tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:/posts Marisa's Clips 2014-04-16T15:54:28Z tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/678184 2014-04-16T15:54:27Z 2014-04-16T15:54:28Z The Daily Traveler: Amazing Observation Decks

Observation Decks with Amazing Birds-Eye Views

These incredible viewing platforms located atop soaring skyscrapers offer 360-degree views over cities like Paris, New York, and Shanghai.

The View from the Shard
London
Opened in February 2013, the main observation gallery at this Renzo Piano-designed skyscraper is 800 feet high—the tallest in Western Europe—which is enough to see 40 miles around the city on a clear day. (And, if it's really foggy, you'll be able to return for free). Can't tell what you're looking at? High-tech digital telescopes come with touch screens that'll give you information about 200 London attractions below. When you're finished, you can ascend even higher to the 72nd floor, which is open and exposed to the elements so you can hear the din of the city below.

Click through to see the full slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo: The View from The Shard 2014




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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/675140 2014-04-09T14:03:37Z 2014-04-09T14:03:37Z The Daily Traveler: Glass-Floor Attractions

Glass-Bottomed Attractions: 11 Spectacular Views at Terrifying Heights

Embrace the vertigo—the view from these skywalks, glass bridges, and see-through observation decks are worth it. Check out the slideshow for dizzying images of the Alps, the Grand Canyon, New Zealand, and more.

Step Into the Void
Chamonix, France
Okay, you may not be stepping into the void, per se, but this outing does require an extra bit of courage. Visitors enter a glass cube the size of a phone booth that extends off the edge of Aiguille du Midi in the French Alps. The elevation: a staggering 12,605 feet. From there, you can see Mount Blanc and other alpine peaks, the mountain climbers trying to summit—and a 3,300-foot drop immediately below. 

Click through to see the rest of the slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo © Robert Pratta/Reuters/Corbis
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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/675134 2014-04-09T13:35:59Z 2014-04-09T13:36:10Z I'm the Expert: Ask Me About Bridal Showers

Actually, you don't have to—The Daily Meal already did! They asked me for an idea for a bridal-shower theme. From the photo, can you guess what my answer was? You can read the article here (I'm the third slide).

Inspirational Bridal Shower Theme


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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/665492 2014-03-19T16:31:37Z 2014-03-19T16:31:37Z The Daily Traveler: The World's Most Beautiful Cemeteries

Cemeteries So Beautiful, You Wouldn't Mind Spending Eternity in Them


CIMITIRUL VESEL
Săpânţa, Romania

When you put the words "death" and "Romania" together, it usually conjures up images of dark, gothic, Dracula-inspired scenery. But Săpânţa's Cimitirul Vesel—or the "Merry Cemetery" in English—is actually anything but gloomy. The sky-blue graves here are marked with hand-carved, intricately-painted crosses, then adorned with an image of the person below and a poem about his or her life.

But there's no hagiography here: the poems seek to represent the true life of the deceased, and drinking problems, infidelity, and other less-than-flattering traits are fair game for Dumitru Pop, the crosses' creator.

Tour: The Merry Cemetery is often a stop on larger tours of Romania; visit romaniatourism.com for more information.

Click through to see the full slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler. 

Photo: Funky Food London/Paul Williams/Alamy 
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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/665003 2014-03-18T15:30:28Z 2014-03-18T15:30:28Z The Daily Traveler: Amazing Observatories Around the World Perfect for Stargazing

Amazing Observatories Around the World Perfect for Stargazing

If Cosmos has piqued your interest in the stars, then you need to add one of these incredible observatories to your bucket list. Perched upon mountaintops and even volcanoes, these high-tech towers are perfect for studying the heavens from behind a telescope.

Paranal Observatory
Antofagasta, Chile
Chile has become a hotspot for the science, and there are at least a dozen observatories—at various levels of tourist-friendliness—working within the country's borders. Operated by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), Paranal is open to weekend visitors, who come to see the simply named Very Large Telescope (VLT). The VLT is actually comprised of four smaller telescopes—named Antu, Kueyen, Melipal, Yepun, meaning Sun, Moon, Southern Cross, and Venus in the indigenous Mapuche language—which can be used in tandem to create an interferometer that allows astronomers to see details up to 25 times finer than they could with individual telescopes.
Visit: Free, guided tours are offered on Saturdays at 10 am and 2 pm. There is no charge, but reservations are required.

Click through to see the full slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo: Gabriel Brammer/dpa/Corbis




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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/664496 2014-03-17T00:35:08Z 2014-03-17T00:35:09Z The Daily Traveler: Inactive Volcanoes You Can Visit

Inactive Volcanoes You Can Visit

Enjoy the drama of nature's violent geological history—without the fear of molten lava—by visiting one of these extinct, inactive, or dormant volcanoes. Plus, they're all just stunning.

MOUNT EDEN
Auckland
Mount Eden, also known as Maungawhau, is the tallest of Auckland's 50-plus volcanic peaks. From the 643-foot-high summit, you can get a 360-degree panorama of the city and harbor. You can also see a now grassy, well-preserved crater, along with the ruins of a Maori settlement. Locals use this as a fitness trail, so suit up and join them for a jog to the top. Others say that the best views are had at night, with the illuminated city below.

