joy magnetism: December 2008

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sweet Times Square New Year's Eve

Magnet #313 - Hershey's Times Square

Oddly, this is my only Times Square magnet - from the Hershey's store. Love that store. Most of the stuff in there is what you can get in a Duane Reade or CVS, but they have supercute branded stuff, too. And you know I love my swag. Plus, the facade of the building, with its giant candy is just awesome. It's almost as cool as Willy Wonka's candy factory.

Picked this one for today, because most assuredly, Times Square is already jam-packed with New Year's revelers. Everyone should do New Year's in Times Square at least once. But don't go sober. Or alone. And make sure you go to the restroom before you head out there.

It's a great place to be, don't get me wrong, but you know that phrase, alone in a crowd? Truth is, even if you're hanging out with friends, the second the ball drops and everyone's kissing on each other, it's the loneliest feeling on the planet - absolutely the only time I've ever felt lonely in New York. Odd, I know. I could have gotten my freak on like the drunk chicks from Germany near us, who were then kissing on the drunk boys from Australia near us. But, ewwwww.

Anyway, I digress. It was a superfun night - we weren't actually in Times Square, though. Yet again, another example of me going somewhere and missing the biggest thing about it. While we did see the ball drop, I didn't get to see Dick Clark that night. It was kind of upsetting. Heh.

Check out this map. We left at like early afternoon, and we were still about 8 blocks away, halfway between the One Times Square and Central Park. And those blocks were filled to the brim with people. Insane. The one good thing is that we got to see both the ball drop and the fireworks over Central Park. It was seriously amazing. Even without the strangerkissing.

Hope everyone has a happy and safe New Year's Eve, and a Happy New Year!
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tatay = Daddy

Magnet #312 - Winslow Homer's The Blue Boat

Every year around this time, my sisters and I go to the card shop and look for birthday cards for our dad. And every year, we have to eliminate a good 75% of the great cards, cuz they use the word "Dad" or "Daddy" on them, instead of what we call our dad - Tatay. That's Filipino for Dad or Daddy.

That's just who he is - Tatay. It's weird to even think of calling him anything else.

Actually, this article is fairly interesting - all about how this Filipino reporter's sons are pronouncing Tatay in Obama's America. (They speak Tagalog, while my parents speak, and are, Visayan, but the Tatay concept remains the same.)

And no, I can't think of any word that will help you pronounce it correctly. It won't matter - for some reason, no non-Filipino can pronounce Tatay correctly. I'm serious. I've had friends whom I've known for 20 years now and they still can't pronounce it. They say, TatAye, or Daday, or even TayTay. Weirdos. That's my Tatay!

It's Tatay's birthday today, so a very happy birthday to you! Mind you, the first umpteen years of our lives we all thought you were a New Year's Eve baby, until you finally clarified that you're actually a New Year's Eve, Eve baby. Anyway, hopefully you're enjoying your TVs and your new DirectTV today. Sorry we're not down in NC to tv.

I picked today's magnet, because it looks like my dad might have a new fishing boat buddy down the line. (Aside from Mom, that is. No, we just call her Mommy, or Mom. I dunno why, but she never wanted us to call her Nanay, the counterpart to Tatay.)

That fishing buddy might be my sister's fiance, Gordon, whose birthday is today as well. Happy birthday, Gordon!

And, don't worry Mommy, I'm trying to find just the right magnet for your birthday in May!
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Monday, December 29, 2008

Underwriters above the rest

Magnet #311 - Lloyd's of London

The Lloyd's of London building headquarters is on the 1001 Buildings You Must See Before You Die list. So how could I not visit?

Amazing. It's freakish looking, all modern, with exposed everything, and shiny bits and bobs and funny-looking towers and what have you. And, it was done by the same guy who designed the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and you can see that fact plastered all over this "inside-out" design.

Designed by Richard Rogers in 1986, it was the height of modernism back in the day. Some folks didn't (and still don't) take too kindly to it, but it certainly is an interesting building to look at. As for me, I love looking at it. And they have a Lloyd's building shop on the ground floor. Hence the magnet. Love.

It's much nicer when viewed from farther away, when you're walking in its shadow, you lose a lot of the detail. Plus, you lose a lot of sunlight, just because it's so large that it really does block out the sun.

Lloyd's of London was actually created in a coffee shop, owned by Edward Lloyd, and they basically took his name. That was back in 1688. Whoa. More history, here.

According to this, the best book ever, I Never Knew that About London, they have the Lutine Bell, which came from an old French ship (lost at sea) that Lloyd's had underwritten back in 1799. They used it to let people know when one of their overdue ships had arrived. They announced bad news with one strike, and good news with two. They still ring it, every once in a while - usually for ceremonies, or unusual disasters.

Useless fact of the day: Lloyd's of London used to have their contract with all the terms of whatever they were insuring. And then, they all wrote their signatures at the bottom of the contract - hence the term underwriters.

Sigh. Great building, great history, great city. I finally posted my Arts & Architecture album on FB, which includes a few Lloyd's shots. Though, not as many as I wanted to include, I know.
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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Blah, blah, blah Deletecakes

Magnet #310 - Doctor Who Cyberman

I mentioned a while ago that I'm not a big Dalek fan. Which is tantamount to sacrilege in the Doctor Who universe. But, I'm also not a huge Cybermen fan, either.

So, I haven't really been looking all that forward to the Christmas episode of Doctor Who. We've all been seeing the same snowy graveyard pictures since earlier this year, and when I found out it was a Cybermen episode *and* that David Morrissey was in it, I was kinda nonplussed about The Next Doctor.

But, that didn't stop me from watching it just as soon as we could, and my sister and I were able to watch it on Christmas night, only a few hours behind the UK.

My blogger pal Cameron at Stuff on TV did a good review of the whole eppy here, so I'm not trying to review The Next Doctor episode here. Suffice to say that:

- I'm so glad that David Morrissey isn't the real next Doctor, because I don't think I could handle a wimpy, crying Doctor.
- Dudes, the ho-yay between the two Davids was a tad over the top.
- Mercy's gorgeous red dress provided some really beautimous shots at the graveyard and in the giant robot ship. (Which admittedly was way cooler than I thought it was going to be.)
- I winced at every stunt David Tennant did that potentially killed his back, right down to having that really-not-so-great child actor hop on his back. Sigh.

Other than that, it was a Cybermen episode, so it won't go down as a favorite of mine. And, it could have been much better. Though, it did pull in 11.7 million viewers, second only to last year's Voyage of the Damned, which I loved infinitely more.

And, I finally uploaded my "Is there a Doctor in the house?" album on FB. It's DW and Hamlet and DT related, and I totally didn't need captions, I know. I'm also missing a pic of my little stuffed Adipose, but these are up. I visited the DW Exhibition in Cardiff, and was seriously underwhelmed by stuff that I could buy...and shockingly, I owned the magnet set they had for sale. Oh well.

Having watched the first half of the DW Confidential on the Christmas Special, I have to say that the Cybermen retrospective has made me quite grateful that these current Cybermen are what we've been given. The Cybermen of yore were kinda cheesetastic.
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Saturday, December 27, 2008

King of the road

Magnet #309 - Amtrak

I love trains. Love them. If given a choice between flying and training, I'll choose the train pretty much every time. Traveling by rail always reminds me of that Roger Miller song, King of the Road.

Almost every year for Christmas, if there's enough time to lose, I'll take Amtrak from Penn Station down to Salisbury, NC. Our historic train depot (you can look it up here, dudes - we're in the Smithsonian! and Clooney shot a few scenes from Leatherheads there) is literally 10 minutes from home, instead of anyone having to drive the hour to/from the airport in Charlotte or Greensboro to come pick me up.

Mind you, it's a couple of hours as the crow flies, but on the train, I get 12 hours just to sit in my own little universe, staring out at the world whizzing by - with my headphones or laptop or book or manuscript, or whatever. It's like my own little me vacation before I get home, and after I've been home.

Of course, I keep waiting for the supercute boy to sit next to me, like in those Before Sunrise/Sunset movies - been waiting for years. Instead, I've gotten young kids, little old ladies, and even nuns. Just my luck.

After a very short time here at home, where I didn't get to do or see nearly enough people (or eat enough of mom's home cooking), we're hitting the road back to DC. Then tonight, I can take the train back home to NY.

It's two of my favorite activities in one day - roadtripping and training. Can't imagine a better way to travel.

Well, I could, but it totally wouldn't be nearly as much fun.
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Friday, December 26, 2008

Stand clear of the closing doors, mind the gap, and step back to allow passengers to board

Magnet #308 - Good service on all lines

Some observations noted, after having ridden the transit systems of three major cities (New York, London, and Washington, DC) in the last week.

Best transit map design: New York. They're big, they're pretty, they're associated with an actual city map. The others are pretty, sure enough, but doesn't really give you enough geographical orientation.

Best schedules and/or service announcements: Tie between Washington and London. At least you know when/if a train is coming before a garbled message comes on.

Cleanest trains: London

Cleanest buses: London, by default. I'm told only tourists ride them there, but they rock. I've never ridden in Washington, and I once saw a roach on one in New York.

Smallest trains: London. So tiny. Like how can they fit people in there?

Biggest trains: Washington. Even so, I keep bumping the bottom of my thigh against the hard armrest. Ouchie!

Cleanest train stations: Washington

Prettiest train stations: Draw between New York and London. And by that, I mean the tilework, the public art and sometimes train station design. (Actually, as far as coolest train stations, it really is a draw if you compare New York's Grand Central with something like London's Paddington or Canary Wharf.)

Grossest train tracks: New York. Trust me, from firsthand knowledge do I know that NYC MTA track grime - does not come off your skin easily.

Worst to travel with luggage: New York. (Or, London, if you're coming in/out through Heathrow, staying off the Picadilly line, at a station with lifts to the street.) Though, what the heck is up with no lifts to Gatwick Express at Victoria station in London?

Best to travel with luggage: Washington. God bless the escalators.

Scariest escalators: A draw, depending on the station. And the angle of descent. Or ascent, come to think.

Nicest escalators: London. The adspace alone is dizzying. Washington tries, but it's really...sorta concrete.

Best buses: London. I know they're mostly for tourists, but I love them mostly cuz they're double-deckers, and how much does it rock to sit up top.

Prettiest buses: London. They've got a new bus design winner, so they may get even prettier!

Nicest staff: London. I've never seen a DC transit worker on the platform. And New York can be a little short if you approach them wrong.

Best commuters: Washington. New Yorkers can be downright mean, but Londoners are a bit passive-aggressive. And they don't say excuse me.

And the grand prize for best transit system: Tie between New York and London. You don't have to walk too far to the next station - so it's function over form for both cities.

Did I miss anything?
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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Without peace, there is no joy*

Magnet #307 - Joy to the World


I couldn't resist.

Have a very, merry Christmas!

*That's what our priest said tonight at Midnight Mass. He used to be Baptist, and is now Catholic. It makes for a very Baptist preachery sermon now and again. We like to call him John the Baptist.

What? His name is actually John!
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

O Red Christmas Tree

Magnet #306 - Christmas Tree person

A friend gave me this magnet. I can't figure out if the lady in the tree is cute, or slightly disturbing.

I love Christmas trees. I love laying down on my back under the tree, and looking up at the twinkling lights.

But, I'm a bit torn on whether I like real or fake.

We grew up with real ones - whether it was one we picked out in our backyard, or at a tree farm, it was always fun to go get the tree.

