January in Atlanta, A Drama in 2 Acts: 2

Act 2, Scene 1: The curtain rises. Saturday. Darkness.

Gradually, some areas of the stage are lit, dimly at first. Most slowly become well-illuminated over the course of a few minutes. Other areas remain dark or ill-lit. 

This appears to be the same set as Act 1. However, as the lighting begins, it becomes obvious this isn’t exactly the same set at all. What appeared in Act 1 to be a neighborhood in Atlanta is now divided into distinct areas. Boundaries are drawn, more or less corresponding with the lighting.

Some areas of the stage are lightly dusted with white powder. Others have several inches or are mostly bare. These patches appear to have no correlation to how the various areas are lit. 

Within each area, ATLANTANS are sleeping. Gradually, they rise. All are wearing heavy clothes — gloves, hats, boots, and sweatshirts. The sweatshirts all bear different lettering, none of which appears to correspond to either the boundaries now drawn on stage, the lighting, or the white powder. (Examples include: ATL: North, OTP; ATL: South, ITP; ATL: West, East Point; AinT’L: Tucker; etc.)

At one end of the stage a sign reads: “Ice Rink closed due to ice.”

At the other end of the stage, a sign reads: “Snow Mountain closed due to snow.”

A WEATHER EXPERT enters. 

WEATHER EXPERT: What you have to understand is that weather-forecasting is a complicated science. If you read into the details …

ATLANTANS begin to boo.

WEATHER EXPERT: … of our five-part hexa-terrific model, you will begin to understand that the patterns that emerged from this storm system are correct to within three decimal places of expectation for …

ATLANTANS continue booing, now drowning out whatever it is that WEATHER EXPERT is saying. 

WEATHER EXPERT: [ad-libbed scientific-sounding phrases that will not be heard]

ATLANTANS boo until WEATHER EXPERT exits the stage. 

In each area, ATLANTA CHILDREN begin to stir and tug at their parents. 

ATLANTA CHILD 1: I want to see the snow!

ATLANTA CHILD 2: Mommy, mommy, snow!

ATLANTA CHILD 3: Daddy, daddy, snow!

ALL ATLANTA CHILDREN: Snow! Snow! Snow!

ATLANTANS in all areas begin to further bundle their children (who are already wearing gloves, hats, boots, and sweatshirts). Scarves, parkas, and heavy outer jackets are applied until all ATLANTA CHILDREN can barely move. Gleefully, the children waddle out to play. 

TV NEWS REPORTERS enter. They jostle one another, fighting for space within each area of the stage in a seemingly random manner. ATLANTANS in each area dance and wave at them, most pointing excitedly at the nearest ATLANTA CHILDREN. Eventually, the TV NEWS REPORTERS are more or less evenly distributed about the stage. The MEME SALESMAN lurks in the background, slinking from area to area with a camera and a notepad. 

TV NEWS REPORTER 1: As you can see here in ATL-OTP-PRIME, #ATLSNOMG2017 has brought nothing but joy!!!!

TV NEWS REPORTER 1 is standing in a well-lit area with mostly very little white powder but a few small mounds. TV NEWS REPORTER 1 grasps handfuls of the white powder and holds them high toward the audience. Nearby ATLANTANS cavort with their children.

TV NEWS REPORTER 2: As you can see here in ATL-ITP-PRIME, #ATLSNOMAGEDDON2017 has had a devastating effect!!!! Inches of snow cover every surface, and some homes are still without power!!!!

TV NEWS REPORTER 2 is standing in a dimly lit area with very little white powder in scattered patches. Nearby ATLANTANS shiver dramatically. Only a few feet away, ATLANTANS in a completely dark area scowl and shake their fists, but you can’t see them. 

TV NEWS REPORTER 3: As you can see here in …

THE GOVERNOR enters, accompanied by HANDLERS, YES-MEN, and THE MAYOR OF ATLANTA.

All TV NEWS REPORTERS stop what they are doing and rush toward THE GOVERNOR. In so doing, some of the TV NEWS REPORTERS comically collide with cavorting ATLANTANS in well-lit areas while others rush past obviously distressed ATLANTANS trying to get attention in dimly-lit areas.

As the TV NEWS REPORTERS approach, HANDLER 1 grasps THE GOVERNOR by the left arm and whispers fervently into his left ear. Immediately, HANDLER 2 grasps his right arm and whispers fervently into his right ear.

THE MAYOR OF ATLANTA brushes imaginary dust off his expensive suit, clears his throat, and approaches TV NEWS REPORTERS, who walk right past him. 

