Sunday, February 13, 2011

Shopping the New York Outlets

Woodbury Commons, WikiMedia
In a car packed with teenagers, my cousin wove in and out of FDR traffic on our way to Century 21.  When the weather is glum, my husband and I take refuge at the Jersey Gardens Outlets.  It's human nature to love a good sale, human nature to want the best price.

But when it comes to outlet shopping, the queen of designer deals remains my sister.  She has mastered the art of kamakaze-shopping.  Dress in layers.  Map out a course of attack.  Scout the line.  Do a lap before commiting.  Take no prisoners and never settle for second quality.  This article's for her, the humid back-to-school days at Woodbury Commons, and the insane deals in and around New York City:  Shopping Holidays at New York City's Premium Outlets

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Metropolitan Museum as a Job

Metropolitan Museum.
Photo Melissa Ruttanai
People go to museums to meander, to walk halls and view exhibits at their leisure.  And visitors can enjoy the slow pace that most museums emit.  At the Metropolitan Museum, I spent two days researching a podcast travel guide app for Visual Tourist Travel Tours.

After twenty minutes, I knew that I couldn't just wander like I usually did--from sculpture to sculpture and room to room.  With 5000 years and 2.5 million objects housed in the museum, I was supposed to represent it all in 75 pictures and a slim 3500 words.  How?  How, in all fairness?

Metropolitan Museum.  Indian Dancer.
Photo Melissa Ruttanai

The Met has two floors and a labyrinth of corridors, wings, and interlocking chambers.  The American Wing abuts European Sculptures.  Ancient Greek and Roman Art swings right into Africa Oceania.  Ancient Egypt splits at the Tomb of Perneb and crisscrosses at Horemhab.  And while it all makes sense to the visitor's eye, for me it was a calamity.

Director Phillipe de Montebello said that he had immense difficulty choosing the highlights of the museum for his 470-page guide to the Met's masterpieces.  He wrote about the arduous process of choosing three Vermeers while omitting 2 others.  He had to think more than twice when looking at 30 Monets, knowing he should only include four.  Then there's Arms & Armor, Musical Instruments, and five millenia of Asian art history.

Metropolitan Museum. Dante's Inferno.
Photo Melissa Ruttanai
I've been to the Met several times.  I thought I knew its exhibits and treasures.  Not so.  This trip was the first that I made it through the majority of the halls, spending the most time lost in 19th Century Paintings.  The rooms flow one into the other with a Van Gogh here, two Rembrandts there, and a smattering of Manets throughout.  I'm sure I passed the same guard three times before I asked him how I could find Renoir's Madame Geroges Charpentier and Her Children.  Without thinking twice, he pointed the way, giving precise directions.

Most people would think I was all set.  But now the task was to follow those directions without getting lost again, without passing the same guard watching me with masked amazement as I walked around in circles.

I pressed on, taking notes and angling my shots.  Compiling the pieces for my tour, I stuck close to Montebello's guide.  Home now, my shins still ache from the countless loops I made past the security guard.  But the biggest challenge awaits.  Now that I am about to finalize the images and manuscript for a guide to the Met, I wish I could include more.  I wish I could tell a more fair and complete story.  I feel but a fraction of what Montebello must have felt.  So, sorry.  I tried my best.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cold Weather Reminiscence of Warm Long Island Wineries

Tasting Room, Bedell Cellars, Long Island Winery

It's been too long.  In this cold weather, I wish it were springtime on a Long Island vineyard: the sun on my face, the perfume of flowers surrounding me, and an uncorked bottle of Chardonnay to share.

I suppose this article is homage to those memories:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Latest in Harry Potter News

Harry Potter Theme Park,
Melissa Ruttanai

I lived it.  I loved it.  I want more.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a simple must see.  I was there in November 2010 with my family and I felt steeped in the magic.

I particularly liked how they didn't serve soda and had lots of fruit and veggie snacks!

Much like a Renaissance Fair, the workers help to cast the magical world, dressing in wizarding threads and using faux-UK accents.  I love Olivander's but Hogwarts Castle was just flat out overwhelming.  Inside, holograms of Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Dumbledore speak to the the crowd as well as a fire breathing dragon and sinister Salizar Slytherin portrait.

Read on: