Summer Vacation

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Since it's now past January 30, the last official day you're allowed to wish someone Happy New Year in France, we can start contemplating the next great ritual. It's really not that early to be thinking about where you're going to be come mid-July. In fact, holiday rentals can start flying out the door even before Christmas. Will the Nardac be left wrong-footed? No! In fact, today I just confirmed that a vacation in the middle of Dordogne in an old mill next to creek surrounded by hectares of forest and fields, plus a gorgeous outdoor pool and satellite tele, has been booked! Me and 7 other lucky ones are going to be living it up with fois gras, Monbazillac and Tour de France come July. The number of participants could go up, once the others get a gander at our steal! But, since the forest is huge, I'm sure we could get some tents going. Party? PARTY!

Euro Millions

The Jackpot this week is 183 000 000€. Have you played?

And if I win, I'll give half of it away... to taxes... ok... it's really something stupid to whine about.

francophobia still sells

Monday, January 30, 2006

The truth about BHL (pronounced BI-ATCH-elle, stands for Bernard-Henri Levy) is simple: he's simplistic, bombastic and a megalomaniac. That's why it doesn't come as any surprise when Garrison Keillor rips him and his new book, Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville, to tiny little bits. Almost anyone could find BHL's generalisations embarassing. But, I don't really understand why this book is aimed at Americans anyways. Is this really the best time to sell a book by a frenchman on America? What were they thinking... and for that matter... who the hell is Tocqueville?

What does come as a surprise, however, is Keillor's conflation of BHL with the French in general. I hardly think the average Frenchman thinks like BHL the same way the average American hardly thinks like Keillor himself. But, nothing like a little good dose of francophobia to keep the readers happy, and Keillor never spares a second to ridicule BHL as if he were all of France, instead of BHL, the pretentious git disliked by his own people. But, perhaps it is the fault of the French. If they took better care in who they established as national icons, they probably wouldn't have aging dungheaps like Chirac, Sardou and Delon running around. Still, I expected a finer hand from Keillor than to retaliate this way, and I expect more than cultural mud-slinging from the NYTimes. Perhaps Keillor will do us justice and write a book on the Paris Riots and Le Monde will get its turn.

Playing the Lottery

Since summer 2004, I have been a fan of Roland Garros. I mean, I remember watching a few games on the clay court when I was younger, most notably the 1989 Chang-Lendl game, but I was never really taken with the orange court. It made for slower play, and seemed somehow more laborious, with it's prolonged baseline exchanges, than the elegant serve and volley of Wimbeldon.

In that early summer of 2004, I saw Gaston Gaudio face off against Guillermo Coria in the men's finals. It was my last of year of grad school, and, while waiting for my engineer to make an even bigger pudding out of my rewired telephone, I took the afternoon off, turned on the tv in the student lounge and helped myself to some tennis. You have to know, I wasn't all that mad about tennis then so this was rather a remarkable activity.

Nevertheless, the game was good, right from the start. The steady ebb and flow, between Coria's sneering aggression and Gaudio's strange resistance, made for a thrilling five-setter where nobody could predict the final outcome going into the fifth set. Of course, Gaudio was the crowd favourite and he eventually took the game after saving an improbable number of match points. He smiled so gloriously, as if to say, "Me? No way!"

Since then I've toyed with the idea of getting tickets. Last year, I wasn't in town for Roland Garros, so I didn't bother booking tickets. In any case, the ticketing process has always seemed rather mysterious. For you see, Roland Garros is a private tennis club, much like Wimbeldon herself, and everyone had warned me how difficult it could be to secure seats since they were only open to club-member. ... Well, not so anymore, it seems. These days, the RG website, which is a trashy piece of font-work if I ever saw one, is blinking with links to help you reserve a place. It made me rather nervous and excited, especially with February 16th, the cut-off date for reservations, edging up on us. So, here's the modus operandi: you click on the link, create an account, pick which rung of seats you want on what day, and pay.

Easy? Easy. But this doesn't guarantee you a place. In fact, this guarantees that you have a place in the lottery for the day and seating you've chosen. Sometime between Feb 16th onwards, they start pulling names out of the hat and you find out if you're going to be baking in the sun, or baking in front of the tv. Club-members get their places allotted first. The general public gets the leftovers. We've picked primo seats for the quarterfinals, June 7. Wouldn't that be a nice day to get a suntan!

If you didn't bother with the lottery, you can always get tickets the day of the event at the stadiums themselves. Be prepared for long line-ups, higher prices, and the possibility of only having scalpers to deal with. I fully believe in watching tennis live because it's one of the few sports that's tightly enclosed between two players. You really get to see them in detail, struggling, yelling, and running around, if you're close, and it's quite the spectacle. Plus, you must dress a little chic in case you're caught on camera. I've already picked a suitably minimal white cotton dress to wear, should the occasion present itself.

In other news, I just bought, on the Arte online boutique, a 3-DVD set on William Klein which includes his documentary on Roland Garros, entitled The French. Legend has it that Klein turned down Mick Jagger's offer to do a documentary on the Stones in Africa to do this film. Klein is a great tennis fan and this documentary has unique footage of the player's corridors, Borg, Lendl and McEnroe, but also all the groupies and business that surrounded the sport in 1981. I love the way colour looks on 35mm in 1981... we also have a documentary on the 1968 Mexico City Olympics that's simply breathtaking as well... something about documentary sports and 35mm colour film makes me weep, especially when there's no shitty music on overtop.

His heart on his sleeve

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Roger Federer has just won the Aussie Open and is now giving his speech. He is crying his heart out. He has received the trophy from one of his lifetime idols, Rod Laver, and he has equalled Pete Sampras. In my imagination, he's probably just realized that he is on his way to beating Sampras's record, to becoming unequalled in the game of tennis, and realizing how much it means to him.

In tennis, Roger is not invincible and what makes it twice as difficult for a man that close to perfection is that we hardly permit him to be human. Baring his soul for the world to see... the statue cracks and, well, Roger is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, tennis player of all time. I'm sorry I doubted.

Due respect to Marcos Baghdatis, who is, himself, a superstar in the making. Baghdatis-mania was certainly one of the highlights of this tournament. However, he was playing one of the greatest players of all time, and tonight it was a measurement of the size of legends. It's like telling Kobe Bryant, hey, you're cute and maybe a good dresser, but you'll never be like Mike. But, Roger isn't even like Mike. He's far too reticent and generous to be like Mike. And now he's added another weapon to his already formidable arsenal of charm and skill: he sure can cry.

Roger Federer: Thank you Rod Laver for giving me this trophy. (sob sob sob sob)
Rod Laver: The trophy could not be in better hands.

