Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Chocolate or Death? Chocolate, please.

I am heading to Auvergne for the weekend to stay at a beautiful old French manor house (envy me), and socialize with some very nice, kind people. I like these people because they are intelligent and classy, but also because they don't treat me like an idiot because my language skills are not as strong as theirs. They are patient with me and very gracious. This will also be the first opportunity I've had in a while to converse in French (vendors on the street and in the market don't count), and I am very excited.
Today, in preparation for this trip, I headed out to buy a hostess gift. I stopped by a chocolatier-- not any one in particular, I just needed to pick up some chocolate for the lady of the house. I know very little about fine chocolate and less about choosing a chocolatier. So, I went to Blvd. St. Germain where pretty much everything is of quality. I had passed the Patrick Roger Chocolaterie on many occasions, but never gone in--not that I wasn't tempted. He has the most amazing windows, and a life-size man made of chocolate in his store! And walking in today was a bit intimidating, but as I was the only one in the store at the time, the two employees gave me their full attention and I was able to make (what I think to be) the perfect selection of truffles and other yummy treats. The whole experience felt a bit like buying jewelry and the box it all went in is certainly worthy of the finest diamonds! The man who helped me was actually Patrick Roger himself, and after doing some reading up on him, I am quite content with the chocolatier I choose. I will definately be back (can't wait for Easter-- he is famous for his eggs).
Anyway, after spending the most amount of money I've ever spent on chocolate, I got to thinking about how different the chocolate culture here is from the US.
First and foremost, the chocolate is much richer and more bitter than in the States (which is not really saying much--most of the rest of the world hates our chocolate). And, in France, chocolate is not considered a candy, but something much more serious. Its own food group, if you will. I was feeling weak one day (after touring around town with little to eat), and stopped in a store to buy gummi bears while my friend reached for a mini-brick of chocolate. I consider 100% fruit snacks to be a healthier choice than chocolate, but she was almost amazed. "Not CANDY," she told me. "Have some of THIS. Not candy." And I got an "oh, Americans" look.
It's a very strange difference that I am still not fully able to comprehend, and therefore, inept to describe. I have been told that Belgium has the very best chocolate in the world, and I can't wait to go there, but in the mean time, I love even the cheap generic stuff France's groceries have to offer. Even that is better than anything in North America (imports don't count).

So, yes. Off to spend the next four days having fun and making friends. I am really looking forward to this trip. This will also be my first real train trip (with luggage and a destination further than a few miles). I am very excited (it really doesn't take much). What will all of you do without me?

20 pts. for movie. 10 pts. for character's FULL name:

"Chock-LATE, heh he? Rock-EE Rohhd, heh he?"


The 3 Jours, 3 Euros film festival ended tonight with classic medical drama Deep Throat at the Brady Theatre on Blvd. de Strasbourg. I had finished watching Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (not nearly as funny in french) at The Rex and made it just in time to get a seat in the front row. The house was packed. With men, women, all ages-- which was quite a relief to me (being SWF toute seule).
It was funny, over the top, cheese (for lack of a better word-- but, ewww! that one seems really inappropriate). I have to admit, I wasn't overly impressed with Linda's *ahem* skills, until the final scene. Here, her partner was quite endowed-- more so than the rest of the men in the film, and she definately deserved a round of applause for swallowing such a, um 'pill' (long and thick).
I think this is a generational thing-- kind of like when we (children of the 1980's and 90's) see Diane Keaton play charming neurotic, quirky girl. To many of us, it's just another neurotic quirky girl, and are too young or too ignorant to understand that it was she that popularized--some may say invented it. Back then, 'deep throating' it was almost nonexistent as many men and women were ignorant about the pleasures of oral sex and fearful of its moral ramifications. I, however, do not suffer from the same affliction. And to see a woman go (all the way) down on a man is not sensational to me. Just what I hope to be business as usual for many happy couples. But, again, I think this has more to do with what will heretofore be referred to as the Diane Keaton Effect (gosh, I hope that catches).
What was, however, sensational to me was the amount of pubic hair my 3 euros afforded me. Maybe it was because I was sitting in the front row, but I left with the distinct feeling my gums had just received a 'deep' flossing. Ick! We are talking about very, very bushy, hairy balls, shaft, pussy, and ass. Linda was the only egyptian hairless in the bunch, and everyone else was walking around (okay, not a lot of 'walking' per se in this film) au natural. Now, I like to think of this as a travel blog (just go with me on this), and do not often blog about sex (and anything relating to), but I am with GamblOr on the whole pubic hair issue. If there's grass on that field, I am willing to forfeit (which sounds a bit more Michael Jackson than I intend). Hair just makes a messy situation worse, and while I can tolerate it, I generally won't. If I go to the trouble (and PAIN!) of taking care of my business, I expect the same general grooming efforts from my partner. We are not animals. We have several hygiene options that are much more effective than those of our feline friends who lick themselves clean only to later cough up the nasty reminders of what seperates us from them.
Also, (yes, I am aware that many prefer a big bush) I just think it feels better. Anyone with me on that? Anyone? At all?
Okay, I am finished.
Go see Deep Throat in a theatre or rent it for the comfort of your own home. It was a good flick, but I have a feeling I would've enjoyed it more stoned. Out of respect for my modest 'adoring fans,' I will not post any graphic pictures, but I am happy to direct you here (scroll down a bit). There are many, many more pictures of the most famous blow job in the world, just hop over to yahoo and enter any number of obvious key words.

This one's only worth 5 pts. (film and character):

"There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum... it's breathtaking- I highly suggest you try it. "

This showed up in my Google images search for "Deep Throat." Kinda funny, kinda disturbing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Sent to an Island to procreate with him? ...ummm (Yes, please!)

Things did not go as planned yesterday, and I only saw one of the four films I planned on attending. Unfortunately, it was The Island. Fortunately, I only paid 3 euros for it. At least we know the globe is still on its axis; Michael Bay loves his car chases, Ewan McGregor loves his motorcycles (or various incarnations of), and Scarlett Johansson cannot act (sure, folks, she's hot-- she had me fooled in Ghost World too, but only because she was playing 'affected.' And don't even bring up Lost in Translation: she deserved none of the attention she got for her performance [1. It sucked. 2. Anna Faris stole every scene they shared]. She made me hate that movie. Stay tuned for my post on how she single-handedly ruined the SpongeBob movie).
The only great thing about this movie? Djimon Hounsou. *prrrr* He just looks and sounds sooooo good... I want to do bad things to him (see today's film #4)
But, I digress.
Don't go see The Island. Don't even bother to rent it.
Yeah, it had some good stuff, but most of it was fluff-- not even good fluff, just the same (recycled and re-wrapped) shit that left a bad taste in my mouth last time. And in terms of product placement, it was worse than Le Transporteur II.

Anyway, today brought with it 4 new films, and its own set of adventures...

I started out with a Cold Shower. Think The Karate Kid meets every French menage à trois film ever made. It was in French with no subtitles, and it had a lot of slang, but I understood most of it (yea me!). It was good, not great. The girl had amazing tits, so it'll probably be released on video in the states.

I was going to watch Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451, but was running to late, so I watched La Moustache (also in French). *pats herself on back and gleams with pride* I liked this film-- but, as with everyone that I've talked to, I didn't understand the ending. It was almost presented as a riddle the audience is supposed to figure out...on their own, after the show as no clear answer was given. Still, very good and this too, will make to the States, but I forsee a complete Hollywood remake with a different, happy ending and a marquee face. Tant pis.

Ah, Hitchcock. How I love thee, let me count the ways. North by Northwest is one of his bests. It is smart, wickedly euphemistic, and Martin Landau used to be kinda hot (in a Crispin Glover sort of way). Also, Cary Grant (see above sentiments regarding Djimon Hounsou).

I knew very little about the Deep Throat phenomenon-- although, my therapist can thank my dad's "I choked Linda Loveless" t-shirt for her new diamond earrings. *shudder* But this is a great documentary. It's very entertaining, smart, and the interviews are hysterical, "Terry, are you done?" I am scheduled to watch Linda recover her clitoris from deep inside her throat tomorrow at 10 p.m. and now, I can't wait (but I must as it only plays once/week here)! Very excited!

All of today's theatres were again in the Latin Quarter and close the Luxembourg Gardens (see photos at right), and I picnicked there for lunch and dinner. And all three of the theatres I went to (N by NW and Inside were both at Les 3 Luxembourg), were new to me. One looked like an old speakeasy with a screen hanging from one wall. It had two gold cherubs on either side of the screen holding back red curtains, and the most guady brass wall sconces this side of Robert Evans gold-veined bathroom mirror. Another looked like what I always imagined the interior of King Friday's castle would look like. It had the exact color blue walls, with ridged, castle wall-like gray molding, and medieval-looking fixtures. The other was a very small room with the screen off to one side (i.e. not centered on the wall) and the chairs all facing straight, but grouped together at an odd angle. Also, in everyone of the theatres I was in today, the bathroom was in the theatre itself on the same wall as the screen. People would walk in and out during the show, and once, we were all privy to one man's very slushy bowel movement. Ick.

I must say, I was saddened to see no one earned any points from my last post. So here's 10 points to anyone who can name the film the following comes from (and another 10 if you can give me the character who said it):

"Wouldn't a fly swatter be easier?"

That's almost too easy.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Nothing is more suspicious than Frog's Breathe

I did go see Apocalypse Now: Redux-- or at least, most of it. I had to leave before the end to catch the last metro (it was much longer than I thought), and I saw up to the dinner scene with the French plantation owner. I liked this movie (or what I saw of it), and I really want to see the rest of it! I'll try to rent it v.o. when I get a chance. Hmmpf!
I was amazed at how much Martin Sheen looked like Emilio Estevez (I can't imagine why). "Emilio! Emilio!" Quickly...20 pts. to the first person to name the film that comes from.
Last night I went to the Louvre. I spent several hours walking through the galleries (that were actually open) in the Sully Wing, and perused the Italian Artists' gallery in the Denon Wing. That includes-- of course--the Mona Lisa. I really couldn't care less about seeing her. Her face is so widely known and the real one had no affect on me...but you can't not see her when visiting the Louvre.
The Louvre is a great place, but I don't enjoy it because of the famous works of art that adorn its walls. Just the opposite; I like experiencing for the first time, something I am not at all familiar with; I enjoy the works I've not ever see before. It was also a royal palace for many centuries and the architecture and detail throughout the building is stunning. But more than anything else, my favorite thing to do at the Louvre is play 'Celebrity Look-Alike.' There are millions of faces on display on canvas, carved in stone, and some of them even look like people in People. Yesterday, I saw Edward Norton, Roseanne (formerly Bar, then Arnold), Ben Franklin (okay, that doesn't really count as it was Ben Franklin), Vladimir Putin, and Jerry Hall.
As I left, the building was lit up and its sandstone bricks were glowing gold. I took about 100 pictures, but few actually turned out--photo at left is not one of them :(. It was such a fresh, crisp night; I took a walk through the Tuilleries Gardens before riding the train home.
Today, I spent about 3 hours creating a schedule for the next 3 days. Tomorrow marks the beginning of the 3 Jours, 3 Euros film festival. Every theatre in Paris, EVERY film playing in Paris is 3 Euros. Now, there are over 300 theatres in this grand city, and I wanted to make sure to get the most out of this festival (thank you patron saint of free monuments/museums/movies :). I had worked out a schedule of 6 films/day for the next 3 days, but I am not as young as I used to be, and alas, that is just too much. So, I narrowed it down to 4 films/day and am rather pleased with the way it turned out. Not only did I take into account the start time and length of each show, but the theatre's location as well. For instance, tomorrow, all of the films I'll being seeing are in the Latin Quarter. I'm watching Annie Hall at 2 p.m., The Island at 4:15 p.m., Melinda Melinda* at 6:45 (cutting it a bit close), and Bill Plimpton's Hair High at 10 p.m. There were so many movies to choose from and I know I am missing several (festivals for Truffaut, Hitchcock, Ozu, Godard, Hepburn/Tracy, Jim Jarmusch, Burton, David Lynch, Fritz Lang, Fassbinder, and Luis Bunuel are all going on right now!). Tant Pis.
However, I found myself unable to wait until tomorrow for a flick fix and went to the Tim Burton film festival tonight. I saw The Nightmare Before Christmas or l'Etrange Noël de Mr. Jack. I love this movie and while watching it, I realized that I have the entire thing memorized! I've seen it several times-- to be sure, but I never knew I had a problem until tonight. I've joined an online support group for Tim Burton groupies, his stalkers, and Goths who like to knit (not a real diverse group). My favorite line from this movie is...20 more points for anybody who gets it right!

*There is a Woody Allen festival going on right now-- but, I think that by law, there must be a Woody Allen festival going on at all times in Paris, and the shows just rotate from theatre to theatre.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Cinema En Plein Air

