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Posts Tagged ‘Weekend’

Not much has really happened since my last post. Finished the school week, had a weekend, bought some opera tickets for my summer research project, took a nap I didn’t want to take — you know, lived the life in Paris.

Mostly, I just wanted to have a post with the French title you see above. (Run it through your translator if you don’t read French) The title refers to the strange Act 3 of “La Calisto,” a Baroque Italian opera about the Roman myth behind the creation of the Ursa Major and Minor constellations. I could dissect the plot, or explain some of the strange sets and costumes and the like, but mostly, I think it’s important to know that the titular character gets transformed into a bear at the beginning of the third act. And in this production, at the beautiful Art Deco Theatre des Champs-Elyssées, the bear is huge, fuzzy and astonishingly pink.

The production was better than any of us expected — I went with a small section of my French music and politics class as a make-up session — and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely. If anything, it made me excited about my coming summer research project.

The rest of the weekend was fairly straightforward. Saturday, I visited my friend Elizabeth out in the suburbs, where she and I made chocolate chip cookies and had tea with her absolutely adorable French host family. I was pleasantly surprised with how much of a normal conversation in French I was able to have with her parents — including the father, who is an alum of SciencesPo — and we both enjoyed how much the family loved our cookies, which they called “très Americain,” in a good way.

Saturday night was simple — went to a friend’s house, shared dinner and watched obscure Yugoslavian short films from the latest film issue of my favorite magazine, “The Believer.”

Sunday was student brunch day with a random group of French, Canadian and American friends —  a fact which I initially forgot and thus ate breakfast in the morning before the brunch — but my friend Claire and I rented some nifty Velib public bikes and biked along the Jardin de Luxembourg to get to the brunch cafeteria. I even got to bike back, which was a lot of fun. In fact, I might bike later this evening.

This post is kind of random, I realize, and I haven’t really explained anything at all about my weekend, but tant pis. It was a good weekend, and there was a big pink bear involved. So, all is good.

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This was perhaps the most beautiful weekend yet during my stay here in Paris. Despite the distant rumblings of the evil Icelandic volcano Ejafajallajökull — not really — the weather was absolutely perfect all weekend, with blue skies, warm breezes and high but comfortable temperatures. Just like at UNC, the population of the city seemed to triple as everyone remembered how it nice it feels to just walk around and be content in the warmth.

I did some of that, too, but mostly, I sat in my kitchen, with our cat, working on articles, papers and reading assignments that are due before I leave for break on Thursday. Of course, SciencesPo waited until just now to give me actual work to do. Lovely.

Friday, the day of my long-awaited exposé, was beautiful and wonderful and all the above, and I had a lovely run in the morning before heading over to school to prepare for my group’s presentation on opera in the 19th century.

When we got together, it quickly became clear that some of us — one of us, really, and it wasn’t me — had not the done the work the others had done, making our conclusion rushed and kind of worthless. But it didn’t matter, because the professor didn’t seem to care. He listened attentively as we spoke, taking very few notes but nodding appreciatively as we spoke.

But, immediately after I had finished my portion, he rose one of his crazy, expressive hands — this guy is really lanky and very very French — and asked if he might add something just now, because he had nothing else planned that day and if he spoke just then, it would make a lot of sense thematically.

He then proceeded to speak, at great length, about the wonders of the Opéra-Comique and the works presented there, taking time to play considerably long pieces of music as examples and occupying the better part of a half-hour.

(A note: a traditional SciencesPo exposé is supposed to last 10 minutes, max, plus question time from the prof and class. Meaning that, in a group setting, each person speaking 10 minutes means a half hour total of presentation time. Our exposé, with the professor’s additions, lasted the majority of one entire hour.)

Having satisfied his urge to speak, the professor then let the last member of our group speak, making sure that me and the other member of the group had a chair to sit on, since we had stood for a very, very long time. It was all very strange, but I’m pretty sure we got a good grade because the professor seemed to enjoy himself, and he smiled a lot during our talk. I think.

Friday night saw me at a dinner party with some friends, where we all ate much bread and onion soup and drank much wine and had a rather unusual literary reading, of sorts. You see, these friends live in the apartment of an American ex-pat writer, who specializes in, well, erotic fiction. Apparently it’s some good stuff — award-winning it would seem — but it’s still erotica. My friends found a trunk full of erotica collections featuring her work, and we all took turns reading selections out loud.

It was a peculiar, uncomfortable and rather eye-opening experience, but we all left feeling rather giggly and much closer as friends.

Saturday, I spent the entire day in my kitchen, working on one of two papers due in the coming weeks before the end of term. With my trusty sidekick Flocon the Cat, I managed to finish one and start another, also finding time to send in some of my French cultural reporting assignments, too.

After a brisk run along the canal and up to Pére-Lachaisse, I joined some friends for a showing of “Les Aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec,” a French period action-comedy-adventure film.

This was the first time I’ve seen a full-length French movie without subtitles, so I was very proud that I understood almost all of the movie. However, I think the plot is worth mentioning for its absolute absurdity.

The movie, directed by French film giant Luc Besson — I know he’s big because he was mentioned in one of my high school French text books a while back — is based on a series of comic books about a feisty, early 20th century journalist/author/adventure seeker named Adéle Blanc-Sec. She goes on epic quests and solves mysteries and stuff — kind of like a French, female version of Indiana Jones.

And like the most recent incarnation of Indiana Jones, the Adéle Blanc-Sec movie was really ridiculous. Adéle’s sister is brain dead from a tennis-related hat pin accident — she fell on a hat pin and it pierced her skull from back to front — so Adéle goes to Egypt to try and find the mummy of  a famous doctor so she can bring it back to life and make it save her sister.

You see, there’s a scientist in Paris who has discovered the secret of life after death — mainly, bringing dead things back to life. But unfortunately for Adéle, the scientist first tests this power by bringing to life a pterodactyl — or rather, making a pterodactyl egg in a museum hatch and release the sleeping dinosaur inside — which then proceeds to terrorize Paris, killing government ministers and causing panic throughout. For this, the scientist is sentenced to death, meaning Adéle has her work cut for her if she wants to use the scientist’s magic abilities to revive the mummified doctor — who actually is an engineer…but that doesn’t matter because everything works out in the end (well, the professor and his pterodactyl die, but no one really seems too concerned by that). And there’s also the slight problem that Adéle’s enemies somehow get her to take a vacation on a little cruise ship called the H.M.S. Titantic…and the screen fades to black.

As you can guess, the script for this movie was inspired by several different comic books, all crammed into one unnecessary but still wonderfully amusing movie. The best parts of this movie for me were being able to understand almost all of the dialogue and being able to identify the Parisian locations used during filming.

Sunday was an epic brunch at Breakfast in America — a satisfying yet not total substitute for Sundays at Weaver Street in Carrboro, North Carolina — and an afternoon in the Parc des Buttes Chaumonts. I now find myself in my kitchen again, eating grapefruit and trying to force myself to write this paper.

It’ll happen. I’m extraordinary like that.

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