samedi 27 février 2010

Too dang busy to blog

I have been trying to finish a paper on Françoise Sagan - I am happy to report that, as of yesterday, I am very close to the end - while keeping up with the reading for this quarter's seminar and my day job. Not to mention the occasional French teaching gig. I'll try and remember to post a link to the La Repubblica article and related video by Italian journalist Riccardo Staglioni, who was in Seattle to do research for his piece on the world of Amanda Knox. He somehow managed to work around the spin Marriott blacklist and find me and Charles Mudede. In his excellent article, he referred to Anne Bremner as Cruella Deville and to Marriott as a spin doctor.

lundi 15 février 2010

Bowled over

In my world, every day is Valentine's Day because my one and only constantly finds ways to bowl me over.

Yesterday was no exception. We got together with a group of intrepid neighbors and had ourselves a bowling extravaganza at West Seattle Bowl. It was interesting to see the various strategies that the non-bowlers (like me) adopted to avoid sheer and utter humiliation. It was also interesting to see that we have some true bowlers in our neighborhood. I think there is something to the notion that certain people excel at indoor sports like bowling, ping pong and pool. Often, these people suck at the usual sports, football, basketball and baseball.

My hubby excels at all sports and is ultra-competitive. He did pretty well against the indoor sports enthusiasts. What I noticed is that he used his superior strength, size and muscle mass, hurling the bowling ball rather than releasing it close to the ground and close to the line like the true bowlers. As a result, when he aimed correctly it was like a bomb exploding. Pins went flying. This kept him in the game against the true bowlers.

As for the rest of us, we ranged from occasional bowlers to total neophytes. One neighbor grew up in the Ukraine and had never bowled before. Another neighbor, from California, decided that her best option was to gently place the bowling ball on the ground and give it a little push. This worked out well at the beginning but not over time. As for me, well, let's just say that I am close to a neophyte. Bowling is not unheard of in France, but it is not a national sport by any means. I had bowled three or four times as a kid. Once I bowled at the Washington Athletic Club as part of a birthday outing. We lived near Roxbury Lanes, but I was not a regular patron. It was the kind of place that looked seedy and sagging, and it smelled like stale cigarette smoke, even from outside.

So I watched people's strategies and tried to emulate the pros. Easier said than done. The bowling ball was heavy, even though I chose the lightest one. I appreciated that fact that my hubby did not try and "help" me, though he gave me just one tip toward the end and it was just what I needed. He told me that instead of trying to correct for the curve of my ball (it kept going toward the right), I could just stand further to the left and closer to the line. I tried it and immediately improved from totally sucking to actually knocking over some pins and even getting one strike. If I had my own personal bowling ball, I'm sure I would improve my game. In other words, I believe I am just one properly sized and weighted bowling ball away from being awesome at bowling. I have heard that a bad carpenter blames his tools, but I don't think this applies to bowling or curling.

jeudi 11 février 2010

Sarah Palin is a f*cking retard

Apparently, it's okay to call someone a f*cking retard (or even a fucking retard) if you are in satire mode. So I'm going to go ahead and call Sarah Palin a f*cking retard, perhaps the biggest f*cking retard who has ever harbored political ambitions in this country. It is true that George W. Bush worked hard to pave the way for f*cking retards like Sarah Palin, by refraining from ever having an idea in that pointed little head of his, and by persisting in his fractured syntax in the face of criticism, protests and satire. It must have been tough, and I am proud of him for not giving in to this unacceptable pressure from some elements of the populace, demanding that he use proper English and that he actually make sense. Making sense is totally overrated.

Back to Sarah, the biggest f*cking retard on the political landscape today. With any luck, she'll run for prez in 2012. Having outlasted her fifteen minutes of shame through sheer shamelessness, she is here to stay. She will not go quietly into that good night. Don't expect Sarah to read the mood of the people and leave leadership in more capable hands. No way. She is a train wreck and she knows that America loves nothing more than to watch a train wreck. She is better than a train wreck. She is a train wreck in slow motion.

I watched her deliver her speech at the tea party last weekend. Her message was absolutely and utterly devoid of substance, which made it really appealing to her audience. The genius of Sarah, though she is a f*cking retard, is that she has tapped into the deep resentment that her audience feels toward anyone who is smart and who believes in some modicum of social justice. You can tell because she gets the biggest applause when she paints herself as a victim of the liberal media. Sarah is brave to stay on the scene even though the liberal media and everything else that is evil hate her and criticize her. Their criticisms only make her stronger and more determined. She is a slow moving train wreck and she will take down anything that is in her path.

