What is this blog all about?

The main purpose of this blog is to give an overview of the things I do, in my everyday life, in order to improve my English. Since I am a very lazy person, I mostly read, and watch movies, and do things which make it possible for me to improve my vocabulary, my grammar and my accent without getting bored... So this blog is going to be about the books I read, the movies I watch, and some other things which I find relevant (or not)...

I hope you'll like it! Don't hesitate to leave comments if you have any suggestions concerning what I should write about!!

dimanche 29 avril 2007

I see trees of green, red roses too...

What wonderful wonderful weather outside, isn't it amazing? Is it always like that, "frühling" in Austria? How long before the depressing anchormen start talking about drought and death, cataclysms and end of the world, global warming and dying goldfish??? Hope we still have a little time!!
Anyway, in order to accomodate the mediterranean weather outside, I decided I'd tell you about the few pages of "A year in Provence" that I have read so far. The fact that I keep calling it either "under the sun of the Provence" or "A year in Tuscan", does not bode well for the future of this post...
Anyway. I like the book, so far, and I find very nice to read, very entertaining, a little bit more so than JWI. However, I agree with Pam Mandell: It's absolutely not realistic. I mean, first of all, I haven't spent a very long time in Provence, I know, but I have spent some, and I can testify, people there are not complete backbirths, who kill their dinner and think the Earth getting flatter is the sole explanation for the change of climate. And what's more shocking, is that these examples are not exceptions, "strange" people met by the narrator, no! They are a faithful portrayal of the average "provençal", seen by Peter Mayle. And it is true that so far, things are pretty much blue sky and butterflies. Or should I say "Ciel bleu" and "Papillons"?

Doesn't it get mightily on your nerves when Mayle uses all those French words all the time?! I just can't stand it. Why can't he decide, once and for all, wether he wants to write his book in French or in English? If I may make a suggestion here, it would be to choose English, because his French is not so good. (I looooove doing that. I already told you about Rousseau's accent in Lost? Well, I don't quite know why, reader, but I find it incredibly satisfying to spot French mistakes in the original version of books and films. I'm just a big big snob...)
The book is a really good read, however, but don't expect a faithful portrayal of the reality here!! I mean, all rural Austrians don't wear Dirndls and Lederhosen, nor do they all listen exclusively to Hansi Hinterseer or Marianne und Michael, do they? DO THEY? *fear*... Well, I don't think so. And I know that at least part of the rural people in the South of France own a brain as well as numerous pigs and rabbits. Maybe I'm overreacting, I know, but I felt I needed to tell you. The "Ewok tribe" kind of feeling to the book somehow got to me. All these nice, innocent, stupid peasants...
Anyway, reader, I have to go, my potatoes are cooked... Actually it's a meal composed of more butter and salt than actual potatoes, but well... in this cold, one ought to make oneself a nice, cushiony layer of fat, so as not to catch cold... Bye bye!!

vendredi 27 avril 2007

Kickin' ass

Hey!! Here is a flash post for you reader!!

Because of my growing fondness for Dr House (not so many things I can watch on my computer, but I sure can watch this, thanks to the brilliant "TV links" links!!!) I went to YouTube and checked out "Hugh Laurie".

And here I go, a new, wonderful, English speaking surprise!! how about that, reader??! I ended up with quite a lot of little videos of our new doctor heroe making sketches and singing song with his partner Stephen Fry. They are nearly as funny as the Monty Pythons, and all the videos I've seen so far were worth watching, though the image is somtimes a little bit crappy.

Under this link here, you'll find my personal favourite so far (Though I haven't seen them all, far from it).

And here is another one, maybe more thematic...


If you like them you can find some others in my brand new Video Bar at the bottom of the page.

Hope you'll like it, reader!! I'll go to bed now... time for a good night's sleep.. tomorrow's saturday!! Yay!! means I can sleep!! means I can sleep again the next day!! I just love Friday night!! Makes me happy!!

jeudi 26 avril 2007

When I was a child I was a Jedi...

tadadadaaaaaam dam tadadadaaaaam dam tadadadaaaaam dam tadadadaaaaaaaammm....

Well, I have a big important news!!! I am bored AGAIN!!!!! Why, why, why, can't I simply get to work? It would make my boredom problem, as well as my amount of homeworks still to do, much smaller! I dont know, reader.... maybe I just lack vitamins... or a brain...

Since I am not correcting my German translation (oh my, all these mistakes, it's really depressing... I'll do it some other day), I figured I might as well tell you about one of my health problems: The Quoting Sickness. But first things first, I have a personal message to write before I do this:


My brother became a PhD the day before yesterday!! Isn't that great?? Isn't that fantastic?! Well, reader, you might not know my brother, (though I interviewed him just for you a few days ago) but I'm soooo happy for him that I just couldn't resist telling you. I had to wait a little, because I wanted to give him time to tell everybody himself first!! But now I can brag about how clever my siblings are!!! Yeah! Yeah! Gooo team Garteiser!!

Anyway. Were was I?

Ah, yeah! Quoting sickness... Now now...

When I was a kid, I used to watch the Star Wars movies a lot. I love those movies, I don't quite now why (actually, I do, it's because they're great), and I watched them so often that I learnt the dialogues by heart. And I kept quoting them all the time, to people who had no idea what I was talking about. "Try not! Do, or do not! There is no try" said the 8 year old Claire (I was blond and cuddly at the time, but already a tyrant at heart). It kept happening all the time, util I reached high school and decided to do something about it. Indeed, I grew tired of being misunderstood, and I got into trouble for saying "Get in there, you big furry oaf! I don't care what you smell!" to innocent friends of mine on various occasions (mostly at the gym). As I graduated from high school, I decided it was time for a change.

I prepared home made springrolls (they do look like they come from outer space, hence their presence on the menu, but they nearly taste like food...) and me and my friends watched all the episodes in a row. And I was really amazed, because even though I had not seen them in a really long while (time enough, theoretically, for my tastes to shift) I still liked them! And I still knew the dialogues by heart! Now, when I have a quoting fit, at least my friends know what I am referring to. Some of them actually have the quoting disease as well, with various movies, and we can have nerdic movie-dialogues-conversations, we hardly ever have to make up our own lines! Good quoting movies would then be "Moulin Rouge!", or "the Matrix", among others.

I don't know if this happens to you too, but I sometimes have a song stuck in my head, and after a while, it gets really really annoying. This happens to me with pieces of dialogue as well. Even written dialogues, especially when they sound funny: "He would not rue his bloody blunder more than I now rue mine", says Rochester at some point in Jane Eyre. "Bloody Blunder"! Ha ha! If I start a rock group one day, I'll call it "Bloody Blunder"! (starting a rock group would probably be one, too, actually...)

Anyway. I wanted to share my experience with you, and maybe we could start an anonymous quoter support group. Because it is sometimes embarrassing. When people say "Well, that's terrible", and then you try to refrain yourself, to keep your composure and then you start to sweat, you shake, you shiver, drool and dribble, and you end up screaming "Being on the street, that's terrible" and everybody stares at you. Can't blame them, but can they really blame you?

So here is my call reader!! Tell me, please tell me, that I am not alone!!

mardi 24 avril 2007

Sweet Land of Liberty

Here is my first politically engaged post. It won't happen too often, reader, I promise (I really don't know enough about anything to claim a right to write more than one anyway), and I hope it won't lead me to the dark side of the force.

This post is actually prompted by some stuff that I read in the JWI book, as well as by a quizz I made, called "How American Are You", which I found the adress for on the handout, "Exploring American Culture". I made the quizz one time, and there were questions such as "How do you feel about September 11th", and other things like that. When I answered "I think it's sad that so many people died", I got a score of 54% of "Americanness", but when I did the quizz a second time and answered, "I think we should show them how strong we are", I got a score of 94%.

Same goes for JWI. Monagan seems revolted by the fact that the Irish, in an effort to protect their neutrality, don't accept to lend their airport to the American Air Force, for refueling purposes (this is not a post meant to discuss Irish neutrality, which I know is relative). He also feels insulted when people say that they do not approve of the war in Afghanistan.

I don't quite agree with that. I think these attacks were really awful, and I'm not part of the people who think dumb things like "Americans got what they deserved for trying to rule the world". I think Americans were attacked by mad people, and I think nobody deserves to die, especially not in such a barbaric disaster. Besides, as a French, I know the value of American interference in politics, if they had not interfered in ours in WWII, I might be a citizen of nazi Germany, now, not France. So I am not ungrateful, either.

However, I claim a right to oppose the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, even though I support America. I mean, I think it was a bad thing to go to war agains these two nations, but it doesn't mean that I am an anti-American, or that I think 9/11 was a good thing! I heard some people arguing that I would have supported the war if I had been personally touched by the attacks. Maybe.

But let me take an example: If a man gets his child killed by a madman, it is likely that he will want this madman dead. But most civilised countries (including America) have realised a long long time ago that justice should be done by an impartial system, not by people who have been touched personally by a tragedy, because they are likely to take revenge in an unfair way instead of restoring justice. I think it's the same for America's war in Iraq: It should have been the decision of the UNO, an objective and fair decision, and not a decision made by a grieving nation.

Once again, I love America, really! It's a wonderful country, and this is the very reason why I write this post all I want is to explain the reason why I feel insulted as a person, when Monagan says that I am anti-American by not supporting American policies, or when it is implied that you are not a good American unless you do. And I know quite a lot of Americans who would probably disagree with this point of view as well, just look at the marches against these wars organized in the US!

I hope I made myself clear, I just wanted to say this because I fear that it is all a big misunderstanding between Europe and America, which has been discussed a lot in France, and which touches me, somehow. Now that it's said, I think it's time for me to go to sleep. Big day!! and I need to get up tomorrow morning (maybe I will, maybe I won't...)

My girl's a Yorkshire girl...

Good evening!! Well, my wrist is kind of sore, reader... Wonder why... :)

I'm pretty blue, as well, don't really know why either, I miss France even more than usual, and feel like calling home, but my phone is blocked, and I can't!! I want my mum!!!! Anyway. What I can do, and I'm sure it will make me feel better, is share my sister with you guys!! Well, actually, not exactly my sister, but her answers to my questionnaire. She spent a school year in Bradford as an Erasmus student, and here is what she has to say about her experience!! Thanks for answering, Marion!!!

1. Why did you go to an English speaking country?

Essentially because I already knew the language. Not only was it easier for me, it was a requirement of my university too, (I spent a year abroad as part of an Erasmus exchange program). I also chose England because it was not too far from my own country: I was very enthusiastic about moving abroad, but only if I was able to go back when I wanted to!

2. Did you run into any difficulties there? (integration, paperwork...)

As far as papers are concerned, no problem whatsoever, but the Erasmus effect makes everything very easy. Integration was not that hard either, once I got over the phase when I only dared to enter the common kitchen if there was no one in it

It was also a little difficult to integrate in the city of Bradford, where there was a lot of violence, and a tense atmosphere between the different communities. Indeed, Bradford welcomes an important percentage of immigrants, who essentially come from Asia. Their integration into the "white" society is not always easy, and among the immigrants, there are frequent conflicts between Idians and Pakistanis, because of their religious differences and the tension which exists between their two countries.

The town I come from in France is fairly small, quite touristic, very rich... And very very peaceful, so the contrast was quite stunning. But, well I wouldn't really call that difficulties. Just a little trouble adapting!

3. What are your two favourite aspects of the English culture? The two aspects you like least?

My two favourite aspects would probably be:

- the warmth and generosity of the English. They are a little difficult to get close to, but once their door is open, they are very thoughtful and extremely nice.

-Coming from France, I enjoyed the non-Latin atmosphere a lot. In England, people are not as careful about clothing as in France, girls can wear sportswear even outside the gym, can eat or drink whatever they like, and nobody will bug them about how it's not very ladylike... It was a pretty refreshing atmosphere, even if there are downsides to this, too (including, for example, the fact that I put on a few kilos during my stay)

The two aspects I liked least? it's a bit more difficult to find those... Let's say...

-The lack of respect for food, and therefore for one's own body. I did not miss the French gastronomy too much, I found it pretty easy to buy all the ingredients that are necessary to prepare very French dishes, (except, of course, for bread). What's different is not so much the food as the relationship to food. For the English, it has mainly a useful purpose. You eat only to prevent being hungry, and if it's nice, that's bonus. Completely different from the French mentality, which considers food first and foremost as a pleasure.

-The fact that the English are awfuly xenophobic. I sometimes had the impression that they divide humanity in two categories, themselves, and the rest of the world. This high consideration of England leads of course to a certain contempt for the rest of the world. Not to mention of course their hate of the French, but that's another thing...

4. Do you think that your experience would have been different if you had been other than French?

Insofar as by and large, the English hate the French, and vice versa, I guess it must have changed some things. But I also think that the country you are born and raised in changes your idea of a lot of things, from the role of men and women (see above, for non-machism) to the way you judge a country's political system, and one's own relationship to his or her country, or the way one structures his or her thoughts (one year of philosphy for everybody is a French idea...) Of course national culture is modified by a lot of individual factors, and therefore has a different impact on everybody, but in my opinion, it still is a determining element. In a word, yes.

5. Now that you're back, whot would you say of the outcome of your stay? Is it a country where you could live on a longer basis?

Well, general outcome is definitely positive, in every area (more experience, language skills, kilos...) I really loved my year over there. And I think I could live there for a longer time, but it wouldn't be my first choice.

Now reader isn't it amazing how people seem to be very different in different parts of England?? There are quite a lot of differences between the answers of my two sisters!! Maybe it's because of the high percentage of French people in London compared to Bradford; they see a lot of us, and learnt to appreciate our undeniable perfection... :D

Well, I guess I'll stop there, I might write another post tonight, I got sudden inspiration from my revision program of this afternoon... but then again, since I am a lazy butt, I might also just turn on the TV and watch... what... WHAT??? An add for fish pâté in a tube, with a guy saying "voulez vous pâté avec moi?"???? Oh my!!! Oooooooh my!!! I'm just about to re-faint!!! What the hell happened to you Austrians?! I turn on the TV, and that's what I find??? Amazing... truly amazing... I need to focus on this!! See you!!!

