Thursday, October 30, 2014

Book Spotlight: Hollywood

There's that old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. It's a cliché, but it's very accurate. Sometimes a picture can say more than words ever could. I think that pictures of people are the most intriguing, because for that moment in time we get a glimpse of who they are. Usually this is achieved in photographs, but sometimes other mediums can yield the same kind of result.

Hollywood by Don Bachardy, copyright © 2014, published by Glitterati Incorporated

In the new book, Hollywood by Don Bachardy, copyright © 2014, published by Glitterati Incorporated , readers are given an opportunity to enjoy an unguarded look at some of Hollywood's biggest stars of the past and present through a beautiful series of paintings and drawings. Portrait artist Don Bachardy is a life-long Hollywood native and has moved within a community of industry moves and shakers for over five decades. He has had access to some of the legends of Hollywood and in this book he presents many of them in portraits of vibrant color or in beautiful pencil and charcoal sketches.

Patrick Swayze - From Hollywood by Don Bachardy, copyright © 2014, published by Glitterati Incorporated

Each of his subjects are eager to have the chance to sit for him as he puts their very essence down on paper. The sittings can go on for hours, but the finished product is extraordinary.

There is also a foreword by writer Armistead Maupin who also sat for Bachardy. He speaks of the experience and the intimacy that it creates between the artist and the sitter and how not much can be hidden from Bachardy's intense artistic gaze.

Teri Garr - From Hollywood by Don Bachardy, copyright © 2014, published by Glitterati Incorporated

This intriguing collection of portraits includes Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth, Katharine Hepburn, Mia Farrow, Bette Davis, Patrick Swayze, and many more. Each painting or drawing is signed and dated by those sitting for Bachardy, so it's a wonderful trip through time as the you see when the portraits were done. I really loved how realistic all of the portraits were as I turned page after page. Don Bachardy is a very talented man indeed. He was able to make each drawing and painting look as if they were a photograph in some ways. The detail is astonishing. He truly captured the essence of every face. Along with the movie stars depicted in the portraits there are other influential figures in Hollywood featured as well.

Katharine Hepburn - From Hollywood by Don Bachardy, copyright © 2014, published by Glitterati Incorporated

Interspersed throughout the book there are also abstract paintings by Don Bachardy that are beautiful and vibrant. They marry perfectly with the free flowing nature of the entire book. This is definitely a book that art lovers and film buffs will love, but it's also just a gorgeous work of art that many will enjoy.

Hollywood by Don Bachardy can be purchased here.

*Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are mine.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fall Color Overhead

Hi :) 

I wanted to share this photo that I took a couple of days ago when I was in the town centre. I was walking along, I stopped, and looked up...and saw all of this loveliness. I do love fall!

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Book Spotlight: Kensington Gardens Treescapes

I love going to London and when I do, I have some favorite places that I enjoy visiting when I am there. One of those places is Kensington Gardens. It's truly one of the jewels of London.

Mark Zytynski's new book Kensington Gardens Treescapes is a breathtaking collection of photographs that beautifully illustrates how gorgeous the gardens are throughout every season.  Kensington Gardens is a photographer's dream with its tree-lined paths and amazing panoramic views.

Kensington Gardens has over 4,000 trees over a vast area of 240 acres of land. There are many wonderful old trees there that are strong foundations that help form the history of the gardens. Kensington Gardens is a peaceful, green space right in the heart of busy London. When you're walking within its borders you get the chance to block out the hustle and bustle of the city for a while. It is a wonderful experience.

In Kensington Gardens Treescapes, readers are given a chance to enjoy the wonderful things that the sun does year-round in the gardens. We are shown the leaves accented by the sunlight in all of their splendor. There are the tree branches which form varied shadows along the grass as they reach for the sky. One of the many things that I love are the photographs of the artistically beautiful tree trunks in winter. They stand like glorious statues of nature.

Within the book, readers are not only treated to beautiful photographs of the various trees, but also there are tree facts and notes interspersed here and there, along with maps and poetry.

This is a really lovely book that is full of vibrant photographs that make the gardens come alive for those who haven't visited yet. And for those like myself who have visited before, it's a wonderful keepsake to enjoy until we are able to visit again.