Roger Federer beats Marcos Baghdatis: 5-7, 7-5, 6-0, 6-2

Bizarre End

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Amelie Mauresmo has just won her first Grand Slam in Melbourne after the retirement of Justine Henin-Hardenne. Amelie must hold some record on this... She advanced twice by Michaela Krajicek's and Kim Clijsters's retirements from injury, and now has the title with Justine's throwing in the towel. I'm not sure what Justine's injury/illness is at this moment but it must have been grave and terrible for her to give up on a Grand Slam title fight. Food poisoning? Sabotage? Are we in for a Harding-Kerrigan scandal in women's tennis? Naaaaah.

Well, it's been a long time but.....

Congratulations Amelie!
You are the best, even if you didn't need to prove it tonight!


Oh my GOD!!! They just read my emailed question on the Australian Open Radio!!! "Does Justine looked pukey? - Sam, from Paris" Yay! I made them say pukey on the radio!

Expatriate or Immigrant?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Which one am I?


v. ex·pa·tri·at·ed, ex·pa·tri·at·ing, ex·pa·tri·ates
v. tr.
  1. To send into exile. See Synonyms at banish.
  2. To remove (oneself) from residence in one's native land.
  1. One who has taken up residence in a foreign country.
  2. One who has renounced one's native land.

1768, from Fr. expatrier "banish," from ex- "out of" + patrie "native land," from L. patria "one's native country," from pater (gen. patris) "father." Modern noun sense of "one who moves abroad" is 1818.
  1. A person who leaves one country to settle permanently in another.
  2. A plant or animal that establishes itself in an area where it previously did not exist.
1611, of persons, 1646 of animals, from L. migrationem (nom. migratio), from pp. stem of migrare "to move from one place to another," probably originally *migwros, from PIE *meigw- (cf. Gk. ameibein "to change"), from base *mei- "to change, go, move" (see mutable). Migrate is first attested 1697. That European birds migrate across the seas or to Asia was understood in the Middle Ages, but subsequently forgotten. Dr. Johnson held that swallows slept all winter in the beds of rivers, while the naturalist Morton (1703) stated that they migrated to the moon.

Being an expat means either renouncing allegiance to one's "father"land and/or merely living in another country. The etymology of the word points to banishment from the "father" land. There is a pejorative sense, as if one is being expelled from paradise, or living in continuous want of something that is inate, "father."

Immigration is setting up permanent residence in another country. The etymology would indicate that the sense of the word highlights movement as it's key object. The key idea with immigration from an etymological point of view is movement but the definition pulls us into the idea of residence.

The difference between expat and immigrant is both a question of permanence and romanticism. If one chooses to live in another country, but, with the knowledge that it is a temporary arrangement (whether the person moves back in five years or fifty), one could be called an expat. If one considers their move to be rife with nostalgia, one could be called an expat. Immigration entails a certain positive aspect regarding integration, assimilation and pragmatism.

I am neither. I neither wish to be considered as someone who will one day go back and live in Canada, nor do I wish to be the person who says she will live in France indefinitely. I reject the limitations of both points of view. At this moment, I live in France, but who knows what and where and how? But, while I love the idea of Canada, have not renounced citizenship, and even mentioned in an earlier post about it being my homeland, it is ironically not a place I am considering returning to. It could happen, but right now, it's definitely not in the books.

You know, the same thing happened to my parents. They moved to Canada, moved back to Singapore, and consequently moved back to Canada. They felt more affinity with their "immigrant" country than in Singapore, itself a country of immigration. If they chose finally to put down roots it was because of us, the children. Gosh... another reason not to have children. Must roll like a dustdevil on the plain before some critters jump on my back.

Don't get me wrong. I know I'm not normal. I just wanted to say that I feel more out of place being with expats than I do with the French or non-English Europeans. I don't feel that sharing nostalgia is enough basis for a friendship. I'm just getting on with the business of living.

a day in the sun - Aussie Open Finals

I'm drunk... no... really. It's been a long week and cracked open the Bordeaux a couple of hours early. Whatever. Drained, overworked... but still, there's one last hill to climb.

The finals....

Amelie Mauresmo and Justine Henin-Hardenne
At this stage of the game, it's like playing the lottery. The special circumstances surrounded finals means that both players have to be considered as x-factors. Even if a player, historically, has played well in finals, rising to the challenge, the game of tennis is built on exception. It's with this is mind that I pick my first winner: Amelie Mauresmo. I think if we were to look at the facts on the page, and mental tenacity, Justine is the logical pick. But, let's throw logic aside, because, someone like Baghdatis proves logic is useless. Stop using the brain. I feel Amelie soaring high at the beginning of the first set, driving to an early lead. I see Justine clawing her way back and a first set tie-break. I see Justine taking that set. But, then I see Amelie regrouping, and pulling four straight games in the second. Amelie dominates from that point on and the third set, even with her six match points, it's the seventh, like the seventh year after, which is the lucky one. Bisous cherie! I'm with you all the way!

Federer and Baghdatis
If ever there was an x-factor it would be Baghdatis. We've never seen him in a Grand Slam final, nor semi, nor quarter. He acquitted himself admirable on all previous counts so why not now? Because of Roger, that's why. Roger is certainly not cranked into high gear all the time, but he has a pristine record on finals in the last two years, save the Masters last December. That's a frightening statistic and testament to the type of player that handles himself coolly under pressure. But, Marcos has never played this way before. We don't know what Marcos can do. I don't know what Marcos can do. But, I believe. Baghdatis in a four set shocker! And you know, he trains in Paris... he's probably more french than I.

ambition and its object

Thursday, January 26, 2006

La Terre Abandonnée was released in french theatres yesterday. It's by my former classmate, and Benoit's friend, Vimukthi. I saw the giant poster in the metro, as well as receiving a rather self-congratulatory email from one of the assistants as the school. I laugh at the self-congratulation, given that this same school kicked Vimukthi out in his second year for trying to do something they'd never heard of before. Such a bunch of dimwits they were, and now, like the troupe of pigs in Animal Farm, these bloated swollen useless administrative types are snorting in approval. How could such people, so incapable of independant thought, be the arbiters of Beauty? But, before moving on, yes, must congratulate Vimukthi on his film, and his Camera D'Or. (I think I blogged about that already...)

It seems like everyone I know, from a cousin to an ex-lover, wants to make a film these days. And everytime I hear them speak, it's the same thing. "I want to make a film." "I think I'm working on a film but we're still planning" and never "Gosh... I have this really amazing thing I'm just dying to show you!"

