Saturday, November 22, 2014

Zoo in the winter? Of course!

I went with Mary Jo and the guys to Zoo Atlanta last weekend. This was our return visit after a "mini visit" in May of this year. It was cold, but it warmed up to be a beautiful day and although all the animals weren't out—which is never a guarantee, of course—the ones we saw were great fun! And we had the opportunity to speak with more zoo staff than we usually would have.


Zoo Atlanta, with MJ and The Guys
Zoo Atlanta, with MJ and The Guys

The statue of the world-famous Willie B. is a fantastic photo-op for family photos, as in the one above of Mary Jo and the guys. We've taken advantage of this opportunity more than once.

We were at Zoo Atlanta courtesy of Where Atlanta. Earlier this year I entered a photo contest and won tickets to see The Lion King at The Fox Theatre

I thought that was the extent of my prize, but when the tickets arrived, there were also four tickets to Zoo Atlanta and a gift card to Hard Rock Cafe, which we enjoyed after our visit to the zoo on this particular visit. The guys had never been to Hard Rock, which made it even more fun. "Thank you," Where Atlanta!

I also want to give an extra shout-out to Zoo Atlanta for making this trip extra special. When we visited in May, we arrived in the afternoon, shortly before the zoo was closing early for a special event. One of the zoo staff heard the disappointment in the guys' voices (they weren't complaining, just a little deflated that we wouldn't be able to get in a full visit, if we stayed at all). She kindly invited us in with the tickets we had to enjoy as much of the zoo as we could fit in and then gave us tickets to return later...that's what this visit was. "Thank you!" Zoo Atlanta!


Zoo Atlanta, with MJ and The Guys
Zoo Atlanta, with MJ and The Guys

They guys very much enjoy the World of Reptiles, so that was a highlight of the visit. I had the pleasure of sharing with them the news of Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience, a new structure and animal home at Zoo Atlanta scheduled to open in late 2015. We saw the top of the under-construction building off in the distance when at the African Savanna habitat.

With the neighboring Cyclorama painting moving to the Atlanta History Center and Zoo Atlanta taking over and transforming the Cyclorama Building into a special events facility, as well as renovating the Savanna Exhibit, there's a LOT going on at Zoo Atlanta!


Zoo Atlanta, with MJ and The Guys
Zoo Atlanta, with MJ and The Guys

Kam was a super-fun this trip! Sometimes camera-shy, he was a ham for the camera on this particular visit, which is always fun. 

I was quite impressed with the guys' knowledge of amphibians. I thought a trip to the zoo would be an educational experience for the guys, and it was, but it was also a wonderful educational experience for me. These guys are smart!


Zoo Atlanta, with MJ and The Guys
Zoo Atlanta, with MJ and The Guys

With some of the animals not on view—nestled warmly in their indoor quarters—you pay more attention to the magnificent art throughout of zoo. You realize there's quite a lot of art at the zoo when you take the time to look around, and there's more than statuary, so keep your eyes peeled.


Zoo Atlanta, with MJ and The Guys
Zoo Atlanta, with MJ and The Guys

We knew it was going to be a cold day, but not as cold as the Saturday two weeks before when we were going to be there (the winds were torrential that day!). But there are plenty of habitats that are indoors—and heated—to break up being in the elements.

One of the more cool indoor diversions was a discussion with a Zoo Atlanta keeper who showed and told us all about the Blue-Tongue Skink. They're awesome! And we got to see its blue tongue. It really is blue...and not just because it was cold. 

Its blue tongue is a defense mechanism. Think about it. Not many things in nature are blue. When threatened, the Blue-Tongue Skink will flash its blue tongue, which startles a number of predators. We learned a lot from the keeper, who was highly knowledgeable and super nice.


Zoo Atlanta, with MJ and The Guys
Zoo Atlanta, with MJ and The Guys

Many visitors don't realize the size of Zoo Atlanta's reptile collection. There are more than 450 at the zoo, but many are not on exhibit because of space limitations. The new reptile and amphibian complex will be home to many of those, as well as large crocodilians and other new arrivals. 

The complex will also feature "interactive indoor venues and state-of-the-art exhibits showcasing the amazing extremes in size, speed, color and behavior that make reptiles and amphibians such compelling animals to observe, study, and protect."


Zoo Atlanta, with MJ and The Guys
Zoo Atlanta, with MJ and The Guys

As one who dabbles in Graphic Design—and my minor in college—I love when museums and attractions make the most of details. All throughout the Zoo the sidewalks are stamped with leaves. The sidewalks near the panda habitat, pictured above, are stamped with bamboo.


Zoo Atlanta, with MJ and The Guys
Zoo Atlanta, with MJ and The Guys

Mary Jo is one of my dearest and longest friends. We've been through a lot together and we're those kinds of friends who can go a long time without seeing each other—like the years I lived in Washington, DC—and pick right up where we left off. 

Zach made this photo of us (above). He's a promising photographer, don't you think? 


Zoo Atlanta, with MJ and The Guys
Zoo Atlanta, with MJ and The Guys

It was the middle of November when we went, which can be cold in Atlanta, but it's undoubtedly a beautiful time of year. The above photo was made just outside the gorilla habitat.

The gorillas and orangutans weren't on view...not until later, after the temperatures surpass 40 degrees, at least (I believe that's what I remember them saying about the orangutans). Good to know that they're cognizant of the animals' sensitivities to temperatures.

The bears and pandas were, of course, out in their habitats. The pandas were delightfully playful, but the bear (the one we saw) was lazing around sunning himself atop one of his climbing structures. I didn't blame him on bit!


Zoo Atlanta, with MJ and The Guys
Zoo Atlanta, with MJ and The Guys

I'm a kid again when it comes to things like carousels. I've not rode one in many years, but I've long admired their beauty and how much fun they bring to those who do ride.

Zoo Atlanta's carousel, The Nabisco Endangered Species Carousel, features 38 hand-carved, festive animal mounts and seats, I believe unique among carousels. 

If you're a fan of carousels, specifically carousel horses, I invite you to check out "Flying Horses: The Golden Age of American Carousel Art", written by Peter J. Malia, a colleague from my years on Washington, DC. It's a gorgeous hardcover book and a must-have for any carousel horse enthusiast.

I'd like to offer another "Thank you!" to Where Atlanta for the tickets and gift card—the contest and experiences were great fun! And a "Thank you!" to Zoo Atlanta for making our visits such great fun, as well. I'll be back again and again!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Wilbur G. Kurtz: History in Gone With the Wind

The "Wilbur G. Kurtz: History in Gone With the Wind" temporary exhibit at the Atlanta History Center is a must-see for any and all fans of Gone With the Wind

The exhibit's unique exploration of the making of the Oscar-winning film, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, is also a glimpse into the golden era of Hollywood film-making, as well as a bit of insight into Margaret Mitchell's hand in the making of the movie.

Wilbur G. Kurtz: History in Gone With the Wind, Atlanta History Center
Wilbur G. Kurtz: History in Gone With the Wind, Atlanta History Center

This relatively small exhibit--compared to others at the Atlanta History Center--is epic in content. One of my favorite artifacts is a collection of watercolor title cards that were used in creating the original opening credits in earlier versions of the film.

Although I love the one of Rhett Butler, the one of Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara is certainly my favorite of all the title cards on display. And speaking of on display, many of the artifacts in this exhibit are on view to the public for the first time. So, even if you're the greatest Gone With the Wind fan of all time, there's yet something new for you to see!

Wilbur G. Kurtz: History in Gone With the Wind, Atlanta History Center
Wilbur G. Kurtz: History in Gone With the Wind, Atlanta History Center

The above pictured broken cherubs are a marvelous artifact. Remember the vase that Scarlett threw when in the library at Twelve Oaks Plantation? Kurtz collected the pieces and now, because of his love of history, we get to see the real thing.

