Monday, December 26, 2011

How My Sister Packs For Christmas

Middle sister, Jessie, is here for five days. She arrived at noon on December 24, and is leaving around the same time on December 29. She brought a monster bag, weighing over fifty pounds (until she put some things into a duffel for the flight). She could not remember what she had packed, and I knew it wasn't presents because she is Princess Gift Card (I am not belittling the gift card - I love the gift card, and gave out quite a few, myself, this year - I am simply making the point that none of the over-50 pounds were presents). Since she accumulated around 7-10 extra pounds worth of Christmas loot, from Santa, she was concerned about the luggage weight for her return to Denver.

"Gretch, come look at my bag and help me figure out why it is so heavy". Okay. There were the requisite, normal, three pairs of jeans (good), one sweaterdress (good), one pair of tights to go with sweaterdress (uh hunh), one heavy, clunky belt (fine, but wear it on the way back, what is it made of, iron?), and then four long-sleeved shirts that didn't really go with anything else in the bag, and that's where the logic unraveled. The remaining contents to be sung to the tune of "The 12 Days of Christmas"...

Eight pairs of socks
Seven similar sweaters 
Six pairs of undies
FIVE, FANCY BRAS (who are you planning to see while you're here?)
Four workout outfits
Three pairs of pajamas (?) 
Two pairs of boots
and a bikini with heavy metal clasps

We do not have a hot tub. I must also mention that two of the seven similar sweaters were actually closer to identical: black, wool turtleneck. She was wearing one, when I pulled another one out of the bag and held it up. She laughed. I think she does it on purpose so she can borrow my stuff. "I thought about packing my puffy down coat, but it didn't fit. Can I borrow yours?" Last year she had to borrow my socks. 


I hope everyone had a fabulous holiday!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Vicarious Movie Travel

I'm not going anywhere anytime soon, but I shore is goin' places on muh teevee. Turner Classic Movies continues to expand my (unnecessary) familiarization with old-timey movies, and I commented, to no one in particular, "Hey, a lot of these old-timey movies take place on ships". (My dad mistakenly took that as an invitation to one of his long-winded explanations about how, in those days, ship travel was the way most people..."No!" I shouted, "It was just an observation!" I had to cut him off. I was missing precious snappy dialogue.)

Today I sailed on the S.S. Queen Anne from Southampton to New York with Myrna Loy and William Powell in "Libeled Lady", from 1936.

Don't be fooled by the poster, the movie was a classic black & white. I curse the people who colorize the classics. It looks wrong. Like your two-year old got into your rouge and powder and smeared it all over the filmstrip.

If you love fashion, but think "I don't like black & white movies", you need to re-evaluate your likes and dislikes, toute suite. Oh my God, everything Jean Harlow wore had fur sleeves, including her nightgown.

Never mind that Ms. Harlow forgot her bra for the duration of the film, the clothes were astounding. Each new scene had me blurting out things like "Fur sleeves!" and "Her dress matches the furniture!" and "Why is she still not wearing a bra?"

She's on the phone to the costume department, asking the same question.

I watch a lot of old movies, and often find myself wondering "How did they get their hair like that?"

People put effort into it back then. Jean Harlow and Spencer Tracy were not on the ship, though, let's get back to that.

I mean, the hats alone warrant a celebration. Black tie and gowns for dinner. And more fur!

This was not a Carnival Cruise.

Eventually they disembarked, but the fashion kept coming.

I think those were real flowers on her dress.

I don't know how I have lived this long without having seen this movie. It was hilarious, clever, entertaining, and insane with the fashion. Maybe I should spend less time traveling, and more time on the couch with TCM.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mercury is Retrograde

"Mercury is retrograde" is a phrase I frequently employ when, in fact, Mercury IS retrograde. It helps explain the myriad communication snafus that result when the planet Mercury appears to be going backwards. "Oh, you didn't get that email? Yeah, Mercury is retrograde." Or "You tried to call me yesterday? I didn't get a message. But that's okay, because Mercury is retrograde."

Or as explains it:

A planet is described as retrograde when it appears to be moving backwards through the zodiac. According to modern science, this traditional concept arises in the illusory planetary motion created by the orbital rotation of the earth with relation to other planets in our solar system.

Since I just took a 2-hour walk with my dad, who talks like that all the time, rendering the simplest sentence nearly unintelligible, I just read "A planet is described as retrograde when it appears to be moving backwards, blah blah blah science, blah blah solar system."

That is neither here nor there. What IS here AND there is that Mercury tends to foul up any and all communication. What say you about this,

In general, Mercury rules thinking and perception... and all means of communication...By extension, Mercury rules people who work in these areas, especially those who work with their minds or their wits: writers and orators...

AHA! That explains it! And I'm only kind of laughing at the word "orator".

Another thing that is here AND there is that the Brand New Book I Wrote is now officially listed on Amazon as available for pre-order, and NO ONE TOLD ME! WHA???? That is correct. I was going about my merry business on Facebook, and joking around with one of my friends, who then made a joke about pre-ordering my book, and I was all "oh, har har, yep". Then he came back with a "Whoa, a real entry and everything. Nice." This comment gave me pause. Not pregnant pause, not kitty-cat paws, but serious "Hang on a second, what is he talking about" pause. And before I could press "un-pause" I was over at Amazon typing in the title of my book, and you know what? IT WAS THERE.

Hellooooooo book! I was not appraised of this new development! I immediately sent an email to my editor (whom I love) with "AHEM" in the subject line, because cyber-coughing always gets people's attention. I demanded (in my nicest, non-all-caps, email voice) to know why I had to find out about this via a friend on Facebook, rather than a singing chocolate-shoe-gram, like all the really important authors. She still hasn't responded. And it's not just because I'm not a really important author. It is because? Anyone? Bueller?

It is because Mercury is retrograde.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gearing Up For A Happy Christmas

I love Christmas, and I love London, and Claridge's knows precisely how to combine those two loves and make them even better:

Lanvin's creative director, Alber Elbaz, designed this and explains “The concept of the Christmas Tree decoration is to create an installation that carries the spirit of Lanvin, an infusion of tradition and modernity at the same time. The tree is to emanate and bring heartwarming joy to all who work and stay as guests at Claridge’s hotel..."

Mission accomplished. Now, you can bring me some of that heartwarming joy in the form of your famous elegant flats. 


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Out of curiosity, I Googled "best place to celebrate Thanksgiving". One site claims they "rely on quantifiable information to construct our studies", which was good enough for me. I get most of my information from Wikipedia.

The best place to celebrate Thanksgiving, according to my scientific search, is Akron, Ohio, due to its Midwestern location (although many Ohioans claim to be from the East Coast), and the number of people invited to dinners and the number of dishes served.

I still think it would be most fun to return to Plimouth Plantation to partake in a 17th Century feast. A "charger of Holland cheese and fruit" would really hit the spot right about now.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's Raining. I'm Cold.

We're deep into November. Do you know where your vacation plans are?


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Weekend In Seattle - spoiler: it rained

Last weekend I took a little trip up to the place I used to call "home", Seattle. As was typical, the weather forecast was this:

So typical, as I had made a hair appointment for Friday, and planned to have the nice hair-do girl flat-iron it. Flat-ironed hair makes you look skinnier. Of course it was going to rain, and undo all that visual hocus pocus. I came close to investing in one of these:

But then did not. I did, however, pack these:

I love shoes, and it's impossible to pick a favorite pair, but these boots have done me proud, ever since I purchased them last November. Living in Seattle (or other Pacific Northwest city) and not owning proper rain boots is just silly. It's the difference between grumbling about ruined suede pumps and happily splashing through puddles in your protective armor.

My friend Ellen was flying in from San Francisco to meet me, and we needed a cute but mostly convenient hotel. I gambled on a cheapie Hotwire mystery hotel (4-star only with the gambling, though), and was rewarded with the Hyatt Olive 8:

Excellent, central location, and there were robes. We were just a few blocks from one of my all-time favorite eat-y/drink-y places, Tango. We sat in a booth, clinked our sangria glasses, nibbled on bacon-wrapped dates and laughed like this, "Ha! Haha!" After enough sangria it seems perfectly logical to order a calorie-and-fat-laden dessert, even when your hair is not making you appear any skinnier.

I dragged Ellen to all the must-see spots in Seattle, and would post photos of those, if we had any that weren't ruined by rain. We stuck to indoor pursuits like consignment-shop shopping at My Dressing Room in Queen Anne, and Fury in Madison Park. I refrained from spending (back pat).

Later, we met up with friends and indulged:

Wine bars are my favorite thing, and the Local Vine is one of my favorite-ist. Ellen plans to return to Seattle when the weather is nicer. So, next August.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I Changed the Header Photo

You know, because it's fall and such. You shouldn't wear heeled sandals while kicking through colorful leaves.

Friday, October 14, 2011

I Just Can't Get Left. Or Right.

To wrap up my two-week genealogy road-trip extravaganza, I drove from Providence, to the Catskills, then back to Syracuse to return my rental car. The fall foliage complied.
What did not comply was the New York state highway system. Traffic was moving at a zippy pace, and there was nowhere to pull over and photograph all the splendor. I was Clark Griswold caught in the roundabout in London. "I can't seem to get over to the left, honey." There was no left, there was no right. There was no side.

The dashboard is an unwelcome frame for my masterpieces. I was gasping and marveling at all the splendor, and then feeling abnormally panicked that I would not have proper opportunity to share said splendor with everyone else, shrieking aloud to no one, "Why are there no gravelly shoulders for pulling over?!" So, keeping my eyes on the road, would hold out my right arm with camera and click intermittently. I do not recommend this. 

Please just try to imagine how beautiful the leaves looked. The camera adds ten pounds, and also seems to subtract ten times the prettiness of the colors. It was a stunning, stunning drive. Happy fall! 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Divine Providence

When traveling you should always try to ignore the things that irritate you about a new place. Irritatedness (I know, not really a word) is probably not close to Godliness. (And although "irritatedness" is not a word, I would still like to see that cross-stitched on a pillow.)  
  1. Ignore the fact that Google maps directions failed to take into consideration the Gloria Gemma 5K for Breast Cancer Awareness, when suggesting you take Exit 22A to reach the Hotel Providence, in Providence, R.I.
  2. Ignore the fact that, once you've driven ten blocks out of your way, you discover that the street your hotel is on, Westminster, is broken up into two separate sections. The one you've finally managed to erroneously find yourself on is in a somewhat sketchy neighborhood. 
  3. Ignore the fact that, once you finally locate the correct section of the street, you find it is a one-way, and nearly impossible to access going the right way. 
  4. Ignore the fact that although your hotel's address is 311 Westminster Street, the entrance (and visible sign) is actually half-way down the cross-street of Matthewson, which, as far as you are concerned, could also be called Not Westminster. 
  5. Ignore the fact that you later notice, while walking several streets up, that there is a sign for Hotel Providence on Westminster St., although it is placed far too high up on the building to be visible from the street - where you were driving and desperately searching for a hotel sign
  6. Ignore the fact that the hotel offers valet parking for $26 overnight.
  7. Ignore the fact that you have not eaten in five hours.
Come on, Sunshine! Turn it around! Find that silver lining!
  1. The Gloria Gemma 5K provided an awesome visual of a sea of pink shirts against the red brick of downtown Providence. Plus, it was for a good cause. 
  2. The somewhat sketchy neighborhood had a Shell station where gas was $3.49/gallon. That was the lowest you've seen in two weeks, and you needed to fill up. 
  3. You got an unplanned tour of the city. 
  4. You are now intimately familiar with the location of Aspire Restaurant, because it's location (and massive signage) is precisely where the hotel would have been, if it's address had actually been 311 Westminster.  
  5. Should you arrive via helicopter next time, that sign (that is placed far too high on the building) will be invaluable.  
  6. You find a nearby parking lot where the guy agrees to let you park overnight, for $20, and you don't have to leave the lot until around 10am the next day. 
  7. You walked down one block, and found this:

This is your new Providence Happy Place. Today, Korean food is providing the comfort and solace you need after too many hotels, too many Google maps and too many weeks of road-trip travel.

It looks messy, but that's only because you've already consumed half of it. It is delicious, and there's enough left over to eat later for dinner, when you are relaxing in your hotel room
which is not on Westminster Street.

And after blustering on and on about the hotel's address, you check the hotel's website and see that they list the address as 139 Matthewson St. However, you made all your arrangements through Tablet Hotels, which lists the address as 311 Westminster, and that is the address you had written in your daily planner, and it is the address you typed into Oct 9 in Microsoft Outlook, and it is the address you plugged into Google maps. 

You might now direct your rage toward Tablet Hotels, if not for the melodic bonging of the bells from Grace Episcopal church, right across the street. Please refer to your cross-stitched pillow.

*If the Tablet Hotel's link to Hotel Providence shows the address as 139 Matthewson, it is only because I have (possibly politely) notified them of their egregious error.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Plimouth Plantation

This hotel was awful.

*UPDATED 11/4/2011

Kara's comment made me laugh really hard, and then think "Yes, I should probably explain further."
These photos were taken at one of the homes on Plimouth Plantation, in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It's an amazing recreation of the first Pilgrim settlement - an entire village with thatched-roof houses and gardens and livestock and people dressed in old-timey 1620's garb, talking in old-timey 1620's fashion. 

It was one of those experiences I wish I could have had on an off-day, when everyone else was somewhere else. It's too hard to get into the 1620's spirit when you're surrounded by sweaty tourists in football jerseys and Crocs. I, on the other hand, was appropriately clad in my apron, full skirts and sensible shoes [falls off couch laughing].

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Ivy League Background

I'm getting deeper and deeper into the ancestry, and deeper and deeper into New England. Settlers and Puritans and Pilgrims, OH MY. I had to visit a few places in Connecticut so I chose New Haven, specifically the New Haven Hotel, as my base for two nights.

This is one of the worst hotel room photos I've ever taken, but I was tired and couldn't find a good angle without stringing myself from the ceiling. There was no string in my suitcase.

The hotel itself was a relief, after having to drive through a moderately sketchy neighborhood to reach it. It was very W-esque. Not charming or quirky, but very efficient and comfortable: good bed, good water pressure, fitness room, free Wi-Fi, and was big enough to accommodate my luggage explosion without infringing on my relaxing space.

I wandered into town with the express purpose of buying sweats. Sweatpants, sweatshirt. I realized I really didn't have a proper "I give up" ensemble at home, and the best sweats are university sweats. The ones I got have pockets - you know, for snacks and stuff. I'm especially looking forward to wearing them and having a random person ask, "Oh, did you go to Yale?" and I'll say, "Yes I did." Only for about twenty minutes, but yes I did.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hopefully Haunted Berkshires

I had moderate success today with two cemetery visits in Upstate New York. I found a few ancestors on my list, which is always exciting, and I was able to photograph the headstones for extra assurance that my names, dates and places are correct in the family tree. Although most of the older headstones just look like this:

 Stupid two-hundred years of weather and mold, obscuring all the details.

New Scotland Cemetery was my favorite, and my people had a beautiful spot under a big tree - possibly oak, possibly something else. I'm not an arborist. 

This was by far the coolest headstone I've seen yet. It was as if the tree grew up right around it, and was sheltering it with a big hug.

I gave my long-gone ancestors a mental hug (not as snuggly as the tree hug, I know), and departed New Scotland. I headed down I 87S toward my next destination - Sheffield, Massachusetts, The Berkshires. Now, I know I described the Saratoga Arms as being "just like Granny's house", so please extend that description - but further back in time - to Staveleigh House:

Staveleigh House is just like Granny's house, if Granny had kept house in the early 1800s. I walked through the front door and into the 19th century, with original 1813 floorboards and everything. As I was creaking up the old stairs

 I gleefully thought to myself "OH, I hope it's haunted!"

Little old-timey dolls are oftentimes an excellent indicator of "haunted". I asked my cute little proprietess Ali (emphasis on the "i") if my suspicions (hopes) were correct, and she paused a moment before assessing that my expression was more excitement than trepidation. She pulled out the drawer on the little writer's desk and withdrew a framed newspaper article titled "Bed and breakfast ghost". She explained it had been written by a very straight-laced woman who had spent a night in the same room I would be sleeping in tonight. Ali confided, "She and her husband were very Archie and Edith Bunker-type people", alluding to the fact that the story was more likely to be legitimate coming from them, as opposed to some goth witchy chick.

