joy magnetism: May 2008

@Joymagnetism, now on Instagram!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

O Wyoming! - GAR Day #16

Magnet #99 - Devils Tower, WY

Yeah, I'm cheating again. Today was supposed to be the last of Wyoming and then the drive into Montana for a quick peak. Devils Tower wasn't on the itinerary, and is on the opposite side of the state from Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.

I've never been to Wyoming, but figured that I would eventually combine it with some sort of western trip...eventually. It's one of the final 10 or so states I haven't been to.

The rest of the day was to be Montana, just over the border, so that we could check off another state for the trip. Two of us took a cross-country trip, and did a couple of days in Glacier National Park - but there are magnets for that visit.

I do so love Montana - after all, it's the quintessential Loveswept (actually, probably more like a Harlequin, or even a Silhouette) romance novel, where the heroine gets tired of the big city, is ordered to take a vacation, heads out to some remote ranch in Montana, and falls in love with the gruff, yet hot, rancher on the next spread know, the one looking to buy the remote ranch she's staying at. You know, the one who makes fun of the silly city girl trying to make a go of the ranch, and then ends up teaching her the ropes of managing the ranch. The one who - when the newborn calf is lost out in some ravine in the pouring rain - goes out after the girl and manages to save both the girl and the calf.

What? I used to be a romance editor. Who read a lot of romances.

Anyway, so, I grew up fancying that this would some day happen to me - that I'd chuck it all and move to Montana. I told my grandma this, and she made me promise to visit Montana before I picked up and moved - hence the cross-country trip. But, she was right - because as much as I loved Montana, I think I've learned I'm not quite the outdoors girl I thought I could be.

Well, I suppose I could be. Depends on the rancher, I guess.

GAR Track of the Day: Wanted: Dead or Alive
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Friday, May 30, 2008

Only on holidays and national emergencies - GAR Day #15

Magnet #98 - Twin Falls, ID

One of the GAR roadtrippers grew up in Twin Falls, ID, which is how I ended up with this magnet. I've been through Idaho, on that cross-country train trip - middle of the night, and in the top bunk of a sleeper car. Not fun. Also, I didn't get to buy any magnets for myself.

Anyway, we were supposed to spend the night at his house, and then wake up to a wonderful breakfast, and yes, a drive-thru tour of the area, before heading out to Wyoming to see Yellowstone and Grand Tetons for the afternoon and night and some of tomorrow. Yep, another long day, but we're in the home stretch now!

Two things that were on today's morning docket were the Craters of the Moon, and Shoshone Falls. Craters was apparently an ancient lava flow area...where a volcano erupted 2,000 years before recorded history. Which is weird to say, because if it's recorded now, then how is it before recorded history. Shouldn't we just push the startdate of recorded history back? I'm just sayin'. Then, apparently, 2,000 years later the Shoshones built rock rings there. Yeah, I'm assuming it makes more sense if you actually visit the park.

Shoshone Falls would have been neat. Apparently, you can shut off these giant waterfalls (known as the Niagara of the West - they fall like 50 feet farther!) when necessary. I'd like to see proof of this - in person - because I've been told this for several years now. Why? Because I once convinced one of the GAR roadtrippers that they can shut off the real Niagara Falls on holidays and national emergencies, via a huge dam upriver.

In her defense, she hadn't seen the falls yet, so when we rounded the corner and she got a glimpse of the falls and knew that I was full of bullpucky.

GAR Track of the Day: Waterfalls (Or, what Sarah Larson is probably crying, now that she and George Clooney have broken up. What? You didn't hear?)
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Thursday, May 29, 2008

People all over the world...or just UT today, I guess - GAR Day #14

Magnet #97 - Salt Lake City, UT

So today we were to drive from Arches over to Salt Lake City, for a quick pit stop on our way into Idaho for the night.

As usual, I had a million things on the docket for this town - main street, Mormon Tabernacle, etc., etc. I've never been to SLC, but I was so planning on doing the most comprehensive drive-by, ever. That's one of my specialties - drive-by tours...I mean, it was a few years before I actually stopped the car to see the Liberty Bell - and even then, it was only because they moved it from that glass-encased building you could see from the roadside, into its own facility. Look. It sounds Clark Griswoldy, but sometimes, that's all you have time for.

One thing I was looking forward to visiting on this day (and definitely will at some point) is the Golden Spike National Historic Site - Promontory Summit - where the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads met, making the transcontinental railroad dream a reality. I mean, dudes! They re-enact the final spike being driven into the ground! How freakin' awesome! What? We've already discussed my love of trains.

GAR Track of the Day: Love Train. (Or, what Sarah Larson's no longer on. Yes, I'm still celebrating the George Clooney/Sarah Larson break-up. I might declare it a weeklong holiday, in fact.)

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Well, it's no 40 days or nights - GAR Day #13

Magnet #96 - Zion National Park

...but today we were desert-bound - finishing up Zion, and then taking the scenic route to Arches.

And by scenic, I seriously was planning on us getting up superearly (like see the break of dawn over Monument Valley early), heading to Monument Valley, Four Corners, the Trail of the Ancients, Canyonlands, and finishing up with sunset at Arches National Park. Yes. All in one day. What?

