happypancakes

`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?

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All I need is a pith helmet.

The more time I spend in South Florida, the more I feel like Uncle Travelling Matt.  So much of life here is just a little bit alien to me now.  Take this, for example-  the weird flavors that are appearing on things are just strange to me.  I’m pretty sure this is a Thanksgiving holiday flavor:

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Speaking of flavors, I’m trying something I’ve wanted to try for months: Naturebox.  Naturebox is a subscription service that delivers healthy snacks right to your door. I first heard about this on a podcast while I was still in Germany, and I wanted to try it then, but I held off until I got back to the US because it’s not really an international service as far as I know.  (Administrative note:  I am not being reimbursed or compensated in any way for talking about Naturebox.  However, if any of you want to try it, let me know because I can give you a code that will give you ten bucks off your first shipment.)

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So far, I’ve only opened a few of my snacks.  The guacamole bites are delicious, but wickedly salty.  I won’t be getting these again because I can only eat a few before I need to rehydrate.

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The salted caramel pretzel pops are sweetly delicious, however.

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And now for some random stuff… I’ve been having trouble this week coming up with a coherent blog post topic, so I’m just going with random stuff from my last seven days.  For example, Amelie and I went to the South Florida Ikea.  It’s a little different than Regensburg’s Ikea, but it’s similar enough in most ways to actually make me breathe a tiny sigh of relief at the sameness.

Neither of us can pass a display of stuffed animals without playing with them, by the way.  This is her with some bears.

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Every time I passed a bin of stuffed animals in the store, I tried to give them all better vantage points.  This one was a joint effort.  We are roughly twelve years old.

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I commented on one of my last posts about all the super nice cars in South Florida-  not a day goes by that I don’t see a Maserati or a Lamborghini or a Ferrari.    But not everyone in South Florida is rich, and sometimes you see the opposite end of the spectrum also.  For example, this clever usage of custom duck tape was spotted in the parking lot at Target.

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Most of the time, it’s relaxing being back in the land of everyone speaking English.  However, speaking English doesn’t mean you can type it.  I promise, my name has never actually been spelled “STEVN” before, and I’ve no idea where the H came from.

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In my search for a new tagline, I came up with the idea a few nights ago to use “Whimsy is my resting state.”  That wasn’t quite it, though, and so I decided today to rename the tagline at the top of the blog with “Sunshine.  Whimsy.  Tacos.”  I really couldn’t leave the tacos out.

As for the sunshine, it’s this-  it’s all to easy to forget during my day to day grind that in this part of Florida, I’m never more than a few minute’s drive away from this view:

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Tacos! (Or maybe not so much.)

I’ve been trying all weekend to come up with a new tagline for this blog, since I’m no longer on the Donau, and virtually every tag I’ve come up with so far has involved tacos in some way.

Tomorrow night’s dinner is Taco Tuesday- perhaps I should try this again after I’ve actually satisfied the taco-lust.ninjas-dragons-tacos

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how to proceed with this blog, and I know that I need to change my direction a little bit.  I don’t travel now the way I did in Germany, for any number of reasons,  and the posts about repatriation and reintegration are interesting, but that material will only carry me so far.

I think I have a sense of what I want to do, though.  In the paleolithic era of the Internet, back when puppies were the oldest animals, there was a giant blogging community on a site called LiveJournal.   Livejournal still exists, and I actually have a permanent account there.  In the heyday, around 2003 or so, I was a very verbose LJ user, sometimes even posting two or three times a day if I had an idea.  Over the years, the community dwindled, and other things took the focus.  Many people moved to the dreaded BookFace, and some started writing their own off-site blogs.  I found it harder and harder to keep writing there because I simply got too busy.  In modern times, I go back there every May to write my thoughts about the Television Upfronts.  I watch a lot of television and I have many thoughts about it.  I briefly considered bringing those posts over to this blog, but I never felt like they fit here.

Since I started writing in this blog, though, I’ve gotten into a good habit where writing is concerned.   My tone has always been casual, but structured here.  I have only rarely talked about things on a personal note, and I don’t think that most of the people reading ever got a sense of my real personality through my posts, other than the ingrained wanderlust.

I think that I’m going to try to incorporate the type of blogging I did back on LiveJournal.  I spoke more about my life and the people in it, and I spent more time talking about the things that were actually on my mind.   I’ll still do trip reports from time to time, and I’ll still post pictures occasionally, but the content will be a lot more varied.    I don’t intend to implement a set posting schedule, but I will never go more than a week without a post. There will be times when the whim will strike me, like tonight, and I’ll write something up on the fly to be posted immediately. (I jokingly called this ‘blogging while the neuron is hot’ a few minutes ago, and I realized that this would be a great tagline for a blog about neuroscience.)

I’ve already taken the first step toward resetting the blog by changing the URL from http://stevenglassman.de to http://stevenglassman.com.   For those of you who have linked to me in your own blogs, don’t worry:  the redirection is actually handled by WordPress.com’s back-end, which means that any links to my old posts on the .de domain will still load properly; they’ll just load with the .com version of the URL. I still need to find my new tagline, though.  And I probably won’t keep closing my posts with a question-  they’re good conversation starters, but sometimes I have no idea what to ask, and I think it shows pretty clearly when I’m grasping at straws.