All the way from China

Well, usually writing a post is the last thing I do in the evening, for once, it's going to be the first thing I do in the morning. And it won't be very long, because I have to run (I think I have some kind of test tonight, but I can't really remember the subject... I know it's important, but.... Ooooooh!! Yeah!!! Just came back to me... :D)

Anyway, the reason why I'm writing this instead of focusing on learning by heart the five first chapters of Jaywalking is that I had one more answer from an expat which I wanted to share with you!! It comes from a woman who lives in America, and she studies in the same lab as Sabrina, my brother's wife, whom I would also like to thank for passing my questionnaire on!! Very very thoughtful of you!!

So, as I was saying, the answers come from Ting He (Thank you sooo much for answering!!), who is from China, and is now working as a scientist at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. Here is what she answered:

1. Why did you go to America?

I came to America to study Biomedical sciences and get a Ph.D degree.

2. Did you run into any difficulties there (Paperwork, integration...)

Yes. I think I have a lot difficulty in learning the language and integration.

3. What are your two favourite aspects of the American culture? The two you like least?

First, I think most American people are friendly and patient and care about the other’s feeling which makes me feel good.
Secondly, I think the detailed laws and rules make the society run smoothly.
In terms of the worse aspects, first thing is that I sometimes feel a little insecure (it seems some neighborhoods are not so safe). Because the law allows individuals to have guns, and that makes me feel endangered.
Another thing is that there is no or little public transportantion, which makes life harder for those people who don’t have a car.

4. Do you think that your experience would have been different if you had been other than Chinese?

I think it would make a big difference if I came from a European country or a country whose native language is also English. I know most of the European country are not English-speaking, but they learn it much more easily than us. Also, they share a lot of food habits, culture and even some history with America.
5. Generally speaking, on a personal level, is your experience abroad positive? Would you like to make it longer?

Overall, I would say it is good to stay here, especially for my professional development. But for us who come from Asian Countries, it takes a longer time to adapt to this situation. My husband and I would like to stay in the US for our Post Doctoral job after we get the Ph.D degree. But we can’t tell now where we would like to go after that.

There you go reader!! I would like to thank Ting He once again for answering my questionnaire, it was really nice of you!! And also, while I'm at it, "Personal message time", I'd like to wish my brother good luck once more, his big presentation is today!! Good luck, good luck!!!

dimanche 22 avril 2007

London Calling -now this one was OBVIOUS!!

Good evening! Or should I say good morning? I'm not quite sure anymore...

I had a funky day, really, fainted on the Schlossberg!! I went for a walk there, with one of my Austrian friends, but I hadn't eaten, and I don't know, the sun, the beauty of it all... such a shock to my poor nerves, that I ended up chewing on the turf, amongst dog droppings and quite a lot of astounded Austrians... Nice, interesting experience. Have to do it again some day...

Anyway, I'm not writing this post to tell you about this, I want to share with you, reader, the interview of my sister Françoise, who is a translator in Paris now, but who also spent some time working in London. Her answers are really interesting!! Thanks, Françoise, for taking time out of your busy schedule!! And for teaching me how to spell busy!! I would probably be studying accountancy now, if it wasn't for you!

1. Why did you go to and English Speaking country?

For a whole lot of reasons! I always loved the Anglo Saxon culture (US and UK), literature, movies, music, and especially the language itself. After spending two stays in the US, I thought it was time for me to give a try to the UK English -- and especially London, which attracted me particularly ever since a flash visit there when I was 13: I promised myself that "one day, I'd live in London", in front of Regent Street at dusk.

2. Did you run into any difficulties there? (Integration, Paperwork...)

Not really... The hardest part was probably the everyday life: The exorbitant prices, even for basic products, the housing difficulties (extraordinarily expensive, for sometimes barely acceptable living condition), unbearable public transporation that would get me into weeping fits of rage, unbelievably low quality medical assistance... And the accent of course! Until then, I never really had a problem understanding Americans or English, but arriving in London, I was really shocked! I was completely lost for the first week, I did not understand anything. And then, little by little, I got used to it... I even ended up learning a bit of cockney!

3. What are your two favourite aspects of the English Culture? The two you like least?

Hmmm... Only two?
Let's say, the good sides of the English is their willingness to let you live your life without staring at you and commenting on everything you do. I also like their pragmatism, insofar as when you are in a sticky situation, well, you just try to make the best of it, look at the bright side, and try to make things better, without dramatizing or launching into tragic tirades. I think in France, we should follow their example a bit more.

Bad sides would be the downsides of the good sides: Letting people live their lives, it's also sometimes indifference and coldness, a "fend for yourself" philosophy, that is particularly visible in London. As for pragmatism, the downside of that would be an opposition to change, and people who are too willing to "make do", when sometimes it would pay to get moving and complain (like we do in France!) in order to make things better. Oh, yeah, and this too: on a national level, the English have a kind of superiority complex which make them very arrogant and is often doubled up with an astounding primary racism.

But in the good-things-that-happened-to-me-while-I-was-there department, I'd add: the lively and cosmopolitan side of London... Summer evening in "pub gardens"... mostly free museums... Foyle's giant bookshop on Charing Cross... and of course the essential English humour, in any situation.
And for less good things: Gastronomy... rush hour in the tube... and the weather!!

4. Do you think your experience would have been different, if you had been other than French?

I think so, yes. It's a bit of a shame to say it, but as a French, you've got a little headstart (accent, French girl's reputation, Beautiful Paris, and the whole legend...)There are some tough-skinned Francophobes, but even they respect the sacrosanct English politeness. And I was quite priviledged, I had a job, some acquaintances etc. I think things are very different for a freshly landed Pakistani, Bulgarian or Chinese girl with nothing to start from.

5. Now that you're back, what is the general outcome of your stay in England? Is it a country you could live in for a longer time?

Excellent outcome: I learnt a lot, both professionnally and personally, (not to mention the language, of course). Living abroad is tough, sometimes even despairing... but the discoveries and the things you learn largely compensate the blues and the obstacles. And yes, I do think I could live there for a longer time without too many difficulties... keeping in mind that in London, one had bettter be young, rich and healthy.

There you go reader!! I should have a fifth one of those pretty soon! I hope you are enjoying them as much as I am!! I tried so sneak some other questions into those, in order to extort money from my siblings, but it never works!! I think they're just too clever. As for me, I'm getting sillier and sillier, so I guess I'll just follow my sister's advice and get in bed now... Hmmmmm... Pillows...
PS: I almost forgot, but there was a presidential election in France today, and I want to thank any one who can hear me for not voting for Le Pen (the Awful Extreme Right-Wing Candidate), first of all, because having him at the second ballot makes me feel ashamed to be French, and second, because being ashamed to be French when you're the only one around is really terrible. So thanks guys, for not putting us through 2002 all over again!!

samedi 21 avril 2007

I Still Miss You, Baby, But My Aim's Gettin' Better.

You really should check this one out. It's not always good taste, but it's often funny...


I wish I actually got a chance to hear some of them... In the meantime, I'll have to make do with Johnny Cash, and my O'Brother soundtrack...

And please, reader, for my sake, don't ask how I wound up on a site called bored.com. I'm just pathetic. Did not get out all day. Stayed here on the couch thinking about how bored I was, and how I should be doing interesting things while I'm young and healthy... I think I'm going to go for a walk... Maybe... Or pretend I'm sick and go to bed early, in order to dream I'm doing something thrilling... (oh! looks like the link's trying to talk to me -Here's A Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares) -says he....)

vendredi 20 avril 2007

Brand new state, gonna treat you great!

Good evening!

See! I'm back again! Two posts a day, I don't think I'm going to be able to keep that up for long, but I got the answer from my Oklahoma based brother, so I couldn't wait to share them with you reader!! He took time out of his busy schedule to answer them, so I'm really grateful for his being so fast!! And I take this opportunity to wish him good luck for his presentation next week!! Break a leg, bro! (Can anybody tell me why I pretend to be Snoop Dog? What I meant was "Bonne chance!" I guess starvation has damaged my brain...)

Just in case you were wondering, my brother Philippe left France for Oklahoma, initially to complete work training, and he was subsequently offered a research job over there. His wife Sabrina, who was initially doing a research job in Canada, found a job there too and joined him, and they are now living in Oklahoma City.

1. Why did you move to an English Speaking country?

Because it the easiest place for me to find a job that requires my qualifications.

2. Did you run into any difficulties in this country (integration, paperwork, etc.)

Well, yes and no. As far as work is concerned, not really. At first, people are very welcoming, especially in a university-town like Norman, where people are quite used to strangers because of the proximity of Oklahoma University. But then, when we moved to Oklahoma city itself, it became funny, and people started gawking when I was chatting with Sabrina, waiting in line at the WalMart cash register. The difference of language matters a lot. I can remember coming home dead tired during the first weeks, because it's hard to get used to the new "linguistic landscape" (everybody speaks a foreign language, from the cashiers to the teachers, the people on the street...).
Luckily enough, I come from a very Anglophile family, so I could integrate pretty fast, but I know several French people for whom the language barrier was so important that they could not communicate well enough with their boss, and were therefore unproductive. For them, the experience ended up being more enriching because of the people they met, than because of the work they achieved. But that's part of the good thing about going away: meeting a whole lot of people (Like Russians and Indians, Coreans and Australians, people from all over the world, really. Being able to communicate in a common language is then again very handy.)

Paperwork is very boring, but I guess that's about the same everywhere. Actually, coming from France might be an advantage in this field, because even though it seems long, it's nothing compared to the awful stories told by the Russians and the Indians (like how some people needed to stay 6 months in Moscow during their post-doctorate studies because they were waiting for a bloody Visa...)

3. What are your two favourite aspects of the American Culture? The ones you like least?

Pros: -Freedom (whatever this means right now...) Maybe they couldn't give you a precise definition of what it is, but they sure value it.

-The Melting pot: Everybody can achieve, provided they work hard enough.

Cons: -They are spoilt by money and complete slaves of corporations. For example, the credit card buisness is booming, and it has a huge power, because of the influence it has over the customers' purchasing power.

-Their conventionality. They have all kinds of freedom, but they are still all the same, they invent norms, it's quite strange.

4. Do you think your experience would have been different if you had been other than French?

Yes, it would have been very different. I don't think you could deny the importance of your background, and the influence it has over the people that you meet.

5. Generally speaking, on a personal level, is your experience abroad positive? Would you like to make it longer?

Well, why not! It's a scientific's paradise here, they give you your chance very easily, and trust you very soon, even though you have not yet proved worthy of their confidence. And on a personal level, well, part of me dies everyday from not being close to my family, but luckily, we live in a time when distances are getting smaller and smaller, and communication easier and easier. And Sabrina is here as well, so it's not too bad, but the main -nearly exclusive- reason why we stay here is the job. Oklahoma is not really my cup of tea!

Well, reader, here you go!! Two interview from two people, living in the same place, but not giving quite the same answers! I hope you found it interesting! And thanks again for answering Philippe! We're missing you too.

The food song...

I'm hungry!!! I'm hungry!! Do something, reader!! I'm very very hungry!! And I just ate!! What's wrong with me???
Anyway, who cares about my stomach? I don't suppose you do, so I'll get to the point of this entry, which is to answer Betty's question: Have I noticed any difference in attitude to politeness and table manners between Austrians and French?
Well... I guess I don't really know about table manners, because I mostly eat alone in my bedroom (I'm a poor lonesome blogger)... But generally speaking, I must say it looks like it's pretty much the same thing, at least from what I've seen at the restaurant, or on the rare occasions when I ate with my roommates.
As for politeness, It's very close too. Generally speaking, I only had quite positive experiences, if one forgets the University Choir... I sat next to a girl, who subsequently got up, and went to sit at the other end of the room. But I guess she was a bit strange, and cannot be considered as a good example of the Austrian civility. You would tell me if I smelt, reader, wouldn't you?
My problem with cashiers at Billa I already told you about, and I now got the knack of it, I just shove everything back into my cart, and pack elsewhere. And I stopped pretending I was a well behaved person. Veeeeeery satisfying....
I remember these two example because they are exceptions, and mostly, people are really polite and friendly to me. I think it's exactly the same as in France. Except in France, we kiss, and here we shake hands. That took some getting used to, but I find it quite nice, actually, not to have to kiss people so often!!
Anyway... Thanks for commenting Betty!! I might have a new interview before tonight, if I'm lucky!! I hope you all enjoy your friday as much as I do!! It's so sunny!! And I'm free!! I guess I'll go out, and get myself something to eat... I'm soooo hungry!!!

jeudi 19 avril 2007

Good news!! -- Expat Interviews Episode One

Well good news!!

Today, I have something original and relevant to tell you about!! Thanks to my brother, and one of his very very kind colleague, I can here present to you... Tadaaaaaaam... my very first expat interview!! Since I am very lucky (and a cheat, as well), it should be the first one of a series of at least 5, most of which will be of members of my family, who will answer my questions in French. I hope you'll find this first one as interesting as I did! The questions were answered in English by Mr Narcis Popescu, a graduate research assistant at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, who comes from Romania. (I did not even need to translate them, how about that?!)
1. Why have you gone to an english-speaking country ?
Most of the recent high-profile work in our field (Biomedical Research) is published in English, therefore this was a language that I needed to understand and be able to communicate in if I were to follow the career path that I have chosen. As a result, English became the foreign language that I improved the most and was most comfortable with, and consequently English-speaking countries were the first option when looking for study opportunities abroad. From my experience, knowing the language of the country gives you a much better chance for integration.