La Villette is a an area of Paris where one finds the mother of all exploratory museums, a music museum (something along the lines of EMP in Seattle), a huge parc, children's museum, concert venue, ect., ect., ect. And, today, I was going to hit all the attractions and stay for Cinema En Plein Air and An American In Paris. But, I got started kinda late... really late and by the time I made it across town the museums were closing. Instead, I explored the park-- which is right on a large canal, enjoyed the sun (shining brightly until around 9:30 p.m.), and hopped on the Metro to hit another canal. St. Martin is one of the more famous canals... and I was really unimpressed. Actually, I was a little pissed off-- it was a long, hot Metro ride to get there-- only to have to turnaround to go back for the show! I wouldn't want to spend any more time than I would absolutely have to in that area of town, and the canal itself wasn't particularly beautiful (I much prefer the canal at La Villette. You can bike ride along its curb, picnic in its park and soak up the sun); St. Martin is surrounded by dirty streets, shade trees and cheap shops.
I had bought a Carte Villette earlier in the day. It gets me into most of the parks attractions for free: free movies, jazz festivals, theatre sur l'herbe. Plus, I get free deck chair rental for all of the shows (they even come with blankets to keep me warm)!
I seated myself in the middle of the screen in the middle of the field-- right in front of the projection tower, and I waited, and waited, and waited. I only had my bright green Michelin guide with me, so I did my best to avoid looking like a complete idiot tourist reading my guide book by hiding as much of its cover as possible. About an hour before the show started, a man (kitty corner behind me) asked me to watch his stuff. He would be right back. No problem. When he returned, we struck up a conversation about the giant screen (which was a huge inflatable white rectangle-- not really a screen at all), musicals and Gene Kelly-- who is very popular in France. He was a really nice man, if his french a little too fast for me, and we had great conversation about movies.
I had seen An American In Paris before (I think I even own the DVD), but it's been quite a while. And though it's never been one of my favorites, it is a classic and I was it watching under the stars in Paris!
After the show, my new 'ami du cinema' and I returned our chairs and blankets, and he walked me to my Metro stop. This was not a romantic encounter, just a nice man who offered me a few hours of conversation (something I am seriously in want of now that I am living completely alone in Europe [that's a depressing sentence, isn't it). It was a wonderful night and I hope to repeat it tomorrow (Apocolypse Now: Redux--never seen it).

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


I have just spent the last two hours uploading photos onto my new photo blog. But, thanks to...actually I still have no idea why, all of those photos just got deleted. Thankfully not from my iPhotos folder-- just from the post. I am trying to move all of my pics from my .mac homepage-- which is seriously limited in space, to another blogger site, but have only managed to get a view random pics of Paris up. AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH! Two HOURS!!!!
Also now available (although only on my .mac page) are photos from yesterday's trip to La Défense. Like I said, space is limited so I only put up photos of the art on display. Just check back when I've finished pulling all of my hair out in rage and frustration and get a chance to post all of them.

I'm sorry, did I say "post?" I meant RE-post.

La Defense: Europe's Biggest Business Park or Post-Apocalyptic Sculpture Garden?

Today, I went to La Défense. It was totally barren. I had the entire place to myself for a few hours this morning before tourists started appearing at La Grande Arc around noon (like gnats to ripe cheese, folks). I should have known something was up when my supermarket was closed this morning (I needed supplies to picnic in the Bois de Bologne-- a HUGE park on the west side of town). But, I just chalked it up to it being a Monday-- nothing is open in France on Monday. But, La Défense-- Europe's largest buisiness center, home to multi-national corporations, the city's only concentration of skyscrapers, and a Starbucks in every building's lobby (a novel concept to sidewalk café-loving Parisians), would surely be filled with suits working overtime, tourists, and international VIPs. But no.
I started the morning off with my bus schedule and a croisant. The Paris bus system is not an effective means of transportation to get to La Défense-- but I haven't spent a lot of time in the western part of the city, and wanted to see as much of it as I could: thus, the bus. I figured I could get within a few blocks by taking three buses. But, after missing my first transfer stop, I decided to get off at the Opera (today's other post) and look around. Having totally sidetracked myself, I finally got to the Neuilly (a very posh city that borders Paris' west end).*
This was the end of the line (line 43 to be exact) and let me off right in between the l'Arc de Triomphe and La Grande Arc. I couldn't believe my luck. I was actually much closer the La Grande Arc, but had a wonderful little Green to take pictures from! No one had ever told me about this little place and yet, it was right in front of the depot. I had to walk more than a couple blocks and cross over the Seine, but I did get to see much more of the city (okay, much more of Neuilly).
Upon arrival, I was greeted with totally empty (as in abandoned-- not just void of people) office spaces. Windows were broken, floors were covered in dirt and leaves, there was graffiti on everything. I passed two or three giant buildings whose ground floors were exactly the same, and at one point, I had to use an escalator to get to another tier in the cement landscaping. The stairs were blocked off, but here was this escalator-- en plein air, w/o any kind of covering-- just a random escalator, running at full speed as though thousands of commuters were trekking up and down it. It too was dirty and covered with graffiti. I half expected radioactive tumble weeds to blow by me! And I was the only one there-- standing, dwarfed by these ultra modern skyscrapers, abstract art, and fountains. Just me! There wasn't any noise (this is not a residential area), there wasn't any traffic (it is separated from the roads and trains), and all was perfectly calm (okay, eerily calm). A freak flash of nature destroyed all life on Earth ('cept me), and left all of man's deferences to commerce standing. Quelle sensation!
Finally, as the morning wore on, tourists and joggers started to emerge from the oblivion.
It is a remarkable place; carefully planned and every corner a tribute to style and design. The art is all abstract, oversized, and/or very colorful--and available for all to see. There are fountains, pools, and green spaces abound. It is also very free! There is a small fee to go to the top of La Grande Arc, but as I have climbed to the top of every other monument in town, I really couldn't care less if I never again see the Paris skyline. For those not familiar: La Grande Arc was built in the late 80's. It is a giant cube/arch in which the entire Notre Dame Cathedral can be placed. It is an enormous office building, but it is itself dwarfed by its neighboring towers.
After having my fill of La Défense, I headed to the 16th Arrondissement and La Fondation Corbusier. 20th century architect Charles-Edouard Jeanneret (or Le Corbusier) was famous for use of white concrete cubist forms. The center offers documentation of his work, video, photos, ect. But was closed. Why? Why was everything closed today? That is an excellent question. It's not because it's Monday-- at least, today is not just any ol' Monday but a jour de férié (public holiday). So, every museum, every grocery, most bus lines, theatres, boutiques: closed. I was not, however, astute enough to realize this until much later in the day-- after I had walked all over the 16th trying to find the damn Fondation Corbusier!
But, said holiday did make for a wonderfully peaceful day. I didn't have to deal with obnoxious tourists and their devil spawn children. And, when I finally took the metro home, I had a car all to myself. The streets were practically empty and I got to explore much more than I would have, had I made it to where I wanted to go.
So...yea public holidays?

*A very strange bus ride to Neuilly began with a man getting off the bus without his german sheppard. For several stops the dog continued to run up and down the aisle whimpering until we (only about 10 of us on the bus) figured out what was going on. The driver called dispatch and was instructed to force the dog off the bus (thereby leaving the poor guy alone-- several stops from home and owner)! But, the dog didn't want to get off. This would have been comical but he went from whipmering to growling very quickly. Finally, a woman coaxed him off the bus. She returned to her seat, but as we pulled out into traffic, she decided she simply could not allow this dog to be left alone, and demanded the driver let her off (he did and she traipsed off after the dog). Then a smack head gets on the bus and starts tripping out. The driver is once again forced to stop and kick this guy off. He doesn't want to get off the bus either-- but has thouroughly creeped out all the other passengers who are now trapped behind him and unable to get off. Finally, with the help of another passenger, the freak is left on the curb and we make it to Neuilly without further incident. A very strange bus ride indeed.

