Thursday, April 30, 2009

HFCS I challenge a dual!

Okay. I was just one Twitter and saw a tweet regarding an article about High Fructose Corn Syrup, and how it's "no worse than cane sugar." It is infuriating to me how absolutely pigheaded (ahh Swine Flu!) some individuals can be. They act as though the movement towards a more natural, easily digestible, sweetener is just some craze to victimize the corn industry.

Last week, PepsiCo became the latest manufacturer to turn its
back on America's sweetener, introducing three new soft drinks

Are you kidding me? "America's sweetener?" Are you being for real? Pretty funny since corn didn't even grow in the United States until our pre-colonial people transplanted it here. As time, and the modern businessman, developed we then chose to take advantage of it as a cheap resource on many levels. So no. It's not "America's sweetener," so stop being a douche and realize how stupid you sound.

Our fear of high-fructose corn syrup seems to have arisen from
some very real concerns over the health effects of fructose, one
of its principal components. The ingestion of glucose, another
basic sugar, is known to stimulate the release of body chemicals
that regulate food intake. Fructose, on the other hand, does little
to suppress your appetite, and it seems to be preferentially
associated with the formation of new fat cells. A growing body
of research has led some scientists to wonder whether the increased
consumption of fructose over the past few decades might be
responsible for rising rates of obesity.

You just said that the fructose levels in HFCS are the reason people avoid it...okay. So. What exactly does that prove on the "we're good, eat us!" front? "Oh hey, we are unnatural and are one of the leading causes of obesity!" how far is that really going to get you? I just really do not understand why they even bother fighting it anymore, HFCS is unhealthy and does not taste nearly as good as the real stuff. Your advertisements aren't getting you anywhere (it's difficult to find an original since everybody is spoofing it).

Okay, I'm done. I just had a little nerd-rage I had to get out.

Thursday Tea, how have I never found you?

Thursday Tea was a little thing brought to you by BirdBrain(ed) Book Blog and my inspiration was drawn from Jupiter Sinclair. Here is the schpeal:

Tell us what tea you are drinking (and if you like it). And then tell us what book are you reading (and if you like it). Finally, tell us if they go together.

Awesome, right? I have been wanting to blog about my tea experiences for awhile, and I have also been reading an absolutely br00tal book, so here we go! Anyone who wishes to join in, PLEASE feel free to either reply via comment with your book/tea or even just give me the url to the entry you put it in on your own blog. I love to learn about stuff like this.

A couple weeks ago Jake and I discovered one of our favorite places in the world. It is an amazing little tea bar on Congress St in Portland, ME called Home Grown Tea. It is run by Sarah, an infectiously enthusiast herbalist who mixes, brews, and serves the teas to you herself. The atmosphere is relaxing and medicinal, as well as the teas themselves. I have been a big fan of her Teacher's Pet blend, but am also excited to try her other specials. Sarah also sells her blends on her fabulously constructed website (it continues to surprise me how beautiful it is) and I recommend any tea enthusiast to purchase some. Each tea is explained and is offered either in a 6oz satchel or as 20 tea bags. You should really pay her a visit, you will not be disappointed.

I have been reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith.

An expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she's soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead. Can she vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you'd actually want to read.

I will admit, it was a bit slow for me at first, but after the first 50 or so pages I could not put it down. The story constantly gives me urges to speak of the "impropriety" of things and how "vexed" someone has made me. I do resist to avoid looking like an absolute tool, but Pride and Prejudice and Zombies pulls me into the story as I haven't been in awhile. And I strongly believe that any Jane Austen satire must be accompanied by a great cup of tea.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Movies? But you've been in France!

Oui, I have, but you seem to forget that 9 hour plane rides are perfect occasions to catch up on the movies you didn't get the chance to see in everyday life.

I had heard a lot of mixed things about the film Australia starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. I have loved me some Hugh ever since I saw Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain opening night in 2006. I am absolutely in love with that movie, and The Conquistador became my ideal love story beau. He was the "Noah" to me that all girls swoon over from The Notebook. I was really hoping I'd enjoy this movie, and it's safe to say it didn't disappoint me.
Aside from Hugh Jackman's extreme masculinity as Mr. Drover, his Australian accent is enough to make my knees turn to Jell-o. I haven't seen such a well-defined torso since King Leonidas. The story itself had some slow points, and I was very disappointed in the ending...until I discovered that it was not the ending at all! It was incredibly confusing, and I am not sure if the scene was intended to be so. As a whole, it is not in my "big leagues" for favorite movies, but I would say it definitely warrants a watch. This was also the first time I have actually found Nicole Kidman to be attractive. When the hell did she get absolutely perfect teeth? Jealous!

Bedtime Stories
I am not an enormous Adam Sandler fan. I do like Billy Maddison, and 50 Firsts Dates, but beyond that I don't really find him that amusing. However, Bedtime Stories was both adorable and incredibly entertaining. I thought that Sandler did a very good job, as did the creator of Bugsy, the Guinea pig, because he clearly made the movie.