2. Have you had any difficulties there ? (integration, paperwork, etc...)

I myself do not consider that I had difficulties adapting here. Nevertheless I do not consider it to be an easy process, everything (integration, paperwork, etc.) takes time and effort but I find it similar to, but definitely slower than, moving into a new situation/environment even inside your own country. Even in Romania I moved around, getting into different places and environments, so I had my share of adaptation processes, but here it was much slower and required much more effort than back home. As long as you don't give up, you'll be all right in the end.

3. What are your two favorite aspects of american culture ? Two worst aspects?

This is kind of a trick questions that I never took the time to really analyze. Out of the hat, I would say that I like the most the diversity and the drive towards efficiency, while on the other side I don't like the exacerbated competition around here (the other side of the coin for the drive for efficiency you might say) and the individualism.

4. Do you think your experience would have been different had you been of a different nationality ?

That depends. I don't think nationality had the most influence over my experiences around here. Provided that I would have come from a similar background (Christian, southeastern Europe) I think I would have had a similar experience. Nevertheless, coming from a totally different region, like Western Europe, Asia or Africa, being Christian or not, I think that would have changed a lot of the integration process and the experiences lived so far.

5. Overall (personal and professional), would you say your stay abroad was good/bad ? Would you like to stay there in the future ?

Definitely my experience abroad was, and still is, good. I think it helped me grow a lot, professionally and personally. Nevertheless the second part of your question is not easy to answer. I will stay and continue my training here even after finishing my present studies, but in the long run I haven't decided yet. At this time the balance inclines towards getting as much experience as I can here, in the US, then implement my experiences in Romania and continue my career there.

There you go reader!! I would like to take the opportunity to thank Mr Popescu once again for his time and kindness!! And my brother, of course, for passing on my little questionnaire!! I guess that's it for tonight, though please, don't hesitate to leave comments, if you see a way for me to improve my questionnaire! Good night, reader!!

mercredi 18 avril 2007

Gandhi Goes to Bollywood

Hi reader!!
Well, this post is a little bit superfluous I guess, because I uploaded the following text on our brand new Wikibook thingy, but I'm not sure it worked, what with its brand-newness, so here is my little text about the "Here on Earth" programm I listened to the other day!! I just KNEW you couldn't live without it, so here it is, in case it's not on our Wiki...

(Oh, and if you get so interested in the subject that you want to listen to the program as well, here's the link!! http://www.wpr.org/hereonearth/archive_070115k.cfm)

The program I chose to listen to on Here on Earth was entitled “Gandhi goes to Bollywood”. The title appealed to me, because I am very interested in Bollywood, so I decided I’d try to know a little more about this topic. Besides, the movie the program is about is part of a little series, and I had seen the first one, so I was a little intrigued. The movie Jean Feraca and her two guests are talking about is called “Lage Raho Munna Bhai”, and it is about a little Mumbai thug who discovers that the best way to lead his life is to do it according to Gandhi’s principles of non violence, truth, fearlessness, compassion, and respect for your enemy. Thus, the film delivers a message to the viewers, about how Gandhi’s principles could help them live their lives, and how they could, still today, help India solve its problems. Indeed, according to both the interviewer and her two guests, specialists of today’s India (One of them is a professor, and the other one the screenwriter of the movie, Abhijat Joshi), although the image of Gandhi is omnipresent in the country, and everybody is referring to him very regularly, his basic ideas are not respected any more: he became a saint, and therefore, he is not considered as a real person anymore, who can be concretely imitated in everyday life.

The interviewees talk about how widespread movies are in India, and how they can sometimes change the whole society, or generate real changes in the life of the country: Indeed, in this movie, they try to uproot superstition and corruption, and they are convinced that it will make a real difference, they are not just making a statement, they are making a tangible political action. I think this aspect of the interview was particularly interesting, especially when one sees what movies are coming out in Bollywood today: I was very shocked recently, to learn that a movie such as “Rang De Basanti” was nominated to the Oscars for “best foreign movie”. The movie is about a bunch of young people who decide to take violent action against the government, to take revenge for one of their friend’s death, and fight corruption. I was shocked when I saw the movie, because I had heard that it was a great success in India, and had raised awareness amongst young people, who now knew they could do something for the country’s future.

I found it frightening that such one-sided movies, praising violence and political murders without showing the problems these could lead to, could have such a big impact on the people’s opinion. It first made me laugh when I heard one of the most respected directors in the Bollywood film industry talk about how his movie had helped improve the relationship between India and Pakistan, but listening to this interview, made me realise that it might actually be true. I suppose it is a good thing, but on the other hand, it could also very easily get dangerous and frightening to have such easy means to manipulate the public opinion. We have similar debates in Western cinema every time a political movie such as “Fahrenheit 9/11”, “Bowling for Columbine”, or “An Inconvenient Truth” comes out: It is sometimes difficult to keep in mind that such movies are not always completely objective, even though they are of public interest.

The interview goes on to talk about a little paradox about the movie: although it is about Gandhi’s life and his non violent ideology, the leading actor, Sanjay Dutt, was convicted in January for possessing weapons and having taken a part in bomb attacks in Mumbai in 1993. It is not quite clear whether he was actually guilty or not, but the theme seems to embarrass the screenwriter.

I was very impressed by what a faithful portrayal of Bollywood this interview is: it addresses many problems, such as clichés, or over-simplifications in movies, or the links between the film industry and the mafia, talks about the role of music in these movies, about their impact on the population, and besides, it taught me quite a lot about India itself: one can see that Gandhi is not the figure we might think it is, with an outside eye, although he is treated with great respect (the screenwriter keeps calling him “Gandhi-ji” as a mark of honour). Altogether, I found this program very interesting, and the only critic I could make would be the host herself, who cannot seem to pronounce Indian names properly, and is a little bit contemptuous to the screenwriter sometimes.
Well, reader, I think that's it for tonight... I'll just add one more picture, if I don't add him, I'll feel sick and won't be able to sleep all night... :-) Always need to find excuses...

lundi 16 avril 2007

Tamtam, tam tam tamtam, tam tam tam tam

(This is supposed to be the Mission : Impossible music, for those of you who hadn't noticed.)

I finished Jaywalking with the Irish!! In my awful train ride from Strasbourg to Graz, I had more than enough time, thanks, once again to the DB. I would now like to launch into a terrible diatribe about travelling conditions, staff politeness, taxi music, smoking in trains, and why my asthma medicine always has to crawl all the way to the bottom of my suitcase when I need it in a crowded train, but I won't because it has nothing to do with JWI. So...

Let's talk about what really interests us: My opinion about JWI... (yeah, I know you're terribly interested about my opinion, reader, you always are. And if you're not, anyway, why are you even reading this?? Huh??)

So. I have mixed feelings about this book, and I'm being very honest. I liked some parts, found it funny, and interesting, and liked the characters that were described throughout the book, but I seem to have a little problem with Monagan himself, with whom I don't always agree. I mean, he's kind of two-faced about the whole Ireland business!

He seems to regret the "good old Ireland" of his past, the pre-Celtic Tiger Ireland, which everybody loved, and stuff. And this is something that I have also heard a lot myself when I was in Dublin, by the way: "Oh, it was so much better before, when we actually knew what money was worth, and nature was open and beautiful, and we knew that generosity was a value, much more than coins and banknotes". I do agree with that. But then again, guys, and I'm talking to non-native Irish there, they were not going to stay country bumpkins all theirs life just to please you. I feel that it's not doing justice to how much people had to struggle at the time, to regret this "good old past" which was not all that good, really, looking back on it.

And when Irish try (however clumsily) to recover this lost past, they are mocked for building Disneyland around their historical monuments. Are we never ever to be content with what we have? It's funny, because I think that this is an ultimate sign of begrudgery amongst Irish people. They always say it is one of their main traits, and now, they are actually begrudging themselves. I mean:

"Couldn't they see the Dublin I used to know [says Monagan with a teary voice], with its characters from the country who cinched their pants with rope, and shawl cloaked vegetable-stall women who bawled into the morning, crude and carefree? [...] So much was gone."

Yeah. I'm really convinced those people regret having fitting blue jeans and jobs that allow them to wake up at 8 instead of 3 am.

In general, I understand what he means, I liked the book, and the style of writing, because it's nice to learn so many new words, and I felt for the characters in all the right places, and laughed in all the right places too, but it could not become my favourite book. Some of the anecdotes that were related were really interesting and nice, but in general, I think one of the reasons why I didn't like it so much was the lack of events in his life. But that's me, I'm just not used to autobiographies!

Well, I have mostly written about what I didn't like about JWI, even though I really enjoyed reading it, but I think it's more interesting to criticise than to praise, so there you go, reader. That was My Opinion About JWI. What do you think?

samedi 14 avril 2007

You can hear it to my accent when I talk... I'm an Englishman in Noo -yaaaaawk

Hello Reader!!

Today's my last post from France, I think, because the Easter holidays are coming to an end, and it's time for me to head back to Graz. But before that, I want to write a post about... About... (suspense!!) About all the accents I've heard in my English speaking past. I owe this idea to my sister, once again! I'll try to find the next theme myself... But accents, they are such a passionating theme, I can't stop talking about them. So thanks!

I guess I'll try a little list of my favourites, I hope you'll like it.

Well my first encounter with funny accents has to be my trip to Australia, where I had to change planes in Hong Kong. There, a first difficulty laid in the fact that I couldn't understand the accent of the stewardess, because Chinese is really really hard, so I got a panick attack, and landed in a strange subway, cruising through the airport, with no idea whatsoever where I was going, or if I was going to end up in downtown Hong Kong. (Now that would have been a lot of fun). But that was OK, panick attacks mostly are, because somebody always ends up pitying you, and it's easy to get help. Even though you're a little gooey. Anyway. The bad part was my arrival in Sydney when the Cathay Pacific stewardess said something in the on-board radio, which I didn't understand at all. Then they came and sprayed the aeration system with some kind of stuff, and it didn't take me long to figure out that they had warned us against breathing too deep and opening our eyes. It took a little longer for the swelling to go away.

Then, second, comes the Pakistani accent of my Pakistani roommates in Dublin. I had a very culturally mixed bunch of roomates, 3 Pakistanis, 2 Polish and 1 Slovaque roommates (plus a tiny Pakistani-Polish little baby). I won't talk long about my flat-sharing conditions in Dublin, because I always get nervous and sweaty when I do, but they all spoke very good English, espacially the Pakistanis who are very fluent. I liked talking to them because they have exactly the same accent as in the Bollywood movies, which I love, and I could fancy I was actually having a chat with Shahrukh Khan. The main problem resided in the written version of their accent, because that got much, much more complicated. "Claire, can I purpose you?" read the message on my mobile phone. I don't know, Raees. I don't know what you mean by purposing me. I hope it's not rude. I'll say no, so as not to take any risk. But it's easy to make fun, so I guess I'll make the third object on my list...

My silly french accent. I don't know why exactly, but I have enormous problems with the word "water". Somehow, people never EVER understand me when I say "water". Which is why I always order vodka instead. "Woe-tah"? "What-air" as we'd say in French? I don't know. And also I have big big problems with the word "squirrel". I used to say "rural squirrel" three times in a row to train, but it actually was completely useless, insofar as if you say it three times wrong, it won't help at all. Other words like that are "hierarchy", or "thoroughly" but then again, I don't use those very often.

Fourth would be the mistery accent of my brother. He lives in Oklahoma city, and has lived there for three years now I think, and I still never heard him speak English in a real conversation. I'd love to know whether he has a big French accent or none at all, but I guess the chances are high that I'll never know, because he obviously speaks French to me.

Of course, the Irish accent is very popular with me. They have such a nice way to talk, it always sounds less mean than it really is. All I can say with a very bad fake Irish accent are awful swearwords, somehow. I wish I could have gotten a hint of real irish accent while I was in Dublin, but as I said, my roommates were not exactly Irish, so I did not. Too bad. But I can still say Eejit!! Eeeeeejit!! I like saying that. But I don't say it too often either, because I'm very well behaved.

Anyway. This post is getting longer and longer, and less and less interesting, so I guess I'll just stop there. The next one will be about JWI, which I have nearly finished (hurrah!! hurrah!!) ...

Oh, yeah, by the way, I don't know if anyone amongst you know the new series called Dr House, but it's really really great, and if you have a chance to, check it out! It's very funny! A little hard to understand because of all the terrible technical terms, but that's not so important really, unless you study medicine. I now officially need to call the "post ending" hotline, because I don't have a conclusion. Well, I guess "good-bye" will do!! I'll soon be back from Graz! Au revoir et à bientôt!

mercredi 11 avril 2007


Hi Reader!

Here's the shortest post on my blog so far. I just wanted to say, Australian wine isn't that good, and it certainly isn't better than French wine. I couldn't sleep last night...

Here's to you, Schtroumpf Grognon!! :-D

mardi 10 avril 2007

Advance Australia Fair...

Well, reader, I'm afraid to say my english speaking life is very monotonous... Hardly anything to say about it... Ah, yeah, actually some guy in a very expensive car asked me for the way to his hotel... Does that count? I don't think so. I'm afraid it's not even worth talking about. So instead, I'll tell you about something interesting, i.e. Sydney, Australia.

Having been to Sydney Australia is very satisfying. Because then you come back and say "I've been to Sydney", and everybody looks jealous and says "oh I soooooo wish I could go toooooo". Like that. And for many other reasons too, of course, about which I am going to tell you more now.

I've been to Sydney in 2001, and spent my summer holidays there, with my Australian family. It's a very distant family connection, so the family only spoke English with me, they were really nice, and I had a great time. I think it's the most English-enriching trip I've ever made, because I was so young and my brain was still nice and malleable. But also, of course, it was summer holidays in France, but winter in Australia, so I got the chance to go and study there for about one semester (three and a half month) in a public High School (Vaucluse High School).