L'Opera: the Jewel of Paris

With my heart set on La Défense today, my stop at the opera house was quite spontaneous. I missed my bus stop (to transfer to another line [again, any chance I have to take the bus, I will. It is so much better than the metro), and got off in front of the Opera to get my bearings. But, as the Opera was one of the things I most wanted to see, I decided why not today-- why not now. Student admission was 4 euros and didn't include a tour (which I did fine without-- but I think guided tours get special access to other parts of the building). The main staircase, the salons lining the lobby, and, bien sur, the auditorium itself...C'est Manifique! I felt as if I was walking in a jewelry box. Everything was gilded, festooned in velvet, silk cording. Everything was marble and muraled. It was phenomenal. The public is only allowed into the auditorium through a few open boxes on the first floor. They are all deep red with plush seating and carpet. Its ceiling and chandelier are breathe-taking. There is so much history (mixed with legend) in that building-- and one feels it the moment you walk into it. I cannot wait to return: for the ballet, for a tour, with a friend. It is one of my new favorite--must see's-- in Paris.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Double Feature Samedi

While out and about today, I ran into Festering Face Wound Guy again. Twice. It looks like he went back into the doctor, because he had new stitches holding together his oozing skin. Someone had also shared with him that it is a good idea to keep his greasy blond hair out of his wound, which has now been cornrowed-- his hair not his wound. The first time I saw him, I was walking out of Gibert Joseph on Boulevard St. Michel (great place for new/used DVD's and CD's). He was once again yelling into his cell phone-- someone should warn him that, like his hair, if he keeps his phone next to his face for that long, that infected gouge will just heal around it. The second time I saw him, I was waiting for my train and he was yelling at what I assume to be his small child. The kid was trying to play with/touch daddy's face (which was met by a collective squirm from everyone else on the platform--ick!).
And that little nugget of gold is why I moved to Paris.

Today was double-feature samedi. I saw Land of the Dead and My Summer of Love.
I love zombie movies and this was good, but felt like merely a shadow of Romero's previous masterpieces. I really didn't like any of the characters, didn't hate any of the characters, and the fact that at the very end-- the zombies were not enemies as much as they were just looking for shelter (a place to call their own). THEY ARE ZOMBIES!!!! Even if they are thinking for themselves now, they eat people. Don't let them go! Shoot them! Aarrrgh! Dennis Hopper was the bad guy in this one and much like Dr. Doom in The Fantastic 4 he just wasn't villainous enough. In fact, I think that is what I didn't like about Land of the Dead: it wasn't enough. Enough gore, enough biting social commentary, enough characterization, enough bad guys, enough good guys, (and the worst) enough humor. Romero has earned the right to rest on his laurels-- I just wish he hadn't.

My Summer of Love was a film I'd been looking forward to seeing for a while. It did not disappoint, but it didn't exactly rumble my seat, either. A friend had described it to me as a Heavenly Creatures in which no one dies, and I really couldn't agree more. It wasn't as highly stylized as Peter Jackson's drama either. No fantasy sequences, just foggy, jostled camera shots and haunting music. What I didn't expect was for this film to be funny; but it was. Darkly so. I know people who just did not get this film. Several wondered what it was they were trying to say about Christianity, what were they trying to say about homosexuality and lust? I have my own thoughts (and because I am tired and feeling a bit lazy I won't write them all out) and I am curious to hear yours-- if you've seen it. The acting in this one was phenomenal-- subtle, quick, and very affecting. The three main were simple amazing, and I wouldn't be surprised if at least one of them receives some attention during awards season.
I recommend both films. Especially if you are in Paris between the 20th and 23rd of August: 3 euros for all movies. ALL MOVIES. 3 EUROS! (I would like to show you the oh-so-Parisian video they've created just for the festival but I am not that computer savvy. Click here and scroll down to the Windows Media icon. Enjoy).

Now, in regards to those of your comments that 7 euros does not equal 40 US dollars I say this: it sure feels like it when everytime I buy something the euro forces me to bend over and grab my ankles!

Friday, August 12, 2005

The Richelieu Wing

As I mentioned in today's other post, Je l'Ai Fini (Harry Potter Book 6), I spent Wednesday at the Louvre.
The first thing I did upon arrival? I bought the Carte Jeune (Youth Pass). It's available to anyone under 26 and costs 15 euros. It is valid for one year and includes admission to all permanent and temporary !!! exhibits everyday (and special night openings), and qualifies you for discounts on any other special events. And, twice/week when the museum is open at night, I get to bring a friend for free! It allows you to enter from a special VIP entrance (no waiting in line) and basically pays for itself after two visits (again, thank you, patron saint of free museums/monuments). This is by far, the best tip I can share with you-- get one immediatley upon your arrival.
I limited my visit to just the Richelieu wing, which is large enough to be its own museum, and has everything from European sculptures, objets d'art (mostly church reliquary), the restored apartments of Napoleon III (from when the Louvre was still a royal residence), Islamic art and antiquities, and several painting galleries from all over Europe. Yes, all of that in the Richelieu wing.
I particularly enjoyed Napoleon III's apartments, and the Islamic antiquities.
Everyone raves about the opulence and beauty of Versailles , but I was much more impressed with this display (I am trying to get my pictures linked up as soon as possible). From the furniture and wall hangings, chandeliers, china and flatware, ect., it was phenomenal. Granted, Nappy 3 lived much later than Louis XIV did, and had access to many different resources not available during the time of the Sun King, so the comparison is a little unfair. But do make a point to tour the apartments. With just a few rooms on display, it only takes minutes to walk through.
The Islamic antiquities gallery was full of art, rugs, ceramic tiles, pots, objet d'art, scientific tools, ect. and covered several Islamic cultures. It is rather small compared to other parts of the Richelieu, but filled with beautiful objects and pieces of history. It was my last stop for the day, but I made a point to take time and soak in the colors, the details(!), and really enjoyed myself.

I saw several famous paintings, by several famous artists, and enjoyed that novelty-- but in terms of the paintings and sculpture I saw, I most enjoyed the studies of old people (les plus agés). One often sees young, nubile women posing for portraits, and (often self) portraits of men, but rarely the very old. In both marble and on canvas, I saw works detailing the lines and veins on faces, the wrinkled skin and thining hair. These were my favorite works; to me, the most interesting.

After spending several hours at the Louvre, I decided to walk to Chatelet and catch the RER, instead of taking one of the Louvre's metro stops to a transfer station. I walked down an almost deserted Rue de Rivoli as the sun was setting behind me--turning all of the buildings around me bright pink, and causing all of the guilded grillwork to glow. It was beautiful night in Paris, and I considered briefly not going home. But, with HP 6 burning a hole in my purse-- begging to be read, that was simply not possible. I mean, Harry Potter #6 vs. a night out in Paris? Puh-lease! There's not even a question there.
Again, "Comments" are open for comments, news updates, thoughts, feelings, concerns, letters of love, ect.

