I was thinking about the recent McDonald’s ads featuring DL Hughley and company. These ads feature DL and friends being totally wowed by Mickey D’s’ all-day breakfast offerings. Hmm, just what we need, right? Now that we’re heading into the holiday season where here in The States, we will be bombarded with sweet treats in the office and through media. Click here to see my post on McDonald’s all-day breakfast.
We will continue posting here with bonus material to entries on the main blog at http://www.talesfromthecorners.com
Approximately 269 “Slow Poke Law” violations have been issued in the Peach State by the Georgia State Patrol over a nine month period. If you don’t know exactly what the “Slow Poke Law” is, chances are you could have been one of those who were cited. The “Slow Poke Law” — with its latest update went which into effect in July 2014 — says that if you’re traveling too slow on a state highway’s fast lane – and there are fellow motorists traveling at a higher rate of speed, you need to safely get out of that lane.
Supporters of the “Slow Poke Law” say it exists to reduce road rage incidents and aggressive/dangerous driving situations. In most situations, it’s common sense to get over if another motorist is riding your tail. After all, who needs another irate driver out there, right? It’s not that the “Slow Poke Law” is necessarily a bad thing. Drivers just need to be aware of their surroundings and let the faster vehicle proceed-whether it’s a car, SUV, mini-van, pickup truck, motorcycle or 18-wheeler.
Officers who pulled over folks for the “Slow Poke Law” violation, say they were unaware of this rather new law. I’m wondering if there were any in that group who were knowingly in violation of the “Slow Poke Law,” but had a bit of a dispute the law. While it’s tough to argue with the ‘Slow Poke,’ some will have or perhaps have had issues with how she or he received the citation. Checking in by county, Cobb issued 200 citations while Gwinnett comes in at 100.
Aside from ‘slow pokers’ in the left lane, there’s another issue out on the roads: distracted drivers. Distracted driving becomes more prevalent with each passing day. From the vantage point of a pedestrian, it’s even easier to see what goes on with many vehicles in motion. With loads of people talking without a hands-free device to dining, it’s no wonder that distracted driving has been on the rise.
The act of speeding is superseded by the “Slow Poke Law.” Indeed, let law enforcement deal with the speeders, but with the ‘lead-foot crowd,’ distracted drivers, ‘slow poke drivers,’ and other motorists driving dangerously, it must be tough to play the role of ‘road referee’ as law enforcement has to take on these days.
So stay safe out there and get to know your “Slow Poke Law.”
Here we are leaning towards Memorial Day after most of us are getting depressed with how Mad Men is wrapping up, but the better news is that American Idol will return for its final season. Let’s face it: that one needs to be put out of its misery. American Idol had its time, but when it was at its peak, that Reality TV trend felt like it would last forever. Certainly Survivor is still going strong on network TV as well as whatever the housewives and the Kardashians are up to on the cable television networks.
Perhaps the end of ‘Idol’ is a sign of a trend towards edgy scripted programs that appear on services like Showtime, HBO, IFC, AMC, Netflix and Amazon. With that in mind, the broadcast television networks are doing what they can to keep up with shows like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Transparent, Bloodlines, Veep and Silicon Valley. The broadcast networks have done well with buzz-worthy shows like Scandal, Under the Dome and Blacklist, but they prove to operate under far more constraints. The exciting scripted shows like Better Call Saul take greater chances in pushing the envelope.
Lately I have been enjoying Louie on FX and excited about the return of Maron on IFC. Interestingly, Marc Maron has been urging fans on his bi-weekly podcast to get wired up for cable television to watch Maron on IFC, the Independent Film Channel. The reasoning is that Maron’s show’s success depends on its IFC ratings, not the amount of downloads or streams on the other services where the show is available for viewing.Maron is one of those programs that are also available via many providers’ on-demand services and Internet downloads and Netflix streams.
The ‘Maron example’ shows where television viewing is headed. Known as ‘over the top,’ the viewer streams at his or her choice. So, we are at a crossroads between folks subscribing to conventional wired cable television or subscribing to streaming services like Netflix or HBO Now. Even Yahoo! is getting in on the act with new episodes ofCommunity. Community was sent packing by its former network, NBC.
Some shows presented some good season-ending finales like A&E’s Bates Motel. Some shows we barely got to know with early cancellations including CBS’ Stalker and ABC’sForever. The former was a “Dylan McDermott vehicle” which offered up some riveting episodes typically ending with a haunting cover of a pop song. The latter, starring Judd Hirsch was probably a bit too clever for the average viewer.
From the ashes of cancelled show comes new programs. The broadcast network has a treasure trove of new programs in their vaults ready to unleash for the remainder of the calendar year. Premium cable network shows were not immune from the wrath of the television programming grim reaper. HBO’s Looking received the axe.
Some may perceive the new “choice trends” is that the entertainment world to be a societal liability. Just like the music world, “television choice” has become segmented. It seems that everyone has their own screens these days which means that all it takes is a person’s own Smartphone, hand-held device or television to “plug-in solo” and enjoy her or his own entertainment choice – practically 24/7. Is it a bad thing? Is that any different than people reading their own books and “losing themselves?” Well, there’s a major difference between losing oneself in a book compared to “binge viewing” a program on a streaming service.
We are all heading towards Memorial Day which means that the heat will be turning up weather-wise and on television. These days, it’s comforting to know that there will be new programming offered during the hot summer months. Not terribly long ago, the summer television season was a barren waste land of re-runs. The cultural landscape has changed bringing with it the demand for decent entertainment year-round.
It was many years ago when I received word that I got a job in television news in the Atlanta metro area. I had been living on Ohio’s north coast for all of my life up until that point. I was excited about embarking on my then-new adventure in the South. On the last visit to my hair stylist Connie that summer, I received her sage “Atlanta advice.” Connie, like millions before her, was one of those people who passed through Atlanta on the way to somewhere else. Many of you who have lived in the Atlanta metro area for a time get the picture: People pass through, they become “ersatz experts” on the city and dole out the usual observations about the town with their “hundreds of Peachtrees,” sweet tea and “those nice, talkative Southern folks who would give you the shirt off their backs” stories. “They’re nice people down there,” Connie said. “And one other thing, they got heat.”
Connie was right. I moved to the Atlanta metro area in the heat of that summer, started my job and a few weeks in, I met a co-worker named Melissa. Here I was along with thousands of others who moved to this metropolis in search of an identity. Many of us were young, not too far out of college and doing our best to navigate this region “full of Peachtrees.”
What made the transition to living in the Atlanta area easier was meeting many kind folks. Still, none of those folks measured up to Melissa. After thinking about what set Melissa apart from others is this: Melissa was fearless with her kindness. The South was her home and she welcomed all who arrived into it with open arms. That very kindness inspired Melissa to approach anyone in her line of sight. It didn’t matter who you were or where you came from – Melissa enjoyed the art of conversation with the world.
Like my own mother, Melissa was able to get your life’s story within seconds. If you were a brick house, Melissa was able to break down those walls and get you to “spill your guts.”
I was one of those brick houses that Melissa was able to collapse. While we quickly discovered that we had few things in common at that time, we learned and grew from each other. It didn’t take long to become more than colleagues, but trusted friends. We went along with other co-workers to restaurants like La Bamba, a then-Mexican hole-in-the-wall that was in an old Midtown Atlanta area house.
So here we were, working in the television business. We got to meet a bevy of interesting folks ranging from actors and politicians to working with the behind-the-scenes crew and on-air talent. Trust me when I say that it seemed like every one of those folks who passed through the hallowed halls of our place of work in those days got to know Melissa. I’m attempting to exaggerate here, but there’s a side to me that thinks I am not really exaggerating. Melissa had no problem making her presence known. That gregarious spirit came from her upbringing in Swainsboro, Georgia where she must have grabbed the spotlight on a daily basis.
One time, the cafeteria at work was serving hot wings. In her sweet Southeastern U.S. accent, Melissa said to me, “Bobby, they got ‘wangs’ down there!” I replied in my Midwest tone, “Wings? Really?” Flip, our weather guy chimed in, “I love it! North meets South!”
It was more than just “North meets South.” We got to know more about each other as the years went on at work. We got to know our significant others at the time. We got to know about our families. I discovered that I was two weeks older than she was. She never let me forget that one. In some of our spare time, we went to see movies like Born on the Fourth of July and showed up at festivals. We discussed just about everything including cultural issues, our hopes, dreams, fears, work-related matters and other things that life threw at all of us.
