50 Years Ago: Oh, What a Night!

Fifty years ago tonight, the Athens High Trojans, led by future University of Georgia and New England Patriots star Andy Johnson, met the mighty Valdosta Wildcats for the state football championship in what many consider one of the greatest high school football games ever played. It was a night that still warms the hearts of Athens High grads.

Click here to share memories of that night and read about the making of a hometown hero:

Our Thanksgiving tradition is ... change!

My latest Adventures in Food column for the AJC looks at how Thanksgiving has tended to be a movable feast for me through the years, in terms of meals and locations, adding a touch of adventure to the day. I've marked Turkey Day at a charity football game, on the nearly deserted streets of downtown Chicago, at a George Harrison concert with the girl I'd end up marrying, at more conventional family get-togethers in South Carolina and Georgia, with a makeshift grocery store-cooked turkey dinner that served as a time of healing right after my Mom's death, and, most recently, with farm gatherings in the North Georgia mountains, complete with baby goats and a bonfire.

You can check out the AJC column at https://bit.ly/2OkMx4U.

And I’ve posted an expanded version, with lots more memories, here: https://bit.ly/2D0gv9o

My ’80s: A Memorable Encounter With MTV’s Martha Quinn

A recent post on a friend’s Facebook page noted the anniversary of the birth of MTV on Aug. 1, 1981, and how the channel, which essentially created a broadcasting genre by playing music videos 24/7, became one of her “obsessions.”

In the comments, I trotted out my story about Martha Quinn, the MTV host, or “VJ,” who became America’s sweetheart in the 1980s, and who I spent an afternoon with at an Atlanta area hotel in the summer of 1984, for a cover story in TVWeek, the television magazine I was editing at the time for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

My friend, Karin Johnson, loved my Martha story (which I’ll share below), so that prompted me to dig into the archives and find that TVWeek article.

To read about how MTV got off the ground, and about the memorable afternoon I spent with Martha 35 years ago — and the surprising follow-up — just click here.

Waffle House? My Family’s Got It Covered — and Scattered, Too!

My friend Ligaya Figueras, the food and dining editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, recently emailed me to announce excitedly: “I ate at Waffle House Saturday night for the first time.”

“Wow,” I replied, “your first time at Waffle House? Now, you're a real Atlantan!”

The reason this Midwest native finally had checked out the metro Atlanta-based chain of diners was for a special package of Waffle House articles for the Sunday paper. She found the experience “really quirky and funny.”

Ligaya’s piece about her initiation into WH was headlined, “You never forget your first Waffle House experience,” but, truth be told, I actually don’t actually remember my first time at a Waffle House.

A logical assumption is that it probably was while I was in college, but back then the WH didn’t occupy the elevated place in pop culture it has assumed in recent years, where hip-hop and country artists alike mention it in their lyrics, and you have the likes of “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert and alt country singer Sturgill Simpson visiting one of the diners for a bit on his show. (They ended up writing a song about Waffle House to go on the chain’s jukeboxes, which feature an entire playlist of songs about WH.)

In other words, I don’t recall my first time at Waffle House, because it was no big deal.

That’s not to denigrate the place Waffle House occupies in our culinary universe. I mean, breakfast any time of the day or night. What’s not to love about that? As Atlanta Falcons star receiver Julio Jones bragged when he was an NFL rookie: “In high school, my nickname was ‘Waffle House.’ Know why? Because I’m always open.”

Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner — or, the quintessential WH experience, grabbing a late-night meal to help sober up — Southerners have been going to Waffle House ever since the first one opened in 1955 in Avondale Estates, Ga., not far from our home in Decatur.

Over the years, Waffle House has become a big part of my family's history. Click here to read why.

