Monday, December 22

Happy holidays !


Off to spend Christmas in England, then off to Auvergne for my birthday and New Year's. Two weeks vacation with my new toy - bliss.
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My top photography tip of the day


If you've taken a picture that's blurry and out of focus and just not very good, in post-processing, blur it even more, turn it into black and white, and by virtue of the photo looking more "artistic", you may just manage to convince people that was exactly the effet you were aiming for.

Or perhaps not.
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Wednesday, December 10

Should I be concerned ?

Used the computer after S. last night and couldn't help but notice that the most recent term in the Google search bar was "low frequency weapons".

Seeing that I had been out for the evening, I suppose I should be happy that he hadn't been searching for "hot lesbian nympho porn" or some such thing, but still. What an intriguing man he is.

Sunday, December 7

30 second review: Pride & Glory

Disclaimer: I would happily sit in a darkened theater to watch Edward Norton read from a phone book for 2 hours.

Well scripted, well acted, well shot rather intelligent cop thriller. By "rather intelligent" I mean it's plot and character driven as opposed to special effects and car chase driven. So OK, some of it's a little déjà vu. (Good cop, bad cop! Ooh, they're from the same family! And family is really, really important, because look, here's a Christmas dinner scene with everyone gathered around a table, and the matriarch is saintly for putting up with those rowdy men of hers, and the kids are cute as a button!) . All in all though, well worth seeing.

Tuesday, December 2


Got an e-mail today inviting me "to become a key member of the exciting new conservative bloggers central". Apparently these people believe I am "an important member of the conservative blogosphere", which is of course completely laughable. I would love to think I am an important member of any blogoshere, and hey, flattery will get you anywhere. But conservative? How on earth did these people establish their mailing list? It reminds me of the time I got a personalized brochure and letter trying to sell me what amounts to time-sharing a private jet. Wrong target audience, dudes.

Tuesday, November 25

Things I fantasize about before going to sleep

Fergus Henderson, and more specifically his Roast Bone Marrow and Parsley Salad. Sadly, I've never been to St John's, and haven't been to London, in oh, 10 years or so. But I can feel a trip coming on in 2009 and if necessary I will plan it around getting reservations.

S thinks this is rather strange and that roast bone marrow is not what one should be thinking of as one drifts off to sleep - or admit to, anyway.

Monday, November 24

Move over, Thomas Lynley.

I've got a new crush.

Why had I never bothered to pick up a Lee Child book before? Heaven knows, but it's all good, because there are 12 books in the Jack Reacher series, so they'll keep me happily occupied until the new Elizabeth George/Peter Robinson/Minette Walters come out in paperback...

Saturday, November 22

30-second review - The Duchess

Meh, and meh again. A soulless historical drama with gorgeous costumes and stately homes and no emotional impact whatsoever. Couldn't bring myself to care about the bad marriage, or the doomed love affair, or the inability to bear a son - I was just curious to see what hat Keira Knightly would be wearing in the next scene. Best line, by a deadpan Ralph Fiennes: "My wife is in labor. I believe this calls for a toast".

Thursday, November 20

PSA for my foodie friends !

Cookstr beta launched today - haven't had time to have an in-depth look, but at first glance it seems very user-friendly (want to find a list of recipes featuring chicken, using 5 ingredients or less ? it only takes 3 clicks!), the roster of contributing chefs and cookbook writers is impressive (Madhur Jaffrey , Alice Waters, Marcella Hazan,and many, many more...) , and the site itself has a nice clean lay-out.

Sunday, November 16

30 second review: Body of Lies

Just saw this a few hours ago and already it's indistinguishable in my mind from every other espionage-in-the-Middle-East thriller I've seen in the last 10 years:
- aerial views of 4x4s driving through the desert - check.
- people (both good guys and bad) being tortured - check.
- bombs going off - check.
- people talking urgently on their mobile phones - check.
- chase scenes though busy market squares and alleyways - check.

