lundi 25 avril 2011



Click on either title. How does this Lil Buck guy contort his body like that?

It is amazing and timely. I was sitting on the sofa this morning in a comatose state, drinking my coffee, having gone to bed at 2:45 am after a grueling weekend of work on the heels of a grueling six weeks of work, day in and day out, no break, not even on the weekends.

I was half listening to NPR, then got interested in a reportage on how great exercise is but how limited the benefits can be if you otherwise sit in front of a computer screen for hours on end. Ya think?! I have been doing that for six weeks, and trying to get some physical activity in without further stressing myself by trying to stick to my routine. My routine is simple but time-consuming: long walk with Neko, 15 to 30 minutes on the elliptical, and various forms of exercise -- yoga, my stick routine, free weights, etc. This routine is not compatible with 12- to 14-hour work days. And these work days are not compatible with life as we know it. Luckily, I have a simply awesome husband who in spite of his own scheduling crunch (baseball season!) pretty much took over the daily challenge of foraging and feeding. Not just us but the animals as well.

Anyway, I was thinking, hoping actually, that there is some truth to the notion of muscle memory. I have done some sort of physical exercise all my life and started lifting weights in junior high. There was something about the dumb repetitive nature of it that appealed to me. I started on the circuit trainer in PE class. When I first moved to France I was literally the only female in the weight room; that has since changed. And since moving back to the US, I prefer working out at home. So I bought a weight bar and free weights of various sizes. They have mostly been sitting in their storage basket for the past six weeks, though I have tried to get a couple of workouts in each week. Today, I am back in action full-time.

This seasonal agony I have just survived is getting harder to endure as I age. It may be a question of physical stamina and key body parts getting worn down: doctor my eyes! I check my mouse hand every morning to make sure it just feels like it's the size of a baseball glove. The back of my neck feels like it has been holding the entire weight of my head in the wrong position way for too long. And don't get me started on my left shoulder. Not only that, but yesterday when I woke up I had the most incredible sheet creases in my face from the way I slept on my pillow. No kidding, I did not recognize the person in the mirror and it took several hours for the creases to disappear. I decided it was some kind of reaction to the sorbitol in the simply dreadful sugar-free jelly beans that Walt made me try. That's not true; he tried to warn me after they gave him a sudden bout of you know what. I don't even like candy that much. What was I thinking?!

Word to the wise: never eat those things. They give you the runs and facial creases.

The artwork is by Patti Warashina, a friend I haven't seen in years and a fine artist with a great sense of the ridiculous.

vendredi 22 avril 2011

Pourquoi ont-ils tué Jaurès? Part 2

In 2009, France celebrated the 150th anniversary of Jean Jaurès, one of the major figures of French socialism and a founder of the French socialist party, who was assassinated in Paris on July 31, 1914 by the aptly named Raoul Villain. Jaurès was famous for his steadfast pacifism and his fierce opposition to World War I, one of the bloodiest wars in history. Jaurès also founded L'Humanité, a French daily that since the 1920's has been associated with the French Communist Party. In fact, Jaurès was gunned down at le Café du Croissant (Rue Montmarte), where he stopped after leaving the offices of the newspaper. The man who killed him was a militant nationalist; the nationalists wanted war. Jaurès rightly saw the rise of nationalisms as fueling the clash between the superpowers and the clash between the superpowers as being based on economic rivalries. The last ten years of his life were spent opposing the war that came anyway.

I've been thinking about World War I a lot lately, having just finished reading Le temps retrouvé, which is the final tome in Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu. Much of this volume concerns the transformation of Paris during the war and the way in which the war is another "turn of the kaleidescope" around which the various individuals Proust's narrator observes over the years define and reveal themselves. For the dreadful Mme. Verdurin, the worst thing about the war is that it disrupts her daily supply of croissants, until she gets her friend, Dr Cottard, to write her a prescription for them as a cure for her migraines. Proust does not specifically mention Jaurès, but he discusses the dangers and ultimate absurdity of nationalism at great length. What is the difference, he wonders, between the bravery of a French soldier killed in battle, and that of a German soldier? Both are celebrated as war heroes at home, both are worshipped out of the same sense of nationalistic fervor.