Je l'Ai Fini!

I did it, and now, I am sad it is all over. My only regret: while surfing one night, I accidently read a few spoilers telling me who the Half Blood Prince was and who dies. It really spoiled a lot of the experience for me. But, not to worry, no spoilers here. Unlike Sue-Asian, I would rather discover the twists and turns on my own.
It was good, it was dark (a little scary-- I can see how it could be terrifying for a young child), and there is plenty of teen romance/angst stuff. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are certainly growing up.
Needless to say, I am, all at once, looking forward to the seventh and am loathe for it to be released-- it's the last one!
Like every other book in the series, I got this one and did not stop reading it until I finished it. I think in total 16 hours (but only because I fell asleep, took time to eat a bite, and other unavoidable necessities).
I got a call from the bookstore that it had arrived on Tuesday, but couldn't pick it up until Wednesday afternoon. I had already planned to spend Wednesday at the Louvre, so I had to wait until that evening to begin.
Worth the wait.

If you've read it, let me know what you thought--just be sure (if necessary) to label your comment with SPOILER ALERT to warn those who've not begun/finished.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Quatre Fantastique

What to say? Ioan Gruffudd was in it--possibly it's only redeeming quality (okay, it has the Commish, too, but I don't think we are allowed to call him it now that he plays good cop/bad cop on The Shield). I had heard so many awful things about this film, that my expectations had been drastically lowered (I was also not too familiar with the comics, and ran no risk of disappointment in that sense). So I didn't hate it. I didn't love paying 7 euros to go see it-- which by the way is about 40 US dollars.
This film...what to say? It was a mess--messier than my bedroom was the year my mom cancelled my birthday party (that one's for you Sue-Asian). Not enough character development-- they just got super powers, let's see a little less motor cross and a little more experimenting, humiliation, ect. They tried but fell very short. I didn't even get to the point where I actually cared about these people. They didn't earn the drama of friendship and love they forced down my throat.
Also, the villian just wasn't villainous enough. He wasn't even an asshole-- just had a god complex (which is pre-requisite for 'role of villain,' anyway).
The effects were cool, but weren't cool enough to carry the movie.
Little could've saved this movie. Dommage.
Also, the Commish, playing a mook from Brooklyn "who does the walkin" and the Human Torch were both supposed to have (at one time in the movie's timeline) worked for NASA. What? There characters (again, in the movie-- I don't know the comics) were played as idiots-- but apparently, they are NASA idiots.

Has anyone else seen it? What did you think?

* I couldn't find a french version of this poster. English will have to do.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Two Things.

Shuttle Discovery landed at Edwards AFB early this morning
(I Heart Spacemen)

If you read my July 26 post: Blast Off! Shuttle Discovery blasts into space, I Dine on cheese, you heard me write (you know what I mean) about the Shuttle Columbia's disasterous take-off. I was mistaken. The Columbia exploded during re-entry. Egg on my face. Also mentioned in the same post was my enthusiasm about the shuttle program, the space center (people living in outer space!), and the reverence I have for astronauts (did you know that Johnny Depp is one-- it's true, I saw it in a movie. Apparently, he is also married to Charlize Theron. I don't think Vanessa Paradis is au courant).

Warning, the following may contain sentiments too saccharine and nationalistic for the International community-- and prove dangerous to anyone who hates America.

I get a very infantile sense of joy whenever I think of such an amazing accomplishment that we (and by 'we,' I mean NASA, the DOD, Industrial Light & Magic, and Lance Bass) continue to build on. The space program is one of things that Americans-- all Americans are proud to claim. With so many anti-American sentiments coming from within our own country (read into that what you will. This is not a political blog and if you wish to know of which side I affiliate myself, [I won't tell you but...] you should check back everyday and leave at least two comments each time. Also, tell all of your friends about my blog), varying degrees of disdain from the other cultures, and varying degrees of antipathy--yes, I mean antipathy-- from world leaders, it's hard to be enthusiastic about the state of domestic (or int'l.) affairs. But the space program is different. We're not competing with anyone-- in fact, we're working with several countries (including Big Red... er, um... I mean Russia), and unlike our sports stars, actors/actresses, and especially politicians, Astronauts are still real heros. The former are pathetic displays of what humanity becomes when given fame, fortune, and power with little to no effort. And what do they do with that power-- they disappoint. But astronauts are still going into the unknown, they are still putting theirs lives in danger, they are smart, successful, and they aren't doing it for fame or fortune, but for their country, for science, and for the love of it.
An astronaut is different from a soldier (although many start out in the armed forces) in a few ways, but most importantly in the way the public sees them. An astronaut will never be hated by the public for merely doing their job, and Americans will never look at an astronaut with pity and consider him just a brainless pawn in the President's "game." Astronauts are America's last true heros. And to hear that they made back, that the shuttle is set to launch in September, and that we still get it right some times is quite... uplifting.

Peter Jennings, 67, died Monday at his home in New York.

For those of you not familliar with American television news, Peter Jennings was an icon in journalism. I had the opportunity to hear him speak last spring as he was accepted a lifetime achievement award. I was awed that one man had experienced so many significant, historical events and movements. ABC World News Tonight was the only American news program I watched (while still at home) and he will be missed (painful understatement-- I know).

The following was taken from the ABC website and highlights some of the many accomplishments of his career.

He was in Berlin in the 1960s when the Berlin Wall was going up, and there in the '90s when it came down. He covered the civil rights movement in the southern United States during the 1960s, and the struggle for equality in South Africa during the 1970s and '80s. He was there when the Voting Rights Act was signed in the United States in 1965, and on the other side of the world when black South Africans voted for the first time. He has worked in every European nation that once was behind the Iron Curtain. He was there when the independent political movement Solidarity was born in a Polish shipyard, and again when Poland's communist leaders were forced from power.
And he was in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Romania and throughout the Soviet Union to record first the repression of communism and then its demise. He was one of the first reporters to go to Vietnam in the 1960s, and went back to the killing fields of Cambodia in the 1980s to remind Americans that, unless they did something, the terror would return.
He established the first American television news bureau in the Arab world in 1968 when he served as ABC News' bureau chief for Beirut, Lebanon, a position he held for seven years. He helped put ABC News on the map in 1972 with his coverage of the Summer Olympics in Munich, when Arab terrorists took Israeli athletes hostage.

And, I will never EVER forget amidst the turmoil and pain of September 11th, watching him cry during his marathon coverage (he spent more than 60 hours in front of cameras reporting) of the events of that day and week. Many of you may not understand why a news reporter would be such a loss to an entire country, and, sadly, there are many Americans who couldn't care less. But many of us saw him as one of the last great seekers of truth. He was not a TV personality, he was a real journalist. He came into my home every evening, and made the harsh realities of the world a little bit easier to stomach because it was news being delivered by a trusted friend-- not a reporter w/ questionable motives, and certainly not diabetes-inducing "Ray of Sunshine" Katie Couric. He will be missed.

In Summation.
Astonauts: good. Peter Jennings: good, but dead. Serena: overly sentimental and still so removed from current events that she didn't find out about his death until today.

I was going to spend this evening posting public restrooms in Europe. I have encountered more than one significant difference and have quite a bit to say on the subject-- and a few words of advice (take it from someone who, unfortunately, had to learn from her mistakes). But I heard about the two aforementioned events today and, frankly, it doesn't take a lot to trump a bathroom post. Again, folks, I like hearing from you, but "Comments" is also a good place to leave news updates, headlines, grand openings, birth announcements.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Personally, I prefer my clothing medium-well.

I received a visiter today. This visiter tends to stop by each month around the same time and renders me very disagreable and not interested in much else than a hot bath.
So I'll just leave you to mull over something equally disgusting: The above is a picture of the Flesh Dress. It was created by canadian artist, Jana Sterbak in the late 80's. It is made of rotting meat. This dress (or another incarnation of it) is on display at the Centre Pompidou where I took the below photo during my visit yesterday. If you look closely at the floor the model is sitting on, you'll notice that the meat has permanently stained the gallery parquet.
The dress was left rotting in its initial installment until it reached its current dried, shriveled state. You can still see pieces of the salt stuck to the flesh originally added to preserve it. I don't know what is more terrifying-- a dress of rancid meat or the fact that someone accepted money to wear it.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Sunday: Free Art, Expensive Erotica

That's right, kids, it's Sunday. As you already know, Catholicism reigns in France. That, of course, means that on the first Sunday of every month, all state owned attractions and museums are free and open to the public.
I decided to skip the Louvre today (tomorrow I am buying a year-long student pass and will have free admission thereafter) and headed for the Centre Pompidou. It houses the city's modern art collection. It is also known for its modern/odd architecture. The line was about 200 people long but the wait allowed me to watch a man and his marionette "The Beatles" show, a clown with a giant plunger on his head, and several other animations along the way.
Inside was a bit crowded; twice in my presence sculptures were knocked over and the glass on a framed painting was broken! Which is actually a lot more funny than it sounds--the clatter from each accident froze every single person in the gallery. Faces went white and gasps were uttered, but the museum staff-- who at this point must hate this Catholic tradition-- were just like, "whatever, keep moving" (only in French w/ their very unhappy Gaullois glower). The center itself is huge, but the permanent expositions were relatively small-- I'm glad I got in for free (thank you patron saint of free monuments/museums).
After waiting a few hours to use the ladies room (it was free which equals 'worth the wait'), I caught the 31 bus to Pigalle and the Musée de l'Eroticisme (Museum of Erotica). Pigalle is the closest thing Paris has to a Red Light district. Prostitution is not legal, but here you find peep shows, adult book stores and film houses, live shows, and, bien sur, La Moulin Rouge. The museum cost me (w/ student disc.) 5 euro, the same price I paid to get into the Musée d'Orsay which is a (100x's bigger) world-class museum. In that regard, very expensive, but I had been looking forward to visiting it all day.
The museum has taken up residence in an old residence, so while it is six stories, it's small. It has ancient symbols of fertility, old porn and erotica, art, and a few devices that made me blush. Me!
Making my way from the bottom to top stories, I think I enjoyed Les Films Interdits (forbidden films) the best. Basically, black and white silent porn. Their scores sound like something from a circus, and added to the absolutely bizarre experience of watching such graphic sex from an era I've always thought to be quite prude (prohibition, girdles, chastity belts). Upon reaching the top floor, I was greeted by a man dressed in leather hot pants (with a studded cod piece), suspenders, a hat and not much else. I had to pass him a few times while roaming the gallery (it really is a small place). As I was leaving, he asked me if I would like to participate in a small animation by simply sitting on the purple velvet chair in front him. First, from the looks of it, it wouldn't have been small. Second, I was the only one in that gallery, and any show about to commence would have been for my eyes only. Non, merci.
What does one tip for a lap dance in a museum, anyway?
And that is what Sundays are all about in Paris-- just as God had intended them to be.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

More Cowbell, Baby!

Nothing really to post today. I got lost trying to find a patisserie that is actually open this month and discovered an enormous, beautiful park in the neighborhood by my house. I sat down for a picnic just as it started raining-- and then I had to walk for another half hour to find my street.
Ahhh, adventures.
The above always makes me laugh. If you aren't familiar with the SNL sketch, laugh anyway: it's funny.

*I've got a fever and the only perscription is more cowbell, baby

*This one's for you, Dark Pig

Friday, August 05, 2005


Yes, I am one of those. I love Harry Potter (HP); I love the books and I love the films. I don't know if I can wait for the 4th movie-- waiting for Book 6 has been hard enough (after finally finding an english bookstore in Paris that was actually selling the US Scholastic edition [the UK and the US have different editions-- different illustrations, different languages], I had to order one as they had already run out. It will be here by the end of the month!!!!). I am planning on making it to the UK to see HP4 in London opening weekend and make a huge, geeky, don't-look-at-me-that-way-lady-I-know-I'm-too-old-for-this-but-at-least-I-didn't-dress-up-Freak! sort of deal. But after being hurt by so many landmark franchises (Star Wars, The Matrix), I am terrified with each new installment that I will be disappointed. But, HP is not the only thing I spent today waiting for. I have been trying to attach a couple of photos to an e-mail for several hours-- they just won't attach. I don't understand. The photos are in a folder on my desktop, but I have also tried putting them on an internet file and attaching them from there. No luck. I am angry. I am inpatient. AAAARGH!
I had to wait until after 1 p.m to shower thanks to a very (ironically) smelly plumber who had no problem flirting with my neighbor and taking his sweet time fixing the drain--the sink drain-- there weren't any problems with the shower, but he still wouldn't let me in there! After a freezing cold night (fell asleep with the window open), I so wanted a hot, steamy shower. Dommage.
I also spent several hours today waiting for that oh-so-important e-mail that is still not in my inbox (if you are reading this--you know who you are-- stop! You owe me an e-mail!). It is one of those that the longer I must wait for it, the worse it will be to read. Sigh. But, I stopped waiting for it early this evening and decided to go for a walk. I walked the over to Montrouge and explored the city for a few miles.
Technically, Montrouge is not in Paris. But one must only cross a street to make the transition from city to city. Montrouge looks exactly like Paris-- only less dense. There is more green and it's less noisy. It is a mixture of modern, industrial and commercial buildings mixed with almost ancient apartments, houses, and parcs. It is still Paris in my book. It felt so great to get outside after confining myself in my tower for the last two days. The sun had begun to go down and a breeze picked up, making it very pleasant. The Friday night crowds had not yet emerged and the work traffic had already dispersed. It was exactly what I needed.
Then, I came home and immediately checked my e-mail (I never said I was strong, or very committed for that matter). Empty.
Now that I have no real responsibilities or...anything, really on my schedule, I find myself filling my downtime with anticipation of things to come: school in the fall, visiting friends before that, HP and several other movies I want to see, Christmas and winter in France, e-mails (HINT! HINT!), the new Camille CD to be released on iTunes USA, comments from all of you (HINT! HINT!), ect.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Neville, a boy after my own heart

