Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hurtling Towards Christmas!

So as you can tell, ce con la, il a attrapé l'esprit de Noël.  It's been building slowly here an there.  After Halloween, as tradition demands, I had already started listening to Christmas music.  I'm a sucker for Mele Kalikimaka, but I prefer KT Tunstall's version, and I have never heard a Carpenters Christmas song I didn't like.  Back in the States, when husband and I would make the drive up 23 for Thanksgiving, we would follow the "all Christmas Music all the time" stations from Columbus, to Mansfield, and then over from Van Wert, Fort Wayne, or Toledo.  Luckily, I found someone who get's just as Christmas obsessed as I.

This weekend was perfect, as we went out with the Mother in Law and her cousins, who are genuinely great people, to see le Marché de Noël on Place de la Parliament.  Mother in Law was hot on the trail of unique presents for the nieces.  Of course, it's much easier for the youngest. Every year it's like she just has a theme for her presents.  Last year it was Pokémon, and this year it's Lalaloopsy.  I find them to be as ugly as sin, but if that's what makes her happy, tant mieux!  The other two are older, so they're more into jewelry and such.  Anyway, it was wonderful to see all the stands and everything they had.

I had to control myself because we weren't looking to spend a hundred euros on food, even though I totally could have.  They had tartiflette, and vin chaud, and yes the ultimate Christmas food, croustillions!  So we controlled ourselves as we had not eaten yet, and split 12 among the four of us.  It was really beautiful to see all of the lights up, and it was slightly cold, but oh, it was nice.

Less nice, was dealing with the crowds and the want of mother in law and her cousin to shop.  I hate going into stores and doing shopping, when it's not for me that is, and I do all my Christmas shopping online.  We already got the youngest niece taken care of like that, and I got husband's gift like that too.  Of course, now I'm not sure of my choice.   I hate being on a limited budget....  Most likely we'll do the majority of the purchases online, just for simplicity's  sake.

All and all, it has been pretty nice lately, and with how time has been moving forward, it's going to be Christmas before you know it.  I'm ok, with that because it means that the Marriage Equality debate will start at the end of January, and should be law by March.  After that, it's just making an appointment at the Mairie with all of our paperwork.  I'm just wanting to get this done and move along.


Monday, November 5, 2012

No News is Good News

So this is something that I was inspired to post by a good friend Writer over at Salmangundi.  As I said, write what you know.  This is a story based on most of Junior High, High School, and College for me.


He did not know if he had woken himself up, or if the ringing of the phone had done it. Either way though he was awake. He got out of bed, and picked the phone off the table, looking at the time before opening the cover. Whoever was calling hopefully had a good reason for calling at half past one.
“Hello,” he said quietly into the phone. Estelle, his girlfriend, was still asleep, and left the room as he was answering so that she would not wake up.
“Marc,” a small yet familiar voice said, “it’s Mom.”
“Mom, what’s wrong.”
“It’s your father. He’s not home yet.”
“When did he day he would be home?” Marc asked, walking over to the couch.
“He told me he would be right home tonight,” Mom said.
He sat down on the couch, “Well, maybe he just got held up. You know how sometimes there’s just a rush right before he leaves.”
“This isn’t Chicago, Marc. This is Bedford. There’s no road where there might be a twelve car pile up. Anyway, I’ve been listening to the radio. There were no reports of anything.”
“You know, he’s probably just out. He does this all the time.”
“I know, but he said that he would be straight home, he knows how I worry…”
“Did you call him?”
“Even if he takes the cell phone when he goes out, the fool just leaves it in his jacket, under a pile of 600 other jackets on vibrate. There’s no real point in having the thing in the first place.”

“Well, no news is good news,” he said, resisting the urge to lay back.
“No news just means that they haven’t put out the wreckage yet,” Mom said, audibly upset.
“Mom, you can’t do this to yourself. Why don’t you go back to sleep?”
“Because I can’t sleep till he’s in bed next to me. Why does he do this to me? He knows how I worry.”
Marc assumed his usual position on the couch. He lay back against the pillows on the couch, and sighed. After the last few months this position was becoming familiar, especially at this time of night. His mother called, panicked about anything from why his sister had not called her in two days, to a dream she had about his grandmother who had been dead for 20 years. The calls tended to cycle though, and lately complaining about his father had become a favorite.
Maybe his father was driving home, and came upon an accident, and was being a Good Samaritan by helping out the people. It’s possible, but it was not likely. Perhaps he had a flat tire. She would just worry about him being along the side of the road alone. There was the possibility he was out drinking and lost track of time. Truthfully this was the most accurate, but that was not the response for which Mom was looking.
“Mom,” said Marc. “You have to try and relax. This isn’t doing anyone any good, least of all yourself.”
“I’m sorry to call you, but if I called your sister, I would have woken up Sam or if I called your brother, he would have just gotten annoyed.”
“No Mom, it’s ok. If you’re worried, I would prefer you called me instead of just sitting there alone.”
Marc rubbed his eyes. “The only other thing I can think to do is call the hospital.”
“Well, I think I will wait until 3 for that.”
“Mom, you have to relax. I know it’s not easy, but this isn’t helping anyone.”
“I know, but I don’t know what else to do. Why does he do this to me?”
“I dunno.”
“Well, I am just keeping you up. Thanks for talking to me. I am going to hang up, and I will call you back if he’s not home by 3.”
“Ok Mom, I love you. Try and relax.”
“I love you too, Marc. Bye.”
“Bye.”
Marc got up off the couch and walked back to the bedroom. He plugged the phone back into the charger, waited for the flash and the charging beep, and lay back down in bed.
“So who was on the phone, she asked already knowing the answer,” she said slightly muffled by the pillow.
“Sorry if I woke you up, but you know no one else is going to talk to her,” Marc said curling up against her and kissing her on the shoulder.
“Your sister uses those children like escape pods. I swear she had those kids as more of a bargaining chip than love.”
“Well, you tell me, who would you rather come home to; me or that Neanderthal Sam.”
“I don’t even want to think about him.”
“If that’s the case, then you could think about me.”
“And I’ll have pleasant dreams.”
“You know, the night is young.”
“And so are we, and there will be many other nights.”
“So then-.”
“So then I am going to go back to sleep, because I have to face 20 kids tomorrow.”
“Don’t worry, we won’t be up that long.”
“Yeah, that sweetens it. Sorry, but those kids are the best argument against. Goodnight.”
“Spoilsport.”
Marc kissed Estelle on the back of the neck and returned to his side of the bed. Images of what had happened began to flash through his head. His father had been injured, and was laying in the car, bleeding to death. He would have to take off work to go be with his mother. The rest of his family would never do it, so it was all up to him.
Marc’s sister always had the excuse of being a girl to get her out of most anything. Marc was always surprised that his father always believed her when she said that she just didn’t understand math after coming home with a new dress. This excuse came from the same girl who had aced honors calculus her senior year. His father would smile, say he understood, and nothing more was mentioned.
Looking back on his life, there were only a handful of events in his life where alcohol had not been present. Both he and his sister had pictures of a hand mysteriously similar to his father’s holding a beer to give the illusion that the child was drinking. Most events involved the same group of friends coming to the family parties for baptisms, communions or confirmations. The same group of friends he had from elementary school, high school, and attended college, and would inevitably be there to his dying day.
He imagined the funeral, most likely at a church. All sorts of people his mother never knew would be there, coming up to the casket, saying goodbye. She would be lost among the faces, even more so because she had always said that if anything happened to his father, she would have to be heavily medicated to make it through.
Mom would be speaking softly, sharing treasured memories about her husband’s life. She would tell anyone who would listen about how they met, and how they fell in love. She would smile and remember their first dates, and how he gave her a ring, and a house, and a family. Tonight would not be among the topics.
His sister would be there, with her husband Sam, and their beautiful screaming chain of children. Children were great, so long as he could just play with them, and then send them home to their parents after they were heavily dosed with sugar. His sister would cry the same tears she cried that got her that first car. Sam would put his arm around her, consoling her, telling her how he was a great man.
People would come up to his mother, and up to him (because to whom else would she cling) and tell them how sorry he or she was to hear of his father’s passing. This must be such a sad time for them, and how if there was anything they could do to help, just let them know. People that had long severed connections with the family for one reason or another would appear from places he had not been in years. Everyone would be putting up a saddened façade, but really the whole atmosphere would be a reunion of sorts.
After the ceremony, Sam would pass the children to his wife, and go out with his friends. Later, Marc would get a call from his mother, who was called by his sister after Sam had been arrested, and needed to be bailed out of jail. His sister could not go alone, so he would be called to drive his thoroughly drunk brother-in-law home. After Sam was asleep, his sister would call him, crying about how she finally understood what Mom meant about the sacrifices of marriage.
He moved closer to Estelle, and put his arm around her. She turned in towards him, and moved closer against him. She slowly put her arms around him and kissed him.
“What was that for?” he asked, kissing her on the forehead.
“Nothing,” she said, smiling and looking into his eyes. “I’m cold. Come closer.”
Marc moved so that her head was against his chest. Estelle exhaled heavily and pulled her legs against his.
“Do you love me?”
“Come on Stell, you know I do.”
“And will you make an honest woman of me someday?”
“ ’Course.”
“And we’ll have everything?”
“Mm, hm, with a ring, and a house, and a family.”
Estelle smiled and ran her hands through Marc’s hair. She looked up at him with her green eyes, and shook her head softly. Marc lay there, listening to the streetlight buzz outside, and eventually turn off. He thought about finishing college. They only had a few more years, but there was still graduate school. If he played his cards right, maybe he could be an eternal student. Estelle could teach, and he would work some desk job. They would be happy enough to get by. But he thought that there was no point in worrying about things. After all, everything happens eventually. Marc closed his eyes, put his head against Estelle’s and tried to go back to sleep.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

