Category Archives: reviews

Trip Report: Imagine Peace Tower, Reykjavik, Iceland

20161106_2035071Two weeks ago, my husband and I took a four day excursion to Reykjavik, Iceland. Earlier in the spring, I had seen a great deal (3 nights for $499 each including air, hotel and breakfast) and couldn’t pass it up. It included a Northern Lights tour which just added to the excitement of going since seeing the Aurora Borealis is on my bucket list.

When I booked our trip for November, I didn’t even remember that the Imagine Peace Tower was in Iceland. That realization came on October 8th when I read that Yoko Ono was on her way to light the tower for it’s 10th anniversary. The tower is only lit from John Lennon‘s birthday on October 9th until the anniversary of his death on December 8th. I believe it’s also lit on John and Yoko’s wedding anniversary and her birthday. The light comes on one hour after sunset and is turned off at midnight.img_3971

The tower’s history according to the website is: IMAGINE PEACE TOWER is an outdoor work of art conceived by Yoko Ono in memory of John Lennon. It is situated on Viðey Island in Reykjavík, Iceland. The artwork was dedicated to John by Yoko at its unveiling on October 9th 2007, John Lennon’s 67th birthday. 

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The only way to get to Videy Island is via ferry boat. My husband and I decided to take a walk to the dock and catch the last ferry out for the day at a cost of about $12 each. In the winter, the ferry only makes 3 trips to the island and only on weekends! Unfortunately, after walking over a mile in a damp drizzle (the same way we spent the entire 4 days), we arrived 5 minutes too late for the last ferry out! You can see the Imagine Peace Tower in the picture with me pointing to it (that little whit dot!) from the pier at the dock. To add some perspective, Videy Island is the same size as the country of Monaco…0.7 square miles.

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After a disappointing Northern Lights excursion the night prior and now missing the last ferry out for the weekend, we were not about to miss out again on this vacation! We went back to our hotel and booked ourselves on the night’s Imagine Peace Tower Tour hosted by the Edding Whale Watch company. Cost = $80 each for a two hour tour.

As our luck would have it, it rained. And I don’t mean a gentle rain…I mean it rained sideways! Add in the fact that it was about 45 degrees fahrenheit and yeah, it would make for a miserable evening on any given night…but we were off on a once in a lifetime trip to see the Peace Tower up close and in person! And there were 7 other people just as crazy as us on that boat.

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This is what it looks like up close in the rain. Our guide that night, Megan said that in the rain is the only time you’re going to see the light refracted, producing that rainbow effect. I asked her what it looks like in the snow, and she said the light reflects off the snow and makeimg_3970s that light brighter.

Underneath the tower are time capsules. Each one holding a years worth of wishes that people around the world make. The wishes are stored there until the year 2040 (John’s 100th birthday) when the first capsule will be opened. A lot of wishes come from the Wishing Tree that is a building on the island.

20161106_2105271It’s not a very attractive tree…Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree may have been in better shape. But none the less, we added our wishes to the tree while enjoying hot cocoa after walking back in the driving rain (it’s about 1/3 mile from the dock to the tower). You can also make wishes through the Imagine Peace Tower website at this link.

Despite the weather (hey, they did provide us with those yellow rain parkas you see in the photos!), we wouldn’t have missed this experience for the world. It was the highlight of our trip to Iceland…and an added bonus since I didn’t even think about it when I booked the trip. If you’re a true Beatles freak like myself, spend the extra money and take the night tour whether in the rain, sleet or snow…you won’t want to miss this!

And…unlike the northern lights (which we never saw), this is a guarantee!

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Around the circumference of the Imagine Peace Tower, the words “Imagine Peace” are written in 24 different languages.

 

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Book Review: “The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story” by Vivek J. Tiwary

The Fifth BeatleContinuing on my theme – The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story, this week I decided to actually get around to reading the book!  Written by Vivek J. Tiwary with artwork by Andrew C. Robinson and Kyle Baker, The Fifth Beatle is a graphic novel about the rise and fall of Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein.

For those that haven’t read this book yet, here is the book’s trailer so you can get an idea of what this “adult comic book” looks like on the inside:

 

I purchased my copy at Vivek’s lecture last week at Monmouth University.  He only had collector’s editions (which includes “a unique, textured cover and a section of bonus materials including unique Beatles and Brian Epstein memorabilia, artist sketches, and alternate covers”), so this review is based on this edition.

This book is beautiful.  From the cover to the artwork, it’s a wonderful addition to my collection…even though I’m not a Beatles collector.  But, putting appearances aside…the writing seems to be lacking.  The dialog and story seem to be very. halting. and. static.  It lacks a certain flow.  I want to say it would have been better written with more detail and spread out as a series of books then to cram the entire story into one 139 page book, making it all a bit confusing to those that really don’t know Brian Epstein’s tragic story.

Still, it is a stunning book that I think any true Beatles collector would be proud to add to their collection and display on their shelf.  And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

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If you’d like to meet Vivek and get a signed copy of his book, he will be at the Fest for Beatles Fans in Rye, NY in April 2016.

