21 May 2010

Why Didn't I Get on TV?

A FRIEND ALERTED us to an item on the France 3 national news broadcast from Thursday night. That little item was our daughter, Julia. A reporter was broadcasting from the Cannes Film Festival and doing a short segment on the various street performers who line the Coisette during the festivities. Suddenly, right in the middle of the screen, Julia appears for about 2-3 seconds. She appears to be transfixed; looking at one of the performers. It's at about the 20 minute mark at this site.

All five of us were at the Festival that day, but only Julia got the sweet airtime. What's the deal with that?

Quite amazing that our friend Sandrine was able to pick her out while casually watching the news. Nice catch.

19 May 2010

The Magical Classroom

I HAVE CHOSEN, up to this point, to spend a good part of my career teaching others. This ad is worth a watch for anyone who has been a teacher or who has appreciated a good one.

16 May 2010

Follow Vic's Big Walk

I'VE WRITTEN SEVERAL times about our friend Vic and his Big Walk! Well, it started this week and you should really check out his progress on Vic's Big Walk. A very quick summary: Vic Heaney is walking from his current home in Puivert, France to the home where he was born in Blackpool, England. He left the on the 15th and he'll arrive in Blackpool in 70 day, in time to reach his birth home on July 23 -- his 70th birthday. It really is an amazing feat -- and there have been some amazing developments over the past several months.

Follow it from time to time. And if you feel like it, donate to the walk and help support Pancreatic Cancer Research.

Good luck Vic!!

14 May 2010

Tackling Strangers on the Beach

OK, MAYBE NOT complete strangers!

On Thursday while the family and I were spending the day in Cannes, we took an hour or so to hang out around the beach under the croisette just down from the Palais des Festivals. A few minutes after we arrived a group of boys started to play Rugby/American football a few meters from us and I soon noticed that one of the boys was a student of mine -- a 2nde student (10th grade) named Theo. I looked at Kerri and asked her if it would be funny if I just ran over and tackled him into the sand, unannounced. She, of course, thought it would be very funny and dared me to do it. Patrick and Julia, on the other hand, weren't so eager for this plan to come to fruition. 'Oh, no! Please don't do it,' they pleaded. 'What if it's not even your student? This will be so embarrassing.'

To be honest, the thought that I was mis-identifying the student hadn't crossed my mind so I took a view extra glances toward the boys just to make sure. When I was satisfied that it was indeed Theo I slowly got up and walked toward the boys, trying my best to look like a regular guy walking down the beach. I waited until Theo had the ball then prepared to pounce -- moving slowly from the water's edge toward the middle of the pack of boys. I sprinted the final 5 or 6 steps and launched myself at him, hitting my unsuspecting prey in the back and driving him into the sand. All around me I could hear shouts of c'est qui? c'est qui? -- who's that? who's that?

When it finally registered with Theo that it was his 38-year old history teacher who had sucker-tackled him from behind on a crowded public beach in the middle of Cannes during the Film Festival, all he could muster was a feeble 'Mr. Scriven?'

Oui, c'est moi. Ca va?

Turns out a few of the other boys were from my school as well -- including another one from my class -- and we had a good laugh. I even played a few more minutes with them before heading back to my blanket where Kerri and kids were waiting with odd looks on their faces.

It was a great day all around, but the tackle was probably my favorite part -- even better than getting my photo with bloodied, almost-topless women (see next story...)

[Note: I didn't want to brag during the story, but I also forced the kid to fumble!]

Festival 2010

LIKE WE DO each year (just to say we did it) we meandered down to Cannes during the jour férié on Thursday. Despite heavy downpours in the village where we live, the weather in Cannes was spectacular the entire day. We walked around and took-in the atmosphere; ate a little lunch; spent some time on the beach; and tried to get on the 'Today' show (we didn't get on). We did run into our friend Cyril who is a free-lance cameraman and he was doing shoots for BFM News -- a 24 hours news channel here in France -- so we watched him work for a few minutes.

'Lady Moura', a yacht usually docked in Monaco, but is now in Cannes. 105.5 meters!Our friend Cyril (holding camera) doing a shoot with a reporter from BFM

That's me (yes, the head is a bit cut off) with some scantily-dressed seekers of attention.
The Red Carpet: just hours after 'Robin Hood; opened the festival
Julia tried to get on 'Today'; she really tried.

11 May 2010

Cannes '10

IT'S HERE. THE 2010 Cannes Film Festival starts Wednesday and, as usual, the weather report is for rain, rain, rain.

I'll just make a couple points:

1) If Ann Hornaday is reading (she's the movie critic for the Washington Post), can't you find an extra ticket and take me to the 'Robin Hood' premier?

2) Kerri and I may have a pretty cool thing going on this year. All I can say for now, but if it happens you can be sure you will be able to read about it right here.

Thursday is day off so we may head down to Cannes to check things out. We'll see how the weather holds.

30 French Soccer Players

FRANCE JUST RELEASED its list of 30 provisional players who have made the cut for the World Cup 2010 team. Without going into detail, the team doesn't look like it's going to scare anyone. The list must be cut to 23 by June 1.

