Photo Locale of the Month – February 2018

The Olympics are in full swing and the South Korean city of PyeongChang – certainly not to be confused with Pyongyang, in the North – is enjoying an influx of tourists, athletes, and advertising dollars. At press time, the medal count is Norway 17, Germany 15, and Canada 13. The U.S. is in fifth place, with 8. These standings will surely change.

Although I’ve never been to PyeongChang – nor to Pyongyang, for that matter – I have been to Seoul, the vibrant capital of South Korea and part of a greater metropolis that, all told, is home to almost 26 million people, according to worldpopulationreview.com. Seoul is a teeming city that never sleeps, but, like Tokyo, Beijing, and other East Asian mega-cities, its skyscrapers are punctuated by verdant green spaces. This month’s gallery pays homage to Seoul’s urban gardens and palaces.

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Best Picture Winners by Year – Part Two

This concluding entry about every movie to win the Academy Award for Best Picture doesn’t need the four-paragraph intro that Part One did. All you need to know is that the list begins with the 1970’s – generally believed to be the best decade for quality filmmaking – that my all-time favorite movie is on the list, and that after March 4, 2018, another movie will join this list.

(Also, films in italics are especially worth watching. Read on.)

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Best Picture Winners by Year – Part One

It was just two weeks ago that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced the 2017 films, film stars, and filmmakers that were nominated for Academy Awards. There weren’t many surprises, certainly not among the nine films nominated for Best Picture, among them “The Shape of Water,” which leads the race with a not-quite-record-setting 13 nominations, followed by “Dunkirk” with eight and “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” with seven.

You can watch for my predicting-the-winners post closer to Oscar night, which this year isn’t until Sunday, March 4th. I will wax poetic at that time about who I think will win, as well as who I think should win. For now, I’m still trying to catch up on some of the nominees, particularly in the categories of Best Documentary Feature and Best Foreign Film.

In the meantime, I’ve had a chance to write up a summary review of the previous 89 winners of the Best Picture Oscar. If this seems like a lot of work, know that I first had the idea last year, but it literally took me 12 months to gather my thoughts, and to rewatch some of the winners in question.

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The Indian in the Cupboard: Travel Souvenirs and Various Miscellanea

Are you a collector?

I ask because I recently moved, and when slowly unpacking four decades worth of boxes (I’m getting old), I discovered what was probably just a handful, but seemed like dozens, of travel souvenirs, tchotchkes, and other knick-knacks picked up during the course of my travels. Some, like a foot-long Maori carving made of wood, are rather nice. A couple, such as a Statue of Liberty paperweight that was given to me by my grandmother and is my only material memory of her, are nostalgic.

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Top Ten Films of 2017

2017 was a rather unusual year for movies. For one thing, there were more good movies released than in most other years; I almost made my top ten list a top *twenty* list. (I still did, sort of. Read on.) For another thing, half of the top ten list could easily have been filled by comic book movies; no fewer than three did make the final list. For another thing still, there were many good movies but not many great ones.

The much anticipated “Blade Runner” sequel was every bit as good as I hoped it would be and in some ways better, but then again, it clocked in at almost three hours and I know it didn’t need to be that long. “The Last Jedi,” the eighth film in the “Star Wars” saga – ninth if you include the stand-alone sorta-prequel “Rogue One,” featured more action and more characters than 2015’s disappointing “The Force Awakens,” but it also had sequences that went nowhere and plot holes that didn’t make much sense. “Dunkirk,” that sure-to-sweep-the-Oscars WWII epic from “The Dark Knight” and “Inception” director Christopher Nolan, had several moments of cinematic brilliance, but also bombastic sound mixing, bland casting, and unmemorable characters.

GringoPotpourri’s Top Ten Films of 2017:

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Photo Locale of the Month – January 2018

As a Northern Hemisphere denizen, I cannot help but mention the weather in any wintertime photo locale post in which the location is in a warmer clime. After all, with bomb cyclones and polar vortexes having placed much of the U.S. and Canada in a deep freeze for the first week of the new year (even Florida had snow for the first time in 30 years!), it only makes sense to write about some place warmer.

For this month’s entry, that place is Granada, Nicaragua. This jewel of Spanish colonial architecture in Central America, Nica’s one time capital and the country’s most conservative city is one of the most vibrant towns on the planet. I can hardly believe that it was exactly one year since my visit.

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Three Days around Valle de Bravo

It was roughly 5.5 years ago that I started this blog, and six years ago to the month that I took my first of four, unknown to me at the time, exploratory trips to Mexico City prior to my moving there…a move that, in turn, led to the creation of this blog. As such, I thought I’d start 2018 with a post that hearkens nostalgically back to a wonderful extended weekend in Mexico. Where have the last six years gone?! Continue reading “Three Days around Valle de Bravo”

Photo Locale of the Month – December 2017

It is going on the last day of the year as I write this. And what a year it’s been! Weather in East Tennessee has been unusually cold of late, even for December, and I know that states to my north have it worse. Put it this way: I’m glad I don’t live in Minnesota right now.

As such, I wanted to feature pics from a place with warm weather 24/7/365. I immediately thought of Cuba, where I was just nine months ago. The island nation, which suffered heavy rains and flooding this past September from Hurricanes Irma and Maria yet recovered quickly, will be forever in my heart. And the grand seaside boulevard of its enticing capital city, Havana’s malecón, is the locale in question for this month’s entry…my last post of 2017.

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Holiday Decorations around the World

There hasn’t been too much winter chill in the air lately in East Tennessee, where daytime temps have been hovering around the 50-degree mark, only just turning colder a few days ago. Still, Christmas is less than three weeks away, and holiday decorations are up in force.

Though not a religious person, I still enjoy the spirit of the season, particularly the lights, the holly, and the trees. Combined, these decorations suggest a communal spirit of giving, and a general air of hope, something of which the world has been in short supply lately.

Here is a sampling of holiday decorations witnessed by yours truly during his travels around the globe. I shall start with cities that I once lived in, then move on from there.

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25 Great Travel Memories

Last month’s blog post, One Sentence on Each Country, received higher-than-normal readership. Thank you for checking it out, Loyal Readers. I wanted to expand upon that (don’t worry, just a short post this time) by sharing some of my favorite travel memories over the years. A few of these fall into the “profound” category. I am referring to things like seeing the mo’ai heads of Easter Island, or of gazing upon 8,000 Qin Dynasty terracotta warriors in Xi’an.

On the other hand, many of these memories are simple recollections of the little things that make travel so rewarding. For this, I am referring to failed, but somehow amusing, attempts at communication with Russian cabin mates on a train from St. Petersburg to Moscow, or of the literal hole-in-the-wall pizzeria that I stumbled upon in Salzburg, a place that somehow crisped my pepperoni pizza just right.

In no particular order, here are 25 Great Travel Memories:

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