Friday, December 27, 2013

47 Ronin: Beautful but Bland

47 Ronin: Beautifully filmed and visually captivating; if only the characters were as captivating as the scenery. While Keanu Reeves, the "half-breed," makes you forget he's 49 years old (yep!), he's as deadpan as ever, but his swordplay and bravery make up for it. If you didn't know, the tale of the 47 Ronin has been re-told and re-filmed many times, so I had to try hard, very hard, to excuse the Ancient-Japanese-Story-Told-Completely-In-English thing. This was "our" version, and I have to admit, it looked pretty flawless.

If only the character development were stronger, the fight scenes bolder and the story of the ronin told better to American audiences. We can't win them all. See it if you really like Keanu Reeves and you enjoy moderate swordplay. 

2 out of 4 stars.

The Wolf of Wall Street: Rated Rx

The Wolf of Wall Street: the PG-rated trailers do it no justice. Extremely fast-paced, like the life of the titular Jordan Belfort, this film is also callous, hilarious and obscene. TWOWS makes The Hangover look like summer camp.

There were times I would wonder, "Are they allowed to show this?" I felt like I would OD while watching it--everything is so...excessive. Excessive but still awesome. AND it's a true story. AND you get to see Leonardo DiCaprio not only act his butt off but dance his butt off. His Best Actor Nomination is well deserved, and I'd be shocked if Jonah Hill weren't nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

Only five days left this year and this made it to the top of the Best Movies of 2013 list. Do see The Wolf of Wall Street. But don't do like some other moviegoers did--don't bring children. 
4/4 stars.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How to Pack for a 10-Day European Vacation: Summer Edition

Hi! This post is for anyone (especially women!) looking for one-bag packing tips, whether you're traveling to Europe or anywhere else in the world in the summer. Keep in mind that, in this case, I ended up with two carry-on bags, because I flew Delta/KLM, which allows two carry-on bags no matter where you fly. Lower budget airlines in Europe like EasyJet or RyanAir only allow one carry on, but these tips can still work for you!

Step 1: Gather your toiletries and lay them out so you can see everything you plan to take. If you pick up items and start placing them in your luggage first, you will overstuff. So laying everything out before packing is paramount. Everything listed is travel sized 3 oz or less. Here I have:

  • Deodorant
  • Lotion
  • Body Wash
  • Sunscreen (2 - Face and Body)
  • Baby Oil
  • Disinfectant Wipes
  • Travel Detergent
  • Pillbox
  • Febreze Spray
  • Downy Wrinkle Release (many European hotels don't offer irons!)
  • Moisturizer (3 - Eye, Face and Night--I use lots of moisturizer)
  • Face Cleanser
  • Shampoo & Conditioner
  • Proactiv
  • Lysol
  • Earplugs
  • Cotton balls and swabs
  • European power adapters (2)
  • Travel umbrella
  • Scarf

Step 2: Gather the clothes and shoes you intend to wear. On this trip, I was traveling from Washington, DC to three destinations in Spain (Barcelona, Ibiza and Mallorca) during the first week of July. Temps averaged between 80 and 85 degrees, so I settled on dresses only. Dresses are easy -- one piece, and voila! -- you are dressed. Be sure to bring a thin sweater for the plane or cool nights. I happen to have a long, thin sweater with a hood, which is ideal. Place all items next to your carry-on. It's easy to gauge the space required if you see all that you intend to bring next to your luggage.  Other items included:
  • Pair of flip flops - I usually wear these at the airport for easy shoe take-off at security
  • Vibrams - instead of sneakers
  • Sandals
  • Heels - (2) for going out, although I could have opted for one neutral color
  • Skirt (1)
  • Shorts (1)
  • Dresses (8) - *I wear an ankle-length dress for the flight.
  • Tanks (2)
  • Thin Sweater (1)
  • Underwear (10) - *some travelers suggest minimizing underwear and washing them by hand
  • Bikinis (4) - my trip headed to two Spanish islands
  • Belts

Step 3: Roll your clothes as tightly as possible. I rolled like materials (silks, cottons) together. If you have sneakers, stuff your underwear into them.

Step 4: I placed all of the toiletries, strategically, like a puzzle, into two sealable one-gallon ziplock bags. Anything that could potentially leak went into its own smaller bag first--I like to use those snack-sized bags sold near sandwich bags in the grocery store, Target, Walmart, etc. Important: Be sure to press the excess air out of the bags before you seal them!


Both of these bags fit easily into the front pocket of my wheeled Sharper Image carry-on. This way, they can easily be removed at security, if necessary.

Step 5: Place rolled clothing items into your luggage first. There are always nooks and crannies inside your wheeled luggage to make space for the frame, handle and wheels--use those crevices to stuff your underwear and bikinis. I also used them to place my scarf and umbrella. Important: Halfway into packing the rolled clothes, pack your shoes. Then continue to pack your clothes around your shoes. Since I packed awkwardly shaped heels, it was easy to pack rolled clothing around them.

My Sharper Image luggage bag has another, slim pocket at its base. It's just thin enough to slide my sandals and Vibram shoes into. I also pack additional ziplock bags inside for dirty clothes or burst toiletries.

This bag even has four additional pockets on the sides. I use these pockets for the travel power adapters, chargers and belts. And now I'm all packed. 

Bonus - Step 6: Since Delta/KLM allows two carry ons, I used this large leather tote to carry my camera(s), ipad, laptop, and passport. That way, they were always within arms reach. I am a photographer, and I avoid checking my camera or equipment at any time. I only bring one 50mm lens with me when I travel, because anything more is too heavy for carrying all day. This bag usually fits underneath the seat in front of me on an airplane. Another bonus: since I was traveling to several cities within the same region, I was allowed one free checked bag to every destination. If you can book that way, do it!

You may have asked this from the start: What if I buy things on my trip to bring home? Well, in that case, I pack a zipable totebag.  The one I have is made to roll smaller and snap into shape. If I buy items on my trip that warrant a checked bag, then I will have a second bag to check, just in case. I can also use this as my purse, during the trip, especially since it zips closed and people will warn you about pickpockets everywhere you go. This bag was a gift, but I've seen it in countless luggage stores.

And that's it! I hope this has helped you figure out how and what to pack on your next excursion! God bless you and safe travels!

Friday, May 31, 2013

[WEEKEND IN PHOTOS] | Black Bike Week 2013, Myrtle Beach, SC

Hooters Bike Fest and Bike Show, Kings Hwy

My homie, Leon, of Throttle Life Magazine

Look! Clothes! Some of the best dressed girls I saw in Myrtle Beach.

The strip: Ocean Boulevard

A crowd of people were seen following Trinidad James down the street. Can you spot him?

Moonlight over the Atlantic Ocean



See the speaker on this bike? I think the placement is awesome.

Headed to Ruffryders 25th Anniversary Party at House of Blues



NASCAR Speedway, Myrtle Beach

Atlantic Beach, Sunday Night

Scored a new Redskins hat!

Monday morning, we headed home. We caught a flat (I mean, shredded tire!) on 95 North in North Carolina. Blown. Added about an hour to the trip home.

Me and my traveling companions, Johan and Darryl, made it back to MD safely.

The end. :)