I suppose it's the glamour aspect that gets everyone's pants wet, both in filmmaking and in writing. Most of the time, unfortunately, people who skip out on the true work, which is having a something to show and having a style to show it with, end up copying. Copying other films, copying stories, copying styles. Trust me, I've seen enough films by wannabe filmmakers to be convinced that the only punishment for them is to watch their own films, over and over again.

That also reminds me of the time I sat on a jury for student films. I had to subject myself to over two months worth of that bile before even organizing which films would be screened. Sometimes, we had to stop each other from kicking the television in. The worst thing, aside from people copying wholesale other films, is watching films on heavy subjects by people who haven't really lived enough to do the story justice. It's like when some sixteen year-old writes an essay on D.H. Lawrence to get into Princeton. What the fuck is that?

Which brings me to my last observation. I had to read Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises when I was in highschool. I got it. I mean, I got as much as I could get by reading, absorbing my teacher's lectures, and regurgitating what others had said before. But, I didn't really understand Brett, nor Jake, profoundly in my heart, nor why they were the way they were. I just vomited up some essay on emasculation and emotional retardation à la Hemingway. What an idiot I was. What an idiot my teacher was to make us read that and pretend we'd have a hope of understanding. I just finished reading it again, and now, with almost 15 years more of experience, I understand it. Not just academically. I understand it inside, and it is brutal.

Dave Hickey once wrote that Beauty is its own object. As its own object, Beauty is like nature. It looks not outwards with compassion, but its disinterested self cares not for our adoration. Beauty is like Brett, a great destroyer in its caprice. That Beauty is the thing that we know, not from what other's teach us about it, but we know it deeply. Like a soft grey finger that points straight. Knowing Beauty in art cannot be taught. Putting it into words is often the sole means of instruction offered by these teachers. And, Beauty decoded by cold words often loses its sense.

What Hickey doesn't say, though, is how sometimes this Beauty takes a long time to reach us because we must first be awake in our senses and mind to receive it. Beauty may not need to be taught by teachers and professors, to be learnt as a definition and then applied, but Beauty is often only truly understandable with time. After all, it is all too true that often we are surrounded by that something, yet we cannot place a name to it. If we are to encounter it again and again, from many different sides, we may start to have a clearer idea what that miasma might be. Might be. And dancing around that miasma, that is something to have an ambition about.

Nietzsche and Tennis

MARCOS BAGHDATIS has just prevailed over David Nalbandian in 5 stupendous thunderous sets. Legend! 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. The boy has ripped through Roddick, Ljubicic, and Nalbandian to get there, probably the hardest ride to pick to get into the finals!

Jim Courier:What does it feel like to win this game?
Marcos Baghdatis:"I don't know what to say, it's just amazing."

How did you come back from two sets down?
"I don't really know. I'm playing amazing tennis. I just stopped thinking... I'm in my own world, I think."

Can you believe in this?
"It's a dream for me to play the Australian Open. To win it. I believe it. My coach believe it. The guys up there believe it. My parents believe it. I work for it and I believe it."

What is it like to be in the final for the first time?
"Everything is first time here."

What do you think is going on in Cyprus?
"I don't know but I think everybody is going craz-eee!"

In other news, Amelie and Justine are through to the final. Amelie, a little bit sadly because Clijsters twisted her ankle and had to retire. Still, she was a break up in the third set. Justine chewed and gutted her way to a tough win over Sharapova. Justine proves once again that will is power.

I've often thought it, and following this tournament closely has really shown it to me, but tennis is a game where anyone in the top 20 is usually a threat. What separates the top 20 from the top 4 is something very simple: making the right shot at the right time, all the time. Federer is a classic example of this. His opponent might hold momentum at various points in the game, but, when the big points present themselves, Federer takes them. Last night, when Federer was in trouble against Davydenko in the tie-break, Federer took the one and only set point offered, after Davydenko squandered three. Baghdatis has this same incredible talent. So far, he's shown that at the end of tight matches, he doesn't need anything more than 3 match points to take it. Eye of the tiger.

I think that talent and hard work, relentless practise, only serve to make create a direct link between the mind and the body. So, when a champion plays his game, he/she must think, but somehow push the thinking backwards so that it passes uninterrupted, between mind and body.

To be a winner is not just to be good. It's is an exercise of a will so powerful it lets not a sliver of the shadow of doubt creep in. It's the will to power, it's the will of the self that affirms itself. Yes, tennis is a terribly Nietzschean sport.

Aussie Semifinals

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I was wrong on several counts in my last prediction. Yes, I did predict three of the four winners on the women's draw, and three of the four in the men's, but I was off on many of the set predictions. There were surprises.

Federer, for example, wasn't playing like Federer and Davydenko was actually, in my opinion, capable of taking the game. He played magnificently and it's a shame he caved in four. But that's Roger for you. A bit like Sampras in that he pulls out victories out of nowhere, even when he looks beaten.

Clijsters beat Martina but what a fight it was. Martina fought back, as I expected her too, but really, what can you expect when Clijsters is playing her top game. Sharapova played like a dingbat and only won because Petrova, while talented, is an emotionally unstable player.

Both French players played heartbreakers. Santoro's heartbreaker was in being completely demoralised by a dominant and overpowering Nalbandian. He ran out of steam but, frankly, I'm still bloody proud of the guy. He's 33 and has never been played the type of power tennis than can win Slams. What he does is entertain with endless panache. A shame to step out on two bagels, but really, he should hold his head high. Grosjean, the poor thing, cracked after a marathon 5-setter with icky bad-sportsman Kiefer. There was a rather ugly incident with Kiefer throwing his racket on the court during a pivotal point. That should have been called as a let, but sometimes referees, being human, show poor judgement. A bitter bitter loss for a gutsy performance. I hate that Kiefer guy, a man who could give Hewitt a run for the gold medal in bad sportsmanship.

Women's Draw

Justine Henin-Hardenne vs. Maria Sharapova
While normally not a great fan of the Belgian doberman, I hope Justine thashes the heck out of Sharapova. Justine looks tough, and hungry. Even though she showed some severe lapses in her serve during the match against Davenport, and even though Sharapova historically holds the advantage over her on hardcourt, I think Justine can pull this out. I don't expect Maria to curl up and shrivel in her babydoll dress, though I do think she'll be shaky in her outting. Still, a tough call but I'll pick the Belgian in three tough sets.

Kim Clijsters vs. Amelie Mauresmo
Technically, this should be the final. Clijsters is the world number 1, and is showing excellent form. Her forehand passing shots, down the line or cross-court, are eating everyone up in its path. But, will she make Swiss cheese out of our girl Mauresmo? Hell no! Amelie is looking confident, relaxed and consistent. I do think Amelie would have profitted from having a more severe test earlier on but what can you do? A steamroller cannot be stopped! Three sets Mauresmo.

