Binge-watching ‘Great British Baking Show’ proved to be just what we knead

Early in the pandemic, many turned to baking as a way of whiling away the time spent at home. Sourdough starters suddenly became a thing, and there were yeast and flour shortages.

Meanwhile, others chose to binge-watch TV shows like “Tiger King,” “Schitt’s Creek” and “The Mandalorian.”

My daughter Olivia and I have enjoyed the best of both worlds — bingeing the nine seasons of “The Great British Baking Show” available on PBS and Netflix.

In times like these, watching “The Great British Baking Show” is good for the soul. The show has been described as the “friendliest competition series on TV,” and “one of the happiest TV series ever made,” and that’s definitely part of its appeal.

To read all about the show, head over to:

College Life in the New South: Fall of 1970

We're coming up on the 50th anniversary of me starting my freshman year at UGA! In the first of a two-part look back at college life in Athens, Ga., in the fall of 1970, I look at what’s changed over five decades, and reminisce about fun things like the Selective Service draft lottery!
Click here to read Part 1.

Part 2 of my look back at Athens and UGA in 1970 offers memories of the bars, the bands, the booze, the bellbottoms, the bad movies! Hop aboard my time machine and travel back with me to my freshman year of college, and get acquainted with Cool Town before it was Cool, when the seeds of the B-52's and Athens' future fame as a musical hotbed were just being planted!
Click here to read Part 2.

On a roll: Sandwiches everywhere you look!

Just about anywhere in the world you go, you’re almost certain to find a sandwich.

And, folks everywhere LOVE to talk about their favorite sandwiches! From Pub subs to barbecue sammies to the beloved grilled cheese, the sandwich rules. And it doesn’t matter where you are: Whether it’s the Taylor ham, egg and cheese of New Jersey or the French dip of L.A., the po’boys of New Orleans or the smoked salmon BLT of Raleigh (my own favorite), the yakisoba of Japan or the breakfast sandwiches of the U.K., the sandwich is universal. Check out my latest Adventures in Food column for the AJC at

And my new Quick Cuts blog offers lots more sandwich fans rhapsodizing about their favorites. You can find it at

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

And I’ve posted an expanded version, with lots more memories, here:

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

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:

You can view a gallery of photos at
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