Saturday, April 21, 2012

Emergency Transmission

Situation extremely grave...... stop ....... please send reinforcements ....... stop ....... ASAP.....

What took me so long?

My apartment here this spring is close to perfect. In particular, the duplex layout, with the TV in the upstairs bedroom, but with an extra toilet downstairs where the sofabed is, works really well when guests are here. The only slight disadvantage was that, sometimes when I was hanging out downstairs, I would feel guilty because I wasn't really able to listen to French in the background. Now that problem has been solved, and my digs are pretty much perfect. The solution:

For instance, even as I write this, I am listening to a fascinating interview with France Bequette, author of Ma Grand-mère Cannibale (My grandmother the cannibal), whose (great)grandmother was a member of the Donner Party.

Grandma was a Cannibal

I have no doubt that listening to this searing story will improve my French enormously.

By the way, this seems like a good idea to promote my own thrilling Donner Party story in the works. For now, all I can share is its bewitching title:

Painted Ladies : The Untold Story of the Two Indomitable Donner Party Survivors Who Founded San Francisco's Most Architecturally Charming Brothel and a Nationwide Cosmetics Distribution Network

Order your copy now. In fact, don't just order it. Order it in advance!

En Français (II)

Another exercise this week was to write a little fairy tale in class, to practice the passe simple (Andre just loves the passe simple). Here is my effort. It's a cautionary tale.

Le roi kidnappeur

Il était une fois un roi qui vivait seul dans son royaume au bout de l'arc-en-ciel. Comme il était tout seul, il enleva une fille, jeune et belle, pour l'épouser. La nouvelle reine etait très contente dans leur magnifique chateau au bord du lac. Cependant, sa mère, une sorcière méchante et maligne, n'était pas du tout contente. Elle brodait dans sa grotte magique et planifiait sa vengeance.

Au bout de six mois (!), la nouvelle reine accoucha d'un fils, beau et fort. Des célebrations eclatèrent de toute part dans le royaume. Soudain, un grand oiseau noir, laid et méchant, apparut et enleva le jeune prince. Evidemment, c'était sa grandmère maternelle, qui s'était transformée en corbeau. Elle garda son petit-fils dans la grotte enchantée jusqu'a sa mort.

Moralité: Il ne faut pas enlever des jeunes filles. Cela va terminer mal !

Or, a slightly funnier version, brought to you by Google translate:

King kidnapper

There was once a king who lived alone in his kingdom at the end of the rainbow. As he was alone, he took a girl, young and beautiful, to marry her. The new queen was very happy in their lovely castle by the lake. However, her mother, a wicked witch and malignant*, was not happy at all. She embroidered** in his magical grotto and was planning his revenge.

After six months (!), the new queen gave birth to a son, handsome and strong. Celebrations broke out on all sides in the kingdom. Suddenly a large black bird, ugly and nasty, appeared and took the young prince. Obviously, it was his maternal grandmother, who was transformed into a raven. She kept her little son*** in the enchanted cave until his death.

Moral: Do not remove girls. This will end badly!

*: should be "cunning"
**: should be "sulked" or "brooded"
***: should be "grandson"

En Français (I)

Class with Andre this week was so much fun that I feel inspired to inflict a couple of posts in French on my unsuspecting readers. For added amusement, I include "translations" by Google at the end of each. One of our homework exercises during the week was to write a tribute to a beloved personality, recently deceased. So here is my tribute to Mickey (geeks: note use of the passé simple)

Hommage à Mickey

Un comedien extraordinaire. Selon un sondage de Gallup, mené en 2008, la silhouette americaine la plus connue dans le monde entier. Il y a trois semaines, Hollywood a perdu un géant du grand écran. Mickey, le petit souris avec un coeur de lion, est décédé dans une maison de rétraite en Floride, et nous sommes tous en deuil. Il avait célébré son centennaire juste l'année dernière.

Né en 1911, issu d'une famille modeste, Michel Souris a vécu une jeunesse assez dure. Apres la mort de son père dans la première guerre mondiale, c'était lui qui devait gagner d'argent pour que ses nombreux freres et soeurs ne crèvent pas de faim. Pendant son adolescence il lui fallait travailler deux boulots pour survivre. Mais tout s'est changé quand il a été decouvert par le studio Disney en 1928. Walt Disney, jeune et innovateur, reconnut le grand talent du "petit souris qui parlait" et lui offra un contrat immediatement. Son premier film, "Steamboat Willie" cartonna et lancea la carrière d'une des plus grandes vedettes de Hollywood.