In the spirit of blogging more about the things that actually make me tick, I’ll leave you tonight with three things that are on my mind.

Thing the first:  Senator Ted Cruz is a willfully ignorant butthead.  I don’t usually get too terribly political, but sometimes I’m enraged enough to comment.  Senator Ted posted this to Twitter:

The Internet immediately went aflame, including The Oatmeal’s awesome response, and Gizmodo’s thoughtful analysis.   The reason this enrages me in particular is partly that it’s a false equivalency:  Net neutrality doesn’t equate to a government takeover of anything, it just prevents the telecoms from being evil dickheads.  The other reason this enrages me is that Cruz has taken tons of money from the telecoms, so you can intuit that he is either being entirely uninformed about the issue (unlikely) or he’s shilling for the telecoms, saying what his corporate sponsors tell him to say.  Dude might as well be wearing Comcast and XFinity patches on his jacket.

Go back and read those two things I linked if you want to know more; they explain it much better than I do.   Seriously, though, grr.  Just grr.

Thing the second: This post about Charles Dance being cast as Karellen in the SyFy miniseries of Arthur C. Clarke’s “Childhood’s End” excites me in a way cannot be described without using words like squeeee and ohmygodohmygodohmygod.  This is not because of the actor-  I don’t watch Game of Thrones, so I don’t really know the man’s work.  Rather, this is because Childhood’s End is a fantastic classic sci-fi story about a peaceful alien invasion that takes place over the span of more than one hundred years.  If you like good, thought-provoking science fiction, you should read this.   I expect the SyFy network to completely screw this up, but I’m still a little hopeful that this will be one of the rare adaptations that they actually get right.

Thing the third:  My reintegration back into life here in the US has been dotted with both successes and victories.

  • My brain has been failing me at odd intervals, causing me to lose the English words for things, and occasionally replacing them with strange and unrelated words.
  • I’ve noticed that I still grocery-shop like I’m in Germany, only without the canvas bags.  By this, I mean that I tend to only get as much as I can carry myself in one trip.   The stores themselves are somewhat overwhelming, and I find myself distinctly uncomfortable in them.
  • I reaffirmed my American-ness this weekend by restarting my Costco membership, but then promptly had what I can only describe as a mild panic attack from the chaos of the Saturday afternoon Costco shopping experience.  I still bought a box of Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix.  Don’t judge me!
  • I continue to be a patently ridiculous and silly person.  Last night, we had a birthday dinner for my dad and step-mother.  Her birthday was Friday, his was today.  Having the family gather to celebrate in the weekend in between them was a no-brainer.  While I was getting ready, I momentarily forgot how button-down shirts work, and I closed the cuff on the tighter of the two buttons.   Astutely noticing that my left cuff was significantly tighter than my right cuff, I asked aloud, “What the hell, did my wrist get fat?”  Amelie gently reminded me how shirts work without too much laughing.

I’m having trouble maintaining an election.

I wrote last year about election time in Germany, and one of the aspects which fascinated me the most was the incredible variety of poltical parties in the race.

In the US, there’s a wide variety of parties, but only two that get enough votes to make a difference in most races: The Republicans and the Democrats.  Not that you’d know it from the election mailings and Robocalls.  Here’s a small sample of the incredible stack of mailings received by this household in the last month:

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Throughout my time in Germany, I had made arrangements to vote by absentee ballot.  The Broward County supervisor of elections office e-mailed me a PDF of the ballot for each election, and I printed it out, filled in the dots, scanned the result, and faxed it back. I still voted by absentee ballot in Tuesday’s midterm election because it was simpler to just follow through that way than to change my voting status this close to the election.

Because the Broward SOE has my (former) German address, I received these campaign mailings in Germany as well; big glossy cardboard fans of fluff and nonsense.    I did notice an interesting trend:  the mailings that I got while overseas were more often Republican than Democrat.  I assume that’s because the Republicans know that deployed military families are more likely to vote Republican and the Dems probably choose not to spend their money in that arena.  That’s just a guess, though, because Jenny (who has been receiving my postal mail since I left) made an observation that it’s very difficult to determine their party just from the mailings:  They often show no outward sign of which party affiliation they hold.

That didn’t affect the sheer volume of them, though.  If you have enough registered voters at your postal address, you could easily wallpaper a room with the mailings.  The Robocalls are prolific and awful if you have a land line, like my father.  I received none of them on my cell phone this year, however, which was nice.

That didn’t stop me from seeing the television commercials when I got back, or hearing the radio commercials.  Or hearing the endless discussion of the midterm elections on the news.  The elections went on this past Tuesday, and the Democrats took a pretty substantial hit.  The Republicans have been making pretty, empty noises about working with the Democrats to get things done, but the very next breath included things like repealing Obamacare and impeaching the President-  that doesn’t seem very cooperative to me.  Now that the Republicans have control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, I expect Presidential vetoes to hit an all time high.  One of my Facebook friends commented that now would be a great time to buy stock in Mont Blanc.

I’m just glad the election is over.  For all the Sturm und Drang about the massive shift in power, I really don’t think that anything will change:  Our Congress will still accomplish very little, and the state legislatures will continue to quietly remake the country in their ideological image.

But at least the mailings and the commercials will stop, at least until 2016’s Presidential election starts to ramp up.

Were you annoyed by this year’s campaign ads, flyers, brochures, signs, and zeppelins?