Sunday, April 29, 2007

80s Music Video Sunday #20

After what seemed like an interminable journey, the Little One and I are finally home from our vacation. Our return flight was, ummmm, interesting and fraught with far too much excitement, as our flight from Sarasota to Atlanta was delayed by three hours because apparently, the plane was hit by lightning before coming to Sarasota. Three hours was bad. Very bad. We would never have made our connection, and Sarasota being Sarasota, not only was that the last flight of the day to Atlanta, there were also no other flights to Atlanta on other airlines. There was, however, a flight from Tampa – an hour to the north – that would give us enough time to make our connection. Jumping back into the car, we raced up the highway to Tampa, cursing the lane cutters and the traffic (after all, if it had to happen, why not have it happen at rush hour...), with Dad pulling off some most excellent maneuvering across exit lanes when the Little One just couldn't hold it in any longer. Nor could I, and as we crawled through the traffic, Little One kept saying, "Grampa, you have to stop. Mommy has pee pee." Somehow, I made it to the airport, where we checked in after my mad dash to the loo.

The Little One was restless, and to our dismay, we discovered that the airport play area was gateside. Not wishing to drag out our last moments running around the terminal after a three-year old, we said our goodbyes, jumped on the train to the concourse and went through security, which is when we found out that the play area had been closed, leaving us with 45 minutes to kill. In a big, crowded airport. With a very active small child. I received looks that were a combination of amusement and pity as I chased him around the terminal, trying to get him to the gate when our flight was called, trying to get him to get up from the floor, trying to get him to stop running in circles. I received a look of disgust from our seatmate, as she spotted my son and spilled over into my seat. Fortunately, she was in the wrong seat, and we soon found ourselves sitting next to a funny young grandmother who had had a few drinks in the airport to calm her down and another one on the plane, and who made the trip that much easier to bear as she helped me to entertain my son (with much assistance from the in-flight satellite TV).

The scenes from Tampa were replayed in the airport in Atlanta as we got close to the gate, with me chasing, and the Little One alternately laughing and throwing tantrums, and almost escaping mid-wardrobe change. Finally making it onto the plane, and he fell asleep shortly after takeoff, but not before getting magic marker on me and on himself. My original plan had been to get him off to sleep and then catch up with the fabulous entertainment system, but it didn't pan out, as the system had malfunctioned for half the passengers and the entire system had to be reset, a process which took several precious "me" hours. The Little One slept for about eight hours, partially on me and partially on the sweet Russian grandmother who sat beside us, allowing him to kick her and rest his feet on her all night long. More hijinks ensued once my devil child precious son woke up, and no one was happier than I when we finally made it off the plane.

Passport control was a breeze. Grabbing the suitcases was a bit trickier, as the carts were not made with children in mind, but fortunately we were assisted by those around us, and three of our suitcases came out rather quickly. It's possible the fourth one did as well, but I was so out of it at this point, that I'd forgotten what the fourth suitcase looked like, and once the area was clear and I didn't recognize any of the few lone suitcases, we made our way to the lost luggage counter, where a young woman led us back to the carousel and I felt terribly foolish for not having remembered which suitcase I had. Somehow, we made it to the arrivals hall without being stopped by Customs officials (I'm guessing the pity came into play again), and a joyful reunion with the Husband and Father was had by all.

This journey from hell reminded me of a movie I've always enjoyed, National Lampoon's Vacation, starring Chevy Chase (and written by 80s powerhouse screenwriter John Hughes. The theme song was written and performed by Lindsey Buckingham (of Fleetwood Mac fame), and it's today's featured song for 80s Music Video Sunday.

Holiday Road
Lindsey Buckingham

I found out long ago, oooohhhh
It's a long way down the Holiday Road, oooohhhh

Holiday Road
Holiday Road

Jack be nible, Jack be quick, oooohhhh
Take a ride on a West Coast kick, oooohhhh

Holiday Road
Holiday Road
Holiday Road
Holiday Road

I've come back long ago, oooohhhh
Long way down the Holiday Road

Holiday Road
Holiday Road
Holiday Road
Holiday Road


Monday, April 23, 2007

Travels, trials and tribulations, and why there's no 80s Music Video Sunday today

As you have probably noticed, there was no 80s Music Video Sunday today, and I'm guessing that some of you are a bit disappointed. We were away for the weekend and only returned a few hours ago, and though I could probably cobble something together, I've decided not to post, given that Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror begins Sunday evening in Israel, and it just seems wrong to post a peppy little 80s song on such a solemn occasion. This is the first year since I moved to Israel more than 15 years ago that I've not been there to commemorate Memorial Day or to celebrate Israel's Independence Day, which begins Monday evening at sundown, and it feels strange. We will, however, be going to an Israeli Independence Day celebration tomorrow at the local Jewish community center, and Memorial Day will be noted as well.

We've generally been having a good trip, and as usual, there's a part of me that doesn't want to return to Israel later this week. The Little One (who has tried my patience on almost a daily basis) is speaking mostly in English these days, albeit with an Israeli accent. We spent the weekend visiting with my brother and his family, and the Little One managed to utterly charm his young cousins, one of whom could not stop talking about how cute he was (she called him "cutie buns") and how all she wanted to do was to hold him and squeeze him. It was all rather adorable, and he kept crying her name for a good part of the trip back home to Grandma and Grandpa's house.

We've seen lots of animals and reptiles (mostly in various aquariums and other such establishments), played in the majority of playgrounds around the city, eaten rather well (the Little One immensely enjoyed the boneless spareribs after we told him that it was chicken), and done a fair amount of shopping (though of course, there's more to be done).

Oh, and I'm very, very tired. I've also developed an even greater respect for stay-at-home- and single parents. I don't know how you do it folks. I love my son to bits, but if I had to do this all the time, I think I'd lose it. I'm absolutely full of admiration for people who can do this, and a bit frustrated because I know I can't. As much as I'd like to stay here, I'm really looking forward to getting back to my husband and allowing him to spend some quality time with the Little One, while allowing me to spend some quality time with myself.

In any event, it is now nearly 9pm, and I've got phone calls to make and a small child to bathe. This week will be hectic, but normal blogging will resume next week.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Out out damn troll...

As you may have noticed, I've decided to turn the comment moderation back on. I've got a pesky, racist little troll commenting from Federal Way, Washington (or maybe it's just where the server is located) who clearly has nothing better to do with his or her time than to leave reams and reams of nasty little comments that I've spent far too much of my vacation time deleting.

For those of you who remember the last time I moderated comments, this is indeed the same little troll, the same one who accused me in the past of spreading ideological AIDS (really!) and suggested that I'm a traitor to my country, and that the Israeli government might want to consider having me locked up for my words, among other things.

So, Troll, sorry to rain on your parade (actually, I'm not), but your comments have no place on this blog. If I'm moderating, your comments will never be published. If I decide to stop moderating, your comments will always be deleted. You are not welcome here, so perhaps you should find yourself a new hobby, or at least find another blog on which to leave your pathetic commentary.

And now back to our regular programming...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

80s Music Video Sunday #19

I've always enjoyed Latin and Spanish music, whether it be salsa (and I even tried to learn how to salsa dance during my university days, but alas, I have no rhythm), Cuban music, Spanish musicians such as Alejandro Sanz or Estopa, the music of Juanes, and, during the summer camp years, Puerto Rican boy band Menudo, which played a pivotal role in launching the career of Ricky Martin.

Here in South Florida, Spanish is everywhere, whether it be ethnic restaurants, Spanish names, Spanish-speaking television and radio stations. I hear Spanish being spoken at the parks, and on many occasions, the elegant women working in the department stores speak Spanish-accented English. In the same way that one can get by in Israel speaking only in English, one can easily get by in parts of South Florida speaking only in Spanish.

As I'm trying to keep to the South Florida/US theme in my postings these days, my natural inclination for 80s Music Video Sunday is to incorporate music that is undeniably connected to the local music scene. For me, there is no one who better represents this theme than Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine. I've always been a fan of Gloria Estefan. I really like her music, and am impressed by her strength as a person. She's a talented singer, dancer and business woman. She sings in Spanish and English, and I love it all. Today's song takes me back to a winter weekend convention on the grounds of one of my old youth group's summer camp, when during a break in the proceedings, someone put this song on, causing us to spontaneously break out into a large conga line and dance around the building while the snow fell outside. Good memories...

Come on, shake your body baby, do the conga
I know you can't control yourself any longer
Come on, shake your body baby, do the conga
I know you can't control yourself any longer.

Come on, shake your body baby, do the conga
I know you can't control yourself any longer
Feel the rhythm of the music getting stronger
Don't you fight it till you've tried it
Do the conga beat

Everybody gather 'round now
let your body feel the heat.
Don't you worry if you can't dance
let the music move your feet.
It's the rhythm of the island
and like sugarcane, so sweet.
If you want to do the conga
you've got to listen to the beat.

Come on, shake your body baby, do the conga
I know you can't control yourself any longer
Feel the rhythm of the music getting stronger
Don't you fight it till you've tried it
Do the conga beat.

Feel the fire of desire
as you dance the night away.
'Cos tonight we're gonna party
till we see the break of day.
Better get yourself together
and hold on to what you got.
Once the music hit your system
there's no way you're gonna stop.

Come on, shake your body baby, do the conga
I know you can't control yourself any longer
Feel the rhythm of the music getting stronger
Don't you fight it till you've tried it
Do the conga beat.

Come on, shake your body baby, do the conga
I know you can't control yourself any longer
Feel the rhythm of the music getting stronger
Don't you fight it till you've tried it, do the conga

Come on, shake your body baby, do the conga
I know you can't control yourself any longer
Feel the rhythm of the music getting stronger
Don't you fight it till you've tried it
Do the conga beat
Come on, shake your body baby, do the conga

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

You know you're in Florida when...

  1. You see an alligator behind the house within an hour of your arrival.
  2. Your hosts talk about hitting the early bird special for lobster night at one of the local restaurants.
  3. You've seen three alligators behind the house within three days after your arrival, and are told that you might see more, because it's mating season.
  4. Your Little One begins to say words in Spanish before he feels comfortable in English.
  5. Your host strongly recommends not going past the last house at the end of the street, as just beyond the grass is the beginning of the lake, and alligators like to hang out there. To bring the point home, your host mentions how she once took a walk down to the end of the street, walked in the grass, looked down at the lake, and saw an alligator staring back at her.
  6. The obituaries column in the local newspaper shows that no one is actually originally from here.
  7. If you see an alligator by the local bank machine (in close proximity to a lake, lest you think they can be found wandering the city streets), you can call someone to come and take him away.
  8. Taking a walk through the neighborhood involves looking both ways at golf cart crossings.
  9. You learn how to say "alligator" in Spanish.
  10. You feel like the youngest person wherever you go. By a lot. Especially when you find yourself having lunch in a restaurant before noon.
  11. Streets downtown display signs with arrows, indicating evacuation routes in the event of a hurricane.

Three shirts have been added to the Official Clothing Count.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

80s Music Video Sunday #18

We've been ensconsed in American life for approximately 52 hours, and the culture shock is palpable. So many television commercials! And hey! Why are there commercials for adult party phone lines on Nickelodeon during the day? We haven't been to Target. We've been to Super Target. Seriously! It's really called Super Target! Because regular Target just isn't big enough, I guess. The place is massive. I've already been to two supermarkets, and the sheer variety of products and brands has left me dumbfounded.

The flight was surprisingly not nightmarish. The Little One slept for eight out of thirteen hours (having managed to stay awake until the plane started to taxi down the runway in preparation for takeoff), and the rest of the time was spent reading and playing. At one point he told me that he wanted to get off the plane, but other than that, he was quite the little trooper. I actually apologized to one of the flight attendants for his behavior and she responded with, "he was good. Trust me." By the way, for those of you flying from Israel to the southern US, you should definitely consider Delta's direct flight from Tel Aviv to Atlanta. The service was excellent (everyone was so nice and so incredibly helpful!), the food surprisingly good, and the entertainment system kept me thoroughly entertained.