I haven't been feeling well lately. Actually, things have been a bit cloudy for a few days; a combination of personal health, personal life, and personal strife. Today, I spent in bed-- not in a 'I need a few extra hours of sleep to recuperate' sort of way-- or even in an 'I'm a lazy kitty soaking up the sun' sort of way. No, this was much more of an 'I am too 'too' to get out of bed, and all the while loathe to stay.' Today, my apathy could not be combatted by any amount of chocolate, the allure of Paris calling me from my window (just a few steps from my bed), or the anticipation of an important email, which sadly, has yet to make its way into my inbox.
I spent today looking too closely at my nails and cuticles; the manicure and pedicure I had just before I left now destroyed by (respectively) nervous biting and hours of walking/touring about the city. They are a mess, as is my hair (which I have stopped styling all together-- I shampoo/condition it everyday and leave it dry in its own very Prince Valiant way [a bad hair cut that I am still paying for), and my skin (finally evening out after the initial shock of being here). I wasted away a good hour in front of the mirror just gawking at how much I've aged since the last time I spent an hour in front of the mirror just gawking; when did I get so wrinkly, so fat, so pale, so tanned, have I lost weight?
If you aren't familiar with the rather debilitating sensation of ennui, please allow me to share:
A desperation for sensation, and greatness, anxiety and temptation. A yearning, an itching to act, to do-- but never enough desire to actually do anything. An overcoming feeling of fatigue, dissatisfaction at everything that lies in front of and behind me. And, of course, to be completely and utterly void of emotion--happy or sad, excited, angry, energetic, pain, or pleasure.
Yes, this was my mood. All day long. I read about ten pages into 20,000 Leagues. They have only just found the Nautilus-- which they still think is a monstre-- they haven't even met Nemo, let alone boarded the sous-marine. Which means I haven't even breached 1 of their 20,000 leagues! I also spent about a half an hour tanning on the balcony while the maid cleaned my room-- but I was asleep for most of that, so it doesn't really count as an activity as much as a change of location.
And because I wasted away the day on my convertible sofa bed (Living in an IKEA), I felt incredibly bloated, indulgent, pitiful, self-centered, ect. Why is it I feel guilty for suffering from something out of my control?
Tomorrow, I vow, to get out of my house, to put some sidewalk under my feet-- even if it comes with random piles of dog poo.

the above painting is by CARLO PITTORE

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Cinema Francais

I watched The Transporter 2 at the famous Grand Rex Cinema. It wasn't in the large theatre with the three balconies and grand stage, but the room I was in had a fiber optic ceiling made to look like a night sky, plush seats (as all the theatres in France do), and a large enough distance between each row, that I had both leg room and a clear view.
I love the theatres in France. Having worked at a theatre in the States (and wow do I have stories)--and being a film afficianado, I hate walking into a dirty theatre. I hate the tiny, plastic seats bolted down to permantley sticky floors only to watch a screen pocked with gummy bears and chewing gum.
Because so few of the French take food into the theatre with them, theatre owners/managers can afford rich velvet upholstery, wood accents and thick carpet throughout the room-- not just down the main aisle. This makes for a rich, lush theatre-going experience. I feel as though I've snuck into a VIP showing-- not one afforded by my student discount. I don't have a problem with people who eat in the theatres-- I like popcorn every once in a while, but when in our society did it become acceptable to leave your garbage on the floor of a public place: "I'm done eating my extra large vat o' butter, I think I'll wipe my hand on the cushion of the seat next to me, and throw the container on the ground. Then, I'll put my feet on the seat in front of me and talk on my cell phone." This behavior would not be tolerated in a concert hall or play house, on an airline, or even in a classroom. Why do people assume it's okay in a theatre? And excuse me for not sharing my gorey (and I mean gorey) history of finding young children, old people, and every middle age in between having sex! What is wrong w/ us?
Anyway, after the flick, I walked down to St. Vincent de Paul. I couldn't go inside as there was a wedding going on (what I intitially mistook for a massive terrorist attack of a chiffon and lace factory). It was the most god-awful, gaudy parade I have ever seen-- and I've seen many a Pride Parades in my day. The guests lined up in a sort of gauntlet on the stairs in front of the church to welcome the bride to the ceremony. In the small park in front of the Church, two very drunk, homeless bull dykes serenaded the bride with their rendition of "Oh, Happy Day."
Then, I hit a book store. I bought 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (in french), a Truffaut biography (in english-- but I didn't find that out until I got home, oh well), and a gift for one of my sisters.
The ride home was interesting. The metro was packed and hot and smelly. The indian man who frequents the 4 line was there rapping his middle-aged heart out to 1982 boob box he has jimmy-rigged to a market bag. As he was coming down the aisle, I moved out of the way to let him through and got a whiff of something that made me dry-heave. At first, I just thought it was the B.O. of the gross guy standing next to me yelling into his cell phone, but there was no way this was just B.O. and I quickly realized that the tear inducing odor was coming from the festering wound half hidden by a green and black bandage on this guy's cheek-- right next to my face (excuse me, I just threw up a little in my mouth)!
Ah, busy fun day in Paris. I'm still not sure how I am able to live such an adrenaline-pumping lifestyle-- it must be the crack.

Je L'Ai Regarde en Francais

I went to see the Transporter 2 today. I was impressed with the first one; smart, quick, good action, hot Jason Statham. But this one just felt like a really long commercial (complete with excessive product placements: Audi, Heineken, Aston Martin Vanquish, whatever suit Statham wore, a very sleek cell phone, ect.) with a semi-interesting plot drawing lines between the use of each product. Ebert and Roper complained that it was shot too quickly (i.e. quick camera shots and fast editing) and that one misses all the action because of it. When I heard their review, I thought they must really be nit-picking--it is an action film, afterall. But, this could not be more of an understatement. At one point, I thought I was going to be sick. The camera jostled about in one direction and the actors in another. It was too much. Statham in good at what he does. He kicks ass and looks cool doing it. Just like the first one, the fight/action sequences were excellently choreographed but Louis Leterrier (director) didn't allow the audience to see any of it. Instead, he upstaged his star with a severe misuse of the technology and budget available to him; any of the drama and suspense he worked to create in front of the camera was lost in the editing room.
This film does show another dimension to the Transporter's character in his interactions with the child he is in charge of chauffering around Miami, the semi-romance with the child's mother, in a way that doesn't turn him into the 'kindergarten cop' with a heart of gold. The writing credits include Luc Besson, and it isn't a bad film, but if ever a script, performance, millions of dollars were wasted away by one director! Leterrier must have been on speed-- he certainly made the audience feel like they were. But he didn't completely destroy the franchise for me and I'd like to see a third in this series sans Leterrier.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A rather enjoyable day