Thursday, November 13

Omaha beach, Normandy


This photo looks like it could illustrate one of those corny "inspirational" poems à la Hallmark card. But I like it better without words.

Can't wait.

I love Pixar.

Saturday, November 8

There's a series of Ikea ads

....playing at the cinemas at the moment. One of them shows a woman finding a little yellow pencil - you know the ones - in her husband's pocket while sorting the laundry, and tearfully confronting him about going to Ikea without her, while he squirms guiltily.

I turn to S. and whisper, "I don't have to worry about that, do I. I know you would never go to Ikea without me."
Deadpan response: "That's right. And I would never go to Ikea with you, either".


Thursday, November 6

2 h and 15 mn of blissed out music

Trilok Gurtu and his band with special guests Jan Garbarek and Oumou Sangare at the Salle Pleyel. Not sure how to describe the mix, as world music doesn't quite cover it, nor does jazz - but if the combination sounds interesting and you have the chance to see them live - together or not - please do so - it was a fantastic concert.

Tuesday, November 4


I love stories like this one: 81-year old retains marathon crown.

Go vote - now !

...because I can't.

As an American who has never lived in the U.S., I am apparently "an American citizen who has no voting rights". There are only 16 states that allow U.S. citizens born overeas who have never lived in the U.S. to vote, and to qualify, the parent who passed on U.S. citizenship must also be eligible to vote. Well, that rules me out.

Monday, November 3

30 second review: Quantum of Solace

Couldn't wait any longer and braved the opening weekend queues to see it... What can I say - not as wonderful as Casino Royale, but still a wildly entertaining ride. And it really does feel like a roller-coaster rather than a movie. Bond chases or gets chased on foot, in a car, on a motorbike, in a plane... no trains, hot-air balloons, roller-blades or bicycles though. Perhaps in the next instalment. Judi Dench's M just gets better and better, owning every scene she's in. And Daniel Craig is the sexiest man alive. And that, really, is all you need to know.

Saturday, November 1

Simple pleasures

Waking up with a start, thinking it seems late and wondering why the alarm didn't go off, and then realizing it's Saturday.

Getting a haircut. This isn't just getting a haircut you see - it involves having a glass of bubbly, then of rosé when the bubbly runs out, bumming a cigarette from the hairstylist, discovering whatever singer she currently has on rotation on the salon's stereo system (currently, Asa), nibbling on 36-month parmesan brought in by the owner of the cheese shop next door, who's come in with his girlfriend for a natter and a glass of wine.

The sweet anticipation of knowing that Quantum of Solace is out and that we can see it today, tomorrow, any day now, but perhaps it would be better to wait a while because once that's done, it will mean a 2-year wait for the next one...

Friday, October 24

30 second review - Tropic Thunder

You know how you type LOL to express amusement, even when, let's be honest, you didn't really laugh out loud ? A lot of comedies get that response. Yes, I find them funny enough, and I'll smile or snort or chuckle a few times, and still think they're good comedies. But Tropic Thunder's opening scene made me LOL so hard I cried, and then I LOLed and LOLed some more.

Saturday, October 18

30 second review - Vicky Cristina Barcelona

I can only despair of a movie that features the line "I love him, but I'm not in love with him". And I can only admire Patricia Clarkson for being able to pull it off without ridicule.

Friday, October 17

Whew, the week is over.

Started off tired and grumpy, and got worse. My dear friend J's sister died, and talking about it with her brought on a dream of my father, which was a happy dream, from which I woke up sobbing and the next day I just kept tearing up whenever I thought it. And I'm not a teary person.

Work was well, work, and boss n° 1 was terribly annoying - I swear she has a built in alarm clock that goes off at 17:44 every day, when 17:45 is the official quitting time - "oh,I know you're going soon, but could you just..." Now if it's a real emergency, fine. When it's every single day, and it's "just" something she could have asked me to do mid-morning but simply didn't bother to tell me about, and I have to take up her slack, well, it gets old. Real old. When I'm happy and chipper I can deal with it with a smile, when I'm tired and grumpy and over-emotional... not so much.

