Saturday, January 12, 2008

Drinking the Kool-Aid.

One of the best things about heading back to the states is going to one of the stadium seating, multiplex theaters. The idea of going to the movies -- non AAFES-approved movies, even! -- just seems like pure decadence.

Both CPT Dick and I recently finished His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman so we wanted to check out "The Golden Compass." We thought it would be the perfect movie to take our nephews to see with us.

But lo and behold, when we mentioned the idea of heading to the movies, usually a big treat, we were met with stunned silence. "The Golden Compass" it seems is immoral enough fodder to merit a letter home telling parents to not let their kids see it.

Now, I heard about some of the hullabaloo about the movie. The Catholic League came out against it and the books it was based on. But it's one thing to hear about some organization that Kathy Griffin calls "some guy on a computer" on the news spewing about immorality and another to see a letter written by a real live principal on official school letter head that was sent home with your family members. And it's not one of these off-the-wall Christian schools like my friend R. went to where her parents had to sign a contract at the beginning of each school year that agreed that she not be able to listen to music. It's just your run-of-the-mill East Coast Catholic school.

I just don't get it. What does banning books and ideas get us? Shouldn't faith be strong enough to handle a few questions? Isn't that the point? Isn't that why it's faith?

I don't know.

CPT Dick and I went to see the movie. And our older nephew, now a teenager, decided to go with us. But our younger one stood firm and as we walked out the door to see the film, he looked at us sternly and said, "God isn't going to like this."

I'll let you know if any of us are struck by lightning any time soon.

I love Steven Pinker.

Steven Pinker, a professor at Harvard University, has an article about the evolution and purpose of morality in this week's New York Times magazine.

It's a must read for just about everyone. He's got it spot on.

Back in the saddle.

We're back and right back in the middle of the FRG crazy.

Our unit has been given their orders. We know when they are leaving for Iraq. And the response to this -- you know, this thing that we've all known was coming for ages -- has been no less than completely off-the-wall.

We have suicide threats, child neglect, faked injuries and all kinds of other random nonsense. I understand the the official order makes this all real but I guess I can't quite grok why it makes it so different than what was happening before.

Maybe I'm just naive.

My husband, the moralist.

"What are you doing?"

"Making Munchkin a peanut butter and jelly sandwich."

"Don't use the blueberry jam that's in there."

"Why not?"

"It's moldy."

"When did you notice this?"

"When we got back from the states. It was all kinds of furry. Utterly disgusting."

"So why is it still languishing in the fridge then, exactly?"

"Because I respect life. I'm a giver that way."

Monday, January 07, 2008

Stupid teenagers.

In Germany, setting off fireworks at the turn of the new year is not just tradition but a requirement. It's a lot of fun and CPT Dick and I had commented that we were sorry that we missed it this year.

What we didn't know is that some of the village teenagers took advantage of our absence to do their own combustible merrymaking in our backyard. Which, you know, would be all well and good. Teenagers will be teenagers and all that. I'm sure we expected to find the odd spent rocket and empty bottle of Jager somewhere on the premises. Hell, had we been here, they would have been ours.

But we didn't expect that the idiots would have thrown cherry bombs into our goldfish pond. Yeah, yeah, I know if the guys on "Jackass" do it, the masses are sure to follow. And when you equate for location, that means that the German kids will be doing it two to three years after that.

Their actions had the desired effect. There are now 30 odd dead fish floating under the ice in the pond.

It just infuriates me. I mean, I'd expect that kind of shit in the states. But for some reason, living in this small town where I can leave my wallet in the driveway over the weekend by accident and find it again untouched on Monday made me feel safe from that kind of thoughtless teenage bullshit.

So guess what I'll be doing tomorrow now that the rains have started melting the ice cover? You guessed it -- fishing out dead goldfish.

I'm seriously thinking about keeping them in a bucket by the front door to randomly lob at the teenagers when they are using my driveway to practice their BMX tricks.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

A happy mistake.

