Wanna see it in motion?
Friday, July 30, 2010
Wanna see it in motion?
Sunday, June 20, 2010
About four years ago, I had to drive myself to a meeting because my driver, Guido, was on sick leave. After I parked on the street, I rolled down my car window to pay the attendant (who walked over to collect the parking fee). As I got my receipt and pressed the switch to close the window, I suddenly heard the sound of shattering glass! It was loud; I quickly turned around to see if any other car had hit mine. Nada. So I continued to close the power window. But the glass wouldn't roll up. Wouldn't roll up!?!! I had never heard of a car window crashing like that before. And it was a BMW, for heaven's sake – a German-engineered car!
Since I couldn't leave my car – open window and all – on a busy city street, I never made it to my meeting. :-/
Just recently, two friends and I decided to meet up for cocktails. One of them, C, was unusually late. The excuse? Her sports car's window slid down and wouldn't roll back up – just like mine. She had to go home and switch rides! Yes, it was a BMW, too.
Then C told me a about her lady friend who drove across Quebec in a BMW. Same thing – the window crashed. But since it was a long journey, the window had to be patched with plastic and packing tape for the rest of the trip. A BMW with plastic-covered windows!?!!
Well. That's why today, I drive a different car. :-P
(Top Pic) The BMW Bearbrick. The blue sky and white clouds imagery stands for its claim of "less emissions".
Sunday, May 30, 2010
For most sports fans in Barcelona, seats to "El Clásico", a football match between their home team (FC Barcelona) and its fiercest rival (Real Madrid), are probably the most-prized.
But for an ordinary tourist like me, there is no seat in the city as incomparable as the long, serpent-like bench at Parc Guëll, a garden complex built in the early 1900s (below).
Its winding lines form small enclaves that are quite cozy.
But apart from its very unusual shape, what makes the bench outstanding is its mosaic surface, created from hand-painted tiles of various shapes, colors and textures.
Notice how the tiles are not as randomly arranged as they initially appear to be; there is order in chaos! I want to recreate this look for my bathroom. :-)
The genius behind this strangely beautiful and original park is Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, the same creative mind behind Barcelona's most famous tourist spots: Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, and Casa Mila.
Below is the view of the park's main entrance as seen from the bench.
Unlike the seats to the much-awaited football game, sitting on the Gaudi-designed bench of Park Guëll (which is now considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site), will not cost you a cent! Another proof that life's best doesn't always come with a price tag. :-)
(Top Pic) The FCBarcelona Bearbrick was created to promote the Futbol Club Barcelona or Barça, which is considered the second richest football club in the world (€365 million in revenue)! If you bought this bearbrick, you now know where your money went. :-)
Pics by yours truly, Copyright 2010 / Info from Wikipedia
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Last month, on our way to Barcelona from Madrid, Jun and I decided to make a little side trip to Seville, the fourth largest city in Spain. When we arrived at our hotel, we asked the receptionist which tourist spot we should visit first, and her ready answer was "Plaza de España".
The plaza, a 15-minute walk from our hotel, was as beautiful as we expected it to be. For me, it is one of the best examples of Moorish Revival architecture in Andalusia, one of Spain's autonomous communities.
Built in 1928 for the Spanish-American World Fair, it was designed by Sevillan architect Aníbal González. Today, it houses mostly government offices and the Seville town hall.
Because it was a Sunday, all the offices were closed and the plaza was populated only by tourists like us. And the only thing we could hear was the powerful duet of the couple below.
Along with four other tourists, we stood watching for about 15 minutes before dropping some euros into their guitar case.
After that, I decided to set up my tripod to take some pics while Jun began texting on his mobile phone. So I put down my bag on the floor and placed my jacket on top of it.
While I was focusing my camera, I suddenly heard a rustling sound. I turned around and saw my jacket sliding across the floor, lifted by the wind. So I picked it up and quickly tried to dust off the dirt from it.
I didn't realize until five minutes later, after I've taken some pics, that my bag was missing!
