joy magnetism: 2009

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Kitchen secrets

Magnet #678 - National Kitchen & Bath Association

You know how sometimes I have like the coolest magnets and the fun write-ups? This is not that day.

Every so often, I like to use a real fridge magnet just to spice things up. A former client of mine gave me this NKBA fridge magnet - mainly because we were working on a line of kitchen and laundry appliances together back in the day.

You'd be surprised how much effort goes into the selling of product lines to you guys, the consumer, but also the amount of work that an appliance manufacturer has to do just to get their products sold in to like a Sears or Best Buy or Lowe's. It's hard, man. They have to have all their product specs down pat, all their collateral pristine, and know their sales pitches cold.

But, to get all that together, sometimes, you have to do a little recon in the stores - that's running around a P.C. Richards or a Lowe's or Home Depot, seeing who has the most appliances on the floor, the positioning within the store, and even the point of sale materials they have for the consumers.

It was totally fun, getting to visit as many of these stores as I could, pretending I was in the market for some new refrigerators or washer/dryers, and quizzing the sales folks on the differences between the manufacturers, picking up competitive sales materials...and when I could, taking pictures of the store.

Well, that is until I got run out of a New Jersey Sears for taking pictures. Whoops.
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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sleeping beauty

Magnet #677 - Malta's Sleeping Lady

So, Save the World Couple went to Malta for their "post-wedding vacation," and brought this back for me.

I know, I know - I had to look up where Malta is on the map, too. They fell in love with the place, and are already trying to figure out when they'll go back.

So, the Sleeping Lady can be found at the National Museum of Archaeology. She's one of the most sacred treasures of Malta - having found her in one of the rooms of the prehistoric Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, which is this underground cave thing that they accidentally stumbled upon in 1902 and excavated. Now it's a UNESCO site.

The level of detail on this magnet is amazing, but I'm betting it's nothing compared to the real thing. Especially when you take into account that the Sleeping Lady's like 5,000 years old! For realz, yo.

No one really knows what her purpose was - she's a fat little thing, and some think that she symbolizes death, or that her sheer size indicates fertility, or that she's a priestess or goddess who induces and/or interprets the dreams of her followers.

Personally, except for the fact that they have other pieces that feature her, I totally think it could have just been some guy who really loved his wife, and made some cool clay statuette of her sleeping. What?

So I picked this for tonight, because of two reasons. One, because it's Save the World Brother-in-Law's birthday. And two, because we ate our weight in delicious meats at Fogo de Chao tonight, and now I'm totally in a food coma.
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Capeside, seaside

Magnet #676 - Monet's Regatta at Sainte-Adresse

This is part of the Monet magnet set I picked up from the Met - it's an inset of this painting from the Met's site.

Monet spent a lot of time at Sainte-Adresse on the coast of France, where his Parisian parents moved. He painted Regatta at Sainte-Adresse (at the Met) supposedly as a companion piece to the Beach at Sainte-Adresse (at the Art Institute of Chicago), both in 1867.

There's some speculation that he painted it to show the class differences - the posh bathers versus the local fishermen.

I just like it because regattas always remind me of when stupid Dawson Leery entered Capeside's Annual Spring Regatta to win the heart of Joey Potter, even though everyone knows that the Joey belonged with Pacey J Witter.

What? I have a million Monet, my sister totally got me the complete series boxset of Dawson's Creek.

Now, if only I had time to do a proper marathon!
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Monday, December 28, 2009

Flying carpet ride

Magnet #675 - The Modern Wing

I picked this up in Chicago - love when I can get image magnets of the actual museum. Of course, it's cool when the building's so darn cool to merit a magnet, I guess.

If ever you're hanging out in Chicago with a spare few hours, definitely go see the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. It's one of the biggest museum projects in years, and likely to be one of the last on this grand of a scale for a while.

Go for the art, but go for the building, too, which was designed by famed museum architect Renzo Piano.

Remember how I was talking about artists' visual vocabulary? To my untrained eye, I think that it's the same thing with architects. As I learn more about each architect, I'm starting to recognize the telltale hallmarks of their respective work.

For example, I visited the Morgan Library for the first time a few weeks ago and just by looking at around, I totally knew who did the addition before I even Googled it. It probably has more to do with the fact that I'd been watching the progress on the Modern Wing for months before it opened, and also, because Piano's designed several buildings that I've both seen and visited recently, including the Morgan and the relatively new New York Times Building, both buildings with a lot of glass and steel.

Rather than solid, closed exterior walls, his work seems to always have this slatted look of steel and glass - allowing for as much light through as possible, making the interior space seem brighter and bigger, lighter and airy. That slatted look extends to his ceilings - where they create this sort of flying-carpet kind of canopy above.

Though the existing museum space, was no slouch, The Modern Wing was no exception - I loved it, from the main hall, to the staircases, to the overlooks, and terrific interiors. A fantastic space - and well befitting all the supercool artwork they're exhibiting.
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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Off with their heads!

Magnet #674 - Tower of London

Love visiting the Tower of London, if only for the years and years and years of history cropped up within these pile of stones - the thing was begun in 1066 by William the Conqueror, after all.

Plus, no matter how many times you visit, you don't run out of things to do, tours to take, things to see and history to learn. Which is probably why I love it so.

What I don't love, and why I picked this magnet for today, is because we just finished watching the Brit show Gavin & Stacey's Christmas Special, and are sorely, sorely disappointed by their own brand of revisionist history.

Lock up those editors for BBC-A, because honestly, they've edited yet another BBC show beyond recognition.

Argh. I get that they need to edit for time or content or music rights, but man, sometimes, the Brit shows aren't worth watching, when half the good bits are on some digital clipboard somewhere across the waters.

Sigh. They really can't be angry when people turn to alternative resources when 1) BBC-A airs the shows on a delay (which they were starting to get better about), but 2) When they do finally decide to air the show (like this Christmas special I'm talking about is actually from 2008), they have to edit (and bleep) the hell out of it.

Mind you, I would bet that in addition to saving almost two minutes in time, they probably also didn't have the rights to Band-Aid's Do They Know it's Christmas? Such a shame, because this scene with Smithy and Gavin? Is the best scene in the entire episode!

And, if you haven't seen Gavin & Stacey - get thee to the (unedited) boxed sets - asap. Such a great show!
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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sherlock Holmes, I presume

Magnet #673 - Sherlock Holmes

Oh, yes. I have totally been waiting to use this magnet for the day I saw RDJ's Sherlock Holmes.

I picked this up earlier this year at the BEA show, back when we thought our company rebranding was feature the world's greatest detectives, and position our account executives and creatives as brand investigators and storytellers. I know. Don't ask. It kinda seemed like a good idea at the time. I'm just sorry I didn't manage to convince anyone to pick this magnet as our little company launch tchotcke. Heh.

But yay, fun finger puppet magnet!

I kinda had really high hopes for Sherlock Holmes today, which is why I was kinda sad that it didn't live up to my own hype. Don't get me wrong - it was a fairly good movie, it just didn't rock my world as I expected it to.

I blame the overall story, which was only so-so. I tend to love mysticism in my stories, but this one wasn't at all engaging for me. Though the intricate Holmesian details were pretty good, my problem was that my attention was already lost by the time they started explaining the mysticism of the conspiracy.