The collection that comprises the exhibit is complements of the Atlanta History Center's Margaret Mitchell House, located in Midtown. They also house the portrait of Scarlett in the blue dress at which, later in the film, Rhett throws a whiskey glass. Seems there was a lot of throwing in Gone With the Wind.

Wilbur G. Kurtz: History in Gone With the Wind, Atlanta History Center
Wilbur G. Kurtz: History in Gone With the Wind, Atlanta History Center

If you're from Georgia, lived in Georgia or even visited certain parts of Georgia, you're probably quite familiar with Georgia red clay. There's nothing else quite like it. Kurtz, a sample of his attention to detail, provided Hollywood with samples of Georgia red clay "to ensure that the red earth of Tara and Atlanta's dirt streets were truly authentic as the Technicolor cameras rolled." That's what any brilliant technical advisor would do, right?

It doesn't immediately come to mind, but Atlanta was all dirt streets during the American Civil War and the restoration era. In fact, there were still a lot of dirt streets in Atlanta approximately 75 years later when Gone With the Wind was published!

Wilbur G. Kurtz: History in Gone With the Wind, Atlanta History Center
Wilbur G. Kurtz: History in Gone With the Wind, Atlanta History Center

Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind, did not go to California to ensure the details of her story, Atlanta, the Civil War, and reconstruction eras were accurate. Instead, at her recommendation, Selznick Studios hired historian and technical expert Wilbur G. Kurtz, with whom she corresponded quite often. That reminds me, I need to get some new personalized stationery...it's been years! 

Kurtz, also a painter and illustrator, was born in Illinois, but lived in Atlanta--documenting her history--for 55 years before passing away in 1967. Having a love for history myself, I'm grateful to Kurtz for his contributions to preserving Atlanta history. And to the Atlanta History Center, for that matter.

Wilbur G. Kurtz: History in Gone With the Wind, Atlanta History Center
Wilbur G. Kurtz: History in Gone With the Wind, Atlanta History Center

Among the 40 images and artifacts in this high-impact exhibit are several Confederate bills. I wasn't sure I'd show any of them in this post, but then I realized that not everyone has seen Confederate currency. They're truly remarkable works of art.

Speaking of money, it'll cost you exactly the value of Confederate currency to see the exhibit...not a penny! Wilbur G. Kurtz: History in Gone With the Wind is free of charge. The exhibit is in the Kenan Research Center, the standalone building located to the right of the main building.

Of course, I recommend visiting the entire 33-acre complex, but if you're short on time and budget, do try to fit in a visit to the Atlanta History Center to see this magnificent little, yet historically significant exhibit.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bravely Inspiring Beauty

"Mrs. Johnson broke all the barriers. What a brave, brave woman." - Pat Cleveland

Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair is magnificent and Atlanta is fortunate to be the first city on its three year national tour. Originating at the Chicago History Museum, our own Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) is now inviting visitors to walk the runway and witness fashion that transformed a countless many.

Beyond featuring 40 of the more than 60 ensembles of Inspiring Beauty, the exhibition shares the story of Eunice Johnson, creator of Ebony Fashion Fair and wife of the publishing mogul John H. Johnson. His publishing legacy includes EBONY and JET magazines, and many others.


Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, Museum of Design Atlanta
Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, Museum of Design Atlanta

Ebony Fashion Fair was conceived in the mid 1950s and started touring the United States in 1958. The exhibition features ensemble from as early as 1964—before I was born!

You may be asking why I'm saying "ensemble" instead of dress or gown. Because Ebony Fashion Fair included men's fashion, a few of which are also on display. 

Sadly, 2009 was the final Ebony Fashion Fair. Mrs. Johnson passed away in January of 2010, but her legacy is poised to live forever.


Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, Museum of Design Atlanta
Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, Museum of Design Atlanta

When you're exploring, pay attention to the details...and there are a LOT of details! One that I particularly like is the breastplate featured in the above pictured ensemble.

