Ranking the Best Documentaries

There’s a scene at the end of “Hoop Dreams,” the 1994 documentary that follows two black high school basketball players who aspire to one day make it to the NBA, that is equal parts heart-warming and devastating. The film follows the journeys of William Gates and Arthur Agee as they devote their lives to basketball, commuting 90 minutes daily to attend a predominantly white high school with a renowned basketball program. They hope to one day move their families out of their poor Chicago neighborhoods, and basketball appears to be their best shot at doing so. At the end of the film, Gates, now playing college basketball at Marquette, says to the camera with a worn-out and tired voice, “Four years ago, that’s all I used to dream about — playing in the NBA. I don’t really dream about it like that anymore. Even though I love playing basketball, I want to do other things with my life, too. If I had to stop playing basketball right now, I think I’d still be happy. I think I would.” As Gates recites these words, trying to convince himself that he actually believes them, the audience is shown pictures of Gates’ girlfriend and infant son as the three talk on the phone. Gates simultaneously grasps that he has more to offer the world than just playing the game, but must still grapple with the disappointment of a lifelong dream unfulfilled. “When somebody says, ‘When you get to the NBA, don’t forget about me,'” Gates continues. “I should say to them, ‘Well, if I don’t make it, don’t forget about me.'” It’s scenes like this, so genuine and grounded in reality, that enable documentaries to resonate in ways other films can only strive for. From in-depth looks at well-known subjects (like Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine“) to exposés on controversial scandals (like the 2013 SeaWorld investigation “Blackfish“), documentaries Continue Reading

Here’s where you can see the stunning Northern Lights in the UK tonight

ONE of the most majestic natural sights to witness is the dazzling display of the Northern Lights. But what causes the remarkable natural event and how can you see them in the UK? What are the Northern Lights? The Northern Lights, also known as aurora borealis, are the result of electrically charged particles from the sun, smashing into gaseous particles in our planet's atmosphere. This causes bright, colourful dancing lights in white, green, pink and purple that illuminate the sky and are considered an incredible sight to behold. Colour variations occur when different types of gas particles collide with the charged particles. The most common colour for the aurora is green, which is created when oxygen molecules about 60 miles above the ground react with the particles, whereas nitrogen causes a blue or purple hue. The lights are best witnessed around the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres and they are called the “Aurora Australis” or “southern lights” in the south.Can I see the Northern Lights tonight? Parts of the UK are expected to be able to see the natural wonder both tonight (March 14) and tomorrow (March 15). The solar storm has arrived ahead of the spring equinox. It is predominantly going to be viewable from Northern Scotland although other parts of the UK may also be able to see it. Speaking to The Sun Online, Alistair McLean, of The Aurora Zone, said: "This time of year does coincide with the equinox, which is often associated with higher levels of solar activity." Where’s the best place to watch the Northern Lights? The Northern Lights are predominantly best viewed in Scotland, North England, North Wales and Northern Ireland. However, under the right condition, they can be viewed throughout the UK as well. Dr Nathan Case from Aurora Watch UK told Sun Online where to head to be in with a chance… Head out to the countryside To see the aurora you need a strong solar wind, which we Continue Reading

Take the stress out of travel and let someone else deal with the logistics

Brought to you by If you’ve spent years meticulously planning every detail of your holidays, now is the time to stop worrying and choose an escorted tour The popular stars of BBC Two’s The Real Marigold on Tour journey to different parts of the world to discover what growing old is like in other cultures and countries. The series shows them revealing how wonderful it is to see the world and inspires similarly aged travellers to do just the same. Almost everyone has a travel bucket list, even if they are not a fan of the series. And the older you become, that list tends to get longer as you grow aware of ever more desirable destinations. If you are in the know, of course, you will go with Collette because you know what a difference it can make to your trip. Established in 1918, third-generation, family-owned Collette offers more than 160 escorted tours, all comfortably paced and in the company of like-minded fellow travellers. Wherever the company goes, it is not only familiar with the geography, culture and customs, but is also experienced in tailoring tours to changing needs, ensuring that you get the best from your visit. You may be in later life but your spirit for adventure is equal to a 20-year-old’s It won’t just guide you and organise authentic experiences and activities to give you a better understanding of the destination. If you also book your flights with Collette, your trip starts at your front door, when the company picks you up and takes you to the airport in style. All tours include complimentary overseas transfers as well as extensively trained tour managers, plus Abta and Atol protection. What’s so great about escorted tours is having someone else make all the necessary arrangements, so all you have to do is holiday. No one appreciates that more than mature travellers, who have spent years working at their careers and, perhaps, arranging every detail of family life too. Especially in Continue Reading