Not much can top hearing ‘Mr. Blue Sky’ in concert

When it comes to fellow travelers of The Beatles, not many have racked up as much mileage as Jeff Lynne.
His work with Electric Light Orchestra obviously was inspired the latter-day Beatles, to the point where John Lennon once referred to ELO as “sons of The Beatles.”
And, Lynne’s work with ELO led to a set of impeccable Fab Four bona fides: He went on to produce George Harrison’s “Cloud Nine” album and associated tracks, and Lynne joined George in the superstar band known as the Traveling Wilburys. He also ended up producing tracks for Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, and was producer of The Beatles’ reunion tracks, “Free As a Bird” and “Real Love” in the mid-1990s.
After Harrison’s death, Lynne joined George’s son Dhani (pronounced “Danny”) in finishing off the posthumous “Brainwashed” album. So, it wasn’t a surprise earlier this year when it was announced that Dhani would be the opening act on the 2019 tour by what’s now known as Jeff Lynne’s ELO.
The tour hit Atlanta’s State Farm Arena July 5. To read my review, please go to SOMETHING NEW: The Beatlefan Blog.

30 Years On, Michael Keaton Remains the Best Cinematic ‘Batman’

I was a bit taken aback to read this past weekend that we’d reached the 30th anniversary of the release of Tim Burton’s “Batman,” a film that has been credited with creating the template for the modern superhero film, on which Hollywood now is so dependent.
My latest column over at the new Quick Cuts site takes a look back 30 years at the release of the film, and why Michael Keaton remains my favorite cinematic Caped Crusader. Click below to check it out!

Station to Station: Romance of the rails

I reminisce about the romance of the rails and my love of train dining cars in a column I’ve written for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. You can find it at https://on-ajc.com/2XSOLfz.

In addition, some of the stories behind that story can be found at my new Quick Cuts blog page, where I share memories of The Station, an entertainment complex at a former train station in Athens where Leslie and I spent much of our courtship, hanging out at the legendary T.K. Harty’s Saloon, and having our first big date in the “Valdosta” dining car. (See the photo above, by Minla Shields.)

Check it out at: https://billkingquickcuts.wordpress.com/2019/06/14/memories-of-the-station/

You can view a gallery of photos at https://www.ajc.com/entertainment/dining/photos-the-romance-rail-car-dining/vJfelUcWBcwFxAneUPf4UJ/
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Shaken and Stirred: Ranking the 007 Films, From Worst to First

The return of James Bond to movie screens seems a bit up in the air right now, as creative differences have delayed production of the 25th official 007 movie. But, that hasn’t stopped the venerable British superspy from being ubiquitous over the past few weeks.

First, in mid-August, there was another brief media flare-up of the rumor that Idris Elba will become the first black Bond after the next film, which many expect to be Daniel Craig’s last as Agent 007. Elba first teased Bond fans by tweeting, “my names Elba, Idris Elba,” before later denying he’s been approached about the role.

About a week later, Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, who’d come on board after Sam Mendes declined to do a third consecutive 007 movie, announced he was quitting the latest production, apparently because of “creative differences” with the star and producers. That’s likely to push “Bond 25” (the working title) back to 2020, rather than the fall of 2019 release originally planned.

And, then, as if that weren’t enough to get Bond fans shaken and stirred, the Starz Encore Action satellite-cable channel decided to show James Bond movies 24/7 all this month, which has allowed me to revisit some old favorites, as well as a few that aren’t exactly classics.

All of that, plus the Guardian publishing a ranking of Bond movies that I disagreed with quite a bit, prompted me finally to undertake my own such list, covering the 24 official films released so far by Eon Productions and the two unofficial movies based on Ian Fleming’s character that resulted from Eon not controlling all the screen rights to the tales.

Click here to read my list!

Apple to the Core: A Fan's Notes

My fascination with Apple Records began in the summer of 1968, when I was watching “It’s Happening,” a Dick Clark-produced weekday rock ’n’ roll variety show hosted by Mark Lindsay and Paul Revere of the Raiders. It was a spinoff of the “Happening ’68” program seen Saturdays on ABC after “American Bandstand,” and must see viewing for teenage music fans in that era.

A news segment on the show included a report on a young Welsh woman for whom Paul McCartney was producing a single. (Being half Welsh, I paid particular attention.)

I had heard of The Beatles’ London boutique called Apple, which had closed down recently with a massive giveaway, but I think that TV report was when I first became aware that the Fabs were launching their own record label.

To read more about how I've followed Apple over the ensuing five decades, go to SOMETHING NEW: The Beatlefan Blog.