I will be rooting for the USA, of course. But I'll also be pulling for Les Bleus since I'm currently a resident of France. I'm also not a soccer expert by any stretch of the imagination, but one thing I can tell you after watching France's qualifying games last year: they don't look great. They got into the tournament because of a freaky hand-ball by Thierry Henri, but what really struck me about their matches was that they were quite a boring team to watch. No spark! No young gun coming up and wowing you!

Could be an early exit in South Africa, but we'll have to wait and see.

09 May 2010

Are You Kidding Me?

CHALK IT UP to bad luck, but I spent most of today on a train. Why? My flight was canceled due to...ash. No, this is not a repeat post from a few weeks ago when most of Europe was grounded because of the volcano -- I'm writing this today...May 9. Apparently there was a section of ash that swept around Europe to the west then headed east through Spain, Portugal, and the south of France. There was just enough to shut out my route into Nice. So instead of a nice 45 minute flight I got to spend 7 hours on the train. Of course, the real worry around these parts is the Cannes Film Festival, which opens in three days! If the airports are closed...who will make show up and who won't?

Kerri and the kids enjoyed a fantastic lunch at the home of some friends, and I'm lucky that Candide saved me some. I'm eating it right now. So it wasn't a completely lost day.

08 May 2010

High Shooting Water

GENEVA ISN'T THE most exciting city I've ever been in, but it sure can be beautiful. It sure helps when a city is on a substantial body of water.

06 May 2010

Getting in Trouble at School

PATRICK WAS NOTICEABLY distraught when he got into the car after school today. When Kerri asked what was wrong he informed her that he had received a punishment from his teacher that afternoon. He had gotten in trouble! That comes two days after Julia got into the car in tears because her teacher had kind of 'yelled' at her. Without going all My-Kids-Are-So-Perfect on you, I should say that Patrick and Julia almost never get into trouble at school. In fact, by all accounts the teachers seem to think they are polite, respectful, hardworking students (don't worry, they are big disappointments to us in other areas).

Patrick had a note written in his carnet (kind of a big deal in France) because the teacher felt he was 'playing around' a bit too much in the minutes before class ended this afternoon. Something about pretending his ruler was a gun and getting into a faux shootout with some friends. Patrick was quite distraught because he felt he was unfairly targeted and it was, in fact, other kids who were horsing around much more than he. His punishment was to write 'I will not play around in class' 50 times on a sheet of paper (yes, it's still kind of like the 1950s around here). Later this evening when he told me about his situation I simply gave him some good fatherly advice: "try not to do it again...unless you got some good laughs out of it from your friends -- in which case it was totally worth it. Hi-five!"

Julia's situation revolved around homework. Actually, to be more specific, it revolved around Julia not doing a piece of homework. The teacher asked to see some work and Julia was confused because she didn't know it was supposed to be done at home. She told the teacher she thought they were going to do it in class and the teacher looked at her and said, "Well, you thought wrong." This, of course, was devastating to Julia who explained to us that she nearly started to cry right there in the room. Later that evening, when talking with her about the incident I once again decided a little fatherly advice was appropriate. "Julia," I said. "The next time your teacher tells you that 'you thought wrong' try to have a snappy comeback ready -- something like, 'Oh, you mean like how you thought wrong this morning when you thought your shirt matched your pants!'"

Zing!! Oh, Snap!!

That's what I'm hear for, folks. Good, solid, advice for the kiddos.

04 May 2010

Looking Through Old Videos

NOW THAT I am going to Geneva frequently, I can have Starbucks coffee pretty much any time I want. Within 10 minutes of my hotel I can be at any of three Starbucks shops. But that wasn't always the case. The nearest Starbucks to our home in the south of France is...Lyon. Yes, five-hours-away Lyon. While looking through some of our old videos I came across this little 'commercial' we made during our first visit to Lyon in 2008. It was 8 months after we arrived in France. Watch what happens:

Our Own TV Bloopers

ONE OF THE fun projects I do every year with my 3eme students (that's 9th grade) is to have them turn the Cuban Missile Crisis into a news segment that they write, produce, direct, and finally perform on camera. It is a creative way to get them to speak publically and get feedback on how they sound when I edit the broadcast and show it on a big screen in front of the whole class a week later. It's usually a fairly stressful day for the students who still struggle a bit in English -- but that's the point.

Today's first group -- the first person on camera, actually -- was a kid playing the role of the anchorman. He rehearsed his lines, prepared well, even put on an anchorman-like voice. When it came time to shoot the scene it went like this:
  • Me (filming): Ready in three, two, one....
  • Student: "Good evening and welcome to the Shix o'clock new...ah, sh**"

That'll be one for the blooper reel (something I always add at the end without telling them).

Quick question: do I need to bleep out the expletive since it was said in a fairly thick french accent -- as in: "ah, sheet".

03 May 2010

Just Hit Pause

SOMETIMES IT JUST helps to know where the pause button is. For us, that button is usually just outside the window.