Monday, 24 December 2012

And a partridge in a pear tree...

It's Christmas Eve in France and it's a quiet one for me. I'm spending Christmas at Jean-Claude's house in the village of Ymeray, Centre, just the two of us, no stress, no expectations. Last weekend we bought a Christmas Tree for me to decorate. The trees in France are quite different. This year we chose a 'Normande'. It's densely branched but quite short and drops its needles in a less obvious way than last year's species.There's no room in my apartment for a tree, alas and anyway, I'm spending a couple of weeks with JC so I can take advantage of space and the tree. I enjoy using the little fibre optic lights as they tangle less and don't have bits that can get lost, break off or break down. [see photo at left]

My Christmas newsletter's out, I phoned my Mother in Christchurch. I think I'm organised.

Last night we drove to Paris to see The Hobbit in 3D 48 frames per second. I was curious about the new frame speed technology and wanted to see the film in VOST (original version with sub-titles) so that meant it had to be Paris. So there I was, wandering the Champs Elysée in weather that was milder than last year, looking forward to seeing some of New Zealand on screen, made by a NZer of a book I've read countless times.

The 3D wasn't as good as Avatar but the frame-rate didn't bother me too much except for annoying technical distractions with some of the fast action. It seems to flutter or the feet of fleeing bunnies or dwarves seemed to be invisible. Annoying.

The detail of the film is exceptional and I didn't mind the length of it but some of the unnecessary additions just interrupted the flow and stretched things out, adding yet more and more fights and battles which got tedious. I love the Tolkien books and the Lord of the Rings films and I'm grateful that Peter Jackson has made Hobbit films but I wish he'd stuck to the original 2 films instead of three. I think I'll buy the DVD in 2D at 24 frames per second. The 3D and 48fps add nothing valuable for me. I must say though that going to see a Kiwi film in the heart of Paris is still an amazing thing to do. The film was well-partonised too. [here's me in my early Christmas present jacket]

It was dark when we emerged from the cinema and the lights along the Champs Elysee were in full glow. The traffic was predictably atrocious. I don't get into Paris often so I asked JC if we could rive along the Seine to see all the lights. Easier said than done from the CE. We had to take the periphique out of the centre and come back in. There's simply nothing to beat the Eiffel Tower in full sparkle. Each hour in the evenings on the hour the thousands of light bulbs go off for a couple of minutes and I hadn't managed to be near it before at the crucial time.

This time we drove along the right bank as the Tour 'went off'. Wonderful, the searchlight turning. the standard lighting picking out the architectural skeleton so well and the sparkles. That was the only highlight. Whether it's a cost-cutting measure or not, I don't know but it was so disappointing that most of the bridges and public buildings were not illuminated. More eco but much less Paris the city of light. Dark, sombre and the beautiful details of the buildings completely obscured by night. Sigh!

French shops do do a good job of decorating themselves, especially with Christmas displays, some of them animated. Next year I'd like to visit Paris at Christmas to wander around the little cabins erected for Christmas vendors at the Big Ferris Wheel at the Place de la Concorde end of the Champs Elysee. There are so many of them, clean, beautifully decorated, food ones too, specialty items, great public lighting decorations.

A few days ago we had our staff Christmas lunch Everyone brought a dish. I contributed an apple tart and delicately flavoured whipped cream I'd made. We all contributed a small gift for a lucky dip. I ended up with a mug- very useful.

Earlier this month I took a train to attend a briefing by the President of the University. It was pretty much as state of the nation presentation. As usual, the 'talking head' sort of delivery. There was a good turnout  to listen to what he had to say. Probably because he had already alluded to financial problems for the university. I sat through two hours of rapid French full of vocab on areas I don't understand.
Consequently I picked up almost nothing other than that the university was developing but the budget from the State wasn't and that there was a shortfall. There were some changes in direction since he recently took office. That a very high percentage of  staff (not admin who are always pretty safe) were on short term contracts and so were at risk (yep, that's always me).
One professor on a contract kept asking questions and wasn't very happy. She tried to raise some valid points but the safe people make the rules so it's pretty difficult to get traction. Like too much in our world, it's all decided by politicians. Top admin at universities are all politicians. They are not altruists. It's just business. I do hope I'm good for business and can get another contract for 2013-2014 but I still don't even have my real titre de sejour. My second temporary one runs out in 6 weeks. Oh well. the holiday break is to get away from all that. I hope I can progress my book proposal while I'm having time out.


Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.

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