One of the best parts about the movie was of course, Robert Downey Jr. He was fantastic, as we knew he would be. And you gotta love the total yay between RDJ's Holmes and Jude Law's Watson. The dialogue skipped along whenever the two of them were together on screen. Loved them - loved their banter. In fact, their banter should be in every movie ever made. And, honestly, Rachel McAdams was cute with them as well.

Another thing I love seeing in any movie is a historic background - in this case, London in the making (literally, with the Tower Bridge being built). Seeing St. Paul's and Westminster and even 221B was supercool. The Thames all crowded with boats plying their trade and horse carriages cluttering the streets was just fantastic.

Of course, now I'm trying to remember how accurate Holmes' and Watson's rooms were at 221B Baker Street - a few years ago, my sisters and I did our own little tour of the Sherlock Holmes house/museum. Pretty cool, even though the wax Watson scared the bejeepers out of me. Also? Check it - this Watson, not as hot as Jude Law. I'm just sayin'.

The Hans Zimmer score was fabulous, particularly with the undercurrents of Big Ben's Westminster chimes, keeping time with all the fight scenes toward the end.

Speaking of fights scenes - whoa. Just. Whoa. The fighting was intense and often - and as my dad said, every time my mom woke him up, people were fighting. But, they were well done.

So, yeah - it's still a recommend. Go. See it. While I wasn't carried away by it, there were a ton of things I really did like about the movie. Not the least of which, RDJ should totally have a stipulation in his contract to do at least one shirtless scene in every single movie he does.

I insist.
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Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Magnet #672 - Panda

I used to have this friend who was always unnerved being around folks speaking non-English languages, convinced that they were talking about her.

This magnet, given to me by someone else, reminds me of her, because I could have sworn they got it in Beijing, and that's what the writing says. It doesn't. Then I thought it said panda. It doesn't. So, I haven't a clue what it says, and I just hope it's not something about me. Hahahah.

I picked this magnet today, mainly because I forgot to do a magnet photoshoot before leaving NYC, so all I have are the magnets already loaded in my photobucket, and this is the most Christmassy festive of the bunch.

But, also because Save the World Sister got her usual fill of pandas for Christmas. It's so funny, I remember at one point in her apartment, everywhere I looked, I saw another panda item. Things haven't changed.

And yep, we've already done Christmas. It's what we do - head straight home after Midnight Mass, jump into our jammies, and open presents. This year was a little weird, because after the snowstorm in DC, we decided it was easier for us to drive down to NC, rather than have our parents deal with the crappy roads (see yesterday's post for validation). So like Santa, we threw all our presents in the big red 4-runner, and headed for the open road, singing Christmas music all the way home.

But, home too late for Midnight Mass. So, we just jumped into our jammies, and did our Christmas tonight, in a proper showing of commercialism and consumerism cause and effect. Heh. Now everyone's asleep...except for me, who drank a Mountain Dew at 9 to keep me awake driving home. Ooops.

I know, middle of the night to open presents is weird, but this stems from years of practice. In fact, the saddest Christmas ever for me was the year I stuck to my guns, forced myself to go to sleep on Christmas Eve, in order to have a proper Christmas morning opening presents.

Only, amidst piles of discarded wrapping paper, my presents were the only ones under the tree. And I was the only one opening presents. By myself. Cuz everyone else was asleep.

Silly. Opening presents Christmas morning, instead of Christmas Eve. Who does that?

Hahahaahaha. Merry Christmas, ya'll!

Yay, thanks for the clarification, Erika! Shanghai, China. Awesome.
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Skid row

Magnet #671 - Washington, DC

Yep, I'm supposed to be shopping for pick-up presents and birthday presents, but I totally bought this magnet today - with a special trip to CVS and a fight with the self-checkout machine over it, as well.

With me having lived in NY since 1995, and DCsis having lived DC since 2000, we've always had a healthy competition over who has the better city. I tend to side with NY, naturally.

But for today and all of next week, I'm going to be a Washingtonian, shopping and eating here today, and next week working out of our DC office.

I like that my first day here, the U.S. Senate passed an $871 billion health care reform plan. And I'll tell you, they're gonna need it, all for the folks in DC who have to walk around the sidestreets of town.

I just spent 10 minutes navigating through what should have been a 5-minute walk to the Metro, stepping over several icy patches on the sidewalks - which of course is totally homeowners liability, methinks - and over streets that were plowed a while ago, but not salted, so now, they're a ridiculous mess - half ice, half clear.

What is that? You can say DC wasn't prepared for the Storm of the Century, but c'mon now, it's been a week! Go borrow some salt from somewhere. These icy conditions are treacherous.

Oh, I'm not saying NY's any better, but at least they seem to be maintaining streets and sidewalks. Leaving whole neighborhoods to fend for their icy selves seems to be pretty dangerous.

I full on expect the main arteries to be perfectly fine, but dang, throw a girl some salt!

OMG! Hey, whatever holidays you're celebrating, hope they're merry and bright, and of course, joyful!
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

You got a Pisa my heart - Guest Bloggers, Save the World Couple

Magnet #670 - Pisa

I know! I have not one, but two (!) Pisa magnets! So I figured that I'd give Guest Bloggers newly wedded Save the World Couple a chance to write about their Pisa trip. I mean, hello, they totally got to visit and climb the 294 (or 296) steps of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Also, this magnetpost finally answers the question that ALL inquiring minds kept asking me: why STWcouple decided to marry in Italy. Finally.

- joy


While Joy was training it down to DC for the holidays, she asked us to guest blog for her about Pisa, Italy. The first time we went to Italy together, we used the train to get from Rome to Florence, Florence to Rome to Naples, and then Naples to Rome. We also did a lot of daytrips, including one to Pisa a quick hour train ride from Florence.

When we went to Pisa, we totally took advantage of the sweet ticket deal they’ve got where you get one ticket and you can see several of the museums and attractions. Now… Pisa is NOT big and all of the attractions and museums that tourists want to see are close by. We went New Year’s Eve day along with several hundred of our not close friends. All of whom wanted to take THAT photo. You know, the photo of a person looking like they are holding the tower.

Being December, we were surprised by how warm the day was (apparently, Gordon says it was “very pleasant day”) and how green the grass was. The area around the tower and baptistery is like big quad – nice, green grass (which we totally saw people making out on). On our trip into the tower, we were accompanied by a big group of Japanese schoolgirls (uniforms and all – very harajuku but with no Gwen). They were all excited about the tower and the huge bells at the top. We were too, but they were SO excited – like little Pokemons.

What we weren’t excited about was the gelato in Pisa. Gordon and I were on our first venture back into the western world (as we were in Uzbekistan for Peace Corps) and we were SO excited to have pizza and gelato every day (not kidding…every. day.). However, we were extremely disappointed in the gelato that we had in Pisa. So much so, that we still talk about it today whenever someone asks us about how we liked Pisa. We CAN, however, tell you of a GREAT gelato place outside of the Vatican (we went back for more after our first round!).