THE GOVERNOR: I am pleased to stand before you and say that our great state has weathered another mighty storm.

 ATLANTANS in completely dark areas continue to scowl and shake their fists, but no one pays them any attention, except HANDLER 2, who glances their way briefly, then shrugs. 

THE GOVERNOR: We have done so thanks to the great leadership of our state officials.

THE MAYOR OF ATLANTA appears upset. He raises his hand. No one pays him any attention. 

THE GOVERNOR: I am pleased to report that power has been restored to most areas, and all businesses are up and running safely.

In the background, GROCERS walk by, each dragging a comically large bag labeled $$$.

THE GOVERNOR: By working diligently throughout the night, our multi-agency strike teams have kept our roads and interstates clear and free of ice and snow. We encourage you not to use them, however.

THE MAYOR OF ATLANTA loudly stomps off the stage.

THE GOVERNOR: GDOT is continuing to monitor the situation and is responding to any and all trouble spots accordingly as those reports come in.

TV NEWS REPORTER 1 wanders off.

THE GOVERNOR: Schools will remain closed at the discretion of local officials.

TV NEWS REPORTER 2 wanders off.

THE GOVERNOR: The State Operations Center will remain active until my Proclamation of Emergency expires at midnight Sunday.

TV NEWS REPORTER 3 wanders off.

THE GOVERNOR: Everything will be fine in time for your commute to work on Monday.

All ATLANTANS groan.

THE GOVERNOR: I urge Georgians to remain cautious, vigilant and patient.

THE GOVERNOR exits, accompanied by HANDLERS and YES-MEN.

—–

Act 2, Scene 2: Saturday evening. The stage is the same as before, only now there is no longer any white powder visible, and the lighting is uniform. 

ATLANTANS sit, dejected, while ATLANTA CHILDREN, now covered in mud, play. 

The MEME SALESMAN wanders the stage, attempting to sell captioned photos of ANGUISHED ATLANTAN, now with added mud snowman and milk sandwiches. 

Curtain.

January in Atlanta, A Drama in 2 Acts: 1

Act 1, Scene 1: A neighborhood in Atlanta. Monday. It is a fine, average day in early January. The sun is shining, and it is in the mid-50s. ATLANTANS enter and meander about the stage. A WEATHER EXPERT enters. 

WEATHER EXPERT: There is a slight chance of winter precipitation across the metro area next weekend. 

ATLANTANS continue to meander about the stage, ignoring WEATHER EXPERT. 

—–

Act 1, Scene 2: A neighborhood in Atlanta. Tuesday. A fine, average day in early January. Partly cloudy. High 40s. ATLANTANS enter and meander about the stage. ATLANTA CHILDREN are bundled like small burritos. 

WEATHER EXPERT: We have updated our five-day forecast, and there is now a strong probability of winter precipitation across the metro area this weekend.

ATLANTANS continue to meander about the stage, ignoring WEATHER EXPERT. 

—–

Act 1, Scene 3: A neighborhood in Atlanta. Wednesday. A slightly cool day in early January. Cloudy. High 40s. When the lights rise, ATLANTANS are already on stage, having woken up an extra hour early to warm their cars. The WEATHER EXPERT enters.

WEATHER EXPERT: As we have been saying …

TV WEATHER CELEBRITY rushes on stage, pursued by TV NEWS HOSTS. WEATHER EXPERT is knocked off-stage in the ensuing kerfuffle. ATLANTANS stop what they were doing and stare.

TV WEATHER CELEBRITY: OMG! Snow this weekend! Snow in Atlanta!

TV NEWS HOSTS: OMG! OMG! Our 24-hour coverage of this event two days hence shall begin immediately!!!! Stay tuned for life-saving severe weather advice!!!!

ATLANTANS: OMG! OMG!

ATLANTANS run about, aimlessly. GROCERS enter, smiling. 

—–

Act 1, Scene 4: A neighborhood in Atlanta. Thursday. A cool day in early January. Cloudy. High 30s. When the lights rise, signs bearing “No Bread” and “No Milk” adorn all shop windows. ANGUISHED ATLANTAN enters, falls to his knees.

ANGUISHED ATLANTAN: Why, God, why?

—–

Act 1, Scene 5: A neighborhood in Atlanta. Friday. A cool day in early January. Cloudy. High 30s. A MEME SALESMAN wanders the stage, attempting to sell captioned photos of ANGUISHED ATLANTAN. THE GOVERNOR enters, accompanied by HANDLERS, YES-MEN, and TV NEWS REPORTERS. 

THE GOVERNOR: It is a fine day in Georgia, and business is wonderful!

YES-MEN nod enthusiastically. 

TV NEWS REPORTER 1: Governor, sir, please, can you tell us how to survive #ATLSNOMG2017!?!?

THE GOVERNOR: I’m sure everything will be fine.

TV NEWS REPORTER 2: Governor, sir, please, have you not seen our non-stop reporting on #ATLSNOMAGEDDON2017!?!?

THE GOVERNOR: Why don’t you report more on our lovely business environment?

TV NEWS REPORTER 3: Governor, sir, are you telling the people they should not be worried about #ATLSNOPOCALYOSE2017!?!?

ATLANTANS lean in, listening intently. 

THE GOVERNOR: Now listen, I’m sure there’s nothing …

HANDLER whispers to THE GOVERNOR.

THE GOVERNOR: … we can’t do to ensure the safety of the people. I shall issue a Proclamation of Emergency!

All frolic. 

Curtain. 

Travel Log: Chicago

I’m recently returned from a four-day excursion to the “Windy City.”

That is not a cute nickname, by the way; it’s a warning. Hold on to your hat. Also, your body warmth, because Chicago is out to blow both right off you.

Having said that, I loved it. But I am admittedly non-typical in my attitude towards cold and snow and such.

Still, that wind. Wow.

One of my prized possessions is a Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) scarf, knitted for me by my mother-in-law. Unfortunately, I don’t often get to wear it around Atlanta, as a 12-foot wool scarf is a bit more than required for our mild winters.

Oh, was I glad I packed it for Chicago. How bad is 20-degree wind chill? Even with that scarf wound a few times around my face, I could feel my nose and cheeks burning with cold after just a few minutes outside.

Serious. Wind.

Despite that, my wife and I did get out to explore the area of Chicago known as “the Loop,” which is where we spent our first couple of days.

Things We Did


Howell & Hood: This fantastic eating establishment is located in the historic Tribune building. The menu is fancy American pub food, which is good, but the highlight is the beer list, which includes 115 offerings on draught. These are all lovingly described in the menu, and the serving staff is the most knowledgeable and enthusiastic I’ve ever encountered in a beer bar, rivaling what you expect to find in a brewery tour. We enjoyed a few heavy winter beers while watching snow fall outside. Lovely.

The Chicago River: It’s beautiful in February, with large ice chunks bobbing along as it makes its way through the city. I’d advise taking it in from a hotel room window or other enclosed, warm space, though.

The Art Institute of Chicago: Wow. Just wow. We only had about three hours to spend here, which was barely enough time to hit the highlights. This is a museum that begs to be taken in slowly, over two or three days. If I lived in Chicago, or reasonably close to it, I’d buy a membership straight away. Among my favorite bits: the Impressionists collection, the Modern collection, and the huge collection of Japanese woodcut prints. We didn’t even get to most of the ancient, Europeon, or African collections, nor the weaponry. We also missed “Nighthawks,” as it was out for restoration. Bummer. That’s a personal favorite. We did get to see most of the other celebrated holdings, though, including “A Sunday on La Grand Jatte,” “American Gothic,” and several entries in Monet’s Haystacks series. There were also some van Gogh paintings, which, to tell you a bit about how impressive this museum’s holdings are, were not even mentioned in the “quick tour” highlights. 

Cloud Gate: It’s a giant silver bean. Uh, okay. Shiny.

Pizza: Deep-dish, Chicago style. I had to have this at least once, in Chicago, and we managed to squeeze it in. Unfortunatley, I didn’t get a crack at stuffed pizzed. I had also wanted to take a pizza tour, but, even if time allowed, those apparently aren’t offered in winter.

Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!: If you’ re a fan of this NPR news quiz, and you’re planning to visit Chicago, make sure to look up show times well in advance, as tickets go on sale (and promptly sell out) six weeks before each taping. In short, it was awesome. The cast was great, and it was delightful to watch them perform and then answer questions and mingle after the show. Wonderful people, all.

I’d like to point out that everything in that list is something my wife and I looked into shortly before going to Chicago. We were in town for a wedding, not because we had Chicago on our list of vacation spots. However, once we knew we were headed there, we sought to find the sort of things we would enjoy.

That’s sort of our general philosophy with travel. Find the fun. Every place has something to offer. Take a minute, find what interests you, and enjoy.