Adventures and misadventures in France.

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Celebrating differences and Michael Sam

Dan Hansen, a Texas sportscaster from Texas, speaks out on ABC about Michael Sam.

For those who haven’t been following the story, Michael Sam is an NFL prospect (and recent graduate of the University of Missouri) who publicly announced on Sunday that he is gay. If drafted, he would become the first openly gay player in NFL history. The draft is scheduled to begin on May 8. 

The New York Times published a piece on Michael Sam’s background, presenting an athlete whose talent and drive offered a way out of an impoverished town and unstable home life.

There has been an ourpouring of pride and support from Sam’s home town of Hitchcock, TX, his university, teammates, and the public. Unfortunately, many NFL representatives has expressed that there may be a negative impact on his draft standings.

This video succinctly states what many (sports fans or not) have been thinking about the value we place on professional athletes.

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New single from Beck

Beck just released a new track called “Waking Light” off his upcoming album Morning Phase, set to be released at the end of the month.

Le Puy du Fou

 

If Disney World and a Renaissance Faire got together, the Puy du Fou would be their beautiful French love child. Le Puy du Fou is a historical theme park nestled in the heart of France that serves as a tribute to French and Christian culture throughout the ages. Add in thousands of eccentric employees and volunteers, animals, and over-the-top special effects, and you’ve got the attraction voted 2012’s Best Theme Park in the world.

BUT WAIT!  That doesn’t look like any theme park I’VE ever seen before! Where are the roller coasters? Who makes a family theme park that revolves around periods of war? Was that a colosseum? Where are the anamatronic woodland creatures, and whose idea was it to include gigantic flame throwers?

Le Puy du Fou was unlike any other amusement park (or Ren Faire) that I had ever visited. Instead of the usual rides and attractions, it’s filled with a series of reconstructed period villages and outdoor theaters built to accommodate 300-14,000 spectators.  We only visited for the day, and with six shows on our priority list, it took a bit of scheduling wizardry and hustling to see each 20-50 minute show.

Middle Ages

The first show we attended told the story of Marguerite, a shepherdess who must defend a castle from invaders. Plenty of cool horse tricks, an immense castle set disappeared into the ground, an another castle appeared in its place to spin around and shoot flames, and Jean d’Arc (Joan of Arc) made an appearance.

Vikings

The vikings show came next, and I began to realize a common theme across each show – conflicts of the French Christians versus their barbaric enemies. A full battle ensued, including a viking invasion by boats that appeared out of the water (with living people inside! how did they DO it?) They had wolves attacking people not 10 feet from the front row, someone got lit on fire, towers exploded, and people were dragged behind galloping horses. Easily one of my favorites.

Knights of the Round Table

King Arthur pulled the sword out of the stone, faces challenges, and earns the respect and authority he deserves. Except that the stone spurted flaming water (another SFX mystery), the round table emerged out of a lake and re-disappeared below the water, and a table spun around. Not to leave anyone unimpressed, they included an actual swimming mermaid.

Romans

Set in a 7000-seat colosseum, this show represented Christian Gaul rebellions against the brutal Roman empire. We got to see plenty of gladiators and wild animals roaming around. The highlight, however, was an actual full-speed chariot race. There are only a handful of people in the world qualified to race 4-horse chariot teams, most of whom are employed by the Puy du Fou.

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Birds

The Puy du Fou has its own falconry school. One show was meant to showcase their expertise, but also managed to include the story of…

Blah blah blah spirit of the falcons blah blah blah friendship and harmony singing singing…

Which was not particularly interesting until they unleashed 150 birds of prey simultaneously into the crowd. The birds are even trained to perch on spectators’ hats!

Musketeers

After char broiling in the heat all afternoon, it was time to visit the Richelieu Theater, the only indoor show at the Puy du Fou. As the name suggests, the show is loosely based on the story of the Three Musketeers. The stage is enormous – 80 meters long – 2600 square meters total. To put it in perspective, that’s half the size of an American football field. After some witty banter and fight scenes, we were thrown into a world of glowing horses, flamenco-dancing women – and the stage became a lake. The splashy dancing, horses, and crazy lights continued as the entire stage flooded with six inches of water.

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I’m Back!

I'm Back!

Just got back from a busy 2-week jump to the US, so prepare for posts about Washington DC, a Vaccaro wedding, and Jenny’s graduation!

Voyage to the Passé

Having a nostalgic moment looking at some posts from my previous European adventures in the Fall of 2010. For anyone interested in checking out my former blog, you can read it here:

L’Aventure Supérieure

Unfortunately, I stopped writing new posts in November, but you can still find some posts about life in Toulouse, France, and visits to Paris and Barcelona. It’s a shame I never got pictures up from Rome or the Alpes!

Still one of my favorite pictures from my semester abroad!

Whoops!

Sorry I’m super behind on posts! France has granted two extra days of vacation this week, so I’ll be rolling out a stream of pictures and stories!

Boston, You’re My Home

In the aftermath of Monday’s attack during the Boston Marathon, it is difficult to be so far from home. My heart goes out to all the victims and their families. I am so grateful that Boston has many of the best hospitals in the world, and that the emergency responders and medical teams were able to save those suffering from terrible injuries. My aunt Jackie and many former classmates are among these heroes.

The Boston Marathon is meant to be a day of celebration for the city and its heritage. I can remember staying at my grandparents’ apartment on Exeter Street, only a block away from the finish line, and collecting free merchandise among crowds of spectators. Another year, I helped my aunt Pam film a marathon-themed audition tape for the reality show Survivor. It’s terrible to think that tragedy will be the only memory of the 2013 marathon.

An article by LZ Granderson published by CNN eloquently reflects many of my feelings about the attack:

 

This morning, I received a call from a French coworker, Jean-Francois:

 

“We have never met, but I have heard you are from Boston. I read about the attacks this week, and I wanted to express my sorrow for your home, your friends, and your family. I hope that your loved ones were not injured. Boston is a lovely city. I studied there on an exchange program in college, and the Boston Marathon is a great celebration. Our country shares the pain of your losses.”

 

My city, my home, and the people of Boston are in my thoughts and my heart this week.

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