In the Men's draw, there is one runaway and one major clash.

Roger Federer vs. Nicolas Kiefer
Like I said, I hate Kiefer. He bites. Plus, after a five-hour marathon against Grosjean, who has never really threatened Roger either, Kiefer should be primed for a good drubbing. This is all very possible only if Federer doesn't show the same uncharacteristic weakness and error percentage he showed against Davydenko. Roger, please, stay Roger and make some Schnitzel out of this boy. Roger in three sets.

Marcos Baghdatis vs. David Nalbandian
Baghdatis is this year's Aussie Open story. He's young, flamboyant, lovable and positively electric. A champion is born! We, here at Holy Smokes, have never been the type of persons to be easily won over but Baghdatis has done it, chewing favourites and seated players everywhere. Faltering only slightly in the quarters, Baghdatis is up for a major major mental test against a steely and determined Nalbandian. There's no doubt that mentally, Nalbandian is one of the toughest around and I think he's a smarter tactical player. He's got something to prove since everyone thinks that the only reason he beat Federer in last year's Masters was because Roger was injured. Not so. I think Nalbandian has cranked up his game just that little bit. Still, the last time they met in Basel, on hardcourt, Baghdatis won easily. They have an even 1-1 record so this is probably the hardest call. I'd like to say Nalbandian, and really, normally I would but Baghdatis has some kind of secret legend aura hanging over him right now. Either way, I'm happy. Nalbandian in 5 screaming cheering sets.

And no, I don't think the crowd will be able to disturb Nalbandian because, hell, nobody seems to cheer for him anyways. Why he's not a crowd favourite? Could be because he never smiles foolishly, and is quite reticent. Looks like a surfer, acts like a fisherman. And, if there's one thing fishermen have, it's stoicism.

burn the palace down!

This just popped up in my mailbox from the Palais de Tokyo website:

Vendredi 27 Janvier 2006
... ...... .. . . ...... .... .. ..... ...... ........ ......... ....

De 20h30 à l'aube, Grande Soirée Musicale et Conviviale
pour fêter le départ de Nicolas Bourriaud et Jérôme Sans

... ...... ... ... ..... ..... ...... .... ..... ....
. . . .. ... .....

free admission, all night long + snacks and boissons gratos
Merci Nicolas et Jérôme!

Le Baratin

I don't do restaurant reviews often for the simple reason that I don't go to restaurants often. But, those days are changing. Last night, I ate at a restaurant in my neighbourhood that I'll be going back to, again and again. Le Baratin is a wine bar, with a list of red and whites by the glass, and everything I've had there has been delicious and interesting, but it was the food that wowed me last night.

Before going, someone had told me a secret, that it was one of Pierre Hermé's favourite restaurant. It's a bit out of step with Hermé's neighbourhood, sitting on the edge between the 20th and the 19th in Belleville. It was further parlayed that this most affordable restaurant, had it not resisted the Michelin system, would be sitting with some stars. This should all be forgotten, however. One of the best things about Le Baratin is its lack of pretension. I mean, it was a Tuesday night and the place was packed to the gills and our reservation could only be had for the second service. The crowd is largely artists, and intellectuals from the neighbourhood. Noisy and familiar, the restaurant sits on a dark narrow street halfway up the Belleville hill.

Anyways, last night I started with a 2002 Cheverny red, which I had with my starter: pan fried cod cheek with topinabours (Jerusalem artichokes). The cod was very clean and pure, finished with a wink of cream. Really, a bright jumping little dish. The soft rooty earthiness of the topinabours marries well with the delicate fresh sweetness of the sea. Both aren't agressive enough to overwhelm each other but pack a delicacy that lingers, almost dances, in the mouth. Spectacular.

Benoit's starter was fresh fois gras with de Puy lentils. It came out in a shallow dish as the lentils was finished in a broth. This is the first time I've seen fresh fois gras done this well. A nice finger width slice quickly flash-fried. The sin with fois gras is to over or undercook it. This one might have been the most perfect slice I've ever tasted, with the texture not unlike silken tofu. I ate mine on a slice of crispy baguette, topped with some woody almost mushroomy wine, and then ate a mouthful of lentils. While I always love lentils, they really do make you happier when they've got just a touch of fois gras fat to kiss it. Something to shake your tailfeather about.

Then we had our mains. To be honest, the entrées had left us vertiginous expectations so it would have been hard to live up to the sparkling entry. Still, I think I can comfortably say that my chicken was one of the most delicious dishes I've had in a while: poulet de Challans, in a crepine, stuffed with fois de volailles, served with pleurotes (Chicken wrapped in a crepine, stuffed with poultry liver and served with oyster mushrooms). Everything about this dish was profoundly rich and satisfying and the chicken, well... the chicken tasted, was soaked, with the taste and aroma of chicken!

I had the last portion so this was the main that was the most popular last night. But, not only with patrons. The moment my dish arrived, a little white cat just sat at my feet and looked up. It didn't jump, it just sat patiently, staring up at me, not flinching for a second. I continued to eat, tasting morsels from Benoit's plate, and, every time I looked down, there was that same cat, staring back up at me. Finally, I pulled off a tiny piece and dropped it on the floor. The cat immediately pounced. It was the owner's cat, so it was ridiculously charming and well-mannered. After its treat, the cat then waited for the door to open and jumped out, sitting on top of the moped to look at the street. What's funny is it didn't beg anyone else. Must have had a thing for the chicken.

Benoit had a grilled sea bass with smashed potatoes and a very bright green parsley sauce. Compared to my baroque plate, it was positively minimal. The tastes were kept separate and the fish was slippery sweet, and it's good to have simple things where the ingredients sing a good solo. The wine we shared was a 2002 red from Ardèche, a rather astringent beast with softer nutty tones afterwards.

Dessert was for me was a baked apple with walnuts, and a glass of Poire William eau de vie, impeccable.

For entrée, plat, wine, digestif and dessert, for two, we shelled out 80€. There isn't a tremendous amount of choice with the food, and presentation isn't exactly a priority, but taste gets top marks. Reservations are recommended. But, don't crowd it out... it's my neighbourhood restaurant.


Monday, January 23, 2006

I like this meme from Tym, which I tagged myself to complete. Normally it's four, but because this is my 555th post, I've decided to do 5.

