Movie adaptation: ‘Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air’ by Richard Holmes

Photo: Google

Richard Holmes is a British author and academic best known for his biographical studies of major figures of British and French Romanticism. His works include “The Age of Wonder,” which was one of The New York Times Book Review’s Best Books of the Year in 2009, “Footsteps, Sidetracks, Shelley: The Pursuit” and “Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air: An Unconventional History of Ballooning.” The latter is in part the basis for the 2019 biographical adventure movie The Aeronauts starring Felicity Jones, Eddie Redmayne, Himesh Patel and Tom Courtenay. It is now available on Amazon Prime Video.

In “Falling Upwards,” Richard Holmes combines history, art, science and biography to resurrect the daring men and women who first risked their lives to take to the air in balloons. He weaves together exhilarating accounts of early balloon rivalries, pioneering ascents over Victorian cities and astonishing long-distance voyages. One of those accounts is the high-altitude flights of James Glaisher who helped to establish the science of meteorology as well as the notion of a fragile planet. Holmes tells the history of ballooning from every angle—scientific to poetic—through the adventurers and entrepreneurs, scientists and escapists, heroes and fools who were possessed by the longing to be airborne.

The balloon flight depicted in The Aeronauts is based on the September 5, 1862 flight of British aeronauts James Glaisher and Henry Coxwell, whose coal gas filled balloon broke the flight altitude record reaching 30,000 to 36,000 feet. Glaisher appears in the film, but Coxwell is replaced by Amelia, a fictional character who is the combination of Coxwell and actual female contemporaries including Sophia Blanchard, the first woman to work as a professional balloonist and Margaret Graham, a British aeronaut and entertainer. In this exciting air adventure movie, James and Amelia successfully fly a hot air balloon to break an altitude record while successfully allowing James to prove his weather predicting theories. Enduring hypoxia, high altitude and bone chilling temperatures, they are both injured but euphoric that they managed to survive. James’ findings eventually paved the way for the first weather forecasts.


Book review: ‘The Winter Sisters: A Novel’ by Tim Westover

‘The Winter Sisters: A Novel’ is the new novel by Tim Westover. Photo: author page

Tim Westover is an American author from Rhode Island who now calls Georgia home. A graduate of Davidson College in North Carolina and the University of Georgia, he has traveled all over the South looking for new stories. His works include “The Old Weird South” and “Auraria: A Novel,” both set in the South as is his new novel “The Winter Sisters: A Novel.” “The Winter Sisters” centers around a stuffy big-city doctor, three rural folk healers and an unexpected partnership that could put lives on the line.

Set against the lush backdrop of the remote Georgia mountains in 1822, “The Winter Sisters” takes place in the real town of Lawrenceville. The story begins with a Prologue in 1811 that introduces the Winter Sisters: Rebecca, the oldest, Sarah and Effie the youngest. They are healers who employ old techniques they learned from their late mother who was known by the residents of Lawrenceville for her healing abilities. They were raised in Hope Hollow but move to Lawrenceville until they are driven out by the local minister who accuses them of witchcraft. In comes Dr. Aubrey Waycross, a big city doctor who is lured to the small town by the Mayor because, since the Winter Sisters moved away, its citizens no longer have anyone to tend to the sick; the braver ones still take on the dangerous trip to consult with the sisters. At first cynical and suspicious of the sisters, Dr. Waycross’ modern methods of healing clashes with their herbal and holistic approach but they eventually must work together when the threat of rabies sends the town into hysterics.

The author’s fascination with the South is evident throughout this charming historical novel. From the setting of the Georgia mountains to the cultural norms of the time, it should be considered a love letter to the South. “The Winter Sisters” offers readers a glimpse into the world of the early 1800s when advances in medicine were in their infancy and the general populace was highly superstitious and still relied on home remedies. Most of the characters are interesting and well developed but not all of them are relatable and it is never clear what Effie’s supernatural abilities are or if she is some sort of magical being. The point of view continuously shifts from first person (Dr. Waycross) to third person (the sisters) but the language is beautifully poetic: “The fire had gotten into the roof. Purple fingers reached out from collapsing beams, a demon struggling to escape…..The sibilant hissing [of the evaporating water] was the laughter of defeat.” The tension between science and folk medicine is at the center of the story because Dr. Waycross’ methods healing methods include amputations and bloodletting, which naturally scare people. Interestingly enough, Rebecca uses a piece of moldy bread to cure an infected leg. It is an immersive and fascinating story about the power of belief, the quest for knowledge and the magic just beyond reach. As a whole, “The Winter Sisters” is Southern literature at its finest and is recommended for fans of historical fiction that has touches of magic similar to the works of Lee Smith, Sarah Addison Allen and Josh Russell. All author proceeds from this novel, collected through 12/31/19, are being donated to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

