Saturday, November 29, 2008

You have to promise never to tell anyone...

About Ghostwriter!* (Kudos to my friend The 7th Grade Poet for reminding me that this show existed.)

If you don't know about this show, you were obviously not alive from 1992 to 1995, or maybe your parents just didn't restrict you to public television viewing the way mine did, but I was totally the target audience for this show at ages 7 to 10. Like, I totally believed in Ghostwriter. At the age when most kids were writing Dear Diary, I was writing Dear Ghostwriter, I feel sad. Please find out if Shane likes me? (If I were not in France, I would find my old diary and pull a direct quote, but I swear that is not far off.) Also, I kept a casebook where I would write down evidence (of what? I have no idea, I seemed to think there were potential mysteries to solve) and interview questions, in case I ever found anyone to interrogate. Plus I totally bought one of those pen-on-a-string necklaces that Jamal would give you when he made you promise never to tell anyone about Ghostwriter. Oh, Jamal.

Classic Ghostwriter moment. Jamal was so cool for having that computer!

I think I just felt like I had a lot in common with the Ghostwriter crew. They were growing up in the mean streets of New York in mostly middle-income families, I was growing up in the White Bread suburbs of Vancouver, WA; Gabby and Alejandro had to work really hard in their parents' store, I really wished my parents had a bodega for me to work in; they used a computer that pretty much only displayed large text on the screen, we had a computer for word processing; sometimes Samuel L. Jackson would guest star as Jamal's dad, I have a dad.

Also, there was this one episode where Gabby steals money from the till at her parents' store to buy this coat she wants because her friend tells her she can say there's something wrong with it and get a refund. But it was on sale and there is a sign that says NO REFUNDS ON SALE ITEMS and then she's screwed because she didn't read the sign at first and then she's out fifty (of her parents') bucks. Anyhow, it really reminded me of the time I was in Fred Meyer with my mom (when I was like 5) and I found this broken porcelain animal on the ground (I think it had fallen off the shelf) and I picked it up and took it home. But then I realized that I had stolen it (!) and was so overcome with guilt that the next time we went grocery shopping, I took it back and put it in the same spot on the floor of the same aisle. Gabby and I were pretty much the same person.

If you have as much free time as I do (and you shouldn't), take the time to check out some videos, they're pretty amazing. And then wonder to yourself, who decided to make Ghostwriter look like a floating period with two eyebrows right on top of each other?

*¡Fantasma escritor, en español!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The sleazy, sleazy Frenchman

draguer /dRa'ge/ (v. French)
1. to dredge
2. to chat up, hit on, flirt with

It figures that the primary definition is "to dredge," because I swear to god, that's how hard these men are trying and they have certainly made it their life's work.

The other night, I was trying to explain the merits of feminism to my visiting 20-year old host brother (that was hilariously frustrating), and he retorted that he didn't like feminists because they didn't want to talk to him. I tried to explain to him that being approached in a bar can be creepy for a woman, but he felt it was "unfair" that he shouldn't be allowed to talk to a woman he found interesting. I pointed out that it's hard to know if someone is interesting just by looking at them, and that there are appropriate ways of approaching a woman. That we know if you just want to get in our pants. He was baffled, and continues to think feminists "want too much." But then again (as he put it), he's only seen them on TV.

So for any Frenchman who is still confused, I've compiled a list of inappropriate ways to interact with the ladies:

EXHIBIT A: Creepy old man doctor I had to see for my mandatory medical visit. Was it really necessary that I be in my underwear the whole time? Even for the medical history and the eye exam? Are you sure? You may have done this with everyone, but I still deem it inappropriate.

EXHIBIT B: Hip hop teacher (not the 14-year old). You are, in fact, 30 something, so why do you persistently flirt with the 16- and 17-year olds in the class. I'm glad that I'm too old for your taste, or are you actually picking up on the serious EW vibes I'm sending out? I appreciate some good, old fashioned flirting, it happens to be one of my favorite pasttimes, but let's keep it appropes, okay?

EXHIBIT C: The countless men in the street (teenaged to middle aged) who deem it necessary to yell things at me. For realsies, Messieurs, that knowing grin and those suggestive comments just make me want to barf, not talk to you, and definitely not sleep with you. Inappropes.

EXHIBIT D: Our favorite cartoon skunk.

That cat is so not into you, Pépé. Note the way she is using both her arms and her legs to push you away? No means no, Monsieur Le Pew. No means no.

So here's the deal, Frenchies: It's not your god-given right to tell me whatever you're thinking about me in the streets, in a bar, or outside my home, and I'm certainly not obliged to respond in any way other than to ignore you, or possibly say things to you in English that I only wish I knew how to say in French. Basically, I'm just not into you, so for goodness sake, give it a rest.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More comedy

I've been pretty bad lately about writing substantive posts, but I've been distracted by youtube, okay? Allow me to share with you my latest viewing obsession. How could I have forgotten the glory of Kids in the Hall? (Thanks to Lauren for the mustache link, leading me to hours of KITH viewing.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Oh right, I have a job.