When we got older, Mom got all Southern Living on us, and decorated the tree on her own.
Now, it's this giant fake tree with red color-coordinated ornaments and bows, encased in a funny barbed wire-esque red twine-ny starry thing. You have to see it, to believe it.

But, I can understand - live trees seem to be a lot of trouble. I remember whining about having to water the trees, and trying to be mindful not to get the presents wet. And good gravy, the pine needle clean-up!

Still - my favorite part of New York at Christmastime, is walking past the tree vendors on the sidewalks. Get a good tree farm, and when you walk through the bundled trees, it smells like North Carolina. Home.

And, speaking of - my sister and I are driving down to NC, so we'll be seeing the great red tree tonight! Here's hoping the other 17 million on the roads yesterday and today are keeping the highways moving!

Let the holidays begin!
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Totally Tsar-rific

Magnet #305 - Fabergé Egg #2, Equestrian Egg

So, I mentioned before that I love Fabergé eggs.

This one's the Alexander III Equestrian Monument Egg, as near as I can tell. The colors are a bit off, but all the design elements are there, so it must be the right name. It was made in 1910, of gold, platinum, diamonds, lapis lazuli and rock crystal.

Last week, I finally got to go back to one of my favorite museums ever - the Victoria & Albert, one of the grandest museums devoted to art and design in the world. It was established in 1852, the year after the Great Exhibition.

One of their special exhibits is the Magnificence of the Tsars, and while it was a gorgeous exhibit, I was saddened by the lack of Faberg
é Eggs (and therefore, lack of cool Fabergé Egg magnets). Instead, they sort of went the cheesy route, selling the matryoshka doll magnets, which of course I bought. Honestly, I just wanted one or two eggs to have been included.

But, there were several pieces included in the exhibit that were astounding - according to the older design students and designers that were fairly a-twitter over the cases. I was enjoying their reactions - in between waiting for them to read every sign. (Something that usually people are waiting on me to finish doing).

One of the coolest things they had (besides the undergarments and the lush overcoats) was the coronation-wear. Amazing. So beautifully designed, with detailing that would blow you away. Simply gorgeous.

Well, if you can get around the fact that almost 2,700 ermines gave their lives for just this one coronation mantle. I've never been particularly save the world-y, but dudes, they made three identical ones for the emperor, empress and the dowager empress - that's more than 8,000 cute as buttons ermines!

Now there's a part of me that thinks maybe PETA was behind the Revolution.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Let's all go to the show

Magnet #304 - Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Spectacular

After living here for more than a dozen years, I finally braved the tourists and the crowds and the children, and went to see the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City last year.

The show was both great and a little odd at the same time. The performances themselves were spot-on, and supercool to watch all the Rockettes do all their dance numbers. I've only met a couple of Rockettes, and it amazes me that they all have to be the same height and build, just to even be considered.

But, I had an odd kind of moment during the show, because I realized how used to being in NY I've become. Growing up down in NC, where I knew one Jewish guy in high school, we always said Merry Christmas. Then, over the years here, I've just gotten used to saying Happy Holidays, to be more inclusive of all religions. So I was surprised (at how surprised I was) to see how Christmassy the show was. I know that the show is actually called Christmas Spectacular, but when they actually did the Nativity story, I was surprised to see that overt Christ message - outside Mass. I dunno, it was just an odd, very Christian, moment for me.

Anyway, moving on - I've seen a couple of Daytime Emmy productions at Radio City, and now the Christmas show, and each time I sit in one of their seats, I just marvel over the auditorium. It's quite amazing. I love Radio City, as a performance venue, and this may shock you, but I've taken the tour. Twice. With the same tour guide. Seriously.

It's such a wonderfully designed theatre, and it's just chock-full of history from its Art Deco days with Clark Gable and Ginger Rogers, to now, where apparently Cheech and Chong are playing (?).

But for me, it'll always be the theatre where Gracie and Daddy Warbucks took Annie, when they all went to the movies.
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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Home again, home again

Magnet #303 - Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice

Well, this Shakespearean insult was what I was gonna use if Hamlet was bad earlier this week.

But, now, I'm using it as today's magnet, because it's very much how I feel after a day of traveling.

So, even though I've bought more than a dozen magnets this trip, this is me right now, as dull as night.

Oh, incidentally, how funny that I came home to the RSC's PR letter apologizing for David Tennant dropping out of the London run. Not anything different from the email, on message, properly apologetic - even though, honestly, it's not like it's their fault David's back went wonky. (Personally, I blame Georgia Moffat. Just because I can.)

But, I say, RSC, since you have my address, I'll be waiting for my signed program. IJS.
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Saturday, December 20, 2008

In These Stones, Horizons Sing

Magnet #302 - Wales Millennium Centre

So, today I'm headed for Cardiff. Yes. Cardiff. In Wales. Yes. That Wales. For the whole day. Yes. A whole day.

There's a few reasons why. Chief among them is that even though there's a Doctor Who Exhibition at Earl's Court here in London, not two stops away from me, I'm going to the DW Exhibition in a mall in Cardiff. The show's shot nearby, and uses several exteriors around town. So it just seems more authentic (for the new incarnation of the series), to go visit this location and then walking around town.

But, a really big reason is for this building here - the Wales Millennium Centre. It's a working theatre, designed by Jonathan Adams. And, if you've ever watched Doctor Who and its spin-off Torchwood, you'll have seen this gorgeous building. Belowground is where the Torchwood hub is, on the show. But, the venue is on the 1001 Buildings to See Before You Die list, and so I'm checking it off with (hopefully) a tour today.

My favorite part of the building is the facade, where the giant words are first in Welsh, and then in English - and if you look carefully at the magnet, you see the phrase is: In These Stones, Horizons Sing. There's just something awesome about it.

OK, I probably won't be back in time to edit this post, and the next magnetpost will be superlate tomorrow night.