One significant detail that everyone should know is that Mrs. Johnson made Ebony Fashion Fair more than a fashion show. It was also a major fundraiser. The show raised money for national African-American charities, such as the United Negro College Fund and sickle-cell anemia research, as well as local charities wherever the show happened to be taking place.

Over the years Ebony Fashion Fair raised $55 million for charities!


Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, Museum of Design Atlanta
Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, Museum of Design Atlanta

Each of the Ebony Fashion Fair traveled the country and each had a theme. Among those that you'll enjoy at MODA are selections from "Fashion Scandal" and "Fashion Extravaganza", and each show closed with a wedding dress, yet something that always surprised. 



Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, Museum of Design Atlanta
Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, Museum of Design Atlanta

Linda Johnson Rice, Chair of Johnson Publishing Company and daughter of John and Eunice Johnson, was on hand for the Inspiring Beauty Preview Party, as was fashion designer b michael who traveled from New York City specifically for the show. b michael designed the gown behind him in the above photo. Striking, isn't it?!

The Preview Party was well attended and included persons who had attended Ebony Fashion Fair in years past, as well as some of the models who wore some of the on-display ensembles down the runway. I had the pleasure of meeting the model who wore a dress from the "Fashion Scandal" show...that was a real treat!


Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, Museum of Design Atlanta
Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, Museum of Design Atlanta

Ebony Fashion Fair inspired change on so many levels. It even changed the face of fashion shows themselves. The models shocked audiences with their moves and sometimes the transparent and/or revealing dresses. But audiences came to expect what now is looked forward to. 

Huffington Post said it brilliantly, I think..."The Fashion Fair models were a work of art themselves. They had 'body attitude.' They didn't walk the runway, they worked it." The exhibition features video from shows that proves that observation, without question.


Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, Museum of Design Atlanta
Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, Museum of Design Atlanta

There are so many magnificent garments, for so many reasons, but the one above was my immediate favorite. Surprisingly, visitor favorites are quite varied...that in itself was a pleasant surprise. 

Even if you're not a fashonista or at all familiar with the fashion world, there are a few designer names you'll recognize. Among the dozens of designers represented in the exhibition are household names such as Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin, Yves Saint-Laurent, Patrick KellyEmanuel Ungaro, Todd Oldham and Bob Mackie, to name a few.



Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, Museum of Design Atlanta
Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, Museum of Design Atlanta

Ebony Fashion Fair owned more than 7,000 ensembles at one time...can you imagine the size of THAT closet?! For Inspiring Beauty, from the several thousand that remained part of the collection, several hundred were selected for consideration for the national tour. 

Factors that contributed to being selected were feasibility for restoration, ability to stand up to multi-site cross-country transport (some of the selected ensembles will be shown at every other stop, to mitigate excessive wear), and the garment's ability to travel.



Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, Museum of Design Atlanta
Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, Museum of Design Atlanta

When Ebony Fashion Fair invited plus-size models to the runway, the Fair attendees applauded the move with great fervor. Once again, Ebony Fashion Fair was inspiring.

Eunice Johnson opened doors for African-American models, designers, event producers...she opened many doors for many people, not to mention the opportunities that her philanthropy created. I'm glad to see her life's work celebrated.


Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, Museum of Design Atlanta
Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, Museum of Design Atlanta

One of the not-glaringly-obvious and fascinating aspects of this exhibition is that each of the mannequins was designed specifically for the ensemble it features. For instance, Mrs. Johnson wanted to showcase that dark complexions are in fact radiant in bright colors. She was highly inspirational in the African-American community declaring with pride that "Black is Beautiful". 


Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, Museum of Design Atlanta
Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, Museum of Design Atlanta

The Museum of Design Atlanta's Gallery 1 features a red carpet, inviting visitors to explore and experience an icon of American history...and to have some fun while doing so.

The corridor gallery features ads throughout the five decades for Ebony Fashion Fair, some of them featuring ensembles in the exhibition. And there are stations where visitors who attended Ebony Fashion Fair can record and share their experiences.

This is your chance to walk the runway and share in the celebration of a woman, an advent, a movement that was so much more than a fashion show. Ebony Fashion Fair changed the world.

Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair is on display at MODA through Sunday, January 4, 2015. Now go...go walk that runway!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Japanese Maple Tree Magnificence

Some of you may recall my excitement for having visited Gibbs Gardens last year for their Japanese Maple Tree Festival. If so, it's no big surprise to learn that I went again this year. These photos are from a few weeks ago, before the super brilliant colors set in, but it was still magnificent!


Japanese Maple Tree Festival 2014, Gibbs Gardens
Japanese Maple Tree Festival 2014, Gibbs Gardens


Gibbs Gardens, if you don't know yet, is a mere hour north of Atlanta and there are 221 acres of display gardens, the entire property being quite a bit larger.

The Gardens feature more than 2,000 Japanese Maple Trees of more than 100 varieties, with approximately 75 varieties represented in the 40-something acre Japanese Garden. Seriously...this place is impressive!



Japanese Maple Tree Festival 2014, Gibbs Gardens
Japanese Maple Tree Festival 2014, Gibbs Gardens


When you go, may I recommend that you plan lunch for a non-peak time...their homemade bread, in various flavor profiles, is AMAZING and evidently the word is out! You can also bring a loaf home, just get your order in early. 

Plan plenty of time to explore and then check out the various flower festivals throughout the year, as well as their cultural and music events. 

Gibbs hasn't been open long, relatively speaking (even though Mr. Gibbs took more than 30 years to grow the Gardens), so in my opinion it'd be great to see it before it becomes so popular that you have to contend with over-crowding. Of course that's probably not a serious threat given its vast size...I just want you to see it.


Japanese Maple Tree Festival 2014, Gibbs Gardens
Japanese Maple Tree Festival 2014, Gibbs Gardens


The Japanese Maple Tree Festival at Gibbs Gardens runs through November and it looks like we have a bit of nice weather left, but get up there soon. Don't miss this brilliant color show!

 I wish I had time to share more about Gibbs, but I think you'll enjoy exploring it for yourself. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Best of the NYC Greek Film Festival in the ATL

Yes, it's true. I'm a Philhellene. I have been most of my life...it started when I was still a kid. That's why I want to share with you the upcoming event "The Best of the New York City Greek Film Festival" at the Woodruff Arts Center on Saturday and Sunday, November 8 and 9, 2014.


The Best of the New York City Greek Film Festival
The Best of the New York City Greek Film Festival

What's a Philhellene, you ask? It's "a lover of Greece and Greek culture", a designation I was gifted earlier today. 

Some of you already know that I lived in Greece for more than two years, when I was 19-21 years old...what a great time that was! But I was well-versed in Greek Mythology at a much younger age. So that I ended up living in Greece wasn't purely happenstance. 

I'll tell you more about that experience in just a moment, but let me tell you about the upcoming film event. 

The Best of the New York City Greek Film Festival will take place over two days and will feature five films. One of those films, Little England, is up for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards on Sunday, February 22, 2015.

The films in this festival are primarily in Greek, but with English subtitles. When I lived in Greece and went to the cinema, I remember seeing a comedy that was in English with Greek subtitles and there were two rolls of laughter with each punchline...one when the English-speaking audience heard it and a second when the Greek-reading audience read it. I had long been fascinated by linguistics, so that was a fascinating experience. 

Funny side story...I had a roommate years ago who didn't care very much for foreign-language films. I love them, so when I wanted a little time to myself, off to Blockbuster I went to rent a foreign film to soon enjoy a couple of hours of me-time. Selfish? No, not at all...we all need a little me-time from time to time, right?

Many of us have heard about European culture...how, when visiting a European country, you might be invited into someone's home, treated to dinner, or share a drink...hospitality at its finest. I experienced all of that first-hand. 

My first Christmas in Greece a friend of mine invited me to his home for Christmas Eve. His mother and father, once they learned I had no family there, insisted that I stay the night and share Christmas Day with them. My time in Greece is filled with wonderful stories similar to that experience. I'll always have a place in my heart for Greece and her people.

Well, there's a tidbit more about me that maybe you didn't know. Now I'm going to go watch a Nia Vardalos movie... 

A gracious "Thank you" to my friends at Lykion Ton Ellinidon Atlanta for letting me know about the film festival (tickets). I'm looking forward to seeing you and to seeing some fantastic cinema!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Delta Flight Museum

The newly renovated Delta Flight Museum (formerly called the Delta Air Transportation Heritage Museum) has undergone a magnificent renovation...they're really going places!


Delta Flight Museum, Douglas DC-3
Delta Flight Museum, Douglas DC-3

Puns aside, the Delta Flight Museum is an aviation enthusiast's dream land...68,000 square feet of dream land! The museum opened in 1995 in two 1940s-era hangars, originally used for Delta's maintenance program. Hangar 1 was built in 1941 and Hangar 2 in 1947. 

Today, the museum offers interactive exhibits and rare artifacts, as well as some of the latest exhibit technology. Some of the aircraft artifacts date to the 1920s and they feature the only Boeing 737 flight simulator open to the public in the United States. 

Beyond the fascinating museum experience, it's also available as a special events facility (there was even a wedding proposal at the museum recently) and their gift shop is pretty awesome, too...I've rather enjoyed my "I love the smell of jet fuel in the morning" coffee mug!


Delta Flight Museum, Travis S. Taylor
Delta Flight Museum, Travis S. Taylor

The first time I was ever in an airplane was on a runway on Craig Field in Jacksonville, Florida. Local radio air traffic reporter Robbie Rose of WQIK allowed me to taxi the runway with him to make some photos of the world-famous "Charlie Lindbird", a ring-necked pheasant that had been following Robbie's plane on the runway! 

I'd convince my mother to call Mr. Rose to see if I could visit the airfield and make some photos of Charlie Lindbird, and to my great surprise and excitement, he said, "Sure!" I wanted to see the bird, of course, but my endgame was to make a drawing of Charlie Lindbird to give to Robbie Rose. I was a budding pencil and paper artist at the time (later the camera replaced my artistic endeavors). 

I made the drawing and sent it to Robbie and my mother still has the photos that I made of Charlie and there are a couple of Robbie and I next to his plane. What an awesome memory! "Thank you, Robbie Rose" for encouraging a teenager's love of aviation and sense of adventure, which prevails even today!


Delta Flight Museum, Hangar 1
Delta Flight Museum, Hangar 1

A testament to the airline industry's continuous and exponential growth, Hangar 1's roof was raised three feet in 1952 to accommodate larger aircraft. The most recent renovation was completed in 2014, and reopened to great fanfare. 

It took me a few months after the reopening to make it down there to visit again, but now I can hardly wait to go back! The museum is at Delta headquarters, so be prepared to show a government-issued photo ID when you visit.


Delta Flight Museum, Hangar 1
Delta Flight Museum, Hangar 1

If you visited prior to the recent renovation, you'll recognize some of their staple artifacts, but you'll discover a lot of new ones, and all of them are presented in a new, totally modern fashion.

The museum is presented in something of a timeline order. Hangar One features "The Propeller Age", chronicling the evolution of luxury air travel, and a Stinson Reliant, an aircraft series that was built 1933-1941. Hangar Two features "The Jet Age". 

Make plenty of time to explore both hangars. There's a lot to see!


Delta Flight Museum, Hangar 2, Spirit of Delta
Delta Flight Museum, Hangar 2

When you first venture into Hangar 2, the first thing you see—and you can't miss it—is The Spirit of Delta. At first glance, you see a HUGE airplane, a magnificent airplane. But there's more...

"Project 767", an effort led by three flight attendants, was a demonstration of employees' gratitude to Delta for its support throughout the years. During a challenging financial climate, employees, retirees and friends raised $30 million to pay for Delta's first Boeing 767. That's some serious employee dedication! 

Twenty-four years after its inaugural flight, The Spirit of Delta was unveiled as the newest exhibit at the museum on December 15, 2006.