Imagine my panic – my passport, mobile phone, money and credit cards were in there! Fortunately, a security guard arrived, and I tried as hard as I could to tell him what happened. It wasn't easy – I was flustered, hysterical, and desperate, and I had to translate everything to Spanish!!!
But Mr. Security wasn't much help – he only advised me to call a number and make a perfunctory police report. #%*?!
Then suddenly, from nowhere, I heard a loud male voice: "Hola....... un bolso con un PASAPORTE FILIPINO...." (Hello....a bag with a Filipino passport....)
I turned around and shouted. "That's mine! That's mine!"
The tall Spanish gentleman who found my bag turned from the guard to me and suddenly spoke in English, "We found it at the other end of the building. It was left on the stairs... open... probably by the gypsies who we saw leaving the area..." His companions, a bunch of young Germans, nodded to affirm his story, and asked me to check the contents of my bag.
Everything was intact – passport, credit cards, etc. – except for the cash (200 euro) and my Nokia mobile phone. (It was a good thing I left most of my cash at the hotel!)
I told my heroes, "You guys are from heaven! May I treat you to dinner? I still have my credit card."
The tall Spaniard replied, "Thanks, but you already lost money. Besides, we are on our way back to Madrid straight from here."
So I thanked them profusely, and we all parted ways.
I felt terrible about losing my phone – who wouldn't? Nonetheless, I got my passport and my credit cards back, and that made me happy enough to smile again. Whew!
Before we left the plaza, Jun and I passed by this area (above), so I brought out my camera and took a shot. It was a beautiful scene, but when I look at it now, all I can think is – I want to put that #%?^!? bastard who stole my bag behind bars!!!
(Top pic) The Mañana Banana Bearbrick (white version) by Pamtoy, released in July 2005. This also came in brown and GID (Glow In the Dark).
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
The most romantic spot in Madrid must be the Plaza de Oriente (below) in front of the Palacio Real, judging from the number of kissing couples I saw as I crossed over from the palace to the opera house one late afternoon.
I couldn't help but take pics – after all, I didn't think these lip-locked lovers minded at all.
Except for a pair who hid behind one of the tall topiaries (below) when they saw me holding up my Lumix camera. Ooops!
The shy pair looked like they were in their 60s, but they were certainly kissing like it was their very first time – with equal parts of passion and clumsiness.
An important tip: Keep your eyes closed while kissing. You'll look much better that way – to your partner, or to paparazzi like me. :-)
(Top pic) The Series 4 Cute Bearbrick, launched in August 2002, was inspired by young love.
All pics by yours truly, Copyright April 2010.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
There are 3 reasons why I gained weight after my first 3 days in Madrid, Spain.
1. The food is "muy delicioso".
2. There is a place to eat at every turn.
3. Shops are closed between 2 to 5pm (siesta time), so there is nothing for tourists like me to do but EAT, EAT, EAT!
Reason #3 led me to a place called Mercado de San Miguel (below), a 1900s public market that reopened in May 2009, after it started restoration in 2008 in the hands of private businessmen. Encased in glass and wrought iron, the place now houses delicatessens, tapas bars and stalls that offer meat, seafood, fruits, cheese, wine, beer, dessert, coffee – even books.
This is how it looks just before it gets full at lunch time.(Which is around 1:30 to 3pm!)
Above is the meat stall where everybody buys Jamon Iberico, a type of cured ham that is only available in Spain. You have to take a number when there's a crowd.
Customers normally order "cien gramos" or 100 grams. (Yes, that is an Iberian pig's hoof that you see. LOL)
My other favorite stall is the one with "aceitunas" or olives. (That's Jun, waving.)
I couldn't help but order 2 of each of these "tapas de olivas". Para mi, they're the best! The olives provide a refreshing aftertaste.
Anchovies with poached "huevos" (eggs) on toast, a must-try.
"Croquetas" (potato croquettes) of different flavors are sold here. The one with calamares negros (black squid ink) is my favorite.
This is the cheese stall where you can buy Manchego, the most popular cheese in all of Spain.
The best desserts in the entire market – Pastel de Nata (left) and Pastel de Queso (right). Both are eggs tarts but with different flavors; one has coconut while the other has cheese.
