Listening to Minor Majority (2006-10-18)

Readers of this blog may know my love of the Garden State soundtrack, especially Iron & Wine, and my desire to play folk rock guitar music like Norwegian band Kings of Convenience. Knowing this it would be no surprise that when I heard Norwegian band Minor Majority's "Wish You'd Hold That Smile" on Reasons to Hang Around I was immediately interested. I walked from the back of my morning workplace to have a conversation in rudimentary French. "Did the Internet disconnect? What do you want?" they asked me. "I want that music," I replied.
Hey, I wish you’d hold that smile
Help, if only for a while
I need to know about all the things you did and didn’t do
And just how hard you tried


At Château d'Amboise (2006-10-23)

William at Château d'AmboiseOur last stop of the day, before riding the TGV back to Paris, was Château d'Amboise. The Flickr photostream contains a photograph of the castle itself.

At Le Close Lucé (2006-10-23)

Le Close Lucé, a Leonardo da Vinci museum (and his onetime house), was inspiring because of the models of Leonardo da Vinci ideas and inventions. I was impressed that, as Wikipedia says, "He conceived of ideas vastly ahead of his own time, notably conceptually inventing the helicopter, a tank, the use of concentrated solar power, the calculator, a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics, the double hull, and many others. Relatively few of his designs were constructed or were feasible during his lifetime; modern scientific approaches to metallurgy and engineering were only in their infancy during the Renaissance."

At Château de Chenonceau (2006-10-23)

William and Ryan at Château de ChenonceauAfter lunch in Tours, the tour group expanded and we rode to Château de Chenonceau.

At Château de Villandry (2006-10-23)

Château de VillandryOur second stop was the gardens and castle of Villandry.

At Château Azay-le-Rideau (2006-10-23)

Château Azay-le-RideauOur tour guide David first drove us and a British couple to Château Azay-le-Rideau.

Touring around Tours, France (2006-10-23)

Our fourth of six rail days took us from Nantes to Tours to Paris. We wanted to take an excursion that would permit us to see the Château de Chambord, but the tour was full by the time the tourist office opened. Instead, Alienor Excursions took us to Azay-le-Rideau, Château de Villandry, Château de Chenonceau, Le Close Lucé (a Leonardo da Vinci museum), and Château d'Amboise.


Taking Pictures of Cathedrale Saint-Pierre, Nantes, France (2006-10-22)

Catedrale Saint-PierreThat's Ryan in the doorway within the doorway of La Cathedrale.

Riding Bateaux Nantais on L'Erdre (2006-10-21)

Château de la Gascherie from Bateaux Nantais on L'ErdreWe rode one of the Bateaux Nantais up the river Erdre to see many châteaux, including Château de la Gascherie shown above.

Examining Eglise St-Nicolas, Nantes, France (2006-10-20)

Eglise St-NicolasWe used the third of our six rail days to travel to Nantes for the weekend. Over the weekend we would visit, among others, the following sights: Eglise St-Nicolas on Place Royale (see above), Passage Pommeraye, Musée des Beaux Arts (buying a book on Georges de La Tour; I had previously bought a print of his work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art), Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle, Musée de l'imprimerie, and La Cigale. The latter, according to Découvrir Nantes: Guide touristique, is "One of the most beautiful 'French brasseries' in the world with its most extraordinary 1900s décor (classified as a historical site)."

Using Skype

For business conferences we used Skype when we needed to confer even before I left for Paris for two months. It's easy to download and sign up. In September, though, I bought Skype credit so I could "SkypeOut" to any telephone number, not just Skype contacts or US land lines. In Paris it's useful when I want to communicate with friends, online buddies, and work. It permits text chat, voice conversation (Skype to Skype), SMS text messages, and telephone calls (Skype to phone). The latter is cheaper than the $0.99 per minute international roaming that T-Mobile has in France. At a current rate of € 0.02 per minute to the USA I suspect it's even cheaper than a French phone.

Viewing Venus de Milo (2006-10-18)

Because of an extra ticket for me, we toured Musée du Louvre for free again, this time with Ryan's class. After famous French painters we viewed the Venus de Milo.

Referring to Wikipedia

After I noticed that I had started referring to Wikipedia like I used to refer to the Internet Movie Database, I added a link to the blog template sidebar. Subsequently Jim Benson posted about Wikipedia in J. LeRoy's Evolving Web. He wrote that Wikipedia generally provides an overview, a Topic 101, the kind of high-level information that Google used to provide. Recently it provided me with a couple interesting location- and transportation-related posts.

I refer to Wikipedia not only because it's interesting but because it's convenient. Books take longer to obtain. Six months ago in a chat a friend who writes that he "would like to see footnotes on the nightly news and newspaper" expressed incredulity at my quoting Wikipedia, noting that it is not a primary source. While this is true, for him it means that it is not a reputable source. To me Wikipedia, with its intent to be a collaborative encyclopedia, is as reliable as "common knowledge," the sort of information someone might tell you in a discussion. Such information need not be perfectly accurate to be useful.


