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Clear Instructions on Buying I Bonds: How to navigate the worst website and actually buy I Bonds without spending an hour trying to figure out how to do it

2022 June 19
by Susan Asher

Everyone is talking about it. Up until October 2022, you can buy I bonds at the current rate of 9.62%, which is good for six months.

But navigating the Treasury Direct website is a nightmare. I and others I know have spent hours trying to navigate it, inputting in a ton of information, only to have it say at the end, the system isn’t working now and try again later. You can’t get anyone to answer the phone there or answer an email.

So tonight, I finally was able to open an account. Finally! I must have been attempting it for an hour.

The website is one of the worst websites. There are dozens and dozens of links on a page. And when you click on “How to Buy an I bond,” you don’t see a link that says anything like “Buy an I Bond.”

I don’t normally write about finance, but I want to help you navigate it relatively quickly. Without clear instructions like I’m going to give you, it’s hard to do because the links you need to click on are tiny and they may be in light gray! Other links are in blue, but the link you’re going to be looking for may be in light gray, so you can barely see it. And it doesn’t even say “Buy an I Bond.” To be fair, perhaps the link at one time was in blue, but maybe because I clicked the link at some point before, it is now and has been for the past weeks, in light gray as if the link is grayed out. If the link turned purple once you have clicked on it just once within any time frame, that would be fine. But this link is barely perceptible. OK, enough of my gripes!

Before you try to open an account, have your checking account and routing number and your driver’s license with you as you will need that information to open an account.


On the Treasury Direct homepage, on the left-hand side of the page under the column titled Individuals, click on How to Buy Series I. The new page that pops up is a beast. There is a link there that says “How Can I Buy Bonds.” Click that link. Scroll about half-way down and it will say:

How can I buy I bonds?

Two options:

Click the first option: Buy them in electronic form in our online program TreasuryDirect.

Once on the Treasury Direct page, about midway down the body of the text, to the right of a bullet point there are four tiny links–all the links are tiny. You want to click on either “Log in Now” or “Open an Account.” Of course, if you’re trying to open an account, you’ll click Open an Account. A new page will open and at the very bottom of the page, click Apply Now. If you already have an account and want to purchase I Bonds, click “Log in Now.” That will take you to a new page titled TreasuryDirect Login. Under that title, is an orange button that says Login. Click that Login button.

With these instructions, this will be very easy. Without these instructions, people have spent more than an hour trying to navigate this unruly website.

This blog post was written on June 19, 2022. As of this date, the instructions above are accurate.

‘The Wake’ at the Shakespeare Tavern May 8, 15, 22

2022 April 17
by Susan Asher

“The Wake,” a new play by one of my favorite most creative playwrights, Vennie Meli, premieres Sundays this May.

Finneas O’Conner has died, and his old cronies gather together to celebrate his life. They share laughs, sing songs and settle old scores. A woman competes with the funeral director for attention, a brawl erupts and while singing the song “Tim Finnegan’s Irish Wake,” when they get to the part about whiskey splashing on Tim Finnegan, he is brought back to life and appears. This song about the celebration of life, death and resurrection, is just one of many that crowds will know and sing along with. The friends get rowdy and compete and argue while singing familiar songs, as well as new ones written by Scott Depoy and Venni Meli. It’s a fun, lighthearted and touching show about the loss of loved ones and the memories they leave behind.

The show’s playwright, Vynnie Meli, has written plays that have been produced across the U.S., and her short-form operas have played in Australia and Germany. Twice selected for the New York Musical Festival, her musical A Cappella received numerous NYMF awards, the SteeleSprings Stage Rights Publishing Award and Alliance Theatre’s Atlanta Artists Reiser Lab. A semi-finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Award and Finalist for Theatre Resources Unlimited/TRU, she’s received ATHE and Jane Chambers Awards Honorable Mentions; and Poets & Writers Magazine and Anna Sosenko Grants. Locally, she’s received the Essential Theatre and Metropolitan Atlanta Theatre Awards for “Best New Work” and the Atlanta branch of the Nat’l League of Pen Women Award for Playwright of the Year.

