Sundance 2014

 

180* view from The Montage Spa

180* view from The Montage Spa in Deer Valley

After six years at the Sundance Film Festival, I know it is safe to say I am a veteran of the experience from top to bottom…almost.  I will let you in on the “almost” part later on.  As far as the films, restaurants, shopping, accommodations and spas, I have this trip mastered. It didn’t start out that way our first year, when I arrived without tickets to any of the films and a deep fear of getting on skis.

With some help from the superb concierge team with Exclusive Resorts, who we travel with, I figured out the festival ticket scene and scored a great ticket package for the following year. You see, getting tickets to the films is a lot like getting into a private New York City school.  There is an application process, a lottery that involved three different dates and then the final tickets selection process.  It’s a tedious process that takes some thought, time and money.

Sundance logo

Deciding which films to see is an in depth research project, at least for me.  I learned after that first year, if you don’t put in the time to research the films you may very well end up seeing some total crap on the silver screen.  For example, that first year I saw a film that involved two guys who were neighbors in LA.  One was out of a job and enjoyed dressing up as a clown while the guy next door would spend the afternoons giving him hand jobs and various other sexual favors.  The second centered around this couple in B.F.E. Alaska.  On a drug enhanced ride back home, the woman in the film is decapitated by a mail box as she hangs her head out of the truck window while her boyfriend drives.  I hate it when bad films happen to me.  There is no way to get those four hours of my life back. A little research is a good thing.

About three years into this trek out West, I gave up on skiing all together. I really wanted to enjoy it and had dreams of sliding down the mountain in Deer Valley with my husband, stopping to take in the majestic scenery and then making our way to the bar at the bottom of the slopes and then hitting the hot tub.  Sounds perfectly entertaining and sexy, right? It was for a while and then I realized that I really do not like to ski.  I hung up my skis one afternoon and that was the end of my downhill skiing life.  Letting go of this ski fantasty freed up more time and resources to enjoy the spa at The Montage in Deer Valley and more films at the festival. So in this one area of Sundance, I am not a veteran!

I highly recommend Park City and Deer Valley during the Sundance Film Festival.  There are so many things for the entire family to enjoy from skiing, dining, spa-ing, shopping and just chilling on Main Street with the eclectic crowd of film makers, actors and industry movers and shakers! I’ll let the photos tell the rest of this years story. Oh, what to pack?  The last photo is me in what I call my Sundance wardrobe wearing my Monclear puffer, Vince fur vest, Hudson skinny jeans, Manrico black cashmere sweater, Rachel Comey booties, Oliver Peoples aviators and Khirma Eliazov handbag. I wore some version of this the entire trip.  As did just about everyone else in Utah last week!  Luxury Travel Mom, Kim-Marie, often asks what I’m wearing, so I thought I’d include it in the post.

View to a Sundance Chill

View to a Sundance Chill

Deer Valley's majestic views from the Spa at The Montage

Deer Valley’s majestic views from the Spa at The Montage

Pool side at The Montage

Pool side at The Montage

Spa time selfie with my sister at Sundance

Spa time selfie with my sister at Sundance

Gangster inspired spa fashions at The Montage

Gangster inspired spa fashions at The Montage

Getting a Utah liquor law lesson. 1.5 oz limit on the hard stuff!

Getting a Utah liquor law lesson. 1.5 oz limit on the hard stuff!

Bottle nipple that keeps it all legal

Bottle nipple that keeps it all legal

Inside Eccles Theater before "Hellion"

Inside Eccles Theater before “Hellion”

Do you know about the merkin?  I did not!

Do you know about the merkin? I did not!

Jeremy Messersmith @ascapcafe in Park City….he’s good!

Park City Main St. traffic jam.  #mttownpeopleproblems

Park City Main St. traffic jam. #mttownpeopleproblems

The Egyptian on Main Street

The Egyptian on Main Street

Chimayo is a favorite restaurant.  Great cocktails!

Chimayo is a favorite restaurant. Great cocktails!