I drank my first cup of Starbucks coffee at the airport in Atlanta. Aside from being surprised to see that my medium-sized latte was larger than any large coffee that one can find in Israel, I was saddened to discover that what my husband and some of my friends had been saying was indeed correct. The coffee was nowhere near as good as the coffee in Israel. It didn't seem to bother anyone else in the terminal, though, as everyone seemed to be walking around with large cups of Starbucks coffee, and the garbage bins were full of empty Starbucks cups. They do, however, make a lovely chocolate chip scone, and I don't envy the person responsible for cleaning the area where the Little One ate his precious scone.

We've had an easy few days so far, aside from the jetlag and the fact that the Little One is barely speaking any English, chattering away to everyone in Hebrew, not at all bothered by the fact that almost no one understands him (he's even gone so far as to repeat answers in Hebrew, saying them louder and more slowly after his grandparents told him that they didn't understand). We've visited with friends, gone to a birthday party and made some new friends, and I've even managed to do a little shopping, after the Little One went down for an afternoon nap. The Official Shopping Count stands at two pairs of capri pants and one short-sleeved shirt (and sorry, NRG, but they're all in my "usual" colors. I did try on a red top, but it bunched funny under the arms...).

So, in honor of our trip to the US, today's 80s Music Video Sunday entry is devoted to an artist who I find to be quintessentially, unquestionably American. Our rocker was born in the USA, in the state of New Jersey. I've always been a Bruce Springsteen fan, and really enjoy his tunes from the 80s. Oh, and a gold star goes to the first person to name the girl dancing with Springsteen in the video below.

Dancing in the Dark
Bruce Springsteen

I get up in the evening
And I ain't got nothing to say
I come home in the morning
I go to bed feeling the same way
I ain't nothing but tired
Man, I'm just tired and bored with myself
Hey there baby I could use just a little help

You can't start a fire
You can't start a fire without a spark
This gun's for hire
Even if we're just dancing in the dark

Message keeps getting clearer
Radio's on and I'm moving 'round the place
I check my look in the mirror
I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face
Man, I ain't getting nowhere just living in a dump like this
There's something happening somewhere
Baby I just know that there is

You can't start a fire
You can't start a fire without a spark
This gun's for hire
Even if we're just dancing in the dark

You sit around getting older
There's a joke here somewhere and it's on me
I'll shake this world off my shoulders
Come on baby the laugh's on me

Stay on the streets of this town
And they'll be carving you up all right
They say you gotta stay hungry
Hey baby I'm just about starving tonight
I'm dying for some action
I'm sick of sitting 'round here trying to write this book
I need a love reaction
Come on now baby gimme just one look

You can't start a fire sitting 'round crying over a broken heart
This gun's for hire
Even if we're just dancing In the dark
You can't start a fire worrying about your little world falling apart
This gun's for hire

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 meme and 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 blast off

Not that I am very tizzy-prone, but I'd have to say that today, I'm definitely leaning in that direction. The Little One and I are off to the US tonight for a three-week visit with Grandma and Grandpa, and I have stocked up on a variety of coloring and sticker books, play-doh (Delta Airlines, please forgive me in advance for the mess...), crayons, puzzles and books for our journey, which will take a hair-raising twenty hours or so door-to-door. We will have personal seat-back monitors, and with any luck, he'll sleep for at least half of the first 13-hour leg of the trip. If there's any additional luck to be had (not to mention complimentary alcoholic beverages, though I will pay if necessary), perhaps I'll even manage to get a decent amount of sleep as well. I'm still debating whether or not to take our stroller, mostly for use in the airports when the Little One will either be sleeping or will want to be picked up (which happens with increasing frequency these days), as well as for some of our longer days out during the visit. The disadvantage will raise its ugly head during those moments when he'll want to walk and then tries to run off while I'm saddled with the stroller and a knapsack. Your thoughts and advice are definitely welcome...

I'll try to blog during the trip, but I'm not sure how much time I'll have. 80s Music Video Sunday entries will be posted later in the day due to the time difference, but they will be posted.


