Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Un Zebre a Montmartre and les Passages

Today our warm sunny weather ran out. It was cool and drizzly and I donned layers so I'd be prepared for anything: T-shirt, heavy turtleneck and a jean jacket I could barely zip up over the sweater. We had a fabulous lunch at a down-at-the-heels looking place called Un Zebre a Montmartre. I'd read a review in The Guardian a while back that cited it as a good value bistro. It's a funky and charming spot in the active Abbesses neighbourhood. It's a noisy, friendly place; the service is helpful and the food is wonderful. I had a salad of rocket and parmesan to start. It came shaped like a little cake with the greens in a tangy vinaigrette on the bottom and a whole lot of shaved Parmesan on top. My main course was ribs in a caramelized sauce flavoured with five spice and accompanied by scalloped potatoes, haricots verts and a baked tomato. Mr. Nag had a millefeuille of tomato, mozzarella and basil. His main was poached salmon in a cream sauce flavoured with cauliflower and tarragon and came with the same vegetable accompaniments. We shared a pear tart with hot chocolate sauce for dessert and topped it all off with a half litre of decent red and coffee. All this for less than 50 euros! I'll definitely eat there again next time I'm in Paris.
After all that good food I definitely could not zip up that jean jacket. I felt like a sausage about to burst its skin! We took a stroll over to the area in the 9th where we stayed the first time we visited Paris together. We walked through the lovely passages which are covered shopping arcades and did a little shopping. Of the forty plus passages that existed between the late 1700s and mid-1800s, only seventeen survive today. They contain interesting book and print shops as well as upscale toy and houseware stores and charming restaurants and cafes. The Grevin Wax Museum and the affordable Hotel Chopin are also located in the passages. Here's a photo of one of the ones we visited today:

Too good to be true

I've always thought Paris is the most beautiful city in the world. Now it appears it's all just a facade.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Redneck Haiku

Distant siren screams
Dumb-ass Verne’s been playing with
Gasoline again

A New Moon
Flashlights pierce darkness
No nightcrawlers to be found
Guess we’ll gig some frogs

Joyous, playful, bright
Trailer park girl rolls in puddle
Of old motor oil

See much more redneck haiku at Miss Cellania

Stay At Home Dad Rap

One of Jon Lajoie's videos I hadn't seen yet.

Via Adventures of the Reluctant Housewife


I finally visited Versailles on this, my ninth trip to Paris. I was prepared for the grandeur but, like most people, I was bowled over by the scale of the place. It's so bloody large! The excess is beyond belief and had me thinking, "Off with their heads!".
The Chateau was filled with teeming humanity. After two hours in line I regretted not buying tickets in advance.
There was a show of artist Jeff Koons' work both in the Chateau and in the gardens. Although I took plenty of photos, this site has better ones. I am not a fan of Koons' work so was not particularly impressed by this exhibit. In my opinion, with the exception of the big red heart near the exit and the purple mirror in the Hall of Mirrors, most of the pieces were a distraction. These for example:

Inflatable lobsters? A porcelain Michael Jackson? I guess I just don't get it.
I much preferred the Petit Trianon and Marie Antoinette's hameau, a recreation of a quaint village and farm for the Queen's amusement when the grandeur of the Chateau became too much for her to bear.

I understand how she felt. The Chateau overwhelmed me and the uncrowded country feeling at le hameau was a welcome respite.
It was a very full day topped off with a good dinner at a restaurant on the market square in Versailles and a short train ride back to bed.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Too true

Seen at My[confined]Space

Bois de Vincennes

This is the first time I've visited the Bois de Vincennes and I had a great day at this little piece of country on the subway line. We toured the chateau, saw a show of dahlias, every colour and shape imaginable, went to a bonsai exhibit, had a decent lunch, hiked through the forest and strolled around the lake and its island. Perfect activities for the perfect weather we've had so far.

A People’s History of American Empire

American imperialism according to Howard Zinn.


Test your colour IQ

I had some fun with this. Try the FM 100 Hue Test

Friday, September 26, 2008


Hey Dawn and Maureen here are some sister pics

Fragrant Plants

The exhibit of a wide variety of fragrant plants and their oils at the Orangery at the Luxembourg Gardens was an unexpected surprise and we got to make lavender sachets to take home!
Here are some fragrant roses:

Lavender was featured:

This was a demonstration of the distillation of lavender oil (I wish I could do a smell-o-vision thing here) :

China Gold at the Aristide Maillol Museum

I visited the home and burial place of sculptor Aristide Maillol in Banyuls-sur-mer last spring and made a promise to myself to visit the Paris Museum dedicated to his work. I was doubly pleased when I found that the museum was hosting an exhibit of the work of modern Chinese artists.
Visitors to the exhibition are greeted by a sculpture of a large golden astronaut with a missing finger by Sheng Qi, followed by provocative paintings, prints and numerous images mixing photography and other media. Sheng Qi, who after the events of Tiananmen, cut off his finger and buried it in a flower-pot before leaving China only to return to his country years later.