Kensington Gardens Treescapes is available at all good bookshops and online retailers, such as Amazon.

Find out more about the book here .

*Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are mine.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Happy Weekend

Taken somewhere in Wiltshire, England

Today I thought that I'd share this pic that I grabbed from my Instagram account. I posted it a couple of weeks ago, but since we're really getting into fall now, I thought that I might share it here too. Recycling is good  :-)

Fall is my favorite season by far! The colors are just breathtaking, it ushers in the festive season and you can wear sweaters and cute boots! Hee hee.

I took this picture through the windshield on a rainy Saturday two weeks ago. I loved how the raindrops made everything kind of blurred and trippy...kind of like an impressionist painting.

The leaves here seem to slowly be changing. Some places are more colorful than others, but I'm hoping that everything comes alive with color soon. When that happens I'll do my best to snap a few pictures and share them here. So watch this space! ;-)

Have a great Friday and a Happy Weekend!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Little By Little

Today, I'm here as promised to share one of the main things that I've carried with me from the Ken Burns Q&A that I attended at the US embassy in London a few weeks ago. Well first of all, let me just say, it was an incredible experience and I'm so grateful that I was able to attend the event. It was quite the experience to get the chance to hear such a great filmmaker discuss his work in such an intimate environment. We watched excerpts from his PBS series The Roosevelts and then the actor Stanley Tucci conducted a Q&A session with Ken Burns about the series and his work. You can read my post about that here.

I loved the whole evening, but what I truly took to heart were Ken Burns' words about his creative process in making his films. He spoke about how long it takes to complete one of his documentaries. The truth is that they can take years to complete from start to finish and they are usually about big subjects. Before I heard him speak, I had thought about his many documentaries and how detailed and thorough they are, I couldn't help but think about how daunting it must have been to get started on such huge projects. That hugeness is enough to stop many of us in our tracks before we even get started. I often think of the things that I want to write or am in the process of writing and sometimes I'm wondering if I have it in me to get it all written out.

Here's the thing though. Ken Burns said something very simple that interestingly enough was similar to something that I had read somewhere a few days before. I call it the little by little thing. When he said that this is how he shows up to do his work it was a co-sign in a way to what I'd recently read. Mr. Burns said that he doesn't worry about the work. He just gets up every morning and puts his pants on one leg at a time and shows up to do the work day by day. He doesn't make himself crazy worrying about brilliant inspiration striking like a lightning bolt because it doesn't happen like that. He said that the moments of brilliance can come in the most normal moments. The day to day showing up to do the work is how the "magic" of creativity is born.

On some level, I understood this already. As I write my book, the thing to do is to sit down and just write. The words will come and the story will unfold as it is supposed to and I'm not going be scared into thinking that the things that I want to write about are out of my reach. They are my stories so I'm going to write them in the way that I know how. If some brilliant plot twist comes to me, that's great, but if not, I think that I'll still be able to tell a good story :-)

It was a pleasure to be in the presence of such a creative man like Ken Burns and seeing him at this point in my life was just the inspiration I needed in order to soldier on.

I'm no great advice giver, but if I can offer any advice to anyone as they pursue their dreams I'd simply say....keep swimming...keep going day by day! That's what I'm gonna do! :-)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Slight Delay

Hey there!

So, I know that I said yesterday that I'd post today about what I gained from the Ken Burns Q&A, but I haven't been able to get it up today. I had a physical therapy appointment for my leg and I didn't get back as quickly as I thought I would. Now that I'm home, I'm beat. I apologize for not getting the post up today, but it will definitely be published tomorrow.

I thank you for your understanding :-)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Getting Back Into the Writing Groove

This week I'm getting back into the groove of working on my book. I've been veering off lately for one reason or another, so it's good to get back to it. I want to share more about my writing in general here on my blog, so I definitely plan to do that more. Previously I've dipped my toe into this pond of talking about my writing here and here. I've found that when I write about writing on here, it gets my mind clicking over in a much more creative way. My word nerd self shows herself. Lol! 

