Things That Are Awesome, Vol. 88

The weekly(ish) roundup of internet awesomeness:

  1. A little bit of Mitten state pride: 27 Reasons the Great Lakes Are Actually the Greatest.
  2. I try not to get too political on here, and I’m honestly not sure what my opinion of the implications of these statistics is, but this is interesting to ponder: Here Is Every Foreign Country That Gets More Federal Aid Than Detroit.
  3. I know I’ve mentioned my love for RBG before, but it continues with this article. Sample quote: “I don’t water-ski anymore,” Justice Ginsburg said. “I haven’t gone horseback riding in four years. I haven’t ruled that out entirely. But water-skiing, those days are over.”
  4. Neat: Uncanny Aerial and Fashion Photography Mashups.
  5. A scary number of these apply to me: 22 Signs You’re Still Addicted to Friends.
  6. This Delia Ephron article has been making the rounds lately and, as it turns out, I love it too: You Can’t Have It All, but You Can Have Cake.
  7. A good article for tennis enthusiasts: Why Do Tennis Players Say “Come On” So Much? (and, I agree that this started with Lleyton Hewitt. How is that even a question??)
  8. Overwhelming and fascinating: Real Time Emoji Use on Twitter.
  9. Pretty sure I need to forward this article to all my uncles, aunts, and grandparents before the next family gathering: 26, Unmarried, and Childless. Money line: “So please, my dear friends, don’t ask me what’s next. Ask me what’s now.”
  10. Even after the awfulness that was season three, I’m still excited for season four of Downton Abbey. I don’t know how to quit you, Downton.

My Day at Wimbledon

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I’ve been working on retro-blogging my past travels, but haven’t made it all the way back to my 2006 trip to London yet. However, today Wimbledon begins, and I thought it would be appropriate to do a post about my own Wimbledon experience several years back.

I don’t write about tennis often because, of the regular readers I have, I strongly suspect that about .05% of you care about tennis in the crazy way I do. Which is to say, none of you care. Nonetheless, it’s my favorite sport, and it also happens to be the only sport I follow (outside of obsessively watching the Olympics every two years). One of my life goals is to attend all four Majors, and while you would think it would be easiest for a girl from the US to start with the US Open, I’ve never made it to that one. But when I studied in London for a summer, I knew the one thing I absolutely had to do was get to Wimbledon. And get there I did.

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This might sound strange, but visiting Wimbledon was honestly one of the coolest days of my life. I started super early, standing in line and “queueing” with the masses to get a grounds pass. I think I arrived around 7am, and there were still hundreds of people in line in front of me! It’s intense – people camp out overnight in tents. Once I got into the grounds, it was amazing. I saw a few matches on the show courts, including ones played by Justine Henin and David Nalbandian, among others. For the uninitiated, those are two pretty awesome players, and that’s one of the cool things about getting a grounds pass in the first week of a Slam – you see all kinds of good match-ups on the outer courts for a super low price. This might sound silly, but I was most stunned by how fast the players were hitting the ball. It blew me away to see up close; those guys are powerful.

I partook in the traditional Wimbledon treat, strawberries and cream, which, to be honest, isn’t that great (it’s the cream…ughhh). But it felt like a requirement, so eat my strawberries and cream I did.

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I also spent a fair amount of time wandering around the grounds. The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club is impeccable, as you would expect. Classily dressed people, beautifully manicured flower beds, the works. One of the things I love about Wimbledon is that it has such a rich history and tradition, and you can really feel that when you’re strolling around the grounds.

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And in the afternoon, I sat on Henman Hill with the British fans and watched Andy Murray’s match. That was one of my favorite parts of the day; I’ve seen them cut to Henman Hill so many times while watching on TV that it was surreal to be there myself. Plus, it’s just fun to be out amongst the rowdy crowd – everyone gets really into the match.

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So, yeah, all in all, one of the better experiences I’ve ever had. I know that the next time I find myself in London in the summertime, I will go again. And even if you can’t visit Wimbledon in person this fortnight, make sure to watch, because the matches are always compelling. And also, vamos Rafa.

