Monday, September 20, 2004

No soup, but the streets are paved with dancers

My illness has lead me to discover a vast deficit in the diet of my French comrades. Soup. It is damn-near impossible to find soup here. The only soup available is in a tiny section in the back of the epiceries. All dried packets, no cans. The closest they have to chicken noodle here is "fisherman's soup" or "soup des pêcheurs," which is a fishy broth that looked far better in the store than at the table.
This shortfall literally lead me to dream about it the other night. I was in my friend Elena's house where she had a huge cabinet; half was filled with every Cambell's product made and the other half was filled with plastic wrap and Ziploc bags – another part of American life I miss. Certainly it's nice that French landfills aren't choked with the one-use plastic, but it's so depressing to find what looks like something delicious to eat but is actually stale and inedible.
My other dream about Matt Damon has lead me to realize the wisdom of my friend Zach's sleep-filled lifestyle.

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This weekend is nationwide Heritage Days (Journées du Patrimoine), meaning that public buildings – City Hall, museums, churches, etc. – are open free to the public. Thankfully, this afternoon I got to feeling well enough I was able to join my fellow Lyonnaise in the beautiful late summer weather. I walked freely through the Museum of Fine Arts and the toaster-shaped Opera House. Meeting up with a friend, we wandered through the festive atmosphere at the Place des Terreaux and topped off our day with a kebab – a ubiquitous Arabic dish of roasted meat flakes and french fries inside greasy bread, topped with a mayonnaise-based sauce. Yummy.
Tomorrow, in addition the end of heritage-ness, is the finale of Lyon's Biennial dance festival. The 4500-participant dance parade is expected to have over 600,000 spectators, both on the streets and through TV It's reportedly the biggest dance parade in Europe and I wouldn't miss it for the world.
But first I'm going to wake up early to take a tour through the famed secret passageways (traboules) in Lyon, and maybe hit up the beautiful pure white basilica at the top of Fourvière hill.

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A big new movie starring Will Smith and Angelina Jolie made its debut in Europe last night with a big party in Venice. Normally, I would understand all the hoopla, but this movie is animated. Meaning the fact that Smith and Jolie are a part of the film will only be relevant to Angliphone audiences because the rest will hear a dubbed version. The rampant dubbing of American-made entertainment is an interesting fact of life here. As far as I know, the voice talent gets no recognition besides a flash of end credits. And I would think it's a rather difficult job. You have to get the same meaning in a different language into the mouth of an actor before it stops moving, which usually means dubbed entertainment is faster than regular t.v. Additionally, I find it quite amusing during fight scenes and the like to know that someone sitting in a studio somewhere had to make convincing grunts and gasps to coincide with the action.
During my illness, I watched a couple DVDs in French with French subtitles to help me out. Unfortunately there would be, although slight in meaning, frequent differences between what was said and what was at the bottom of the screen. This would mostly confuse me and I would go by what was written, but the few times I could both concentrate on what flashed on the screen and what was said gave me interesting insight into the interchangability of certain phrases. What's more educational is watching old subtitled V.O. (version originale) films on the Arte channel. For instance, while watching "The Truth About Harry" I found out that "Golly, that woman sure is nicer than syrup on pancakes" is "Elle est charmante."

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So today I'm walking along the street with a baguette. (That's right, a baguette. That's what people do here, just walk around with baguettes in their hands. If you don't belive me, come over and see it for yourself.) And so I'm thinking to myself, today's a great day. Today's a great day because I'm finally healthy, I'm living in France, the weather is beautiful, every public institution is open for free and there's a massive dance parade on the other side of the river. 
J'gagne.

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