I really enjoyed it. They didn't allow photos but I snapped a couple of surreptitious ones.
Does this Mao make me look thin? I thought so.

Here's a Maillol sculpture:

Danger Dogs

Nepalese-style Beware of the Dog signs handpainted on metal.

Citroen 2CV Tours

You can tour Paris in one of these cute convertible Citroen 2CVs although I prefer to walk until my feet are killing me. I took this photo at the Place de Concorde. Notice the Eiffel Tower peeking out of the background.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Schlep to Florida

Lunch at Allard

One of my favourite cookbook authors, Patricia Wells, sings the praises of Allard. We ate there today:
Beaujolais, salads of frisée lardons, and meats and poultry roasted whole, on the bone. Yet even in Paris, those old fashioned spots remain a dying breed. As good as ever is Allard, the well-worn 1940’s Left Bank bistro once the home of Fernande and André Allard. More than 60 years later, you can still find a very dependable duck with olives, tender Bresse poultry served with a sauté of wild cèpe mushrooms, and – my very favorite – the giant lamb shoulder, with portions large enough to feed an army.

I enjoyed my green beans with salty lardons in a creamy dressing and a navarin d'agneau accompanied by the 2001 burgundy house wine. Huge helpings of French home cooking that I almost managed to walk off.

Mémorial de la Déportation

I visited the Mémorial de la Déportation on Ile de la Cite. It was designed by French architect Georges-Henri Pingusson.
It is dedicated to the 200.000 Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, gays, criminals, gypsys and the mentally ill who were deported during WW2.
This is a quote from Antoine St. Exupery that appears there:

This wall of tiny lights represents the 200,000 deportees:

We underwent a thorough search before being admitted to this subterranean monument.

Dylan en francais

Must be Paris. French is obviously (at least to me) not this guy's first language but he sounds pretty good and attracted a bit of a crowd over near the Beaubourg. I'm trying to get a gig doing their English translation.

‘Drawing Babar’

Drawing Babar Early Drafts and Watercolors,' on exhibit at the Morgan Library and Museum through Jan. 4, 2009.

Easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle

Click to biggify

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I'm outta here

Flying to Paris later today. Will miss my dog. Will return to the campaign either refreshed or exhausted but will return.

Political street theatre

This photo takes me back to the glory days of political protest.

Seen at Room 26 Cabinet of Curiosities

Gardens of Numbers

Inspired by the complex numerical relationships identified in talismanic objects or tables the Iranian artist Yahya Fiuzi creates art by interpreting the numbers as colours.

Monday, September 22, 2008

By the end of today what do you wish to happen?

I guess I'd say that my wishes would centre around the future of my sons. To a lesser degree I wish that my packing for France gets finished and that, despite the confusion that has become my life, I don't forget anything important.

Florence on a Treadmill

Exploded Views Remapping Firenze comprises two industrial treadmills placed in front of a huge screen showing, part film, part computer graphics, the deserted streets of a virtual Florence. The action of the observer’s body is the determining factor: the 3D images are set rolling by the physical effort made by the viewer, revealing an imaginary, “poetic” Florence where real architectural shots explode into an infinity of pixels. The speed of the observer/runner has a direct impact on the intensity of the aesthetic experience. In the work of Marnix de Nijs, the observer becomes the protagonist. The interface between the body and technology hands over control to the viewer who decides which direction to take and how to up the intensity of the images traversed.


On This Day

On Sept. 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, declaring all slaves in rebel states should be free as of Jan. 1, 1863. (Go to article.)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dave Eggers interviews Chris Elliott

Get a Life was such a funny show. Chris Elliott played a grown up guy who lives with his parents and has a paper route. I remember laughing until I cried at this episode where Chris goes on a camping trip with his buddy, Larry, and his dad, inadvertently eats hallucinogenic wild berries and imagines his dad is a homocidal maniac:

I guess other folks didn't like it as much as I did because it was canceled in short order.

See Chris Elliott in conversation with Dave Eggers Via Metafilter

Vintage kitty pics

A collection of very cute cats Via Blort

The Great Hurricane of Sept. 21, 1938

Long Islanders and New Englanders have always spoken of the event, long before hurricanes were named by the government, as the Great Hurricane of 1938. See the slideshow

This site has a whole bunch of information on the hurricane and its effects.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Siberian Wooden Houses

A beautiful set of photos of Siberian Wooden Houses courtesy of Grow a Brain.