Thursday, October 16

Damn, I missed it.

Yesterday, apparently - has anyone heard of this before ? - was Love Your Body Day.

I love my body most days. It is, after all, the only one I've got. It's healthy. It's strong enough to allow me to do pretty much whatever I want. What's not to love ?

Thursday, October 9

Clever S.

He's in charge of dealing with the anti-virus for our home computer, which also comes with all sorts of fancy security settings one can fine-tune according to personal internet usage. All well and good.

I may need to have a word with him, though, as when I tried to click through to links of a couple different shoe-shopping websites (just browsing, I swear!), I got the following message:

"This webpage has been blocked by BitDefender Parental Control!

This webpage has been blocked by the Web filter."


Tuesday, October 7

Shout, shout, let it all out

Walking past a little Italian restaurant in my neighborhood the other day, I notice a little blackboard in the window facing the street. It says "Everything available to take away, including the chef". Thinking it's rather cute and would perhaps be a nice photo to post, I take my little point & shoot out of my bag and am about to take a picture when a man YELLS (WOAH WOAH WOAH what are you doing ?) as he rushes out from the restaurant to the sidewalk.
Just thought the sign was funny and wanted to take a photo.
You can't take pictures without asking permission first.

(Big guy, wearing cook's apron, still shouting).
I say OK, fine, bye, and walk away, thinking to myself there's no way any sane person would want to take that chef home with them.

Wasn't really intimidated but very unsettled - made me realize later I can't remember anyone raising their voice in anger at me before, and I'm certainly more of a sulker than a shouter myself.

No real point to this, and no photo posted, obviously !

30 second review - Appaloosa

Ed and Viggo and Jeremy - oh my. Loved the laconic banter between the two leads. OK, the little cutesy running joke about Ed Harris' character not having a good vocabulary and needing Viggo as Everett Hitch to complete his sentences for him got a bit twee after the 3rd or 4th time. But still, some good lines delivered in fabulous deadpan fashion. And Jeremy Irons makes a convincing baddie, sneer and all.

Friday, October 3

30 second review - Go Fast

If you love Roschdy Zem, see it. If you love cop/drug dealer movies with lots of fast cars and shoot outs, see it. And even then, you'll be entertained but not blown away. Otherwise, this is probably not for you.

Saturday, September 20

30 second review - Jar City

Having never seen an Icelandic film before, is it strange to say that Jar City was exactly what I expected ? An excellent thriller, bleak and dark - no neatly wrapped up happy ending here - but very human and not entirely devoid of humor.

Last weekend

...was great fun. Well, for me anyway.

S having planned a weekend in England canoeing and camping with his best mates, I made plans to entertain myself and see friends and keep busy - not that I can't do that when he's around, far from it, but I was looking forward to some me time - absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that.

Well, S's plans were ruined by the almost apocalyptic combination of flood (canoe trip cancelled for security reasons) and fire (in the Channel tunnel, so no Eurostar service...) so the poor guy ended up having to amuse himself while I gallivanted around without him - Friday night was drinks and sushi and great conversation, Saturday was a lovely afternoon at the Opéra Bastille admiring the New York City Ballet, followed by dropping in on a friend and his daughter - just turned 5 ! - and Sunday was seeing Mamma Mia at the cinema followed by more chat with my gal pals.

I did feel a bit guilty about having so much fun while S's weekend had gone pear-shaped, but instead of moping and feeling sorry for himself - which probably would have been my reaction - he very sweetly told me to "stop being stupid". So I did, and it was wonderful.

Monday, September 15

I don't usually post about politics

...but as the line between politics and comedy has become increasingly blurred, please check out Saturday Night Live, with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, with thanks to Chez.

Sunday, September 14

Well, I was going to

...write a weekend round-up, because it was great and I saw friends and did loads of stuff, but instead, can I just say... !

Why had I never heard of this great site before ?

Wednesday, September 10

Mamma mania

The film was just released in France today. I'm a bit nervous of going to see it - just seeing the posters around town means I've had Abba songs stuck in my head for weeks now (Daaancing queen, young and sweet, only seventeeeeen....), I'm afraid of what seeing the movie will do to me.

Monday, September 8

30 second review - Deception

The only thing I enjoyed about this movie was the line "I haven't had this much fun since I saw Van Halen in '97". Oh, and Charlotte Rampling's cameo appearance was good - she's always a pleasure to watch. The rest ? Meh, and double meh. This review pretty much sums it up.


A 59-year old woman gave birth to triplets in a Paris hospital this weekend.

While I don't want children myself, I feel the utmost sympathy for people who do want them but can't conceive "naturally", and I can understand why they would turn to medical assistance to make their dreams of having a family come true.

But at 59 ? Nursing three babies through the night at that age ? Running after three toddlers to make sure they keep out of mischief in one's early 60's ? I hope the new mom is in fabulous shape and has plenty of help lined up. Best of luck - and better her than me...

Monday, September 1

It's "la rentrée"... back to school.

Or to work, for me anyway. Couldn't remember my network password when I arrived this morning, which is, in my opinion, a sign of a truly good vacation. Had a ridiculous 254 e-mails in my inbox this morning - wasn't everyone else in France also on vacation in August ? Who were these people and why were they writing to me ? Thankfully there was loads of spam so the contents of the inbox didn't automatically translate to 254 items on the to-do list. Whew.

Last night I kept putting off going to bed, because, as I explained to S, going to sleep meant waking up to a Monday. Make sense ? Perhaps not. But when Boss n°1 came in, also after a 3-week break, the first thing she said to me was "I didn't go to bed until 2 a.m. because I didn't want to wake up and have to come to work !" This shared attitude is probably why, for the most part, we get along quite well...

Friday, August 29

This is the view


...from the terrace of the lovely B&B we stayed at during the second week of our vacation.

Wake up, open the door, and look right out at that valley. Fire up the cafetière, and while coffee is brewing, assemble breakfast from the fresh bread, butter, and jam that the B&B owners left outside our door before they left for work. Their work ? They grow fruit. So as an additional breakfast treat, every day there is a perfect peach. Once there was a necctarine, for variety. And I do mean perfect, only just picked, and transported just a hundred yards or so from the orchard up to the house.

Drink coffee, eat, marvel at the view, say hello to the cats if they're feeing social, and think about what to do for the rest of the day. Life is good.
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How could I resist

... an action movie called Bangkok Dangerous ? I was expecting a gloriously so-bad-it's-good B-movie extravaganza of gun fights and martial arts (Ong Bak, anyone ?), but it was just plain bad, and even the big final shoot-out was, well, boring. And it certainly didn't help that I spent the whole movie wondering why on earth Nicolas Cage had the same hairstyle as Tom Hanks in the Da Vinci Code.

Wednesday, August 27


... we are no longer on vacation. Photos are being uploaded to Flickr. One sample here.

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Sunday, July 13


Yes, everyone has probably seen this already, but I can't resist posting it anyway. Because it made me cry the first couple of times I saw it and even after repeated viewings, it makes me happy and, dare I say, it actually gives me some faith and pride in humanity.

And how often can you say that about a 4 mn YouTube video ?

Isn't it fabulous

...when you have a great Friday evening and Saturday and then wake up Sunday and realize that you have another 2 full days off before having to go back to the office ?

Vive la France, and vive Bastille Day falling on a Monday this year.

Monday, July 7

My mother, the sports fan

I called my mother this evening to have a chat. It's been a couple weeks since we last spoke, which is quite a long time, for us. She hears my voice and starts to wail, "oh, I'm so sad!" and my heart sinks.

My grandmother is 100 and suffering from, well, old age. A close family friend has cancer, and seemed to be on the road to recovery, but who knows what might have happened?

- What's wrong, Maman?
- Haven't you heard? Federer lost!

Thursday, June 19

Oh no !

"In light of recent legal complications, Notcot will no longer be operating"

Well damn it, there goes my favorite food porn site. Come back soon, please !

