Movies You Should See (if you haven’t already)

I missed a lot while I was gone: new TV shows, popular Halloween costumes, Adam Lambert being awful (well, I wouldn’t say I missed that, but that I was spared, thank goodness), and the death of John Hughes. I’m catching up slowly, though, and I hope that by my birthday (March 6, start shopping now), I’ll be fully re-Americanized.

When I went to the $1.50 movie theater for the first time, though, upon my return, I experienced a little bit of reverse culture shock. If you are not aware of how cheap movie theaters work, you have probably been out of the country for much longer than I was, so let me enlighten you. A movie comes out in the theater. It’s costs $10. For ONE person. If you wait a few months, though, that same film will play in the $1.50 (or in some places, $1 or $2) theater, and you can save $8-10, depending on where you live.

So I went to the $1.50 theater in Raleigh, and since these movies are older, the previews are also for older movies – movies that probably came out months ago as well, movies I should have heard of, but hadn’t. I was so out of the loop, and I probably still am, but just in case you’ve been living in a different country, under a rock or with a child under the age of  eight, I wanted to tell you about two movies that came out this fall that you need to go see.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

It’s sort of weird, and the animation takes some getting used to, but the story is good (thanks, Roald Dahl), the cast is superb, the voice acting is excellent, the soundtrack is pretty cussin’ great, and there are lots of unexpected hilarious parts. Like how they just say “cuss” instead of any cuss word they might have chosen. “I’m going to ignore your advice.” “The cuss you are.”

I’ve seen Fantastic Mr. Fox twice now (for less than half the price of one regular movie ticket, thank you very much), and I’d seriously go again. I definitely want to own this movie and watch it repeatedly when it comes out on DVD.

Pirate Radio

Another $1.50 well-spent. When JBeau and I went to see this, our ticket stubs said, “PIRATE RAD.” Rad, indeed. I was apparently too conservative in my immediate review of Pirate Radio. W-Josh informs me that I grossly undersold it, and for that, I apologize. I just wasn’t sure if I liked it for the story and the acting and all that, or if I just liked all the incredible 60s rock it highlighted. I guess it turns out I liked both, and it would seem that this film appeals to a wider audience than just people like me who grew up on oldies and really like the ideas of sticking it to the man, coming of age, and unexpected but profound community.

I downloaded the soundtrack to this one as soon as I got home, and I will also purchase the DVD when it comes out. Whenever that is.

You Can Be A Winner!!

Get ready, kids, because I am here today to GIVE STUFF AWAY!! I don’t think I’ve ever really done this before, so I’m pretty excited about it, and if there are any companies out there that would like some free promotion, I’ll give your stuff away too. It makes me feel like a younger, thinner, prettier (yet just as jovial) Santa! Incidentally, I will also let you pay me to promote your products. You know, if you want. And if they’re not meat or porn.

Anyhoe, here we go!! There will be three contests. Here is the first one:

I have a pass that will admit two people to a sneak preview of the movie Legion at North Hills on Thursday, January 21 at 7:30 p.m. (but you should be able to get there early to make sure you get a seat). Here’s the trailer so you know what you’re playing for:

Okay! Now. This is a comment competition, and here’s how it works. This movie is about angels, but it’s not a musical, and y’all know how much I like a musical, so you’re going to think of as many songs as you can that have the words angel, angels or angelic in the lyrics.

  • You MUST post your comments here on the website (, NOT on facebook.
  • You may post as many comments as you want, but pace yourself. It’s sort of a last-one-standing kind of thing.
  • You may only post ONE song per comment.
  • You may not repeat a song that has already been posted, even if you post a different part of the song.
  • You must post the title of the song as well as the lyrics containing the key words. If you can post a link to the lyrics to prove that it is an established song, all the better.
  • Everyone, keep posting lyrics until no one can think of any more.
  • When everyone’s out of songs, the last one to have commented wins the tickets.


Zurich – Washington, D.C.

I arrived in Zurich rather late and realized immediately that I’d forgotten that I don’t speak German. Not a bit. I don’t know how to say “train station” or “airport” or “hostel” or “help.” And yet there I was trying to figure out how to get from the airport to the main station so I could take the #7 tram to my hostel.