“When the mocking hand of death reaches out its fingers, as it must for all us mortals, we’ll go into the abyss with a grin.” – Salmon Thumb, travelling medicine man

*The author received a copy of this book for an honest review. The views and opinions expressed here belong solely to her.

Pearl announces January programming

Fitness classes are just one series of events taking place at Pearl in 2020. Photo: Pearl, used with permission.

For 2020, Pearl is excited to announce Thinking & Drinking at Pearl—the newest offering in the array of amazing programming already hosted throughout the year. In addition, Pearl will bring back free weekly fitness sessions open to the public to begin the first week in January and continue into the warmer months. (Pearl, 2019)

Thinking & Drinking at Pearl
Join us for a series of philosophical conversations about music. Why do we listen to sad songs if they make us sad? Should Bob Dylan have been eligible for the Nobel Prize in Literature? If an improvisation is made up on the spot, how can we expect it to sound good? These are just a few philosophical questions about music—fundamental conceptual questions raised by the way we make and listen to music. Led by Trinity University professor Dr. Andrew Kania, guests will get a chance to think through some of these issues out loud—helped along by libations from the best of the Pearl’s drinking establishments. Each session is capped at 15 participants and includes two beverages. Tickets available online.

    • Wednesday, January 15 at 6p.m. – High Street Wine Co.
      Sad Songs Say So Much: Music and Emotion – If music is just sounds, how can it be happy or sad? What is the significance of our emotional responses to music? And why do we listen to sad music if it makes us sad?
    • Wednesday, January 22 at 6p.m. – Southerleigh
      Strange Sounds: What is Music, Anyway?Musicians seem to be able to incorporate just about any sounds into their compositions. But what makes those sounds music? How can one note be higher than another? What can the musical experiences of deaf people tell us about music?
    • Wednesday, January 29 at 8p.m. – Jazz, TX
      Making Music: Performance, Improvisation and Recording – What is the difference between being overheard making music and performing for an audience? Are recordings just that – records of performances – or are they an art form in their own right? What makes a performance an improvisation? This conversation is followed by a live performance.

Pearl is thrilled to continue free community workout classes led by local fitness providers weekly on Tuesday evenings beginning in 2020. Throughout the year, partners will include Pilates Platinum, Smart Barre, Nomadik Yoga, Zumba with Mau Garcia and Joy Ride.

    • Tuesday, January 7   | Pilates Platinum | 5:30p.m. | Pearl Park
    • Tuesday, January 14 | Pilates Platinum |  5:30p.m. | Pearl Park
    • Tuesday, January 21 | Pilates Platinum |  5:30p.m. | Pearl Park
    • Tuesday, January 28 | Pilates Platinum |  5:30p.m. | Pearl Park

“Pearl is dedicated to bringing San Antonians and visitors together through compelling, dynamic events. The thoughtful 2020 programming will help everyone start the new year off right and further enhance Pearl’s offerings.” – Elizabeth Fauerso, chief marketing officer, Pearl

Pearl Brewery
303 Pearl Parkway, Suite 300
San Antonio, TX 78215
(210) 212-7260

Culinaria Restaurant Weeks is back

Culinaria Restaurant Weeks will take place from January 20 through February 1. Photo: Culinaria used with permission.

Entering its 11th year, Culinaria Restaurant Weeks, from January 20 through February 1, 2020, is back with eateries in San Antonio and neighboring counties. Participating restaurants will offer special three-course prix-fixe menus: $15 lunch, and $35/$45 dinner.  Guests can expect some restaurants to offer additional course options as well as wine, cocktail and beer pairings. This is the perfect opportunity to try out a new restaurant that has been top of mind or let it serve as the catalyst to reconnect with friends, family or co-workers. (Culinaria, 2019)

The best advice to anyone participating in Restaurant Week is to plan. Full details on participating restaurants, including Restaurant Weeks menus, are available online. Reservations are not required but are encouraged as walk-in service cannot be guaranteed.

