Movies, lots of movies!

Here at the Chateau Working Stiff, the Mrs. and I have seen a lot of movies over the past half-year or so, mostly on Netflix or Verizon on-demand. We have actually made it out to the theater a few times as well!

Just during the past week, we were able to catch two iconic classics of American Cinema – “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951), and “Psycho Beach Party” (2000).

 Some of you who know me as the movie buff that I am might be surprised that I had never seen “Streetcar” before last week, but that is in fact the case. We both enjoyed it very much, mostly for the incredible acting. Not because it is any kind of a fun story (it isn’t).  Yes, it is definitely an actor’s movie.  I only just learned that most of the cast was carried over from the Broadway play, with the notable exception of Vivian Leigh, who was brought in to play the female lead, Blanche Dubois. She got her second Oscar from that role. (Her first for Scarlett O’Hara of course, about 12 years earlier.) The movie is very rare in that it won three of the top four acting awards—Best Actress, Supporting Actress, and Supporting Actor. It is interesting that Marlon Brando (in his second movie role) did not win, though his performance in the film is generally considered to be the most notable part of the project and one of the greatest cinema performances. The acting was incredible, and I hope I don’t have to sit through the film again any time soon.  read more

Hello New Year!

Unrelated picture of cookies and hot tea to warm you up

Hello everyone and welcome to 2018!!

It has been too long, but not because I’ve been slacking off. It is more because I’ve been trying hard to focus on finishing up a particular major project. I don’t want to give specifics about that right now, but let’s just say, the Pulitzer Committee better start researching a first-class ticket for me to Oslo!

As far as travel for the new year—hard to tell at this point. We hope to get to visit family in New York, Cape May, Florida, and the Detroit area, and all of those possible trips hold the potential for adventure and good times. Aside from those ideas, there are currently no plans for anything really big (and expensive), like Europe or the Caribbean. read more

Paris Again!

Hello from the rainy Philadelphia suburbs!

It is a lazy Sunday.  Rainy and grey outside but cozy in here on the couch between the two snoozing cats that live here at the Chateau Working Stiff.  I am toying with the idea of baking cookies later. Who knows – I may even have some cider!

Several days ago, I wrote a post about the London leg of the trip to Europe we took this summer.  Over the past few days, I have completed two slide shows of the Paris leg of that trip, and have loaded them to YouTube.  The only reason for the two shows rather than one is that I broke it up in an effort to avoid putting viewers to sleep!  Please find the links below and enjoy the tour. read more

London Again!

Hello!  I hope everyone is well and enjoying the “June-in-October” weather we’ve been having. I just spent more than two weeks in Cape May, house and cat sitting.  At least four days out of the last week there were sunny and in the ‘70s.  Unexpected but enjoyable.  I actually sat on the beach several times.

I am writing today, for the last time probably (unless someone asks a question or something else comes up), about the trip we took to London this past summer.  I wanted to do an entry that hopefully will include some basic helpful information for anyone who might be considering such a trip.  Alternatively, for anyone simply interested in the mechanics of European travel.  While this post is dedicated to London, where we spent five days, I’ll shortly be doing a similar post about the eight days in Paris that followed. read more

A Week on Block Island, Rhode Island

Hello !

Quick entry today, mostly because I wanted to share a link to a Block Island tour slideshow that I just uploaded to Youtube.

Mrs. Working Stiff and I, along with her parents, just spent a wonderful week there.  It has always been one of our favorite places.  We had quite a huge rental house with a large yard full of great old trees.  The house was on the southwest part of the island with views of Long Island off in the distance to the west.

With all the hurricanes that have been going on down south, we were expecting a week of dreary, rainy weather, but it really was surprisingly nice all week.  There was some rain and plenty of fog, but mostly at night, with lots of sun during the day. read more

A Toil of Two Cities

I studied this pile and more for months leading up to our trip!

There is some old wisdom, probably dating back to before The Working Stiff was born, and that goes something like this:

“Go to Paris in August. All the Parisians are out of town on vacation.  You’ll have the place to yourself!”

Yeah, right.

After our recent trip to Europe – 5 nights in London followed by 8 in Paris – I now know that is some old wisdom that needs to be shoved deep into the circular file!

It was really crowded in both cities, at least in and around most of the bigger tourist attractions.  I can’t say that I noticed the “locals on vacation” thing in London, but there was plenty of evidence of that in Paris.  We did see many shops and restaurants closed.  Many of them would have a sign on the door indicating that they were closed for their annual holiday.  July this to August that.  So it is absolutely true that many thousands of Parisians would have been out of town on holiday.
However…… you still have the two million visitors from Germany, Spain, Italy, China, India, etc., etc.  Oh – and the US of course, though my perception was that we were in the minority. read more

Drinking in The Scenery

News Flash! Club Soda illegal in Europe!!

After those long trips from Philadelphia to London and then from London to Paris, we were thirsty!

We Learned that drinking habits are different in both of those places, as compared to the US.  Of course, we think of London as everyone drinking pints of beer (particularly Guinness), and we think of the French as so many million wine drinkers.  Yes, that is all true, but there is more to it.

It is true that the Brits appear to be very beer-centric, and we found the pubs to have quite a good selection.  There appeared to be a substantial brew-pub culture going on there not unlike what has taken off in the US over the past ten years or more.  We stuck mostly with wine though, and had no trouble finding good wines by the glass, carafe, or bottle.  Regarding wines by the glass, one thing we saw almost everywhere we went in both cities, was that you would ask for a glass of wine and they would ask you what size you wanted.  Menus listed sizes also.  A small might be listed as 175 ml and a large might be listed as 250 ml.  (That’s about 6 oz. and about 8.5 oz.) We found those sizes to vary slightly and sometimes to be listed in centiliters instead.  We got used to that, soon learning to ask for the larger glass. read more

Up in The Air (and home)

The iconic Tower Bridge, which spans the Thames next to The Tower of London.

(I actually wrote the below and processed the photos on the plane in the middle of our flight, but then opted not to try to figure out how to get the WIFI connection.  We got home safely at almost 5:00 Saturday afternoon after an approximately 9-hour flight!  More soon on trip details, ups and downs, other stuff.)

This is a test.  This is only a test.  Can we do a blog entry from an airplane?  Why not?

It is about 6:00 PM Paris time / high noon Philadelphia time and we are 5 or 6 miles above the Atlantic Ocean hurtling through space inside an aluminum tube at 500 miles per hour.  I understand the physics of it, but it still doesn’t make much sense! read more

Paris to Philadelphia

Crepes are everywhere. Excellent and inexpensive street food!

Bon Voyage to us!

(Quick entry before we try to figure out our first ever Uber ride to Charles de Gaulle airport and our date with Air France.)

As Sir Paul says in one of my favorite Beatles songs, “Were on our way home”.

Between London and Paris, it has been a busy and exciting two weeks away from home.  We have had a fantastic time and have many more pictures and stories to share, but we are looking forward to getting home to our own home, bed, and kitties!

Yesterday morning, as we sipped our café au lait, we decided to bag the idea of waiting in line to go through the catacombs.  So, we shall add that to the list of things we had wanted to see or do, but cancelled due to long lines and/or massive pushy crowds.  Ah well, we just need to come back in November! read more

Rainy Day In Paris

A pretty good view of the flying buttresses that support the main chapel of the Cathedral of Notre Dame

Actually, we have had several rainy days.  At this point the small umbrella that my wife packed for me is gradually disintegrating.  I am hoping it lasts at least through tomorrow and then I can leave it to its destiny in a French landfill.

On Tuesday, we took a day trip to Bruges, Belgium, and that was our first rainy day since London.  Bruges is a very well-preserved medieval city in northwest Belgium.  As we strolled around the town it seemed like around every corner there was another incredible castle-like ancient building or another charming stone bridge over another narrow canal.  Though it was wonderful to wander the winding streets and hidden passages through the town, it was also very crowded.  We heard languages from all over and it was clear that Bruges was a very hot destination.  We had not even heard about the city before we saw the Colin Farrell film “In Bruges” when it came out back in 2008 and we wondered how many of the other visitors were in the same boat.  The wife and I agreed that the great old-world beauty of the place coupled with the massive crowds made it all seem very much like being in Disney World’s World Showcase area.  That’s a shame but I suppose a compliment to Disney! read more