We were just in Pisa a few weeks ago after the wedding (the wedding of the century, in case you missed it). We took the train, again, from Florence to Pisa. And then flew from Pisa to Malta. (PS: There’s a very convenient bus right outside of the train station in Pisa that takes you directly to the airport). We intended to revisit the sites when we got back from Malta, but the weather was crap and we were still on our Mediterranean high.

That first trip to Italy, however, was what made us decide to get married there five years later. It definitely has a Pisa our hearts!

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lean to your left, lean to your right

Magnet #668 - Leaning Tower of Pisa

I think out of all the magnets I picked up during our Italy trip, this one's my favorite. And I didn't even go to Pisa - my aunt and uncle brought this one back for me.

I love it for two reasons.

First, foremost, and most obvious, if you know me - because it's so pretty and blue! It's like Delftware, even though I know it's not. I guess maybe you'd call it Pisanoware?

Second, I love the history that this image shows us. The cornerstones were laid 836 years ago. The image on this magnet was painted about 180 years ago. And this Nova image shows the tower about 10-20 years ago before they started using modern technology to fix it, about 10 years ago.

Before this blogpost, I hadn't realized the tower was just the campanile for Pisa's cathedral. Shoot, before this trip, I didn't even know what a campanile was. It's just a freestanding belltower for the church/cathedral beside it - which totally explains the Duomo's very cool campanile in Florence, and the Campanile di Piazza San Marco in Venice.

But what kills me about this superduper gorgeous building is that they basically knew from early on the darn thing wasn't going to stay vertical. Who builds something, knowing that it could topple over? Apparently, these guys. So I'm thinking it's no surprise that not one person is definitively named the designer/builder - it's almost like no one wants to take the full credit.

I mean, upon completion 650 years ago, the tower was already leaning almost 5 feet off! Heh. Over the years, between the soft sand foundation and the weight of the bells up in the tower and more construction and numerous efforts to try and right the wrong, it just kept going about 1 millimeter a year.

Then in 1990, they were like, whoa, momma. So, they came up with a solution - which was great, because hello, it was something like 15 feet off its vertical!

Dudes. Can you imagine such a thing happening now? They'd be tied up in the legal system for as long as the building's been standing, man.
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Monday, December 21, 2009

Light's nature

Magnet #668 - Monet's Four Poplars

This magnet is one of my many, many, many Monet paintings - this one being an inset of the painting The Four Trees/Four Poplars. About a mile from Monet's house in Giverny is the tree-lined Epte River, where Monet used to sit in a boat in the water to paint these poplars.

Part of Monet's visual vocabulary (if I'm using that term in the right context here, who knows) was light - and how light changed throughout the day and the year. Which is how Monet ending up painting series after series of the same subjects - haystacks, Venice, London, Rouen, water lilies, these poplars - so that he could capture the many shades of light.

I picked this magnet today, because yesterday, I saw two movies that couldn't be more different - the tv movie Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage and the blockbuster Avatar.

Christmas Cottage with Supernatural's Jared Padalecki oddly paired with screen greats Marcia Gay Harden and Peter O'Toole was an unabashedly tearjerky biopic about one particularly formative Christmas that "Painter of Light" Thomas Kinkade spent with his family and friends. I won't lie, the only reason I tuned in because it was cuteboy J-Pad in a dramatic role I've never seen him in. (I think we can agree that you really can't count Gilmore Girls or Supernatural as dramatic fodder.)

But, the movie tried too hard to gain an emotional response from me, and I found myself spending much of the time waiting for Peter or Marcia to show up on screen. But it was the final scenes where Peter O'Toole's character was going on and on about his last painting, and how you muuuuust paaaaaint the liiiiight pretty much reminded me of Monet.

It's the nature theme of these poplars reminds me of James Cameron's Avatar (in 3D at AMC Empire 25's FauxMAX theatre), which I was also pretty meh about.

Oh, don't get me wrong, Sam Worthington was hot, knobby-knees and all. And, in the end, the Smurf people weren't as annoying as I was thinking they would be. And, the movie itself was gorgeous - and if you stop for a second to actually watch all the background plates and the CG work and SFX and the fact that it was a completely made-up world, you'd just be amazed at the sheer magnitude of the effort. There were a few callbacks to Titanic for me - some triumphant King of the World moments, a couple "I'll never let go" moments, oh, and a giant catastrophic event or two as well.

But overall, I kept getting pulled out of the movie by the Cameron soapbox - how society (America) has a way of killing off indigenous peoples and how humankind can't stop itself from destroying Mother Planet. In fact, it felt very much like his directors cut of The Abyss (which of course I loved), where the aliens just wanted us to save ourselves from ourselves.

In the end, I'll admit that as much as I was wary of his "we're all connected" theme, I guess I can't disagree with his soapbox...

...or the $73 million he made during opening weekend.

I try and put capture my own thoughts on movies/tv shows before I read any reviews or talk to anyone else about their opinions. Having just talked to the guy who peer pressured me into thinking there was no way I could *not* see Avatar opening weekend...

I really cannot believe that I missed that the overall story was just basically the story of Pocahontas. Huh. Right down to the Colors of the Wind and the talking trees!
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Sunday, December 20, 2009


Magnet #667 - Chicago Skyline

I bought this magnet over the summer in Chicago - I specifically sought this magnet out, because I had to have something that showed the Sears Tower with its real name on it.

I'm steadfastly refusing to call the Sears Tower anything but the Sears Tower, no matter who owns it now. You can't just erase years of being called one thing and suddenly change its name.

That's like me saying, you know what? Call me Fiona, I'm no longer Joy. Hmph. No. Unacceptable.

I picked this magnet for today, though, because with all the snow slamming the Eastern seaboard this weekend, I wanted to show a town that's used to the weather like this.

I have very hazy memories of snowdays in Chicago - being at school, with very high snowdrifts, and vast playgrounds completely iced over. So cool.

And growing up in North Carolina, we used to get snowdays and snow delays at the merest hint of snow. The best part is when they'd send us in, and we'd spend a couple of hours sitting around at school and then they'd have to call it - sending us home early. That was one of the best parts of living in a town unprepared for the white stuff.

This weekend, my sisters in DC were snowbound as the town was almost completely paralyzed, with the buses ending their routes early and not all city streets being cleared, and flights to and from grounded and rerouted. Amazing. And they're getting snowdays tomorrow! So. Lucky!

We in Manhattan got enough to pile the snow up on both sides of the street, making street corners almost impossible to cross, but no snowdays for us. Hmph.
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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Abstracts of visual vocabulary

Magnet #666 - Georgia O'Keeffe quote

This Georgia O'Keeffe quote magnet is one of that supercool artists quote set that I picked up from the Met earlier this year. It's a photograph of her taken by the love of her life, Alfred Stieglitz (yes, this time it's really by him) - which I saw in person today! Very cool.

I hung out with DCsister's godmother today, running around the Upper East Side, taking in the Kandinsky exhibit at the Guggenheim, a French lunch at Demarchelier, the O'Keeffe exhibit at the Whitney, and a Rooster at Vosges. Fun day!

I know - I keep going to museum after museum, and there hasn't been an exhibition I haven't really enjoyed. But honestly, if you're good enough for me to recognize your work on sight, to see it in multiple galleries around the world, and you're truly masters of art, then, really, who the heck am I not to like it.

