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DECEMBER 2015

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INSITEATLANTA.COM

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VOL. 24, NO. 5 FREE

Holiday Movies Video Game Guide Book Of Mormon

Holiday Guide New Year's Eve Countdown Upcoming Events and Attractions


Get in the local spirit

LOCA

this season

P

D

L

AP

Find sales, snacks, and extended hours at shops and restaurants all around town Dec. 3, 10 and 17. Get gift-list inspiration with our 30 Days of Shopping guide at thedecaturminute.com.

ROVE

get gifty

with special deals at local shops

join in the jolly during free events on the square

thesweeten season

Sq/Ft

with festive fare at local dining hot spots

Shopping, dining, and fun

yourshow spirit

around our downtown square Wild Oats & Billy Goats

in our holiday hashtag photo contest!

#holidaydecaturga

co m e t! on ou

Greene’s Fine Foods

Fun holiDaY eVents special shopping days • tree lighting • menorah lighting • live music • bonfire on the square • Santa sightings PG Decatur-atlanta-insite-dec2015.indd 2 • December 2015 • insiteatlanta.com 2

Souper Jenny

Decatur

Visitors Center decaturga

downtowndecatur

decaturga

113 Clairemont Ave. Tuesday-Saturday 10 am-4 pm

visitdecaturgeorgia.com/terrificthursdays

11/20/15 2:36 PM


CONTENTS • DECEMBER 2015 • VOLUME 24, NO. 5

Learn from the pros!

Atlanta’s

Entertainment Monthly

Interviews 13 Wes Chatham 14 Santaland Diaries 15 Book of Mormon 18 Michael McDonald 18 Baroness 19 Hollowpoints 19 The Yawpers 19 Jesse Malin

Stage & film acting classes for all experience levels.

10

Features 08 09 10 11 11 14 16 21 21 22 22

Holiday Dining Holiday Lights Video Game Guide Holiday Gify Guide SeaWorld Holidays at Disney Holiday Events Holiday Movies Universal Orlando NCAA Football Naughty Gift Guide

Columns 04 05 06 07 12 15 15 17 20

13

Classes begin 1.4.16 Register today! 404.733.4700 alliancetheatre.org/classes

15

Around Town On Tap Atlanta on a Dime Under The Lights Movie Reviews Album Reviews New Releases Station Control Favorite Things

21

insiteatlanta.com STAFF LISTING Publisher Stephen Miller steve@insiteatlanta.com Managing Editor Bret Love bret@insiteatlanta.com Art Director / Web Design Nick Tipton nick@insiteatlanta.com Sports Editor DeMarco Williams demarco@insiteatlanta.com Local Events Editor Marci Miller marci@insiteatlanta.com Music Editor Lee Valentine Smith lee@insiteatlanta.com

Follow us on the web!

Contributing Writers / Interns: Jon Latham, Ryan Loftis, Rodney Hill, Alex S. Morrison, Steve Warren, Dave Cohen, Jennifer Williams, Matt Connor, Ed Morales, Sacha Dzuba, David Weinthal, Benjamin Carr, Kalena Smith, Justin Patterson, John Moore, Amanda Miles, Patrick Flanary, Ian Coverdale

CELEBRATE the Season! For a complete schedule of programs, visit FernbankMuseum.org/Holidays.

MAILING ADDRESS P.O. Box 76483 Atlanta, GA 30358 WEBSITE • insiteatlanta.com ADVERTISING INFORMATION (404) 308-5119 • ads@insiteatlanta.com Editorial content of INsite is the opinion of each writer and is not necessarily the opinion of INsite, its staff, or its advertisers. INsite does not knowingly accept false or misleading advertising or editorial content, nor do the publisher or editors of INsite assume responsibility should such advertising or editorial appear. No content, i.e., articles, graphics, designs and information (any and all) in this publication may be reproduced in any manner without written permission from publisher.

© Copyright 2015, Be Bop Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Check out our Holiday Guide on pages 8,9, 11 and 16!

DECEMBER 2015

1992 ★ 2

15 4 YEARS ★ 20

INSITEATLAN TA.COM

VOL. 24, NO. 5 FREE

Holiday Movies Video Game Guide Book Of Mormon

HolidGuayide New Year's Eve Countdown Upcoming Events and Attract ions

Decorated Trees • Cultural Displays Global Celebrations • Holiday Activities

Winter Wonderland is presented by Additional support for cultural learning provided by The Nissan Foundation.

insiteatlanta.com • December 2015 • PG 3


Around Town DECEMBER 12

Winter Glass Fest 15

Janke Studios @ Studioplex

Janke Glassblowing Studios presents its annual “Winter Glass Fest” on Dec. 12 from Noon to 6pm. There will be a glassblowing show, flame working demos, live music, kids craft corner, refreshments, open artist studios and an artist market. The studio is located at Studioplex, 659Auburn Avenue NE. Admission is free. Visit jankestudios.com for more information.

Events and Performances taking place this Month

December 12 from 6pm - 11pm features entertainment by Hippie Chick & Friends, Toothless Tiger and Wormhole Trio. Sunday’s event runs from 2pm - 9pm and features Bolder Monkey, Ralph Roddenbery, Lucky Stray, and Stephen BluesDude. The two days of music and entertainment for the kids is free but please bring an unwrapped toy donation.

DECEMBER 19 & 20 Celtic Christmas The Rialto Centre

DECEMBER 12

Grand Re-opening

Children’s Museum of Atlanta

Celebrate the Grand Re-Opening just in time for the holiday season! Get ready to climb, build, dance, create, and explore with two new exhibits, Gateway to the World and Step Up to Science are revealed. In addition, the North Georgia Tinplate Trackers will be there with their fantastic holiday display. During the grand re-opening the Museum expects high volume of visitors. Online booking to ensure entrance into the Museum is encouraged.

DECEMBER 12 & 13 Toys for Tots

3701 Lawrenceville Hwy. in Tucker

Kindhuman's 17th annual Tunes4Tots, a benefit for Toys for Tots takes place at Shorty’s Pizza in Tucker, Georgia. Saturday

PG 4 • December 2015 • insiteatlanta.com

Celebrate the solstice season with a host of internationally and regionally renowned fiddlers, harpers, pipers, singers, dancers and poets from the Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Appalachian traditions in this magical annual event. A family tradition for many, guests return year after year to experience the “soul of the season” through the music of the ages. Visit rialtocenter.org

DECEMBER 24

Christmas Eve Open House

All Three Metro Area Baldinos Locations

In the spirit of the season, Baldinos is opening its doors this Christmas Eve December 24 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and giving away complimentary subs and bev-

erages to all. Be advised to arrive early as last year and estimated 300 plus people came out. Visit baldinos.us for more information.

THROUGH JANUARY 2 Fantasy in Lights Callaway Gardens

THROUGH DECEMBER 31 Lights of LIFE Life University

Among the most affordable holiday light show in the Southeast, the Lights of LIFE holiday light display has become a yearly tradition. Now nearly half a million spectators from the surrounding region cruise through the spectacularly illuminated campus annually. New displays are added, and the entire arrangement is unique each year. The 65 foot tall rendition of Santa and his sleigh is the tallest display in the Southeast.

SESSION BEGINS JANUARY 4 Acting Class Program Alliance Theatre

The Alliance Theatre Acting Program offers students of all ages, experience, and abilities a chance to work with professional theatre and film educators in one of America's most renowned regional theatres. The Alliance’s adult acting classes can take you from absolute beginner all the way to a career in acting, whether your interests are on the stage, in front of a camera, or behind a microphone. Winter Acting Classes begin January 4. Visit alliancetheatre.org/classes to register and learn more about their acting classes and business communication training through the Alliance@work program.

Fantasy In Lights is a spectacular light and sound show, with 8 million lights, 15 displays, a Christmas village, and Santa Claus at Callaway Gardens. Woodland displays depict such holiday scenes as the March of the Toy Soldiers or nature themes such as Snowflake Valley. Two beach scenes with moving lights tell the stories of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and the Nativity. Named by National Geographic Traveler as one of the “Top 10 places to see holiday lights.” Visit callawaygardens.com

THROUGH FEBRUARY 28 Snow Mountain

Stone Mountain Park

Spend a fun-filled day playing in the snow. Zoom down the 400-foot hill in family-sized tubes or go it alone as a single rider. Enjoy snowman building to snowball tossing, tubing to togetherness. New features include Avalanche Alley adding an extra lane for more family tubing time. Visit stonemountainpark.com


On Tap this Month EVENTS

ALL IN THE FAMILY

MAJOR EVENTS COMING TO ATLANTA

December 17: Philips ArenaFantasy The Granddaughter of Legendary JINGLE BALL CONCERT Artist Frank Frazetta Keeps His Legacy Alive Jingle Ball is a charity event to celebrate the holiday

season. Power 96.1 officially announced the all-star Oh yeah, I remember thinking, “Why are performersthey forsoJingle 2015, include curvy Ball and I’m not? which I want towill be like VERY LABOR DAY WEEKENDJustin Bieber, Nick Jonas, Fifth Harmony, Shawn them!” Eventually I took on that body shape since 1987, thousands of Sci-Fi, fantasy, Mendes, Charlie Steinfeld and DNCE, becausePuth, most ofHailee his women were inspired by my gaming and pop culture fans invade with other grandmother’ surprise guest appearances. e show s body. We all have the short legs is Atlanta for DragonCon. The venerable scheduled to take place on ursday, December 17 at and the curves and all. It’s funny when people gathering, which envelopes five huge downtown Philips Arena. Tickets PhilipsArena.com. see me, they’reatlike, “Oh you are a Frazetta girl!”

BY LEE VALENTINE SMITH

E

hotels, features a mind-melting array of guests, I’m like, “Well, yeah.” games, contests, panels and a massive parade. This year features a diverse slate of guests from that the women DecemberDid18:it surprise InfiniteyouEnergy Arenawere Star Wars (Peter Mayhew), Star Trek (Nichelle so exposed? Nichols, Jonathan Frakes), The Muppets (Steve I’ve always looked at the nudity and everything “Kermit” Whitmire, Carroll “Big Bird and as just art. It really made from an early age Christmas with Amy Grant &me Michael W. Smith Oscar” Spinney, Cheryl Henson), Dr. Who (Alex think nudity was no big deal. It’ s a human body comes to Infinite Energy Arena (formerly e Arena Kingston), Arrow (Katie Cassidy) and Hannibal so why are we ashamed of it? (Scott Thompson). Perhaps one of the most at Gwinnett Center) on December 18. Backed by a full anticipated vendors is Sara symphony orchestra, thisLet’s special talk holiday about theconcert will Frazetta, granddaughter of the feature Grant and Smith preservation performingofalltheyour Christlegacy. late artist Frank Frazetta, widely mas favorites and more. Amy are known WhenGrant he diedsongs in 2010, considered the Grandfather for examining 4–7 life’s complexities openwanted heart certainly awith lot ofanpeople SEPTEMBER of Fantasy Art. His legendary and keen eye. Visit InfiniteEnergyCenter.com. to get their hands on the Downtown Atlanta paintings depict a bilious Frazetta empire. and often unsettling world dragoncon.org Yes, my mom and her siblings of statuesque, scantily-clad went through hell to come to a December 20: Philips Arena sirens, axe-wielding warriors decision about what’s going to and other menacing creatures. INsite caught up happen with the art. My grandmother did not with the painter’s busy actress/model/voice-over haveHoliday a living will and my grandfather, with Cirque Musica Spectacular is bringing thehisholspecialist grandchild in Florida as she prepped strokes nearArena the end,onwasn’t reallyDecember there mentally iday spirit to Philips Sunday, 20 her travelling Frazetta Girls display, a one-stop to come to aappearance decision of what to leave at 6pm for enough the only Atlanta of the show! shoppe for art prints, t-shirts and personal and how to do it. So we had attorneys coming up stories from Sara and her sisters BrittanyCirque Musica is a concert and visual experience for to us but we resolved to split it equitably. and Rachael. the entire family, blending the spell-binding grace and

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dare-devil athleticism today’s greateststepped circusinper[Film director]ofRobert Rodriguez This will be your second visit to DragonCon. formers with holiday music performed by a live symand offered help as well. Yes and last year was an awesome show. It’s ourorchestra. Tickets at PhilipsArena.com. phony He has been amazing. He has my mom’s favorite of all the conventions we visit and the collection in Texas and he does these pop-up energy and everyone there, it’s all just amazing. galleries. He has been insuring the art, which is I love learning new things and learning about been helpful, and just allowing December 27:soThe Georgia Dome people to see it other people’s interests and their hobbies and in these amazing museum settings. seeing just how passionate they all are about being involved in pop culture. Whatloss, are the and consPanthers of merchandising With Patriots thepros Carolina (11-0 at famous art? Obviously there’s a lineinyou can’t press time) are the last undefeated team the NFL. Many of the attendees are huge fans of your cross with a great work, but people want to own Not since 2009 had two teams been 10-0. Now, the grandfather’s art. What are your memories a copy of it. How do you balance the supply of him? Panthers can embrace the pejorative title that they had and demand? I was the first grandchild out of elevenbeen and given ever since Week 4 or so as the worst undeWe’re doing high-end art prints on textured he’d bring me to the studio, he would teach me team remaining, and proud of it. e Falcons feated paper and canvases and some apparel. Mainly about animals and about life. He would season take me may come down to this game to keep their playwe want to keep the art where art should out on nature walks and now, looking back, it off hopes alive. Visit AtlantaFalcons.com. be: hanging in your house. I’m not so much seemed like such a storybook tale. Up until I was interested in making chess sets or coins because about 14 or so I spent every summer with him. I think it kinda degrades the art when you show We were very close. He passed away in 2010, and December 31:such Thea small Georgia it on scale. Dome still, to this day, I can’t believe he’s really gone.

FALCONS VS PANTHERS

CDWAREHOUSEATL.COM e Magazine sit

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Best of Atlanta 2014

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CHICK-FIL-A PEACH BOWL

DragonCon 2015 runs September 4-7 in the When did you first became aware of his art? heart downtown top Atlanta. prices Now one of theofcountry’s six Membership bowl games, the My first memory was the painting “Downward include $50 for Sept. 5, $40 for Sept. 6, and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl is blasting into the new playoff To The Earth” and I remember looking at it and $130 for all four days, through Aug. 21 at www. era with at first it really freaked me out. But my uncle was the promise of some of the post-season’s best dragoncon.org. Memberships for Sept. 4 ($40) really into the horror genre and fantasy football. and he With the College Football Playoff Selection Sept. 7 ($30) are available the door. Committeeand assigning Atlanta’s bowlatgame the topowned and ran a costume shop in the Poconos ranked so we were surrounded by fantasy imagery and teams from the country’s top conferences and all that. So I became a big fan and I became a National Semifinal every third year. Visit cfapb.com immune to it in a way. I just looked at it for like,tickets information. “Oh, these are interesting.” The Egyptian Queen is another favoriteDecember of 31: Downtown Atlanta yours. When did you first see it? It’s my favorite of all of his paintings. I remember looking at her when I was eight and Start 2016 off right at the Southeast’s largest New I was like, “Oh my gosh!” But I didn’t really Year’s Eve gathering. 175,000 patrons will crowd the appreciate my grandfather as an artist until I was streets in my twenties. That’s when I really looked at thearound Underground Atlanta for Peach Drop New details and I still can’t believe that he could do Year’s Eve 2016. An 800-pound peach will descend from its 138-foot tower of lights to its resting some of these pieces in a night.

PEACH DROP 2016

place, where confetti will shower over attendees and fireworks will light the sky and mark the beWere the powerful women in his worksdazzling an inspiration to you as a child? Did they ginning become of 2016. Visit Peachdrop.com role models in a way?

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CHECK US OUT ON FACEBOOK! CD WAREHOUSE ATLANTA insiteatlanta.com• December • August 2015 • PG 115 insiteatlanta.com 2015 • PG


EVENTS HAPPENING FOR SMALL CHANGE IN ATLANTA

Know of a low cost event happening? Event@AtlantaOnADime.com By Marci Miller

As a healthy young female

, you have the power to give the gift of life and love. You can help a couple build the family they’ve dreamed of by donating your eggs...and receive $7,000 for doing it! Donation is completely confidential and health screening is provided at no charge. If you are a non-smoking female between the ages of 21 and 31 and are interested in more information about egg donation, please visit our website or e-mail us at

donor@ivf.com

Runs Through January 4

MACY’S PINK PIG

$3.00 for 1 ride Lenox Square Mall macys.com/pinkpig

December 13

REINDEER DAY

Free with Center Admission Chattahoochee Nature Center Just in time to kick off the holidays Macy’s chattnaturecenter.org Pink Pig ride is back! It takes places beneath a 170-foot, 1950’s themed Pink Pig Tent at the Lenox Square Mall upper-level parking deck near Macy’s. Atlanta’s most “pink-tacular” train ride Priscilla the Pink Pig travels along train tracks to carry children and parents through a life-sized storybook that includes the original Pink Pig and other holiday friends.

December 4 - 6

Come out for a day all about winter animals and holiday cheer. Join in for fun activities straight from the wintery north (North Cobb that is) and meet live reindeer that bring the magic and tradition of the holidays alive for the entire family. Touch and learn about what makes different animals unique when it comes to winter survival. e Celebrity Box Turtle will be roaming throughout the afternoon.

CHRISTMAS CAROL CONCERT December 26 - 31 HOLIDAYS AT THE HIGH Friday, Dec. 4 @ 7:30pm, Morehouse Saturday, Dec. 5 @ 7:30pm, Spelman Sunday, Dec. 6 @ 6:00pm, Morehouse morehouse.edu Free Event

is beloved holiday tradition is held annually on three nights early in December. e concert features a combined chorus of both the Morehouse and Spelman College Glee Clubs presented in alternation with selections from each individual Glee Club as they perform special arrangements of Christmas carols, anthems, spirituals, and African songs. Over 7000 people come from all over the southeast each year to attend the concerts, which are presented free of charge as a gift of music to the community.

December 10

Your Neighborhood Pizzeria!

SCAD FASH FILM SERIES ALL ABOUT EVE

$10 General Admission, $5 Students scadfash.org SCAD Fash Museum Backstage story revolving around aspiring actress Eve Harrington. Tattered and forlorn, Eve shows up in the dressing room of Broadway mega-star Margo Channing, telling a melancholy life story to Margo and her friends. Margo takes Eve under her wing, and it appears that Eve is a conniver that uses Margo. SCAD FASH welcomes visitors of all ages to engage with dynamic exhibitions, captivating films and educationally enriching events.

Free with Admission High Museum high.org

Inspired by symbols representing the Habsburg family that appear throughout Habsburg Splendor, families can design and develop their own ready-to-hang Family Crests. Each unique crest highlights the history, lessons and aspirations of their family. Plus, visit the Museum dressed in your best Habsburg-inspired attire and receive a free gift from December 26 to 31!

December 31

CHICK-FIL-A BOWL PARADE Parade, 1:00pm – 2:30pm, Free Georgia World Congress Center chick-fil-apeachbowl.com

is parade serves as the official kickoff for game day. is bowl tradition features colorful themed floats, classic cars, cheerleaders, mascots, award-winning marching bands, dance groups and much more. e parade launches at the intersection of Peachtree Street and Baker Street and concludes at the Georgia World Congress Center, leading fans into the Chick-fil-A Bowl FanFest, the ultimate pre-game, family activity. Football fans of all ages can get into the spirit of ACC vs. SEC competition with attractions such as receiving, passing and kicking games, obstacle courses and rock climbing walls.

Macy’s Pink Pig $3 for 1 Ride Lenox Square Mall macys.com/pinkpig

Atlanta’s Favorite Pizza!

Multiple Atlanta Locations: JohnnysPizza.com PG 6 • December 2015 • insiteatlanta.com

RECEIVE UPDATED EVENTS WEEKLY. SIGN UP BY EMAILING SUBSCRIPTIONS@ATLANTAONADIME.COM ENTER ON THE SUBJECT LINE: SIGN ME UP INSITE!


Under The Lights

T ic k e T s

ON STAGE THIS MONTH

as as low

ELF

December 2 - 6 The Fox Theatre Tickets (855) 285-8499 FoxTheatre.org/Elf Elf is the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. This modern day Christmas classic is sure to make everyone embrace their inner Elf.

MERRY %#*!ING CHRISTMAS

Now Through December 19 Alliance Theatre (404) 733-5000 AllianceTheatre.org/DadsGarage When Santa's giftgiving mania destabilizes the world economy, and global warming threatens to reduce Frosty to a puddle, an unlikely duo must team up to save Christmas: Ebenezer Scrooge and a single dad in an ugly sweater. This December Dad's Garage brings you an epic holiday mash-up full of split second character changes, live music, and their trademark irreverent humor. So if you think Santa's consumerism might be the death of us all, or that Frosty may be the only one who's motivated enough to tackle climate change, or that Scrooge probably did master the art of time travel, then come on down to the Alliance this season and laugh until it Hertz.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL

Now Through December 27 Alliance Theatre (404) 733-5000 AllianceTheatre.org/Christmas A Christmas Carol, the most heartwarming story of the season comes to life with holiday carols, stunning stage magic and your favorite Atlanta actors. In this tale of

$20

redemption, Ebenezer Scrooge goes to sleep on Christmas Eve as a miserly, stonehearted man and awakens on Christmas Day with a compassionate and benevolent heart after his encounter with three ghosts. Celebrate this magnificent staging of Charles Dickens's classic Christmas tale and Ebenezer Scrooge’s eye-opening Christmas Eve journey.

This Broadway-scale production will warm your heart whether you’re coming again or for the first time.

SANTALAND DIARIES

Now Through December 31 Horizon Theatre (404) 584-7450 HorizonTheatre.com Horizon Theatre Company is in holiday cheer as it reprises its popular production of The Santaland Diaries by award-winning satirist David Sedaris. Adapted from David Sedaris’ best-selling book Holidays on Ice, the play borrows from tales during his stint as a Macy’s Department Store elf named Crumpet. This rebel without a Clause recounts in hilarious fashion the true-life story of an out-of-work writer as a Macy’s Department Store elf.

MADELINE’S CHRISTMAS December 5 - 31 Horizon Theatre (404) 584-7450 HorizonTheatre.com

Madeline’s Christmas is an enchanting musical adaption of Ludwig Bemelmans’ classic children’s tale. Follow along as Madeline and friends figure out a way to make it home for Christmas after they’ve come down with the flu. The show features 24 local girls performing alongside professional actors. With the arrival of a mysterious stranger, the girls end up with a magical and memorable holiday like they never expected. Weekends at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Family ks Four Pac 9 only $1c4ode*

Family Four packs include: • Four tickets • Parking • Commemorative family photo

o with prom

• Pre-show choir performances

FAMILY

Additional child and adult tickets may be added on.

By charles Dickens // AdApted By DaviD h. Bell // directed By rosemary newcoTT

ATLANTA’S RED-HOT HOLIDAY SENSATION! The

Santalan Diaries

BEST HOLIDAY SHOW -ATLANTA THEATRE FANS

BY DAVID SEDARIS

17 TH SMAS YEARH !

November 19–December 27 Tickets as low as $20 @ 404.733.5000 alliancetheatre.org/christmas | Season Tickets 404.733.4600 Plan your holiday party and save with groups of 10+! 404.733.4690 *Not to be combined with other offers. Offer based upon availability. Not valid on previously purchased tickets. Excludes sections A & B.

J

0NOV 231, DEC 15 20

Family Series on the Alliance Stage

EUCLID & AUSTIN AVES. IN LITTLE FIVE POINTS

404.584.7450 • HORIZONTHEATRE.COM

flx

Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs

insiteatlanta.com • December 2015 • PG 7


HOLIDAY DINING

Catering, Private Parties and Great Holiday Fare at Atlanta Restaurants Agave

242 Boulevard 404.588.0006 agaverestaurant.com

Recognized as one of the “Top 100” restaurants in Atlanta and the “Best Southwestern Cuisine” Agave is where to celebrate with friends and family over the holidays. Agave has two beautiful dining rooms as well as an enclosed heated patio. The rooms can accommodate parties from 6 guests to 100 and are available for private party bookings. Now for the holidays they are offering a free $100 Gift Card with $200 Gift Card Purchase. Gift cards may be purchased online at agaverestaurant.com.

Sotto Sotto

313 N. Highland Ave 404.523.6678 sottosottorestaurant.com

This cozy award winning Italian restaurant in historic Inman Park has been voted best in Atlanta by too many publications to mention. Their kitchen strives to create authentic Italian food flavors developed from centuries of Italian culinary traditions. Sotto Sotto offers an intimate dining room perfect for the holidays. Their celebrated menu is accompanied by an inspiring all-Italian wine list. Call ahead for reservations.

The Flying Biscuit Cafe’

Candler Park 404.687.8888 Midtown 404.874.8887 flyingbiscuit.com Catering 404.849.2283

The Flying Biscuit’s Midtown and Candler Park (original) locations is ready for the holidays with new dinner and catering menus. Their one of a kind award winning

Bhojanic Indian Restaurant

biscuits are the perfect addition to any holiday function. Stop in for breakfast, lunch and dinner or call the catering hotline or visit their website to order for your holiday event.

Decatur 404.633.9233 Buckhead 404.841.8472 Catering Hotline 404.702.8301 bhojanic.com

Chin Chin

3887 Peachtree Rd. 404.816.2229 & Multiple Locations chinchinga.com

Voted Atlanta’s favorite Chinese restaurant again in 2015, Chin Chin offers fine dining that won’t break the bank. They have several locations around metro Atlanta, each with the same great flavor, healthy portions and elegant décor. Chin Chin is available for private parties and their menu can accommodate catering orders large and small.

Baldinos Giant Jersey Subs

80 Powers Ferry Rd. 770.321.1177 5697 Buford Hwy. 770.455.8570 12890 Highway 9 678.580.0434 baldinos.us

Let Baldinos Giant Jersey Subs take the stress out of catering your holiday party. They have something for everyone from their assortment of famous subs to deli salads by the pound, cookies by the dozen and iced-tea by the gallon. Throw a great event that won’t break the bank. “It’s always a party when you invite Baldinos.”

Bhojanic serves authentic Indian fare and offers full service holiday catering including the food, quality paper dinnerware, tablecloths, serving supplies, and HotBox (to keep your food hot for hours). Bhojanic has a standalone catering business so they can accommodate any function. For those looking to book a holiday party or for private dining, visit Bhojanic’s newest location in Buckhead at Shops Around Lenox next to Crate & Barrel.

Mediterranean Grill

N. Decatur Plaza 404.320.0101; Midtown 404.917.1100; East Cobb 678.996.0045; Athens 706.543.5000 mediterraneangrill.com

Recently voted Best Mediterranean cuisine again in 2015, Mediterranean Grill is the place in Atlanta for authentic Mediterranean food. For more than a decade their loyal customers have continued to flock to this family/chef-owned and operated restaurant. Here you will find regional dishes like gyros, falafel and kabob sandwiches that are perfect for holiday parties large and small. Mediterranean Grill has a special catering menu that can be found on their website or at their restaurants.

Johnny’s Pizza & Subs

Multiple Metro Area Locations 404.874.8304 johnnyspizza.com

Fat Matt’s Rib Shack

1811 Piedmont Ave. 404.607.1622 fatmattsribshack.net

Atlanta’s favorite barbecue joint also caters! Barbecue lends itself perfectly for catering and where better to go than Fat Matt’s voted as having the Best Ribs in Atlanta in 2015. They can accommodate parties of up to 50 or more. Call their Catering Hotline 678-457-0275.

Johnny’s Pizza has come to be synonymous with great pizza and subs in Atlanta. They specialize in NY Style pizza, which is thin in the middle and thick around the edges. Johnny’s offers plenty of specialty pizzas plus subs, salads, sandwiches and other popular Italian dishes including calzones, strombolis and lasagna. Go to their website to find the location nearest you.

V OT E D B E S T I N D I A N 2011 – 2014 | W E H AV E T H E B E S T C U S TO M E R S !

T R A D I T I O N A L I N D I A N F O O D I N A N O N T R A D I T I O N A L AT M O S P H E R E

BOOK YOUR HOLIDAY PARTY Private dining and off premise Catering and new food truck

R E S TA U R A N T | C AT E R I N G | F O O D T R U C K | E V E N T S BUCKHEAD RESTAURANT | 404.841.8472

CATERING

Hotline

404-702-8301

3400 Around Lenox Dr, Buckhead, GA 30326

Shops Around Lenox Next to Crate & Barrel™

PARTY PLANNING JUST GOT A WHOLE LOT EASIER! SIZE 3 FEET 4 FEET 6 FEET 8 FEET 10 FEET 12 FEET

FEEDS 6-12 People 8-16 People 10-20 People 16-32 People 20-40 People 24-48 People

Marietta 80 Powers Ferry Rd 770-321-1177 (closed Sundays)

PRICE $27 $36 $54 $69 $87 $104

Doraville 5697 Buford Hwy. 770-455-8570

Subs from $3.79 All Day! www.baldinos.us

MILTON 12890 Hwy. 9 678-580-0434

BEST SUBS IN ATLANTA 10 STRAIGHT YEARS! PG 8 • December 2015 • insiteatlanta.com


Savage Pizza

Little Five Points 404.523.0500 Avondale Estates 404.299.5799 SavagePizza.com

This eclectic neighborhood restaurant is a favorite hangout among residents of Little 5 and Avondale Estates. Both locations offer ample table seating. On their menu you'll find a wide variety of salads, subs, calzones and of course pizzas to choose from. Savage serves both lunch and dinner and is a great place to visit when out doing your holiday shopping. Savage offers catering and delivery to the area. Give them a call and stop in this holiday season.

Tacos and Tequilas

650 Ponce de Leon Ave 678.705.5955 4279 Roswell Rd. 404.705.8225 tandtatlanta.com

Tacos & Tequilas is a family-owned authentic Mexican restaurant offering traditional recipes passed down through generations. Here you’ll find all your Mexican favorites – tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, burritos, quesadillas and more. Even the drink menu is authentic and includes 100 different brands of tequila. Both locations offer private dining rooms for holiday parties as well as full catering menu.

Landmark Diner

3652 Roswell Rd. 404.816.9090 landmarkdiner.com

Atlanta’s favorite diner offers a wide selection of dishes and cuisines 24 hours a day. This holiday season the Buckhead location is offering three course dinners for just $15.99 which includes entree, soup &

dessert. The Punchline Comedy Club has recently moved from their Sandy Springs location into Landmark Diner’s Buckhead restaurant. Visit them this holiday season to have dinner and see a show all under one roof!

Chicago’s Nancy’s Pizza

Midtown 265 Ponce De Leon 404.254.5103 nancy’spizza.com

Chicago’s Nancy’s Midtown is a favorite stop for takeout and delivery. In addition to their famous deep dish pizza, they offer a variety of appetizers, sandwiches, salads and new BBQ Ribs! Nancy’s Midtown has dine-in and patio seating and will be opening a separate dining room next door which is perfect for private functions and events.

Copeland’s of New Orleans 3101 Cobb Pkwy 770.612.3311 1142 Barrett Pkwy770.919.9612 copelandsatlanta.com

Copeland's is the home of the New Orleans Jazz Brunch Buffet. Copeland's catering offers party pans with large take out portions of your favorite Copeland's dishes. Platters are centered around their signature Cajun Fried Turkeys and Holiday Honey Hams. Call store locations for details, visit their website and order online or call their catering hotline (404) 455-5561.

THANK YOU ATLANTA! For helping us determine the Best Atlanta has to offer in 2015

HOLIDAY

THE BEST CHRISTMAS LIGHT DISPLAYS IN GA

BY BRET LOVE

GARDEN LIGHTS, HOLIDAY NIGHTS

Atlanta Botanical Garden Through January 9 atlantabotanicalgarden.org Atlanta’s greenest holiday celebration brightens the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s 30 acres with nearly 2 million colorful, energy-efficient LED light bulbs. Now in its fifth year, the attraction was named one of the nation’s Top 10 Holiday Lights Displays by USA Today. The popular Midtown attraction showcases botanical themes that accentuate the natural beauty of the gardens while adding a uniquely festive holiday twist. Some of our favorite returning features include Santa Mantis and her Brilliant Bugs fluttering through rows of corn in the Edible Garden; the Ice Goddess’ shimmering locks and the glistening Ice Storm Trees; and the glowing Orchestral Orbs, which dance with color and light to the sounds of festive holiday tunes. New this year is the Tunnel of Light, a 100-footlong corridor of dazzling light leading visitors from the Cascades Garden back to the Fern Dell’s gorgeous galaxy of pulsating stars. More than eight feet high and equally wide, the tunnel guides visitors with an intricately woven patchwork of yellow, red and white lights. Unlike most holiday light displays, Garden Lights encourages people to get out of their cars and walk around, passing giant snowflakes, massive Christmas trees and beautiful Chihuly glass sculptures while listening to strolling carolers and sipping hot cocoa or tea. Five years in, it’s become one of Atlanta’s most beloved holiday traditions.