L'Affaire Dreyfus, another Proustian turn of the kaleidescope, is also central to the political rise of Jaurès. Initially convinced that Dreyfus was guilty as charged, Jaurès changed his mind after reading Zola's J'accuse and became a militant dreyfusard. He saw Dreyfus as a victim of the military caste and he saw the military caste as the armed guards of capitalism and hence the enemy of the proletariat.

Yesterday I came across a speech Jaurès gave on July 30, 1903 at his old high school (le lycée d'Albi), where he had also been a teacher. More than a hundred years ago, here's what Jaurès said:

L’humanité est maudite, si pour faire preuve de courage elle est condamnée à tuer éternellement. Le courage, aujourd’hui, ce n’est pas de maintenir sur le monde la sombre nuée de la Guerre , nuée terrible, mais dormante, dont on peut toujours se flatter qu’elle va éclater sur d’autres. Le courage, ce n’est pas de laisser aux mains de la force la solution des conflits que la raison peut résoudre: car le courage est l’exaltation de l’homme , et ceci en est l’abdication ...

Basically, Jaurès says that humanity is cursed if eternal slaughter is its way of demonstrating courage. Courage is not about keeping the dark cloud of war -- terrible but dormant -- hanging over the world, constantly flattering ourselves into believing it will burst on others. Courage is not about letting those with weapons solve conflicts that can be resolved through reason: because courage is the exaltation of humanity and this is its abdication.

And that's why they killed Jaurès on July 31, 1914, three days before the beginning of the hostilities and subsequent carnage known as World War I.

And what of Villain, the man who killed Jaurès? He was acquitted in 1918, in a climate of fervent nationalism. Villain then exiled himself, leaving France for Spain, where he was executed by Spanish anarchists in 1936, during the Spanish Civil War.

jeudi 21 avril 2011

Pourquoi ont-ils tué Jaurès?

One of the most moving anti-war songs. Hats off to the person who made the video and thanks for sharing. Very stunning black and white images for this somber meditation.
Jacques Brel

mardi 19 avril 2011

Same old same old

Not the first time I have posted Chrissie Hinds singing this song, Back on the Chain Gang. But in my defense, let me say I have never posted this version, which has a nicely retro MTV feel to it.

Given my current work load, this song sings to me, even though it isn't really about being crushed by The Man. What is it about, exactly? You tell me. It has some intriguing lyrics, like these snippets.


And this:


Maybe it is about The Man after all.


lundi 18 avril 2011

Magnolia Plays the Giants in Weekend Pairing

Apparently, the two opposing teams were huge, just huge. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend either game due to work obligations, though I was not too unhappy not to stand around for several hours and freeze my butt off. Baseball is a summer sport; that's why they talk about the boys of summer. Coach Cougan managed to make at least one smart-ass remark to one umpire without getting asked to leave the field. The guy made an adverse call (for the Magnolia boys) at home plate that he could not have seen because he was not in position to see it. At least that's what Coach Cougan told me over dinner, which he made as he mulled over the two losses at the hands of the Giants.

Click on the title to read Coach Cougan's game summaries, words of wisdom, etc. And don't blame me for the occasional.... typo. I used to be the proofreader, but Coach Cougan apparently now thinks he can go without.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Coach Cougan called around, and it seems that the word on the street is that the 13-year olds are generally giants this year. Something about a change in the age cut-off. I told him in the long run it would benefit his kids more to play up, to play against bigger and better kids. He said, that's what Jamie (Moyer) said. He seemed surprised. I don't get that. What is to be surprised about? We big leaguers think alike. That's because we in the bigs. And that's why we're in the bigs.

samedi 16 avril 2011

A little Nina Simone on a Saturday afternoon

I love this song and this animated video rendition of it.
I found it on youtube. I always like to read the comments.
One person wrote: Nina was tops. Luv most of her songs. Only wish I had been able to see/hear her in some dark, cigarette-lit jazz club.

Yes, that's about right.

One guy wrote, underneath the next song: "Let Nina Simone rule the world!"

Might not be so bad. Baby you don't know what it's like...

jeudi 14 avril 2011

Comme un voilier

Well, it's poetry month after all. This poem is attributed to William Blake, but seems to exist mainly in French. Someone told every French school child that this was Blake. I'm not so sure.

