Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch

Today, Caroll Spinney who has acted the roles of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since 1969, announced his retirement from Sesame Street. Fortunately for Atlantans and visitors to Atlanta, we can visit them anytime we want at the Center for Puppetry Arts!


Big Bird | Caroll Spinney | Center for Puppetry Arts | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Big Bird | Caroll Spinney | Center for Puppetry Arts | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

I watched more than my share of Sesame Street when I was a kid and I'll always be a fan. Of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. I didn't know Caroll Spinney as a kid, but did get to know him better at Dragon Con in Atlanta. He was a featured guest more than once. The memories he's given me through these two endearing characters are countless.


Oscar the Grouch | Caroll Spinney | Center for Puppetry Arts | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Oscar the Grouch | Caroll Spinney | Center for Puppetry Arts | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

My friend Alison—we volunteered at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History together for three years—shared with me earlier that Oscar was one of her favorites. I've invited her to Atlanta to see him "in-person" at the Center for Puppetry Arts. Come on down, Alison....let's have a rotten day!

The Jim Henson Collection, where Oscar is on display, is phenomenal. All of your favorite Muppets are there, from Kermit the Frog to Miss Piggy to Pigs in Space to Bert and Ernie, and yes, even Elmo

If you want a FULL Muppets experience, go see the screening of "The Muppet Christmas Carol" on Saturday, December 8, but get there early...your tickets for the film includes museum entry! You get to experience the Worlds of Puppetry Museum—including The Jim Henson Collection—before the movie!

A personal "Thank you!" to Caroll Spinney and Sesame Street for all the wonderful memories.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

INTERVIEW: Chef Hugh Acheson & The National

I met Chef Hugh Acheson years ago and was a fan even before that. He's devilishly handsome, intelligent, charming, seemingly a little mischievous, but in a fun way, and even a little quirky...that's to say he's unique among chefs of such an exalted caliber. Okay, okay, maybe I am a super-fan. He's really just a totally cool, laid back, fun human being.

I have the honor of sharing with you an interview with Chef Hugh in conjunction with a visit to one of his restaurants in Athens, The National.


Hugh Acheson | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Hugh Acheson | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

My visit to The National was with my friend Wayne, the State Parks aficionado I've mentioned before. Our single-day excursions are typically multi-adventures. On this particular day we started at The National, then went to Watson Mill Bridge State Park and then to see the mysterious Georgia Guidestones.

Hugh's interview answers are brief, but insightful and hilarious, much like his Instagram posts. If you're not following Chef Hugh on Instagram, you totally must!

I'm going to pepper this story with interview questions. Let's get started...

wanderlust ATLANTA: I've been a Chef Hugh Acheson fan for years. Please share with my readers who you are.

Chef Hugh: I am a chef from Canada who has lived in Athens, Georgia, for more than 20 years. I write cookbooks and run restaurants.


Hugh Acheson's The National (Athens) | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Hugh Acheson's The National (Athens) | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

We selected The National because Hugh's other Athens restaurant, 5&10, isn't open for lunch on Saturdays, but it's his flagship restaurant, so I definitely want to return for a weeknight dinner or Sunday Brunch.

The National is absolutely lovely. The attention to detail and the nuanced touches make for a place where you feel welcome and somewhere you want to be. Opened in 2007, it's a small—yet spacious—bistro with a Mediterranean influence. Executive Chef Peter Dale prepares a menu that nods to Northern African and Spanish cuisines.

wanderlust ATLANTA: You once shared with an audience—that I was in—a little bit about how you use your sketchbook to develop recipes. Will you tell us a little about that process, please?

Chef Hugh: I like to doodle and take notes. To me, nothing replaces pen and paper. I draw plates and dishes that I am working on, take notes on places I travel to, and make lists of things to look into and research. It is just the way I catalog life.


Hugh Acheson's The National (Athens) | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Hugh Acheson's The National (Athens) | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Quite refreshing, this restaurant offers an array of house-made sodas, refreshers and shrubs, the kind you're not going to find anywhere else. Wayne had their house-made Lemonade, and you can see that they're sustainability-minded using metal straws instead of plastic. Kudos! 

