Saturday, March 24, 2012

Busy Week

Just a quick post to catch up before I head out to see "Uncle Vanya" at 16:00. Things have been quite busy, but in a good way.

Brad arrived on Tuesday morning, bringing the good weather with him (as he always does) - the man has excellent meteorological karma. Here he is, on the street outside the apartment, last night:

On Wednesday morning we had our improvisation class instead of normal lessons. Not to brag, or anything, but I was quite proud that the person voted as having given the most convincing Carla Bruni impressions was moi! Despite some stiff competition from my charming Italian classmate Ilaria (who, one would think, had the a priori advantage, what with having the Italo-French accent down and all).

Wednesday evening I was invited to dinner at my friend France's apartment in the 6th arrondissement. Among the other guests were Doug Bates, former professor of statistics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and his wife Mary Ellen, both Canadian. France embarrassed us completely by toasting us with champagne, telling us that our books (Bates and Watts, Davidian and Giltinan) had played a seminal role in her statistical education, and that she never dreamed that we would actually be dinner guests in her apartment some day. It was embarrassing, but let's face it, also really kind of flattering. A very nice ego boost - I only wish my partner in crime, Professor Davidian had also been there to savor the moment. France has been extraordinarily kind to me on many occasions since the start of my Parisian adventures and it was a lovely evening.

Thursday afternoon was the regular sortie pedagogique with Anne. We visited various remnants of medieval Paris in and around the 6th:

Yesterday afternoon I wandered over to the Pompidou Center where I visited the Brancusi studio and stumbled across a potential clue to future career options. More about this in a subsequent post, but here's a hint:

Class this week was a lot of fun. As always, the quality of the discussion largely depends on the particular mix of the people in the group, and this week we had an especially lively bunch. For me the definite high point was yesterday morning's discussion. Earlier in the week we had talked about the French-Algerian war, as the 50th anniversary of the peace agreement was on March 19th. One of the more interesting guys in the class is called Manne from Sweden. A former personal trainer and mixed martial arts competitor in Sweden (in the U.S. the closest description would be "cage fighter"), he looks very much the part, stocky muscular build, reset nose, cauliflower ears. About a year ago he decided to undergo a career change and came to Paris to study philosophy at the Sorbonne. So, in the class discussion about the difficulty of pinning down a single version of history, it was hilariously disconcerting to have him chime in with Habermas's critique of Foucault's views on history. One of the other students is Ben, a very smart, very sweet, Chinese guy in his twenties who had spent two years in DC as a reporter. Hearing the two of them discuss Fukuyama's "The End of History" in (extremely good) French was a slightly surreal experience, and a memory I will long cherish.

Last night Nancy and Gabriella came by to see the apartment and to meet Brad and the four of us went to dinner at the excellent Italian restaurant at the corner. It was lots of fun, and I think Brad was glad to have dinner companions who spoke English.

Right now (Saturday 15:00) he is out and about, enjoying the sunshine, and it's time for me to head out to see "Uncle Vanya". I loves me some culture!

A la prochaine !


  1. Wonderful blog about wonderful times. I'm eager to hear about your future career option!

  2. Cage fighting philosopher! What fun to have such erudite classmates.