And, gosh. It looks like I'll have to buy a whole other magnet to talk about the actual tour. I know you're shocked.

A post-tour eta:
I had the best tour yesterday - a native Welsh actress from Swansea, with a gorgeous accent to boot. So much fun, and I was the only one on her tour. Plus, how fitting is it that she was actually in a Doctor Who episode, as well.

She was very proud of the heritage of the building and Wales, and it was a lovely thing to see. She went through all the details behind the design elements, and explained the inscription on the front of the building. It's not a direct translation - the poem was written half in Welsh, half in English. It says: "Creating truth like glass from inspiration's furnace, In these stones horizons sing."
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Friday, December 19, 2008

The readiness is all

Magnet #301 - BBC

So, yesterday, we did the BBC Tour, where I’ve pictures with a TARDIS (yay!) and a Dalek (boo!) and I bought tons of swag (yay, again!).

I also learned a ton. Or rather, a tonne:

Apparently, the BBC World News that we get in the States on BBC-A or on PBS has never been seen by the folks on UK soil. It's not permitted to transmit here, which makes me wonder all sorts of conspiracy theories. What are they showing us, that they can't show their people here at home? Hmmmm.

When asked why in the heck Auntie Beeb schedules their programming in such odd increments and times – like 39 minutes at 7:28 or 58 minutes at like 6:40, or whatever – there was no standard answer aside from “Who says that on the hour/half-hour programming has to be the standard? Why does that make it right? C’mon, we’re a kooky little island, haven’t you learned that by now?”

The BBC hires real-live certified meteorologists (which means my Dave Price, the Early Show weatherman who “only synthesizes the weather for us” couldn’t get a job there) who aren’t on state wages (whoa, does that mean David Tennant’s a civil servant?), but who get a clothing allowance (which explains the weathergirl in the silly capris with kitten heels I saw yesterday morning – who knows what the weather report was, it was freezing, and the weathergirl was in capris! Capris!). Also, there was a look of sheer bewilderment from our guide when asked if they have a dedicated weather channel, followed by a slightly disdainful, “Uh, no? Because we don’t like our weather as much?”

Oh. Ohhhhh. Maybe you’re looking to know how Edward Bennett’s Hamlet was. Well, during the fairly entertaining Q&A session afterward with some of the cast (including a very energized, but slightly frustrated Patrick Stewart), Edward Bennett said, “Look, you’re either ready to play Hamlet, or you’re not.” And, as my post title says, the readiness is all. Yeah, he was ready.

I agree with many critics that you can see where the production was slightly tailored to David Tennant, and you could almost see how Tennant would have interpreted certain lines and gestures. But, Edward was fabulous, if a little understated. Patrick Stewart was amazing. The rest of the cast were pretty darn great, too.

The whole production, with its Spartan, but well-executed against sets was fabulous. I can see why David would be devastated at having to drop out of the show. There’s a tiny part of me that’s glad he did, though. I hate seeing physical altercations, and this production (I imagine with all of them, actually), has several pivotal ones. But it’s the two superintense scenes with Hamlet, where he pretty much assaults Ophelia, and later, Gertrude, that were disturbing for me. I don’t think I would have liked to see David be so ruthless and borderline misogynistic.

Oh! But dudes – Patrick Stewart would like to add “coughing” to the list of things you turn off at shows, along with cell phones, etc. I dunno how you do that, but it seriously screws up a play when people are coughing throughout the whole thing. He was livid, and almost distraught, at how bad last night was – and I quote: “it almost made me want to give up.”

So, if you have a cold, don’t go see a show. Or you darn well better bring some Halls (other cough drops are available).
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

So yeah, no, there's no Doctor in the house

Magnet #300 - Shakespeare's Henry VI

What, you thought I'd do another breakdown of today's day? Eh, I might edit this post later tonight, but we all know that big ticket item today is tonight's performance of David Tennant's Hamlet.

No. Wait. I mean, it was the big ticket. Now, I'm going to see Edward Bennett's Hamlet. I'm sure it'll be fine, I keep telling myself. One thing I'm glad for is that at least I'm seeing it a week into his run - they've had time to tuck into their new roles and what not. Plus, there's the whole Q&A session after the show. I'm looking forward to hearing someone ask Patrick Stewart how he was able to cram both Macbeth and Hamlet into one year. (I'm sure the answer will be properly self-deprecating, but come on, folks, it's Patrick Stewart - who else could make it so.)

Sigh. Anyway.

I do think it's a bit ironical that I haven't any Shakespearean insults from Hamlet. Thwarted again. Hah. I was gonna use another one - "As dull as night" from Merchant of Venice, but who knows, maybe Edward will convince me to actually like Hamlet.

I do hope David Tennant's recuperating well, really, I do. Or, as one of my friends said last night, maybe he'll be over at the BBC during our tour this morning.

What? Maybe they don't have direct deposit!

Oh! Speaking of celeb sightings. Last night, in the tube, I saw a business suit-wearing guy go by me who was a carbon copy of Prince William. I don't suppose Prince William's doing a stint as a businessman right now, is he?

Yep. In my version of the story, he totally is. Cuz that was totally him. No, really. I swear.
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One girl's rubbish is another's...well, I tried

Magnet #299 - UnDisney Snow White

So, on my first day, I think I might have walked all over hell and half of London. I:

- Saw Dublin and the London from the air.
- Arrived at BA's heralded (and much advertised) Terminal 5, but didn't see any marine life swimming around inside. And, no, I still don't get the ad, but the building's awesome.
- Had a full English brekkie at Tom's Kitchen, which was ok, I suppose.
- Visited the new Saatchi Gallery (more below)
- Saw Battersea Power Station, no longer in use, but was the Cybermen factory on Doctor Who
- Saw MI-6 headquarters, one of the 1001 Buildings to See Before You Die
- Popped into the Tate Britain
- Saw Thames House, MI-5's headquarters
- Saw the Buxton Memorial
- Saw Parliament
- Stood under Big Ben as he chimed 1pm.

