Sunday, 20 August 2017

Costume party / theme night

You may know that I just love a good fancy dress/costume/theme party. And coming up I thought I had two to go to!  But it emerged I had my dates totally wrong for one so won't be able to go to it now.  But I will tell you about the dress I had planned anyway.

First up was my plan to go see a viewing of Dirty Dancing (30th anniversary) with my friend - and although there was no mention of costume we decided we would dress up.  So as the film is set in 1963.  And bearing in mind that Baby Frances Houseman is 16 in the film I decided it would be better for me to dress for my own age but as if I lived in 1963.  I ended up (I think) dressing like Baby's mother in the film/slightly Jackie O and result was this:


Disappointingly this outfit will remain in the wardrobe for another 1960s night out.

Next outfit will definitely be getting out to party!  Enid, Cousin Kasey and I are going to see "Gatsby" in the Gate Theatre.  It is immersive/interactive theatre and attendees are encouraged to dress as if coming to a party in Jay Gatsby's mansion.  How fun does that sound! 

Costume design is by the amazing haute couture designed Peter O'Brien.  Some day I must blog about my beautiful dress coat from his first ever pret a porter collections which I bought over ten years ago and still wear today (and still get the most amazing compliments about it when I wear it).  Do you remember the last play we went to see where he had done the costume design?  That was an unusual night is all I can say...  My blog about it is here

There is a bit of a story of how I got this dress.  I thought I had something in my wardrobe which looked 1920/1930s but when I tried it on last week I felt unhappy with it - it really wasn't the look I was going for.  So last week when I was going to meet my friend at the hopsack (see my other post) I passed a thrift store/charity shop which had 3 dresses in their window all "Gatsby" in style.  In Ireland a lot of thrift stores display their best stock in their window and have a little sign saying when they will be selling them.  Conveniently they were going on sale just the Saturday coming!  And I was happy I found the dress in a thrift store, I really did not want to pay a lot for a dress/costume I was going to wear once.

I arrived at 8.30 to wait for the opening at 9am.  I was really surprised to see two people already in the queue.  Eek and one was a girl about my age too!  Which could only mean one thing she had an eye on one of the dresses as well.  And personally the one I wanted was the nicest I thought, so I was sure she was going to go for it too.  I got in the queue and I began talking to her.  Turned out she wanted the pink dress (I wanted brown) so all was good and we had a nice laugh about that.  And interestingly she was going to Gatsby too. 

Enid arrived soon after and she was a great help because she found the necklace I am going to wear as a headpiece!  So without further ado.  Here is my outfit, a bargain I think you will agree for €15 and the headpiece for €5

 
 
 
 
 
 






Thursday, 17 August 2017

Kevin Doyle and The Way it Was Orchestra - Elvis, a tribute: The Grand Social. A review.

There is a finite amount of Elvis impersonators in Ireland.  Off the top of my head there is Ciaran Hoolihan...and Frank Chisum (The Chis).  And then of course there is Kevin Doyle.

Although a young(ish) chap, Kevin has been "doing" Elvis for what must be 20 or 25 years at this point.  I am basing this on the fact that I think I first saw him perform in the Tivoli back when I was around 18/19.  God I am OLD!  How did that happen??

Anyway! On to last night's show. 

Kevin arrived on to the stage with no great fanfare in a black suit and white shirt looking altogether more lounge lizard Sinatra than Presley.  Starting with a nice slow "Fever", accompanied by just the double bass it felt cool and crisp,  but not very Elvis!  This it seemed was Doyle's plan as he explained (to both laughter and disappointment) how he was attending Elvis Impersonators Anonymous and trying to wean himself off the white suit and the Elvis moves and allowing us to focus on the sound more.  It also allowed for a nice intro as throughout Fever and leading into Don't be Cruel he was joined on stage by more and more of his musicians building up to full representation, and a full crescendo of sound, from the wonderful The Way it Was Orchestra (who are endorsed by the TCB band don't you forget!).