Gondoliers in Venice for Obama

Everyone loves Obama



I received this from several people today. Women fought hard to win us the right to vote. Use it.

This is the story of our Grandmothers, and Great-grandmothers, as they
lived only 90 years ago. It was not until 1920 that women were granted
the right to go to the polls and vote.

Thus unfolded the ‘Night of Terror’ on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at
the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson
to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow
Wilson’s White House for the right to vote. The women were innocent and
defenseless. And by the end of the night they were barely alive. Forty
prison guards wielding clubs and their warden’s blessing went on a
rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of ‘obstructing sidewalk

They beat Lucy Burn, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head
and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They
hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed
and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was
dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the
guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching,
twisting and kicking the women.

For weeks, the women’s only water came from an open pail. Their
food–all of it colorless slop–was infested with worms. When one of the
leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a
chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until
she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was
smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh my memory. Some women won’t vote this year because–why,
exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote
doesn’t matter? It’s raining?

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO’s new movie
‘Iron Jawed Angels.’ It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women
waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my
say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the
actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote.
Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege.
Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women’s history, saw the HBO
movie , too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked
angry. She was–with herself. ‘One thought kept coming back to me as I
watched that movie,’ she said. ‘What would those women think of the way
I use–or don’t use–my right to vote? All of us take it for granted
now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.’ The
right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her ‘all over again.’

HBO released the movie on video and DVD. I wish all history, social
studies and government teachers would include the movie in their
curriculum. I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women
gather. I realize this isn’t our usual idea of socializing, but we are
not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock
therapy is in order.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a
psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be
permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor
refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn’t make her
crazy. The doctor admonished the men: ‘Courage in women is often
mistaken for insanity.’

The Quincy Punk Episode

Via Laughing Squid

Balzac's Paris

A promenade through the monumental heart of Paris in the time of Balzac, as described through some of his works, and as documented in maps and engravings of:

The Vernon Duke Collection
Special Collections Department
University of California Library

Had we a time machine to transport us physically to Balzac’s Paris, we would discover a dynamic yet totally alien place. Where Balzac mentions monuments and places that seem familiar, we need to look again. The documents displayed from the Vernon Duke Collection—either taken from contemporary histories and guidebooks or reproduced from such books—allow us to see, wander in and explore the maps of Balzac’s Paris. We invite the viewer to retake the central circuit of today’s tourist: Arc de Triomphe—Louvre—Ile de la Cité—Quartier Latin. This time this trip becomes an exercise in defamiliarization.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Do you like handcuffs?

French World War One Posters.

A beautiful collection of World War One posters.

Talk Like A Pirate Day

It's Talk Like A Pirate Day
This is the perfect accessory for the bacchanal.

Melanie MacDonald

Friend, lapsed blogger and political compadre, Uncorrected Proofs, recommended this local artist.
Melanie MacDonald was born in St. Catharines, ON in 1976. Today she lives in downtown St. Catharines and is an active member of the Niagara Artists' Centre, the region's only artist-run centre.

Although I despise dirty dishes I like her paintings of dirty dishes.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cabinets of curiosities

This article by K. Fred explains Curiosity Cabinets:
The first museums were collections privately held. These collections were started during the 16th and 17th centuries. They were usually named Curiosity Cabinets in the English speaking countries. Though other names were used such as, Cabinet's of Wonders, Wunder-kammer, Rariteitenkabinett, and Chamber's of Curiosities. These collections usually were divided into three segments. Natural, artificial, and scientific. The collectors could be found from the Pope to a local Tavern with the most spectacular ones largely owned by the wealthy.

Phantasmaphile provides some examples of curious museums that you can visit like the weirdly lovely Necromance in Los Angeles.

Thanks for directing me to this, John.

Guido Castagnoli

My preconception of provincial Japan looked nothing like these photos by Guido Castagnoli.

Shopping With Her Dad

Tuesday Weld goes shopping for sweaters with her dad, Harvey Korman in this scene from 1966 movie Lord Love a Duck. It just may be the weirdest thing I've seen all week - I mean that in a good way.

Seen at I Let My Fists Do The Talkin’

The art of mathematics

Click on it to see the amazing slideshow
To the untrained eye, mathematician Lasse Rempe's vivid images might appear to be random sets of colourful swirls and circles.
But they are in fact precise visual representations of mathematical theory known as dynamical systems.


Poor Ralph Nader. His only friend is a bird

Via Urlesque