Je suis debout au bord de la plage.
Un voilier passe dans la brise du matin et part vers l'océan.
Il est la beauté, il est la vie.
Je le regarde jusqu'à ce qu'il disparaisse à l'horizon.
Quelqu'un à mon côté dit :
"Il est parti !"
Parti ? Vers où ?
Parti de mon regard, c'est tout...

Son mât est toujours aussi haut,
sa coque a toujours la force de porter sa charge humaine.
Sa disparition totale de ma vue est en moi,
pas en lui.

Et juste au moment où quelqu'un près de moi dit : "Il est parti !",
il en est d'autres qui, le voyant poindre à l'horizon et venir vers eux,
s'exclament avec joie :
"Le voilà !"...

C'est cela la mort.

mercredi 13 avril 2011

Silvio Forever at Cannes?



La conférence de presse du 64e Festival se tiendra le 14 avril prochain.

A cette date, vous pourrez télécharger le dossier de presse 2011 avec les listes des Jurys et des films sélectionnés.

Les informations détaillées sur tous les films de la Sélection officielle, les Jurys et les événements seront accessibles en ligne une semaine avant l'ouverture de la manifestation.

So it won't be official until tomorrow. But I have heard that the unofficial bio of Italy's unsinkable, unthinkable Prime Minister will be on the list. Click on the title for a link to the film's official website.

Robert de Niro has been selected to chair the jury that will hand out the awards. This year, the festival begins on May 11 and closes on May 22 with the announcement of the Palme d'Or.

I don't have a bucket list, but I have always wanted to go to the Cannes Film Festival just once. I don't see it happening this year either. And I still haven't seen the winner of the 2010 César and the Grand Prix at Cannes last year,DES HOMMES ET DES DIEUX. It's playing in Seattle right now, at the Harvard Exit. I may have to take a break from the avalanche of work and see it.

Incidentally, the official Cannes Film Festival website is one of my favorites. It is extremely well organized and beautiful to look at.

Speaking of beau à voir, here is this year's official affiche. Faye Dunaway, circa 1970.

dimanche 10 avril 2011

Late for the sky

Whidbey Island, September 2010

Maybe not the best version out there, but the most recent I could find. This was recorded by someone in the audience at Glastonbury. Pretty impressive quality, all things considered.

The internet is a treasure trove. I found this version of my favorite Jackson Browne song, recorded in Santa Cruz in 1987 but accompanied by photos taken at the Casino de Paris in June 2010. The photos are wonderful. Thanks to Claude JB - qui que vous soyez - for putting this video together.

samedi 9 avril 2011

Who knows where the time goes?

I am organizing my digital photos this morning -- well, to be honest I am working on several work work projects (as opposed to pretend work projects)and breaking up the stress and monotony with some mindless visual activities -- and just came across this one.

The place: Cle Elum, Washington
The occasion: My sister Carolyn's wedding (she is the only sister not pictured)
The time: Late 2005
The pictured (from left to right): Cathy, Janie, Mom and me

They were married by a guy named Red Dog. That's his stage name, anyway. We averted a wardrobe malfunction and crisis. Cathy's daughter Mary Claire wanted to wear a pair of cut-offs. Cathy said no. MC said she had nothing to wear, could she wear her mom's skirt? What would mom wear? Mom would wear her twin sister's outfit, as she had done so many times in the distant past, usually without asking first. At least she asked. And fortunately, I had something else to wear. So Cathy wore my Max Mara gauzy blouse and silk skirt, not to mention the new shoes I bought for the occasion (not pictured) and the lovely silk purse that my dear departed friend Cathleen had given to me as a gift (pictured). She looked fabulous. Too bad her eyes are closed in this photo. My revenge.

How's your body image?

Click on the title. There are plenty more where that came from.

mardi 5 avril 2011

Ceci n'est pas une mauvaise herbe

C'est du pissenlit (dent-de-lion également) et c'est très bon en salade. En plus, c'est de saison!

Mais surtout, c'est pour évoquer l'état lamentable et oublié de mon petit blog.

Il y a du travail dans l'air! Et en attendant, j'ai fait deux ou trois bricoles.

A suivre...