Monday, April 14, 2014

Congratulations Kevin Siers!

There's a party going on in the Charlotte Observer newsroom right now.

We just found out that our editorial cartoonist, Kevin Siers, won the Pulitzer. That's the highest award in American journalism so to say we're proud of him is an understatement.

I've worked here for more than two decades and there has always been a super strict ban on alcohol on the Observer premises. That went out the window today. The champagne is flowing and we are all giddy.

I've noticed that a lot of people mispronounce Kevin's last name. It's pronounced sigh-ers, not sears. I can always remember that because Kevin is so in love with his wife, Jean, that they look at each other and sigh all the time. Or at least that's the connection I've made in my brain so I can remember to say his last name correctly.

Since Kevin found out about the award yesterday, of course my first question for his wife was, "What's it like to sleep with a Pulitzer winner?" And that was before I had a glass of champagne.

Kevin, true to his terrific sense of humor, is quick to point out that he also recently won a fishing contest in his beloved home state of Minnesota.

Kevin and Jean have an equally outstanding son named Michael, so if the headline in tomorrow's paper says, "Michael's Dad Wins Pulitzer" you'll understand.

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Brits: What's hot, what's not

I just finished reading a survey on the Daily Mail UK web site ( where the British public weighed in on what's hot, and what's not, this year.

I don't know if theses new trends will make it across the pond, but one of them really caught my attention.

Supposedly the hot new thing in London for singles wanting to mingle is Pheromone Parties. Held at clubs and pubs, the female attendees sniff plastic bags filled with T-shirts from males and pick their match based on the smell they find most attractive. What's the British slang equivalent of yuck? I do believe in the science of pheromone attraction, but surely there's a better way to go about it than sniffing a bag of some random guy's sweaty clothes.

A class I took several years ago at the Mint Museum qualifies as part of a hot new trend in the United Kingdom, so I feel quite cutting edge. The Brits call them Life Drawing classes. It's artists of all different skill levels meeting to paint portraits of a nude model. When I took my class, I didn't realize exactly what I was signing up for, so for the first few minutes I was surprised, but it was a fascinating artistic experience. No matter the age or body type of the model, it really does give you even more of an appreciation of the glory of the human body.

The trend I would must love to try (or watch others try) is Voga. Eighty-six percent of young British people who participated in the survey love this combination of yoga and Voguing, the 1980s New York dance craze made popular by drag queens and Madonna's famous "Vogue" song. As Madonna would say, strike a pose there's nothing to it. Now that's a way to make fitness fun! Here's a great video of a British yoga instructor demonstrating the trend. Leg warmers are optional.

Here's a summary of the report:

What's Cool
Lupito Nyong'o
Life Drawing Classes
Pheromone Parties

What's Uncool
Platform Heels
Miley Cyrus
Tinder (a smartphone dating site)
Hot Yoga

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Cheers to you, Lex!

Last night my husband and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary. We thought about going to a super fancy restaurant, but decided to keep it more low key.

My husband, an opera singer, had just returned from a month-long gig at Opera Southwest in New Mexico performing a starring  role in "The Pearl Fishers." The makeup artist for the show had asked him to grow out his sideburns. He's decided to keep the new look for a while. It's a very retro "Anchorman" look and I keep teasing him that he needs to hang out at the super cool music hall Chop Shop in NoDa.

So, yesterday afternoon I came up with a plan to eat dinner at  the Crepe Cellar, a NoDa restaurant I've been wanting to try, and head to the Chop Shop afterward. It turns out Chop Shop was closed last night (it's only open when they have a band booked). Fortunately, the Crepe Cellar was open.

What a meal, what a night! The restaurant has more than just crepes and the menu is innovative and delicious. We indulged in an embarrassing amount of food but hey, you only celebrate your 26th wedding anniversary once!

We were already having a great time when I noticed a waitress leave the bar with a tray overflowing with shots. I nudged my husband and told him to watch because I couldn't wait to see who was ordering that many drinks. We were shocked when she stopped at the attractive couple next to us who we found out later have been married for 32 years. Then the waitress stopped at our table and offered us shots. It turns out a cute young hipster named Lex was celebrating his birthday and bought everyone in the restaurant a drink.

That gesture turned the restaurant into a cocktail party and people sitting near each other started talking and carrying on like old friends. Then my husband stood up and led everyone in singing Happy Birthday to Lex.

The couple seated next to us live in Monroe but love to eat at the Crepe Cellar. They own Holloway's Music Center in Monroe where the motto is "We Give Sound Advice." They were a joy to be around.

And Lex, I have no idea what your story is, but I like your style. Happy Birthday, and cheers to you! It's spontaneous and generous moments like that one that make life so much fun.

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson 


Monday, April 7, 2014

The reality of Carole Radziwill

There are a lot of closet "The Real Housewives of New York" fans out there. I learned that when I interviewed Carole Radziwill, a star of the Bravo TV reality show, before her book signing in Charlotte last week at Park Road Books.

So many people called me, emailed me or approached me in person wanting to know what I really thought about her. The Number One thing they wanted to know is if she looks too skinny in person. (The answer is no, she doesn't look too skinny. She looks trim and healthy).

Let me rewind back to my phone conversation with her.

Carole was in between business meetings in New York City, and I'm pretty sure at one point she was eating during our interview, but she's a busy lady so that didn't bother me. The only other person I've interviewed who did that was music/fashion mogul Russell Simmons, so she's in good company. I really appreciated that she let me run over my scheduled 30 minutes with her. Some celebrities won't so that was kind of her.

