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Showing posts from July, 2015

Back-to-school in the hot sun

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For most of us the U.S., July is leaving us sweltering and August will probably continue with its sweat-inducing days. The dogs have gone to July because down here in the Southeastern U.S., the kids are going back to school! Yes, students are going back to school in this heat.
Perhaps it's a good to know that kids are in our air-conditioned schools rather than being outside for a majority of the day. With bad air quality and a strong sun, it's most likely best to stay indoors except for short recess. At this time of year, this is our version of "cabin fever" with the obvious difference being that we can get out and drive in our air-conditioned cars - a "must-have" in the Southeast.  In the North, "cabin fever" is accompanied by low temps and/or negotiating through snow and ice.
Some folks are saying that they would like a return to low temps, but I reply, "Be careful what you wish for." Indeed some people have short memories and can e…

Dunwoody's 'Deer Whisperers'

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Dunwoody Police Department
A buck was a bit confused and wandered over to Perimeter Mall on Wednesday. He was a tad early for Georgia's Tax-Free Holiday before area students head back to school. Click here for the AJC story. I won't give away the ending-leaving that to the AJC. 

The ultimate in 'pig parking,' new stadiums, Cecil and more

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If there's a car in my way when running or cycling, I typically go around said vehicle. That's not what a certain cyclist did when he encountered a car parked on a bike path. A 'hero' simply picked the car up and moved it out of the bike path.  This method worked because the hero is a big guy and the car is not much larger than a golf cart. Still, this is something I wish I could do when I come upon such a situation. Unfortunately, I'm quite slight and about 90% of cars in my neck of the woods are SUVs, minivans or pick-up trucks. You get the picture. 
Folks in my area down in Georgia are excited that casinos might one day come to the Peach State. After leafing through Jim Galloway's column on the subject, the state's House Speaker says that while he's not advocating for gambling, he's open to debate the idea. House Speaker David Ralston said that there's been interest from state House members in pari-mutuel betting accompanied with casinos. Th…

Watch This: Tom Cruise and Jimmy Fallon in a lip sync battle

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The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/NBC
I wrote in a previous post that The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon is basically designed to spawn several viral videos. Last night's installment of 'Tonight'  featured actor Tom Cruise performing on the show's lip sync battles segment. The skit is silly, goes viral and promotes Cruise's new film, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. At the end of the day, both Cruise and Fallon pull the whole thing off, especially at the end of the segment where they sing to a female audience member.

Things were a bit more serious over at The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore where the host further examined the Bill Cosby controversy. If you get a chance, check it out. 


Watch This: Staying true to form - Halt and Catch Fire

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Halt and Catch Fire from AMC

Remember how audiences were wowed with Happy Days when it premiered in 1974? I suppose most folks were longing for the simpler times in life as the U.S. was ensconced in the Watergate scandal. The show kept up with the nostalgic look in its first year, but gently moved away from that 1950s/60s set in subsequent seasons. By its last season, one could hardly tell if Happy Days was set in the 1960s or the 1980s. In essence, the show abandoned its roots and concentrated more on the actors parading before the live audiences.

Thankfully the formula that Happy Days and other shows like it - we're looking at you spin-off Laverne and Shirley - took on, are not in vogue these days. Shows like Mad Men stayed true to form while producing quality shows with substantial scripts. Oh yes, the stars of AMC's Mad Men did quite well thank you very much. There was no need to get a live audience and parade Jon Hamm around. Mr. Hamm has done that quite well over at NBC&…

Sometimes we need a little dark humor in our lives

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HBO's The Brink
Once in a while a dark comedic film or TV series comes along and not only piques the public's interests, but resonates with the culture. Whoever could forget films like Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove which mocked the 1960s arms race or how Mel Brooks' The Producers  took on one of history's worst tragedies and mocked it in musical form? On television around that era in the late 1960s, it was Hogan's Heroes that took on the subject of prisoners of war and made a sitcom out of that tragic situation.
Making a comedic musical or a sitcom out of World War II? Sometimes I think about that and wonder how did they produce those projects without protesters shouting from the public squares? Oh yes, I'm sure that there were plenty who were offended with Hogan's Heroes and wrote the network and called their switchboards back in the day, but the program lasted from 1965-1971, so most of the U.S. (and later the world) never had a problem with the …

