Thursday, November 5, 2009

cloudy days, chevaliers and cowboys

Feeling better about the world today despite the fact that very little has changed. It's a rule of life, or at least of my outlook on it, that a down day is almost always followed by a better one. It's still rainy but my go-to Parisian veteran, Laura, says to get used to it. Apparently this is "winter" à la francais and I can expect it to last until about April. If this is true I'm not sure why wellies haven't caught on here yet. I'm tempted to bring my loud, red polka-dotted pair back with me after Christmas break just to stop the bottom of my jeans from clinging to my legs and to stick it to European fashion. Although I suppose to stick it to fashion I would have to have been fashionable to begin with...*sigh* In reality, I will probably end up buying some fashionable but more hazardous "bottes" (boots, pronounced like "butt"...the third-grader living inside my head still snickers whenever I hear it).

This morning I went on an optional "field trip" with my medieval lit class to the Musée National du Moyen-Age. The museum is housed in the 15th century residence of the abbots of Cluny, and the Gothic/renaissance architecture is a perfect compliment to the works inside that gave me a pang of nostalgia for my Oxford days. Our museum guide was perfect, pointing out tapestries, ivory carved chests, and painted glass panels that illuminated the courtly love stories we've been reading in class. The tapestries were incredible--much more detailed and dynamic than others I've seen. We spent the last half hour or so in the room that holds the collection of the "Lady and the Unicorn" tapestries, and the guide gave us a great rundown of all the different critical interpretations of the story behind the art. At one point she mentioned that an American had written a book about the tapestries but blanked on the author's name, and when I supplied it (Tracy Chevalier--the same woman who wrote the story-turned-movie about Vermeer's "Girl with the Pearl Earring") my professor was really impressed. I had to laugh--it's hardly a scholarly book, but I suppose that with as much as I'm struggling with my grammar I should take all the outside credit I can get.

Non sequitur : I had a hilarious Orangina sighting today. Anyone unfamiliar with this delicious, orange juice-based soda should get their butt to a Trader Joes/Potbelly's/some other yuppie store and try it out. It's ubiquitous here, and up there with wine and nutella in terms of the major perks of being in France. The other great thing about it is its advertising campaigns. The last time I was in France Orangina launched a limited edition mango/tropical flavor (which was delicious!) as well as a truly bizarre sexual ad campaign centered on anthropomorphic animal pin-up girls. This time around they have a cowboy/Indian theme going. The theme itself isn't as culturally anachronistic as one might think--the French have long been obsessed with the idea of "le cowboy" and one of the biggest movies in theaters right now is Lucky Luke, a French Western based on a popular comic strip. No, the more bizarre aspect is the flavors Schwepps chose to assign to these stereotypical characters--grenadine for the Indian, and MINT for the cowboy. Gross. I'm not exactly sure what I imagine cowboy SHOULD taste like (beef jerky? BBQ? whiskey?) but whatever it is, mint is about the furthest from it you could get. Plus, have Schwepps employees never brushed their teeth before they drank some orange juice? It's a gross flavor combination. And at least in those unfortunate cases my orange juice is still orange, not alien green.

And finally, your moment of zen:

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