I did not have time to read her New York Times best-selling memoir "What Remains," and her new fun novel "The Widow's Guide to Sex & Dating" beforehand, but I bought them at her book signing and I look forward to reading them.

Here's the link to the interview:

Among the Bravo TV insider info she told me is that she was friends with Andy Cohen before she joined "The Real Housewives of New York" in season five. Her favorite fellow "Bravolebrity" is Jenni Pulos of Bravo's "Flipping Out." "She's  a doll," Carole says. "I've met her at a few parties and she's so much fun. Such a sweetheart. She just came out with greatest book ("Grin and Bear It: How to Be Happy No Matter What Reality Throws Your Way.")

Carole also shared with me how she prefers to entertain.

“I like to have people over to my apartment,” she says. “I don’t like overly produced parties. I’m rebelling against the whole New York scene of parties that are branded and have sponsors and gift bags. I like to have a random mix of people over to my apartment. People like to hang out in the kitchen, so I set up the bar in there and let people serve themselves. If people spill drinks I don’t care. I like a very Holly Golightly apartment party that’s filled with fun music, talking and drinks.”

The night of her book signing I didn't get a chance to talk to her before she started the program and I had to leave early to pick my husband up at the airport, so I never did get to officially meet her in person. When she was introduced to the audience, I thought that she looked even more beautiful in person than she does on TV and that she's very witty, intelligent, polite and charming.

(The photos of her in this blog were taken by photographer Daniel Coston at the book signing).

Some of her fellow "RHONY" cast members accuse of her of not being a "girl's girl." I don't know about that, but my intuition was telling me she's a guy's girl. I have a feeling men love her. I bet she has beaux of all ages who have crushes on her. I don't imagine that she sits alone in her New York apartment very often unless it's by choice.

It's also clear she's a woman in love - with the character Claire she created who's the heroine of her novel. It was very interesting to watch how much she cares for Claire and it gave a peek into the life of a writer. She read two excerpts from the novel and it sounds like a hilarious and frothy read, but with more insight and intelligence than the average "chick lit" novel.

She thought Charlotte was beautiful and a weekend spent covering NASCAR for the luxury travel magazine Departures had turned her into a giddy NASCAR fan, which was fun to see. She had met Dale Jr. and sat in Jimmie Johnson's car. Now she has even more reasons for guys to love her.

Random observation on my part: She has elegant and truly lovely hands. I had never noticed that from watching her on TV. I think I'm always too busy looking at what she's wearing because she has an incredible sense of style.

After our phone interview, I went a little cray-cray as they like to say in reality TV and sent her a list of things I hoped she would do while she's here. One was visit the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art for its collection of Giacometti sculptures (in her novel, the main character's husband dies after being hit over the head with a Giacometti sculpture).

I also hoped she would drop by Capitol boutique. (When I asked Carole if she would have time to shop while she was here, she lowered her voice and in a very charming way said, "A girl always has time to shop.") Visiting I.C. London was also on my list for her because the store carries Carole's friend and fellow RHONY star Heather Thomson's Yummie Tummie shapewear line.

Carole already knew about my last suggestion, which was to visit Heather's sister-in-law, the highly respected Rabbi Judith Schindler. (Heather's husband is Jonathan Schindler, the brother of Rabbi Schindler.) "Heather told me I need to go see her," Carole said.

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Friday, April 4, 2014

A classic event on May 10

Celebrating American Classics, an inaugural spring gala sponsored by Bank of America and Merrill Lynch to benefit the Mint Museum, takes place May 10 on the lawn of the Mint Museum Randolph.

Chandra and Jimmie Johnson are honorary chairs of the black tie evening that features cocktails, dinner, dessert and dancing to music from the Atlanta band The Rupert’s Orchestra. Proceeds go to the Mint Annual Fund, which supports the museum’s programming, exhibitions and arts education.

Tickets are $500 per person. Tickets for just the dancing and dessert starting at 9 p.m. are $100.


Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Friday, March 14, 2014

Consignment sale benefits Prom Wishes

Green Jeans Consignment, a popular consignment sale, will have a pre-sale shopping event limited to 50 women at 7 p.m. March 25 to benefit Prom Wishes, a program sponsored by the Statesville nonprofit Faithful Steps, which helps dress teens in need for their proms. 

We are so honored to be the beneficiary of the Green Jeans’ charity pre-sale," said Faithful Steps President Tori Cearlock in a statement released to the media.  "With the donation, we will be able to enhance the Prom Wishes experience by not only offering beautiful dresses and accessories, but salon gift certificates for hair and nails. We know this will show the love of Christ to these wonderful girls, especially on their special night."

Tickets to the Prom Wishes benefit are $12 each. The consignment sale opens to the public from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. March 26-28, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 29. Most items will be marked half-price March 28-29. Teachers with ID are invited to shop during the half-price pre-sale event at 6:30 p.m. March 27. 

The sale takes place inside Merinos Home Furnishings, 500 S. Main St., Mooresville. Details:

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson

Viking apocalypse y'all

I was at the Wolfman Pizza at Cotswold recently and got a kick out of the restaurant's menus that resemble newspapers with funny headlines.

As a  redhead with Viking ancestors who was born in the South, I had to take a photo of this headline. It truly turns over my tickle box. I think I just came up with the theme for my next party.

A few days later, I was at Park Road Shopping Center and saw a car with possibly my favorite bumper sticker ever (only because I haven't seen a sticker that says Viking apocalypse y'all). I'm a huge Scooby-Doo fan - when I was a kiddie I would gather all my stuffed animals together and we would watch the Saturday morning cartoon together - so this made my day.

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson