31 January 2009
Now we just need a better quality camera. You can see the real The Office opening here (in case you're not familiar with American television.
30 January 2009
It's still January and we're happy to have the snow nearby -- but I'm always ready for the Paris-Nice!
29 January 2009
26 January 2009
The photo is of President Obama (first time I've written that) giving his speech. See who got the good seats and who didn't. (Hint for family and friends: Van Hollen got a good seat). You also get a bonus if you can tell me what Justice Clarence Thomas is doing.
I've now rated this photo the coolest I've ever seen on the internet. Navigate away!
25 January 2009
Yikes. So far 15 deaths have been blamed on the storms. By the way, I'll just assume that the radio we here in the background in this video is battery operated -- can't imagine winds that take down massive trees but do nothing to electrical wires.
24 January 2009
Birthday party photos to come.
23 January 2009
It was a lot of fun, despite the aches and pains I am experiencing today. Since there was only six of us we played half-court and had some fun games, mainly because there was a nice mix of players and ability levels. The one frustrating aspect of the evening was that I'm not up to speed on my French basketball lingo -- I didn't even know how to properly say 'I fouled you.' I'm going to continue going each week, but before the next session I'm going to figure out how to say (in French) some of the phrases you need in basketball --- like 'it's off me', 'nice pass', and 'in your face, b**ch.'
21 January 2009
20 January 2009
But the moment will be historic for reasons other than the ones I am constantly hearing about – especially here in France. Make no mistake, Obama is an important part of what makes today a special day and on some levels today is about him. But I caution anyone who makes today only about Barack Obama to look at the bigger picture – the picture that puts today’s events into larger focus. Too many reports I read and people I hear are turning today into a celebration of an individual. Today is about much more than one man. Remember, what America is doing today we have done 43 times before.
Today is partly about Barack Obama, but it is about so much more…
- Today is about a nation rejecting the politics of fear and divisiveness.
- Today is about a nation recognizing its place is in the world, not above it.
- Today is about a nation turning a page in its long, often ugly racial story. Not reaching the end of the book, mind you, but definitely turning a page.
- Today is about a nation celebrating a Constitution that is still unmatched in the world.
Today is about one man placing his hand on a Bible and making a formal commitment to lead his country while we, the citizens, echo that commitment from our living rooms and dining tables.
- Today is about a nation giving a new President a chance to succeed.
- Today is about democracy.
- Today is about all that is right about a nation.
- Today is about Change (just like, I might add, the other 43 were in many ways about change – this isn’t the first time America has voted for ‘change’!)
- Today is about Hope.
- And today, perhaps more than anything else, is about feeling better about tomorrow.
Barack Obama is an important reason why today is a great day in America. But it would have been a great day even if another man was taking the Oath of Office.
Really, I swear.
19 January 2009
- the answer is 'Mac-bess' -- that's how the actors dealt with the 'th' issue. Macbeth becomes Macbess.
- a very small, intimate theater with only about 250 seats. We were in row three so we were very close to the action at times.
- a fair amount of nudity -- something I was warned about.
- a very interesting experience visually (no, I'm not talking about the nudity, Jim). At several points in the play one of the actors had a portable video camera and was filming the action -- which was then being showed in black and white on a large screen behind the action. Quite intriguing.
- only 7 actors in the entire play, meaning that characters played several roles. Not only that, but the role of Lady Macbeth was played by two different women (perhaps symbolizing her character evolution?)
- Macduff's son is played as mentally retarded. Very tough scene to watch -- mainly because the actors were so convincing. (Thoughts on this interpretation?)
- Completely in French, of course. Though I know the work quite well there were still parts that were very difficult for me because -- as typical in Shakespear productions -- the company took some liberties. I had a hard time at those points.
- Brilliant, dynamic, passionate acting from everyone. Macbeth was terrific.
- Perhaps a bit long and drawn out. As a colleague of mine siad, he couldn't wait for Macbeth to die.
I asked a French students if she had read the play in French and she said yes. She also told me she thought it was quite a bit easier to read in French because there is little attempt to 'copy' Shakespeare. No iambic pentameter. No attempt at rhyme. Only an attempt to recreate the archaic language.
I'll see my students in class tomorrow so I can ask them what they thought of it.
17 January 2009
The second thing that I am doing (sans famille) is going to see Macbeth in Nice -- performed in French. We'll see how that goes. I know the play quite well so I should be able to follow the general plot -- but beyond that could be iffy. I'm mainly interested to see how the French actors deal with the 'th' in the title character's name. The French don't always have a lot of luck when they attempt the 'th' sound. (zees is zee way it sometimes comes out).
It's probably a good thing I'm not seeing Othello.
15 January 2009
France's national identity may seem wrapped up tight in the aura of luxury — elegant dress, sophisticated perfume, good food and wine, and no shortage of Champagne for the flimsiest of celebrations. But even though the French more than most Europeans appreciate the finest quality they can afford, they pride themselves on balance. France remains a deeply conservative country, one in which it traditionally has been unacceptable to show off material possessions. Most French use debit cards, not credit cards, which means they tend not to spend more than they have in their bank accounts. Getting a mortgage is a torturous process.An good read.
