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Well, well, and where have I been?

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Over a year since my last post?!?

Why did that happen?

I suppose the easiest answer to that would be: I work too much. When people get all doe-eyed at the mention of the city in which I live and say “Paris is so ro-MAN-tic!” I really, really want to answer “And ex-PEN-sive!”

Don’t get me wrong. It’s harder and harder as the years go by to imagine living anywhere else. I am up to my eyeballs in Art, History, Culture and Classical Music all of whom I love so much I feel compelled to Capitalize. But let us return to the expensive part. I have to work my — [can i say “ass” on this blog? “There are no dirty words. Ever.” Ah, yes. Thank you Leonard Cohen.]

So I have to work my ass off to pay the bills and this fills up so much of my brain and time that there is precious little left for anything else. One thing I have been getting better at this last year is stealing time for reading. I trade sleep for it. It keeps me going.

Lately, finally, I’m a wee bit ahead of the game, so I can slow down a tad until September.

One of the (many) things I want to do in this time is get back to writing about the books I read. It’s always helped me think more clearly and often more deeply about my reading. Not something you want to go without.

So I’m back. Again.

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The Wonderful World of Albert Kahn: Colour Photographs from a Lost Age by David Okuefuna

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

Drop everything and rush out to your local bookshop! Utterly gorgeous, it’s the eagerly awaited (by me) companion book for the BBC Four series on Albert Kahn’s Archives of the Planet project.

Photographs (autochromes being a particular favorite) are a passion of mine, and these are stunning.

Inventing a process to create stable colour photographs was no small thing. Black and white photography had existed for over fifty years before the Lumière brothers finally came up with the autochrome process around the turn of the century. The mystery ingredient: potato starch! Another reason to love the lowly tuber… Autochromes continued as the standard until well into the 1930s. Don’t miss the lovely selection of photos on the website for the book.

If you’re in Paris, the Musée Albert-Kahn has a new exhibit on India (with photos taken between 1913 and 1928).

Musée Albert-Kahn : 14 rue du Port in Boulogne-Billancourt 92100
Métro stop: Boulogne Pont de Saint Cloud (on the #10 line) just 2 stops beyond the official city limits…

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Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

This is going to be one of those promised short reviews.

All kinds of people recommended and loved this collection of “humorous” autobiographical essays. I find this a little disturbing. I suppose it’s just another example of how out of sync I am with… well, most people.

To me, he came off as quite mean and rather off-putting personality-wise. Like those clever, cruel kids in the schoolyard. The others laughed because they were terrified that if they didn’t they would be the next target. He’s obviously a very sharp fellow, but seems quite proud of the fact that he makes little or no effort.

He appears to be a member of the “ironic” crowd. This largely involves being sarcastic, looking down on everyone and everything and embracing kitsch.

At a recent reading he was recommending a book that told you how to zombie-proof your house. Why anyone would waste two seconds of their life on this is beyond me. It’s not even mildly entertaining. It’s just dumb.

Then there’s his comments about the Louvre:

The last person to ask the author a question inquired whether or not he’d been to the Louvre yet. Sedaris had once written that he wouldn’t go to said art museum because they didn’t allow smoking.

“I’ve been in Paris for eight years and I’ve never been to the Louvre,” Sedaris said. “Now it’s like it’s almost too late to go.”

His logic was that after holding out this long he doesn’t want to give up being the only person living in Paris who hasn’t been to the famous museum. Instead, he prefers things like local art auctions.

“I just like art better when there’s a price tag on it,” he said. “Even if you can’t understand it, you can make sense of it if there’s a price tag.”

If this is humour, I certainly don’t get it. I’ll end with a quotation from this book; for me, it sums it all up.

“…like all my friends, she’s a lousy judge of character…”

Now that’s funny — whether it was intentional or not.

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New Hat

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

I can’t believe I locked myself out of my blog last night.

I was twelve years old again, nobody home, staring at the door of my apartment. I remember flipping up the mail slot flap and making kissy noises until one of the cats appeared. I waggled my fingers at him. He turned and walked away. “Weird new mailperson!”

How I locked myself out of my blog, I have no idea. Somehow, I broke the password. How does that happen? Did I get chocolate on it and short circuit something? Who knows. Anyhow, I’m back. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to write a good post as I’m deep in my work week. [Gusty sigh, slumps in seat.]

So you’ll just have to make do with contemplating the proposed new hat for the Eiffel Tower’s birthday.

The whole thing was just a hoax, of course. You can’t mess with the Eiffel Tower.

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