That time my car got stolen.

I was telling Amelie recently about the time my car got stolen.

In the summer of 1998, I had been at UCF for about six months, and I was still driving a fairly new 1997 Honda Civic.  The ’97 Civic was my first new car ever.  All my previous cars were used, but I needed something super reliable to go to college because there was going to be a fair amount of driving back and forth from Orlando to South Florida.  (Kind of like now, actually.)

Not actually my car, but it basically looked like this.

The ’97 Civic hatchback was a deep metallic purple color, dubbed “Dark Amethyst Pearl” by Honda.  I was driving down to South Florida to attend the wedding of some friends.   A friend who was catching a ride with me back to South Florida had just returned my spare keys to me, for reasons I no longer recall.  Because we were driving back I tossed them in the glove compartment and forgot about them.

When we got back to South Florida, I dropped off my passenger and parked at my mother’s house in Boynton Beach.  I grabbed most of my stuff out of the car, but left a small bag containing a cigarette case full of clove cigarettes, some clothing including my 1994 Nine Inch Nails long-sleeved concert t-shirt (the one with “All the piggies all lined up” written down the sleeve.)  Also left in the hatch of the car was a bottle of mixed alcohol, called Mage’s Fire, which was supposed to be a wedding gift for my friends.

A quick word about Mage’s Fire-  it’s a mix drink that I learned about during my extremely-brief interaction with the Society For Creative Anachronism, a medieval re-enactment group.  Mage’s Fire is 25% vodka, 25% blue curacao, and 50% DeKuyper’s “Hot Damn” cinnamon schnapps.  Mage’s Fire is best aged at least six months because it blends together a bit more over time and becomes smoother.  It is sometimes referred to as the mouthwash of the gods.  People have a very polarized reaction to Mage’s Fire-  they either love it or hate it. I can’t stand the stuff, but I liked to mix it up and share it with people who enjoyed it.  But I digress.

I woke up the next day, to find that my car was not where I had left it.  This is a very disorienting thing, because normally cars don’t go wandering on their own after you park them.  I realized with a quiet dread that this was the one and only time I had ever left the car parked with keys inside.  I called the police, filed a report, and wondered what to do next.

After a little while, the police called-  my car had been found abandoned in a field, with the sprinklers on around it.  The people who stole it just took it for a joyride, and then left it there with the doors wide open.    I had to go to an impound lot and pay a fee to get back my car, which I felt was a huge injustice for someone who was the victim of a crime.

The aftermath was kind of anti-climactic.    There was dark greasy powder all over the center console and on the seats that I was never able to fully clean off.  The Mage’s Fire and smokes and good t-shirts were stolen from the back.  In their place, the joyriders had left a shiny silver club shirt and a dirty pair of overalls.  It seemed for all the world like my car had taken place in a hillbilly raver exchange program.  I wondered if they were thankful for the fancy moonshine and tobacco they found in the hatch. I also wonder if they would have stopped at petty theft if they hadn’t found keys in the glove compartment to start the engine. Damn it.

As I write this, nearly twenty-one years later, I honestly don’t remember whether or not they stole the stereo from the car.  Memory is a strange thing.

Have you ever had a car stolen?

Songbirds

There’s a bird that chirps all night long here, in varying tones like one of those car alarms from the 1990s. It’s infuriating and I hear it every night, whenever I try to sleep.  I hear it less in the daytime, so I’m assuming it’s a night bird.

I was so frustrated just now that I was moved to poetry.  Ahem:

My sleep is interrupted
by a songbird every night,
my sleep is interrupted,
by a songbird in street light,
my sleep is interrupted,
as he sings away the night,
my sleep is interrupted,
and I wish I had a good bow and arrow to shut that fucker up.

Thank you, and good night.

Star Wars Celebration Orlando

This past weekend, Amelie and I went to Orlando for Star Wars Celebration 2017.  Long-time readers of this blog will remember that back in the summer of 2013, I managed to attend Star Wars Celebration Europe, because it was in Germany and I was already there.  That was a fantastic convention, and much fun was had by me.

This time around, not so much.

Let’s start with opening the first full day of the convention, Thursday morning.   Amelie and I walked to the convention center a short while before the doors were supposed to open, and about an hour and a quarter before the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars Panel, which we were both very excited about.

When we got into line, it seemed to go almost the entire length of the front of the building.

Then we reached the corner, and it continued around the entire side of the building.  Then we reached the next corner, and it went the entire length of the *backside* of the building.   And then it looped back in the other direction.

The line for Celebration was literally one and a half times the circumference of the Orange County Convention Center.  Grand Admiral Thrawn was not amused.

11am came and went.  We were able to watch a few minutes of the panel on our phones because it was streamed, but it was hard to see in the glaring sun and when I tuned in, it was- yuck – Hayden Christensen.

Onward we schlepped.

After two and a half hours in the first line, we finally got indoors, where we were treated to yet another line.  The far end of this hall includes the nine metal detectors that were being used for everyone coming to the OCCC.

Reedpop, the showrunners for this convention, forgot to count their ticket sales.

Or the person responsible for logistics in their organization is just some sort of shrubbery with googly eyes glued on the front.

Somewhere around 12:30 in the afternoon, someone in charge realized that the people at the end of the line would not make it into the show floor before it closed that day, so they just started to let every one in all at once, security be damned.  The metal detectors were screaming like the proverbial lambs.

Then we got into- you guessed it-  ANOTHER FRELLING LINE to pick up our badges for the rest of the convention.

By 1:30 in the afternoon, after four hours in various lines, we were finally on the show floor.

Some of the neatest stuff we saw on this trip was in the first section on the first day… there was a custom BB-8 car…

…and a Mandalorian Veloster.