Things That Are Awesome, Vol. 16

(photo from here)

Your weekly dose of awesome:

  1. I feel like I say this every time I post one of these lists, but this video is my new favorite, ever. Zooey Deschanel + Joseph Gordon Levitt = adorable overload. And Joseph Gordon Levitt’s voice is so good! Who knew?
  2. I know this happened a few weeks back, but Jimmy Fallon hosting SNL = one of the best things to happen in awhile. Also, the Jimmy Fallon/Tina Fey/Seth Meyers/Amy Poehler joke-off is pure brilliance. These guys should be together in everything, always.
  3. I’m pretty sure Ryan Gosling is overexposed at this point (and no, I’m not talking about all those shirtless scenes in Crazy Stupid Love, ba dum bum), but I still love this. Also, I get all the jokes, which makes me feel like a silly law school nerd. Also, he’s tasty. (That last sentence was unnecessary, I know.)
  4. Wisconsin has been pulling some shenanigans lately, but we all know that Michigan is the only mitten state.
  5. A speculative list of Jay-Z’s 99 problems. Too good.
  6. SNL’s Taran Killam recreates Robyn’s Call Your Girlfriend. I love this song, and I give him major props for basically having the video memorized. And for doing it in a super-confined space. And for wearing a fluffy cropped shirt.
  7. Zeitgeist 2011: Year in Review. This video is so well-done (and I love the song – Sooner or Later, by Mat Kearney).
  8. The trailer for the Dark Knight Rises looks intense and awesome.
  9. Tennis players as children. Too cute. I think baby Andre is the most fun. And one more tennis thing – If you don’t watch tennis, then this is probably not very funny. But if you do watch it (perhaps obsessively), then it’s downright hilarious.
  10. A seal crying. Awwwwww. Is this not the most heartbreaking thing you’ve ever seen?

And in case you missed it: the Awesome Archives

Travel Notes: Prague

In May and June of 2011, I spent 5 weeks traveling around Europe. This post is one of a series chronicling the different places I visited on that trip.

From Vienna, we headed onto Prague. My opinion of the city is that there isn’t much to do there, but it’s a lovely place to be – seriously, so many things looked like a postcard to me. Very lovely.

After settling in at our hostel and grabbing lunch, we started in Old Town Square, which was where the loveliness really began. Even though it was crowded (of course) with tourists, I found the square really charming – and so colorful.

The major tourist attraction on the square seemed to be the clock tower. Just before the top of the hour, we saw hordes of people gathering in front of it. Naturally, we joined the mob to see what was up. We waited (and waited), and the hour finally arrived. Little figurines came popping out and the whole clock was in motion, but…it really wasn’t that impressive. Ah, well, onto the the next thing.

We walked a few blocks to the Charles Bridge. While this was – again – a tourist-filled locale, it’s still a Prague must-see, in my opinion. There’s a lot of activity and energy on the bridge, plus great views of the river and the pretty buildings lining it.

Also on the Charles Bridge is a statue that you can rub, and then whatever wish you are thinking of will come true. I can’t tell you what my wish was (duh), but I made one nonetheless. Here’s Janelle taking a turn:

After hanging out on the bridge for awhile, we stumbled upon a matryoshka shop selling all kinds of cool matryoshkas. But when I found this one, I knew I had to have it, no question. If you know me, you know this is pretty much my idea of the perfect souvenir. My only question is, why didn’t poor Novak Djokovic get included??

After shopping, we had some time to kill, which we naturally chose to fill with…cocktails. We found a restaurant advertising “alcohol buckets” for pretty cheap prices. We started with a bucket of orange juice + vodka (not my first choice, but the cheapest option), and then finished with a pitcher of sangria. Needless to say, I was loving Prague by that point.

That night, we met up with our dad for dinner. Coincidentally, he had a business trip in Germany while we were in Europe, so he stayed an extra weekend and met up with us in Prague. One, this was cool because we got to hang out with our dad in Prague. Two, this was cool because it meant we didn’t have to pay for our meals.

The next day, Dad, Janelle, and I headed up to Prague Castle, which is situated on a hill above the city. Prague Castle is probably the major tourist attraction in Prague, but I have to say I was pretty underwhelmed by it. The coolest thing about it was that it offered fantastic views of the city.

The other neat thing about the castle was the Cathedral (St. Vitus’s) on its grounds. It had a beautiful interior – and I especially loved all the stained glass.

We walked from the castle back down into the city, stopping here and there for some more gorgeous views. Like I said before, Prague is pretty!

For lunch, we ate at Klub Architektu. We had a really good meal, but the coolest thing was the setting – it’s in an underground, cave-like space. It was very dark and atmospheric. I wish I would’ve taken a picture of the restaurant itself, but I did take a picture of the beer. So, you know, priorities.

