Saturday, September 15, 2012


"What are these ghastly specimens? ", I hear you ask with ill-concealed horror, bordering on disgust. Believe me, I share your revulsion. How can such things even exist within the borders of France?

Answer: they are French fig rolls, or fig newtons, if you prefer. And they taste every bit as palate-clenchingly horrific as they look.

It is bewildering.

Le Palm Springs Grand Ball

Every once in a blue moon the very nice Lebanese gentleman who owns half the galleries, restaurants, and cafes in the neighborhood sees fit to lease out once of the vacant gallery spaces to be used as a venue for a techno dance party. Judging from signs like this one

plastered all over the gallery next door, I have to think that tonight is a blue moon night. This is also Techno Party weekend in Paris.

When this happened in the spring, I was very upset indeed. This time, I figure it's best to go with the flow. Maybe take in a midnight show at The Grand Rex. Work on my French essay-writing skills until 3am. It's not as if I have to be anywhere in particular bright and early on Sunday morning.

And, if worst comes to worst, I always have recourse to my shiny new fluorescent earplugs.

But, peace to all Techno fans etc etc, I sincerely hope this remains a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence.

And a happy birthday to my brother-in-law, Dale, who celebrates his today.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Hervé Le Furet

Who is this handsome dude?

Why, I'm glad you asked. He is Hervé Le Furet (Hervé the Ferret).

A glance at his website

suggests that we know him better as the Geico gecko

Hervé is the porte-parole for the ( insurance company; he is as ubiquitous in French TV commercials as the Geico gecko is in the U.S.

It is unclear whether the caveman has his equivalent in French insurance pubs:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Une journée très normale

On the face of it, today was a day that was surprising only in its absolute banality. Morning at school, reading the newspaper as I ate my lunchtime sandwich. Followed by the afternoon workshop (exercises on la comprehension orale), a quick excursion to the supermarket, then an hour at la gym before dinner at the cafe around the corner, during which I worked on my essay on gun control for class with Danielle tomorrow afternoon.

But then there is this to consider. Except for a couple of sentences exchanged with the Americans at the table next to me at dinner, I haven't spoken a word of English all day. And I seem to have successfully filtered out all but the French input -- television, radio, and newspapers. And I can't say that it has taken any noticeable effort today. Which would not have been the case a year ago.

So I am really happy about that. And I hope I don't need to point out that it is precisely the ability to come here to Paris and master the art of living an ordinary life here that is one of the most satisfying things about this adventure.

I'd better add a few photos to this post so that you don't all die of boredom, or quit reading this blog in disgust.

Here are a couple for Priya:

And here are a few from the ever-popular "street art" category:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Camille Redouble

Class this morning was great. In the afternoon I went to the gym, then met Nancy and Gabriella to go see "Camille Redouble", kind of a French version of "Peggy Sue Got Married". I had forgotten the plot of PSGM, but a quick look at le Wikipedia, followed by the automatic translation capabilities of my Chrome browser brings it all back. And begs to be shared:

Accompanied by her daughter Beth ( Helen Hunt ), Peggy Sue Bodell ( Kathleen Turner ) leaves for a reunion high school students who are celebrating 25 years of their release, but it does so with hesitation. She just split from Charlie ( Nicolas Cage ), his former high school sweetheart now become her husband, and she fears to attend this meeting because everyone will ask about the absence of her husband, they were married because she was pregnant at the end of high school.
Peggy Sue arrives at the meeting and she is happy to reconnect with old friends, Maddy ( Joan Allen ) and Carol ( Catherine Hicks ), and everyone begins to recall memories of the old school, and how much time (and friends class) have changed. Charlie arrives unexpectedly at the meeting, putting uncomfortable Peggy Sue who do not expect it, but his embarrassment flies when theemcee announced to be the "king and queen" of the meeting . King Richard is Norvik ( Barry Miller ), a former classmate particularly plodder, become genius of computer and multi-millionaire.Peggy Sue is called as queen, but arriving on the scene, she fainted.
When she wakes up, she realizes that she is back in the spring of 1960, his last year of high school and she lost consciousness after being given his blood . She believes she died early during the meeting, but finally comes to accept the idea that it is returned in time . She is shocked to see the older members of the family reverted so young and talking to some who have since died.She attends high school classes and find old friends (reverted youth) and their boyfriends (also rejuvenated) ( Jim Carrey , then in one of his first roles, is among them). Peggy responds to simple questions with answers that can give an adult. For example, when her mother asked if she and Charlie have an argument, she says yes - but about "house payments" talking about their futuredivorce . It also commits an odd speaking to go England to discover the Beatles .
Peggy is troubled in this world both new and old, but she is excited about the opportunity to relive high school and say things she had always repressed (like shut up bad for girls high and explain a teacher of algebra she knows she will never have algebra in his life.) She took the opportunity to reconcile with his younger sister Nancy ( Sofia Coppola ). What he dislikes is that it is still linked to Charlie. She breaks up with him and has a fling with Michael Fitzsimmons ( Kevin J. O'Connor ) - the school boy with whom she had always regretted not having slept.
Soon she realizes that Charlie (18 years) is not the same as Charlie adultery she left in 1985 - and Peggy began to fall in love with him, even if their relationship is always difficult. During this time, she made ​​contact with Richard, but still young polarized studies, and asks him what he thinks of time travel. His research on this topic led her to her grandfather, who agrees to try a strange ritual with other Masons to return in time.
Peggy sees himself kidnapped by Charlie. He takes in a greenhouse , while everyone believes that the ritual is taking action. He tells it like Peggy Sue and gives him the medallion she wore at the beginning of the film. Realizing she can not escape his destiny, Peggy Sue and Charlie kiss they begin to make love, which again lead to pregnancy Peggy and her marriage. The next moment, Peggy Sue is transported back into the present.
She wakes up in a hospital with Charlie at his side. However, the idea that it may have dreamed of this adventure would be difficult, when she sees that Michael has dedicated a book to his wife and they had spent the night together. Charlie, meanwhile, deeply regrets his adultery and tells Peggy that she wants him back. She looks at Charlie with a fresh eye and it seems there is hope for their disagreement disappears.

I'd say google translate still has some work to do on getting his/her/its pronouns right.

Afterwards we had a fine dinner at a Japanese restaurant near Les Halles. And now it is time for bed.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Le coin des geeks

Yes, it appears the French for "geek" is "geek". Not sure whether or not a French nerd is un nerd.

Let's start with a reminder that any post containing the word "geek" in its title may not be for everybody. That said, let's plunge in to today's geek topic, which is "words related to the internet".

The internet itself is referred to as "internet", often as not with no article. Thus "on the internet" is "sur internet", or just "en ligne". The term "la toile", literally "the web", is also used.

Here are some fine terms the Academie Française would like you to use, but that are widely ignored, with the possible exception of the first:

un courriel -- an e-mail
arrosage -- spam/spamming; related to watering, or spraying, a garden
fouineur -- a hacker, possibly a phisher; comes from the verb/noun for "ferret"
hameçonnage -- phishing
un mouchard -- a (browser) cookie
frimousse -- an emoticon, or smiley

For all but the first of these, the English term is the one that is widely used, though you have to remember to say it with the appropriate Gallic inflection.

To download something is "télécharger", but to upload is "uploader".

Finally, here are some fine French coinages. They are mots-valises, or portmanteau words:

pourriel -- junk e-mail, or spam (from courriel + poubelle)
bavardoir -- a chatroom (from bavarder, to chat)
clavardage -- a contribution to a chat thread (clavier + bavarder)
émoticône -- une frimousse
peurtable -- fear of cellphones (peur + portable)

I myself suffer from a slight case of peurtable. It's my strong Luddite heritage.

There. That wasn't so bad now, was it? Bear in mind that this blog has a responsibility not just to entertain, but to edify, at least occasionally.

Obligatory Baguette Post

Here are three different baguette types you could enjoy if you were here in Paris.

The pointy one.

La tradition. (my daily bread)

The medieval one. (might be a bit tough)

Bye for now!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Lottery Time

Hooray! Once again it appears that I will get away with total, reckless, brinkmanship concerning the little matter of filing my annual tax returns. Such a horrible process that I invariably end up just leaving a heap of steaming papers on my accountant's doorstep the night before my fall departure for parts unknown. Yes  - you read that right -- my fall departure. In the Giltinan household taking that initial filing extension is simply a given every year. Young people: if you are reading this blog, do NOT follow my example, which corresponds to the conduct of a deeply flawed human being.

Obviously, this strategy of leaving everything until the last possible moment, dumping everything in my CPA's lap, and fleeing the country, is one that could backfire badly, e.g.  if I were to have misunderestimated my tax liability for 2011 significantly.

But it appears that the accounting gods have taken pity on my undeserving carcase yet one more time. As far as 2011 goes, I get a refund of $164 from the Feds and owe them nothing.
California and New Jersey -- I get nothing, but I owe them nothing.
I knew those charitable donations to assorted deserving causes must be worth something (don't get me wrong; I hope I am always in a position to give to the Food Bank, Project Open Hand and other such organizations that do essential work). But it's nice when you fall $46 short of having any taxable income for the year.
But the notion that my 2011 net winnings in Online Scrabble Cubes ($324) should be considered taxable income -- why that seems downright unAmerican! Good Sirs at the IRS - is it your express wish to penalize excellence in online Scrabble?

Fie upon you, I say!     F - I - E !

Sunday, September 9, 2012

La semaine in review

How time flies. Last week we were just dealing with the repercussions of the dead Turk in Lady Mary's boudoir, and this week we are already en pleine guerre. Ouai - c'est "Downton Abbey" - en français! But the trench warfare scenes are just as cheesy as we remember them.

There's always a day when the accumulated jet lag catches up with you, and today was that day for me. I had been going to join Nancy and Gabriela for a picnic in the Bois de Boulogne, but my sleep last night was so patchy that I ended up sleeping in until noon instead. I did somewhat make up for things by going to the gym this afternoon, though I felt kind of wiped out again afterwards. But I revived myself with the excellent "sensation du Temple" (paté and duck salad) at the Corsican restaurant round the corner.

Here is a link to some photos I recently uploaded to the dreaded Facebook. They should be accessible even if you don't have an FB account.