There’s an interesting SubReddit called LeopardAteMyFace (‘I never thought leopards would eat MY face,’ sobs woman who voted for the Leopards Eating People’s Faces Party. Revel in the schadenfreude anytime someone has a sad because they’re suffering consequences from something they voted for or supported or wanted to impose on other people.). Schadenfreude is something we all understand and feel anywhere in the world, but the concept-word seems almost unknown in France. It’s been often used with Brexit (when you want to Brexit and then your company crashes because of all problems caused by it).
Of course they made a CovidAteMyFace, a very schadenfreudish place…
In 2000, the French “plural left government” voted the “35 hours workweek” law. From then, it’s how we work in France! As I work in a store there’s been a little agreement: we work 36h, then 39h in December when it’s crowdy, and get 12 more days off (plus the legal normal 5 weeks off, c’est la France!).
In this company, there’s a senior new thing: when you’re 55 and more (which is me), you can work 80% (28h) in four days, you lose the salary part, but not for your retirement. I chose 85%/30h and I’m the happiest man since.
Reading a bunch of books about Barbarossa, the 1941 attack of USSR by the Germans. I have a huge book written by two historians, but I completed with a Wehrmacht soldier memories book, a Red Army compilation of stories, two photography books (on each side), a more complete book about all this German/Russia war (1941-1945), the fantastic Alexander Werth’s book Russia at War.
And it IS a tool here: when you want to explore an era, an artist, a country, one must combine sources from different perspectives and heights. It builds a knowledge-web, and more comprehensive way to always remember it’s complex as hell.
There’s a site named Vodkaster where you add your film critics in… 140 characters only! Less than two lines, which is a great exercise for concision.
Where do you need to exercise your concision’s skills?
I have been obsessed with Francis Poulenc, a French composer (1899-1963). There’s absolutely nobody I can’t talk about Poulenc with, but, well, that’s life! I had the visit from a friend working at the Opéra Garnier in Paris, who is a classical music lover, and we could talk a bit.
He told me and I agreed that Poulenc sounds “so French” that it made us smile. We wondered about what “sounds French” in classical music, which is a real question.
You can do that for many countries, I think of Italy or Russia, or the United Kingdom. There IS a British sound in pop (and classical) music, right? There IS something Russian in Prokofiev’s music. Is it in harmony, style, movement?
Poulenc is unframable, it changes all the time, it’s “insanity and beauty”, triangle and sharp like the Russians, and a second later sweet and dreamy. It’s not that serious, it’s lovely but jerky. It modulates in strange delicious ways…
French composers we know: Ravel and Debussy. You can spend a few weeks with the Web and YouTube to explore what is common or different with these guys. Debussy is fluid, impressionist, Ravel is more “Fauve”, with stronger colors. But that’s not that simple…
From Ravel, listen to the Piano Concerto. From Debussy listen to Nocturnes.
Russian Painters are fantastic. When you need a little “good old academic painting” session, you need a book about Russian painting.
Google : “russian paintings trees”.
You need to have someone on the Internet who explores fields you could like. In music, I talked for a long time to a French guy named EdWood since the nineties (we were among the first French diarists on the web, before it was called “blogging”). He’s an explorer! So every year, he posts his best films or best albums of the year, and I dig!
This week I listened to 50 albums, downloaded plenty, and kept 3 names : Weyes Blood, Anna Meredith, The Twilight Sad.
What is YOUR source for musical discoveries?
I just uploaded a new track on YouTube, and I added a post on the GarageBand SubReddit, telling:
Hi everyone! I had fun yesterday building a crescendo based on a loop of “4 bars” + “4 bars with a modulation”. This makes the audience… need a melody based on it, right?
This is based on a single note called “arr1”, the famous “Moments in Love” Fairlight sound of Art of Noise. I wanted this note to be like a wind (like, in a way, the sound of the wind in Fellini’s movies). I added reverb and some distortion, and it’s just a “Hhhaaaaaaaa” all along the track. The carpet note, if you want.
I found this sound on the web after a few Google searches. “”Moments in Love” Fairlight sound of Art of Noise”.
