Sunday, September 22, 2013

(Working) Vacation Reading List

For better or worse, I am not much up for vacations where I don't do anything but goof off, and at the very least like to be writing and publishing about the things I am seeing and enjoying when I am on the road. A good vacation for me is one in which I am energized and inspired to write, edit, create, and publish, and being able to work and read at least a couple of hours a day helps me to achieve that. With all that in mind, I have compiled an appropriate collection of things to read on my current trip, which includes four days in Hawaii, a cruise from Honolulu to French Polynesia, New Zealand, and Australia, and a week in Sydney and the historic coastal town of Port Macquarie. My reading list includes: 

* The Bounty, a non-fiction book by Caroline Alexander about the mutiny on HMS Bounty, which I am shooting to finish reading before we reach the island of Tahiti, where many of its events take place. 

* Noa Noa, a book by artist Paul Gaugin about his experiences in French Polynesia, which I have not yet started reading but also hope to have finished before reaching Tahiti. 

* "Chapter 13: Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec," from Promenades of an Impressionist, a 1910 book by art critic James Huneker (which, once again, I want to complete before we get to Tahiti!). 

* Rovings in the Pacific, an 1851 book by "a merchant long resident at Tahiti" (it is an interesting looking book but lowest on my priority list and if I have not had a chance to start it by the time we leave French Polynesia I will skip it, at least for the time being). 

* Twenty-five articles, nine on Polynesian history and culture; eight on the New Zealand film industry and the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit film franchises; three on the history of crime in Sydney; one on the Sydney Opera House; and four tying in with Australian and New Zealand military history. 

* Gygax #1 and Gygax #2, the first two issues of a new gaming magazine featuring articles by friends and family of Gary Gygax, creator of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. I will likely begin delving into them during the long sea days after French Polynesia (and after I have cleared out the above-mentioned books). 

* Sagard the Barbarian #1, #2, #3, and #4, a series of "choose your own adventure" stories co-authored by my friend Ernie Gygax, his father Gary, and author Flint Dille. As with the magazines, I plan on enjoying these during the second week of the cruise. 

I have also discovered in my hotel room in Waikiki, co-equal in the drawer with the Gideon Bible, The Teachings of Buddha, that I have begun reading! There will also presumably be any number of brochures, travel guides, and other itinerary-pertinent materials over the coming weeks. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Lectures for Radiance of the Seas (September 23 - October 11)

Following are the eight presentations I will be giving as the cruise lecturer aboard Royal Caribbean International's Radiance of the Seas sailing from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Sydney, Australia, September 23 - October 11! Requirements for my program were more exacting than for any previous cruise for which I had served as a member of the entertainment staff, and required me to explicitly tie presentations in with the ports of Papeete, Bora Bora, Moorea, Wellington, Picton, and Sydney, and to include one focusing on Maori culture. Fortunately, I have researched the history and culture of the region extensively over the years for any number of books, articles, and other projects and thus had a wealth of material to draw upon. 

"Going Off the Beaten Path in Hawaii": Join travel writer Michael O. Varhola in an exploration of the Hawaiian islands that takes visitors to hidden temples, palaces, and other beautiful and mysterious places. (This lecture is adapted from my award-winning travel article "Going Off the Beaten Path in Hawaii," which anyone interested can read on my TravelBlogue.)

"The Painter of Papeete": Join historian Michael O. Varhola as he explores the Papeete of French artist Paul Gaugin and how he was inspired in his painting by the people and geography of the islands of French Polynesia. 

"A History of Bora Bora": Join maritime historian Michael O. Varhola as he explores the history of the French Polynesian island of Bora Bora, from its earliest settlement 1,700 years ago, through its role in World War II, and up to the current era.

"Mysteries of Moorea": Join author Michael O. Varhola as he explores the myths, legends, and mysteries of beautiful Moorea, to include the strange, thousand-year-old pyramid-like sacrificial structures known as marae.

"Xena, Spartacus, and the Lord of the Rings": Author Michael O. Varhola looks at the fantasy film industry that has grown up in and around Wellington and other locations in New Zealand and how it takes advantage of the striking geography of the region. 

"The Maori Pa of Picton": Join author Michael O. Varhola as he examines the history and culture of the indigenous inhabitants of New Zealand, with an emphasis on the centuries-old Maori settlement on the site of modern-day Picton. 

"The Golden Mile": Join true crime author Michael O. Varhola as he investigates the colorful history of crime in Sydney throughout the 20th century, from the gambling houses and brothels of the 1930s through the gangland wars and drug trade of the 1980s.

"ANZAC:" Military historian Michael O. Varhola looks at the role of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps and the roles played by the military forces of the respective nations in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam.