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I dream in French. I have completely immersed myself in learning. Ma bête noire est masculin et féminin, but most people I know who speak French as a second language still haven't mastered the genders. While we were in France last weekend it was like pieces of a puzzle coming together, learning the language has made me so much more present.

Watched Downfall (Der Untergang) the other week and it still haunts me. It was unique to make the film from the point of view of the angelic-faced stenographer, Traudl Junge. She showed how normally good people could turn a blind eye to atrocity, which has an eerie echo in this current climate. Hitler was superbly acted by Bruno Ganz and I keep thinking about how vastly superior Downfall was to the führer-farce Evil: The Evil Rise of Evil with Robert Carlyle.

"I have this feeling that I should be angry with this child, with this childish young thing, or I shouldn't forgive her for not realizing the horrors, the monster, before it was too late, for not realizing what she was getting into. I was satisfied that I wasn't personally to blame and that I hadn't known about these things... it was no excuse to be young and it would have been possible to find things out." - Traudl Junge

Saturday morning we left early, drove our car onto the Eurotunnel train and thirty minutes later arrived on French soil. We ate a quick breakfast of pastry and coffee and after stocking up on a copious amount of wine, cheese, produce, rosy red fresh tuna steaks, mussels, and merguez we drove over the Belgian border to a small farmhouse that sells 250 different kinds of Belgian beer. We bought 25 of them, many previously unknown to us and obscure local brews.

In the afternoon we went to the nearby village of Watou (west of Poperinge) and stopped for lunch at 't Hommelhof, one of the best restaurants that incorporates Belgian beer into its menu. I ordered a glass of Hommelhof's own wheat beer, a bowl of Beer and cheese soup 't Hommelhof and Rabbit stew in 't Kapittel blond. The rabbit stew arrived in a gigantic black Le Creuset pot teeming with delicious scents and it tasted as good as it smelled. The table next to us was occupied by a large group of people and they began talking about us in French, assuming we couldn't understand their words.

- "Who are they? Are they English?"
- "Yes, they must be. What are they talking about?"
- "Languages, German."

They continued on observing us, but before we could start discussing weird topics their dessert arrived. I finished my meal with a shot of appeljenever and we made it back to Eurotunnel just in time to catch our train and arrived back in London at 7:30pm that evening.

(The weather was dark and wet so I didn't have much opportunity to take photographs, sorry Beau!)

This week we cooked the mussels in Belgian wheat beer (it was essentially a moules marinières, but swapping the wine for beer) and the tuna simply in lemon caper butter with asparagus and French violet beer.

Tonight we're seeing Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Hopefully I won't hate the film makers as much as I'm expecting to.
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On April 28th, 2005 02:20 pm (UTC), heuteistmeintag commented:
Bruno Ganz's performance blew me away.

we drove over the Belgian border to a small farmhouse that sells 250 different kinds of Belgian beer. We bought 25 of them, many previously unknown to us and obscure local brews

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On April 28th, 2005 03:47 pm (UTC), langerdan replied:
"we drove over the Belgian border to a small farmhouse that sells 250 different kinds of Belgian beer. We bought 25 of them, many previously unknown to us and obscure local brews"

Just because we could.
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On April 28th, 2005 03:52 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
Indeed, and why not? ;)
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On April 28th, 2005 03:59 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
I hope to see him in more films.

That Belgian beer place was kind of crazy. They even had a few brands of Kriek I'd never heard of so I picked them up to give them a try.
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On April 28th, 2005 04:05 pm (UTC), heuteistmeintag replied:

yes, tease me some more, you siren. back in the days they used to burn your kind at the stake, your know? fitting punishment, really, for the pain you cause your readers, but more importantly, me.

btw do you have the address/website/contact info to the place? i know someone in BRU that would love to pay it a visit
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On April 28th, 2005 04:10 pm (UTC), sarahemily11 commented:
droooooollll mussels are heavenly!
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On April 29th, 2005 01:08 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
yes, I can't get enough of them!
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On April 28th, 2005 05:26 pm (UTC), dawaioser commented:
I'll probably try to "drag" Nick to see that film this weekend. Hopefully it will do the books a modest amount of justice. (*crosses fingers.*)

After reading your entry, I now officially want some tangy cheese and a nice glass of wine...oh yeah, and to be off work.
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On April 29th, 2005 01:41 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
The film wasn't perfect, but it also wasn't a disaster like I was expecting.
Sometimes the comedic timing seemed a bit off, a bit more Hollywood than British. It all ended too quickly which resulted in my feeling a little bit unsatisfied at the end. I don't know if this was intentional because maybe they're planning a sequel? Anyway, it's worth seeing, and it's not too changed to be painful for fans of the book.
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On April 28th, 2005 05:31 pm (UTC), socialismnow commented:
I'm seeing it tonight too! Only two more hours to wait. Hope we both like it.
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On April 28th, 2005 10:22 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
Just returned from the film, how did you like it? :)
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On April 28th, 2005 10:42 pm (UTC), socialismnow replied:
I liked it - I was disappointed that it didn't go on for longer! (I wanted to see the restaurant.) What they did with Zaphod's heads was quite funny. The Guide itself had a pretty minor role, I thought - it must be difficult to fit everything in - and its computer graphics were only slightly less primitive than in the TV series, so that was surprising, but not really a flaw. The TV series, I think, was very good until about the middle of episode five, then it slips a bit. The film doesn't have that problem. Nevertheless, on the whole I prefer the TV series. I am not sure that I could say quite why.
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On April 29th, 2005 01:30 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
I wanted it to go on longer as well and I was disappointed there wasn't the restaurant at the end of the world too. Maybe they're saving it for a sequel? I think the graphics for the book worked fairly well, but I wish there had been more guide entries. At least they included one of my favorites, "a terrible miscalculation of scale", albeit in the end credits. I thought the new Marvin actually worked quite well and I preferred Zooey Deschanel as Trillian. Some additions were good, Deep Thought watching cartoons amused me greatly, but I think I was the only one laughing at that. :)

I didn't come away from the film feeling wholly satisfied, even though I laughed more than I expected to (tho at times I felt the comic timing was a bit off). Despite the lower budget of the TV series I feel they still got more "right" than the film did. I have a feeling that I'll still be re-watching the series far more than I'll watch the film.

I don't know, at least it wasn't a disaster like I feared.
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On April 29th, 2005 10:27 pm (UTC), socialismnow replied:
I wondered whether they'd have a sequel too. I preferred the TV portrayal of Deep Thought, but I agree that having him watch TV was a nice touch, and Zooey Deschanel was very good. The dolphin song was very funny. Glad you weren't as disappointed as you'd feared!
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On May 2nd, 2005 08:01 pm (UTC), prettyedy replied:
I liked the tv Marvin better. When you watched the movie did you catch the TV-like Marvin in the Vogon queue.
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On May 4th, 2005 05:39 pm (UTC), socialismnow replied:
Re: Marvin
Yeah, that was a nice touch!
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On April 29th, 2005 10:36 am (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
What do you think about this one : "amour" est masculin au singulier (un bel amour) mais féminin au pluriel (de belles amours). Isn't it a great language ?
Keep on !
By the way, "Masculin/féminin" is a great movie by Jean-Luc Godard.
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On April 29th, 2005 01:49 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
Re: Masculin/féminin
hehe. It is great, but it's such a headache. At least most French people I know are very forgiving when I get a gender wrong. :)

I'll have to check out Masculin/féminin, thanks for the recommendation.

(& thanks for the encouragement!)
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On May 2nd, 2005 09:18 am (UTC), prettyedy commented:
I haven't seen Downfall yet, it sounds like one of those movies I'll need to be in the right frame to see. I thought the picture of the stenographer was you at first. She looks a bit like your avatar.

I just saw Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy tonight. I found the humor a bit dated. But, Sam Rockwell's Zaphod Beeblebrox made me happy. The bit with the whale was just a touch of Douglas Adams original brilliants.

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On May 3rd, 2005 12:24 pm (UTC), gulch commented:
I've been trying to brush up my German recently, and again the hardest part are the genders, though when in Germany I found it didn't actually matter too much, just preceed every noun with a vague "e" for er/sie/es or "d" for der/die/das, people will understand you. It also helped my confidence when I tried to imagine Germans making similar errors in English - for example one person I stayed with would sometimes say "she" instead of "it", of course this is a little clumsy but it's hardly a barrier to conversation.

I went to see Downfall a few weeks ago. Actually, the fact that I have my German head on right now made it a little more hard work to watch, because unlike most foreign films where I just have to juggle reading the subtitles and watching the picture, with a German film I have to do both of those and try (usually unsuccesfully) to translate the speech in my head at the same time. But nevertheless, a great (and very depressing) film.

I've yet to see Hitchhiker's Guide - I read MJ Simpson's Planet Magrathea short review, and since then have been rather reluctant to go (I especially can't stand the idea that they do so many of the set-ups for jokes from the original radio series/books but then fail to follow through with the punchline), but I know that I'll enjoy it at least a little, and will have to see it sooner or later.
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