Sunday, September 23, 2018

Review: The Pierre Hotel Affair

The Pierre Hotel AffairThe Pierre Hotel Affair by Daniel Simone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A heist from the bad guy's perspective.
I enjoy stories of real life heists, satisfying my curiosity about how they pulled it off. This book certainly gave me that! I'm equally interested in how authorities crack the case, but it was missing this key element for me. Refreshingly though, the book served up the whole story from the perspectives of the criminals. It was a new way of looking at a story, and it was interesting... up to a point. How they escaped capture evolved into how they both stuck together and double crossed each other. Meh. They didn't all live to tell the story. Overall, I'm glad I stuck with it until the end, but it doesn't leave me hankering for another crime-by-the-criminals tale.
Audible version

View all my reviews

Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Pierre Hotel, NYC


Adding this hotel to my 'must visit hotel bar' list for next time I am in New York. I wasn't familiar with the Pierre until I started reading about its history.

The Pierre is a luxury hotel located at 2 East 61st Street, at the intersection of that street with Fifth Avenue, in Manhattan, New York City, facing Central Park. The 525.01 foot tall building (aka 160.02 m), was designed by Schultze & Weaver, and opened in 1930. The Pierre is located within the Upper East Side Historic District, as designated in 1981 by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. It was acquired by Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces of India in 2005.

Given my interest in heists, and in NYC history, its surprising that I hadn't heard of the Pierre's story previously. The hotel was the scene of the Pierre Hotel robbery on January 2, 1972, organized by the Lucchese crime family. This robbery of $3 million ($27 million in today's dollars) would later be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest, most successful hotel robbery in history.

You can read the general story on Wikipedia.

Or here's the Audible book I'm listening to:
The Pierre Hotel Affair: How Eight Gentleman Thieves Orchestrated the Largest Jewel Heist in History

So far, its a good story.

PS. My review



Review: Fear (the Woodward book)

Fear: Trump in the White HouseFear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I expected to be shocked, but alas, I was not.
I was surprised though.
Things have gone too far for me to be shocked anymore, but this book was full of shocking revelations. Its a good read, and I recommend it for Canadians and Americans alike.
I trust Bob Woodward, so every word is credible.
I would have liked a bit more of Bob in the book... as it is, his 'voice' shows up every few chapters.
My only disappointment was that it cut off a few months ago ~ it had to, or he's never be able publish it otherwise ~ but I hope he is hard at work on Fear 2.
If you think Trump is an idiot, your belief shall be confirmed.
If you don't think Trump is an idiot, wake up and read this.

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Saturday, September 08, 2018

Almost 10 years in review?

Well, not quite... but while I was looking for something on my blog today, I found a post I made about a month before my 50th birthday. Considering that I'll be saying hello to 60 in less than 4 months, I thought this portion of it might be worth a review.

My initial observation is that I'm not much into buckletlists, as stopped 1/2-way through my list of 50 things. But I did do some of these:

50 THINGS I STILL WANT TO DO... (from age 50)

My arrival in Rome
1.See Rome - DONE!

Little did I know when I created my list that I would spend 3 weeks in Rome in 2009. Mostly all I remember now is the good, but I did have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Rome when I was there. It probably had more to do with the heat and fatigue, and coming face-to-face with my life after a few months on the road, but it's something I mulled over in my mind for a long time. Oh, yes, I was sick too. I actually started to write a book about that... I wonder where that draft is?

My reflections from my first day:
Arrival in Rome


2.See Led Zepplin live

My first beepdoodles booth
3.Sell a piece of my art - DONE!

I sold my first in 2011. This is a pic of a little booth I had at weekly flea market affair, which I did for a few months. I actually went on to have a booth at the Moss Street Market. It was a great accomplishment, but more work than fun... and finally realized I loved doodling more than selling.

4.Visit Ottawa and our national museums

5.Visit the Artic

6.Take the train across Canada

7.Learn another language

8.Take a transatlantic crossing

I saw this and much more Gaudi
architecture in Barcelona!
9.See Gaudi architecture in Barcelona - DONE!

I saw a lot of Gaudi architecture in Barcelona, but for some reason I don't have many pictures on my blog. But it was FABULOUS!!

Here's one of my blog posts (and I really should go back and post more of my Gaudi pictures):
Barcelona is a sea of...

10.Go to the Rock of Gibralter

11.See Moscow's awesome subway stations

Me at an exclusive-access U2 concert
at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin
12.See a rock concert at Madison Square Gardens or the o2 in London (or both ;-) - DONE!

Actually, not done, but close enough. I consider my experience at the U2 concert at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to be comparable.

I posted quite a bit about this on my blog, including how I changed my flights to be there, even though I couldn't get a ticket... then I did!:
Irony near the old Iron Curtain
U2 in Berlin: Experience my experience

13.Make a difference in this world - hmmm...

14.See the Bay of Fundy

I probably planned to write about my time in
Florence when I got to Venice, but who
would want to stay inside?
This pic is from my post on Venice bars.
15.See Michael Angelo's David - to witness what the amazing efforts in WWII to save it gave us - DONE!

I definitely did this, and it (he) was glorious. Unfortunately, I don't seem to have any pictures on my blog from Florence to even prove I was there. I guess I was out having too much fun. I did a lot there, including papermaking from one of the oldest papermakers in the city.

16.Visit Amsterdam

17.Go to the Sydney Opera House

18.Visit Normandy and the Canadian memorial

This silly train picture is from my arrival in
Paris. I suspect I was a little more travel worn
and relaxed when I boarded my overnight
train from Paris to Rome
19.Take an overnight train in Europe - lie in bed being rocked by the train... - DONE!

There was a nun in the upper berth of my cabin eating potato chips! Really. I could have written a comedy show about it, but I held the ladder for the ancient gal when she came down to use the loo!

Our pedicab driver in Central Park
20.A carriage ride around Central Park - DONE!

Actually, not done, but my friend Kelly and I took a pedicab around Central Park instead, and a much better idea anyways. I'd definitely recommend it.

A few highlights from that day in NYC and just scroll for more (I think I was there about 10 days):
In the Big Apple: Sunday in NYC

21.Have nude portraits taken - DONE!

Well, not done, but I did do several life (nude) modelling sessions for artists, so I actually consider that to be braver! Don't worry, there shall be no photos!

22.Get a tattoo of my own art

My booth at the Empress show
23.Show my art at a show or in a cafe or something - DONE!

I participated in an art show at the Empress Hotel in 2011. While I was out for coffee, a fellow from New York apparently bought one of my doodle clocks (pictured at the back), for a nice tidy price! Never met him though.

24.Go through the Chunnel

That's me in the mirror, at the
"real" Checkpoint Charlie
25.Visit Checkpoint Charlie - DONE!

And I saw the real one!

When I spent a month in Berlin, I went to the Allied Museum, where the original hut is housed - the rest of the site was fantastic, and it's a much overlooked attraction.

Read more in my blog post:
Would the real Checkpoint Charlie please stand up?

26. and here my list stopped...




Creeping up on 50...

Friday, September 07, 2018

My audience with Peter Mansbridge

So, Peter Mansbridge is coming to Sidney, and I managed to snag one of the last tickets.

I think I would always have been interested in hearing him speak, but in the context of today's fake news, attacks on the media and whistleblowers I think it will be fascinating.

Creative Commons Image thompsonrivers on Flickr
Preparing this post, I learned these things I didn't know previously:
  • Among his hobbies, Mansbridge collects small mementos from his travels around the world, including rocks, soil and other “sentimental” items from various prominent historical places. He kept pebbles from a visit to the Battle of Dieppe site in France, dirt from Vimy Ridge, and sand from the beaches at Normandy, as well as pieces of the Berlin Wall and the Great Wall of China.
  • Mansbridge had a voice cameo in the 2016 Walt Disney Animation Studios film Zootopia as "Peter Moosebridge," an anthropomorphic moose news anchor.
  • Peter Mansbridge was awarded the Order of Canada in 2008.
  • He has a cottage where he disconnects and watches NO NEWS (though he'd answer the phone if work called to say, interview Obama)
More
Mary Winspear Speaker Series: Peter Mansbridge, September 27 - it's the last in the series *
Why Truth Matters - My short blogpost when he accepted his lifetime achievement award
Order of Canada story
Peter Mansbridge voices moose in Disney film 'Zootopia'
Famous Canadian Cottagers: Peter Mansbridge

* darn, I missed Andrew Coyne back in May... he would have been great.