I added pictures of flowers and frogs to make a YouTube movie.
So it’s 4 chords then 4 other chords with a little modulation. This is boring therefore I literally PILED other sounds with echoes, arpeggios, and some drums here or there. I love stairs!
I separated each step (hhhaaaaa) with a one-bar break. It’s like a… “pause then go on”.
There are two breaks, just for the pleasure of “Let’s climb again”.
In the end, I added louder drums and strings. The two guitars give some relief. They… use the modulation to bring something, I suppose.
Is it acceptable? Should I add a “chorus”? What kind of music is it? Should I use a “I’m a man playing piano notes” over the chords? (I admit I always love to build… little machines). Some lyrics?
Thanks for reading and listening!
The other one is built on a “pianist fingers exercise” (notes around one central note).
My YouTube text:
So I wanted to build an ambient loop around these photos of ants. I lost myself a bit, with this somber piano, but voilà. Insects are cool, right? But ants are cooler when you watch them worrying about « having to go », having to quit, to go away, to find a new home… It’s their dawn, their beginning. Queens within soldiers protecting them until they fly… I played with the idea of unstable harmonies. Some things are sweet, some others are bitter, or uncertain. The music loops but constantly stops. The weaving instruments are sometimes dissonant… this was all a funny game, like Lego.
Game of contrast : acoustic/electronic, reverb/dry, rooted on the loop/evoluting.
“Finasser” is a funny French verb. When I read it in a book I immediatly asked myself “How do you say than in English?”.
Reverso Context tells me plenty of solutions, which means we touched, here, a complex translation point.
To play games
To move slowly
To try to be clever
To get into the niceties
To use trickery
Well, in French it’s clear it means you don’t really fancy doing something when you have to, then you do as if you need to focus on some details, find excuses and pretexts not to do the job.
“Arrête de finasser !” : Stop finassing, sounds very parenting, patronizing.
To play games sounds good, but finasser is not “being inconsistent” to annoy someone, it’s more “to be smiling and lazy”.
To move slowly would be the consequence of finasser.
To try to be clever seems sarcastic and mean or witty. Finasser is not sarcastic though. It’s just a lack of will.
I love “to get into the niceties“, because it’s really that. To focus on small details… not to work.
To use trickery is not correct, or maybe just a little. To dazzle: the same. Finasser is not about cheating of misleading, it’s more about hesitation or a small will to slow down things.
To equivocate is right. To prevaricate seems better! But the verbs in French are “chipoter” or “tergiverser”, it’s another problem. Chipoter: to haggle over. Tergiverser: to um and ah, to procrastinate (and oh there’s a “to tergiversate” in English?).
Then it’s leads to : to sit on the fence, to punt, to pussyfoot around (seems perfect, though we’d say “faire des manières”, which is… to fuss), to waffle back and forth (more about changing mind all the time – être une girouette (to be a weathercock)), to dillydally (oh marvel!!), haver (sillier?), punt (evading the issue, to pass the buck), shilly-shally (oh, cool!).
Finasser is a little this and that. It shows a will to be slow, find excuses not to work, but not really to annoy someone else.
The Larousse dictionary says: “User de finesses, de subterfuges pour se dérober ou obtenir un avantage ; ruser.”- Use finesse, subterfuge to evade or gain an advantage; cunning.
Hmmm, that’s complicated, right?
The “asser” we add to words is a bit negative. Bavasser means “to prattle”, it’s bad and vulgar.
There are many bad insults in French finishing by “asse” (connasse, pouffiasse, grognasse, pétasse, blondasse), these are loud and mean! If “tiède” means “lukewarm”, tiédasse is like “it’s sadly lukewarm”, like bad soup, haha.
I always loved to explore trees of words. This was a good one. Of course my interpretations of words’ “colors” is probably wrong at times. Tell me in the comments?
Photography: “La Dordogne”, a French river. How to photograph a river? She’s like the lady you’re in love with: she’s complex, multiple, given, elusive, clear, dark, changing and marvellous. What do I choose? The light? Water? Trees? Rocks? Here are 14 pictures of La Dordogne, near the little town of Carsac.
