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Category: Travel

Movie locations, furniture, and props

Movie locations, furniture, and props

I love movies. When I travel, I often see if films were shot there and visit locations where films were shot. I also love movie props and the interesting furniture and sets. Did you know others have the same enjoyment?

Here’s some of the interesting resources if you’re interested your favorite movie locations and bits.

Finding were movies were shot:

Source and buy furniture used in movies:


Various famous props:

Living abroad

Living abroad

Chris has some really great videos adventuring around and living abroad in Japan – something I’ve considered and even had the opportunity to pursue. While I loved Japan the times I’ve visited, he does make some really solid points about the downsides in this video – a number of which I think are really good points about living abroad in general. Living/retiring abroad is something more and more retirees are trying out and professional streamers are doing as well. But it’s best to go into it with your eyes wide open and with a healthy understanding of the pros/cons before you make that life changing move.

So which points did I find most interesting?

Reason #4 – Starting with limited independence

When you first start out, and until you’re reasonably fluent in the language of where you are moving, you are going to need a LOT of help to get even basic things done. All the devices/appliances interfaces, interacting with services/medical/cell phone contracts/insurance/store clerks will also be in foreign language. I remember the first time I wanted to mail a package home, navigating the post office required I meet up with a local friend who knew how to fill out the page of overseas shipping forms. Figuring out the air conditioner took multiple attempts and using a translate app to help. Some countries are at least partly bilingual (like Japan), but expect to run into brick walls in which you absolutely need to have local help to navigate doing certain things. Using web translation and translation apps can really help (I remember the days when everyone carried a phrase book!), but are still bad enough to rarely provide everything you need. After doing things at least once, you can usually do things on your own; but the first time you do something may require help. If you have a good local friend, that’s a great start to help you navigate.

Reason #8 – Health care – especially mental health

Even when medical care is socialized, it doesn’t mean you should expect the same kind of care. Diagnosis of issues is hard enough – and a language barrier might make it harder. What might be a simple stomach issue might cause you to get a wrong treatment – even up to an unnecessary invasive procedure. Standards of treatment and expected treatment options, even for common problems, may also be very different than you expect. If you have chronic or highly likely conditions (family history/etc), the way that a country treats them will be essential for you to check out.

Nowhere is this more evident than with mental health. Many countries lag in mental health coverage and care – to the point it may well be even a taboo subject. Chris notes the experiences of many people he’s known: if you have mental health issues, it may be ok, but it also can be exacerbated by the experiences of living abroad. You are losing your family/friend circles that often provided stability and support as well as adding the daily stress of cultural and language barriers. Again, treatment options may be very limited if mental health issues are not taken seriously in that country.

Reason #7 – Dating/marriage

If you plan to date/marry a local, it is best to be at least minimally informed of the societal norms for a relationship in your new country – and how they differ from yours. While each person is an individual with their own tastes/desires from a partner, ALL of us carry unspoken expectations into relationships – many of which come from our cultural backgrounds. The role of romance, what constitutes fidelity/cheating (yes, there are VERY different ideas of what counts as cheating in different countries), expectations in involvement of family and parents, expectations around money and earning, age expectations to get married + having children, if there are expected gender roles they might expect you to fill. It’s an excellent idea to know which areas are usually aligned, and which are very mis-aligned, so you can have open and honest discussions about your expectations.

Which really is just another way to say #11…

Reason #11 – Cultural Norms

Hopefully, one of the reasons you are going to live in another place is because you want to experience another culture. This inherently means that they do things differently. Part of that is a result of where one lives geographically (It’s ridiculous to have hawaiian shirts, flip-flops, and board shorts if you’re living in Siberia) and the historical culture of the area. That’s both an adventure, and a sticking point. Despite our western proclivities for rugged individualism and forging through adversity to get what you want, you’re going to have to adapt or you’ll find yourself constantly fighting the society as a whole. This goes from simple points of daily etiquette to such things as your very lifestyle.

Examples? Apartments in Japan are not sound proofed enough to have big, blaring music systems, loud TV sets, and apartment parties – which is why everyone goes out with friends. The latest 90″ HDTV with streaming internet movies/sports is pointless in a country where power goes off regularly or broadband internet is non-existent. Having big, overstuffed cloth furniture is great in New York, it mildews and rots in hot tropical climates. Your favorite shampoos and care products may not be available. If you take medications/need treatment, you may need to take the version of that medication that’s available in the country you’re living. Governments, legal systems, or their officials may have drastically different laws about property, rights, and other legal matters.

Going further, not all countries have the same…senses of equality we have here. Some countries openly promote or suppress some religions. Treatment and even legal rights between genders may be quite different to outright medieval.

In short, stubbornly holding on to foods, lifestyle, and products from your home country are going to range from expensive/inconvenient to impossible. The reality I have heard from others is that if you’re not willing to live as the citizens of that country live – then you are almost certainly headed for unhappiness, frustration, or even spending more living there than back home.

Sleep No More

Sleep No More

Sleep No More isn’t a standard theatrical play. Instead, it’s a 3 hour immersive theatre experience by the punchdrunk theater group. The show is an adaptation of Macbeth re-set in a dimly-lit, 1930s-era establishment called the McKittrick Hotel. The hotel is actually a 5-story block of warehouses in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, transformed into the hotel-like performance space. The different rooms and floors have wild and unique themes, set designs, props, and music. The audience are given masks, told they cannot speak, and may freely move through the settings interacting with the props or observing the actors at their own pace. There is no program and actors move from room to room and floor to floor interacting with other actors and the sets on a repeating 1 hour loop cycle. They often run from room to room and may even push their way through audience members.