Culinaria is an independent, not-for-profit organization committed to promoting San Antonio as a premier wine and food destination while fostering community growth and enrichment. Culinaria is a registered 501 c (3) tax-exempt organization. A volunteer board of directors, who represent the community and guide the organization in its mission to champion the wine and food industries governs, Culinaria.

Culinaria has been promoting San Antonio as a premier destination for culinary, beverage and hospitality to an international audience, while also serving as a resource for educational opportunities in those fields. Events that make up Culinaria include Restaurant Weeks, a 5k Wine Run, the Wine + Food Festival and the Hallowine Run as well as smaller events and several community partner events throughout the year. Culinaria is continually expanding and additional participating restaurants are added weekly, as well as new events throughout the year.

Most Popular Food and Wine Festival – Vanity Fair, 2011
Top 10 American Food Festivals – The Telegraph 2016
Best Food & Wine Event in Texas – Essence 2017
Best Food and Wine Festival to Visit – Readers Digest, 2018

“San Antonio is a hub for great dining hotspots and Restaurant Weeks presents the ultimate opportunity for local residents and visitors to discover new culinary delights. It also generates enthusiasm within our diverse culinary community and extends another opportunity for Chefs to showcase the variety of food and flavors that define San Antonio and neighboring cities.” – Suzanne Taranto-Etheredge, president/CEO, Culinaria

Pluckers Wing Bar to host ‘Anti-Resolution’ special

Pluckers Wing Bar’s Anti-Resolution special will run from January 1 through January 6. Photo: Melissa Skorpil, used with permission.

Pluckers Wing Bar, Texas’ favorite sports bar and wing restaurant, is bringing back their Anti-Resolution special from Wednesday January 1 through Monday January 6, 2020 at ALL Pluckers locations. (Pluckers Wing Bar, 2019)

The Anti-Resolution special includes 50% off desserts and a $1 addition for salads. The extra dollar will be donated to Breakthrough Central Texas, an education nonprofit that creates a path to and through college for students from low-income communities. From sixth grade through to college, the organization offers out-of-school learning experiences, leadership skills and comprehensive advising to students. The organization makes a 12-year commitment to students and their families to guide them through the process of preparing for, enrolling in and completing college. The long-term model ensures the success of students and families from middle school to high school graduation to college diploma and beyond.

Owners Mark Greenberg, Dave Paul and Sean Greenberg opened their first Pluckers restaurant in Austin in 1995. Over the past 24 years, Pluckers Wing Bar has opened 25 locations, expanding to Baton Rouge, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Killeen, San Marcos and San Antonio. Pluckers is known for their signature wings and is consistently recognized as the best sports bar and chicken wing restaurant. They offer guests a fun, laid-back atmosphere where friends, family, and co-workers can enjoy a great meal and watch sports. Pluckers has been named in USA Today’s “Top Ten Wing Restaurants” and ESPN’s “Top 5 Sports Bar in North America,” along with being named one of “Austin’s Best Places to Work 2017” by the Austin Business Journal and Dallas Observer’s “Best Sports Bar.”

Pluckers Wing Bar
14881 IH-35 North
Selma, TX 78154

Pluckers Wing Bar
15651 I-10 W
San Antonio, TX 78249

Annual New Year’s Day black-eyed pea cook-off at William Chris Vineyards

William Chris Vineyards will be hosting their annual New Year’s Day Party that will feature a black-eyed pea cook-off. Courtesy photo, used with permission.

William Chris Vineyards will be hosting their Annual New Year’s Day Party featuring a distinctly southern family-friendly Black Eyed Pea Cook-Off at the vineyard in Hye, Texas on Wednesday, January 1 from 1p.m. to 4p.m. The ticket price for general admission is $25 and will include a New Year’s toast for adults, plenty of black eyed peas, one vote to cast for your favorite dish and live music provided by Trace of Gold. (William Chris Vineyards, 2019)

Think you have what it takes to compete for the title of William Chris’ Black Eyed Pea Champion? The cook-off is $40 per entry for a team of two – entrants must prepare a dish at home using Black Eyed Peas with enough to provide 300 samples to attendees; the dish must be ready by set-up time at 12p.m. on January 1. Prizes for the top three teams include: 1st place will receive $500 + case of WCV wine; 2nd place will receive $200 + 6 bottles of WCV; and 3rd place will receive $50 + 2 bottles of WCV wine.

