America, Countries, Culture, Europe, UK

Five films to escape the Platinum Jubilee

And because we’re not all pliant subjects here are five films to escape the Platinum Jubilee.

And other ideas will follow through the week.

Historical

Life is a Cabaret: Berlin

Cabaret: And because it’s only the best film ever made.

Daddy’s Little Girl was my proxy in Berlin this past week where she partied at the KitKat Club, named for the Cabaret burlesque club.

From the opening credits of the MC and Sally Bowles singing Wilkommen you will be drawn into 1930s Nazi Berlin.

It is musical, historical, tragic and comic. In a word it is Magic.

Comical

The talk: Jim and his Dad in the Great Lakes

American Pie: And this is like having to choose your favourite child (btw, it’s the one who buys you the biggest gift).

Who can pass Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, Some Like It Hot, Gregory’s Girl, Monty Python and The In Betweeners?

But on the grounds that there are three of these.

Then the classic coming of age trilogy on the Great Lakes will keep you occupied, smiling and gorging in American Pie. Whisper it but Los Angeles doubles for East Great Falls.

Mysterious

Kathy’s no clown: Fried Green Tomatoes in Georgia

Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe: And the title lives up to its billing in this Deep South Classic from Juliette, Georgia.

Juliette, 56 miles from Atlanta, is where the action takes place and you can still visit The Whistle Stop Cafe.

And no, they don’t put on a barbecue.

Feelgood

Feline better: A Street Cat Named Bob

A Street Cat Named Bob: Now we’ve all binged on movies on transatlantic flights… and often fallen asleep during some.

And a tip here… if you’ve worked out that you can fit in three movies, always pick the one you least want to watch as the last in case you do nod off.

I’m glad to say that I picked A Street Cat Named Bob as my first movie on the way over to LA… and cried.

It is set around Covent Garden in London and deals with a drug addict homeless man who is saved by a stray cat. And it proves that cats really are better than humans.

Scary

It’ll make you cross: The Exorcist in DC

The Exorcist: And scarier still than the cutesie little girl who turns evil, spins her head and chucks priests down stairs with the power of her mind, is that its true.

The author William Peter Blatty agreed with the family to change the child’s sex from male to female to defend their anonymity.

There are tales too that the actress Linda Blair was psychologically damaged by playing the part.

You can visit the area where it was shot in Washington DC. Head for Georgetown.

So that’s five films to escape the Platinum Jubilee, and we’ll come up with another listicle to plan your altenative Platinum Jubilee weekend.

 

 

America, Australasia, Countries

Don’t shake the Cook coconut tree

We all want to conserve our favourite destinations’ USP so as we don’t shake the Cook coconut tree.

And that’s why we leave the minutiae of building committee meetings to spreadsheet junkies.

While we fill in the colour of why our landscapes can grow so far but no further.

Climb the tree

The deep blue sea: And you’ll have a devil of a good time

Deep in the Pacific Ocean they understandably measure their growth against their most widespread feature.

And so developers on The Cook Islands are limited to how high they can build.

Against the measuring rod of coconut trees.

Brand new

Party time: In the Cook Islands

All of which builds up a picture of an island removed of modern branding.

And, you’d be right.

Its 15 islands are free of global brand hotels, chain restaurants, mass market fast-food outlets and traffic lights!

And people… with only 17,500 scattered across the isles.

Ready, steady Cook

Hands up: Tranquil evenings

You interested? Then you’ll be glad to hear that you can fly to the Cook Islands direct from Auckland with Air New Zealand and from next month Jetstar.

News on the return of direct flights from Sydney and Los Angeles will be released later this year.

And you’ll be good to go with a double vaccination, and without the need for a PCR or Antigen requirement.

News of which I hope to share with you for other travels I am planning and tearing my hair out trying to get over the line.

Back to quirky planning regulations and tales of keeping the skyscrapers down.

Philly steam ahead

Rocky and Jocky: In Philadelphia

Now proud Philadelphia doesn’t defer to its more celebrated east coast neighbour New York on anything.

Except on the size of its buildings… and with good reason.

Because their founder, William Penn, is keeping a watchful eye on his descendants.

The convention in the City of Brotherly Love is never to build higher than the peak of Billy Penn’s hat.

But somebody in the committee obviously had forgotten to read the memo.

Because with the 1987 construction of the One Liberty Place skyscraper they exceeded the height of Billy’s statue atop Philly City Hall.

And they lived to regret it when their sports teams failed to win a title until 2008 when the Phillies took the World Series.

Quirky buildings

Philly high: And the city skyline

So how did they do it?

Well, a year and four months before a statuette of the William Penn figure atop City Hall was affixed to the final beam of the Comcast Center.

And this made it the highest William Penn figure in the city at the time.

All good to know for when I come to be immortalised in my home city of Glasgow.

Tell us too about your destination’s quirky buildings superstitions and we’ll get this conversation going.

For now I’m back to these pre-departure tests and thinking how stressless the Cook Islands and others are making it.

And I’m happy to promote them because you don’t shake the Cook coconut tree.

 

 

 

America, Countries, Europe, UK

John Glenn and other space cadets

Many have said it about me, so on the 60th anniversary of his becoming the first American to orbit Earth here’s to John Glenn and other space cadets.