Riding the Paris Métro (2006-09-27/12-04)

In early October we each obtained a Carte orange: Ryan received one from his program and I bought one at the Pigalle station. We ride the Paris Métro nearly every day we're in the city, often line 12. I once remarked to Ryan that some destination was "only 10 minutes away by Métro," and he replied, "Everywhere is only 10 minutes away by Métro!" While that isn't entirely accurate, the subway is fast, and feels safe. Despite my objections to surveillance, I appreciate that there are cameras on every platform, and people everywhere I go. There's little chance of getting lost, either, as inside every station there are maps of the Paris Métro, RER, and bus lines (which RATP also manages). Outside the station are plans de quartier that show the surrounding streets and landmarks. Even without the vous êtes ici circles, it's easy to determine where you are since the streets are well-labeled (in blue signs on buildings at the intersections) and generally short (so there's little doubt which part of the street is near). Who needs a car in this city?

Residents of Berlin or London may wonder why I'd blog about the transit in Paris. If they were to visit Seattle, however, they'd have none of these advantages: there's no subway, buses are slower and require multiple transfers, no maps are posted, etc.


Traveling at High Speed (2006-10-15)

Fountain in Antigone District of Montpellier, FranceWe walked around "the Champs-Élysées of Montpellier" in the Antigone District Sunday morning before riding the TGV back to Paris. Our weekend in Montpellier used two of our six travel days (in 30 calendar days) on our France SaverPass. We chose to see France by rail because I enjoy trains as a romantic way to travel. The TGV speeds along a viaduct over the farms on the French countryside--grade-separated because it travels up to 186 mph. The next weekend we'll see Nantes, and the following weekend we plan to see Chamonix.


Experiencing Student Travel (2006-10-14)

William at Place de la ComédieThe experience of walking around Montpellier, a university city in southern France, carrying everything in my backpack, was how I imagined the experience of student travel or study abroad would be. We even stayed one night in an Auberge de Jeunesse (with WiFi!). We took a set of photographs of our walk around the city and our trip to the beach.


Eating in Montpellier, France (2006-10-13)

We stopped for lunch and discovered the "plaze" had WiFi. That evening we had dinner Aux Arches de la Chapelle. The Menu des Arches at 11,9 E was delicious, so we went back the next night.

Discovering Plazes (2006-10-12)

Le Cafe les 2 MoulinsI'm experimenting with Plazes to track my exploration of WiFi locations. On Thursday I went back to Le Cafe les 2 Moulins to "discover" it.


Visiting Chartres, France (2006-10-11)

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de ChartresRyan's class took a day trip to Chartres, so I accompanied them. We toured La Maison Picassiette, met with our new American friend, had lunch, toured Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres, and returned.


Having Lunch at Sacré Coeur (2006-10-10)

Basilique du Sacré CoeurI climbed Montmartre to have lunch in the sunshine in front of the Basilique du Sacré Coeur and to think. The city was hazy from the butte, but many people were enjoying the view and the harp music playing in the public space.

Commuting to Morning Workplace (2006-10-09)

Rue André AntoineTuesday through Thursday I plan to walk up Montmartre from Pigalle, from our homestay to the office of Jean Claude, where I'll borrow his Wi-Fi from 10:00 until 18:00 (+01) when he closes. Then I'll walk back down to Pigalle to Le Chao-Ba-Café for a Skype conference call with Seattle at 18:15+01 (09:15-08), and work until 20:30+01 when Madame serves dinner. (Mondays I plan to work at Le Chao-Ba-Café in the evening only; in the morning we'll be returning from our weekend--to Montpellier, Nantes, Chamonix, Berlin, Barcelona, Venice, and London, perhaps.)

Watching Tour Eiffel burn on Nuit Blanche (2006-10-08)

Tour Eiffel 'burned' on Nuit Blanche
On Nuit Blanche (October 7 in Paris, the week before in Brussels) perhaps one and a half million people took to the streets to view modern art in historic buildings. We met up with new American friends living in Chartres and saw several art installations: the Tour Eiffel with blinking lights; giant black orbs in Hôtel de Ville, accompanied by a band that featured a theremin; a giant glass bead necklace in a fountain in a building in Le Marais; and in a church in Le Marais a large table laid out like Paris, complete with candles in the shapes of buildings.


Working at Le Chao-Ba-Café (2006-10-07)

Le Chao-Ba-Café
My dad wrote "AH PARIS... Have you found your cafe?" It appears I have. I have my laptop, and with free wifi (connecting and asking the server for the "mot de passe") I also have email, chat (using trillian), and Internet telephony (using Skype). It's a remote office!

Walking down Champs-Élysées (2006-10-07)

Lamp, L'Obélisque, Tour Eiffel
It's difficult to pick just one photograph from a walk from Place de la Concorde down the Avenue du Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe, and beyond to Avenue de la Grande Armée, where La Grande Arche de La Défense is visible in the distance. Consequently I uploaded several to Flickr, and placed them on the map using the satellite image.


Trying Wi-Fi in Le Cafe les 2 Moulins (2006-10-06)

Near our homestay is Le Cafe les 2 Moulins featured in the movie Amelie. The springs pushing out of the seats made my leg numb. (The Wi-Fi interrupts every half-hour, and resumes five seconds after pressing a button on a Web page. This is better than other locations which require a new login every half hour!)