 

 

 

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Review: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Finally…I made it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH.  I’ve been talking about doing this for years.  And I’m happy to report, that it is the last thing I did in 2015 when I paid my respects on December 31st.  Anyone who remembers several decades ago when the powers that be were trying to decide where to build the hall, the final two possible cities came down to Cleveland, OH and Philadelphia, PA.  Seeing as how I live just outside Philly, I’ve been torn  about whether this place even deserves my attention, let alone a 7 hour drive to get there.  Still, I took the plunge.

RnR HoF From the moment you walk through the doors, you are greeted with rock memorabilia.  It’s even hanging from the ceiling!  There are cases and cases of guitars that belong to rock n roll royalty, but (according to my husband), they are lacking on drum kits.  The only three kits they had were Ringo Starr‘s famous kit, an Alex Van Halen kit and a semi-melted kit that belonged to GreenDay that they had set ablaze at a festival.  Drum heads were at a premium, though.  As was memorabilia from Joan Jett who was inducted in 2015.  And Ringo Starr‘s blue star outfit from the cover of Goodnight Vienna is also on display in it’s own little case along a wall with the recent inductees.

But enough about all that…let’s get on to the Beatles display!

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The Beatles display takes up an entire wall in one room.  The display case is filled with a lot of very powerful and amazing things, such as John Lennon‘s leather jacket that he is often photographed in during the Hamburg days.  Ringo’s drum kit is also displayed in a case in the middle of the room, but there is one problem.  On the opposite wall in this same room is a much larger display dedicated to The Rolling Stones!  WTF, Hall of Fame?!  There is even a Stones’ photo that covers a space that is almost the size of the entire Beatles collection case and there is an image of the Stones wrapped around a pillar in the room!  It’s enough to anger any good Fab Four fan.  I feel the need to write a letter of complaint.WP_20151231_011[1]

All in all though, we spent a good 6 hours walking, reading, interacting, discovering and learning about the roots of rock n roll.  There is something for everyone here, but I will warn you that a lot of the museum is filled with interactive kiosks that are just plain silly for the die-hard music fans.  If you do get to the museum soon though, the Herb Ritts photo exhibit on the top floor is amazing and even includes the contact sheet and photos Herb took of Paul McCartney.

This review is one of the toughest I’ve had to write because of the enormity of the museum.  I could go on and on, but it really must be seen in person, so add it to your bucket list.  A few things I feel I must mention before closing…try to visit in the Spring or Summer as the hall is located on Lake Erie (the view is spectacular) making it windy and cold in the winter months…also, there is a small cafè in the hall to grab a bite to eat.  And, if you’re traveling from out of town, some of the local hotels offer packages that include tickets to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

I rate this museum 3 out of 4 Beetles!

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Song & Video Review: “What’s It Like in Liverpool?” by Marc Kenny

Early this week, I was doing my usually daily stroll around my social media accounts when I saw someone had posted this video.  “What’s It Like in Liverpool?” is a song by native Liverpudlian Marc Kenny.

The song is catchy and fun.  The video is bright and lively with scenic shots of Liverpool and the Cavern Club.  So what’s my gripe?  I have to wonder if this song is just another attempt to capitalize on the proud home of the Fab Four?  Kenny’s biography says he’s been reading and writing music since the age of 9 and that while other kids at school were learning classical pieces, his parents bought him the Beatles music book.  I can’t argue with that, I did the same for my son.  But why write a song about Liverpool with lines from Beatles’ songs in it and with a video filled with Beatles related images from around the city?  If someone is so talented (and you only have to read Marc’s long bio to know how talented he claims to be), why resort to capitalizing on the greatest band in the world to become famous?

Then again, I have to wonder whether maybe I’m the only one that is even having these thoughts, since the video currently has over 4,000 viewings and according to Facebook, it’s been shared over 6,000 times.

Well, I do have to admit…I’ve hit the play button at least a half dozen times myself.  The song is very good, the video is also well done, and yes, Marc Kenny has got talent.  And for that reason…

I rate this song and video, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

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You can buy a copy of What’s It Like in Liverpool? on Amazon.com for $0.89 if you’d like to support Marc Kenny.  Or you can buy the studio and live versions, plus one other song here for $2.67.

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Book Review: “As Time Goes By” by Derek Taylor

By the time this review is scheduled to post,  I’ll be on a 4 day silent retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, KY.  I considered taking another Beatles book with me to review, but decided to leave work at home while I contemplate world peace.  Enjoy the review.

Derek…Derek…Derek!  Every book I’ve read about the Beatles mentions Derek Taylor.  One author even went so far as to say Derek is the real fifth Beatle!  Derek was Brian Epstein’s personal assistant before becoming the press agent for the Beatles.  Then he quit…then he came back again.  In that time, he wrote two books.  This is a review of his first book, As Time Goes By.

