Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Top 10 Actors

After much ado by me I have finally compiled my all time favorite actors list. After several attempts at trying to write why they were my favorite actors, I decided just to list the movies that make them my favorite. There are of course many other fine actors out there and everyone is incouraged to make their own lists.

1. Humphrey Bogart
Casablanca, Maltese Falcon, Big Sleep, African Queen....

2. Tom Hanks
Philadelphia, Saving Private Ryan, Big, Road to Perdition, Toy Story

3. Jimmy Stewart
You Can't Take it With You, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, it's a Wonderful Life, Rear Window Vertigo

4. Marlon Brando
A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront, Godfather, Apocalypse Now

5. Harrison Ford
Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Blade Runner, Frantic, Mosquito Coast

6. Gregory Peck
To Kill a Mockingbird, Roman Holiday, Cape Fear

7. Cary Grant
Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday, Arsenic and Old Lace, Notorious, North by Northwest

8. Robert Deniro
Godfather II, Goodfellas, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Deer Hunter

9. Toshiro Mifune
Seven Samauri, High and Low, Yojimbo, Hidden Fortress

10. Al Pacino
Godfather, Dog Day Afternoon, Scarface, Glengarry Glen Ross, Insomnia

Monday, November 29, 2004


Nationale Bibliotech. And Remember to visit Webshots for more of my updated Marche Noel pictures

Long Time Gone

"There were days
and there were days
and there were days between
Summer flies and August dies
the world grows dark and mean
Comes the shimmer of the moon
on black infested trees
the singing man is at his song
the holy on their knees
the reckless are out wrecking
the timid plead their pleas
No one knows much more of this
than anyone can see anyone can see"

-Robert Hunter

Sorry I have been away for a bit my blogger friends. There was Thanksgiving and then our friend Kate came over for the weekend, so I have been rather busy and unable to sit at the computer and blog.

Our second Thanksgiving was quite wonderful. We had Thanksgiving proper with the American misisonaries, Daniel and Tammy and various folks from the Church. We had it at Fabienne's apartment. It was quite an adventure getting there. Amy and I first took the tram to Ann and Mohammad's flat. Then we all took another tram to a bus stop. We weren't sure what bus to take so we just jumped on one we thought might go the righ way, then looked at the map to see where it went. We quickly decided that bus was the wrong one so we took it to another stop and got out. After some confusion which was cleared up by asking a random bus driver we found the correct bus stop and hopped that bus. This bus took us to Daniel and Tammy's house where we awaited Daniel to drive us to Fabienne's. All of this was with me lugging our big cart around stuffed with food and Mohammed carrying a big heavy box!

We arrived at Fabienne's with me realizing that the turky breast I had been carrying in Daniel's van had dripped juices all over me. It soaked my coat and my sweater, so I spend the rest of the evening smelling like turkey! The food was lovely and the company pleasant. We did another round of hand turkeys. Jill even brought feathers in various bright colors which added to the festive turkeys.

Kate is our friend from Indiana who is doing an exchange in a little town south of France. We had a lovely weekend with here visiting. Friday and Saturday we spend wandering around the city taking in all of the Marche Noel. Stasbourg has many Christmas markets throughout the city. They have lots of ornaments and your basic assortment of Christmas stuff on sale. Plus they have a very nice variety of foods and drinks as well. They sell a malt wine that is wine heated on a stove (so that the alcohol is pretty much burned out) and mixed with lemon, orange and various spices. It is quite tasty. We also had a waffle covered in Nutella and a hot orange drink.

Sunday we had our third Thanksgiving dinner. Amy and Kate cooked a full chicken and made yummy dressing with sweet potatoes, and gravy. I tell you I have eaten so much delicious food the last few days I'll have to diet for months to get back into shape!

Well that's my story of not writing for a bit. I'm still working on my list of favorite movie actors and some other things to blog. So, I should be back tomorrow with more bloggings.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Gobble Gobble

Turkey day is here tomorrow. It doesn't seem possible because a) it just can't be the end of November, can it? and b) it's France and they don't celebrate Thanksgiving, so there aren't any markings of the holiday anywhere. And of course no day after sales.

I wish the half dozen who read this a very Happy Thanksgiving though.

We went to the library today and I got some more books. I updated my little homepage with this. I never did finnish the Kesey book. It was very large and difficult to get into and my check out time was running out so I just gave up. This is something I often do with books. Usually it is a mood thing. Where I just can't get in the mood for that particular book and put it aside, hoping I'll come back to it.