And that was all before you guys went to work this morning. Then I:
- Got asked for directions by a cuteboy who looked like a grown-up Harry Potter
- Checked in to my hotel.
- Went to the Natural History Museum.
- Then the V&A.
- Then I bought boutique chocolate at Harrod's.
- Was underwelmed by the Trafalgar Christmas tree - sorry, Norway.
- Then Gordon's Wine Bar (which we immediately left, as it was totally a cuteboy afterwork crowd, and WAY too claustrophobic)
- Then dinner at Biagio's Piccolo Diavolo where I almost recreated my BA Cannelloni epiphany.
- Bought boutique chocolate at Fortnum & Mason.
- Saw BAFTA headquarters.
- Saw where Bela Bartok lived. Yes, I took piano.
- Got off of the bus at the wrong stop.
- Raided a Tesco Express for snacks.
- Hooked my internet, so that I can get some work done. And write this up.

So, the Saatchi Gallery for contemporary art was interesting - it's where I picked up today's magnet. They basically refurbished another old building, into a gallery. And while there was some interesting art - like in one room there were old guys (whom I thought were real at first) dressed up as world leaders (I think) and aimlessly wandering the room in automatic wheelchairs, or the Chinese artist who took historical images (like the one at Yalta), and inserted Mao into it (done really well).

But, today's most disturbing thing I've ever seen (besides seeing the Diana and Dodi memorial at Harrods) was this one piece called Angel. It was a VERY lifelike fallen man, facedown on the floor, dressed in a white robe AND WINGS. He had these (chicken-like) wings that were lightly feathered, and hanging askew. Ew. It was so scary. And, quite disturbing. Did I mention it was disturbing? Because it was. Disturbing.

And if it freaked me out, I just know that the child that was rounding the corner into that gallery was gonna end up having nightmares. Sheesh.

On the one hand, I know all good art makes you question, or can make you feel uncomfortable. Umm, yeah. Mission accomplished.
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Toddling off for tea

Magnet #298 - Queen Elizabeth II (r. 1952-Present)

Elizabeth II is the reigning Head of State of the UK and like 15 other commonwealths. She's related to like every major royal family in Europe, descended from some of the greatest names in English history.

Think Madge'll have me over for tea?

Today's the start of my "Is there a Doctor in the House?" London trip. Since David's already made sure that no, there won't be a Doctor in the house, tea at Buckingham Palace would be a great back-up plan.

Wonder if they serve Sweet Iced Tea?
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Monday, December 15, 2008

Wherefore, human interaction?

Magnet #297 - Happy Bunny's It's all about me

Here's a question: Is anyone else feeling like the more socially networked you are, the less you actually talk to your unconnected friends in real life?

I feel like it's actually become harder to keep in touch with those folks who aren't reading your blog, your FaceBook, your MySpace, your Twitter, your LinkedIn, or your messageboard community. So, when someone decides to check in on your life, you're actually taken aback when they don't know what's going on with you.

It's odd, because while you're keeping in touch with your online contacts, it's the ones in your real life, those who aren't connected, or who just don't keep up, who are left behind.

Whose fault is it?

On the one hand, with a million SNS outlets acting as an RSS feed to the world, it's much easier to keep tabs on your friends, their whereabouts, what's going on in their lives and their thoughts on daily life and big issues. It gives you a feeling of being connected, of being involved - without really being involved. You can drop in on your friends, and still be able to maintain the cocoon of your life.

On the other hand, if you don't bother to keep up with any of the outlets, and you don't have time to keep in touch, when you do decide to check in on someone else, you find yourself completely out of the loop, without a clue as to what's going on in your friends' lives.

One could argue that pre-SNS, you'd pick up the phone and say hello, what's up? The phone calls would be fewer and far between - and would therefore lead to longer conversations to catch up. Nowadays, it's a quick status or posted item comment, or Wall-to-Wall, or iChat, before you move on with the rest of your day. It seems no one has time for phone calls any more - especially when it's easier to txt or ping someone.

But, if you haven't time for all of the above, where does that leave you? Does the connected friend have the right to be mad if that offline friend doesn't bother to check in on your life? Does the offline friend have the right to be mad if the connected friend doesn't feel like catching you up on everything that's going on? Should either friend make the more of an effort to stay in better contact with the other, in the way that they're accustomed to?

It's probably a bit of all of the above, I'm sure. But it's food for thought anyway.

How funny (and timely) is this. A friend of mine passed along a PEW Internet & American Life Project report on "The Future of the Internet." Among their key findings:
  • the mobile device will be the primary connection tool globally by 2020 (really?);
  • the division of personal and work and physical/VR will be erased for all those connected...and that it might have an impact on basic social relations (yep, already there, methinks).
And, yes, I totally downloaded the 138-page full report, just to see...
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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Do they know it's Christmas?

Magnet #296 - Duran Duran (yes. again)

Christmas 1984 is when Band Aid released the single and the video for Do they know it's Christmas?, a song written in the back of a cab by Bob Geldolf. I swear, I must have stalked MTV day and night waiting for each airing of this video. Ya know, back in the day when they actually played wall-to-wall videos.

This charity effort was the first out of the gate, one of the first large gatherings of musical talent ever...and was then quickly followed by Michael Jackson/USA for Africa's We Are the World. Both were aimed at helping Africa, with as much star power as they could possibly gather. Both videos read like Who's Who in 80s music, and were actually incredible to watch. (I mean the scheduling alone must have been a bear.)

But Do they know it's Christmas? is still my favorite holiday song to this day. I lived to see my John Taylor having so much fun with the other boys during the recording. How cute is he at the 2:46 mark! Squee!