It's funny, I was mentioning to some friends today that I'm not used to being in my own home by myself. I've done lots of travelling (especially in my previous job) so I've been away from my family for long (ish) periods before, but it was always me who was away. For the past 10 days I've been by myself in my own house -- and I've got to admit it's been a little weird. Kind of nice on some levels (quiet, relaxing, TV to myself), but mainly a little weird.
So I can't wait to pick up Kerri and the kids tomorrow. I'll have to give Kerri an anniversary kiss when I see her -- but one day late since our anniversary is actually today.
14 January 2009
Australia's Queensland Tourist Board is using the strained world economy as part of a new campaign giving job-seekers the opportunity to live six months rent-free on Hamilton Island in the Great Barrier Reef and make $150,000! In addition to basking in the sun all day, the job requires that the "island caretaker" keep a blog of their stay.I wonder if the Cannes Mairie would be up for something like this?
Since I'm still on my own until Kerri and the kids arrive later this week I decided to head to Grasse for dinner last night. Now I'll be the first to admit that Grasse is not my favorite village in the area, but it's close to our house and it does have a nice vieux village so I decided to head that direction. I walked around for a few mintues until I saw a tiny little stree with three or four restaurants -- one of them Vietnameese (can't wait to try that one) and one of them Indian -- Le New Punjab. My wife swears she knew the restaurant was there, but I sure didn't.
The food was terrific and I judge Indian food partly on a 'runny nose' factor. If my sinuses begin to loosen up because of the heat, I know I'm eating pretty good Indian food. Some others at the restaurnt didn't seem to share my enthusiasm for heat. At a table right next to me -- a table with two English couples and two French couples -- I heard the English couples ask for their food to be spicey. When the waiter asked the French couples how hot they wanted their food, they responded pas piquante. No runny nose for them.
('e' or no 'e' at the end of piquant?)
By the way, my opinion of Grasse has just go up by a factor of at least 3. If I find a good Thai restaurant there it may become my favorite village on the Cote d'Azur.
13 January 2009
- 800 collège students (grades 7-9)
- 800 lycée students (grades 10-12)
- offers the Baccalauréat Option International in English, Spanish, Italian, German, and Russian
- offers options in S (sciences) ES (economics & sciences) and L (literature)
- has 103 students also cross-enrolled in L'Ecole Supérieure de Danse de Cannes.
- 300 prépa students
- 193 teachers
- 832 beds for boarding students
- 1 cinema with 250 seats
- 2 restaurants that can seat 520 people in total (open 7 days/week)
- 22 hotel rooms (in case you want to visit your kids)
There are other things in the brochure that look like their interesting, but I can't read it because it's in French.
12 January 2009
10 January 2009
I didn't push the point, but I did my best to explain that what you don't often find in French cuisine is spices. You find lots and herbs, with wonderful aromatic flavors, but you don't get much spice -- something I crave in foods. I know French cuisine went through a transformation during the Revolution -- a noticable move toward a more liberal use of herbs and less reliance on spices -- and it is this tradition that remains today. And, ultimately, French food is delicious and special and remains true to the ideas of it's modern 'founder' François Pierre de la Varenne.
But the point I did try to push is that by largely ignoring strong spices French food can, to a foreigner like me, come across as...dare I say it...boring! Ouch. I know that's probably too strong a term and believe me I didn't use that term in my discussion yesterday (partly because I have no idea how to say boring in French). And I know that these kinds of discussions ultimately come down to little more than personal preference. I love spicy foods. The French, in general, don't. Fair enough.
08 January 2009
My brother-in-law introduced me to sporcle.com and it proved to be loads of fun during the holidays as family members gathered around the computer and tried to nail the lists. But don't go unless you plan to stay...and return. And don't get to confident -- you're not as good as you think.
Note: if you do go, send me your favorite list in the comments section.
07 January 2009
OK, so I'm exaggerating a bit. But just a bit.
Take my premier history class today, for example. We happen to be talking about the Great Depression and FDR's New Deal (pretty good timing, no?) and we naturally began to discuss some of the similarities between the economic situations in the 1920s and 30s and those of today. It's fun for me because I get to spend a bit of time introducing and talking about some introductory principles of economics. Anyway, in the course of our discussion I asked my students to think about what role the government should play in times of economic crisis. We talked about the wide range of options that governments have -- from do-nothing (you might call this extreme capitalism) to do-everything (do Stalin's Five-Year Plans ring a bell?) and everything in between.
But after class I ran into a student as I was walking to my car and he/she* said (seriously, I'm pretty sure): 'I'm so glad Obama was elected because now we won't have another Great Depression.' I asked what he/she meant and the response was simple: 'Because he's Obama. He'll fix it.'
I see it may be time for a quick lesson on the principle of diminishing expectations. Look, I voted for him and I think he is going to do very well -- but he's not a Saint.
* students may read this -- so I'm not giving anything away for free.
Knowing this, Kerri's parents went out on Nov. 5th of last year and picked up a few papers for me.
False! The part about 'beautiful,' anyway.
Since I've arrived back in France it has alternated between snow and cold rain every day and I have yet to see the sun. To make matters worse I don't know how to turn the heat up in the house.