December 10, 2016

A Friendship Rekindled Through Comedy

Linda Vorachack and Danielle Smith
co-creators, writers, and stars of D&L In the Atl

ATLANTA - The world needs to laugh more. Well, at least that's what Danielle Smith and Linda Vorachack of Atlanta, Georgia think.  While growing up in central Georgia, these two were inseparable. Their parents were best friends and even spent numerous Christmas holidays together. When Danielle's mother became the Godmother of both Linda and her brother John, the friends deemed themselves God-sisters. 

Unfortunately, as they grew older, like most childhood friends, they eventually grew apart. Linda's family moved North of Atlanta while Danielle's family remained in Macon. Thirteen years later these two sisters magically reunited.

"I always knew I'd be reunited with my long-lost friend at some point in our lives. I just didn't know when," said Danielle Smith, co-creator and executive producer of D&L In the Atl. "I finally got to see Linda when she showed up to her mom's house who was hosting an event that day. Though we didn't reconnect at that time, I still hoped we could catch up." 

Now four years later, not only have the two rekindled their friendship but they have also rekindled their love for making silly short skits. Only this time, they aren't begging their parents to watch them put on a show in a living room like they did as kids. 

"Ever since I've known Danielle, I feel like God brought her into my life to make me a better person," said Linda Vorachack, co-creator, writer, and co-star of the show. "In turn, it makes me want to be there for other people so that they too can see their own potential. Even though we've been apart for thirteen years, I feel my connections with other people throughout my life was a journey that God intended to teach me many life lessons."  

Anyone who knows the story of how drastically different their lives were over those years apart, would hardly believe that they still had anything in common. Luckily that wasn't true. Linda still had a Godmother, and both Danielle and Linda loved the woman dearly. 

While visiting Danielle's ill mom in the hospital in October 2015, the two began telling random stories to make her laugh. Within the hour they began writing skits that, little did they know, would soon become one of many they would film in September 2016. After testing their material in front of live audiences with another sketch comedy show in Atlanta, the two knew they were ready. 

Some might consider D&L In the Atl to be a modern version of the 90's hit In Living Color, except with two female hosts. They are hoping it will be a breath of fresh air from the stereotypical Atlanta comedy scene. Their style of comedy doesn't rely on profanity to carry punch lines and the scenarios are unlike anything you've ever seen. However, that will be for their audience to decide.

"Though we haven't pitched it to the networks yet, we're hoping the premiere will give us an honest evaluation if the world is ready for our style of comedy," Smith said. "With anything, people will always be critical of your work, but as long as people see value in our humor, then I think it's worth the investment."

The show's pilot episode will premiere Monday, December 19th at the Plaza Theatre on Ponce de Leon in Atlanta. Tickets can be purchased on

October 13, 2016

Discovering Purpose Through a Hurricane

Lorenzo Green (left) and Larry Bowen (right), new best friends and evacuees of Hurricane Matthew, enjoy a funny conversation at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center, in Savannah, Georgia, October 10, 2016.  (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Perry)

SAVANNAH INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND CONVENTION CENTER, Savannah, Ga., October 10, 2016 – I remember the first time I seriously considered military service. I was watching TV and a commercial with Soldiers conducting rescue missions out of a helicopter was on. It had that feel good music to make you want to sign up that same day. Though it would be years later before I actually raised my right hand to join the Army National Guard, I still remember that feeling of empowerment and purpose.
With nearly five years under my belt, I finally experienced that feeling.  As we received the news of Hurricane Matthew preparing to pummel the south eastern coast of the United States, I knew I might be called upon. Before I knew it, I dropped my toddler son off with his grandparents in the middle of the night, and I was headed south on a closed highway.
What most civilians don’t realize is that in addition to the first responders like the police, fire department, power companies, EMTs, and others; the National Guard is the second group to move in and assist the civil support agencies where needed. Yes, military vehicles can be scary to some, but behind those steering wheels are our nations’ sons and daughters that possess special skills that are vital to every mission given. They are professional engineers, water purification specialist, mechanics, IT technicians, and more.
I’ll never forget the feeling that really struck my heart when I walked into the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center. My line of work grants me more access than most and that day we were documenting the activities of an infantry company that was assisting the American Red with returning evacuees.  Yes, infantry Soldiers were passing out first aid kits, moving supplies, distributing water and playing games with the children. Seeing them with the children was nearly tear-jerking because who knew what their families would soon have to return home to. 
Then across the room I noticed an unlikely pair; two elderly men laughing as if a Hurricane had never even happened. I couldn’t help myself. I just had to speak with them. As soon as I walked over they both smiled greeting me warmly; giving me permission to sit on the cot across from them.
Their names were Larry and Lorenzo, two gentlemen in their mid to late sixties with the biggest smiles you’d ever see. Despite being born during a time when their interaction would have been discouraged, they had recently become the best of friends. Delighted by my eagerness to hear more, they welcomed my interview.
“This was my fourth time evacuating,” said Lorenzo Green, 65, Savannah native.
He had heard the housing authority and police would be coming around to evacuate everyone and that there would be a curfew put in place.
“The only thing I did was start packing and went downstairs to catch the CAT bus to the civic center,” Green said.  
There, he filled out paperwork and boarded the evacuation bus to Augusta; where the two men met. You would have never known they had just met each other because they knew each other’s stories so well and often times finished each other’s sentences. Unlike Lorenzo, Larry didn’t know what to expect but he knew the situation was urgent enough to take seriously.
“I didn’t know what to do,” said Larry Bowen, 69, of Pooler, Georgia. “I’ve never evacuated so when I saw the TV screen read evacuate, get out of here; I got scared.”
He had never seen that type of warning in Pooler before.
“I called GA Power to see what I needed to do with my appliances,” Bowen said. “I turned my refrigerator on high and unplugged my air conditioner.”
Luckily while he was away, Bowen was able to speak to a neighbor that stayed behind who reported that his home looked fine; information that was definitely appreciated. The one thing they both kept mentioning was how nice and professional the police and civil support personnel were.
“They cared about you and really looked out for you,” Bowen said. “I can’t complain. You’d walk up to them and they would try every way in the world to help.”
They were both very pleased by their experience which will most likely make the decision to evacuate a bit easier for them in the future.
Overall, I didn’t know what to expect when I went to support the Hurricane Matthew relief efforts; but I can say that it was one of the most gratifying experiences of my time in service. We were there to help and I witnessed it firsthand. For days soldiers were helping people, directing traffic, removing trees, distributing food, monitoring neighborhoods in the dark, helping clean up and all without appearing to think twice about the holiday weekend they were missing with their families. This is how I know I made the right choice.
To my fellow American citizens, be thankful that you live in the United State of America. It is because of our tax paying dollars and these selfless acts from our first responders, military service members, and those of everyday citizens that voluntarily lend a helping hand; is what truly make our nation great.  Without it, we wouldn’t be able to rebuild our nation as timely and as efficiently as we do. We are so very blessed.
As long as my line of work promotes teamwork, integrity, peace, unity, diplomacy, decency, inclusiveness and selfless-service; I will always do my best to uphold and exemplify the strong moral values my parents instilled in me.  I can only hope that you too will find your purpose. May God bless America!