Watch This: 'I Am Cait' and 'Ballers'

It was an interesting Sunday night on basic cable this week with the premiere of I Am Cait. For all of the brouhaha over the Bruce-to-Caitlyn Jenner transformation, the new reality program is a tad underwhelming thus far. Maybe it’s me since I’m not into that whole reality TV show thing or perhaps there was too big of a buildup to the show, but it moved a bit slow. The silver lining in it is that Caitlyn wishes to help those who have been struggling with gender identity issues. While many hope that Caitlyn is authentic in this department, the Human Rights Campaignput up a post to coincide with the E! network’s show premiere.
Going up to the premium channels, HBO continues to impress with the convoluted second season of TrueDetective and the fascinating Ballers which is a look at the professional football world. I wonder if Ballers is an exaggeration on life within the NFL business or if it’s spot-on with its depictions. Dwayne Johnson seems to be a natural as a pumped-up former play…

Imagine a unified transportation system in the ATL

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I have another great shout-out here. The Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper's Jim Galloway produces the incredible Political Insider blog. In the most recent entry, Galloway reports that some area leaders are re-thinking the Atlanta area's mass transit plans and overall structure. The idea is called the ATL which would be a unified multi-county transit system. 'ATL' has not only been a symbol for Atlanta, but would also stand for Atlanta Transit Link.
While Galloway goes into a few specifics about how the ATL could work, but in the end would this re-structuring/re-branding become the solution to our transportation woes? The idea of unifying governments and leaders to work towards a common goal could result in improved transportation planning. As many of us know, a lack of a cohesive partnership between all of these metro area governments is a nugget as to what created the traffic woes.
My personal vision for an ATL system would be the obvious expansion of the MAR…

Listen To This: Getting to know Harper Lee

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Wavemaker Conversations with Michael Schulder
I'm melancholy as another Tour de France comes to a close. For me, the end of that event nears the end of my summer. As I have said here before, in this part of the Southeastern U.S., the kids go back to school at the beginning of August. I think it's a great thing because this might mean that eventually public and perhaps private schools will go to a year-round schedule. It's about time that the U.S. engages in that type of calendar since life and the work world is year-round. The idea of 10-13 weeks off from any normal schedule is atypical in this life unless one is on pregnancy leave (yes, men and women) and recovery from an accident/surgery or any other special life event. In my latest "Listen To This," I have been getting into this podcast called Wavemaker Conversations with Michael Schulder. Michael always has excellent guests on his podcast. The latest installment, "Re-introducing Harper Lee,"  is a f…

Dot, dot, dot...or random summer thoughts.

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Chad Batka, Entertainment Weekly
All right, here I go again ripping interviewer extraordinaire Larry King off. Many moons ago, Larry wrote these random thoughts columns for USA Today. I loved them, so this type of post is my version... Is it just me or are there too many U.S. flags at half-staff these days? - obviously due to the tragedies in Chattanooga to Louisiana in the past weeks... Hate to remind myself and others here in the Southeast, but we're in a long period of 90-plus-degree hot and humid days. Autumn could not come to these parts soon enough... I'm now onto better thoughts. Cami brought over the latest Entertainment Weekly issue which features one of my favorite performers, Billy Joel. The extended Q & A can be found here. Most of the answers are the usual shtick, but with him, there's always a little new nugget in these interviews. To me, whether you love him, hate him or are lukewarm with him, it's always enlightening to read anything about Billy Joe…

Local Blurb: State of the City

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Every now and then I'll put up a local blurb. This one is about the State of the City address held in Peachtree Corners today. The three year old city is 20 miles north of Atlanta. It was great to attend today's Peachtree Corners Business Association State of the City address. The mayor's ambitious speech highlighed the city's many successes and challenges and was preceded by a fantastic breakfast courtesy of Marriott-Tech Park.


Mayor Mike Mason delivers the annual 2015 Peachtree Corners State of the City address. The mayor touched on several themes including future development, an exciting business incubator project and transportation. 



Georgia State Senator Fran Millar informs the crowd about the amazing development going on over where the Doraville GM Plant once stood. This development is set in the heart of Doraville and next to the Doraville MARTA train station. City, county and state leaders hope the development will spur economic growth in this strategically imp…

Listen To This: Wyatt Cenac on WTF w/ Marc Maron

I just listened to the latest installment of WTF with Marc Maron. Today's guest on that podcast is Comedian Wyatt Cenac, who served on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. While Maron delivers with each 'WTF' installment, this episode gets quite deep with Cenac. I will not give anything away here, but if you get a chance, call up WTF with Marc Maron episode 622. Oh yes, Cenac is an incredible talent with an amazing story.

Speaking of Maron, I was remiss in my previous blog post when I went into detail about how The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is THE place for extensive interviews. Obviously I'm a huge Maron fan and his lengthy conversation with President Obama is gold.

In search of the in-depth interview

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From The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Comedy Central
It’s strange that if one wishes to hear complete interviews with notable folks including celebrities, politicians and news-makers, shows on public television (PBS), public radio (NPR) and Internet podcasts fill that void for people like me. On TV, oddly places like cable television’s Comedy Central have been the place to go for good discussions. On Tuesday, July 22, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart had U.S. President Barack Obama on once again as a guest – just weeks before Stewart is slated to vacate the host’s chair. The president’s interview took up all of the show and hit on some serious topics including terrorism, Iran and benefits for veterans. What’s odd about The Daily Show is that it has become the place for in-depth interviews. Yes, that’s right – a comedy program has become home to good interviews with everyone from film stars like Susan Sarandon to the U.S. president.
Certainly the big three networks present solid intervie…

Is MARTA's $8 billion pitch a great idea or a boondoggle?

It's been no secret this summer that more commuters in the Atlanta metro area have been expressing their desire to support mass transit. While that may be true of commuters in many U.S. cities, there's no doubt that things have been heating up on this issue. Enter MARTA - known locally as the Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority - has been operating in the counties of Fulton and DeKalb with rail and bus service. While certainly large in their own respects, Fulton and DeKalb are just two counties in a massive region. MARTA just made an $8 billion dollar pitch to expand its rail and bus services beyond its current service areas. In other words, MARTA rail and bus serve a limited area. Some are cheering the ambitious proposal while others are scoffing at the idea.
One might say that the Atlanta metro area is at a tipping point. Should the outlying counties join the MARTA system or for some counties, expand their rather limited bus service system that hooks into MARTA? That is t…

Are bigger houses better?

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This just in: large houses are back. After coming out of the real estate bubble, supposedly home buyers are looking at building houses that are over 4,000 square feet. Yes, John Mellencamp, we have come a long way from our little pink houses in a big way.

On one hand, reports say that U.S. consumers are spending again, but quite cautiously. Then there are reports that home buyers are back to buying bigger TVs, cars and now, houses.

It seems to me that if consumers are jittery, it would hardly be known judging by the latest interest in the purchases of larger homes and those so-called "McMansions." Not that there's anything wrong with buying larger homes because we're free to buy what we enjoy in this nation.

I wonder if those type of home buyers are so elated about purchasing a large house forget about those lackluster items that come with a new house like property taxes and energy spending. Who came blame these home buyers? A spacious house featuring large bedrooms…

The dog days of July

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I must confess that we no longer have the Dog Days of August in the Southeastern United States. Those days eluded us when we decided to send our kids back to school in early August. It's hard for our brethren up north to understand why in the world we send our kids back to school not terribly far after the conclusion of July. The advantage here is that the kids at least go back into our air conditioned environments rather than deal with all-day outdoor activity in August when we're dealing with high heat indices. It's no secret that in many states, the kids don't go back to school until after Labor Day and end their school year in mid-June.

