Tag Archives: French

Check this work out:

Looks a bit like a Norman Rockwell painting was superimposed on a photograph, right? Makes you think about the miracle of photoshop.

Look again.

And, again.

That’s a real man.

Alexa Meade is a “25-year-old artist whose work lies at the intersection of painting, photography, performance, and installation.” She paints models in the style of 2D paintings and then sets them free, running through our 3D world, re-compressed into the final product we see here. She straddles the split between reality and perception in her art, and makes us question our own knowledge in the process. Her work brings the art of trompe l’oeil into the modern age.

From the Washington Post:

Meade uses a brush. She paints skin on skin, lips on lips and eyebrows on eyebrows, and the insides of nostrils, using her own mixture of nontoxic paints and unspecified ingredients. Her subjects must sit still for multiple hours as she follows the natural contours of their faces, varying brushstroke and color to exhume their inner essence. When she’s done, they appear banished to two-dimensionality, yet they also seem fuller, more dynamic. She then sets her subjects in an installation, or photographs them. There are no touch-ups or special effects beyond acrylic on flesh and the initial complacency of the observer.

Check out her other work here.

When I first returned from Paris and arrived in Louisiana, I was determined not to lose my French–it has diminished somewhat at this point in overall fluency, but I got myself a tutor and am currently back on the track to learning.

From my meetings at the local Starbucks, I have discovered a few morceaux that are just incredible:

This song, from American crooner Nina Simone, is easy to understand and heart-wrenchingly beautiful (although not in French, I highly recommend you check out the song Strange Fruit, a slow, deep lament for the lynchings of black Americans–lyrics and story here).

This 1968 song by Jacques Dutronc seems like it’s sung by an upbeat and French Bob Dylan–the cool factor remains, check out this picture:

I learned it because it has a lot of verbs conjugated in the imperative tense (orders), but I kept listening because of his incredible voice–listen to the last 30 seconds of the song and you’ll really see what I mean. (P.S. This song is a long list of commands given to a young child, in case you realize the subject matter sounds strange)

Je Veux by Zaz is a throaty love song in which she proclaims that, essentially, her love don’t cost a thing. I love her oddly-direct traipse through craft markets in this video, cellist in tow.


I have finally found a worthwhile internet site to teach me Chinese. Memrise is a site that appears to be mostly dedicated to Mandarin Chinese education, although since users are allowed to upload study sets full of vocabulary and phrases, French, Spanish, Italian, and German are also burgeoning.

Memrise illustrates Chinese characters with moving pictures that make it nearly impossible for you to forget the form of a character–interestingly, the pronunciation of each character is about twice as hard to remember than the pictures themselves. I think that gaining basic reading fluency wouldn’t be too difficult if you learned 15 characters a day for a few weeks (or, at the very least, you’ll be able to figure out whether you are pointing to fish or beef on a menu!).

The layout of the site is pretty intuitive, and is based on a strategy of continuous practice–they want you to learn and relearn the words/characters, committing them first to short term memory and then, perhaps 3 days later, to long term memory. It’s definitely working so far.

Duolingo is still working well–but I think that duolingo fits best if you’re starting from level one (as I did in German). It can be a little boring trying to pass through levels to get to the grammatical lessons at the very end. I will certainly be using it once it comes out with Portuguese (should be less than a month, if the internet is to be believed).

Things like this are just getting me unbelievably excited to study abroad in Beijing. Less than two months and I will be in completely foreign surroundings–exactly where I feel most at home.

Friday morning, I spent the day traipsing around through fields full of spider webs at the Nancay Observatory, a lab associated with the Observatoire de Paris and full of giant (hundreds of meters wide) radio wave telescopes/inferometers, watching my porcelain skin get eaten away by the sun. As the lobster bake initiated, I was confident that I would be back into Paris with hours to spare–and I was. However, my confidence soon became my downfall.

A day earlier, Chipotle wrapped its first burrito in Paris. As anyone who knows me understands, nothing comes in between me and my chipotle unless there is literally an ocean separating us, so I jumped at the chance of seizing one of the first Parisian chipotle burritos. After taking a metro ride 45 minutes long to the north side of town, Francisco graciously agreed to wait with me for stingily-proportioned burritos at the end of a 50 person line. As time ticked on and on, Francisco and I realized that we were quickly running out of time to get back and make it to the bus station to leave for Amsterdam, compounded by the fact that we had absolutely no idea where the station was and Francisco had yet to pack.

The next two hours were pure chaos. Francisco was a trooper, but I was a mess–I’ve never been able to “embrace fate” as Francisco does, showing up to the airport past boarding time for the thrill of it. I ran my lungs off, and the two of us giggled nervously during the down time as we waited for our stop.

Miraculously, at 11:10 our Paris-Amsterdam 11:00 bus was still docked. We ran to the door, exhausted but exalting, ready to board the bus.

The bus driver was not pleased. He told us, again and again, that the ticket counter had closed, we had not checked in, and therefore we could not enter the bus in harried French. Francisco and I tried and tried, phrasing our quandary in different ways, begging him to reconsider, but he wasn’t having any of it. “J’suis desole, il n’y a pas de choses que je peux faire,” he said.

With such bad luck and my face contorted with worry, I felt like I was about to cry. Then I got a great idea. I cried.

Francisco immediately melted a bit, saying, “oh, come on, don’t cry, it’s not such a big deal,” but as soon as he finished saying it the driver’s back turned and I gave Francisco the most concentrated stink eye I have ever delivered, and Francisco understood immediately.

Faced with a girl in tears and a boy trying to comfort her in her grief, the driver ceded. “Fine, just go in,” he said, with a sigh of exasperation.

….and that is the story of how I came to be here, on the second level of a bus in Northern France, writing this story via iPad. I’ve realized that I’ve been ignoring my true calling all along–I was born to act… has been mentioned on all of the major sites I browse as a fantastic new tool for language learning. Available so far in Spanish and German to a select group of beta users, Duolingo allows its users to translate available text on the internet into their native language and vice versa, while native speakers double check learners’ progress (at least that is what I have gleaned from the introductory video offered on their website). They are constantly inviting more and more users to join, so if you’re interested I would check out the site as soon as possible to sign up.

I love strolling home in the middle of the night and figuring out that I’m walking through Place de la Concorde, at the heart of Paris. I also love having basic conversations about why I love Paris with taxi drivers at 5 am on the drive back to Boulevard Jourdan. Mostly, though, I love crepes.

The best by far (and it took a couple of tries to figure this out) is tuna and cheese, with a good helping of ketchup and mayonnaise on the inside, made in small shops in inconspicuous areas near famous streets. 

For my birthday I’m planning to go escargot and frog leg tasting with a couple of friends at L’escargot Montorgueil, and maybe that will be another thing to add to my list of favorite things to do in Paris (although the list is so long at this point it would probably be completely unhelpful to anyone who tried to use it).

I went to a pub earlier to watch the Madrid-Barcelona game (which Madrid won on Barcelona’s turf, to Francisco’s great pleasure), and sat around relishing in the Spanish that was being spoken all around me. Even though French is a beautiful language, there’s still something enticing and romantic about Spanish that makes me gravitate towards it whenever I hear it. This is the reason why I never truly ‘miss’ being in primarily-Spanish language areas–the language never gives me a chance to miss it! I hear Spanish spoken around me every day, all the time, which suits me just fine. Especially when things are said in those beautiful Castillian accents…