Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas in Sydney - A Reflection!

It's different for me to spend time in Australia or any other country in the southern hemisphere during the Christmas season. Frankly, it's a tad bit odd to walk around during the onset of summer with all of the spark and energy that is characteristic of that warm season and know Christmas is knocking at my door back in the U.S. Somehow, the warm and tropical weather makes me feel like something other than Christmas is going on .... Yeah, I know I'm merely a product of my environment. I'm frequently reminded by friends and family members that Jesus, the religious epicenter of this holiday, was born in Bethlehem, and it seldom snows in that part of the world. That usually brings up the whole St. Nick story and the commercial discussion..... you know the rest of that story.

Never less, having spent most of my life living in cool to colder climates, I suppose I just grew to equate Christmas with snow and colder temperatures. The whole Los Angeles thing hasn't really resonated with me either. It's a bit warm here in the winter time. But at least it cools down at night and we get the occasional rain during the season making it a bit more wintry. (Can I admit that seeing all of the photos at Dickster's and Bowie Mike's blogs has made me a bit homesick?)

I'm sure I've been a victim of all of the commercialization as well. Years of television and media influences have convinced me that -

Christmas = Icicles, snow, and cold!

Not so in Sydney, Australia.
Christmas = shorts, tank tops, sandals, and swimming pools. It's the beginning of summer.

A Christmas tree in Darling Harbor. The center of social activity and a great place to stroll and people watch.

It was 75 degrees F.

But if it's Christmas, there's shopping to be done. And one of the big destinations for shoppers in Sydney is Paddy's Markets.

Lots of retail items for sale by a variety of vendors.

So many T-shirts for sale. I couldn't force myself to buy one. I need another T-shirt like I need another bear market. I'm guessing none of my friends or family members are longing for a shirt that says Sydney either. But I could be wrong.

Another shopping destination is the Queen Victoria Building. AKA, the QVB. The QVB is a late nineteenth century building designed by the architect George McRae and constructed in the central business district of Sydney, Australia.

A photo of the southern side of the QVB which opens to Bicentennial Plaza facing Sydney Town Hall.

The inside of the QVB.
In addition to retail shops, there are eateries and coffee shops.

Note the summer attire.

So the bottom line is this: Many people live in the Southern Hemisphere or in warm and tropical climates. For those that celebrate Christmas, it's quite normal for it to be nice and warm during the Holiday season.

But for me, I'll keep dreaming of a White Christmas and hoping for snow!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas - 2009

Here's Wishing you Joy, Peace, and Happiness!

Merry Christmas!

Here's a clip from the movie Elf starring Will Ferrell, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, and

Zoey Deschanel.

If you're looking for a silly and fun movie to watch during this Holiday season, take a break and watch Elf. I think you'll find it entertaining.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas at the Grove

Ten years ago, in 1999, the real estate firm Caruso Affiliated broke ground on a great undertaking. Their goal was to create a 575,000 sq ft. retail and entertainment center directly in the heart of Los Angeles. In 2002, their dream was realized when The Grove opened it's doors.
Featuring an animated water fountain and a trolley in addition to great restaurants and shopping venues, The Grove has become a popular destination for just about everyone. I seem to stop by every other month or so to eat, catch a movie, or just unwind. The Grove's many restaurants include Maggiano's Little Italy, Wood Ranch BBQ and Grill, Morels French Steakhouse, The Whisper Lounge, The Farm of Beverly Hills, La Piazza and The Cheesecake Factory...... just to name a few.

In 2003, I went to the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony which featured Kenny G, BeBe Winans, Kirk Whalum, Norman Brown and Joe Lawrence. The show also featured live snow and culminated with Santa arriving in his sleigh. It was a nice touch and a great opportunity to share the Holiday spirit!

Since then, I try to pop by at least once during the Christmas Season. Here are a few shots from my visit this year:

Lots of lights and lots of people. It was an enjoyable night!
Continue to enjoy the Season where ever you are!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Time is Here! Prep and Landing!

A Charlie Brown Christmas on Blue Ray.... Isn't that exactly what you want in your stocking?

Don't get me started on the whole Blu Ray thing... but I am a big fan of " A Charlie Brown Christmas." I usually try to catch it every Christmas season.

It's special in it's own way.

I've been slowly catching up on my Christmas specials, including Charlie Brown, and tonight, I watched a new Christmas special - Prep & Landing.

Prep & Landing is a 30 minute animated story based on an idea by Chris Williams at Walt Disney Animation Studios and developed by Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton. It first aired December 8, 2009 on ABC. I missed it then but I recorded it and just got around to watching it tonight. It was cute. It's about an elite unit of elves, Prep and Landing, who ensure that homes around the world are properly prepared to be visited by Santa. You can catch it again Thursday December 24, 2009 on ABC.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Creative Minds strike again! Elin Woods goes a clubbin'

When a picture is worth 1000 words.

Or several hundred million dollars in endorsements!

Okay, some of you got it right away. Yet, some of you really had to think about it and look at the photo over and over before it made sense. You probably asked yourself: Why is that lady chasing that mascot with a sand wedge? "Oh, wait a second! I get it!" Then the laugh......