But you know what.  Who cares what he is wearing this man can sing Elvis!  With or without the white jumpsuit it was a phenomenal first half.  Then a quick break and  the white suit appeared and then things really got heavy.  All the favourites were done, ending with my two absolute favourites - Suspicious Minds and my absolute ABSOLUTE fave Can't Help Falling in Love.

We rocked and we rolled, and it was a great night. A wonderful tribute to Elvis Presley on the 40th anniversary of his death.
His music however lives for ever.  Long live the King.

(Oh special mention of the venue - I love the loft in the Grand Social. I've never had a bad night here)



Fever
Don't be Cruel
Return to Sender
Devil in Disguise
(Marie's the name) His latest flame
Can't Stop Loving
Walk a Mile in my Shoes
Pocket full of rainbows
You were always on my mind
Steamroller baby
A little less conversation
I'm all shook up
If I can dream

*costume change*

See See Rider
Trouble
Guitar Man
I just can't help believing
Love me tender
Burning Love
Pretty little baby
An American Trilogy
Polk Salad Annie
Proud Mary
Viva Las Vegas
Hound Dog
Suspicious Minds
Can't help falling in love

My favourites!
Return to Sender
Devil in Disguise
(Marie's the name) His latest flame
You were always on my mind
Burning Love
Viva Las Vegas
Suspicious Minds
Can't Help Falling in Love

Monday, 14 August 2017

Room - Abbey Theatre

It's been a few weeks since I went to see Room but I really don't want to leave it without saying even just a few words about it.

I am signed up to alerts from the Abbey and a couple of months ago when I got the email that Room was coming I immediately went on to their website and booked tickets for the last night.  I had read the book when it first came out, and then saw the film and although an awfully tough subject I enjoyed* them both so much I knew I wanted to see the play.  Also I had seen some great reviews of it - it was an English production that was coming to Ireland.

*I don't think "enjoy" is the correct word considering the subject but I really can't think of any other way of saying it.

Anyway, back to the play.  It was an emotional watch and I am not too proud to admit that I cried many times through it.  A testament to the writing and a testament to the cast.  The production was great - right down to the lighting and the set which were both very imaginative.  I do have to say that sometimes it is apparent when a production is from the UK as compared to an Irish production.  Not all the time I emphasise (the Irish do produce great theatre) but when it is better it is so much better.  This was the case with this play.  I honestly don't think any Irish actor could play Ma and play Little Jack as well as Whitney White and Taye Kassim Junaid-Evans did.

10/10




Outdoor cinema Merrion Square - La La Land

Last week an ad for a screening of La La Land caught my eye on facebook which I thought looked really good.  Then as chance would have it Enid messaged me the very next day saying she had seen it and was I interested.  So I said I was and I also messaged Cousin Kasey to see if she was around and wanted to go.

As you know I absolutely adore La La Land.  I saw it twice in the cinema, borrowed it on dvd from the library and also watched it on the plane over to Oman earlier this year.  I wrote about it previously in my blog here.

I'd never been to an outdoor cinema, but Enid had (in Florida and in Sydney) and was telling us how even on really sunny days, once the sun went down it got cold.  So! Being Ireland and all we prepared on this basis.  We had chairs and blankets to wrap around us.  I wore my winter puffa jacket and yes, I wore a hat as you can see in the pic below.  And gloves!  I know this probably sounds a bit of an overreaction or over preparation but I'm a cold person...once then cold gets into me I am a goner.
So I'm happy to report the night went great. It did get cold - but were lovely and warm (we did actually see people leaving early who had not put as much military precision into their planning.
And the film! The film of course was wonderful.  And it really whetted my appetite for my next viewing of La La Land - Enid and I have tickets for a showing in the Grand Canal Theatre (in September) accompanied by the RTE orchestra playing the score which I just know is going to be even more wonderful.


Sunday, 13 August 2017

Atlanta trip August 2017 - Day 5 Sunday 6th of August

Quite amazingly, even after the action filled previous day we were up and ready to go as early as ever. 