That was really great and I got to meet so many people from so many countries, it was really fantastic. I made friends from Asia, mostly, including quite a lot of Korean girls. I remember making a terrible face the day my friend Kathrine told me she had a bowl of lice for lunch. I had just read a text about WWI, and life in the trenches in history class, so I knew what lice meant, and I remember thinking that Asian people really had strange customs, before realizing that she was actually talking about rice, and I had just misunderstood her accent...

I did not meet quite so many students from Australia, though, because I was in an "English as a Second Language" class. But of course, it taught me what it was like to use English in my everyday life, and write papers, and essays and everything.

Sydney itself is a lovely city, where the sun shines everyday, and anywhere you go, you can't be far either from the see, or from some extra-beautiful park, with incredible trees, and parrots instead of bloody pigeons, like in Austria or France. The buildings are not that impressive, because it's such a recent city, but of course, they are still quite nice, and the whole place is very clean, and rich.

I am very interested in cinema, so I went to the huge studios of the 20th Century Fox, but that's a little bit overdone, really, and most sets are closed now, so don't have too great expecations for this one attraction. the Harbour Bridge and the opera are much prettier in real life than on pictures, though, so that's a consolation.

I did not like Sydney quite as much as I loved New York, though, because Australians are into sports and sun and outdoor activities, and I'm not so very interested in all that. More to the point, I hate running and sweating and moving, and I prefer reading a book on a couch at home to throwing a ball with all my surfer friends in the sun. But then again, I'm a bore. And I'll die at 30, fat and lonely... But I'll stand up for my opinions! reading a book is NOT doing NOTHING, and it's a very enriching activity, although it's not particularly good for your health or your social life.

One of the other reasons why I didn't like the city quite as much as New York might have to do with My French Pride. Somehow, I think Australians are even worse than we are, and are therefore sometimes difficult to bear for us french people. Like when people ask you where you come from and you say France, they invariably answer "oh, yeah, Fraaaaance, but we are making much better wine than you are, now!! And have you heard about our new wave Australian fashion? By the way, the Harbour Bridge is a much more beautiful piece of work than the Eiffel Tower..." and things like that. Cheese was left unhurt, but that's because I didn't mention it. Otherwise, everything you can possibly imagine is always much much better in Australia. (As a French, that would be wine and haute couture, but I'm pretty sure they'd claim the best schnitzels in the world if faced with an Austrian person.)

I guess what really gets to me in all that is the fact that it's mostly true. They are making better wine than we are, and they are richer, and they are extremely beautiful, and very impressive. So I need to be honest, I'm just jealous.

Sydney is a lovely city, which I loved, and which you'll love too, especially if you are a young, sporty person looking for a new place to stay. Australian people are also extremely welcoming and open minded, it's really lovely, and incredibly easy to meet new people, especially if you already have a little connexion in the country, because you're sure to meet all their friends in a matter of minutes. So go!

samedi 7 avril 2007

A Land of Hope and Glory

Happy Easter! How is it going in Austria? Here, the weather is very good, which is incredible, because usually, at Easter, the weather is very bleak and rainy. But this year, it's sunny and warm, a real pleasure!

In order to celebrate this beautiful day, I decided to tell you about my Top Five Favourite British Actors. Once again, I can't take credit for this post idea, which I owe to my best friend V. This whole post is actually a kind of collaborative work between me and my friends who helped me pick and order... It was fun to do, nobody got killed... I think it's a very good idea, just the thing to go with the sunny weather. Besides, I figured British actors should be given some kind of motivation award, because why else would anybody want to learn English, if not to understand what they are saying with their beautiful accent in their beautiful movies? I know, it's my bad side taking over, but what can I do? If I don't talk about backsides and pretty faces once in a while, I get sick. So here you go. Next time, I'll write about my top five British actresses. Just before my post about Tolstoi…

1.Paul Bettany. He is tall, (1.93!! do you realize that reader?), blond and blue eyed, an absolute backside must, but of course, that has got nothing to do with the reason why I like him so much. He plays in really good movies, although he has played in very very bad ones lately (such as "Firewall", a terrible terrible work, starring Harrison Ford, the "DaVinci Code", or "Dogville", of which I told you already), but his other movies are just great. If you haven't seen "A Knight's Tale", "Wimbledon", or "Master and Commander", check them out, reader, they are ultimately cool. Especially the first two.

2.Ewan McGregor (I said British!). He plays in very good movies, and very very well, everytime. He cries particularly well, for example, I would state this as one of his particular talents. Haven't you seen Moulin Rouge? If I had to pick a Top Three list of McGregor movies, it would include Moulin Rouge, Shallow Grave and A Life Less Ordinary. And come on, reader, I didn't like the last three Star Wars movies either (well, the last first movies, I guess you understood…) but wouldn't you have paid to get a role in such a mythic saga? I would have, without hesitation. And without reading the screenplay. These movies are my entire childhood!

3.Kenneth Branagh. Eternal gratefulness to Kenneth Branagh for updating the Shakespeare classics which I never would have watched otherwise. Even his 3h long Hamlet, with the father's apparition in extremely natural looking blue mist, and sound effects that would belong in an Ed Wood movie is worth the time…I would give a special mention to "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Dead Again".

4.Hugh Grant; I hesitated a long time before adding him to my list, because I was afraid I would look silly. But then I thought, c'mon, Claire, you are silly, and your reader has noticed that long ago! Forget dignity, and replace it with honesty, which is said to be a virtue. So yes, Hugh Grant would belong there. Note that Collin Farrell isn't in this list. Did you know that he was refused at the Backstreet Boys casting? (he he he). Anyway. Hugh Grant is great, even though it is easy to make fun of him because of his two facial expression and the fact that he only ever has one role to play. My favourite two movies with him would be "Sense and Sensibility" and "Music and Lyrics".

5. Jude Law. Yeah… I can't really justify Jude Law… he won his rank just with his eyes… I am ashamed. But he is a good actor though. I can't really remember in what, but he is…

I guess that makes it five! I have to stop now! That's terrible. But it's a Language Learning Blog, and no "Teen Dream magazine" article, so I guess it's better that I have to stop. The bad thing is that I can't blame the time, it's not even 7 p.m.! But, then again, I guess all these sweets must have turned my brain into marshmallows… I'm melting under the Alsacian sun!! That's a perfect excuse now!

I hope I'll find something clever to write about next time, why not JWI, which I have continued to read, and am enjoying more and more. I actually find it readable, if you go on reading without the missing words. It's not very comfortable, and I'll have to read it again with my vocabulary list, but I think it's good fun, and also interesting to know more about Cork, which seems to be a little bit more authentic than Dublin.

Well, reader, the sugar rate in my blood is getting lower and lower, so I have to run, and eat some more chocolate, before I drop dead… Bye bye! Have a nice Easter!!

jeudi 5 avril 2007

The Church Mice

Today, I want to tell you about "The Church Mice", a series of books by Graham Oakley. I was looking back at my childhood, and trying to find when my interest in English dated back to, and I decided that... well OK, no, it was actually my sister who told me that it would be a good theme. And it's a very good idea.