Click through to see the full slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler. 

Photo: Doug Pearson/Jai/Corbis 
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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/662384 2014-03-10T19:52:38Z 2014-04-09T13:36:39Z I'm the Expert: The Daily Meal Gift Guide

The Daily Meal Gift Guide

Quoth the editors of The Daily Meal: "To help you tackle your epic Christmas list this year, we sought the help of some of the top editors and planners in the entertaining world who know a thing or two about choosing the best gifts." Hey, that's me! Yes, this happened way back in 2013, but I'm just circling back to it now. I was approached to give my best gift suggestion for seven different types of recipients: the hostthe beer/wine drinker, the coffee/tea drinkerthe cook, the bakerthe wannabe food critic, and the traveler. Luckily, none of my picks are too tied to the holiday season—feel free to use them for birthdays, hostess gifts, and gifts you just give to yourself. 

Pictured: Fred & Friends Ninja Bread Men cookie cutters, available at Amazon.com.





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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/661607 2014-03-07T14:05:16Z 2014-03-07T14:06:23Z The Daily Traveler: What to Do After the Whitney Biennial

Whitney Biennial: What do in NYC Before And After the Big Art Show

The Whitney Museum of American Art may be leaving the Upper East Side for new downtown digs, but that doesn't mean that you have to follow. Before or after you're done browsing the museum’s Biennial exhibition—held for the last time at its current uptown location—visit these neighborhood spots for shopping, food, live music and, of course, more art.

...SEE MORE ART

The Leo Castelli Gallery
If you didn't get your fill at the Whitney, head over to this gallery, which was founded in the '50s by an art dealer who was one of the first to catch on to the likes of Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns. The gallery still exhibits art titans of that era, and it's currently hosting an exhibition of works by Robert Morris, including two of his iconic felt sculptures. 
18 E 77th St (212) 249-4470; castelligallery.com.

...SHOP AROUND

Fivestory
You can find a little of everything at Fivestory: some women's fashion, some men's fashion, and some housewares—all of it from high-end, hard-to-find lines—displayed in an UES brownstone that's made to look like a scaled-down luxury department store. If you see something you like (and can afford), better snap it up, as the store prides itself on carrying items that, if not one-of-a-kind, are stocked in very limited quantities. 
18 E 69th St (212) 288-1338; fivestoryny.com.

...GRAB SOME DINNER

Hospoda
The word "hospoda" means "pub" in Czech—and that pretty much tells you all you need to know about this restaurant. The cuisine here is "beer-inspired"—think beef tartare served on a pretzel bun, or crescent duck with red cabbage, potato, and quince—and the menu offers beer-pairing suggestions for each dish from a list of more than a dozen different brews. If your thirst for suds still isn't quenched, order the draft tasting. It comes with mugs of Pilsner Urquell served four ways, from "neat," which has no head, to "sweet," which is all foam. 
321 East 73rd St (212) 861-1038; hospodanyc.com.

...GO FOR A COCKTAIL

Bar Pléiades
You can't get a table at Café Boulud without a reservation, but you can visit Daniel Boulud's swanky bar next door for a drink or two. The mixologist here offers a far-ranging menu of cocktails, from the seasonally inspired Shiver Me Timbers (JM Gold Rhum, Ramazzotti, pine liqueur, tiki bitters, maple syrup candied walnut, and foraged pine) to the timeless Scofflaw (Cocchi Americano, rye, lemon, grenadine, as found in The Savoy Cocktail Book from 1930). Just make sure you hit the ATM before you go, as cocktails here cost between $16 and $22.
20 E 76th St (212) 772-2600; barpleiades.com.

...LISTEN TO MUSIC

Café Carlyle
Reserve a table at The Carlyle hotel's Café Carlyle for a supper-club experience, where you can knock back a martini, eat dinner, and be treated to a cabaret performance. (Fellas, jackets are recommended.) Woody Allen and his New Orleans Jazz Band have a standing engagement here on Monday nights, and Shirley Jones, John Pizzarelli, and Alexa Ray Joel all have upcoming gigs that fill out the rest of the week. If you want to skip the "supper" part and concentrate on the drinks and music, there's The Carlyle's Bemelmans Bar, named after the famed Madeline creator, which also hosts live music.35 E 76th St (212) 744-1600; rosewoodhotels.com.

...TAKE A STROLL

Central Park
For walking, biking, people watching, or any of New York City's other free pleasures, the Whitney is just a quick stroll away from Central Park. Enter at 60th St to see the newly installed cloud sculptures by Swiss artist Olaf Breuning, then head north to see sculptures dedicated to Hans Christian Andersen and Alice in Wonderland and take a lap around the picturesque Conservatory Water pond.
60th St and Fifth Ave (212) 310-6600; centralparknyc.org.

Click through to read the story on the Condé Nast Traveler's website.

Image: Olaf Breuning, Clouds, 2013, COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND METRO PICTURES
Photo: Liz Ligon, Courtesy Public Art Fund, NY


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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/655753 2014-02-18T20:08:19Z 2014-02-18T20:08:47Z A.V. Club Newswire: Drink coffee like a True Detective with your own Big Hug Mug

If you're looking for a way to drink coffee like Rust Cohle on True Detective, my item in the A.V. Club's newswire will show you how to get a vintage FTD Big Hug Mug.