Order a cocktail and a side car - i.e. rest of the liquor for a proper drink!

Order a cocktail and a side car – i.e. rest of the liquor for a proper drink!

 

My Sundance wardrobe  photo.  Kim-Marie, you are welcome!

My Sundance wardrobe photo. Kim-Marie, you are welcome!

Instagram Travel Thursday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Oz and Avocados

This post was first published at www.jonesboro.com under Southerner and the City.

Do you want to learn how to keep your vegetables fresher, longer?  Yes, I do!

That is how my date with Dr. Oz started a few weeks ago when I replied to a casting call.  The associate producer Patrick called.  We chatted.  And he gave me my assignment. I was going to demonstrate how to keep guacamole from turning brown.

The show aired today. I have not seen it yet though because I’m flying to Napa to work with the Feast It Forward team at Flavor Napa Valley.  I’ll fill you in on this adventure next time.

The experience on the show was really amazing. The show is taped four blocks from my apartment on the Upper West Side.  So the commute was a short walk.  Once I got there, I was escorted upstairs to the dressing rooms where I met my fellow on-air companions, Johanna and Trena.

It takes a lot of people to get a show on the air.  There were staffers milling around every where with clip boards, microphones, headsets, hairspray, scissors, food and human intestines!  Yes, intestines.

As we were backstage prepping our veggies, I was standing next to a table where human intestines were being draped over a series of small stands likes lights on a Christmas tree.  Turns out digestion was also a topic being discussed.  I had to do some weird things as a television reporter, but I never had to handle human organs.  The girl who was prepping the human prop didn’t seem to mind.  Gross.

On the way back to the dressing rooms, I bumped into Barbara Walters.  You see, The View is also taped in the same ABC building as the Dr. Oz show.  I stopped dead in my tracks.  She is a HUGE icon of mine.  Unfortunately, I was rendered speechless and her entourage kept her moving along.  My one-on-one interview with the queen of news didn’t come to fruition, at least not in person!

Patrick whisked me down to hair and make-up for some touch ups and a darker layer of eye liner.  The wardrobe team made the final selection on my clothes, applied some double stick tape to my blouse and I stepped into my heels.

We waited back stage as the show moved along watching on a huge monitor.  Once we were mic-ed up, we headed to the stage where Dr. Oz was waiting on us.

He was great!  If we didn’t have a show to tape and guacamole to preserve, Mehmet and I would still be standing there shooting the breeze! He is much taller than I expected, has a great handshake as you’d expect from a surgeon, killer hair and dreamy blue eyes.  I told him I was going to do my best not to get the two of us stuck in the plastic wrap I had to use on the guac!  He thought it would be fun if we did! Luckily, I managed it just fine – for the first time in my entire life!

Dr. Oz read his intro and made a joke about making “it” last longer”.  I laughed, but I think I might have been the only person you can hear laughing in the entire room! Who knows maybe I’ll be back for a segment on making “It” – wink, wink – last longer! We started talking about the guacamole and within what felt like 2 seconds, we were done.

The trick with the guac is to take any leftovers and spray it with cooking spray, like olive oil.  Don’t even think about using PAM.  Then place plastic wrap directly on top and try not to trap any air underneath it.  It should keep the guac green.  But if you find yourself with brown guacamole, chill out.   As long as there is plenty of tequila in your margarita, who cares what color the guacamole is!

It was a great experience and one I hope to have again.  Who knows?  Maybe someday Dr. Oz will be a guest on MY show!

Keep up with DJ’s adventures on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter @mrsdjduckworth.  She posts some amazing and sometime seriously mundane photos on Instagram.  Yep, she’s a pinner, too.  Follow her boards on Pinterest. DJ is a contributing writer for New York Family Magazine and Feast It Forward.  She lives in Manhattan with her two boys and the world’s most amazing wiener dog, Leo – woof, woof!