I had a Sauvignon Blanc that was quite refreshing, light and crisp, just the way I like them. The beverage menu is impressive and varied, but not so long that you're doubly parched by time you peruse the choices.

wanderlust ATLANTA: I recently dined at The National with a friend. We enjoyed multiple courses and LOVED everything! The menu is ever-new, so what's a can't-miss experience here?

Chef Hugh: The National's hummus with ground lamb is a pretty special and comforting plate of food. And all of their drinks are pretty amazing.


Hugh Acheson's The National (Athens) | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Hugh Acheson's The National (Athens) | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Okay, next time I go to The National, I'm definitely trying the Hummus with Lamb. I lived in Greece for more than two years and fell eternally in love with Mediterranean cuisine. All of it. Especially hummus, calamari and tzatziki!

We enjoyed a couple of appetizers, starting with the Marinated Olives—told you I love Mediterranean! They were delicious and poor Wayne hardly had any. I devoured, minding my manners of course, most of them.

wanderlust ATLANTAWhat do you do for fun on the rare occasion when you're totally disconnected and disengaged from work? If that ever happens. #cheflife

Chef Hugh: I hang out with my kids and watch Wheel of Fortune. No joke.


Hugh Acheson's The National (Athens) | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Hugh Acheson's The National (Athens) | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
We also enjoyed an appetizer they were calling Rosalynn Carter Cheese Ring. It's akin to pimento cheese, but not. It's topped with strawberry jam and pecans and is offered with toasts on the side. Quite good, definitely a unique experience in taste and texture. I love such adventures, especially when they're good!

wanderlust ATLANTA: You are, without question, a celebrity chef. What advice would you give an ambitious culinarian who wants to achieve celebrity status?

Chef Hugh: The term celebrity is something I avoid. I am just trying to be me.


Hugh Acheson's The National (Athens) | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Hugh Acheson's The National (Athens) | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Wayne had the soup of the day which I got to taste. It was a Cucumber Gazpacho! I love cold soups (hot soups, too) and this one is a star! It had radish, sumac, and olive oil and it was delicious...perfect before our day of 90°-plus outdoor adventures!

I love to cook and came very close to going to culinary school, but I didn't want to give up my nights and weekends. That was decades ago. Today I revel in the delights of what today's ultra creative chefs put on their menus. 

I started collecting autographed books in 2002, but only ones when I'm there to get the autograph myself. The first was Leonard Nimoy's first photography book. From there I was hooked. Not too long after that I got Alton Brown to autograph his book Good Eats, based on his crazy-popular TV show of the same name. 

Since then, my autographed cookbook collection has grown extensively and includes Chef -Hugh Acheson's The Broad Fork. That one if highly focused on fresh vegetables and be sure to check out his other cookbooks.

wanderlust ATLANTA: What's your favorite food from childhood and why? Did you eat your veggies?

Chef Hugh: I was a strange kid who didn't like mac & cheese and hamburgers. I loved vegetables. Still do.


Hugh Acheson's The National (Athens) | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Hugh Acheson's The National (Athens) | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Wayne had the Impossible Burger, billed as "the meatiest veggie burger around". With its shaved Vidalia onion and pomegranate ketchup, it sounds amazing! And who doesn't love a brioche bun?! 

The fries, which we both enjoyed with our entrees, are so amazing, you'll be at least halfway through them before you remember that you have other items on your plate! 

So many restaurants ignore humans' love of french fries and under-deliver—there are way too many places that do that, what a miss—but The National, Chef Peter in particular, should be in the French Fry Hall of Fame! I don't think there is one, but these fries should at the very least be immortalized in the French Fry Museum!

wanderlust ATLANTA: What's your favorite kitchen gadget and why?

Chef Hugh: A serving spoon. It is my spatula, my scoop, my ladle. It is the OG multi-tool.


Hugh Acheson's The National (Athens) | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Hugh Acheson's The National (Athens) | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I opted for the Hancock Hoagie, presumably named for the restaurant's street, and was delighted with my choice! It's billed as "a little messy, but totally worth it." And it was! This "creation" has curry-rubbed chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, sweet and tangy curry sauce, and Italian dressing. I could bath in this stuff! Not at the restaurant—minding my manners, remember—it's that delicious!

One thing that stood out for me, and that makes me love this restaurant, is that it uses a lot of spices that perhaps not everyone has in their cupboard, but they're spices that everyone could find at their local markets. If you like a dish you enjoyed at The National, it's something you could try to recreate at home, but I for one will want to return for the real thing.

wanderlust ATLANTA: You autographed a copy of your cookbook The Broad Fork for me about a year ago and I'm loving it! What was unique about writing that book compared to others you've written?

Chef HughThe Broad Fork was meant show to cooking methods for pretty much all vegetables. It was meant to answer the age old question, "What do you do with kohlrabi?". It was fun to write.


Hugh Acheson's The National (Athens) | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Hugh Acheson's The National (Athens) | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

When you walk into The National, directly in front of you is the bar—a handsomely and uniquely appointed bar. The dining room is to your right. So, you can come in for drinks or come in for dinner or come in early and enjoy drinks before you have dinner. Mix it up, have some fun!

I love the travel theme decor. There are postcards from all over the world taped up behind the bar and there's a vintage lunch box with a flight crew standing in front of an airplane with "The National" painted on its fuselage. The lunchbox has no connection to the restaurant which makes it even more fun.

When I travel, I want to explore the local scene and cuisine. If I'm in a new city—or even my own for that matter—I'm not going to go to a chain that I can find anywhere, I'm going to ask around and check out the most talked about place in town or that only-the-locals-know place. That practice promises an adventure every time! Eat local and save the chains for when you're home...that's just my personal advice.

wanderlust ATLANTAYou travel a lot...a LOT! From a chef's perspective, what are the best and worst things about traveling. Favorite destination?

Chef Hugh: Traveling is critical to understanding the world. It can be exhausting sometimes, but you just need to remember to drink a lot of water and pack smartly. Going through cobblestone streets in Lisbon with a roller hard suitcase is silly. Get a backpack. But do go to Lisbon. It is stunning.


Hugh Acheson's The National (Athens) | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Hugh Acheson's The National (Athens) | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

While you're in Athens, explore this fantastic city known for its music scene, sports and awesome restaurants.There's lots to do here!

When you get back to Atlanta, check out Chef Hugh's other restaurants, Spiller Park (2015) at Ponce City Market and Toco Hills; named for his grandfather, Achie's (2018) at the Omni Hotel at Battery Atlanta; and the most talked about Empire State South (2010) in the heart of Midtown.

wanderlust ATLANTA: What's next for Chef Hugh Acheson? 

Chef Hugh: Lots. Food is an endless topic to explore.

I'd like to offer a huge wanderlust ATLANTA "Thank you!" to Chef Hugh, the staff at The National and to PR firm Baltz & Company for arranging the interview. This was not a sponsored post nor a sponsored restaurant visit. All opinions are my own. 

Now, go experience the bliss of Chef Hugh Acheson's restaurants!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Wanderlusting Zoo Atlanta

I recently had the wonderful honor and great pleasure of a grand tour of Zoo Atlanta! My friend Peggy is a member, donor and a volunteer at the Zoo. For our tour, she donned her interpreter gear and we were off on a 5.5 hour adventure...

We toured the entire Zoo—what an amazing learning experience—and Peggy interpreted for other zoo visitors when I was making photos. It was awesome seeing how much joy it brings her to enhance a visitor's experience with information they might not otherwise be privy to.


Orangutan | Zoo Atlanta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Orangutan | Zoo Atlanta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

My personal favorites are the Orangutans, probably from the first time I saw the movie Every Which Way But Loose, starring Clint Eastwood and Manis the Orangutan

Years later, I would move to Pinedale, Wyoming, where I finished high school. We would drive 100 miles north to Jackson Hole—where the movie was filmed—once a month to shop for groceries. It was so awesome recognizing filming sites from that movie when we were there!