And a nod, of course, to NASA HQ in Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

And our friends, a visiting spaceman among them, who shared their world with us.

Including witnessing multiple sunsets.

Take me to space: Bandanaman and Spaceman

The bould John, 95 years young, last went into space when he was 77.

Now that space tourism is a thing and is no barrier to age as Captain Kirk, William Shatner, 90, proved let’s look to the stars.

Through the Rainy Days and Songdays songs that have inspired us the Space Race generation.

A Mars a day

Making it up as he goes: David Bowie

Life on Mars, David Bowie: And no, not Bowie’s first space song, nor his last.

Think Space Oddity, The Man Who Fell To Earth and Ashes to Ashes.

But Life On Mars from the album Hunky Dory is certainly his best.

And to bring it back to earth Bowie name checks Ibiza and the Norfolk Broads … both stop-offs for this space cadets.

Rocket science

Making a spectacle of himself: Elton John

Rocket Man, Elton John: Elt was spaced all right when he put the score to his pal Bernie Taupin’s lyrics.

So we can’t place him anywhere though we imagine that the-then coked-up Mr John would have been seeing a lot of The Troubadour in West Hollywood then.

Swing among the stars

What he just said: Frank Sinatra

Fly Me To The Moon, Frank Sinatra: We don’t know if they’ve got old blue eyes out in space but Frank’s voice is out of this world.

Obvs we want to name check Hoboken, New Jersey and the other cities that he bigs up, New York, Chicago and LA.

But the closest we got was Las Vegas and this inscription to the Rat Pack in Neon City

All-Hit Radio

Sibling space cadets: Karen and Richard Carpenter

Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft, The Carpenters: Now this one is a new one on us but this was actually originally written by the Canadian band Klaatu (no us too but they were named after an ambassador from the extraterrestrial confederation in the film The Day The Earth Stood Still).

But it was in the hands of Richard and Karen Carpenter that the song really took off.

And it naturally has that Californian twang with the unique lead-in of Mike Ledgerwood on All Hit Radio.

This song will be heard once again

De Burgh was here: In the Nativity Scene

A Spaceman Came Travelling, Chris De Burgh: Only Chris De Burgh could come up with anything quite as overblown as a space hook to the Nativity Story.

But the Irishman did after reading Chariots of the Gods by Erich von Daniken, with a sprinkle of WB Yeats and his belief that every 2,000 years something cataclysmic happens.

Never mind that the Nativity Story is only mentioned in two out of the four gospels.

And the Monty Python boys went this way too when they had a spaceship land in Bethlehem in the Holy Land in Life of Brian.

A Galaxy far, far away

Idle life: Monty Python

Which brings us neatly to Eric Idle’s pithy reflection on the human condition in Galaxy in The Meaning of Life.

So it applies to us all, John Glenn and other space cadets.

 

America, Culture

Daniel Craig on my Walk of Fame

He may be getting a star but I’m after five goldfingers on Hollywoood Boulevard.. take a stroll with me and Daniel Craig on my Walk of Fame.

Craig, as we all know, is bringing down the curtain on his 15-year service as 007.

And the hunt is on for the next James Bond.

I reckon I’m halfway there already with my name. and age is no barrier.

As my fellow Scot Sean Connery showed when he reprised the role in his late 50s.

For now I’m licenced to scroll instead of to kill.

Although I did get in some practice at Machine Guns Vegas in Neon City a few years back.

And I reckon I could give old 007 a run for his money.

Walk this way

Now seeing I have my eyes on a tribute on the Walk of Fame I’d better introduce you to some of Craig’s, and soon to be my, new neighbours on the famous LA street.

In a town where being first is everything there are various originals.

Eight stars – for Olive Borden, Ronald Colman, Louise Fazenda, Preston Foster, Burt Lancaster, Edward Sedgwick, Ernest Torrence, and Joanne Woodward – were unveiled (temporarily) to the public on August 15, 1958.

While filmmaker Stanley Kramer, who directed It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, was the first honoree to have his star laid, installed on March 28, 1960.

Quackers about.. Donald Duck

All of which you already knew. Right?

Of course only true film buffs seek them out.. for the rest of us it’s the icons we want to be photographed next to.

And on the day that I visited they were all congregated around Michael Jackson.

I vant to be alone: Greta Garbo’s star

Me, I felt sorry for Greta Garbo who just vanted to be left alone.

For the record Craig will become the 2,704th star to be recognised.

Something to ponder as you walk Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street.

And avoid the celeb lookalikes hustling for money.

Hands of gods and godesses

Put your hand there: Making their mark

It’s worth remembering though that while it’s a star status that is afforded our celebrities, it used to be something different.

And here’s where the gold fingers come in.

So come with me to the Forecourt of the Stars outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

And you’ll see Marilyn Monroe‘s hands and Donald Duck‘s web feet and Alvin and the Chipmunks’ paws.

For Star Wars fans there are also prints of R2-D2’s wheels and C-3PO’s robot feet.

And you can see the real thing and enter into a Star Wars world at Galaxy’s Edge just down the road at Disneyland in Anaheim.