Has anyone else in this city experienced the thrills and joys of the Nintendo Power Pad?
Europeans may recall its sister product, the colorful, interactive Family Fun Fitness mat, which, like the Power Pad, was wired with (then) cutting-edge movement sensors. Both devices provided competitive, humorous exercise outlets for the whole fam. Born in the late 80’s, these wonderful gadgets were, to my knowledge, the first and only of their kind.
“Power Pad Day” used be the highlight of my week—my friends and I would gather in front of the basement TV, ceremonially unroll the sleek, smooth electronic mat and stomp our ways to virtual Track and Field victories. Indeed, it was the classic Nintendo Entertainment System that provided us with our favorite form of indoor fun. We would scheme for hours on end: how to master the triple jump? The hurdle relay? Can we “trick” the system by sneakily stepping off of the Pad, thus extending our Long Jumps to superhuman distances? Oh, the possibilities…
After its seven year tenure, the Power Pad was (circa ’95) sadly discontinued (in conjunction with its game system counterpart). But I, of course, proudly looked after our NES and beloved PP through my late teens; for, though my brother and I were privy to the graphic wonders of N64, nothing compared to a bit of old-fashioned, World Class Track Meet fun. continue reading
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Yesterday, I decided to take on St. George’s Day in full force. My approach: to immerse myself in the day’s festivities and absorb as much English tradition as possible, all the while remaining in tourist “stealth mode”—i.e. no white sneakers, no camera flashes, and only soft-spoken enquiries, so as to draw minimal attention to the good old American accent.
What better place to go, I thought, than to London’s South Bank, home of lively street performances, history, art, culture and oodles of bustling pubs/cafes?
I started off at what I presumed would be a central hub of activity—a sacred edifice dedicated to the man of the day: St. George’s Cathedral in Southwark.
George, was I wrong! The cathedral was virtually empty when I arrived 15 minutes prior to the “special” guided tour. Where were all of the church-goers? The pride-filled locals? The curious tourists? continue reading
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Following my guide to eccentric past times in the UK, I have outlined some of the most intriguing traditions and festivals to experience this year in España.
As I noted before, there is still time to make 2008 a year of cultural adventure! So take a chance, and discover some of Europe’s most bewildering and unconventional pastimes.
A guide to some of Spain’s most unique celebrations.
1. La Diada de Sant Jordi (Lovers’ Day).
What: Like Valentine’s Day, except boys get books (?)
Where: Barcelona, Spain.
When: 23 April 2008.
Get ready for a little spring sunshine…and lots of Latin love!
This April, hopeless romantics will unite in the streets of Barcelona to honor Saint George, who, like our man Valentine, inspires thousands of young lovers to make their passions public via reciprocal gift giving. Stroll down Las Ramblas, and immerse yourself in the amorous buzz as you delight in street performances, quirky architecture, and, of course, the colorful merchandise of nearly every florist and book seller in Catalonia! Join in on the tradition: gentleman, woo your novias with roses, and ladies, make your men blush with some heartfelt selections of prose. continue reading
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Hidden away in the most seemingly ordinary of countryside villages and isolated of coastal towns are some of Britain’s best kept secrets—unique cultural traditions that can be witnessed nowhere else in the world.
My advice for the whimsical and curious traveller in search of new sights: it’s time to think beyond location. Seek to experience. The most fascinating things can happen in the most unexpected of places, many of which are easily accessible, affordable and perhaps even a short car or boat trip away.
Think eccentric; think outlandish. Make 2008 a year of cultural adventure, and discover some of Europe’s most bewildering and unconventional pastimes…
A guide to some of the UK’s greatest cultural secrets. continue reading
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I will never forget my first day in Oxford, which was arguably one of the best days that I had during my year amidst the dreaming spires.
I was fresh off the plane from the USA—wide eyed, eager and ready to rock.
Except I didn’t know anyone… or how to get anywhere…
All I knew was that I had just entered the most majestic, fairytale land of a town imaginable: I was ready to experience everything.
As I wandered aimlessly around the enchanting grounds of Magdalen College, hoping to locate the graduate common room, I spotted a friendly-looking young man and approached him in hopes of directions. I was in luck: he happened to be on his way to the “MCR” (graduate or Middle Common Room) at that very moment – said I should certainly come along and check it out. Great! I introduced myself, asked him for his name. He told me. Again, please? I must have misheard. continue reading
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The presidential candidate’s multicultural roots are all the rage. What could this fiery, young senator do for America’s international image? Does it matter that he was born in Hawaii, has roots in Africa, snapped some snazzy school photos in Indonesia, may or may not have absorbed some fragments of Muslim teachings between the age of 6-8 in Jakarta, and probably has a 7th cousin, twice removed from, I don’t know, northwest Mongolia?
I’m not going to get (too) political. This is a travel website! But, oh man, would it be an adventure to trace the life and times of the world’s most scrutinized political figurehead.
From Kenya to Kansas, it’s time to embark on the international, multicultural, hip, happening Globama Tour.
Surprise! You thought I would start with Kenya, but did you know that Obama’s great, great, great, great grandfather may have been an Irish shoemaker? (I know: stop traffic). Indeed, once upon a time, long, long ago, at a rural crossroads between Dublin and Limerick, Mr. Fulmuth Kearney awoke to the ways of the New World and abandoned his father’s trade for the land of the free. continue reading
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I have barely recovered from the overwhelming sea of red Hallmark that was Valentines Day. I haven’t even thought about which Irish pub I will be visiting on March 17th, but nonetheless, this morning, I was jolted into the future by the ultimate Americanization of Easter Cheer: an advertisement for a McDonald’s Cadbury Creme Egg McFlurry. ‘The hunt is over’, it read.
If the hunt is really over, then I’d better forget my planned spring beach trip and go get fat on some ice cream blended with chocolate, sugary Easter goodness.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am just as fond of chocolate eggs as the next girl with a sweet tooth. In fact, I kind of love them. But not for a third of the year, and especially not the third that falls before prime swimsuit weather. The consuming public does not need to be chased with bunnies and creative milkshakes just days after stowing away their Christmas wreaths.
And what is all of this sneaky rhetoric? Is the ‘hunt’ really over? The hunt for what? Fast food chains? Cadbury Eggs? Happiness?
As joyful as I feel after the occasional Happy Meal, I would rather make my personal quest for Easter Cheer a bit more mysterious and exciting. How fun is a holiday hunt if you can spot the glowing yellow prize from 3 blocks away…every 3 blocks? Not so much.
So today I have decided to embark on a global Hunt for Easter Cheer. Do join in! There are over 31,000 McDonald’s franchises worldwide. The least we can do is find a dozen or so interesting places to spend our Easter and/or summer holidays. Here’s what I’ve found so far: continue reading
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I know, I know—you want your Mexican rendezvous to involve the least amount of planning possible. It’s Spring Break, for crying out loud, and as long as there’s booze, sun, sand and some like minded crazy kids, you’re fine. The only thing you need to “plan” is what kind of plastic container you are going to hide your coconut rum in when packing your suitcase. Trust me, I’ve been there.
But before you hop on the plane in a few weeks (or, if you’re kicking it old school, jump in a van), I want you to do two things:
- Remember your passport or photo ID (the real one!), whichever you need for your chosen route of debauchery. And don’t lose it.
Put it in one of those dorky Samsonite pouches or something. Trust me, the overworked people at the airport/border do not care how much you’ve spent on your ticket/hotel, or who your dad is. They don’t. Forget/lose your ID, and you are screwed.
- Take 30 minutes to actually think about what is going on in and around the place you are visiting, and book a few things to do.
By this I mean: there are going to be plenty of opportunities to get drunk and sunburned. There are going to be thousands of people running around you all day long doing just this. At first it will all seem fantastic (and it is). But by the third or fourth day of non-stop drinking up with the Joneses, you will crash. There are plenty of cool and exciting day excursions that you can do to switch things up a bit. Many are cheap and take only a few minutes to sign up for.
You may be thinking, “oh, I’ll just figure it out when I get there…they will be selling tours to see the Mayan ruins left and right.” Yes, they will, and no, you won’t. After 72 hours of spending all of your saved up dough on daiquiris, forgotten toiletries, and expensive burgers, the last thing you will want to do is fork over a wad of cash for an overpriced tour to a perky sales agent. It will be even harder to talk a friend into doing it with you. So take a few minutes, and plan. continue reading
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The post-Oscar buzz has likely reached your office desk over the past few days. You have probably overheard the break room chatter. Who showed up with whom? Did George Clooney match his world peace accolades with a shiny gold trophy? Will Amy Adams outdo her 2005 Caroline Herrera getup with an ‘Enchanted’ fairytale gown? Oh, and who won the award for Best Sound Mixing? Right.
Whether you are willing to admit it to your co-workers or not, you do hold a place in your heart for Hollywood glamour. Many of you are still recovering from the all-nighter you pulled in order to catch a live feed of the 80th Annual Academy Awards. Some of you have since wasted hours of valuable work/Facebook time ogling red carpet wire images and fashionista ratings. Let’s face it, a noteworthy portion of your Google searches are dedicated to pop culture happenings (after all, how did you end up here?) .
More significantly, you may even dream of one day journeying to the motherland of fame and fortune—strolling down Rodeo Drive, embarking on a behind-the-scenes tour, and, if you’re lucky, spotting a celebrity or two in person.
It is here that I provide some new inspiration for adventure-seeking film buffs. Why not replace your celeb-stalking hour with a bit of online travel planning? A rapidly increasing number of Hollywood films are being made in beautiful and exotic destinations across North America and around the world. With some research and careful budgeting, you could turn your next trip abroad into a personalized, unique ‘Hollywood’ tour—without having to brave the Los Angeles freeway in a cheap rental car. I can get you started now with a few suggestions:
Some new frontiers for film lovers…
The American South: Berendt’s Mysteries Unveiled
If the U.S. is your vacation playground, you may want to forgo the usual big city jaunt for bit of southern charm. Savannah, Georgia is arguably the friendliest and most picturesque city in the country; over sixty motion pictures have been filmed amidst its captivating tree lined streets and majestic antebellum mansions. Take a guided bus tour and search for sites from Forrest Gump, Cape Fear and, most famously, John Berendt’s novel-turned-blockbuster film: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Trace the murder mystery plot (based on true occurrences) by visiting the Mercer House, former home of the legendary Jim Williams, and catch a performance by the real “Lady Chablis” at Club One. If you’re lucky, you may encounter other book and movie characters—old acquaintances of Berendt’s—who still reside in Savannah today. continue reading
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My lucky number has always been 4.
To me this seems completely logical and natural. Perhaps you can relate: you may have, like me, dedicated a significant portion of your childhood dirt digging to four-leaf clover hunting. You would probably still get excited if you found one of these bad boys (I actually never have… I am pretty sure that my dad fabricated one for me next to the sandbox after one of my pouty tirades… i.e. “Daaah-deeeee, I’m never gonna be lucky!”…not kidding).
Many people are drawn to 7. Not quite sure why? I’m sure there’s a historical reason for this? A mystic once told me that we live our lives in cycles of 7 years, after which we experience a “rebirth” of sorts. Hence the hormonal awkwardness of 14 and the sloppy drunkenness of 21. Can’t wait for the maternal yearnings of 28, the “holy crap, I’m old” of 35, and the mid life crisis of 42. Maybe the “luckiness” begins after 7 of these so-called cycles, with an early retirement to the Canary Islands at 49.
For whatever reason, people remain dedicated to their lucky digits. Some prefer the number 9. The more rebellious folk will sometimes go for the universally unlucky 13.
I, however, remain dedicated to 4. After all, it was just over 24 years ago, on the 14th day of November, that I first flailed and kicked my 4 stubby appendages into my mother’s arms to become the 4th member of a loving domestic unit of 4 (our family name also begins with the 4th letter of the alphabet, if you want to get super technical). I use this glorious digit in all guessing games, gambling ventures, and online usernames. Four has been good to me. continue reading
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