Click through to see the full story at the A.V. Club.

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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/653217 2014-02-11T14:04:48Z 2014-02-11T14:04:48Z The Daily Traveler: Where Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Royals Vacation

Where World Leaders Vacation

You might be going on vacation this Presidents' Day weekend, but not the kinds of vacations that President Obama, Prince Charles, and other world leaders take. These are the favorite vacation spots of presidents, prime ministers, royals, and other heads-of-state.

President Barack Obama
Martha's Vineyard

The first family has made repeated trips to Martha's Vineyard throughout Barack Obama's presidency. When on the island, they used to stay at the 28-acre Blue Heron Farm in Chilmark, until the property was sold to architect Norman Foster in 2011. Last summer, they downgraded to a smaller house—but with a pool and views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Click through to see the full slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/650582 2014-02-05T15:22:30Z 2014-02-05T17:32:18Z Time Out New York: Winter Activities in the New York Area

What a perfect day to post this...

Outdoor Adventures in New York

Tackle the snow with an inner tube, cross-country skis or an ice ax (yes, really) on these intrepid outdoor adventures this winter

Snow tubing

Hunter Mountain

2½ hours by car or bus

This downhill sport has all the screaming momentum you crave sans the need for skill or coordination: Just settle in and let gravity do the work. Hunter Mountain recently gave its tubing park a major makeover—it now boasts 24 shoots, each 1,000 feet long, and a new carpet lift to take you back to the top when you’re ready for another go. 7740 Main St, Hunter, NY (800-486-8376, huntermtn.com). Two-hour session $20. 

Where to stay: For a dose of kitsch, try Kate’s Lazy Meadow (5191 Rte 28, Mount Tremper, NY; 845-688-7200, lazymeadow.com; from $175/night)—founded by B-52’s singer Kate Pierson—whose suites are done up in “atomic” midcentury style.

Read the rest either by downloading the above PDF, or by clicking through to read the full list at Time Out New York.]]>
Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/648082 2014-01-30T14:04:09Z 2014-01-30T14:04:10Z The Daily Traveler: Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Trivia

Sochi Trivia: Olympic Fun Facts That'll Make You Sound Really Smart

From the craziest stops on the torch relay to the future of Sochi's newest venues, here's your guide from Marisa LaScala to this year's Olympic trivia.

Say Hello to the Newbies

A number of countries are headed to the Winter Olympics for the very first time. East Timor, Paraguay, Togo, Tonga, and Zimbabwe are among the debuting nations—and their athletes bring some of the most incredible stories of the Games with them.

Take, for instance, Paraguay's Julia Marino, who will be competing in the new slopestyle skiing event. How did she come to represent a country that's more likely to see its residents on jet skis than downhill skis? She was adopted by Americans when she was six months old and raised in ski-savvy Massachusetts—but chose to compete for her birth nation.

Then there's Tonga's Bruno Banani. If you'd checked in with him before 2008, you'd have found him playing rugby under the name of Fuahea Semi. In the ensuing years, he headed off to Germany, changed his name to that of a famous brand of German undergarments, learned how to luge, and will be carrying the flag for Tonga for the first time.

Click through to see the rest of the article at the website of the Condé Nast Traveler.


Photo © Jens Büttner/dpa/Corbis





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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/647111 2014-01-28T15:28:33Z 2014-01-28T15:28:33Z The Daily Traveler: Free NYC

Free NYC: How to Come for the Super Bowl and Have Fun Without Going Broke

Even if you spend every last dime traveling to the New York area for the Super Bowl, you can still enjoy a multitude of activities in the city free-of-charge.

Laugh at Your Future Favorite Comedians

The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater—UCB for those in the know—is a training ground for some of the best comedians out there: Amy Poehler, Ed Helms, Aziz Ansari, Aubrey Plaza, and a bunch of the Saturday Night Live performers are all alums. The theater hosts comedy shows every night of the week, and most of them cost $10 or less—and a few will cost you nothing. At the UCB's Chelsea location, you can find free shows on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights, but the theater's signature free show, ASSSSCAT 3000, happens every Sunday at 9:30 pm. There, on a small stage surrounded by seats on three sides, some of the best improvisers in the area perform an unscripted show, and some big names often drop by to join in. (In the past, Lena Dunham, Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, and even Mike Meyers have been spotted here.) Warning: You might not need to spend your cash, but you will need to invest your time; the line starts forming in the late-afternoon, early-evening for an 8:15pm ticket distribution. If you can't stand the idea of entertaining yourself in line, you can always buy a ticket in advance for the 7:30pm ASSSSCAT—but it'll cost you $10. 307 W 26th St (212-366-9176; ucbtheatre.com).

Click through to read the full article at the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo: Pete Titmuss/Alamy


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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/644659 2014-01-22T15:20:51Z 2014-01-22T15:20:51Z DVD Review: The Spectacular Now

'The Spectacular Now': What's So Great About Being an Adult?