And before you wonder whether or not we're big hikers, the answer is...two of us might be, and two of us could be. I'd like to think that we'd have been rambling all around these parks and trails. The reality is, I probably would have been sitting in the car, trying to convince the roadtrippers that we could just do the scenic drive...with strategic stops at the gift shops. (I mean, that's how we did Zion, last time around.)

Truth be told, I think this day was one of the ones I was a little wary of. It's the part where they caution you to carry one gallon of water per passenger, just in case your car breaks down. Holy moly! Really? And, like what if we'd gotten stranded out in the boondocks of nowhere, and had to walk somewhere, and tie our shirts around our heads and what if we got stuck out in the cold desert night and had to figure out how to make a fire! I mean, I know I learned a lot from watching TV, but honestly? Making a fire would be iffy for me. So yeah, I'm kinda happy I'm typing this post from my air conditioned desk.

I'm dedicating this particular blogpost to the fabulous NPS ranger at the Teddy Roosevelt Birthplace national park. The TR birthplace is right around the corner from work, and I wandered in to see if they had any NPS paraphernalia, and this guy took about half an hour to walk through my little GAR itinerary. He even tried to talk sense into me that this day wasn't going to work, and that we needed to split the day in two.

Three weeks later, my friends and I went to visit the birthplace, and he remembered me, and handed me a Canyonlands map. This ranger's probably one of the few reasons I regret not going...or, at least why I'm avoiding going to the birthplace again (so I don't have to tell the guy, who was very intrigued by this weird not-quite-cross-country trip, that we didn't actually go).

GAR Track of the Day: Desert Rose

I just wanted to add a bit of happy news on this momentous day. George Clooney and THATwoman Sarah Larson have broken up.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Wild, wild horses - GAR Day #12

Magnet #95 - Bryce Canyon National Park

So today, very early, we were to check out of the Wynn, and continue our Great American Roadtrip through to Bryce Canyon National Park.

This national park is just the most awesome park to ever park - it's like almost 60 square miles of gorgeous canyons and nooks and crannies, and towering formations called hoodoos, that formed horseshoe-like amphitheatres and other natural wonders.

I visited with my sisters a few years ago, and we ended up doing the half-day horseback ride through the canyons. Amazing. Seriously. Also, seriously painful. I had a horse growing up, so of course, I used this to parlay myself into a real horse, while the two younger sisters ended up on donkeys. Not sure it was the best idea I've ever had, but I sure enjoy lording it over the other two.

We were only allowed to have our cameras out at certain points during our trip - but they should have taken away the cameras, like when the Warner Bros tour guides locked our cams in our little golf cart. That probably would have helped - at least my cowpoke, anyway - he was the one who had to go back and retrieve my disposable both times I dropped it.

And, as we wended our way down the canyon, we had to ride single-file on the trail. What they told us, as we were literally hugging the canyon walls, was that they train the animals to walk - on the outside of the trail. Closest to the edge. The edge of a million feet with no safety net or guard rail. So. Freakin'. Scary. I mean, you look over your knees, and you don't see your foot, your stirrup, or the horses' hooves. You see canyon. Far. Far. Below.

So, while you're desperately clutching the horse's girth with both your knees, you're locking them up, and in a constant state of pressure. After a while, that pressure starts to take its toll. You begin to lose feeling below the waist, and then when you have that one bathroom break in the middle, you're limping to the restroom. Assuming you can even get down. I have never - ever - been in that much pain in my entire life. Whoa. And then, when we got back to the corral, middle sis was pretty much the most ashen I've ever seen a Filipino girl look. Heh.

On the other hand - I have to say, that canyon ride was one of the most exhilarating things I've ever done, so it was well worth the pain and the scariness. Surrounded by all the natural beauty - unhindered by concrete and tons of people - Bryce makes you realize that humans really are just a speck on this planet.

GAR Track of the Day: Wild Horses
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Monday, May 26, 2008

Viva Las Vegas - GAR Day #11

Magnet #94 - Bellagio, Las Vegas

As our second day in Vegas, today was supposed to be a full day of Las Vegas hi jinx. The oddest thing about Las Vegas is the fact that once you get inside one of their monolithic hotels, you can't tell if it's day or night. It's insane. And the exits/entrances are like miles away from wherever you are, so leaving the grounds just seems harder than just plopping down in front of the nearest slot machine.

We were booked for a few nights at the Wynn hotel for the GAR, probably the only hotel that could beat out the Bellagio. Because the Bellagio? Heaven. No, seriously. This hotel is just. heaven. From the Chihuly glass entryway to the rooms, to the buffet, to the art gallery, to the conservatory gardens. Loved. This. Hotel. It just makes you feel wealthy, and transported off the strip. The dancing waters in front of the hotel are just as Clair-de-lune-y as Ocean's 11 makes it out to be.

Last time around, after checking out of our beloved Bellagio, roadtripped out to Utah, and on our way back to fly out of McCarran, baby sister forgot that she'd left her stuffed moose Napi back in the Bellagio. After much, much upset and pouting, she called the Bellagio, so that we could pick it up our way out.

Dudes, it was just a stuffed moose, not the Hope Diamond...but when she got to the front desk, she was told to wait - as the front desk attendant went to go retrieve the stuffed moose. From an undisclosed location. Freaky.

GAR Track of the Day: Viva Las Vegas
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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Luck be a joy tonight - GAR Day #10

Magnet #93 - Sinatra in Vegas

So, today was Grand Canyon day on the GAR, and then driving into Vegas tonight.

We did the Grand Canyon when I was 12, and it was absolutely gorgeous. Well, to some. My grandmother nearly drove my mom crazy when she told mom that it was just a big hole in the ground. Whoops. Mind you, this was after we'd crossed the desert in a 4-door sedan with three young kids, a grandma...and yes, that priest.

Anyway, I'm using Sinatra in Vegas today, in honor of my dad. The fam dropped by for the weekend to do some sightseeing. But, instead of seeing the city today, my dad, a big Sinatra fan, literally spent about 6 hours reading the Easy Listening Music Choice channel.

What? He likes the artist trivia. So, MusicChoice channel programmer - if you're reading, take heart - someone actually reads that stuff to float across the screen!

GAR Track of the Day: Luck Be a Lady Tonight
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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Goodness gracious - GAR Day #9

Magnet #92 - Meteor Crater

Second day in Arizona was supposed to be in Scottsdale - almost a whole day at Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West.

This was the stop that I was most looking forward to, with FLW being my architect du jour (ok, fine - some days it's Gehry, some days it's Pei, and some days it's McDonald's). But, Taliesin West is supposed to be supercool - both in architecture and landscape, and in seeing where he used to teach his students. Plus, there's some pretty racy stories running around about FLW student activities, and I'm starting to wonder if that's code for something.

We were going to see how many tours we could squeeze in before we had to drive to the Grand Canyon. Oh, well. It just means that for now, Scottsdale remains on the travel bucket list. Maybe I can think up a client to pitch there. Heh.

So, today's magnet was brought back by a friend of mine who just got back from her own AZ trip (thank you!). She did the really neat train from Williams, which we were gonna do, but then realized that we've done a cross-country train trip - would this train trip match up to that? We thought probably not and nixed it from the itinerary.

Somehow I think seeing Meteor Crater would have definitely been added in. How cool does this hole in the ground look! I do, however, question their home page blurb of "Experience the IMPACT!" What's that mean? Like they have one of those crazy "experience" things where you climb in and the hydraulics go insane on you? Is it a theatre show? Or, do they show Armageddon or Deep Impact 24/7? Oooh, I vote Armageddon - who doesn't love a bit of Michael Bay?

GAR Track of the Day: Great Balls of Fire!
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Friday, May 23, 2008

Rollin', rollin', rollin' - GAR Day #8

Magnet #91 - Arizona

So I spent a good 10 minutes scouring my magnet boards because I couldn't find an Arizona magnet for the first of the two-day segment. Quelle horreur! Then, complete with a spotlight and a chorus of angels - at eye level, natch - was this jobbie.

Haven't a clue where it came from, but thank you to whomever gave it to me.

Today we're driving around New Mexico and Arizona. New Mexico for the Gila Cliff Dwellings - almost the Anasazi stuff of X-File lore, but not quite. And then a few ghost towns...where I pictured the four of us GAR roadtrippers as the Scooby gang, solving a mystery wherein the weird guy who owned the dilapidated inn was wearing a ghost costume to keep people from visiting (because there's a big secret hidden in the ghost town, of course), complete with glowing footprints and explanatory denouement. Hahahaha. Any. Way.

So, the rest of the day was to be Tombstone - dangit, I even re-watched Tombstone so that I'd be able to tell folks that the gunfight didn't really take place at the O.K. Corral, but down the street.

Well, it's not like I really liked the movie anyway. Val Kilmer was just too scary lookin' for my taste. Though, oddly, Kurt Russell and Sam Elliott were pretty compelling.

GAR Track of the Day: Rawhide. Again, probably just would have been belting it out. Oh, who needs a radio or cd player. Heh. b13 may have been right, the singing might have posed a problem.

Success! The great
Doctor Who magnetwatch is complete! Received the magnet set day too late to be my Roswell entry, but can't wait for June!

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pass the pepper - GAR Day #7

Magnet #90 - Red Hot Chile Peppers

So, tonight would have been a gourmet dinner in Las Cruces, New Mexico. According to various sources, including Neil Patrick Harris (a native New Mexican), there's nothing like New Mexican cuisine. Figured this magnet was weirdly fitting, though you epicurious folks don't get on me if this picture isn't really NM peppers.

I had plans for today's blog, people! One plan was to have already received my Doctor Who magnets - so that I could use either a much-hated (by me) Dalek or a silly Cyberman as my honor of our Roswell stop. Yep, we're on Day 16 of the great Doctor Who magnetwatch. Instead of taking the QE2 from the UK, I think Forbidden Planet UK may have ordered the magnets to be shipped directly from China, and clicked the slow boat option.

The other plan was to blog about Roswell, the show. Another of my WB favorites. Yes, I'm ignoring the UPN broadcast of the show. Didn't we all? A couple of years ago, I had a mini-obsession with Roswell and Michael and Maria, and little Katie Heigl, playing Isabel (whom I loved)...and even little Emilie de Ravin, playing Tess (whom I hated).