Again, a walking bass. I love them! Dong dong dong dong dong. I tried to add less mechanical music. I added string chords, but interrupted them sometimes. I tried another style for the end, a long stroll of bass string going nowhere…
The pictures I took along a long walk strangely fit the song: creatures. Birds. Drawings. Things.
For this one I found an old voice from the London docks, with a bell, announcing something.
The game is the Moby one: add drums, JP, bass, strings, saxes and whistles. Then it’s a puzzle around this loop: adding things/cutting things. I should chorus but nope. I should double the bass with somme upper pianos… maybe.
I’m casual, I know. When I compose I don’t finish. I draft. I need a producer!
Also, I sing and I shouldn’t. But well, I’m the only singer around 🙂
Also, I build films with a few pictures and the Ken Burns effect. I don’t want to finish, it’s boring. Voilà.
These days I have fun with poems.
“Aimez-vous le passé ?” means “Do you love the past?”. I googletranslated the poem for you:
Do you like the past And dream of stories Evocative With erased outlines?
Old rooms Widows of steps Who smell all low Iris and amber;
The pallor of the portraits, The worn-out relics That the dead have kissed, Dear, I would like
May they be dear to you, And talk to you a little Of a dusty heart And full of mystery.
“Veuve de pas” : widowed of steps, meaning “deprived of people walking in these rooms”.
I found pictures I took in Cabourg ten years ago in Normandy (yes it’s near the D-Day beaches), hop, iMovied.
The music is an exercise about obsession: there’s no change, no chorus, it “walks” all the time.
I wrote the bass after hearing “In the Army Now” by Status Quo : dong, dong, dong, dong, adding a tatatatata guitar over it.
The game was to weaveknit chords under this walk. I added little dissonnances in the piano, it’s a bit irritating for ears and all – but now so much. Here it is:
Aimez-vous le passé
Aimez-vous le passé Et rêver d’histoires Évocatoires Aux contours effacés ?
Les vieilles chambres Veuves de pas Qui sentent tout bas L’iris et l’ambre ;
La pâleur des portraits, Les reliques usées Que des morts ont baisées, Chère, je voudrais
Qu’elles vous soient chères, Et vous parlent un peu D’un coeur poussiéreux Et plein de mystère.
Paul-Jean Toulet, Chansons
I wanted to try another one, so I googled “dance in poetry” to find this “Dansez, Petites Reines” (Dance, Little Queens). I found a possible translation (I did not use the whole poem) which changes things a bit:
THE GRANDFATHER'S SONG.
Dance, little Queens,
All in a ring ;
Loves to Lasses
Sweet kisses will bring.
Dance, little Madcaps,
All in a ring ;
The crabbed old mistress
Will grumble and fling.
Dance, little beauties,
All in a ring ;
The birds will applaud you
With clapping of wing.
Dance, little Fairies,
All in a ring ;
With corn-flower garlands
And fair as the spring.
Dance, little women,
All in a ring ;
Each Beau to his Lady
Says some pretty thing.
The game here was to alternate a crappy vintage sound and a more luxurious one in the choruses (voices and instruments). I had fun with the bass line, and linked parts with a golden trumpet.
I found images with ducks for YouTube, because why not, right?
I read a good book about a… harpsichord player. I found ideas. Here they are.
The easy question is “What is it?”. Another question is “What does that mean?”, therefore “What does the artist want to say to us?”. This is a totally higher question, right? Instead of the work, you ask about the artist’s mind, and their will. Does art need a meaning, after all?
Where should we, instead of focusing of things in front of us, focus on what the maker wants?
If you are a Bach (b 1685) specialist and you want to study or play Mozart (b 1762), you have to make a jump in time and music, and Mozart will appear very modern. But if you come from 19th Century, it will feel like a loss.
From where will you come, to study this or that?
If you’re enthusiastic, do you master your work?
Does elegance need the existence of another person? What about the idea telling that real elegance consists in not getting noticed. And Balzac says that to reveal some economy of means is inelegant.
It’s from Latin “elegans”: who knows how to choose.
A pretentious simplicity, does that exist?
Goethe : When an intention is too visible, it irritates
Who plays – and how – the tango of strength/delicacy?
Purity of the sensation, or of the landscape?
When you touch the harpsichord‘s key, the note appears, that simple. There’s no possibilities of ppp or fff. It’s “the note”, always the same intensity, it’s a yes or no thing.
Without any possibity of nuances, of touch, the subtleties must come from elwhere: the phrases.
Where else do we have this?
“Deep understanding” and at the same time, “spontaneity” (or precision/passion). Both. Same time.
Where? Sex? Conversation? Acting? What kind of skill is this?
When a rule emerges, its exceptions appear at the same time.
In French: “Déroger à la règle” (The English “to contravene” and “to infringe” sound “to go against”, to fight, but the French one sounds “to take a hidden door”, to depart from, to invent my own path).
An artist who knows enough rules to depart from them: to explore/invent.
What is a work of art with simultaneity of significations? Sorrow and courage at the same time; violence and sweetness; pride and vanity. What kind of richness is that?
“To admit” (it’s the same in French, admettre) is a curious verb: to confess, to acknowledge, to allow entry, to accept validity, to place, to permit, to conceide or recognize.
A style emerges, how?
When can’t we prevent aggravation (or stop worsening)?
Baudelaire: The restless crowd, whipped on by pleasure
Do you produce differently (by other means) or something else?
Is the existence of the past Law, or Force?
Acknowlegment or recognition? Even gratitude, if you push?
Which one is the most interesting? Beauty created by nature, or beauty created by men?
Could you go that far, without the resistance of it?
December is a good place to spot idiots. People running around, in crowded/emptied stores, like headless chickens, to find horrible presents, for a hated mother-in-law or a mean cousin, with a mask under the nose, ohlalaaaa.
Our word in France for morons is “con”. You can check on wordreference, “con” is a name AND an adjective.
Yesterday evening I was wondering about the English “Dumb”, therefore I googled “dumb as a” and found silly words, so funny I was hilarious in the streets.
I loved the “bag of hammers“! Haha!
We use hammer (marteau) to say someone is not dumb, but silly or crazy. “Il est complètement marteau” : He is completely hammer. Yess, it’s not “he is a hammer”, but “he is hammer”. I know.
We also say “Il est con comme comme un”, but with other “things”.
Il est con comme un balai (like a broom), comme ses pieds (like his feet), like the moon, or a chair, a suitcase, whatever.
These days I like to say “Il est con comme une bûche” (like a log). It’s more like a super-heavy-dumb, see?
Confinement 2.0 in France: the whole of November – but most specialists say that it’ll need 2 or more months to be effective, and only if people respect the game.
The problem is if universities are closed, all schools are opened. If people are encouraged to work from home, many can’t.
More: a problem appears from the fact that all small stores are closed (florists, hair styling salons, bookstores) AND supermarkets are not. The little ones want to stay open, but if you do that, the confinement is silly! Therefore the government ordered them to close the “non-essential” parts, like toys, flowers, books, etc.
Strange days, right?
I had the idea to build an alphabetical exploration in the blog. So now I’m working on A, but I’m lazy! I watched Losey’s Accident for that.
I reached 500 “real” followers here, after 4 years. This means, I want to believe, that readers love “one subject” blogs, but not that much “a little of everything” blogs.
Chekhov’s gun is a dramatic principle that states that every element in a story must be necessary, and irrelevant elements should be removed. Elements should not appear to make “false promises” by never coming into play.
Of course, you want to disobey this, right?
I wonder what an American person does to imitate the British accent. I think there’s something with “t”. Better said better instead of bedder. Often said often instead of offen. There’s also a singing quality, I think. Am I wrong?
I searched the two words “Trump Lord” on Twitter and read a few dozens of tweets. Ohlalaaaa! US religious persons sound very strange to me, I really don’t get it. I asked a question and got an answer: “We need to look to God & His Word for His plans & purpose. He desires repentance & readiness for His 2nd coming. He desires that all be saved through Christ and come to the knowledge of the truth. He is Holy, faithful & just. God will keep His promises.”
