Wednesday, October 30, 2013

War of the Worlds Review

Orson Welles during the broadcast in 1938 - Courtesy PBS America
Recently I was given the opportunity to view a documentary courtesy of PBS America. The documentary tells the story of the War of the Worlds radio broadcast that took place on October 30, 1938. Today marks the 75th anniversary of this legendary broadcast that alarmed millions on the night when it was heard.

For those of you who don't know about the War of the Worlds radio broadcast, I'll give you a bit of background. On a Sunday evening millions of listeners were tuned in to listen to the radio as was customary in those days. And then at 8:15pm a report interrupted the broadcast and listeners were told that Martians had landed in New Jersey.

Immediately people were alarmed and called in to newspapers and others wondered what could be done to take on the invaders. Panic broke out all over the United States as people heard the report. Of course it was a masterfully executed hoax courtesy of Orson Welles, but many thought that it was truly the end of the world.

The documentary about the radio broadcast will be shown tonight at 9pm on PBS America (Sky channel 534 & Virgin Media channel 243) in order to coincide with the 75th anniversary.

I really enjoyed this documentary as I had heard about this broadcast by Orson Welles, but never knew the story behind it. This film does a very good job of giving a back story and lets us know what the times were like when this broadcast was done. This is an excellent study of the power of radio at the time and looks at how disasters being reported in real time such as the Hindenburg disaster made the times ripe for this hoax.

I really enjoyed this documentary and it is perfect timing since tomorrow is Halloween. It has just that right amount of spookiness if you put yourself in the place of the listeners back then. We have to remember that those were times without the internet and television and such, so finding out information was a lot tougher. People relied on their radios and the newspaper, so when the report came people thought that it had to be the truth.

I'd definitely recommend having a look at this documentary tonight because it's good fun. It was a pleasure to watch and I learned quite a few things.

Friday, October 11, 2013

London for the Ladies: A Guide to Having a Hen Party in London

The name hen party doesn’t exactly sound like the best time out for girls. Unlike stag parties for men. The stag is a majestic animal, something men are definitely not when they’re going out. 

Us ladies are left with the common hen. If only we could call them cat, bee or panther parties, the whole thing would look so much better. But what’s in a name, right? Hen or not, bachelorette parties could definitely be the sole reason for getting married in the first place.

London ladies know how to party, whether it’s on Brick Lane, Shoreditch or Stoke Newington. So if you’ve decided to travel to London with the girls, expect the time of your life.

Where’s the hotel?

Get that map out and start planning. London is the place where there’s something happening almost everywhere. So pick your favorite local color and you’ll be fine. If you’re looking for high street, super central fun, check out South Kensington and Victoria. If you’re an indie girl, the east is your best bet.

London is not cheap, so if you were planning a budget escape, this will not be it. Hotel rooms go at about 100 to 300 pounds per month, although you can find cheaper options in the trenches of the internet. To save up money, travel by tube and skip the cabs, which can leave a big hole in your budget. Everybody takes the tube in London and you know what they say, when in Rome.

The coolest hotel find is definitely Shoreditch House. This retro super-classy biscuit factory turned hotel features beautiful rooms, a rooftop pool, gym, spa and bowling alley, not to mention a restaurant with an extensive list of bespoke cocktails.

Where’s the party?

While you’re in Shoreditch, make sure to grab your girls and hit the clubs. This is the fashion-forward gem of London, so if you’re feeling creative with your outfit you’ll blend right in.

For some serious dance and house beats, visit Dalston Superstore and expect table dancing, carnival gone wrong masks and sudden explosions of breakdancing.

If your idea of fun is more Ibiza than underground bar, take the tube to Victoria station and immerse yourself in the mood at Pacha. This almost anti-London club is located in a historical 1920s building and will bring you DJs, two dance floors, a summer terrace and a dress to impress kind of crowd.

And if you’re into the hipster scene and want to explore that, Stoke Newington has what you need. Vogue Fabrics knows its house music, its fashion and its dancing. This is the place to be yourself (or an improved version of yourself) and let loose. Who said a hen party can’t be alternative? Especially in London.

How about bonding with the girls?

Hen parties are not just about clubbing and epic hangovers. They’re also about catching up with the most important people of your life and bonding in geeky, funny or strange ways. This is why bachelorette and hen parties are so fun, right? London is where eccentricity was born, so if you’re looking for that, you’re in the right place.

You might start slow and steady, at The Ginstitute , where you’ll learn to make your own cocktail and take a whole bottle of it home. Plus you’ll get back to your future husband with a skill he’s sure to appreciate more than anything else.

Now that you’re warming up, how about a sexy private party? Too fast for you? I don’t think so. Bordello, the decadent lingerie boutique, hosts super awesome hen parties where you can try on lingerie, learn sexy dance move from legend of striptease Jo King or make your own nipple tassels.. There’s also a little bit of male skin involved, but we won’t spoil the surprise for you.