You say goodbye, I say hello....

For the first few months I was here, I always said goodbye by saying bonjour, because I could not get it out of my head that "good day" didn't make sense as a greeting.  Even after I knew better, I still did it....  People would smile, and I'm sure have a laugh at my expense, but eventually, I got it through my head.  Also, I always used to say a direct translation of "have a good time" to my nieces when they would leave...until they informed me that usually it would be interpreted as something sexual, so that ended right there. What to say, to whom, and when is much more complicated than simply saying "aurevoir," which no one seems to say unless they're on the phone.  Even then, it might just be me!

When meeting someone in person, it's always polite to say bonjour.  It's usually what's said when you don't know someone, so it's more or less a default greeting.   Most time greetings work for any time of day.  So much like in the US, you change your greeting based on time.  Although in French, you can say "Bon Matin," but it doesn't really work as a greeting.  You can say, "Passez un bon matin," but then it's saying goodbye.  Conversely, there is not way to say "Good Afternoon" as a greeting in French.  When saying goodbye though, it's totally fine to say "Bon Après-mdi."  After that, it works like in most countries, you have "Bon Soir" for "Good Evening," but in French this works normally when parting ways, while like in English, "Bonne Nuit" is strictly for saying good night.  Additionally in French there's a special one used in polite conversation to tell someone "Bonne Soirée."  It's like saying Good Evening, but is just more polite.

Now the polite ways to say hello and goodbye are nice, but I never said anything like this to my friends back in the US.  Usually it was "Hey," "Oi," or "How you doin?" complemented with a nod of the head.  The first works with people who know Northern European languages, and the second for those who know Brazilian Portuguese, but I speak too fast for the third to be understood.  Most French people understand the different forms of "goodbye;" however; you can be much more casual in French, and there are so many fun ways to say goodbye based upon duration of separation.

The standard greeting of "aurevoir" is rarely used in France, and only in cases of long term separation.  It means "until the next time we see each other."  So basically if you're saying this, you've got at least a week of separation.  The next would be "abientôt."  Saying "abientôt" is like saying until next time, but that you're more excited about seeing them.  This can also be augmented with "a trés bientôt," loosely translated as "We'll see each other very soon, I hope."  Another fun one is "a plus tard" which simply means "see you later."  Usually, no one says the whole phrase and simply says "a plus," similar to the American "later."  The next would probably be "a toute a l'heure" which means "see you in a while," or more literally "see you at the appointed time."  Usually I hear French people use it to say that they'll see someone very soon.  Apparently it can also be used to say see you at the same time.  Also, this usually never comes out in full.  When spoken it comes out as something like "ahtaleure."  When you want to tell someone you'll see them in a second or in a little bit, you say, a toute suite."

Some other common ways of saying goodbye are the ever popular European standby of "ciao," which now I can't say or write without thinking of Eddie Izzard and also "bonne continuation" which is kind of like saying "keep on keeping on."  Seriously, I tried to find something more exact, but well, I got everything from "good luck in the future" to "keep up the good work."  So we'll just call this one a contextual chameleon and move on with our lives!

Also in French, it seems like you can only say it's nice to have met someone at the beginning of a conversation.  French people will sometimes say "enchanté" which literally means "enchanted" but functions more as Blanche Devereaux's "charmed."  It's also often said, "ravi" which means something like "delighted."  However; there's no really good way to say that it was nice to have met someone at the end of a conversation.  Believe me, I tried.  Doesn't work.....

So I'll be on my merry way and say a plus, because given how things have been lately, I dunno when my next post will be.  I have some ideas, but well, I promise nothing! :-)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Elevator Politics

Now, I'm sure I've complained before about the false politesse that exists in France.  I mean, it's impossible that I haven't.  When you enter into pretty much anywhere, you are partially obligated to greet everyone in the place.  You say a bonjour and wait your turn if you're at the Caisse Assurance Maladie, or when you enter a small bookstore, it's completely normal to have not only the staff say hello, even some of the patrons may say it, with larger or smaller degrees of enthusiasm.  This I've learned to deal with.

One thing I will never learn how to deal with is in my own building where I live, it is expected that when waiting for the elevator, or upon entering the elevator, if there are other people you are expected to say hello.  I mean, it's not like it's some sort of major production, but it's that I'm expected to say it, and will be considered rude if I don't.  I just really don't like having to say hello to people in my own home basically.  It's the silent judging that happens when you don't return a hello that was socially obligated in the first place.

Of course, if it's the super or his wife saying hello, I'll always say hello back.  Usually when I pass by the front office on my way out, I'll say a quick hello as well.  It's not only because the man decides how soon my toilet will get fixed or whether or not I will find a bag of garbage sitting on my paillasson because I didn't feel like sorting the plastique et briques alimentaires from the ordures ménagères.  (Seriously, this happened to our next door neighbor once.) but he's a nice guy.  One day when we switched cars with husband's aunt we left the key to the garage on the other ring.  It was him who let us in so we didn't have to drive the hour back to get the key so we could leave for a weekend three hours in the other direction.  Also, he's a riot when he's drunk.

When it annoys me is when I'm saying hello to the same punks who might have gotten rid of the laundromat that used to be downstairs because of the vandalism that happened there.  The same people who carved profanity into the reflective part of the elevator.  Or maybe it's the people who have parties until five in the morning on every break.  It makes me not look forward to Toussaints next week, believe me.  One time husband and I were coming home late, maybe around 2 am, and we were just going to put our key in and enter, when the lock was busted, meaning we may have been locked out until the next morning.  Luckily we were saved from that when someone exited, but still.  Another time, as we were leaving for the night, we saw a guy who couldn't get back in push the screen out of the window and come in that way since the door was locked.  My personal favorite though was the night when we were leaving and had to walk through people having a party in the entry because their apartment is too small given the number of people they had there.

The funniest though is when people just skip the politesse altogether.  One night, husband and I were just getting back and he was dying for a cigarette.  I don't like that he smokes, but it's something I've learned to deal with, so I stayed out with him.  While we're there, a car pulls up and a guy gets out.  We have no idea who he is, but we had seen him around the building.  Just as a programming note, this guy is a chav, and as he's walking in he says to us "Bonne nuit les gars."  So quickly putting my monacle back into place from where it had fallen into my champagne, I mumble out a Bon soir as he enters.

So I'll ask you, amis lecteurs, is it better to have someone choose to formally greet you, even if it's without meaning, or would you prefer they simply say nothing and pass by you, appearing incredibly rude, or should they greet you in a familiar way, risking scandalizing the more proper elements of society?


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Compartmentalization

So, the mother in law has moved into her new place, and things should start slowing down again.  Theoretically that should mean that I can sit down and start writing real articles on here again.  I get excited thinking about writing, but I find it increasingly difficult to sit down and want to write something really long and involved that takes explanation and possibly a dictionary to explain exactly what I mean.