Thanks, Dr. Oz

Thanks, Dr. Oz

Dj and Oz sign

Me and my co-stars

Me and my co-stars

DJ and Patrick

 

 

 

 

She’s Got a Story to Tell

My story telling class at The Peoples Improv Theater or The Pit is in the books. My friend, Dana, recommended I take the class and after looking into it, I knew she was on to something.  As a television journalist, I’ve been telling stories for a long time.  However, as a journalist, I was reporting facts professionally with as little bias as possible.  This, however, is just me telling you a story from my point of view and experience.  It really sums up what this blog is about.  Me giving you a look into my world through my lens –  however off the wall it may be!  And God knows some of it will seem off the wall at times.

Image

After spending the last 8 weeks downtown on Monday nights, I recently performed my story in front of a live audience at The Pit on East 24th Street here in Manhattan.  I was first up and took to the stage just as my nerves began to settle down! Check out the You Tube video below.

My instructors David Crabb and Michele Wallson were absolutely amazing.  With their guidance and critiques during the classroom sessions, I quickly learned the basics of telling a story!  Yes, there is a method to the madness.

I’m hooked.

I’ve got a boat load of material.

And I can’t wait to get back on a stage to tell another story!

Friends and family, consider yourself warned.

Southerner and the City — Small World

phpThumb_generated_thumbnailjpgSoutherner and the City – Small World
Jun 21, 2013

On a recent particularly crummy, rainy Friday afternoon, I made my way off the 6 train at 28th Street and Park Ave. I had a 1pm gym appointment and was ready to blast off some extra energy! It was pouring rain as I made my way across Madison Square Park. And that’s when I spotted the bar b q signs.

I had walked into the set-up of an upcoming BBQ weekend at the park. Being a southern gal, I enjoy an occasional BBQ and I’ve not found any that is even close to being as good as what you get in Arkansas. While Manhattan is full of amazing places to eat, no one has quite captured the art of really good BBQ. Or catfish, for that matter, as I recently blog about, too.

I spotted a crew setting up a tent and stopped to ask them what was going on. They told me they were setting up for the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party and that it started the next day. What unfolded next still amazes me. The conversation went something like this.

“So where are you guys from?” -me

“St. Louis” – BBQ guy

“I’m from Arkansas and I can’t get good BBQ here. I think I’ll bring my boys back tomorrow.” – me

Guy says, “where in Arkansas are you from?”

“I grew up in Carlisle.”

BBQ guy says, “I’m from Wynne but I work with these guys out of St Louis. I graduated from ASU. I know several people from Carlisle. Do you know Jill she is a pharmacist? My wife Lean was the made of honor in her wedding!!

I say, “Know her? She is my first cousin. So you are married to Lean?”

BBQ guy says, “Yes, I’m Kelly Dallas.”

“Well I’m DJ Cunningham- Duckworth.”

He says, “DJ from KAIT-TV?”

“Yes, that’s me!”

Then other guy walks up, introduces himself, says he’s from Jonesboro and asks me if know Brian Duckworth.

At this point, I begin to think I’m being punked or something! I say, “Seriously? Brian is my brother in law.”

Kelly and I look at each other like we can’t really believe what is happening. He calls his wife Lean back in Arkansas and tells her the story. She and I chat and catch up on life in a matter of minutes. I text Jill with the details of the sidewalk BBQ mash up all from under a big white tent on a sidewalk in Manhattan. We all start connecting dots. And firing off questions to each other. When did you move to NYC? Why are you cooking BBQ in New York City? And on and on and on.

I walked away with my crappy mood a thing of the past…shaking my head.

Weird how I just walked up to Kelly – who I’d spent a little time with about 20 years ago in a Baptist church in Carlisle at my cousins wedding – asked him a simple question only to realize we knew each other from a previous point in time many years ago.

This exchange still makes me shake my head. It is a small world after all.