Looking in the sidewalk fountain in St-Germain-des-Prés (2006-10-05)

An "exploding sidewalk" fountain is near the building in which Ryan has classes.

Touring L'Opera (2006-10-04)

Touring the Musée du Louvre for free (2006-10-01)

Many people leave the Musée du Louvre at the end of the free day (the first Sunday of the month). This time we saw multiple sphinx, a statue of the god Horus, and many other Egyptian antiquities.

Ascending the Tour Eiffel (2006-09-30)

Ryan and William (and Our Founder) visited the Tour Eiffel, visible from the Parc du Champ de Mars.

In the salon at chez M. Berger (2006-09-29)

We relaxed in the salon of Madame Berger's apartment, seen above from the kitchen. To the left is the room of other boarders Jason and Tom--from Australia. A hallway from the kitchen connects three rooms, a toilet, and a bath. Madame Berger is in one of those rooms, with the only television. Another boarder, Tetsuya--from Japan--is in another. Ryan and I are in the third, on a bunk bed. There's another toilet and bath off the kitchen. Madame Berger provides all of us (and her boyfriend Jean Claude) breakfast, and cooks dinner, each day. The apartment is half a block from Moulin Rouge.

Resting in the Jardin du Luxemborg (2006-09-27)

Our first resting place in Paris was the Jardin du Luxemborg. We lay on the grass (in the approved location) and looked up at the trees.

Visiting Feistel (2006-09-26)

We first started using my new digital camera (a Canon PowerShot SD600 Digital ELPH) on our last visit to Feistel, our cat. Feistel appeared at home at house of dear friends, where he will stay for two months while we are in Europe.


Watching Boy Culture (2006-05-26)

The first of three films spawned in Seattle--a total of four local films--that I watched, Boy Culture was a witty adaptation of the book. The hot "boys" included Darryl Stephens, who we would later see in Another Gay Movie.

Watching Wah-Wah (2006-05-26)

Wah-Wah needs a trailer that emphasizes its drama more than its comedy. While the SIFF web site describes it as a "dramedy", the comedic aspects are more apparent in the trailer. In one scene Ralph and his father, Harry Compton (played by Gabriel Byrne), block his mother's entrance and gesture the maid away. In the film the scene is sad while in the trailer it appears funny. Alternatively, the movie could end before his father drops and breaks the china cup; there is sufficient tragedy in the earlier parts of the film.


At The Illusionist Opening Night Gala (2006-05-25)

It may be challenging when tired to blog every screening we see in SIFF (and, later, every weekend away in Europe), but I like the idea so I'll start with The Illusionist. This was an entertaining, inoffensive film, unlikely to produce the disgust that some felt for the transgressive Opening Night Me and You and Everyone We Know or the tears some shed for the sentimental Opening Night The Notebook. The Illusionist reminded me of The Usual Suspects, with more magic and fewer fatalities, though I liked The Usual Suspects better.

At the Paramount screening were director Neil Burger, leading actress Jessica Biel--whom I've only seen before in Stealth (which looked like it wanted to be Top Gun for the 2000s)--and 2500 film fans, including us and two friends. Edward Norton (see Rounders, American History X, Fight Club, Keeping the Faith, The Score, Frida, and The Italian Job!) was not present. (As an aside, Red Dragon is still my least favorite Ed Norton movie.) Afterward we walked to the old Seattle Public Library for a party that was again too large and too loud. I prefer the smaller galas, but I still had an entertaining evening.


At SIFF Member Box Office (2006-05-13)

We exchanged our Early Bird vouchers (a Special Holiday Gift Pack, a Film Buff 20-Pack, two Secret Festival Memberships, and a Gala Pass) and some additional money for 13 vouchers and the following screenings:
What else shall I see? Ryan suggested the following films (roughly in order of decreasing preference):
There isn't time for all of these, of course. Separately, I considered the following films (roughly in order of decreasing preference):
How shall we use the remaining 13 vouchers? Please post a comment with the films you're considering!


Buying Air Canada Tickets (2006-05-05)

Ryan and I bought September 27 and December 4 tickets to and from Paris at STA Travel. We arranged to stay October and November with a Paris host family through France Accommodations & Culture. During these months Ryan will study in the University of Washington Department of Comparative Literature Fall Quarter in Paris and I'll work remotely. We hope to travel Europe on long weekends. We think it is a great opportunity, and we're excited!

At SIFF Annual Members Preview (2006-05-11)

The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) Annual Members Preview was last night at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI). We saw previews for 10 of this year's 418 films (from 62 countries), and heard about dozens more from SIFF staff. The following films looked or sounded interesting [links added 2006-05-29]:
In addition, I'm eager for the following special events and galas:
  • Opening Night Gala featuring The Illusionist
  • Saturday Galas: Prarie Home Companion, Factotum, Perhaps Love, Strangers with Candy
  • Gay-la featuring Boy Culture
  • Closing Night Gala featuring Science of Sleep
For those that have had time to decide on films, the box offices open their doors to members today.