Scarlet Ibis | Zoo Atlanta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Scarlet Ibis | Zoo Atlanta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Zoo Atlanta is home to many, many avian species and some fascinating ones at that! When we happened upon the Scarlet Ibis, I was awestruck by its beauty. I couldn't stop watching (and taking photos). It's no wonder that this striking bird has been the subject of a number of literary works!


Bald Eagle | Zoo Atlanta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Bald Eagle | Zoo Atlanta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Typically a zoo would not have a resident Bald Eagle, but in the case of wing damage—as is the case here—a zoo provides food and protection from predators, as well as being an educational opportunity that most would never enjoy otherwise. Even with a damaged wing, THIS Bald Eagle is gloriously majestic! 


Iguana | Zoo Atlanta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Iguana | Zoo Atlanta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

This was my first time exploring the new Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian & Reptile Experience and it's AWESOME! Home to more than 70 species, plan plenty of time to meet some of Zoo Atlanta's most fascinating residents, including a Komodo Dragon, a mesmerizing chameleon, and some baby diamondback terrapin turtles! 

If you're a beer aficionado, you may know that the diamondback terrapin is part of the logo of Terrapin Beer Co. in Athens, Georgia.

The digital, interactive animal identification signage is a first for Zoo Atlanta. This signage also shows whether or not the animal is endangered or not, including the "extinct except in human care" category.

Alpaca | Zoo Atlanta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Alpaca | Zoo Atlanta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Some of the newest residents at Zoo Atlanta are the Huacaya Alpaca, this one's name is Smurf, I believe, and they're sooooo cute! Originally from Peru, they now live all over the world in human care. 

This domesticated species is so popular right now. They've been showing up at weddings all over the country! 

#DidYouKnow: Alpaca and Llamas are often mistaken for one or the other, but they are totally different species!


King Vulture | Zoo Atlanta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
King Vulture | Zoo Atlanta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

This avian is so brightly colored that you might not immediately recognize that it's a King Vulture. It took me a minute because I was so fascinated by all the colors.

I think vultures unduly get a bad rap. They have a vital role in our ecosystem. Yes, their eating habits are disgusting to us, but by eating carrion, they're cleaning up what could otherwise be a breeding ground for disease. Next time you see a vulture, you might replace "eewwwww" with a "thank you".


African Elephant | Zoo Atlanta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
African Elephant | Zoo Atlanta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

There are two African Elephants—the largest of elephant species—at Zoo Atlanta. There will be more when the new African savanna habitat is completed.

The elephants are one of the many "Wild Encounters" that visitors can experience. During a Wild Encounter: Elephant experience, you get to give Tara or Kelly an afternoon snack, up close and personal! I've not done this yet, but it's on my list.


Golden Lion Tamarin | Zoo Atlanta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Golden Lion Tamarin | Zoo Atlanta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

One of the things I love about Zoo Atlanta is its extensive conservation work, the endangered Golden Lion Tamarin being among the many projects they're currently working on.

Zoo Atlanta's MissionWe save wildlife and their habitats through conservation, research, education and engaging experiences. Our efforts connect people to animals and inspire conservation action.

From everything I seen, Zoo Atlanta is continuously demonstrating their mission, one that this blogger is excited about and proud of. Education and conservation would be enough, but a Zoo Atlanta experience is so much more!


Nubian Goat | Zoo Atlanta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Nubian Goat | Zoo Atlanta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I was looking forward to the Petting Zoo, getting to hang out with the goats! Zoo Atlanta is home of several kinds of goats, the one pictured above being a Nubian Goat, the kind that I lived with the summer after high school graduation. 

I lived with my art teacher and his wife, Duane and Pip, on their goat ranch. There were about 40 goats, each with a unique personality and each wanting all of your attention. We were up at 5:30am every day to milk the goats. During my time there, we made a few batches of goat cheese and ice cold goat's milk is delicious!


Chilean Flamingo | Zoo Atlanta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Chilean Flamingo | Zoo Atlanta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

The Chilean Flamingos are the greeting committee at Zoo Atlanta...they're the residents of the first habitat visitors see. On this particular morning, they were in the midst of a grooming session, wanting to look their best for the day's visitors, no doubt.

