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.


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


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....