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Two years ago, on Marathon Monday, I was sitting on the sun-drenched front steps of a house party in Boston’s Kenmore neighborhood, when someone stole my boyfriend’s brand-new Canon camera right from under my nose. At the time, we were particularly horrified that someone would have the audacity to do something so mean and so brazen on Marathon Monday! Call me naive, but we thought that was just about the worst thing that someone could ever do on such a celebratory day.

Boy, were we wrong. On Monday at 2:50 p.m., 2 bombs exploded within seconds of each other as runners made their way across the finish line. That act of violence claimed 3 lives, injured dozens more and forever changed how the world viewed my hometown’s very best holiday. For the first time in the race’s 117-year history, Bostonians have to adjust to hearing words like “explosion,” “bombing” and “tragedy” uttered alongside “Boston Marathon.”

It’s just not how Marathon Monday was supposed to be.

What many out-of-towners may not realize is that the Boston Marathon is not just a race, it’s so much more. It’s a day of city pride, a day typically filled with stories of love and support and incredible accomplishment, all celebrated against a backdrop of Patriots’ Day, a state holiday commemorating the opening battles of the American Revolutionary War. School kids and government workers enjoy the day off, Sox fans flock to Fenway Park to see our team host the only morning game on the entire Major League Baseball schedule, and more than 20,000 people from dozens of countries come to compete in the marathon.

It’s a day that runners work toward for months, even years, forgoing hungover brunches with friends to spend their Sunday mornings on 14-mile runs, dreaming of making it over Heartbreak Hill.

On what seems to always be the first sunny, spring day in the city, thousands of spectators head out for the event. Moms and dads pack picnics, grandpas plop down in foldy chairs, and the city’s droves of college kids embark on a marathon of their own — typically, a day-long booze-filled party, all in good fun. Thousands line the 26.2-mile route, at times 10 to 15 people deep, and spend hours rooting and cheering on friends, family and total strangers. Among them this year was 8-year-old Martin Richard, watching from the sidelines in Copley Square as runners made their final strides across the finish line. By Martin’s side were his parents, his 11-year-old brother and 5-year-old sister.

While a few run to compete, many more Boston marathoners run to raise money for charity. Some even run for those who no longer can. The runners write their names on their T-shirts, arms and legs, ensuring 26.2 miles of feeling like a rockstar as adoring Bostonians shout out personalized words of encouragement.

That’s how it’s supposed to be.

This time was different. This time, the spectators weren’t cheering words of encouragement, they were yelling at the runners. They were telling them to stop, to turn around, to run away from the finish line that they’d spent months training to run toward.

This time, Bostonians at marathon-watch parties shied away from their balconies overlooking Beacon Street and instead sat silently around TVs, watching in shock as Copley Square erupted in smoke and horrified screams.

And now we have learned the cost in lives. On Monday, we lost 3 of our own: Martin Richard, the 8-year-old Dorchester boy; Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old woman from Arlington, MA, who had been waiting on Boylston Street for a friend to cross the finish line; and a Boston University graduate student from China, watching the race with 2 friends.

Now comes the investigation and the questions of who and why? But here’s the hardest question of all: Will Marathon Monday ever be our very best day again? Anyone who knows Boston knows the answer. The city of Boston is a city of fighters, from its earliest patriots up until today. Next year, make it a point to experience the Boston Marathon the way that it was supposed to be celebrated this year, the way that it’s been celebrated all of my life — as a joyous, loving and supportive celebration of incredible strength, determination and will.

To help those most affected by Monday’s bombings, please visit The One Fund Boston.

Photo by Reuters/Mike Segar

Finally! In a victory that previous Aussie golfers Jim Ferrier, Bruce Crampton, Jack Newton and 3-time runner-up Greg Norman could only dream of, Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the Masters Tournament this past Sunday and cast a renewed spotlight on golf Down Under.

For travelers looking to combine their love of faraway places with their love of the sport, Australia offers enticing options: golf courses spread across inland settings, some at really affordable prices. Among them is the recently opened Barnbougle Dunes resort. Located on Tasmania’s shores, the 200-acre resort offers all-day unlimited to its 36-hole course for around $130.

For a world-class golf experience, head to Royal Melbourne Golf Club, a 36-hole course near Melbourne that routinely makes US Golf Digest’s list of the world’s top golf courses. Since its founding in 1891, Royal Melbourne has gone on to become the oldest continually operating golf club in Australia — and if the media buzz is correct, Adam Scott will play at the club from Nov. 14-17 to defend the title he won last November at Kingston Heath.

This other premier golf club, located in Melbourne’s southeast suburbs, is the No. 2 course in Australia, and has hosted the Australian Golf Open 7 times. Several years ago, Kingston Heath also hosted the Australian Masters tournament. Looking to hit the green? Visiting golfers must be members of interstate or overseas golf clubs in order to arrange a booking.

For more memorable golf moments Down Under, head to Australia’s Dent Island. There you’ll find Hamilton Island Golf Club, home to the country’s only 18-hole championship course on an island. Designed by British Open championship golfer Peter Thompson, the par-71 course of broad fairways and steep valleys offers 360-degree views of the Coral Sea off Australia’s northeast coast.

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Photo by Reuters

Fans attending the Masters Tournament face 2 very big questions this weekend: Will this be the year of Tiger Woods’ return (do you think his relationship with Lindsey Vonn will last?), and where can we get some good food around here, anyway?

(Guess that was 3.)

With the 77th Masters in Augusta, GA, now in full swing, thousands of fans will find there’s plenty to do this weekend in addition to watching great golfers vie for the coveted green jacket — so long as you venture off the main strip of Washington Road, located just beyond the gates of Augusta National Golf Club.

Turns out, this is one fun town — for golf, of course, and so much more. Located along the Savannah River, Augusta is Georgia’s second-oldest (and second-largest) city, behind Atlanta. As home to nearly 200,000 people, Augusta offers visitors no shortage of attractions, from shopping and nightlife to sports and museums. I mean, you can hardly go wrong in a town where the godfather of soul, James Brown, once lived and where Hulk Hogan was born, right?

But first thing’s first: Getting a good burger. Once you leave the gates of Augusta National Golf Club, make it your personal mission this weekend to try something a little off the beaten path … it’ll be so worth the effort. Your first stop: Farmhaus Burger. This restaurant supports local farms, which means the burgers that come to your table are sourced from nearby Southeastern Angus beef.

If that doesn’t sate your appetite – or you’re ready for a binge weekend — there’s more eclectic farm-to-table fare to be had elsewhere: Head to Frog Hollow Tavern for a menu that features local and regionally-grown seasonal ingredients like savory greens in dishes such as grilled boneless quail. Another locally-minded kitchen, Rooster’s Beak also showcases regional ingredients and beers. Or for an interesting take on Spanish tapas, head to Bee’s Knees Tapas, a restaurant that puts an international spin on tapas with dishes like the “Sesame Leaf Roll.”

Speaking of eclectic, you’ll want to check out the James Brown Exhibit at the Augusta Museum of History. And don’t forget to celebrate what brought you to Augusta in the first place — the grand tradition of golf – at this museum, where you’ll also find life-size bronze statues of golf greats like Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.

Reaching the museum in downtown Augusta is easy – just take the Saturday trolley tour, which departs from the Augusta Visitor Center (that’s about a 7-minute ride from the Augusta Golf Club). Also worth checking out on Saturday – in case, for some reason, all the Masters action leaves you needing time to decompress — is the Augusta Market for local crafts and foods and a Moonlight Music Cruise along the Augusta Canal.

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Photo by Getty Images

The Hollywood buzz has started for the new movie 42, a look into the life of American baseball player Jackie Robinson — the first African American to play in Major League Baseball. And in just a few days, April 15 will mark the 64th anniversary of Jackie’s first MLB game at Ebbets Field as a Brooklyn Dodger, breaking the color barrier.

Jackie Robinson was born in Cairo, GA, but he lived most of his childhood in Pasadena, CA, at 121 Pepper Street. At an early age, Jackie was a competitive athlete, achieving 4-letterman status in football, basketball, baseball and track at John Muir Technical High School and later, at UCLA, where he won the NCAA broad jump title at 25′ 6 1/2 “.

In 1941, Jackie moved to Honolulu, where he played football for the semi-professional Honolulu Bears. Shortly after, he was drafted into the US Army during World War II. Jackie was stationed at Fort Riley, KS, and then Fort Hood, TX. He became a second lieutenant, but his military career took a sharp turn when he was court-martialed in connection to his objections to incidents involving racial discrimination.

Photography by Ronny Jaques/Library and Archives Canada

After a dishonorable discharge from the military, Jackie dived back into the sports, accepting a position as athletic director and basketball coach at Samuel Huston College in Austin, TX, and playing one season in the Negro Baseball League for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1945. It was this same year that Branch Rickey, club president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, scouted the Negro leagues for a possible addition to the Dodgers. Branch chose Jackie and soon after, in 1946, the young player was signed to play for the all-white Montreal Royals of the Class AAA International League, a farm team for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The very next year  Jackie was suited up as a Dodger, becoming the first African-American player since the league’s inception in 1875 to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier. African-American fans flocked to see the Dodgers play, finding, for the first time, a chance to root for more than just Negro league teams.

Although he struggled with racial discrimination throughout his career (he routinely faced racial slurs shouted from the stands), Jackie would be named the National League Rookie of the Year (1947) and National League’s Most Valuable Player of the Year (1949). He would also win the 1949 batting title, with a .342 average — a great percentage for any pro baseball player.

During the mid-1950s, Jackie’s batting average was on the decline, but oddly enough, it was one of the “highs” in his career. In 1955, the Brooklyn Dodgers beat the New York Yankees to clinch the 1955 World Series championship. In all, Jackie had a career batting average of .311 with the Dodgers, and in 1962, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, becoming the first African-American player to achieve such distinction.

Photo by Getty Images

After his baseball career, Jackie starred as himself in The Jackie Robinson Story, continued as a civil rights activist, and took a new career as a successful businessman and sports commentator. In addition to these career achievements and changes, he remained a devoted husband to his wife Rachel and a hands-on father to his 3 children.

In 1972, Jackie Robinson died of a heart attack in Stamford, CT, but his legacy lives on through the Jackie Robinson Foundation and at popular attractions, including the Jackie Robinson Field in Pasadena’s Brookside Park, the Jackie Robinson Stadium at UCLA and the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, located at the main entrance to the New York Mets Citi Field.

Photo by Getty Images

In 1997, 9-foot busts were erected across from Pasadena City Hall to commemorate Jackie and his older brother Matthew “Mack” Robinson, who set the world record for broad jump and won a silver medal at the 1936 Olympic Summer Games.  And today, every few years, MLB players remember Jackie Robinson in special ceremonies and by wearing his jersey number 42, which was retired from Major League Baseball on April 15, 1997.

Plans are underway to open a Jackie Robinson Museum and Learning Center at One Hudson Square in Manhattan in 2015.

Want to get in on the Spring Fling action, but having a hard time since you’re … you know … single? Then grab a buddy, and fling about the nation’s ballparks!

Baseball season is in full swing, which means you’ve got one more thing to add to your sightseeing list while on vacation: rooting for the home team. While there are plenty of people who have “visit all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums in the country” on their bucket list, you don’t have to be quite so ambitious to make your trip ballin’.

Tips for Navigating the Wilds of Baseball Travel:

1.     Download the MLB’s At The Ballpark app. With it, you have access to every team’s full schedule, the ability to buy tickets and find promotions, as well as a map and a full A to Z guide of anything and everything you could need while at the park.

2.    Call the team’s front office ahead of time.  On the team’s website, search for an employee directory and contact the person who has something “community”-related in their title. They’ll be able to tell you if tours are offered or they might be able to hook you up with a special experience of some kind. (One-on-one time with the mascot, maybe?) Hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask! Just let them know how big of a fan you are.

3.     Explore the city! Keep a few days available, just in case your game gets rained out. But while you’re there, check out the landmarks, search for an awesome restaurant, find a baseball museum (chances are pretty good there’s one nearby).

4.     Don’t make a beeline to the first hotdog stand you see. Walk the entire perimeter of the park and survey all your options. In fact, ballpark food is more varied now than ever. At Camden Yards in Baltimore, keep an eye out for the Jack Daniel’s Grill and their slab of whiskey-glazed, thick-cut bacon on a stick. Or how about some frozen custard from the Shake Shack at Citi Field in New York? You never know what you might find!

5.     Speaking of things you never knew you’d find, a few parks have unexpected perks. A pool and Jacuzzi at Chase Field in Phoenix? Sure, why not? An aquarium at Tropicana Park in Tampa Bay? Lead the way!

If you’re having trouble narrowing down your list of must-see ballparks, let our picks for Baseball’s Greatest Stadiums help you out!

By Mommy Points

With the 2014 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony set for February 7, 2014, the Games in Sochi, Russia, are now officially less than a year away.  If you want to be at the Opening Ceremony, or one of the other 15 types of winter events that will take place during the 2014 Games, then mark this Monday, February 11, 2013, in bold letters on your calendar.

The public sale for remaining individual event tickets begins promptly at noon eastern on Monday.  This will be a first come, first serve sale, so in order to have the best shot at getting what you are after, don’t be late getting online on Monday.  Event tickets start at $22 USD and go up into the hundreds of dollars for more popular events like ice skating and men’s hockey finals.  If you are interested in a ticket + hotel package deal, some of those are already available now.

The official website to purchase Olympic tickets and packages depends on your country of residence, but those residing in countries such as the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Australia must use CoSport.com.  If you plan to participate in the ticket sale, I recommend registering for an account with CoSport now to avoid any potential delays on Monday.  Also, keep in mind that only Visa cards are accepted for official Olympic ticket sales.

Good luck!

And get a glimpse of future Games in our The Olympics: A Look Ahead slideshow!

Summer Hull is the founder of MommyPoints.coma site dedicated to helping a community of readers discover how to travel the world at a greatly reduced cost, primarily by taking advantage of current travel promotions and maximizing travel rewards programs.

As soon as I got off the elevator at baggage claim, I knew I was in New Orleans and I knew it had to be Super Bowl week. Immediately, I saw 200 limo drivers holding up signs for corporate types and A-list celebs and heard the background music provided by a Second Line band. All this was set to the staccato backbeat of a hundred pairs of 6-inch Loubs scooting across the linoleum floor as the out-of-town party girls made their way to the cars picking them up at the curb.

Super Bowl week is something else. When I got to the hotel at 6 p.m., I saw hundreds of famous faces in the lobby, including my old pal, middle-line-backing legend, Dhani Jones. I got to my room just in time to see the fireworks show over the river. The display is so impressive here in NOLA and as the entire weekend proved, NO ONE does the Super Bowl better than the City of New Orleans. Everything worked —  the proximity of the events to each other, the great food and drink, the gracious hosts. Riding elevators with guys like Dr. Harry Edwards, George Seifert, and hundreds of players and former players gave me a swivel-neck ache like no other. I have tons of pics on my Instagram account (@chefaz) and at www.andrewzimmern.com, so go check it out.

Andrew's Instagrams

Night one was all about eating. I went to August, and John Besh, Michael and Emily and their entire team cooked a meal for the record books: Three hours of insane chow celebrating all the flavors of NOLA, with a stunning array of oysters, crawfish and pastas crushed under the weight of sliced truffles and game meats. Plus, watching Aaron Sanchez get mobbed by fans, Packers great Clay Matthews have a Jerry Maguire-style dinner with his agent and Jeremy Piven work the room was a lot of the fun for sure. My pals swore they spotted reclusive super-agent and entertainment mogul Andrew Chason. Not sure I buy it.

Friday was all about the Let’s Kick Hunger Campaign for Taste of the NFL (make your reservations now for next year in New York City!). I spoke on hunger relief awareness issues at the Earl Morrall breakfast in a room filled with a hundred Hall of Famers, including most of the undefeated 1972 Dolphins team that Morral helped lead to Super Bowl glory. Mallory Hagan, our new Miss America, was my co-host for many Taste events all weekend … I have a pretty good job most days! I broke off for an hour to do the Dan Patrick show on Direct TV and make some etouffee, then Miss America and I took a slew of press and corporate execs out to Second Harvest food bank for a walkthrough and awareness-raising event, which couldn’t have been better. I spent a few hours in the NFL Media Center doing interviews and then got to spend some time with Patrick Warburton and Dhani Jones before rushing off to the Friday Night Huddle for Taste of the NFL and then to the Artie Lange show. Artie is a great guy, and hanging out with him and Joe Buck talking baseball was way cool. I cooked some Asian street food and then hit the showers before heading over to the first party of the night, the Playboy event at the old Jax Brewery.

Andrew and Dhani

A word about the scene here. The weekend can be divided into several layers: first there are the fans — they get tons of access depending on what they choose to buy into. I wanted to hit the NFL Experience but couldn’t get in … that’s a fan event. Then there are the celebs, tiered in A, B and C lists. We get invited to parties, to host events, do media interviews and participate in sponsor activations. Like restaurant health department grades, the better your letter, the better your fun quotient and … most importantly … the better your access at events. Then there are the players and the NFL execs. They attend anything they damn well please. It’s the Super Bowl! It’s their celebration. Then there are the sponsors. They run everything and make the rules. It’s always good to know the law of the jungle before you put on your pith helmet. The sponsors here create mega events: Questlove spinning with Jay Z and Justin Timberlake at the Direct TV SuperSaturdayNight, Stevie Wonder at the Bud Party, Lil Wayne at GQ, Cee-lo helmed the ESPN event, and so on.

Friday night at 11 I showed up at the Playboy party. Wow. Yes it was what you would expect: music thumping, booty-bumping, crab-cake-lumping … crazy crazy. Food by Besh, lots of great music and hanging out in small roped-off areas shouting at your friends who are 4 inches from you. Lots of networking, and fending off the Playmates … the girls all try to collect as many middle-aged, devilishly cherubic food dudes as they can. Just sayin’. By 3 a.m., I was sipping Café au Lait and eating beignets at Café du Monde with drunk street urchins, shifty grifters, cops, Lorena Garcia and crazy fans leaving bars in the French Quarter. By 4 a.m. I was in bed … wondering what the heck the next day would look like and if I would survive it.

Saturday morning I did some press and the concert at the Beach Bowl. It was amazing. Direct TV built the coolest super-tent and created a campus of buildings for all their parties and events. I went to the tailgate, then to the blue carpet. I am a mid-level B-list cable TV guy … I am so lucky, no complaints here. Any other day of year I am a “someone,” but not today. I felt about 2 inches tall as I had to explain who I am to hundreds of media gathered to talk to Snoop, Neil Patrick Harris, Neon Deion, Strahan, Toomer, Menounos, Palmer, Moon, Lolo Jones and the dozens of big deals assembled for this event. Getting taken down a peg is good for your spiritual development, and it puts things in perspective — I feel more grateful than I have in months. My agents and managers looked crushed that I got so little love, but I was thrilled — I got to walk the carpet with my idols!

I spent all afternoon and evening at Taste of the NFL, bussing it over to the Convention Center with 40 Hall of Famers and a dozen active players, which was the best hour of the weekend. We hit the floor and I checked in with one of my mentors, Wayne Kostroski — the Taste founder and a James Beard Humanitarian Award winner. I adore this man. What he has done to fight hunger in this country is epic. We raised tons of dough and as a topper, we get a $125,000 check from Party City. That will multiply 8 to 1 in the food bank world and create a million meals. I cried a little. In the middle of the fundraiser, we learned that several attendees got nominated to the Hall of Fame. Greatness. Lem Barney just kept saying the word “LOVE” over and over all night long. The greatest generation for sure.

By 10 I had to head to the Direct TV party zone for the concert. I was not prepared for what was inside. They took out the Beach Bowl field –including all the sand and bleachers — and created a nightclub in its place … in just 4 hours. There were erotic dancers, oysters and champagne, an A+ list crowd and Questlove killed it. Timberlake came out with a 20-piece orchestra after a 5-year performance hiatus and wowed the crowd … his cover of Michael Jackson’s “Shake” was EPIC. Jay Z appeared and all hell broke loose. Will Ferrell was in the parking lot as I left and took time to sign an autograph for our driver and make us laugh with some signature ribaldry. We checked out the GQ party with Lil’ Wayne and the Stevie Wonder party that Bud Light threw, then went off to the Ogden Museum for the final stop of the night. It was 4 a.m. before I got back home.