Musical director Scott DePoy sang on the soundtrack for the film Cold Mountain and at the Academy Awards with Elvis Costello and Alison Krauss. He has written songs for Kaiser Permanente, Imagine it! The Children’s Museum, and has composed and performed the music for several shows, including A Child’s Garden of Verses at The Alliance Theatre and Phantom of the Opry at Upstairs at Gene and Gabe’s. He has been a musician for Cotton Patch Gospel at Theatrical Outfit and Ring of Fire and Almost Heaven; The John Denver Story at Georgia Ensemble Theatre.

Director Mira Hirsch was the founder and artistic director of Jewish Theatre of the South for the whole of that company’s thirteen-year history. She is currently a secondary school theatre teacher at Atlanta International School and an educational consultant and workshop leader with the National Jewish Theatre Foundation’s Holocaust Theatre International Initiative. Professional and university directing credits include: Indecent (Suzi Awards – nominee Outstanding Direction Play), A Little PrincessThe Best Of Enemies and My Name Is Asher Lev at Theatrical Outfit; Camelot at Atlanta Lyric; The Last Night Of Ballyhoo at Stage Door Players; The Miraculous Journey Of Edward Tulane (Suzi Awards – nominee Outstanding Direction – TYA) at Synchronicity; The Visit and Arcadia at Oglethorpe University; Falsettos (concert production) at Souper Jenny Atlanta; and Anne Frank: Within And Without at the Center for Puppetry Arts. 


The Wake, A New Play With Old Irish Songs, by Vynnie Meli, includes additional music by Scott DePoy with lyrics by Vynnie Meli. It runs at The Shakespeare Tavern, 499 Peachtree Street, NE; Atlanta, GA 30308, 7:30pm Sundays on May 8, 15 and 22. Dinner and drinks are available from 6:15 until 7:20. The show runs 80 minutes with no intermission. Tickets on sale now – $25 for General Admission and $20 for Students, Seniors, Educators & Military. or call the Shakespeare Tavern Box Office 404-874-5299 x 0. Parking is available across the street at Emory University Hospital, Midtown. 

‘Toni Stone at the Alliance Theatre

2022 February 23
by Susan Asher

The Alliance Theatre hits it out of the park with “Toni Stone,” the true story of the life of the first woman to have ever played professional baseball. The cast, script and set design are captivating and the production is stellar.

In the 1940s, Toni Stone (Kedren Spencer) played in the Negro League in the Professional baseball circuit for the Indianapolis Clowns, but her love for the sport began when she was just a child, playing ball all day, and sneaking around the field where the white boys would play so she could listen to the advice of their coach. Her mother wanted to dress her in lace and put her in more girly sports like track and ice skating where she respectively placed third and first, but she didn’t care about those sports.

Baseball is all that is on Toni’s mind. She cites the RBIs and the number of hits for the star players on her baseball cards. Although the white boys don’t know the answers to their coach’s questions, she does.  At practice, she has her own moves: she squats and shakes her butt up and down preparing to catch a ball or run to a base and she winds her arm in circles like a ferris wheel before throwing.

While ragtime and jazz play in the background, the shenanigans on the practice field are choreographed brilliantly, and when the team has to hustle out of a game against a white team where they try to outrun them and get on the bus before getting beat up, it’s a perfect orchestration of timing and ballet.

While racism and sexism abound, as does the humor, and you never feel like you’re being preached to. You’re just there in the background watching the negro league at bat in life enjoying the game, the joking and one another.

“Toni Stone” is a homerun and a win. If you miss this production, you lose.

Written by Lydia R. Diamond, directed by Tinashe Kajese-Bolden, “Toni Stone” runs at the Alliance Theatre through Feb. 27.


Amar Atkins
Dimonte Henning
Enoch King
Sekou Laidlow
Lau’rie Roach
Dane Troy
Geoffrey D. Williams

Club Hertz Comedy

2021 December 6
by Susan Asher

From Dec. 8 through Dec. 24, CLUB HERTZ LIVE at the Alliance Theatre will feature a variety of different performances each night. Bands and performers were chosen by a panel of music-industry professionals.  

I’m looking forward to seeing comic Mark Kendall host a variety show Thursday and Friday, Dec. 16 and 17 at 8 p.m. Thursdays show will feature the comedy sketch group Black AF. 

Friday night will feature a lineup of solo performers: opera singer Jayme Alilaw, poet and storyteller Theresa Davis, and standup comics Carter Deems (TV’s Wild N’ Out), David Perdue (Kevin’s Hart Presents: Hart of the City on Comedy Central), and Shalewa Sharpe (HBO’s Two Dope Queens and Comedy Central). Below is the lineup of performances beginning Dec. 8.

Tickets can be obtained online. COVID safety protocols and masks are mandatory.

World Premiere of ‘Hometown Boy’

2021 November 20
by Susan Asher

James left the South for college and moved to New York. He brings his girlfriend, Becks (Michelle Pokopac), to his old home where his father, Walter (Glen Kubota), lives and discovers his mind and home have sharply declined. James tells Becks why he hasn’t seen his father in a decade, the actions he took that tore his family apart.

‘Hometown Boy’ at Actor’s Express blends a cast of a couple of outstanding performers with a story about a young man who comes back to his hometown after a decade.

But James has his own problems in relationships. He turns away from Becks, goes to a bar, leaving her home alone for hours with Walter. During his evening jaunt, we learn that James’s problems lie far deeper than closing down communication with his girlfriend and father.

Deceit surrounds the family and its old friend, the former governor, Philip (Chris Kayser) and his daughter, Sam (Allison Dane) and her husband, Collin (Daniel Parvis).

Oh, the lies that have been woven and slowly unfold.

Kayser, Dane and Parvis are outstanding. They and the script make this a worthwhile show.

Written by Keiko Green, directed by Rebecca Wear, “Hometown Boy” runs at Actor’s Express through Nov. 28.

Church Mice at Aurora Theatre

2021 October 3
by Susan Asher
James Brooks

Church Mice is a musical sketch comedy show conceived under a peach tree in Atlanta by a bunch of local comedians during the pandemic. This show is not an indictment on religion. We already know that the stories in the bible can be interpreted six ways to Sunday. But to Love thy neighbor as thyself is a virtue fit a better world. And when folks gather on Sunday to hear the gospel, things get super weird.

Featuring laugh-out-loud sketch comedy, live music, singing, dancing, and a host of crazy characters, Church Mice is filled with side splitting laughter performed by a diverse cast of Atlanta’s funniest musical comedians. Enjoy song parodies during the annual Christian talent show, Youth Pastor Chad’s desperate attempts to boost attendance, and watch reverend James get into a fight with a snake.

Written by Sarah Mckee, Evan Conaway, Brandon Stringfield, Abigail Williams, George N Koulouris, and Will Amato

OCT. 8 at  8PM
in the Lawrenceville Arts Center Courtyard
Outdoor performance under a large tent
TICKETS from $14
Tickets are available in 3 sections.

VIP Tents: $192, includes 6 chairs and a table.
Premium Seating: $22
Standard Seating: $14

Darlin’ Cory at the Alliance Theatre

2021 September 19
by Susan Asher

Just before “Darlin’ Cory” started, my sister and I were in the bathroom saying we had no high expectations for the long play we were about to see. I assured her– as she normally dislikes live theater–that we could leave at intermission.

At intermission I asked if she had a cold. She had been blowing her nose a lot during the performance. No, she said, she was crying. I’m very emotional she said. She cried intermittently throughout the second act as well.

I didn’t cry at all and didn’t understand what had touched her so much. But I can say that from the moment the play started, I was enrapt in it. The action continually moved forward. There wasn’t a moment that the play stood still and I became bored.

I originally knew it was going to be about life of Appalachian country folk, folk I can’t relate to much as I grew up in Atlanta and later lived in Manhattan for six years. I imagined, and feared, it would be another one of those country plays where people sing and dance to yee-haw music. I had pictured banjos, dulcimers and guitars and tunes I could never relate to.

But I could. And the music was great, and the script, and the acting.

The irony is that yes, there are guitars and dulcimers, mandolins, and other string instruments, but the music moved my heart and my body.

Darlin’ Cory is more Faulkner than hootenanny. And like Faulkner, it’s terrific.

Book by Phillip DePoy, music by Sugarland’s Grammy-Award winning front man, Kristian Bush, “Darlin’ Cory” runs at the Alliance Theatre until Oct. 3.


Jeremy Aggers
Jimez Alexander
Marcello Audino
John bobek
Jewl Carney
Katie Deal
Kelli Dodd
Rob Lawhon
Rhyn Mclemore
Gillian Rabin
Maria Rodriguez-Sager
Asia Rogers


2021 August 17
by Susan Asher
Darlin’ Cory, musich from Sugarland’s Grammy Award-winning front man, Kristian Bush

The Alliance Theatre announces its return to the Coca-Cola Stage with the world premiere musical, DARLIN’ CORY. Set against the backdrop of 1920s Appalachia, DARLIN’ CORY is a haunting new musical by playwright & novelist Phillip DePoy (Edward Foote) and Sugarland’s Grammy Award-winning front man, Kristian Bush (Troubadour). DARLIN’ CORY is directed by the Alliance’s Jennings Hertz Artistic Director, Susan V. Booth (Ever After, Troubadour). Performances begin September 8, 2021.

In a tiny mountain town with no road in – and no road out – a community carries secrets of all sizes. But when a young woman with ambition and intelligence collides with a pastor deeply committed to preserving the status quo, cracks begin to appear in the town’s well-constructed façade. And when a stranger appears with a mysterious backstory and the best moonshine anyone’s ever tasted – some of those secrets threaten to spill. Featuring an original folk-country score, this modern-day myth inspired by local lore promises to leave audiences on the edge of their seats.

“DARLIN’ CORY is, in my experience, a unique musical – Greek themes, Appalachian stories, supernatural characters, and new music all focused on specific contemporary events, current news—and I think it’s the most collaborative enterprise with which I’ve been connected in this century, thanks to Susan and Kristian and [Line Producer] Amanda Watkins,” said Playwright and Co-Lyricist Phillip DePoy.  “Absolutely remarkable.”

“It’s not every day that you get to play with magic; real magic. Writing, making, and dreaming DARLIN’ CORY to life has been nothing short of magic,” said Composer and Co-Lyricist Kristian Bush. “I keep trying to explain it to my friends in the music industry when they ask what I am working on right now. I say ‘close your eyes.  Imagine starting a band with six lead singers that need a double album, a double live album, actually, to be released worldwide, with a tour that goes with it… and dancers, and lights, and production that will never be seen by an audience until it all gets released, on the same day. Oh yeah, and also that band sometimes sounds like Arcade Fire and sometimes sounds like Dolly Parton, and might or might not contain details from your own life buried within it, wrapped in a story about a town and a girl and moonshine and secrets.’ This is what we are doing in the next few weeks. This kind of magic.”

DARLIN’ CORY will have its world premiere on the Coca-Cola Stage at Alliance Theatre September 8 – October 3, 2021.  Tickets and information are available at    

  • Vaccination requirement – all patrons will be required to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative test taken prior to their performance date, as well as a matching photo ID, to enter the performance. 
  • Masks – Masks are required to be worn properly indoors at all times.
  • Reduced contact – Ticket scanning will be contactless, and staff will be equipped with masks and gloves. 
  • Air Circulation – The Alliance has replaced all HVAC units with HVAC ionization systems, which provide a 99.4% reduction of COVID-19 within 30 minutes.  HVAC ionization is more effective than other air-cleaning methods and helps kill other types of viruses, such as the flu, and air pollutants.