Who doesn't love learning more about the art and the artists, and seeing the master works of art in person. Even though I have magnet after magnet of these great works, there's nothing quite like giving security guards palpitations by sticking your nose five inches away from the canvas to investigate the brushstrokes, and dodging your head around other people's heads, standing five feet away to begin grasping the gestalt of each artists' visual vocabulary.

Yeah, that's right. Today I learned the term visual vocabulary - both the audio tour at the Gugg and the tour guide at the Whitney mentioned it. I won't lie - I'm completely untrained artwise, no classes, no seminars - so hearing the term visual vocabulary was new for me. For Kandinsky, it's his horses and geometric shapes. For O'Keeffe, it's her multifaceted layers of color and bold, sweeping shapes.

Today, Georgia's art - and the tour guide - made a lot more unknown known to me today - wandering around, I learned more about O'Keeffe's art, her life, her relationship with Alfred Stieglitz and her relationship with the public and their relationship to her art. If you get the chance, check out the guided tour of the exhibition - you get more out of that than the audio tour (something I rarely say).

Although, I don't mind saying, they have these superfun O'Keeffe toolboxes for kids to carry around, with crayons and flowers and a drawing notebooks. I would have rather plopped down and grab one of those toolboxes out of the cute kids' hands and start drawing - though my art of smiley faced suns and grassy with rainbows would be a far cry from Georgia's work hanging up on the Whitney walls.
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Friday, December 18, 2009

What's the Korean word for Ten?

Magnet #665 - Korea

My friend brought this back for me from his Asia world tour - so cute! From what I've found, this couple is wearing the traditional dress of Korea - Han-guk pokshik (Korean attire).

And the other best thing about this magnet? It's a bottle-opener on the flip side. How funny.

I find it especially funny because I used to have this Korean client who we used to entertain a lot - in NY, in Jersey, in Vegas.

Yeah, that last one? Let's keep that in Vegas, man. Let's just blame the around-the-world vodka flight of shots. Good times.

Anyway, I just picked this magnet today, because there's a David Tennant video posted on BBC-America, where he talks about how big Doctor Who is in Korea. S'truth - the Seoul International Drama Awards 2009 named DW the Most Popular Foreign Drama of the Year.

Apparently, there's a lotta love comin' outta there for Ten. Heh.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

"A little weird, but kinda cool"

Magnet #664 - Pipecleaner Reindeer

C'mon. How cute is this reindeer?

I just got him yesterday - one of my client colleagues made it! And I stuck a magnet on its butt and magnet-ized it. The funny thing, is that I didn't even need to use the little hot-glue gun - the magnet's doin' all the work for me!

It's so funny - when you're standing around during a shoot - watching the production dudes do their thing; hair, make-up and wardrobe do their thing, and watching playback in the little video village - you have a lot of time to get to know the folks you're hangin' with.

Which is how I ended up confessing a few times this last week about joy magnetism, dubbed by another client colleague as "a little weird, but kinda cool" magnetblog. To be honest, while joy magnetism has been a great source of fun for me, even after 664 magnets, it still doesn't get any easier confessing that I collect magnets, and what's more, I blog on them.

Mind you, having done the 664 magnets gives it a little bit of weight, but people go through the five stages of magnet acceptance, reacting pretty much the same, after the subject first comes up. People cock their heads to the side, much like this little reindeer here, wondering what would possess someone to do either, and questions start to crop up.

Always starting with the disbelieving, You collect...refrigerator magnets? And blog on them?

Then moving on to the clarifying, Are they just travel magnets? Or are they other kinds?

Gravitating to the more practical, Where do you put them? Are they all on your refrigerator? How many do you have?

And then to the more inquisitive, What's your favorite magnet? Why? What's the most unusual magnet you have? From where?

And then finally to the most accepting, What's that address again? I'd like to check it out.

Of course, then they end up reading it back to you the following day, while you're sitting on the catering golf cart next to them, or presenting the cutest little reindeer ever to add to my little magnet collection.

It's cool. Just means they've joined my little reindeer games, thank you very much. Hahaha.
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Up, up and online!

Magnet #663 - Caroline Herschel

Ok. Just so you all day, I'll be telling my great-grand-nephews and -nieces-to-come about the day that I wifi'd and magnetblogged up in the air. (More likely, we'll be looking up this magnetblog entry in the Internet Archives, but whatever.)

And when I tell them, I'll say, dang, why didn't I take a picture of that 787 Dreamliner airplane magnet I just bought after my Boeing tour last week? Instead, I had to use the most closely tied in magnet that I already had photographed and loaded in my photobucket.

But, I suppose, as far as stand-in magnets go, this one's pretty damn good.

Caroline Herschel, was a German astronomer who looked to the heavens and not only wondered what was there, but discovered several comets to her name. And for a woman in turn of the 18th century, that's pretty freakin' spectacular.

I bought this Herschel magnet at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, where one of their permanent exhibitions is Judy Chicago's Dinner Party, a fantastic installation that's basically a giant triangle table with beautifully themed and personalized place settings for the 39 most important women in the history of humankind, with another 999 women inscribed in gold on a plaque.

You can spend hours there reading about all of them. Do it - it makes you want to run out and scream, "I am woman, hear me roar!" Actually, for me right now, it's "I am woman, hear me type and chat and post and Tweet and magnetblog!"

Right from the very skies that Herschel stared at almost 300 years ago.

Oh, c'mon. I know I sound like I'm 90 years old right now, but, honestly, you can't tell me that the Wright Brothers knew that we'd get to this point some day.
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sidecars and Cupcakes

Magnet #662 - Sons of Anarchy's Bobby Elvis

Can I just say? This whole magnet making thing is totally gonna end me. There's too many things to "magnet-ize."

My friend made this one for me - you know, my only friend who watches this show? The one who doesn't have cable, so I totally enable him by dropping the show to DVD for him every week?

I picked Bobby Elvis today, because yesterday, I was riding around in a golf cart with a strongest man in the world contender, and he asked me what my favorite show is.

Do you know how funny it is explaining my Sons of Anarchy love with a straight face and a pipsqueaky voice to a gentle giant who's never heard of the show before, all while holding on as the golf cart's rounding the curves of Innisbrook's main drag?

Like, here, now, I can explain the Kurt Sutter show as a well-written, -directed, -produced, -acted cablenet drama about a motorcycle club, with cute boys and their hot cuts, who run guns and an adult entertainment company, try to keep the peace between the other clubs and fight off Ally Walker as the lawwoman and Adam Arkin as the Eastern European baddie.

See? Easy.

Much harder when you say it out loud. Especially because as I've mentioned before that once again, I'm skewing the Nielsen demos with my love for this show.

I'm a girl. I'm Asian. I'm the wrong age.

I'm not a gun-runner, outlaw, or adult entertainment industry producer. (Lord, where will I pop up for search terms now?)

Oh, and I'm not a biker chick. And, if you knew me, you'd realize how far away I am from being a biker chick.

I bet I could be a biker chick if I wanted. A higher-register-speaking, Doris-Dayish-haircut-wearing, cute-cupcake-eating, cute-pen-toting, cute-paper/notebook-holding, cute-color-coordinated electronics-using biker chick.

But I'd rock that little sidecar like no one's business, man. Now, I just need a nickname.