After much confusion and bewildered staring at the train ticket machine, a woman offered to help me. In English. I got a 24 hour ticket, which I didn’t really need, but it wasn’t that expensive. Shoot, it was probably cheaper than the one-way ticket from the Rome train station to the airport there, and I got to use it to get from the airport to the main station to the hostel, and then from the hostel back to the main station and to the airport again the next morning. That’s what I call a deal.

The hostel turned out to be super-nice. Probably the best hostel I’ve ever stayed in. It was clean, had good breakfast AND sheets included, and I had cute lil roommates – Pia, a German cook and Alice, an Australian wanderer who sounded exactly like Yosemite Sam when she talked in her sleep. About Paris Hilton. Good times. I didn’t sleep very well, but I figured that would actually work out in my favor. I’d be sleepy the next day, I’d nap on the plane, and then the jet lag wouldn’t be so bad.

On my way to the main station, I stopped off at one of the THREE H&Ms within about two blocks. I would have gone to all of them if I’d had time, but I was kind of pushing it as it was, so I just went to one.

I made it to the plane just in the nick of time and took my seat next to a bald girl who was listening to some world music with a very strong drum beat. Turns out, she was this chick, Gemini Award winner, Christine Ghawi. We hit it off immediately with a conversation about environmental responsibility. Then we realized that was a really serious conversation for two people who didn’t know each other’s names, so we introduced ourselves, and then we started flirting with this older gentleman flight attendant, who would later give us each a free cup of Chardonnay. I wish I could say he gave us glasses of Chardonnay, but he didn’t. We got plastic airplane cups, but the wine was good.

I didn’t sleep at all on the NINE-AND-A-HALF-HOUR FLIGHT to Washington. Not a wink. I yawned a lot. I felt tired. But I couldn’t sleep. So there went my master plan for beating jet lag. I did, however, get to watch 500 Days of Summer, The Time Traveler’s Wife and the tail end of Inglourious Basterds. I hadn’t seen the first two yet, so that was good, and the third is just good, so that was good too. I still can’t get over how amazing that guy was. I really hope he wins something.

Anyhoe, I got to DC, and after a ridiculously long customs line and a MAD HOUSE at baggage claim, I finally made it out of the airport, where Rachel had just arrived to pick me up. We spent a lovely weekend together, playing Legos with Annabelle and watching the new Disney movie (I liked it), and now I’m back in the airport. Ugh.

I’m not over the jet lag yet, and I’ve learned now that even though you go to sleep and wake up at normal times, that doesn’t mean you’re over it. However, I’m hopeful (with fingers crossed) that because I’m so tired, I’ll be able to sleep on the flight to Portland and beat the jet lag down. This plan sounds fatally familiar. Time to board.

Time Flies When You’re Sleeping In

Y’all. I am going to be headed home in like three weeks. That is crazy. Carla and I were just talking this morning about it. I’ll be in London in a week and a half for Thanksgiving, and then a week and a half after I get back, I’ll be on a plane. INSANE!! I don’t know where the time has gone. Except I do. A very large chunk of it has gone to the sweet, sweet slumber of the unemployed. I’m telling you, friends, sleep is where it’s at. It reduces stress, helps you lose weight, helps you get better faster when you’re sick, and makes the days FLY by! I highly recommend it.

I also recommend karaoke, seeing places of historical significance on a regular basis, not participating in the online dating community, meeting new people, margaritas and public transit. I miss a lot of things from the U.S. (being able to call people whenever I want and talk for as long as I please, Chinese food, going to the movies, understanding everything), but driving is not one of them. Seriously. I like having the freedom a car affords in most cities in the U.S., but here, it’s just not all that necessary, and I prefer it that way. Plus, you can sleep on the bus if you want.

Pàpa and Vienna: Yet Another Pictorial

Well, there actually aren’t any pictures from Pàpa, but just so you know, it’s a small city in western Hungary where student Beth’s brother lives with his family. We went there partially because she wanted me to meet them, but mostly I think because she already had the trip planned before I decided to visit. Anyway, they were very hospitable and kept me warm with pàlinka, a homemade blueberry liquor and a heavy blanket. But mostly with the pàlinka and the blueberry stuff. Strong.