Yes, I'm ignoring Liz and Max. Didn't we all? Well, all except for the part where Liz met Max and then was promptly shot in the tummy with love. (/tm TWoP recap, though I can't find the original reference!)

And, the third plan was to blog about White Sands National Monument. Dudes - there are 275 square miles of desert, and it has the largest gypsum dune field. They have a missile range, which sometimes renders the park closed to the public! How cool! And yet everything I know about White Sands is because of the movie Spacecamp, where the kids remembered they could land the shuttle at White Sands, because Columbia had to land there in 82! Shut it. I promise, it was a great movie!

Of course, the real plan all along was to actually be blogging from New Mexico. (It's really ok...I don't like spicy foods, so I probably would have passed on the peppers anyway.) So here I sit with my weirdly appropriate Gourmet magnet, trying to remember how I ended up with Gourmet magnets to begin with. But in the absence of a real magnet from NM, this one will do in a pinch.

GAR Track of the Day: Red Hot Chili Peppers - Road Trippin'
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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Getting our kicks on Route 66 - GAR Day #6

Magnet #89 - Texas Joy

So, today would have been Route 66 day, traveling through Oklahoma (OKC, Elk City, Sayre) and Texas (McLean, Groom, Amarillo) and New Mexico (Ft. Sumner and Roswell) - roughly 500 (ish) miles.

In an earlier Texas blogpost, I mentioned having visited Elk City, OK, just once in my life. During a family cross-country roadtrip, we were trundling down the road and all of a sudden, our motorhome engine exploded. Luckily, we were somewhat near a garage, and had to wait around for ages getting that emergency sorted out.

Though, I suppose it could have been worse. I was only 12. My poor parents had to field this crisis - with three young kids, a grandma and a priest in tow. Yes. A priest.

Our Texas stops were to be the infamous Cadillac Ranch, the LARGEST BARBED WIRE HISTORIC MUSEUM IN THE WORLD (what, that's what they call it!), and Palo Duro Canyon, which I was planning to somehow sneak on to the schedule.

Oh, well. So no Texas for me today. My consolation prize?

Today's HUGE steak lunch with a rep from Texas. Which was fabulous, but he's no Cadillac Ranch. I'm just sayin'.

GAR Track of the Day: Yellow Rose of Texas
(Well, ok, maybe not playing on the radio, but I sure would have been belting it out, much to the dismay of the GAR Roadtrippers.)

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

We're not in Kansas anymore - GAR Day #5

Magnet #88 - Winston Churchill

So, today would have been Harry Truman's birthplace of Independence, the Hallmark tour, and Kansas City. Plus Wichita and Topeka. Yep, it was a very, very long day. What? We were only gonna see the Brown vs. Board of Ed sign, that's all. Heheheh.

And, somewhere along the way, a planned little stopover at the Winston Churchill Memorial and Library, in Fulton, MO.

No, I haven't been sisters picked this one up at the Churchill Museum in London. Everywhere I go, I seem to be one step behind Winston,

  • Blenheim Palace, where he was born during a party.
  • London, obvi.
  • Top Cottage, in Hyde Park, NY, where he and FDR sat on the porch and decided the fate of the world.

Oh, my. I'm stalking a dead world leader.

GAR Track of the Day: You Give Love a Bad Name
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Monday, May 19, 2008

You must have a false memory - GAR Day #4

Magnet #87 - St. Louis, MO

It's come to my attention, dear reader, that you may think that I'm a little bitter about not going on the GAR. As truth would have it, I'm still feeling a little relieved that we didn't go. Mainly because of the gas issue, but also, because apparently, we would have been traveling at the height of tornado season. And, this year's tornado season's been the worst in several years.

Still, having joy magnetism take the trip has been fun, seeing what places I already have magnets for. I'd forgotten that my sister had brought this one back for me. Today's the day we would have done the rest of Memphis (Graceland and Sun Records), and then done the mad drive through Kentucky and Illinois to get to St. Louis. (Don't ask - I was hoping to squeeze in two extra states without anyone noticing. Heh.)

I've not visited the St. Louis Gateway Arch, but for years, I thought I had. Seriously. I mean, how do you just forget? Then I realized that it wasn't our family's cross-country trip where I saw the Arch. I want to say it was the Griswolds who saw the Arch, because apparently on our family trip, we didn't even go through Missouri. Heheheh. Oops - hello, false memory.

Anyway, my real reasoning for heading up north to St. Louis (versus just going through Arkansas) was because St. Louis would have bought us Kansas City, and most important, Independence, MO. Independence was the starting point of the Oregon Trail!

And who doesn't love a good game of Oregon Trail!

GAR Track of the Day: Walkin' in Memphis

Incidentally - Doctor Who magnetwatch Day 14. I believe my magnets are taking the QE2 across the pond.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

You can take the girl out of the country - GAR Day #3

Magnet #86 - Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN

So today, we're in Nashville, TN, visiting the Bluebird Cafe, the Parthenon, and the Hermitage this morning. Driving to Memphis in the afternoon. (Yes, this was an ambitious day. They all were.) Man, my verb tenses are gonna be nuts for the next two weeks, huh.

I've been to Nashville, but not as an adult. One of the GAR roadtrippers brought this magnet back from her own Tennessee roadtrip.