This is a very short post, but I just wanted to check in. In my next post I'll share something that I've taken to heart recently about writing my book. It was because of something that I heard Ken Burns say during the Q&A session that I attended a few weeks ago at the US embassy. What he said really resonated with me. It's about showing up to do the work.

I'll be back tomorrow to share more about it. I have to get my thoughts right. Sorry for the cliffhanger. I'm a little bit frazzled today. I'm having one of those days :-)

Have a good day wherever you are!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Book Spotlight: For the Love of Radio 4 - An Unofficial Companion

I've been living here in England for eight and a half years. When I arrived it was interesting to explore new television shows and the radio offerings available. One thing that I took to immediately was BBC Radio 4. In the early days I was often on my own a lot because I didn't know anyone here, so having the comforting, continuing sound of another voice in the house was great. I learned a lot about this new country that I was living in from listening every day. Over time, I've found a few favorite shows that I listen to all the time, such as Woman's Hour and Book at Bedtime.

Recently, I've had the chance to read a book called For the Love of Radio 4 - An Unofficial Companion by Caroline Hodgson. It's absolutely wonderful! It's a pure treat for regular Radio 4 listeners and it's a great source of information for those who are new listeners. The book is filled with history, fact, and figures about BBC Radio 4 and it's one of those books that you can dip into whenever you like. There isn't the pressure to read it all in one sitting, but it's enjoyable if that's what you want to do.

For the Love of Radio 4 is filled with information that covers entertainment, the arts, news, politics, and the many various subjects that are covered on Radio 4. Caroline Hodgson does a wonderful job of celebrating the best of Britain's premier spoken word station. This is a trip through the history of the key personalities and various programmes that have been broadcast on the airwaves for many years.

With Christmas coming up, this is the perfect stocking filler, especially for the Radio 4 listener on your list.

For the Love of Radio 4 is available now. You can find out more about the book and purchase it here.

*Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are mine. 

Monday, October 06, 2014

Book Spotlight: Untouched

Untouched by Johnny Rozsa, © 2014, 
published by Glitterati Incorporated
When many of us think of the 1980s, we think of a time of excess and thrills...the dawn of MTV, Michael Jackson in his Thriller era, the era of shows like Dynasty, and many other popular culture milestones. I remember all of those things fondly and when I think of them they almost seem quaint in comparison to now and are truly of another time. I know that it's easy to look back nostalgically with rose-colored glasses so I try to look back with a bit of perspective. Still, it's interesting to take a look back and examine popular culture and how celebrity culture has changed over time.

Author & photographer: Johnny Rozsa

In Untouched by Johnny Rozsa, published by Glitterati Incorporated, the celebrity photographer presents readers with an intriguing opportunity to see celebrities as they were during the 1980s. We get to see various celebrities in the era before Photoshop and the act of smoothing away the uniqueness that they possessed. Readers get to see these stars during a time before publicists were orchestrating every little detail at photo shoots.

Above: Grace Jones - From Untouched by Johnny Rozsa, © 2014, 
published by Glitterati Incorporated

This book is a very interesting window into the world of celebrity and Rozsa captures images of many iconic stars in a less guarded state. There are photos of people such as: Hugh Grant, Halle Berry, Janet Jackson, Nicholas Cage, Rick James, Molly Ringwald, Farrah Fawcett, Grace Jones, and many, many others. There is a foreword by Susan Sarandon and it's interesting to get her perspective on working with Johnny Rozsa.

Above: Debbie Harry - From Untouched by Johnny Rozsa, © 2014, 
published by Glitterati Incorporated

One of many things that I found so interesting about the book was to think of how much the various celebrities have changed over the years. We all change and it's intriguing to think of how much each star may have changed on the inside as well as how they've changed on the inside. I think that it would be fascinating to be able to go back and somehow ask some of these celebrities what they wished for at the very beginning of their careers and contrast that with what they think about how their lives have turned out. Some of these stars are no longer with us, but it's still interesting to see a less manufactured view of the celebrities that we remember.

Above: Rick James - From Untouched by Johnny Rozsa, © 2014, 
published by Glitterati Incorporated

Above: Billy Idol - From Untouched by Johnny Rozsa, © 2014, 
published by Glitterati Incorporated

It's refreshing to see each person before photo retouching became the absolute norm. The book shows the younger faces of these various stars presented without the filter of the modern day photographs that we see in magazines and on billboards today.

