Category Archives: Events

“When You’re Lost in the Rain in Brussels and It’s Eastertime Too…”

There’s a widespread belief that thanks to global positioning systems, it is impossible to get lost in the 21st century.

“Ha!” I say, and “Ha!” I say again.

I’m willing to bet that the people who believe GPS propaganda like that have never stumbled out of the Bruxelles-Central train station into a heavy rainfall after a sleepless overnight transatlantic flight, only to find that the few visible street signs seemed to have been written without using any consonants.

Google Maps said it was a 10-minute walk from the station to my hotel. It took me slightly more than half an hour, but by the time I was finished, I’d become intimately familiar with the many side streets, dead ends, and unlabeled intersections along the way.

For me, getting lost in a new city where I don’t speak the language has always been one of the great pleasures of travel. Your senses are heightened and you become hyper-aware of your surroundings.  Unfortunately, that high level of functionality isn’t possible when you haven’t slept in 25 hours. By the time I staggered into the hotel lobby, I wanted nothing more than to take a quick hot shower and have a 14-hour nap.

Which was exactly what I did. And that was my first day in Belgium.

It got better after that.


The Breathtaking Brilliance of David Bowie is at the Brooklyn Museum

David Bowie is at the Brooklyn Museum is the most exciting, dynamic, and fascinating show you’ll see this year.

Here are some of the things you can see or hear at the exhibition:

“Highlights of the exhibition include more than 60 custom-made performance costumes…85 handwritten lyric sheets, including those from “Fame” and “Fashion”… drawings, including a sketch for the Young Americans album cover; and oil paintings, including two of musician Iggy Pop, all by Bowie…more than 40 pioneering music videos, television clips, and filmed roles as well as a multimedia presentation of international tour footage…custom audio mix made up of snippets of Bowie’s songs…”

—from the exhibition’s web page


The show originated at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, in 2013. Since then, it has been on a tour that took it to 10 cities on five continents. David Bowie is has been seen by more people than any other show in the V&A’s 166-year history.

These reviews, from Vogue (“Go. Just go.”) and Rolling Stone (“Stunning”), describe parts of the show, and explain why it’s the Must See exhibition of 2018.

It runs through 15 July 2018. This is the last stop of the tour, so once it’s gone, it’s gone.


Even if you can’t get to the exhibition itself, you can buy the David Bowie cotton tote bag ($10) or the lavishly illustrated David Bowie is exhibition catalogue ($45 softcover, $55 hardcover). All available at the Brooklyn Museum’s shop.

(Photography wasn’t allowed, so all these pictures are from the museum’s website.)

David Bowie is…in Brooklyn

Big News

I’ve been waiting for this for five years.

“David Bowie is”, the Victoria and Albert Museum’s magnificent exhibition chronicling the life of Ziggy Stardust, has returned to North America. It opened at the Brooklyn Museum last Friday, and will run through 15 July 2018.

I’ve already got my ticket.

I saw “David Bowie is” in 2013, in Toronto, the first stop of what was to be a five-year, five-continent, 10-city tour. It ran at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and it was possibly the most brilliantly staged museum exhibition I’d ever seen.

It was worthy of Bowie.

Here’s what I wrote at the time.

“Have You Tried Turning It Off and On Again?”

Well, that wasn’t much fun.

I had a computer disaster last weekend. Total meltdown, Backup restoration attempts and recovery discs didn’t work. Neither did running a strong electromagnet along the CPU in an attempt to extract the bad bits. (“Bits” is a technical term. Twelve bits make a “Bite”. Five bites make a “Nibble”.)

Even worse, when my PC died, it took my wireless with it. That meant I was without Roku, without Sling, without Netflix, without Acorn. I was left with nothing to keep me entertained except a few hundred DVDs and a couple thousand elderly CDs.*

But that wasn’t all. I was without the Google Home Mini that I immediately fell in love with when I received it as a Christmas present.**

And since I use magicJack for communications—you can’t beat five years of unlimited phone calls to the U.S. and Canada for $100—I was without a working telephone.

I felt almost…Amish.

Without a first-rate IT department, I was on my own.

Now here it is, Saturday afternoon. After a lot of tinkering and fingers-crossed improvisation, I’m almost back to an acceptable level of technology, missing only a couple of weeks of bookmarks created after my last export.

One silverish lining: The day after The Crash, when I was effectively locked out of cyberspace, was one of the most productive days I’ve had in ages. With no distractions from the time-devouring temptations of the online world, I spent the day cleaning and organizing my condo, tackling little jobs that I’d put off for months. Maybe I should set aside a day each month to “pull the plug” and get things done.

*Yeah, I know. Obsolete media. If I’d checked the closet, I could probably have found a couple of boxes of videotapes and my old Walkman. And my vintage View-Master must be around here somewhere.

**It’s amazing! You can ask it to remind you to check the oven in 15 minutes, and it will! Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I’ll call out something like: “Hey Google! What’s the population of Albany, California?” and it will tell me the answer!

2018 Winter Restaurant Week(s) in (and around) Washington (DC)

It’s that time again.

Twice a year, in January – February and in August – September, Washington and its suburbs hold movable feasts known as Restaurant Weeks. The celebrations begin with Bethesda Restaurant Week, which this year includes 35 restaurants, and runs from 12 to 21 January. That’s followed by the big one, Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week, which features 250+ restaurants and runs from 22 to 28 January. Then comes Alexandria Restaurant Week, from 26 January through 4 February, with 60+ venues.

Since some restaurants extend the celebration beyond the official RW dates, and many participate in both the Metro and more local RWs, “Restaurant Week” in DC is actually more like “Restaurant Month”.

The  Restaurant Week concept has its critics. Most restaurants offer limited menus, heavy on inexpensive mains like salmon and chicken. In some cases, ordering a restaurant’s ongoing “specials” can be a better deal than the one offered during RW. “It’s for amateurs,” a friend of mine once said.

But if you choose well and know what you’re doing, RW can be an excellent way to explore new places and revisit old favourites, all at bargain prices. Over time, researching, planning, scheduling, and enjoying RW has turned into my big personal project for January and August.

I’ll be posting my RW finds over the next three weeks.

More Game of Thrones Goes Postal — Giants and Direwolves and Dragons, Oh My

The British Royal Mail isn’t ignoring the non-human players of the Game of Thrones. In addition to the 10 contestants in the set of postage stamps that I wrote about yesterday, the Royal Mail is also issuing a sheet of stamps featuring some of the less hominoid characters in the Game.

There are direwolves, who are friends of the good guys…

…giants and dragons, who play both sides of the field…

…and, of course, the Big Bad himself, the Night King.

At the center of it all, the Iron Throne.

The stamps will be sold at UK Post Office branches starting on 23 January 2018, and are already available for pre-ordered on the Royal Mail website.

Game of Thrones Goes Postal

Imagine this: There’s been an incident in King’s Landing. Two or three royals die of festering paper cuts, a deranged pig farmer blows up the national cathedral, the Queen announces that she’s pregnant by her six-years-dead husband, flying monkeys attack the scarecrow, the tin man, and the cowardly lion, whatever. Just another day in Westeros, really, but you feel an urgent need to get word of the event to the Watchers at the Wall.

You go to your aviary, only to discover that your fastest, most reliable raven is lying motionless at the bottom of his cage, little claws in the air, pining for the fjords. What to do?

British Royal Mail to the rescue!

On 23 January 2018, UK Post Office branches will begin selling stamps celebrating characters from the world’s most popular TV show, Game of Thrones. Even better, the stamps are available for pre-ordered on the Royal Mail website.

The stamps depict 10 characters, eight of whom are played by British actors.  Here’s are close-ups of the individual stamps:

Beautifully done, aren’t they?