If you and your girls are more like the girls of Sex and the City than anyone else, Midnight Movies, Martinis & Manicures at Berkeley Hotel will make you gasp with excitement. This is the classy version of a pajama party. You get overnight stay, rooftop fashion film screenings, popcorn and ice cream. Sounds like a treat, right?

No hen party is complete without a striptease. But if you’re not into that, you can bring a dose of cheekiness with Life Drawing Classes. This Full Monty-infused hen party idea features a naked male model, your hotel room, paper, pencil and a lot of hidden smiles. You can take photos and have a drink while you’re at it. The best artists do, right?

That’s London for you. It has everything you need. What you need is time, money and your girls. Oh, and a good enough reason to go out there and have some well deserved girls-only fun! Planning your great escape to this vibrant city does not have to add to your already stressful wedding planning, there are tons of great party planning services such as RedSeven that can create the perfect hen party weekend for you and your best girlfriends.

Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer from Los Angeles whose writing covers a variety of subjects from travel to fashion. As an avid visitor of the UK, she loves making a stop in London to check out the latest entertainment that the exciting city always has to offer!

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

My Graduation Weekend

So I'm finally here to talk about my graduation weekend a week late. Sorry about that :-)  I'm getting caught up slowly but surely. Anyway, it was a great weekend and it was a big moment in my life. It was also just a lot of fun!

We took the train into London on Friday around eleven o'clock and we had a good journey. I love taking the train!  It's a great way to travel and only takes half of the time that it would for us to drive to London. We ate something quick at the train station when we arrived in London and then we headed to our hotel to check in.

Once we got checked in we decided to get out and enjoy the city. We walked around a bit and did some people watching and then decided to go the O2 complex to have an early dinner. You know how I love taking pictures of food, but I forgot because I was feeling greedy and went ahead and ate. LOL. We ate at a place called Nando's. They have really good spicy food and it's right up my alley.

After we left Nando's, we walked around the O2 Arena. That is one thing that I love about the O2...there are loads of restaurants and things surrounding the arena so you can do everything there. On that particular night there was a Rod Stewart concert getting ready to happen, but we got in and out of the restaurant before the rush.

After we left the restaurant area of the O2, we went outside and walked around. This is a picture of this cool structure that's outside the O2 and I love the way that it was catching the evening light. It's called the Peninsula Spire.

Next to that is this interesting building called the Ravensbourne. It looks like a big toy to me. It seemed to glisten that day.

The next day was the Saturday and it was my graduation day :-) We had to get up really early in order for me to be there to get robed up and everything. Everything was very well-organized and The Barbican where it was held was lovely inside. It's a nice size...not too big, but not tiny. Before the ceremony, there was a mini concert given by the Westminster Brass band. They played about five songs and then the faculty marched in. Here's a slightly blurry picture of the band onstage.

My graduation ceremony was the last one that the chancellor of the university was going to preside over, so it was a special ceremony. The chancellor was David Putnam and he has had an amazing career within many arenas. The thing that I was so impressed by was that he produced the Academy Award-winning film Chariots of Fire, along with many other films. He was so genuine and inspiring when he spoke. I just loved it! There were two honorary degrees given out. One was given to Anthony Barnett, who is an activist and the other was given to the former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese. It was so wonderful! I truly felt this was a milestone in my life...I really felt it and I'll have that memory forever :-)

After graduation, we headed back to the hotel so that I could change out of my uncomfortable outfit ;-) And then we headed to our favorite place to eat....Sophie's. I was feeling so good that I got a cocktail and it was so good! It was called a Frozen Sicilian and it had vodka, lemon, and raspberry in it. Check it out!

And here's my appetizer. It was calamari and it was so good.

I forgot to take a picture of the main course because I was greedy again. LOL. But I had a peppered steak salad and it was great too.

After we ate, we decided to take a good stroll around London. Here's the thing, I don't drink much so that cocktail had me feeling beautifully fuzzy. LOL. I was fine, but just laid back as heck ;-) I was so relaxed and everything.

We walked all around and eventually ended up in Trafalgar Square. It was really buzzing with people, but it didn't seem overcrowded at all. I got free hugs from these two girls who were dressed up like two cats. I've often seen them or others like them there, but I never joined in. Well this time I did and it was great! :-) I just felt in love with the world that evening! Here's a picture that I took across Trafalgar Square and if you look in the center and in the distance you can see Big Ben.

It's always a hive of activity there and there are always sidewalk performances or something going on. There is this section of Trafalgar Square with this pedestal called the Fourth Plinth and it features an ever changing display that lasts for a particular period of time. Currently there is a huge blue chicken called Hahn/Cock by Katharina Fritsch. Here's a picture.

That weekend was one of the best I've ever had and I'll never forget it. I saw so much, I did so much, and I loved it all!

P.S. ~ I just realized that I didn't tell you about my broken heel. This post is already long enough so I'll save that for another post :-)