Bert had something he needed to attend to that morning so while he was gone I took the opportunity to do the majority of my packing and arrange my clothes for the airport etc - which as it emerged later was handy that I had done so. 

There is further good news in that while Bert was gone I do believe there was a thawing of relations between Biscuit and myself, and she may have warmed to me a tiny bit...to the extent that she was even following me around observing what I was doing.  However I made the silly mistake of telling her what a good girl she was and that was the end of that. I got a look of "waaaaggghh don't talk to me", and she backed off and disappeared for a while.  Ah well! It was good while it lasted :-)


So. Sunday morning! And my last day :-( Sure where else would you start but the OK Café in Buckhead - which is a very very cool mid century style diner. Bert, ever knowledgeable, told me about how it was recently burned down and details of the rebuilding process and some of the alterations they made - the colour of the wood being slightly lighter being one.

Food glorious food!  So my last day in the South I just had to order grits didn't I?!  These were different again from the other places I had grits - and while I thought they were seasoned very nicely (they were kind of peppery) I probably preferred the consistency of other ones.  But don't get me wrong they were still great!   I do like grits a lot :-) 


And I got pancakes.  Two of them.  And when they came out they were only huuuuuuge.  Which was fine by me.  Holidays and all that.  It is no time to be thinking of diets when you are on holiday :-)

Oh God, it doesn't take much to make me happy :-)  I like this photo a lot - Bert drinking diner coffee, in a diner with it's name carved in to the booth dividers (see right of the pic), and the US flag in the background.

So it was a fairly relaxed morning as you can see - a nice slow breakfast and coffee. I think the  original plan was to go out on bikes* on the Atlanta beltline which would have been fun.  *Bert had got a loan of a bike for me from a friend - thank you friend, I am sorry I didn't get to use it, but the loan was appreciated!

Anyway a change of plan and instead we went to see two AMAZING places!

First up we drove through Midtown and rounding a corner we came upon, omg, the Margaret Mitchell house!  How happy was I that I got to see it.  We had a good old poke around it - and considering it was closed (Sunday - it is not open until 12) I felt that I got the vibe and spirit of Margaret Mitchell.  How cool is to think that she wrote the epic book Gone With the Wind in that very house. 






I'm laughing because I had just hopped over the balustrade and into the patio area for these photos!





We strolled around the area admiring the nice buildings.  In particular the Federal Bank of Atlanta which Bert said was made from Georgia marble.  That got me thinking about Irish Connemara marble from Galway/the West of Ireland which is a lovely greenish colour and used in Government buildings, but in small quantities and never a whole building.  Doing some googling now I see from the wikipedia page about marble that Georgia marble is  a notable marble, Irish however, is not!  Well there you go, that's me told.

From there we went on a nice drive to an incredible place.  We visited the great Stone Mountain which is a large lump of granite with a very cool engraving/relief on the side of - done by the same sculptor who did Mount Rushmore - of three Civil War Confederate leaders Stonewall Jackon, Robert E. Lee* and Jefferson Davis.

*Considering what has happened and is happening in Charlottesville, Virgina right now, and what in one part (amongst other things) stemmed, from the decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, I am finding it a little painful thinking about the world we live in right now. So the less said by me the better.  I just find it sad the actions of some humans.  I also find a sadness in the irony of visiting the Center for Civil and Human Rights and being so impressed with how far we had come in the civil rights struggle and then you see this...
#onehumanfamily... why can't we just get along??



But that aside for now, I had a super time at Stone Mountain.  I was really thirsty so was going to get a drink in the gift shop but then saw a sign that there was a Coca-Cola Freestyle Machine up at the summit. Like hello how could you turn down the option of a crazy mix of  Coca-Cola at 1,686 feet above sea level!!!