Yes, Man
As with Adam Sandler, I don't really like Jim Carrey. The only movie I enjoy from him (that I can recall, anyways) is The Mask. I have wanted to see Truman Show, but haven't had the opportunity to. Yes, Man is one of those stupid movies you watch to kill time, or if you are in the mood for something obnoxious. I would say it is just about as ridiculous as being forced to attend a pre-teen slumber party and be the one to bring the ice cream. Though there were two parts that I did find myself laughing out loud at, I am pleased that it wasn't a movie I had to pay for. So if you are in an odd mood, and don't fancy yourself the effort of playing truth or dare or braiding hair while telling stories about your crush...Yes, Man is a great alternative.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Digesting France

So I'm sure you're all getting pretty darn tired of my incessant prattling about France, but I am finally at the end of my journey which means maybe like...three blogs left? Today's is brought to you by French Food. Voila!

Last Tuesday night I had dinner at Le Dix, the restaurant at the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza in Paris. I was greeted in French, but looked lost and hesitantly asked if he spoke English. "English is fine!" he responded very kindly, and I asked if he could suggest a wine for my meal. The final decision (though there was no competition as far as the entree went) came to Chilean Sauvignon paired with White Truffle Perfumed Ravioli. My. God. It was amazing. I'm not sure if it had anything to do with the fact that the ravioli was "truffle perfumed" or not, but regardless it was mindblowing. The wine was great as well, it was very fruity and tasted a bit like peaches and strawberries. They topped my night off with an absolutely delicious cup of Tiramisu. Whenever I have had it before, Tiramisu has been overwhelmingly cake-y and too bitter with coffee, but these guys did it right. Everything was perfectly balanced, and it also went well with my remaining wine. I still can't believe how spectacular my entire meal was.

Friday I had lunch at Restaurant Maison Blanche in Marseilles. I had been walking by it throughout my entire journey because they had a chalkboard listing four kinds of bouillabaisse. I had it in my mind that I would not leave the port until I had tried the Provencal fish soup. My waiter didn't know much English, but we seemed to make it work. I accidentally ordered San Pelligrino sparkling water, which I coped with but didn't particularly want, and bouillabaisse du pecheur. Bouillabaisse takes a long time to make, and usually is put on the stove in the morning with the fresh fish of that particular day. It's heavily flavored with saffron, and is served with croutons and a spicy aioli called "rouille." Each bouillabaise has different fish in it, but almost all of them have mussels. The particular soup I ordered came with rascasse (scorpion fish), moules (mussels), and rouget (goatfish). I don't really like seafood aside from sushi, but I was bent on having this experience so I finished as much as I could without exploding. The rouille was amazing, and if it weren't for that I probably wouldn't have been able to eat as much as I had. After I finished my bouillabaisse, I contemplated whether or not to have dessert. I ordered the only thing on the menu without an English description, it was called "Peche Melbe." I knew peche was peach so it couldn't be all that bad. It was glorious. I was served a large glass with three scoops of different ice creams, halved peaches, a cookie, and whipped cream. I would definitely return just for the dessert.

Now it's time for some junk food review! Sometimes you can't afford to spend 30 Euro on your meal, so it's good to know what's worth it and what's not. I highly recommend anything from a local Patisserie. They have great prices, and pretty much everything is fresh. I bought a baguette for less than a Euro and never finished it because there was just so much of it. Combined with some local honey, jam, or cheese, it is perfect. At the Lyon Part Dieu train station, I spoiled myself with a mozzarella and tomato sandwich for 4 Euro, and it was served on an amazing olive roll with heavy portions of pesto. It was one of the best sandwiches of my life, and I normally hate olives.

When I was in Arles there were quite a few vans containing huge ovens for pizzas. I dubbed them "sketchy rape vans" to friends, but the people who work at them are actually very nice and not the least bit creepy. Tired of bar food, I decided to walk to one of said vans and order a pizza, and for 6 Euro I got small mozzarella pizza. All pizzas came with olives, but the best part was that they didn't flood their pizzas with toppings. They put three single olives on the pizza (pits still in them), and three large pieces of mozzarella on top of the pizza cheese. However, what I didn't realize until I was back in my room, is that they don't cut their pizzas. I don't know if I'm just supposed to have a pizza cutter in my back pocket at all times or what, but needless to say I had a bit of difficulty ingesting my thin-crusted beauty. Overall, it was a good pizza for the price, and I didn't even have enough room in my belly to finish. Although I definitely enjoy a nice slice of Leonardo's pizza a lot more, it was definitely awesome to have some bites of an authentic, European rape van pizza.

Now, hopefully you have all seen the scene in Pulp Fiction where Vince and Jules talk about McDonald's. If not, please watch will change your life I promise.

No life change? Okay, my bad. But it is this scene that inspired me to acquire a meal at the McDonald's in Marseilles. I have never been a fan of the 1/4# with cheese (which really is called the "Royal with Cheese") so I got myself a Big Mac, a coke, fries, and a little dessert called Chocoglace. You know how McDonald's is super shitty in America? Well it's just as shitty in's just more I guess that means it's even more shitty than in the US. The dollar menu didn't exist, I was given six choices of a sandwich, fries, and drink for 6.40 E, with 2E for my dessert. 8E for a meal that I threw in the garbage about five minutes later. However, the chocoglace was pretty awesome; it was a thick brownie covered in ice cream, and smothered in fudge. Really? How could you mess that up? You really, really can't.