Because of the number of choices, you'll probably have dessert more than once. :-)
To drink, I always had the Spanish "sangria", a mixture of red wine, brandy, triple sec, fruit juice and sugar. It's so light and easy to drink; you'll get drunk before you know it!
Madrid isn't like New York, Hong Kong or Paris when it comes to shopping. If it's any indication, you won't find a Balenciaga boutique here (even though its original designer and founder, Cristobal Balenciaga, was born in Spain)!
In Madrid, what you save in shopping money, you gain in calories! :-P
(Top pic) The Spain "We Love Football" Bearbrick is one of a series of bears representing some of the countries who participated in the 2006 World Cup. Produced in cooperation with Kentucky Fried Chicken Hong Kong.
Photos by yours truly. Copyright bearbricklove.com 2010.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Last March 24, I was at the London Heathrow Airport waiting for my connecting flight to Madrid, Spain. Instead of sitting in the lounge for coffee, pastry and Facebook, I decided to kill time by window shopping.
Okay, I admit that with me, window shopping can turn into panic buying at the sight of a sale sign or a hot new item.
So, yes, I ended up getting the bright red loafers on the left.
Frankly, I had to think hard of where I would wear them before I gave the cashier my Visa card. Probably not to church, like what the vain little girl did in Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale entitled "The Red Shoes" – the priest might deny me Holy Communion! I doubt if I would wear them to a bullfight in Madrid, either, unless I wanted the bull to run after me. And I don't think I have a chance of ever wearing it to the beach, but that's not because of its color, right?
Nevertheless, red is awfully attractive. And like red roses, red lips, red hearts, red sportscars, red apples, strawberries and cherries, those shiny red Bally shoes are simply irresistible to me.
(Top pic) The red Jellybean Bearbrick from Series 18. Pic by yours truly / Copyright March 2010.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Did you watch the Pacquiao-Clottey match last Saturday night? According to CompuBox, a computer program that counts and categorizes punches thrown and connected in boxing matches, Manny Pacquiao's red gloves landed 246 of 1,231 punches; Joshua Clottey connected only on 108 of 399.
The numbers indicate that Clottey practically didn't put up a fight! According to many viewers, he was trying to cover his face the whole time. After 12 rounds, Pacquiao was declared winner.
At a press con, Clottey explained, “He’s very, very fast. I tried to catch him, but he always manages to move out. He’s the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.”
Clottey earned $1.25 million, excluding pay-per-view revenue, a figure which could run up to more than $3 million, according to some speculators.
Seems like Clottey wasn't a loser after all. :-)
(Top) The Tokidoki Fighter Bearbrick, the fifth (5th) 100% bear designed by famous Italian illustrator Simone Legno.
Bearbrick pic by Yours Truly, Copyright March 2010 / Fight pic/info from LA Times Online, paquiaovsclottey.boxingnewsupdates.com
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Here it is, finally – my Series 19. I am going to admit outright that I didn't get the complete set because I felt that the others weren't special enough. I mean, some people got a once-in-a-lifetime chance to create a bearbrick and they blew it... :-/
Thank God for the talented bunch who designed the wonderful bearbricks above!
First row, left to right:
Jellybean (Carolina Blue)
Horror (Uglydoll / Wage by David Horvath)
SciFi (Star Trek – Spock)
Cute (Shoko Nakagawa / Watanabe Entertainment)
Second row, left to right:
Animal (Paradise Lost, Donkey Sister by Jimmy Liao /Jimmy S.P.A.)
Artist (Kazuki Kuraishi / KZK)
Artist (Bad Robot)
Secret SciFi (Momotaros Imagine / Masked Rider Den O)
Secret (Stussy / XXXth Anniversary)
Secret Artist (My Dirty Diamonds / Matt Black)
Secret (Revolver Japan /Kiri)
(If you want to see which ones I didn't want/get, look for them here.)
I really like the Leopard Pattern and the flocked Kazuki Kuraishi bears. But the Uglydoll bearbrick is my favorite because it has a very interesting love story behind it.
Back in 2001, toy designers/lovers David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim had to part ways as she had to go back to her native Korea. He regularly sent her "I miss you" letters with his little "Wage" character drawn at the bottom of the page. Once, Sun-Min surprised David by sending him a plush doll version of Wage which she sewed herself. It was so cute that they both decided to sell copies of it at the Giant Robot Store in LA. Its overnight success gave birth to more Uglydoll characters that also became bestsellers in designer toy stores. David and Sun-Min are now married and have little cuties, not uglies, of their own. :-)
Happy Valentine's Day, bearbrick lovers!
Pic by Yours Truly / Copyright February 2010 /Uglydoll plush pic from www.iksentrik.co.uk / Drawing from www.uglydolls.com
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
My visit to Taipei would not have been complete without a trip to Hot Dog Toyz, probably the best bearbrick source in the whole of Taiwan. I dropped by on January 1 – what a exciting way to start the year! As I leaned close to the display shelf, I immediately spotted this bearbrick in baseball uniform (see above).
The saleslady (who remembered me from last year's visit) told me excitedly, "That's supposed to be Chien-Ming Wang. He's a Taiwanese who pitched for the New York Yankees. It comes with a nicely-bound book that contains all his baseball records."
She rummaged through piles of unopened boxes and lifted two boxed sets. "There's two versions – two bearbricks, two different uniforms, see? But both record books are the same."
"So he's a baseball star, huh?" I smiled.
She frowned a bit. "Yes, but since 2008, he's had a series of injuries – now, he's out of the team."
I reached out for the boxes and examined them.
"Those have been marked down," she continued, "Less NT$400!" (That's US$12.50)
Half of me was happy about the discount, although the other half felt sorry for Chien-Ming Wang. Imagine, mementos and memories of his glory days as ace pitcher for the Yankees had just depreciated! :-/
While trying to shrug off my mixed feelings, I placed my Visa card on the counter and said, "I'll take them."
Wang currently lives in Fort Lee, New Jersey with his wife, Chia-Ling Wu, and their 7-month old son named Justin Jesse.
Pics by yours truly. Copyright January 2010. Info from wikipedia / www.nj.com
Friday, January 1, 2010
I've never hit the 'buy-it-now' button on eBay faster than when I first saw the Jimmy Liao bearbrick (above). Released during last year's Taipei Toy Festival, I consider it my favorite bearbrick of 2009 for two reasons.
1. It's simply beautiful. From composition to color. From idea to illustration style.
2. It promotes art, not a brand of jeans nor a department store.
Jimmy Liao is Taiwan's best-known illustrator. A design graduate from the fine arts department of the Chinese Culture University, Liao worked in an ad agency for twelve years. After a bout with leukemia, he quit his advertising job and started to write and draw books for children.
The bearbrick's design is based on an illustration which first appeared in Liao's book, "How To Own A Corner" (below).
According to someone I asked, the Chinese caption at the lower right of the page says, "I wish that in every corner of the world, everyone will find his own happiness." A beautiful wish for the new year, isn't it?
By coincidence, I am now in Taipei, Taiwan, for a short holiday. Instead of a trip to a museum or park, I first opted to visit the Nangang Subway Station because I read somewhere that Jimmy Liao's work decorate the station's walls.
See? I took pictures!
Below is a humongous hare, a recurring figure in Jimmy's work.
The little cat-boy carrying the moon is a character from his book, "The Moon Forgets".
I love this chair collection! Do you see the sitting girl?
The giant drummer boy below is sitting along the main corridor that connects all exits.
Below are the three most arresting images that I found alongside the train tracks.
Taipei's subway stations are generally not remarkable. In fact, I find them rather antiseptic. But at the Nangang Station, Liao's whimsical imagination has delighted many local commuters and tourists like me.
Whenever I chance upon art on the street, whether it's painted graffiti on the side of an old building or a commissioned mural on subway walls, I find instant joy. There's really nothing like beauty to brighten up any corner of the world.
Happy new year, bearbrick lovers! :-)
All pics by yours truly. Copyright January 2010. Info from culture.tw, taipeitimes.com