Not surprisingly, holiday music is my favorite all-time music. I spent the entire day yesterday ripping all my holiday CDs to an external drive, so that I could load them up to iPods and my cell. And, 65 CDs and roughly a thousand songs later, I'm happy to report - all music listening devices are ready to roll.

As usual, I tend to stick with the happy bubblegummy music, because they make me happy. But, because I have several compilation sets, I end up with tons of dupes of the Rat Pack, or Johnny Mathis, or Ella or Bing. I deleted any tracks that were by the same artist, but it still means that I have up to 20 versions each of Silent Night, Winter Wonderland, I'll Be Home for Christmas, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, Sleigh Ride, The Christmas Song and the best one of all, Joy to the World.

I think I could listen to Christmas music all year round. My silly favorite holiday CDs, just for kicks...feel free to mock.
  1. School's Out Christmas
  2. Platinum Christmas
  3. Christmas with the Rat Pack
  4. Disney Channel Holiday
  5. Radio Disney Jingle Jams
  6. Maybe this Christmas
  7. Cheetah-licious Christmas
  8. NOW That's What I Call Christmas
  9. Home for Christmas

I wish Duran Duran would put out a Christmas album.

But I also kinda wish that Bob Geldof had worked out some sort of deal where if the artists participate in it (whichever version, though none are as good as the original), that those artists could put that track on their own albums and donate a percentage to Band Aid.

But I'd rather have a "Have a Merry Duran Duran Christmas" more.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Why did the Rhino cross the road?

Magnet #295 - Rhino Crossing, South Africa

It's been quite a week for magnet giving. Yay! I've been saying from the beginning that by my count, joy magnetism would have enough magnets to maintain it for at least two years. But, I never thought my magnet collection would grow exponentially!

Yay for cool magnets! This one was from a friend who just got home from South Africa. Thanks so much! Can't figure if it's for real or not - the actual crossing of a street by rhinos. Hah.

Anyway, I'm thinking this sign is what my sister should have seen when she went on one of her jaunts around Nepal.

Ya'll ever wish you'd paid attention more in school? Cuz there are certain animals around the globe that confuse me on where their natural habitats are.

Like tigers in Asia. And Africa.

Or elephants in Asia. And Africa.

Or like like rhinos in Asia. And Africa.

Huh. I'm seeing a trend. And now, I must go consult a map.
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Friday, December 12, 2008

Stick a wreath on her, she's done

Magnet #294 - Holiday Joy

What is it about company gatherings that makes me drink too much, too fast, and on an empty stomach?

Possibly more to come. Let's see if today yields any ramifications from yesterday's fun.

Small update: Yes. It could have been much worse. Thankfully, I have the best boss in the entire world.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Is there a Doctor in the house?

Magnet #293 - David Tennant's Hamlet

Alas, 'twas not to be.

Surely by now, wherever you are across the globe, you've heard my whimpering over the news that David Tennant's in hospital, going in for back surgery today. I wish him all the glitter in the world, and hope they give him the good drugs upon his recovery. Truly, I do.

If we've learned anything about him in the last few years, we know he's probably in lots of pain superupset with himself that he's having to miss half of the RSC's Hamlet run in London. And, he's probably superduperupset over disappointing all the superduperupset ticketholders and travellers from afar.

It's kinda crazy because the hubbub is all about him missing performances and "gutting" all those ticketholders. Where are the fangurls worried about the man himself? The guy's going into surgery, for goodness sake! He can't help it!


As for me, I'll admit that my ticket for next Thursday's performance was a big part of my reason for going to London again. Otherwise, I probably would have held off on another visit until say, the 2012 Olympics. But, it's London, so this trip is still gonna be superduperawesome without David Tennant signing this magnet. And look, I don't have to fight any crowds or wait huddled in the cold!

Of course, I was sort of counting on he and Patrick Stewart to make me love Hamlet, instead of hating it. But, no matter. It's the RSC - the production will still blow me away. And judging by the reviews so far, Edward Bennett has acquitted himself pretty well, so I'm still very much looking forward to seeing the show anyway.

In the meantime, best wishes for a speedy recovery, David.
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

If I could save sand in a bottle

Magnet #292 - Sand Art, Brazil

Yay, new favorite magnet. What? They're all my children, I can't really play favorites for real.

Finally! I finally got a Brazil magnet! Which is funny, because one of my first accounts was Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica (Embraer), the Brazilian jet manufacturer. I can't believe I never asked for a magnet from my client - he was always jetting up here, too! Sigh.

No matter. This totally supercute magnet was brought back to me by a client who just came back from a photoshoot in Brazil. Mind you, I haven't asked why I wasn't along for the shoot, but that's a whole other story. Yay, thanks for my Brazil magnet!

And how freakin' adorable is this tiny bottle? The art goes all the way around to the back of the tiny bottle. This image is actual size - it's only an inch and a half tall - supertiny hands musta made this one.

So I was looking into sand art, because I don't remember learning how to do it as a kid. But, apparently, it's huge in certain circles, and it dates back to the 1920s - in Petra, Jordan. Gradually, sand art made its way from Jordan over to England, and now you can find it almost anywhere from Tibet to Devonshire to Brazil. Mostly, the locals produce them to give tourists keepsakes with local scenes, using whatever local sand or chalk is available.

I did find this nifty YT vid of someone making art in a glass or bottle. It's almost like this artist is drawing my supercute magnet!
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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dubai, do bigger and better

Magnet #291 - Burj Al Arab, Dubai, UAE

Score! My new favorite magnet - the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai. It's the only 7-star hotel in the world - dudes, they only officially award 5 stars. Whoa.

I'd need to get a client to give me a reason to fly/lodge me out there, methinks. Honestly, I've no real desire to actually stay at the hotel - even though the suites are supposedly 2 stories each, and the atrium is something like 600 feet tall. I just checked online, and for a King suite, it's only about $1,600 if you check in on the 20th and check out the 21st. Hmmm, I bet I wouldn't even be comfy at all in trillion thread count sheets lined with gold. (Ok, I made that last bit up. But still.)

