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Dempsey is a Golden Retriever puppy who is in training to become a Helping Paws service dog for an individual with a physical disability. He lives with his parents Doreen and Paul, and Bailey the cat. None has ever trained a puppy before. These are their adventures. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the blog author. The contents of this blog have not been reviewed or approved by Helping Paws, Inc.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Paris spectacles

It's been cold and snowy in Paris, so Doreen and I have mostly stayed indoors. This week, we went to see a couple of spectacles in Paris: a puppet show and a movie.

Doreen and I met up with Doreen's French friend Alexandra to see Constantine, which is one of the worst movies we've ever seen. Alex wanted to see it because it stars Keanu Reeves, Doreen thought it was about the Roman emperor, and me, well, I have no excuse.

I've seen two movies in France now, and they've both been awful. The first was Mission to Mars, which my sister wanted to see because it starred Val Kilmer, and me because I thought there'd be a lot of action. There wasn't. It was VF (version fran├žaise), not VO (version originale), so the drama was lost on me. As far as I can recall, Val Kilmer and a scantily clad female are sitting in front of a big panel with knobs and dials. A red light would start flashing. Val and the female would argue, then start pushing buttons, sweating profusely. The light would go out, and they would hug. This repeated about three times before I fell asleep. I can't remember if they ever made it to Mars.

I stayed awake for Constantine, at least, but that's only because it was so awful, I had to watch. Bad acting, bad dialogue, bad directing... bad, bad, bad.

The Guignol puppet show was much better. It was in a theater in Luxembourg Garden, and it's a traditional activity for French kids. (The show we saw should not be confused with the macabre Grand Guignol.) Guignol was invented in the early 1800's by an unemployed silk weaver who could only find work as a tooth puller. He needed a draw, since the screams of his customers were bad for business. Thus was born Guignol, the funny puppet.

Guignol became enormously popular, and there are now Guignol shows all over France. In the late 1800's, Guignol puppets were used to spread political propaganda, and many were banned by Napoleon III. Puppets in politics is a tradition that is alive, if not well, today, as Ralph Nader demonstrates.

Ralph would not be at home in Paris, anyway. The playground at Luxembourg Garden featured a mini roller coaster, except instead of cars, you just hung on to a chain. No seat belts, no airbags -- unsafe at any speed.