Ryman Auditorium was built in the late 1800s, and found itself as the home of the Grand Ole Opry for years and years and years, becoming the launching point for many country music careers along the way.

Even though I'd grown up around it most of my life, I had a healthy distaste for country music until one of my college roommates educated me on the best of country music. Still love the stuff, though living in New York, you don't get much exposure to it. So much so, that when Garth played Central Park almost a decade ago, I was heartily convinced that I would be the only one in the park.

Man, was I wrong.

GAR Track of the Day: Thunder Rolls
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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Life is a highway - GAR Day #2

Magnet #85 - Biltmore House, Asheville, NC

So, I'm cheating a tiny, tiny bit. The Biltmore wasn't ever on the GAR itinerary, mainly because the GAR roadtrippers did it several years ago together. But it's technically on the way from Raleigh to Tennessee, so, it could have been on the itinerary.

All we were planning today was driving from Raleigh to Nashville, with a stopover in Gatlinburg, TN, for the Highlands festival and maybe the car museum, and the skytram thingy. Oh, and a picture of the Dollywood sign in Pigeon Forge, TN.

But, like I said, Asheville's sort of on the this magnet should do. Built in the late 1800s by George Vanderbilt, it was one of the largest American residential homes ever. I mean, the man used something like 11 million bricks. Jeepers.

For schoolkids growing up in North Carolina, it was just another field trip to another boring house. It used to be just a house tour, but to keep itself alive (it's still privately held by the Vanderbilt descendants), the owners had to branch out into a million other things. Biltmore's expanded to wine, home furnishings and decor, and greenhouses. They even have an Inn on the estate now.

The last time we went, I was the designated driver.

Yeah, there's a winery, complete with a wine tasting. Let's just say that my girlfriends are lightweights. I swear all they were served were little cups, but all three of my friends had Asian blushes before the end.

And two aren't even Asian!

GAR Track of the Day: Life Is a Highway
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Friday, May 16, 2008

Wallyworld or bust - GAR Day #1

Magnet # 84 - National Museum of American History's Route 66

Well, it looks like it was a bust. As I mentioned yesterday, some friends and I were planning a Great American Roadtrip, and were planning to moblog it from the road. We ended up cancelling the trip, for many reasons, chief among them - gas prices, and me buying into the media's recession coverage.

GAR was the reason I started this blog. I worried that I'd end up getting repeat magnets, which lead to thinking I needed a magnet list, which lead me to joy magnetism. So it's only fair that this blog gets to take a little roadtrip of its own.

Today's itinerary was two of us flying down from NY to NC to pick up the car and the other two folks in our party. Then shopping for provisions, packing the car, and of course, getting no sleep tonight, and still leaving at 4 in the morning.

Yes, we were planning on staying good friends throughout the trip.

GAR Track of the Day: Pink Houses/Ain't that America
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Thursday, May 15, 2008

I don't wanna wait

Magnet #83 - Dawson's Creek Cast

Yes. I have Dawson's Creek magnets. If you know me at all, you know that this show, along with half of the original WB lineup, was one of my favorites. Sue me.

And yes, I have four more of these babies, and will eventually blog on all of our little Creekers individually.

And, no, you don't have to guess if I was a Pacey/Joey girl, or a Dawson/Joey girl. I mean seriously, were there any Dawson/Joey girls?

Anyway, I had hoped that my looooong-awaited (ok, since they shipped last Tuesday from Forbidden Planet UK) Doctor Who magnets would arrive today.

Why? Because I was just freakin' blown away by Patrick Stewart's Macbeth last night. I was soooo going to take today to use the David Tennant magnet to comment about how it's nearly unheard of that David Tennant's Hamlet is sold out for the entire freakin' run, and to bitch about how I don't have tickets! Sigh.

So, this will have to do for today. Maybe we'll see a Dalek or TARDIS or two, in June.

Why June, you ask? Because from tomorrow through June 2, would have been the Great American Roadtrip (GAR), the trip we were planning on taking across, well, America. We nixed the trip for various reasons, and what's done is done. But I'm planning on having joy magnetism take the trip for us.

Lay on, Macjoy.
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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Colors of the Wind

Magnet #82 - Jamestown, VA

So, May 14, 2007, was the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in what is now the U.S.

You'da thunk a year-long celebration would have given me ample time for me to get down to Virginia, but nope. I missed all of it - my sisters brought this one back for me. Jeepers, even the Queen made it down there to make her speeches.

I actually think I wasn't the only one who couldn't make it. Last year, just before the anniversary celebration proper, they still had tons of tickets leftover...which is a tiny bit sad. Methinks it was probably a hard sell. I'm not gonna go for the history lesson on this one, but, if you want to learn more, this education site has a few good videos to while away the time.

But, I'm not gonna lie. While I dimly remember learning about the settlement in school, most of what I know about Jamestown is really from Disney's Pocahontas.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Kiss me, Joy

Magnet #81 - Vermont Teddy Bear

I picked a bear for today's magnet, because I just saw Caspian. I'll refrain from an early review of it, only because I wasn't as superthrilled with this installment as I was the first. But, there was a very, very silly bear in it...and ya'll know I love my bears.

Anyway. So, Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. Yep. You guessed it. There was a tour. What? It's not like I go and do these things on my own. More often or not, I've conned some poor sucker (or two) to take the tours with me!