Nope. I'd go just to see the building itself. While I've seen a ton of cable docus and read a million blurbs on it, it just feels like one of those buildings you have to see in person.

Man, what a supercool building - the owners had asked Tom Wright for a building that would be iconic of Dubai. Like we have our Empire State, Paris has the Eiffel Tower, and London has Big Ben. And, I'd say they got it what they wanted - besides those Palms (Jebel Ali, Jumeirah and Deira), the Burj Al Arab is definitely is what the rest of the world knows Dubai for.

It's supposed to look like a sail on a boat - drawing on Dubai's nautical heritage. (I know! I didn't realize there was a nautical least not until Discovery told me.) The structure was built just off the coast, on a man-made island of sand, and it stands 1,053 feet - that's roughly 10 feet taller than the Chrysler building, and it's certainly the tallest building to be used exclusively as a hotel.

Supposedly you can only get to it by causeway or by heli - and even then, only if you have reservations, and they drive you across the causeway in one of their hotel Rolls.

Right. I need to get on that.

No, no, I'm not planning on visiting Dubai for another several years or so, but eventually I'll need to go. After all, Burj Al Arab is on the 1001 buildings to see before you die list! Of course, by then, the even more stupefying Burj Dubai skyscraper - anticipated to be the tallest in the world when it's completed late next year - will be done, and I can go see that one, too. Oh! Or maybe I should hold out for when the proposed "Dynamic Tower" - the thing that undulates like a crazy will-o-wisp in the air - is complete.

Yep. Dubai in the next 5-10 years or so is gonna be totally awesome.

Of course, not as awesome as the friend who brought this back from her own supercool trip to Dubai.

Thanks so much, Desiree!
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Monday, December 8, 2008

Goofy Monday

Magnet #290 - Goofy

Yeah, I got nothin' else. I'm in a bit of a goofy mood today, and with no particular reason - well, except that it's my last full week in the office for 2008.


Happy Monday, ya'll.
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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Never again

Magnet #289 - USS Arizona Memorial

"December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."

I've never been to this naval memorial, but from all accounts, it's one of those that you never forget. The USS Arizona had 1,177 souls aboard, when she went down - that's just over half of those 2,335 killed at Pearl Harbor. Most of them are still down there, considered buried at sea by the Navy, making this place not only a memorial, but a haunting war grave.

I'll be honest, it feels weird to write this magnetpost about this memorial that I haven't seen, and still be so moved by it, while writing it.

So, I'm taking the easy way out, and just pointing you to the National Park Service site, as well as this other USS Arizona Preservation site, dedicated to the preservation of the ship below.
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Saturday, December 6, 2008

They sell pens there, don't they?

Magnet #288 - Polka Dots

Yeah, I'll pretty much buy anything if it's shiny and has pretty colors. This one was part of a set from Staples.

I love office and/or school supplies. I can spend a good hour just roaming around Staples or Office Max/Depot, and at least half of that time just in the Post-it Center alone. I love the Post-it Centers! They've expanded their range of post-its and flags to make them pretty colors and designs. So, yeah, I'll admit to having a small lunchbox at work to house my Post-it collection. And it cheers me so, dropping cute paper post-it notes on work docs or in packages. Check out this EepyBird Sticky Note Experiment - is one the coolest things I've seen using sticky notes. Awesome.

Also, pretty pens make me happy. I'm a pen stealer - people at work hide their pens when I come visit their desks. I tend to pick them up to write with, and then forget that it's not mine, and I walk away with them.

A client once made fun of me writing with pretty, pretty purple ink, on my pretty, pretty pink paper notebook. What? There's no law against having a sense of fun when you go into those boring business meetings! Of course, this was the same client who, when he came back into his office, caught me going through his pen cup, looking for corporate swag pens to steal. What? They were supercool pens!

And who doesn't love corporate swag! The best gift he ever got me was a branded water bottle, filled to the brim with my favorite branded pens. Loved those. Still got 'em at my desk.

Yep. I just wrote a whole magnetpost on the beauty of office supplies. Shut it. You just read this whole post. And, what's more know you love office supplies, too. Who doesn't?
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Friday, December 5, 2008

Have you seen Tom Collins?

Magnet #287 - Miller High Life's Girl in the Moon

So in 1933, the 21st Amendment was repealed, and today marks the day prohibition was officially lifted. And the next day, sales for headache powders went up.

My sister got this for me up in Milwaukee, WI, I believe after having taken the tour of the Miller Brewing Company. I gotta say that I don't think I've ever had a Miller High Life, but then, I'm not much of a beer-drinking gal.

I'm more of a hard likker chick, my drink of choice being the ever-so-outdated Tom Collins with a splash of cranberry. No, seriously. It's been my signature drink since my freshman year of college. No real reason why.

If the bartender knows his stuff, he knows that it's simply gin with soda water, lemon juice and sugar syrup, and then the splash of cran. If they look at me with a blank look, I know I'm in for long night of subpar drinking. In fact, that's always why I add the splash of cran, because it will generally mask how bad the bartender made the first drink. Which then gives me time to drink it, and then decide whether to switch drinks midstream.

There are a few really great places to get a Tom Collins in town - One Manhattan, down in the meat-packing district, or even upstairs on the rooftop bar, Plunge, at the Hotel Gansevoort around the corner. But, the last, best one that I had was at this bar, ironically called Prohibition on the Upper West Side.

It's the one that Thorsten Kaye from All My Children just loves to plug - and why wouldn't he, it's owned by one of his BFFs who happens to be married IRL to TK's onscreen love, Alicia Minshew. Of course, my cynical side is still trying to figure out if TK really does like their fish tacos there, or if he's just trying to get all the women from Tri-State area and beyond to come visit Pro, in hopes of seeing him at the bar. I'm not gonna lie, that gambit's worked, for me and several of my friends.

