Saturday, May 31, 2008

Hoping The TA Is Hot

Yesterday, I signed up the first college course I've taken in eight years. The Air Force pays 100% of tuition for those on active duty, so it's kinda stupid not to take classes. (I still had to pay $112 (!) for my book.) There's no reason why it's taken me so long to get back into it. It's just so easy to get complacent, making it harder to go back.
There are a few different colleges that offer courses on base, the biggest being the University of Maryland, through whom I'll be taking Basic Italian. I'm not expecting to be fluent, but it would be nice to be able to buy a train ticket without Shaun's help. It's a six week course that meets Monday through Friday, 11:00-12:20. I'm lucky to have a boss who's cool with me taking classes over lunch, especially since our lunch doesn't start until 11:30.

Franceso Dire Distender

Monday is Festa della Repubblica, an Italian holiday marking the day in 1946 when Italy voted to abolish the monarchy and become a republic. It seems their holidays outnumber their work days--another reason this place is so great. Sometimes the base takes Italian holidays, and sometimes it doesn't. Luckily, we get this one, making it two three-day weekends in a row. And as much fun as I've had the past couple weekends, they've been very full, so it will be nice to just have a mellow weekend to relax with my Italian friends.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Like Yosemite Sam When Steam Comes Out His Ears

Work here is particularly stressful. Our shop is already undermanned, and on top of that, we had one person separate from the Air Force and two more go on leave this month. I'm about the only one left to take care of regular jobs, and as many as I finish, the list still seems to get longer every morning.
On top of all the jobs, there's other military-related stuff we all have to do. Training, mobility folder updates, miscellaneous paperwork. It's difficult to know how to prioritise all of it, because everyone I talk to tells me something different.
This morning, I was finishing up some online training that was nearly overdue when my boss came in and asked me to take care of a job that was called in directly by the commander. I told him I'd take care of it. He came back in my office two minutes later and said, "Now." He wasn't trying to be a richard; he's just trying to keep us out of the spotlight.
Still, it took everything I had not to stand up and say, "Listen, man, it's not like I'm just fucking off here. When I said I'd take care of it, I meant I'd take care of it. You've never had any reason to doubt me before, and I'm not going to let you down. Just give me five minutes to take care of this stupid-ass training, and then I'll go take care of the job. Is that okay?"
Sometimes I wish my brain-to-mouth filter didn't work so well.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


I found out today my deployment rotation has been changed. I was originally scheduled to deploy the first half of next year (January - June '09), but now I'll be going the second half of the year (July - December '09). This is for all of you who keep saying you're going to come visit me; I'm just letting you know so you can plan your trip accordingly. For those that want to snowboard, shoot for January or February. For those that want to see Venice in Springtime, aim for April or May. Seriously, start planning your flights into Marco Polo International Airport now. You never know what will happen with the airlines, and the earlier, the better. Now, go!

Showing Love For Sticky Notes

I'm becoming a fan of making lists. I'm somewhat of a procrastinator, and sometimes my errands pile up until they overwhelm me, seeming nearly impossible to complete. That's where lists come in. Something about checking off an item on my list creates a wonderful sense of satisfaction. The joy of that satisfaction far outweighs the bother of running any errand. I had a ton of stuff to take care of today, but felt more like coming home and laying on my couch. But just before I left work, I made a list and placed everything in order of priority. I didn't get home until almost 8, but I got nearly everything done. Now I'm laying on my couch with a sense of accomplishment, and it's so much better.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Like Swiss Cheese

My Biopsy
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
I went to the dermatologist in Trieste today for my biopsy. I was joined by MSgt Hammes, my supervisor, because he had to see the doctor, as well. It's about a 90 minute drive to Trieste, and our appointments were only an hour apart, so we decided to ride together.
The doc gave me a local anaesthetic on the underside of my right forearm, and then proceeded to cut out a small, circular piece of skin. After that, he sewed me up with two stitches. It was quick, and I didn't feel a thing; but I made the mistake of looking down during the procedure. Seeing him pull a needle through my flesh like he was Betsy Ross made me a little nauseated and very light-headed. Luckily, my appointment was first, so I had a little time to recover before having to drive back home.

Trieste Coast
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Doug and I had no intentions of going back to work today, so we decided to hang out in Trieste for a while. Trieste is on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, and right at the border between Italy and Slovenia. It has a very rich history, and, before World War I, was part of Austria and one of the most important ports in Europe.