Above: Jackson Five - From Untouched by Johnny Rozsa, © 2014, 
published by Glitterati Incorporated
Above: Robert Mitchum - From Untouched by Johnny Rozsa, © 2014, 
published by Glitterati Incorporated
This is not some heavily-nostalgic book that glosses over the fact that fame has always been a big thing, however, we get to see fame in a way that pays tribute to old school Hollywood glamour in a way. There of course was glitz and glamour during the 80s, but there seemed to be a bit more of a balance between those who were just coming up alongside those who were veterans of celebrity.

In Rozsa's book, there are pictures of Robert Mitchum and Eva Gabor alongside those of Christian Slater and Snoop Dogg. This is a really interesting book that gives you a chance to really study the faces of some of the people that we feel we know because of their widespread fame. We don't know them, but their faces are so familiar to us and in Rozsa's book we get to see them in a more unfiltered, organic way.

 Untouched by Johnny Rozsa can be purchased here.

*Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are mine.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Documentary Spotlight: Black Wings

Photo source: PBS
Recently I was given the opportunity to see a wonderful documentary called Black Wings, which features the stories of African-American men and women during the 20th century who made their mark in history and pursued their dreams of flying. They were up against many, many obstacles, but they persevered and were able to achieve a lot despite every barrier that was thrown up against them. The documentary features men and women from different places across America and does a beautiful job of weaving together the stories of those who are flying now with those who paved the way. It's a very important history lesson about a chapter of aviation history that sadly I was not taught in school. That is why I'm glad that this film exists and is being shown on television so that everyone, especially young people can get a fuller sense of the contributions of African-Americans in the field of aviation.

One thing that I found intriguing was the drive and determination that these men and women showed. It's very evident that each of them had a passion about flying that could not be squelched. I went into watching this film with some knowledge of a few of those featured, such as Bessie Coleman and the Tuskegee Airmen due to my own independent study over the years. However, there were some who I learned about for the first time and I plan to find out more about them all.
Above: Bessie Coleman - Photo source: National Air & Space Museum

Bessie Coleman was amazing. She was the first black woman to earn a pilot's license and the first black person in the world to earn an international pilot's license. No one would train her to fly in the United States, so she taught herself French, went to France, and earned her license in 1921. Her tenacity has always been inspirational to me every since I learned about her several years ago. She returned to the United States as a pilot and grew an amazing legacy that continues.

Above: Tuskegee Airmen - Photo source:

Others who are featured include the Tuskegee Airmen who played a huge role in the breaking down of barriers for African-American pilots during World War II. Their role in history, not just aviation history, was a giant step in American history. Their excellence proved a point that black people were very capable of flying and doing everything else.

Even though the Tuskegee Airmen played a major role in the eventual integration of the military, there was still a racial barrier against African-Americans flying for commercial airlines. In the documentary we are presented with the story of Marlon Green, who was denied a job even though he was well-qualified. The film follows his case that he took all the way to the Supreme Court.

Above: Jesse Brown - Photo Source: PBS

There is also the story of Jesse Brown, who was the first African-American aviator in the U.S. Navy and who served during the Korean War. He was a man of great perseverance just like all of the other men and women who were featured in Black Wings.

There is so much to learn in this great documentary. The stories that I've highlighted are just a few from the list of those in the film. This is definitely a documentary worth watching again and again. I know that I will do so, because every so often in life we all need a reminder that we must keep going in order to reach our goals.

Black Wings will be shown tonight, October 2nd on PBS America in the UK at 9pm and will be shown at various times on Friday, October 3rd through Sunday, October 5th on Sky channel 534 and Virgin Media 243.

 *Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this film for review. I received no compensation. All opinions are mine.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Breast Cancer Awareness Month - heidi klein Gives Back

heidi klein, the one-stop shop for luxurious beachwear, has teamed up with Breast Cancer Care to give a 20% donation from their Rio de Janeiro collection during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.  All funds raised will help Breast Cancer Care offer support to the thousands of women waking up to the harsh reality of breast cancer every day.