Whenever you travel with a toddler, you are bound to forget something. I mean, with all the gear you have to lug around with a child, it's just gonna happen. We've found ourselves short of diaper wipes, the boy's woobie, enough juice, favorite toys, an extra pair of pants (always needed on flights) -- you name it, we've forgotten it at one time or another. And yes, we've survived. But often, barely.

But when I realized halfway to the airport that I'd forgotton Munchkin's Sesame Street Platinum hits CD, I was sure we were in for real trouble. How would we manage?

I think I've discussed how Munchkin will not travel by car without a demand for "Es-seet!" And since the sound of Ernie singing about his rubber duckie fetish for the 11 millionth time is far superior to hearing our son scream until he pukes, we have begrudgingly complied with his wishes.

But now we were in for a true test. We were going to be driving several hundred miles in a rental car without any Big Bird. Could we, as a family, survive the experience?

As it turns out, we could and did. Thanks to Sirius.

Our rental car was equipped with satellite radio. We don't have it and haven't heard much about it over here so we were curious. Mostly desperately hopeful that somewhere on those hundreds of music channels, there was an official Sesame Street music station.

And there might have been. But I never found it. As I flipped through, I had to stop at channel 24, Lithium, a grunge, 90's alternative rock station. And once the dial was fixed, it never strayed again for the rest of the trip. Luckily, Munchkin was so entertained by my reaction to hearing the music of my youth (and attempting to head bang a few times) that he promptly forgot about his Elmo fix.

When I first found the station, it was playing Sonic Youth's "Bull in the Heather." And throughout the rest of the trip, we were treated to songs we had almost forgotten. Porno for Pyros. Paul Westerberg. Godsmack. Alanis Morissette before she went to India and forgot she was angry. It was heaven.

As soon as I got home, though I knew I couldn't recreate the Lithium experience, I decided to download what I could to make my own playlist for the car. Here it is:

  1. James - Laid
  2. Porno for Pyros - Under the Tahitian Moon
  3. Filter - Hey Man, Nice Shot
  4. Nine Inch Nails - Dead Souls
  5. Veruca Salt - Volcano Girls
  6. Soundgarden - Outshined
  7. House of Pain - Jump Around
  8. Tori Amos - God
  9. Paul Westerberg - Dyslexic Heart
  10. Seven Mary Three - Cumbersome
  11. Sonic Youth - Bull in the Heather
  12. Marcy Playground - Sex and Candy
  13. Cake - Sheep go to Heaven
  14. Alanis Morissette - You Oughta Know
  15. Alice in Chains - Would
  16. Lit - My Own Worst Enemy
  17. Harvey Danger - Flagpole Sitta
  18. The Wallflowers - 6th Avenue Heartache
  19. Cypress Hill - Rock Superstar
  20. Lo Fidelity Allstars - Battle Flag

This is my youth. My years in college and right after, when I had some disposable income and no strings attached. And while I drive, I remember that I had my very own Wayne's World/Bohemian Rhapsody moment to "Flagpole Sitta" on the way to Mardi Gras with my friends. I remember the sheer disbelief I felt the first time I heard "Sheep Go to Heaven" -- I ended up snarfing beer out of my nose. And sure, this is bordering on TMI, but I had the hottest sex I can remember to "Under the Tahitian Moon."

It's amazing how music can recreate that heady feeling of freedom. If only for a moment, until your kid throws his sippy cup at the back of your head and screams for the muppets once more.

I kept my promise.

I did.

I went laptop-free for a whole 10 days. It didn't seem that bad once I got over the initial shock of leaving it behind -- a few cups of very strong tea helped with the shakes I got when I realized that I had no way to access the free (!) Wi-fi at the airport. I spent the 10 days much as anyone would while visiting family. I visited. I ate too much. And I snuck onto my in-laws' desktop when I was drunk enough to handle dial-up.

Like a faithful companion, my laptop was there waiting for me when I got home. And though I can't say that I totally missed it while I was gone, I hugged it for a whole 8 minutes after walking in the door.

Which, coincidentally, was the amount of time it took to boot up after such a long shut down period.

But anyway, I'm back. Hope everyone had a very happy holiday!