Panda in Paris

in which this blog is an anomaly

Posted in Not France by parisianpanda on June 25, 2010
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Oh hey there, blog. It’s been a while.

This blog post comes to you in four parts.

Part One: Paris

I’m not there anymore. I left at the end of May. I miss it dearly and hope to be back in the fall for grad school. If not, Madison, Wisconsin, here I come!

Here are a couple of tidbits from the end of my time there:

The teachers from the lycée threw me a nice farewell party

Langhorne Slim concert

One of my last afternoons with Axel at the Square des Batignolles

Part Two: The United Kingdom

I am there currently and will be until about mid-August or so, living in London with Ben aka the lobsterback version of the kid from Almost Famous and listening to him say things like “Oh bother would you like a spot of tea? Lorries and porkie pies and football pitches and Dumbledore, oh bloody hell.”*

Do you see it? I see it.

It has come to my attention that I have been here almost a month and have taken no pictures of London. Hopefully that will be remedied soon, but I have taken pictures of some weekend expeditions to other parts of England. For example, my first weekend here we took a hiking trip to the South Downs, where I walked 12.5 miles across a bunch of hills which was more fun than it sounds and subsequently got a terrible purple sun burn which was even less fun than it sounds:

Not the White Cliffs of Dover but they are white cliffs and they are pretty close to Dover.

Southeast England looking twee and rural

Why hello there!

Last weekend I went to Bristol to visit my old French host siblings, Lise and Thibault, with whom I spent a week in high school in Marseille. Lise has been in Bristol all year on Erasmus, and Thibault happened to be visiting her.

Aren't they cute?

Suspension bridge

Property of the queen.

Bristol Cathedral, which looks suspiciously familiar...

Anyway, great trip, Lise and Thibault were gracious hosts as usual.

In conclusion, people here care about soccer and they aren’t even hipsters.

Part Three: Frankfurt and Amsterdam in May

I went to see David in Frankfurt:

The traditionally German-looking part of Frankfurt

David and the not-so-typically-German part of Frankfurt

Statue devoted to a currency that decided to become worthless right before I had to exchange it

Cons: Frankfurt is boring and moderately ugly, the city revolves around banking, and supposedly the population triples during the work week because of people coming in to work at the banks and is mostly dead on the weekend and devoid of young people. Pros: David and his Nintendo coworkers, apparently the only young people in the city, are awesome.

Ben and I also had a trip to Amsterdam:

Orange shutters!

Bikes and canals!

Same-sex wedding cake toppers!

They sure do have a sense of humor, the Dutch.

Things to definitely do in Amsterdam: The Anne Frank House (it’s overpriced but worth it) FOAM (Foto Museum of Amsterdam – great exhibits and super cheap,) paddleboating on the canals (don’t bother getting a boat tour, paddleboating is cheaper and so much fun) and frites with oorlog sauce (mayonaise and peanut sauce – it sounds terrible but it’s amazing and I still crave it.)

Things to definitely not do in Amsterdam: walk around at night on streets that have window girls at street level if you don’t like being terrified, see an improv show at the renowned English-language improv theater which will go unnamed but if you ever try to go you’ll know what I’m talking about because it’s in all the guides. I have seen some bad improv comedy but this wasn’t even funny after I did that thing everyone does in Amsterdam that’s supposed to make everything funny.**

Part Four: L’Arnacoeur Watch

The terrible Romain Duris/Vanessa Paradis film I lamented in my last blog is being released in England under the title “The Heartbreaker.” I’ve seen the posters in the tube here in London. They couldn’t even keep the clever pun in the title. I only hope this fate won’t befall my beloved United States. (However, if you see the French film titled “Farewell” is coming to a theater near you, do not hesitate to see it. It’s about French people and Russian francophiles and the Soviet Union and Americans and Willem Dafoe has a small part in it. Go.)

*English people talk like this. FACT.

**Activity to go unnamed because this blog is for the children.


more about cliches

In this ever painful process of throwing away/packing/mailing all the junk that has accumulated in this apartment, I found more cliches about Americans written by my students from my stereotypes lesson. (See this post.)

– The americans are Great actors in life all the days. (Oh, all the days!)

– All women want to become a cheerleader. (Curse you, Bring it On!)

– American are too superficial and they all have the same hair colour: blonde. (This one is ironic because I’m likely the only American they’ve ever met.)

– Their monies are often spectacular. (I think they were trying to say some people are exorbitantly wealthy, but Andrew Jackson is a handsome man.)

– Californians live only for surf. (There was a joke my freshman year of college that when the Californians on our floor were in high school, they all surfed to school. I’m glad this has been confirmed.)

– Some have like names = Bob and Brenda and Kimberly. (Are they only watching films from the 80’s?)

– Their music sounds are everytime sometime about sex. (I’m glad this gross error was corrected.)

– Americans people say allways “damn” “oh my god!!!” (ALWAYS!)

– They know only footbowl, NBA, and base-ball. They don’t know Zidane!! (I am definitely an expert on footbowl, and it’s actually a pretty legitimate complaint that Americans don’t know Zidane.)

– They are arrogant, they think that everywhere speak english. (But everywhere DO speak English!)

– Their gastronomy is equal to the humberger. (Mmmm, delicious quarter pound humberger.)

– The village people. (There were two that said this.)

– Girl -> bitch, pompom girl, Boy -> gangster, footballeur, cowboy. (This outlines the glass ceiling and double standards regarding gender roles in American society really well, don’t you think?)

Oh, how I will miss humorously awful French teenager English.

Speaking of cliches, Matthew and I saw this romantic comedy the other day:

I don’t enjoy many romantic comedies but I think it’s tired to dismiss them collectively as a genre, and occasionally I’ll see one that rings true or is at least original and charming. This wasn’t one of them, as roguishly charming as Romain Duris is.

Essentially, Romain Duris plays a guy who runs an agency with his sister and brother-in-law in which he is hired by friends or relatives of women in unhappy relationships to stage a romantic intervention and break up their couple. They do research on the women beforehand to find out their likes/dislikes/what makes them tick, and on principle will only intervene if the woman is unhappy. Then Romain Duris sweeps in, charms them, finds something to get emotional about, kisses them, claims he’s not good enough for them, the women say “Thank you,” he says, “For what?” and they say “Just, thank you.” And that’s the trick. Oh, and they inexplicably speak tons of languages. (Arnacouer is a pun in French, combining “arnaquer” [counterfeiter] and “coeur” [heart.])

Vanessa Paradis, known in America pretty much exclusively as Johnny Depp’s girlfriend, is getting married in a week (!!!) to someone with whom she is happy (!!!!) For reasons that are left cryptic at the beginning but turn out to be pretty boring, her father doesn’t want this, so he hires Romain Duris, who originally refuses to break up a happy couple but ultimately he takes it because for some reason he owes some Serbian thugs money and he really needs the job, so he pretends to be the bodyguard her father hired to protect her before the wedding.

(uh, spoiler alert…)

So predictably, Romain Duris pulls out all of the tricks and it doesn’t really work, and then he falls in love with her, and then the night before the wedding they have an amazing night together, and then she gets all the way down the aisle before she decides she’s in love with him too, and then Romain Duris runs back from the airport and back up the hill in Monaco where the wedding is taking place and Vanessa Paradis runs down the hill and then they run into each other and kiss and it’s over.

This whole running-away-with-another-guy-who-she-really-loves-when-she’s-about-to-get-married cliche was parodied in the Baxter, the under-appreciated Michael Showalter film which follows “The Baxter”, meaning the guy who gets left at the alter. The thing that makes this cliche kind of work is that “The Baxter,” while always shown to be a great guy, is kind of a square, and the guy who steals his woman is always kind of rugged.

Not so in this film! Both Romain Duris and Andrew Lincoln (aka that English guy in Love Actually who is in love with Keira Knightly who is married to his best friend…maybe this is karma?) are charming and handsome and appealing. They present literally nothing unlikeable about her fiance, or even any real evidence that she’s not in love with him. The only mildly unappealing thing is that his parents are jerks, but so are hers. And everything she likes in Romain Duris turns out to be a lie. He figures out in his research that she likes Dirty Dancing and Wham (seriously, what a terrible character) so he sings along to Wham in the car and, in the epic climactic night they spend together, does the Dirty Dancing dance with her in the middle of an Italian restaurant. (Said epic night sequence also involves a pretty criminal use of CGI dolphins in a swimming pool.) Everything that makes her fall in love with him is based on research he did beforehand to push her buttons.

In conclusion, this movie is terrible. Matthew’s main complaint is that all Asian people in the movie were assumed to be Chinese. (Matthew is half Filipino and frequently assumed to be Chinese in France.) This connects nicely with the “Stuff Parisians Like” post about generalities about Chinese people.

In other news, I got into the American master’s program I applied to, which is great but I’m still hoping to get into the French one. Also I am going to Frankfurt and Amsterdam and have a million things to send home and no source of income so I am going to be destitute when I go back to the US.