The action is deprived of nearly all spoken dialog and performed via interpretive dance, dialogless acting, yelling, and utilizing the set pieces in the different rooms. There’s lots of sensuality, mock fights that have actors acrobatically running up the sides of walls, actors are more than occasionally nude, bathed in fake blood, wearing strange costumes, or performing strange rituals and bizarre scenes. There are lots of hidden secrets and even 1-on-1 scenes in which an actor might select you and will perform a scene with you – often away from everyone else.

Most people say that it takes multiple visits before you can get a grip on everything that’s going on – and there are even guides on how to get the best experience. They encourage attendees that “Fortune favors the bold”; and encourage you to become participants in a way by placing yourself in the midst of the actors performing a scene. Some of the actors will acknowledge you being close to them and perform something with you like singing a song, giving you an item, or leading you to a private scene. Sadly, however, anonymity, pre-event drinking, and people taking the advice to be bold too far, have led to some problems with guests.

Still, if you’re interested in some experimental experiential theatre, this might be up your alley. It’s only in New York and books up far in advance – so reserve your spot well before your plans to go.

A drop in the bucket

A drop in the bucket

If a drop of rain fell anywhere in the US you choose, what path would it take to the ocean? River Runner will show you and it does it with a really awesome 3D view. Try it out here:

The javascript source lives here and uses USGS NHDPlus data and their NLDI API to visualize the path of a rain droplet from any point in the contiguous United States to its end point (usually the ocean, sometimes the Great Lakes, Canada/Mexico, or another inland water feature). It’ll find the closest river/stream flowline coordinate to a click/search and then animate along that flowline’s downstream path.

Haunted Mansion Cocktail Lounge

Haunted Mansion Cocktail Lounge

I love spooky things and Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Imagine my joy when Raven’s Manor, a cocktail lounge designed to look like a haunted mansion, just opened this last month in downtown Portland. I gave it a visit and really enjoyed it.

The partners, Vega and Jared Bradley, have concocted a backstory for the Manor. As the tale goes, namesake Dr. Raven was a prominent elite known for his lavish parties, which were actually a ruse. “All the while,” Vega explains, “he was secretly kidnapping victims and taking them down to his laboratory for human experimentation.”

While the bartenders at Raven’s won’t be in the business of abducting humans, there will be an opportunity to take part in some experiments if you so choose. In a month or two, the bar is scheduled to start accepting reservations for an “Elixir Experience,” where guests are asked to solve clues throughout the property and then use everything from chemistry equipment to cauldrons to create custom drinks.

Table to Farm Dining

Table to Farm Dining

Since 1999, Jim Denevan’s organization, Outstanding in the Field, has hosted open-to-the-public ticketed dinners in all 50 states and 15 different countries. Not content with farm-to-table, Denevan actually brings the table to the farm, inviting chefs and farmers to work together to produce a meal that tells a story about its creators and about the place where the food is grown. They set up long tables for dozens, or hundreds, of guests in exotic locations and farmlands.

They only sponsor a few dozen events each year and they sell out rather quickly. At about $300 per seat, the price is as hot as the seats.

An Outstanding in the Field dinner at Hama Hama Oysters, on the west shore of the Hood Canal in Puget Sound
Parties for Influencers

Parties for Influencers

Social elites and influencers have long been known for extravagant, secretive, and unusual types of gatherings. The movie Eyes Wide Shut and The Game gave us a little glimpse into these worlds, but actually getting into these kinds of events is secretive and selective. Most people don’t even know about them, even well after they happen. Getting into them requires the right connections, social and artistic cache, as well as a bit of luck. Even chosen guests often know little about the details of the location, theme, artists, or the food until the very last minute.

Madame Lupin is a private Parisian experiential design group that extends invitation to those who take the time, effort, and patience to discover the secrets of Paris. They organizing events at secretive and abandoned locations – like sand caves under the Paris streets, an abandoned art museum, or old military complexes. They then invite new painters, sculptors, performers, and musicians to entertain – along with food and beverages.

We Are the Oracle is an even more extravagant organization that hosts elaborate clandestine dinners and parties, including the Paris catacombs, empty railways, and abandoned chateaus. What began as a word-of-mouth soirée among the Paris’ elite influencers has evolved into seasonal theme parties along the lines of “Eyes Wide Shut”, all-night raves, and immersive theatrics of shows like “Sleep No More.”

As the reputation of their parties grew, so did the pressure to raise the level of extravagance. “Venise Sous Paris,” for example, took a year to plan and cost more than a million euros to produce. Check out some of their work like the party in the catacombs of Paris.

The above pictures are another event thrown by We Are the Oracle. They hosted a candlelit costume ball inside the abandoned Rothschild Chateau in the East of Paris.

If you don’t find yourself on these selective guest lists, you can check for other events on AirBnB or similar platforms – like spending Halloween night in the Paris catacombs – complete with dinner, spooky storyteller, and a bed to literally sleep with the dead.

Or, check out the “Don’t be a Tourist in…” series by Messy Nessy. She has books on New York and Paris (as well as a playlist to set the mood).

Tim Hunkin’s mechanical wonders

Tim Hunkin’s mechanical wonders

Tim Hunkin is an innovative English engineer, cartoonist, writer, and artist best known for creating the Channel Four television series The Secret Life of Machines in which he explains the workings and history of various household devices. He has also created museum exhibits for institutions across the UK, and designed numerous public engineering works, chiefly for entertainment. Hunkin’s works are distinctive, often recognizable by his unique style of paper-mâché sculpture (made from unpainted newsprint), his pen and ink cartoons, and his offbeat sense of humor​.

His “Under the Pier Show” is on Southward Pier in Suffolk, England is a true delight. I love it!

There’s a place in the US with similar cool machines at Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum in Michigan.