While we went on to other areas within our company over the years, our paths crossed. We discussed marriages, my child, divorces and career changes. Even though Melissa enjoyed working within the television news business, I’m not quite sure she found her exact niche. Certainly, Melissa loved running the audio board, rubbing elbows with the television anchors, producers and directors, but overall, her calling was to be in front of an audience. Melissa didn’t find that calling while working in television news. She found that calling as a chef/caterer. From my little perch here in life, it seemed to me that Melissa truly enjoyed this type of work and was inspired by the likes of TV chef/mega-entrepreneur Paula Deen.
In recent years, we kept in touch through social media. I told Melissa all about my girlfriend, Cami. Melissa was happy for me-mainly because Cami hails from a region far south of where I grew up. Melissa told me about how she not only found her happiness and her Shangri-La in South Georgia, but also that she found the love of her life in a wonderful man named Chuck.
Melissa passed away today after a long bout with ovarian cancer at age 48. Melissa left a legacy, an incredible impression on the world. She probably didn’t realize it, but to those who knew her, Melissa taught all of us so much about life.
Melissa A. Kitchens (left) served as an audio technician with CNN for 20 years. This is a freeze frame from a documentary about the program “TalkBack Live.” Melissa is pictured here with then- ‘TBL’ Executive Producer Michael Toppo (right) on the set of CNN’s “TalkBack Live” in spring 2001. Photo Credit: Cable News Network
April showers bring May’s dried-up flowers. Perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but that statement certainly feels that way these days. What happened when May 1 hit? It’s like the weather overlords knew to shut nature’s spigots off at midnight April 30.
With the wettest April in 36 years, one would think that moisture-laden pattern would continue. One must wonder why in the world when the calendar flipped to May, we dried up out there. I’m not complaining. Who needs loads of drenched grass and roadways in addition to the chance of severe weather? That is the silver lining to drier weather.
So why are those flowers shriveling in early May after loads of rain in April? Obviously we have uncontrollable weather patterns determined by science, so we adapt to the situation by watering those flowers to liven them up by human intervention. Certainly watering plants may contribute to a drought situation if the dry pattern continues for several months or possibly years. Look no further on this problem than what’s happening in California. The Golden State has been experiencing an Exceptional Drought in many of California’s areas forced their governor to implement mandatory conservation procedures on its citizens and visitors alike. Could we end up in that situation in Georgia? Certainly. One only has to look at what we went through in 2007.
With it being so dry, that outdoor burning ban is in effect as it usually is from May to the end of September. With that ban in place, it makes me wonder why many jurisdictions throughout the states are not more concerned about individuals shooting off fireworks. Yes, it’s okay to celebrate, but with it being so dry, I hope that folks are cautious with their fireworks caches which do not seem to deplete until August.
Speaking of curtailing certain outdoor activities, I find interesting items on my runs. One day, I came across a hunting arrow. I’m not sure about hunting rules, but I doubt that it’s permitted in suburban Atlanta. “Bambi” and her family frequently roam our neck of the woods, so hunting enthusiasts are most likely tempted to take down some deer, but shooting off arrows in a residential area is not a great idea. I’m not against “thinning out the herd” of “Bambis” in the neighborhood, but I don’t know if that’s the greatest method to reduce their numbers. I’m also wondering if it stays dry, will the deer be out more foraging for food and water. Time to get some thoughts from Ted Nugent, right? On second thought, let’s just be careful out there.
Of course this dry weather pattern can turn on a dime. One minute we could be dry as a bone and then the next, the skies open up with rain for weeks like it did 21 years ago with a dry May followed by one of the Peach State’s wettest summers.
As May 2015 drones on, we are seeing many of our young students graduate from high school and college, television programs ending their respective seasons and in some cases, entire runs. As of this writing, I’m not expecting a wonderful end to AMC’s Mad Men, but I’m quite curious as to where that show is going at the moment. No matter if it’s dry or wet this May, enjoy those outdoor activities (while being careful, especially with the grills), attend those graduations and take in those end-of-season or final television episodes of your favorites programs.