Coca-Cola Stage at Alliance Theatre 

Woodruff Arts Center, Memorial Arts Building 

1280 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30309

‘High Risk, Baby!’

2021 June 13
by Susan Asher

Shelby Hofer has guts. Her one-woman show “High Risk, Baby!” follows her own life from a bossy tyke who told her dolls and friends exactly what to do to her current status as middle-aged mother.

As a child, Hofer loved babies and would lock eyes with them. She pretended to give birth to them as dolls would spew forth from her crotch. Her dream was to have a baby. As an adult, the years ticked by, and she had imaginary conversations with Oprah. Maybe babies weren’t all that necessary.

On stage, Hofer runs around jumping, leaping, and dancing, talking to and throwing her dolls, bringing back images of Gilda Radner as “The Judy Miller Show.” This is the child who takes Ritalin to treat her ADD.

This inquisitive child shares that she doesn’t understand the things she hears. She has no one to turn to to give her answers. She found in her home her parent’s copy of “The Joy of Sex,” but she needed help understanding the book. She’s heard about blow jobs and camel toes and calls upon audience members to help her understand their meaning.

As a child, Hofer mothered her baby brother and always wanted to be a mother, until she came of age. We see her in her early thirties as she constantly answers her mother’s phone calls reminding her that her eggs will be gone and she’s running out of time.

Now, at 35, it’s too late. She discovers she can’t get pregnant. But she wants a baby more than anything. We see her at age 37 travel to another continent and trust strangers from non-English speaking countries to tell her what she must do to have a baby.

Hofer is a “High Risk, Baby!”. She puts the mistakes of her life on the table for all of us to see and marvel at how she never gives up and finally finds what she has always been looking for.

Written by Shelby Hofer and directed by Ellen McQueen, “High Risk, Baby” was performed from May to June 12 and will be remounting in the fall at PushPush Arts. The theater, of which Hofer is a co-founder, helps artists explore new ideas and collaborate across the globe. See more at PushPush Arts.

‘Working: A Musical’ Opens at the Alliance Theatre

2021 April 26
by Susan Asher
Working Cast

WORKING: A MUSICAL explores what makes our work meaningful across all walks of life. Whether it be in an office, a restaurant, your home, or you’ve retired, this musical reminds us to celebrate not only what we do, but how we do it.

The Alliance’s production will include never-before-seen monologues, as well as a new song.  The new monologues are based on interviews the Alliance conducted with people who impact and sustain Atlanta through their work, with a focus on the resilience of workers over the past year.  The new song will be inspired by the theater’s interviews with Atlanta’s community organizers and activists, showcasing the vital role that Atlanta and Georgia have played in conversations on race and politics this year.

The song lyrics will be written by poet, author, and actor Carlos Andrés Gómez.  Gómez has won awards for his books Fractures, Hijito, and his memoir Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood.  He is also a star of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam.  Music for the new song will be composed by musician and producer, Brandon Bush with his brother, Grammy Award-winning songwriter and Sugarland front man, Kristian Bush.  Brandon Bush’s musical career includes his time as a studio musician performing on releases by John Mayer, Sugarland, and Shawn Mullins, as well as performing globally as part of the multi-platinum-selling rock band Train.  Kristian Bush’s career includes front man and songwriter roles for the bands Billy Pilgrim, Sugarland, and Dark Water, as well as his solo albums.   

Original WORKING adapter Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin) has been an active collaborator on the Alliance’s production.  On their process, Director Tamilla Woodard said, ““It’s humbling to sit in the (virtual) room with one of the greatest lyricists and composers in all of the American theater! [Schwartz] remains so deeply inquisitive of the process and collaborative and trusting as we make our way through this concept and how we would be reshaping the show to include Atlanta voices.”

With original songs by Lin-Manual Miranda, Stephen Schwartz, James Taylor, and more, the Alliance Theatre’s concert staging of WORKING will premiere as part of the “Under the Tent” series. WORKING is presented as part of the Alliance’s Under the Tent series, April 22 – June 6, 2021.  For tickets and information, visit