Heads in Beds

Perfect for late night reading.

Perfect for late night reading.

I have been wanting to read this book since it first came out in 2012.  This tempting piece of non-fiction has lingered on my Goodreads to-read shelf for years and I am happy to have finally read this one and crossed it off the list.

Heads in Beds follows Jacob Tomsky from his very beginnings as a valet at a hotel in New Orleans. After working up the proverbial food chain, Tomsky took a break from the hotel industry only to find himself right back in it, starting from scratch in New York. Without meaning to, the memoir quickly becomes a work of comparison between the hotels and lifestyles of two famous cities. One more laid-back, the other all business. You can take a guess at which is which.

If you’re expecting a salacious read about celebrity clientele and guest sexcapades, you’ll be sorely disappointed. There are moments of both in small doses, but the strength of this memoir is in the behind the scenes look at the mercenary approach to customer service.

Tomsky’s experience is based in the luxury hotel business, not your average Hilton or Doubletree. He breaks down the basic economics as quickly as he inserts lyrics from 50 Cent–both of which are valuable and hilarious additions to his narrative. Tomsky often has a tone that reads as a wisecracking uncle, schooling his nephews and nieces in the way of life. And learn, I did.

For instance, if I ever find myself in a luxury hotel or, hell, even the local Doubletree, I now plan on tipping. Turns out, tipping is the lifeblood of a hotel, and though it sounds naive now, I never really thought about tips as being all that important in the hotel industry. But they are. Not only for the people receiving the bills, but for you the overnight guest. Tomsky makes the value of under-the-table funds explicitly clear. Better service. Better rooms. Better experience.

Heads in Beds is a quick read and a solid piece of nonfiction. Part hotel tell-all, part guide to getting better customer service, Tomsky is witty and candid in his revelations of the hospitality industry.

Tomsky’s asides and observations prove a knack for storytelling that the reader will enjoy. You can expect laughter, lip-curling disgust, and possibly some guilt for being “that” guest. Heads in Beds is a page turner that just might make you a savvier traveler in the process.

Heads in Beds was a rather enjoyable read for me and I give it 3 Book Bubbles–Suitably Poppable.

Thanks for popping in!

Bookish Wanderlust

For this week’s Broke and the Bookish weekly meme we’re doing a little bit of imaginary traveling. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is about the ten places books have made you want to visit.

At first, I was determined to list only places I could actually achieve as a sort of bookish bucket list, but then I’d be missing some of my favorite fictional locales. So here we go on a whirlwind tour of some fantastical, fictional places that I would visit if I could.

1. The Magical World of Harry Potter from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series

Image respectfully borrowed from the Harry Potter wiki

Honestly, this is a no-brainer. In my touristy little heart I would love to go on a school tour of the wizarding world featuring Hogwarts, Durmstrang, and Beauxbatons. The closest I’ll get in real life is the Warner Brothers studio tour and Universal’s resort, so those real-life places are definitely on the ole’ bucket list.

2.Tortall from the Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce

Respectfully borrowed from the Tamora Peirce wiki.

Tortall just seems like a fascinating place: it has wintry woods and a desert right next to sea ports and sprawling cities. I’m extremely intrigued.

3. Bon Temps from the Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlene Harris

Respectfully borrowed from the True Blood wiki.

It’s such a small town, but a lot of things seem to happen here. I’d like to have a beer at Merlotte’s and shop at Tara Togs. Maybe drive up to Shreveport and visit Fangtasia. Sounds like a fun vacay to me!

4. Amsterdam a la John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars 

Respectfully borrowed from worldhotels.com

Green did such an amazing job of painting Amsterdam as more than the red light district and pot brownies (which is how it’s usually depicted). Hazel and Augustus’ adventures in Amsterdam made me want to visit the city in a way no other novel has before. Another one for the real life bucket list.

5. Middle Earth from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (post ring drama)

Respectfully borrowed from bonanza.com

I want to ride horses in Rohan and visit the white tree in Gondor and see the remaining elves in Rivendale. And I want to take a walking tour of Hobbiton, which is sort of an actual dream to visit the film set in New Zealand. But Tolkien does a phenomenal job of world building so it’s easy to picture yourself.

6. New Orleans á la writers like Sherrilyn Kenyon and Anne Rice

Respectfully borrowed from nompco.com

Nearly any writer who has tackled the paranormal has frolicked in New Orleans. I’ve never been and would love to visit the city someday. I need beignets and good jazz in my life. And maybe some ghost tours.

7. The Circus of the Damned from the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton

Respectfully borrowed from marvel.com.

If I could guarantee safe passage from Jean Claude’s Circus of the Damned, then I would explore that place from top to bottom. But getting out unharmed would be a great party trick.

8. The Night Circus from The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Respectfully borrowed from usatoday.com.

Morgenstern creates a beautiful world of wonder in black and white with pops of red. Knowing that each tent was physical love letter between Ceila and Marco would make everything seem more magical.

9. The Tudor court as depicted by Phillipa Gregory in The Other Boleyn Girl

Respectfully borrowed from telegraph.co.uk.

Not that I’d actually like long-term living without the wonders of indoor plumbing and modern medicine, but a wee visit to  Gregory’s vision of the Tudor court would be fun. The Other Boleyn Girl is one of my favorite books so it would be amazing to walk the halls where Mary walked.

