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Laura Testino

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5 places to catch films under the stars

Revisit cinematic classics and enjoy family favorites with these summer films. It’s not quite the same as going to a drive-in, but it beats sitting on the couch, glued to Netflix.

Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival
Technically, you’ll see these flicks under the twinkling stars on the historic Fox Theatre ceiling. Experience old-school movie-going at its best: Each ticket includes a pre-show sing-along with Mighty Mo, the grand organ, and a vintage cartoon. Gone with the Wind, celebrating its seventy-fifth anniversary, will be shown on July 27. foxtheatre.org

Candler Park Movie Night
After a break in July, this program returns with The Lego Movie on August 2 and continues each Saturday night until August 23. Festivities begin an hour before dusk; nightfall signals that it’s time to snuggle up on the lawn with a blanket—and your pup, cleaned up after and leashed—to watch the movie. friendsofcandlerpark.org

Movies & Music at Emory Point
In addition to a screening at sunset, this series, running every other Thursday until August 21, includes a pre-show agenda with music and activities beginning at 6 p.m. Picnic dinners are encouraged, so check out the deals on Emory Point’s Facebook page before seeing Rio 2 on July 10. emory-point.com/special-events

Duluth Flicks on the Bricks
Fridays-N-Duluth, a weekly event through October, includes family-friendly activities beginning at 6 p.m. on the Duluth Town Green, with movies every other week. Flicks on the Bricks returns July 18 after a break for Independence Day. Get there early to stock up on food truck munchies before the movie begins at dusk. duluthga.net

Movies in Central Park
Atlantic Station’s Central Park becomes an outdoor theater each Thursday through the first week of August. The next flick on deck is Jurassic Park on July 10. atlanticstation.com

A smart home for a remarkable veteran

Todd Love is a scuba-diving, alligator-wrestling, sky-diving skier. He also happens to be a triple amputee.

Last week, Love, a Marine Corps corporal, moved into a new home that makes everyday activities as second nature as his extreme-sport hobbies. The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation presented Corporal Love with the key fob to the Douglasville “smart home.”

The 3,700 square foot home is part of the foundation’s Building for America’s Bravest program. Other organizations that contributed to the home’s construction included the Gary Sinise Foundation and Home Depot.

Each aspect of the four-bedroom, three-bath home is tailored to the specific wants and needs of Love, a third-generation Marine who lost both legs and his left arm after triggering an improvised explosion device during his service in Afghanistan in October 2010. The home includes motorized cabinetry and doors, automated toilets, room-to-room intercom, and multi-zone audio, heating, and cooling.

Love’s home was the first of four others presented throughout the week of Independence Day. At last week’s presentation, Love said he felt “privileged to be in” the group of veterans selected for the high-tech homes. The foundation, which was founded in the memory of New York firefighter Stephen Stiller, who died responding to the 9/11 attacks, personalized Love’s new home with a plaque made from a piece of steel from the World Trade Center engraved with a poem written by Love. The plaque rests atop a Steinway piano, situated in the corner of the living room, next to the fireplace and just inside the front door; a man of many interests, Love also is a pianist and performed a Bach composition from memory shortly after entering his home.

Waiting for the unveiling, sitting in the muggy pre-thunderstorm weather, sticky perspiration beading on my neck and bugs swarming into my hair, the last thing I expected to feel was chills. But Love’s story has that effect. He doesn’t claim to be a hero, but only someone fulfilling his duty. The future plans of the twenty-something aren’t set in stone, but instead filled with optimism and the continuation of his favorite hobbies and passions. “I think that I can give people inspiration, and that’s great and all, but if I could teach people how to inspire themselves, that would be what I would really love to do,” he said.

Ten things to do on the Peachtree Road Race course that aren’t running

If attacking a 10K bright and early on the muggy morning of a holiday isn’t quite your patriotic celebration of choice, the Peachtree Road Race course serves up plenty of staples of American culture throughout the rest of the year. So for those who prefer a more air-conditioned trek, here are 10 other ways to tackle the route. Start your engines at Lenox Square, just as the runners do each July 4th.

Checkpoint 1 (1.2km): The Flying Biscuit Cafe, located at the Terminus 100 Building, dishes up breakfast classics and some twists (Meggxican Wrap and Hollywood Omelette). In addition to other menu items, breakfast is served all day for those who have later start times.