An excerpt from the article (which I could not find on Google):

"The bedroom door was closed but suddenly and forcefully swung open. The house being over a 100 [sic] years old, the floors slant. However, our floor slanted in the opposite direction, that is, towards the hall and not to our room's outside wall...I had to explain [to the proprietors] what had happened.
Dorothy [one of the previous proprietors] noted that their cat had been acting strangely and that one evening when they were entertaining, one of their guests, upon leaving, indicated that they had 'friendly spirits' residing in the house. She also related that on several occasions she had experienced fleeting sights of 'something' in their hallway."

(Do the italics add an element of spookiness? That's kind of what I was going for.)

I was thrilled, and wondered if the ghosts were watching me right now! Do they find me curious and perplexing? Are they impressed with how efficiently my suitcase is packed? Do they think I'm a really fast typist? Do they think these jeans make my butt look big?

I wonder what they think of Facebook.

Then I saw that the article was from 2000, and at the bottom the author had added, "We continue to return to the B&B every October, but have not experienced our 'ghost' again."


Ghosts, if you have internet access and are reading this, remember this room?

Come visit! But no door slamming, and nothing too scary. Maybe a little murmury chatting, and if you could conjure up a sweet 19th century dream for me (I never dream in past centuries, which bums me out), or if you happen to know my ancestor ghosts, and could provide the details of those worn-away headstones, that would be great. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Saratoga Springs - A One Horse Tow...oh wait

See, because it's known for it's horse races you know. So there must be many, many horses. Not just the one. Oh nevermind.

I love, love, love this place. It is one of those clutch-your-hands-to-your-cheek-with-glee towns, and should be immediately commissioned for a snow globe. My camera is not good for nighttime photos, but please picture (if you will) a Broadway Avenue (which is really not at all broad - it's just two-lanes) with all the main stuff you'd want to find in a town, which is why it should be Main Street. Saratoga does have a Main Street, but it's not the main street. Anyway, Broadway is flanked by clouded-glass street lamps, and lively shops and restaurants with colorful awnings and Christmas lights.

On my genealogical quest for ancestral amazingness I dragged myself far out of my way in order to suss out a few ancient gravestones, in inconvenient, microscopic cemeteries that are not on the map. Not my map, not Google maps, not any maps. The harried ladies at the gas station hadn't even heard of the road I was looking for. I drove three hours in the wrong direction of Saratoga Springs (my eventual destination for today), only to find that the teensy cemetery (located off the mysterious County Route 7 in Montour Falls, New York) must have grown hungry, out there in the middle of nowhere, and eaten my ancestors' gravestones. I could only see very tip-tops of most of them, and the engravings had worn away. Sad Gretchen. 

The resulting extra-long drive to Saratoga Springs left me a little fussy and a lot hungry, but I was rewarded with the adorableness of the town, and as I dramatically threw my belongings on the bed of my B&B I wailed to the empty room, "PLEASE have a wine bar! I'm sure they have a wine bar. I really need a wine bar."

There was even a projection of the bar's name onto the sidewalk in lights. Two blocks down the street from my charming, cozy B&B, which was charming and cozy in both real estate-speak, and regular-speak:

The Saratoga Arms is just like Granny's house, if Granny had an endearing fixation on horse racing, and smelled like Irish Spring. These are both things I enjoy.

Other things I enjoy:

And I totally earned the pear and cashew crisp for dessert. That road trip was exhausting. It was like I was a horse in a big, long race. 

See what I did there?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Glamorous Life

I am in Syracuse, New York, and have found that while it does not rank amongst the top vacation destinations, (I mean for you people pfft, what do you know, taking the family to Albany all these years), it does have its charms.

In the interest of doing my amateur genealogy research, I've rented a sassy little Hyundai Accent from the Comb-over King at Alamo, and plan to toodle my way across New England, searching for proof of my existence (am actually writing book about ancestors, which sounds profoundly boring, but my ancestors are FANCY - I think...)

