Archive | January, 2013

Midnight City

30 Jan

I think Wednesday is now “French music day”. Any complaints? No? Good.

Today’s offering is by the French electronic band M83. “Midnight City” is probably one of my favorite songs on the radio right now. It’s off M83’s latest album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, which is nominated for a Grammy this year in “Best Alternative Album”.  I’d give it a listen, it’s good stuff.


Happy Soldes!

28 Jan

Right now is a very special and important time of year in France: soldes. The shops here only have sales twice a year, now and in July. Since everything is normally so expensive, this is when everyone goes freaking crazy to get a good deal. Prices are slashed anywhere from 20% to 80% off, depending on where you are and how far into the sales you get. The longer you wait, the better deals, but there’s no guarantee that those shoes you’ve been eying will be there in another day.

It’s a lot of fun wandering around and looking at things, but I’ve been pretty good so far. I haven’t bought anything yet, but this weekend is the last of the sales and I plan on heading to the big mall at La Defense and getting a pair of boots and some nice pants. Hopefully, I can get away with some decent bargains with three weeks of saved pay. It’s not like I need to eat anything more than bread, right? That’s what I thought so.

London Cowl

25 Jan

Whenever I go someplace new, I like to buy a ball or two of yarn. It’s a more tangible reminder of my travels than some crappy little trinket that I’ll have to dust and then get rid of. Last November, I went to a cute little yarn shop in London on one of my afternoons and picked up two balls of Colinettte Point 5 Chunky Pure Wool yarn in “Pharaoh”. Dorky name, but cool colorway. I do recommend hitting up I Knit London if you’re ever in town; they were really nice and helpful.  Continue reading

La Seine

23 Jan

This song was on the radio yesterday to the utter delight of S. The two of us danced around the kitchen delightedly and she knew every word. Turns out, it’s from a kid’s movie called “A Monster of Paris” about a mutated flea and the Great Flood of 1910. (It makes sense in context.) It’s a surprisingly cute movie. The singer is Vanessa Paradis, Johnny Depp’s ex. The tune’s catchy enough to make it enjoyable listen in between questioning how a giant flea learned how to play the guitar.

snow snow snow

21 Jan

It has been snowing off and on for the past four days. It sounds way more impressive than it actually is – we only have about four or five inches of snow on the ground. That’s still more than in Paris proper. I think there’s some sort of dark weather magic going on, where Sevres has a slightly different micro-climate despite only being 15km away from the city center. We must be on the wrong side of the river or something.

escape hatch

The view from my skylight.

It doesn’t even have the decency to be good snowman snow. I had the lovely task of clearing off the outside stairs and sidewalk this afternoon, since they were kind of an icy deathtrap and I’d like to avoid breaking any bones. Call it enlightened self-interest. Still, it’s very pretty out. It’d be nicer if my boots didn’t leak, but you can’t have everything.


Before the shovelling.

Not Falling but Flying

18 Jan

There’s a great piece up over at Ta-Nehisi’s place about his thoughts on international travel. I’ve been enjoying his posts on learning another language over the past year or so, so I’m stoked that he’s actually going to Europe. (Euro Horde meetup, y/y?) International travel is a weird thing: in most cases you end up going to a place where you don’t understand the local language.  There’s a particular terror and frustration reserved for these communication breakdowns.

I was sixteen when I went to Taiwan for a year as an exchange student. I had about five months of intermittent Chinese lessons. I had been there previously with my family, but going on a week long business trip with your dad and going to high school where you are one of two white kids in a school of a thousand girls are two completely different things. I’ve come a long way since then, but I still remember the sheer panic and embarrassment that came with standing in front of the whole school and having to give a short hello speech in Chinese.

I’m practically an expat at this point. Last year was a banner year for passport stamps (most of which can be blamed on Hong Kong’s egregious overstamping whenever you pass through border control) and I went to half a dozen countries in 2012. Incomprehension is the default and the only way to deal is to move forward. My advice to TNC? Take a couple deep breaths, smile, and bluster on through. You’ll be fine, dude.

Hualien, Taiwan

The view from my window in Hualien, Taiwan 2006.

The Internet is for Cats

16 Jan

About two months ago, I introduced Simon’s Cat to S. S. thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. In the intervening months, I have watched every Simon’s Cat video on the internet. Multiple times. I think this is karma for how I watched the Little Mermaid and Pocahantas over and over and over again. If anyone has any awesome cat videos, I’d love a little variety. (We also watch Maru, over and over and over and over…)


Here’s one of today’s favorites:


A few more after the jump: Continue reading

Same Love

14 Jan

There was a massive demonstration yesterday in Paris against gay marriage yesterday. Organizers say it was attended by over 800,000 protesters, but the BBC puts it somewhere around 330,000. Currently, gay couples have the right to a civil union pact, which gives them similar rights to being married. Separate but equal, right? When Francois Hollande won the presidency last year, he did so on the promise of equal marriage and adoption rights for gays and lesbians.

Turns out, the right-wing and the religious are going to fight him on this. The “traditionalists”. Even the liberal and left-wing French people I’m talking to have issues on this. They keep saying things like “France is a Catholic nation”. Adoption, surrogacy, and in vitro fertilization is apparently a bridge too far. They think kids need a mother and a father. How dare the government take away “mother” and “father” from official paperwork in favor of something like “parent 1” and “parent 2”.

I am so fucking angry and heartbroken about this I’m shaking. For whatever reason, Europe is looked on as being saner and more progressive on gay rights, but every now and then you see that they’re just as fucked up as we Americans are.

Organizers of the march stressed they weren’t preaching hatred against homosexuals. Yeah, you just want to legally discriminate against someone who is different from you. Think of the children? Sure. Children raised by gays or lesbians aren’t harmed by it, except by hateful bastards such as yourself. And if your argument against LGBT couples adopting is based on the fact that a man and a woman are both necessary for conception, than hoo boy, as an anthropologist I get to call bullshit. Humans have been raising kids in all sorts of different configurations for as long as the species has been around.

This rally is going to have massive repercussions. People take demonstrations seriously here in France; the anti-equality crowd won a big PR battle today. I hope Hollande sticks to his guns on this issue.

Hiatus, y’all!

9 Jan

Yes, yes, I’ve been on a hiatus for Christmas break. Sorry about that. I’ve been pretty boring, to be honest. Just puttering around, you know how it goes. I’ll be back in Paris this weekend, so my updates will continue as normally scheduled starting next week.

In other news, have you seen the Hobbit? Go see the Hobbit. Here’s a really cool orchestral cover of the Misty Mountain song that the dwarves sing.