I've once again picked up a Chanlder. I'm quicly going through all the classic detective books. I looked for some Agathe Christie, but I could not find anything. The Shipping News is a book I picked up a few years ago, read 50 pages or so and then had to turn it back into the library. I liked what I read and I can't remember now why I didn't finnish it. I'm often a very slow reader and I suspect I just didn't have time to get through it with library deadlines. I know I know you get three weeks on first check out and then you can recheck, but still...I often get distracted by other books, tv, movies, life.

I've read good things about The Corrections, and frankly my choices of books that both interest me and seem like something I would actually sit down a read are getting much smaller at the language library I've been going to. Luckily I have another big library at the university and the big public library to still go to.

I'm working on another list like the Cover Songs list just posted. This time it is greatest film actors. Start making your own lists now.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Cover Me

Top 10 Cover Songs

A few rules. To be a cover song the song could not have been written specifically for that artist. Therefore the Monkees "I'm a Believer" will not work because Neil Diamond wrote it for their TV show. Likewise Neil Diamond's version of that song doesn't count even though many think of it as a cover, because well, he wrote it. To count for my list the cover has to be of a already generally known song. So Jimmy Hendrix version of "Hey Joe" doesn't count. Because there's a dispute over who actually wrote the song and whoever heard the versions by any of those guys?

1. Satisfaction by Otis Redding.
Original by the Rolling Stones

Many people consider the Devo version to be a much better cover, and I totally dig it too, but Otis just blows it away. He's got that killer Otis soul, jumping rhythm and even horns! Keith Richards has been quoted as saying the Otis version is how he meant the song to sound.

2. All Along the Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix.
Original by Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan himself changed his way of playing this song after he heard Hendrix

3. I Will by Alison Krauss.
Original by the Beatles

We played this song at our wedding. Its a beautiful McCartney number slowed down, and sung even more beautifully by Ms Krauss.

4. Sweet Jane by Cowboy Junkies.
Original by the Velvet Underground

I actually prefer Lou Reeds solo live versions of this song more than the original Velvet Underground's studio recording. But the Junkies make what is a rowdy, dirty rock and roller into a softer, peaceful lullabye.

5. Not Fade Away by the Grateful Dead.
Original by Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly's sweet rockabilly tune is turned on its head by the masters of jam. Often the Dead would churn this tune into a grinding 15 minute spectacle.


6. RESPECT by Aretha Franklin
Original by Otis Redding

Aretha gets back at Otis here. Otis does some amazing vocals on his version, but Aretha takes it a step further and nails it on its head.

7. Cold, Cold Heart by Norah Jones
Original by Hank Williams

Norah turns this forelorn country song into a sultry, sexy croon.

8. Stardust by Willie Nelson.
Original by Hoagy Carmichael

Transforming a huge big band tune into its most simplistic melody Willie Nelson makes this song his own.


09. Bizarre Love Triangle by Frente
Original by New Order

The orignal was a big dance hit, but Frente break it down into a beautiful acoustic number.

10. Hurt by Johnny Cash
Original by Nine Inch Nails

The hearbreaking video adds a lot of texture to this version, but in the end its Johnny Cash's voice that brings out more meaning into this song than ever meant by Trent Reznor.

There are certainly many more great covers out there that I thought of and didn't think of that could have been included. I tried to pick songs that followed my mentioned rules and that broke away from the original. For instance I think the harmonies on CSN's version of "Blackbird" elevate if far above the Beatles version, however they didn't make it a different song and thus it wasn't included. Got covers not on my list? Comment them!

A Few Changes

I have been periodically reviewing my old posts to edit them. I am trying to not make any real changes in meaning, but have been cleaning up their spelling and grammar. I have also been adding periodic links. I have always liked the internet concept of linking to various topics within a certain post. It's like an annotated thought. To find more information on this subject click here. In doing this I have noticed some minor changes in my blog concept and have wondered about the future of this blog.

Initially I meant the blog to be a journal of my experiences in France. I wanted to keep track of the places I went, the sights I saw, and perhaps, keep track of my feelings during all of these expeirences. I had no idea if I would allow anyone to read it at all. Slowly I did allow people to read it. First my friends were allowed to view the blog then acquaintances were allowed, and finally I have made efforts to let anyone and everyone to read it. On this end I have been visiting a lot of strangers blogs and commenting on them. Figuring the owners and any visitors would read my comment then click to see my blog and they I would have more visitors. This has actually worked to some degree and now I have some regular visitors.

By visiting other blogs I have also seen how other people are putting together their blogs. I've found that I am rather bored with play by play experiences of daily life. Most of those are quite dull. This doesn't mean that I won't continue doing some play by play of my own life, even though it may be rather dull as well. I have too many family members reading this and they like to be kept up on what the heck I'm doing here in France. And at least I am abroad and therefore, a little more exciting than writing about being in Indiana :) I'm also not going to get into political blogging. Politics drives me bonkers most of the time, and there are plenty of political commenntators out there if thats your schtick. And I don't plan on making this a real personal diary, discussing the details of every mood and thought. Nor do I plan on getting into religion or philosophy. That's just not my style. I do plan on adding some different things to my blog. I recently added the book review of sorts and got a little bit of positive feedback from it. I think I will begin adding various other reviews and 'top whatever' lists.

Well that's all I wanted to say. Kind of a dull post, but I wanted to throw out some changes to the blog and to say 'THANKS' to all my devoted readers. All 4 of you!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

A Great Mystery?

So I finnished my Chandler and the Mary Higgins Clark book. I had thought of reviewing the books, but I've never given a real review of a book, and frankly, I'm not sure how. These two books were very similar and yet vastly different in quality. I found Chandler's "The High Window" to be very good and Clarks "All Around the Town" to be quite awful. So hear I will try to describe why I liked one and not the other.

I say they are both similar and they are. Both are in the mystery/suspense genre. Both involve murders and the subsequent investigations to solve them. Yet in terms of how they are written and how they get to the solution is vastly different.

As always Chanlder write in the first person from the perspective of his classic detective, Phillip Marlowe. Clark writes in the third person. As a reader of "The High Window" you only know as much as Marlowe does. We see the world threw his eyes, follow his clues and do not know who the culprit is until the very end. Or at least I didn't. Which is not all that odd for me since I tend to let mysteries take me where they want without spending a lot of time trying to determine who the culprit is before I am given the final solution. But Chanlder never points the reader in a specific way to misdirect. You meet new and often suspicious characters throughout the story, but never see what they are doing when they are not with Marlowe. This leads to a more realistic story. You read along with the one man and thus are him in a sense. You are given no special insight into what is happening.

Clark writes in a nearly all knowing third person. As a reader you learn information that not any one character knows. Several times you are misdirected into believing one person or another commited the crime only to be later led to beleive you were mistaken. This happens until the final few pages when SURPRISE it wasn't who you thought. I literally groaned in disbelief when given several plot points. The general story involves a kidnapping, the kidnappee who later develops multiple personality disorder, and some villains who are also teleevangelists. All three are plot points that are so cliched and over used it makes me ill. While Chandler writes different and interesting characters who act realistically, if often brutal, Clark writes cardboard characters with stock personalities and then manipulates them to rush the reader along to a final pinnacle.

My biggest objection is one that I find hard to define. I want to say that both writers give ample details about their characters and settings, but Chanlder gives the right details where Clark gives the wrong ones. To better reveal this I have chosen two selections from the books below.

Chandler:

"A long limbed languorous type of showgirl blonde lay at her ease in one of the chairs, with her feet raised on a padded rest and a tall misted glass at her elbow, near a silver ice bucket and a Scotch bottle. She looked at us lazily as we came over the grass. From thirty feet away she looked like a lot of class. From ten feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from thirty feet away. Her mouth was too wide, her eyes were too blue, her make-up was too vivid, the thin arch of her eyebrows was almost fantastic in its curve and spread, and the mascara was so thick on her eyelashes that they looked like miniature iron railings.

She wore white duck slacks, blue and whit open-toed sandals over bare feet and crimson lake toenails, a white silk blouse and a necklace of green stones that were not square-cut emeralds. Her hair was as artificial as a night-club lobby."


Clark:

"His office was deliberately cozy: pale green walls, tieback draperies in tones of green and white, a mahogany desk with a cluster of small flowering plants, a roomy wine-colored leather armchair opposite his swivel chair, a matching couch facing away from the windows.

When Sarah was ushered in by his secretary, Carpenter studied the attractive young woman in the simple blue suit. Her lean, athletic body moved with ease. She wore no makeup, and a smattering of freckles was visible across her nose. Charcoal brown brows and lashes accentuated the sadness in her luminous gray eyes. Her hair was pulled severely back from her face and held by a narrow blue band. Behind the band a cloud of dark red waves floated, ending just below her ears."

Clark tells us how we're supposed to feel about the setting and character before she actually describes it. "His office was cozy" she says and then describes it in bland, descriptive terms. Or Sarah is attractive to Dr. Carpenter, yet she is also sad because it tells us so: "sadness in her luminous gray eyes." It's as if it is written by a first year writing student, who has been told to supply lots of descriptive details. The details seem taken from a big box labled "character details."

Chanlder gives some of the same details describing the type of clothes she has on and that there is a bottle of Scotch nearby, but he doesn't tell us how to feel about it. He doesn't tell us the lady is an out of luck alcoholic showgirl. He gives us the details of having the Scotch nearby, of how shabbily she is made up that let us know what type of person she is without actually stating so in bold type. Chandler's style is also laid out. Within the physical details is a sarcastic wit that shines.

With all of this I don't care if anyone reads Mary Higgins Clark or even really likes her. The written word like any art is often in the eye of the beholder. Truth be told I couldn't write a book as good as Ms. Clark did. Now I wouldn't have evil evangelists or multiple personalities in my book, but the quality would be just as shabby I suspect. But just because I cannot produce a good novel doesn't mean I cannot critique them. Honestly, I don't know who is going to be interested in my critiques of novels that were written in 1942 and 1992 anyway. I write them to try to hone some of my limited writing skills and to get a better understanding of why I find certain books really good, and others quite terrible.

A lovely Thanksgiving feast. As always a picture on my blog means more pictures on my webshots page.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Party

We had our first party last night. We invited all the AIMers over for snacks and fun. Amy has been wanting to hold a party for ages but we have neglected to actually do one until now. Mainly because Amy gets the idea in here head and wants to make it absolutely perfect which means a lot of preparation. We're both slackers so the preparation never actually materializes into reality so we never have the party. Finally I said let's just do the inviting and then we'll prepare whatever we can and still have fun. So it was pretty tame. We had snacks and drinks and sat around chatting until Balderdash was brought. Unfortunately the tram line to our place was down this week and the last bus left at 10:30 so everyone had to split pretty early. All in all it was fun, and nice to actually have people over to our cave.

Tonight we go to Elizabeths for her turkey party. Well I should say chicken party since you can't really find turkey here until December. Being France they don't celebrate Thanksgiving so the turkeys don't come out until Christmas time. But the chicken should be grand. Next week on Thanksgiving proper we are having a turkey party at Fabiennes. And then on Friday Kate is coming over for the weekend so we'll have to do a little meal for her. That's a lot of good Thanksgiving eating!

This is the Palais Rohan that houses the museums. It's on my webshots page, but everyone is getting so snooty about no pictures I thought I would throw it up here as well.

Does anyone here speak English? French?

We went to Kehl, Germany last Thursday with EizabethThis time the bus actually made it the whole way. No crazy German protesters this time. Elizabeth needed a few odds and ends for her Thanksgiving party, and we just went to kill some time (but of course left with loads of goods). Both teams broke down and finally bought a caddy (they are kind of like carpet bags, except everyone uses them to carry groceries...I'll try to get a picture up shortly). It is amazing how annoying and difficult it is to go shopping when you don't have a car. Until now we have been bringing out back pack and I always had to go with Amy. Even then we could only carry a few items and never get everything we needed. This caddy allows us to carry more goods and even heavier things that normally we would not be able to manage. yeah.

Oh, the point of the German story was to tell about our Lidl experience. Lidl is very similar to Aldis if anyone has ever been to one of those. They sell typically generic good very, very cheap. While standing in line Amy accidently dropped a spice jar and broke it on the floor. No one seemed to notice, or at least care. We didn't know how to tell anyone what had happened so we just kind of swept it under the table and went on our merry way. After the clerk had run our items Amy tried to pay with her French bank card. Apparently they don't take French cards at this German store, from what we gathered anyway. At first we thought it was a minumum price problem and tried to get the cashier to ring up Elizabeth's items. Both Elizabeth and Amy are taking German classes, but are not far enough along to get out more than a few words. So the cashier is talking in fast German while Amy and Elizabeth stumble over their limited vocabulary. Eventually we figured out there was an ATM outside and Amy ran to it as I sat in the corner with our goods. Many minutes past and there was no Amy, so I went looking. The cashier pointed like the ATM was just outside, but I couldn't see it or Amy. I start wandering around the streets of Germany at night looking for either a cash machine or my wife. I looked for probably ten minutes until panic started overcoming me. Dear God please let her be ok kind of panic. Holy crap there is no ATM anywhere, and WHERE IS MY WIFE! Luckily I peeked back inside and saw the wife standing in line. She had to ask a hotel clerk where the ATM was in broken German. What a mess. A lot of Germans actually do speak English, but apparently not at Lidl.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

God is Old

Sorry, I seem to be using a lot of Paul Simon for my titles of late.

Amy and I went to the Archeological Museum today. It had all kinds of cool artifacts dating all the way back to like 50 BC! That's absolutely astounding to me. I don't think I have ever seen something that old that was built by man. Some of the oldest people to have lived in this area and leave behind something were buried in little coffins inside larger structures that housed various other items. The men would be barried in full armor and then in a side chambor would be other weapons, jewelry and food. I couldn't quite understand the French explanation but it would seem that they thought they would rise up again and would need food and weapons then. The coolest stuff to me was dated several hundred years later during the Roman Empire. They had these great old statues of Mercury and Venus and other gods. Plus big tablets of stone with letters written in what everybody knows as the old Roman style. Very interesting to see real. A lot of this section of the museum was very dark. The museum itself is in the basement of the Palais Rohan, which is itself a beautiful and amazing structure. (and I now have to add an apology for the odd linking I do on my blog. I always mean to link a lot of things, but in the end I forget half of it). Anyways there isn't a lot of natural light, and for whatever reason the museum has decided to paint the walls in this section black and to only have small spotlights on each artifact. The effect is quite creepy. As I was crossing pass some monument, or skeleton I stepped on some type of trap door in the floor which caused this loud bang. Scared the bejesus out of me! A little later Amy did the exact same thing!

One thing I noticed there and the fine art museum just above it was that the security guards were visibly bored. Security guards must be bored everywhere, but at least in America they have to act like they are scrutinizing everyone and are alert. Here they sat slumped over, reading a book, staring out the window, or had their head in their hands looking stupified.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

To Blog or not To Blog

I have very little news to report. I've mainly been reading the last several days. I finnished my Chandler and am nearly done with Foxfire. I hope to have some reviews of them soon. I actually did sit down a write a review of a cd the other day. I spend a nice chunk of time writing it and I think it was quite good, but the internet screwed up and I lost everything. Argh!

I've been thinking about the term culture shock lately. Before I left for France I had expected to experience a lot of it. I somehow thought I would wind up sitting in my apartment for weeks staring out the window wishing I was somewhere else. That is a far cry from reality. I've really had a great time here from the start. Sure there have beena few moments that were a little unnerving, times that I felt a little sad. But these were no more than I might feel if I was still in Indiana. Technically, culture shock is defined as the emotional response a person has to being in a different culture. So, yeah, I've had emotional responses. Maybe I expected more because of the term. I mean it says "shock" so I suspected a real shock, or jolt. I'm sure it would be a different experience if we had not lived with Daniel and Tammy for two weeks to start out with. Or if there weren't other Americans/English speakers to which we could spend time with. They make all the difference I suspect.

I have spend several hours trying to get my DVD player to work with French coded DVDs. That's not exactly right. My DVD player will play French DVDs but only so often. Like many players, there is only a certain number of times it will switch from region 1 to region 2 or whatever before it gets stuck on whatever the last region was forever. There is software out there that will either override the system or simply reset the counter. However, I've failed to find the proper stuff for my particular brand. Anybody have any experience with this stuff? Use the commenter or e-mail me with suggestions, please.

My pictures were finally viewed by the French class in Alabama. I'm told they were a great big hit. I don't know why, but that gives me great joy. Even though I've had no direct contact with them its like there is a little connection between us now. All these kids have had a direct link into my life, and been taught, and learned from my little experiences. How cool is that?

Sunday, November 14, 2004

French Kissing

Have I mentioned the French are very affectionate? Besides having to personally greet them when you enter a room and then say goodbye to each person when you leave AND that crazy cheek kiss thing you have to do to everyone, they are constantly touching each other and if they are a couple doing even more! It is nothing to see a couple give a kiss on the tram, or the side of the road. And we're not talking a quick peck here, it's usually a good full mouth romantic kiss. Yesterday while waiting at the tram stop a couple across the tracks was making out! I just want to carry a sign around saying "Get a room!"