We took the skyride/cable car up to the top.  Yes we got our mixed drinks.  Pictured below is  Bert explaining the intricacies of the machine :-D




But don't worry I got the hang of it quick enough ;-)


I went for a Coke zero, mixed with about 20% vanilla diet coke and with a quick shot of lime diet coke to finish it off. It was goooood!!!  And I absolutely resolutely believe that it tasted better then it would at ground level ;-) 
This photo was not planned this way but doesn't the cup in it look very cool?

Stone Mountain was busy!  Lots of families who had taken the skyride up and were just pottering around it (it was a bit like being on the surface of the moon), and very impressively a lot of people who hiked it up.  They looked healthy and fit, and kudos to them.  Actually that is something that I noticed (and mentioned it before about the beltline), from what I saw the people of Atlanta like getting out and exercising and making use of their natural resources. That's pretty cool to see.




So we mainly just sat and admired the view (a bit of contemplating life in my head again also!).  The view really was quite spectacular - the mountain was surrounded by a large amount of beautiful forestry (hey, some might even say jungle...lol...private joke). And right at the edge of the expanse of green foliage, sparkled the beautiful midtown/downtown buildings of Atlanta. 

(Photo: https://www.instagram.com/smithbert/)

An interesting anecdote: Bert said that around the 1950's there was a campaign/advertising to market or brand Atlanta as "Oz" and that this was the first time he really understood it as he could see the city rising up out of all the green.  That kind of stuff is right up my alley and I thought that was really interesting...

Anyway (how impressive is this lol) we decided to forego the skyride down and we walked down!  It wasn't long - maybe 15 minutes - but it was most enjoyable.  While I would have preferred to be wearing pair of runners rather than the shoes I was wearing (flat strappy sandals) it was definitely the right choice!

Our hike however brought us down on the other side of the mountain from the car park so we had to walk about 15 minutes further back to the car.  Which was grand, it was nice just chilling along (um not a thought about the fact that I had a flight to catch i.e. time was ticking!).  We got back to the carpark but scooted back in to the visitors centre to look in the giftshop, take a few more photos of the carving and get a another drink in the giftstore (ahem, still no thought about the time of my flight!). 
It cannot be understated how much fizzy drinks were consumed on this trip!
This Amy came from the gift shop :-)


We came out of the shop and while heading down to the car took a wrong turn and ended up in a little kind of fun park area which was full of kids and families, games and amusements, and some chillaxed country music.  As nice as it was just chilling along it was then we noticed the time and we figured it was time to get on the road and get to the airport.

There was no major panic, we were "ok" on time but I figured it would probably be best to check in online to save time in the airport, so I did that in the car - with a little assistance from Enid who what'sapped me my passport number.  You have to wonder what did we do before the internet at all??

So we scooted back to Bert's where my earlier packing and prepping stood to me and we had a quick turnaround and headed off to the airport.
Ha ha ha! So I just adore this photo (zoom in, you can see me in the middle of the photo - Bert said he tried to get a closer photo but his hands were greasy from all the Southern food we had eaten. lol).
I just think there is something a little bit pitiful, and a little poignant, about this photo. You know me and they way I am a tad obsessed with saving things for posterity.  Well I just think this captures a moment in time so perfectly.  Loooooove it.

All I had time for before my flight was this amazing Dunkin' Donut which on the basis of not being able to get at home I treat myself to in every airport where I see one.  Last holiday hurrah!



Two great flights (Atl to JFK, JFK to Dub) and I was home.  With a bit of a bang I admit.  But with great memories to keep me going for a while.  It was a great trip.  I hope you can see that from my blog posts and enjoyed reading them! 
And while it was goes without saying it's only right it's said again, thank you to Bert for all he did.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Atlanta Trip August 2017 - Day 4 Saturday 5th of August

Ok so are you ready for Day 4?  You may have thought the previous days were busy and jam-packed, but let me tell you, you ain't seen nothing yet..! 

This morning I got to meet with some of Bert's neighbours. Shannon and Amanda had the most lovely (and infectious) energy and enthusiasm  and it was really nice to go for breakfast with them.