One might agree that chicken and thyme potato chips sound amazing. But like me, they would be wrong. I didn't have time for breakfast before catching the train back to Paris, so I hit up the vending machine for some snacks and beverage. I was super excited for Lay's Poulet Roti et thym (rotisserie chicken & thyme) potato chips, but was actually disappointed when I opened them and they tasted exactly like chicken. What was I thinking? It says chicken, I know what chicken tastes like, should it really be that big of a surprise? Despite my dumbosity, I finished them and was left with a tingly feeling on my tongue that was both mildly disturbing and also unwanted. What I have been a fan of on this trip is a little snack called Kinder Bueno. I got a two-pack of them in Marseilles. They're little wafer sticks coated in chocolate with a hazelnut filling. I'm sort of a sucker for anything hazelnut, so to me these were simply incredible. Even though I didn't have any reaction to the chocolate, I still got the white chocolate version just to try out. Not as amazing, but still pretty darn tasty. I think I might have to smuggle a box of them into the country XD or at least find a nice chocolatier to purchase some chocolate from to smuggle back home.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Keep it bubblin' like a bouillabaisse

Oh, MC Chris. Yesterday started off with room service breakfast..YUM! The woman spoke very fast French so, as per usual, I stood there smiling like an imbecile. This tray was ENORMOUS. There was a basket of fresh pastries, honey, jam, pineapple yogurt, corn flakes, a saucer of milk, a cup with a packet of hot chocolate mix, a carafe of hot milk, orange juice, and a piece of cheese. I chowed down but couldn't finish, though I did pack my remaining pastries in my purse in case I would get hungry on my day's journey to Marseille.

I had read my train ticket wrong, I thought I was catching at the "arrive" time. Oops. Thankfully the French train system is a joke, and just about anyone could walk onto the train without paying. It took about an hour to get to Marseille, and goddamn the metro was different. I had no idea what to do, but apparently I can adapt like a mofo because 3 minutes later I was on the rail to Palais Longchamps. It was a short walk from the station, and goodness gracious was it a sight. There were maybe two people there, and it was about 9am so it was still dewy out. I can't even describe how amazing it was. There were fountains everywhere, and gorgeous statues surrounded by a flowing staircase. Of course, I took the opportunity for a Myspace photoshoot :) Who wouldn't?!
After Longchamps, I headed to Vieux Port, probably the most famous part of Marseille. My grandfather had asked me to find out if a particular bridge still existed there, as it had been blown in half during WWII. I immediately went on the quest, snacking on my leftover croissant on the walk. Come to find out, the bridge was gone, but across the street was Fort St. Nicolas which, like Longchamps, was empty. There was a father and his two children, and a man on a scooter who was really nice and offered to take my picture. I was hesitant, thinking, "Ah! What if he steals my camera and rides away on his scooter?!" and then I replied to myself, "Well I'd probably just blog about it." Oh my selves are so funny. Anyways, I took a seat and looked over the city for awhile and noticed a strange tree in front of me. It had these bulbous things hanging off I broke out my Ka-Bar and cut one open. I'm 98% sure that they were figs, but they were still green so I can't be positive, but yes I was excited.

I wandered around for awhile and eventually found my way to Restaurant Maison Blanche for lunch. I had my first non-spacey French conversation..well kind of. I approached and was greeted by a polite bald man who said something I didn't understand so I replied with (in French): I only speak a little french. He said: Okay? So I asked if he spoke English, and yelled "YES! Okay." when he told me that he did. I accidentally ordered San Pelligrino, but drank it anyways cuz I was hella thirsty, and then ordered a bouillabaisse. I'll explain that part in another post.Anyways, I ate my lunchy lunch (I didn't like it much, but I paid 20 Euro for it so I ate it) and followed it up with Peche Melbe, which was AMAZING (also in next post).

I still had quite a bit of time to spare, so I might shorten my Nimes trip a bit.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Video blog from Arles, France

Alright, so I took into account what everyone was telling me on the last vlog (took awhile to figure out, but I got it!). Couldn't change audio much since I was outside, but oh well.

Also can be found on Youtube

Arles, France from Kelly Arsenault on Vimeo.


Flickr hates me, so new photos of Arles on SHUTTERFLY.
More to come for sure.

Wondering around Arles

I left on adventure pretty much 10 minutes after I types all of that previous. I can't be here and not explore, it's just blasphemy. I walked around the main road a bit before venturing down some side roads. I'll give this place one thing; it is absolutely, stunningly gorgeous. I didn't know places like this even existed anymore...I thought they were "out" with bad hair and spandex. Good thing I was wrong, because I literally could not walk a few feet without spotting something I just HAD to take a picture of.

Then I stumbled upon the Roman Amplitheater. Really? How do I manage to just accidentally find enormous, famous landmarks? I did get quite excited when I saw it, although the one I'm going to see in Nimes on Friday is going to be bigger I think. I wandered around it a bit, didn't linger long because the tours were closed and I'm going back on Saturday. I kept making turns down streets, figuring I had to find my way back eventually. And I did. A lot later. Arles' insides were like a maze of narrow streets with hardly anyone walking; and it was mildly terrifying as the sun began to set. I finally found my way back to a familiar area, but decided to head back to the hotel because by the time I'd get dinner it would be dark.