You can keep up with DJ’s adventure in the Big Apple by following her on twitter @mrsdjduckworth and on her Facebook page I Am DJ Duckworth. Find out more at www.iamdjduckworth.com DJ is a contributing writer for New York Family magazine and Feast It Forward. She lives in Manhattan with her two boys and the world’s most amazing wiener dog, Leo – woof, woof.

– See more at: http://www.jonesboro.com/newstaffy/item/7239/Southerner+and+the+City+-+Small+World#sthash.8wl9RnLE.dpuf

Southerner and the City: 12 Days in New York City

It has been a rather non-eventful week or so around the metro area … said no one in their right mind! Looking back on the last 12 days makes my head spin. Actually, my head has not stopped spinning since Hurricane Sandy hit on Monday, Oct. 29, at around 8 p.m. EST. That is about the time our building started swaying in the howling wind, the chandelier began gently swinging over the dining table and the windows started rattling.

Storm in NYCBelow is a list of things I’ve learned and will most likely never do again. Some of it is pure brain babble mixed in with lessons learned from the last 12 days of my life.

1. I will most likely never hunker down in the path of another hurricane again. At least not this close to where it makes land fall. Any county in Arkansas does not count as even being remotely close to where a hurricane actually makes landfall.

2. My husband has an uncanny ability to keep himself in a bubble of denial about an approaching natural disaster. Denial is a powerful force, but not nearly as fierce as mother nature.

3. High tides, full moons and hurricanes should be avoided at all possible costs.

4. On Oct. 25 in my neighborhood, a nanny reportedly stabbed to death two children in her once- trusted care. I felt the need to pull Corbin closer and never let him out of my sight. Then Sandy hit and we were forced to be closer and couldn’t leave each others sight. I find it interesting how the storm with such force and destruction came right on the heels of such a horrific and unthinkable crime against two innocent children.

5. On the same day as the nanny murders, up in the Bronx, another mother and her 1-month-old child were killed. Allegedly by the baby’s father and left under a mattress which was set on fire. We MUST look out for the children. There are signs in the subway that say, “if you see something, say something.” This is primarily talking about suspicious behavior involving terrorism, I think. But today it reminds me to say something about anything suspicious in any aspect of life.

6. As if New Jersey needed anything else to worry about, the Garden State had a small earthquake in the days following Sandy.

7. As if the New York and New Jersey needed anything else to worry about, we had to figure out how/where to vote in one of the most important presidential elections ever. New Jersey voters could e-mail or fax their votes, while displaced New Yorkers could sign an affidavit and vote anywhere but only in the presidential race and senate races.

8. As if the tri-state area needed anything else to worry about, we were hit with a Nor’Easter late yesterday afternoon.

9. There are still a lot of people without power and homes who woke up this morning with snow on the ground, adding insult to injury.

10. Regardless of how much FEMA and the Red Cross help out after disasters, their response is never quick enough and never meets the expectations of those who are hardest him. It is the generosity of “others” who quickly come together to get the people supplies, food and makeshift shelters set up for those who are displaced.

11. You should not hold a major sporting event in the days following a significant weather event, where people are dead, in the dark, without basic utilities, a home or food. I don’t care how far people travel or train. Priorities, people! Imagine if you can, hosting the Super Bowl in New Orleans days after Hurricane Katrina. Yes, I know Katrina hit in August and the Super Bowl is in late January. But, still a bad idea.

12. People respond to looming weather events in NYC just like they do in Arkansas. They hit the grocery stores in droves, raiding the shelves of just about everything. And, as I’ve learned, they also hoard gasoline.

13. According to a friend’s Facebook post, you can have pizza and sushi delivered during a hurricane.

14. Six kids on Halloween night + candy + being out of school since Friday+ displaced parents from downtown who have no power = adult beverages

15. I am lucky to have neighbors that I enjoy with kids that are fun to be around even for days on end.

16. When you can, you should always help out formerly married mothers working from homes without power. This is especially important when they are doing this when the kids are home because school is cancelled!