Monday, June 9


Grant Achatz, of Alinea in Chicago, won as "Outstanding Chef" in the 2008 James Beard Foundation Restaurant Awards.

I recently read this profile of him in the New Yorker, and wow, what a story.

Just a few months ago

...I couldn't ride a bicycle. Tonight for the first time I f'ed up a new pair of silk trousers on the chain. Am trying to look at that as an achievement. Go, me !

Thursday, May 15

Underwhelmed all the Sex & the City movie hype.

Sure, I'll probably end up seeing it, but truth be told I am far more excited by Indiana Jones...

Friday, April 25

An experiment. Of sorts.

Sushi for lunch Wednesday.
Sushi for lunch Thursday.
Sushi for dinner Thursday.
Sushi for lunch today.

Nope, not tired of it yet.
Budgetary constraints may put a halt to the experiment, though.

Thursday, March 13


I've been working long enough to know that a boss is not a friend, and that I don't have to like you. But every time you pull one of these controlling, micro-managing, not a legitimate complaint about my work but just showing me who's in charge tricks, and there have been quite a few of those lately, I do like you a bit less each time. And more importantly, I respect you a lot less.

Sunday, February 24

For the first time since

...well, ever, I'm actually on the way to achieving a New Year's resolution.

Having reached the ripe old age of 35 without knowing how to ride a bike (yep, a bicycle - not one with a motor) I decided it was really time to learn. I signed up for 10 - 10 ! - lessons, specifically for adults and had the first one on Saturday. I am proud to announce that I can now pedal and keep my balance and keep going, for, well, as long as I have a straight path ahead of me. Actually, I can turn around, too - as long as there is enough open space to make the turn wiiiiiiiiiide and slooooooowly.

Ridiculously proud, I was. Until I tried to show off my newly acquired skills to S and tried to ride a Velib. Back to square one, as those bikes are about as big as a horse and almost as heavy. Couldn't quite make it. But never mind, I'm sure that after the 10th lesson I will be Velib worthy, if not quite in good enough shape for the Tour de France.

Accidental art. Or something.

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Monday, February 18

Not war, or the plague.

But still.

It is rather upsetting when even your fat day jeans, purposefully bought a size too large, turn out to be too tight when you put them on one fine morning.

Sunday, February 3

4 things, inspired by Cookie

4 Jobs I’ve Had:
French teacher
and er... that's it.

4 Movies I’ve Watched Over and Over Again:
When Harry Met Sally
A Room with a View
Strictly Ballroom
Fried Green Tomatoes
bonus answers: LOTR, and Princess Bride

4 Places I Have Lived:
Cartagena (Colombia, not Spain)

4 Shows I Watch:
eh, none.

4 Places I’ve Been:
New York

4 People Who E-mail Me Regularly:
Boss n°1
Boss n°2

4 Favorite Things to Eat:
Vietnamese, Chinese, French, and Italian food.
More specific things ?
Wasabi peas
Marmite and butter on toast
Falafel from rue des Rosiers
Eggs Benedict

4 Places I’d Rather Be:
Places where I could visit friends I don't see often, so:
DC area
San Francisco

4 Things I Look Forward to this Year:
Longer days
Better weather
Bank holidays in May
Learning to ride a bike. Maybe.

Wednesday, January 16

Thursday, January 3

My 20 - OK, 21 - notable films of 2007 no particular order.

Last King of Scotland
Letters from Iwo Jima
The Lives of Others
Notes on a Scandal
Clerks II
Away from Her
Little Children
The Painted Veil
Half Nelson
2 days in Paris
28 Weeks Later
This is England
Knocked up
We own the Night
Gone Baby Gone

A few were remarkable, and a few were more along the lines of personal guilty pleasures, but looking back at a year's worth of ticket stubs, those were my favorites.

And the only contender for "this is so bad I am angry, no, livid, at having just wasted 2 hours of my life" that I can think of right now was that holiday themed dreck with Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet. Kate, what were you thinking ?