Mickey a touché toutes nos vies, pas seulement par ses nombreux films, mais aussi par sa participation actif et personnelle comme animateur dans les parcs d'attractions qui portent le nom de Disney. Moi, j'ai eu le bonheur de faire sa connaissance personnellement dans le Disney World en Floride en 1980, quand je visitais le parc avec ma famille -- nous avons partagé le petit dejeuner ensemble. C'était important pour lui de connaître son grand public, et en 1992, à l'age de 80 ans, il a même appris le français pour pouvoir mieux connaitre ses invités chez Disney World Paris.

Selon les legendes vikings, quand un heros-animal mort, il doit franchir le pont arc-en-ciel pour entrer en Valhalla. Ce matin j'ai vu un magnifique arc-en-ciel, qui s'étendait à travers les toits de Paris, et j'ai su: "Mickey a atteint son dernier lieu de repos, avec les anges".

Mickey, mon petit ami. Tu nous as fait rire. Tu as touché nos coeurs. Tu nous manqueras. Merci, mille fois merci.

Or, as Google translate would have you believe -

Tribute to Mickey

A great comedian. According to a Gallup poll, conducted in 2008, the most famous American figure in the world. Three weeks ago, Hollywood has lost a giant of the silver screen. Mickey, the little mouse with a lion heart, died in a retirement home in Florida, and we are all in mourning. He had just celebrated its centennial last year.

Born in 1911, from a modest family, Michel Mouse lived a youth hard enough. After the death of his father in World War I, it was he who had to earn money for his many brothers and sisters do not die of hunger. During his adolescence he had to work two jobs to survive. But everything changed when he was discovered by the Disney studio in 1928. Walt Disney, young and innovative, recognized the great talent of the "little mouse who spoke" and offra him a contract immediately. His first film, "Steamboat Willie" cartonna and launched the career of one of the biggest stars of Hollywood.

Mickey has touched all our lives, not only through his many films, but also by its active participation and personal as facilitator in the amusement parks that are named after Disney. I was fortunate to meet him personally in Disney World in Florida in 1980, when I visited the park with my family - we shared breakfast together. It was important for him to know his public, and in 1992 at the age of 80 years, he even learned French in order to better know his guests at Disney World Paris.

According to Norse legends, when a hero-dead animal, he must cross the rainbow bridge rainbow to enter Valhalla. This morning I saw a beautiful rainbow that stretched across the roofs of Paris, and I knew: "Mickey has reached its final resting place, with the angels."

Mickey, my boyfriend. You made us laugh. You touched our hearts. We'll miss you. Thank you, thank you a thousand times.

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Gator Weekend (Part 1)

I know that my readers have been thirsting for a blow-by-blow account of my exciting Florida adventure, so here it is:

Day 1 (Thursday)

I think I already covered this in a previous post. It was a very long day of travel. The trip was broken up by a 4-hour stopover at the Charlotte airport, which is quite pleasant. They have rocking chairs for travelers to chill out in, so I did just that. I also availed myself of the Wendy's there because Paris = no Wendy's, and I loves me that chili and French fries combination. My rocking chair was across from the "Terminal Getaway" day spa, whose masseuses, all dressed in black, hovered like hungry vultures, in case I showed signs of needing a pedicure. Even if I were a pedicure kind of guy, they obviously don't understand about support hose. Youngsters under 50, you may not know what I am talking about, but you will some day. Look up the Wikipedia entry for "deep vein thrombosis". And shudder at what fashion accessories lie in your future.

Day 2 (Friday)

The hotel in Gainesville was perfectly nice, without being extraordinary in any way. It was a super bargain that had been suggested by the Travelocity gnome, so I can't complain. There were baby alligators in the adjoining lake, and all of the vending machines were overstocked with "beverages" (more accurately, "chemicals") from the Mountain Dew and Doctor Pepper families. Midday on Friday I picked up Jessica T. from the airport. She is one of several other Goodreaders who attended the wedding. (Background: I first met Ben, the groom, on, then later in person in San Francisco; we hit it off so well that when he invited me to his wedding, I felt I had to go). Jessica and I hung out together much of the weekend, hooking up with the other Goodreaders on Saturday, before and during the wedding.

OK, well the whole point of the weekend was the wedding, so here is a picture of the bride and groom (not taken by me, so obviously stolen from somewhere, probably Facebook):

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

De retour a Paris

I am back in my little home on the rue du Vertbois. It was a fine weekend in Gainesville. And some day soon I will have the psychic energy to blog about it.

But, in the words of Aragorn (son of Arathorn), "That day is not this day".
Because the decalage horaire (le jet lag), he is killing me.

So, a bientot! I leave you with this pig, which I found in Saint Augustine, the oldest city in the continental United States:

These pigs have evolved to have three legs, which gives them an evolutionary advantage when standing around, e.g., on the Andes. They are nourished exclusively on a diet of four-leafed clovers, which makes them exceptionally lucky. Scientists have yet to come up with a satisfactory explanation for their somewhat jaundiced coloration. And the blue measles.