There has been a lot brewing in the Atlanta baseball world lately. The Atlanta Braves baseball organization decided a while back that they’re packing up and heading to the northern suburbs in the area come spring 2017. Supporters of this move say since that a majority of the baseball club’s tickets have been selling in the northeastern suburbs and exurbs for quite some time, so why not “build it and they will come” closer to those who will attend the games? Opponents include longtime fans who feel betrayed by the move and more importantly, many locals who say that they don’t want their tax dollars allocated to what they think is a “boondoggle.”
There are other issues related to the new ballpark. Those who manage the Atlanta Braves could not have chosen a more congested, complicated and overall hideous spot in all of the metro area. The area where the new stadium will be is not only where traffic essentially comes together in all of the state, but pretty much the entire Southeastern United States. OK, that assessment could be a bit of an exaggeration, but perhaps I’m not far off on this one.
The new Atlanta Braves baseball stadium will be near where the area’s so-called monster bypass also known as I-285, converges with I-75. I-285 is a traffic behemoth which circles the metro area. I-75 runs the length of the United States. Locally, this convergence is known as the Cobb Cloverleaf. The “Cobb” part of the “Cloverleaf” label is named after Cobb County. The “Cloverleaf” label describes the myriad ramps that connect I-285 and I-75. In short, the Cobb Cloverleaf has been a traffic nightmare for at least three decades if not more.
If traffic is already bad in that area, then why build a mega monster ballpark complex complete with stadium and a myriad of shopping and entertainment options? Many metro Atlanta residents, the baseball world, a handful of folks around the nation and myself have been following the development of this idea which will come to fruition in two years as I write this post. I have a feeling that we’re all scratching our heads as to why the new baseball stadium will be in Cobb County.
After months of reading and hearing about the new Atlanta Braves baseball complex, many say that it was a combination of connections and money that made this idea happen. While we may never know the entire story behind the new stadium, one thing is for sure: the new stadium is coming to Cobb County whether anyone likes it or not.
Aside from the supporters, opponents and the “follow the money” theory about the new Braves baseball complex, there was an amusing development that recently occurred. Atlanta Braves executive Mike Plant came up with a novel way to beat the horrendous Cobb Cloverleaf traffic: ride your bike to the complex! I confess that I nearly performed a “spit-take” on that idea. Really? Note to Mr. Plant: We’re not in Portland, Oregon any longer. For those not aware, Portland is open-minded metropolis that promotes public transportation and biking options.
Are you kidding me? As a longtime bike rider, I can barely pedal around our rather narrow biker-unfriendly suburban side streets much less state routes. Let’s remember that I-285 is not an option since bikes are not permitted on our highways, so state routes would have to suffice in that situation. On the other hand, at rush hour, I’m sure I can travel faster on bike than the cars on I-285.
On a serious note, Mike Plant is hoping that local communities could construct bikes lanes to make this idea possible, but let’s face it, we’re talking about car-loving suburban counties like Cobb County in addition to nearby Cherokee County and Gwinnett County. Certainly it’s a dream for Mr. Plant and bike riders like myself to see bike lanes and trails connecting our communities, but then there’s something called reality and in this case, reality bites. These counties never cozied up to the notion of alternative transportation including public rail, light rail, trollies, buses and bike lanes. At the moment, stubborn tradition trumps the future which is a bad thing. The entire metro area’s local governments ought to embrace a comprehensive alternative transportation plan. Investing in alternative transportation while improving existing infrastructure will attract those much-needed millennials to move to the Atlanta metro area. With alternative transportation options available, the area’s tax base will exponentially expand.
Perhaps Braves executive Mike Plant is referring to motorcycles or possibly scooters to get to future games, but I think I’m reading his suggestion right about traveling to the games via the manual bike. It’s a great idea, but the truth is pedaling to the games is not a serious option at the moment.
I wish there was a way that I could properly congratulate the family of deer in my neck of the woods. What? Have I gone mad? The short answer is “yes,” but the fact is that deer tend to make landowners and motorists “go mad.” From ending up on our front grills to eating up our landscapes, the deer in the Peach State can get the better of us.
Recently, the white-tailed deer have been honored as the official state mammal by the Georgia General Assembly. I wanted to personally bestow the honor upon my neighborhood deer. I just wish they would remain still as I approach them. I confess that there are times I think that they actually will remain still when they see me, but they obviously have some kind of buffer zone or “social space.”