Speaking of, until I started writing this post, I never knew the story behind Tom Collins. But here's funny, according to the wiki, apparently, back in the 1870s, someone would be in a bar, and ask people if they'd seen Tom Collins. At least one person would say umm, no, and the first person would rile him up saying "well, he was in here talking about you," and then that other person would get ticked off and go running after Tom Collins to beat him up.

Hahahaha - I'm sure that gag was much funnier in the 1870s. Nowadays, it's likely to start a bar fight. Hey, maybe that's what happened to Plaxico?
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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Iconoclasts saving the world

Magnet #286 - Biloxi Beach, Mississippi

My sister and her fiance brought this back from a trip down to his hometown. I gotta be honest, I don't think I ever thought that there were dolphins in the Gulf. But now I know.

One of my favorite shows is Sundance Channel's Iconoclasts. Love it. The point behind the show, that I can tell so far, is to show celebrities in a different light, but to also highlight different good works that they do.

I'm always surprised to "get to know" the people outside their element - like how buddy-buddy Richard Branson and Tutu were, or what Madeleine Albright and Ashley Judd had in common. The latest one I caught was the Cameron Diaz (I know) and Cameron Alistair, the architect behind this really supercool nonprofit called Architecture for Humanity. Cameron Diaz surprised me, with how dedicated she seems to be to learning about how she can help out (she was a major part of Live Earth last year), while Cameron Sinclair, who happens to be my age, is out doing good works all over the globe.

I'll admit, I wanted to run out and save the world after this episode. For sure, I'm totally buying this book, Design Like You Give a Damn soon.

With projects all over the world, Architecture for Humanity helps pair building professionals (like architects and designers, etc.) with the communities in need - communities affected by natural disasters (like the Gulf region) or man-made disasters. It's quite an amazing organization - one that Cameron Diaz wanted to learn more about. So, the two Camerons actually spent a couple of days together in Biloxi, to assess the damage that had been done, and to take a look at what they were doing to help out.

Trust Robert Redford & Co. to come up with such a great idea for a show, and be able to execute it pretty well, episode after episode. Now, if they'd just pair up George Clooney with someone awesome, we'd be set. Like George Clooney and Walter Cronkite. Or George Clooney and Barack Obama. Or George Clooney and me.

Yeah, I kinda like that last one.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Props to Big Al

Magnet #285 - Florida

On my way home, I picked this magnet up at the fabulous Tampa airport, because the gator just cracks me up.

I just spent the last few days at Innisbrook Golf Resort, where I learned to drive a golf cart like a pro, but still have never held a real live golf club in my hand.

On the fourth hole on Copperhead course, there's this fairly big water feature (heh, new term for me) with Big Al, the alligator. Someone showed me a picture of Big Al on Monday, and then I saw her myself in the exact same place the next day. But, I had convinced myself that the gator was actually just a stupid prop that the groundskeepers just moved from place to place.

So yesterday, I was driving one of the clients out on the course, rather blase about the gator prop, as we were approaching the water. He says to me, "You think it's a prop? Well, that's an interesting theory."

Just as we were passing the gator, just close enough to see her eyes, the darn thing was startled by our golf cart and hopped up and dove into the water.

Freaked. Me. Out. I slammed on the brakes, and we pitched forward, and all the while the client chuckled his ass off at me.

Yeah. Umm, Big Al.

Not a prop.
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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Goooood morning, Nepal!

Magnet #284 - On-Air Newseum

My sisters and I all ended up in some form of communications. I started out in publishing, and am now in advertising. The middle sister, who gave me this On-Air magnet from the Newseum in DC, is in newspaper journalism. And, at least until April, the youngest, is in broadcast radio. In Nepal.

We probably inherited it from my maternal grandfather, who after gotten his law degree, published the only newspaper back in Cebu City, Philippines. They owned a building on a town square, and on the ground floor, that's where they had the printing press.

My earliest memories of both my grandfather and the Philippines are of seeing the giant presses, and when Grandpa would come to the US, we would take him to some sort of press equipment place, where he would go and purchase the individual typeset letters to bring home to the PI. And when Grandma found out that I would be in publishing, she offered to give that same press to me, in case I needed it for my work. Very sweet.

The reason I picked today's magnet is because the youngest sister is part of Equal Access, a nonprofit organization, that put together charity football match to benefit children living with HIV and AIDS. She helped voice a PSA for the event, where she sounds supercool. I mean, I'd want to go to the event.

She posted about the experience on her blog...but you know the coolest part is that apparently the event was actually covered by BBC News!

Superneat! And for a great cause.

And of course, I'm going to have Robin Williams in my head all day now.
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Monday, December 1, 2008

Heavily defended, properly fortified

Magnet #283 - Castillo de San Marcos

Heh, sounds almost like a cereal. Castillo de San Marcos is one of the oldest forts in America, located in St. Augustine, FL, just down the street from the Fountain of Youth. Yes, also not Tampa proper.

More than 330 years ago, Spain originally built the fort to defend their New World claims, and spent something like $30 million in today's money for it.

It's funny how any old fort that you visit throughout the world looks the same. Made of rocks, lots of old canons, canon shell holes, the dark and dank storage rooms with the iron grates, excellent vantage points, small peepholes, and odd patches of grass scattered within. Seems like the only thing that changes are the uniform designs of the men that defended it.

Yep, it's totally meta that I'm using a magnet from a fort on today of all days - I'll be needing all the armor and fortification that I can get, just to get through it.

Our real work begins today - odd for me to say since really, one of the most useless people on a tv ad shoot is the account person. But, I'm sure we'll be running and gunning just to get through this day and achieve all of our shots.

Hopefully the weather cooperates. It's the one thing we can't, are you there, God, it's me, joy.

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