Music Review: Age Against the Machine...

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     As a Connecticut boy born and raised, Atlanta music came to me in three helpings. In non-chronological order: First came the dubstep, during a three-night tour through my old friend’s current life as a club promoting hustler savant, from the nightclub where we watched the crowd’s supplication to the DJ from our perch on the stage, to the bar where I watched blissed-out kids bob and weave in pharma-enforced unselfconsciousness to fat-assed bass. Second came the car-sheared-in-half-black metal that a second friend semi-professionally records, music so harsh and dirty your only recorded choice is a cassette tape. And finally were the two lodestars of southern hip-hop, Outkast’s Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik and Goodie Mob’s Soul Food. Did I hear these diamond-hard classics at an epic sweaty house party? Did I discover them in a stack...

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Christmas Amid the Oaks

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     It’s Christmastime in New Orleans, and while that doesn’t bring forth images of snow covered driveways and chimneys thick with smoke, it does conjure images of mighty oak trees adorned with lights. The sound of a small train horn reminds locals that the holiday season is once again in full swing as City Park’s Celebration in the Oaks opens its gates to invite visitors to bask in the magic of the season. Complete with Santa Claus, hot chocolate, and the light display of a Cajun Night before Christmas, Celebration in the Oaks combines all of the elements of a perfect New Orleans Christmas.      Every season, thousands of park visitors gather to embrace the joy of the season in what has truly become a New Orleans tradition. The beautiful carousel that...

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Concert Review: Same Trailer, Different Tour...

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     On the kickoff night of her "Same Trailer, Different Tour", performing at the Bowery Ballroom, Kacey Musgraves drove home a particular belief of mine; good country should be like good liquor. Each taste should land on the palate and linger in a dozen different provocations before it fades. You should serve it in moderation to appreciate the full effect. When you consume it in a crowd it should bear you all up into collective joy, and when you’re alone, it should make you think about every ex you ever lost.      I wasn’t sure what kind of crowd to expect going in; it’s the rare country show I hit up in New York, and I hazarded “folks who look like me and old white dudes.” I was part right. Before the lights dimmed...

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Music Review: Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience...

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     The dead roamed the plains and taigas and deserts and they hunted and they died. When we dug up the ground to build our towns and cities we found their trapped bones, and we crushed what we found and mixed it into our roads and our furnaces and our engines. When we grew and our ranks stretched out to touch the compass points, we journeyed overland to find more of the trapped dead, and when we found them we made terrific weapons to shatter them free from rock that knew no possible threat. The dead were limite, and we knew this, but still we burned and melted and refined into a million iterations that lingered in the air and the water. One day a man burned a handful of the dead into soot...

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Television Review: The Bridge...

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     The Bridge was just picked up for a second season. I’m far too used to betting on TV underdogs, the heart-shredding feeling I get from the tweets or headlines that regret to inform me how an exciting and original piece of programming just got murdered in the cradle. Plus, one of the actresses on the show favorited my tweet, so this is all officially exciting.      An American-set remake of a Danish/Swedish series, The Bridge duplicates the original’s premise for much of the first season; a gruesome scene is discovered on the bridge connecting two nations, namely the remains of an American judge and a young Mexican woman placed exactly on the halfway juncture of the Bridge of the Americas connecting Juarez and El Paso. While this second season pickup excites me purely...

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Tales of a Misfit Mom: Special Needs...

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     I have a good, good friend. She is brave and amazing and kind and exceptional. She is the mother of a sweet and funny girl with the most beautiful red curls I have ever seen.      She is the mother of a daughter with special needs.      She recognized me when I did not recognize myself. And for that, I am grateful. But admittedly, when she pulled my hands away from my eyes ever so gently, I first felt shocked. And then enraged. Because my daughter, with all of her problems, was not a KID WITH SPECIAL NEEDS.      But she is.      And so I am a Special Needs Mom.      We are a Special Family.      We are labeled.      We are the topic of conversation.      We are the family...

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Venti Moonshine Latte

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     So there we are, on the front porch of a friend’s friend of a friend. There is a child’s bike in the yard, a dog sitting among piles of moving boxes on the couch, a coffee table with no glass, and a gun in the bedroom. A jar of moonshine and a pile of playing cards sit on the table, under the glow of a bare light bulb. Things had gotten very weird at Starbucks.      But let me back up. Sometimes, as a young educator, new to Alabama and a tiny bit bored with living out in the woods miles and miles from what was once considered acceptable civilization, a trip to Starbucks sounds nice. When the nearest business is a gas station with slot machines featuring displays of sequined pantsuits that...

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TV Review: Nashville

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     I went on a terrible date last week. If you could harness our total lack of connection into a turbine, you could have powered the whole bar. One of the worst disappointments was when she told me, in quick succession, that she had lived in Nashville and that she didn’t watch television. I was all ready to start gushing about Nashville on ABC, but my words died on the vine, and I suffered through a rocky series of abortive conversation and awkward silence until we both scurried from the bar, relieved it was over. Then, I went home and made cookies and you damn well better believe I watched Nashville.      One obvious bridge to Nashville is Friday Night Lights; while Nashville doesn’t rise to that show’s level (nor is it meant to), they both...

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Stuffed Pimento Cheese Cupcakes...

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      For this fall, instead of a tailgating spread, we wanted to find one penultimate Southern tailgating food. It had to be delicious, handheld, portable, and beloved.       We believe this savory cupcake is one for the ages. You can stuff it with a variety of fillings, but our favorite is, of course, pulled pork. Other contenders are chopped barbecue chicken, brisket, drained chunky salsa, finely chopped vegetables (broccoli would be amazing!) or olive salad.      Some assembly is required, but it is unquestionably worth the payoff.  If you want to stuff the cupcakes with warm filling, do so and carry to the serving location in an insulated container. A sandwich bag in the cooler can hold the frosting, and you can snip and pipe just before serving. For a make-ahead solution at home,...

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Caramel Apple Cheesecake Blondies...

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      If you're not ready for autumn quite yet, this recipe should convince you. While it's packed with rich, buttery flavor, the still-toothsome apples bring freshness and contrast to the creamy, indulgent flavors. A hint of bourbon and a drizzle of caramel bring the whole flavor profile into one glorious fall dessert.       The recipe is surprisingly easy and comes together quickly. You can serve the blondies immediately on plates with forks (and vanilla bean ice cream if you're really into flavor dreams). Cooled, they can be cut into traditional bars, but you will probably still want a plate and fork. They are gooey and delicious.      Toasted pecans would be a welcome addition, but the bars are great as-is.  Caramel Apple Cheesecake Blondies Ingredients 1 stick (4 oz., 8 Tbsp.) salted butter 2...

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