I sat in the "Studio Cafe" of the hotel, texting Jake and Heather about the town and how sick I am of not understanding anyone. I won't lie, I was also complaining that no one understood me either, let alone addressed me ever, when the bar tender asked me (in English) if I wanted anything. I said no, but then asked if the bar menu food was only available at a certain time. Of course, he didn't get what I meant, so after a few more tries he said yes. I ordered a charcuterie plate and a croque monsieur because I was starving. The plate came with a variety of meats with tomatoes and cornichons. The terrine looked very similar to cat feces, but I figured I should try it. It. Was. Awesome. I ate all of it before even looking at anything else. The coppa was great as well, though the others were kinda just "eh" in my book. The croque monsieur was interesting. It went a little something like this:

bread, cheese, ham, cheese, bread, cheese - broiled

It tasted alright, but it's probably nothing I will have again. I'm currently trying Pastis (on the same kind of level as Absinthe) which I will review with my wines later in the week.

Getting to Arles

So I got off the train in Arles having no idea where to go. The street I needed wasn't on any of my maps, and I had never been here before. Luckily there were street signs with names of hotels on them with arrows pointing where to go. Probably two miles later I am at my hotel. It looked so fancy and amazing from the lobby, and I approached the receptionist. I admit, I must have come across a bit cranky, but I was sweaty, tired, and having muscle spasms left and right. I pathetically asked if he spoke English, and he checked me in. I get in the elevator up to my room and face a labrynth of signs pointing me every which way. I'm sorry, but if a sign says "rooms 100-110 -->" I don't expect it to end at 105 with another two signs saying"<-- 105-107" & "-->108-116" and broken down four more times like that. I also don't expect the numbers to go 108, 104, 106, 111, 109, 110" on one side of the hall.

I finally find 110 and take out my key. I was initially impressed that they still use regular keys...and then I rapidly began resenting them for it. My keyring had two keys, and I could get neither of them to open the door. I tried about 10 times before I screamed obscenities, picked up my luggage, and went to ask the man at the desk for help. When we got back to my room, I asked him to open the door for me. He did, and went inside to try and open the windows and said "This 'door'?" all confused, and I pointed to the front door. Then he walked to the closet, confused, and I said "No, it was this door, I couldn't get it open." So he looks at me like I'm a fool, and we close the door (from the outside) so he can show me how to open. At last I'm inside and I collapse on the bed. I break out my laptop and..what's this? Absolutely no internet. Okay,okay, I can deal for 4 days. I decide to take a shower. It's a fabulous looking get-up with stone floor and two showerheads...except it is absolutely impractical. There is no slope by the drain, so all of the water simply collects until it overflows off the end of the stone pedestal. There were no bathmats or floor rugs, so when my wet feet hit the tile, I almost fell backwards and hit my head off the stone...and there weren't any handles to grab onto either...I had to catch myself with the toilet. Now, I don't know how Europeans shower, but if this is a flawless system I'm clearly doing it incorrectly.

This might all be very simple stuff, but I expected to show up and RELAX. I didn't think I'd have to work for it. Arles was supposed to be my Zen place, and so far it appears to be the opposite. Hopefully I will have the ambition to walk around town a bit later, I just really need to chill first.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Paris pictures!

Check out my Flickr account at :

A Byte of Paris pt 1

Today was a little better than expected. It did not begin with a baguette like I had hoped, instead I found comfort in a chocolat eclair from Boullanger Patisserie across from my hotel. It was my first fully-French dialog, which of course I messed up by mumbling. Oh well! 2 Euro later I was happily traipsing down the street on a mission to take the metro to Saint-Germaine De Pres. I'll admit, I wasn't sure about when it would be acceptable to eat the eclair because so many people have different customs. I had not seen anyone in Paris eating on the street, so for all I knew it was offensive or something. Finally I caught a glimpse of a monsieur munching on a bagel, and took it as a sign that I was A-okay.

You know how sometimes you get eclairs at the grocery store and sometimes their rock solid, and other times they are just soaked with the cream from inside? Well, this eclair was right in the middle. It was light without having a rock-hard shell to keep it that way. And! I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the cream inside was chocolate...not only that, but I didn't have an allergic reaction! I decided that it was a chance to celebrate (do I really need a reason? I'm in Paris, that's reason enough!) at Les Deux Magots. My cousin was in Paris last month and told me I MUST visit there, so sure enough I did. When I got to the cafe I had no idea what to do, so I just watched others as they approached. They seemed to be just sitting outside, so I did the mimicked them...hopefully not in a completely obvious way.

