The funk of forty thousand years

October 24, 2008 at 3:29 am | Posted in spectacle | 4 Comments
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Okay, has everyone already seen this?  It’s a bunch of kids at Universite de Rouen who made a video of themselves lipsynching to Michael Jackson’s Thriller…  made particularly amazing because it’s all one long take.

Although, if you ask me, there’s something else remarkable about it: I have never before seen French kids who actually knew the real lyrics to an American pop song.  We need to get these kids to show up to karaoke night at some point.

Via: Electrolicious


TF hein?

March 19, 2008 at 3:45 pm | Posted in vie quotidienne | 10 Comments
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This post is probably going to make me look like a tremendous idiot, but there’s something that’s been bothering me a long time, and I need to know what the deal is:

What is wrong with European TV sets?

Because they aren’t like American sets, are they? I’ve been in homes and hotels across this continent, and all the sets have the same, mysterious, frustrating problem. It’s so bizarre, I don’t even know how to convincingly explain it to an American audience, but here goes nothing: it’s basically impossible to turn on a European television using a remote control. But in fact, it’s more complicated than that.

Euro TV

See, this is what the sets look like. When the TV is off, the little red light is out. And when you press that big power button, the red light goes on, and the TV seems to awaken. So far so good. BUT… nothing else happens. The screen remains tauntingly blank.

No, in order to get any real action, you have to now switch to the remote control:

Euro Remote

At this stage, if you press the channel up/down buttons, or punch in a number, the screen will at last flicker to life, and you can proceed to watch TV as normal. But wait — there’s another twist. See that pinkish power button at the top of the remote? You might think that turns the TV off and on… but you’d only be half right. Pressing that button will indeed turn the screen off, but not the TV. And if the power button on the TV itself hasn’t been pressed, the button on the remote will do nothing.

Why, God, Why?! In America, this process is so blissfully simple! Sit down on the couch, pick up the remote, press power, and voila: you have TV. Obviously, we have the technology — we’re not talking rocket science here. So why, throughout Europe, are viewers forced to deal with the box before they can settle in and relax on the couch?

This mystery torments me.

Now, I should note that I hardly ever watch television in Europe — in truth, the internet entertains me far more than dubbed versions of American soaps and sitcoms ever will. So it’s possible there’s some totally obvious trick to turning on Euro TVs that I’ve simply missed. But still — why is it different at all? Does it have to do with the different voltages, or some other historical or scientific anomaly? Please, someone out there, explain this phenomenon to me.

At Least They Can’t Vote

March 5, 2008 at 2:12 pm | Posted in spectacle, vie quotidienne | 9 Comments
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As my readers may or may not have noticed, there’s a presidential election going on back home right now… and yesterday, my tiny state (not to mention a giant state and two normal-size states) had its primary.

Of course, since I’m currently in absentia, I actually cast my vote about a week ago, by mail. My darling little state chose to enclose this rather excitable note along with my ballot:


Y’hear that? Two exclamtion points. Don’t mess with the democratic process.

I don’t know if you’ve been following the race, but it’s currently a pretty close one, at least on the Democrats’ side. The French press, however, seem to have already picked a winner:

Hillary in France

To be fair, most of the books in that display are merely English books translated into French. Still, I looked around quite a bit, but found nary a copy of The Audacity of Hope, or Dreams from my Father — to say nothing of McCain’s Hard Call. Yup — looks like as far as the French are concerned, this is a one woman race.

Counterfeit Cake

November 14, 2007 at 12:06 pm | Posted in food | Comments Off on Counterfeit Cake
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Can anyone tell me anything about this cake?

It’s called La Tropezienne, but its story is a bit baffling. According to that site, which looks fairly official, it was invented by Brigitte Bardot’s caterer, and has nothing directly to do with St. Tropez, despite the name. Then a communist millionaire bought the rights to sell a short-lived frozen version. Then the name and recipe were bought by the sales manager, who now distributes it throughout southern France and, bizarrely, to race car drivers.

Except, I bought mine here in Paris, from the bakery on the corner, which was proudly employing the supposedly trademarked title “La Tropezienne”. Is mine a knock-off? I don’t know, and I don’t care. It’s a pretty simple dessert, ultimately (cake layers sandwiching a lemony-cream, and sugar on top), and it was delicious.

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