29 January, 2010

It's still in there somewhere!

Yesterday I popped into a Russian supermarket to buy some treats for an old friend from Moscow days who is now living in the States. I got so nostalgic just wandering the aisles that I ended up buying some treats for myself, including a Russian version of Doctor Dolittle. I came home and devoured the first two chapters (they were VERY short!) and am so thrilled to realize that my Russian is still in there somewhere! Have found some resources on the web and have decided to dust off the cobwebs and get back to really, truly свободно говорить по-русский!!!

24 January, 2010

The 'Devil' Writes Pat Robertson A Letter

This was so eloquent and perfectly put that I've cut and pasted the full text from NPR's website. THANK YOU LILY COYLE!

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune published a letter from Satan to evangelist Pat Robertson, responding to his comment that Haiti's persistent troubles, including the earthquake, are due to a pact the nation made with Mephistopheles.

Actually, it wasn't Satan who wrote the letter but Lilly Coyle of Minneapolis writing in the persona of the hellish one.

I think she got it down pretty well. What say you?

Dear Pat Robertson,

I know that you know that all press is good press, so I appreciate the shout-out. And you make God look like a big mean bully who kicks people when they are down, so I'm all over that action.

But when you say that Haiti has made a pact with me, it is totally humiliating. I may be evil incarnate, but I'm no welcher. The way you put it, making a deal with me leaves folks desperate and impoverished.

Sure, in the afterlife, but when I strike bargains with people, they first get something here on earth -- glamour, beauty, talent, wealth, fame, glory, a golden fiddle. Those Haitians have nothing, and I mean nothing. And that was before the earthquake. Haven't you seen "Crossroads"? Or "Damn Yankees"?

If I had a thing going with Haiti, there'd be lots of banks, skyscrapers, SUVs, exclusive night clubs, Botox -- that kind of thing. An 80 percent poverty rate is so not my style. Nothing against it -- I'm just saying: Not how I roll.

You're doing great work, Pat, and I don't want to clip your wings -- just, come on, you're making me look bad. And not the good kind of bad. Keep blaming God. That's working. But leave me out of it, please. Or we may need to renegotiate your own contract.

Best, Satan


19 January, 2010

Genocide by any other name...

This morning I was out walking the dog when I came across a gregarious older man who started chatting with me. Sensing that he was lonely, I stopped for a minute to listen. He started out fine enough, but then he began talking about how badly the Germans treat him because he comes from Romania. And that that's just what Germans do, because look at the war. But not all Germans were bad, and not all of them knew what was going on. And anyway, look at the Jews! No one wants to live with them anyway. They're insidious-- they'll send one family member into a community to get established and then the rest of them come and take over...

At first I was just incredulous at his lack of tact, but at this point I became angry. Told him that there were members of my grandmother's family who died in concentration camps, and that it doesn't matter what one thinks about a certain group of people, no one deserves that! Then I walked away and left him sputtering.

A few minutes later I recounted the conversation to an acquaintance and she said: "Some people are just unbelievable! Yes, what happened in WWII was horrible. I hope nothing like that ever happens again!"

And I was shocked and said: "But it's still happening today! Look at what's happening in Sudan and the Congo!"

Her reply: "Yes, but that's Africa. Africa is a whole different story..."

11 January, 2010

Flashback #7: Michael Jackson in Moscow

A friend of mine has been scanning pictures and documents from Moscow days, including this ticket to Michael Jackson's concert at Luzhniki Stadium. I haven't thought about this concert in a very long time, so I dug out my journals and was shocked to read the following:

September 17th, 1993

Went to see none other than Michael Jackson in concert on Wednesday night. We paid a shitload for the tickets and then were stuck up in obstructed view, nosebleed, so-far-from-the-stage-that-the-performers-all-looked-like-ants seats. The way they set up the ticket sales it seems that the less you paid for the damned things, the better view you got. So it's pouring down rain, about 45 degrees in the outdoor stadium, and the concert got delayed by 2 hours.

Michael finally came out and his entrance was accompanied by fireworks. We all danced wildly to "Billy Jean" and "Thriller", motivated about 75% by enthusiasm and probably 25% out of a desire to restore blood flow to our painfully frozen feet!

Poor Michael had a hard time doing his routines because at all times there were 7 to 10 guys in sweat suits on their hands and knees mopping up the water that was pooling up on the stage and making it slick. I don't know if it was because of that or just the stress of being out on the road and having all those lawsuits on him, but he broke down into big sobs twice!

All in all it was a really good show, but I get the impression that he's being torn to pieces and systematically devoured by his "adoring" fans. I felt like I was privy to the premonition of a blood bath. If this keeps up I wonder how long it will be before they find his crumpled, lifeless body on the floor of a posh hotel room?


We've had a lot of snow in the past week and it's beautiful here! S and B are spending a lot of time outside involved in dubious pastimes like racing their bikes down the icy street and then braking hard in order to do 180 degree (and sometimes 360 degree!) spins. *sigh*

This weekend they had a blast on their sleds. Friends built a ramp at the end of a hill which launched the sleighs airborne. It wasn't always easy for the parents to watch, and one kid landed badly and probably broke his arm, but they all had some spectacular rides and I got some spectacular pictures*!

*taken by someone else who had great reflexes, a great eye, and who was not preoccupied with visions of the last time S wrecked a sled...

08 January, 2010

..and then the monster ate them.

For Christmas the kids got Scribblenauts, a video game in which the player solves problems by writing down the name of the tool he wants to use to get out of various scrapes. S and B speak English fluently but they've got definite holes in their vocabulary because they spend most of their day speaking German. With American music, movies, friends and family they'll catch up eventually, but for now this makes for some very amusing mistakes when they're searching for words.

This morning they must have hit a rough patch in their game and I heard them in the other room debating excitedly:

What do you call those things! ACK! What are they called? Bull? Bull-? Aha! I know! GUNBULLETS!

04 January, 2010

At least they don't break your kneecaps! (as far as I know...)

S: Why do Mafiosi do what they do?
Me: What do you mean?
S: Why do they knock on people's doors and ask if they have accepted Jesus into their hearts?!
Me: ??? Umm, S? Are you talking about Jehovah's Witnesses?
S: Oh yeah! That's it!

02 January, 2010

Yo Dawg!

S is trying to convince me that it's cool to wear one's pants like this. (And I'm afraid he's only half-kidding!)

(at least Spongebob and Patrick seem impressed!)

01 January, 2010

We made it!

Every year on New Years Eve the Germans (at least in our neighborhood) go completely crazy with fireworks. They spend hundreds of Euros on spectacular displays that are thrilling for children but a nightmare for parents.

I spend the entire evening pulling my kids back to a "safer distance" and shudder when one overly-zealous neighbor chuckles about his yearly "incidents": some firework that tips over in its bottle and zooms off into the crowd of onlookers. Last year it was in our direction, this year it narrowly missed some friends and blew up in their garage! Let the good times roll!

Luckily we were able to close out 2009 without any trips to the hospital and we toasted with champagne and rang in the New Year with David Hasselhoff singing "I've been looking for Freedom" on tv! You can't get much more German than that!!!