Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I laughed, I cried...

After my unconclusive experience watching Sweeney Todd in "version française," I was determined to catch Juno in English.

My daughters had both seen it here in French and had truly regretted not hearing the actors speaking "American."

So partly for this reason -- and partly for reasons much more related to shopping -- we zoomed off to Montpellier for the day for my daughters' only out-of-town outing of their two-week winter holiday. Travail oblige.

One film, two viaduct crossings, six pairs of new shoes, and twelve hours later, I can definitely say it was worth every minute.

I adored Juno.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Cross-Cultural Clichés?

For a year or so, I have been receiving the expat email bulletin from Telegraph.co.uk. My British friends have admonished me about this source of information, and yes I KNOW THE GUARDIAN IS TEN TIMES BETTER! In fact, the latter updated their website not too long ago and it is quite spiffy-looking, so I highly recommend it for quality reading.

But for a mix of legitimate news and plenty of "oh yuk" and "gosh, really?" stories, The Telegraph is just great. It also offers a lot of high-hope-inducing headlines, like these National Cultural Profiles.

"National Cultural Profiles are your guide to the thinking patterns of all the world's major cultures. The resource is taken from the CultureActive cultural web programme, which is used by corporations, governments and non-government organisations."

The CultureActive program is available by subscription only, and I can only hope its information is more complete than the excerpts provided by the Telegraph:

"The Chinese truly believe that they possess a huge store of positive traits, which makes them superior to others..."

"Finnish manners in general are characterised by reserve, reticence and modesty. The sauna is a place where they relax and become more talkative."

"The French believe that they are intellectually superior to any other nationality."

"Senior Saudis, though benign, often adopt a moralistic tone to younger Westerners..."

"Greece is a tactile culture..."

Hmmm, I didn't realize "Greece" was a culture. It looks like both the journalism and the writing could use a little improvement on this piece!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Love emails, anyone? Everyone?

Is anybody surprised to learn that the art of writing love letters is on the wane?

I wonder -- all right, I'm downright curious -- just how long-distance romances are managed in the age of Web 2.0. I'm sure some of you out there could tell me a thing or two.

Of course lovers can now stay in real-time touch with their distant soulmate. They can use Skype to chat free -- no more sinking realizations that their long-distance love conversation just cost about $20.00.

But what has really replaced the old-fashioned love letter: the letter written solely for the purpose of expressing romantic feelings, the letter lovers used to carry around in their purse or pockets, the letter that can still spark a wave of passion when found in a box tucked away in the attic?

Do emails really cut it for this purpose?

(Inspired by Valentine's Day, this post was written last Sunday and modified to submit to Sunday Scribblings, which announced the prompt of "Passion" Sunday February 24th. Click here to read more passionate posts.)

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Take this country; come take me home again

"Now I've been happy lately, thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be, something good has begun
Now I've been happy lately, thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be, something good has begun..."

Hey, these are the restuls of the caucuses in my home state (Washington) and I'm proud of them!

Barack Obama

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Or, as my friend Dan from the Empathic Rationalist put it in the conclusion of his eloquent post Spring Fever:

"Obama and I pine for the day when we Democrats will enjoy the kind of renaissance that the Republicans enjoyed with Reagan. Republicans were optimistic. They were bold enough to dream big dreams. They got together in spiritual communities and spoke about social change. They took to the airwaves spreading their ideas. They realized how easy it is to influence Congress with orchestrated letter writing campaigns. And above all else, they realized the benefits of unity.

Sure their ideas were reactionary. But at least they had faith in ideas. And armed with that faith, they changed this country and this world.

That’s all I ask – to have our own day in the sun. It doesn’t even have to be 70 degrees. But we do have to be together. You. Me. Barack. And all the other politicians and non-politicians who are willing to get their hearts broken over and over again if that’s what it takes to change the world in a progressive direction.

Keep the faith."

I wanted to end with a clip from one of Obama's speeches, but I suppose everybody who's interested has been watching them. I ended up running into something on the creative side instead.

A little sappy? Perhaps. But don't you want to feel something other than sick to your stomach when you associate the words "U.S." and "President"?

For me, at this point, any dream will do. And Obama's is a stirring one.