With the official recognition, there is a bit of a backstory with how all of this has happened. In the recent legislative session, it was the gray fox that was going to receive the official state mammal honor. Like many other states, a group of kids propose this type of feel-good legislation. In the case of Georgia, a group of Boy Scouts made the gray fox proposal. Enter in the state Department of Natural Resources which “convinced” the boys and eventually the Georgia General Assembly to change the recognition to the white-tailed deer.
OK, what gives? After all, what’s wrong with the gray fox? Who knows how the DNR approached the boys. What did they know and when did they know it? No one is asking the tough questions. Was there some chicanery going on over at the state DNR or down under the Gold Dome to make this change happen?
As expected, the Georgia General Assembly overwhelmingly passed the legislation in favor of the deer, but there still remain unanswered questions which have yet to be explored by the state media. Both the deer and the DNR don’t seem to be talking, but a few legislators had something to say. Those legislators were concerned that deer would get special protections which could have spelled the end for hunting and producing venison. Those who were in favor of the deer honor said that no such protections would exist for deer. So rest assured, Peach State citizens, one may still hunt our large yet lean furry official mammals.
What does this official honor mean for deer? The answer is pretty much nothing other than a bit of publicity. Perhaps this “much-needed public relations” is necessary to make hunters aware that there’s plenty of venison to be made in the Peach State.
Now some could say that state legislatures are wasting time and money on frivolous bills like making the deer the official state mammal. Here in Georgia, this is all a teachable moment. The kids learned how to deal with a state agency. The General Assembly learned how to come together and compromise on an issue. This sounds like everyone is pretty much happy with this feel-good legislation.
It seems that as we age, the more anniversaries we experience. 10 years here. 20 years there. And you realize, “How did that amount time pass?” Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of 25 and 30 year anniversaries that impact my life. From artists releasing anniversary editions of their huge releases to movie re-releases, this blogger can get quite melancholy at times.
A few months back, pop music duo Tears for Fears released a 30 year anniversary package of their ground-breaking album, Songs from the Big Chair. The three hits that spawned off of that album resonate to this moment in many Generation X’ers and Baby Boomers’ minds to this day. In case you forgot, those three hits include “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” “Shout,” and “Head Over Heels.” 1985 was Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith’s huge year-in case you never knew, those are the two main players in Tears for Fears. They also have a great backing band. The duo was far from being a one-hit wonder. They followed up Sound from the Big Chair with Seeds of Love later in the 1980s along with fruitful solo careers in the 1990s and of course, reunion tours that are still ongoing. It’s no secret that acts with the caliber of Tears for Fears find that touring is lucrative, but so is re-packaging the classic stuff.
Like many anniversary packages, the original album is beautifully re-mastered from the pristine analog tapes which reveal all types of sounds that were never heard on the original. Also included in these musical packages is a bevy of unreleased material including alternate takes of the released songs, perhaps full songs from those sessions that were never released, maybe official music videos, previously unreleased concert performances, posters and much more. CDs, DVDs, digital downloads and even vinyl versions are part of these re-release offers. The problem with these package releases is that they are quite pricey upon first release. I can wait for that one to drop in price.
Another anniversary that came upon me is the 30th anniversary of The Breakfast Club. What? 30 years! How did that happen? Well, it happened and of course the film was re-mastered, ‘re-premiered’ with some original cast members in attendance at a festival, re-released in theaters and on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Do I feel old? Not really. What annoys me is that it’s such a ‘phenomenon’ that time passed. So, with the brouhaha over the fact that The Breakfast Club is 30 years old, comes the whole “Where are they now?” and “Oh my, has this one actor aged terribly and this one hasn’t.” I’m over it as one can tell.
I graduated high school the same year that The Breakfast Club was originally released. Yes, do the math. I’ve been to previous reunions and most likely, I’ll hit my upcoming reunion because who knows, it could be the last. I’m not one to wallow in nostalgia, but I’m one to remember where we were, where we are and where we are going in life. I hope to attend the summer reunion, re-connect with former classmates and learn a thing or two at the end of the event. As for who aged better than the other, I’m sure some will fixate on that, but I could care less. Just like the Tears for Fears and The Breakfast Club re-releases, we too, are getting together as re-packaged products. Yes, that sounds funny and strange, but think about it – we improved our minds with further education and experiences, so yes, we’re ‘re-packaged!’ As for looks: Everyone looks great. We need to stop obsessing over fighting time and enjoy the moment.