On the surface, it seems like The Spectacular Now is no different from your average teen movie. It starts off at an Atlanta, Georgia high school sometime during senior year. The all-around popular guy, Sutter (Miles Teller), meets the pretty-but-unnoticed shy girl, Aimee (Shailene Woodley). They strike up an unlikely friendship, then an even-more-unlikely romance, and then have to figure out what to do about the world after high school.

In the hands of James Ponsoldt —adapting the novel by Tim Tharp—what could easily become your typical end-of-high-school love story becomes something much harder to create: a teen movie that resembles real life more than other teen movies. In Ponsoldt’s commentary and a handful of behind-the-scenes featurettes included in the Blu-ray, Ponsoldt says he was striving for authenticity and, for the most part, he achieves it.

Teller and Woodley, along with the rest of the cast, look and talk like real teenagers. Their clothes are worn and wrinkled and look like they were bought at Target. They sweat when it’s supposed to be hot out, and things like pimples and scars aren’t airbrushed out or caked over with makeup. (The authenticity spills over into the location as well; an Atlanta native, Ponsoldt notes in his commentary that he wanted to show off the city the way the locals see it, by including, say, his favorite college record store as opposed to the usual tourist attractions.) ...

Click through to read the full review at PopMatters.

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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/644287 2014-01-21T19:12:53Z 2014-01-21T19:12:53Z Mental_Floss: Unseen TV Characters

This is my first assignment from mental_floss, based on an idea I pitched.

11 Television Characters You've Never Seen

Tino on My So-Called Life

What they're saying: "We have to go! With Sharon, to the hospital. I'll get Tino to drive us, he loves hospitals."

The lowdown: It's possible My So-Called Life heartthrob Jordan Catalano never got anywhere with his band, the Frozen Embryos, because Tino, its front man, wasn't very present. Then again, maybe he didn't have to be: possibly the most-referenced unseen character on this list, Tino is mentioned in a majority of the series' episodes, by almost every major teenage character. He can get a fake ID. He can get into an exclusive club, loft, or empty, for-sale house. He is, like, Mr. Halloween. When he quits the band, Jordan laments that "There's gonna be, like, this big empty hole where Tino used to be," but, for the audience, that's all he ever was.

Click through to see the full list at mental_floss.

Image credit: ThinkStock

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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/642109 2014-01-15T14:26:49Z 2014-01-15T14:26:49Z The Daily Traveler: The Scariest Drives in the World

Extreme Drives: The 10 Scariest Highways for White-Knuckle Road Trips

Buckle up for a tour of highways with hairpin turns, steep cliffs, narrow lanes, extreme weather, and dizzying heights.

North Yungas Road
Bolivia

Risk Factor: This route's nickname really says it all — sometimes, it's simply called "Death Road." And, with no guardrails along the 12-foot-wide roadway protecting drivers from a 2,000-foot plunge off a cliff, it's easy to see why. (To make matters more confusing, drivers drive on the left to better see the cliff's edge.) "Death Road" isn't just a nickname, either: It's estimated that the highway is a site of 200 to 300 deaths per year.

Why you might be tempted to drive it anyway:
No one says you have to do it in a car. Cyclists have found it easier to manage the narrow lanes and steep curves, and the road often hosts tours of adventurous bike enthusiasts.

Click through to see the full slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo: LOOK Die Bildagentur der Fotografen GmbH / Alamy


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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/641445 2014-01-13T19:44:08Z 2014-01-13T19:44:08Z PopMatters Year-End Lists: The Best TV of 2013 (and the Worst Movies)

The Best Television of 2013

No. 11
Girls
“One Man’s Trash”, a second-season episode of Girls, may have been polarizing even to the most strident fans of the show, but it proves why the series deserves a spot on any Top TV list. The episode finds Hannah Horvath (series creator Lena Dunham) spending a lost couple of days with a Brooklyn doctor (played by Patrick Wilson). The episode exists in a bubble; Hannah barely talks to any series regulars, and she and the doctor never venture outside of his brownstone together. It was so removed from the rest of the series, people speculated it was a dream. “One Man’s Trash” proves Girls’ originality and fearlessness. In a TV-watching culture that prizes serialized storytelling and binge-watchability above all else, Dunham isn’t afraid to take her show on a different tack and do a stand-alone episode. She’s also not afraid to go broad when other shows are trying to be grounded, or to show female characters spiraling out of control or refusing to grow up (normally the domain of male characters). It’s this willingness to take risks—some of which, admittedly, turn out to be more successful than others—that make Girls one of the most exciting shows on television.

No. 33
Sleepy Hollow
Sleepy Hollow throws everything at its audience. A time-traveling protagonist transported two centuries in the future? Yes. A menagerie of monsters? Why not. A secret, alternate history of the United States and Revolutionary War? Sure. Why not add in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (the famed Headless Horseman is one) and other Biblical catastrophes, too? It all works together, mostly because Sleepy Hollow moves along at such a pace that don’t have time to pick apart how any of it is stitched together. The mix of supernatural elements also gives the show a balance between monster-of-the-week episodes (which usually come with cool creature designs) and episodes that lay out the mythology for the oncoming war between good and evil. But what really sells it is the charm of Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison), who sounds equally authoritative talking about 18th-century Freemasons as he does decrying the 21st-century “ten percent levy on baked goods”—aka the sales tax at Dunkin Donuts. Washington Irving would be tickled.


