Wednesday, October 26, 2005

24 hours of news

As I mentioned earlier, CNN is the only English-language TV channel in our hotel. We are so addicted to that little black glass-and-plastic box that we watch even when we are seeing EXACTLY the same news story that we saw 15 minutes ago, which was itself the tenth viewing of said story. Apparently I am doomed to a brain of mush.

You are also likely aware of our current housing "crisis." Jeff and I are so picky and so unlucky that we have seen roughly six hundred twenty-three apartments, we've tried to rent two of them, both rentals have fallen through, and we are now sitting in our hotel, midway through week seven. During more than one conversation I have referred to myself as "homeless." As in, "I am tired of being homeless because I do not have 24 hour internet access and a refrigerator stocked with Coca-Cola and several varieties of gourmet cheese within spitting distance of my queen-sized bed."

This sentiment regularly occurs to me even as I watch nonstop coverage of earthquake-displaced Pakistanis, bombs exploding in Baghdad, and human beings scrrying slipping sliding to shelter during the largest recorded Atlantic hurricane.

Yes, I'm a spoiled freak. So I declared today (to paraphrase Sporty Spice) The First Day of No Whining. So far, it has been much more pleasant than the past 44 days of perpetual complaint. Let's see how long I can keep it up.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

And the sun drips down

I am not a musician nor even someone who knows all about cool new bands and who went to see Death Cab before they were on the OC or who has the indie club phone numbers memorized or who downloads The Donnas or who calls The Dandy Warhols just "the Dandies," though I do admire those people, who are far cooler than I am. I do pay good money to see bands for whom I am nostalgic. The list of concerts I've seen includes Barry Manilow (he really does write the songs), Gordon Lightfoot (with my dad), Neil Diamond (with my mom), Journey (without Steve Perry), and Chicago/Hall & Oates at the State Fair. You probably assume I haven't seen a concert in twenty years but I've attended these events in the past decade. So I'm a little late to the party. I blame it on growing up in a place where the only concert venue was two hours away and Alabama played twice a year but Motley Crue was forced to cancel due to misuse of umlauts (or maybe it was their devil-worshipping reputation, we'll never know). I also maintain that this behavior follows my reputation as risk-averse; ie I only want to see a band who I know I like, not one that I've just heard is groovy. And, apparently, they have to be healthy eaters because by the time I get around to seeing them they must live to be over 60 years old.

I don't think Simon LeBon is sixty yet but thanks to one of my five fabulous sisters-in-law, I saw Duran Duran in concert a few months ago. I noticed that they were on tour but I never got around to buying a ticket. However, on the fateful day of their show, my sister-in-law Kerri (the one who owns a Simon LeBon poster with lip prints on it, one of the two famous Kerris-who-are-my-sisters-in-law) called and offered me a ticket. It was a weeknight and I was a little worn out but I thought, what the heck, I used to be part of the Cult of DD back in the day. Though not to the extent of some others who will go unnamed (but who previously stalked John Taylor into his hotel after a concert until he shouted at her to F*** off; this must have been when she switched her allegiance to Simon). It took me about ten seconds to begin my worship of eighties eyeliner all over again. Before the band played a note, the five of them (the originals back onstage together again, no more Warren Cucurrullo, thank you very much) simply stood at the front of the stage and absorbed the screaming energy of thousands of 35-year-old women. I sang so loud I lost my voice, which didn't even happen when I saw Prince (also awesome in his purple strangeness). John was just as sexy as he's ever been in his black leather pants, Nick was weird but cheerful, Roger was handsome and stoic, Andy was sucking on a cigarette and looking cranky, and Simon was as arrogant yet mesmerizing as I remembered. And I can't confirm or deny the rumor that I was spotted outside the band's hotel, shouting at Nick for his autograph. I will point out that, from what I've heard, the majority of autograph seekers standing outside hotels seem to be creepy hairy men who play Magic:The Gathering. The new DD fan base? Or maybe they're just supporting their gaming habits by selling signatures on EBay? It's no wonder famous people flee from them.

So Kerri, thank YOU for the memory. And you don't have to return my copy of Decade (can you believe they left "The Chauffeur off of it?); I had two of them in my collection just in case of a "Notorious" kind of emergency like this one.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I've Done Everything for You

Dr. Noah Drake is back.
THE heartthrob of my youth, (coming out ahead in a close race with Shaun Cassidy) Rick Springfield, is returning to General Hospital. I imagine he'll have better luck his second time around on the soap than he did at his continuous yet faltering album releases through the years. We know he can act - you saw Hard to Hold, didn't you?

It's too bad my stuff is still in boxes, or I might try to unearth the rainbow stripe polo shirt (my best friends had matching ones) that I wore to his concert in 1984.

Lately something's changed, it ain't hard to define...

Monday, October 17, 2005


Our search for an apartment is a soap opera. According to our relocation agent, we have the worst luck in Germany. We will remain hotel dwellers for the foreseeable future.