The factory tour in Shelburne, VT, was so much fun...except for the parts that kinda creeped me out. We had a funny tour guide, and everyone knows the tour guide totally makes or breaks a tour. He took us around the each teddy bear station, where they make the parts and pieces, showed us some patterns and stuff, and then the tour ends with us making bears.

Yep, it's the build-a-bear set-up, where they charge exorbitant prices for the bears and the accoutrements, and you have to make your bear. So even after seeing all the behind the scenes stuff about the bears, I was still totally creeped out in the build-a-bear room:

  1. They had the empty and wilted bearskins just sitting around in bins. Bet those damn things come alive at night - like something out of a scary Doctor Who episode. Bet money the Doctor himself would be creeped out.
  2. They take the poor little bearskins and SHWOOOSH the thing up with stuffing! Ewwww! So freaky!

But, still, we made our bears. Mine's supercute, but I'll always remember what he looked like all pre-stuffing empty. On top of that, he'll always serve as reminder of my fight with the tour guide.

They give you this weird little red felt heart to put inside the bear before they sew it up. But, they make you kiss the heart (and I guess put all your hopes and dreams into that kiss) before they poke the darn thing into the stuffing through hole in the bear's lower back (ouch).

Tour guide (holds out heart): Kiss the heart.

Me: Uhhh, I don't want to.

Tour guide (holds out heart insistently): Kiss the heart.

Me: No.

Tour guide (with a superhard stare): KISS. THE. HEART.

Me: *kisses heart*

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Even a bad day of fishing is better than a good day of work.

Magnet #80 - Bass Pro Shops

Picked today's magnet because I just got done with a chat-session with Josh, a fabulous customer service guy.

I know! How weird! I have a Bass Pro magnet! A friend of mine brought it back from one of his trips, thinking I'd never heard of it. Hehehe, little did he know. Still, it's a funny little magnet to have in the collection.

So, the reason I was online with Josh, was because almost a full year ago, I bought my dad an online gift certificate for new fishing gear. Which he promptly lost, after lying to me that he already used it (and was just covering, because he didn't know how to use it). What. Ever.

Apparently, my dad wanted the gift certificate back, so that he could buy himself a bigger fishing rod, and give his old one to my mother. Which is a right laugh - since for as long as I've known them, my mother's actually The Little Mermaid of the sea. All of the creatures of the sea flock to her and she goes home with coolers full of the weekend's catch...

while my poor dad is lucky if he catches a handful.
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Sunday, May 11, 2008

The hand of God, man...or woman, apparently

Magnet #79 - Chapel of the Holy Cross

Picked this magnet for today, because, well it's Sunday, and also, because yesterday, I spent the day in Jersey for my cousin's Confirmation.

A friend of mine brought this magnet back for me from Sedona, and from the looks of it, the Chapel of the Holy Cross, is simply amazing. This church was built and designed by the wealthy Marguerite Brunswig Staude, who just wanted to build a place of worship to "glorify her creator" and give thanks for everything she and her family had received. And, depending on which sources you read - she was a sometime pupil of Frank Lloyd Wright, or she worked with his son to design it. Either way, the chapel definitely has an FLW influence. It's built right into a thousand-foot cliffside - its message is "that the church may come to life in the souls of men and be a living reality."

I'm more of a traditionalist in my Catholic churches - the more old and ornate, the better. And, I'm not particularly religious, but I'm of the firm belief that some places of worship, you can just feel the presence of God. I'm betting the Chapel of the Holy Cross would be one of those places. For me, it's the Church of Saint Francis Xavier in Chelsea, NYC. Just a random side-street church that I go to every once in a blue moon...

...usually whenever I feel guilty enough to notice that I've almost missed Ash Wednesday, and remember in time to get to a mass.
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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happily ever after

Magnet #78 - Jill Shalvis

Back in another life, I was a romance editor. Technically, I guess I still am, on the side.

This magnet was from one of my authors like 10 years ago already. She pubbed these titles with a different publisher at the time, and had these promo magnets made for herself.

Lots of authors create their own little promotional items - and if it weren't the middle of the night, I'd wax poetic about how it's because publishers just don't have the bandwidth or the budgets to promote each of their authors as they should, leaving authors to have to work harder to get their own names out there.

Actually, I'm always fairly impressed how astute authors are at marketing themselves - updating their websites, monitoring their fanboards, sending out newsletters, independent signings, or exhibiting at conferences. Sometimes? What they do on their own, ends up showing up any work that any promotional agency or publicity team can do for them. Case in point - next time you're at ComicCon, check out Sherrilyn Kenyon - this woman's like the juggernaut of marketing. It's freakin' awesome. I haven't read her, but after seeing the woman's booth and seeing her superdupergigantor banner at ComicCon, I swear, I want to start.

Anyway, I've lost touch with Jill, but happily, she's still as prolific as ever - she has a new series out, about a high-end airline and private airport. Think Wings meets Hotel Babylon.

I know, right? And yet somehow, it works.

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Friday, May 9, 2008

These rules aren't meant to be broken

Magnet #77 - The Moscow Rules

So, of late, I've been smitten by all things BBC. It's weird, I know. I'd like to blame the writers strike, but it had nada to do with this obsession.

Given that I watch at least 20 hours of programming in any given week (either live or via DVR, and not counting cable shows, or my soaps), I feel pretty confident saying that it's not even like BBC shows are all that much better than US shows. And, since my tastes pretty much run the gamut of good, really good TV to bad, really bad TV (except unscripted/reality shows, which I hate with the power of a thousand suns) - it's not hard to see why at least half of the BBC-A roster ended up on my DVR series recording list.

So, we're talking (in no particular order, past and present) Torchwood, Doctor Who, Robin Hood, MI-5, Hex, Top Gear, Hotel Babylon, Footballers Wives and anything else sandwiched in between. My sister's sucked into a good many of them, and we've had many (many) discussions as to the quirks of BBC programming. Chief among them being - how in the hell can they just kill major characters from shows? Next being - what the heck timeslot is 6:20? or 7:40? or 8:06? And, really - Corry Street and Eastenders? They're that good that they're consistently the top 10 shows in the UK? Every day of every week? What's up with that?

But, I totally digress. Sorry.

Today's magnet is from the International Spy Museum in DC, which I've blogged about before, and probably will again, it was that good. (Plus, I think I might have one or two more magnets from there.)

The Moscow Rules are totally mentioned a couple of times in MI-5, which makes my sister squee with delight - I swear, if she could become a CI for Rupert Penry-Jones or Matthew Macfadyen (and soon Richard Armitage), she'd do it in a sec, Moscow Rules bedammed.

But, when you read them below, you realize, they aren't so much rules just for Moscow...but for everyday life:

  1. Assume nothing.
  2. Never go against your gut.
  3. Everyone is potentially under opposition control.
  4. Don't look back; you are never completely alone.
  5. Go with the flow, blend in.
  6. Vary your pattern and stay within your cover.
  7. Lull them into a sense of complacency.
  8. Don't harass the opposition.
  9. Pick the time and place for action.
  10. Keep your options open.

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

That's Hot

Magnet #76 - Jimmy Carter Library and Museum

I love going to presidential sites, libraries and museums, included. I picked this magnet as #76, because Carter was elected in 1976, and, he was also the 76th governor of Georgia. Weird, no?

The Jimmy Carter Library is in Atlanta, and has like a weird access route...almost like you're pulling off the highway into a rest area...except that you hit the library grounds. The building is pretty cool, and the grounds are actually pretty peaceful. I enjoyed the museum itself - it was really well planned and spacious, as it guides you through his personal history, his time in office, his works/causes, etc.

I gotta say, though, I must not have been paying attention... cuz apparently, his nickname?


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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Joy and sisterhood in Las Vegas

Magnet #75 - Las Vegas
Pictured left to right: baby sister, me, middle sister

So, a few years ago, for my baby sister's 21st birthday, middle sister and I decided to take her to Vegas. She was finally of legal age to drink and debauch!

It wasn't til we got there that we found out that she doesn't like to really do either.

So what do three of-age girls do in Vegas?

Gamble. That's when we realized we weren't so much table gamblers. Still aren't. But we do like to play the slots. And, man, did we play them. At almost every casino along the strip. Middle sister has a history of winning a couple any kitty we managed to accumulate went to the next thing on this list:

Eat. Buffets. At Excalibur. At the Bellagio. I'm sure I'm forgetting somewhere else. Plus, we also used our casino winnings to eat at the nicer restaurants...nothing more decadent than blowing money you didn't earn on a 5-star meal.

Pamper ourselves. Yeah. No spas here. But, we did opt to stay in the Bellagio for two nights. And, there's nothing like being on the casino floor, needing to use the restroom, going to one and seeing the line...and then saying to yourself - Wait a minute!!! I'm a guest! - and running upstairs with your keycard. Awesome. Plus, props to the Bellagio for making us feel like we were superduperwealthy...even though we totally aren't.

Sightsee. I know, feels like all there is to do in Vegas is get drunk and gamble. But, honestly? We managed to do quite a bit of sightseeing. In town, we went to most of the major casino shows (the freakish animatronics at Caesar's, the weird pirate show at Treasure Island, the tigers exhibit at MGM?), and we of course did M&M World, and that weird gaming complex (baby sister climbed the rock wall like a little spider monkey). We even had time for a little art - there was a Fabergé Egg exhibit at the Bellagio art gallery. I know! It's like Julia's art gallery in Ocean's 11!

Roadtrip. We went to Hoover Dam and did the tour. We went to Lake Mead (pictured here), and just roamed around. Then, we also did a side trip out to Utah, to assuage the outdoorsiness of baby sister. Bryce Canyon and Zion, and a couple of state parks...lots of early mornings and late nights.

Ride horses. Well, ok, technically, that was in Utah, at Bryce Canyon National Park. And even more technically, only two of the three of us actually liked it. Baby sister loved it, I liked it (even though I've never been in so much pain in my life), and middle sister nearly passed out. (Yep, there's a magnet for that story later on.)

There are definitely more silly stories...but there's more silly magnets. Wait til you hear about Napi the moose.
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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Ya'll can have Doctor Who, Doug Ross is MY doctor

Magnet #74 - NBC Studios

In keeping with my love for studio tours...NBC's the most corporate studio tour that I've ever been on. And that's on both the left and right coasts.