I don't suppose any of you have heard of "The Church Mice, Arthur and Samson's method: learn English with humour". For one main reason, i.e., it's supposed to be a method to learn English when you are a French kid, which none of you SUK4 students are. But I figured it was nevertheless a good thing to write about here, because it is, after all, despite all these terrible backside references and lots of nonsense, a Language Learning Blog. So let's be serious for a second.

As you might have understood, "The Church Mice" are a series of children books. They are written both in French and in English, with the English version on one side of the page, and the French one on the other. It is about mice, which live in a church, in the company of a religous cat, which has learnt that one should love, and not eat, his neighbour. Both races cohabitate more or less peacefully.
They are very funny books, with really good illustrations by the author of the texts, which proves that the guy is really talented. My personal favourite is "the Church Mice at Christmas", when the mice decide to raffle the cat, in order to get money for their christmas party.

It's very English humour, and the good thing about it is that it gives you good insight into the English culture. Well, they might actually be kind of outdated now, because they were published in 1984 (gosh!! 23 years ago already!!), but they are nevertheless really cool, and you get acquainted with things like "peaches in brandy" and "pickled walnuts". Besides, there is a good vocabulary list at the end, which is funny, and interesting, and helps you understand more precisely what different things are, which might require a longer definition, and not just a French equivalent.
Of course, one can debate about wether or not having texts written bilingualy actually is a good method for learning a foreign languages, or wether one perhaps ought to read things in just one language, in order to avoid getting the bad habit of translating everything in your head instead of actually thinking in the foreign language. But in my personal opinion, though it might not be the best method, it is nevertheless a good way of getting kids interested in learning, which is already a victory.

The point of writing all this when I know that none of you would read it in French is also that I suppose it might have been translated to German, because, after all, why not!!

Anyway, I hope this will be a little bit useful, in case you want to teach English to your 9 years old cousin (or sister, or brother)... Or just have a little relaxing, easy read, in order to rest your brain after 1 chapter of JWI... I really like them, even now that I'm supposed to read books which don't have pictures in them...
It's time for me to go to bed now, I guess... All my family is coming back home for easter and my mum just got out of the hospital, so I guess tomorrow will be a busy day!! I love familly reunions! Especially when they involve a lot of chocolate eating. And coming back home after a long while.... Good night reader!!

mercredi 4 avril 2007

De smell off Patrick Bridge is wicked. How does Father Mathew stick it?

Hi Reader!! How are you today?

I just wanted to write a little tiny post here, to state that I began reading "Jaywalking with the Irish" today. Of course, I haven't gotten very far yet. I must say that what I read so far has been less terrible than I imagined, although I do agree that it is sometimes a little bit difficult to stay focused, because of the number of words I don't understand. I don't know how you read things like that, but personally, I try not to use my dictionary, and have a "if I don't understand it, it can't be that important" philosphy. In the case of most books, it's OK, but in this one, I must admit that I sometimes have te read whole chunks over and over again until I finally manage to make sense of them.

I look forward to being able to show off my newly-learnt vocabulary list, because really, I'd love to casually put "idle away", or "throng" in a conversation.

Anyway, the main purpose of this entry is just to make sure that I read it at a reasonable pace, because I won't have an excuse for taking my time. I can't lie about Amazon's delays anymore!! I am doomed!!

Honestly though, I kind of like the characters, so far, especially the kids (though as I said before, I'm not too much into little people in books, somehow...), so I have good hopes of actually liking the books (i.e. the parts that I manage to understand).

Well, reader, I'm in Strasbourg now, catching up with my French friends which I haven't seen in quite a while, so I guess I'll stop there and go have some fun in Alsace's second prettiest city!!

Have fun while I'm away!!

mardi 3 avril 2007

Let the Sunshine IN!!!

Hello reader!!

How have you been these past few days? Here in Colmar, everything is going pretty much OK... The weather is just perrr-fect, except for the silly fact that my nose is red and sore from all this blowing... If I catch the guy who invented pollen, he's going to have a reaaaally bad time!!!

Anyway. Anybody who has had to sneeze three times per minutes during two days knows that it is enough to get you in a psychopathic mood... In order to vent all this anger, to let out all this bad, angry energy, and become a real shaolin master, I am going to write about "Dogville". I hate "Dogville". And I thought, today, I'm going to tell bad things about something, I guess it'll make me feel better. And maybe the almighty Lord of Cinema will be thankful for my efforts and will make my nose stop running. (Dream on...)

Anyway. Dogville is a movie by the (in)famous Lars Von Trier, a Danish film maker. He is famous for winning the "Palme d'Or" in Cannes for his movie "Dancer in the Dark", starring Björk. He is also famous for making really weird movies with a DV camera, involving lots of gross people and scenarios which make you vomit, or traumatize you forever. Maybe it's the other way around (gross scenarios and people that traumatize you forever), I can't remember. I haven't seen many films by Lars Von Trier, and I know a lot of really clever people who have seen them all and loved them all, so I guess maybe I'm just not clever enough, or not cultivated enough to properly appreciate them. But I'm sorry, I just can't watch that.

Before sitting through all of "Dogville", I had seen little pieces of "Breaking the Waves" and I had found it striking. I don't really know in what way it struck me, but the few scenes I've seen, I remember them very very well. So when "Dogville" was shown on TV (in the original version!! woohoo!), and that I heard my favourite actor starred in it (yeah, yeah, feather-brain is never far behind...) I thought, go on, Claire, watch it, what's stopping you?

I shouldn't have. I should have gone to bed. I should have put my hand in the toaster, it would have been more agreeable. Why should someone in his right mind want so bad to demonstrate that the whole Human race is just one big piece of crap? Why should someone wish to show anybody such a dreadful, awful, unspeakable story? What does it actually mean, for someone to be that hopeless about Us in general? I don't quite know, but it can't be a good sign.

The story is about a young woman, Nicole Kidman, who comes to a very small town, and decides to stay there (she is fleeing some kind of mafia, but we don't know more about that until the end of the movie, so I won't tell you more about it either). She meets the locals, gets a little bit more involved with one of them, a would-be philosopher (Paul Bettany, the one, the only), and fits in quite nicely, until everybody starts exploiting her and abusing her for ABSOLUTELY NO GOOD REASON in every possible way until she is barely more than an animal. Why would they do that? More to the point, why would a filmmaker write a scenario with no one in it to save? I don't quite get it.

Once again, I am conscious that it might be a problem with me, and absolutely not with the movie itself (though no, come on, you can't really say there's no problem with that movie). I found the idea of the "no set, no extras" quite interesting (I'm not being sarcastic there, in case you were wondering), and the various actors were amazing, but what for? I refuse to think so bad of the human race! I think we are ultimately good, and that bad people are bad because bad things happened to them. And I am absolutely convinced that trying to make people believe otherwise is evil. EVIL!! BAD!! Like pollen!!!

Anyway. I think that's all I have to say about Dogville. I'd like all your opinions, though, please, because if somebody liked it, I'd be interested in knowing why... I think I'm feeling slightly better now... Must be all these bad energies escaping my mind and giving my blog a bad karma...

Good night, reader!!