5 books that changed your life
Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence
The Invisible Dragon by Dave Hickey
As They Were by MFK Fisher
Art Theory 1900-1990 Harrison and Wood
Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (funny because my cousin listed another Hardy book)

5 people who changed your life
My husband
Yuri Didrichsons
R. Bruce Elder
My Dad

5 philosophical worldviews that you found feasible at one point of your life or another
Brian Wilsonism (staying in bed)
Dada (Anarchism)
Jews for Jesus

Aussie Quarterfinals

The Australian Open has never looked so open and deep. There are players on a comeback, unknown young players, and injured players on a roll. All the quarterfinalists have already played magnificent games. With cream of the crop present, it looks like the upcoming matches should all be good ones, with one or two exceptions, of course.

Justine Henin-Hardenne vs. Lindsay Davenport
Lindsay Davenport is really a great and consistent player but Justine is that much hungrier. In fine physical shape, with no injuries, Justine would have to be the favourite in this set-up. Lindsay has a slight sprain on her ankle that could really hamper her mobility, and, this would be a major weakness against Justine, who plays angles well and is probably the woman who has the best court coverage when she's not injured. Justine, two sets.

Maria Sharapova vs. Nadia Petrova
There's not much to say when Sharapova has her game dialled in, which has been the case all through the tournament. Sharapova is dominant, physical and ruthless. Sharapova, in an easy two set win.

Patty Schnyder vs. Amelie Mauresmo
Mauresmo is playing killer tennis right now, destroying all her previous opponents by having a ridiculously low error percentage. Schnyder is always a contender but, if she doesn't get to Mauresmo early, she won't have a chance. Mauresmo's biggest problem is herself. Mentally, if she stays in the game, it'll be a short fight. But, she'll need to win a tough match to really gain self-confidence for the final. Mauresmo, three sets.

Martina Hingis vs. Kim Clijsters
You know I love Martina Hingis but this one is very difficult to call. Perhaps the most difficult. We haven't seen Hingis play any of the big power games yet so we don't know exactly what she can do to take some of Kim's weapons away. Hingis played Henin-Hardenne earlier this month, and was consequently demolished. But, that's Justine for you. Still, difficult to know. Could be a Kim steamroller, or a Hingis triumph? Kim's apparently injured, though we've seen no sign of weakness in her game so far. I'll root for Hingis, who's probably the underdog in this match, because I think she's a really tricky and creative player, and because she really likes to win... like really! Hingis in a very very hard fought three set match.


On the Men's side, things are looking quite simple.

Roger Federer vs. Nikolai Davydenko
Federer in three easy sets. After being tested by Haas, really a player in his calibre, Davydenko should be a walk in the park. And yes, I was very sad to see Haas lose after knocking some chinks in the Federer game but, they'll be other matches.

Sebastian Grosjean vs. Nicolas Kiefer
Kiefer is dangerous right now. But Grosjean is tenacious. I haven't followed Kiefer enough to give this a proper guess, but my heart would be with Grosjean in what I imagine will be a four set match. Allez Marseille!

Fabrice Santoro vs. David Nalbandian
Unless Nalbandian auto-destructs into a puddle of poo, he should prevail easily over Santoro. I love Santoro, but, let's face it: Santoro is also playing doubles, he's 33, he's not normally at this stage of the Slams. Logically, he should be a little tired. Nalbandian is gaining momentum and I think he's a smart tactical player, which should disarm Santoro a little. Still... I will be cheering for Fabrice. hmmmmm... Nalbandian, in straight sets.

Marcos Baghdatis vs. Ivan Ljubicic
This is the match of the quarterfinals on the men's side. Both men are playing at the top of their game and they're both powerful and agressive. Baghdatis is fearless and has been playing consistent champion tennis all tournament. I've been reading and listening, through radio and internet, about his previous matches so far in the Aussie Open and apparently his level of play against Roddick is no fluke. However, Ljubicic has more experience and better depth. Brilliance vs. diligence. Who wins? Why, obviously brilliance! Baghdatis in four sets!


Sunday, January 22, 2006

I love my country... Canada. I can say this without irony because I really do love Canada. It's peaceful, big, beautiful, with an amazing standard of public education, healthcare and support for culture. Canada is quite prosperous right now while still remaining a fairly socialist country. It is a model immigration nation and one of the easiest places to live. Unemployment is down, and cultural exports, in music and literature, are up. The average Canadian is a moderate and the average young Canadian is pretty damn cultured. Much to be proud of...

But wait! The election is tomorrow! OMG! And the Conservatives are in the lead. In fact, the Conservatives are all but guaranteed to win the election. The only question is whether it will be a minority or majority government. And, there are two issues that bother me regarding Conservative policy... Quebec and healthcare.

The Conservatives are proposing that people vote for the Bloc Quebecois, over the Liberals, because the Conservatives are prepared to join forces with the Bloc in protecting Quebec's interests. The Conservatives can hardly have Quebec's interests at heart while detailing that they set aside unrenewable-resources revenue to pay for implementing Kyoto measures. This singles out Quebec to pay for the bill. However, the issue of separation is heating up again and another referendum may be called in the coming years. It might be useful to have a federal party close to the Bloc, sharing in policy, to disarm the Bloc as a separation force. Tricky.

The Conservatives are also seriously considering privatising healthcare. This is one of the hallmarks, the holy grails, of the Canadian way of life. Free healthcare for everyone. With the new policy, money would be saved by the government with basic healthcare privatised. This new policy can be understood if we take into account the aging population. The population over 65 is growing and the government fears that the economy will not be able to support growing healthcare costs. However much I understand this economic reality, I think economic logic rarely rarely equates to humane policy. Old people, people who have given their taxes to this country their whole life, should not be gipped as this late stage. With the lower value of their pensions (the marked inflation in the late 90s being a huge culprit), the aging population needs protection now more than ever. In such a rich country, how can resources be so inefficiently allocated that we need to penalize the old and the poor?

But, there's not much to do about it now but vote. Perhaps they'll be a minority govt, with the NDP and the Conservatives in cahoots. That would be the best case scenario, even if it's they make strange bedfellows.


addendum: HOLY CRAP! Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservatives, has also said that he's in favour of Canada going into Iraq! Is he a lobotomy patient? Anti-Christ!

Getting Hairy

Incredible! Nothing short of INCREDIBLE! Marcos Baghdatis, of Cyprus, has pulled off an amazing and beautiful upset of Andy Roddick, 6-4 1-6 6-3 6-4, sending him into the Quarterfinals against Ivan Ljubicic. Ljubicic himself is playing at a phenomenal level, completely destroying Thomas Johansson, the 2002 Aussie Open Champion, with pinpoint winners and killer serves. The match between these two is going to be a real dinger. Ljubicic hit a "purple patch" at one point, winning over 12 consecutive points against Johansson, who's no slouch himself.