Matt Gilroy’s Olympic dream is a Long Island-based family affair

Eight Gilroy children wander the globe on this winter night. Noreen is in law school, Kevin works in finance, Frank runs a CrossFit and Michael is a college hockey player. Kellie is finishing up nursing school, and Shannon studies physical therapy. Caitlin, the youngest, is a senior at Mepham High. Three are in the family’s house on Rosemont Street in North Bellmore at the moment. The clan’s second oldest, Matt, is 33 and fresh off a flight from Helsinki, where he plays defenseman for Jokerit in the Kontinental Hockey League. In 10 hours, he will board a flight to Florida, at 8 a.m., to meet up with fellow members of the U.S. Olympic team for workouts. Preparations are being made for his departure to PyeongChang, for the Winter Games. His mother, Peggy Ann, and father, Frank Jr., sit at the kitchen table and talk; pizza slices are passed. There’s a wool hat on Matt’s head. A few days’ growth covers his face. When he bites, he reveals a gap where he is missing a tooth on the left side of his mouth. “A stick to the face,” he says. “Long time ago.” Gilroy grins. He reflects on the game’s toll on his body. The most grisly tale relates to a toe. It was during his time in the Eastern Junior Hockey League, with the Walpole (Mass.) Stars. He was running sprints back and forth on a mat in a jujitsu gym when he made a cut to change direction. Gilroy looked down at his feet. The big toe on his left foot was hanging off. It dislocated; the bone broke through the skin. “Blood squirting everywhere,” he says. “I just leaned down, popped it back into place and the blood sort of stopped.” Blood started pooling. His toe popped off, and he had to be rushed to the emergency room at Long Beach Hospital to have it reattached. His father interjects. “The real kick to the story is he calls his mother, and says, ‘Mom, I am at the emergency room,’” Frank Jr. says. “She says, Continue Reading

Best time to visit Iceland in 2018

When Iceland's economy buckled under the pressure of a crumbling currency back in 2008, the island instantly became accessible to travelers with a more varied spectrum of budgets. Now, 10 years later, the nation has experienced an eruption of tourism, as travelers became increasingly exposed to the ethereal — and highly Instagrammable — landscapes of ancient glaciers and rugged fjords. Prices have duly exploded as well, and the mirage of the inexpensive Scandinavian vacation is no more. Finding that perfect price-value ratio is nothing short of a feat when traveling to Iceland. And travelers should also be aware that what you do and see on your Iceland trip will almost entirely determined by what time of year you visit. So don't buy those cheap WOW Air tickets before first consulting this comprehensive guide. The Best Months to Visit Iceland The Best Weather in Iceland The summer months — July and August — are Iceland’s warmest, and have long been the most popular time to visit. And June, with its 24 hours of daylight, sees just about as many tourists as the peak of summer. But even during this season, bad weather (rain and intense winds) is not uncommon. The island’s fickle climate often means you can experience all four seasons in a single day. Iceland can stay relatively warm through the first week of October, so planning a September visit can be ideal (most of the crowds have thinned as children return to school). May, too, provides ample daylight for sightseeing and warmer temps. But if you’re keen on exploring some of the more remote hills and fjords, it may not be the best time to visit, as some roads remain closed as they thaw from winter’s snowy cover. For serious hikers, the best time to visit Iceland is the summer, when all the mountain roads are open and all of the most famous trails are accessible. The Best Time to See Whales in Iceland According to Icelandic marine biologist Dr. Edda Elísabet Continue Reading