I took my first French test on Friday. I bombed it madly! Unfortunately I had left most of my books at the boys house on Wednesday and therefore was unable to really study for it. I looked over what notes I had a little, but they were pretty useless. The exam was about 8 pages long. One page I could actually answer fairly well. Meaning I knew what it was asking and thought I knew the answers. Another page I knew what they were asking, but was unsure of the answers, or rather unsure of the sex of the nouns and thus unsure of the answers. All the other pages I just stared at blankly remembering that we had studied it, but not having a clue as to what to do. Talk about a humbling experience. Ann felt so sorry for me that she came over Saturday for free and went over it with me.

Pamela came over for dinner last night. She was our first real dinner guest in this tiny apartment. Amy cooked quesadillas and guacamole salad. It was quite delicious. Then we had strawberries for dessert! Quite lovely. It was good to see we could actually have a small dinner party in this place as well.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Mamma Don't Take My Kodachrome Away

I have been making myself lists each day of things to accomplish. I had become so lazy and complacent that I really need a list of activities to accomplish. This has actually helped out a lot. I've managed to write a number of pages on my book. I have made some cds for friends, blogged, and done a lot of reading. Here's to hoping I keep it up.

I am kind of fibbing on the books I am reading section of the front page. I am also reading a book by Mary Higgins Clark that Tammy gave me. It is so horribly written I was embarassed by it. Let's just say it involves kidnapping and multiple personality disorder! How much more cliched could it get?! Why do people buy this kind of trash? Why do I keep reading it? That ones easy enough. Tammy gave it to me and I'd hate to tell her I didn't read it. Even though she admitted it was awful. Plus it is super fast and easy to read and gives me something to do while I'm in the bathroom. I understand why people don't read. They are very busy with maintaining a social life, working, keeping up a romance, taking care of children and there is the almighty TV that keeps us all entertained. But of the people who read, why would you purchase such dumb books? And obviously they do because she, and many others like her, are on the best seller's list all the time. I understand the need to read something light that doesn't make you think too much. I understand reading as escapism. But there are so many other books out there that aren't too demanding, that create wonderful, frightening, mysterious, hilarious worlds to escape into. I don't mean to sound like a book snob. I was that for many years, and have since overcome my 'you shouldn't read anything but the classics' phase. It just makes my head spin that this tv movie of the week kind of book actually sold buy the truck load. For the record, the title of this one is All Around the Town

And now as I look at that Amazon link, I realize the average reader rating is 4.5 out of 5 stars! Here is one of their reviews.

"Laurie Kenyon was kidnapped at the age of four, and was returned to her family two years later. Now, her parents have died, and she's suspected of killing her English professor. This book has it all - short chapters, excellent plotting, psychology and even an Australian character in this American book. Go on - read it! (A+)"

Short chapters! Psychology! An Australian! These are the reasons I should read this book. Sweet lord, I'll shut up now before I go insane.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Ch-ch-changes

I've been slowly updating the site. I finally figured out how to get my picture back into the main page. I've also added a list of the current books I am reading to the side bar. I've always wanted to write real reviews of the books I read, movies I see, and music I listen to. The writer in me always wants to do it for writing practice, plus those pipe dreams I have of being a writer usually clash with the reality of practicality of 1)I'm not a good writer and 2)the only money I might ever see in writing would be reviews. The critic in me is perpetually writing reviews in my head, so I might as well write them for real right? I'd also like to have reviews of mine for future reference. A nice handy guide of the things I liked and panned and the reasons why. So maybe, I'll use my free time in France (and there is plenty of it) to start writing reviews. I suspect I would place them on a seperate blogged.

Potential problems with this idea is that I rarely read a new book, my taste in music tends live in the 60's and 70's, and it's a rare thing to see a movie here in France. Does anyone want to read reviews of old things?

I have been trying to write something original of late. I have a number of ideas for short stories and novels, but I find I don't have the patience to write them. Everything I write I cringe at. I've had better luck with telling some of my own stories. I've always enjoyed telling stories about my life, and think I have become pretty good at it, so I am trying to get them into a written form. Perhaps I will blog them sometime...

Top 5

Five things I hate about Strasbourg.

1. Caca. The French seem to love their dogs, but here they don't know how to use a pooper scooper. Their is crap literally everywhere. No matter how careful you are you're just bound to step in a pile sooner or later.

2. The language. I like the actual language, it flows quite beautfully from a native tongue. Problem is it just gets stuck on mine. I'm trying to learn to speak French, but most I'm just frustrated.

3. Traffic. So many of the drivers here are just nuts! They drive incredibly fast,pay no attention to traffic laws even though the roads are narrow and windy. Not to mention they park anywhere and everywhere.

4. Weather. It's nice one day and cold, damp and drizzly the next six. It can never just rain here, its got to drizzle for days on end. I don't know how many times I have opened the blinds to see some sun shine only to walk down to the street five minutes later and find the sun completely covered by dark clouds.

5. The Euro. This is less about my dislike for the French currency and more of my lack of them. The dollar is worth less than the Euro so all my saving before I came comes out to much less than I hoped. We are living without any income from me so we have to live on a lot less than we are used to.

Five Things I Love About Strasbourg

1. Scenery. Strasbourg is a beautiful city. With the canals, old buildings, and abundance of flowers, everyday reveals a marvelous view.

2. Doner Kabaps. I've already raved about these lovely sandwiches. They have replaced my hamburger cravings nicely.

3. Boulanger/Patissier. Why we don't have these bread and pastry shops all over in the US is beyond me. There is nothing better than a freshly baked bagette or a chocolate croissant in the morning.

4. Eating the tip off a bagette. Now that it has turned cold it is a miserable experience walking to the store everyday to buy a bagette. The saving grace is biting the tip of the bread off as I am walking home. It is so crisp, and soft, and WARM! It's a little piece of heaven.

5. The people. French stereotypes are so wrong. At least from the people I've met here in Strasbourg. Everybody has been incredibly friendly and kind. No, not every single person runs up to you to talk or help, but this isn't fantasyland, its not like that in the States either. Sure, a lot of stores could stand a little more customer service, but I have experienced none of the snottiness or rudeness I had come to expect from the stereotypes.

...My plan was to have a top ten of both categories, but I couldn't think of any other things I hated. I'm sure I will later. I also wanted to have some pictures to go along with it, but haven't figured out the html with the blogger yet, and I don't have all the pictures. Hopefully I will come back to this post, and improve upon it.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

I need More hits

When I first started writing this blog, I really wasn't sure who I would allow to see it. Slowly I invited only my close friends, and family. Now I have pretty much invited everyone I know and am dying to have more people visit. I have installed a little hit counter and get e-mails with the number of visitors I've had. I can't tell you how invigorating it is to have a high hit count! Still no one leaves comments but a few. So if you are reading this, please leave a comment. Also invite your friends. On the blogger home page they list a few of their favorite bloggers. There is one guy in nearly the same situation as me. He is from the states doing a year exchange, and they have him as a blogger of note. And he's only written like four things, and its been a month since he wrote! Come on people, I write a heck of a lot more than that!

Sorry for the little rant there.

Yesterday I went to a little party at Lauras. And by the way there are finally some pictures of our friends from the university on my webshots page. It was quite fun. Like everyone else here she has a little studio apartment and we crammed like 25 people in it. So we were all standing around talking and laughing. And of course half of it is in French with my wandering around joining in any English conversation I can find. As the night wore on everybody started just sitting on the floor. As the night wore on more, everybody started getting quite drunk. Which was our cue to go on home.

Apparently the party was for 'bonfire day' which is some wacky Brittish holiday celebrating the capture and burning of some Catholic who tried to blow up parliment ages ago!

Today has been pretty lazy. We went to Auschan and got some groceries. Amy and I of course fought during this drugery as we always do during shopping. This time it was over her being late as usual for our meet up spot. I have once again swore to never go shopping with her again.

Fall is here again. This is on the road to my French class at the boys.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Deserted Island of Books

From time to time I like to bother my friends with those deserted island questions. You know the type, you are stranded on a deserted island and can only take X amount of one item or another. Anyways I recently decided on a version involving what books you would take. I thought that would make an interesting blog. First the rules and then my responses. Of course I have already changed some picks from when I posted this to my pals, but it will change again, and again, and again, so I'll just keep the original choices.

The rules: Let's assume their is a bible (your choice of versions) already waiting for you on the island so you don't have to use that as a choice. They can be any type of book: fiction, non fiction, reference, however if you chose an encyclopedia you must choose a concise one, because each book counts as a choice. You may not choose a collected works such as Shakespeare so as to pad your books. Let's assume that the deserted island is in fact paradise so books like "how to build a raft out of bamboo" would not be desired. In the same vein you may choose a cook book or gardening book if you like, but let's also say that food is readily available. So that choice would simply be out of your love for the subject.

My choices off hand, subject to change if i like your choices better.

In no particular order:

1. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. It is both laugh out loud funny, cry your eyes out sad, and get that warm fuzzy feeling kind of a book. it also appeals to me as an 'okie' and because my mother and her family made a similar trip to California in the 50's when there was another desert bowl.

2. To Kill a Mocking Bird by Lee Harper. Like the play, adore the movie,and love the book. I wish I were half the man Atticus Finch is.

3. Red Harvest by Dashielle Hammett. Here's where I wish I could have the collected works of somebody. I love this guy. Tight, tough detective stories. The guy practically invented noir. Most critics declare the Maltese Falcon as his best work, but something about this one just gets me. Although I almost chose the Glass Key over this one.

4. Moby Dick by Herman Melville. I'll still probably skip all of the details of whales short chapters, but the rest is all good.

5. Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkein. I'm cheating against my no collections rule a little bit, but Tolkein wanted it published as one volume originally so that's my excuse.

6. 1984 by George Orwell. To remind me of why I left society for a deserted island in the first place.

7 Angela's Ashes by Frank mcCourt. Sad,funny, poetic.

8. On the Road by Jack Kerouac. Beat generations Bible. Although I might prefer the Dharma Bums better, OTR is more classic.

9. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. In case I get a beautiful island girl pregnant. Amy and I have a pretty big childrens book collection, and it is amazingly difficult to just choose one for the trip, but I absolutely love Dahl and this is one of his better stories.

10. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. Well written, great story, and add a little more culture to my selection.

This was amazingly hard. I had to cut down this list several times before I was ready to send.


A special edition: Amy, my wife made a list.

1. Cookbook. She doesnt' have a title, just one with lots of variety, and perhaps some campfire recipies.

2. Organic gardening book. Again a little generic, but she doesn't have a favorite. She says she really does enjoy reading them and well, just likes to garden.

3. Art book. Generic again, something with full color pictures, covers art through the ages and comes with tacks so she can decorate her wall.

4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin. Hard choice between this and Sense and Sensibility.

5. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. Also difficult choice between this and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Hard to choose just one
childrens book.

6. Beloved by Toni Morrsion. Interesting, thought provoking. Likes the way she writes.

7. Oral History by Lee Smith. Amy wrote her undergrad thesis on this author. She literally could not decide between this book and a short story collection. I've never read any of her stuff, so I made the choice for her.

8. Walden by Henry David Thoreau She'll be going to the woods purposefully, seem like a perfect book for that :)

9. Kamouraska by Anne Hebert. To keep up with her French. Quebecois (from Quebec, Canada) writer, which reminds Amy of her time in Canada.

10. Lais of Marie de France, by Marie de France. Because she's a snooty
French girl. Written in old french and she wants to keep up.

**Amy says she'll probably change her mind about five times.

Looking at her list makes me want to throw some non fiction into my mix. A good history book or reference guide to science or something sounds really interesting. Anyways, make your own lists and post them here.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Christian Science

We went to a lecture at the university last night about science and the Bible. It was presented by a science professor at a university in Australia. Luckily he did not speak French and so I got a lecture in English (of an Australian variety!). I went in expecting to have my intellect stimulated and my morals offended by some liberal rhetoric. Instead I found it morally sound and intlelectually offensive! It was presented by some Bible study group on campus and not the actual university. My belief is that the lecturer was afraid of offending what must have been a wide variety of religious backgrounds, that he kept his talk very tame doctrinally speaking, and rather simple intelectually speaking. The only highlight was when an obvious American girl started a tirade against the speaker because he actually did mention his personal belief that Creation was not over a literal 7 day time span. The lecturer would not spar in public though and simply stated they could talk about it after. Where is Dr. Thompson and Apologetics Press when you need them?

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Blog the Vote

We went to Elizabeths last night to have an election party. It was fabulous. She cooked this huge two course meal with an appetizer and dessert! Damian and Laura were there plus Flor, a very sweet French lady who speaks very good English. We had our time zones wrong though because we suspected to start getting election results at around midnight, but it turns out they weren't really coming in until about 3 am! We did turn the television on and watched some French commentators talk about the election. It was funny because they had converted their set into a mock up of the oval office. So you had these French reporters discussing the American election in a white house set! You could tell all the American news networks had all the cool people to talk to because the French kept getting these lame American people I've never heard of to talk with in Washington. We took their commentary until about 1 am and hit the sack. I set my alarm to 6 am this morning to catch what I thought would be final results. Of course at 6 the results weren't all in so I went back to bed and got up again at 7 am. Again no results, crash! Back up at 8. Urgh, still no results, that danged Ohio! It's now 2 pm and we still don't have a true final result. It looks like a Bush win though.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


The German Mcdonalds with Bar and dancing girls??