Click through to read the full list at PopMatters. I also had a few blurbs in The Worst Films of 2013 (#12, #16, and #23), but let's not dwell on the negative, shall we?

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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/638407 2014-01-06T14:17:39Z 2014-01-06T14:19:11Z PopMatters Year-End Lists: The Best Films of 2013

Always happy to contribute to the year-end round-up features.

The Best Films of 2013

No. 25
The Bling Ring
Sofia Coppola has a way with lost young adults. The characters in The Bling Ring, based on real-life teenage burglars who targeted celebrities (as depicted in a Vanity Fair article), are certainly lost, being either home schooled or in the “dropout school” for past bad behavior. But instead of wallowing in their unsatisfactory home lives, Coppola shows how they’re swept up in everything they don’t have: designer clothes, huge mansions, access to the VIP celebrity lifestyle, and attention from the press. Coppola is able to dramatize this excess—shots of sprawling houses and overstuffed closets (including Paris Hilton’s actual residence)—and use it as both a critique of celebrity-obsessed consumerism and as a way of understanding why a gang of high schoolers would want to break in at all costs to steal of piece of it. She also makes the best use of the a slo-mo walking shot since Reservoir Dogs, only instead of identical black suits her characters wear pilfered couture.

No. 33
Prince Avalanche
With Prince Avalanche, you get the best of director David Gordon Green's two worlds: the lyrical prettiness and gorgeous compositions of his early indie movies (like All the Real Girls), plus the playfulness and humor of his bigger studio comedies (like The Pineapple Express). The film follows two lonely workers painting lines on a remote, fire-damaged road in the forests of Texas, and Green’s at his best when he’s working in this intimate scale. He’s a keen observer of human behavior, and he knows exactly what to slightly exaggerate for maximum comedic effect. Then again, there are parts of the story that are profoundly touching, especially when the main characters come across a woman who lost everything in one of the big fires. In this way, Prince Avalanche shows that you can do so much—evoke a whole range of emotions—with so very little—just two really strong performers (Emile Hirsch and Paul Rudd), the bounty of nature, and a keen sense of the human condition.

No. 34
The Conjuring
Leave it to director James Wan, who kicked off the “torture porn” craze when he directed the first Saw movie, to be the one to lead the genre away from gristle and gore again. His two 2013 horror movies, Insidious Chapter 2 and The Conjuring, rely more on mood and atmosphere to ratchet up the tension and deliver their haunted-house scares. Of these, The Conjuring is more traditional, and more successful. It uses scares we’ve all seen before—from a menacing music box to a creeptastic twist on hide-and-seek—but uses them effectively; muscles will start to tense the minute you someone winds the gears of that music box or starts counting for that game of hide-and-seek. Wan elevates these tropes with a some visual flourishes, including an excellent tracking shot that follows multiple characters as they zig-zag through the haunted house on move-in day. There’s also an unexpected emotional core to the story, since The Conjuring portrays the interaction between two families: The Perrons, a boisterous family of seven that moved into the cursed Rhode Island farmhouse, and the Warrens, the demon-fighting couple that pledges to help them. (The Warrens are based on real-life demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren.) It’s rare to see loving families depicted in horror movies—let alone two of them in one movie—which give stakes that are higher than every-teen-for-himself slasher movies since the characters have something important that they can lose (other than quarts of blood). Wan proves that you don’t have to be grotesque or shock to scare, so long as you have real people, not stock types, living in that haunted house.

Click through to see the full list at PopMatters.


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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/629612 2013-12-12T13:57:40Z 2013-12-12T13:57:40Z DVD Review: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
'The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones' Is Proof That Rule-Making Isn't the Same as World-Building
...To watch The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones without having read the book is to always feel like you’re missing some crucial piece of information that would make everything click into place and make sense. Unfortunately, a Rosetta Stone for the movie never arrives. Instead, you’re left to guess at everything that goes unsaid.

“This is as far as I go,” Jace tells Clary as they wander through the subterranean City of Bones, a catacomb of expired Shadowhunters, toward a great circular room where a ritual is to take place. Why won’t he go any farther? He doesn’t say. He enters the room, just keeps to the edge of it. Is he not allowed into the center? Is he afraid of the ritual? Does he think it’d make Clary stronger to go on alone? It’s not explained—and, ultimately, not important—which makes you wonder why it was such a big freaking deal for him not to go any farther in the first place.

The entire movie is a string of such head-scratching moments. Characters jump from location to location, and it’s not always clear why they’re headed where they’re headed. (Ostensibly, they’re on the search for the Great MacGuffin, but it feels like the quest takes them in circles.) Some objects and people are invisible to mundanes, until they’re not anymore. Sometimes the Shadowhunters use runes to conjure magic, sometimes they use wands, and sometimes the magic is innate. One character is bitten by a vampire, and it isn’t brought up again for the rest of the movie. When Clary is taken to the Shadowhunter HQ, she’s shown a greenhouse with magical plants. Why would the plants be different? It’s still New York City, right? The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is proof that rule-making isn’t the same as world-building, and the rules that govern the movie are so thick and arbitrary that it sucks out any of the pleasure of being immersed in a new fantasy environment...