Miramare Castle
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
After lunch at a seaside restaurant, we strolled up the boardwalk to Miramare Castle, one of Trieste's most popular sights.

Miramare Castle
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
The tour cost ten Euro, so we decided to skip it and just walk around the grounds, which were spectacular. After that, we headed back to the car. It was very warm, and I guess all the Italians took the day off or something because they were all out sunbathing by the water. And let me just say, there was no shortage of banana hammocks or 70-year-old boobs flopping around. But I guess that's what experiencing Europe is all about.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A New Found Respect For Home Owners

This is the first time I've ever had a real house all to myself, and it's about exhausting. The yard work alone could take an entire weekend if I were as thorough as I'd like. Italian houses have all tile or wood floors, which require frequent cleaning. And I'll never know how so many cobwebs can accumulate overnight.
And even though I'm settled in pretty well, I still could use a few things to make it feel a little more cozy. The aforementioned tile and wood floors are chilly on bare feet, so I'm always on the lookout for rugs. And even though I have some art and wall decor, I always see bare spaces. Maybe I should just splurge and hire a maid, a gardener, and a decorator. Nah--it might take some time and effort, but it will be better if I do it all myself.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Diplomas, Castles, & Sauerkraut

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Shaun and I left Saturday morning at 4 AM (!) to head up to Stuttgart. It ended up being a good decision because there was hardly any traffic, plus we got to see the sun rise as we drove through the Alps.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
It was an eight-hour drive, so we arrived just in time for lunch. I hadn't seen the Murphys (except James) since I left Japan, and they hadn't changed a bit. They were excited to see us and even more excited when I told them I'd never been to Germany before. They love playing tour guide.

Schloss Ludwigsburg
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Mrs. Murphy made some delicious fondue, and then we all headed down to check out Schloss Ludwigsburg, a palace that was built in 1704.

Schloss Ludwigsburg
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
It was very beautifully decorated. We took the English tour and heard lots of interesting stories about the royalty that lived there over the years. Afterward, James spent the rest of the day poorly imitating the accent of our tour guide.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
After dinner, we went to Hohenasperg, an ancient fortress that overlooks the city. It dates back to at least 1308, and is now used as a prison hospital.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
After that, we strolled around a section of town called Markgroningen. It was very stereotypically German, but in a cute way.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
It was getting kinda late, so after that, we headed back to the Murphy's house and played a couple rounds of "Scene It," which is kinda like Trivial Pursuit, but centred around movies. Stephanie and I were on a team, and we totally kicked butt.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Sunday, we spent all day at Patrick Henry Village, a small Army post near Heidelberg, for Stephanie's commencement. She graduated with a BA in communication. It's strange thinking of her as a college grad, because the first time I met her, she was a freshman in high school in Misawa. How time flies!

Mr. Murphy
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
After the ceremony, we headed into Heidelberg for dinner at a place called Vetters. It was old school German food, and this was the main entree--a gigantoid bowl of meat, split six ways. I ordered a vegetarian dish (a gigantoid bowl of vegetables and cheese). We all stuffed ourselves, and there was still plenty left over. Regardless, we didn't feel bad about ordering some apple strudel.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
After dinner, we walked around Heidelberg, which was a really neat town with tons of shops and cafes.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
It's built on both sides of the Neckar river. It features the oldest university in Germany, a huge castle dating back to 1214, and a Starbucks. (Shaun just HAD to have a Frappuccino!) We walked around the castle, but by then, it was too dark to take any pictures. Don't worry, though; I'll definitely be going back.

Shaun and I had to leave early this morning to head back to Aviano, so we didn't stay out too late. Before this trip, I'd never really had any interest in German culture or much of a desire to visit. But now, I can't wait to go back and see more.

As always, if you want to see the entire photostream, go here. It was so great to see James and Brittany, who had flown in all the way from San Antonio. And a huge "Danke!" to Mr. & Mrs. Murphy, who were more than hospitable, especially since they're packing out this week to move back to Oregon. Meeting such genuine, thoughtful, Christ-like people is a rare experience, and I wish them all the best.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Couple Countries North

Shaun and I are driving up to Stuttgart, Germany tomorrow for Stephanie Murphy's graduation this weekend. We had hoped to leave Thursday, but I couldn't get any time off work. We also considered leaving tonight, but didn't want to drive through the mountains late at night. So, we decided to take off early tomorrow morning. It's only a seven hour drive, and Shaun's company will make the time go even faster. The graduation ceremony isn't until Sunday, and since Monday is Memorial Day, we'll have plenty of time to get back.
Along with the graduation ceremony, I'm looking forward to this trip because it will be my first time in Germany. I hear it's really beautiful, and even though we won't have the time to see much, it should be fun. And most importantly, Stephanie's big brother James "Smurphy" Murphy will be in town, and it's always a hoot to hang with that guy.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Last week, I was having a cappuccino at the cafe up the street. Whenever you order any kind of coffee drink, the barista always sets out a bowl of assorted sugar packets. I was halfway through my cappuccino when a man came in and stood next to me. He, too, ordered a cappuccino, and made some small talk with the barista. He looked over at the bowl of sugar, which was right next to me. I nudged the bowl toward him with my hand and said, in my most authentic Italian accent, "Prego." "Prego" usually means "You're welcome," but it can also mean "Go ahead" or "Proceed" (similar to "dozo" in Japan). After my gesture, the man smiled and started speaking to me in Italian very quickly. I just smiled and nodded, but I was thrilled inside. I had totally passed myself off as a local. Luckily, the man didn't say too much before going back to his cappuccino. If he had asked me a question, I probably would have made an ass of myself.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

You're No Rock 'n Roll Fun

There's a girl at work with whom I share an office. She was deployed when I first got here, so we've only been working together for about a month, but I think she's pretty cool. She's been in Italy for three years, and she's not very fond of it. I think she stresses too much over things that aren't very important, and would be able to enjoy Italy more if she just relaxed a little bit. But whenever I tell her this, she just says, "Wait till you've been here a few years. You'll be bitter and hate it, just like me."
Considering my military career, I really haven't had a bad assignment. Vegas, Japan, Utah, and now Italy. I find it hard to believe anyone could not enjoy themselves in any of those places. Yet, there are still people who say there's nothing to do, even in Vegas! Maybe I'm just the kind of guy who can amuse himself anywhere, even if he gets stationed in the middle of nowhere, or worse...North Dakota. (Let's pray that never happens.) But if it does, the worst thing I could do would be to dwell on how horrible my situation is. I'm one of those people who think God wants us to have fun. Why can't people just let it go and make the best of it?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Central Texans in Northern Italy

Charis & Liz
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
The fun began Thursday evening. I picked up Charis and Elizabeth at the Pordenone train station; then Shaun joined us for dinner and gelato. We knew the next few days would be busy, so we called it an early night. The next morning, we took the train to Venice.

Ponte di Rialto
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
The best stuff to see in Venice is Venice itself. The canals and architecture and layout of the city combine in such a unique way, you can't help but be taken in by it.

Piazza San Marco
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

Ponte dei Sospiri
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
We took them on a quick walking tour of Venice, hitting the major spots, including the Bridge of Sighs, which I hadn't seen before. After Venice, Shaun had to get back to Aviano, so the girls and I headed to Verona.

Verona City Wall
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Verona was the first big place I'd visited in Italy after Venice, and it had a totally different feel. It was easier to navigate and seemed much less hectic.

Verona Arena
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Verona has its own colloseum, which, though it's smaller than the one in Rome, it's more intact. They still use it during the summer to host opera performances, which is something I'll definitely look into.

Charis & Liz
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

Piazza Verona
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
The shopping was great, and we spent quite a while strolling through the market.

Juliet's Balcony
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
If you know your Shakespeare, you'll know that "Fair Verona" is the setting for Romeo and Juliet. We went to Villa Capuleti to see the balcony featured in the famous scene.

Me & Juliet
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Beneath the balcony is a bronze statue of Juliet. Supposedly, it's good luck to touch her breast, and who am I to pass that up? (Hell, I doubt I'd pass up touching a breast, even if it was bad luck.)

Piazza Verona
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
After all the walking, we headed back to Shaun's place in Aviano for a barbecue and an extended game of Taboo. We also did some planning for our next day's adventure to...

Shaun & Liz
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Florence! The trip to Florence takes a while, so we played cards on the train. It made the ride go really quick.

Me & Charis
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
By the way, we played guys versus girls in Spades, and the guys totally kicked butt.

Shaun, Liz, & Charis
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Florence was really amazing. It was kinda crowded and dirty, but you could see the rich history of the city in the eyes of its people.

Il Duomo
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
In the middle of the city is the cathedral, which is probably the most intricate structure I've ever seen. It was completely covered in etchings, carvings, and statues.

Piazza della Signoria
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Near Il Duomo was Piazza della Signoria, where there were tons of statues, including this one of Perseus holding the head of Medusa.

Palazzo Vecchio
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
At the adjacent end of the square is Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace). In front of it is this replica of Michelangelo's David, where the original once stood.

Next we went to the Galleria dell'Accademia to see Michelangelo's David. I'd seen countless pictures and several replicas before, but nothing could really prepare me for seeing the original sculpture. So much detail and precision went into this piece, it's easy to see why Michelangelo is considered one of the greatest. Pictures weren't allowed, which didn't bother me. There's really no way any photograph could capture the beauty of this marble in the form of God's greatest creation. If I didn't see anything else the entire weekend, I'm glad I saw this. Truly magnificent.

Liz, Charis, Shaun, & Me
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
After more walking, we had lunch at a little restaurant recommended by Charis's travel guide. It was tucked away in an alley, and we all agreed it was the best meal we'd had all weekend.

Piazza della Repubblica
Originally uploaded by currtdawg

Arno River
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
It was another fun, yet exhausting day, and we made it back to the station just in time to catch our train back to Aviano (which, of course, included more card games).

Sunday, Rachel joined us as we drove up to a small town in Austria called Millstatt. It rained the entire trip up there, but soon after we got into town, the rain slowed down, allowing us to walk around without getting drenched.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
It was a neat little town located alongside a scenic lake. We stopped in a little restaurant for lunch, and spent some time walking through a park by the lake.

In the Park
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
It's strange how two places that are so close can look so different. Millstatt is only a few miles away from the border, but the scenery was nothing like anything I've seen in Italy.

Schloss Heroldeck
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Our main reason for driving to Austria was to see Schloss Heroldeck. It's a big castle that was built in the early 1900s, but was bought by the Nazis and used as a training facility. Ironically, it's now used as a Christian retreat and missionary training centre.

Schloss Heroldeck
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Shaun has lots of ties to missionaries throughout Europe, and was able to pull some strings so we could walk through the castle. It was a really neat building with a lovely view of the lake and the town below.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Since we weren't dictated by the train schedule, it was a more relaxed day. It started raining again as we drove back home, but the trip through the mountains was gorgeous. We hit some traffic in Pordenone due to a new mall opening, which made us a little nervous because the girls had to catch their train back to Paris to fly out on Monday. By the time we got back to my house, the girls had to cram everything in their suitcases as fast as they could. We sped back to the train station and said our good-byes (quickly). You know how sometimes you have guests and you enjoy being the host, but then by the end of the visit, you're glad to have your house back to yourself? I didn't feel that way at all.

I posted most of the pictures, but if you want to see the whole photostream, go here. Thanks to Shaun for being a great tour guide. And thanks to Charis and Elizabeth for being wonderful house guests, and keeping Shaun and I in stitches. I haven't laughed that much in a long time. You guys are welcome back anytime.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Cool Chicks In Chateau de Currt-Dawg

Today begins a four-day weekend for me, which works out nicely because Charis and Liz will be arriving by train this afternoon. Charis is the sister of my good friend Abby (both of whom are super-cool), and Liz is their friend (who I haven't met yet, but is automatically cool by association). They spent last week in Paris, and the earlier part of this week touring Rome and Pompeii. Shaun and I are going to take them around northern Italy and, I think, Austria. (I'm not sure of the exact schedule yet.) They'll be crashing at my place, so all my free time this week has been spent cleaning; but that's cool because I love having guests, and, let's be honest, my place needed a good cleaning anyway.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Splendour of Spring

All the nice weather has sent the vegetation in northern Italy into a massive blooming hysteria. Everything with any sort of blossom is in full colour, and it's absolutely mesmerising. Along with that, a sweet smell has filled the air throughout Budoia. Everyday, I come home and open up all my windows, and my entire house is filled with the scent of flowers and honeysuckle. Wish you were here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What are you lookin' at?

The weather has been gorgeous lately, and I'm getting really sick of wearing long sleeves all the time. I think I'm just going to say, "To hell with it," and wear short sleeves despite my scaly arms. And when people ask me what happened to my arms, I'll just say, "Yeah, it's this new strain of really contagious herpes. There's no cure and you can get it just by making eye contact with someone who has it." That'll shut 'em up real quick.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Waste Not, Want Not

Recycling is a big thing in Italy. And even though it's sometimes a nuisance, I'm glad they have laws about it. I have four trash cans in my kitchen. One for plastic; one for metal and glass; one for paper and cardboard; and one for food waste and everything else. Back in Utah, everything went into the dumpster; but all this is helping me realise what I throw away on a daily basis. I can't believe what I've carelessly thrown into landfills and burn pits. All the sorting and collecting may seem inconvenient now, but I believe it will help sustain our futures.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Extra Hours

I've been working swing shift this week, which is from 1 PM to whenever (usually around 9 or 10, depending on when I finish my rounds). It rotates around our shop on a weekly basis. It's not too bad, especially since I can wake up and walk to the little cafe up the street for a late-morning cappuccino with the locals. The girl that works there already knows what I'm going to order as soon as I walk in.
The only drawback to working swings is that you have to take care of stand-by calls and do rounds on the following weekend. Since I'm supposed to get Monday and Tuesday off as comp time, I asked the boss if I could move those days to Thursday and Friday, giving me a four-day weekend beginning on the 15th. He was cool with it, which means I won't have to take leave when some friends come into town Thursday afternoon.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

No Distance Left To Run

I had my PT test today and achieved my worst score ever, but I still passed with flying colours. I've been running more often, but my lack in push-up and sit-up skills is what's most obvious. Even still, that doesn't hurt my score too bad.
Saying the Air Force physical training test is flawed is an understatement; but still, I can't really complain because I could make little to no effort and still pass just because of my genes. I'm not very big around the mid-section, on which a large percentage of the score is based. There are guys in much better shape than I who score worse simply because they have a huskier build. I didn't make the rules, but since they're operating in my favour, I'm not going to complain about them, either.

Caramella Dura

Today, Madonna announced dates for her world tour this fall, so I'm sure you can imagine my excitement to hear the "Sticky & Sweet Tour" will be rolling through Rome on September 6th. I know most of you are probably rolling your eyes right now; but I'm not just going to see Madonna. I'm going to see ROME!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Chemically Altered

I've been here for two and half months now, and this has been, by far, the most stressful PCS I've had. Even after I got my truck and my stuff moved into my house, I was still reeling from all the tension. For this reason, I was thinking the move plus work plus lack of social outlets was collectively causing my severe bouts with stress and worry. But something this week made me think differently.
Just over a month ago, on one of my rash appointments at the hospital, I asked the doc to give me something for my allergies. He gave me Claritin (which I've taken before) and Singulair (which I hadn't). When I saw one of the possible side effects of Singulair was suicidal thoughts, I laughed it off. Then both prescriptions ran out last Thursday, and I hadn't had the chance to go by the pharmacy on base to refill them until today. I've started to get a little sniffly, which is bothersome; but you know what else? I haven't had any panic episodes since I've been off the Singulair. In fact, today, I felt like a million bucks. And NO! I never felt suicidal. (Hopefully nobody has called 911 yet.) I'm just thinking that it might have something to do with the strange mood swings I've encountered lately.
Now, it might be totally unrelated; but just to see, I'm going to stay off the Singulair and see how I feel. I don't really think I need it anyway, as the Claritin should do the job. And, in my opinion, the less drugs, the better.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Sticky and Sweet

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
A lot has been said about the production of Madonna's new album, Hard Candy, over the past few months. Mostly about how she's teamed up with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake, though Pharrell Williams produced seven of the album's twelve tracks. Many are saying she's desperately trying to maintain her relevance by hiring the producers of the moment; but I don't see what the big deal is. Madonna has never been shy about sharing production credits on any of her records. The only difference now is that she's collaborating with such high-profile engineers. Should that make her music any less valid?
2005's "Confessions On A Dance Floor" was her return to dance after the artfully thin "American Life." This, however, is a return to her urban roots. It's still full of booty-shaking grooves, but more organic and not as Euro-sounding. It's closer to "Bedtime Stories" than "Ray of Light." There are still some electronic bleeps here and there, but this is Madonna keeping it real.
The first single, "4 Minutes," is a great song, despite a too-long intro and a weak coda. Madonna rarely does duets, and it's strange to hear her sharing air time with Justin Timberlake. Timbaland's unmistakable sound is almost phoned in (marching band horns, familiar rhythmic hooks, high-pitched "freaky freaky"s-- we've heard it all before), but the back-and-forth lines between Madonna and Timberlake are what make this one special.
The other Timbaland songs are hit-and-miss, the best being "Miles Away" and "Voices;" the worst being "Devil Wouldn't Recognize You," which is a rehash of Timberlake's "What Goes Around," which is a rehash of "Cry Me A River."
Even though the Timbaland-produced tracks are fun, it's the Pharrell songs that really shine. I almost wish she'd done the whole album with him. Even though it's not hard to pick a Pharrell track out of a line-up, he always seems to have a few tricks up his sleeve; and Madonna, ever the work-aholic, has definitely gotten her money's worth out of him.
"Give It 2 Me" has Madonna urging listeners to join her on the dance floor. After all, she "can go on and on and on," so why not? In "Heartbeat," she sings about the power dance has over her. She confronts a lover's straying eye in "She's Not Me," and "Beat Goes On" sounds like it could have been a song from Chic or Donna Summer in 1978. In a good way.
From the "tick, tock, tick, tock" in "4 Minutes" to "If you wait too long it'll be too late" in "Beat Goes On," Madonna seems to be even more obsessed with time than on the "Confessions" album. Now 25 years into her career, she's easily established her credibility. She's sold more albums than any other woman in the world. She's won multiple Grammys. And just a few months ago, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. So is she really feeling the pressure of turning 50, or is she just concerned about getting her time on the dance floor before last call?
Still, the album has its flaws, the biggest being Madonna herself. When she's on target, she's unstoppable; but there are times when she seems to be trying too hard. The spoken lines, "So sweet" in "Candy Shop" sound cold instead of sexy. She's a little out of her range on "Incredible." And I've hit the "skip" button more than once when "Spanish Lesson" comes on. I guess no album is perfect.
If you're one of those fortunate enough to have pre-ordered the special edition on iTunes (or if you can get your hands on the Japanese import), you'll have access to a bonus track called "Ring My Bell." It's another Pharrell track, and I really don't see why it isn't on the regular US release. It's catchy and danceable and everything a good pop song should be. By the way, in case you're wondering, yes, I bought the actual compact disc even though I had already pre-ordered it on iTunes because I wanted--nay, needed it three days earlier than everyone else. It's called being a fan.
Madonna as an institution often overshadows Madonna as a musician. People seldom look at just her music, and often fail to see it as a simple pop album. Also, her work also seems to frequently be misdiagnosed, often faring much better or much worse in retrospect. "Erotica" and "American Life" were as underrated as "Music" and "Confessions" were overrated. I've been listening to "Hard Candy" non-stop for the past ten days. It's no masterpiece, but I wonder how it will hold up in five years.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Road Movie

Yesterday, ten of us road tripped to Slovenia; but it wasn't to check out the culture or take in the scenery. There's a big theatre in Ljubljana, the capital, that shows American films, and we all wanted to see "Iron Man." Since it's a nearly three-hour ride, we made it an all day thing, also watching "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and shopping at the mall for a while, too. What surprised me most is how similar it looked to the United States. The theatre was very new and modern, and there seemed to be a McDonalds on every corner. Both movies were great, and even though it's not something I'd want to do every weekend, it was definitely a fun trip.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Stretching Out

Today was a day off for the base, for some reason. I don't know why they didn't give it to us tomorrow so we could have a three-day weekend, but I'm not going to complain. Any time I can have off is appreciated, no matter what day of the week it is.
I spent the bigger part of the day working on my house, and I'm feeling a real sense of accomplishment. It's actually starting to look inhabitable. The worst part was trying to find a place for everything, due to the lack of closets or any kind of real storage space (except for a small space beneath my stairs). But now, I'm down to to the aesthetics like arranging bookshelves and hanging pictures. I also need to go shopping for rugs, wall decor, and, most importantly, a new sofa. I'm going to be here for at least three years, so it should be a place I want to be.