The weather here is lovely - sunny and bright but getting colder. It feels like fall and I am ready to get my cozy sweaters out of storage.

More evidence that I have moved to the right place: fried cheese is served as an entree here.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Viva la VIVA

I believe I've mentioned that there are just two television stations in our hotel that I am able to understand. CNN International is one. It is definitely the lowly ancestor of Ted Turner's blockbuster news conglomerate in Atlanta. The newscasters are fine, but they just keep showing the same stories over and over and over and over and over again. I just watched a feature on Marrakesh that I saw for the first time at least two weeks ago. The way my luck is going this week, however, I should probably count my blessings that there's somewhere for me to turn 24 hours a day in case something major happens in the world. Though they didn't report on Katie Holmes's pregnancy, and I'd say that's major news. What is up with those two? The whole thing is making me regret all the hours I spent belting out "Danger Zone" as I drove my Pinto down Main Street, fantasizing about Maverick as my prom date (though I secretly had the hots for Iceman). It also makes me even more curious about Nicole Kidman. What was she dealing with for all those years?

Here ends the digression.

This post is actually about VIVA, the second TV station that I watch each and every day. VIVA is Germany's version of VH-1, which seems to be sponsored and/or owned by those evil cell phone ringtone peddlers who brought you Crazy Frog, since the only commercials it airs are those exhorting me to download the latest Sugababes ringtone. Between the ads, I've rediscovered my love of music videos. Where are they in the USA? MTV sure doesn't play them anymore (or at least it didn't a month ago when I could watch it). I've also found some music I enjoy. Here's a rundown of my latest downloads:

-It took me a couple of listens to warm up to You're Beautiful by James Blunt. I thought his voice was a little squeaky at first, but I've become a convert. I'm sure he'll show up on the US charts one of these days; he will suck in all the David Grey/Howie Day/Gavin DeGraw/Damien Rice fans (like me).

-Who knew I was a hip-hop follower? I wouldn't have labeled Emanuela by Fettes Brot (yes, that translates as "Fat Bread," see those German classes are paying dividends)a hip-hop song, but according to iTunes that's what it is. To fully appreciate the song you really must watch the video, it features baton-twirling. And who doesn't like baton twirling?

-When I saw the video for Lass Mich, I thought, "Who is that sleek looking singer in this cool video?" And I then learned that it was Nena. Yes, THAT Nena, 99 Luftballoons Nena. Further proof that all of us look better now than we did in the 80's. Except Billy Idol. By the way, don't tell anyone, but my best friend's older brother told us that 99 Luftballoons has dirty German words in it and that's why they had to release the censored English version in America. I'll let you know what the dirty words are when I learn them in my German class.

-I practically had a party in the lobby of the hotel (that's where the wireless access is) when I downloaded Fiona Apple's new album. I've been waiting 8 years for this. Can't wait to see her first video when it hits VIVA.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Go Bearcats

Was an article about the Willamette University football coach on the front of all versions of the USA Today yesterday? Imagine my surprise when I picked it up from my hotel lobby and there was my alma mater. It was like a little piece of home right here in Bavaria. I can't seem to find a link to the article anywhere?

Speaking of homes, our apartment fell through yesterday. I don't even want to talk about it. So we're on the hunt again, and I'm thinking positive thoughts. Maybe we'll just live in the hotel forever?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The REAL reason we moved to Germany

On Saturday, we spent the afternoon high in the rafters of a stadium, watching FC Nurnberg beat FC Koln, 2-1. That smile you see on Jeff's face is no accident; he is a devout soccer fan. He does look a little chilly in this photo, due to the rain and wind. As any real football supporter knows, however, bad weather is just a filter that strains out the fair-weather fans. Be sure to take a close look at the other photo as well. Keep in mind that FC Nurnberg is one of the lowest-ranked teams in the Bundesliga, and yet their stadium looks like this on a rainy Saturday in October. Jeff has found his happy place.

Speaking of finding a happy place, we are thrilled to have found a place to live. I am countng down the days to when we can pick up the keys (next week) and to when our furniture is supposed to arrive (later next week) so that we can blow this pop stand and set up something like a home. We'll live in Nurnberg, which means a 20-minute commute for Jeff. It also means access to the historic alstadt and castle, famous Christmas markets, public transportation for me (hooray!) and of course proximity to FC Nurnberg, their stadium, and eventually the World Cup matches scheduled there. All roads lead to football, don't they?

In other news, I started an intensive German course yesterday and I've been reassured that I know even less than I thought I did. I'm ten years older than all the other students in my course and I imagine they all think of me as that clueless American lady. They are from Israel, Turkey, China...I'm hoping we'll have some kind of pot luck at the end of the course. Isn't meeting new people really just a means to get them to cook interesting food for me? Future acquaintances, be forewarned.