As Time Goes By by Derek Taylor is a 181 page memoir of Derek’s life in the music business from 1968-1971, with a lot of stories before and after those years.  This was Derek’s first memoir, his second was titled – Fifty Years Adrift and a third book, It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, about the anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s album was published in 1987.  He also helped George Harrison write his autobiography, I, Me, Mine.

I don’t know that As Time Goes By is the right title for this book.  After several chapters, I started to think it should be called ‘Everybody Must Get Stoned’ or ‘I Get High With A Little Help From My Friends’ or ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.’  It would seem from what I read in these pages, that Mr. Taylor spent most of his working years in an altered state of consciousness.  He even goes so far as to refer to himself on several occasions as an acid-head or pot-head.  His stories are great, but they come in no real chronological order.  The book seems to just be random memories and anecdotes of him and famous people.

Is it a good book?  Meh.  Is it a fun book?  Yes.  Is it weird as hell?  Oh, hell yeah!  Will I read his other books?  Only time will tell since I’m still trying to figure out what I just read.  What a long strange trip it’s been…

You can find a used copy of As Time Goes By on Amazon for less than $3 if you choose to go down that rabbit hole.

I rate this book: 2 out of 4 Beetles!

You can read more about Derek Taylor on Wikipedia.

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Book Review: “Wings Over New Orleans” by John Taylor

It was a hot time down in New Orleans last weekend…and I mean that literally and figuratively!  My husband, blogger CigarCraig, and I were in New Orleans for the Cigar and Pipe Retailers convention, but that didn’t stop me from finding a way to fit a little Beatles into our trip!

On Sunday morning, Craig and I had the pleasure of meeting up with John and Janet Taylor of Slidell, LA at the Market Café in the French Market.  We had a great time chatting over coffee, bread pudding and grits with a great jazz band playing in the background.  It felt like we were meeting up with old friends as we looked at photos from when John met Paul and Linda McCartney in 1975.  (John is also a part time actor and has had uncredited roles in movies like Dallas Buyers Club and Django Unchained!)

Now, back to my review…

John Taylor is the author of the new book Wings Over New Orleans: Unseen Photos of Paul and Linda McCartney, 1975.  This book is his account and photos of when Paul and Linda McCartney, along with their band Wings, came to New Orleans in the winter of 1975 to record their album Venus and Mars.  Though only 88 pages long, this book was published by Pelican Publishing (ISBN 9781455620340) of New Orleans and contains countless photos and stories by John and several of the other groupies and fans that hung out outside of Sea-Saint Studios for 3 months talking and talking pictures of the McCartneys during their three month stay in the Big Easy.

After 35 years in storage, John finally brought his photos out of their box in hopes that other fans might like to read and see his story of meeting his idol (John used to play bass in a Beatles tribute band called the Blue Meanies!).

This book is definitely a must have for all McCartney and Wings fans for their collection.

I rate this book: 4 out of 4 Beetles!

You can order Wings Over New Orleans at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.  You can also find Wings Over New Orleans in bookstores.

You can find John Taylor on Facebook

Jennifer w/ author John Taylor in New Orleans (July 2015)

Jennifer w/ author John Taylor in New Orleans (July 2015)

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Book Review: “Angie McCartney: My Long and Winding Road”

Angie McCartney bookPhew!  That Angie McCartney can talk…and talk…and talk…and talk!  But, ya know, it works for her and this book.  And she does stop to catch her breathe on pages 156-157.

Angie McCartney has the distinction of being the step-mother of Sir Paul McCartney.  This is a role she took on in November 1964, at the height of Beatlemania, when she married Paul’s dad Jim.  My Long and Winding Road is Angie’s story.  From her humble beginnings, up until present day, Angie tells of her roller-coaster ride of a life and her travels around the world with her daughter (and best friend) Ruth by her side.

Some Beatles fans may be disappointed that at about midway through this book, after Jim’s death, Paul McCartney is rarely mentioned.  I personally had no problem with this since Angie and Ruth’s adventures make this book a joy to read, and in the end, you find yourself rooting for both of them.

Angie does spend a great deal of time thanking the VIPs that she has met in her 82.9 years, but not in a bragging type of way.  With each celebrity that she writes about meeting, she includes a wonderful story of how they met or a funny story to go along with their continued friendship.

Kindle users can download a copy of this book for just $6.99Angie McCartney: My Long and Winding Road

For those more dedicated fans, you buy a signed copy direct from Angie’s website for $30.

Or for those of you who may be a wee-bit off your rockers, you can buy a used copy of this book on Amazon for about $75!

I rate this book: 4 out of 4 Beetles!

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***Note: Don’t miss my new feature starting Tuesday, June 30, when I begin my weekly summer series called ‘Tea for Tuesday‘.  Every Tuesday through July and August, I will post a review of one of the nine flavors of Mrs. Angie McCartney’s Organic and Fair-Trade Teas.  My hope is that this will help some of my readers in their own process of selecting their own favorite flavor.  Or maybe you’ll just buy them all!  See you Tuesday…

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