HOLIDAY IN LIGHTS

Centennial Olympic Park Through January 2 centennialpark.com Atlanta almost never gets cold enough for water to freeze, but that doesn’t mean you can’t lace up your skates for a day (or night) on the ice. Now in its 20th year, the city’s first outdoor ice skating rink offers 90-minute skate rentals, theatrical lighting and festive Christmas music to liven up the mood. It’s also at the heart of Centennial Olympic Park’s Holiday In Lights celebration, which fills the 21acre park with thousands of twinkling lights and a picturesque tree, making it a lovely setting for an inner-city stroll. It may not be quite as expansive as some of Georgia’s other light displays, but it’s free (if you’re not skating) and offers exceptional views of the downtown Atlanta skyline.

MAGICAL NIGHTS OF LIGHTS

To advertise in an upcoming issue of INsite contact

Steve at (404) 308-5119 or e-mail Steve@insiteatlanta.com

Lake Lanier Islands Through January 3 lakelanierislands.com One of Georgia’s longest-running Christmas light displays has been almost completely revamped in the last two years. Taking over Lake Lanier Islands, Magical Nights of Lights starts off with a scenic 7-mile drive through some of the most extravagant light displays you can imagine, including themed sections such as “The 12 Days of Christmas” and “Teddy Bear Lane.” In 2014 they introduced a new, expanded Christmas village filled with carnival rides such as a Ferris wheel and old-fashioned carousel, games, pony rides and blazing bonfires for roasting marshmallows. St. Nick still holds court inside Santa’s Workshop, where you can grab a bite to eat after posing for family photos with jolly ol’ elf himself. And the Live Nativity returns this year due to popular demand. Their all-new Winter Adventure (which runs

Atlanta Botanical Garden

through Feb 15) adds an adrenaline-fueled “Snow Day” element. The LanierWorld park will be transformed into a winter wonderland: Water slides like the Intimidator and Fun Dunker Drop will be turned into exciting bobsled tracks, wave pools and splash zones will become grounds for building snowmen and having snowball fights, and the Thunderbolt Triple Zipline offers a bird’s eye view of the whole shebang.

STONE MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS

Stone Mountain Park Through Jan 3 stonemountainpark.com Atlanta’s most popular tourist attraction is also home to one of the city’s most beloved holiday traditions. During the day you’ll want to visit Snow Mountain, in which the park’s great lawn is transformed into a snowy wonderland where kids of all ages can go sledding, build igloos and snowmen, have snowball fights and more.As the evening sun fades, Crossroads Village sparkles with over 2 million lights and a gigantic outdoor Christmas tree, while Georgia’s most famous mountainside is lit up by a holiday-themed laser show. There are also sing-along train rides, storytelling with Mrs. Claus, the Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas 4D film experience, a hilarious improvised version of A Christmas Carol, meet & greets with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, and a new live children’s show, The Littlest Christmas Tree. Kids can visit the Snow Angel in her Snow Palace at Memorial Hall, and pose for pictures with Santa and/or Mrs. Claus. Whatever you do, don’t miss the nightly Christmas parade (which features special appearances by the Snow Angel and the Clauses) as well as the snowfall and fireworks display that will close out the nightly celebration.

HOLIDAY LIGHT SPECTACULAR

Atlanta Motor Speedway Through Dec 30 atlantamotorspeedway.com Formerly known as Gift of Lights, Atlanta Motor Speedway offers Georgia’s largest LED holiday light show. The track is transformed into a magical winter wonderland filled with flying reindeer, dancing light tunnels and dozens of moving displays. The experience begins with a 2-mile drive-through journey leading to Santa’s Village, where kids can pose for pics with St. Nick while their parents squeeze in some holiday shopping. There’s also a carnival featuring popular rides, prize-winning games and food. New this year the AMS will offer drive-in movie nights to help visitors get into the spirit of the season. Christmas classics scheduled to screen include Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Polar Express. Check website for schedule. insiteatlanta.com • December 2015 • PG 9


HOLIDAY VIDEOGAMES

The Hottest Titles of the Season BY BRET LOVE & DEMARCO WILLIAMS

A

S A LIFELONG GAMER OLD enough to remember when Pong was the only game in town, it’s been wonderful to watch the industry evolve to its current state. The cinematic visions and intricate storylines of the very best video games are more epic than anything Hollywood has dreamed up lately, luring fans back over and over again for decades. The only problem is that, as games (and life) get more complex with time, we have less time to devote to playing them. We were unable to get our greedy little hands on eagerly anticipated titles such as Star Wars Battlefront, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Halo 5: Guardians before our press deadline. But we did make time to dive into a dozen other titles to help you with your holiday wish list.

ASSASSIN’S CREED SYNDICATE (Ubisoft)

Systems: PS4, XOne, PC The ninth installment in the Assassin’s Creed series moves from the French Revolution to Victorian-era London. Set in 1868, the engaging storyline finds the Assassin Brotherhood all but eradicated from the city, which is controlled by Templars as the Church and Monarchy lose influence. Twin assassins Evie & Jacob Frye work to infiltrate and unite the criminal underworld, encountering historical figures such as Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, Alexander Graham Bell and Karl Marx along the way. It’s a stunningly rendered open world filled with colorful characters, but the repetitive combat remains a bit of an issue and the lack of any breakout new features suggests the franchise may need some fresh blood to reinvigorate it.

CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS III (Activision)

Systems: PS4, XOne, PC Set in 2065, 40 years after the events of 2012’s Black Ops II, the 12th entry in the Call of Duty franchise portrays a world forever altered by climate change and developments in robotics. The game opens with players and partner Jacob Hendricks investigating a CIA black site that has been attacked by the 54 Immortals, Singapore’s most powerful criminal organization. It leads them down a rabbit hole of intrigue, at the center of which is Commander John Taylor (voiced by Christopher Meloni). There are also two different zombie-focused storylines with completely different characters. There are some new features, like a 4-player co-op mode and momentum-based movement system, but they’re not reinventing the wheel here. The biggest draw here is the sheer depth and breadth of the three different campaign options.

DESTINY: THE TAKEN KING (Activision)

Systems: PS4, PS3, XOne, X360 This is the rare sequel that actually got more love from critics than the original. This ambitious first-person-shooter space opera picks up where it left off, with a new evil space dude looking to avenge the death of the evil space dude you killed last time. There are, of PG 10 • December 2015 • insiteatlanta.com

course, new missions to tackle, new areas to explore, new Strikes and a new Raid. But the big news is that the developers at Bungie seem to be growing more confident and ambitious, expanding their beautifully rendered world while also tightening the storyline’s focus. In short, The Taken King finds Destiny shrugging off the criticisms it received last year and becoming a franchise that will keep gamers hooked for years.

FALLOUT 4

(Bethesda) Systems: PS4, XOne, PC This eagerly awaited sequel opens on a peaceful morning at home in Boston, surrounded by your spouse, child and root butler. When news of an imminent apocalypse breaks, your family is rushed underground to Vault 111, where you spend 200 years frozen in a cryogenic state, awakening in the year 2277. Your hometown is in ruin centuries after the nuclear holocaust, your son has been kidnapped, and criminal gangs rule the wasteland. It’s a dark world to inhabit, and every decision you make has consequences that feel all too real, to the point where it becomes difficult to disengage. Transforming from average Joe family man into a fierce warrior over the course of many actionpacked quests, you ultimately become a powerful figure in this strange new world. With incredible storytelling depth, a consistent testing of your moral compass and an improved RPG-rooted command system known as V.A.T.S., it’s arguably among the year’s best games.

FIFA 16 (Electronic Arts) Systems: PS4, PS3, XOne, X360, PC There’s a reason not many titles outside of Pro Evolution Soccer ever challenge in this sport— the FIFA series does such an elegant job on the pitch that it would be fruitless for anyone to line up against it. Somehow, the latest installment only adds to the legacy with stirring graphics (you can almost count the hairs on Neymar’s gorgeous head), improved defense (tackling is officially an art form now), and even more teams. The latter is especially intriguing because, for the first time ever, 12 women’s squads (including the World Cupwinning U.S. team) are a part of the action. NBA LIVE 2016

(Electronic Arts) Systems: PS4, XOne This franchise has a lot in common with

its latest cover subject, Russell Westbrook: It’s a flashy, polarizing product with staunch supporters and headstrong detractors. But as with Westbrook’s 2015 campaign, the haters don’t have much to complain about here. It’s a visually stunning product, and players move with fluidity and realism. The Live Pro-Am mode– offering faster-paced hoops in places like Harlem’s famed Rucker Park– takes online gaming to new heights. Best of all, the Ultimate Team aspect returns, making those dreams you’ve had of seeing Westbrook next to Spud Webb come true.

GUITAR HERO LIVE (Activision) Systems: PS4, PS3, WiiU, XOne, X360 From 2005-2009, Guitar Hero and its offshoots (DJ Hero, Band Hero) and imitators (Rock Band) ruled the gaming industry. This title– the first new one in five years– is an attempt to reboot the series, with improvements ranging from a new 6-button guitar controller to more realistic full motion video. Gone are the cartoonish characters and downloadable content, replaced by a round-theclock content platform called GHTV. They offered 200 songs at the game’s launch– from diverse artists such as The Black Keys, Ed Sheeran, Fall Out Boy, Gary Clark Jr., The Lumineers, The Rolling Stones and Skrillex– with more to come. A fine return to form for one of our favorite gaming franchises. JUST DANCE 2016 (Ubisoft) Systems: PS3, PS4, Wii, WiiU, X360, XOne I’m obviously not the target audience for this game, but still it’s one of the few titles our family plays together on a semiregular basis. As always, players try to match the moves on the screen, but the competition-focused Challenger mode and expanded online multiplayer mode offer some welcome gameplay variation. The song selection here is better than previous versions, with pop hits from Ellie Goulding, Meghan Trainor, Mark Ronson/ Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga alongside oddball classics such as “William Tell Overture,” “You’re the One That I Want” and “Under the Sea.” MINECRAFT: STORY MODE

(Telltale) Systems: All Much like Telltale’s Game of Thrones and Walking Dead titles, this episodic point-andclick adventure forces

players to make choices that effect how the story unfolds. You can customize the central character, Jesse (the male version is voiced by Patton Oswalt), who embarks on an epic quest with friends through the Minecraft world to find legendary heroes known as The Order of the Stone. Along the way, you’ll collect items, solve puzzles, build and craft things, and explore rarely accessed segments of the Minecraft world, such as the Nether and The End. The story’s family-friendly nature and brief run-time of each episode may turn off hardcore gamers, but for fans it’s a fun franchise extension.

THE CREW: WILD RUN EDITION (Ubisoft)

Systems: PS4, XOne, PC As racing titles go, The Crew has generally taken a backseat to more impressive games such as Forza Horizon 2 due to its technical issues, complex interface and microtransactions. But this expansion irons out many of the 2014 title’s issues, with a gorgeous graphic overhaul of its open world environment and more realistic handling. The story revolves around The Summit, where the world’s greatest drivers compete in extreme racing events in iconic American destinations. You can choose from myriad Dragsters, Drift cars, Monster Trucks and Motorcycles, each of which offers its strengths and weaknesses. It still isn’t quite is Forza’s league, but Wild Run Edition proves The Crew could be developed into a contender over time.

TRANSFORMERS DEVASTATION (Activision)

Systems: PS3, PS4, X360, XOne, PC I’ve never been a big Transformers fan, and the Michael Bay films only made me less so. But for those who grew up on the franchise, this loving ode to old school Transformers action will likely prove thrilling. Players can choose to control one of five Autobots (Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Wheeljack and Grimlock) and do battle against Decepticon and Insecticon forces to stop Megatron from turning Earth into Cybertron… or something. To be honest, the story seems somewhat secondary to the relentless hack ’n’ slash action. One critic called it a “brutal, lightning-fast war” in a “beautiful symphony of destruction.” For me, it felt more like a repetitive, hyper-aggressive mess. Definitely not my thing.

WWE 2K16

Systems: PS3, PS4, X360, XOne Speaking of testosterone-fueled action, there’s the 17th entry in the WWE games series, which features the largest playable characters roster in the game’s history (over 120, nearly double that of 2K15). There have been a ton of improvements this time around, including more detailed character models, no loading screens between entrances, improved AI for managers and referees, limited reversals per match, improved pins and submissions, and better graphics all around. But as someone who grew up watching Ted Turner’s WCW every weekend, my favorite feature may be the Legends Pack, which allows you to play as Dusty Rhodes, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Ricky Steamboat and more from wrestling’s golden era.


SHOP DECATUR

Holiday Gift Guide

VisitDecaturGeorgia.com Downtown Decatur is the place to go for all your holiday shopping. Come out for Terrific Thursdays December 3, 10 and 17th and receive special instore events, discounts, and treats at more than 20 shops, restaurants, and services. Park once and walk around town. Participating businesses will stay open late, offering beverages, snacks and special offers. In December Santa joins the fun visiting shops and restaurants within the city limits.

TRAVEL

AWE-INSPIRING MEMORIES At SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration I

T’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME of the year as waves of holiday spirit splash over the park during SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration™. Guests can journey to the North Pole on The Polar Express Experience where they can meet the jolly Santa Claus. With holiday treats from Santa to Shamu®, presents to penguins, and elves to Elmo, SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration™ is where holiday Toco Hills 404.634.3197 • AlexandersofAtlanta.com memories are made. The Alexander’s of Atlanta continues our stellar reputation Christmas celebration of providing the finest quality jewelry and warm customer takes place Dec. 4-6, 11service by offering this exclusive gift idea. Purchase 13, 18-31. this beautiful Freshwater Cultured Pearl Set including a SeaWorld invites guests Necklace, Bracelet and Earrings for only $99.95. Voted to experience the “Best of Atlanta” for 3 years running and proudly serving beauty of their Shamu our community for over 50 years. #shoplocal family at their nighttime holiday show, Shamu® Christmas Miracles. Thrilling seasonal music Roswell 770.518.3300 Duluth 770.623.1552 rings out as whales soar through the air in Town Center 770.425.3472 • CDwarehouseatl.com a story of reflection and understanding. CD Warehouse buys and sells Blu-ray, Video Games, O Wondrous Night shares the greatest DVD’s, CD’s and Vinyl. They offer a great selection of story never told, with more than 30 carols, hard to find and new releases like Adele 25. With over based upon The Christmas Story and told 10,000 CD’s you should find what you’re looking for. If through the eyes of a variety of live animals. not, they will order it for you. Winter Wonderland on Ice celebrates the magic of Christmas as skaters dazzle and AFTER CHRISTMAS SALE delight in this show-stopping, ice skating After Christmas Sale! extravaganza. Elmo’s Christmas Wish will 2927 N. Druid Hills Rd. (Toco Hills Shopping Center) 50% become your child’s favorite show. Join 404.355.3547 • NearlyNewShopATL.org OFF! Rosita, Grover, Zoe and Cookie Monster Dec. 26th and 27th The Nearly New Shop, operated by The Junior League they work together to help Elmo find his Gently usedas merchandise, of Atlanta, offers gently used merchandise including including designer Christmas wish! Experience playful penguins clothing, household items, designer clothing, household items, toys, books, jewelry toys, books, jewelry at the South Pole while visiting the park’s & furniture. Proceeds and furniture. Proceeds from the store benefit the from the store benefit the Atlanta non-profit attraction, Antarctica: Empire of newest community. Atlanta non-profit community. the Penguin®! Toco Hill Shopping Center • 2927 North Druid Hills Road • Atlanta, GA 30329 404-355-3547 • nearlynewshopatl.org At the Wild Arctic® attraction, guests embark on an extraordinary journey to the North Pole aboard The Polar Express Kidzmic.com Experience. The beloved holiday classic Finally, positive music by Kids for Kids! Kidz Mic gives comes to life as you and your family are families the cool beats we love with great messages for immersed in the heart-warming story of a kids. Re-made songs include hits from Alicia Keys, Bruno young boy’s thrilling ride into an enchanted Mars, Nas, Lauryn Hill, Kirk Franklin and more. Buy a CD today for $11.99 with Free Shipping at Kidzmic.com.