So because we were going there on Friday and didn’t really have any plans for Saturday, Gabor (the nephew) suggested that we go to Vienna because it’s only about an hour and a half away. And although none of us really knew much about Vienna or what to do there, we went and wandered around anyway, and it was lovely. And now I’ve been to Austria!

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

The first place we stumbled upon was the most delicious-smelling tea shop on earth, and I basically had two choices:

  1. Don’t by anything.
  2. Buy one of each.

I opted not to spend a thousand dollars on tea I couldn’t conveniently transport back to Italy, and we moved on to the square where St. Stephen’s Cathedral sits. The outside is very cool and rather formidable, and the inside is beautiful, as you will see momentarily. We also went down into the catacombs and crypts where the internal organs of 72 Habsburgs are preserved in bronze pots filled with alcohol. They were preserved rather than cremated because, as I understand it, they died before the Catholic church allowed cremation. There are large pots for large Habsburgs and small pots for baby Habsburgs.

There are also skeletal remains of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of folks who died of the Black Plague. They’re just stacked up down there like Jenga. It’s super-creepy. I’m sorry I don’t have any pictures of it. Photography was not allowed. Here are some less creepy pictures:




Food and Drink

Wandering on, we found a little street fair where we got a mug of hot, spiced wine. Hungarian Beth has pictures of that, but she hasn’t sent them to me yet. We also found a cafè where we ate apple strudel and a wiener stand where they tried to get me to eat meat. They were unsuccessful, but I did discover (based on the picture above Hungarian Beth’s head) that the Austrians apparently eat geoduck.

Other Random Stuff

We walked past the parliament building and the opera house and a few museums, and whenever we saw a church we liked, we went in, but it was starting to rain, and my batteries were starting to die, so there aren’t many more pictures. Plus, I haven’t shrunk all the picture files so they can be uploaded here, but again, facebook.


And that’s about it for Vienna! We thought about going to the palace, but it really started storming, so we scratched that idea. We decided that it would be better to see it in the spring anyway because apparently they have like a bazillion different kinds of roses, and there are extensive gardens for perusing each one.

Sooooooooooo, all y’all start saving your money, and in a couple of years, we’re going to go on a Sound of Music tour, which mostly just means we’re going to go to Salzburg and to Vienna and up into the Alps and learn the Lindler, and I’m going to sing and dance the whole time.

Ok, so maybe some of you won’t be interested.

Budapest: A Pictorial

FYI, if you ever go to Budapest, I just have a few recommendations for you:

  1. Make sure you have someone with you who speaks Hungarian.
  2. Give yourself at least four days, preferably a week.
  3. Get a good guidebook, and see everything.
  4. Ask lots of questions
  5. Whatever happens, just go with it (this is my rule for any and all travel situations).

So I went to Budapest last week to visit my friend/former student, Erzsebet (the Hungarian equivalent of Elizabeth). She also goes by Beth. She’d been in Hungary and Romania for about two months, and she was just in Budapest for about a week, getting ready to go back to NC (today). So all her errands were pretty much done, and she had all the time in the world to show me around. Her nephew, Gabor, who lives in Budapest, also joined us for much of the time. Here we are, Beth and Beth, with the city behind us.


We went…everywhere, so I’m not going to post all the pictures (they are on facebook if you’re interested). I’m just going to give you a few along with a couple of stories.

The day I got there, we went to the Museum of Applied Arts, which is kind of just a museum of design, but all kinds of design. It’s attached to the School of Applied Arts, and the main exhibit they had while we were there was the best designs to come out of the school last year. I guess every year there’s an awards ceremony because one wall was devoted to poster ads for that (this year was the 30th). LaurenJosh, you would have LOVED it.

And then the rest of that exhibit was the best of the best designs. They had everything from a line of maternity clothing to a ten-pound kayak that I REALLY wanted. It was awesome. It was basically made of really sturdy foam sort of half-encased in plastic. It was half-encased to support the break in the foam where, if you removed the plastic, you could fold the whole thing in half for easy storage. Like I said, awesome. And it was open on top, which I normally don’t like because there’s no back support, but this one had a little seat back that you could hook in like something you’d take camping or perhaps to a football game. You could also unhook it and lie back for a bit of sunbathing if you wanted.