My daughter asks me about what was it like in the 1980s on occasion and most of the time, I reference The Breakfast Club. Director John Hughes did a spectacular job at capturing teen angst in the mid-1980s. One of my English teachers at the time said, “You all don’t have ‘a time.’” I replied in my mind that it was the mid-1980s that was “our time.” It was just in progress. So I say to my daughter that her time is now-whatever one calls this decade. I think she gets it.
Forget StarWars – think more along the lines of BreakfastWars! That’s right: BreakFastWars. I’m referring of course to the “Breakfast Wars” between fast food giant McDonald’s versus Taco Bell.
It’s well known that people of the world have been feasting on breakfast offerings at McDonald’s legendary hamburger outlets for years. From the classic Egg McMuffin, Sausage McGriddle to the filling Steak, Egg & Cheese Biscuit and Hotcakes & Sausage, McDonald’s has enjoyed a long, comfortable ride to “Profit Land” from its vast morning menu selection.
Taco Bell has been challenging the hamburger giant thus creating the Breakfast Wars for the past year. A recent volley in the morning breakfast battle was the Waffle Taco. That’s right, a waffle shaped as a taco with all of the morning fixings one would expect like eggs, cheese, tomatoes and more, has been on Taco Bell’s menu in the morning. Yum, right? I feel the ole waist line expanding just by writing out “Waffe Taco.” Well, no more! Taco Bell is committing a bit of breakfast betrayal. Waffle Taco lovers are discovering that their favorite dish is in fact “movin’ out.” Enter the brand new Biscuit Taco. Yes, that’s right, a flaky golden biscuit shaped as a taco that may be filled with sausage, eggs, cheese or deep-fried chicken all topped off with jalapeno sauce. I think I just put on 10 pounds just picturing those options.
I think in the Southeastern United States, the Biscuit Taco makes sense. As the region becomes more diverse, I can see a melding of cultures thus resulting in dishes like the Biscuit Taco. It’s kind of like, “Your chocolate ran into my peanut butter” which created Reese’s peanut butter cups. The combo of a biscuit with Taco Bell offerings might make sense to many folks, not so much with me. After all, Taco Bell’s A.M. Crunchwrap has been doing well. The A.M. Crunchwrap is a flour tortilla filled with a choice of steak, eggs, bacon or sausage. While that combo will never appeal to me, there are many who devour the specialty. So, with the Biscuit Taco, I say, “Good move, Taco Bell.”
As one might detect at this point, most of the aforementioned dishes do not make sense to me. I’m okay with the hotcakes and especially hash browns, but a Biscuit Taco is not my idea of a satisfying hot breakfast. Call me a “Breakfast Wars Cynic,” but these dishes to me are basic concoctions I would have come up with as a teenager. Maybe that’s harsh of me to write those thoughts out, but there’s creativity in breakfast offerings and then there’s this strategy of creating quite honestly, “mutant breakfasts” that perhaps a few pregnant folks out there might crave at times. I understand those crazy cravings, but c’mon, the rest us in the real world do not have much of an excuse for indulging in a Biscuit Taco.
Look, every individual has to do what he or she chooses to do when it comes to many issues including culinary decisions. Obviously, if one wishes to engage in such as “mutant breakfast,” then she or he has that choice. The closest I come to an offering like the Biscuit Taco is one of my favorite dishes, Huevos Rancheros which comprises of fried eggs over a corn tortillas mixed with Mexican rice, refried beans and avocado slices. In essence, Huevos Rancheros is delicious. To me, Huevos Rancheros is a true Mexican breakfast, not a waffle or an American flaky biscuit masquerading as a taco.
Again, I apologize for being so hard on Taco Bell and McDonald’s. It sounds like both operations are doing quite well at breakfast so who am I to argue with such success, right? I just don’t understand why restaurants are getting into the business of creating these crazy concoctions like the Biscuit Taco. OK, I wrote out my thoughts. Now, I need to get back to my kale mixed with soy sauce and peanuts. I didn’t make that one up either.