Click through to read the full review on PopMatters.
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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/628374 2013-12-09T16:13:06Z 2013-12-09T16:13:07Z The Daily Traveler New York: NYC's Flatiron Building Becomes a Monument to Math The Museum of Mathematics in New York City got New Yorkers armed with glowsticks to prove that the Flatiron building is really a right triangle.

NYC's Flatiron Building Becomes a Monument to Math

..."We wanted to show that math is all around us, even in places we wouldn't expect," says Cindy Lawrence, MoMath's co-executive director. It was also a chance for math fans—yes, they're out there—to show off their stripes. Approximately 2,000 people attended, sporting right-triangle-themed T-shirts, hats, face paint, and even tattoos. "There's a social barrier out there that tells people it's not okay to like math," says co-executive director Glen Whitney. "We want to get over that barrier."

Click through to see the full story on the website of the Condé Nast Traveler.

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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/627398 2013-12-06T15:31:02Z 2013-12-06T15:31:15Z 2014 Weddings Issue 

Westchester/Hudson Valley Weddings' 2014 issue has arrived! I am the executive editor of this publication and work on every page of it. This year's issue features:

-Spotlight-worthy gowns shot on location at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester (as seen in the cover image above).

-Four event designers and two cake bakers who demonstrate how to incorporate patterns into reception decor without overdoing it (written by me—see PDF below).

-Repurposed local venues that had former lives, as factories, warehouses, and mills.

-Hair, makeup, and jewelry that make for the perfect finishing touches.

-Six real weddings: a DIY summer wedding, a "lovebird"-themed summer wedding, a farm-inspired fall wedding, an edgy tattoo- and graffiti-inspired wedding, an eclectic winery wedding, and a traditional winter wedding.    

-Photographers' advice on how to make the most of the engagement session—plus their favorite shots (written by me—see PDF below).

-Florists' recommendations for out-of-the-box bouquet ideas.

-Great Gatsby-inspired fashion ideas for him and for her.

-A round-up of fun bits of wedding-day inspiration, from wooden bow ties to embroidery hoops.


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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/626079 2013-12-03T14:09:25Z 2013-12-03T14:09:34Z The Daily Traveler: The Queens Museum

Is This New York's Most Underrated Museum?

For years, the Queens Museum has been one of New York City's most underrated institutions. But thanks to a huge renovation that showcases its fascinating history, it's about to get noticed. Brush up on its secrets before all the tourists rush the place.

You can buy a (mini) piece of New York City real estate here.

And it's affordable, too. The Queens Museum is known for its Panorama of the City of New York, a 9,935-square-foot architectural model that recreates the city in a scale of 1:1200. (Tiny, two-inch airplanes even take off and land at the mini LaGuardia.) But did you know that, through the Adopt-a-Building program, which started in 2009, you can actually own one of the buildings in the panorama? You even get the deed. Buildings can be purchased for as little as $50—and you can't say that's true anywhere else in the city.

It's lit by a 70,000-pound "lantern."

There's one heck of a skylight in the entryway. The "lantern," the centerpiece of the new addition, is made up of 264 individual sheets of frosted glass anchored into a 50,000-pound steel beam that keeps it from swaying. But it's not just there as an adornment: The glass filters natural light into the new wing, decreasing the need for artificial illumination, and keeps sunlight from hitting the artwork directly, preventing sun damage.

Click through to read the full article at the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo: Collection of the Queens Museum.





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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/625646 2013-12-02T14:14:49Z 2013-12-02T14:14:58Z PopMatters Year-End Lists: The 75 Best Songs of 2013

I love participating in the year-end pop-culture round-up that PopMatters puts together every year. I contributed two blurbs to the list of best songs—albums should be next.

The 75 Best Songs of 2013

No. 16
Vampire Weekend - “Diane Young”
“Diane Young” is Vampire Weekend by way of Buddy Holly, albeit if an amped-up Buddy Holly had a bunch of sonic tricks to enhance his singing of “baby, baby, baby”. Holly may have been an influence on the lyrics as well as the sound, since “Diane Young” is about, well, dying young—the wordplay showing that the band has no intention of giving up the brainier aspects of their songwriting—only done in a catchy, upbeat way that steers clear of the usual moroseness that results when contemplating mortality. “Diane Young” almost conceals its inventiveness. It feels like a straight-ahead rock track and, coming in one, sub-three-minute burst. It cements Vampire Weekend’s status as creators of songs you can listen to four times in a row before you even realize it.

No. 24
Haim - “Days Are Gone”
Haim sisters Este, Danielle, and Alana packed the first half of Days Are Gone with quite a few top-10-worthy songs, but it’s the title track that shows that they’re not afraid to make pop music that prizes '70s Fleetwood Mac songwriting, '80s electronic drums and keyboards, and early '90s R&B over the typical trademarks of today’s pop songs. The result is simultaneously familiar and refreshing. The quietly chanted, repeated refrain of “Days Are Gone” offers an antidote to the current pop radio ballads that can’t help themselves from leaning too often and too hard on big, belted choruses. In that way, it’s almost hard to tell that the song was co-written with the UK’s Jessie Ware and Kid Harpoon (and recorded in London), especially since it’s still imbued with the L.A.-chic vibe that made us notice Haim in the first place.