10. Troy (pre-sacking) from Sarah Franklin’s Daughter of Troy

Respectfully borrowed from virtualspacetheory.com

Now, I’m getting really picky since I’m specifying pre-sacking. But if you’re going to visit one of the most beautiful and wealthiest strongholds of the ancient world, don’t you want to see it in all it’s glory? I really enjoyed Franklin’s book and her depiction of society in ancient Greece, so that’s the version I’d like to visit.

There you go; my wishful thinking travel locales from favorite books. Some of them are attainable, some significantly impossible, but maybe I’ll make it to the real-life locations someday.

Thanks for popping in!

My Best Friend is a Nutcase; You’re Gunna Love Her

Have you ever met someone who is so full of charisma that you’re afraid they might burst? I have and her name is Dara Cameron.

When I first met Dara she was wearing some Daisy Duke level jean shorts, a crocheted halter top, and some suede ankle booties all of which made her look like this tall, voluptuous, hippy goddess. Her long auburn hair was stacked haphazardly into a bun, her amber eyes were framed by thick cat-eye liner, and God-almighty was she loud. She scared the crap out of me.

I was intimidated by how authentic and confident this woman was. We were both in a new place, having moved out to California to get our Master’s in film studies, but she seemed utterly at home in her new locale as if she’d been practicing to live in Orange County her whole life. She said something when a group of us film scholars met up for coffee (I can’t for the life of me remember what it was, but I’ll guarantee you it was funny) and I realized this beautiful, hilarious human was going to be my best friend.

Navigating the aisles of Ikea.

Navigating the aisles of Ikea.

Two years later this is an undeniable fact. We have gone to tarot card readings together. We have traveled abroad together. We have shared many a dressing room. I have gone to see some of her first stand-up routines. And she has learned to understand me when I get so excited or upset that I reach a pitch most humans can’t comprehend. I’m truly blessed to count this girl among my best friends.

Dara and I at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival: she wore a wig and called herself Liz French just for giggles.

Dara and I at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival: she wore a wig and called herself Liz French just for giggles.

And now, you lucky devils, you get a chance to meet Dara yourselves.

Ever the gypsy at heart, Dara is embarking upon a cross-country journey where she will reenact famous movie scenes and watch the favorite films of strangers in return for some quality couch surfing. Naturally, the proper medium to catalogue this endeavor is a blog. Enter, MoxiePixieRealGirl: A Gypsy’s Guide to Film, Fantasies, and the Open Road.

The most fascinating thing for me is how she’s approaching the interactive nature of this trip. She’s hosting polls on her site so you can have a say in what zany thing she does next.  Her first stop is Washington D.C. and some of the poll options were “Frolic through the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pond  like the reunion of Jenny and Forrest” from Forrest Gump and grab some drinks at the bar that St. Elmo’s Fire was based on.

She’s basically living out a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book, cinema style.  And it’s all  going to work because she’s Dara Cameron, one of the most charismatic people on the planet.

So why am I telling you all this? Not only is Dara a gifted writer with a natural wit and a strong knowledge of film–which are both reasons enough to tune into her blog–she also needs your help for this adventure to begin.

In order to pay for gas, food, and the occasional lodging Dara has launched a KickStarter page.  If you’re intrigued enough by what I’ve written here, please go check out her KickStarter, or at least her blog.

Link to her kickstarter page.

Link to her super awesome blog

Dara just set up her KickStarter page today and has already got $90.00 to her end goal of $500. I realize that donating money to a girl you’ve never met might sound a tad nutty but if you’re in the mood for a vicarious adventure then this is the girl you should back.

I hope you get a kick out of this chick as much as I do!

The Country That Got Away

“A man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority.” –Samuel Johnson

When I was fifteen I went on a People to People trip that took me to Malta, Italy, Monaco, and France. Now, fifteen-year-old me was enamored with the idea of France. The fashion. The romance. The food. It all just sounded perfect; that I was destined to love it. And I did enjoy France, my main complaint was that the trip didn’t allot us enough time to truly explore such bounteous beauty. [People to People is a highly regimented tourist program for teens. Great way to see different countries when you’re young, but it doesn’t leave a ton of time for lingering.] Instead, I fell madly in love with Italy.

I’m not sure exactly what charmed me most about Italy. There is really no better way to explain it except as a first love experience. The shy exploration and growing wonder with each new day in that country parallels the emotions of a first crush. I climbed a volcano. I visited Caesar’s tomb. I baked my own brick oven pizza. Every day was something new and beautiful. There was no resisting its lure. And I’ve always longed to return.

Tomorrow, I get on a plane that will touch down in Bologna, Italy. It will be a ten day excursion centered around Il Cinema Ritrovatro, a film restoration festival. The best part is that I’ll be getting credit towards my film studies masters because the course is through Chapman University. I’m thrilled to be taking the travel course in general. I get to watch some restored classics as they were meant to be seen–on the big screen. There will be early Hitchcock films, a smattering of Charlie Chaplin, and miscellaneous restorations from the golden era of cinema. I’m excited for the festival, but somehow nervous about the traveling itself.

I’m worried that twenty-three year old me won’t be enchanted with Italy the same way fifteen-year-old me was. I’ve certainly changed and grown since my teens. It’s almost like seeing the one that got away again after a long separation. You hope that they’re still the same person you fell in love with, but are equally afraid that they will have changed.

In short, I’m a nervous ball of energy. It should still be an amazing experience, but that doesn’t make me less jittery. I won’t know how I feel about the trip until after it’s over. Bologna will also be new territory for me, a part of Italy not yet traversed. But I’ll be keeping a journal and taking my camera to capture the experience.

When I return, I’ll have to let you know if I’ve been romanced all over again or had my heart broken.