Oddly, I was dubbed Sidecar earlier this year because of my Erik Estrada ridealongs, and Cupcake last night because of my "secure the birthday cupcakes" mission for one of our golfers yesterday.
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Monday, December 14, 2009

Hooray for...yeah, you get it

Magnet #661 - Hollywood

Guess where I bought this one. Heh.

It's the iconic Hollywood shot - the one that every tourist has to try and take pictures of, craning their necks out of every angle of their rental cars to take the best picture ever. And yet, none ever match up to this magnet.

But Hollywoodland is a sign that I've always had a hard time believing existed - despite every book I've ever read about it, every movie I've ever seen about it and honestly, dudes? Even every picture I've ever seen about it.

Everyone knows this story, right? That the Hollywood sign used to read HOLLYWOODLAND, and all it was, was this real estate gimmick to sell property out in the canyon-y hinterlands? So while rationally I know it totally existed, it's just so funny to think about - a whole mountainside decorated with 13 giiiiiiant letters.

But, it's true - back in 1924, they made the (supposedly only to last for 18 months) sign for like $21,000 - the giant letters hitting 50 feet, with like 4,000 20-watt lightbulbs. Come on, how awesome must that have been back in the 20s - you'd be tooling around the hills in your Model A (or your horse and cart, I suppose), and you look up and see all those lights flashing (ok, I dunno about the flashing) Holly! Wood! Land! (or the exclamation marks, really).

By 1949, the City wanted to tear down the decrepit and almost bulb-less sign, but it was too late - after 25 years, it had become part of their identity and was much-beloved, so everyone rallyed around it, and refused to let the sign die. So the City dropped off the LAND and refurbished the sign - an icon born.

Every so often now, you hear all these kooky stories about how folks want to get rid of the sign, how they want to paint the sign, or how they want to sell it out to corporate sponsors.

They better manage to preserve it the way it deserves - I would cry if they ended up outlining the white letters in Staples red!

Ok. Here's cool. Apparently, Frank Lloyd Wright opened up a western office, having built a few key houses out there to give folks views of the Hollywoodland sign. Awesome. Site's pretty neat itself - a little hard to nav, but fab architectural details of each house. Sigh. Nothing sadder than an abandoned FLW house.
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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sleigh wha?

Magnet #660 - Santa

Another one of those magnets I picked up in the middle of the night at a random CVS in North Carolina. I know. Sometimes, I just like to pick the randoms.

But, here's why I'm using this for today.

There's something I just don't understand. Granted, I was born in Chicago, and I grew up in North Carolina, and I've lived in New York for the last 15 years, so I guess I wouldn't really understand, but seriously. I just don't understand.

How. How, when you live in a place where on December 13 it hit the mid-80s, can you even think about celebrating Christmas? It's. Too. Hot!

Flip-flops and visors. T-shirts and shorts. The middle of December!

I've spent the day driving all around Tampa and St. Pete and Innisbrook, and there's Christmas trees for sale and Tis the Season decorations all around, and all signs point to Christmas.

But how can you even think about the bundling up for the sleigh ride, when it's in the 80s and you're blasting the AC, because you've walked 10 yards outside and practically melt when you get into the car? Or, sing about chestnuts roasting on an open fire? Fire? Who has an open fire? It was 69 when we got in from dinner?

I dunno, maybe it's just me, but I just don't get it.
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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dawn's early light

Magnet #659 - Dessa Kirk's Eos

Back over the summer, I mentioned how our family stumbled into Columbus, Indiana, home to some of the best art and architecture around.

I picked this magnet in honor of how I spent my last day in Seattle checking out the art (SAM's Michelangelo exhibit and the Olympic Sculpture Park) and architecture (Gehry's EMP) of Seattle. This was, of course, in between the BlackBerry breaks at stoplights and on I-5. Actually, the only time I didn't have my BB in hand yesterday was when the folks at Boeing had me check my BB in their lockers. My fingers missed the buzzing!

Honestly, it was weird. I had this unanswered urge to Twitpic and Tweet, and check for new emails.

Anyway - Columbus. I can't remember if we actually saw this Dessa Kirk piece or not - she's the Greek Eos, the Dawn goddess who rises from the edge the Ocean, chasing Night away, and opening heaven's gates every day to let her brother, Helios, the sun, ride his chariot across the sky. I love this idea that she's dawn rising out of the water.

The other reason I'm picking her for today is because I think I've met her every damn day this week. Hate dawn. Worst time of day. And I've got people trying to schedule 8:30 meetings tomorrow.

Hey. It's Sunday.

Work with me, people!
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Friday, December 11, 2009

Gasp! It *does* exist!!!

Magnet #658 - Seattle's Mount Rainier

So, yesterday, we wrapped the Seattle leg of our commercial productions. A long day of shooting four principals against green screen, with this supercool swiveling light hazardy thing swinging around each of them. Then we shot extras walking through several scenarios. Very, very cool.

The giant green wall was like being on the set of Doctor Who. Minus David Tennant, of course. Though, I won't lie. Cute boys aplenty up in this city, and a lot were at our shoot yesterday. I'm just sayin'.

We've been so busy running around that the only free time I've had is really to run to Target (I know! Yay!) at like 8 in the morning. I've been up every day at 5, to make calls for the East Coast (I will never live on the West Coast for that reason.)

So I was lucky when one of my colleagues grabbed a set of very kitschy Seattle magnets for me. LOVE them. But I had to use this one first...

You know that commercial where Red and Yellow M&M are tip-toeing through the house, and they run into Santa Claus, and Red gasps and goes, "He does exist!" and falls over, and then Santa looks down, gasps and goes, "They do exist!"

Heh - that's how I feel about Mount Rainier.

When I was here several years ago for that cross-country train trip my friend and I did, we kept trying to see Mount Rainier. My friend drove some of the time, leaving me to stare out the window willing clouds and haze to get out of the way. So, I saw it several times, and even have pictures of it. Blurry, hazy, taken through the slightly smudgy back window of our rental. But I did see it.

My friend never believed that I saw it, and so it's been a running joke for the better part of a decade now.

So. Even though I saw it a decade ago, I've now seen it a few times over this last week in Tampa.

It does! It does exist!!!
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Western motel

Magnet #657 - Hopper's Western Motel

I want to say that I bought this at the National Gallery in DC, during the Hopper exhibition a couple of years ago.

I do so love a good Hopper. He's known for putting people in everyday places and spaces, and still somehow making them stand out.

Western Motel, one of his most important pieces, is a perfect example. It's a lady sitting on a bed that's perfectly made, in a motel in an obviously desolate area of the US, with her bags packed, waiting by the window.

Where's she going? Who's meeting her? What's she thinking? Who's she looking at? Is that car hers? Is that her ride?

All that. From one painting. There's a story there, and an unanswered ending. Awesome.

I just picked her for today, because she's probably nice and warm sitting in the sunlight poking through her hotel window, with her supercute sleeveless dress. Me? I'm frozen, sitting here by my 7th story window, overlooking the monorail, here at the Hotel Andra. The thermostat's at 86, and I'm shivering uncontrollably. I know, I could complain, but I'd rather blog and then jump under the covers. Jeepers.