As I don't really have either the time or the energy for a "real" post, I'm going to hit you all with a meme. I've been tagged by The Armenian Odar, a Dutch expat living in – where else – Armenia. Check out her blog, folks, and get a chance to learn about life in a country that isn't on the radar for most.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Meme

Name five things you love in your new country:

  1. The way that everyone lives life to the fullest.
  2. The coffee (you can get great coffee virtually anywhere!).
  3. The beautiful scenery, from snow and lush greenery in the north to desert landscapes in the south.
  4. The complex quirkiness of the people!
  5. The wide variety of foods that are available – everything from sushi to jachnun!

Name four things that you miss from your native country.

  1. My family and friends.
  2. Autumn foliage.
  3. Trousers and jeans that come in "petite" sizes. Whenever I buy these items here (which is rare), I always have to get them fixed. How annoying is that? And it's not like I'm really short – I'm 5'2"/158 cm tall.
  4. Shallow pleasantries and good manners. Call me pathetic, but I like it when salespeople tell me to have a nice day or ask how I'm doing today.

Name three things that annoy you a bit (or much) in your new country:

  1. Israeli drivers suck big time! Being on the road here is like being in a war, and every other car an enemy that must be humbled and/or destroyed. It's gotten so bad lately that there's even an ad campaign where careless drivers are branded terrorists.
  2. The lack of environmental awareness vis a vis garbage. Children are practically born knowing that picking wild flowers is a serious no-no, but no one will think twice if you toss your garbage around the unpicked wild flowers.
  3. The government and the sorry state of the educational system. Need I say more?

Name two things that surprise you (or surprised you in the beginning) in your new country:

  1. The lack of education regarding environmental awareness (see number 2 in the previous section). I don't understand how Israelis can be so enthralled with nature on the one hand, yet have no problems whatsoever about ruining it with garbage.
  2. The extent to which people seem to think that rules don't apply to them, whether they be rules of the road, legal issues, etc. There's a big problem with sexual harassment here, and I'm constantly in awe of the fact that it is so prevalent at so many different levels in both civilian and military life.

Name one thing that you would miss terribly in your new country, if you had to leave it:

  1. My friends.


Stefanella, who's always up for a good meme.

Beth, whose answers will inevitably entertaining.

Anglosaxy, since (a) these kinds of questions are right up his alley, and (b) I just like tagging him.

NRG, whose life has always run on a course parallel to mine (answer in the Comments Section, please).

Life Out East, who should have some interesting responses, given that he's moving back home shortly.


Wish me luck on the journey tonight. God knows I'm gonna need it...

Sunday, April 01, 2007

80s Music Video Sunday #17

My parents grew up in the US against the backdrop of the World War Two. As such, like many other American Jews of their generation, their feelings regarding Germany were harsh at best. As a child of parents from this generation, I was brought up in a household with no German products, and my parents have never owned a German car. I can't recall my parents ever having said anything directly negative about Germany (they did not hate Germany, for instance), but all the same, I knew. I knew that we didn't buy German products because we would not spend any money that might potentially benefit those who may have had something to do with the Holocaust.

This "boycott", combined with a voracious appetite for books about children in the Holocaust, resulted in a strange curiosity about the Germany of today, which involved feelings of wanting to know more, while at the same time feeling slightly uncomfortable about wanting to do so. Whenever we had exchange students from Germany in our high school, I found myself attracted to their presence, but it was almost in a "forbidden fruit" sort of way, as though by reaching out and making friends I was doing something unusual and daring. Somewhere in the back of my mind lurked the possibility that somehow, my new friends may have had some connection to Nazi Germany, and this was exciting, for I felt that I was actively doing something to meet and beat my prejudices. And, as I discovered, my German peers were also anxious to cast off the dark skeletons of the past, to demonstrate that the grave sins of their ancestors were not their own. This was brought home to me one afternoon during the summer after high school graduation. I was out with a group of American and international students, including a number of German teens (and NRG, who just seems to pop up everywhere...). We were having a great time, laughing, joking and horsing around. One of the German students, a charming young man named Wolfgang (with whom NRG and her family are still in close touch), laughingly said to someone, "I'm going to kill you." Who among us hasn't said that to someone else at one time or another, right? Of course we don't mean it, and we often say it in a joking manner, which is, of course, what Wolfgang had done. One of the American girls in the group (who was clearly not the quickest bunny in the forest), jokingly responded with something to the effect of, "well, if you say you're going to kill me, you must be Hitler, because you're German!" I was completely and utterly shocked by her comment, and poor Wolfgang looked like he'd been physically slapped. I was horrified and embarrassed, embarrassed that someone could say something so stupid, embarrassed for Wolfgang, who was truly a nice, good guy. I don't remember what happened after that, but I don't think I'll ever forget that scene or how hurt our German friend looked.

I remember my first trip to Israel, and I was amazed to see all the Mercedes and BMW taxis and buses. Clearly, the Israelis were much farther along in dealing with their feelings regarding Germany than were the American Jews of my parents' generation. Today, many of the appliances in our home are German, and I've never thought twice about their purchase. I have never been to Germany, and was once asked during a job interview if I would have a problem flying to Germany periodically for business. I admitted that I had never been there, and privately wondered whether the slivers of my remaining emotional baggage would have a problem. I didn't get the job in the end, and I still haven't been to Germany (though not on purpose – it just hasn't happened).

As a result of growing up with this identity, hearing German being spoken was always something that stood out. Not in a bad way, but more like suddenly hearing something exciting, an unusual event (of course, I also felt this way when hearing Hebrew, and sometimes still feel this way when hearing Arabic outside of Israel). So of course, when, during the 80s, a number of songs were released in both English and the original German, I was quite drawn to them. I bought the singles (most likely in English), I felt a rush of adrenaline when hearing the songs in German. One of the songs became a favorite of mine, and the German version is today's feature video – 99 Luftballons (99 Red Balloons), by Nena.

99 Luftballons

Hast Du etwas Zeit für mich
Dann singe ich ein Lied fuer Dich
Von 99 Luftballons
Auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont
Denkst Du vielleicht grad' an mich
Dann singe ich ein Lied fuer Dich
Von 99 Luftballons
Und dass sowas von sowas kommt

99 Luftballons
Auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont
Hielt man fuer UFOs aus dem All
Darum schickte ein General
Eine Fliegerstaffel hinterher
Alarm zu geben, wenn es so war
Dabei war da am Horizont
Nur 99 Luftballons

99 Duesenjaeger
Jeder war ein grosser Krieger
Hielten sich fuer Captain Kirk
Das gab ein grosses Feuerwerk
Die Nachbarn haben nichts gerafft
Und fuehlten sich gleich angemacht
Dabei schoss man am Horizont
Auf 99 Luftballons

99 Kriegsminister
Streichholz und Benzinkanister
Hielten sich fuer schlaue Leute
Witterten schon fette Beute
Riefen: Krieg und wollten Macht
Mann, wer haette das gedacht
Dass es einmal soweit kommt
Wegen 99 Luftballons

99 Jahre Krieg
Liessen keinen Platz fuer Sieger
Kriegsminister gibt es nicht mehr
Und auch keine Duesenflieger
Heute zieh ich meine Runden
Seh die Welt in Truemmern liegen
Hab' nen Luftballon gefunden
Denk' an Dich und lass' ihn fliegen

99 Red Balloons

You and I in a little toy shop
Buy a bag of balloons with the money we've got.
Set them free at the break of dawn
'Til one by one, they were gone.
Back at base, bugs in the software
Flash the message, Something's out there.
Floating in the summer sky.
99 red balloons go by.

99 red balloons.
floating in the summer sky.
Panic bells, it's red alert.
There's something here from somewhere else.
The war machine springs to life.
Opens up one eager eye.
Focusing it on the sky.
Where 99 red balloons go by.

99 Decision Street.
99 ministers meet.
To worry, worry, super-scurry.
Call the troops out in a hurry.
This is what we've waited for.
This is it boys, this is war.
The president is on the line
As 99 red balloons go by.

99 Knights of the air
Ride super-high-tech jet fighters
Everyone's a superhero.
Everyone's a Captain Kirk.
With orders to identify.
To clarify and classify.
Scramble in the summer sky.
As 99 red balloons go by.

99 dreams I have had.
In every one a red balloon.
It's all over and I'm standing pretty.
In this dust that was a city.
If I could find a souvenier.
Just to prove the world was here.
And here is a red balloon
I think of you and let it go.