Today, I passed a rather enjoyable day. It was hot in Paris, and thankfully, everywhere I needed to be today was indoors. I started the day off by visiting the local police prefecture (remember that appointment I missed, well, today was my reschedule). I explained to the man that I would like back all of the official papers I submitted to get my visa. He did not understand and continued to ask me why I was here. Now, this was not a language problem. He was unaware that he had the authority to give me back my application papers, and I (and as well as an advisor from my school in Paris) was told that that would not a problem. "Monsieur," I said, "I am here to get back the official papers from my application." "That is all, I do not to need to file anything, submit anything, complain or pay," I said. "I would simply like my papers back." This was beyond his comprehension. He was nice (see travel tip posted in comments section), but it took a while for him to understand I had no greater purpose in being there. Upon leaving the prefecture, I decided to walk a few blocks further and catch a bus to the Champs Elysées and my pharmacy. I have only just started to use the buses in Paris-- previously limiting myself to the RER's and the Metro. I love the bus. It's never as hot, rarely as packed, and there is a view. The bus is the cheapest way to see the city in all of its glory and so cheap (free with my metro pass)! There are several lines, none of which are straight shots anywhere, but I have yet to get lost.
Side story from Serena's past:
My freshman year of high school-- still too young to drive--I had a doctor's appt. across town and neither one of my parents were able to take me as it was during the middle of the day. I had no choice but to catch the bus. The bus system in my hometown is small and I had no problem getting to my appt. However, on the way back to school, the bus driver, while turning a corner, ran straight into a car parallel parked on the street-- going much faster than he should have. Now, this is the middle of the day, in the middle of the week in a town on the west coast where no one uses public transportation unless they absolutely have to. There were 11 people on the bus; I was the only one over 5 and under 70 that spoke english and thus, after waiting one and one half hours for the police and the owner of the car to make it to the scene, I was the only one capable of answering any questions. I spent another two hours filling out forms and fighting the urge to kick the small children playing under my seat-- they wouldn't let anyone off the bus until the scene had been cleared and each of us had been checked by a paramedic-- who took longer to arrive, and forced me to wait another hour before I could even step out into the fresh air. That's right, four hours on the bus. I missed all of my classes that day, and never took the bus, ever again.
It was, needless to say, a traumatizing experience and had biased me to the Paris Bus system, but now that I am finally on it, I love it.
So after visiting the pharmacy, I walked down the Champs to the Grand Palais. It was, along with its neighbor, the Petite Palais built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition (World's Fair). They are both very beautiful buildings--or so I think, they are both covered in scaffolding thanks to restoration efforts. The Petit Palais is closed, but I did drop by the discovery museum inside the Grand Palais. It has everything from moon rocks, chemistry, geology, astronomy, anatomy, a room dedicated to the number pi, and a temporary exhibit on Brasil-- again, I have no idea why Paris is celebrating Brasil. It was interesting, and to my surprise, there were more adults than children (despite the exhibits being directed to the younger, more curious sect). I missed the planetarium show which I hear is pretty cool, but had a good time.
I found myself back on the bus to get home. As I was the only one on the bus for several stops, the driver took that opportunity to tell me jokes over the intercom. I understood only 30% of what he was saying, but giggled after he finished delivering what I assumed was each punch-line and made a new friend.
A tour around the city, people watching, a giant human cell made out of flourescent glass, some dirty french jokes... a rather enjoyable day.

Also, does this scare anyone else?

Monday, August 01, 2005

Praying for complete and total collapse of the Euro

This was a rather expensive weekend, and by 'rather expensive' I mean that my ass is still bleeding from the buggering it took. I went to EuroDisney with a friend this weekend. I did not end up paying for anything because he owed me some cash and the expense was close enough, but eating out (just a sidewalk cafe or two), going to see a movie, trains, a book, some shampoo and a baguette and I have practically bankrupted myself for the month-- and sadly, I am not exagerating. Whatever happened to the Americans being the rich ones? Whatever happened to Americans worrying only about the Yen-- which is practically ours anyway? Am I happy for the EU and do I realize that prosperity for Europe means prosperity for the rest of the world? Yes. But I am less happy that America is not even 'at the table' right now. My monthly resources are almost cut in half when converted to euros. I think I might have to buy one of those hermorroid donuts (at least I can say that I lost my anal virginity in the same city that Tom Cruise proposed to Katie Holmes-- now that's romantic).
And what really gets my goat (please excuse the use of such an archaic phrase), is that Americans are still the ones being targeted by the organised 'homeless' and 'needy' on Parisian streets, next to the monuments, and in the trains.
Whether it's the Bosinians who approach anyone speaking English, "Are you American?" They ask as they hand you a piece of paper describing why they were forced to flee their country, "Please Help Me." To which I respond clearly and loudly, "No, sorry, I don't speak any english."
The vendors selling cheap chotchke on the streets, "You American? I love America. Come, come look at my stuff-- for you, because I love America, 20 euro-- just for you" Yeah, thanks, 20 euro for something worth less than 2. I am neither stupid nor rich (at least, not at the moment) and I really don't feel guilty regarding these people with absolute disdain. You may be thinking, "what is she talking about?" These aren't rich Europeans, but people forced to the street to either beg or scrape together what ever they can by selling whatever they can." And my response to that would be, I have no sympathy for someone who spends more hours of their day trying not to work than working. These people have careers, they are organised. Now, if someone is sleeping on the metro grate trying to stay warm, I might drop whatever coin I have on me into their little cup, and certainly, I am a sucker for anyone with a dog (which, sadly, there are a lot of in Paris. Almost everyone homeless person has at least two dogs, which I find disgusting. If you cannot or choose not to have the means to support yourself, you should not be allowed to have so many animals under your care).
Living in the sixth, I became familliar with many of the dirty, smelly faces that frequented the shelters and bars near my house (even in my neighbor, there were several), and to these people, if I had some coin, I was happy to give it to them. More often than not, I had nothing, but a smile always sufficed. Never have I felt unsafe, harassed, or somehow at risk with the regular homeless guy on the street. There is a man, who can be found on Avenue St. Germain near the church, who carves vegetables into the most amazing, intricate animals, flowers, ect. I think he might be autistic. I love to watch him work, but because I have no use for a radish goldfish, I always pass at his offer to take something after I drop a euro into his bowl. These people don't beg and follow me down the street, but I am always made to feel uncomfortable by those with pre-made signs, propaganda, and glow in the dark Eiffel Tower necklaces. Yes, homelessness and unemployment are big problems in France, and not much is being done about it-- unless, that is, you count the millions of dollars from the pockets of exploited tourists.
But I digress.
Serena has decided to do what she can to make a little extra cash (see advertissements and Google search bar at right). If you would like to contribute, please feel free to click on any or all of the ads. I find them quite ugly and feel a little dirty having placed them on my site-- have I sold my soul? But hopefully, after a few million people hit those links, I can buy one of those glow in the dark Eiffel Tower necklaces.