I will give Andra its due, though - it's a supercute hotel, with the nicest staff ever and the biggest rooms ever, all for the most unbelievably low rate ever.

Probably not lower than this chick's hotel, but still.
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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Every time a bell rings

Magnet #656 - O Christmas Tree

There's a part of me that can't quite get into the Christmas spirit - mainly cuz I feel like I missed Thanksgiving, and all of a sudden, bam, it's Christmas.

Some of it, is because I haven't been able to listen to my Christmas music. You know, the stuff where I have not one, but two, very old iPods and a cellphone loaded with 600 Christmas tunes. Alone. Plus, three new CDs this year that I haven't been able to listen to.

And, of course, I keep seeing Christmas trees everywhere I go. From Padua, Italy, to Seattle's Space Needle, tis the season.

One thing I haven't strayed from, is my love of Christmas movies. You know how some people (namely my sister and my dad) think it's not Christmas til you've watched It's a Wonderful Life or White Christmas, or Love, Actually? Or, it's not Christmas til you've watched any stop-action Rudolph, or sad Charlie Browns?

That's not me. I love Christmas made-for-television movies. The cheesier - the better. I love them. I get sucked in, and start to marathon them, like they're my popcorn movies. Whether it's ABC Family or LMN or Hallmark or Fa-la-la-la Lifetime - I am always down for cheesy Christmas movies. Last year, I filled up like 4 DVDs with them. Four.

One of my all-time favorites is Borrowed Hearts - so old, that you can totally see it in the print quality. It's the one with Roma Downey as a single mother, whose daughter wishes upon a dollhouse and Hector Elizondo, the angel grants her little wish to make their little family complete with Roma's boss, Eric McCormack. Every year. That's my It's a Wonderful Life.

Still, for all the old titles out there, for whatever reason - they just keep coming. For reals, yo. There's a good thirty of them out there that airs every year, but every year, there's the promise of a handful of new ones from Hallmark, Lifetime and ABC Fam. Love.

I've seen a couple, like Lifetime's 12 Men of Christmas, a Cheno movie, which was ok, I suppose. Really, it should have appealed, because it was literally my story of the NY chick who has to go to Montana to make it, and she does, and meets handsome, wealthy Mr. December, and lives happily ever after. In Kalispell, Montana.

But, I did see one this week, Debbie Macomber's Mrs. Miracle on Hallmark, starring James "Dawson Leery" Van der Beek playing the emotional shut-down single father to twins, who ends up with that chick who played in Being Erica - through the power of Mrs. Merkle, played by Doris Roberts. Unabashedly good, I thought.

Oh, I could keep going with the amount of cheesy holiday movies that they make just for me, but I won't. There are too many out there to love.

Just watch any of the women-focused cablenets and you'll quickly get sucked in. No, really!
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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pain something, alright

Magnet #655 - Pain matin

Pain matin. Or, at least, that's what I think this basket of French bread says - morning bread. Or, I suppose it could be just pain squiggle-squiggle.

I bought this magnet during our Zurich airport layover a couple of weeks ago. Mainly, because it reminded me of my dad, and what the Italy trip was going to entail, gastronomically.

One thing we always worry about whenever we travel, is where will my dad eat. I know. He's not five years old, but his eating habits are very particular. He eats only rice with his omnipresent banana, and then [insert seafood (cooked only the way he or mom makes it) here]. Usually fried, and with salt and pepper. No fancy trimmings, no fancy spices, just fry that sucker straight up.

So, when we travel, he ends up eating a lot of bread. A lot. Like seriously. Croissants, mostly. But, probably because that's the easiest thing you can get at any bakery. He'll take a good French bread, or Challah bread, too. But, it's always bread, water and coke, or coffee, in lieu of a meal he won't eat. I mean, we're talking about the guy, who, when we were in high school, had his own button on the McDonald's register to ring up his special order of the plain bread only - from those McStuffin's sandwiches they used to have!

The long airplane rides are what worries us most. If he doesn't have his "bound" - which roughly means his packed meal, then he's left with whatever they serve us on the airplane. Thank goodness that usually includes a roll of some sort. Which we all give to my dad, so that he has something to eat while the rest of us are chowing down on our odd mixed salads and warmish entree and funny desserts. (Though, man, the Camembert that Swiss Air served the last time around? I seriously thought there was a plot to poison all cheese-eaters on the plane. It was so filled with ammonia, I thought I was gonna die right on the spot.)

Of course, I suppose we were lucky that international flights still feed us. I just got off a very pathetic nonstop Delta flight from NY to Seattle, and it was one of the worst flights I'd ever been on. Aside from the brusque service, the $2 earphones, the $6 HBO movies, the stupid DishTV channels that I don't watch, and the crappy seats, I can't believe they make you pay for meals on a 7-hour flight.

I get that everything in the aviation industry is more expensive, but dang! (Although, tip to the wise, don't eat a Whopper meal before boarding - you'll still be tasting the onions 7 hours later. Ugh.)

But, the piece de resistance - and I suppose it's not Delta's fault that they transport rude-ass trendy couples - this Asian chick and her hoarder boyfriend (Dim Sum of All Things reference) who looked like Matthew Lillard abruptly asked me to move to another row, "so that they could spread out." What a jerk. I thought we'd gained a rapport, since I was kicking his ass in inflight trivia. But no. The second the seatbelt sign went off, he got up, and was like, "Would you move to that other row, so that we can spread out?" There was no excuse me on the way out of the row. There was no hi to start the request. And, what's more, there wasn't even a please.

What a pain, ADM in Seat 11F. For those of you keeping score.

What's funny is that he totally knew he was a total jerk about it, too, because he came back to me and apologized for the way he asked and offered to buy me a drink. I told him not to worry about it, *silently* jerk.

Anyway, that's fine. As long as you were comfortable in seats 11F, 11E, and 11D, don't worry about the rest of us poor schmoes.
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Monday, December 7, 2009

Experience more

Magnet #654 - Washington State

I had a whole other magnet planned for today, the 68th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Then I read the actual story behind the magnet, and it felt weird to use a magnet about the RAF/European Theater and the U.S. Navy/Pacific Theater.

So, since I'm headed out to Seattle tonight, I figured I'd go ahead and use this Washington State magnet.

I've only been out there once, but it was only for a couple of days. And, though I'm going for work, maybe, just maybe I'll actually get to see Mount Rainier from afar this time. (Even though I totally saw it last time, my friend won't acknowledge that I saw it, even though I so totally did, albeit through the back of a rental car.)

I wonder, though, if apples are their state fruit, will they have good apple pie there. And ice cream.

Hmmm. Food for thought.

See what I did there? Yuk, yuk, yuk.
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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Best stuff on earth

Magnet #653 - Ben & Jerry's Factory Tour

Ok. I've mentioned how much I love ice cream - a visit to the Ben & Jerry's Factory Tour is pretty fun. Not only do I love behind the scenes stuff, but I love seeing the factory in action.

But, I think I've now gone twice to B&J's in Vermont, and not seen the factory actually in action - just get to see the empty floors and empty machines. Nothing sadder than a factory at rest. But, I will say that it's the place I first discovered one of my favorite Ben & Jerry's flavors - Dublin Mudslide. Mmmmmm.