So is that what you'll say the next time you see a Gillette Ad, or Nike commercial without Tiger Woods in it? - "Now I Get It" - Will you stop drinking Gatorade because Tiger endorsed it and now he seems to be out of public favor? What about you Buick drivers? Will you turn your car in for a different make?

I find this whole Tiger Woods event fascinating. Frankly, it's kinda been background noise in my life for the past few weeks. I've been so preoccupied (once again) with the trivial happenings in my life that I haven't really thought much about it. Sure, I've had the occasional laugh and joke, but today, I actually took a minute or two and reflected on his situation. I know it was over a minute because I looked down at my watch and noticed the second hand sweeping along the black background through at least two rotations. Don't be alarmed, I don't plan to delve deeply into the psychological or social implications of the event but I'll briefly share my thoughts with you.

I'm not sure I've ever purchased or used a product just because Tiger Woods endorsed it per se. Partial exception - I think Nike makes some cool stuff, and I'll concede that Tiger has helped to perpetuate and universalize the brand. I won't discount his effect on the branding of Nike and my subsequent purchase of Nike products. You can bet that I'll keep wearing and buying Nike stuff as long as it looks good and plays well. I am certain, however, that I've never relied on Tiger Woods to calibrate my moral compass. My successes and failures, like most people, have been independent of Tiger. I've viewed him as a Guy who takes no prisoners on the golf course. He's passionate about the game of golf and he's great at it. He wins and he does it in an exciting and convincing fashion. He takes a pretty boring spectator sport and infuses it with excitement. It was a bonus that he seemed to be socially conscious and a good role model. It's tragic that Tiger and Elin will now have to deal with issues of trust in order for their relationship to survive. Elin will have to believe that Tiger will no longer be unfaithful, and Tiger will have to believe that Elin won't club him to death while he's sleeping. Both difficult issues to overcome.

All this aside and at the end of the day, If Tiger comes back and kicks butt on the golf course, people will watch him and pull for him. Sure, he'll lose a couple of fans here and there because of his infidelity. But sports fans care about winning! People will look elsewhere for moral guidance and role models. Tiger has fallen off of that pedestal and will be viewed primarily as a sports figure. Should he get his head together and win some big tournaments again, the endorsements will follow!

As for me, I'm keeping my Tag Heuer Watch. Not because Tiger endorsed it or wears one. But because it's a great watch and it looks good!

That's just the way it is!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Free Christmas music Downloads! -Free Holiday Music Sampler!

That's right, you heard it here! Free Christmas Music Downloads. In fact, it's an entire sampler album.

In keeping with the spirit of the season, and hoping to perpetuate the belief that it is "Better To Give Than to Receive," I'm hoping to give everyone an early Holiday present!

Read below:

In keeping with the season’s theme of spreading goodwill and holiday cheer, Apple is offering an ITunes album packed with 20 Yuletide tunes performed by various artists, all for free!

The iTunes Holiday Sampler includes renditions of such holiday classics as We Wish You a Merry Christmas, performed by Weezer, and The First Noel, sung by David Archuleta, as well as original Christmas songs by comedian Stephen Colbert and Glasgow band Glasvegas. The album also comes with iTunes LP, so you can check out lyrics, view photos and read more about the artists associated with the album. Here’s the complete roster of tracks in the sampler:

1.O Come All Ye Faithful by Amy Grant
2.The First Noel by David Archuleta
3.Silent Night by Sarah McLachlan
4.Carol of the Bells / Jingle Bells by Barry Manilow
5.It Snowed by Meaghan Smith
6.Above the Northern Lights by Mannheim Steamroller7.Baby, It’s Cold Outside by Lady Antebellum
8.We Three Kings by Toby Keith
9.God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Rascal Flatts
10.Silent Night by Wynonna
11.Twelve Days of Christmas by Mexicani Marimba Band
12.We Wish You a Merry Christmas by Weezer
13.A Snowflake Fell (And It Felt Like a Kiss) by Glasvegas
14.Another Christmas Song by Stephen Colbert
15.Greensleeves by Vince Guaraldi Trio
16.Dream a Dream by Charlotte Church
17.The Nutcracker, Op 71, Act 2: Character Dances (Divertissement) by Kirov Orchestra & Valery Gergiev
18.Angels We Have Heard on High by Aretha Franklin
19.O Holy Night by Musiq Soulchild
20.Auld Lang Syne by The Lonesome Travelers

You can download the free album here Itunes free Holiday Sampler:

Note that this offer is valid until December 17, 2009 and is available from the US ITunes Store only.

You will need to have Itunes installed on your computer with an active Itunes account to enjoy the album.

Good Luck....

And pass this link on. Keep in mind the expiration date.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Creative Ads - Beer Goggles!

This one is short and cute!

Beer goggles" is a slang term for a phenomenon in which consumption of alcohol lowers sexual inhibitions to the point that very little or no discretion is used when approaching or choosing sexual partners.

Boys will be boys!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tiger Woods Photo! Ooouch!

See it here first. Tiger Woods in post-accident photos!

Okay, that was a cheap shot.... Someone clearly got creative with photoshop software and manipulated a photo of Tiger and his wife Elin. I received this in an email. (I'm not mentioning any names) It just goes to show you that people love you when you're winning and on top, but as soon as you stumble - they kick you a few times and pull out their photoshop software and make fun of you.

Once again..... Life isn't fair!