said excitedly, “I raised my hand and volunteered!”

“Well,” she said, “how do you think all of our friends are going to know that it's you?”

“That's easy,” he exclaimed. “I'll just tell them I'm the one in the blindfold!” He was just as happy as he could be knowing that he had done something special by volunteering to wear it.

You gotta love ‘em!

By the way, both “men” are still heavily involved in theater as writers, actors, directors, makeup artists, set designers... You name it and they can do it...

Still working together and still great friends.

~ Jeannie Joyner

It's a Good Day at the Beach

Brandon Joyner

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Summertime and we were ready for the beach! This particular day we were planning a whole day out on the water in my cousin Derald's boat. I had waited for this all week and I was ready!

Derald, my best friend, Ladonna, my husband, David, and I headed out to Folly Beach towing the boat behind us when all of a sudden, the tire blew on the boat trailer.

Bad news… no spare.

It was Sunday and the only place open with the type of tire needed for the trailer was Sears and it would take quite a while to go pick up the tire and get back to the boat. Afraid to leave the boat unattended, Ladonna and I agreed to stay and protect it... with that one small weapon—a puny knife.

So, with Ladonna and I dressed only in our bikinis, perched high in the boat, the men drove away leaving us to protect the boat. “Don't get into any trouble,” David said.

Ladonna said, “I can take care of us...” and she showed the puny knife to David.

“Famous last words,” he said, “Oh, and smirked as they drove away.”

In a moment, a patrolman passed by and through his open window asked if we were okay and wanted to know if we needed anything. He said he would keep an eye on us as he drove up and down Folly Road on patrol. He rolled up his window as he left… and we waved.

And just a few moments later, a car pulled up with two guys in it, looking at us and just grinning... Not paying any attention to where they were going, they drove straight into the ditch! They got out of the car to assess the situation and, still grinning, decided they could not get out of the ditch by themselves. In the meantime, a guy in a truck noticed what had happened and decided to stop and help.

He hooked up a rope to the car to help the guys out of the ditch. As he did, his wheels just spun and dug deep into the mud! A traffic policeman showed up and started directing traffic around the cars because Folly Road, at that time, was only 2 lanes. The other patrolman drove up… and we waved.

So... we have: LaDonna and I still in the boat, the guys who had pulled off to help still in the ditch, the guy in the truck who had pulled off to help the other guys now stuck in the mud, the traffic cop directing traffic, and the patrolmen passed by again... And, again, we waved.

Because of the two vehicles in the ditch, a tow truck was called. The tow truck arrived, connected the chain to the car in the ditch—and what do you think happened?

Right!

The tow truck caught on fire.

That's right, folks! The tow truck is now on fire… and LaDonna and I are still sitting in the boat observing all that is going on around us with one puny little knife for protection.

Someone called for a fire truck because the tow truck was on fire. A guy in a red car, seeing all the commotion, stopped to help. He had a fire extinguisher and so he put out the fire on the tow truck. So LaDonna and I are still sitting high in the boat on the side of the road, still observing the car in the ditch, the truck in the mud, the burned tow truck, the traffic policeman directing traffic on Folly Road, the Good Samaritan in the red car who put out the fire and the fire truck that had been called.

Once again, the patrolman drove by… and we waved.

When David and Derald came up Folly Rd toward where they had left us, they spotted the police lights, the emergency vehicle lights, the hazard lights on the tow truck and David said, “See, Derald, we couldn't leave them alone for a minute without them getting into trouble!”

So… they tooted the horn and drove on by pretending not to know us.

The patrolman who we had waved at, finally came back and stopped. He approached the car in the ditch and noticed the car had a crack in the windshield larger than allowed by law. He proceeded to write them a ticket for the cracked windshield. Ladonna, seeing what was going on with the guys in the ditch hopped out of the boat (without the puny knife) and ran over to the patrolman, pleading with him not to give the guys in the ditch a ticket!

David and Derald finally turned around to come back to where we were through all the traffic that was now backed-up all the way down Folly Rd.

I'm sitting high up in the in the boat—by myself—in my bikini with the puny knife for protection in my hand observing: the guys in the ditch, the truck stuck in the mud, the traffic policeman directing traffic, the burned tow truck, the Good Samaritan with the red car, the passing patrolman, LaDonna still

pleading with the cop trying to avoid the ticket, and now – my husband and my cousin looking at us shaking their heads.

I still haven't said a word...

Just observing...

Never got out of the boat.

LaDonna, being the “cutie pie” that she was and is ends up talking the policeman out of giving the guys in the ditch the ticket.

Finally, after all is settled, each one was on their merry way, the guys in the ditch drove over to LaDonna and I—I'm still in the boat—and invited us to their party on Folly Beach… while David and Derald finished changing the tire on the boat trailer.

It was a long, long day. We didn’t get to the beach, we didn’t get to the party, but we did get to work on our tans!

~Jeannie Joyner

(Photo Credit - Brian “Kentucky” Ross)

Baby, You're a Firework

Brandon Joyner

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What's your favorite memory of the 4th of July?

A cookout in your backyard?

A picnic at the beach?

An evening sitting under the stars watching a fabulous fireworks display?

We've done them all... Even driven to Altamonte Springs near Orlando, Florida to see one of the most outstanding fireworks displays in the Southeast... And it was!

We've driven to Helen to celebrate the 4th in this little Bavarian Alpine village nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia.

How about driving into a parking garage in downtown Charleston to watch fireworks from the top level? Guilty!!! (Please don't share this secret with anyone. This is just between us!)

So, however you choose to celebrate this holiday, I think we would all agree that spending it with your favorite “peeps” is the best way to go.

Come on over to Charleston and grab a tall glass of sweet tea with a slice of lemon and take in the sights, sounds and smells of our beautiful city by the sea.

It’s heaven on earth!

~ Jeannie Joyner

Bosom Buddies

Brandon Joyner

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Warm weather makes me happy. The warmer the better.

After being cooped up all winter, all I want to do is go outside and enjoy the longer days, fresh air and warm sunshine. Just let me go grab a bathing suit, towel, suntan lotion and a picnic lunch and I'm ready for the day.

On this particular day I was ready for the lake... Lake Moultrie! Ahhh… I can feel the hot sand between my toes as I remember this fun-filled, sun-filled day. My cousin always had one of his three boats available for us to use and this day it was the jet boat -- fast and furious – with its powerful twin engines and deep, rich, sparkly burgundy color. We thought we were “cool” when we were in this magnificent machine... And we were!

It was to be a day of water skiing. The girls were not great skiers but the guys were phenomenal as it was nothing for them to ski right over to the shoreline and step out of their skis. Show offs! It was time for my cousin and my best girlfriend to ski, so they jumped in the water.

Ready…

Set...

Go!

They were off and doing a great job. Well, a much larger boat passed by creating a huge wake and the wake from that larger boat headed right toward the skiers. It was like everything was in slow motion.

My friend’s ski sliced right through the wave coming out the other side. Then her body slapped into the wake like it was a solid wall…

Splat!

Splash!

She was down.

My cousin, seeing this, started swimming toward her to assist and when he got within reach, all of a sudden, he turned and swam toward his boat. My friend was rather annoyed that she was being ignored. She was laying on her back in the water, flapping her arms like she was a bird trying to take flight and her chest was exposed to the elements... BARE!

The wake had knocked off her bikini top. I signaled to her to check out her chest. “Oh, my goodness,” she squealed, “no wonder he left me out here.”

Glancing over to her right was the bikini top... Floating in the water!

So, if you're going out for a day of water sports, may we suggest a one piece?

It might not have actually been the longest day of the year but I’m sure it seemed like it for her.

~Jeannie Joyner

Aye, Aye, Corporal Punishment

Brandon Joyner

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I was an only child so attention was something that I never really lacked.

One day I aggravated my father to the point that he “threatened” to spank me. Now understand this period... In all my life my father had NEVER laid a hand on me... NOT ONCE! But this particular day, I took my father at his word.

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I ask myself, “What am I going to do to keep this from happening?” In my 6-year-old mind, I thought, if I could just hide all of his belts then that would solve the problem and he would never be able to follow through with his threat. So, I collected every one of his belts, found an old wooden Coke crate, gently rolled each belt into a circle and placed them in the Coke crate... Under the kitchen sink... Pushed way back up against the wall.

 My father, getting dressed for work the next morning, asked me where his belts were. I said, “I'm not giving them to you until you promise not to spank me.” One week later and still without his belts to hold up his pants he said, “I promise not to spank you if you will just tell me where my belts are hidden.”

 I led him into the kitchen, opened the cabinet, showed him the crate and there, still tucked into the Coke crate were his belts. He looked at me and smiling, just shook his head. “Who would have ever thought to hide these?”

My dad got his belts. I got his promise – No spanking!

And I never purchased a single belt for my dad for Father’s Day.

~ Jeannie Joyner

Taste the Rainbow (Row)

Brandon Joyner

(A Brief History of Rainbow Row)

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If you were to ask a native Charlestonian about Rainbow Row (i.e., What is it?, Where is it ?, Etc.) your answers would be pretty much the same from them all. We all know something about the pretty pastel houses lined up along East Bay Street, south of Broad Street. You might get some personal answers like – “they have been there as long as I remember” or “that their colors never change.” These bits and pieces are true as far as they go, but you would be missing what Paul Harvey would call – “the rest of the story.”

The houses of Rainbow Row were built between 1748 and 1845 along the riverfront as commercial units with living space on the second and third floors. Over the course of their existence, these houses from 79 to 107 East Bay Street have seen prosperity and recession; wind, rain and storm; and most notably massive damage from hurricanes, fires and earthquakes. Through all of these misfortunes, the “Row” has stood due in part to the resilience of their individual owners, but mostly due to the overall sense of community that pressed for their rebuilding, repair, or renovation.

These homes have been the property of many Charleston notables and their families as well as those who came to visit and never left. This collage of personalities saw the “Row” through the early years of new industry and growth as well as the years of war and sorrow. They also brought the row from economic success to the drab darkness of decay. Compounded by Charleston’s famous fires and earthquakes, Rainbow Row fell to its lowest point in the early 1900s when it was seen as the slum of the “east-side.”

Not wanting visitors or residents to take this visage as a lasting impression of Charleston, several of Charleston’s ablest citizens took it upon themselves to change the “Rows’” image. Starting with Susan Pringle Frost’s purchase of several of the houses beginning in 1920 and subsequent purchases by Lionel and Dorothy Legge in 1931 and John McGowan in 1938, the properties from 79 to 107 East Bay were restored, rebuilt or renovated to the “glory” that is theirs today. When Justice and Mrs. Legge purchased 99/101 East Bay for restoration, Mrs. Legge decided on the Caribbean Pink exterior to help cool the house during the Charleston summers, not necessarily so people could tell which one was theirs. The other owner followed suit with pastel colors of their own choosing thus giving us what today is referred to fondly as Charleston’s Rainbow Row.

The effect of their transformation resulted in the Charleston Society for Preservation of Old Homes, later to be known as Charleston’s Preservation Society. Along with the influence of the Charleston Historical Society, other parts of Charleston became targets for renewal and restoration followed by adaptation of local legal codes. These codes guided not only the restoration of Charleston’s neighborhoods, but also the building of new properties so that they would not detract from Charleston’s unique historical look and feel.

These thirteen homes on East Bay Street have stood the test of time to become the longest row of Georgian style architecture in the country. “Rainbow Row” is a beacon of its citizens’ strength when faced with adversity and as part of Charleston is reflective of the city's grace and style.

~ David Joyner

The Family Jewels

Brandon Joyner

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I like jewelry.

I save up my money to pick out jewelry every year — each year I find a special ring. It takes a long time to save up for.

I love going to Florida. When we go to events like Mardi Gras at Universal Studios, I enjoy getting beads and different necklaces. I sometimes wear necklaces. When we were in Florida and went into a Jewelry store in Disney World, all they had were silver rings. 

I travel and look for different things that I like.

I found a shop, Golden ‘N Memories, that used to be in Dollywood, which is where we met Melinda and Larry the first time. They enjoy Southern Gospel like I do and we had fun talking to one another.  Larry would pull the trays out for me to look at, touch, hold and try on. I look for rings that fit nicely but if not, they’ll size it for me.

Larry creates each ring as a piece of art. Kinda like mom — One works with intricate rings while mom paints on larger canvases. He does good work just like mom does.

The first ring I ever picked out here was a silver color with a Black Onyx. Then I found a clear ring when I returned the second year.

My favorite color is purple. I have many different color rings. I have a ring that’s like the sky and different color blues. Blue like the sky is one I definitely look for.

All of the rings are gemstones; I think I have a Purple Agate. My favorite ring is — I have so many I can’t even remember — I'll say it’s the black and gray-ish in the shape of a road. I just like it.

It’s been about 2 years since Larry passed away, but I still go to the store to pick out special rings that he had made before he died.

The first time I went in after that I hugged Melinda… and found some special rings.

I look forward to finding my next special edition to the ring family. I always find something special. Sometimes a ring. Sometimes something even better.

~ John Joyner

** You can visit Melinda’s Gold ‘N Memories at https://www.facebook.com/goldnmemoriesonline/

Let Gogh and Let God

Brandon Joyner

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I've always loved the arts... All of them!

Singing, sewing, painting, cooking, designing, you name it, I wanted to try it.

I made outfits for all my dolls, by hand, cooked cakes in my “Easy-Bake” oven at night, in the dark, while my parents slept. I would sing at the top of my lungs for my mama and she would always say that I was gonna grow up to be an opera singer. I didn't achieve that but I am a first soprano. Second grade – finger painting-- my teacher was so impressed with my painting that she asked my mother if she could keep it and display it on the bulletin board. I was so proud. That was the start of it all.

Little did I know that my tiny stick figures, trees, houses, flowers would evolve into something quite different, and something that I am happy to be able to share with all of you today.

So, enjoy all the festive, eye-catching colors of our Lowcountry and hopefully they will give you as much joy as they have given me.

~ Jeannie Joyner

Forever In Blue Jeans

Brandon Joyner

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It's no secret that I love clothes. Just ask my friends and family. I can blame that on my mom cause she made sure I was perfectly “put together” before I left the house in the mornings.

When I was in elementary school most little girls wore dresses… with crinolines. So when my mom dressed me in a pair of blue jeans with a plaid flannel lining that turned up into a cuff, I thought my world had come to an end. How could she have done this to me? She knew that I wanted to look nice for school. I wanted to wear my dress, my hair bow that matched my dress, my lace-trimmed socks and my crinolines... Two to three of them. Starched stiff!

If she thought I was going to school dressed like a farmer she was wrong! So I plopped myself down outside the front door and boohooed! I cried and cried! By that time my mother was feeling defeated. I was not budging and I certainly was not going to school to have the kids laugh at me. From the kitchen, I could hear my mom say, “It's alright I'll never try to make you wear blue jeans again.” And she didn't.

I think she gave my jeans away.

~ Jeannie Joyner