Checkpoint 2 (2.1 km): Another kilometer down Peachtree Road (and one-half down West Paces Ferry Road) is the Atlanta History Center. One of its signature exhibits sheds light on the Civil War, including the Battle of Atlanta, commemorating its 150th anniversary this year.

Checkpoint 3 (2.5km): The Cookie Studio. Need we say more? The array includes Oatmeal Raisin and Coffee Toffee as well as Red Velvet Whoopie Pies (a really great reward for the mile and a half conquered so far).

Checkpoint 4 (4.9km): Though “burger time!” isn’t yelled until 10 p.m., Holeman and Finch Public House‘s version of the American classic is worth the day-long wait. It’s also on the menu at Sunday brunch.

Checkpoint 5 (5.1km): CamiCakes—the halfway point of this 10K—derives inspiration for its cupcakes from classic American sides (Sweet Potato, spiced up with some cinnamon) and icons (The Elvis: a concoction of bananas, peanut butter, and chocolate).

Checkpoint 6 (6.2): This weekend, pledge allegiance to the flag . . . and fried green tomatoes. It’s a dinner appetizer at Watershed. Mmm.

Checkpoint 7 (7.2): Make a short Spring Street detour to hear puppets at the Center for Puppetry Arts recite the best rhyming couplets in children’s literature. Dr. Seuss’s “The Cat in the Hat” is playing this Independence Day weekend.

Checkpoint 8 (8.2km): Current exhibitions at the High Museum feature American artistry on canvas (Top Drawer) and on the roadway (Dream Cars). Check out both this weekend and take $4 off regular ticket price in honor of Independence Day.

Checkpoint 9 (9.3km): A ticket to Atlanta History Center (Checkpoint 2) also includes admission to the Margaret Mitchell House. The current “Stars Fall on Atlanta” exhibit celebrates the 75th anniversary of the “Gone with the Wind” movie premiere.

Checkpoint 10 (10km): And 10 kilometers later, the course finishes at Piedmont Park. In addition to meandering through the green space, you can partake in weekend events that include a bird walk, farmer’s market, and water bath canning workshop, to learn how to can fruit, pickle and tomato products.

And for a bonus, a 1.3km walk (about 20 minutes) north through Piedmont Park brings you to the Atlanta Botanical Garden, where current exhibitions include “The Four Seasons” and “Imaginary Worlds,” where some of America’s favorite plant species accompany others from around the world in larger-than-life form.

13 great ways to celebrate July 4 in Atlanta

Firework Favorites

Lenox Square: Legendary Fourth of July
This family-friendly tradition includes live music and food, as well as the “America’s Next Legend” talent search. End the night with one of the most extravagant fireworks displays in the Southeast.
Details

Stone Mountain Park: Fantastic Fourth Celebration
There’s a 4-D movie, SkyHike adventure course, and Geyser Towers for cooling off. Or just enjoy a patriotic picnic on the lawn before the grand Lasershow Spectacular with fireworks for the big red, white, and blue.
Details

Centennial Olympic Park: 4th of July Celebration
A classic Atlanta fireworks display that can be enjoyed from your favorite blanket on the park’s luscious green lawn, complete with pre-fireworks musical guests J-Fly and Season 5 American Idol winner Taylor Hicks.
Details

Mall of Georgia: Fabulous Fourth
Pre-show festivities include games such as cornhole and live musical performances. And if the booming explosions of American freedom aren’t fiery enough, continue the Independence Day celebration with a post-spectacular screening of Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
Details

Family-Friendly Festivities

Marietta Square: Fourth in the Park
Start and end with a classic Independence Day parade and fireworks display, and celebrate in between with free concerts, an arts and crafts festival, food, carnival games, and museum tours. Details

Callaway Gardens: Star Spangled Beach Party
Your independence deserves to be celebrated all weekend, so why not at the beach? Enjoy paddle boats, mini golf, water slides, and live music all day, followed by a fireworks extravaganza at dark. Details

Lake Lanier’s LanierWorld: The Red, White & Blue Fourth of July Celebration
The weekend-long celebration includes music by Kicks 101.5, musical guests, and a fireworks display at nightfall. And what’s not to love about spending the day in American-flag-inspired swim trunks? Details