I had to do an ice cream post, given that I've been trying to recreate all the gelato I had in Italy. They say you should have it twice a day - while I didn't live up to that, I did manage to have a lot of it.

My favorite gelato in any store, in any town? Nicciola - hazelnut. Best recreated by Ciao Bella's Nicciola sorbet. So. Freakin'. Good.

Even when it's 38 degrees outside.
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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Icons of cool

Magnet #652 - Ocean's 11

Another magnet from my favorite Union Square magnet guys. Love those guys!

The original!recipe!Rat Pack was the epitome of cool. And never so cool as they were in their dapper suits and skinny ties in original!recipe!Ocean's 11.

I won't lie, though - in a fight, I think my George would win against Frank. Well, maybe until Old Blue Eyes starts singin' and snappin' his fingers, anyway.

Yeah, I know, enough fangurling over George Clooney. And original!recipe!Frank, too. I can't help it, though. Haven't ya'll heard? I'm a sucker for charming cuteboys.

Plus, this morning, I'm headed to see Up in the Air, where my boyfriend plays a professional employment terminator who spends half his life up in the air, and the other half running away.

Personally, I can't wait, cuz I love my George in a suit. But also, because the hype so far is that it's his finest role yet.

Aren't they all?
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Friday, December 4, 2009

For the glories of humankind

Magnet #651 - Basilica di Santa Croce, Firenze

I bought a couple of Santa Croce magnets, this one I bought before ever having seen it, because it's supercute, plus I'd read about the church and it sounded amazing. The other magnet I bought, I'll use later with probably more info than you ever need to know.

For now, just know that Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) is a medieval church down the way from the Duomo in Florence, supposedly founded by St. Francis. Seriously. Old. Like 1294 old. And that building was built to replace a structure that was there before it!

The church is going through a lot of reconstruction now, so the peace inside is disturbed with the sounds of careful hammering and funny elevators. But the din doesn't stop you from reveling in the Giotto frescoes, the Donatello reliefs, and the many, many funerary monuments.

It's like the Westminster of Florence - with monuments to the glories of Italian mankind, they say. Folks like Marconi, the man who invented the radio and Dante, the famous poet; and Rossini, the composer of the William Tell overture, and Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli, one of the founders of modern political science.

But most people go to see the graves of the most recognizable names ever, Galileo and Michelangelo. Folks. Galileo! Michelangelo! Buried! There! It's crazy.

Glories of mankind, indeed. Standing in the presence of greatness, is what that is.

And, speaking of standing in the presence of greatness, the other reason I'm using this magnet for today, is because we found out some sad news three times over, of family friends who had passed away while we were in Italy. One was the mother of my friend's friend. The other two were close family friends of ours. Indeed, this morning, I got confirmation that it was actually my godmother who passed away last week.

Very sad, especially since I just wrote of her husband (my godfather) passing away a few months ago. My godparents were one of the few couples who prove the existence of happily ever after for me. Nanay Marian was truly a grand lady, with a deep faith in God, a deep love for her husband and everyone around her, and, it has to be said, the best donut recipe known to man.

But, Tatay Toting was her lobster, and so, I know with utmost conviction that wherever Nanay Marian is, she's very happy to be back with him.
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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sometimes you're the mouse...

Magnet #650 - Cheese

...and sometimes, you're the cheese.

Today, I think I'm the latter. Not that I'm not usually cheesy in some way, shape or form every day, I suppose.

Heh. First days back after vacation are the hardest. That's actually why I came in to work this afternoon, so that my first real day back in the office tomorrow wouldn't suck as hard.

Did it work? I guess we'll see tomorrow.

I did come in to this supercute magnet on my desk from a colleague today, so that's a start. Yay, thanks!
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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What's bugging joy

Magnet #649 - John Derian Bug 17

So, I've always hated the Duty-Free shops in airports.

Part of it is because they're positioned after you've already checked bags, so whatever you buy is in addition to the checked luggage, your carry-on and the rest of your crap. It's just more crap to weigh you down.

Also, because they're the ultimate of impulse purchases - forgot to buy someone something? Duty free. Want something from the country you're about to leave? Duty free. Need to get rid of currency because you can't change back coins? Duty free. See something that you suddenly just need to have, even though you walked by a million little shops with the same crap for half the price for the previous week? Duty free. Want something supercute for someone and the packaging is just the prettiest thing you've ever saw and even if you know you really don't need it, you want it, now for yourself? Duty free.

But mostly, I hate duty free because it's a total scam. Totally bought two bottles of Vernaccia (made in San Gimignano) in Florence's DFS, flew into Zurich, where they confiscated it, and promptly blamed the US rules.

Then, the very sweet, but highly annoying Swiss TSA guy was like, would you like your receipt for it? And I'm like, what for? Is Italy going to give me my Euros back? Bah. He must have to explain to every dumb American that passes through the checkpoints why they can't bring the liquid in.

But to be honest, I'm more mad at the Italian duty-free for letting me buy it, or for not mentioning the rules when they require a passport/boarding pass for purchases.

Sigh. This probably adds me to some list somewhere, but grrrr, hate DFS.
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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Capitale d'arte del mondo

Magnet #648 - Botticelli's Birth of Venus

I've heard that Florence is the art capital of the world. This would not be a lie.

Today we did both the Galleria degli Uffizi and the Galleria dell'Accademia - seeing the masterworks of guys like Giotto, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Canaletto, Dürer, Caravaggio, and of course, Botticelli.

Here's the thing. I've been to a few museums around the world - it's what I do. But, today's visit to both museums pretty much blew me away. And I'm not an Italian artchick to save my life. But, it's one thing to see art from the later half of the 20th century in NY, Paris or London, but to see Medieval and Renaissance works of art in the country of its birth is another. They don't call these things masterpieces for nothing!

And, the Botticelli on this magnet, the rising of Venus from the sea surrounded by the Zephyrs and the Horai, was painted supposedly for Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici around 1482. Dudes, that's a whole decade before Columbus decided to sail the ocean blue!

But, while the works of art were amazing, the palace itself was fantastic. It was built in the mid-1500s, originally designed by Giorgio Vasari for Cosimo de' Medici, who's hanging out in front of Palazzo Vecchio on his horse. It's original use was to house administrative offices (hence the name, Uffizi). The design is pretty fantastic, with two long, long fresco'd corridors, forming a rectangle, with interior mazes of rooms that will knock your socks off, with one impressive collection of artists' work after another.

My favorite part, was seeing when the works of art became part of the Uffizi collection. Like the paintings that joined the collection around 1793. They've been hanging out on the walls since 1793! That's about 20 years after the American Revolution! And the paintings were old back then!

It's supercool, though, to think of the people who passed those same halls looking at the same paintings we saw, and writing home to tell about it. I love that you can see the old plaques beside the paintings, and even some of the exhibit numbers on their frames - clearly remnants of museum designs past. So cool.

Ok, Florence. You got me. After a crappy first day, you managed to make it up to me today. And I haven't talked about seeing Michelangelo's David up close and personal, or the to-die-for profiteroles I had at Rivoire, the first chocolatier in Florence!