As of this writing, the kids return to school in a little under three weeks. That three weeks will seem fast when that second week in August hits, but at this moment, it's going slow for those of us who did not go on out-of-town vacations. Somehow that outdoor heat slows everything down. Typically we experience that feeling in …

The songs remain the same...in my head

For some of us the music plays on and on. We cannot help it. I'm talking about folks like myself and millions of others who deal with song stuck in their heads. Whether it was the first song you heard in a given day or the last, somehow the tune never stops playing. I first noticed this so-called "condition" late in the sixth grade when our class went on a week-long camping trip. Way, way back then in the late 1970s, we were already technology deprived by today's standards. Indeed there was nothing close to an Internet connection, mobile phones and the proverbial X-box gaming consoles on the market. Battery-powered handheld games were about as high-tech as we got around that time. So going into a camp with no access to television sets, radios and landline phones seriously cut our young lives off from civilization.
Of course looking back on my sixth grade camping trip, it was nice to decompress and get away from it all. About six years later, my friends and I volunta…

Suburbia's foot soldiers

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One my pet peeves in my neck of the woods is inconsistent sidewalks. Note to my colleague Mike: Yes, you may "rag on me" knowing full well that there are much larger fish to fry in this world. Indeed I need to get a life, but if this issue is one of my larger ones, then I'm not doing too shabby, right?
Runners, joggers, walkers, skaters and whoever else utilizes sidewalks in our area or most of Suburbia/Exurbia U.S.A. must contend with inconsistent sidewalk offerings. Whether one is traveling a few hundred yards or a number of miles, the sidewalk user is most likely confronted with a sidewalk path that either ends on one side of a street and begins on the other -- or completely dead ends, also known at a "Sidewalk to Nowhere." I confess that it's a hassle when I'm on any type of long run. Yes, I deal with the inconvenience, but it would sure be nice if communities like ours would have a common sense comprehensive sidewalk/trail plan.
Certainly buildi…

Reflecting on the Fourth of July holiday

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As I write this, some folks near me are hopefully exhausting their fireworks supply. In case you did not know, fireworks are now legal in the Peach State. As predicted there were a few "fireworks fails" throughout the state during the recent Independence Day holiday weekend - which curiously started on Friday, July 3rd. I love how we will do anything in this nation to extend a weekend if a federal holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday. Heck, I'll take it.
I had a wonderful weekend which included my first 10K. I finally ran the AJC Peachtree Road Race. Even though I have been running for years, I never entered a race. At times I was honestly working and couldn't get time off to do a race or I was apprehensive about running with other people. Those concerns vanished when I arrived with thousands of other participants near the start line. I'm thrilled that I finally broke the ice. To me, this race was perfect despite rain which was nice in one sense since it cooled…

Confessions of a Hebrew school dropout...or "Crow-bart's" mid-70s journey

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It was in the mid 1970s. My father recently permanently wallpapered and paneled the interior of our family’s modest dingy white aluminum-sided 1950s row-like type suburban Cleveland home. By permanent, I mean the basement paneling was driven into cinder blocks with heavy-duty concrete nails. Father even covered the basement windows which was good to keep burglars out. I liked that idea. The wallpaper was glued to the house's interior plaster with the strongest thickest paste imaginable. There was even wallpaper on the ceiling! I couldn’t make that fact up any day of the week.
When I came home from third grade one day for lunch, I witnessed my father's rugged determination to make sure that damn loudly-blue-green-striped ceiling paper would never fall down. My father was successful in making sure that these "enhancements" were never going to fade away. In other words, like many dads who cared about their household projects, my dad was quite thorough. Okay, obsessive i…

It's a fireworks free-for-all in Georgia this year

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Here we are at what some could call “halftime” in our “Southeastern U.S. Summer.” As I write this post, the Fourth of July is upon us, but this year is quite different. In Georgia, the general public has the opportunity to purchase fireworks. Peach State residents no longer have to travel to neighboring states to buy the “full enchilada” of fireworks. Will those out-of-state fireworks stores suffer from the fact that we have the chains unshackled from us? That’s quite doubtful since the South seems to love its fireworks no matter the state.
Now that those chains are unshackled, it’s more likely that fireworks injuries will be on the rise as well as more intense Fourth of July and New Year’s celebrations. As I earlier this year, there’s no doubt that first responders and emergency room personnel would like to have a quiet Fourth of July.
Indeed it’s time for celebrations on those key dates, but hopefully those who partake will use good common sense. Also, let’s hope that all celebration…