William Chris Vineyards
10352 U.S. Highway 290
Hye, TX 78635

New Year’s Day brunch at COVER 3

COVER 3 will have a New Year’s Day brunch from 11a.m. to 3p.m. Photo: COVER 3, used with permission.

COVER 3 will be ringing in 2020 with a New Year’s Day brunch- featuring food and beverage options sure to kick off the new year on a delicious, and lucky, note. (COVER 3, 2019) From 11a.m. to 3p.m. on New Year’s Day, all COVER 3 locations will offer revelers:

  • COVER 3’s signature U-Mix-It Bloody Mary & Bubbles Bar
  •  Select menu featuring COVER 3’s most popular brunch items like Migas, Chilaquiles, Green Chile Breakfast Tacos, Tinga Chicken Breakfast Enchiladas and Chili & Eggs
  • Special “Southern Charm” lucky plate featuring old-fashioned Southern good luck charms like picked-and-pressed pork “short rib” for prosperity, black eyed peas with andouille sausage for luck and braised kale greens for wealth for $15.95

New Year Brunch:
Migas – classic style migas with queso blanco, Jack and Cheddar cheeses, served with refried black beans
Chilaquiles – fried corn tortillas served with roasted tomato salsa, topped with queso blanco, Jack and Cheddar cheeses, two eggs, sliced avocado and pico, served with refried black beans
Green chile beef breakfast enchiladas – corn tortillas stacked with green chile beef, Jack and Cheddar cheeses, Poblano carne sauce, topped with fried eggs
Tinga chicken breakfast enchiladas – corn tortillas stacked with Tinga chicken, Jack and Cheddar cheeses and garlic chipotle sauce, topped with fried eggs, Poblanos and onions
Chili and Eggs – Matt’s chili topped with two eggs, avocado, Jack and Cheddar cheeses, Cotija, pico, cilantro and tortilla strips

COVER 3 is the leading high-end sports bar and has previously been named to CNN’s list of “101 of the best sports bars in the U.S” as well as the “Best Sports Bar in the Central Region” by Sports Illustrated. Each location has enough TVs to give guests multiple options regarding which TV near their table is the most comfortable for their viewing pleasure. Serving upscale food, craft cocktails and high-end wines, COVER 3 remains elegant and stylish while giving guests the feeling they are enjoying the Super Bowl in their own private box.

COVER 3 San Antonio
1806 N 1604 W
San Antonio, TX 78248
(210) 479-9700

Pluckers Wing Bar to host Christmas Eve lunch for Boysville

Pluckers Wing Bar will host a Christmas Eve lunch for Boysville next week. Photo: Melissa Skorpil, used with permission.

Pluckers Wing Bar is excited to announce that they will spread holiday cheer by providing lunch for four families from Boysville at the Pluckers Selma location this Christmas Eve, Tuesday December 24 from 10a.m. to noon. This year, employees from the Selma, Landmark and San Marcos locations will donate holiday gifts for children. (Pluckers Wing Bar, 2019)

Boysville is a nonprofit whose mission is to provide a safe family environment for children in need by providing food, shelter, clothing, medical services and education services. Boysville is able to provide the basic necessities needed to make the child feel safe and comfortable and teach them to become an active member of society.

Pluckers San Antonio
14881 Interstate 35 N
Selma, TX 78154

Owners Mark Greenberg, Dave Paul and Sean Greenberg opened their first Pluckers restaurant in Austin in 1995. Pluckers is known for their signature wings and is consistently recognized as the best sports bar and chicken wing restaurant. They offer guests a fun, laid-back atmosphere where friends, family, and co-workers can enjoy a great meal and watch sports. Pluckers has been named in USA Today’s “Top Ten Wing Restaurants” and ESPN’s “Top 5 Sports Bar in North America,” along with being named one of “Austin’s Best Places to Work 2017” by the Austin Business Journal and Dallas Observer’s “Best Sports Bar.”

Theater review: ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ at the Majestic Theatre

‘Dear Evan Hansen’ plays at the Majestic Theatre until Sunday December 22. Photo: Matthew Murphy, used with permission.