(Les Deux Magots)
I was soon greeted in French by a waiter and I tried my best to respond. I already knew what I was there for, but I took a menu anyways. My waiter returned and asked if I wanted a beverage (again, en francais), and I just maintained a blank stare; not because I didn't understand, but because although I know that water is "l'eau" I had no idea if glass was actually "glass." So, being flustered, I just made a random squeal (something I do far too often), and blurted "Gahh, I'm trying to think," and asked for a moment. As I expected, I was then greeted with a new waiter, for I am a terrifying individual, and when he asked if I wanted a beverage I said "Foie gras, s'il vous plais." Awesome. Go, Kelly. Thankfully he did not bring the Foie Gras in a mug with a straw, but instead brought out one of the most amazing dishes I have ever eaten.

(Duck Foie Gras)
Centered was a piece of foie gras (it was either Pate or Trochon, I'm not positive), with a savory gelee to one side, a cold fruit compote opposite, and a thick drizzle of the thickest, sweetest balsamic vinegar I have ever had parallel to the foie. This was served with three pieces of wheat toast. The pate was not at all what I expected. It was as smooth as butter, and it tasted absolutely brilliant. The birds knew it too, because I had one sitting on the chair across from me the entire time, ready to swoop in for a spare crumb. The lunch came to 25Euro, and I quickly went on my way pretending that I didn't appear to be a moron on the French front. My greatest frustration is that I can write French quite well. (J'ecrite Francais bien!), and most of the time I understand it, I just don't know how to respond and it kills me.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

é&"khjhfs_èà_çéjnd ( stupid keyboard )

Know what they never tell you about France? The keyboards are different. When you pay an hour for internet you dont expect to spend it looking for the right key so you dont look like a dumbass in your blog post. So in advance please excuse any typeos or misuse of punctuation because I cannot find the comma button on this damn thing...which sucks because I love me some comma action for sure!

So the netbook is dead, (found the comma!) brilliant me brought the wrong adapter for it. Hopefully I can get one today, then I will be able to upload my pretty pictures of French things :) Yesterday was pretty productive. I ate some amazing food, which I will blog about tomorrow on my train ride. Anywho, I literally stumbled upon the Eiffel Tower yesterday. I was walking along (looking for it, mind you), and this enormous, obnoxious metal thing was in my path. I began mumbling to myself til I looked up and realized that I was an absolute moron for complaining that the Eiffel Tower was in my way. It is taller than tall so I chickened out and didnt climb it; I am afraid of heights, I cant help it. Anyways, I decided to walk north of the Tower and stroll along the river for awhile, so I grabbed a bite to eat and went on my way. Two hours later, when I still hadnt found the river, I realized I was actually headed South. I parked my butt on in of the many beautiful parks around me, finally found myself on the map, and decided to call it a day.

Overall I didnt do much. I am sure a lot of people think I am an idiot for not being more interested in the museums and sights of old, but that isnt what I came here for; I came to Paris to eat...thats it...and if I happen to find a lifechanging architectural piece, then it will only enhance the awesomeness of this culinary adventure. As for today, I woke up at 5am which is ridiculous, but it also means I get to pick up fresh baguette as soon as the patisserie next door opens. I have a lot of shopping and eating to get through today, as long as I make sure I dont head south 0:)

Also? I have yet to see ANY game/tech stores anywhere, and all I have seen for anything related is the enor,ous Chinatown Wars ad in the metro.

The Journey

11:02 So I'm chillin' in the airport, waiting for my first flight out. I brought Jake's netbook with me, but thus far I haven't been able to connect to the internet. Kinda nervous because my luggage got pulled aside during check-in, and I swear I read on the flying rules that it's okay to pack pocket knives as long as their in your checked luggage. I'ma be a bit ticked off if they confiscate my knife. It's beautiful (not in a creepy way, I promise). It's a green Ka-Bar desert mule serrated flip knife and it is br00tal. It was like $40, so I will not be pleased if they confiscate it. I want to just get all the flying over with, already. I have a 5 hour layover after this, and it's going to be dreadful. I bought Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to read, so that will occupy me a bit, but still...five hours is a bit obscene.

15:08 Layovers suck. And what's worse than layovers? Problems at home that don't hit until you are in the airport with a one. It means that instead of productively travelling, you get to sit and stew for 5 hours, thinking about how you aren't there to help your loved ones...and how, instead, you're sitting on your ass deciding between $20 chinese food or an $8 slice of "Famous Famiglia" stromboli. Neither, I say, for both will inevitably leave me sharing intimate details of myself with the Airbus toilet during my deca-hour journey over the Atlantic. Not particularly my slice of pie.

Aside from the annoying angst I'm feeling for this airport situation and worrying about every possible thing back home, my trip is going pretty well. My first flight neglected to end in carnage, so one can only hope that the second follows it's stride. There has been ZERO wifi available to me (although 3G on my G1 has been a refreshing change!) which makes me wonder if I will have a chance to use the internets at all this week. If not, it's cool because at least I have the ability to save my documents and post them at a later date. I am getting a little worried about my luggage, but I figure if it gets lost or whatever, I'll just have to purchase a purely French wardobe. Somehow I will have to find a way to cope with the purchase of new clothes :)