Delta Flight Museum, Flight Simulator
Delta Flight Museum, Flight Simulator

The Flight Simulator is so much more than a "ride"...it's an experience. We only got a preview, but "Wow!", I can totally imagine—having been at the controls of a couple of in-flight planes, with flight instructors, of course—how awesome it is!

The Flight Simulator was a highlight of our visit—and the Simulator is made from a real airplane! We'd ventured by once and there was a group of people already "flying", so we explored more of the museum and came back later. Then there was only the flight simulator instructor and one other visitor, a young pilot visiting from Brazil and one you quickly determined works in the field because he's so passionate about flying.

While we didn't do the full-hour experience, we were treated to a preview. Barry took the pilot seat and I was plenty excited to take the co-pilot seat. We saw a brief clip of the on-screen experience. Those partaking of the full package enjoy a 10-minute briefing, 45 minutes of flight time and a 5-minute review. If you're an enthusiast, I'm certain it's worth the ticket price. 

During my senior year of high school, in Pinedale, Wyoming, I ventured beyond the runway. There was a festival of some sort that included plane rides! I was so caught up in the festival activities and making photos that I missed out on the plane rides. I was so disappointed.

But, Dominique Joris, a Swiss exchange student who had become my best friend, made arrangements with the pilot to take Dominique and me up the next day—my first flight! It was a four-passenger Cessna and we were flying over the stunning and majestic Rocky Mountains. Suffice it to say, it was a bumpy ride, but after that I was never afraid to fly.


Delta Flight Museum, NASA
Delta Flight Museum, NASA

Inside The Spirit of Delta is another museum...one you want to make sure you see! The artifacts range from viewing the actual cockpit to the plane's intact, original First Class section, to uniforms, aircraft models, and pins to a period galley with mannequins, and there are cutout sections revealing the innards of the plane!

As an air AND space enthusiast, I was enraptured by the NASA and space-related artifacts. There's even a shirt that was flown aboard the Space Shuttle ATLANTIS for eight days in 1995! The shirt is one that bears the "Delta: The Official Airline, 1996 Olympic Games" emblem. 

In the 2000s, I had the great privilege of being a VIP guest of NASA and got to visit ATLANTIS on her launch pad, in addition to many other incredible experiences over a six day period. I love making connections to real-life experiences when visiting museums!


Delta Flight Museum, Uniforms, Hawaii
Delta Flight Museum, Uniforms, Hawaii

Delta's uniforms have, over the decades, reflected current and innovative fashion. The "Hawaiian" uniforms pictured above were donned by attendants from 1969 through the 1970s. 

There's another uniform that was designed during the Space Race, looking toward the time that Delta might be part of consumer flights to the Moon! Seem silly? Then you might be surprised to learn that you can book a flight to space right now! Perhaps not through Delta, but their pioneering spirit is most certainly a contributor to the fact that civilians have already ventured into space.


Delta Flight Museum, Hangar 1
Delta Flight Museum, Hangar 1

I think you're going to love all the photo-ops in the museum...I certainly had fun with my camera! Don't be shy about making photos, but of course be careful. I have a very similar photo to the one above of myself at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC about four years ago. Fun stuff!


Delta Flight Museum, The Spirit of Delta
Delta Flight Museum, The Spirit of Delta

Next time I visit the Delta Flight Museum, I'm going to plan more time to explore. There's so much to see and do!

And I can hardly wait to see their newest exhibit, Adventure of Flight, which "highlights man's quest to conquer the skies, from hot air balloons to space travel". It opened just last week!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Agatha's Dead Men

Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery consistently knocks 'em dead!

If you're a fan of AMC's Mad Men, you're going to LOVE "Dead Men: Murder on Madison Avenue". Actually—and please don't hold this against me—I've never seen an episode of Mad Men (but it's on my list!) and yet, I LOVED "Dead Men"!