ALEXANDER’S OF ATLANTA

CD WAREHOUSE

NEARLY NEW SHOP

KIDZ MIC

world. The amazing Sea of Trees includes more than 100 massive trees, each sparkling, lighted and choreographed to classic holiday tunes. The Christmas Market, located on the park’s Bayside Pathway, features unique artisans and culinary delights. Plus, enjoy a delicious dinner of Christmas favorites with Santa and Mrs. Claus during Santa’s Fireside Feast, an all-you-care-to-eat menu of holiday favorites and delicious desserts takes place on select days during SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration. Guests can enjoy a Christmas Celebration Reserved Seating Package. This package provides a reserved seat at all three of our popular Christmas shows, plus a dining certificate to use that evening at any participating restaurant. Shows included are: Shamu Christmas Miracles, O Wondrous NightTM and Winter Wonderland on Ice. Packages start at $24 per person. Plus, park guests are invited to enjoy a dinner of Christmas favorites with Santa and Mrs. Claus during Santa’s Fireside Feast. This charming feast offers an allyou-care-to-eat menu of holiday favorites and delicious desserts, and provides an exclusive time to meet Santa and receive a complimentary family photo. The feast starts at $29 and takes place on select dates during SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration™. Reservations arerequired, Families can ring in the New Year at SeaWorld on December 31. At the stroke of midnight, the evening sky will shine even brighter with a vibrant fireworks show to celebrate the festivities. Visit SeaWorldOrlando.com for the latest details on holiday celebrations.

JANKE STUDIOS

659 Auburn Ave. Studioplex 404.584.0305 • Jankestudios.com Hand Blown Glass & Art Gallery located at Studioplex. Here you will find one of a kind hand blown glassware, custom lighting and gifts. They have special items like heirloom ornaments for the holidays as well as glassware gift certificates available. Visit their WinterGlassFest event on December 12.

AFTER CHRISTMAS SALE After Christmas Sale!

50% OFF!

Dec. 26th and 27th Gently used merchandise, including designer clothing, household items, toys, books, jewelry & furniture. Proceeds from the store benefit the Atlanta non-profit community.

Toco Hill Shopping Center • 2927 North Druid Hills Road • Atlanta, GA 30329

404-355-3547 • nearlynewshopatl.org

Janke Studios Hand Blown Glass Founded in 1996

STUDIOPLEX Conveniently located between Inman Park & the King Birth Home

WINTER GLASSFEST15 TH

12 12-6PM NEW SHOWROOM SAT. DEC. GLASSBLOWING SHOW,

659 Auburn Ave. Atlanta, GA 30312 404-584-0305

FLAMEWORKING DEMOS, LIVE MUSIC, KIDS CRAFT CORNER, REFRESHMENTS, OPEN ARTISTS STUDIOS AND AN ARTISTS MARKET. FREE PARKING AND FREE ADMISSION.

check

jankestudios.com for schedule of classes

HOURS:

Tues, Thurs, Fri 1pm-8:30pm, Wed 5-8:30pm Sat 12-8:30pm Other times By Appointment

Functional Art Glass Gallery • Date Nights • Parties insiteatlanta.com • December 2015 • PG 11


MOVIES

Movie Reviews CREED

 For a film to come off realistic, you need more than good actor chemistry and recognizable locations; footwear is important, too. Be it a pair of Air Jordan 7s or Nike Flyknits, aspiring boxer Adonis Creed’s (Michael B. Jordan) shoe game is on point throughout the movie. But sneakers aren’t the only place where director Ryan Coogler nails it. The music and dialogue ring consistently true in this unofficial Rocky sequel as well. The soundtrack is a mix of hip hop and soul that speaks to the rugged Philly streets where Adonis, the out-of-wedlock son to former heavyweight champ Apollo Creed, befriends Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) before training with him. Adonis is a 20-something who’s gone his whole life looking for answers. Rocky is an aging icon who questions if he’s still got the energy for hanging around gyms. An easy-going Stallone does a good job figuring it all out, but he knows whose name is on the marquee this go-round so he backs to his respected corner at the right times. Jordan is a knockout in his second pairing with Coogler — the talented gents worked together in the dynamic Fruitvale Station in 2013 — who delivers a one-two combination of heart (his relationship with Tessa Thompson feels right) and hubris (a club confrontation couldn’t be more authentic if it tried). Combine all of that with an appearance from real middleweight champ Andre Ward and an in-ring camera so agile that you can almost feel the flying sweat and you have yourself a spirited drama that wins over audiences with a unanimous decision. –DeMarco Williams

BROOKLYN (PG-13)

 For more than an hour Brooklyn is so sublimely perfect it leapt onto my Ten Best list as gracefully as if it had been attached to Michael Flatley’s feet. Narrative contrivances in the final third knocked it down a few notches; check back next month to see where it lands. This is a movie you can lose yourself in. You can inhabit it as fully as Saoirse Ronan does the central character, Eilis (pronounced AY-lish). She leaves a dead-end life in small-town Ireland in 1951, when a priest arranges a boarding house and shopgirl job for her in Brooklyn. We watch as the mousy innocent grows in confidence and maturity, aided of course by romance. Tony (Emory Cohen, delightful) is an Italian-American who likes Irish girls. Soon he and Eilis are a couple, then a serious couple; but when she returns to Ireland for a visit she keeps him a secret from her mother and her best friend, even when it becomes obvious the whole town is conspiring to set her up with Jim (Domhnall Gleeson), “a good catch.” It sets up a formulaic triangle in a film that has avoided formulas to this point. Even after a year in the States, her duplicity

is out of character for Eilis. That’s no reflection on Ronan, whose wonderful face can even express inexpressiveness, but it diminishes the authenticity director John Crowley has lavished on Brooklyn. –Steve Warren

THE GOOD DINOSAUR (PG)

 With science as solid as Donald Trump’s – but accurately labeled as a fantasy - The Good Dinosaur takes place in a period when the first humans shared the earth with the last dinosaurs. One of the latter is Arlo, the runt of his agrarian family’s litter. When the circle of life claims Arlo’s father and a storm carries him away from the farm, Arlo’s only friend is a feisty, feral young two-legger named Spot. They help and defend each other through a series of adventures that exemplify interspecies conflict and cooperation. Like Dorothy in Oz, Arlo is trying to find his way back home. The story unfolds at a leisurely pace and the happy ending favors homogeneity over diversity. Despite some familiar names and voices in the cast, there’s very little dialogue – and no songs. It’s packaged with the animation perfection we expect from Pixar. –Steve Warren

HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT (NR)

 Sometimes I get the feeling a movie was made just for me. The political satire Our Brand Is Crisis, e.g., is right on my wavelength. Now there’s a documentary that expands on the most treasured book in my library, an edited transcript of a week of conversations between two of my favorite directors, when Francois Truffaut interviewed Alfred Hitchcock about every film he had made through 1966. (Hitch would make three more before his death.) Kent Jones’ film includes recordings and photos from the original sessions, with stills and brief clips covering much of Hitch’s career. The most time is devoted to critical favorite Vertigo and public favorite Psycho. There are also comments from ten modern directors, Hitch fanboys all, from Martin Scorsese and Peter Bogdanovich to Wes Anderson and David Fincher. Sensory overload is a problem. The audiotapes often include an interpreter’s simultaneous translation, so you hear two languages at once while trying to read subtitles, highlighted passages from Truffaut’s book and tags identifying talking heads and their credits, when you just want to focus on Hitchcock’s words and the images he created. Still, if you love making or watching films, Hitchcock/Truffaut will teach you things you didn’t know about the Master of Suspense and his films, and make you want to binge watch his entire oeuvre. –Steve Warren

BROOKLYN

PG 12 • December 2015 • insiteatlanta.com

CREED

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY–PART 2 SECRET IN THEIR EYES (PG-13)

(PG-13) 1/2 Unlike Lord of the Rings, which went out on top (not counting the victory lap with the Hobbit films), and Twilight, which went downhill fast after the first one, The Hunger Games managed to maintain a high standard for three films, only to fizzle out in the finale. There are so many characters in Mockingjay Part 2 that several are reduced to bit players or glorified extras; and you can’t tell them without a program, or rewatching Part 1 just before you see the sequel, which plunges right into the plot with no recap. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has two missions this time: to kill tyrannical President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and choose between her beaus, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Gale (Liam Hemsworth). There’s no fear that she’ll fail in the first – fans would destroy every multiplex in the country if that happened. She gets killed a few times, but never fatally. Despite the large cast a big chunk of the film focuses on Katniss, her guys and a handful of others – the “Star Squad” – running through the sewers of the capital, where to be trendy they’re attacked by a horde of zombies. Seriously?!!! It’s a sad substitute for the relatively intelligent plotting of the early films. Lawrence gets more close-up time than anyone ever in a film that aspires to be epic. I’m not complaining. She’s still a great actress, even when the material’s not worthy of her. I’m sad to report that my final words on The Hunger Games are “I’m glad it’s over.” –Steve Warren

THE NIGHT BEFORE (R)

 “If your idea of a white Christmas involves blow rather than snow, spend the high holidays with Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie).” I wrote that the night before I saw The Night Before, based on the trailer. I was expecting another wacky stoner comedy like Rogen’s Pineapple Express and This Is the End, or the Harold and Kumar films it’s been compared to. Forget that. It’s a largely sentimental buddy comedy in which there’s a lot of talk about drugs but Isaac’s the only one who uses anything but alcohol (and steroids in Chris’ case). The three guys have been family for each other since Ethan’s parents were killed on Christmas Eve 2001. They’ve established a lot of Christmas Eve traditions, but now that Isaac’s going to be a father, this is their last hurrah. Ethan, who’s depressed because his commitmentphobia cost him his true love (Lizzy Caplan), scores tickets to the legendary Nutcracker Ball they’ve been wanting to crash for years. This party scene, with a couple of surprise guests, is about the only thing worth seeing in the movie. It’s too little payoff for too much setup and doesn’t keep The Night Before from being a downer. –Steve Warren

1/2 The deceptive trailers for Secret in Their Eyes suggest a revenge thriller with Julia Roberts in the Charles Bronson/Liam Neeson role, avenging the rape/murder of her daughter. But it’s more complicated than that. A dull beginning takes too long to establish the characters, relationships and events of both 2002, when the murder occurred, and 2015, when Jess’ (Roberts) former co-worker Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor) tries to reopen the case. It was dropped initially because the suspect was a vital snitch for the counter-terrorism unit. Despite the availability of facial recognition software, Ray has been kicking it old school ever since, going through thousands of photos in hopes of recognizing the suspect, 13 years older and surgically altered. He thinks he’s found him and urges Claire (Nicole Kidman), now the district attorney, to go after him. There’s also the crush Ray’s had on Claire all this time, even though she was engaged then and is married now. This diverts entirely too much time from the main plot, which is lopsided anyway because we know how things will turn out in 2002 but that part is still more interesting than the present-day scenes. It gets absurd when a minor character in 2002 contacts Ray with a lead in 2015. Roberts is deglamorized to look like a serious actress and performs accordingly; but Secret in Their Eyes, a remake of an Oscar-winning Argentinian film, is no better than an average episode of your favorite TV police procedural. –Steve Warren

SPOTLIGHT (R)

 You can see police procedurals on TV any night of the week. Newspaper procedurals are more rare, usually dealing with real events that changed the world. In the tradition of All the Presidents Men, but lighter on the thriller aspects, Spotlight follows the Boston Globe’s investigative team in 2001 as they dig into the pedophile priest scandal that continues to rock the Roman Catholic church. Even the reporters are shocked by the extent of the activities and the systematic cover-up by all the Pope’s men. Less surprising is how Boston has rallied round the church, which has as much influence there as in Vatican City. Even the Globe has ignored the story until now, when they get a new editor who’s Jewish and not native to the city. Director and co-writer Tom McCarthy, maker of some great little indies (The Station Agent, The Visitor), shows he can play in the big leagues. He’s got an excellent ensemble cast led by Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams and Liev Schreiber, many playing against their usual types. It was a great newspaper story and it transfers well to the screen. –Steve Warren


TRUMBO (R)

 The poster boy for the Hollywood blacklist of the 1940s and ‘50s, Dalton Trumbo inspired Woody Allen’s The Front. Now he gets his due in a biopic that couldn’t be better if he’d written it instead of only having lived it. Still breaking good after having won a Tony this year, Bryan Cranston plays the screenwriter who won two Oscars under assumed names after the House Un-American Activities Committee branded him a Communist and he went to prison for contempt of Congress. The historical aspect alone could spark a TCM special, but the added layers of gossip and politics make the mix irresistible for me. Despite the usual disclaimer, most of the characters and events are real, with film and audio clips of actual celebrities mixed in with recreations and impersonations. Diane Lane plays Trumbo’s wife, whose life is turned upside down when he starts a black market script service to keep himself and his fellow blacklistees working. Helen Mirren adds spice as arch-conservative columnist Hedda Hopper, who is not only anti-Communist but antiSemitic. I’d love to see a whole movie about her, with Mirren in the role. I’d also like to know how some outspoken liberals of the day (e.g., Lucille Ball, Humphrey Bogart, Gregory Peck) were able to work steadily in this period while others were unemployable; but there’s just so much you can tell in two hours. This fascinating, shameful period of Hollywood history is effectively recreated in a film that should keep director Jay Roach from being remembered solely for the Austin Powers and Meet the Parents comedies. –Steve Warren

YOUTH (R)

 When you look up “art film” in future dictionaries you may find a poster from Youth. Written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino, whose The Great Beauty won an Oscar, it’s an Italian art film with an international cast and 99 percent English dialogue.

It takes place at a hotel/spa in the Swiss Alps, where the guest list includes retired composerconductor Michael Caine; his longtime best friend, filmmaker Harvey Keitel, who’s planning his next project, which he hopes will be his “testament”; and American actor Paul Dano, who’s preparing to shoot a film in Germany. Caine’s daughter/ assistant Rachel Weisz gets dumped by her husband (Keitel’s son) for a younger popstar. Caine is offered a knighthood, but the queen wants him to conduct one of his works at the ceremony and he refuses, for “personal reasons.” Those are some main plot elements, but this is a film where the smallest throwaway line can have a payoff an hour later and some “inside showbiz” dialogue is spot-on. Despite the precision of the script, some viewers will be annoyed that Sorrentino appears more interested in visuals than the narrative. Some amazing images are there for their own sake, not to further the plot. Like any art film Youth is for specialized tastes, but those who appreciate it will appreciate it a lot. –Steve Warren ROOM (R)  Yes, the first half of Room takes place in a 10-foot-by-10-foot space that’s the interior of a garden shed, the only place Ma (Brie Larson) has seen in seven years and the only world her five-year-old son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) has known in his life, other than what he sees on television. But the powerful thing about Room is how much of it takes place in a space that’s much smaller, yet infinitely larger: your mind, as you imagine the unimaginable horrors of the life mother and son have endured, including Ma being regularly raped by their captor, Old Nick (Sean Bridgers). We experience this as Jack does, through the slats of the closet where he sleeps when Nick shares the bed with Ma. They finally get out and we follow Jack’s orientation to the world, and Ma’s more difficult reorientation. Director Lenny Abrahamson and Emma Donoghue, who adapted her novel, keep

THE HUNGER GAMES–MOCKINGJAY PART 2 things relatively minimalist and let your mind fill in the blanks – probably the most effective way this story could be told. There’s still enough there to give Larson a good shot at the Oscar nomination she deserved for Short Term 12. As for Tremblay, he’s not just cute but goes through a range of emotions that would challenge Meryl Streep; but with a child so young (he was actually at least seven during filming), it’s hard to judge whether it’s his talent on display or the director’s skill in drawing the desired reactions from him. Either way, there’s no room for improvement. –Steve Warren

THE WONDERS (NR)

1/2 There’s more going on “under the Tuscan sun” than that other movie showed. In the countryside there are beekeepers at war with neighboring farmers whose weed-killers kill their bees. They produce delicious honey under conditions not strictly up to code, to put it mildly. (One sequence may put you off honey

forever.) Such is the hybrid family at the center of Alice Rohrwacher’s film – a German father, an Italian mother and their four daughters. There’s also Cocò, who lives with them but whose presence is not explained. She’s one of many of the wrong kind of wonders in The Wonders, which left me scratching my head, even after reading Rohrwacher’s notes; from what’s this thing about Etruscans to what happens at the end. Along the way the family gets involved in a competition reality TV show (hosted by “Bond girl” Monica Bellucci) and takes in a young delinquent on a work release program for money and free labor. A 14-yearold boy in a house with four daughters – what could go wrong? It’s good that The Wonders doesn’t always do what Hollywood formulas have led us to expect, but our inability to understand what’s happening instead turns this positive into a mixed blessing. At least you’ll learn a lot about beekeeping and honey production. –Steve Warren

FILM

ATLANTA’S WES CHATHAM

Joins the Resistance in the Final Hunger Games

BY ANNE HAMPSON BOATWRIGHT

A

someone was telling a story I was into it! I didn’t know it would translate to acting, but I knew I wanted to be a part of it. When I was in school at The Gift Center, we had a project to write a play and my theme was chosen. A professional theatre company helped us put it on and I loved the process.

TLANTA ACTOR WES CHATHAM was in town on a press tour for the upcoming blockbuster “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2”, directed by Francis Lawrence. Chatham appears as Castor, one of the resistance fighters with Jennifer Lawrence’s heroine Katniss Since this film was shot in Atlanta, will there Everdeen. We met at the Atlanta History be any landmarks we recognize other than Center’s Swan House, film site of scenes of the Swan House? the residence of President Snow No, because Panem and all (Donald Sutherland), the dictator YOU GO THROUGH the districts have a certain look. of the Capitol in the fictitious NINE MONTHS OF The scouts traveled around country of Panem. Chatham is SHOOTING DARK, Europe to find locations with an currently filming “The Expanse”, DEPRESSING other-worldly, timeless quality to a sci-fi television series debuting them and most of those scenes THINGS, SO IF YOU in December. DIDN’T HAVE THE were shot in Paris and Berlin. ABILITY TO LAUGH Well, there is an old abandoned Atlanta is now such a big film AND CUP UP, YOU Firestone plant here that we shot city. How does it feel to be back? briefly to look like one of the Great! Yes, my hope is that WERE IN TROUBLE. in districts. Atlanta continues to be a film hub because I love coming back here. It’s a surreal How did you feel when you learned you got thing because when I left Atlanta my work the role in such a popular film series? life became its own thing, very separate from I remember I was in Vegas for the my home, so the fact that those worlds have Mayweather fight, and got a call from the collided is wonderfully weird! casting director Debbie Zane. We’d gotten to know each other over the years and she While you were in school in Lawrenceville, always said the right thing would come along you discovered your passion for the arts. for me. So when she and Francis got together Yeah, I’ve known ever since I can remember to cast the brothers Castor and Pollux, she’d that I wanted to be a part of storytelling. I seen some of my work and told Francis. was obsessed with film, television and books. When they called to tell me, I couldn’t When I was in elementary school, any time compute it. Usually actors have to fight and

crawl for their roles, and to be told I’d be a part of one of the biggest franchises, I was like, “Who do I need to meet with? What do I need to do?” And they said, “No, it’s yours!” It’s still hard to process. What was it like working with Jennifer Lawrence – I’ve heard she’s a bit of a cut-up on the set? She’s a MAJOR cut-up! And thank God for that too because this was really a war movie. Part 1 was about her lowest point, the psychological trauma. Part 2 was a pure war film. You go through nine months of shooting dark, depressing things, so if you didn’t have the ability to laugh and cup up, you were in trouble. Are fans of the book going to be happy with how this movie ends? Yes, I mean, I’m happy with it but I think any story well told - when you create this type of tension, specifically with the characters of Katniss and Snow - there’s a scratch that needs to be itched and a payoff that needs to happen. And to do it in a creative way that you didn’t see coming but that satisfies - that’s really important. I think this movie answers all those questions and the movie lived up to its highest realizations. Metaphorically, I feel like Part 1 feels like a rollercoaster chugging up to the top and Part 2 is when it goes careening down. Did you read the books?

I did. A while back, I was heading to bed and my wife was reading one of them and I asked “What are you reading?” She said, “Oh it’s this movie about some kids who have to kill each other for food”. I said, “What?! What is this?” and then the movies came out, and I got a part and read the books to prepare for the role. What was the camaraderie like among Squad 451? You spend nine months with each other every day in a work situation, and you’re traveling around, it’s kind of like camp. You’re thrown with all these people you don’t know and you’re living together, and you become like family. We were really tight and I stay in touch with everybody. insiteatlanta.com • December 2015 • PG 13


THEATER

TRAVEL

SANTALAND DIARIES

Back at Horizon Theatre as Atlanta’s own Harold M. Leaver returns at Crumpet

BY LEE VALENTINE SMITH

B

ASED ON DAVID SEDARIS’ bestseller Holidays on Ice, The Santaland Diaries tells the sweetly sarcastic story of a bitter middle-aged writer who takes a seasonal job as an elf at Macy’s department store. In the starring role, veteran Atlanta-born actor and activist Harold M. Leaver returns as the loveable Crumpet for his 17th season at the Horizon Theater. With comedic support from LaLa Cochran, along for her fourth year of frivolity and Enoch King celebrating an impressive decade-long run, the cast has a solid grasp on the material and the unique freedom to update it with commentary on current events. The decidedly non-traditional fare continues to be an Atlanta favorite and dedicated fans often revisit the cleverly snarky production a number of times per season, often sticking around for a fun photo session with the cast after the performances. Moments before the 2015 dress rehearsal, Leaver spoke with INsite in a dressing room backstage. Dress rehearsal is always an exciting time for a production. After so many seasons, do you ever get nervous when you shift into Crumpet mode? Oh, absolutely! There’s a little extra adrenaline going. I’m a little afraid of actors who are not nervous. Since we update it every year, I may think it’s funny, based on what’s happening 2015, but I’m never really sure if the audience is going to like it. And there’s always the possibility that this is the time that I’ll really screw it up. But thankfully it hasn’t happened yet. Audiences have made the show a tradition, but it’s definitely a nontraditional holiday show. It’s certainly not like “A Christmas Carol.” Santaland lacks so much of the sweetness that pervades our usual holiday entertainment. But it still embraces and speaks to people about the meaning of this time of year.

minutes, and he never leaves the stage. And then you have these other two actors who have something like 70 costume changes in the course of the night. One disappears and one character reappears suddenly on the other side of the theater as someone else. People are always surprised and impressed by that. There’s over 250 light and sound cues so it’s a technically complicated show but our hope is that the way we do it, it will not appear to be so complicated. It will just be total amazement and stage magic.

Let’s talk about the cast a bit. Lala Cochran has been in the production for four years and Enoch King has been with you for 10 seasons now. At this point, you must have a very solid relationship. They both have really great comic chops. We play very well off each other and when you work with somebody long enough, you develop a THROUGH DEC. 31 shorthand, a sort of vocabulary Horizon Theatre to where just a look or a horizontheatre.com whisper can trigger something very funny.

THE SANTALAND DIARIES

For those who haven’t seen it, how do you describe it? I just say it’s a play about a guy who gets a job as an elf at Macy’s. It’s a fun little expose about what really happens behind the scenes in the retail environment during the holidays. How did you initially become involved with the production? Well, when the script was released to the public, [Horizon artistic director] Lisa Adler grabbed it for the Atlanta market. We didn’t know we would be updating it every year. We didn’t even know we go beyond one year with it. She contacted me and said, “There’s this play about this elf,” and said there was going to a staged reading. So if you count the staged reading, this is my 18th year! I said, “That sounds great, when are the auditions?” She said, “No, it’s about this really, really bitter elf and we think you’re perfect for the part!” It was originally a one-man show, right? Yes and our original director Chip Thornton turned it into a three-actor show. It was a oneman show in New York and it wasn’t originally all that successful that way. So it’s turned into a tour-de-force with a guy who talks for 90 PG 14 • December 2015 • insiteatlanta.com

Since you update it every year, do you leave room for improvisation during individual performances? You can call it improv, but it’s all very wellrehearsed for the most part. I specifically have moments in the show where I get to improvise when I interact with the audience members. There were a lot of lines in the original that would just not be funny in today’s world, so we have to kind of tweak it and twist it around sometimes. So the audience never knows what may be added each night. Oh yes! There’s lots of little things like what is happening right now that we can include so audiences know it is 2015 rather than something from the early ‘90s. There was some stuff in the original that would be very dated now. Sedaris’ original version is repeated every year on NPR and he talks about getting people to buy into his point of view but his holiday perspective is kind of for people with a slightly darker outlook. World events can make even the brightest souls feel a little darker at times. Especially during the holidays. It’s a very real challenge in today’s world but I think it’s really been like that for the past 17 years!

WALT DISNEY WORLD IS READY FOR THE HOLIDAYS! T HERE IS NO BETTER WAY TO celebrate the holidays then a trip to Orlando to Walt Disney World Resort. This year’s festive celebration rings in new entertainment offerings as well as seasonal favorites from November 27 through December 30th. At EPCOT experience the magic of the season and time-honored traditions from around the globe during Holidays Around the World. One of the most beloved holiday traditions during this special seasonal event is The Candlelight Processional. This poignant performance allows guests to Holidays Around the World experience the Christmas story through masterful storytelling by celebrity narrators, accompanied by a mass choir and Mickey’s the Walt Disney Christmastime Parade World orchestra performing traditional and contemporary Christmas songs. The Candlelight Processional is performed three times each evening, 5:00, 6:45 and 8 p.m., from Nov. 27 to Dec. 30. The line-up of celebrity narrators includes: Gary Sinise (11/27 – 11/29); Neil Patrick Harris (11/30 – 12/3) and Whoopi Goldberg (12/4 – 12/5) with many more through the end of December. In addition to the joy-filled stage performances, Holidays Around the World immerses guests in holiday celebrations and traditions from various countries throughout World Showcase. Amid joyful music and festive treats, treasured traditions spring to life as storytellers share their countries’ holiday heritage. International holiday experiences around the World Showcase include the musical Canadian Holiday Voyageurs at the Canada Pavilion, the colorful Chinese Lion Dance at the China Pavilion, a festive mariachi band and vibrant dancers at the Mexico Pavilion, and a lesson about the “spice of life” by a Moroccan drummer at the Morocco Pavilion. Guests also can enjoy the music of the Voices of Liberty Dickens Carolers and greet Santa and Mrs. Claus at the American Adventure Pavilion. For a full list of Holidays Around the World festivities, visit disneyworld.com/holidaysaround-the world. At DISNEY HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS glide through the Streets of America and soak in the radiant beauty of this beloved tradition for its final holiday hurrah. Navigate your way through the vibrant, undulating lights that shimmer upon the backlot streets and sky, all synced up to a set of joyful tunes. It’s a world you truly must see to believe! The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights started modestly in Arkansas as a single home’s annual display. Every year, Jennings Osborne and his family set up an elaborate collection of holiday lights. Over time the collection of lights out grew their home and the Osbornes looked for a new place for their magical display. In 1995 Walt Disney

World Resort happily offered to become the new permanent home for this exceptional exhibition of holiday cheer. After 20 years, this amazing light display while be illuminated for the final time this holiday season. At MAGIC KINGDOM Queen Elsa from Frozen will use her incredible powers to transform Cinderella Castle into an ice palace for the holidays, thanks to a special effects spectacle bathing the castle in 200,000 shimmering white lights. Magic Kingdom guests are treated nightly to the dramatic Castle Dream Lights celebration and A Frozen Holiday Wish stage show. Join your Frozen friends like Anna, Elsa and the newly-appointed royal historians of Arendelle for a fun and frosty interactive showcase. Laugh and sing with an enchanting retelling of the kingdom’s tale that’s as humorous as it is heartwarming. You Streets of America won’t want to miss For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration taking place in the Hyperion Theater. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party also at Magic Kingdom, takes place through December 18 during select nights. This annual ticket event brings Christmas joy to guests of all ages with festive decorations, towering Christmas trees, and wintry A Frozen Sing-Along wonderful entertainment. Beginning at 7 p.m. (after regular park hours), guests can enjoy the spectacular holiday splendor along with complimentary cookies and hot cocoa, and snow flurries on Main Street, U.S.A. Special holiday entertainment during the event includes Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas! Dance Party, “Celebrate the Season” musical stage show starring favorite Disney characters, and “Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season” fireworks spectacular. Stay for NEW YEAR’S EVE as guests can celebrate all night long at Epcot. DJs and live music around World Showcase bring guests to their feet with beats from around the globe. Two showings of “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” fireworks spectacular at 6 p.m. and 11:40 p.m., followed by a countdown and pyrotechnic salute to the New Year will top off the celebration. Get a head start on welcoming 2016 at Magic Kingdom as New Year’s Eve fireworks light up the sky on two nights instead of one. Magic Kingdom will present a jawdropping presentation of “Fantasy in the Sky” fireworks on both Wednesday, Dec. 30, and Thursday, Dec. 31 at 11:50 p.m. Rock ’n’ roll into the New Year with a brilliant fireworks spectacular at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The show will be presented on Dec. 31 near the Hyperion Theater at midnight. For more information, visit Disneyworld.com or the MyDisneyExperience mobile app.


MUSIC

THEATER

Album Reviews

REVIEWS BY BRET LOVE, LEE VALENTINE SMITH AND JOHN B. MOORE

ADELE

25 (XL/Columbia)

Discovered at the age of 18 after a friend posted her demo on MySpace, Adele Laurie Blue Adkins’ star has only burned brighter with each passing album. From the double platinum success of her debut, 19 (which earned her Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Grammys), to the 30 million copies sold of her second album, 21 (which earned 6 Grammys), she did it all with talent, personality and a reported utter lack of diva-like attitude. So it’s no surprise that her first album in over four years has debuted at #1 and broken all sorts of sales and video-streaming records. Epic, ambitious and emotional, 25 is solid from start to finish, with Adele towering voice masterfully the highs and lows of love, loss and heartache. You’ve already heard the immaculate opening track, “Hello” (which was downloaded a million times the first week it was released), but the rest of the album is equally impressive. “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” is a sassy, funky kissoff to an ex that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Beyoncé record, while “Water Under the Bridge” could be a long-lost ‘80s pop classic. The pianodriven balladry of “When We Were Young” plays to Adele’s greatest strength. The stripped-down acoustic guitar ballad “Million Years Ago” earns comparisons to singer-songwriter legends like Joni Mitchell and Carole King. –Bret Love

MILES DAVIS

Miles Davis at Newport 1955-1975: The Bootleg Series Vol. 4

(Columbia / Legacy) Miles at Newport represents a crash course in music history with a sweeping twenty year slice of the ever changing styles of an undisputed jazz genius. Bookending the previous Fillmore theme box, the latest installment focuses solely on live performances from the Newport Jazz Festival, the proving ground for jazz, rock and folk explorations. This is the place where Davis truly went eclectic before a series of adoring audiences. The current four-disc set covers a variety of styles and techniques, beginning with the acoustic sharp-focus attack of the “’Round Midnight” era, detouring into hard bop and eventually melding into the turgid funk of his ‘70s fusion explorations. Part two arguably illustrates the artist at his peak, with his “second great quintet” in ‘66 and ‘67. He was on a wildly creative roll and the ’67 set especially shows a mastery of both the material and his eager-to-solo bandmates. No live batch would be complete without a smoldering rendition of “Bitches Brew,” included here by his legendary ’71 electric-era group with Keith Jarrett on piano. Spanning two decades of work, the Newport saga is an essential piece of music history. –Lee Valentine Smith

For a full list of our album reviews, please visit insiteatlanta.com

FILM

NEW RELEASES THE LATEST DVD, BLU RAY & VOD RELEASES By Bret Love & John Moore

ADAM ANT: THE BLUEBLACK HUSSAR This compelling doc on the ‘80s New Wave icon is so intimate, it feels like you shouldn’t be watching. The movie doesn’t focus on the decade of bizarre behavior that led to his bi-polar diagnosis, or his very public arrest in 2002. Instead, It focuses primarily on the now, following Adam Ant as he tries to make a comeback with small club shows, complete with updated glam pirate outfits. The film is often bizarre and occasionally heartbreaking, but always entertaining. AMY SCHUMER: LIVE AT THE APOLLO In her first stand-up special (directed by Chris Rock) since becoming one of the most buzzed-about comedians in decades, Amy Schumer delivers an impressive, if slightly uneven, set. Schumer’s style is so original that the weaker material is easily overlooked thanks to numerous laughout-loud moments. Her unconventional approach, vulnerability and frankness have drawn comparisons to Louie CK and Marc Maron, and Schumer is one of the few comedians who actually lives up to her hype. MARCO POLO: SEASON ONE From Boardwalk Empire and Vikings to Mad Men and The Knick, we love a good historical drama. And while this ambitious (if somewhat old fashioned) Netflix series is a bit slow out of the gate, subsequent

episodes show the promise of what could be. As the titular character, relative newcomer Lorenzo Richelmy takes time to grow on you. But Benedict Wong (The Martian) nails it as Mongolian leader Kublai Khan, and he’s surrounded by a strong supporting cast that includes Joan Chen and Rick Yune. Here’s hoping Season 2’s storytelling grows bolder… and better.