17. When I get overly anxious, I clean, cook and eat. At times I do this simultaneously. Bye bye, dust bunnies!

18. A lot of people who aren’t in my contact list have my cell phone number. Whoever you are, thank you for checking on me during the storm.

19. Cut yourself and those around you some slack during tough times when you are in close quarters. You begin to mirror the others behavior. Make sure you give what you want to receive.

20. I imagine Lance Armstrong is happy to be out of the headlines for a while.

The Southerner and the City Was Not Impressed with Madonna

Madonna

Madonna

On Saturday night, Mark and I headed way uptown to Yankee Stadium, in the pouring rain, following a rare tornado outbreak to see Madonna. You see, we bought tickets to her show on Valentine’s Day not thinking too much about the venue. After all, how fun would it be to see Madge play Yankee Stadium? It was a fabulous idea at the time, but Mother Nature put an enormous dent in our evening as I watched the black billowing storm roll across the Hudson River and into Manhattan.

I had read in some recent reviews that Madonna had kept her fans waiting for over two hours. The tickets said the show would start at 8 p.m. rain or shine. I decided that we would hang out at the apartment, keep an eye on the weather and make a last minute decision on whether or not to go. That was a smart call. We arrived at the stadium at 9:30 and she finally took the stage around 10:30 p.m. I was taught that being late is the height of arrogance. It says to others that your time is more valuable than theirs. I agree.

Not only had we been left in the rain under a tornado watch but she was two and a half hours late hitting the stage to boot! Luckily, I hadn’t bought seats on the field, where hundreds of drenched fans stood in the rain during her performance. We had very expensive seats that we actually never sat in. Instead, we stood back under the overhang and watched the show.

I am a huge Madonna fan but I was really disappointed in this show. It was full of the typical theatrics, amazing dancers, political statements and ethnic drummer circle/singer folks. While she sang some of her classic hits, they were all remixed and a little on the dark side. Although, she did surprise the crowd when she broke into Holiday and sang it like she recorded it years ago. The sopping wet crowd went nuts, me included. But for me, that was really the highlight.

Regardless of her arrogance and disregard for keeping time, Madonna is a true performer. The show went on under insane conditions and not once did she miss a beat. Neither did her dancers or singers. Even her dancer who appeared to be spineless in a deep backbend while walking down a set of stairs during the show never once showed any signs that anything was wrong.

But, here is the kicker. We left before the show ended!

In a crystal clear moment, I knew that I was done with Madonna for the evening. No matter how much we had spent or how long we had waited for her to start the show. No matter how curious I was to see her drop her pants to show us her faux Obama tattoo. No matter how cool it was that her son Rocco danced on stage with her. I knew in my bones that I would rather be in my pajamas, curled up in my comfy bed instead of standing behind the seat where I was supposed to be sitting…while it poured rain.

July the 4th Fun

yellow plumsWhile most of the city seemed to be away for the 4th of July, we found ourselves hanging out in Manhattan.  Corbin is in the middle of his first year of summer camp.  He’s loving every minute of it, too! So, we didn’t want to take our annual trip to Vail, CO for the holiday and have him miss out on all of the fun.  Instead, we rolled out of bed on Wednesday and headed to Union Square for breakfast and shopping at the farmer’s market. I love the farmer’s market at Union Square.  It is a site to behold during the summer months when just about everything is available for sale.  Here is a look at some of the things we saw and bought!

Fun with Fries at the Coffee Shop

 

Checking out the sugar plums

Radishes….not my favorite veggie. But these are beautiful!

Squash Blossoms for sale…get your squash blossoms here!

A great place to get to use an EBT card or WIC vouchers! Better than using them at McDonald’s!

 

Black raspberries taste fabulous

Rainbow Swiss Chard…what do you do with this?

Fresh fish even on a hot July day!

The wittiest thing about the day!

Okra…on pizza? Read the sign!

Calla Lillies in a bucket

Hard to walk away from this when everything looks so good!

Beautiful and delicious!

If you have a farmer’s market in your area, I highly recommend checking it out for the best of summers garden glory!