It's not that I don't want to.  I even thought up a lot of fun articles, but it was the getting around to writing them that's really the issue.  I wanted to write about Fort Boyard, which is sadly coming to an end next week, and just things that are exclusively French that really would be something that I could show people and get them interested in.  Or I wanted to talk about the car trouble we had, and the fun of trying to translate head gasket into French or figure out what on earth a "courroie de distribution" is in English.  Then, I sit down on the couch, and there's an old episode of Oliver's Twist on.  And then I fall asleep.

I think it's a two pronged problem.  First and foremost; the spirit is willing, but the flesh wants to be on Google +.  (I'm serious.  If you're not on, get on.  I'd love to have you all circled!)  I just really enjoy all the stuff that comes through.  It's not a million notices about what people ate or why their job sucks.  It's where I find the most interesting stories, and infographics.  Unlike facebook, these are all people that I don't know from Adam.  There just fascinating people that I've met who post about things that interest me.   I just get to a certain point of the day, and I just don't feel like typing much more than three sentences, or just want to make witty retorts.    

Secondly, I think I've been doing too much compartmentalization.  I have my facebook account that was for people I knew in real life, G+ for people that I met and found fascinating, livejournal for personal thoughts, and blogger I always tried to keep more about life in France.  I think that may be the problem though.  With all the division and gates that I've put up, I don't remember the last time I actually made a post on Livejournal at all.  I check the blog roll I put up forever ago, but I need to update that.  Facebook and G+ are about all I do anymore, because they're quick and I can get me some instant gratification.

So I'm going to try and use this site as a regular blog. We'll see how this goes and if I do post more ultimately.  Hope to see you all around soon. 


Thursday, July 12, 2012

L'enjeu

So I had a great time visiting family this weekend, and it's official; my niece is now 9.  It's kind of scary to think in a way.  When we moved back, she was 6.  Should I start singing Sunrise/Sunset or The Circle of Life?  Eh, either way I still come off as an aging queen.  I am exhausted though.  Seriously, two days, and we're still not back to any sort of regular rhythm.  Not going to bed before 1 in the morning for almost a week straight, may have something to do with that.  Also, stuffing myself didn't hurt.

My niece is at that age before it's uncool to play games, and in particular, she's all about pokémon.  So she and the husband are deep in to Black and White right now.  They've even figured out now how to trade internationally.  I had enough time to update Ubuntu before the computer was needed for repeated trades and after, the fun of the Pokémon Dream World began.


Somehow, husband and niece had exhausted their options in game, and I finally had the chance to update Ubuntu, which meant that we were actually all free at the same time.  By convenience, so was my older niece who was also home at the time.  Since there were four of us, we thought it would be more fun to play something together.  We had talked about playing Monopoly before but we didn't have time the day before. We did watch X-Men: First Class though.  Did I mention I love Michael Fassbender?

Now I had played Monopoly before, well....never a whole game.  When I did play, it always ended up the same way:  my oldest sister never wanted to play, and it was with my older sister and brother.  My little brother would be enthusiastic about starting, but he always ended up getting upset about it.  After all, he was all of 5 or 6.  Usually the board ended up overturned, and my little brother running out of the room crying.  He'd run to Mom and she'd declare my little brother the winner.  It's why I stopped playing board games for a long time.  After that, I pretty much swore off board games.

I wasn't exactly sure what to expect in this game as I had never played with my oldest niece.  She's usually pretty level headed about things, but I didn't know what to expect.  I already knew that my little niece would be a horrible loser, but also a horrible winner.  I had seen controllers thrown when she was upset, but also I'd seen now she rejoices in her victory over others.  She's still young enough where it's cute sometimes, but I knew where she stood at least.  The husband, well....it's not that he's a horrible loser, but he gets upset when things don't go his way.  So this would be interesting.  (I'll admit that I myself, also have the same problem, although losing a video game pisses me off more than losing a board game.  They call it rage quit for a reason!)

Now this was not a newer version of the game, so it was in francs.For some reason I don't remember any of the money amounts being higher than 500 in the American version.  In francs, the highest denomination was 50, 000.  That seems like an insane amount to have normally.  Of course, considering that it takes about 7 francs to make a euro and 6 to make a dollar, you see why the prices are so much different. Buying the most expensive lots in the game are also rather ridiculous.  The most expensive property in the French version is Avenue Champs-Élysée at 32, 000 Francs!  I couldn't imagine spending that much for Boardwalk.  In the French game, you start out with 150, 000 francs, so it's deceptive how much you have.  I did buy 6 properties though: two reds, two yellows, a light blue and a dark blue.  

I have a real problem with money, in that when I have a lot of it, I don't think about how much of it I'm spending, until it's too late.  I think I spent about 120, 000 francs on property.  I was a bit worried about having enough money to make it through from one round to the next.  However; getting two thousand francs instead of  two hundred dollars helped.  I finally started getting some revenue back when people started landing on places that got me between a thousand to three thousand francs when someone landed on them.  I dunno if I just never played it correctly, but it was pretty good.

We ended up doing pretty well, until we started doing the auctioning off of the properties.  We only had one, and I had no idea what I was doing.  I kind of just got confused, and after it was explained, I ended up offering 50, 000 francs.  Funny enough, my little niece ended up taking it, at 100, 000 francs.  I was kind of glad that at that point we stopped.  Leave it to the husband to have a crisis at that point, so we were done.

Later that night, we had originally talked about watching a movie but we were all together, and we decided to play this game called "le jeu de bac."  So I'm thinking, wait, what, so this is going to be like a general knowledge questions type thing?  But no, it works slightly different.  You pick a certain number of categories, boy's names, girl's names, fruits or vegetables, things like that, and then you think of a word that starts with the letter that someone calls out.  So let's say you have the categories that I listed before, and someone says the letter R.  So then you would need to write down something for every category.  If you have the same response as someone else, you don't get a point, but if you are the only person with that response, then you get a point.  The object is to think about something that no one else would.

It's more fun just to watch what other people think of.  Like the joke is to have something like careers, and see what people put down.  We had C for example, and some people had couvrer, chanteur, chimiste, etc.  It's an interesting to hear the responses that people come up with, and even better when people mess up.  There was a section to name a city and after a country.  Some people would put one in the other or two cities or states.  A few people also had issues with not playing entirely within the rules, like when some people would cross the idea out and write something else in, but not be very subtle about it.  it was a good time, and definitely more convivial than a video game.

So just a couple of the games I never knew but I had a good time playing.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Je poussai un soupir....

I've been doing a lot more reading lately, in hopes of bringing up my speech and writing level in French, and I have to say French is amazingly poetic.  I actually posted a bit about this on Google + (If you don't have it, get it!) and I just have to say again how impressed I am with French newspapers.  We're not talking about just the major papers either.  I mean, yeah, read Le Monde or Libération, and you're doing to find beautifully written articles by some amazing writers, but just take this excerpt I read from Ouest-France:

". . . mettant ses pas dans ceux de celui qui voulait 'changer la vie.'" [emphasis mine]

That pass right there is so poetic in my opinion.  Even translating it into English it's poetic: to walk in the footsteps of those who wanted to "change lives."  I dunno if maybe I'm just biased, and it's not like Ouest-France is comparable to the local paper I grew up with that served a county and a half, but it's just beautiful to watch the way words and phrases go together.

Speaking of Le Monde as well, did you know that the proofreaders for the paper have their own blog?  I've been reading for a few years, and you can find it here.

I also borrowed my sister in law's copy of Kafka sur la Rivage by Haruki Murakami.  I loved Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and I was really looking forward to reading IQ84, but I wanted to read it in English just to make sure that I got everything.  We got into a conversation about it back when we visited in May, and she said that she'd lend me IQ84, because they had the three books of it, but only after I read Kafka sur la rivage.  She said she felt it was essential that I read it to understand more about IQ84.  So, challenge accepted.

One of my big fears about reading in French is that I'm always sure I'm missing something.  Sometimes when I talk with people, I have these clips where I miss a word, and I can't fill in the blank.  I can make educated guesses, but by then, they're on to something else.   It's like when you're watching TV and it cuts out as someone says something important, like the verb in a sentence.  It takes you a minute to place the word back in the sense you need.  I guess the best way I've found to know if I'm getting what's being said is to imagine the scene.  If I can see the scene in my head, I usually have a pretty good idea of what's going on.  I guess it's just that.  often subtlety is lost on me.

It took me about a week straight of reading whenever I had free time, which I consider pretty good.  After all, Murakami isn't known as light reading, but the book is also 638 pages.  All in French, and I have to say I was a little wooly in the head when I finished it.  It's like that with any book though.  I don't know if it was the translation though or what but they used the same words and phrases over and over again.  I now have a deep and intimate relationship with the past tenses of "pencher, pousser, secouer, and hocher."  Fortunately, they're all first group verbs so figuring out their origins was easy.  My best guess as to what it was so repetitive was that it was translated from Japanese into French, and therefore there are only so many ways to express such things correctly.

So I'm very proud that I was able to finish it and like Hard Boiled Wonderland before it,  I loved it.  I'm looking forward to starting IQ84 soon, but we'll burn that bridge when it's time.

All of this, of course, to say that I love reading French, and I hope to do it more in the future!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

They did it!

So I keep holding off on this, because I keep convincing myself that somehow there's a reason to wait, but now, I'm all out of reasons.  The Socialists officially control the presidency, the senate, and the national assembly, which means that François Hollande will have no problem bringing his agenda forward when the legislative session starts.  To say it simply, this means full marriage rights are expected in less than a year.

Just to give you an idea, this was a document put out by the Hollande campaign and passed out at a campaign stop in Rennes: (Translation Below)

"I will fight without concession against all [forms] of discrimination and open new rights."
                                                                                      -François Hollande
Fight against LGBT discrimination:

  • Reestablish a method to fight against discrimination with real mediums to react [for] and work with victims.
  • Support the associations which fight against discrimination, in particular those that intervene in the scholarly environment.
  • Train social workers in the fight against discrimination.
  • See to it that deportation proceedings take into account all reasons for deportation, including homosexuality.  
  • Put an end to the exclusion of gays from donating blood.
  • Work with international organizations for the universal decriminalization of homosexuality.  
Rights of couples and same sex families:  Marriage, shared parental authority, adoption, and assisted procreation (artificial insemination and the like.)
  • Open the right to civil marriate to all couples, and reinforce the rights of those pacsed.  (PACS=Pact de Civil Solidarité: civil union.)
  • Regarding shared parental responsibilities and authority, to protect established links between children and the parents who raised them without being his or her biological or adoptive parent.
  • Open two parent adoptions to same sex couples, allow adoption by common law husbands or wives, civil union partner, or remarried spouse.
  • Open artificial insemination to all couples, same or opposite sex.  
Trans Rights:  The State must not be a problem, it must bring solutions.
  • Require that civil documents be changed following sex reassignment surgery, should the candidate so desire.
  • Move forward in 2012 to change texts that function for gender identity to be brought under the same title as sexual orientation, and to be placed among discrimination and hate crime legislation.
If I did translate something wrong, please say something.  My French level is good, but not great.

So these are just the things they're looking to do for the LGBT community here.  Just imagine how much they can do for the rest of the country.  

So as it stands now, it's all a matter of time.  The legislative session starts on June 26th.  Just to give you a rundown on the latest predictions for seat divisions:  Parti Socialiste : 291 seats, Union Majorité Populaire (UMP [Sarko's Ilk]): 241 seats, Europe écologie Les Verts (The Greens): 20 seats, Front de Gauche (The Former Communist Party): 13 seats, Front National(Marine Le Pen's Party): 2 seats.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

He is not dead yet!

So everything's fine here, just a quick message to say I've been having a very odd but wonderful time lately.  At first, I didn't really have interesting to say, and now it's become the husband having a lot of free time before he gets his finals results back.  Now we're helping mother in law look for her new place here in Rennes.  I think he'll start his second year no problem, but he's convinced otherwise.  He might end up doing Pharmacy instead, but nothing's sure on that front.

With the election of Hollande here, it's looking better and better for marriage here.  It's all still a waiting game of course.  If we can make it with a left majority in the National Assembly, we're all set.  It's what most people expect, but I would put nothing past the Front National or the UMP.

I'll try and keep you guys more apprised, but I'm much more active on G+, and to a lesser extent on Facebook.  I need to do some purging of stuff soon too, so hopefully I'll be back to a schedule,...eventually.....

Hope you're all well, and talk soon!

abientôt!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Shouldn't there be balloons or something?

So I thought long and hard about what sort of post I should make, as this is my 100th post, and for the longest time I wasn't really sure what to do, or even if I should make a big deal out of it.  I mean, after all, given the amount of time I have had my blog, it's not all that many posts.  Of course, with a post like that, it should maybe be something more than just what I normally do.  I mean, this is kind of a momentous occasion for me.  I think this is the longest I have ever kept up with writing something, outside of a livejournal, which was mainly whining about boys.  Then it got even more momentous, when I found that I had hit over 10, 000 pageviews.  Now it wasn't just one, but two milestones.  Yay for pressure. 

I've been thinking a good week about this, but I still didn't know exactly.  I didn't want to just make it a random day in the life post.   This is something kind of important now.  I thought maybe I should do a post about language and be academic.  The problem is I really don't have enough stuff to really make a coherent article.  I could bung a whole bunch of little points together, but is that really what I want to do; throw an article together just to fill it up?  So I just let it go, and thought that inspiration will hit me.  

Mother in Law is visiting for the week here and Tuesday Partner had classes.   So I thought I'd have lunch with him, while Mother in Law went to eat with a friend.  I went with her to République by métro where she went up with her friend, and then headed to campus.  It was a really nice day.  I had my iPod and it was just so nice.  I waited a little bit, but he didn't take long.  I had music, so I was nicely distracted until he got there.  We had a nice calm lunch, and then he went to his next class.  I called mother in law and let her know I was on my way back to meet up with them.  We ended up doing a full tour of the stores in the center of town, and took the métro back, stopping off to pick up something small for dinner before we came back.  

It was around 8:20 when we talked about meeting Partner on campus, but we weren't sure when his classes were over or what he needed to do, so we decided that we would start dinner.  As we're getting things around, I realize that we'll never have enough dressing since Partner only likes a little salad with his dressing.  We had a few options:  we could eat the salad without dressing, which was not a problem for me or Mother in Law really, but a real problem for Partner.  We could maybe run down to the Netto and get some more, and that would work...if it were an hour earlier since it closed at 7:30.  So the only real option was to go down to Alma and pick up some more at the Carrefour.  We had walked a lot so I decided to go it alone, since I was pretty sure it would be closing pretty soon anyway.  

I put in the iPod and listened to music until the bus came, and luckily it didn't take long.  I walked down to the entrance, because there was only the one closest to Carrefour that was opened.  I ran in the entrance and straight back to find the salad dressing.  As soon as I had picked up the bottle a worker wearing in line skates basically told me to go immediately to the registers.  The security guard came behind me and brought the guard rope down directly behind me.  

I didn't need anything else so I went in where there were two guys who had no sacks checking out.  Of course, they weren't buying much, but it was pretty funny watching the one guy trying to jam a bottle of whiskey into his coat pocket.  There was a couple ahead of me who had a few things, but the husband ran off for something, jumping the guard wire.  She said that I could go in front of her, I said thanks, and moved ahead.  Naturally, the roll needs to be changed on the receipt printer right before I check out, but it's over quickly  I pay, and I'm out. 

Now right as I walk out, I realize that I have two options.  I can wait for the bus until lord knows when, or I can just start walking.  There's no rain and it's not a cold night.  It's a clear night so all the stars are out, and I'm just walking and listening to the music.  I wasn't really paying attention what song was on until then.  I knew the song but couldn't remember what it was from.  I look down at my iPod, and the title:  Farm Boy. 

I smile a bit and think about how this night is quite a bit like my life, and how different this is from what I expected I'd be doing in 10 years.  It was just all so wonderfully random, and spur of the moment.  I'm walking home on a street in France at 9 pm with a bottle of salad dressing to get home to my mother in law and partner where we will have dinner while speaking French, watch TV which will all be in French, and then go to bed.  I'll repeat this whole process tomorrow.  It was in that moment that I realized not only how lucky I was, but also and maybe more importantly, how happy I was. 

I remember writing in the special edition that they put out for the senior class where I saw myself in 10 years.  Seriously, verbatim, it was "living in an apartment in Europe, maybe with a couple of kids, but who knows."  In reality, I figured I'd be in some desk job, which I'd leave at the end of the day to return alone to my sad little apartment...only to start the whole thing over tomorrow. 

I smiled to myself and this farm boy from Ohio returned to his partner and mother in law in his apartment to have a nice French dinner and watch our French TV programs until we go to bed.  I don't think I had slept that well in a while.  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Le weekend de mon anniversaire!

Last weekend we celebrated my birthday.  I know, shock of shocks, I'm behind!  Last Friday I turned 29, or as I have been saying here, " la precipice du trente."  I've never been too big on birthdays for no other reason than I've never had a very good time when I was younger.  It was always the same meal with the same cake and the same gift.  It's not that I didn't appreciate what my parents and family did for me, but that, I just never really saw what the big deal was though.

So I went to college and I started having more fun.  In other words, I started finding out how much more festive alcohol makes a birthday.   (Save my 21st, as I was on antibiotics at the time for strep throat at the time.  So that sucked.)  It was nice doing something with friends, and having a great time.  We had some great parties, and a lot of fun, but I always felt still a little ambivalent about how my birthday was celebrated.

Even after I started dating Partner, I never really was a huge fan of birthdays anyway.  It was a bit of a hassle with our schedules, but I always got a gift and usually dinner out of the situation.  Partner and I did take to the idea of celebrating on the weekend after birthdays at that point.  That way we could celebrate together, and have a nice time.  So birthdays came, and birthdays went.

It's a different situation in France with birthdays.  It's not as if it's some sort of sweeping change or anything.  We still wait for the weekend here, because it's just easier for Partner and I, and we still go out to a restaurant and celebrate.  However; I think the main difference lies with family here.  My mother would always call and I might talk to my father if he weren't at work.  They'd put money into my account back in the US, and that would be the end of it.  Brothers and sisters may wish some sort of birthday, but nothing was expected.  Those who did, did, and those who didn't, didn't.

Here in France, I got a call from everyone.  All three of my nieces, my mother in law, my sister and brother in law, and even Partner's 90 year old grandmother and aunt wished me a happy birthday.  It was unexpected and a really nice feeling.  I don't know how much of it was simply what was expected of family, but it was a great feeling.

Now as luck would have it, the youngest of my nieces was in Bretagne visiting family for her week of break from school.  That meant that my sister in law would be coming up to take her back.  Since we live right in Rennes, you can't get to Ploërmel without going through Rennes.  So we decided we'd spend Saturday all together.  Originally, it was just supposed to be My niece, mother in law, and sister in law and I going out together, because partner had to study.  Happily, we were able to talk Partner into coming with!

Well, we had a wonderful day out.  We went to a few different stores in town.  My mother in law got me a really nice pair of sunglasses and a shirt, that I'm actually wearing right now, and my sister got me a shirt as well.

After that we went to a crêperie for dinner.  I had a really good galette, and they had a crêpe that was called "la confiture de la sorcière" or in English, "Witches' Jam."  It was like eating pumpkin pie, and oh yes, I could have eaten about three of them.  I was quite satisfied.

Sunday was a quieter day as sister in law and niece needed to head back to Centre, but of course my niece had left her sweater here, so they'd stop by to pick it up and we'd have tea or something.  Unfortunately, sister in law took the wrong exit, and ended up in Chantepie, so instead she swung by, we hung out for about 10 minutes, and they had to get going.  It was good to get to see them before they left, but it would have been wonderful to spend more time with them.

I have to say that this was a great birthday, and may even be enough to make me rethink my general disinterest in birthdays.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Félicitations Lou Lou!

So for many of you, you've just gotten to meet Jean Dujardin.  I'd never heard of him before I came to France, but it didn't take long for me to fall in love with him.  Before this of course, my knowledge of French actors was   Gérard Depardieu and of course, Mathieu Kassovitz.


However; he's been here a long time.  In fact, I hope that I can spend a little time to maybe show you a little of his past.  He was first on a show called Les Graines de Star, what we called Star Search here in the US, playing a character known as "Brice de Nice."  Dujardin created a caricature of the surfers at the time who could be found on the beaches of the Côte d'Azur.  Brice is a nickname for Fabrice.





Later he started on a short series produced by France 2, Un Gars et une Fille (A Guy and a Girl).  He became very well known for this series which presented the daily life of a couple in Paris, Jean and Alexexandra (played by Alexandra Lamy.)  On the show, they had the nicknames, Chou Chou for Lamy and Lou Lou for Dujardin.  By the end of the series (2003), the two were in a relationship, and later were married in 2009.  


Later, he did a movie as the Bande Dessinée hero, Lucky Luke which also starred his wife.


He later appeared in a comic version of James Bond, OSS 117.  To date he has appeared in two installments:  Le Cairenid d'espions (Cairo, Nest of Spies) and Rio ne Repond Plus (Lost in Rio).  OSS 117 is actually a fictional character, Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, based on a real life member of the Office of Strategic Services, William L. Langer.  



Of course, the movie that's garnered him so much press is The Artist.  He's put in his time, and it's great to see him getting more notoriety internationally.  Because I find it to be the cutest, here he is accepting at the Golden Globes.


His latest movie Les Infedeles, the Unfaithful, is about man's inability to stay faithful to his wife.  I don't know much more about it, except that the trailer is NSFW.


I hope this was an informative albeit quick introduction to Jean Dujardin.  He's been in a lot more stuff, but it's something for you to look into!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Realities of French

I had a blogger who I started reading recently and I find him hilarious!  He's just starting out but the posts he has up are pretty good.    Check him out here!  http://frenchcultureshock.blogspot.com/

Thursday, February 23, 2012

pauvre espèce du type

A while ago when I went to London, photos seen here, I had a very limited amount of money.  The problem was always the exchange rate, and my terror of overdrawing my account.  I could imagine no greater nightmare.  So the logical solution was that I have plenty of things to do that were free.

Something that Partner and I love to do is fall asleep reading.  It used to be strictly novels back in the States, but when we moved to France we started including manga into the mix.  I started a series here called Ikigami, which is just fascinating, but since I've now careened off a cliff as to staying on topic, I took a few of them with me for the nights when I was in the hostel.

I remember reading in one of the episodes where one character calls the other an "espèce de con."  I had heard the words used separately, but never together like that before.  Given the use of "con", it had to be an insult of some kind.  When you see or hear con, it almost always means dumbass.  It's an interesting one to use, but it's difficult to use absolutely correctly.  A lot of times I want to use "con" when "abruti" (dimwit) will suffice.  the use of "de" was fairly obvious, as it always means of or implies membership in something.  The real puzzle was the use of "espèce."

There are really two uses of "espèce" that I had ever seen.  The most usual is when I was buying something, and it would show how much money you were owed with espèces coming up on the register.  So logically, it would be assumed money, usually coming to cash.  The other use that I had heard more often was to say species or type.  So you're calling someone a "species of dumbass" which while I hope it will someday be used casually, currently makes no sense in English,  Another word that you can use for species is type.

So putting it all together, if translated literally in English, it becomes, "(You) type of dumbass!"  I had to stifle my laughter.  After all, nothing's less reassuring than someone you're sharing a room with laughing like a maniac.  Now that I understood the form, I started to notice it a lot more often.  You can add it to almost any noun to make an insult.  They can be as simple as the previously mentioned "espèce de con" all the way up to something more complicated like "espèce de sale petit cretin de merde," (you type of dirty little crappy cretin.)  Of course, it should be noted that this is a literal translation.  In English of course, you just forget about they type part.  Otherwise, you end up sounding like this.



Now the strange thing is you'd think that you would then be able to use "type" in the same way, but you'd be wrong.  Naturally, it even has the same meaning as in English, but instead, when you want to use it as an insult, you can, but it's a different construction; "pauvre type."  This construction automatically implies "espèce" but adds in the insult.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Election Update

So just to give you a little general information about the elections lately, here's a quick overview of the candidates and the parties that exist in France  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_presidential_election,_2012

Now, I'm sure most of you know about our dear friend, Nicolas Sarkozy.  There are so many things that I want to say about him, but I think the best is that he's been spending the past month or so "totally not campaigning."  We'll forget that his government has been taking swipes at his Socialist challenger left and right.  Recently, in fact before his announcement of candidacy this evening, he has already named Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet his campaign head.  She's currently the Minister of Ecology, Durable Development, Transport and Housing.  Here she is on the 10th of February on Bourdin 2012 http://www.bfmtv.com/bourdin-2012-nathalie-kosciusko-morizet-actu23187.html

The most recent discussion has been Sarkozy's article in Le Figaro stating that he will not support Marriage Equality in France because it will lead to opening adoption to gay couples.  We'll forget that there are already gay couples raising children, just like in the US, but we'll digress.  Here's the English translation of the article.  http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/french-president-says-no-to-homosexual-marriage-and-adoption-euthanasia

 Most people see this as him pandering to the extreme right, especially on Marriage Equality here.  Recently there was an article in Libération Mag where it was suggested that Sarkozy may be adding Marriage Equality to his election platform.  Valérie Pécresse, Minister of Higher Education and Research was quick to deny this.  In truth, Sarkozy is doing everything he can to pull as much of the weight away from the far right, Front National, because it will be much more difficult for him to win without more far right support.  Hence he's been pushing on social issues to tie up his loose ends.  He will announce his candidacy tonight.

Most recently Christine Boutin (candidate of the Christian Democratic Union) announced that not only will she suspend her candidacy but furthermore will throw all of her support behind him, making the announcement last night on TF1.  In a nutshell, she believes that gays and lesbians have no right to marry and should never be allowed within 100 yards of children even though she has so many gay friends as she famously said in an interview a while ago.  She's France's answer to Rick Santorum. Here's an interview she did recently after the announcement.   http://www.bfmtv.com/christine-boutin-renonce-a-la-course-a-la-actu23343.html

François Hollande continues his candidacy today saying that Sarkozy's declaration changes nothing.  In essence he says that Sarkozy is a "président de la virevolte."  It's a hard phrase for me to translate, and I'm sure those with more French experience might have a better idea of how.  Literally it's a president of spin, as in literally spinning.  Hollande says that Sarkozy wanted to appear as a dynamic candidate full of change and promise.  During his term, Hollande says he showed himself to be more of the same.  He further states that Sarkozy can create as many new personas as he would like, but his record will be his albatross.

Since I really haven't done much to disguise my slant, I'll also include this article here about recent comments made by a UMP Member in the Nord (North) Region, Christian Vanneste.  Apparently he had an interview with a website where he said quite a few offensive things about gays.  It should also be noted he was the first French Politician to be fined for his comments against homosexuality.  (The charges were later dropped as protected speech, however offensive they may have been.)  http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/02/15/french-mp-gays-must-be-narcissists/

Members of his own party are already calling on him to be kicked out.  As he says in the beginning of the video, the most recent polls show that 63% of French citizens support marriage equality.  One can only hope that the UMP realizes that this divisive language will not help them win elections in the future.

UPDATE: Apparently it's official.  Christian Vanneste will be removed from his post.  http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/02/15/french-ump-expelling-vanneste-over-gay-comments/

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Il a tout compris!

I am blaming it on my fascination with language, but I have a huge problem with finding phrases I like, and then not letting them go.  This scene from Seinfeld is a wonderful example.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmOlb-Xb2sY&t=1m40s

A more recent one would be this episode of Lie to Me, Fold Equity, where Gillian tells Cal, "She's the female equivalent of roulette, and you like the view. "Of course, there's the more bizarre case of the Honda ads that caused me to associate "zoom zoom" with the concept of judicial review.  Thank you very much Mrs. Brown for that one.  I think I have issues with this in English though, so I guess it's really no surprise that I would have the same reaction in France.

I think it's more likely to happen with music though.  In France, I really like the line from that song Femme Liberée, and now whenever says "c'est pas (si) facile"

  I have to resist the urge to break into song.

I also cannot hear anyone say "Qu'est que c'est?" without thinking of The Talking Heads.



One of the things I love is that there are sometimes where French people have certain advertisements built into their vocabulary.  The first one I ever heard was Partner's father.  It was part of the old jingle in France for Mr. Clean (who is simply known as Mr. Propre over here.)  The more recent example would be with free.fr, an internet service provider in France.


Rodolphe : Il a Free, il a tout compris par ultimteam

I love that this is something we do internationally.  I know it's part of the miracle of advertising, and ear worms. I just love how we all get things caught in our head.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cute guys on TV

I'm not sure how familiar you may or may not be with gay media in France, and talking about Pink TV made me think about print media.  France is a lot more traditional when it comes to print media.  As far as I know,
the best known gay print media sources are still doing quite well.  For that, there's nothing better known than Têtu.  It's best translated into English as meaning headstrong or stubborn.  I have the feeling the magazine was named as it was for two reasons.  First, it implies that  the LGBT community is not going away.  We're stubborn like that.  So you have no option but to accept us.  Also, it implies that as a community, we will not be quiet.

So every year, Têtu puts out a list of the Hottest guys on TV.  Number one for this year was Julien Tellouck, the host of the JT (journal-televisé) on Game One.  Game One is the gaming station in France.  I can definitely see why they would choose him, I mean, look at him.

Oh Julien, comme tu est beau!


Now there are quite a few guys on this list that I really don't understand.  I'm sorry, but I just don't find Cyril Féraud all that attractive.  He's also kind of a con on Slam.  But well, maybe that's just my taste.  Though Olivier Minne is another story altogether.

Seriously.  Olivier Minne.  Hot damn.

I like François-Xavier Menage but there are far more complicated reasons for that.  Don't judge me too harshly, he's Breton.  There are quite a few other guys that are on this list, Julien Mielcarek for example, who I think look like they're fifteen.  Then again, this is definitely a difference of taste.  

However; even Têtu was even a bit surprised by the fact that Ali Baddou didn't make the list.  Yes, I know that he's more of a serious news person, but technically all these people are trying to be professionals.  And quite simply, if you're on French TV, you're going to be judged based on how you look.  Technically, he's only on Canal+, and I would say that was the requirement if it weren't for the fact that lots of these people are on Canalsat.  A lot of these guys are on TNT, what we would call Network television in the US.  

Ali Baddou can do no wrong!

I'll leave you to check out the list.  Of the guys you have on the list, who would you pick for your top 3?  Are there guys I'm missing?  How about if you were to make your list of American Newscasters and Television Presenters?  Thoughts?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Post Modern Theory and Naked Boys

The other night, Partner and I were on the couch, and as usual there was nothing on TV.  I don't know if this is a just a French thing, but after a while, French television....just sucks.  We were looking around the stations, and we hit the northern reaches of our viewing, Mangas and they were showing of nothing of interest.  So I was about to give up when I though, why not try Pink TV.

Pink TV is the gay station here.  Now, before you get all excited and think that you're going to get to see RuPaul's Drag Race or Beautiful People.  The channel is only on for two hours.  It comes on at 10 pm, and usually it runs this English series, Metrosexuality.  There's a lot of it I don't understand and it generally scares the crap out of me.  Oh, and also, it switches over to gay porn at midnight, an then it's 12 euros for access.  They show you all the previews of what's coming on, and then make you pay to actually watch it.  So I wasn't expecting much.

I was pleasantly surprised though.  As it turns out, they were showing Contracorriente.  It was a movie I had heard about a while ago, and it was absolutely beautiful.  I really enjoyed it, but assumed that I'd need to record it.  Normally Partner is not one for the gay movies.  I asked him though if he wanted to keep watching, and surprisingly, he said yes.  We kept watching.



I actually really enjoyed it, but I'm a soft sell.  You put two gay guys in a film and nine times out of ten I'll watch.  Promise me skin, and I'll most likely recommend it to all my friends.  I was a big time fan of Latter Days and I absolutely loved Brokeback Mountain.  Like I said though, I'm a soft sell.  It hit midnight, and the TV cut out.  At that point, we pulled ourselves off the couch and went outside to clear our heads a bit.  As we were waking up a bit, I asked him what he thought of it.  He said that he liked it.

After recovering from my initial shock, I asked him what he liked about it.  He liked the story because everything wasn't wrapped up neatly.  Most gay movies always progress in the same way.  Two guys meet, usually at a bar.  There's one character who is more out than the other, usually because of his family, but sometimes because of his own insecurities or religious obligations.  They build a relationship over the course of the movie and the less out/or closeted guy has to make a choice: be honest with himself and the world and come out or stay closeted and miserable.  Inevitably, the closet case comes out and they live happily ever after.

There are two movies that we have both seen that we can agree are great gay movies.  I already mentioned Contracorriente and we both watched A Beautiful Thing separately, but both loved it so much that we had to have it on DVD.   I think it was great because it all kind of came together, but there was still enough to leave to your imagination.  They both have one character more conflicted than the other, but I think what makes them better is that it's not just a simple straightforward path like in other movies.  It shows you things might be very sad and difficult, but when it comes down to it, it's love that will lead you through it.



The first type of gay movies I always think of as the AIDS crisis movie.  It usually stars a self centered, egocentric lead.  Usually it starts by showing his promiscuity and his group of friends who are all slowly coupling up and not so subtly spewing the moral of the film: "Enjoy life now (because you, someone you know, or everyone you know will die of AIDS as that's the price of admission for being gay.) The two best examples I can think of are "Jeffrey" and "The Broken Hearts Club".  These movies also tend to feature straight guys playing gay; Michael T. Weiss (Jared from The Pretender) and Dean Cain (Superman from Lois and Clark,) especially hunky guys that gay men are pretty much programmed to find attractive.





*None of this is to criticize these movies but just to make a point.  AIDS and HIV are serious illnesses and this is not to make light of the topic whatsoever.  Furthermore, these movies tend to show a period of time that was scary and horrific for a lot of people.  I couldn't even imagine what people went through watching friends die.  I don't know how people made it through.*

The next is my personal favorite: Gay Best Friend as Father.  The first two movies I can think of that fall into this category are The Object of my Affection with Paul Rudd (who we've been told is totally cute and we need to lust after) and Jennifer Aniston (who either would be or was already dating Brad Pitt when we were supposed to believe that she was your average woman unlucky in love) and The Next Best Thing  starring Rupert Everett (who I think was out of the closet at the time and woo hoo for a gay leading man!) and Madonna (yeah, who was this targeted for?).  *Just as a side note, I actually went with my girlfriend at the time to see this.*  These movies follow the same path.  The female lead is having a troublesome relationship or is tired of the line of assholes she's dated.  Her cure for this moment of sadness:  hang out with her gay best friend.  Of course, she realizes that he'd be perfect if he just liked girls!  They get drunk one night and (don't understand how you can be gay and this happens) they have sex.  The woman ends up pregnant and in creeps that moral: children need a mother and a father and having a child out of wedlock is just a mistake. *They kindly gloss over all the gay couples and single parent households out there, not to mention the huge variety of families there are the world over.*  All the moralizing comes to a head, the father takes his responsibility and the normal order is restored, all parties satisfied.





Now the largest category that exists: Gay Rebellious Love story.  It's a very simple formula.  Take two guys, usually one closeted, and the other not or at least not as much, they fall in love and much like the aids crisis movie, the closet case has to choose.  The first examples that come to mind are Brokeback Mountain (Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, I mean come on!) and Latter Days (Wes Ramsey/Owen from Days of our Lives or Sam from Guiding Light and Steve Sandvoss).  I used to really enjoy these movies when I first came out because it always meant cute young guys.  (Although to be perfectly honest, I've never seen a mainstream gay movie that didn't mean cute guys.)





Where we really were interested, and I still am, is whether or not there are more mainstream romantic comedies like what straight people have.  I feel like one could try and classify Adam and Steve (that movie that they run on Logo all the time with Malcolm Gets and Craig Chester) but that really couldn't be too mainstream.  Is it just impossible to tell the story?  Has mainstream media lied to me about this being a post-sexual society?  Are there examples of which I am just unaware?



Also, if there are movies you believe break the stereotypes, I'd love to hear about them.  I take any and all recommendations seriously!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

soit-disant

The other day I got an email from a friend and he asked me; what do you call the person you're with?  I could call him husband, but then there's legal issues.  We never got married anywhere because why should we have had to leave the state I was born, raised and educated in moreover the state where we met, fell in love, and lived for 5 years together for a piece of paper that the government won't recognize anyway.  Though that's a court case for a few years down the road, non?

I figured it was pretty obvious that he's know as Partner.  Partially because I think it's kind of a cute nickname for the site, and if we had a civil union, it would be the correct term. Technically, I don't really call him my partner when I speak with other people.  Of course I call him by name or by one of the countless nicknames I have for him.  Personally, I do find partner completely impersonal.  It sounds like we work in a law firm together.

I got into the habit of calling him boyfriend for so long when we were first dating.  It was just the safest term.  Life partner makes me think of Susan and Carol from Friends and life mate just seems ridiculous.  Also, it makes me think of that story arc on X-Men with the Phalanx, so no thanks on that one.  In college, it's acceptable, but I just can't see calling him a boyfriend after 2 years.  Hell, some straight people get married five times over in that period.  I hate to use boyfriend now, considering that it will be 8 years this August.  So, boyfriend seems inadequate.

The final option is something that even every time I say it i feel like a dork.  I remember reading this article on Kenneth in the 212 about how he really liked it when people would call who they were with their lover.  I don't know why but that just can't bring myself to say it.  It just bothers me.  I know it shouldn't.  We are in love, but it just seems so weird and like I should have a mustache when I say it.

Now, here is where French comes in handy.  Since France is surprisingly liberal with how relationships work, the best term I can use is "conjoint."  Looking around a bit on a few of the dictionary sites I use, they translate it as spouse, but that doesn't work quite right.  When you call someone a conjoint, you are basically calling them a spouse, but there is not anything legal behind it.  You may have kids, which in fact a lot of French conjoints do but never married; however there is not legal contract behind you.  You basically live together, and that's really it.  Even for the purpose of taxes, you really don't even have to announce yourself as a couple.

What complicates the French situation is that straight couples can get civil unions, which should tell you right there that it's different and not equal at all to a marriage.  A PACS (Pacte Civile de Solidarité) the French civil union is open to any two people who want some of the responsibilities of marriage, but without the full intertwining that happens.  Unfortunately, that also means that you have no right to immigration if you're not a legal citizen.  They are really easy to knock down and it's something that you have to explain.

I don't think there's any great term for what Partner and I are for each other.  Even in French, conjoint is a legal term used to describe the situation.  I could use amoureux, but it's really a term used by little kids so once again we run into that level of seriousness problem just in another language.  Can anyone think of a better term?  I know I could really just use whatever I want, and really there shouldn't be a difference, but for now, there is.

Ok, this is getting complicated and I have a glass of Breizh Cola that's almost flat.  Conversely, that is a problem I can solve.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

It's all Political

As the 2012 elections are just around the corner here, I'm sure we'll be seeing many of the candidates on television, particularly La Grande Journal on Canal +, so I thought I'd do something slightly different than normal.  Personally, it shouldn't be very simple for Sarkozy to get reelected.  Then again, Jacques Chirac served two terms, and look where he is now.  He doesn't actually have to declare his candidacy as incumbent until March.  He might have some damage control on his hands though after the Bettancourt Affair, the Karachi Affair, and now his wife's own issues with the Born AIDS Free Affair.  But I could talk about the Sarkozy's all day. 

Now let's get to the actual meat of this article.  Technically this is a ripoff of something I saw over at Maybe it's Just Me.  If you haven't checked it out, I highly recommend it!  He put in his Top Five Odd Crushes.  I thought I'd just put a few of the cute French Politicians.

Jean Sarkozy

As one might expect, Jean Sarkozy is the son of Nicolas Sarkozy and his first wife, Marie-Dominique Culioli.  (For those of you counting along at home, Monsieur Le President is currently on wife number 3 and he still ran as a family values candidate in 2000 while still married to wife number 2 whom he divorced shortly after the election.)  The only thing he's known for, much like the rest of the Sarkozy family, is scandal.  He's hot though.  Unfortunately, he's also straight, and married.  So, it's unfortunate.

Benoît Hamon

Benoît Hamon is the spokesman for the Socialist Party, who is just wonderful.  I just don't know what else to say about him other than damn.  He's just so pretty.  He's one of the few French politicians I know of who isn't involved in a scandal of some sort.  

Boris Boillon

So what a surprise, given the picture, that this guy is a source of scandal too.  Apparently, he's too sexy for Tunisia, where he was recently appointed by Sarkozy as the Ambassador.  He's also had a few problems with being too abrupt with the press and there are Tunisians calling for his resignation.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

We'll just add this to the list....

Now this question may be answered very quickly, and I've never been able to really look up too much info on it online, so who better to ask then all of the amazing people I know online.  I don't know how many of you have been to France or traveled internationally, but one of the things I always look at but never really understand are these little plastic things.  

The only functionality I can see it for is how it's used in tobacco shops.  When you come in, you ask for the product, and they set the pack inside the dish.  I think it's supposed to be kind of a neutral space.  I've never seen anyone do it, but I think that you're supposed to put your money there.  The dish might function as some kind of neutral transaction space, like how a handshake is supposed to show good faith.  This way you can see exactly what you're buying, and the seller can see that the money's all there.  My theory runs into a hitch, in that most people just hand the money directly to the seller.

Is it just a remnant of a bygone era that people don't use anymore, or is it supposed to still be a neutral space but just for the buyer?  Maybe it's more about French hypochondria.  We won't mention to the Francophones that the second you touch the money the transfer of germs is complete, and there could be something equally nasty in the dish, furthermore not counting the fact that French people also believe that you can get a cold by going around without a coat (seriously people, it's 2012.  This might be our last year on Earth, but you cannot get a virus unless you come into contact with it.)

My question to you, chers amis internationaux, is this something that exists all over Europe, or is this just a Franquisim?  I've never seen this in the US, and I did hear that actually in Japan you're expected to present the money for it before you receive the item.  I just really have no idea.  

New Years went well, and it's so far been pretty calm.  Of course, we're also only three days into it.  So well, who knows.  In any case, best wishes for the New Year! 


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Damn Squishy Mages....

It's an older game, Dragon Age:  Origins; however, just to give you all a warning, this is a huge spoiler post, specifically for the missions concerning Arl Eamon and the Circle.  I don't think I can do cuts like in a Livejournal post, so it's all coming out.  You've been warned.

Usually when it comes to video games, I have issues game guides.  I will admit, I have used them to locate people, or when it's something that I refuse to fail at, like elf sex but that's another spoiler entirely!  I didn't get the Zodiac Spear in Final Fantasy XII because it meant that I would have to open certain boxes in certain places, and the only way to know for sure which ones was to follow a guide.  Otherwise, it's just a guess.  I find this regrettable at best, and well, I won't mention what I think at worse.  It should be noted that game guides are big money, and a lot of people swear by them.  So continuining, because I must....

I got Dragon Age II as a present from my nieces this Christmas, and when I started playing the game I found out that you could load the information that you had from the previous game, which Partner and I bought a while ago. This is something that I love and if I were ever to make a game would insist be the case.  I hate it when video game sequels don't continue the story where you left off.  There are all sorts of minute changes that you've caused in that world.  Why the hell would things just magically be cut off from your accomplishments.  Anyway, it got me really excited so I decided that well, I kind of have to finish Dragon Age now. 

So I started playing again.  I am very much of the opinion that when you play a game, you play straight through, regardless of the consequences.  I come from playing video games where most choices don't hugely effect what happens, read: any of the Final Fantasy Series, so I have had a bit of a learning curve with Bioware games.  It's actually quite similar to the system in Mass Effect if you've played it, just as an example.  

(I'll also mention how much I enjoy men in armor.  Yes, it's why I majored in Medieval and Renaissance Studies in college and why I'll always go to Ren Fairs.  Always holding out hope!)

So, getting to the point, I should mention that I started playing again, and got to the missions with the circle.  I naturally wanted Wynne in my party the second I got her.  She is a healer, and I need one, desperately.  I depend on potions and elixirs a lot.  I am a bard, it's what we do.  Drink a potion, get your life back.  That's how it works.  So with Wynne being a healer, totally set! When you're fighting in the tower though, you get this thing called a Litany of Andralla.  You use this to prevent Uldred from draining the life force from the circle members and turning them in to abominations or killing them.  I thought you cast it once, and it was over, but no, apparently you have to keep casting it.  So all the mages died, and I had to get help from the templars, because the circle of magi was no more.  Plus, the chantry appeared to be controlling everything then, and the chantry is a bunch of dicks.  So that sucked, but well, I had to play it where it lies.  Time to help Arl Eamon now.  

So I go through all the mission and get towards the end when well, someone Partner told me about in his play though comes back: Jowan.  Jowan is a blood mage who you as a mage help escape the tower.  You find out later that he was caught and put into jail in Denerim and was paid by everyone's favorite butthead, Teryn Logahain, to poison the Arl because Loghain told Jowan that the Arl was a threat to Ferelden.  So after the Arlessa Isolde finds out, she has him put into prison.  That's when demons start attacking the castle.  So the Arlessa assumes it's Jowan's punishment, when really, you find out shortly thereafter that the Arlessa has been hiding the fact that her son Connor, is actually a mage.  Instead of turning him over to the Templars, because she didn't want to lose her baby, she hired a mage not of the circle, Jowan, to teach him how to hide his magic abilities.  

Here's where the fun comes in.  You find out when you talk with Connor upstairs that apparently he broke into Jowan's room and started reading Jowan's books because he was trying to find some way to help his sick father.  Instead, he got in over his head and got possessed by a demon in the fade.  So Merry Christmas, because of all this foolishness and mayhem, to borrow from Niecy Nash, you now have to decide what avenue to take to remedy the situation:

Option 1 is to kill Connor.  No one wins here.  It's heartbreaking and you lose points with almost everyone for doing it.  (This is an exceptionally bad thing as Leliana will not like this.  I'm trying to become a bard.  If she likes me enough, she'll teach me.  So yeah....)

Option 2 is to let Jowan send one of your mages into the fade to kill the demon there.  Only, and here's the best part, since he's not of the circle, he can't do it through normal methods.  He will have to use the blood magic that's already gotten his ass and Connor's into so much trouble to do it.  He'll have to sacrifice the life of someone else to do it.  The Arlessa volunteers.  Everyone whines for a while, but this is a possibility.  Neither Wynne nor Allistair like this.  Leliana will like you for trying to save the kid, but you have to choose if you'll send Wynne, who for me was a healer, or Morrigan, who has no interest in helping people get out of their shit.  Especially, when she's forced to.   I tried sending her in and her ass was toast in about two seconds.

I do not like using mages, for a couple of reasons.   Mages are what's called "squishy."  When a gamer says someone is squishy, it means that they have low defense, and usually die quickly.  Mages, for me, are exceptionally squishy.  I also have a problem of blocking with my head. Also, I love dual wielding bards.  As soon as I can start training in dual daggers, or dual one handed swords if I can get away with it, that's exactly what I do. 

Now since I let the circle of mages die out, I didn't have option 3.  In option 3, the circle of magic which has sworn allegiance for you, preforms a ritual to send you and I believe two or three mages into the fade to get rid of the demon.  That means I have backup healers possibly and people to cast spells instead of a single mage trying to make it through.  Much better.  

I went through the entire story for option 1, because I couldn't make it through the fade with a single mage, and I let the circle die.  I went through the entire story line for it, feeling like a massive douchebag.  I was on the verge of tears.  Finally, if you fight Connor like I did, his mother demands you stop, and she....she kills him herself.  I was on the verge of tears at that point.  I was just like, no I can't do this.  I kept telling myself though, ok play it where it lies.  Don't abuse of having the internet there.  Just relax, it'll be over soon.  And it was, and then there was the punishment for Jowan that had to be decided.   Ugh, gross.

I finally went back to the campsite, thinking it was all over, but no.  Allistair comes over to you, first thing, hella pissed that you killed Connor.  At that point, I was just like, hell to the no.  I can't do this.  Luckily I saved right before I went in to fight Uldar, so I just refought him this time, and saved the Circle.  This time I struck the accord with the circle, and now....I have to completely redo the Redcliffe missions, but this time, the kid doesn't have to die.  The circle will help me.  All right!

Seriously, it was sad.  I am exhausted now though.  I never thought a game would be this mentally taxing.  I think I'll lay on the couch now, and watch something senseless, maybe fall asleep.  Well, who knows.  

Mages are always around to fuck me over, that's just how it is.  Damn squishy mages....