MISERY LOVES COMEDY When Robin Williams took his own life last August, it reinforced something I realized after years of interviewing standup comics: There’s almost always some sort of tragedy behind the best comedy. That’s the main theme of comedianturned-director Kevin Pollak’s documentary, in which he interviews more than 50 comedy icons (including Amy Schumer, Judd Apatow, Christopher Guest and Janeane Garofalo) on the subject. It’s a treasure trove for diehard comedy buffs, but never really digs deep enough to prove revelatory. NATHAN FOR YOU: SEASONS ONE & TWO Relentlessly quirky and off-kilter, this docu-reality series was created by comedian Nathan Fielder. The Vancouver native started out doing improv with Seth Rogen, then went on to get his business degree. Here, he combines his business background, his knack for improvisation and his awkward personality to great effect, creating unorthodox marketing campaigns to help small businesses succeed. Whether he’s creating a poo-flavored frozen yogurt or convincing a pizzeria to guarantee 8-minute delivery, Fielder’s dry, deadpan humor proves utterly infectious.

LATTER DAYS

Cody Jamison Strand On Taking Over Josh Gad’s Role in The Book of Mormon

BY BRET LOVE

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RITTEN AND COMPOSED by comedy legends Trey Parker and Matt Stone (South Park) and Robert Lopez (Avenue Q, Frozen), The Book of Mormon is hardly what you’ve come to expect from a Broadway production. But the show broke box office records, and went on to win 9 Tony Awards (including Best Musical) and a Grammy. The razor-sharp, whip-smart show tells the story of Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, two young missionaries sent to a remote village in Uganda, where a Joseph Kony-like warlord rules with an iron fist. The hopeful but inexperienced believers try to share their titular sacred text (which Cunningham, hilariously, has never even read) with locals, but religion pales in comparison to disease, famine, poverty and war among their major concerns. As the schlubby, clingy, compulsive liar Elder Cunningham, the Tony-nominated Josh Gad stole nearly every scene in the 2011 Broadway production. Now South Dakota native Cody Jamison Strand is starring in the national touring production, which comes to Atlanta in January. We recently spoke with him about working with Parks and Stone, filling Gad’s shoes, and how his father (a preacher) responded to the religious satire.

I’m a huge fan of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. I’ve always wished for a stage production of South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. Can you talk about the fun of working with a character that has their unique sense of humor? First of all, a stage version of the South Park movie would be hilarious. Those songs are killer! And yes, they absolutely have a unique grasp on things. What they say through comedy is truly remarkable. If I had to put Elder Cunningham through a South Park lens, he’s like Butters, but Cartman is both the devil and angel on his shoulders. Meeting Trey and Matt was one of the coolest parts JANUARY 12 – 24 What was it like growing up of this entire experience. as a theater-lover in small FOX THEATRE They’re so cool, smart, and town South Dakota? BROADWAYINATLANTA.COM down to earth. When they It was always a little funny. direct the show, it’s such a South Dakota isn’t necessarily surreal experience. Like, here a hotbed for the arts in general, but there was are comedy legends helping me perform the always something there to do. My high school material that they wrote. It’s crazy! did three plays a year, so I was always busy! Why do you think The Book of Mormon has How did you end up on Broadway? been such an explosive hit? It’s a crazy story. I moved from South Dakota It’s an explosive hit because its message is when I was 23, moving into my tiny NYC so clearly needed in our world today. Yes, it apartment on July 23, 2012. I met with an has amazing songs, exciting dance breaks, agent that had his eye on me that week. By and hilarious jokes. But at its heart, it also November, I got the standby job with Book of has a message of love and acceptance that we Mormon. I don’t know what happened in that so desperately need. Tomorrow is a Latter audition room, because I was scared out of my Day! mind. But they must’ve liked it, because I’m still here! Your father is a pastor. How did he respond to the show? What was the feeling like when you first He loves it! He’s seen it 15 times, and I heard you’d been cast as Elder Cunningham? just bought him another ticket to see it over I remember it was the day power came back Christmas. It was funny, because I told my on in NYC from Hurricane Sandy. My agent mother I was auditioning for Mormon back called me and told me to sit down. He said, in 2012. When she looked it up and heard “You’re going on tour with Book of Mormon!” the music, she said, “We just won’t tell your I couldn’t contain myself: I screamed, I cried, I father about this.” Which is hilarious, because laughed. It’s the chance of a lifetime! the next phone call I had with my mother was, “Mom, I got the part.” You’re taking on a role originated by Josh Gad. How did you put your own spin on The Book of Mormon is obviously a comedy, Elder Cunningham? but there’s a lot of heart, warmth and insight I have huge respect for Josh Gad. I’d seen into religion as well. What messages do you him do the show when it first came out, hope audiences take away from the show? and he was astoundingly funny. I’d never Like I said, the show has so much to say seen someone be so effortlessly funny and about the world’s current state of affairs. The captivating. When I got the chance to do it, biggest message of the show is that it doesn’t I knew I couldn’t repeat what he’d done, so I matter if you change some things or break strove to make it my own. I think by putting the rules so long as we all work together to more of myself into the role, trying to be as make this our paradise planet. Because it’s genuine as possible while still letting out my the only one we’ve got! If people leave the inner child, I’ve put my own stamp on the theatre with hope in their hearts, then I’ve part. I’m a weird dude! So it works. done my job.

BOOK OF MORMON

insiteatlanta.com • December 2015 • PG 15


NYE EVENTS

Peach Drop 2016 Underground Atlanta

December 31; 11AM until 3AM Free Admission; Underground Atlanta Peachdrop.com

The 27th annual Peach Drop offers a full day of family fun and an evening of topnotch entertainment. Festivities will continue well into the morning with a variety of live performances, followed by the descent of the 800 pound Peach and a spectacular firework display. Packed full of excitement, the Peach Drop is Atlanta’s favorite way of ringing in the New Year!

Downtown Countdown Hyatt Regency Atlanta

December 31 8:30 p.m. -2:00 a.m. DowntownCountdown.net

For the 12th consecutive year, Atlanta's marquee New Year's Eve party is returning to the luxurious Hyatt Regency on Peachtree Street. Party your way into 2016, by rocking out to 2 bands, 3 DJ’s, 4 comedians and more at one low price. This is the hottest all-inclusive party ticket in town. With a ratio of one bartender for every 70 guests and one buffet station for every 150 guests, you won't spend your New Year's Eve waiting in lines. The event attracts a mid 20's to late 30's crowd, but everyone is welcome. There is an even mix of singles and couples. With four huge party areas, the Downtown Countdown will have something for everyone. Dress is semi-formal, creative black tie optional. The general admission ticket areas offer limited seating. VIP Seating is also available. This event usually sells out and they offer early purchase discounts.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Georgia Dome December 31 at 7:30PM cfapb.com

The Chick-fil-A Bowl will hold its annual New Year’s Eve game again this year at the Georgia Dome. Now one of the country’s top six bowl games, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl continues into the new playoff era with some of the post-season’s best football. College Football’s Playoff Committee

PG 16 • December 2015 • insiteatlanta.com

has assigned Atlanta’s bowl game the topranked teams from the country’s top conferences and a National Semifinal every third year.

New Beers Eve

HOLIDAYSHOWS

Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker Fabulous Fox Theatre Performing December 11 thru Dec. 27 atlantaballet.com (404) 873-5811

Front Page News & Tijuana Garage L5P December 31, 9pm - 1am atlantabeerfestivals.com

Atlanta Beer Festivals hosts the 4th New Beers Eve on December 31 at The Atlanta Ballet’s annual production of Front Page News Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece has been an and Tijuana Garage integral part of the city’s holiday season for in Little 5 Points. over 40 years. The show tells the timeless This is an all-inclutale of young Clara Stahlbaum, who sive event with awakes at midnight on Christmas Eve to appetizer buffet, well liquor, house wine, find her prized Nutcracker toy has come to and over 50 beer options. The Geeks Band life to do battle with the Mouse King’s in Tijuana Garage and DJ Qtip in Front army. From dancing snowflakes to lively Page News. Tickets are $65 advance, $75 Russian nesting dolls, the extravagant proafter Dec. 26, and $85 day of. All details duction is sure to prove a hit with all ages. and tickets can be found at AtlantaBeerFestivals.com

A Christmas Carol

IRIS NYE Experience

Alliance Theatre Through Dec 27 Box Office (404) 733-5000 AllianceTheatre.org/christmas

A Christmas 2715 Buford Hwy. (770) 240-0377 Carol, the most December 31, 10pm - 4:00am heartwarming irispresents.com story of the The number one season comes EDM New Year's to life with holEve event in the iday carols, Southeast returns stunning stage magic and your favorite with live performAtlanta actors. In this tale of redemption, ances by Ill Gates vs. Ebenezer Scrooge goes to sleep on KJ Sawka, Fyer Live Christmas Eve as a miserly, stone-hearted (Skrillex Brother), man and awakens on Christmas Day with Leah Culver, Jon a Wilkes (Krewella), Ployd, Eddie Gold, Ra & compassionate and benevolent heart over 15 DJs. Also a balloon drop, free after his encounter with three ghosts. champagne toast and $2500 in cash & Celebrate this magnificent staging of prizes. Book tickets early as this event sells Charles Dickens's classic Christmas tale and Ebenezer Scrooge’s eye-opening out every year. Christmas Eve journey.

Dancing With The Stars

Christmas with the ASO

Cobb Energy Centre December 31 8:00 pm Atlanta Symphony Orchestra cobbenergycentre.com Dancing with the Stars: Live! is giving fans December 12 at 8pm; Dec. 13 2pm & 8pm atlantasymphony.org (404) 733-4200 the opportunity to

For more than four decades, these classic see their favorite concerts have featured the Atlanta stars dance live in Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, their hometowns. Morehouse College Glee Club and Audiences will Gwinnett Young Singers, conducted by the watch exciting and ASO’s Norman Mackenzie. This year, speromantic performcial guest soloist, tenor Russell Thomas, ances, from chorewill join the cast. Capture the spirit of the ography never before seen on the show, to some of the holidays with the Orchestra’s iconic story most memorable numbers from Dancing of Christmas, created by the legendary Robert Shaw. with the Stars.

Widespread Panic NYE

Fox Theatre December 29, 30, and 31 foxtheatre.org

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Center for Puppetry Arts Through Dec. 27

One of the many neo-hippie jam bands Puppet.org (404) 873-3391 inheriting the road-warrior mantle left Directed by Jon Ludwig and based on the behind by the Grateful Dead, Widespread s t o p - m o t i o n Panic established a devout grassroots fol- animated telelowing on the strength of constant touring vision special, and a loose, rootsy brand of Southern rock Rudolph the informed by jazz and blues textures. The R e d - N o s e d will be performing shows on three straight Reindeer is a nights leading up to New Year’s Eve. timeless tale of

acceptance that rings in the most wonderful time of the year. Through the use of rod and body puppets, Hermey the Elf, Yukon Cornelius, the Abominable Snow Monster and all the other merry misfits join Rudolph and Santa for an unforgettable holiday adventure.

ATTRACTIONS

Stone Mountain Christmas

Stone Mountain Park Through January 3 stonemountainpark.com

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas at Stone Mountain Park, where the true magic of the season is in the air. Enjoy the glow of more than two million lights, festive music and visits from some your favorite holiday characters. Start a new tradition and create memories that will last a lifetime. Named by USA Today as one of the ten best places in the country to catch Santa Claus.

Winter Wonderland

Fernbank Museum Through January 10 FernbankMuseum.org

Fernbank’s holiday programming includes the annual exhibit Winter Wo n d e r l a n d : Celebrations & Traditions Around the World, familyfriendly Winter Wonderland Celebration Days, Winter Wonderland evening viewing hours during Martinis & IMAX® and great gift ideas. Winter Wonderland includes two floors of more than 30 festive trees and displays decorated to reflect traditions and holidays celebrated around the world. From vibrant corn husk dolls of Mexico to Peruvian retablos and the bright red Daruma dolls of Japan, visitors can experience the diversity and commonality of holiday traditions celebrated. Wonderland Celebration Days offer families cultural and holiday-themed activities, films and performances throughout the season.

Coca - Cola Christmas

World of Coca - Cola Through December worldofcocacola.com

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and the World of Coca‑Cola is full of fun ways to celebrate! Outside the World of Coca‑Cola, Pemberton Place is alive with holiday lights and oversized ornaments. Meet and have your photo taken with our totally huggable and very friendly 7-foot-tall Coca‑Cola Polar Bear. Surprise your family and friends with a personal invitation in the mail to visit the World of Coca‑Cola from the Coca‑Cola Polar Bear.


TV

Station Control

SUPERHERO GENDER SWITCH BY BENJAMIN CARR

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t’s not a bird. It’s not a plane. But two women here to save the day. However the latest batch of superhero shows from the pages of DC and Marvel Comics could not be more different. CBS’s Supergirl is already one of the season’s biggest new hits. It follows the adventures of Kara Zor-El (played by Glee’s Melissa Benoist), Superman’s cousin from the planet Krypton whose escaped from it the same time he did. She was supposed to be his protector on Earth, but she was waylaid in the time-absent prison known as the Phantom Zone and now follows in his superhero footsteps, adopting a similar outfit and purpose to her cousin. By day, she works as a clumsy, spectacled assistant for media mogul Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) alongside Jimmy Olsen (Mehcad Brooks). In her spare time, Supergirl works with her adoptive sister Alex (Chyler Leigh), a secret agent, to combat alien threats set loose from the Phantom Zone to wreak havoc on Earth. Supergirl is cheery, wholesome and oldfashioned much like the older Superman shows of like Lois & Clark, Superboy and the original Superman show from the 1950s. With other superhero shows like the CW’s Arrow and Flash delivering DC stories with darker tones and continuing dramatic story arcs, Supergirl at its best feels like a hokey superhero knockoff of The Devil Wears Prada. At worst, it feels like a villain-of-the-week relic. Smallville felt more advanced than this. Aside from Flockhart, no one seems to be having much fun onscreen either. There is potential for this show to get better, but now it’s just a bland dud that feels like a chip off the old Superman.

CBS’s Supergirl played by Glee’s Melissa Benoist

Netflix and Marvel meanwhile have given us something truly special with Jessica Jones, a great complicated detective show with a superhero edge. Krysten Ritter brings a wry wit and acidic sarcasm to the title character, a private investigator who hides her super strength while investigating cases in Hell’s Kitchen. The character’s backstory is mysterious and complicated. Jessica is hiding from a villain named Kilgrave (David Tennant), who held her captive one year ago and controlled her and everyone he encounters with powers of his own. Jessica Jones takes place in the same Marvel Universe as The Avengers and the Netflix show Daredevil but it feels very little like any of those. This show is gripping and adult. Its characters have complicated lives, sexy entanglements and are surrounded by unpredictable danger. And its villain is absolutely horrifying. While Supergirl is still trying to find its footing, Jessica Jones knows exactly where it stands.

insiteatlanta.com • December 2015 • PG 17


MUSIC

PEACE, LOVE AND UNDERSTANDING

Michael McDonald on Doobie Brothers, Mash-ups and Yacht Rock Hall Of Fame

BY LEE VALENTINE SMITH

guys. They remain some of my dearest friends.

ITED AS A MEMBER OF THE “MT. RUSHMORE of Yacht Rock,” singer-songwriter-musician Michael McDonald has always blended genres. From the progressive jazz-rock of mid-‘70s Steely Dan to the R&B, gospel and country-tinged Doobie Brothers, to the laidback grooves of his own catalog of solo material, a myriad of styles is securely anchored by his distinctive baritone vocals. After a successful return with the Doobies last year for Southbound, a decidedly effective pairing of the Brothers with modern country acts (including Georgia’s Zac Brown), McDonald is back on the road with his own Nashville-based band. The easy-going musician spoke with INsite from his home in Tennessee about This Christmas, a show billed as “an evening of holiday and hits.”

That’s rare, especially for people who’ve had a long history of personnel changes and creative differences. Yeah. But we had more laughs than anything else over the years. We toured the world together and we had our moments, as anyone does. We threw furniture at each other in the dressing rooms and we did all those crazy things. We squared off over this or that, but it never was worth destroying friendships over. We always found that those things really didn’t matter as much as our friendships.

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With no new album to promote, do you have a greater freedom of song selections for the show? I think now is a great time to play uplifting songs about peace and love. I know those things sound so cliché, but they’re really the fundamentals to understanding the survival of humanity. That’s a message we need to hear every day. Yeah, and myself included. With the coming year, we all need to look at ourselves with some kind of accountability and a realistic perspective of how we could maybe do it better next time. It’s so easy to be overwhelmed by [recent] events and the emotions that come with those events. Last year, the Doobie Brothers returned with Southbound, a really solid record. The Grammys have those improbable mashups, but this was a mash-up that actually made sense. Well it was fun for The Doobies to be in the studio and actually participate together on the record. We weren’t a part of every session together, but we did all contribute, so it was great fun. Every opportunity for us to get back together for a gig or recording session or just a photo shoot is fun because I love those

It’s almost like a marriage. You have to really quantify what’s important in any relationship like that and those guys, for me, I’ll always owe them so much. It was a succession of events that helped me get to the point where I was able to make records as a solo artist. Certainly the Doobie Brothers weighs so heavily for me because those guys were always so generous to me as a newcomer who really came from nowhere into the band. The stage was set for all of us to be friends first. All the rest came later. You guys were a huge part of the classic ‘70s rock sound that modern country music is embracing today. The Doobies always had that element to their music, especially through [founding member/guitarist/vocalist] Pat [Simmons] and some of the instrumentals that we did, including some of his slackkey guitar stuff. A lot of the songs we did very much headed into the country tradition. Like “Black Water” or “South City Midnight Lady. I can think of a lot of songs that we did in that direction, as much as in the rhythm and blues and gospel traditions, too. There’s always been such a fine line between genres and now it’s completely blurred. That’s exactly right. It’s so easy to see the line is a very thin one. It’s all the same animal, it’s just coming from a different region of the country. One of my favorite artists is James Taylor and even

PURPLE REIGN

MICHAEL MCDONALD

“THIS CHRISTMAS: AN EVENING OF HOLIDAY AND HITS” DEC. 14 • ATLANTA SYMPHONY HALL • ASOPRESENTS.COM

though he’s known primarily for folk and acoustic, his ability to bring other genres into his sound is what I’ve always admired. He always seems to be fearless in his exploration of musical traditions. And like James Taylor, you have a huge place in the heart of Yacht Rock. Yeah. It’s hilarious I think. The Yacht-obsessed crowd seem to really and truly love the music, they’re not making fun of it. But they’re definitely not taking themselves seriously. No, and I think it’s great. It was a good subject matter for my kids when they were growing up. You know, they loved “Family Guy” and yacht rock and all that. And they never hesitated to show me everything that came out about it. We had a lot of good laughs over it. Your son Dylan is a musician, as well. Do you ever offer him any advice? Yeah. I told him, “You’re a musician now, and I’d rather you be a brain surgeon or something, but you’ve chosen this path. So just remember that your pathetic comic value may be the one thing that keeps you relevant later on in your career.”

After a Tragic Accident, Georgia’s Baroness Return With An Epic New Album

BY BRET LOVE

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ROUND 5 YEARS AGO BARONESS was heralded as a leading light on Georgia’s burgeoning metal scene. But 2012’s double-length epic Yellow & Green suggested that calling Baroness a metal band didn’t do their richly textured sound justice. By blending hard rock riffage, prog-like experimentation, atmospheric instrumental passages and jackhammer-to-the-skull drumming, Baroness created a sound all their own. Unfortunately, just as Baroness was on the verge of breakout stardom, tragedy struck. In August of 2012, the band’s tour bus fell from a viaduct near Bath, England. Frontman John Baizley suffered a broken arm and leg, while drummer Allen Blickle and bassist Matt Maggioni suffered fractured vertebrae. Due to ongoing physiological repercussions, the rhythm section left Baroness in March of 2013. Now, Baizley and guitarist Pete Adams have picked up the pieces, adding bassist Nick Jost and drummer Sebastian Thomson to the lineup and recording their fourth LP, Purple. We recently spoke with Baizley about the challenges involved in bouncing back from a tragedy that splits a beloved band in two. It’s been 3 years since you released Yellow & Green, which was an epic album and a significant departure from the music you’d made before. What was the inspiration for that evolution in the Baroness sound? PG 18 • December 2015 • insiteatlanta.com

Simply put, we never want to repeat ourselves, and we always want to create challenges that will drive our sound forward. At that moment in time, we felt that if we were to release a more refined version of our former record, we would get stuck. Stuck with a particular sound, stuck in a particular genre, stuck inside creative confines that would not be allow us the freedom of expression we require.

and physical reasons. There was no animosity or strangeness around that, we all had the utmost sympathy for one another. There were, and continue to be, mental shockwaves from the accident, serious and permanent; but we have all learned to manage in those ways which best suit us. It’s not easy, but it is manageable.

What was the feeling for you when friends and fans How do you find the balance organized a fundraiser to between challenging help with medical expenses. yourself and pursuing your Were you able to find own creative muse while at strength in community? the same time giving your I was overwhelmed to learn fans what they want? that my romantic perspective I’ve always felt that if you on the cohesion within the feel creatively energized DIY/punk/metal music and if you put your full soul community at large was so into everything you do, powerful. I can’t imagine you know you’re giving the what recovery would have SUNDAY, DEC. 13 fans what they want. If fans been like without it. I am THE EARL want variations on a narrow forever indebted to those BADEARL.COM musical theme, there are individuals– fans, friends and plenty of bands that will family alike– who went above satisfy that craving. We are not that band. and beyond to provide support when we needed it most. The physiological effects of your tragic bus accident were serious enough that Allen Did you and Pete ever discuss the possibility and Matt had to leave the band. Were there of breaking up the band, or was it a foregone lingering emotional/psychological effects conclusion that Baroness would soldier on? for you? Never considered it once. This is what we do. Of course. We would never have wished any This is who we are. of our members to have left. But we understood with certainty why they left, both the mental “Purple” marks your first album working with

BARONESS

Nick, Sebastian and producer Dave Fridmann. Can you talk briefly about what they add to the Baroness sound? Every member of the team that comes together to create a Baroness record adds a critical flavor and feeling to it. Without a unified team– whom we consider our bandmates, our friends and our family– we cannot make the type of music we make. We prefer to work with producers who don’t have a long history steeped in “heavy” music. We believe that the best way to discover new elements of sound is to work with people from disparate backgrounds, with immense talent and a “don’t give a fuck” attitude towards modern trends. You guys have obviously gone through quite a lot over the last few years. How do you feel the emotional highs and lows impacted the music on ‘’Purple”? Purple, for me, has been the means by which I’ve rehabilitated myself. It was not easy to make, it did not come particularly quickly, and it took a willingness to engage with pain, sacrifice and exposure in order to create. It is, in effect, a snapshot of our lives during the time period in which it was written. What are your feelings about heading out on this intimate club tour before the album’s release? Are you eager to get back out on the road? I’m dying for it. I love touring, at all levels, and I’ve been off tour for way too long. I can’t wait to see how far we can go with this new album.


MUSIC

JESSE MALIN

Showing No Signs of Slowing Down BY JOHN B. MOORE

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Before The War being the more immediate, more accessible in some ways, and Outsiders, being a little heavier, a little darker and maybe a bit more damaged.

ESSE MALIN HAS BEEN A hardcore kid, a glam rocker and a solo troubadour worthy of a Springsteen duet. Though his songs may be a bit quieter Outsiders sounds a little rawer then now compared to those from his Heart some of your past records. Was that a Attack and D Generation days, there is still conscious decision? a pretty strong punk rock vibe that runs It was done fast and reckless, trying to throughout his music nowadays. Nowhere catch a moment. Producer Don DiLego is that more apparent than on his current pushed me to let go and be fearless. It record, Outsiders, a collection of raw, reminded me a bit of how I made my sometimes dark tales of hope and despair. first record, even though I was a lot more Recorded deep in the Pennsylvania woods, frightened back then. the album comes just months after the release of New York Before the War. And Is there a general theme that ties together now that the floodgates have been flung the songs here? open, don’t be surprised if The theme would probably there’s more new music on the I WANTED THE be characters that have a lot of way. Malin spoke recently about beauty and personality in their the new record, his plans with D HEARTBREAK hearts but are fucked up and find TO FEEL LIKE Generation and avoiding having struggling to keep THERE WAS NO themselves to take a straight job. it together. Musically, I wanted CONSCIOUSNESS something more rhythmic. Your record, New York Before TO IT. LIVE AND Even though we would rock, I The War, just came out, so DEAL WITH IT wanted it to swing a little bit I was surprised to hear you than usual. I wanted the AS IT COMES. more were working on another full heartbreak to feel like there was length. Were some of these no consciousness to it. Live and songs initially intended for that deal with it as it comes. record or were you just feeling particularly inspired? Are there plans for more shows or more From writer’s block, a D Generation music with the band? reunion, insecurities and mental We just did a festival in Spain with ZZ Top breakdowns, it became a huge floodgate that and L7. We have a bunch of songs recorded opened up and I found myself with about and an album that will hopefully come out three records worth of material. at some point. After recording them in different places What’s next for you? with some of the I hope to tour with my band, who I’m same musicians, so excited to be playing with, in support and some of Outsiders and just this whole new different, I found kind of rebirth of my career. Getting I had two out on the front lines and out in the records. crowd with some of the old fans, as New well as supporting some new groups York and going to some places that I’ve never been, both artistically and geographically. Keep it going, stay out of a straight job and try to stay moving for as long as I can.

HOLLOWPOINTS Surprised As You They Are Back BY JOHN B. MOORE

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ESPITE PUTTING OUT ONE OF THE BEST punk albums of 2010 (Old Haunts on the Horizons), many had assumed the years of inactivity signaled the end of Hollowpoints. Hell, singer/guitarist Matty McKinney was among those who assumed the band was probably D.O.A. as well. But after some rough years, including a struggle with drugs, the band is finally back with a new record, Rocket to Rainier; a blistering baker’s dozen of loud, melodic punk rock sing-alongs, worthy of its predecessor. It’s no coincidence that the album shares a title similar to the Ramones classic, as Hollowpoints has managed to channel that same frenetic energy from their East Coast brethren. We checked in with McKinney recently to talk about the new record and the five years between this one and the last. What have you guys been up to since the last record? We’ve all been through some really substantial changes in our lives. I’ve personally had to try to grow, I tried the drug thing and as usual, that didn’t work. It never does but that’s an area in

THE YAWPERS

Perfect Blend of Punk Rock & Country

BY JOHN B. MOORE

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me as a true American voice. The source work for the name is one of my absolute favorite pieces, and though a bit arcane, the word just seemed to fit.

F YOU WERE FORCED TO NAME the first great punk rock poet, who comes to mind? Allen Ginsberg? William Burroughs? Neal Cassady? Nope, Walt What is the current state of the music scene Whitman; His classic Leaves of Grass was in Denver? practically 2 Live Crew in poetry form for The Denver music scene is, seriously, blowing its time. up right now. Nathaniel Rateliff, In the Whale, So it’s a bit fitting then that Denver-based Dragondeer, Eldren...I could go on. There’s punk rock cowboys The Yawpers turned to Uncle Walt in looking for a moniker WE ARE GETTING some serious depth to the scene, and it seems like the world is starting to to tie their songs to. The term, BACK ON THE take note. meaning to utter a loud, raucous ROAD AND cry, is rather apt for a band that TOURING OUR How long have you been working plays gritty, loud American rock ASSES OFF FOR on the songs that make up music – bringing to mind greaseTHIS RECORD. American Man? stained jeans, scuffed black boots The record has been in the works for and plenty of spilled, stale beer. a couple of years, from genesis to completion. Almost five years in the making, the band poured their ambitions into a stellar 12-song You can hear everything from the Meat debut, American Man that is finally getting an Puppets to Springsteen in your songs. Do audience outside of the Rockies, thanks to a you guys have any musical influences that deal with Bloodshot Records. would surprise people? Singer/guitarist Neil Cook spoke recently Oh, I don’t know. Everyone has guilty about the record, the genesis of the band name pleasures I suppose, but surprise? Not sure. and hitting the road. My perfect band would be if Freddie King and RL Burnside backed up a Nick Cave fronted The band name went from odd to brilliant once I read the Walt Whitman quote. With version on the Butthole Surfers everyone from Foo Fighters to Green Day admitting to hating their band names, how How did you guys end up on Bloodshot? Bloodshot bought us a nice dinner and a much thought went into coming up with cheap hotel room. The Yawpers. Like it is for most bands, the name is just a What’s next for you? place holder. I was burning through a lot of We are getting back on the road and touring poetry when we formed, and Whitman strikes our asses off for this record.

my life that I’ve worked hard to keep those demons at bay. The record itself describes much of what we have live through over the past five years, addiction and lost love but also we’ve had some happiness for sure. Did you guys consider breaking up or did you just take some time off? We did consider breaking up. Definitely when I was walking through hell on my own we weren’t practicing much and it seemed like this record would never get out. We finally decided to make a final stab at it. We practiced real hard man, kinda put ourselves through musical boot camp to try to clean things up a bit.

our music but we have had people in the past that we looked up to make some of the calls at the board. What’s next for the band? We are excited to play out the remainder of the year, a little trip North to Canada is in the works too! I believe there’s some more domestication headed our way so it’s hard to say exactly, (laughs). I haven’t stopped writing in the meantime so who knows? We might have another or more to come, it’s what we love to do.

What was the inspiration behind Rocket to Rainier? Yeah, a lot of what I was describing before. I hope and feel like a lot of these songs are very identifiable to anyone stuck in addiction, that feels betrayed by the world but ultimately has hope because of the real friends they have watching their back! We had a lot of fun making this thing too. It’s really the first record where we collaborated so much in writing the songs, Ben and I even wrote most of the lyrics together which was a new thing for us. Was this the first record you guys produced yourself? Well not exactly. We have had our hands in producing all of insiteatlanta.com • December 2015 • PG 19


MERCHANDISE

OUR FAVORITE THINGS – 2015 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE BY BRET LOVE

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HEN YOU’RE A KID, Christmas is all about getting. But the older we get, the more joy we get from giving. Here are a few suggestions for a variety of folks on your holiday shopping list:

FOR THE CHRISTMAS FANATIC…

My love of the holidays is legendary. Exhibit A: I proudly wore my Buddy the Elf Ugly Christmas Sweater Vest from FESTIFIED (Festified.com) to Elf the Musical last night. Sure, it’s garish, with a quote from the movie on the back and flashing LED lights on the front. But the best way to spread Xmas cheer is being loud for all to see and hear, Reyn Spooner right? … Far more subtle is the Hawaiian Christmas 2015 shirt from REYN SPOONER (ReynSpooner. com), the designer brand favored by Pixar/Disney honcho John Lasseter. Designed by artist Eddy Y, this graphic collectable mixes traditional seasonal images with Hula girls and Santa playing drums and delivering gifts via canoe… Socks are usually the lame gift your grandma gives you. But festive footwear– such as Holiday Penguins socks from K. BELL (ShopKBell.com) and reindeer-themed Anchorage socks from FARM TO FEET (FarmToFeet.com)– makes a great stocking stuffer… I’m also really digging the new Roots Ski Hat from OKAY PLAYER (shop.OkayPlayer.com), which pays tribute to the greatest band in late night in cool Christmas colors.

FOR THE BEAUTY QUEEN/KING…

We were fans of Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell on The Amazing Race. Now we’re bigger fans of their BEEKMAN 1802 (Shop.Beekman1802) line, featuring products grown/raised on their upstate NY farm. Their new Rare Earth Soap Collection has 18 petite goat milk soaps with special minerals added. Even the galvanized steel box they come in is a Lather keeper… Maryland’s WAXING KARA (WaxingKara.com) was started by beekeeper Kara Brook in 2012. Her beautiful Big Bag of Blossoms features full-size body butter, body scrub, bar soap, lip balm and Spa candle, all made from her honey and essential oils… For the menfolk, there’s the Road Warrior Kit from LATHER (Lather. com), a “survival kit for guys on the go.” It includes travel-size body wash, shampoo, foaming face scrub, shave cream and more, all in a portable dopp kit and made from natural ingredients such as sea kelp, mint and almond.