"Dead Men" | Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery
"Dead Men" | Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery


And I love Agatha's. I've been a fan of Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery for decades, so I'm embarrassed to admit that I've not been since I moved back to Atlanta. Not for not trying, because they do sell out (reservations are recommended). I was fortunate...they had a last-minute cancellation (don't count on that happening), so they had availability when I recently went without calling first.

I have to say, they're still as brilliant as they ever were! And they've always been brilliant.


Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery
Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery

I used to attend every show put on by Agatha's, and for good reason...the shows are so incredibly clever—seriously clever—and entertaining! Every show—and this has been going on for more than 25 years—is written exclusively for Agatha's. So, what you're seeing you're not going to see anywhere else.

They're now downtown, and have been for a number of years. When I went before they were at a location across the street not far from The Fox Theatre (you may recall that fact if you're visiting after a number of years or a long-time resident). Now they're only a block off of Peachtree Street, very accessible for visitors staying downtown and they have easy, very affordable parking for people coming in from other areas.

Agatha's IS mystery dinner theatre, in its finest fashion...of the entertainment type...of the you-want-to-laugh-so-you-must-do-this type...of the I'm-looking-for-something-unique-to-do type...  

Just go already...it's laugh-til-you-ache fun! Just hope the aching isn't a knife in your side. Someone's going to get killed. (They typically do in "murder" mystery, but I'm always surprised by who it turns out to be.)


Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery
Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery

The owners are long-time friends, but I'd been out of touch for quite some time and my coming in was unannounced, which made the fun we had all the better...it was real. It was real fun.

What you get is dinner and a show...and wine. And then there's a full bar! Dinner is five courses, starting with appetizers as soon as you arrive...well, after you go through orientation. You see...everyone is part of the show. That's right. If you've always wanted a stab at performing, this is your big chance!

Wait, wait, wait...back to the food. Appetizers upon arrival, then four more courses. That's right...murder mystery and a FIVE course meal. There's a chef's-choice soup, then the salad course with at least a couple of dressing options—there's a complimentary glass of wine with the salad course—then a choice of entree, which features a much wider selection than you'd expect, and dessert!

And of course there's the performance, which takes place between each course. Cliff hangers galore!


Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery
Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery

The performers of Dead Men: Murder on Madison Avenue...they're just amazing! Most of my fans know that I don't write "reviews"...I write about the things that I enjoy in Atlanta. But if I did have to review Dead Men, I'd give the performers five stars! Hands down, five stars!

I love to write, but the writers for Agatha's...I can't even approach their cleverness. So, here's what they say to advertise this particular show...

It was a simpler time, the late 1950′s. Where men were men, and women ... worked just as hard and got no credit for it. Yup...simple. And one advertising agency ruled the roost, The Silver Copper Agency with their creative director, Don Dripper. He's handsome, smart...and did we mention handsome? Things at the agency have never been better. Until someone kills the boss, and then everything is turned upside down on Don Dripper's perfectly Brill-creamed head!

Seriously...funny!

I mentioned that EVERYONE is part of the performance. That's right, everyone is someone. If you're celebrating a birthday or anniversary, you're likely to have a more significant role and if you're of the variety that might experience stage fright, not to worry...stage fright won't kill you! There are ways to participate even if you're on the shy or quite side. The stars of the show will great fun of making you a star!


Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery
Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery

When you're seated, or even before during hors d'oeuvres, introduce yourself to the other mystery dinner theatre-goers...you're going to get to know them no matter what! No, that's not a threat, that's a wonderful promise. 

On my most recent visit, I met two birthday girls and a delightful couple visiting from Saskatchewan, Canada. The wife totally wanted to experience Agatha's and the husband was totally reluctant. Turned out, he was the first guest performer and he had a blast! We started talking as soon as we were seated and later in the evening we were making commemorative photos together. Great meeting you!

From the Agatha's website: 




Go, go, go to Agatha's - A Taste of Mystery! And keep going. Dead Men is showing now through Wednesday, November 5. Shortly thereafter is this year's holiday show, The Candy Cane Murders - A Breaking Bad Holiday. It promises to transform the way you look at murder mystery!