There were lots of great costumes, including this magnificent Luke-a-like.

Partway across the floor was a big droid racing set-up, including this maze for Spheero BB-8s.

As with the other Celebration, there were giant models of things from the movies in various places.

One of the highlights of the day was Amelie getting hugged by (a) Chewie.

I call this photo “Han shot first.”

There were big presences by Disney, Hasbro, Funko, and, of course, Lego.

The new properties were represented by the Droid Builders, too… someone made a Chopper from Rebels!

There were quite a few BB-8s rolling around, too.  It’s kind of amazing how far the technology has come.  This little guy was rolling around, being chased by kids the entire time.

Ultimately, almost everything on my camera is from that first day.  The second day, we weren’t able to get wristbands for the Last Jedi panel because people camped out the night before and, you guessed it, the lines weren’t managed very well.

This was the worst convention I’ve ever attended, and I’ve been to a lot of conventions.  We didn’t manage to make it to a single high profile panel, because their bizarre wristbanding method means you have to be on hand at 6am (or earlier) or you get nothing.  Other conventions I’ve attended allow you to simply line up a few hours early, or to pay a little extra for high demand shows.  If you miss the line, you miss the panel.  That would have been preferable to this nonsense though-  at least we would have had a chance to see things.

I appreciate that Disney didn’t want to charge people more for the high profile panels than their original (very expensive) show tickets, but this was just shenanigans all around.    At the Celebration in Europe in 2013, there were loads of panels that were interesting to me.  At this Celebration, at the height of Star Wars being super energized again, there were only a handful of panels that were even marginally interesting, and we couldn’t get anywhere near the really important ones.

At the end of Star Wars Celebration, all we left with was our con crud. (I’ll take “Sinus infections and Antibiotics” for a thousand, Alex.)

At least this guy had his Dianoga.

What’s the worst convention you’ve ever attended?  Or the best?

[#AtoZChallenge] D is for Decamp

The A to Z challenge will not be completed by me this year.  I’m finding that my attention is split between too many other things.   I came to this conclusion after I spent forty minutes trying to come up with a D word, and I wound up somewhere between Aught and Zilch.

As I write this exit stage left, I am sitting in Orlando with Amelie, and we’re making plans for the next few days.   Today was a day for MyStuff, which mostly consisted of looking at potential places to live.  (I could have written an entire post called D is for Decision, but I already talked about that two days ago.)   Tomorrow is a day for HerStuff, which will mostly consist of going to places that might help her land an Orlando job.  Thursday is unplanned so far, except for one more apartment to view just before dinner time, and Friday after work will likely be spent at least partially on Disney property.   Saturday is a family event in nearby Kissimmee, and on Sunday we drive back to South Florida for a few days.

About halfway through next week, we come back to Orlando for another four days- Star Wars Celebration.  The following weekend, we drive back to Orlando, and then back again.

It’s like this on and off throughout April and May-  we’re flipping between South Florida and Orlando, as we try to get our respective ducks in a row, while simultaneously juggling my job, my on-call time (roughly half of every month), both of our gym work outs, and our ridiculously complicated entertainment calendars.

How’s your April going so far?

Administrative note: This post is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Each Monday through Saturday in the month of April, I will write a new post- one for each letter of the alphabet. If you would like to participate, it’s never too late to start. Just look over the guidelines at http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/.

[#AtoZChallenge] C is for Cookie!

I have a sweet tooth.   I like cakes and chocolate and pastries of all kinds.  There’s one type of sweet that will always be my favorite, though.   As anyone who knows me really well could tell you, I really love cookies.  I have a passion for cookies that is only slightly less frenetic than Cookie Monster from Sesame Street.

A few months ago, Amelie and I were near the University of Central Florida for a concert, and we stopped for dinner at a little sushi place, but  I got slightly turned around and we parked on the wrong side of the little complex of shops and restaurants.  Because of this slight unplanned detour, we walked past this little shop:  Insomnia Cookies.

I probably looked for all the world like a starving puppy with my nose pressed to the glass on that first night.   The sign on the door, if you can’t read it, says “warm cookies delivered until 3 am.”   This is true.  They even have an app to place your order.

Yes, you read that correctly.  You can get an app on your phone.  With that app, you can have warm cookies delivered to you, all the way until 3 am.  This is pure bliss for me.Here’s some of the varieties available.  I haven’t tasted all of them yet.  Yet.

There’s about a hundred locations now, in different states.  There are two in Orlando, and another one in Miami Beach.   If you buy a six-pack, it comes in a small box that looks for all the world like a tiny awesome pizza box.

For this particular visit, we got two chocolate chunk, two snickerdoodle, one oatmean raisin, and one white chocolate macadamia.   Their snickerdoodles are balls-out amazing.

The real danger of Insomnia Cookies, as I see it, is that while I always wind up with a box of six cookies, they sell a 12, an 18, a 24, and even 50, 100, 200, and 300 cookie packs.  When I have cookies in the house, I usually can’t stop myself from eating them.  Yesterday, I put the box on top of the fridge so that I wouldn’t keep eating them.   Fast forward to two hours later, while Amelie and I were cooking dinner-  she turned around to find me on my tip-toes, peering into the open box of cookies with an absolutely delighted expression, and pretending not to be eating one when she asked.

Yup, a box of six cookies is just too dangerous.  Better make it a twelve-pack, just to be safe.

What’s your favorite type of cookie?

Administrative note: This post is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Each Monday through Saturday in the month of April, I will write a new post- one for each letter of the alphabet. If you would like to participate, it’s never too late to start. Just look over the guidelines at http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/.