October 23, 2015

Two Atlanta Haunted Attractions You Must Visit This Season, Or Else...

With Halloween quickly approaching, the time to get a good scare in is quickly dwindling. Whether you're the haunted house enthusiast or not, one should never go the season without going to at least one haunted attraction. 
The one thing you should never assume is that haunted attractions will be around forever. Many of them spring upon available real estate and are lucky if they can even get a few seasons out of it.  So consider yourself lucky if you've had the opportunity to visit some of the great ones of Atlanta's past. 

Here are two haunted attractions that will be saying goodbye after this year. Here we go! 

This season in particular, you MUST visit the Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse: Dead End. If you weren't aware, the original AZA venue off of Moreland Avenue and Thurman Road was scheduled to close after the 2014 season. So those who never dared to go really missed out. They even shot a film around the 2013 season's attraction that took the film festival circuit by storm.

You can watch it online for free

However, just when you thought your zombie encounters were really over, the creators of the Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse were asked to return just one weekend for a greater cause.  The Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse: Dead End is scheduled to be held on Friday, October 23rd and Saturday, October 24th only. According to the official website, Melissa Wakamo and Red Robin Realtors are the ones to thank for sponsoring this one weekend event. All proceeds will benefit the Maynard Jackson High School Parent Teacher Student Association which uses funds to support student and teacher projects. 

If you never visited the previous Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse, this might be your last chance to experience anything even close to the freakishly scary mayhem it first brought to the city back in 2010. Again, don't assume good things last forever. So be sure to stop by and be ready to run for your life.  Don't say we didn't warn you because this may very well be your last chance to see if you could survive an actual zombie apocalypse.

This Halloween season we are saddened to share the news that this year will be the final season of Chambers of Horror at the Masquerade. If we're lucky, it could return someday, but there are no guarantees it will or where it would be located. With its 7th year in operation, this year's final show has pulled out all the stops. If you visited before, expect more scares, freakier scenarios, and even wetter body shots of God knows what. Ewww! 

Chambers of Horror's popularity has grown immensely over the years and if you were to ever see it now compared to where it started years ago, the show in no way needs to apologize for any offensive or bold step taken.  It's twisted and crazy on purpose and patrons already know that.  However, not for much longer. According to one of our sources, condominiums ("yes, more condos in Atlanta.") are scheduled to be developed on the property. So don't miss your chance. It's one of the only haunted attractions inside the perimeter and may be the last. Chambers is located at 695 North Avenue Northeast just a block away from the new Ponce City Market. 

Check it out for yourself, as these first-times dare to take on this year's Chambers of Horror attraction. Brace yourselves! Click here to watch this Rare Media video. 

If you plan attending Chamber the weekend of October 23rd and 24th, North Avenue between Boulevard and Freedom Parkway will shut down due to the Red Bull Soapbox Derby. Also, North Angier Avenue beside the Masquerade and Old 4th Ward will be closed for parking. So plan your transportation in advance.  

With only two more weekends to get your fill of Halloween festivities in, you might as well grab some friends and have fun by visiting a haunted attraction. Just remember to be safe and not to drink and drive. If you must, call an Uber or Lyft to get you home safely. Both ride-share services serve the Atlanta area. First-time Uber riders can earn $20 toward your first trip using the code CHAMBERSATL. 

Happy Halloween!