#DidYouKnow: Flamingos get their pink color from the beta carotene in their diet? There's a food dispenser to the left of the habitat, so you too can feed them!

I am so thankful to my friend Peggy for the wonderful grand tour of Zoo Atlanta. Before I left that day—after our 5.5 hours of exploration (including lunch), I purchased a membership and look forward to exploring Zoo Atlanta on many of the 363 days per year that it's open! 

I invite locals to check out the various levels of membership and I invite everyone to explore the many ways in which you too can support our amazing Zoo Atlanta.

Enjoy some additional photos from the day on wanderlust ATLANTA's Facebook page.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Dark Crystal: World of Myth and Magic

"When evil screams throughout the world, when all three suns converge, when all that's fair and fine seems lost... a hero will emerge!"

It's easy to understand why Jim Henson's 1982 movie The Dark Crystal has become a cult classic all over the world. Its edge-of-your-seat suspense and mesmerizing story is captivating from the very beginning.

Now, fans all around Atlanta and those visiting Atlanta can see a new special exhibition, Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: World of Myth and Magic, and you don't even have to know what a Skeksis is to enjoy it!


Jim Henson's "The Dark Crystal: World of Myth and Magic" | Center for Puppetry Arts | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Jen | Jim Henson's "The Dark Crystal: World of Myth and Magic" | Center for Puppetry Arts | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Haven't seen the movie? Imagine...

"Another planet, another time. 1,000 years ago the mysterious Dark Crystal was damaged by one of the Urskeks and an age of chaos has began! The evil race of grotesque birdlike lizards the Skeksis, gnomish dragons who rule their fantastic planet with an iron claw. Meanwhile the orphan Jen, raised in solitude by a race of the peace-loving wizards called the Mystics, embarks on a quest to find the missing shard of the Dark Crystal which gives the Skesis their power and restore the balance of the universe." - Anthony Pereyra


Jim Henson's "The Dark Crystal: World of Myth and Magic" | Center for Puppetry Arts | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Jim Henson's "The Dark Crystal: World of Myth and Magic" | Center for Puppetry Arts | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

The Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: World of Myth and Magic exhibit showcases original Brian Froud artwork, animatronic prototypes, costumes and props. Everything in the exhibit is fascinating, hands down. 

As a former wanna-be-artist of drawing (mostly pencil), I was personally blown away by Brian Froud's artwork. I encourage your to take ample time to explore these magical works of art and ponder the imagination that created the drawings.


Jim Henson's "The Dark Crystal: World of Myth and Magic" | Center for Puppetry Arts | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Jim Henson's "The Dark Crystal: World of Myth and Magic" | Center for Puppetry Arts | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

The exhibition, in the Dean DuBose Smith Special Exhibits Gallery—a separate space from The Jim Henson Collection and The Global Collection museums—displays more than 50 artifacts, including several prototypes and early versions of the film's iconic characters, as well as the actual puppets used in the Saturn Award-winning film, some of them worn and operated by humans, so those are HUGE puppets!


Jim Henson's "The Dark Crystal: World of Myth and Magic" | Center for Puppetry Arts | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Jim Henson's "The Dark Crystal: World of Myth and Magic" | Center for Puppetry Arts | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I love a themed outing and I've got one for you that you can do with the kids, friends or on a date! You can do these all in one day or over a period of days.

1. The film takes place on another planet, bring your group or date to a planetarium! There's the Bentley Planetarium at Tellus Science Museum; the Fernbank Science Center Planetarium at the Fernbank Science Center (not the museum on Clifton); or the Georgia Tech Observatory at Georgia Tech's School of Physics.

2. Watch or re-watch the movie with your group or date! It's only 93 minutes and they'll go quickly.

3. Go see  Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: World of Myth and Magic at the Center for Puppetry Arts! You don't have to watch the movie first to enjoy the exhibition, but I re-watched it and it totally enhanced my exhibit experience. My friend Barry has not seen the movie before and still thoroughly enjoyed the exhibit.

Have fun!


Jim Henson's "The Dark Crystal: World of Myth and Magic" | Center for Puppetry Arts | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Jim Henson's "The Dark Crystal: World of Myth and Magic" | Center for Puppetry Arts | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

You and your friends will get to explore how Jim Henson, Brian Froud, Frank Oz and others created The Dark Crystal’s mythical world of Thra, as well as take a look at the film’s impact and legacy over the years...you get to see up close and personal the behind-the-scenes work that made this classic cult film so legendary!


Jim Henson's "The Dark Crystal: World of Myth and Magic" | Center for Puppetry Arts | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Jim Henson's "The Dark Crystal: World of Myth and Magic" | Center for Puppetry Arts | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Your ticket to see Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: World of Myth and Magic includes access to The Jim Henson Collection, which has some other amazing artifacts from The Dark Crystal. Take yourself and your imagination to the Center for Puppetry Arts and enjoy this fascinating, magical exhibition.

Thank you to the Center of Puppetry Arts for the tickets to the exhibition, through Brave PR. All opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by having been hosted.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

"Nunsense" is Habit Forming

Marietta Theatre Company has opened their second season with the heavenly hilarious musical "Nunsense", on stage through Saturday, September 1. There are only a few performances with tickets still available. Get yours now!

Okay, okay...my title, "Nunsense is Habit Forming" is hardly original, but clever is clever. And that's not sinful. What is sinful is not laughing your ass off while watching this brilliantly delightful musical.


"Nunsense" | Marietta Theatre Company
"Nunsense" | Marietta Theatre Company

Here's the premise of the second longest running Off-Broadway musical comedy...

"Five of the 19 surviving Little Sisters of Hoboken, a one-time missionary order that ran a leper colony on an island south of France, discover that their cook, Sister Julia, Child of God, accidentally killed the other fifty-two residents of the convent with her tainted vichyssoise while they were off playing bingo with a group of Maryknolls. However they forgot about four of the nuns and need additional funds for a proper burial! With the deceased nuns on ice in the deep freeze, they decide to stage a variety show in the Mount Saint Helen’s School auditorium to raise the necessary amount.
- Marietta Theatre Company

The five actresses in Marietta Theatre Company's production are indeed a sisterhood. They're wonderfully synchronous and harmonize brilliantly. 

My personal favorite is Sister Mary Amnesia (Sophia Decker), a Georgia native (which I didn't know before deciding she's my favorite). Sophia is a huge fan of tap dancing, which the show has! She's also a puppeteer! 

The show also has ballet, danced by Sister Mary Leo (Megan Wartell), who wants to be the worlds first nun ballerina. Told you it's funny! I asked Megan if she was classically trained in ballet. She didn't break character. She totally answered as Sister Mary Leo, reiterating that she wants to be the world's first nun ballerina.

What better way to open our second season than with a production that will have audiences laughing hysterically?” said Blaine Clotfelter, president and co-founder of Marietta Theatre Company. “As an emerging theater company in Atlanta’s bustling arts scene, we are honored and humbled to have received nearly 20 Metropolitan Atlanta Theatre Award nominations for our inaugural season – more than any other theater in the region - and hope this show will set the tone for continued momentum in the year ahead.


"Nunsense" | Marietta Theatre Company
"Nunsense" | Marietta Theatre Company

Thank you to BRAVE PR for the tickets and for marketing such a fun show! I've worked with BRAVE PR for a number of years and they've consistently been wonderful and consistently represent their clients in the brightest limelight. 

See "Nunsense" at Marietta Theatre Company now through Saturday, September 1. A lot of shows are sold out, so DO NOT WAIT!

With such an awesome season as this, consider purchasing a season subscription and save 20 percent, equivalent to the price of a single show, to enjoy all five shows in Marietta Theatre Company's 2018-2019 season, including "Nunsense", "The Toxic Avenger", "I Love You Because", "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" and "Altar Boyz".

I saw The Toxic Avenger five times at another theatre...LOVE this show! And I saw Altar Boyz at a theatre in Bethesda, MD...another fantastic show! Can hardly wait to see what Marietta Theatre Company does with them!!!

See you at the theatre!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Oakland Cemetery Photography Workshop

My first published photograph was in my senior year in high school in the largest newspaper in the state, on the other side of the state where I lived. I'd moved away from home on the East Coast and finished high school in Wyoming. Other than what my art teacher, Duane, taught me about photography when I was on yearbook staff, I've never had an actual photography class. I've picked up tips from others, learned a lot on my own, and have taken a webinar or workshop from time to time, but that's it.


Photography Workshop at Historic Oakland Cemetery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Photography Workshop at Historic Oakland Cemetery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

These photos are from a Photography Workshop I went on not too long ago at Historic Oakland Cemetery, a stunning, picturesque example of a "rural garden" cemetery in the 19th century. 

Some think it's creepy to host events in a cemetery. I think they've watched too many zombie movies. There was a time when the only public land in small towns was the local cemetery, so it became a gathering place where citizens would socialize and honor their dearly departed. Nothing creepy about that! 


Photography Workshop at Historic Oakland Cemetery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Photography Workshop at Historic Oakland Cemetery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

There's another Photography Workshop coming up at Oakland Cemetery later this month! Sunset is the BEST for beautifully dramatic photos. The golden hour, it's called.


Photography Workshop at Historic Oakland Cemetery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Photography Workshop at Historic Oakland Cemetery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Oakland Cemetery dates to 1850 and started with only six acres. Today, it's 48 acres and is home to approximately 70,000 "residents", about the same number of spectators you'll see at an Atlanta United game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium!


Photography Workshop at Historic Oakland Cemetery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Photography Workshop at Historic Oakland Cemetery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Among it's 70,000 residents, Oakland Cemetery is the final resting place of a few famous personalities and notable citizens, including Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind; Bobby Jones, golf legend; and Maynard Jackson, the first African-American mayor of the City of Atlanta.


Photography Workshop at Historic Oakland Cemetery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Photography Workshop at Historic Oakland Cemetery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

There are many different tours of Oakland Cemetery. You could go all year and not take the same tour twice! To name a couple, there are the Sites, Symbols, and Stories tours and the Music Makers tours!


Photography Workshop at Historic Oakland Cemetery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Photography Workshop at Historic Oakland Cemetery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

And there are many different annual events at Oakland Cemetery, including Tunes from the Tombs, Malts & Vaults of Oakland, and the Run Like Hell 5K, to name a few.


Photography Workshop at Historic Oakland Cemetery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Photography Workshop at Historic Oakland Cemetery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

It's also a lovely setting for an evening stroll, camera or not, before or after dinner, perhaps. There are numerous nearby dining destinations, many flanking the cemetery including Six Feet Under Pub & Fish House, Tin Lizzy's Cantina, and Agave.


Photography Workshop at Historic Oakland Cemetery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Photography Workshop at Historic Oakland Cemetery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Locals love Oakland Cemetery for its beauty and events and visitors love it for its beauty and its celebrity residents. It's a magnificent piece of historical significance and it's a celebrated icon. I for one hope the art, architecture, history and gardens at Oakland will be around eons.


Photography Workshop at Historic Oakland Cemetery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Photography Workshop at Historic Oakland Cemetery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

That first published photograph was of a toy drive for Toys for Tots. It was published in Wyoming's largest newspaper in Cheyenne, where I'd never even been. It was a journalistic shot, a career path I did not pursue, however, in Corporate Communications, my eventual career path, photography has become a cornerstone in what I do.


Photography Workshop at Historic Oakland Cemetery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Photography Workshop at Historic Oakland Cemetery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

After high school graduation, I returned to the East Coast, but a month later I moved back to Wyoming to live with my art teacher and his wife, Pip, for the summer. On their goat ranch, we'd get up every morning at 5:30am to milk their 40 goats, I learned how to bake, I jogged a lot getting ready for boot camp in the U.S. Navy, enjoyed an ample amount of MTV in its infancy, and there were many more photographs. 

I am ever grateful to Duane and Pip for their hospitality and for their generous contributions in shaping my future.