9 best places to travel for Thanksgiving

Updated November 20, 2017 8:39 AM Looking to spice up your traditional holiday plans with your family? DK Eyewitness Travel complied a list of the nine best places to travel for Thanksgiving that will make this holiday exceptionally memorable. From strolling through the Christmas markets in Germany to exploring the exotic wildlife of Costa Rica, here are the top spots to travel this Thanksgiving. Costa Rica The eco-friendly country of Costa Rica is filled with beautiful wild life, gorgeous beaches and plenty of fun things for travelers to see. Animal lovers will want to visit the Manuel Antonio National Park, which is home to roughly "200 different types of birds and more than 100 species of mammals." Travelers are sure to spot sloths, iguanas and the endangered squirrel monkey while exploring the local jungles. Munich, Germany Be sure to visit Munich, Germany, this time of year when the city is filled with holiday lights and decorations. The city is stocked with Christmas markets, where travelers can find delicious foods, arts and crafts. For those who are looking to get into the Christmas spirit, visit Christkindlmarkt giant Christmas tree and take your holiday greeting card. Santa Fe, New Mexico Santa Fe is a city filled with a rich blend of Native American, Hispanic and Anglo cultures, perfect for those looking for a twist on a traditional Thanksgiving experience. Local chefs use innovative cooking techniques to spice up the holiday turkey with chile peppers and fresh, local ingredients. Set aside the sweet potatoes and classic roast turkey and try piñon stuffing, pumpkin pasta, and jalapeño chorizo dressing at a local restaurant this Thanksgiving. While visiting the city, travelers should check out the vibrant art galleries and Native American markets where you can find treasures like ceramics and jewelry. Seattle, Washington Some may not know that you can see a Thanksgiving Day Parade right in Seattle. The city puts on Continue Reading

San Luis Obispo County: Which beach town suits your personality?

By Deb Wandell Updated 1:37 pm, Friday, July 24, 2015 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-5', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 5', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-10', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 10', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-15', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 15', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-20', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 20', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); Photo: Randi Lynn Beach, Special To The Chronicle Image 1of/20 CaptionClose Image 1 of 20 This is Pismo Beach, Calif., Thursday July 16, 20015. (photo by Randi Lynn Beach) This is Pismo Beach, Calif., Thursday July 16, 20015. (photo by Randi Lynn Beach) Photo: Randi Lynn Beach, Special To The Chronicle Image 2 of 20 Image 3 of 20 It’s all about the ocean and recreation at Pismo Beach, thanks to a beautiful pier and a beach of fine sand that stretches 20 miles south. It’s all about the ocean and recreation at Pismo Beach, thanks to a beautiful pier and a beach of fine sand that stretches 20 miles south. Photo: Randi Lynn Beach, Special To The Chronicle Image 4 of 20 Although Avila Beach has lost some of its funky, beach Continue Reading

A charmed circle

We had just lifted off from Keflavik Airport, about 30 miles south of Reykjavik, and as our plane gained altitude and banked toward home, we caught one last glimpse of Iceland's celebrated Blue Lagoon. Sunlight glinted off the blue-green water; miles of hardened black lava covered the ground in every direction. My wife and I were heading back to New York after spending 10 days in the island nation best known (aside from the pop singer Bjork, that is) for its dramatic landscapes: massive glaciers, cliff-lined valleys, black-sand beaches and 10,000 waterfalls, including Gullfoss, which rivals Niagara Falls in size. Seeing the geothermal lagoon from the air was a great parting sight, and one of the many wonderful memories Maureen and I have from the trip. But without a doubt the best way to really see all of Iceland's natural splendors is by driving its famed Ring Road - Highway 1 - a two-laner that threads, more or less, for 830 miles around this Scandinavian outpost in the North Atlantic. The weeks ahead are still a good time of the year to visit. On our recent trip, we had 22 to 23 hours of sunlight each day, allowing us to see and do things in one day that normally would take two. By next month that'll be down to 14 to 16 hours, depending on whether you're in the north or south of the country. Here's our 10-day itinerary for a fun-filled, actionpacked trip: Day one Snowmobiling - on the Fourth of July? We never would have imagined it. After detouring from Highway 1 to the western peninsula of Vesturland with its fishing villages and farms, we spent the afternoon driving and hiking in the hills above Arnarstapi. On a whim, we signed up for a snowmobile excursion (l.). For the next two hours, a guide led six of us - two to a snowmobile and wearing insulated jumpsuits and helmets - to the top of Snaefellsjokull, a glacier on the tip of Vestur-land.It was an unexpected start to the trip - and great fun. Day twoMaureen got behind the Continue Reading