 
We breakfasted in Grant Park in the cutest little café called Ria’s Bluebird Café, and pancakes featured heavily! I got pancakes, Shannon got pancakes and we got a portion of pancakes (with chocolate chips...nice!) for the table.  I was excited about going to Ria's because that is one of the first places Bert mentioned once it was confirmed I was visiting.  I had been following them on their instagram and it was everything I imagined it would be. Mmmm those pancakes!

Bert and I then headed in the car to Downtown where we stopped off at at some fantastic buildings.
The GA State Capitol Building  is the primary office building of Georgia's government housing the offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of State. It has the most marvellous golden dome which I had seen from a distance many times while touring the city.  It was great to see it up close.




 

Circled around the building are many statues of notable Americans and Georgians.  Jimmy Carter is a favourite President of mine so I really liked seeing this.  I will say that we had a discussion about Carter as President, and Carter post Presidency, and some of what Bert said certainly did give me food for thought... He is still one of my favourites though.


This is a replica Statute of Liberty built by the Boy Scouts of America for the organization's fortieth anniversary celebration in 1950.  Approximately 200 BSA Statue of Liberty replicas were installed across the United States and this one is located across the road from the State Capitol.



We also passed the Atlanta City Hall which is the headquarters of the City of Atlanta government. It is neo-gothic in style and was constructed in 1930. And quite impressive as you can see from this pic!

Ok next up something which was major exciting for me!!  I enjoyed this so much!
We parked in the CNN building carpark.  I thought we were then walking over to the Center for Civil and Human Rights but instead we went into the CNN building where Bert signed me in as a guest and gave a me a tour of the building.  Seriously!! How mega great is that!
 

 These are some of the awards won by Bert and his colleagues
 
Ahem, I may or may not have held that Emmy.  ...ok I DID!  Eek! Excitement.

 


Where the news is made!  A replica news room :-)
We also saw the actual newsroom where all the news is coming in from around the world and being checked by the CNN fact checkers and being reported out.  It was a large area filled with a huge amount of pc screens and tv screens - and was a hive of activity, even for a Saturday. Unfortunately I don't have a photo - which is only right, the people were busy at their work after all.


It was cool seeing some of the stuff that Bert had worked on around the building.

From the CNN building we strolled across to Centennial Olympic Park heading to the Center for Civil and Human Rights. 



A quick stop off at "the vending machine with the coldest drinks ever" (again).  Bert got cherry coke, I had a diet coke.

The Center for Civil and Human Rights is phenomenal.  I thoroughly recommend this museum.  I learned so much more than I previously knew about the fight for human rights - about Martin Luther King and all else involved in the struggle, about the Freedom Riders (what an incredible feat carried out by student activists in 1961) and the Woolworths diner counter protest.
The museum is laid out extremely well and beyond interesting,,,and of course incredibly moving.  We ended up staying there for a long time - maybe 3 hours, maybe longer.
 


There were a lot of very moving pieces/stories but one piece stands out.  I will try describe it as best I can.  It was an exibit designed to simulate the Woolworths sit in protest where 4 students sat at a "whites only" counter and asked to be served.  You sat at a counter. placed your hands on the counter, earphones on your head, and it was suggested you closed your eyes (which I did). 
Immediately you faced an assault on your senses and nerves: You felt, and heard the vibrations of a BANG on the counter.  You heard shouting in your ears "gittt up...gittt UP... I saaaidd ..GITT UPPP" and you could hear the deep breathing and the aggression of the person shouting and it felt like they were circling around you as they shouted more and more obscenities and names at you. 

I don't think it can be accurately conveyed by words but let me tell you that I was quite shook after taking part in it.  Really makes you think...  And all in such recent history as well.  I am glad we live in a (somewhat) better world now.  There are other things to be struggled and fought against now, but I truly believe #WeShallOvercome
(well I HOPE anyway).