Click through to read the full list at PopMatters.



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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/625423 2013-12-01T23:03:50Z 2013-12-01T23:03:59Z The Daily Traveler: Botanical Garden Holiday Displays

This Is Why You Should Visit Botanical Gardens in the Winter

From synchronized light displays to intricate botanical sculptures, these gardens are decked for the holidays

ATLANTA BOTANICAL GARDEN
Garden Lights
November 16 to January 4
The Atlanta Botanical Garden brings in 1.5 million energy-efficient LEDs to create its illuminated holiday display. Many of the lights are used to transform the Garden's most famous landmarks into holiday-appropriate characters; Earth Goddess, a giant topiary sculpture in the shape of a woman, is given strands of wintry blue hair, turning her into Ice Goddess, and a pair of 15-foot-tall snakes are don red and white stripes to make them the Candy Cane Cobras. Powering the 52 miles of light strings is Georgia Power, which uses green energy produced from renewable resources like solar power and biomass.

Click through to see the full slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler. 

Photograph by Chris Kozarich

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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/623609 2013-11-26T13:57:29Z 2013-11-26T13:57:39Z The Daily Traveler: Life-Saving Travel Tech

These Travel Gadgets Will Save Your Life

Travel can be filled with danger. From shark attacks to heart attacks, these devices can keep your journey safe.

Danger: Collisions
The Hövding Helmet
Why should skiiers and mountain-climbers have all the fun? Bikers can get their own protective airbags, courtesy of Sweden's Hövding. The bag is worn deflated around the neck, like a big collar. Sensors can tell when the biker's involved in a collision, inflating the airbag around the head in a tenth of a second. And, because it zips around the neck, bikers don't have to worry about helmet hair, either.

Click through to see the full slideshow at The Condé Nast Traveler.

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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/616452 2013-11-06T14:25:00Z 2013-11-06T14:25:00Z The Daily Traveler: The World's Smallest Attractions

Tiny Tourism: 10 of the World's Smallest Attractions

Bigger isn't always better. These record-holding tiny tourist attractions prove that small things shouldn't be overlooked.

Mill Ends Park, Portland, Oregon

Size: 2 feet in diameter

If there were a park smaller than Portland's Mill Ends Park, it'd have to be a single blade of grass. The park is the creation of Oregon Journal reporter Dick Fagan, who decided to plant flowers in a hole that was originally intended for a light pole that never arrived. He dedicated the park on St. Patrick's Day in 1948, and claimed it was home to "only leprechaun colony west of Ireland."

Not everyone is in agreement about Mill Ends' title, though. Earlier this year, event organizers of "the shortest fun run" in the UK called it a "glorified flower pot" and said the site of their event—Prince's Park in Burntwood—should claim the record instead. At 34 square meters, it's at least big enough for three trees (named Faith, Hope, and Charity) and a bench, making it a little more park-like. Portlanders needn't worry too much: According to John Smith, Greens & Open Spaces Strategic Manager of the Lichfield District Council, "The council has no ambition to challenge the title of the World’s Smallest Park and is pleased to be the record holder of Britain’s Smallest Park."

Click through to see the full slideshow on the website of the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo of Mill Ends Park courtesy of Portland Parks & Recreation, Portland, OR






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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/614401 2013-10-30T13:32:40Z 2013-10-30T13:32:40Z DVD Review: Byzantium

Just in time for Halloween, a review of a movie about female vampires.

'Byzantium' Has New Vampires That Play by New Rules

...[Neil] Jordan also moves beyond the stage’s confines by putting together some strikingly composed images: a black beetle crawling across Eleanor’s pale face, a line of rich red blood dripping across white fingers, neon carnival rides glowing against a dark night. If there’s one good thing about a vampires that aren’t sensitive to the sun, it’s that they can walk around in the light, so you can actually see all of the art direction—from painstaking period details of the past to the dingy nuances of the run-down hotel where the characters hole up in the present...

Click through to read the full review at PopMatters.


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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/612822 2013-10-26T02:39:33Z 2013-10-26T02:39:33Z TV Review: Dracula
This American 'Dracula' Proves to Be Simply Irresistible to the English

...But apart from these familiar names, this Dracula has as much in common with The Count of Monte Cristo as it does to its own source material. In this iteration of the story, Dracula awakens in Victorian England. He adopts a false persona—that of Alexander Grayson, super-rich industrialist from the United States, “as American as God, guns, and bourbon”—and sets out to get revenge on the old order that imprisoned him in a coffin for centuries and murdered his wife.

Grayson decides that the best way to exact his vengeance is through emptying his foes’ wallets. The adversaries inhabit the entrenched upper echelon of society, fully at ease with their “overtly grotesque sense of entitlement,” with their money tied up, of course, in the oil industry. Naturally, Grayson takes them on by starting a green energy company, harnessing the power of wireless electricity. His attack sets up the most insistent, and strangest, theme that carries throughout the series. It’s a sort of class warfare, with Grayson positioning himself as an outsider determined on destroying the established societal order.