And I actually kind of like it. Shocking, right? I find myself enjoying the company of small, Frenchy children, inspiring (or amusing) them with my animated gestures and explanations. I think that (possibly) my ridiculously stressful job of last year (might have) actually prepared me for this year, may have made me a better teacher. Or, it prepared me for enjoying the ease of a 12-hour work week. That's right, I said 12. My stipend this year is only slightly larger than my AmeriCorps pittance, but I'm working like a third as much, probably less.

Besides the fact that I only technically work 12 hours, there are an absurd amount of vacation days here. For example, a week and a half for Halloween? Ridiculous. Last week I had Tuesday off because it was November 11 (Veteran's/Armastice/Rememberence Day), and this week I have Thursday off because the teachers are striking*. And I always have Wednesday off. There is no school on Wednesday, and they used to have school on Saturday instead, but that has also recently been banned. So it's pretty sweet.

And what do I do with all this free time? Go places. Like, places in France. And soon, places in other countries. Why? Because it's Europe and I can. And also I drink and eat pizza and hang out with people I know. (Big improvement, right?) So, except for those moments (after my two and a half hour lunch break) when I just don't feel like going back to work, life is pretty awesome. Though I could really go for some Taco Bell.

*Today the train stations are striking and tomorrow it's the post office. Did someone forget to tell me that it was national strike week?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Humorous Diversions

For moments when humor is the best medicine.

Found this little FOTC gem. I've been getting more into their live shows (well, not live for me, but you get the idea). If only Jemaine and Bret would visit me and sing to me all day long.

I was also remembering recently how much I love the Electric Company. I mean, Bill Cosby, Rita Moreno, Morgan Freeman, what other children's show in history has had such an all star cast? Judy Graubart is also a comic genius, though I've never seen her in anything else. I really wonder if she was on some serious drugs during the filming of that show, or if she's that weird. I can't believe that she actually memorized any lines, it all seems so improvised. I couldn't find any of my true favorites on line, but this one has my four favorite cast members (unfortunately couldn't embed it. I love that Morgan Freeman and Judy Graubart are totally breaking up by the end of it.

This is the amazing Moreno/Freeman combo. I wish I could find the original Hey, You Guys with Bill Cosby as the milkman. I love a woman who is willing to make herself look ridiculous.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Oh, BBC Periods Dramas

So, I had had to go back to work in the middle of this week (that's right, I have a job), and to console myself after two whole days (okay, one and a half) of working with noisy kids, I watched YouTube clips of period dramas all afternoon. Nothing puts me in better spirits than nuanced dialogue and stiff, emotionally-closed men in lacy collars. For realsies. Por ejemplo:

"Poor, plain, obscure and little!" Oh, Jane Eyre, stop being so self-deprecating, he loves you!* Mmm, Mr. Rochester, I love it when you break through that cold façade and tell us how you really feel. Too bad your crazy wife is still locked in the attic and when Jane finds out she's going to run away and get amnesia and almost marry a crazy missionary (spoiler alert!). But it's classic British literature, so they'll make it somehow, even if that somehow is with Mr. Rochester all maimed and blind.

I watched a lot of Bleak House clips, too (starring hot, hot Gillian Anderson). My WIGgy friend Lauren and I went on a period drama binge this summer, and I think those were two of our faves. It started innocently enough on Netflix, but then we just stopped waiting for the next disc in the four-part series of (fill in the blank) to come in the mail and took to renting/watching four to five hours of witty bantor and parlor games at a time. The summer came to a tragic end when, long after I had cancelled my Netflix subscription, our local independent video store closed. By that time we were both moving, though, so it didn't matter much.

Wow, that was a bit more naustalgia than I was aiming for. A word to the wise though, the contemporary BBC dramas suck! by comparison. Apparently I've erased the name of the one we watched from my mind, and even 30 minutes of googling didn't get me anywhere, but it's probably for the best. We watched ALL FOUR discs of this terrible series (c. 1993?) about this doctor who "falls in love" with the older woman who hires him at the hospital when he has to go home to take care of his father. But get this, at first they hate each other! And, she's married! Maybe we were drunk, I don't know, but at least we didn't rent the sequel (disc 5). I'll take Mr. Jarndyce or Lady Dedlock over that shit any day.

*Also, look at how they kiss! It's hilarious, and this is how they do it throughout the entire film (okay, until they make out in the grass way later...) Like real lip to lip contact would just be too much, they just slide right past it.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

So, I'm pretty much famous now.

That's right, if you don't hear from me for a while, it'll be because I'm enjoying my new celebrity status. I was interviewed about the elections, photographed, and published in the local newspaper.

