Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ungrateful in Florence: Mark Twain as Good Company Abroad

The month of pre-flight stress, the hours of plane and train travel, the jet-lagged and cold early mornings have all conspired to make me feel grumpy, achy and not receptive to an unfamiliar city. Fortunately yesterday, one of the missus' professional lunch companions recommended another who was felt the same after his trip as well.

"How the fatigues and annoyances of travel fill one with bitter prejudices
sometimes! I might enter Florence under happier auspices a month hence
and find it all beautiful, all attractive. But I do not care to think of
it now, at all, nor of its roomy shops filled to the ceiling with snowy
marble and alabaster copies of all the celebrated sculptures in Europe--
copies so enchanting to the eye that I wonder how they can really be
shaped like the dingy petrified nightmares they are the portraits of."

Mark Twain literate cynicism about travel might be the perfect antidote to my current fatigue. I hope last night's rest, more of Mr. Clemens' wit and a good breakfast will get me on a happier path.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Italian Job: Blogging About The Big Trip

Florence, Italy.

T-minus 4 days and counting.

With a long month behind us and the promise of a great trip ahead, I'm counting the days until we are on a plane to Italy.  Like most trips, I have been scouring the internet for photos, stories and places to visit.  And in a unique twist, this research got me an invitation to guest-blog for ArtTrav.

"Arttrav is an art, travel, and Italian lifestyle magazine. My goal is to freely provide you not only with quality travel information about Italy, but also with a vicarious experience for the internet-based traveler."

Which is perfect, since it has been a vicarious and internet-only experience so far with an actual visit coming soon. 

My first post, Traveling Strange: A Collector of Eccentric Attractions Comes to Florence was published earlier today.  I'm hoping for at least one more pre-trip post with a few while in the city. 

So, once again, the internet has thrown more unexpected opportunities my way, and I've been happy to capitalize on them as best I can.  Oh, internet, you and I were made for each other.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Florence, Italy: An Author's Impressions

Research regarding our latest trip unearthed the following:

In the late 1920's (best guess) author Aldous Huxley described Florence, Italy as "a third-rate provincial town, colonized by English sodomites and middle-aged Lesbians."

Never read that in the tourist guides.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The New Art in Houston: Temporary and Permanent

Last week was one of art installation.

That's not me up on the genie lift, I was part of the ground crew. The artist is Aurora Robson, the piece is called "Lift", it looks gorgeous, and you can find it here.

Local arts blogger Robert Boyd found some pre-installation pix from NYC blog C-Monster.

Also, helped with installing some of the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft's Iron: Forged, Tempered show. I'll spare the adjectives, just go see it. Plan on enjoying the metal works, be pleasantly surprised by the other great exhibitions.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Car? = New Possiblities, Texan Style

We've been a one car family for over a decade now. My last car was 1975 Olds Delta 88 convertible. 18 feet long, one working brake, a leaky canvas top that invited New Orleans rainstorms in, and damaged front struts that left a mechanic so shaken he told me to store the car as close to his shop as possible since I couldn't afford the needed repairs.

I still miss that car.

Time passes, people get married, they fool around, give the grandparents a grandaughter to love. Obligations and a kid make the idea of another car sound nice. Recently, my pop made an offer of possibly giving us his used car. A big ass old-people Buick. It has no sexy in it what so ever. Something would be done, and I was daydreaming/searching on my iPhone on how to buy steer horns to mount on the front of this yet-unowned car. At dinner, I tell my wife these thoughts, that maybe the car would have horns on the outside, and a indians and cowboys diorama on the inside dash, illustrating Texas history in little scenes.

She says to me, if we have that car you should probably make an art car. And you should put a recreation of Caddilac Ranch in the rear window deck. Holy Great Ideas! I just got the green light for an art car. No discussion, just you should do it!

Where's my sketchbook?... In the meantime Bumsteer seems to be the place for my cow-using car alterations.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

So Public, So Misspelled: Fine Dining in North Texas

We just had to pull over, it had to be seen up close to believe. After the photo was taken, we snarked for miles about the sign and the general state of education in Texas.