Review: Station Eleven

Station Eleven
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Survival is not enough.”

These are the words painted on the side of the Symphony’s wagon and tattooed on the arm of one of the two primary protagonists of Emily St. John Mandel’s latest novel. The tattooed girl is Kirsten, an actress in her late 20s who is our primary guide to life in the 20 years after the “Georgia Flu” has wiped out 99% of humanity. Continue reading “Review: Station Eleven”

Italy – Day Seven – Padua and Verona – Shakespeare would be proud!

IMG_2860_2We woke up Monday morning with the sad realization our whirlwind tour of Northern Italy was coming to an end. We weren’t in as big a rush as we had been since today was going to be devoted to seeing the city we’d been staying in and then moving north and eventually ending up at the airport preparing for a 6am flight. Continue reading “Italy – Day Seven – Padua and Verona – Shakespeare would be proud!”

Review: Big Hero 6

The latest Disney offering is based on a comic book although it retains little of its initial concept. In this incarnation, the main character of Hiro Hamada is a 14 year old robotics/computer genius who is recruited by Tadashi, his older brother, also a robotics whiz, to join him in a university robotics program. All Hiro has to do is impress the program’s founder at the annual robotics show and he’s in. Needless to say, he does.

What happens after that, though, is where things start to go wrong. When a fire breaks out at the show, Tadashi runs into the blaze to save his mentor. The subsequent explosion kills them both.  Continue reading “Review: Big Hero 6”

Italy – Day Six – Venice – Tastes and Tours

DSC04261Hotel Junior, where we stayed in Padua, was the only hotel to actually provide breakfast (regardless of the ones who offered, even at an extra cost). Breakfast is served from 8-9:30 daily and consists of rolls with butter, cheese, jam and Nutella along with a cup of coffee and/or juice. Sunday morning we got to the breakfast room at 7:45 but were still welcomed with genuine Italian family warmth. We ate hungrily then grabbed a smaller bag (it was nice not to have to take our backpacks for the whole day) and headed out. Continue reading “Italy – Day Six – Venice – Tastes and Tours”

Italy – Day Five – Venice – Not like Vegas, Baby!

DSC04236Checking out of our hotel, the Arcoveggio, was easy. They were the only ones who actually took the credit card from Booking.com to cover the room (we still had to fork over the room fee, which I paid in cash but probably could have put on the card) and our walk to to the train station took no time at all. The ride itself was beautiful, with mountains in the distance and a long bridge leading to the Venice train station. Upon entering the city, we chose to walk, rather than take a water bus so we could really get the lay of the (is)land.  Continue reading “Italy – Day Five – Venice – Not like Vegas, Baby!”

Italy – Day Four – Modena/Marenello – The Prancing Horse!

DSC04140Our first full day in Bologna wasn’t spent in Bologna nearly at all. Instead we were going to be taking a little excursion to Modena and Maranello. For Rasa, these were the places to be excited about. While she certainly enjoyed where we’d been, today was all about her passion: Formula 1 racing.  Continue reading “Italy – Day Four – Modena/Marenello – The Prancing Horse!”

Italy – Day Three – Florence is hungry!

DSC04064Waking up in Florence, in our private B&B, was a weird experience. We knew we wanted to make the most of the day (we’d planed our route the night before) so again we got up early (not as early as yesterday, however, we learnt from that mistake) and showered and packed all without seeing another person (and in fact, the other two rooms on our floor were demonstrably empty). As we were leaving, though, a door opened downstairs and our host sleepily stumbled out, asking for payment. I proffered my bank card and was asked for cash. Two hotels booked through Booking.com and two hotels asked for cash after requiring a credit card for booking purposes. Inconvenient to be sure. The other thing to remember about Italy – they charge you a tax for existing. There is a city tax per person per night at each hotel and most restaurants add in a per person fee for the pleasure of dining in. Additionally, something I didn’t know, but if you stand at the bar and drink your beverage, you’ll pay significantly less than if you take a seat at a table. Important tips. Continue reading “Italy – Day Three – Florence is hungry!”

Review: Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Publishing

Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Publishing
Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Publishing by Dean Wesley Smith
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

If there’s only one thing to take away from this book it’s that Dean Wesley Smith has traditionally published over 100 novels. Seriously. He tells us this repeatedly in order to prove his bonafides. This makes sense when you remember these ten essays were originally published on his blog (and are still there, among others) so you weren’t getting them all at once. Might have been nice to reformat or go over the collection in advance of compiling them into a book, but one of the other bits of advice we get is (in other words) never look back – keep moving forward. Continue reading “Review: Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Publishing”

Italy – Day Two – Genoa and Pisa – Rain drops all fall at the same speed…

DSC04004Our plan was to see as much as we could in Italy, even if that meant not seeing things in great depth. To that end, our horrible experience in Hotel Valley would only last the one night and we would get up early to get to the train station and get down the coast to Genoa. We had planned for a 7am wake-up. Unfortunately, the best laid plans…  Continue reading “Italy – Day Two – Genoa and Pisa – Rain drops all fall at the same speed…”

Italy – Day One – Milan – The Last Supper and a late dinner

IMG_2699_2I knew I needed to get away for a few days in January. It’s not just the cold and the lack of sun, but they don’t help. I needed a routine break. At the end of September Monika had done a ten day train trip and something like that sounded good. I also wanted to go to Malta or a Greek island would have been nice. I also wasn’t sure if I’d be going alone or with Rasa, since she had her own work to do. There was talk of going to India with Jennica, but timing on that didn’t quite work out (and the cost was a bit prohibitive as well). So I was in a bit of a quandary.  Continue reading “Italy – Day One – Milan – The Last Supper and a late dinner”

Aga – Boom (Boom Boom)

IMG_2755_2A few weeks ago, my friend Kevin contacted me on Facebook. A friend of his was a in a clown troupe who would be performing in Vilnius and might have need for a stage manager. So I contacted Kevin’s friend, who put my in touch with Iryna, one of the clowns and the partner of Dimitri, the guy who had created the show – a show called Aga-BoomContinue reading “Aga – Boom (Boom Boom)”

Review: What If (2013)

What-If-Movie-PosterWhat if.

What if you meet the person of your dreams but they’re already involved with someone else? What if you keep hanging around because having them in your life in any capacity is better than not having them at all? This is the premise of the film What If (originally titled The F Wordstarring Daniel Radcliffe as Wallace, the smitten in the above scenario and Zoe Kazan as Chantry, the smitee (smiter? maybe more apt).

The two meet one night at a party thrown by the Alan (Adam Driver) who is Wallace’s old roommate and Chantry’s cousin. They bond over clever repartee and magnetic word poetry and by the end of the night, the leave together, Wallace walking Chantry to her door.  Continue reading “Review: What If (2013)”

What Age Did Well-Known Authors Publish Their Most Famous Works? | ShortList Magazine

IMG_2551What Age Did Well-Known Authors Publish Their Most Famous Works? | ShortList Magazine.

Just good to remember that not everyone gets success at the same time. And it’s never too late to make it big.

In other words – you have to keep at it. Whatever it is you’re doing. I know what Mike Rowe has to say on the subject, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep at it. He’s saying you may not be good at everything you try to do, and that’s okay. Shouldn’t stop you from having fun doing it – even if you don’t make a career at it.

Cause you know, you might just get good enough.

Happy Birthday, David Bowie

See David Bowie transform over the years in one animated GIF.

Recently, David Bowie celebrated his 68th birthday. Artist Helen Green made this great little animation highlighting the various changes the man has gone through over the last 50 years or so. ETA I just found out today is actually the 50th anniversary of his first record released using the name “Bowie.”

Myself, I’ve always been a Bowie fan. Often, more a fan of the man himself than his music. Not that I don’t like his music, I do, but it’s never spoken to me as much as some other artists and certainly not as much as the actor behind all these looks has.  Continue reading “Happy Birthday, David Bowie”