After a successful opening night, ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ continues this week at the Majestic Theatre until Sunday December 22. A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he has always wanted: a chance to finally fit in. ‘Dear Evan Hanen’ is the deeply personal and profoundly contemporary musical about life and the way we live it. Tickets start at $45 and are available online or at the box office. Showtimes Friday at 8p.m., Saturday at 2p.m. and 8p.m. and Sunday at 2p.m. and 7:30p.m.

‘Dear Evan Hansen’ revolves around Evan Hansen (Stephen Christopher Anthony), a teenager with social anxiety whose therapist recommends he write letters to himself detailing what will be good about each new day. His mother Heidi (Jessica E. Sherman) suggests to him that one way to make friends at school is to ask people to sign his cast. On the other side of town, the Murphy family, consisting of Cynthia (Claire Rankin), Larry (Alessandro Costantini) and their children Zoe (Stephanie La Rochelle) and Connor (Noah Kieserman), start their day yelling at each other. Both mothers wonder how to best connect with their sons “Anybody Have a Map?” At school, Evan has a confrontation with Connor and Zoe, whom Evan has a crush on, apologizes for her brother’s behavior. He is left to ponder whether his destiny is to be an outcast and forever ignored “Waving Through a Window” and then writes himself a letter. In it, he mentions Zoe and after Connor accidentally finds it, he thinks Evan is making fun of him and storms out, taking the letter with him. A few days later, Connor kills himself and that letter is found in his pocket which leads Connor’s parents to think it is a suicide note. Evan lies and makes people believe he was best friends with Connor until one lies leads to others and it eventually becomes too big for him to handle.

The winner of six 2017 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ features a book by Tony Award-winner Steven Levenson and a score by Grammy, Tony and Academy Award winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. A musical for the modern era, the setting consists mostly of digital screens displaying social media feeds that change with the story. Its universal themes of family, mental illness and teen suicide resonates with the mostly younger audience and even though there are numerous dark moments, it encourages an open dialogue. The fighting and yelling gets too loud towards the end but it serves to spotlight just how harmful and traumatic such moments can be for everyone involved. Stephen Christopher Anthony’s excellent portrayal of Evan is a sobering reminder of the natural human desire to fit in. Show highlights include Evan’s “Waving Through a Window” and “You Will Be Found” when Evan gives a heartfelt speech, which goes viral, about his loneliness and “friendship” with Connor. Overall, ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ is an inspiring musical about life, family, love, acceptance and the lies people tell in a desperate attempt to belong.

Bakery Lorraine introduces winter menu

Bakery Lorraine’s new winter menu includes the cheese plate. Photo: Bakery Lorraine, used with permission.

This holiday season, Bakery Lorraine introduces winter menu items perfect for the colder weather. These items include a new grilled cheese sandwich, a charcuterie plate, a croque madame sandwich and more. Bakery Lorraine is also inspiring holiday cheer with festive treats. The bakery is offering chocolate-covered gingerbread men and macaroons in multiple flavors including; Red Hot, Egg Nog, White Chocolate Peppermint, Angel Food, Hot Cocoa, Pistachio, Raspberry and Earl Grey. Customers can order in stores or online until December 19. (Macaroons: 6 for $13, 12 for $24, Special 20pk for $40) (Bakery Lorraine, 2019)

With locations at the Pearl and the Medical Center, Bakery Lorraine has rapidly become a San Antonio favorite and a nationally recognized pastry shop famous for its colorful macarons and exquisite French pastries. Owned by chefs Anne Ng, Jeremy Mandrell and operator Charlie Biedenharn, Bakery Lorraine was named one of the best new bakeries in the U.S. by Food & Wine and CNN’s Eatocracy blog, as well as one of the “13 Destination Bakeries” by Conde Nast Traveler. Bakery Lorraine offers handmade French pastries and macarons as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner items including its Greek Yogurt Parfait, the Quiche Lorraine, Turkey Pesto sandwich and an assortment of salads, soups and artisan sandwiches.

Bakery Lorraine
7338 Louis Pasteur Dr. Suite 201
San Antonio, TX 78229
(210) 303-0330

306 Pearl Pkwy, Suite 110
San Antonio, TX 78215
(210) 862-5582

17503 Cantera Pkwy #108
San Antonio, TX 78257
(210) 415-4066

2800 Broadway St.
San Antonio, TX 78209
(210) 212-4453

11600 Rock Rose Ste. 100
Austin, TX 78758
(512) 300-0300