Fancy-Schmancy Festivities

W Atlanta-Buckhead’s Whiskey Blue: The 4th of July!
For those who prefer viewing fireworks from a seat in the sky while sipping cocktails in corresponding dresses (or ties). Details

Georgia Aquarium: Red, White & Brew
In addition to some of Atlanta’s favorite brews and cuisine, there’s a photo-booth and caricature artist to capture the all-American moments of fun. Plus, the parking deck rooftop offers a great view of fireworks displays.Details

Freedom-Celebrating Fun

Peachtree Road Race
You might not want to wake up before the sun to attack Cardiac Hill, but it’s worth staking out a spot to cheer on those who do. Ten points for every Statue of Liberty you see. Details

Dutch Monkey Doughnuts: Independence Day Doughnut Eating Competition
On your mark, get set, eat … because there’s nothing more American than starting the day off with record-breaking amounts of sugary, deep-fried bread. Yum.
Details

Braves vs. Diamondbacks: 4th of July All American Fireworks Spectacular
The Atlanta Braves take on the Arizona Diamondbacks in America’s classic sport. Whether they bring the win streak to eight games or not, the night still ends with a patriotic fireworks display over Turner Field ( … but they better win. Go Braves!). Details

Six Flags over Georgia: Coca Cola July 4th Fest
Thrill seekers can get their fill and show their patriotism at the weekend-long celebration. A can of Coke serves as your token for early admittance (9:30am), and the festivities culminate 12 hours later with a fireworks display. Details

As more films like ‘Last of Robin Hood’ are filmed in Atlanta, opportunities for extras are abundant

Seeing Will Ferrell (or is it Ron Burgundy?) on Peachtree Street. Meeting Jim Carrey in a Buckhead Barnes & Noble. Shopping in downtown Athens with Justin Timberlake and Amy Adams. Even receiving wardrobe compliments from Kevin Kline. All totally plausible ventures now that Atlanta and other Georgia cities and towns are becoming go-tos in the film industry for both major and independent studios.

One of the latest “Made in Georgia” flicks, The Last of Robin Hood, an indie filmed in Atlanta and surrounding areas in February 2013, released its trailer earlier this week. The film debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and was picked up by Samuel Goldwyn Films in early April.

Written and directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, it chronicles the tail end of the life of Hollywood legend Errol Flynn (Kevin Kline)—much of which was consumed by the then-aspiring teen actress Beverly Aadland (Conyer’s own Dakota Fanning). Aadland’s mother, Florence (Susan Sarandon), supports her daughter’s dreams of stardom but must also face the public’s scrutiny when the romantic relationship between her daughter and Flynn is uncovered.

Although the film’s events took place more than fifty years in the past, a young actor’s insatiable appetite for the spotlight is a story the 21st century knows all too well. And with Atlanta becoming a mini Hollywood–minus the always-sunny skies–that dream may be easier to achieve than ever before–or for at least fifteen seconds of fame, anyway. Plenty of movies means more opportunites for extras, and in many cases, landing a part might require nothing more than a photo. (Find out where to submit yours here.)

Granted, your eyebrows might be the only visible part of you in your crowd scene on The Walking Dead. Then again, it could be your entire face as you walk behind the stars of The Hunger Games series–and even if it’s not on screen for a whole fifteen seconds, it’s still your face that was in the same shot as Jennifer Lawrence. So there.

And one thing is definitely true: While everyone else in the movie theater does the “I just drank 64 ounces of Diet Coke, get me out of here” dance right on out the doors as the film ends, if the spilled sodas and forgotten candy don’t have you already stuck to your seat, the promise of seeing your name in the credits will.

The Last of Robin Hood is scheduled for theatrical release on August 29, but until then, check out the trailer is below:

CNN and Georgia Tech are exploring ways to use drones in journalism

It’s not a bird or a plane or a man in cape or even a UFO.

It’s a drone.

And if it’s not part of the drone warfare being report-ed by CNN, it very well may be the new CNN report-er. The cable news network has decided to partner with the Georgia Institute of Technology to further investigate the viability of media organizations employing their own fleets.

The drones (technically titled unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs) would be deployed to gather media coverage for the network. Drones have been pegged as a new technology capable of documenting developments in natural disasters and traffic, as well as gathering footage of sports events and movies (Star Wars X to be filmed by R2-D2 and C-3PO?). The research by CNN and Tech is intended to identify the access and safety issues of UAVs as a media tool. The university—which has a host of unmanned flight systems research initiatives underway—and CNN will share the findings with the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).

Currently, the FAA’s proposed regulations for media coverage would require obtaining a permit two or three months before flying a UAV for drone journalism, which wouldn’t aid in providing breaking news coverage. The research venture by CNN and Georgia Tech—which should start later this summer—should accelerate the process. Official revisions to the current rules are scheduled for release in September 2015.

(Caffeine) Buzz: Keurig plans a new plant, 550 jobs, for Douglas County

In the age of coffee filters and whole coffee beans, caffeinated mornings typically required calculated measuring and pouring, or the special artistry of a barista. Possibly even a scalding stain on a recently dry-cleaned shirt.

But now the day begins and two clicks later you’ve hit snooze AND made a cup of joe–already flavored to caramel or vanilla or coconut mocha perfection.

The one-click-wonder Keurigs have taken over office break rooms and post-collegiate apartments alike, and will soon be making their way toward Atlanta–in a volume much larger than a single serving.

The company announced yesterday that it will pour $337 million into a new manufacturing plant in Douglas County. Over the next five years, the plant is projected to bring approximately 550 jobs to the metro area, and, surprisingly, no coffee … but maybe a little carbonation. (If you know anyone job hunting, Keurig is taking applications here.)

Instead of beverage pods filled with the flavors and aromas reminiscent of Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts the plant will replicate single serving containers of America’s favorite cold drink concoctions for a new platform, Keurig Cold. The new beverage system requires the same finesse needed to operate the Keurig Hot Brewing System (er, the push of a button) and should debut in fiscal year 2015.

Coca-Cola and Keurig announced a 10-year partnership in February of this year, meaning that Keurig Cold systems will indeed spout out Coke products–and that interchanging “coke” for “soda” will no longer just be Southern jargon (hopefully). Between the two, we imagine Atlanta, awash with “fizzy lifting drinks,” may soon resemble something like this:

Delta debuts a museum expansion

Take off in Dallas, land in Jackson, Mississippi: a five-hour flight with a pit-stop for food in Monroe, Louisiana. Compared to today’s standard one-hour flight or six-hour drive, five hours in the air seems excessive (or just completely ridiculous) and only worth it to avoid traffic headaches.

But try the same scenario 85 years ago, and it’s the history-making first passenger flight for Delta Airlines. The beginning of an air travel era and the best thing since Henry Ford mass-produced the Tin Lizzie.

To commemorate the revolutionary moment—and celebrate the institution of airplane peanuts instead of Louisiana meal breaks—Delta showed off the recent renovations to its 68,000 square-foot Delta Flight Museum, a Historic Aerospace Site as of 2011.

The museum includes the airline’s first Boeing 767, dubbed “The Spirit of Delta,” as well as four other historic aircrafts, a full-motion simulator, and plenty of other relics and corresponding tidbits. Nestled within one of the luggage carriers turned display-cases is a statement by Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta, who also spoke at the grand opening on Tuesday: “The growth and success of Delta and the city of Atlanta have long been intertwined, and each has prospered. Atlanta grew into a major international city, while Delta built the world’s largest hub at the city’s airport.”

Governor Nathan Deal presented a proclamation declaring June 17 as Delta Airlines Day in Georgia. Also in attendance was Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, and while he admitted that “I can’t give you a day like the governor can,” he did express the city’s gratitude by bestowing the company with a Phoenix Award.

A trip inside the Boeing 767 reveals some of the secrets of success for the company, but you can be the judge as to whether flight attendants in electric blue and chartreuse poncho-dresses, animal fur coats, or Hawaiian luau garb kept the company alive for millions of flights.

Interactive screens under the passenger jet allow visitors to watch old company commercials, view the “family tree” of airlines that merged to create Delta today, or match the company logos to the correct year. Additional trivia is provided in the museum tours. And there’s also a one-of-a-kind Boeing 737-200 full motion simulator that operates with countless buttons and switches for those who want to experience Delta flight without the tedium of standing in security lines at Hartsfield-Jackson.

The museum is located in Delta’s headquarters, just off Airport Loop Road, and is open six days a week. For details, see deltamuseum.org

Video of the Day: T.I. raps at the Tony Awards

Sunday night television in review: Lebron James returned to the NBA Finals, contributing to a Heat victory for Game 2. A fourth-degree black belt, Nia Sanchez, was crowned Miss USA. Jon Snow got defensive on Games of Thrones. And over on the CBS Tony Awards broadcast, there was a performance by a special trio of Music Men: host Hugh Jackman, LL Cool J and Atlanta’s very own Clifford Harris, better known as T.I. If you’re having trouble deciding which is the strangest, just check out the video.

In other, less surreal, Tony-related news: Kudos to Atlanta director Kenny Leon, who was honored for directing Raisin in the Sun—which also snagged the award for best revival.

Report: Atlanta ranks No. 42 for city parks

Atlanta sometimes is called “the city in the trees,” and certainly as you fly into Hartsfield-Jackson this time of year, a green canopy appears to cover the city. But deplane and explore at ground level and you’ll soon realize things aren’t quite so verdant. For the third year in a row we have earned a low score on a national assessment of city parks. But—in large part due to the Atlanta BeltLine—Atlanta’s gaining green space and serving more residents.

The 2014 ParkScore Index, released last week by the Trust for Public Land, ranks the 60 largest cities in the U.S. by the impact of their parks. The assessment encompasses a numbers of factors, including the total number of parks, investment, acreage, and access. Atlanta’s tally—44 points out of a possible 100, or two park benches on a five-bench scale—put the city at No. 42 out of 60.

At first glance, this appears to be a significant drop from last year’s score (2.5 benches and a spot at 31 on a 50-city ranking). But Matt Shaffer, spokesperson for the Trust for Public Land, says that the decline is partly due to an addition of 10 new cities to the assessment. In addition, he noted, our lower score (and that loss of half a park bench) is due to the city’s growth. Because Atlanta gained new residents but no new playgrounds, our score on one of the assessments—playgrounds per 10,000 residents—went down. On the plus side, Shaffer pointed out, “the walkable park access rose for the city by nearly a percentage point.”

That walkability increase was largely due to recent Atlanta BeltLine developments. But the positive impact of amenities like the Eastside Trail on our ParkScore is masked by a lack of accompanying swingsets (sigh).

Peter Harnik, director of the Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence, said ongoing work on the BeltLine, as well as other projects such as the Proctor Creek revitalization efforts, are not going unnoticed. “We know a lot of wonderful things are happening,” he said. “And that should affect [Atlanta’s] ParkScore.”

Harnik said that improving access to parks and addressing other factors on the ParkScore Index can mean addressing urban-planning history—back to World War II or earlier. “It’s hard to turn these scores around, but every percentage point is a step forward,” he said. It can be even harder in Southern cities like Atlanta, where Jim Crow segregation was accompanied by urban planning that kept parks out of black neighborhoods.

The Atlanta BeltLine project—which is planned to encompass 1,300 acres of parks when it is completed in 2030—already has created new greenspace in underserved areas. For example, Historic Fourth Ward Park repurposed a blighted industrial site in the Old Fourth Ward, while D.H. Stanton Park replaced a dangerous and dilapidated playground in Peoplestown. The BeltLine’s goal of 1,300 new acres would represent a 40 percent increase from the current amount of park space in the city, says Ethan Davidson, director of communications for Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.

The BeltLine’s construction schedule got an accelerating boost late last fall with an $18 million federal TIGER V grant for the Westside Trail, which will run three miles from Adair Park to the West End and include four parks. The federal grant will cover about 40 percent of the total cost for the trail project.

The effort to raise private funds to complement the federal grant was jumpstarted last week with a $5 million grant from the James M. Cox Foundation. “We hope the grant inspires others to support development of the trail,” said Elizabeth Olmstead, a company spokesperson for Cox Enterprises. “This new trail builds upon the demonstrated success of BeltLine’s Eastside trail, which connects the new Historic Fourth Ward Park with the historic Piedmont Park.”

If you want to explore the detailed ParkScore analysis click here. You also can compare Atlanta’s score to that of other cities. In case you’re curious, we rank lower than Raleigh but higher than Charlotte.

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