My sister, tired of visiting museums/churches/castles, insisted that we do an “outdoor” activity, so after lunch, we rented a paddleboat and cruised down the Vlatava River. It was fun, except that it sprinkled throughout our mini-cruise. Also, I was sitting in back, and my dad and sister decided it would be hilarious to situate the boat so that they were under the bridge, but I was left out in the rain. Awesome!

Despite the rain, I think we all enjoyed the afternoon. We also got some more typically lovely views of the city from the river:

Next, we took the tram (or trammy, as we affectionately called it) to Wenceslas Square, which is in the “New Town” part of Prague.

Wenceslas Square was pretty neat – full of activity and more beautiful buildings. But my favorite part of it was a rather silly thing – the Marks + Spencer store. When I visited London in 2006, I discovered Marks + Spencer All Butter Chocolate Chunk cookies. Luckily for me, I discovered them in Heathrow Airport as I was leaving London, otherwise I probably would have indulged in one too many over the summer. In any case, when I saw the Marks + Spencer in Prague, I knew we had to go in, and I knew I had to buy some. I was not disappointed.

For dinner, we went to Aldente Trattoria. The food was very good, and I ordered a Sicilian white wine, for old time’s sake. My favorite part was that our waiter came out with a giant inkpad and stamped the dessert menu on our placemats – I love little touches like that.

And with that, our adventures in Praha wound to a close. We had planned to stay for one more full day, Sunday, but we found out that there was likely to be a transportation strike on Monday that would shut down all trains for awhile. Worried we might not be able to make it to Berlin if we waited to take our train on Monday as planned, we decided to head out on Sunday. I think we saw everything we wanted to in Prague, and we ended up loving Berlin, so it was absolutely a solid choice. Ah, European transportation strikes. Gotta love ‘em.

Things That Are Awesome, Vol. 3

(image via the New Yorker)

This week’s compendium of awesome finds:

  1. A trailer for the new Muppets movie, spoofing the trailer for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. So much love for this.
  2. This tennis cartoon from the New Yorker. My heart belongs to Rafa, but I suppose I can throw Roger some love too.
  3. Another tennis thing: I had forgotten about this moment from last year’s US Open. Rafa continues to be a shining beacon of awesomeness.
  4. Oh, and one more tennis-related item (yes, I am obsessed). Rafa’s new Armani campaign pictures: uno and dos. Whoa my god.
  5. No Thai!’s Chicken Pad Thai. I love Pad Thai, and this is one of the best I’ve ever had. And, p.s., I didn’t put that exclamation point in there to be precious; that’s really the name of the restaurant.
  6. The trailer for The Swell Season looks really excellent. I also don’t want to believe they broke up in real life because that would be too sad.
  7. I thought the Emmys were pretty “meh,” but Jane Lynch nailed it with this joke: “A lot of people are very curious why I’m a lesbian … Ladies and gentleman, the cast of Entourage.” Hilarious.
  8. This picture amuses me to no end. Awkward city.
  9. The Oatmeal always make me laugh. This one is my most recent favorite because people (literally) abuse that word all the time. And, yes, that includes me sometimes, when I don’t catch myself. Also, the end of the comic is brilliant. Gayroller!
  10. Haiku Case Briefs. Three weeks into law school and I’m already becoming highly susceptible to legal humor. I especially enjoyed this one as I read the case this week.

Looking for more awesome things? Try these: Vol. 1, Vol. 2

Things That Are Awesome: Vol. 2

This week’s roundup of things that I deem really, really awesome:

