Monday, January 31, 2011

Nintendo 3DS Launch In NYC: Best. Week. Ever.

Thanks to the wonderful people at Nintendo and BrandAboutTown, I was able to attend the launch party for the Nintendo 3DS in New York City. To say it was a wonderful trip is an understatement – let's just say when Nintendo launches something, they don't mess around. I'm still reeling from all of the excitement, the food and of course the blistering NYC cold. Did you know that it snows in New York? Also they pay no attention whatsoever to 'Don't Walk' signs which was both frightening and exhilarating.

But on to my trip!

We stayed in the fabulous Empire Hotel, which made my teenage daughters insanely happy, since it's the hotel from their favorite show, Gossip Girl. (I decided to turn the trip into a family vacation, and brought my family along. You can read about that adventure here.)

There we were, in an iconic hotel across from Lincoln Center in New York City, and what's the first thing they did when we got into the hotel room? Set up my laptop and pop in a DVD of X-Files that they had brought with them. I love my little fangirls.

On our first night, all of the Nintendo Ambassadors had an elegant dinner at the swanky Asiate on the top of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. I want to stop right here and declare that it was there that I had THE MOST AMAZING PIECE OF MEAT IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE. It was called Wagyu Beef, and is apparently a type of Kobe Beef. Seriously, I couldn't stop thinking about that steak. I could go on about it's juiciness and it's fine marbling but I don't want to scare you.

This is the view of Columbus Circle from Asiate. Also, a cranberry sphere, which I'll explain later in mind-numbing detail. Sadly, I didn't get a picture of the Wagyu because I was in a coma while I was eating it.

The next day we went to the Nintendo World Store, which was like being in video game heaven. Nintendo generously gave us some spending money, and we scooped up some t-shirts and DS games. I bought Just Dance 2 for myself so I could bust out some Ke$ha moves in the privacy of my own living room. That's my daughter, hugging her shopping bag – it really was like the mothership calling her home.

Also, the store had a Nintendo 'museum,' where they laid out the history of the game. (I was surprised to learn that the company started from a playing card company.) I love these old consoles – I'm sad to say that I'm so old that I remember owning one of these. Along with a bow and arrow and something called a 'pager.'

And, as if they hadn't spoiled us enough, they took us all to a salon, fed us food and champagne, and got our hair did and our makeup done for the big launch event that night. Someone must have tipped the Nintendo people off to the fact that my party prep was going to consist of just running a comb through my hair and putting on some ChapStick.

Finally it was on to the party, and it didn't disappoint. A beautiful space, plenty of pleasing beverages and lots of killer food being passed around on trays. I got really good at hunting them down and grabbing my fill – it gave me an idea for a new 3DS game, where your character goes on a dangerous hunt for beef skewers and tiny gourmet polenta pizzas.

That's Samantha Ronson DJ'ing!

And of course we got to try out the fabled Nintendo 3DS! (I'm going write about the actual device and the games in a later post.)

Each game had their own cleverly themed area with their own game experts standing by – here are the spaces for Nintendogs+Cats and Steel Diver. I tried out every one of them, although I was better at some than others. I discovered if you don't know a thing about football, Madden NFL Football is probably not for you. However, I kicked several asses playing Super Street Fighter in spite of the fact that the only physical altercation I've ever had was a shoving match with Andrew Sherman in second grade.

That's my trip in a nutshell, although I want to leave you with this totally unrelated photo of an elevator that we found in a jazz club near our hotel. I love New York. Thanks, Nintendo for taking me there!

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

So Civilized: Tea By The Sea at Getty Villa

Around the holidays I was invited to experience the new Tea By The Sea at the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades. I'm more of a coffee drinker, but I love going to tea – it's one of the few times I feel like my life takes on an air of civility. Plus, 'going to coffee' just doesn't have the same ring to it, and I never feel all that civilized when I'm knocking back coffee from a paper cup while sitting next to some stranger who's watching cat videos on his laptop.

Tea By The Sea is a new offering by the museum – a Mediterranean tea that's inspired by the herbs, vegetables, and fruits that are grown in the Getty Villa's gardens. (It was explained to us that they don't actually use the ingredients grown in the garden, since the gardens are public and there are issues with pesticides and other handling concerns.) The tea takes place in the Founder's Room, an upstairs space featuring floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Villa. (It's a few flights up, so I suggest you take the elevator. Then again, I get winded just stepping up into my van so what do I know.)

Along with our tea we were served a selection of sandwiches (my favorite was the prosciutto and brie with fig jam) a delicious variety of scones and breads and a nice selection of wines. See how civilized that all sounds? Plus it was laid out on this beautiful table – so fancy! I just wish someone had told me that big glass wasn't there to hold my iPhone.

I should also mention that we were served a mouth-watering variety of desserts – some beautiful tartlets and a dessert that I hear the Getty kitchen is famous for, Mrs. Garrett's Carrot Cake. It was sublime, but unfortunately no one else there was old enough to get the Facts Of Life references I kept throwing out. Damn - where's that stranger with the laptop when you need him?

Tea By The Sea takes place every Thursday at 1pm. At first I thought the timing was odd and a little inconvenient, but now I see the brilliance in it: No weekend crowds, and perfect for those of us who could use a little mid-week escape. Not that I'd admit to being so indulgent that I was going to tea in the Palisades on a work day – I'd probably just say I was going to a business lunch. With J Paul Getty.

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Tea By The Sea
When: Every Thursday at 1:00 p.m.
Location: Getty Villa, Founder's Room
Admission: $36 per person (Wine and prosecco are available for a small additional charge.) See website for sample menus and to purchase tickets.

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Friday, January 7, 2011

The Nest Case Can Make You A Brilliant Conversationalist

A couple of weeks ago I was having lunch with a friend and her 4-year-old son and she was desperately trying to keep him occupied while we tried to have a conversation. For some reason he wasn't feeling our discussion about belly flab and mood swings. So finally my friend whipped out her iPhone and cued up a couple of videos for him to watch. It's a dangerous idea to hand an expensive electronic device to anyone who's using ketchup as finger paint, so it was a good thing I had my Nest case handy to prop up her phone. What's a Nest case? Here check it out:

(Contrary to what you may think, that picture on the right is not just a clever ploy to get you to watch this video again.)

It's a sturdy case for your iPhone that has grooves that enable you to use the case as a stand. Slip the bottom portion of the case off, slide your iPhone out and set it in either the vertical or horizontal position. Great for using it to stand up your phone vertically when you're using it as a clock, or horizontally to watch a video. Or maybe you use it when you need your alarm clock to wake you up to watch a video. The possibilities are mind boggling. At least for someone as feeble minded as me.

Besides the sturdiness and the dual functionality of the case, I love the design - sleek, clean and simple. It's the first iPhone case I've had that still looks good after a couple of months of use and seems durable enough to withstand my constant handling - not to mention a run-in with a 4-year-old, a bottle of ketchup and sixty solid minutes of Yo Gabba Gabba.

So in conclusion, the Nest case will not only protect your phone and stand it up, but will enable you to have more insightful, meaningful, uninterrupted conversations. If you don't believe me meet me for lunch with your 2-year-old and I'll tell you all about my hangnail.

The Nest case is currently available for iPhone 3G, 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPod Touch.

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Small legal print to satisfy legal people: I received two Nest cases for the purpose of this review. I gave one to my husband for his birthday and he loves it. He may or may not know that I got it for free but I guess I'll tell him now.

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