Don't worry, you wouldn't be able to read it anyway. Plus she made me sound way better in French than I really am.

Yeah, I scanned that. Why, you might ask? Because this local newspaper is so exclusive that it's not even available online. I assure you that at least 20 people will read this article and ask for my autograph on the street.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


So I totally slept through the election results, but I loved the emails I received this morning re: election results. I voted a month ago, and I couldn't really follow the closing of the polls with the weak wireless signal in my room, so the whole thing was a bit anti-climactic for me.

Minnesota went Blue (woohoo! and thanks Mom for the email in the middle of the night informing me). My friend WIGgy* friend Lauren wrote this simple, but beautiful account of the progress in Ohio, where she lives.

Needless to say, I'm excited. More to come on the fact that I was interviewed by a local newspaper today on my views on the election.

*Were I Gay, as in Were I Gay (and were she), we would totally be involved. Credit to E. Purcell for the term.

Oh, excessively long vacations

Dear (7) Readers,

I think that's probably an enthusiastic estimate. I know you have all been wringing your hands, wondering what I have been up to and when I would return to feed your insatiable appetites with stories of the past two weeks. Well here I am, back and more irked than ever to be in such a small town with such weighty responsibilities. That's right, I've been on vacation, and now I have to go back to my normal, everyday French living (boo hoo) as an English assistant.

So, Paris, that was awesome. I left two Fridays ago by train, a mere 2 hour 20 minute excursion from my garage bedroom. I arrived late-ish (after 8), made the métro trip across town to my hostel, and did my best to look cool while I sat alone in the bar/restaurant for dinner, which turned out to be (what I'm pretty sure was) a reheated chicken burger. I had my little notebook, and I think I was doing a pretty convincing job of looking really deep in thought. Everyone probably thought I was some kind of tortured writer, come to a hip hostel just to mock the frivolity and torture myself some more. Anyhow, that got old after about 45 minutes, and I ended up sitting down at a table with some normal looking people speaking English. I am so brave.

These people (a Canadian guy and two Australian dudes), were, in fact, harmless. I didn't talk much, but I did get to hear tell of the previous night's pub crawl and the shenanigans that ensued as a result. Mostly, "I think that girl you were with had a boyfriend back home!"

"No, dude, that was the girl you were with!"

"Really, I dunno. I was just sitting there and all of the sudden she was holding my hand."

"Yeah, I didn't really sleep much last night. She wouldn't leave my room! I like having my space when I sleep!"

I made fun of them a little bit at that point. For not knowing which girl was which, for having been such "unwilling victims," for sharing a tiny, single hostel bed, for hooking up with people in a room with lots of other people! They didn't seem to mind. Plus, they were pretty much all leaving the next day, so I didn't need to make any kind of a lasting, positive impression.

Day one in Paris, I hung out with K, another language assistant from my region, and his friend who lives in Paris. We went to the Bon Marché, "just to look around." This, if you don't know, is a frickin' huge department store home to high fashion and higher prices. I was just looking around. My companions, however, decided to make it into a real shopping trip. I don't even like low-fashion shopping. I was being asked my opinion on colognes (I have none) and jeans (way too expensive). Luckily the day ended well with a trip to the neighboring biggest grocery store in Paris (La Grande Epicerie). Now that's something I can appreciate. We bought some delicious snackies and sat by the Seine as the sun was setting. Ah, Paris.

I met another girl at the hostel that night, and we attempted to go on the aforementioned pub crawl, but we had bad information, and we ended up just doing our own (2-)pub crawl. Despite not staying out too late and not drinking to excess, I woke up the next morning to face the Hungoverest Walking Tour of Paris Ever. I managed to make it through, though, and even came back for the night tour of Montmartre and the (real) pub crawl that followed. Needless to say, I took it easy.

On my final full day/night in Paris, I managed to go to the Eiffel Tower twice: once in the morning, after a magical breakfast of everything omelet and freshly pressed orange/grapefruit/lemon/raspberry juiced, and then again at night. I was looking forward to a Night Bike Tour, but it was all rainy and crappy and I opted out. Instead, I convinced an Australian woman, a

Russian guy, an English bloke, and a Kiwi dude to accompany me to the Tower as it lit up on the hour. Of course, we missed our first attempt by a minute and we had to wait around an hour or so, but I took an awesome, sideways video I took when it finally lit up again!

It was kind of tragic leaving Paris, but surprise, I found out my vacation was actually a week and half long, not just a week, and so I headed off to Nantes, where I conveniently had a host-cousin to stay with. I hung out with the Kiwi from Paris and we got to see things like, the Jules Verne museum and the town that Gauguin liked to hang out it. Mostly we just drank lots of Leffe, which is, by the way, my new favorite thing ever.

But, alas, here I am, back in Flers, and I actually have to go to work tomorrow. Bummer. I totally could have lived that way forever.