But, it's Baghdatis who's the big story tonight. The 20-year old 2003 Junior Australian Open Champion knocked out Roddick with untouchable cross-court forehands, and sweet down-the-line backhands off Roddick forehands. Perhaps his over-reliance on the forehand will prove to be his undoing but, for now, it's working like a charm. Roddick, who hadn't dropped a set up till now, found himself with few answers to Baghdatis's thunderous returns. Thrilling! This new generation of players is making men's tennis very exciting and promises to give Federer a reason to sweat.

But Federer has quite a match on his hands tomorrow as well. He's going up against Tommy Haas, a once very promising junior who fell out of the rankings after suffering long-term injuries. He sat out for 18 months after breaking both his ankles, and also took time off after his parents were involved in a serious motorcycle accident. In the last couple of months, Haas has started to jump back in the rankings. Something to take note of: Haas has already beaten Federer in 2006, knocking him out at the Kooyong Exhibition Classic.

Finally, Frenchman Fabrice Santoro, who's 33 years old, has made the Quarterfinals in a Grand Slam Singles Competition for the first time in his life! The Magician scored a delicious upset over Tommy Robredo setting up a match with David Nalbandian. I like both these guys but, being almost French, I guess I'll root for my hometown boy. Plus, this is probably one of the last times will see him at this competition and maybe this eccentric player also has his way with age.

Despite all this, I think it would be difficult to predict that anyone other than Federer will win the title. Federer is that good, and he only loses when he has a bad day... and the other player has an exceptional day. Scary? Remember Pete Sampras.

*addendum... You know, Andy Roddick is really a nice guy and classy player. Look at his interview immediately after the match. Completely generous and without malice, unlike Hewitt's comments after his embarassing loss against Chela.


In personal news, besides my obvious tennis mania, I'm currently overworked with three major work projects, one upcoming exposition. But I'm so happy... and I haven't gone to any parties in a while!?! Oh, except last night's neighbour's party... but that doesn't count... not when you drink pineapple juice for two hours, talk to pregnant ladies about swelling breasts, and then leave to go back to work. But, maybe work is my party right now. That's the loveliest surprise in 2006.

the escalation of violence

Friday, January 20, 2006

It's bad enough that they let their pooches do No.2 all over the place. The worst is when they encourage said beasts with pats and snacks after it has crapped. Imagine yourself walking to work in the morning when suddenly your eyes are arrested by the disturbing image of a little Yorkshire terrier sniffing at a gigantic hump of human-sized shit. Rain is falling in dew-like wisps... The dog turns around and moves its hind legs slightly forward, bending its back. An old lady pats it neatly on the head as it deposits another load onto the bank.

My husband calls this technique, shitting on a pile of shit, "the escalation of violence."

It all left me feeling rather desperate, dreaming of dressing that woman in a brown fur suit and making her shit next to a tree in a carpark. No wonder the French are so perverted.

Battle of the Babes

There's a real heat wave sweeping over the Australian Open right now. Temperatures are supposed to climb to the low 40s tomorrow and there's talk of suspending play in the afternoon due to dangerous conditions. This afternoon, under scorching heat, Fabrice Santoro won against former French Open Champion, Gaston Gaudio. I hope the Magician can keep on going!

Later on, played under cooling evening skies, Slovakian princess, Daniela Hantuchova won her third round match against Serena Williams. Despite consistent talented play, Hantuchova is really only famous for being one of the uber-babes of the WTA, a bit the Bambi on the scene. No surprise, really. Her long skinny legs do remind me of wobbly animated baby deer limbs. But, the big news isn't her uber-babeness, nor her win against a sloppy and flabby Serena. The big news is her upcoming match against that mega-watt princess of the WTA, Maria Sharapova. Can you imagine all those Aussie men on Sunday, crawling over each other in the sweltering heat, melting in their Bermuda shorts and turning lobster pink, while wolf whistling these two ladies? Hah!

Daniela and Maria

Oh, and another reason to like Santoro and Hantuchova... they're both doubles champions and play regularly. Here they are with their mixed double trophy at Roland Garros. Doubles isn't glamourous but it sure is fun!

Tennis on the Brain

Thursday, January 19, 2006

You're going to have to indulge me on this. I'm too obsessed to think or talk about anything else. I've got Aussie Open Fever. Today, I woke up and listened to Lleyton Hewitt getting knocked out by archrival Chela... on the radio. That's right. Due to the absolute lack of television coverage, I have been reduced to pre-war time media... the radio. The 21st century version of this radio, though, comes from my computer.

Enough of that... here's my breakdown. Today, Hewitt's game was noticeably remarkable for its lack of come on's, Hewitt's trademark war-cry. I'll be honest and just say that I wasn't unhappy to see Hewitt out of the tournament. Hewitt's game is simply running around and bashing the ball, and, if I want to see that I can think of other players more spectacular (like Nadal!). But, the field seems to be empty of challengers on par with Federer. Some of the possible championship contenders left in the tournament are James Blake (seeming to get stronger all the time), Andy Roddick (who will never beat Roger because he no longers believes it possible), David Nalbandian (who beat Roger in last year's Master's Title), and maybe a little surprise named Tommy Haas.

Two strange french players are still in the draw. Not grand-standing Monfils, nor talented but tortured Gasquet. No... One's old and the other's young: Fabrice Santoro, otherwise known as "The Magician" and Gilles Simon, a young 21 year old. Both are atypical players in the current power tennis scene. Small, relying on speed change and unpredictable placement of shots, Santoro and Simon can be quite fascinating to watch. Santoro is exactly the type of player to fluster Federer, as Roger himself has confessed, since he uses an eccentric double-handed forehand and backhand, making his shots that much harder to read.

Simon, it seems, patterns himself a little after Michael Chang. Chang's defeat of Lendl in 1989's Roland Garros was one of the greaters displays of panache ever seen in tennis. That same year, Dustin Hoffman played in a film called Rainman. Chang's a bit the Dustin Hoffman of tennis; small and yet capable of bringing something scrappy and intelligent to the screen. 1989 was a wonderful and moving year, if only for those two items, but Simon was but 4 years old at that time so he can have no memory of it!

Speaking of the past haunting us, Martina Hingis won her second round match. When I think about the dominance of female baseline sluggers (Davenport/Sharapova/Williams/Clijsters) I can't help but welcome Hingis back into the fold. Hingis, like her compatriot Federer, is a magical little shotmaker. Her great talent is moving people around on court until they're out of position. It's intelligent tennis, unlike the brutishness of a game like Sharapova's. Her hair flipping, thunder-footing and baseline shrieking makes her the Paris Hilton of women's tennis: attention seekers with little class.

I think Hingis will probably be knocked out, sometime in the fourth round or quarter-finals. Even if she goes through to the next round, she'll be in for a rough time with home favourite Samantha Stosur, who seems to be roaring with confidence. And, even if she gets by Stosur, she could end up fighting Clijsters on the next step up. While it doesn't look like it'll get any easier for her, it could be just the test needed to see if Hingis is really up to playing against some power tennis.

Anyways, I need to sleep now so that I can wake up early and check in on the game. Dedication!


Monday, January 16, 2006

Something strange happens to the average male in the dead of winter. Normal steak-chewing bookish types sometimes transform into full grown creeps. In the last week I've had two declarations of love from anonymous readers of this blog, three emails for a date as a result of a want ad I left on another site, two obscene phone calls, and one blind man encouraging his dog to urinate in front of me. Oh, and I didn't even mention the crazy biological determinist who's set up camp on my cousin's blog. That one has left comments suggesting that he's passed a fair amount of time dissecting my racial roots to explain my prowess in math and the arts. He could have just said, "MY GOD, YOU'RE LOVELY AND BRILLIANT. I'D LOVE TO FUCK YOU AND MAKE GENIUS MODEL CHILDREN!" but of course he'd be retarded to say that. My progeny are going to be born with moustaches and oversized noses, and I no longer have any say in that.

Anyway... Schuey really ended his blog. The domaine absurde has flown the coop. And that's the scoop today on creeps. (tee hee!)

une mouette frivole

Friday, January 13, 2006

Though "les Soldes," the French annual sales, officially started January 11, I didn't cotton on until I started receiving my invites in the mail mid-week. Couture houses's and small designers's private sales, usually by invitation, are the chance for middling artist types, like myself, to get some gorgeous stuff at slap-me-silly prices. This year, I cracked for Estelle Yomeda's shoes. She used to design for YSL, but now she's solo. This one's a one-off hybrid between the Frivole (Collection Boudoir) and the Mouette (Collection Bord de Mer)... une mouette frivole (a frivolous seagull). Aren't they divine!


Moustache 2006

Everyone, I'd like you to meet my very good friend, George Stanley. George is modelling our very own newest moustache, the Moustache 2006. Chocolatey and sensitive, yet firm and defined, this new moustache will keep you awake in the dark nights, and make you the envy of non-moustached men, everywhere. The perfect blend of Hitler and John Waters, this moustache says that you're not only in touch with zeitgeist and slightly scatophilic, you're also a mighty hand with death and desire, asserting your will where those about you flail in despair. Analogue and digital, despotic and ironic, we want you to ride the wave of the brown line, the ambiguous space where the power to rape nations is ripe for the pickings.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

It struck me, as I made that addition on the last post, how silly it is to say the "best of." I have neither the time nor the capacity to see every "worthy" movie that is released in a year. It's a disturbing way to start the year, by falling on such a useless appellation. What I was trying to do, ineffectually, was express my enthusiasm for a film that I feel profoundly touched by. Maybe it's not the best absolutely, but last night, it was the best.

I mean, I must watch under a hundred films a year, whether they be in the cinema, on my computer or on television. Half the time, I stop the film, fall asleep, or walk away. I spent an enormous portion of my life watching moving pictures on a screen, being absorbed or bored by stories, people, events, things. In the same way, if I was to catalogue all the time I've spent in total reading about the details of other people's lives, it would total something quite ridiculous and "low-flame" depressing. I think Herzog's film was one of the first films in quite a while that didn't bore me for a single second.

Real ennui, though, belongs to the middle-class. They murder each other with cultural references. Blogs, television, magazines, fashion, film, music and even books are consumed. And that is the operative word here. Consumed. Artists these days make art where all they do is consume. This seems just about right. Consumption as creation, connoisseur in place of creator. (but I think this has been going on for a long time)

That's why these best of lists have reached epic disastrous proportions. Justifying worth by saying it's on a best of list, or that it's won a prestigious prize is not necessarily justification by merit. Because you like something doesn't mean you've made it. I can't think of anything worse than good taste, and I can't of anything I'm more guilty of.

Woody Allen talks a lot about luck. But, he doesn't watch his own films, he doesn't read his reviews. He wakes up and he writes. He writes and makes movies, all the time. He's a maker. Of course he is lucky to be who he is, making money from portraying luckless losers.

Yes, it's a bit my pet subject... the destruction of my soul in so many small and everyday ways... just my way of kicking myself in the ass, for I am the laziest of all the asses. And now... I'm going to dance a jig!


wow, I can believe how vitriolic I sound... jeezus... if that's how I am now, imagine what I'll be like when I'm a granny! But, to give myself a bit of respite, today I also had to suffer through the type of work meeting that can make you quit your job. An idiotic co-worker marching us through the merry land of protocol. FUCK!

Grizzly Man


Werner Herzog's latest film, Grizzly Man, is a documentary on Timothy Treadwell, a California dude who heard his calling in living with wild grizzlies, often calling them his "friends" and bawling in front of the camera of out of love for them. The tragic aspect of the quixotic Treadwell story is simply that he and his girlfriend were, one early autumn day, eaten by one of his 'friends.' The film is, as is with all Herzog films, brutal, emotional and full of Herzog's insane yet perspicacious wit. While obviously sympathetic to Treadwell's romantic vision as a filmmaker, Herzog never ceases to view his actions from a critical eye. While his narration is often pointed, he often lets the key players speak for themselves. A marvelous and complex portrait, not of bears, but of man's inability to recognize that his own technological/urban impulse is profoundly linked with his romantic vision of nature. And, while Herzog may be sympathetic to Treadwell's quest, he never believes for a second in the idea that the bears are friends. He sees instead nature, with her murderous heartless glance, gazing disaffectedly at dinner.

Oh, and in case I didn't make it clear, this was for me the BEST film released in 2005.

with two screwdrivers and good will

Sunday, January 08, 2006

We came home last night, after massive winnings in poker, at 5 in the morning to a cold apartment. An eerily chilly apartment. The heater was off. In winter, I never turn the heater off while we're out. I just turn the thermostat down. After all, the energy it takes to reheat an entire room is hardly worth the bother than the occasional blasts it takes to keep it moderately liveable. The heater had stopped working.

I have a gas heater and the Economist. I know about those Russians and their gas mongering. Has our winter of russian discontent begun? Did Gaz France lie to us and are we getting our supply cut? A simple test of the gas stove proves otherwise.

Benoit is just now getting out of his slightly comatose state, incurred from massive alcohol consumption. He's on the phone with his father, armed with two screwdrivers and good will. I'd prefer just to call a man to help us, but, something about Gallic fix-er-uppers... they're bloody stubborn. I just hope he doesn't ruin our gas supply otherwise then I'm stuck for food as well....

.... OH MY GOD! He just fixed it! So it is possible for life to continue after a little bit of screwing around.