  1. Laduree opened a branch in New York. Yeah, yeah, it won’t have the same ambiance as Paris. But if it has salted caramel macarons, it will be fantastic.
  2. Entertainment Weekly’s Project Runway recaps are amazing and make me laugh every single week. Also, I think the show is really good this season. Not necessarily the talent of the designers, but the quality of the drama. And let’s be honest – isn’t that almost (if not more) important?
  3. This photoshoot of Alexa Chung in Harper’s Bazaar Australia. I always love her style (and yes, I know, in this particular instance, someone styled it for her). Fabulous.
  4. An old article, but new to me: The 10 Greatest Books of all Time. Interesting list, but I was more intrigued by the article itself – some of the choices from famous authors are off-the-wall. From the alleged top 10 list, I’ve read five (Hamlet, Anna Karenina, Lolita, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby). I’ve got some reading to do, I guess. You know, in the unlikely event that I ever get tired of reading long and confusing cases for class…
  5. This video of Michigan Women of the 1930s is adorable. “Take us to Mosher-Jordan!”
  6. I just discovered the 21 Questions column in New York Magazine, and this one with Padma Lakshmi is delightful. Once I started looking through the archives, I got sucked into a time-wasting vortex and found a bunch of others I liked. I think these ones are great too: Anne Brashares, Kristin Chenoweth, John Gallagher Jr., Michael Urie, and Mark Indelicato.
  7. This article: Life is a Game of Doubles. So true. I love tennis.
  8. Two things related to the anniversary of 9/11. First, this Spike Lee commercial was not only sweet, but also made me cry. And second, from 10 years ago, Jon Stewart’s first show after 9/11. It speaks for itself, but this part is incredible: “Any fool can blow something up. Any fool can destroy. But to see these guys, these firefighters, these policemen and people from all over the country, literally, with buckets rebuilding. That’s extraordinary. That’s why we’ve already won. It’s light. It’s democracy. We’ve already won. They can’t shut that down.”
  9. I love Matchbook Magazine. Their slogan alone is awesome: “Field Guide to a Charmed Life.” Plus, nearly everything they feature is an item I wish I had or wish I was stylish enough to have.
  10. Tom Haverfoods. This is the best website ever. The end.

And in case you missed it: Vol. 1

US Open Drinking Game

I am a huge tennis fan. One of the saddest things I experienced upon entering the “real world” was that, when you work a 9 to 5 job, you can’t stay home during the day and watch early round coverage of the majors on ESPN. But, now that I’ve left the real world and returned to academia (and classes haven’t started yet), I can suddenly watch lots of tennis again.

The thing about this, though, is that if you watch for awhile, you notice that the same things happen again and again. Players have the same rituals, announcers make the same comments, and familiar controversies rear their heads repeatedly.

One way I’m pretty sure this would seem a little less tedious is to play a US Open drinking game. Although, if you took a drink when each of the following things happened, you’d probably be wasted in less than a set. But I guarantee, you’d have a lot of fun.

A few caveats: I don’t get the Tennis Channel, so this exclusively refers to ESPN/network television coverage. Also, I really like everyone on ESPN’s team, and I look at most of these things as lovable quirks. Really.

Nonetheless, take a drink when:

  1. A commentator mentions that Wozniacki is dating Rory McIlroy. Take a second drink if he or she questions whether Wozniacki’s new romance is distracting her/contributing to her recent decline.
  2. You see someone famous in Roger Federer’s box! (Anna Wintour, Gavin Rossdale, etc)
  3. A commentator wonders if Roger will ever win another major.
  4. A commentator ponders over the declining state of American tennis.
  5. A commentator puzzles over the chaos of the women’s game.
  6. The Williams sisters don’t even pretend to care about the pre-match interview.
  7. A commentator laments the shrieking epidemic in women’s tennis. Something must be done!
  8. The cameras cut to Roger’s box and Mirka is shown texting/looking utterly bored.
  9. A commentator mentions that Djokovic is on a gluten free diet. Who knew?!
  10. A commentator mentions that Fish lost 30 pounds (oh, and hey, did you know he’s the new American number one?)
  11. Brad Gilbert mispronounces a word or makes up a word entirely of his own creation.
  12. Andy Murray adopts a surly or defeatist attitude.
  13. The commentators note that Williams sisters have many interests beyond tennis.
  14. John McEnroe jokingly says “you cannot be serious.”
  15. Anyone on the ESPN team refers to their colleagues by their nickname: P Mac, Cliffy, BG, Killer, Pammy, etc.
  16. Brad Gilbert refers to any player by his or her nickname: Dr. Ivo, Shazza, the Djoker, etc.
  17. In the event of a rain delay, they show the 1991 Connors/Krickstein match or the 2001 Sampras/Agassi match in which no one broke serve.
  18. In the event of a rain delay, the commentators question the lack of a roof/wonder when the US open will get one.
  19. Rafa adjusts his underwear.
  20. A commentator says that a player needs to “dig deep.”
  21. A commentator mentions that Maria Sharapova’s serve is shaky. Take a second drink if that commentator is Pam Shriver and she refers to it as having “the yips.”
  22. Andy Roddick makes a sarcastic comment to the chair umpire.
  23. Pam Shriver conducts an awkward whisper-interview with a courtside celebrity.
  24. The Djokovic family wears an article of clothing with Novak’s face on it.