Travel Memories: Berlin

Earlier this week I reviewed the movie Cabaret. The film made me think about our trip to Berlin back in 2012. If you haven’t been to the city I highly recommend it. It’s a fantastic place and we may be heading back there this summer. Here are some photos from the trip.

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Movie Review: Caberet

Cabaret is one of my favorite musicals, but I’ve only seen it performed on the stage. For some reason, the movie never appealed to me, even though it has been recommended to me on countless occasions considering I love the musical and I studied this part of German history in grad school.

The film, according to IMDb, is about:

A female girlie club entertainer in Weimar Republic era Berlin romances two men while the Nazi Party rises to power around them.

This 1972 musical stars Liza Minnelli, Michael York, and Joel Grey. Bob Fosse directed it. If you are a huge fan of the theater production, I should note that not many of the numbers are used in the film. I found this slightly disappointing myself. And if you’re expecting all of the actors to sign, once again, you may be let down again. Only the Emcee (Joel Grey) and Sally (Liza Minnelli) belt out a song occasionally. Belt out doesn’t do either of them justice–both have beautiful voices.

The movie won eight Academy Awards, which is a record for a single year without claiming the top prize: Best Picture. It won for Best Director (Bob Fosse), Best Actress (Minnelli), Best Supporting Actor (Grey), and five more awards for technical aspects. The Godfather won Best Picture that year.

Now I went into this film thinking it would be just like the musical. And it wasn’t. At first I was disappointed. The Better Half hasn’t seen the musical and really enjoyed the film. After a few days I realized I actually liked the film. I just had to get over my hissy fit of not getting my way. So if you haven’t seen this and are a fan of the musical do your best to forget the musical while watching the film. Just enjoy it as is, not for what you want it to be.

Up next is: American Graffiti

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The Long Room Bar and Hotel

The Long Room Bar and Hotel, located in Tooting, opened in 2007. Not only do they serve food and drinks, but they have 14 hotel rooms available so if you imbibed too much, why not stay the night. We’ve been to this establishment on three occasions now. Once for drinks and twice for lunch, plus drinks.

This is a large bar and has a little something for everyone. There are televisions for sports fans and a small movie theater in the back where they screen films on Monday. Also, I think they have live music on occasion. In addition to serving beer and cider, they have an extensive cocktail menu and have a happy hour every night from 5-8 p.m.

The first time we had lunch there we were in a hurry. However we thought we had plenty of time for a sit down meal instead of hopping into a fast food joint. Unfortunately our meals took 40 minutes to appear. I ordered Pad Kai Pow, a spicy chicken stir fry, and I inhaled it as soon as the food hit the table. It was one of the better meals I’ve had in a pub in many months. Luckily we still made our appointment but it was a close call. Why is it when you’re in a hurry, things tend to take three times as long as normal?

I found myself craving the stir fry a few weeks later and when we had the chance we went back. This time the food arrived much sooner and was just as tasty.

They have a lot of seating outside and I’m hoping if the rain ever stops and it warms up enough we can take Miles for a visit. Stay tuned. I give this pub 4 out of 5 stars.

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Travel Photos of the Week: Mark Twain’s Home in Hartford

I mentioned earlier this week that I would share some photos from my visit to Mark Twain’s house in Hartford, Connecticut. This isn’t the first time some of the photos appeared on this blog. Back when I first started blogging in 2011 I had no idea what I was doing (I’m still learning). I would put up a post and my best friend would make a comment and no one else. Then I posted about Twain’s house. When I got home after work I checked my blog and saw that tons of people commented on it. And people kept writing congrats on being FP’d. I didn’t know what that meant. I Googled it and discovered it meant Freshly Pressed. I felt like an idiot. Anyhoos, back to the house. Unfortunately you can’t take photos inside, but the outside gives you a pretty good idea. If you are in Hartford I really recommend taking a tour of the house.

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Book Review: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is one of my all-time faves. I don’t think I’m alone when it comes to loving this book. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

“All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.” – Ernest Hemingway

Of all the contenders for the title of The Great American Novel, none has a better claim than The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Intended at first as a simple story of a boy’s adventures in the Mississippi Valley – a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - the book grew and matured under Twain’s hand into a work of immeasurable richness and complexity. More than a century after its publication, the critical debate over the symbolic significance of Huck’s and Jim’s voyage is still fresh, and it remains a major work that can be enjoyed at many levels: as an incomparable adventure story and as a classic of American humor.

Well that pretty much says it all. I honestly can’t remember the first time I read this. But I must have been young since I remember dressing up as Huck for Halloween when I was in the fifth grade. All the other kids were jealous of my corn cob pipe.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t get this novel completely when I was a kid. It’s like the Looney Tune cartoons. Funny to children, but as an adult you see the cartoons through different eyes and understand just how hilarious the stunts are and what the artists were saying about society.

This novel has one of the greatest lines in it, in my opinion. Please note that the following contains a huge spoiler. When Huck thinks that he and Jim will be safe and that Jim will be freed from slavery, Huck realizes that he helped Jim escape. As a slave, Jim is someone else’s property, and Huck essentially stole from that person. He sits down to write a letter to Miss Watson, Jim’s owner, telling her where to find her property. Then he starts to remember his time with Jim. All the fun they had and all the times Jim was there for him. Huck says, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell” and then he tears up the letter. The irony is beautiful since Huck learns to see Jim as a man not as a slave, yet he still thinks he’s in the wrong, when in fact, slavery was an abomination.

Several years ago I had the chance to visit Mark Twain’s home in Hartford, Connecticut. At this home, he worked on this masterpiece. It was amazing to stand in the room where Twain wrote parts of Huck Finn. This will sound silly for some, but it was one of the best times of my life. To stand there and soak it in. This week the travel photos show Twain’s house so stayed tune.

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The Red Dog Saloon: American BBQ in London

Last weekend we celebrated The Better Half’s birthday. To kick off the festivities, we headed to Red Dog Saloon located on Hoxton Square. They serve American BBQ. TBH picked out the joint and I was super excited until the day before. Someone from the restaurant called to confirm our reservation and informed me that our reservation was from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. I didn’t like how she implied we had to be out of the place by half past three.

Here’s the dilemma. TBH is the slowest eater in the world. I used to think my grandfather was the slowest until I met TBH. One and half hours may sound like a reasonable time for most people to enjoy lunch, but I knew since we were celebrating we’d order appetizers, a main course, and dessert. And let’s not forget drinks.

To say I was worried is an understatement. I mentioned to TBH that we had a deadline. TBH instantly said, “Cancel the reservation.” It was a tempting thought, but then I remembered that this was a place TBH had mentioned on several occasions. So we went. I was preparing myself for a stern talk with the manager. No one was going to kick us out on TBH’s birthday.

I have to say the entire staff was friendly. We didn’t have one particular waiter. At one point I counted and determined five different people, give or take one or two, made sure we had everything we needed. The food was pretty good. The only thing I didn’t like was the pecan pie. Luckily TBH ordered Mississippi Mud pie and that saved the day.

This place was hopping as soon as we walked in. However, by the time the main course arrived, it was only half full. That put me at ease. We didn’t leave until a quarter to five. I told you, TBH is the slowest eater ever. Below you’ll find some photos of the place and the food. If you are in London and would like to sample some American BBQ give it a go.

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Travel Photos of the Week: I’m tired of rain!

And this is coming from someone who loves rain. I need a beach vacation. We’ve had loads of cold, windy, gray, rainy days. I know for those of you buried in snow will say shut up. I understand. I get it. Many people in North America have had a crappy winter. For all of you who are tired of winter, come to the beach with me. Don’t forget the sunscreen.

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Happy Birthday Better Half!

It’s Friday and usually I do a pub review on Fridays. Not today. Instead, I wanted to take a moment to say Happy Birthday to my Better Half. This whole weekend we have plans to celebrate, including a restaurant that we haven’t been to. And I have a feeling we might pop into a pub or two. I hope all of you have a marvelous weekend. We’re off to celebrate!

Photo taken in Paris in 2012.

Photo taken in Paris in 2012.


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Travel Photos of the Week: Colorado

This week’s inspiration for my travel photo collage is the Super Bowl. Yes, I know, the Broncos lost. Lost big time. We were so excited for the big game and made homemade salsa, grilled some steaks, and stayed up late on Sunday to watch, certain that Peyton Manning would lead the Broncos to a victory. Oh boy, were we wrong. For those who didn’t watch and haven’t heard, the Broncos were killed by the Seattle Seahawks: 43-8. Ouch!

Oh well, there’s always next year. Thinking of Colorado has made me a bit homesick. I lived in the colorful state for fifteen years. Unfortunately I don’t have many photos since I was broke for many of those years. I was able to dig up a few. Scroll over the photos for descriptions.

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Movie Review: Network

When I saw the title of the next movie on the top 100 list I have to admit I had never heard of it. Couldn’t name any of the actors in it. Seriously, I was completely clueless. I looked it up on IMDb and read the blurb:

A television network cynically exploits a deranged former anchor’s ravings and revelations about the news media for its own profit.

Okay, I was intrigued. Then I delved a little deeper and saw the cast: Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, and Robert Duvall. Now I was really curious. I admire all of these actors. So I popped the DVD in and settle down with The Better Half and the boys.

Within thirty minutes, The Better Half and Miles were asleep and Atticus left the room. I’ll be honest, I really wasn’t into the movie either, but I have a rule: I have to watch the entire film. Last week when I mentioned that this was the next movie on the list, many of you warned me it was one of those films that you either love or hate. I didn’t want to be a hater. So I tried to stay positive.

Is it over yet?

Is it over yet?

Before I say what I didn’t like, let me point out the good aspects. The writing is superb. The acting is right on the money. So what didn’t I like. The story. Maybe it’s because I watched it in 2014 and not when it was released in 1976. However, I was only two when it came out.

In today’s world, we expect TV executives to do everything in their power to garner viewers. They exploit people all the time in hopes of getting a few extra advertising dollars. I mean look at some of the programming on MTV. So I wasn’t shocked by the film. And that’s probably not fair to this particular film. I should have tried to view it from the time period it came from, but I just couldn’t. I blame myself, not the film.

In fact it was wildly successful in its day. It won four academy awards for Best Actor (Peter Finch), Best Actress (Faye Dunaway), Best Supporting Actress (Beatrice Straight), and Best Original Screenplay (Paddy Chayefsky).

So don’t listen to me. Many others like this film. It just didn’t click for me, but that doesn’t mean it won’t for you. And like I said, the acting is fantastic.

Up next is: Cabaret. Great! I love the musical, but I’ve never seen the film.

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