I've been really unfortunate this year, in that my holiday to Las Vegas meant I had to miss the majority of Huddersfield Literature Festival, which I have been trying to support for around 3 years now. Although Huddersfield isn't a city, size wise it has a lot to offer in terms of events and I don't really see why we should be travelling to Leeds or Manchester all the time. We need to get people to come to us!
However, I did arrive back on British shores in time to see Sir Patrick Stewart, also a supporter of the festival, do a question and answer session at Huddersfield Town Hall.
He's a wonderful storyteller and it is such a shame that it wasn't longer because there were so many interesting tales about his life, both personally and professionally. It was a good mixture of the two and it allowed him to shine light on his father's (and subsequently the entire family's) struggle with Post-Tramatic-Stress-Disorder, gained through the war. This was something Patrick had not been aware of until he did the popular TV series Who Do You Think You Are. As a consequence, he now supports two charities: Refuge (domestic violence) 'for his mother' and Combat Stress (armed forces) 'for his father'.
He also talked at length about his rise through theatre and how he managed to bag the role of Jean-Luc Picard onboard the USS Enterprise.
I'm really hoping he will make another longer appearance at next year's festival because I'm sure he has many more incredible stories.
File under: Sir Patrick Stewart, Huddersfield Literature Festival, Huddersfield Town Hall, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Professor Xavier, Star Trek The Next Generation, X-Men
A lot of the attention on Vegas is centred on the main strip and that's understandable. But if you catch a bus on the strip, be sure to ride it all the way down to Freemont Street (take the express bus). This is original Vegas and for a fraction of the price. Food is a lot cheaper down there if you're looking for a place to eat.
The buses are regular and you can get 24 hour tickets that only cost $8. And when they say 24 hours, they mean 24 hours. Those tickets don't expire at midnight, they expire a full day on from when you bought them. I'm pretty sure you can also get 3 day and weekly tickets as well. When you're done on the strip you can head on down to Freemont Street for a party.
There's plenty of street entertainment, but after a certain hour I'd leave the kids at home because some of those girls and guys aren't shy with their clothing choices.
File under: Freemont Street, Las Vegas
File under: Alter Ego, Freemont Street, Las Vegas, All The Small Things, Footloose, Living On A Prayer, Should I Stay (Or Should I Go Now), Blink 182, Kenny Loggins, Bon Jovi, The Clash
File under: I passed this on the way to the Grand Canyon, Dolan Springs, Arizona
File under: Thor Ragnarok, Hela, Cate Blanchett, Marvel, cosplay, Jessica Dru Johnson
This was my first outing in Las Vegas. Usually people come to Vegas to gamble, drink and celebrate stag/hen dos. I decided to find out about the history of nuclear testing in Nevada!
The museum charts the full history of the various sites used, the lead up, how it was played along in the public's eye and behind the scenes, how it became rooted in pop culture and the aftermath. It's quite a sobering experience when you read about the nuclear fallout and how indigenous people were forcibly removed from their lands and had to watch their home be destroyed and/or poisoned. I think it's a must see place to visit, for individuals, for families and for schools.
Because in between the debauchery of Las Vegas, we need something to bring us back down to earth and remind ourselves of the lengths people will go to, to make sure they stay in control of the power balance in this world.
File under: Atomic Testing Museum, Las Vegas, Area 51, nuclear weapons
I will confess that I only really got into the Avengers films at the end of last year. But the good thing is that I've not had to wait for all the films to come out, I could watch all of them without stopping (except for Thor: Ragnarok which was between cinema and DVD release)! When I found this exhibit, I knew I had to go.
This is something that caters for Avengers fans of all ages, from casual to hardcore. It tries to include all of the Avengers, plus some SHIELD agents as well. There are lots of photo opportunities and you can take as many as you want. Although the lighting isn't great in a lot of the rooms, which is probably to protect the costumes and props from deteriorating over time.
There's also a wealth of merchandise in the shop but you should expect to find a lot of Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Captain America and the other Avengers, not so much.
One of the things I didn't enjoy, is that you can't go round by yourself, it has to be part of a guided tour. Sometimes I felt the times we had in certain sections were adequate, but sometimes I would've liked to be able to wander round at my own pace. There's also the fact that prior to joining the tour, you get a green screen photo taken but it is not included in your ticket price, so you can feel a bit coerced into forking out more money at the end of the tour for your picture. As if you're not going to be buying every bit of merchandise in the building as well.
But I would definitely visit again, just to catch bits that I missed first time round, although I wouldn't bother with the green screen photo. There is another green screen photo booth that is seperate, but still within the gift shop that you can try for a smaller price, although the quality of the pictures aren't as good.
File under: Marvel, Avengers, Las Vegas, Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Thor, Ant Man, Falcon, Winter Soldier, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Incredible Hulk, Thor, War Machine, Nick Fury
Lady Bird was on my 'need to watch' list for 2018 ever since I saw the trailer last year. It has had countless awards and nominations and I just hoped it lived up to the hype.
It is a very satisfying coming-of-age film. Although it follows the story of 'Lady Bird' who is desperately trying to carve out a path for herself, I think it's more about capturing a mood or time. It certainly seems like it's been created from several real life memories sewn together; people, places, events. When you consider that the writer and director Greta Gerwig, attended Catholic school, was born in Sacramento and wanted to study in New York (sound familiar?), it's more than likely that this is based on her own experiences, with a bit of fiction probably woven in.
Saoirse Ronan is wonderful as Lady Bird. She's brash, determined and stubborn. On another person these traits could be annoying, but here they enhance her portrayal of a teenager just trying to escape small town America and go some place big.
There are quite a lot of characters to look at but aside from Lady Bird and her mother, you never really get to see any of them in too great a detail. They all play their part but once they've stopped been 'useful' to the plot, they fade into the background. And there are a few characters that I would've liked to have had their own stories and battles expanded on. Maybe this would've been more possible within a book but obviously films are limited by running times, so I understand why it didn't happen.
Also, it can feel like Greta had so many great and funny ideas stored up in her head, that she tried to shoehorn them into this film, regardless of whether they progressed the story or not. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't and there are a couple of scenes or lines that feel a tad forced, but that's my only real complaint.
Lady Bird captures the sweetness and bittersweetness in life.
File under: Lady Bird, Saoirse Ronan, Greta Gerwig, film review
Kel McGowan is Kelligrafie