This hotel would be my favorite hotel ever, if it had fierce water pressure (it does not), and fluffy bath robes (it does not):

But look at how cute! Hotel Skylar is all sustainable and stuff. They recycle and use recycled materials, and I'm pretty sure could procure some recycled-material robes if they really wanted to. The low-flow shower-head just encourages me to condition my hair with its "natural oils", which means it's hat time. Does anyone else wonder if people just changed the spelling because the original (and I think British) spelling of Schuyler seemed too confusing? Hooked on phonics? Anyone?

Just in case you think I am just indulging in my typical vagabond slacking, I went here yesterday:

And a very nice lady in the research room pulled files for me and I did research. Tha's right, research. Research is one of those words that you only need to say five times before it becomes nonsensical.

After the research (probably not a word) I accidentally found this awesome place for lunch called The Mission, and the menu made me order too many things:

It had items that spoke to me in naughty whispers. Words like "plantains" and "sweet potato fries" and "tres leches cake". And I felt like I was doing something helpful by eating at a place that used to be a church, which used to be a stop on the Underground Railroad. I'm very philanthropic that way.


And research.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Still Here, and Still Lazy

I haven't been updating the TravelGretta so much. Mainly because I was all "Oh, no one is really reading it anyway", and then I got an email from someone I rarely hear from who said "And I'm still reading your blog!" Then I felt guilty.

Another reason I haven't been updating is because I've been busily editing my book (tentatively, but almost confirmedly titled "I Have Iraq in My Shoe"), which is slated for publication in April 2012.

AND I've also been working on a couple of other books. I'm all about the books now! But I have been taking a bunch of domestic trips, and really should have been popping in here to share a photo or two. Here's where I stayed (one night) in Palm Springs over Labor Day weekend:

The Colony Palms hotel is totally Old Hollywood - like '30s and '40s Old Hollywood. I know you're probably saying "Um, it's Palm Springs, not Hollywood", however, the little tour we took explained that in the early days of movie-making, the studio contracts stipulated that the actors could travel no further than 100 miles from Hollywood, in case they were needed for emergency movie stuff. Palm Springs is 90 miles from Hollywood, so many, many old-timey famous people bought homes there: Clark Gable & Carole Lombard, Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin, Dorothy Lamour. Old Hollywood. 

My favorite meal was lunch at Cheeky's. The menu is constantly rotating, so you might not be able to order the most awesome sandwich ever (yams with cilantro, red onion, feta and tomato), but everything else looked great too. We went with my friend's uncle, who wasn't the most adventurous diner. He wanted IHOP or something with a sneeze-guarded buffet table. When he saw that the burgers were "grass-fed" he asked the waiter "Does that mean it's turkey?"

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Vacation Ideas

All places I haven't been.

1) Tarnation
2) Funky Town
3) Boogie Wonderland
4) Candyland
5) State of the Heart
6) Kingdom Come

From what I've heard, a few of these are really far away.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Favorite Guinness

Sometimes people will say to me "You have been EVERYWHERE!" which immediately makes me think of all the places I haven't been. Omagh, County Tyrone, Ireland is one of those places.

Well, actually, all of Ireland is one of those places, but I'm specifically focused on Omagh because, with my crazy fundamentalist-like obsession with Family Tree Maker I have found that my third great-grandparents came from the Old Country.

Isn't that a pretty Old Country? James McAnaney and Catherine McNamee made the trans-Atlantic voyage to the New World (or as we know it, Amurrrica) sometime between 1806 and 1836, when their first child, John, was born, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. See? You're already thinking "I wonder if any of MY relatives came over from Ireland...I need to get a Family Tree Maker!" It is more addictive than Facebook. Or meth.

So now, not only do I have a perfectly legitimate excuse to visit The Emerald
Isle, I have interesting family history research to do when I get there. I have been watching "Who Do You Think You Are?" religiously, and love that the subjects actually go to each place to find clues. I have found plenty of my own family information online, and even one of WDYTYA's executive producers, Lisa Kudrow, has admitted you don't really need to make all those trips to find the information. However, since I'm always looking for reasons to travel, I will ignore that. This is one trip that wouldn't just be another shopping/eating/drinking extravaganza. It would also have satisfying rewards at the end of the research rainbow. And Guinness.

I know that would have seemed more Irish if it had been a photo of a pint of Guinness, but a photo of Daphne Guinness is just so much more spectacular.