So expect to see more of Sarah Palin, the f*cking retard. If you are hoping for change in that respect, I can tell you that this hope-y change-y attitude of yours is just not working for you. Don't be a f*cking retard. Read my hand. On it I have written my key ideas for America. Pay attention to f*cking retards like Sarah Palin and they will continue to entertain you.

jeudi 4 février 2010

I try not to get too worked up about things that don't matter and over which I have no control, or annoying things that happen due to my own actions (usually when trying to take a shortcut, literally or figuratively). I generally succeed. But on occasion, a passing setback can really get to me. Like yesterday. Warning! This is a pretty boring story.
This quarter, I go to the UW just once a week, for a three-hour seminar. I try to get to campus 30 minutes before class starts, so I can review my notes. I have found a perfect spot just outside the classroom: a table with two chairs, set off the main hallway. It is quiet; I can spread my stuff out; no one bothers me. Yesterday, I got to the campus gate at 2 pm. One of the two parking ticket booths at the 45th street entrance was closed. No big deal. There were about 4 cars ahead of me. It takes about 30 seconds to transact this business of paying for parking and getting a little piece of paper that you leave on the dashboard. You pay full price (15 bucks tout de même!) and get a refund when you leave.
After five minutes of sitting, I began to get that bad feeling (irritation rising) when there was no movement at all. The sports car that was in front of the booth when I arrived was still there; the guy in the booth was just standing there; a car had pulled up for a refund. After another five minutes, I thought about turning around and trying another entrance. But I was stuck, since several cars had gotten in line behind me. Finally, there was some movement. The sports car drove off. Only three cars in front of me. But the guy in the booth was talking to the driver of the car waiting for a refund. Then he left the booth and went to the closed booth, where he swiped the magnetic stripe of a credit card. Then he came back to the booth and picked up the phone. He was holding the receiver with a handerchief. Then he was gesticulating at the driver of the car waiting for a ticket to park. I looked at the clock in my car. It was 2:20. I had been sitting there for 18 minutes! This pantomime continued -- the phone, the gesticulating, running to the closed booth -- for several more minutes. I felt as if I were watching a foreign film in a language I don't speak, with no subtitles. Finally, at 2:26, it was my turn. I handed the guy my credit card and said I would be parking at Padelford. He blew his nose with the handerchief and then used that hand to give me back my card. Ewwwww! I decided not to ask him what the problem was.
At 2:26, the campus is full of jaywalkers, rushing to class because they are late. It is a time-honored tradition at the UW for pedestrians to assert their absolute right of way at all times. Bikes bow to them and cars bow to all. Cars have to stop (unwritten rule) whenever any pedestrian wanders into the street on campus, whether or not they are in a crosswalk. Once you stop for one pedestrian, other pedestrians come out of nowhere -- like zombies in a horror movie -- and cross in front of your car. And you just have to sit there. As a student at the UW a quarter of a century ago, I was one of those zombie pedestrians. So now I feel that divine retribution really does exist.
By the time I got to class, I was ten minutes late. Luckily, my classmates and prof were having trouble getting a dvd player to work and so hadn't started. I went from being 30 minutes early to being 10 minutes late. I was annoyed. I felt as if 40 minutes of my life had been stolen from me by the gods and their earthly zombies.

mercredi 3 février 2010


Last week, having exhausted the challenge of getting people to post profile pictures of themselves as kids, Facebook got the masses involved in posting profile photos of celebs they are purported to look like. I only got involved on Sunday, since I don't get to Facebook very often. It is better that way. Really.

Some of the lookalikes were a huge stretch; I won't name names. But in some cases, the resemblance was immediately apparent. I don't usually participate in these things, but this time I did. As usual, I did more than the assignment strictly called for.

First of all, I have been told at different times that I look like 3 famous people. One is Liv Ullman. The second is Hayley Mills. And the third is a secret, at least for now. My closest friends know who she is. But I'm not sayin'.

I thought it would be fun to post a photo of each one as she was when the comparison was made and as she is now. Hayley Mills is about 63 and Liv Ulmann is now 70. Here they are, then and now. Neither has had work done, which makes both more interesting.

I used to hate it when people said I looked like Hayley Mills, but now I can see why they said it. If I had a scanned photo of me then, you would see why too. But I don't. So too bad!

As for Liv Ullman, there is a story behind it. I was at the Bon Marché liquor store, underage, trying to buy a bottle of scotch. Rumor had it that it was easier to get away with using fake ID there than at other state liquor stores. So there I was, fake ID in hand, heading for the check-out counter. The guy behind the counter would or could not take his eyes off me. It was too late to return the bottle to the shelf and flee. I stood in line like a lamb being taken to slaughter, waiting to be busted, humiliated.... When it was my turn to pay, the cashier said "Has anyone ever told you that you look just like Liv Ullman?" When I, relieved, said no, he showed me the back cover of Changes, Liv Ullman's then recently published memoir. I don't know if I could see any resemblance; I was blinded by the sense of relief that flooded over me. He didn't even ask me for ID. Makes sense: Liv Ullman was in her late 30's at the time.

Photos below: Hayley and Liv back then, followed by Hayley now and 2 of Liv Ullman now.

Evian's 2010 ad

My friends Noel and Lara, parents of Anna, born in July 2008, live in Paris. Lara is an actress, and you may have seen her in La Vie en Rose, the biopic about Edith Piaf that garnered Marion Cotillon an Oscar. Lara has a mid-sized role in the movie. Between films, she does some ad work. Here she is in the latest Evian ad. Good work, Lara!

And here's Noel, fixing drinks on a hot afternoon in Paris, August 2008: