Archive for January, 2007

2:05 pm

More movie outings

In the past week, I’ve seen Apocalypto and Hollywoodland. These were both listed as "VO" (i.e., subtitled rather than dubbed). Unfortunately, I forgot that, in the case of Apocalypto, the original was Mayan; fortunately, my French was up to the task of following along!

I was actually more impressed with Apocalypto than I expected to be. It was gory, but the gore didn’t have the pornographic glee of Gibson’s Passion of the Christ. It also dragged some, but I got caught up in the story and the fate of the characters.

I wasn’t all that taken by Hollywoodland. Affleck made a valiant effort, and maybe the script was at least partly to blame, but he came across as wooden, and didn’t convey Reeves’s charm. Neither was I convinced by Brody. Diane Lane, on the other hand, was very good, and I liked Spano and DeMunn (who played Strickling and Weissman, respectively).

1:46 pm


Well, there’s no point in living in Paris if you’re not going to go see the sights. So, last week, I went out to visit the Louvre. On my way there, I made a detour to see Sainte-Chapelle, which I had never seen before.

The palais de la Cité, where the chapel is located, is now the home for the Paris law courts, so you have to go through security, complete with x-raying bags, to get in to the chapel. They’re doing some renovation, so the exterior is swathed with scaffolding, and the lower chapel is cluttered with tools and drop clothes and the like. (As an aside, I really think they should discount admission when work is going on.) Even without the clutter, the lower chapel, while nice enough, was nothing all that impressive.

The upper chapel, on the other hand, was utterly exquisite. The upper walls are nearly entirely paneled in stained glass in vibrant reds and blues. On a sunny day, it must be dazzling. As it is, I was enthralled.

Rose Window, upper chapel at Sainte-Chapelle

My next stop was the Louvre. (The last time I had been was before I.M. Pei’s pyramids had been completed.) The immensity of the Louvre still takes my breath away. Try as I might, I simply can not imagine people actually living there: everything is on simply too grand a scale.

I wandered about for a couple of hours, and probably covered less than a quarter of the total museum. But then, I’m not much of a fan of painting, and I was mostly interested in the sculptures and antiquities. Especially my favorite: the Winged Victory:

Winged Victory

There is, by the by, a Starbucks in the Louvre. This is just so wrong. Come to think of it, I can’t recall having seen any other Starbucks in Paris (not yet anyway).

1:15 pm


The popularity of studio apartments in Paris makes for very space-efficient appliances.

For example, the stove in my kitchen has a dishwasher built in. There’s the range on top, a fairly shallow oven (no roasting turkeys in this oven; I’m not even sure if I could manage a roast chicken, which may account for the popularity of roasted chickens in the butcher shops), and at the bottom, a drawer that opens out as a dishwasher rack. While demonstrating the amenities of the apartment to me, my landlord explained that I can not use the oven and dishwasher at the same time. It’s hard to imagine that this is a problem that would arise often. And in fact, I’ve not yet had occasion to use the dishwasher. Nor have I used the oven all that often, either.

I also have a washing machine at my disposal, which is certainly handy. It’s very cunningly designed. It’s less than 20 inches wide, not even as wide as a one of the cabinets, so it fits quite handily into a corner of the kitchen. It loads from the top, and the drum rotates vertically, rather than horizontally. It doesn’t hold a lot, so I’m needing to do laundry a few times a week. And there’s no dryer: instead, I have a folding rack that I drape damp laundry over. Apparently, the existence of a washing machine but not a dryer is a fairly common arrangement. On sunny days (we’ve had a few recently), I look up sometimes to see people drying laundry on their windowsills.

I also have a towel drying rack in the bathroom. This seems rather an indulgence, but it is nice to have a dry and toasty warm bathmat and towels in the morning.

9:17 am

That fatal phrase

It’s worth pointing out that, to date, I have not once heard that fatal phrase, "My, what good French you speak, for an American".

I don’t know if I’ve changed, or the French have. The most likely explanation, actually, is that I’m living in a residential neighborhood with a substantial immigrant population, so my French is not particularly noteworthy one way or another.

3:32 pm

“Lumen de Lumine, Lumière née de la Lumière”

I went to this show at Notre Dame cathedral this evening.
Lumen de Lumine

Described as

Opéra d’images pour découvrir ou redécouvrir les "Mystères de la Nativité", sous-titré en anglais, projeté sur écran géant transparent, suspendu dans le Chœur de la Cathédrale, destiné aux petits et grands. Une heure d’un récit imagé, mêlant textes bibliques, narration, musique & projection de chefs-d’œuvre de l’Art chrétien.

(An opera of images to discover or rediscover the "Mysteries of the Nativity", subtitled in English, projected onto a giant transparent screen suspended in the choir of the Cathedral, designed for children and adults alike. A one hour illustrated story, mixing biblical texts, narration, music, and projection of masterpieces of Christian art.)

It was a very prettily done show, and wove its different pieces together quite nicely. The English subtitling, however, was distinctly amateurish.

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