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The Holiday Fantasy of Lights at Tradewind Park

I’m being a very bad blogger, because I haven’t actually had much downtime to write a regular post lately.  I also don’t have many ideas for what to write about, but I’m still working on that.  I do still take a zillion pictures everywhere I go, especially when the place I’ve gone is very entertaining.

Here’s an example-  over the weekend, Amelie and I went through the Holiday Fantasy of Lights at Tradewind Park in Coconut Creek, Florida.  Basically, they’ve set up all kinds of amazing Christmas and holiday themed light displays along the drive-through portion of the park.  The light show is open from 6pm to 10pm all the way to January 3rd, and it’s $14 per car.  They also sell 3-D glasses  for $3 a pop to enhance the lights, because the three-dimensional objects in the park are not 3-D enough.  This is hilarious.

The Holida Festival of Lights came to my attention because it’s visible from the Florida Turnpike, and it turned out to be significantly larger than I expected.  It’s no Christkindlmarkt, but it’s still a fun little thing to see.    Some of these photographs came out a little fuzzy because of the lighting and the moving car, and also because I couldn’t open my car windows that soon after they were tinted.

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This traffic thinned out quite a bit once we got past the admission booths.

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Severus the Christmas Sea-Horse… has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

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Just in case you forgot we’re in Florida, here’s a manatee.

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…and penguins to suggest coldness even though it was still at least 70 degrees at dusk.

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This fellow had a very convincing ho ho ho.

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More penguinosity.

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I’m not entirely sure what a snail has to do with the holidays, but we both liked him.

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I’m not convinced that the 3-D glasses would have made this any cooler, but hallucinogenic drugs certainly would have.

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This bear is epic.

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Ice-skating bear.  Check.  Not as great as the previously noted epic bear though.

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We had a lively debate on what this is supposed to be.  It sort of looks like a ginger-bread penguin.

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::cough cough:: Disney castle design rip-off. ::cough::

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This is a good way to end any story.

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[Stone Cold Brunchin’] – Bat-breakfast At Waffleworks

Of all the meals, brunch is my favorite.  I never want to wake up early enough for a proper breakfast, and lunch is usually stuck in the middle of doing other things.  Brunch is a graceful compromise, however, and it never fails to cheer me up.  Plus, it’s yummy.

With that in mind, I’ve decided that some of my posts moving forward will be  tagged with [Stone Cold Brunchin’] in the subject line.  I’m not turning this into a food blog all the time, but I do love to share interesting breakfasty places.

This first one will be kind of shaky though.  I’m going to talk about the amusingly named Waffleworks in Hollywood, Florida.  However,  I didn’t know I was going to do this when I ate there, so I don’t actually have any pictures of the food.    I have only three photos from Waffleworks.

The first is of the receipt-  yes, the car on the receipt is a vintage Batmobile.  There’s a bunch of Batman memorabilia from the Adam West/Burt Ward years on the walls, and I’m a little miffed that I didn’t get any pictures of that.  The Waffleworks site has a gallery of newspaper clippings with photos of some of it, though.

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The owner is a collector of scale model cars, and they adorn the walls of the entire place in lucite racks.  You can see a few of them in this photograph.  You could easily spend an hour or two just studying the walls.

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Oh, and the Batman stuff isn’t limited to the walls-  this is the door to the bathrooms.  I found this to be extremely amusing.

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Oh yeah, and the food was pretty decent also.

Waffleworks can be found at:

3265 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, FL 33021
954-963-9161
Open 7am-3pm every day.

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What You Own

On the rainy Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I spent a long chunk of time  in the parking lot of a storage facility.  I was waiting for the delivery of my stuff from Germany.

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I shipped eleven boxes of stuff to Regensburg in November of 2011, and brought back eleven boxes and a carpet.  I have no earthly idea how I managed to keep the number of boxes the same, because quite a few things were bought and sold in those three years.

Yesterday, I moved all the stuff I had stashed in my brother’s storage unit into a second storage unit which contained my shipment of stuff from Germany.  Once I was done combining all the stuff into one storage unit, I had a good look at what was there.  This photograph shows everything I own, save for a small closet’s worth of clothing, my laptop, a coffee table and mirror still at my brother’s house, and my car.

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Everything I own, aside from the car, can be placed into a five by ten foot storage unit, with room to spare.   It seems a little light, doesn’t it?

The old me, the version of Steven who existed before living in Germany for a few years, would have lamented that it seems like I haven’t accomplished anything.   I even wrote about packing and storing my belongings in an introspective post just two years ago.  Now that I’m back to staying in my brother’s spare bedroom, it’s going to be at least another two months before I’m ready to snag an apartment of my own.  For now, the majority of my stuff will remain in that storage unit.  Old Steven would actually be kind of depressed at the situation.

That was then, and this is now.  In the last three years, I visited 23 countries I had never visited.   I made friends all over Germany.  I may not have collected much in the way of personal belongings, but the experiences I’ve collected are irreplaceable, even if my terrible memory means that I will have to re-read my blog to see just what I’ve accomplished.   Today is my 42nd birthday,  and starting right now my repatriated life is basically a do-over.  I bought a new car nine days ago.   I finally have all of my belongings in (more or less) one place, even if I can’t pull them out of storage just yet.  I’ve got a stunning new (but not really new) girlfriend.  In another two or three months, I’ll be ready to get a new apartment and start filling it with stuff.  (I’ll need a bed, a desk, and an internet connection.  Everything else is negotiable.)  Forty-two is gonna rock.

Since it’s my birthday, I reserve the right to fill the rest of this post with random stuff from my recent comings and goings.  First up, my Thanksgiving dinner plate.  I’m not sure why everyone takes pictures of their Turkey-day plates, but I’m no outlier here.  Clockwise from the upper left, it’s turkey, yams and marshmallows, cranberry jelly, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and some stuffing in the center.  Yes, that’s the cranberry from the can.  Shut up, I love it that way.  I even love the little can-shaped ridges that show up in the sides of the cylinder of cranberry.

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I’ll go for the bonus points here, and also show you my dessert plate.  On the top row, there’s a chocolate and cream cheese brownie which is more cream-cheese than chocolate, “twisted and evil.”   Next up is a tiny pecan pie.  A pie-lette, even.   And on the bottom is a slice (and I use that term loosely) of chocolate pudding pie, a family tradition.  There was also pumpkin pie, but I can have that almost any time.

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I mentioned the new car in the last post, but I didn’t have a proper picture of it yet.  Here’s one, taken in my dad’s driveway.  His driveway gives good photo-angle.  You still can’t see the pretty blue color of the car though; that only seems to show up in photographs when it’s raining or overcast.

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While we’re on the subject of the car, I took a photograph at a specific mileage because a) I’m twelve years old, and b) I knew many of my friends would also be amused.  (Cara, I’m lookin’ at you here.)

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That car was a birthday gift from me to me.  My niece is turning four this weekend, and I bought her some Bavarian bears before I left Germany.  I’m glad my shipment arrived in time.

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Moving on with more randomness,  I’m utterly fascinated by the things people decorate their houses with in South Florida.  Amelie were walking through the neighborhood the other day, and we stumbled across a house where the owner was proudly flying an FSU 2013 Champs flag, and had decorated their tiny front lawn beneath the flagpole with… well, it’s better if I just show you.

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On that same walk, we attempted to photograph a very friendly cat.  As you might expect, this was the outcome:

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I’ll leave you with this video of the Turkey-day fire on my sister and brother-in-law’s patio, as observed by someone who just figured out that his phone has a cool slow-motion mode.  Check it out!

How was your Thanksgiving?  Did you film anything in slow motion?

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`Twas The Weekend Before Thanksgiving…

The weekend before Thanksgiving was a most eventful one for me.  I spent most of the day on Saturday at the car dealership with my brother, going through the motions of the dance that is car salesmanship.   After nearly four hours, a deal was struck for a car which had to be retrieved from another dealership.  We confirmed the theoretical arrival date was sometime Monday or Tuesday, and I went on my way.

That night, Amelie and I went to the Mardi Gras Casino to see Air Supply play a live show.  They basically played their greatest hits album, but they sounded fantastic.

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After the concert, there were delicious pancakes and eggs at the local IHOP restaurant.  I really missed IHOP in Germany. Check out Amelie’s pancakes- they look pretty happy they’re about to get eaten, don’t they?

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Cut to Sunday, and I got a call from the sales manager that my car was already here, minus the tint (which will be installed in a week or so) and the backup sensor, which will probably be installed after thanksgiving. The car has a backup camera, but I wanted the doo-dad that beeps when you’re approaching an object too.

For the first time since 2011, I own a car.  It feels damn good to get that purchase ticked off of my repatriation to-do list.  This is what I looked like right after I drove the car off the lot.  The car is a Mazda 3 hatchback in a nice light blue color, and I’m very very pleased.

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To cap off the weekend, we quite literally rode off into the sunset.  Ok, so we actually drove away from this, but it’s a really pretty sky, don’t you think?

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Go to the wood!

As we enter into the holiday season, the movie studios begin to ramp up their pitches to have the most popular movie of the holiday season.    There are endless commercials already for the newest Hunger Games movie, and we’re about five minutes from the next blast of Hobbit-related advertising.  Neither of these are what I’m most looking forward to, though.  The movie I’m most looking forward to over the holidays?   Into The Woods.

Here’s the trailer, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the story.

Most of my friends know that I’m a musical theater geek.   I’ve seen a ton of them live.  I went out of my way to see both the Little Shop Of Horrors and Starlight Express auf Deutsch.  I’ve seen Wicked six times now (in four different cities), and I’m two weeks away from seeing Book Of Mormon again when the tour hits Miami.

I love musicals, and I love movie adaptations of them… usually.  When they come out well, you get movies like Mamma Mia, West Side Story, Bells Are Ringing, Little Shop of Horrors- all excellent translations of the source material onto the silver screen.    The single best movie adaptation of a musical that I have ever seen is Sweeney Todd.  But then I’m predisposed to like that one; it’s long been one of my favorite musicals.

On the flip side, you have movies that come out a little flat-  Rent, for example-  it was good, but it felt like an MTV video version of the stage show, rather than a movie.  And some movies that are all style with no substance, like the movie version of Phantom Of The Opera-  that was gorgeous to look at, but every time Gerard Butler opened his mouth to sing, I wanted to shove icepicks into my ears.

With every new adaptation from stage to screen, I approach the theater with cautious optimism.    Into The Woods has a lot of potential, and a great cast. If they don’t let Meryl Streep get away with too much talking through her songs instead of singing, there’s a lot of potential here.

On Christmas Day, I’ll be in line to see this one.

What movie are you most looking forward to this holiday season?