Mille grazie, Firenze.
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Monday, November 30, 2009

November rain

Magnet #647 - Firenze

Ok. So now we're back in business, posting on the day of. What? Ya'll think I'm insane, but seriously, they say after doing something 14 times it becomes a habit. Try doing something after 640 days!

Anyway, Save the World Sister and BIL (now I need a STW couple name for them) brought this back for me when they first visited here a few years ago, and now I'm actually here for myself.

Today was our first full day in Florence, the city of flowers. And rain. Like monsoon rain. Like pouring gatti and cani rain.

A thoroughly trying and stressful day - it's hard to try and shepherd nine other adults. But, that's ok, we got through it, seeing only Il Duomo, the Baptistry, the Duomo museum, and the inside of a Chinese restaurant, two different McDonald's, and a really great Florentine restaurant with really great food. Well, except for dessert - I'm not a fan of panacotta, so the chocolates from the chocolate festival we found in Padua will have to do.

Oh, like you're really surprised we stumbled upon a whole street paved with chocolate.
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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Oh, when the Saints

Magnet #646 - Saint Anthony of Padua

Ah. I'm finally back on real time for these magnets. Whew.

I promise when I have time and more than 12% left on my Mac battery, I'll do a better version of this magnet.

But, I just had to quickly mention...

Since my dad found out that we were coming to Italy for this wedding, he's been after us about a pilgrimage to Padua. My sisters and I had no idea why, but we soon found out.

Apparently, my paternal grandmother used to pray to Saint Anthony for help getting my dad to straighten out and fly right. Heh. There's something funny about my straight-laced dad being a hooligan. But, it meant a lot for him to come visit the church this morning, so we were happy to go.

We sat through Mass, and walked around the absolutely amazing church. Where Saint Anthony is actually entombed. I know! We Catholics get pretty serious about our saints, and our relics. So file in line to touch the left foot of the tomb, and say a prayer. And then we had to go visit the relics. Ya'll, they had his vocal chords and his tongue, and his teeth all up on high altars behind the sanctuary.

Freaked DC sister out. I don't blame her, it's kinda scary to see that stuff just sitting out where everyone can see it.

As for me, I touched a Saint today. And my hand itched. I really dunno what that means. But it's kinda cool.

Isn't it?
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Sigh of something, alright

Magnet #645 - Venice - Bridge of Sighs

Yesterday, while Save the World Couple went off to their Malta honeymoon, the 8 of us remaining went off to Padua, with a quick trip over to Venice.

I've been to Venice once - on my AMA band trip. Where a starry-eyed boy and I spent a few hours wandering the sidewalks and bridges of town and having pizza, so my memories of Venice, are really more of the boy than the town.

Yesterday, I got to make new ones, which were terrific. Though we lost daylight on our vaporetto (water taxi) ride over to Piazza San Marco, we were able to see the beautiful architecture and churches along the way. I was pretty happy - and of course want to watch Italian Job, David Tennant's Casanova and the third Indiana Jones movie.

At least till I saw this treatment of the Bridge of Sighs. I wanted to cry. I'm an adgirl, so I know the wonders of selling valuable adspace for too much money - but seriously, it's almost a desecration. Oh, I totally get they were probably renovating the palace and the prison on either side, but give me a break, the bridge was built in 1602. How is it that 400 years later, it's turned into that? How freakin' sad is that image?

Ah, Venice. I'm heaving a sad, sad, sad sigh for you.
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Let's do this!

Magnet #644 - San Gimignano, Italy

Friday was the Save the World Wedding. It was pretty fabulous, even with all the stress that led up to it.

The groom seemed pretty darn relaxed for marrying into my crazy family.

And the bride was all gussied up - seriously, if you've ever seen her climb a wall like a spider monkey, you'd have been surprised to hear the words "bump it" and "where's my tiara" come out of her mouth. But, she turned out beautiful, far surpassing the best wedding quote of the day, "Lookit me! I look like a girl!"

The ceremony was pretty awesome - held at a church with frescoes from the 1200s. Like old ones that were long hidden under layer upon layer of age and updating. Seriously old, folks. Like the center aisle were final resting places of people I had to step over. Twice. Yikes.

But, the best part of the day, I think, was when it was over and they realized they were done, and the bride threw on her chacos and walked her way through the streets of medieval San Gimignano in her wedding dress - groom and photographer in tow. Fantastic memories of them walking hand in hand, surrounded by the old towers of San Gim, with not a care in the world.

Tip to all bridesmaids in destination weddings held in Italy. Buy a dress size larger, and you can eat allllll the Italian courses you want! Hahahaha.
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He's her penguin!

Magnets #643a & 643b - Penguins

Another one of my Magnerines collection. What? I love these guys. Of course, I really just line them up on my cube shelf at work, rather than use them as real magnets.

Anyway, I heard somewhere that penguins - like the lobsters - mate for life. No, I haven't seen March of the Penguins, but I could swear I've heard it.

So, the whole reason of this Italian holiday, was for us to be here in Italy for the Save the World wedding - wherein my youngest sister married Save the World BIL (brother-in-law). Our family and his traveled here, and stayed in Tuscan villa. Yes. Exactly like you see in the movies, only minus the French baguettes and peasant shirts and skirts, and the hot guys wearing jeans and white T-shirts, with a cig hanging out of his mouth.

Actually it was a beautiful villa - about 20 minutes from San Gimignano, where the ceremony was. But, it was a nice to see the two of them sort of huddled together like penguins against the world, a little united front, trying to shield each other from the onslaught of family togetherness.

Eh, if they can weather pulling off the Italian dream wedding, I think they're pretty much set for life.

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One way, or another

Magnet #642 - London Underground

Well, nuts. I was hoping to keep my daily blogging streak going, but I've been thwarted at every turn during this Italian holiday. Who knew you wouldn't be able to get hotel wi-fi in a Tuscan villa outside of San Gimingano, or just outside the city walls of Padua?

Even now, I'm sitting in a dimly lit "bar," at the end of the registration desk corridor, in a somewhat sketchy (though let's use the word rustic) hotel in Florence, listening to our cute and overworked (well, just since our party got here) concierge snap the wet towels and hang them out to dry on the lines out back. But, hey, I've got wi-fi, and all of our charges are safe and sound in their rustic bedrooms down the hall.

But, what a French farce of a time we had getting here. It's why I'm choosing the London Underground for this first catch-up magnet. London and NYC are two of the easiest to navigate train systems in the world. The Italian train system? Noooooot so much.

Today as we were leaving Padua, we had two of our party - my sister and my friend - get on a train to Geneva. Uhhhh, yeah, we weren't going to Geneva. They didn't even know they'd boarded the wrong train until I texted my friend.

Uhhhh, yeah. This is what happens when you split up big groups.

After loads of parental worries (once the adults realized I wasn't joking about the girls) and reversal of trains (once they realized where they were headed) and more train tickets boughten (once we realized the girls had my train ticket), and yes, loads of laughter (once we were all where we needed to be) and we finally all arrived back in Florence. Whew.

Expensive Eurostar 1st class tickets bought out of desperation? Worth it.

Also. Eurostar - would it kill you to space out the schedule, and perhaps announce trains better, and perhaps order your coaches consistently, so that people with luggage can get to the right place on the platform? Oiy.
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