Oh one last thing about the museum, from my personal perspective it was quite amazing that I had seen some of the actual places (Day 1 and 2 of this blog) and then was reading about them in the centre.  Made it all so much more real.  
Oh and there were also some cool art installations - large videos of civil rights events from all over the world set to music with flashing images of struggles and  protests which was very thought provoking.
Again I'd definitely recommend a visit to this museum.

The day continued (can you believe how much we have done so far and it is not over yet!) and we got the Marta train to Midtown.



Here is Bert buying tickets for Marta.  I liked the train a lot.  It was very like the tube in London, the New York underground and the Paris Metro.  I do always like to see and use some public transport in a city so I was happy we got to go on the Marta train.  Lol, I won't lie I was happy to sit a little also :-)

 
Our first stop in Midtown was at the High Museum to see the Warhol prints exhibition.  We were going as part of a Turner day where entry to the museum is sponsored by CNN/Turner - which happens once a month and is pretty cool I think.  Bearing in mind the amount of time we had spent in the Centre for Human and Civil Rights we were later than we thought we would be and it was all a little confusing - the museum was closing in 5 minutes but was opening 30 minutes later for an event which Turner folk could attend. 



So we went in and got literally 2 minutes of Warhol and then said we'd go for a potter and return later to view in detail. 
We did get to see Roy Lichensteins installations outside on the lawn in front of the museum.  One of the houses was the most amazing creations ever - appearing to move as you walked around, which made you question yourself, the piece and reality (well that was my interpretation and I am sticking to it!)

We walked through Midtown to the Margaret Mitchell marker – which shows the location where she was hit by a car and died. At only 49 too :-(

Bert then called an Uber and we went to Mary Mac’s Tea Room for dinner.  I loooooved this place.  I loved the history (all those famous people who have visited - the walls are covered with photographs), the atmosphere (it is a bustling friendly place) and of course the FOOD:
Pimento Cheese with saltine crackers, pork, cornbread dressing, fried chicken, sweet potato soufflé, squash soufflé, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, cranberry sauce, sweet tea, corn muffins, yeast rolls, cinnamon rolls and other items.


This pork and cornbread dressing was DIVINE



This place is super popular!  This is the queue around the block when we were leaving!!

From there we went to the FABULOUS Fox Theater to watch a Movie that was showing as part of the Coca-Cola movie festival series.  The theatre is so Beautiful!  It was built around 1927 and is Middle Eastern/Arabian in theme with the most incredible ceiling covered in stars which looks just like the night sky.  Genuinely! I genuinely thought it was an outdoor theatre when we went up the upper tier.
Before the film started we partook in the traditional (and fun) Mighty Mo organ singalong,   I only knew the first song "You are my Sunshine" (which I love) but they also show the words on the big screen in front of you, so sure I gave it a good bash at singing the other songs too :-)

We watched a Harry Potter film - they are showing all 7 as part of the festival.  I enjoyed the film but I think it that was mainly because of the beautiful surroundings of the theatre. As for Bert, well I don't think I am revealing anything here that he wouldn't tell you himself...he enjoyed the Fox, but em, may have slept through a lot of the movie. Let's just leave it at that ;-)

Check out this Beautiful theatre here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fox_Theatre_(Atlanta) and some of my photos below.


 




Aterwards we popped across the road and had a quick look around the Georgian Terrace Hotel.  This is where Clark Gable’s after party was held post the Gone With the Wind Atlanta premiere.   I liked seeing this piece of GWTW history.  I can only imagine the festivities that night!


 
 
From there we then got an Uber to the CNN carpark.  


Oh a quick photo at the CNN sign before picking up the car.  I LOVE THIS PHOTO!

Last sightsee of the day we took a quick drive through East Atlanta Village on the way home - which is a very cool neighbourhood with lots of nice bars and restaurants.

WHAT A DAY! I am tired just reading back over this, but funnily enough was not that tired on the actual day.  By the way, the observant amongst you may have noticed we never got back to the High Museum for Warhol.  Can't do it all I guess!  Can't be helped and we did see a snippet which I am glad about.

** And on to Day 5!**