Watched a documentary about U2, full of little ideas. What I realize, after such months with The Beatles, it’s how… The Beatles are good composers!
U2 has been a hitmaker. The film (about Joshua Tree) shows their different ways to achieve that…
Bono is very charismatic, Edge has an interesting “sound” (infinite guitar, etc), the bass player is limited (dom dom dom dom dom) but very effective, and the drummer is fantastic. They are not great “composers”, but they have plenty of energy, goodwill and a great singer/lyrics writer, they have good rhythm ideas, a sense of “hymn” things, and… Brian Eno/Daniel Lanois are good producers!
If you type “U2 Chords” on YouTube you get things like “Four Chord Easy Beginner Guitar Song”, which is cruel.
Of course, this was a delight to hear Eno & Lanois and their differences and facets, Eno as an intellectual (who loves gospel), Lanois as a fascinating clever person. Both have such a look in their eyes…
I bought Ronan Farrow’s book about the Weinstein affair, a Gertrude Stein biography and Bryson’s book about England. Then I realize that the two last books are about Americans living for decades in Europa. I’m probably interested in what they noticed.
It’s a short story included in a French Eric Rohmer movie : Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle (1987).
Let’s ask Wikipedia :
The film consists of four episodes in the relationship of two young women: Reinette, a country girl, and Mirabelle, a Parisian. The first episode, L’Heure Bleue/The Blue Hour, recounts their meeting, and Reinette’s wish to share the Blue Hour, a moment of silence between the natural sounds of the night and the dawn.
So they wake up before dawn (very early in summer) and go outside in the night. When the sun is about to rise, the country becomes silent… Shhh…
But just before the magic minute, a motorcycle comes from nowhere on the road, destroying, evidently, the precious groups of silent seconds. Then the sun comes and the birds begin to sing. Oh dang!
One girl (guess who) cries and screams of anger : the moment has been spoiled! The other one consoles her. C’est la vie! No big deal…
A few years ago I read an interview of a teacher, he was smart and interesting. The last question from the journalist triggered a shift, though. What was bothering him? His answer was a surprise. It was something like:
“What bothers me is that in every class I taught in my career I found the same typology, with very little variations : in every classroom of 15 years old students, you find a sporty, a fat kid, a funny idiot, an angry rebel, an introvert girl, a shy blond, a dreamer, a goth, a nerd. That’s boring!”.
“I empty my head in front of stupid TV”.
How TF do you translate a Style? There’s a witchy case:
Marguerite Duras was a French writer with a very special style. It’s difficult… even to define it! And of course it’s a part of her wizardry.
It’s between spoken language and a modest incantatory style. It’s full of mistakes, like a dyslexic person with strokes of genius. It’s gorgeous, blazing and magic… and completely quirky at the same time.
Therefore when you read Duras you have to let go something, a logical normal way to accept narration. It’s audacious, fascinating, it swallows you in a strange, new rhythm – a words-witch!
I really wonder how people in the USA consider the people of other states…
I wanted to write an article about “mean quotes about women”. Here are some :
Women show up and they cling to you and they destroy you Thomas Bernhard
Beware when you’re caught in a woman’s dreams Gilles Deleuze
What does that mean? That these guys were afraid? Afraid of what? A power? Are men defenseless?
I read a book about ambiguity in architecture, therefore I wanted to write “At once This and That, the pleasure of ambiguity”.
Ambiguity is when you can’t decide if this is something or something else. In buildings : a window, a corridor, stairs, everything can be two things at the same time.
Of course it TELLS something, that some architects want, seek this. They hate minimalism, the obvious “clean” thing. They love what I think is the essence of modernity :
To make something to make people wonder and smile, instead of making people say “Ohhh that’s beautiful”.
Of course I love this! Things (and us) can be this AND that, we can juxtapose, rotate, double-fonction, adapt. It’s enrichment, intelligence, faces. A door can decorate. A cook can be a musician. The superfluous is necessary…