Archive Page 4

Screen on the Green, plus firearms

I have been wanting to go to ‘Screen on the Green,’ the outdoor movie series in Piedmont Park, but hope that the gun-toting audience members can keep their firearms to themselves next time.

I can understand bringing a picnic; maybe a bottle of wine. But why a firearm? If you had a gun with you, for some reason — maybe you forgot to take it out of your holster after your weekly target practice — why would you need to shoot at your fellow film watchers?

If we attend the next screening, I will have to make sure to dress the kids in bullet proof vests.

Sarah Ferguson’s Mess

In light of the News of the World sting, exposing Sarah Ferguson’s selling access to her ex-husband, Prince Andrew, I have discovered two ardent camps of Fergie friends and foes.

There seem to be opposing views about the Duchess on York on either side of the Atlantic. My British in-laws think that she has consistently tarnished the Royal Family’s good name, whereas my American brother thinks that the royals shoved her aside after her divorce from Prince Andrew.

Maybe a little bit of both is true: she lives in a wing of a royal residence, but doesn’t get to attend royal events. Her title helped her win the lucrative Weight Watchers spokesperson gig, but might prevent her from doing much else…

…beyond hoodwinking businessmen into giving her money to arrange meetings with her ex-husband.

My only question is whether Prince Andrew was as ignorant about the scheme as they claim.

Britain’s New Prime Minister

I am glad that the UK has a new Prime Minister, even though I did not help to elect him. And I’m impressed at how jovial the two former campaign rivals seem to be, so soon after chiding each other during election debates.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg actually seemed to be pals in their press conference earlier today.

But I am perplexed by just how similar they look. At least they seem to be aware of that; I admire their choice of bold, opposing colored ties, to enable a potentially confused electorate to tell them apart. Let’s hope they keep it up.

Election Day in the UK

For the first time, I am not participating in an election in which I am eligible to vote. I blame the ash cloud. And of course, it’s an historic British election that I was jubilantly excited to vote in, as only die-hard voters are.

After years of casting my ballot in every American election that came up, from local to federal, electing judges, district councillors, and other posts that wouldn’t draw most voters to the polls, I miss the one that people around the world are talking about.

I have always been an election enthusiast, so I am greatly bothered to be sitting on the sidelines of this one. It’s the closest election in more than 30 years, and certainly the most interesting one in my two-year-long lifetime as a British citizen.

My postal ballot never arrived. That is most likely the fault of the havoc wreaked on the mail service by the Icelandic ash cloud last month. Maybe it’s time to put the ballots online. That measure would get my vote.

Following in Obama’s Footsteps to Asheville

Just five days after the First Family left Asheville, we drove to the charming North Carolina town. While we missed out on the Blue Ridge Mountain hike that the Obamas apparently took, we managed to walk the town’s hilly streets, admire the mountain view, and watch an impressive game of hacky sack in Pritchard Park.

It felt like a small slice of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury — and not just because of the footbag kicking game. Young people lounging in the park, strumming guitars and chatting, give the city a laid-back feel. Art studios dappled throughout Asheville showcase paintings, jewelry and other offerings from local artists.

I do not believe that any Asheville micro breweries decided to brew a beer in our honor, as one did to mark the President’s visit. But my husband did enjoy his taste of a local beer. Our waitress looked downright thrilled when he ordered an Asheville, rather than imported, drink (and boy was it strong).

Thanks to the early May sunshine and wide sidewalks, we were able to walk from one end of town to the other. We bought treats from the Marble Slab Creamery, which served massive, made-to-order tubs of homemade ice cream.

The small, independent restaurants were a welcome departure from the chains we tend to frequent. Locally grown, organic food seemed to be the pride of these places. I liked the Fried Green Tomato Napoleon at the Early Girl Eatery, a cheery diner tucked down a narrow side street.

While we didn’t stay at the posh Grove Park Inn, where the Obamas stayed, we did stop by. We asked the host standing guard outside the famed Sunset Terrace, where the Obamas are said to have dined, if we could sit and drink coffee with our two toddlers.

He responded that he would like to invite us to sit inside instead, in a dark and empty area. It would appear that toddlers are not encouraged admire the breathtaking mountain view from the Sunset Terrace.

But youngsters seem to be welcome almost everywhere else in Asheville. When we visited the highly recommended brunch spot, Tupelo Honey Cafe, the waitresses and patrons laughed and smiled as our kids threw crayons and raisins. I loved the goat cheese grits that came along with the special omelet. And of course, I bought a jar of Tupelo Honey as a souvenir.

We realized that Asheville is a lovely town, filled with friendly people, charming local restaurants, shops, and art studios. It is certainly worth a visit if you’re in the South, and if you’re the President, it is worth flying to from DC.

Especially if you get a beer named after you.


Poor Gillian Duffy. She looked crestfallen after she met the Prime Minister, had a friendly chat, then discovered that he had referred to her as a bigot just moments after (he thought) he was out of earshot of the press.

And poor Gordon Brown. As rude as he was in slagging off the lifelong Labour voter, he too looked heartbroken when he put his head in his hands after hearing the tape of himself talking trash about Ms. Duffy.

The moral of the story is to watch out for those pesky radio microphones.

Searching for the Perfect Pizza

Here in Atlanta, I have yet to find a pizza I covet as much as slices from the Upper East Side institution, Mariella Pizza, in New York City.

Confusingly, there are many pizza places called Mariella in Manhattan. I am referring to the one at 965 Lexington Avenue, on the corner of East 70th Street.

Pizza in New York is generally pretty good, no matter which Mariella’s you visit. The dough is crisp; the sauce is thick and sweet; and the cheese is bountiful.

The staff in Mariella actually talk amongst themselves in Italian, and keep European football matches playing on the kitchen television set, helping the pizza to taste even more authentically Italian.

During a family visit/pizza tasting mission in Italy earlier this month, I found that the pizza there wasn’t too far off Mariella’s quality. The genuine Italian pizza has thinner crust, and more adventurous toppings (french fries! Salmon! Milk! Yes, Milk!), which puts them slightly ahead of Mariella’s in my personal world pizza sweepstakes. But Mariella’s pizza comes closer to the Italian version than anything else I’ve tried stateside.

But nostalgia plays a role for me, as well. Mariella’s has been a neighborhood fixture down the street from where I grew up for as long as I can remember. I go there whenever I visit my family in New York. So for Atlanta, it’s tough to compete with tradition.

Following in the President’s Footsteps to Asheville

We are planning a trip to Asheville, North Carolina, which is supposed to be charming and picturesque.

But our family isn’t the only one to be aware of the allure of the city: the Obamas are heading there this weekend. We were wondering why we couldn’t find an available hotel room….

Our trip there will mark our first family road trip, which is long overdue by American standards. People I meet in Atlanta regularly take five hour — even ten! — hour long drives, with young children.

My vivid memories of getting carsick in our weekly one hour drives to visit my grandmother in Westchester are only part of what has precluded us from taking to the roads.

We have taken the kids on the nine hour flight from London to Atlanta several times, but somehow, flying with two toddlers seems easier than to me driving.

You can walk around; raid the snack/drinks cart; climb over seats; and play with the tray on the seat in front of you (not advisable on an overnight flight at 2 AM).

But since we have a car, we might as well use it. Asheville is a mere three or three and a half hour drive from Atlanta, depending on whom you ask.

And it looks like the perfect artsy, kid-friendly beauty spot we’d like to visit. Plus, I hear that there is a J. Crew outlet.

We will have to ask the Obamas how they like the Grove Park Inn….

Volcanic Ash Cloud

We returned from our trip to Europe on Saturday, just missing by days the current chaos caused by the cloud of volcanic ash.

Last month, I thought the British Airways strike was the biggest potential threat to our trip. That seems trivial compared to the five thousand flights the ash cloud disrupted, and the closure of European air space.

I feel for all of the stranded travelers, or those with thwarted vacations. And I hope they’re able to get some sort of refund; or, at the very least, a hotel room. But I’d rather be grounded than on a plane that loses its engines because they’re engulfed in ash.

Love Never Dies, But It Can Get Old

I managed to catch the new Andrew LLoyd Webber musical, “Love Never Dies,” during a whirlwind trip to London.

My day flight was cancelled because of the recent strike, so I ended up on a red-eye. But a night without sleep prepared me well for the “Phantom of the Opera” follow-up. The musical evoked a nightmarish world, where people come to Coney Island with alarmingly dark ambitions.

I thought it would depict the Brooklyn amusement park as a fun, fantastical place. But anyone who hadn’t been to Coney Island would have left the show thinking that only those who want to end their marriage — or their life — should book a trip there.

As a big fan of “Phantom of the Opera,” I had hoped to get a fresh dose of songs like “The Music of the Night” and “Think of Me” — even the Phantom’s spooky theme tune.

But “Love Never Dies” has a whole new slew of new songs. While I applaud Lord Lloyd Webber for writing a fresh batch of music, rather than resting on his lofty Phantom laurels, I wanted a bit of a re-hash. Even the Phantom’s theme song sounded different.

I can’t be the only one who is thinking fondly on the original. It’s been more than 20 years since “Phantom of the Opera” opened, so it must have a lot of fans.