Illness and a few holiday events

In the last post, I mentioned had been/was sick.  Well, I felt better, ran around doing holiday business and work and landed right back in bed for four more days missing a few holiday parties and emerging on Saturday the 21st for a visit to Jefferson Vineyards with my dear friend Jacquie O’Connor and road tripping to Staunton with Jacquie and 7 other good pals to see THE SANTALAND DIARIES at American Shakespeare Center. It was, as usual, great fun.  I adore David Sedaris and have laughed at this monolog countless times.  After the show we all went to dinner at Emilio’s in Staunton and other than the arrangement of a private room (which, as wine was consumed and the group became quite loud, was a godsend), I cannot recommend it.  In fact at least two people in our party felt quite ill later in the evening but we had a great time anyway and next time I will make sure to get a reservation at Zynodoa, Aoli or the Mill well in advance (they were booked that night and it was inconvenient trying to find a better place to eat with a group of nine to herd).

Christmas Eve found me at Pearl’s bake shoppe picking up a gorgeous chocolate/mocha bouche de Noel for an afternoon tea party at some good friend’s in Richmond then off I went with my daughter in tow to the Virginia Museum of Fine Art to see the Hollywood Costume Exhibit.  I bought her a membership to the VMFA for part of her Christmas present (the student membership cost the same as her admission to the exhibit) which turned out to be a brilliant idea.  She felt very grown up having her own membership and she actually squealed with glee at some of the costumes she saw worn by a few of her idols like Edward Norton and Robert De Niro (she has strange taste for a 13 year old) plus she discovered some new films and actors.  She thanked me profusely for taking her to the exhibit as we enjoyed a coffee and a ginger ale in the Best Cafe. My favorite costume was one worn by Ginger Rogers, a sequined number with mink on the back of the skirt.  The exhibit leaves in early February (I think) so get there soon- this is the only east coast stop. After tea and carol singing at my friend’s, Sam (my daughter) and I went to my favorite Indian restaurant, Lehja for Christmas Eve dinner.  As usual, Sunny and his staff offered up good service and good food warming us on a chilly night and fortifying us for the drive back to Cville to feed our cat, Norton (yes, named ofter Edward Norton- told you my daughter is a fan) and wait for Santa. I had the corn soup for a starter and we split the Saag Paneer for our entree.  Lehja simply has the best Saag Paneer I have ever tasted, a spinach and cheese dish that means Indian comfort food to me.

We spent Christmas at Keswick Hall where we dined with several members of my extended family.  Talk about decking the Halls, Keswick is especially festive at Christmas with loads of garland, several decorated trees and a buffet lunch with items to satisfy everyone in your party.  I particularly enjoyed the prime rib and the duck salad. I just adore Keswick Hall as a place to take visitors and simple to feel like I am in that certain part of Charlottesville that is gracious, beautiful and embodies the mood that Ralph Lauren strives for in his preppy collection.  I just always feel so at home in the lounge seated next to the blazing fire and just enjoying the sumptuous country life to which Jefferson prescribed.

Friday night found me at The Livery Stable, a new restaurant/pub on the west end of Charlottesville’s downtown mall. There is a drink featured there named something like A Russian Mule, vodka, ginger beer and something else served in a special copper mug. It is my new favorite cocktail.  I also indulged in a pot roast slider (without the bread, of course) which was so delicious I was sorry to have only one order.  Chef Felix has plans to bump up the menu in 2014 possibly including adding Korean bbq. YUM!

Saturday was a day of shopping the sales with my Mum at Short Pump- part of my Christmas present.  We shopped for hours and enjoyed a nice lunch at the Cafe in Nordtrom.  My Tuscan Salmon was pretty good and would have been better had it been served a bit warmer but overall a lovely lunch.

Sam is gone and I am basically basking in the stillness and quiet but if I do go somewhere you will learn about it next week.

Happy New Year!


The Culture Maven

PS: WNRN Culture Connect, the extended version with me and Matt Slaats, premiers on Sunday January 5th at 11:00am on WNRN. Go to to stream it.

Snarky Holidays at ASC

Do the holidays make you want to deck somebody instead of the halls?  Join the club.  Back when I produced Christmas Shows at the Byrd Theatre in Richmond ( the mid- 1980’s) I was lovingly called, Mary Christmas. I adored Christmas and wanted to help all of my friends a family decorate trees, I shopped until I dropped, stunningly wrapped gifts for everyone I knew and sang my heart out at Christmas Eve service. Now that I am old and bitter people are more likely to call me Scrooge. I am more apt to hide in my fairly undecorated home than be seen in public and wince at the waste of cut trees, wrapping paper and over commercialism.

That is why my new favorite holiday tradition is to go to Staunton to see two adult only, rather unorthodox Christmas Plays:

David Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries – made famous by the annual broadcast  on This American Life, related by Sedaris himself


The Twelve Dates of Christmas, an original play by ASC actress, Ginna Hoben about a year of dating hell following a bad break-up (she saw her fiancé kissing another woman on national television during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade).

Both of these plays are so funny they will smack the  Holiday Ho Ho Humbug right out of you.

Information below.  But for even more information click here

See you at the theatre!

Mary “G- for -Grinch” Burruss

Soak in some Seasonal Snark
with our adults-only Holiday Shows
Take a break from the Hallmark side of the holidays with two shows
at the Blackfriars Playhouse that have a healthy dose of bitter with their sweet.
Allison Glenzer as Mary
in The 12 Dates of Christmas. 
Photo by Michael Bailey.
by Ginna Hoben
Mary spends a year being set up, hooked up, strung up, and fed up as she navigates her life “alone” as a New York actor in her thirties. It’s Sex and the City for real people, with no Mr. Big in sight. This year, Allison Glenzer performs Mary in the delicious seasonal show that reveals how much the holidays suck after your heart’s been crushed.
by David Sedaris, adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello
This year, Jake Mahler dons Crumpet’s striped tights for the first time in David Sedaris’s outrageously funny one-man play about taking a job as an elf at Macy’s in New York City. This delightfully tart tale takes a wry look as how the holiday season brings out the best – and the worst – in us all.

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