19:09 So Philidelphia decided to literally rain on my figurative parade, delaying take-off for almost an hour so far. In the end, it's probably more helpful to me because it means less time that I have to kill wandering around Paris until check-in. "Extra time to explore Paris?! Why the heck are you bitching?" one might ask...and that question might be valid if I felt like lugging my ginormous L.L.Bean backpack around the city for six hours. I followed my own careful instruction about not packing too much; I literally only have 2 pairs of clothes, 7 pairs of unmentionables, 7 pairs of socks, a box of granola, toilettries, and my Ka-Bar. Half the pockets in the bag are empty, but that doesn't make the default weight of the sturdy mo-fo any less. And, with the added weight of my carry-on, I'll be a glorified packmule by the end of the day.
On the plus side I have been drinking a super ton of water. On top of making me thirsty, it seems that flying also makes me feel dirty. It's not the fault of any plane, facility, or passenger, so I think that maybe it's just the overall disgust of feeling like a lazy lump for the hours it takes for me to get anywhere. Which means in all likelihood my itinerary is going to change from "full-on exploration of a spectacular, wonderous city" to "check in asap, shower, shop, and relax." And I guess if you're going to pick any place in the world, Paris is as good as any to relax in! All I really want right now is to be sitting outside drinking a nice cup of tea and stuffing my face with crepes. Yes, please.

20:22 Finally in the air! I never realized how impatient a lot of people are. I have been spending all day just hoping that I make it to Paris alive, and people around me are complaining about dinner options, take-off delays, cramped seating, crying babies, the works. I get a bit irritated, but once I realize that I'm actually alive and on my way to Paris freaking France I feel pretty ridiculous for being to impatient about the little things. I, for one, am pretty stoked for my BBQ Chicken dinner and complimentary water. I am not all that religious, but I will truly consider myself blessed if I make it back to Maine next week with no more than a dent in my wallet and an expanded waistline.

10:23 Paris at last! My luggage was fine, although my French is NOT. Time for nap.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My belly is being absolutely obnoxious

So I leave for France tomorrow morning. All weekend, I wake up with my tummy doing somersaults in anticipation for my trip. This morning, however, it was as though I had an actual triathlon participant doin' its thing in my stomach. I'm literally so full of excitement, nervousness, anticipation, and general "Woo!" that it hurts. I'm going to be posting a helluva lot of blogs while I'm over there because I will want to be sharing absolutely all my cool experiences with the world. I'm thinking of maybe starting a Flickr for the trip, but we'll see.

Anyways, I just wanted to post this quickly to maybe calm down the little athlete runnin' through my gut. Wish me luck on my journey, and I shall post my first blog of the adventure from Paris on Tuesday!

Friday, April 17, 2009

"Where are your rap hands?!"

As a part of Jake's birthday present, I got tickets for us to go to the MC Chris concert at The Station in Portland, ME. We had both seen MC in 2007; me at Warped Tour and Jake at The Station in the spring. The show was amazing. The opening band consisted of three guys from Long Island called I am the Dream. I would describe them as a shitty 3 Oh 3-esque band that probably was more capable of carrying an STD than a tone. They only played about five songs (thank the powers that be) before shouting "I NEED TO GET LAID!" and leaping off stage. We had to wait around for about a half an hour before MC Chris came out, but it was worth the wait.

MC Chris played almost his entire discography, and I was especially excited that he played "MC Chris Ownz" because I have always wanted to hear that song live. In between songs he talked about Left 4 Dead & Resident Evil 5, and engaged the crowd rather than simply shouting, "Thank you Portland!" after every song. Afterwards, he met with everybody, taking pictures and signing autographs, even just shaking people's hands and having a conversation with them. I have to say that this was one of the best concerts I have ever been to (second to Fall Out Boy because I touched Pete Wentz' leg XD), and I highly recommend everyone grab a pair of tickets (they're only $12!) to the closest show in The Floor is Lava Tour and have yourself an amazing time, cuz everyday's MC Chris-mas.

You would, Pepsi, you really would...

For those who haven't heard, Pepsi is releasing two "throwback" editions of the popular sodas Mountain Dew and (of course) Pepsi. This means that instead of using high fructose corn syrup, the company will be adding cane sugar as the sweetener. Why is this awesome? Because the human body cannot properly digest corn. We put it into everything because it's easy to grow and cheap to produce, but it is not particularly good for our bodies. HFCS is a man made product that the body uses differently than white sugar, and is one of the reasons why America has such an obesity problem (aside from self control and affordabilty of cheaper, less healthy foods). But back to the awesomeness that is the temporary alteration of American sweeteners. Frickin' score, right?! Finally, my sweet tooth will be greeted by something at least a little bit natural. I can see my mouth's dialog now:

Mouth: OMFG who the heck are you?
Pepsi Throwback: I'm a super tasty beverage, and I'm here to show you that not all soda is evil!
Mouth: You are amazing, I <3 you. Plz stay forever.

Anyways...I have been on the edge of my seat since I first heard about this product on Diggnation a few weeks ago, and have been constantly checking for any updates its glorious premiere. And then I found it. The release date. Pepsi plans to sell Throwback nation wide for an 8 week span of time starting...guess when...April 20.