There was also a tee-tiny little airplane that TOTALLY reminded me of James Bond’s helicopter, Little Nellie, in You Only Live Twice. I didn’t get to look inside, but I imagine there were homemade labels in there for all the controls.

Anyhoe, the building is this really elaborate thing (that I don’t have a picture of, sorry) on the outside, and the inside looks like it’s made of sugar. Like it was modeled after a wedding cake. And I wanted to know what the building was before it was the museum, so we asked one of the guards, who not only answered the question (it was built specifically to be that exact museum/school over 100 years ago), but took us on our own little private tour of another exhibit upstairs.

A very similar thing happened at St. Stephen’s Basilica, where I wanted to know how old the building was because it just amazes me that such incredible things were constructed without the aid of modern machinery such as you see me using in my fancy dress there. Well, we asked the guard at the church, and he took us down a secret elevator to the downstairs part of the church where only VIPs get to go.


Mary here was down there along with a dude named Leopold, who gave the money for the foundation of the church to be laid. And there was a famous soccer player (famous in Hungary anyway) mummified and buried down there. It was very cool.

Other than that, we didn’t get any special tours, but we did see a crapload of stuff. Here are some pictures:


Here we have the rose window in Matthias Church.


View of the Parliament from atop Castle Hill.


Me and Budapest. A love affair to remember. Ok, so the morning I left, I thought, Hmm, maybe I should take a jacket. This is one of the many dangers of not having the internet. I couldn’t check the weather, and while it has been in the 70s here in Naples, it was definitely in the 30s the whole time I was in Budapest. Jacket schmacket, I needed a COAT. I stole this one from Gabor’s (Erzsebet’s nephew) roommate. It was a tad manly, but it was better than freezing in the JACKET I’d so geniusly brought along.

The fattest bird on earth.
A church built inside a natural cave.

I think that’s enough for now. The next time I can get online, I’ll tell you all about Pàpa and our last-minute trip to Vienna. You can go ahead and look at the pictures on facebook, though, if you’re my friend. And again, if you’re not my friend, you are seriously missing out, but you can become a fan of Onward Hoe! if you want.

Have a great day, USA! I’m going to have some lunch and watch three episodes of The Office!!


I was going to post all these in the comments section of the previous post, but (#1) I’m not sure you people go back and read the comments left after yours, and (#2) there were so many of them that I decided it warranted an entire post. And also (#3), I’m hoping that by commenting back to you in a post, it will encourage you to come back and comment again, thus beginning a long string of conversation and luring you back to the website daily to boost my numbers (which were pretty good the last time I checked, but which I cannot access now for some odd reason). Here we go:

Gordy, you and I both know that Jason Bourne has bigger fish to fry, and that if he were going to come after me, it wouldn’t be for fare evasion (you know what I’m talking about). Also, I saw a book in the thrift store yesterday called “The Jew in the Modern World” and thought of you. I took a picture, too, which I shall try to tag you in on facebook soon.

Andrea, I know!! I have always thought it was kind of fun to get lost and find my way back. It’s probably the greatest, simplest way to prove to yourself that you can step out of your comfort zone and figure things out. Plus, it’s a great time to just sit and ponder (when you feel like you have a lot of things to ponder). I am hoping that riding the bus will always be the cure for self-doubt, and I already have more bus adventures planned.

Josh, you are funny, and I love you. That is a great t-shirt idea. I kind of want its message to actually be in toddler Italian, though, so it would essentially say, “Me talk Italian of baby.” And maybe it could have a picture of an adult with a pacifier or a rattle. Or maybe that’s just getting into the realm of creepy. Also, expect an email soon.

Jessica, hey! I didn’t know you read Onward Hoe! How fun! Thanks for the award and for saying I’m the non-gay, female David Sedaris. That really is an incredible compliment for me. I wish you many travel adventures in the future.

Eric, I think I speak for the whole world when I say that I am not surprised by this information, but it makes my day to have received it. What kind of toll charges per person?

Raleigh, Whitney’s right. Suck it up. I’ve only been gone for two weeks, and you’ve got a lot of living to do while I’m gone, so get to it.

And Dan (from an earlier post), check the comments there. I left one for you.