The NY tour has a long, storied past - their uniformed NBC Pages have been around for decades. And they really are just like how they were in George Clooney's Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and in 30 Rock, as well. They take you through the standard History of NBC corporate presentation and then walk you though several sets in 30 Rock - newshows and Conan, and SNL, too.

The LA tour is just as corporate, but when I went, it was Leno and Marlena's living room from Days of Our Lives. However, I just found out that they're planning a huge revamp over there, so YAY, new tour!

But, the real reason I'm using NBC for today's magnet is because it's May 6, George Clooney's birthday. And, truly, without NBC and ER, George might still be stuck doing what he was doing before ER went into production 14 or so years ago.

Amazing how one life can turn out so different in the hands of some programming directors and producers.

Happy 47th birthday, George!
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Monday, May 5, 2008

A world at play

Magnet #73 - Mohegan Sun

So, out of the rolling hills and vistas of rural Connecticut is Mohegan Sun, a casino built by the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut.

It's like a step above the desperate casinos of Atlantic City, but a step below the sprawling casinos of Las Vegas. They've pretty much got everything you could ever want in a casino.

The gaming is fun, and there's this cool venue in the middle of the casino floor - a cabaret named Wolf's Den. We didn't get to see Jack Wagner there. Sigh. Don't ask.

But, that blue thing in the middle of the magnet? Is a Dale Chihuly special. His work is pretty much everywhere these days, but this one's superpretty, all blue and white.

We went last summer just for a fun daytrip - I won't lie, we spent a lot of it looking for security cams, and seeing if Danny and Mike from the Monteceito could see us.

Yep, that's a whole 'nother magnet.

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Little red pincushion

Magnet #72 - Keith Haring, maybe.

So, this little red guy was part of a pair that a friend brought back, from (I think) Detroit. The blue one's at home, and his little feets double as a keychain holder. Heh.

I want to say these are Keith Haring guys, but couldn't find them when I looked it up. I ended up using this one at work, to hold a couple of pins that I picked up along the way.

The "It's good to be a space cadet" pin is Deborah, the "loopy Latina" from the Angry Little Girls collection. Yeah, I'm not sure whether or not to be offended by it, either. But, it's cute, nonetheless.

The "I Am Loved" pin was from a new biz pitch to Helzberg Diamonds...apparently, with every purchase in their little burgundy boxes, they give this pin away, too. It's kinda sweet. Of course, absolutely going for broke (literally) to get the full purchase experience, I ended up buying myself a white gold necklace from our store field trip.

Yeah, I try not to bring my wallet on new biz field trips any more.

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Saturday, May 3, 2008

And a friendly old ghost was he.

Magnet #71 - Casper

So, I've always had a healthy love of cartoons. Like, I remember being 5 and hating leaving the house on a Saturday morning because cartoons were on.

And, when I was really little, Casper was one of my favorites, ever. It must have been, because when I was a little bit older, the Casper theme song came on, and I totally knew all the words to it...without remembering why.

This magnet was from Universal Studios in CA. How cute is he! Like, you can just hear someone off-cam prepping him - ok, now do happy! Now do scared! Now do cheeky! Now do superhappy!

What? I said I liked Casper.
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Friday, May 2, 2008

You really went out of the house with those?

Magnet #70 - Pompei

Nope, haven't been. Another one brought back by my sister.

Using it only because tonight's Doctor Who episode on SciFi is "Fires of Pompeii." Yes, yes, I watched it the night it came out in the UK on YouTube, but I'm SO happy to be seeing it on a non-YouTube/non-pixelated screen.

Apparently, they went to Italy to film, but they did no filming in Pompeii. Not quite true. There's a YT vid of one of their DW Confidentials, where they're touring the site. And there was geeky-chicy David Tennant,* in full on black socks and shorts. I mean, there were other clothes of course, but nothing's funnier than a man wearing shorts and sneaks...and black socks.

At least, according to my sisters. But, ever since the first time they pointed out the combo, with a huge giggle, I can no longer look at it without a (sometimes) silent snicker.

Turning the subject on a dime...just got home from Iron Man. GO. NOW. SEE IT.

Stay through the credits - totally worth the price of admission. If you're a comicsgeek.

I'm totally not and I still thought it was superduperawesome.

And I tell you one thing, Robert Downey, Jr.?

Wouldn't be caught dead in shorts, sneaks and black socks. I'm just sayin.

Psst...please, no flame posts on David Tennant. I promise. I totally love the guy, despite the geeky-chicy socks.
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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Thank goodness my name's not Delores.

Magnet #69 - Joyful, joyful

Okay, so this picture doesn't really do it justice, and I promise to rectify that - probably this weekend. But this magnet was given to me as a birthday present by a friend of mine, and I love, love, love it! It's fantastic! (Thank you!)

It's quickly become one of my favorite, if not the most favorite, one in my collection. Why?

  1. I think we've all learned that I love my name.
  2. And, I love fun and silly fonts.
  3. And, I love Carolina Blue.

It's totally cheered me up, because I've been in such a snit lately that coworkers have said that I should probably be called Delores.

Heh. But that wouldn't look nearly as superduperly, totallyawesomely CUTE on this magnet!

eta: I don't personally know anyone named Delores, and am in no way poking fun.

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