That's right! My long awaited dream of taste-bud heaven is scheduled THE DAY I leave for FRANCE. Why, I ask you? Because the Cosmos wants me to suffer. Yes, it is an 8 week period, so I will eventually be able to consume it, but I will be short one whole week of enjoyment. I would totally trade my trip to France for the chance to taste of such a beverage. That's a total lie, there's no way in Rapture I would miss out on this trip. Pepsi Throwback, you shall have to wait.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Would you kindly suggest something new?

Okay, I just beat Bioshock. I was so close to the end that I should have just finished it last time, but oh well. For the past two days, my internet has been for shit, so I had thought that in order to curb my all-consuming frustration, I would get my Rapture on and eff up some bitches. Except that I had left myself at one of the most frustrating parts, and was therefore still incredibly frustrated. At least the boss battle wasn't as hard as I expected, (although I was playing on the easiest difficulty), but thank goodness it wasn't as disappointing as the final battle of Fable 2 (which I'm still pouting about, btw).

So now what? The game that has been consuming my soul as of late is complete, and unlike Fable 2 I can't go back in and complete now what?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Some assembly required

Spent this afternoon making ice cream cone cupcakes. They were a lot easier to make than my apple cupcakes last month. I'm still working on being able to make the pictures look a little better, but I'm not quite as good as Jason Bosch. I had a lot of plain cupcakes leftover, but have received some good ideas of what to try next. Hopefully I can squeeze out a few more creative designs before I leave for France next week. Comment if you'd like to know how to make them, they were very simple.

And if you like them, please Digg them :) Thank you!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

First batch of Nintendo DS reviews

I got some really great feedback on my very first video blog. Thanks to everyone who offered their criticism, now I know what to do better next time! Buuut onto more exciting news; Thursday I traded my old laptop for a black DS Lite, 4 DS games, 2 PS3 games, and 3 seasons of Will & Grace (just for kicks). Sounds like a random arrangement, but I did have a mission: to acquire a crimson DS Lite....which was successful after making Jake drive me all over southern Maine to trade in various items. Since then, I have downloaded a bunch of games to the R4, and have been playing the shit out of them, so reviewwwww tiiiime!

Pokemon Pearl: I have had a lot of fun with Pokemon so far, but I am getting a little tired of constantly battling the same two Pokemon over and over. I was really excited because I got my Pokemon up to a level 10 pretty easily and I only lost one battle (since I had already done five in a row and was really down on my HP). The only downside to my entire experience, is that I closed my DS to take a phone call and when I opened it again the screen was frozen, and I had to turn it off. This means I never got to save. Balls.

Neopets Puzzle Adventure: It's unreal how excited I was for this game. I used to devote a LOT of my time to Neopets and still have 400,000 neopoints in my account, so I thought maybe this game would utilize all my favorite Neopets Arcade games. This was not the case, because aside from the boring run-around storyline, I am constantly battling my opponents with my petpets in a coin flipping dual. The dual would be fun if there was ever any change, but there is not. So, unfortunately, I have to say that Neopets Puzzle Adventure is a major disappointment for me.

Hell's Kitchen- The Game: I haven't enjoyed Chef Ramsay's television show Hell's Kitchen since season 2. To me, it's less about cooking and more about expletives, and that just doesn't appeal to me. The video game is equally as unenjoyable. You play as the host, the waiter, and the cook...what the hell? How is that sensible? Also, apparently everyone orders the same thing. The beginning of each level provides you with a recipe, and yet every time you are shaking a bowl of green stuff, and boiling pasta...even when said special is "blood orange terrine" (which btw was not even accurate because it was just a tart). Shut it down, Gordon Ramsay.

Legend of Zelda- Phantom Hourglass: I haven't done a whole lot in this one yet, but I am really excited about it. When I was younger, my brother used to play Zelda on the SNES and I was only ever allowed to watch. This means I am really excited to play a little bit of Zelda on my own. However, it's giving me the craving to scour the interwebs for some old favorite SNES games.

Jake has a bunch of GBA games that I'm gunna try out once I'm less distracted with Phantom Hourglass and Pokemon Pearl, but if anyone has any suggestions for games I should try out I'd love to hear them.

-) (cyclops face)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dsi Video Blog

I spent all day today trying to create a video blog, and after a lot of trial and error I finally completed the least awkward recording of the day. Sooo check it out below or on Youtube. (Plz don't mind the rambling, I was nervous...)

DSi Review from Kelly Arsenault on Vimeo.

If you have had a chance to play with the DSi, leave me a comment and let me know what you thought! :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Gnomes aren't all you'll find in gardens

Okay, so, PixelJunk Eden is easily the one of the most addictive game I have played thus far in my twenty years of existence. I mean, I thought Oblivion and Bioshock had me hooked, but I have easily spent more time on this game my first day than I did for either of those. I asked Jake, "How exactly can I describe PixelJunk Eden, to which he said, "You pretty much can't, but it might make an entertaining read if you tried." So I'll give it my best shot:

In this game, you play as a Grimp, which to me looks like a shrimp. You begin in Garden 1, which consists of five little heart-like things called Spectra. In the first stage, you jump around on little swirly things, collecting pollen to release more swirlies and some flowers. You continue to swing and bounce around, keeping an eye on the time, until you collect the first Spectra. In the second stage, you begin the same, except when you re-collect your first Spectra, you are merely given more time to then find the second one. Third level is the same, and so on, and so forth until the fifth stage is complete. Other Gardens appear as you progress through the game, each one different while still holding 5 Spectra.

I don't particularly enjoy puzzle games. Jake has been trying to get me to play Braid for six months, but I just can't do it. PixelJunk Eden, however, had me hooked instantly. I definitely recommend spending the $10 it takes to download on the PS3. There's also an "Encore Pack" for $6 coming out in April. I could say more, but I need to go beat the second garden :)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Since when do I talk about movies?

Pretty much since now. My past two days have consisted of mostly nothing, so I spent a bit of time catching up on some new releases, and forming some opinions.

Slumdog Millionaire: Movie of the year 2008, right? Why? I understand that it was a good movie, but in all honestly that was it. I will admit that it was creative (as creative as a "based off the novel" movie can be) and the acting was pretty great, but I am still not considering it to be a life-changing cinematic experience. If you think that this movie changed your view of the world, I highly suggest viewing Children of Men (2007) because it is my favorite movie of all time. I am disappointed that Slumdog beat out Curious Case of Benjamin Button as movie of the year, but we can't win 'em all, right?

Seven Pounds: I tread lightly on the subject of this movie because I did not finish it. I heard a lot of hype regarding the plot, and was very careful not to look at the synopsis or spoilers as to not ruin the mystery that is Seven Pounds. However, it just got to the point where I was sick and tired of being bored. I eventually just didn't care to find out why things were happening because it would not bring back the 2 hours I had already lost to this film. I will definitely give it a second chance, but I just could not hack it this time.

Marley & Me: I am not the stereotypical "awwww puppies!" kind of girl. I'm usually a lot happier throwing corpses at Splicers or murdering the town crier, but I found myself crying on a few occasions during the Aniston/Wilson flick Marley & Me. It was cute, realistic, and best of all funny. The movie was more than just silly things dogs do, it was more so the tale of a couple's life with a four-legged side story. I am glad that I gave this one a chance.

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist: I am fairly convinced that these types of movies are the John Hughes films of my generation, and Michael Cera is our Emilio. Juno, Superbad, Zack and Miri, and Nick and Norah all belong to this list, in my opinion. They all have the subtle love-story and mild drama paired with hilarious one-liners and an indie feel. Like with Hughes' films (and those like his), I think that a lot of these types of movies will become cult classics. I would have to say that out of all the films I have watched these past two days, Nick and Norah was my favorite.

I understand that jumping headfirst into such a popular and opinionated subject like movies is possibly the least sensible route to be taking in this blog. The thing is, though, that I just like to contribute my views to the ever-growing clusterfuck that is the internet.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Choose Your Own Adventure (pt. 3)

With just three weeks left until my international adventure, I bring you Choose Your Own Adventure part 3. Here are six more things to keep in mind when planning a solo quest:

1. Acquire maps of cities/towns you will be staying. I chose to go with laminated ones to keep me safe of spills and accidental smooshing of vital paper items.

2. By this point, hotel/hostel/guest stay arrangements should be made. Using this information, mark where you are staying on your map in permanent marker. This is your home-base. It will be a lot easier to plan your sight-seeing and overall adventuring if you know where you will need to start and end each day.

3. If you have not already begun to find some locations you would like to visit, now would be the time. Use the internet and any travel books to your advantage. Begin plotting those addresses on your map as well.

4. Create your itinerary. It does not have to be set in stone, just a guideline of what you want to get done for the day. Plan on flying by the seat of your pants? That's great too! However, at least jotting down the areas of the city you would like to explore each day will help you to make sure you accomplish everything before your trip is over. Organizing your activities does not mean you will have any less fun, if anything it will allow you to be more prepared for what is ahead of you. You will already be out of your element, so it will be important for you to at least feel safe and confident while you are there.

5. Make a packing list. You already know the necessities you will need. Think of the things you will need to live off of. I am bringing one backpack and one shoulder bag. The items I plan to bring must be able to fit in those two bags, or they won't be coming with me. Those things need to then be prioritized to what can I not afford to lose if my backpack is lost. This means any electronics, communication devices, money, identification, and reservation confirmations must be in my carry-on. Even further, the things that must not be stolen or pick-pocketed from my carry-on must be on my body, concealed by clothing. This means passports, ID, and cash (credit/debit cards can always be cancelled if stolen).

6. This part will depend on how you intend to travel. If you plan on leaving your cell phone back home, and enjoying a vacation by yourself, then this will not pertain to you. However, if you are bringing a cell phone with you, and intend to make outgoing calls call your cell phone provider 3 weeks before you leave. This will give you, and them, ample time to go over your plan, and figure out if anything will need to be done to protect you when you leave. For example, my plan had a free upgrade to "no roaming charges" that I just had to enact. Along with that, I was informed that my unlimited texting plan is STILL VALID in France. This was incredibly helpful since phone calls are $0.99/min for me over there. If your phone has a data package, also make sure you find out how much you will be charged for its use. It may be better to just turn off your web browsing while away.

Keep checking in for more CYOA blogs as we get closer to my departure this month!