He seems an unlikely class warrior, considering his vast fortune, but his opponents consider his wealth “new,” and so, beneath their own. This gives him some odd moral authority, at least in this show’s version of such things. Plus, Grayson has a fondness for outsiders and misfits. The most obvious embodiment would be his second-hand man, R.M. Renfield (Nonso Anozie), a lawyer who’s often misjudged by the old money folks because he’s African American. It happens that Mina is also a nonconformist of sorts, as too many male doctors underestimate her.

Wealthy and well situated as he may be, with friends like these, Grayson takes on some underdog sheen, applied mostly to his business dealings, along with Grayson’s acquisition of patents, testing of alloys, and uncovering of bribes. The couple of high-energy action scenes and bouts of bloody violence might be said to punctuate these more mundane bits of corporate espionage. While these scenes can be unsavory, they’re hardly frightening and rarely suspenseful...

Click through to read the full review at PopMatters,




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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/610906 2013-10-21T01:05:32Z 2013-10-21T01:05:32Z DVD Review: The Bling Ring

As with All of Sofia Coppola's Films, Mood Trumps Everything in 'The Bling Ring'

...While Coppola doesn’t dwell on the situations that made the Bling Ring what they were, she does give you an overwhelming feeling of who they are: young, attractive, savvy, plugged in, and celebrity-obsessed. She scrolls through images of the Ring’s targets—Paris Hilton on a runway onDlisted, Lindsay Lohan at a court date on TMZ—then follows up with the Facebook photos of the Bling Ring members, often making the same poses. Even the celebrities’ bad behavior is mimicked; Lindsay Lohan gets a DUI, then so does Chloe. You can sense the characters’ attitudes towards these celebrities shift from admiration to a darker kind of “Why can’t that be me?” envy.

And if you’re looking for envy—or, depending on your attitude towards consumerism, revulsion—more than anything Coppola emphasizes the material aspect of Los Angeles’ celebrity culture. There are shots upon shots of enormous closets, with racks stuffed with designer dresses, drawers overflowing with jewelry, and rows upon rows of shoes in a spectrum of colors. Paris Hilton allowed Coppola to film inside her house—at the real scene of the crime—and it’s a good thing, because a fictitious version of the Hilton closet probably would not have been over-the-top enough. (A DVD featurette with Hilton gives a tour of her closet and house, complete with her backyard doghouse, modeled after her own, for her seven dogs.)

When Coppola shows these lavish closets or the celebratory club-going after a heist, it looks like a fashion photo shoot. Other times, she switches to a reality-show-style handheld, reflecting how the Bling Ring participants saw themselves—as the stars of their own series. Other times, she shows them as shadowy figures on green, night-vision security cameras, or how they looked to the outside world. In the most interesting scene in the movie, the characters barely register at all: the camera stays outside a celebrity home, and all you see is the lights flick on and off in different rooms as they burglarize the house.

The range of shooting styles gives the movie interest, but like her protagonists, Coppola has a problem with excess. The cycle of Googling celebrity houses, breaking in, luxuriating in other people’s property, and heading out to party repeats itself too many times in the middle of the movie, with nothing extra added except another celebrity name to the list of victims...


Click through to read the full review at PopMatters.

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Marisa LaScala
tag:mlascalawriting.com,2013:Post/610143 2013-10-17T22:11:09Z 2013-10-17T22:11:09Z The Daily Traveler: Meet 10 Dream Travel Job Contest Winners

Some people have all the luck. I get to interview those people.

Meet Ten People Who've Won Those Dream Travel Job Competitions

Jauntaroo's yet-to-be-named Chief World Explorer is going to have some pretty big shoes to fill. Meet ten intrepid souls who have already entered contests, then campaigned, competed for, and won their dream travel jobs—filming, swimming, skiing, diving, and eating their ways around the world. Yeah, we’re jealous, too.

ASHA MEVLANA
From: Los Angeles
 
Winner: Viator's Dream Travel Job: Team Europe,July 2012–August 2012

Job duties: "Our job was to film these top-rated tours so that when someone goes to the Viator site, they can click on a tour video from our trip and get an idea of what the tour would be like."

What's one thing you learned on your travels? "Because we were only in each city for three days, we were constantly on the move and living out of our suitcases. I had a very large, heavy suitcase with a bunch of different outfits, shoes, etc. By the end, I had thrown out most of my clothes just to make it easier to run to the train, plane, or taxi because we were always running from place to place trying to not to miss our transportation to the next city. I learned to pack much lighter!"

What was the most memorable thing that on your trip? "On one of the bike tours in Amsterdam, I was filming while biking and trying to get all the shots I needed. And as I was rushing ahead of the tour one time, looking into the camera viewfinder, I crashed into a tree. I was scraped and hurting, but there wasn't time to be hurt, so I just had to keep going."

What happened after you completed the job? Did you want to stay in a related field? "I am a professional musician (electric violin), and, between tours, I have also been doing a lot of hosting work. I recently appeared on a pilot for the Travel Channel called Destination Showdown. I was hired again by Viator to film for two months in Asia and Australia this past year, which was also incredible. I even started a travel blog to start recording my journeys."

Click through to see the full slideshow at the website of the Condé Nast Traveler
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Marisa LaScala