La Maison Rectangulaire

Friday, January 06, 2006

ana and hendrick
Hendrik and Anabelle

Last night, at éof Gallery, I went to the launch of La Maison Rectangulaire, a book by Hélèna Villovitch, with illustrations by Hendrik Hegray. There was hot mulled wine, spiced bread and, later, oysters and more wine, with the night ending in a headbanging contest, broken glasses and a lovers's altercation, proving that things go from class to crass when the alcohol runs fast and free.

I can't give you a review of the book because I haven't read the book. However, after the reading, someone I knew said "his drawings weren't very good." I don't know if this person was just being jealous, of it was her professional opinion. I just know it wasn't really the moment to say that kind of thing. People in glass houses...

...and, I disagree.


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I was riding the metro today and reading the Guardian. Reading the newspaper in the morning is one of my secret pleasures. It's not like I really care that the sturgeon population has dropped 90% in 30 years resulting in today a ban on beluga/sevruga caviar, nor do I really care that Arsenal and Man Utd. play like butlers after losing their hot-headed captains. All the pleasure in reading the newspaper is the fleeting glimpse at a bigger story. A fill-in-the-blanks type pleasure.

Take for example today: a photograph of a cheerleader, body stiff as a board, sailing through the air with a smile painted deep into her face which was captioned, "Stunt Trouble: Cheerleading gets risky." There isn't much else to the story; a rise in risky stunts has resulted in a rise of cheerleading injuries. Really? If we had a rise in risky surfing, we'd probably have a rise in surfing injuries. What the paper doesn't say is why on earth we need riskier cheerleading stunts and is cheerleading becoming a mainstream sport in the same way skateboarding gave birth to X-treme games? If so, does that mean we'll soon have X-treme Cheerleading? She looks basket-tossed from a coffin, but maybe that's the point.

Speaking of mind-boggling, apparently Vincent Gallo is selling his sperm online at the low low price of $1m. For an extra couple of thousands of bucks, he will perform "natural insemination," with the right to waive this option on being presented with photographs of the purchaser. Such a joker this guy. Seriously, you'd think selling his blowjob scene was the limit but Gallo is a strictly No-Limit guy. Next he'll be selling the right to eat his own babies.

But, like I said, this doesn't really interest me. The paper is just a doorway to more strange and probing questions. Like, does identity have anything to do with merit these days? Like, does it matter who wrote the a book you think is good? Or is cheerleading the most honest sport; it's sole purpose is to titillate by having people perform athletic tricks? Or, is that guy sitting in front of me really excited about Iran assembling nuclear missiles? He seems to be. He seems to be practically pushing his eyes out of his head, and poking his friend and saying something I can't understand while jabbing his finger almost into the picture of six Iranian women holding hands, a picture facing him from the front of my paper. I don't get this. I'm worried about my latent hostility towards Arabic looking men. I'm worried that I should automatically assume that they are gleeful over this development. I'm confused as to whether my reaction is correct in assessing his prejudices against western society, or whether I'm completely off my canter and he's just excited about something else. Maybe he's worried that the Americans will attack Iran. Maybe he has family there. Maybe he thinks that this will be a repeat of Iraq. Maybe he's just trying to learn english. Or maybe he's thinking that picture of JT Leroy is really Cameron Diaz and finally everybody's in on the hoax.

This bewildering set of largely uninteresting thoughts flash quickly through my head before I fold my paper pointedly and jump out the door at my stop. I'll never know the answers to these questions.

Culture Vulture

A little while ago I mentioned something about a DVD blind-test competition. That competition was won by yours truly... well, actually by a team I carefully guided out of the darkness... ok, by some other guy who knew more about films than George Bush, ahem, Sr. Whatever. In compensation, I picked off a lovely old Jeff Bridges/Clint Eastwood film, Thunderbolt and Lightning. This week, after spending some wee hours in the morning recapitulating the wonders of pop music, for a competition no less, I found out that I was the lucky winner of a CD. A CD folks! You remember those things... they're silver, circular and make great dinner coasters. Ok ok... I am very happy and grateful to have won this award, and it's always nice to start the year on a winning note... Anyways, I get to pick one CD out of apparently the list of the 20 best albums of 2005. I guess being a card-carrying member of the Culture Vulture Club has its privileges.

Thanks to Sonic Eric, once again. Though... NO, I will never like elevator folk like Sufjan Stevens. He's 2005's Pearl Jam. (Sam, you are way harsh! Pearl Jam did not suck! They had meaning in their songs!)

On Beauty

Monday, January 02, 2006

Last night, I watched a documentary on Arte about the notion of beauty in France. Different celebrities, mainly actresses, talked about how they were perceived as icons. You had Deneuve, Moreau, Marceau, Doillon, Mastroianni, Casta and Bardot, all in one show. Here's some things I remember (paraphrased except for Moreau, who I remember exactly):

My life wasn't mine anymore. I didn't have a life. Somebody would call me up and tell me to come to some party or dinner to meet someone. That someone thought I was something. And it made me afraid. What if I wasn't that something? What if I didn't have it? I was scared. I was terrified of disappointing because I didn't know what it is they wanted.

Chiara Mastroianni...
The French are ambiguous with what they want. They want you to be glamourous. They want you to be sexy. But if you do sexy or glamourous things, they turn on you and say you're doing too much. They are very ambiguous.

Catherine Deneuve
It's easy. When you're young that life is easy. You smoke, I still smoke, you drink, you see your friends, you sleep late. It's easy. When you get older, it becomes harder.

Jeanne Moreau: If you have to work at it, it's not beauty.

It's obvious Moreau was looking for the quotable line. But she has to work at that now since her looks are totalled. Funnily enough, I keep thinking I've heard that line before, from someone like Jerry Hall, or Sharon Stone, or something like that.

And me?
I like being a beautiful girl in France. It gives you power. A different kind of power than in North America because you don't really have to be some sort of superwoman and also have some sort of fabulous career. You can just smoke, drink, look mysterious and have a good time, which is easier than working. Nobody here likes to see you work, as Moreau so correctly pointed out.

The only real problem is that some women and men might dislike you, because you are who you are... beautiful. They'd like you to have some handicap, like being superficial, or supercilious, or just super-dumb. Well, it's the old story again: if you use your beauty to get what you want, you can expect people to slap you for it. But, that's bullshit as well because, if you're beautiful, it's not exactly a weapon you can put away. So, sometimes you get slapped for something you couldn't help, like a shrunken arm, or a mean overbite, and that's not very nice.

But, I don't worry too much about this because most of the time it's pointless. Some girls are bigger than others.

January 1st

New Year's Resolution: stop worrying about who's looking where