On Sunday morning I was up and at ‘em for a series of conference calls and then off to the game. Alicia Keys had a 6-car entourage leaving our hotel and 8 motorcycle cops in escort as she whipped her way down Poydras Street. The game was amazing: Beyonce amazed at halftime, Destiny’s Child had their reunion,  the game came down to the wire and we raced out after Baltimore cemented the victory. CONGRATS BALTIMORE! We hit the private party that John Besh threw at Borgne and scarfed down some of the best chow of the weekend, complete with superb shrimp and grits and a crawfish boil.

What did I learn? Well, one thing is for sure: New Orleans is a city with the biggest heart, the most gracious hospitality and unforgettable, soulful food, and they know how to throw a party. The Crescent City never felt better. As I walked into Loews Hotel, the doorman asked me how my weekend was. I told him, and he said, “If you liked Super Bowl week, you ‘oughta check out Mardi Gras next weekend … it’s even better.” And having been here for that celebration, he’s right. That’s the kind of city this is: without peer.

- Andrew Zimmern, Host of Bizarre Foods America

Host city of the 1980 Winter Olympics, Lake Placid is a winter sports lover’s paradise. Although summer is its busiest season, there are plenty of outdoor adventures for visitors at any time of year. And even though it’s in the middle of the Adirondack Mountains, the compact downtown center has a surprisingly diverse offering of restaurants.

Don’t let the name “Lake Placid” fool you; the actual lake is a couple miles away. Instead, the village of Lake Placid lies on the shores of Mirror Lake. Some of the state’s best mountains are found here, making it a popular winter ski spot, while summer brings travelers who want to swim or boat. Impressive fall foliage also makes it a destination for leaf peepers.

Overlooking Mirror Lake, High Peaks Resort is one of the most luxe and extensive resorts in the area. Mere moments from all of Main Street’s offerings, this 133-room resort manages to feel both central and secluded at the same time. There’s plenty to keep guests occupied on-site, including the Aveda Concept Salon and Spa, 4 pools, a lakefront area with free use of kayaks and a modern fitness center. It lacks the private beach access and the 45 holes of golf that the Crowne Plaza offers, however. If you’re looking for value, the Best Western is a great bet. Though some areas are in need of renovations, this family-owned spot features a cozy lobby, free breakfast, and amenities such as an indoor pool, a fitness center and a game room.

- Oyster.com Staff

Football fans unite! The big game is heading to The Big Easy, where 2 of the most dominant defenses in the last decade are set to square off. The culmination of the 2012-2013 NFL season comes down to one final game between the San Francisco 49ers, led by head coach Jim Harbaugh, and the Baltimore Ravens, led by Jim’s brother, head coach John Harbaugh. In a game that’s being dubbed “The Har-Bowl,” football’s biggest stage is set, and you better believe N’awlins will be hoppin’ more than NOLA’s Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest.

New Orleans may be the destination for the big game, but these 2 teams hail from opposite ends of the country. And although the Lombardi trophy may be the ultimate prize for winning the Super Bowl — both San Francisco and Baltimore are filled with plenty of prized attractions.

From the National Aquarium, to the Sports Legends Museum, to delicious food in Little Italy, Baltimore is so much more than just a football town. Check out some of our picks for the best things to see and do in our Baltimore travel guide.

Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered if you’re looking for fun in San Francisco.  The City by the Bay is a foggy wonderland of attractions that include the Painted Ladies in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, Ghirardelli Square, and Golden Gate Bridge.

And don’t forget about the delicious Creole cooking featured in our New Orleans travel guide for those of you who’ve made your way to the Crescent City. Cafe du Monde is still serving up the best beignets you’ve ever tasted, and Cochon is still dishing out some of the city’s tastiest traditional Cajun delights.

If you were lucky enough to score tickets to the big game, we’re sure you’ll need a few recommendations on where to go for the perfect place to tailgate or where to find the best spirits and best sports bars in New Orleans. Travel Channel’s got what you need to get you ready for one heck of a Super Bowl.

It was a big year. The Olympics took over London, and James Bond returned to the box office for the 23rd time. We took a tour of the Twilight destinations and even learned where Gangnam is. 2012 is definitely a year to remember, so let us jog your memory before we jump into 2013 … READ MORE

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