FOR THE HOME CHEF…

The holidays bring a whirlwind of activity in our kitchen and an assortment of new gadgets to try out. The certified refurbished Total Blender Classic from BLENDTEC (Blendtec.com) is a professional-quality blender that boasts a powerful 3.0 horsepower motor, 6 preprogrammed cycles, 10 speeds, PG 20 • December 2015 • insiteatlanta.com

and an illuminated Trudeau LCD timer. Because it’s Lumina refurbished, it’s $120 cheaper, but comes with a 7-year warranty… The 7-in-1 Multi-Cooker & Fryer from T-FAL (ChefsCatalog.com) is an innovative wonder that can cook almost anything. It allows you to fry, braise, sauté, simmer, brown, boil pasta and keep food warm, with a removable dishwasher-safe bowl that makes for quick cleaning… The 3-in-1 Copper Fondue Set from TRUDEAU LUMINA (ChefsCatalog.com) brought back fond childhood memories of my parents’ fondue parties. This retro chic set makes it easy to whip up your own “melting pot” meal, putting a fun twist on your favorite meats, vegetables, fruits and cheeses.

FOR THE FASHIONISTA…

Could leggings possibly be any more trendy right now? Every lady I know loves the way they look and feel. CHERIE NY weWood (CherieNY.com) offers an incredibly diverse array of spandex styles to choose from, from sweet to sexy and garish to groovy… Not sure how I’m just now discovering the 112-year-old STORMY KROMER (StormyKromer.com) clothing line, but their comfortable, durable outdoor gear suits our lifestyle perfectly. My lady loves their quilted waxed cotton Highland vest, which offers a form-flattering cut and faux fur collar… She’s also a fan of IBEX (shop.Ibex. com), which is known for their outdoor clothing made from cozy merino wool. Their District Duffle Jacket is her favorite coat of the season, offering heavyweight warmth in a stately Putney Plaid print.

FOR THE POP CULTURE JUNKIE…

This year brings a trio of sweet CD boxed sets, including Faith & Grace from legendary gospel/R&B group THE STAPLE SINGERS; I Saw the Ibex Light: The Unreleased Recordings, a 3-CD, 1-DVD set from country music icon HANK WILLIAMS; and the audio companion to my Reyn Spooner shirt, Hulaland: The Golden Age of Hawaiian Music, an excellent compilation from CONQUEROO RECORDS… New DVD/ Blu-Ray collections include

the History Channel Gift Set, 17 DVDs containing six of the channel’s most popular series; MY FAVORITE MARTIAN: THE COMPLETE SERIES, the classic sci-fi comedy that run from 19631966; THE WONDER YEARS: COMPLETE SERIES, a 26-DVD set of warm, fuzzy nostalgia packaged in a faux-locker slipcase; and Mix 10 from INDIEPIX, a boxed set of 10 criticallyacclaimed indie films.

FOR THE SKI BUM/ SNOW BUNNY…

Elliot Taylor

Atlanta may not get much snow, but slopes in the north and west will soon be blanketed in white. The lightweight, water repellant Hometown Down Hooded Parka from STIO (stio.com) is great for keeping quilterJack Frost at bay, with 800-fill responsiblysourced down, mid-thigh length, handwarmer pocket, and a sleek modern look perfect for cities or slopes… For full body warmth, pair the parka with Lithic Gloves from ARC’TERYX (Arcteryx. com) and St. Moritz Lite 200 Boots from HITEC (Hi-Tec.com). Both are durable, insulated, waterproof and made to keep you cozy in the harshest environments… For serious skiers who take their own gear, the alpine ski binding from KNEE BINDING (KneeBinding.com) is downright revolutionary. Made of strong carbon fibers, their patented PureLateral heel is designed to detect forces that cause knee injuries and release the skier’s Sony boot when too much weight is applied.

FOR THE SHOE FIEND…

Our family isn’t big on collecting stuff, but we all have more than our fair share of shoes. I was excited this month to learn of the return of SIMPLE SHOES (SimpleShoes.com), a beloved brand which came back via a Kickstarter campaign. Their slick, sporty Waveoff shoe is a retro-modern trendsetter, with Memory Foam insole and uppers available in suede and leather or hemp canvas and leather… The Arctic Vegan Boots from JAMBU (Jambu.com) are an eco-friendly fashion hit, made from vegan leather with a partially recycled rubber outsole and top-to-toe faux fur lining.

FOR THE ACCESSORIZER…

We’ve been a fan of WEWOOD (WeWood.us) for years now, and the line keeps getting better. Their Assunt Chocolate Watch is made from sustainably-sourced Indian Rosewood, a dark wood with streaks of purple and red. It’s a gorgeous timepiece, and comes in recycled and recyclable packaging… The Berry Aztec Print of the Gold Alberta Tote from BAGGALLINI (Baggallini.com) is as colorful as the WeWood is refined. The bold Mexican-style print makes a fashion statement, while the roomy interior provides space for laptop, paperwork and more in hidden pockets. It’s perfect for business or pleasure.

FOR THE WORLD TRAVELER…

Traveling 80-90 days a year for the past 5 years, I’ve realized that it’s the little creature comforts that make the difference when you’re far from home. The Travel Kit by JW Hulme from ALLEN EDMONDS (AllenEdmonds. com) is made from American Bison leather, with solid brass hardware and a lined, pocketed interior. The kit oozes class and is guaranteed for life… The Signature Briefcase with Madison Black Handle from ELLIOT TAYLOR (ElliottTaylorNY.com) is the snazziest briefcase I’ve seen, with refined black leather offset by the dark-stained valet handle. It’s a perfect accessory for the sharp-dressed man… We’ve tested many luggage brands over the years, but none impressed us more than EAGLE CREEK (shop.EagleCreek.com). Their No Matter What Flatbed AWD 22 is another fine lightweight carry-on, with heavy duty fabric and 4 multidirectional wheels that make it easy to roll or carry.

FOR THE TECH GEEK…

The portable laptop and tablet rendered the desktop computer obsolete. Don’t be surprised if the Alpha T10 Smartwatch from MARTIAN (MartianWatches.com) does the same for bulky cell phones someday. Its classic look says analog, but its smart features are extensive, including app notifications, voice command control, silent alarms, “Phone Leash” and “Find Phone,” and many more… The Drive 4G-X Cell Booster Kit from weBOOST (weBoost.com) is a handy gadget that provides a more reliable cell signal and faster data speeds, even on the road. It can give you up to two hours of additional talk time in areas where signals are weak… The SONY X1000V 4K ACTION CAM (Sony.com) is the first mountable camera with pro features like 4K resolution and full HD recording. The“Advanced Steady Shot” stabilization and high-frame rate shooting produce stunning videos. Accessories include board and helmet mounts and a remote control for viewing the action live. Watch your back, GoPro!


TRAVEL

MOVIES

STAR WHAT?

New Movies to See this Month That Aren’t Star Wars!

BY LEE VALENTINE SMITH

A

T THIS POINT IT’S A PRETTY safe bet that nearly every person on earth -- and even in galaxies far, far away -- are aware that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is set to debut this month, right in the middle of December, the traditional month of copious commerce. Breaking box-office records even before its first screening, the blockbuster adventure begins a new trilogy, set 30 years after the events depicted in Return of the Jedi. But what if the show is sold out when you arrive at the theater? You have options! There are a number of other movies opening in December and here are the top ten of the joyful crop.

December 11

IN THE HEART OF THE SEA The Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy. The shill: The whaling ship Essex is split open by an angry sperm whale, leaving the broadsided crew shipwrecked at sea for three months. To survive, the sailors must resort to drastic measures in order to survive. A salty period piece of desperation and desolation from director Ron Howard. The skinny: 1995’s Apollo 13 proved that director Howard is quite handy with a lean cast of stars in peril and In the Heart of the Sea is a whale of a tale. With the charismatic Hemsworth at the helm, it should captivate audiences of all ages.

December 18

SISTERS The Stars: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, James Brolin. The shill: Two divergent sisters (the enormously popular comedy duo/writers/hosts Fey and Poehler) are summoned to their childhood home to finally unpack their former bedrooms before their parents sell the house. They decide to throw a “goodbye party” of sorts for their waning youth, and character-driven comedic chaos ensues. The skinny: Opening the same day the Force Awakens, Fey and Poehler’s sketchy comedy is no match for the Star Wars blitzkrieg, but it will survive the mêlée. The breezy romp will likely find a sizable audience through VOD and binge streaming long after the holiday rush is over.

December 23

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE ROAD CHIP The Stars: Alvin, Simon, Theodore, Jason Lee. The shill: The newest chapter in the evergreen Chipmunk franchise, the mischievous (and strangely jealous) trio try to dissuade their keeper Dave (Jason Lee) from proposing to his girlfriend. The skinny: Harmless and occasionally annoying cheer for fidgety kids, aptly aided by a modern/ urban soundtrack. THE BIG SHORT The Stars: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling. The shill: Based on the recent bestseller, four outsiders craft what they call “The Big Short” to conquer the world of modern banking, trading and investment bubbles.

The skinny: An intriguing film for intelligent audiences written by the prolific Adam McKay (Anchorman, SNL), it could easily disappear into the glittery dust of heroic space skirmishes. Worth a rental, at least.

December 25 (Friday - Christmas)

CONCUSSION The Stars: Will Smith, Alec Baldwin, Paul Reiser. The shill: Fact-based thriller based on the story of immigrant Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith), a forensic neuropathologist who bravely revealed the truths of CTE, a footballrelated brain trauma. He clashes with the considerable power of the NFL to present the mind-blowing results. The skinny: Just in time for football season, Concussion dares to expose the reality of good ol’ American sports brutality. The stellar ensemble piece also stars Albert Brooks. DADDY’S HOME The Stars: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg. The shill: The often-predictable sitcom-esque plot follows a straight-laced step-dad (Ferrell) competing for the respect of his wife’s two impressionable kids with their non-conformist biological dad (Walhberg). You’ve seen it all before, but Ferrell continues his winning streak with broad mainstream comedy. The skinny: An innocuous domestic amusement that is dumbed down enough to be perfect for the dreary winter doldrums. Pairing Ferrell and Wahlberg from 2010’s moderately successful The Other Guys should eventually pay off at the box office. JOY The Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert Di Niro, Bradley Cooper. The shill: The clever script centers on the engaging, multi-generational story of Joy Mangano (Lawrence), a single mom who builds a successful business empire after creating a device called the “Miracle Mop.” The skinny: The dependable Lawrence is usually box-office gold, but will she mop up another hit with this one? Probably. With each new role adding a subtle layer, she continues to prove that she’s one of America’s most gifted actors. THE HATEFUL EIGHT The Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Michael Madsen. The shill: Set “six or eight or twelve years” after the Civil War, this saga from writer-director Quentin Tarantino sprawls across the desolation of Wyoming. Russell plays bounty hunter John Ruth on the trail of justice. He joins forces with Major Marquis Warren (Jackson), a former union soldier. Expect the usual Tarantino gore balanced with undeniable beauty. The skinny: Controversial before it was even produced Hateful Eight (shot on actual film stock, a rarity in these digital days) is destined to be an international hit, eventually showered with the appropriate spate of critical acclaim and awards. See the full list at insiteatlanta.com/holidaymovies

CREATE HOLIDAY MEMORIES AT UNIVERSAL ORLANDO! B EGINNING DEC. 5 AND RUNNING daily through Jan. 2, families can create unforgettable memories as they experience one-of-a-kind holiday traditions at Universal Orlando Resort. All park guests are invited to enjoy in the celebration. Marvel at the iconic larger-than-life balloons seen in the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City during the MACY’S HOLIDAY PARADE at Universal Studios Florida. This year, enjoy two all-new balloons exclusive to Universal Orlando’s parade, Turkey Balloonicle, a towering balloon with a self-powered vehicle, and Holiday Lights Balloon, as they dazzle guests while floating through the air. Guests will also enjoy colorful holiday characters, fantasyfilled floats and a tree-lighting ceremony by Santa Claus. Rejoice with holiday cheer as Grinchmas comes to life Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular throughout Seuss Landing at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Experiences include a heartwarming live show, GRINCHMAS WHO-LIDAY SPECTACULAR, featuring the Whos from Who-ville. Guests will also have the opportunity to dine with the Grinch and Friends during a delicious breakfast within Seuss Landing. Sing along to holiday classics with performances by the masters of modern Christmas music MANNHEIM STEAMROLLER at the Music Plaza Stage in Universal Studios Florida. Performance nights are Dec. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20. During their holiday experience, guests can also enjoy the extraordinary attractions and entertainment that can only be found at Universal Hogwarts Express Orlando’s two theme parks including the all-new THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER – DIAGON ALLEY at Universal Studios.

Macy’s Holiday Parade

This incredibly immersive area features shops, dining experiences and the next generation thrill ride, HARRY POTTER AND THE ESCAPE FROM GRINGOTTS and expands upon The Wizarding of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, found at Islands of Adventure. Guests with Park-to-Park admission can journey between both lands aboard the Hogwarts Express, the iconic steam locomotive from the Harry Potter books and films. The celebration continues at Universal Orlando’s four on-site hotels, where guests will relish in the spirit of the season with holiday buffets and dining events, tree-lighting ceremonies, special music performances, Hanukkah candle lightings, visits from Santa Claus, holiday poolside “dive-in” movies and family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebrations. It’s never too early to plan how you’ll ring in the New Year. At Universal’s CityWalk, guests can experience a dynamic NEW YEAR’S EVE celebration which includes non-stop entertainment, unique party zones—each with their own entertainment and signature drinks—along with access to six different clubs with live music, unlimited gourmet cuisine, and Orlando’s largest dance floor. Information about Eve event tickets will be released at a later date. For more information on the Holidays at Universal Orlando, ticket offers and vacation packages, visit UniversalOrlando. com/holidays.

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More info at www.cinemoms.com insiteatlanta.com • December 2015 • PG 21


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This is the season that folks around Death Valley have waited for since 1981. The No. 1 team in America with arguably the No. 1 player in the country (ACC Player of the Year QB Deshaun Watson), Clemson generally pounces on you with a balanced offense and a ferocious, Shaq Lawson-led defense. After the Tigers lick their wounds after a hard-fought tussle with North Carolina in the ACC Championship, they’ll set their sights on the overachieving Michigan State Spartans. Nothing about the Big Ten champs really stands out — except for the steady quarterback play (Connor Cook) and the stingy D (21.1 points against). Doubters said they had no shot against Ohio State, would look past Iowa and get dismantled by Clemson. Sparty proved all of them wrong. Michigan State will lose a closerthan-expected game, but head coach Mark Dantonio will win respect around the nation for having his boys ready. WINNER: CLEMSON

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Wait, wasn’t this supposed to be a down year for the Crimson Tide? If you call a 12-1 record and a win over the feisty Florida Gators in the SEC title game a “down year,” sign up just about every school in the country. Even though the Bama defense (second stingiest in the country in total yards) could put fear in the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, the squad has some offensive weaknesses. Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry, the leading rusher in college, isn’t one of them; still, it’s going to be must-

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HOUGH THE NCAA DIVISION I Football Bowl Subdivision technically only has four teams in the playoff, real fans know that there are at least seven or eight schools somehow involved. Good luck convincing Iowa, Michigan State, Clemson, North Carolina, Alabama and Stanford fans that their December 5 match-ups weren’t “playoff” games. Win and you still have a chance at glory. Lose and it’s just another disappointing year. Seems unfair, right? Almost as unkind as having to predict the College Football Playoff outcome nearly a week before the final poll is revealed...

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see TV watching Henry try to hit holes against the Sooners’ Big 12-leading rushing defense. Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield (3,389 yards, 35 TDs) certainly isn’t afraid of the prime-time television lights. (Just look back at his steady, three-TD showing against Oklahoma State on November 28 for a reminder.) A dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate, Mayfield won’t let the Tide’s pressure overwhelm him; in fact, he’ll finish Alabama’s “down year” with a mild upset. WINNER: OKLAHOMA

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP- NO. 1 CLEMSON VS. NO. 3 OKLAHOMA

Sooners head coach Bob Stoops’ house looks like a castle from the street. No, seriously, the mansion is literally surrounded by water. Once he wins the fair land of Norman, Oklahoma, its first national championship since 2000, he’ll be worshiped like a king. To get college football’s most prized crown, though, Stoops’ band of merry men (anchored by linebacker Jordan Evans) will have to shut down Clemson’s Watson — a mission no opponent has quite been up to this year. The January 11 title game will go back and forth, with each score being a more vicious blow than the last. The Sooners, who’ve had two of their last three games decided by 10 points or less, will survive this battle, too, solidifying their position atop the college football landscape. OKLAHOMA 34, CLEMSON 24 Womanizer® The world’s hottest NEW premium sensual massager! For maximum pleasure play. Naughty or Nice, this is the spice!

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INsite Atlanta December 2015 Issue  

Atlanta's Entertainment Monthly featuring our annual Holiday Issue with the best holiday festivals, New Year's Eve events and more. As alway...

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